7 important steps to get your home ready for winter

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Photo by Diane Deaner at Unsplash

Getting ready for winter is about more than just dragging out your coats, scarves and gloves. You’ve got to make sure your house can manage through the season, too.

Don’t worry -- the list of chores isn’t too long or expensive. But getting these things done before the weather gets cold can really help your home mind the weather better, and it can save you some extra money and hassle in the long run.

Here’s a list of things to do and why they’re important:

  1. Check your alarms: Your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors need to be checked to make sure they’re in working order and not too old. If you look at the back of your smoke detector, you’ll see the manufacture date. If it’s more than 10 years old, get it replaced, asap.
    Why: These detectors save lives: One out of three fire deaths happens in homes without smoke detectors. With furnaces and fireplaces being used in winter, fire hazards increase.
  2. Change your filters: Furnace filters should be changed every three months if you get high quality filters. Check the MERV rating, and get one somewhere around the 11 to 13 range. The higher MERV rating will filter out dust, dander, cigarette smoke and even bacteria.
    Why: Your furnace needs a filter to prevent dirt, dust and dander from getting into it, causing it to get clogged up or to spew that stuff back into the air you breathe. It’s better for the furnace, and it’s better for you.
  3. Insulate your pipes: Check your pipes in non-heated areas to make sure they are insulated. Don’t turn your heat off when you leave -- keep it at 55 degrees or higher.
    Why: If your pipes aren’t insulated or heated, they will freeze, and frozen pipes often burst on the coldest day of the year. When that happens, you have to call a plumber, and you might even have flooding in your home.
  4. Rake your leaves: Use a rake, a leaf blower or a lawn mower to remove the leaves from your yard or turn them into mulch. Put piles of leaves into your compost pile to have nice, fertile compost next Spring.
    Why: Leaving your leaves on the lawn will smother your grass over the winter. Having wet leaves down there can also cause mold and rot to infect your lawn.
  5. Seal your windows: Put a bead of caulk around the drafty areas of your windows, and add weather stripping to the parts that move. You can do the same with your doors, and add a draft snake to prevent more drafts.
    Why: Drafty doors and windows leak out your money in the form of heat. Keeping the seals nice and tight will ensure you aren’t wasting any of the heat you’re already paying for.
  6. Secure crawl spaces: If you have openings in your crawl space, make sure you fix any holes or loose openings before winter. Make sure crawl space doors are secured with a strong padlock.
    Why: Criminals can get into crawl spaces and steal copper pipes, as well as listen to the home’s activities for later burglary.
  7. Get your furnace checked: Call an HVAC professional to do an inspection and check that your furnace is working well for the winter. You can also ask him to do a tune-up on it.
    Why: Making sure all is working well before winter will help prevent parts from breaking down or your furnace quitting in the dead of winter. It also helps spot gas leaks early so they don’t cause fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.
     

Taking care of these things before the real cold sets in can save you costly repairs down the line, and it helps ensure that you’ll make it through the winter warm and cozy.

Keeping it Light

Keeping it Light

When it comes to painting a home not all colors are created equal.  Selecting the right shade is difficult enough, but increasingly difficult when trying to choose a paint color for a small house.  Which begs the question, "What paint colors make a house look bigger?"  Glad you asked.  Here are some quick tips and tricks to keep your home looking classy and larger than ever.

Backyard Landscaping

backyard landscaping projectBackyard Landscaping in Chattanooga, TN and the Surrounding Area

The exterior of your property says a lot about your home and commercial business. If you're looking to make the most of your outdoor space, turn to Crider's Landscaping for help. We offer a variety of backyard landscaping services for home and business owners throughout Chattanooga, TN, and we have the equipment, expertise, and skills to transform your yard for the better.

Beautify Your Backyard

Maintaining your backyard takes time and energy. Do you really want to spend so much of your spare time keeping up with your property's needs? At Crider's Landscaping, we offer a wide range of backyard landscaping services. When you hire us, you will be making a solid investment in your backyard while creating an outdoor space that you and those around you can enjoy on a regular basis. Whether you have got a small backyard or an acre of land, we have a landscaping solution that's right for you. Call us today for more information about our backyard landscaping services or to schedule a consultation with a professional from our team.

 

Lawn after sod in a backyard - Soddy Daisy

Create a (Marketing) Plan

I just got done reading on a popular forum that you should not waste your time writing any sort of plan. And you should just get to work and do something.

While I may read into that a little more than the author meant, I will agree that to a point he is partially correct. What he should have said is not "don't make a plan" but instead it should have said do not spend too much time making a plan and miss out on opportunities do to over analysis.

When putting a plan together consider your outcomes, that is the basis of a plan anyways... If your outcome is a couple hundred dollars, do not spend all day on it. If its a few million dollars, then I would expect you to spend some time on the subject.

Now where we get into the plan. As with all my plans I write, I start with an outline and as I write an outline I generally start at the beginning and end (outcome) then work towards the middle.

In most simple terms, your plan is nothing more than a checklist at this point.

Now, that you have your basic plan in place, is it time to get to work or is this a time to develop that plan into more doable chunks. Since, for this posts sake, we need to develop the plan a bit more we begin by filling in the outline. Each step may need an outline for it. Then later it may need more development.

For my marketing plans I generally start with social media as that is the "hipster" way to market things. Its also a very cost effective way to Market your products or services.

I have an outline that I reference for all my projects specifically for social media. I start with it and decide what marketing platforms work best for my project. I then develop that outline into a basic guide for all my marketing efforts.

As your plan develops, it will change but you now have an outline in place to achieve your end goal.

Get to work, make some $$ but in the meantime work on your plan as well. You will never get to the end of the forest if you do not have a map to get there.

If you would like a copy of my Marketing plan outline, check out my gig on fiverr.com.

Anticipating Trouble for Your Lawn Care Business

When a person is in the planning stages of a new business, it is like preparation for vacation or a wedding because sometimes the process is full of idealism and optimism.  And that is healthy because when you set out to start your own lawn care business, it is up to you to demonstrate that confidence and optimism that you know how to make this new business spring to life and how to make it a success every step of the way.

So when you read the title to this article, you may have thought it was unnecessarily pessimistic.  It isn't.  You can anticipate trouble that may come to your lawn care business and still have an ambitious, aggressive and optimistic plan for growth and success.  In fact, making plans for when trouble comes is part of your success plan because you are acknowledging that trouble will come but you are getting ready for it so it does not derail your plan for success.

Insurance is a good example of planning for trouble even though you are living your life with a plan for success.  We live in a world where things go wrong.  It takes maturity and experience to start a new lawn care business and that maturity and experience things go wrong.   By having a contingency plan to go to when there are problems, you take the teeth out of trouble because it is anticipated.  When problems arise, you simply execute your plan and accommodate the trouble so your ability to provide service to your customers is undisturbed.

After all, lawn care is a very physical business.   You have workers and machines at work and things can go wrong.  You work out of doors where weather can get in the way.  You work with nature and just about anything can happen even when working on the yard of the most civilized yard in town.  Nature doesn't care how refined the grounds are so you should be ready if nature decides to get underfoot.

Equipment failure is not something that might happen in the life of any lawn care business.  It will happen.  So be prepared to perform emergency repairs while on a job site.  It is also a good idea to go to each job site with back up equipment.  That may mean having a reserve lawn mower and other tools so that if a breakdown threatens the crew's ability to complete the job, you can pull the damaged equipment off of the job and put your reserve equipment in to finish the project.

Being prepared for weather interruptions is a matter of knowing your schedule and being ready if you have to bring crews in during a sudden rain storm.  You should have a contingency plan with your customers so if you cannot perform their yard care on a specific day, you can make adjustments to the schedule to get the job done as soon as the weather clears up.

You can even be prepared for injury to a worker.  First of all, hire experienced workers who know how to work with the equipment so the chances of injury are small.  But keep proper first aid equipment on hand and either you become knowledgeable in first aid and CPR or make sure someone is so if there is a medical need on the job, you can respond to it.  You should even go over emergency preparedness with your crews so, God forbid, if someone is injured so badly that they need to go to the clinic or hospital, you have someone delegated to care for the injured worker while the rest of the crew finishes the job.  Its all part of being prepared for when trouble comes so trouble can come and go and not disturb the ongoing success of your business.

 

Doing What You Love for a Living

There is a joy to lawn care that is hard for some people to appreciate.  To be able to work out in nature and enjoy the breeze on your cheek, the sound of birds as you work and the fresh air is just abouthealthy a lifestyle as you can imagine.  And to be able to take a yard and turn it into a beautiful and sculpted work of art is a singular joy that is one of the reasons you may have decided to start your own lawn care company.

When you do for a living what is your passion in life, you really never do go to work (blah,blah,blah).  Every day going out there to dive into the craft of taking care of lawns is a joy of life that to you is fun and not work at all (At some point it will be).  Sure, there will be physical fatigue that comes with working with your hands and body all day long.  But that is the good kind of tired because you did something good with your time and you made the world a more beautiful place.

Many lawn care businesses are started by people who simply love to garden and work with lawns.  So they decided to take what is a passion and a hobby on the weekend and make it their way of earning a living.  One reason this is a natural next step for you may be that you have reached the limits of your creative expression simply working on your own lawn.  If you have more desire to work on crafting a beautiful lawn than you can use on your own home, its a natural next step to take your skill for lawn care and turn it into a business.

You may run a different kind of lawn care business than the big commercial operations.  There is nothing written in stone that you have to start a lawn care business that exists to become a corporate giant employing thousands of people.  Perhaps you want to just own a very small lawn care operation that lets you make your full time job out of a passion you have for lawn care and working with plants.  It doesn’t take that much to support that kind of lawn care business.  If you get just enough customers to give you 4-5 yards to do each day, that is sufficient.

Your passion for what you do will come through when you are talking to perspective customers.  But what will really make you a sought after craftsman of lawn care will be the immaculate job you will do on every lawn that is put in your care.   That is because you don’t come to the job with the objective of getting it done as fast as possible so you can make a lot of money.  If you created this lawn care business to give you a vehicle to do what you love to do and get paid for it, you can dawdle over each lawn and not quit until it is absolutely perfect.

That perfection will be admired by your customers and by his or her neighbors as well. Before long you will have more requests for your services than you know what to do with.  Then you can pick and choose who you wish to work for.  You might choose based on the whether the home owner has that same passion for a beautiful lawn that you do. Or you might select clients that can accommodate your meticulous insistence on perfection and don’t mind giving you the time to create a masterpiece out of their yards.

By approaching your working this way, you will never lack for income. You may even find yourself wooed by hotels or golf courses to bring your special vision for a truly great lawn to their environment.  

That is up to you as to whether you want to take on that kind of challenge.  It could be your master work to create something magnificent from a larger setting like that.   But as long as you are true to your vision for what you want to do with your time and you are doing what you love to do for a living, the details will fall into place.  And you will never regret your decision to make a living with your own lawn care business living for the joy of your work rather than just working for a living.