Top 10 Tools Every Homeowner Needs in Their Toolbox

Toolbelt with brush, screwdrivers, pencil, chisel and wrench.

If you have the right tools, you’ll be able to tackle projects large and small.

By Patricia L. Garcia

When you move into your newly built home, you’re likely to get all sorts of gifts from family and friends: cook- and bakeware, decorative items like lamps or picture frames or even gift cards to your favorite home goods store.

But, what’s often left out is tools. You’re certainly not going to need your tools for any home improvement projects any time soon (that’s why you bought new!), but you’ll still need some basic tools for putting new furniture together, cleaning appliances or even changing a lightbulb. If you don’t already have a proper toolbox together, here are the top 10 tools every homeowner needs in their toolbox:

1. Screwdrivers

You’ll need both a flathead screwdriver and a Phillips head (the “star one”) for just about every home project you do, from painting (flatheads are good for opening the can) to putting furniture together (Phillips to the rescue!).

“You will come across a variety of screws in your home on various parts of your equipment that will require one or the other type of screwdriver,” says Elizabeth Dodson, co-founder of HomeZada, a home inventory software company in El Dorado Hills, Calif. “Screwdrivers will help fix things around the home quickly, from everything like switchplates to cleaning out a hot water heater.”

2. Tape Measure

You’re moving into your new home, so chances are you’re buying new furniture. Make sure everything fits perfectly with a tape measure, says Jerry Saliba and Craig VanDecar, owners of C&J Custom Builders, Inc., in Albany, N.Y. Or, perhaps you need to make sure which size of window curtains or shower curtain to buy or how much paint will be necessary for a job — a tape measure will be your best friend in these cases.

Tape measures come in a variety of sizes, so you can find the right one for all jobs. (There are even very tiny ones that you can carry in your car or purse.)

3. Hammer

Have you ever tried to hang photos without a hammer? There’s a reason why a hammer exists and that’s because shoes with big heels are not an appropriate way to nail something into the wall (once a heavy-heeled shoe was all I had!).

“A hammer is handy for a lot of things around the home: to quickly hang small pictures, to assemble small pieces of furniture that might require a hammer, to remove cracked tiles and to pull down items using the claw portion of the hammer,” Dodson says.

4. Power Drill

A power drill is a lifesaver when it comes to all sorts of projects, particularly when it comes to projects that require long screws. “A cordless drill can be used to quickly assemble any pieces of furniture that you buy or to hang heavy frames and artwork on the wall,” says Dodson. “A cordless drill can speed up your time to correctly tackle certain projects.”

5. Plunger

Do not get caught without one. That’s all you need to know.

6. Level

Hands down the best tool you can use to ensure that pictures or wall art are hanging straight. There’s nothing worse than hanging a picture slightly askew and having to stare at it like that, says Saliba and VanDecar.

A level is also useful for making sure you’re hanging your curtain rods straight too. Really anything that needs to be straight, a level will help.

7. Putty Knife

Saliba and VanDecar suggest a putty knife for “any of those unforeseen holes or ‘dings’ to be able to spackle” in any spots. A putty knife will help keep any fixes neat and easy.

8. Wrench

A wrench is similar to a screwdriver in that it will come in handy in many situations. Use it to remove tight bolts, to secure nuts on furniture or to adjust or unscrew hoses on your clothes washer.

9. Pliers

You can’t go wrong with pliers, which can be used to hold things firmly while you continue to work on an area or item in your home to fix it, says Dodson. You can also use pliers to easily bend wire and other similar items, she says.

Personally, I find pliers useful in holding nails in place while hammering them in — no more hitting your fingers!

10. Extension Cord

All new homeowners should have an extension cord somewhere in the house, says Saliba and VanDecar. “An extension cord is not only useful for powering something inside the home, but for any landscaping work that requires tools outside as well.”

The Great Outdoors

Don’t forget your yard when it comes to filling your toolbox. Though not all outdoor items will fit in your toolbox, you should have a hose, sprinkler, spade, shovel and wheel barrow, suggests Jerry Grodesky, managing broker in Farm and Lake House Real Estate, based in Buckley, Ill.

Nobody likes to have to run into the hardware store mid-project in their gardening or exercise clothes. Having the proper tools before getting started will make it easy to handle gardening and landscaping jobs, no matter how large or small.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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5 Easiest Plants To Grow In An Edible Garden This Summer

Having an edible garden in your yard can be easy with a few gardening tips and easy-to-grow plants. Photo courtesy of Aloe Designs.

Having an edible garden in your yard can be easy with a few gardening tips and easy-to-grow plants. Photo courtesy of Aloe Designs.

By Julia West

Summer is the ultimate gardening season. Nothing says summertime like strolling by colorful vegetables at farmer's markets or snacking on fresh veggies. Because fresh produce is at the peak of its production in this season, crops can easily be grown anywhere — even in your very own front yard. Growing delicious vegetables, fruits and herbs in your own garden is not only a fun hobby, but a fun way to save some money too. Who needs grocery store produce when you can get it from your new home’s yard?

Starting a garden may seem like a tough job — fear not! There are a few simple things to consider when in the planning process. First, think about the sun patterns throughout your yard. Almost all summer crops require long, sunny days, so you may need to rearrange existing plantings to get plants in the best spot.

If you are concerned that your edible garden might make your yard look too farm-like, look for ways to integrate your crop patch with other outdoor spaces to get the most use, value and joy from your garden.  For an extra tidy look, try using raised beds. Many edibles are low-to-the-ground plants which can be a bit boring for a yard landscape. Raised beds not only add some design interest to a space, but can make it easier to care for plants, as it’s less physically strenuous to pick crops from higher levels. (If your new home’s HOA rules prevent you from putting a raised bed in your front yard, there's always the back yard and container gardens if your only have a patio or deck.)

Once you have the basic structure of an edible garden, it’s time to do some planting! Here are some ideas on the easiest-to-grow crops that you can have in your garden this summer:

1. Cucumbers

CucumbersBecause cucumbers thrive in hot weather, they are perfect summer vegetables. Its high water content makes it a refreshing crop full of vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Whether you want to place hydrating slices on your eyes for a nice lounge by the pool or throw them into fresh salads, cucumbers are a summer essential.

There are many interesting varieties of this plant, including Lemon cucumbers, Boston Pickling cucumbers and Armenian cucumbers. (Photo courtesy of Seed Savers.)

 

2. Peppers

PeppersAll varieties of peppers share a preference for a long, warm growing season. This vegetable is a classic garden favorite because of the large variety available to grow.

From sweet bell peppers in shades of yellow, orange or red to spicy habaneros, peppers are always useful in the kitchen. Whether you grow an assortment of peppers or just one kind, having some around will add pops of color and zest to your garden and cooking. (Photo courtesy of Eden Brothers.)

 

3. Tomatoes

TomatoesTomatoes are known to be an ultimate summer crop. Because they need full sun and heat, leaving them to soak up the summer sun is easy to do! Nothing beats plucking this fruit from the vine and throwing it into a homemade salsa or spaghetti sauce.

If summer had a flavor, it would have to be the tomato. There are tons of different varieties to try out including Roma, Cherry and Heirloom tomatoes. (Photo courtesy of Tori Avey.)

 

4. Basil

BasilBasil really takes off in hot weather, making it a must-have herb in gardens in the summer season, particularly for those who love to cook. If you like basil, you’ll love having the ability to pick fresh leaves off the plant to throw right onto a pizza or in a tomato sauce.

You can easily grow this tasty herb in garden beds or containers. Give your garden and cooking a zesty touch by using varieties, such as sweet basil, spicy globe basil and Thai basil. (Photo courtesy of 2 Witches 1 Blog.)

 

5. Strawberries

StrawberriesStrawberries need full sun to produce the best fruit. Increasing the amount of sunlight that your strawberries receive will result in more berries — and you can never have too many! Strawberries are easy to grow because they can prosper in different locations.

You can plant them in the ground, in a raised bed and even containers like pots or hanging baskets. The uses for strawberries are endless. Throw them in your next baking experiment, on your yogurt or simply eat them right off of the stem. (Photo courtesy of Sage Landscapes.)

Who knew how easy having your own edible garden could be? With a couple of gardening tips and easy-to-grow plants, you could have the best summer harvest ever!

Julia West is a content intern for NewHomeSource. You can find her on Google+.

Posted in Buying a New Home, Landscaping | Leave a comment

10 Ideas to Keep Kids Occupied at Home

keeping kids occupied

Have kids at home this summer? There are plenty of things in your new home to keep them busy, including baking time in your new kitchen.

By Ashley Steel

Summer — that time of year we all go a little bit crazy, whether it’s from the heat, a case of young love or the kids being home from school. While we can’t help the first two, we do have some tricks on the latter.

For parents — particularly stay-at-home parents — in the summertime, duty calls 24/7 and keeping up with regular household responsibilities can be stressful. Never fear — NewHomeSource is here! Now that you’re in your newly built home, there are plenty of great ways to utilize each room and your outdoor spaces. Here are the top 10 ways to keep kids occupied in your new home this summer:

1. Make a Plan

“Summer … offers a great opportunity to help kids learn planning skills,” says Elaine Taylor-Klaus, parenting educator and coach with ImpactADHD, an organization designed to help struggling parents more effectively raise kids and reduce stress. “Let [kids] identify what they want to do … and then use that motivation to work through all the logistics to make it happen.” Whether you child is planning a quick trip to the mall, or a long-term project such as growing a vegetable garden, planning often involves practicing other important life skills like budgeting, self-reliance and making a commitment.

2. Take Time to Play Outdoors

Take advantage of the fact that your kids aren’t cooped up in a classroom all day. Summer is a special time for exploration of the natural world. Because of its universal appeal, many outdoor activities can be done with toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children, says Marian Fritzemeier, education and child development specialist with the Fritzemeier Foundation and who has a doctorate in education. Give backyard camping a try or dig in the dirt with your shoes off.

Sadly, as Fritzemeier points out, running through “sprinklers (is) a forgotten play activity” due to automatic timers and watering restrictions. This summer, try bringing back an old-fashioned classic and manually set off sprinklers during your child’s playtime. Additionally, a nature scavenger hunt is another great way to keep kids occupied, Fritzemeier says. “Children can collect or draw what they find … or take photos.”

3. Make Work Look Like Play

“A good summer for kids can include both work and play,” says Don MacMannis, psychologist and co-author of How’s Your Family Really Doing? 10 Keys to a Happy Loving Family. “Unless you teach a child that work is bad and play is good, they will be curious about exploring any activity.”

Take the practical things that need doing, like washing the car, weeding the garden or mopping the kitchen, and turn them into a fun family affair.

4. Indulge a Little

Sharon Hepburn, a 44-year-old mother of two and author of Mothering … Your Inner Connection, believes in the power of indulgence. Whether you’re raising a house full of girls or boys or both, it’s important to entertain some of their more frivolous aspirations. Hepburn recommends a salon day where girls can get together to do each other’s nails and hair, a perfect way to indulge in your new home’s master suite.

But the possibilities don’t stop there! Your new home’s media room is the perfect place for a summer movie fest or video game day and if you opted for a pool, then it’s time for a pool party or luau. Hepburn also suggests baking as an indulgent summer activity and your new kitchen is optimized for large groups of “cooks.” Hepburn notes that “tweens love to bake and little ones can cook using cold ingredients.” Try taking advantage of seasonal fruits to add variety to your kitchen creations and to create nostalgic summer memories.

5. Don’t Forget to Educate

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean your kid’s brain should operate on autopilot; kids need educational stimulation to expand their world. “When kids are asked why they don’t read, they say it’s because they can’t find books they like,” says MacMannis. His solution? The library! Free and open to the public, libraries are an excellent place to let kids explore and pick their own books that they can then bring home and enjoy in their own rooms or a study. “Freedom of choice is the ticket to getting them motivated and excited,” he says.

6. Make Music

In addition to being one of life’s greatest joys, music provides a well-rounded and educational outlet for your child. Jay Maurice, owner of Lessons in Your Home, a music school based in Atlanta, Ga. “Not only are general music lessons a great way to keep children occupied at home, but kids have fun learning and playing music,” he says.

But beyond a learned skill that kids can add to their tool belt, learning music opens doors to countless other activities. “It’s not just practicing,” says Maurice. “Kids should be encouraged to write songs, record their music and make music videos for YouTube.”

7. Be Creative

Though many schools offer art classes, according to MacMannis, kids often complain about a lack of creative time during the school year. Summer is a great time to explore new artistic mediums, techniques and styles. “Dedicate a room … that can stay messy, so that creative ideas can be worked on whenever the mood is right (or the weather is bad),” says MacMannis.

Keep supplies like sidewalk chalk, craft paper, markers, scissors, paints and glue on hand. While younger kids may love these simple craft projects, older kids may feel left out, but Hepburn maintains there are creative outlets for older kids too. “Why don’t you let him/her paint their room? They will … get into picking out the colors, taping and spending two to three days actually painting.”

8. Community Service

Not often emphasized in school, community service is a great way for kids to learn empathy and selflessness. Summer is the perfect time to explore the ways in which your community needs help and having your kid research these needs can be an eye opening experience, says MacMannis. This tip will take you away from your new home (I know, but you have to leave eventually!).

Let your kid choose a cause they believe in and spend some time volunteering at a local library, summer camp, trash clean-up, community garden or animal shelter.

9. Leverage the Help of Friends

“Every family in the neighborhood is probably hearing the same complaints you are — ‘I’m so bored,’ ” says MacMannis, so working together with other parents can provide a lot of relief. Arrange for playdates with other kids on the block and trade off babysitting for other families in the area. Another option is to arrange for regular picnics or potlucks with other families so that the kids can play together while the adults get a few hours relief. There’s an added benefit to this: you’ll meet folks in your new neighborhood — and it will even allow you to show off your new home a bit.

10. Let Boredom Be a Teacher

“Boredom is an inevitable part of life,” says MacMannis, “and it’s not your job to keep your child from ever experiencing [it].” At some point, all kids need to learn the art of self-sufficiency and how to entertain themselves. This will give them the opportunity to further explore their new home and its surroundings.

“Just as you let them put themselves to sleep when they were babies, let them figure out how to find something interesting to occupy their thoughts and attention,” says parenting educator Elaine Taylor-Klaus. “When they complain, have some compassion … but don’t try to fix it for them.”

Without being spoon-fed ideas, children will start to follow their unique passions and aspirations while they learn to think for themselves; a valuable skill that will stick with them all of their life.

Ashley Steel is staff writer/editor for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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Get Swinging: Our 4 Favorite Hammocks To Get Comfy In

press image of Royal Botania Wave-Surf Hammock

The Wave-Surf Hammock seat by Royal Botania provides a way for two to comfortable relax in a hammock.

By Patricia L. Garcia

It’s National Hammock Day and we hope that you get to spend at least 30 minutes swinging away to the relaxing sounds of nature with a cool breeze keeping the heat at bay. Hammocks are just made for snoozing or simply taking in your outdoor space, so there’s no question why we would celebrate such a day. If you’ve never had the opportunity to relax in a hammock, I highly recommend it.

If your new home is not yet equipped with a hammock where you can relax, may we suggest these hammock setups:

Royal Botania Wave Hammock

Now, I’ve seen hammocks made for two, or three, but folks in the photos always look really uncomfortable. No matter how much you fight it, gravity always wins and you will likely squish the other person. However, if you’re going for a multi-person hammock, the Wave-Surf hammock chair from Belgian outdoor accessory maker Royal Botania is the way to go. Hammocks are not meant to be uncomfortable, so make the hammock-napping experience enjoyable for everyone.

This hammock chair is made of a woven polyester fiber with a PVC coating called Batyline, which means maintenance is a snap. You won’t have to lug this baby indoors every time bad weather is in the forecast.

Single Hand-Woven Cotton Hammock, Hamanica Etsy Shop, Etsy.com, $49.

Hamanica Etsy hammockThis made-to-order hammock is as beautiful as it is functional. Just look at that pic – it looks like a bed of clouds floating in the air. Who wouldn’t want to rest in this 100-percent cotton hammock with scalloped edging and tassels? These handmade hammocks are crafted by South African artisans and can be customized in a variety of colors and patterns. Because it’s made of cotton, it’s best suited in covered patios or other spots that will not get wet too often.

 

Canyon Larch Wood Patio Hammock, Overstock.com, $308.99.

Canyon Larch Wood Patio HammockI once owned a hammock with a stand that was impossible to put together. Once, I thought I had mastered the art of assembling it, only to have some of the pieces fly at my head as I fell to the ground while taking it for a test swing. Let’s just say I never attempted to piece it together again and gave it away.

I’m not saying that there’s no assembly required with the Canyon Larch Wood Patio Hammock (there is), but surely it’s not as complicated as mine was. And once you’ve got it all together, you have this beauty to enjoy. It’s unlikely that you’ll topple to the ground as the wooden base is quite sturdy and the hammock material is canvas cotton, so it’s weather resistant. This hammock and stand are stylish too, making it an easy addition to any patio or deck.

Cotton Rope Hammock, Home Depot.com, $59.

Algoma Patio Furniture hammockThe no-muss, no-fuss hammock, this is what immediately comes to mind when the word “hammock” is said aloud – and for good reason. You really don’t need much more than a cotton rope hammock, like this one from Algoma Patio Furniture, to find the leisurely comfort you’ve been searching for.

The cotton rope provides flexibility that moves with your body as well as keeps you cool and comfortable on warm days. This one has a stand that you can purchase separately, but for the real experience, why not tie it to two trees or to two stable points in a covered patio?

Hammock Safety

A few tips on keeping your hammock experience safe:

  • Make sure that the hammock is suspended by sturdy posts that can support your weight.
  • Abide by your hammock’s weight capacity guidelines.
  • Hang the hammock high enough so that you don’t end up on the ground once you get into it.
  • To get on a hammock, take it slow. If you’re getting onto a string hammock, start by putting your back to it and slowly lower yourself into a sitting position, putting your weight into the center of the hammock. Once you have your balance, position yourself comfortably. Getting out of a hammock can be tricky too, so take it slowly and reverse the steps you took to get in.
  • Carefully supervise children around the hammock to prevent falls or them getting their arms or legs caught in rope hammocks.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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Tips for Creating a Game Room That You and Your Kids Will Love

Game Room Design

With the kids out of school for the summer, it's time to create a game room that they'll love to play in. Photo Courtesy of Homeideas.

By Dan Chapman

School’s out for the summer and that means kids having plenty of free time on their hands. When they’re not playing outdoors, the game room is where they’ll go to relax with friends, play their favorite game or (maybe even) open up a book.

If you’re thinking of building a new home soon, why not give kids a space where they’ll want to spend their time? Here are some design ideas, as well as safety advice and pro tips for your future game room:

Intelligent Design

To get started, Nicole Sassaman, author of 100 Sassy Tips, suggests addressing all of your safety concerns and doing a quick “analysis” of your kids’ personalities. “What safety concerns do you have depending on the ages and personalities of our kids and what style do they like?”

Once you figure out these things, choosing wall colors, furniture and design accessories will be smooth sailing.

Choosing wall colors depends on the atmosphere you want for your kids and how you want them to use the room. “If you want your kids bouncing off of the walls with energy, keep the colors bright in any of the primary colors, plus hot pinks and bright purples,” says Sassaman. “If you want it to be a place for them to chill out, use more calming colors like jade green, grays, light blues and pinks and you can always add a fun chalkboard wall to add some fun.”

Shopping for furniture and room accessories can be a blast, so get out there and see what you can find at your local furniture or discount store. If your game room is on the smaller side, choose skinnier furniture that will give your kids maximum space to move around in. For accessories, you can find posters or wall art that reflects their interests, such as their favorite movies, sports teams or a favorite animal.

Only You Can Prevent Game Room Injuries

You want your kids to enjoy their new game room, but you also want them to be as safe as possible. It seems a lot of folks had a coffee table injury when they were a child, but you can reverse this scream-inducing phenomenon by buying soft-edged furniture and circular tables. Your kids will thank you one day.

With small children, cover electrical outlets and keep breakable items to a minimum. Sassaman suggests making sure that “tall bookshelves are attached to the wall.” This is important, as tall shelves are not only heavy, but can become unbalanced as books are shifted around.

If you are building a custom home, another great idea is to have the game room open to other parts of the house with a wide entryway. If it’s a two-story house, have the staircase lead straight up to the game room. The more open the game room is to the rest of the house, the more you can hear and see what your kids are doing at all times.

Fun Times and Easy Clean Up

If your household plays board games, don’t store them under the couch — show them off. Displaying games prominently on a shelf or wall will encourage kids and adults to, well, look at them.

Game Room Design

Via Houzz

Game nights can become spontaneous events once someone picks up a random multi-colored box just to see what it is. Kids will surely see a game on your shelf that catches their eye, making it more likely they’ll play the game with friends.

Be sure to have plenty of open storage space for toys, books and extra games, making cleanup easy and quick. Store items in the corner of the room to open up floor space.

Armed with design ideas, safety know-how and a couple of useful tips, you’re ready to transform the kids’ game room into a space they’ll never want to leave. Don’t forget to ask them what they want the room to be like too so they’ll be proud of the awesome game room they helped design for all of their indoor fun.

Dan Chapman is a content intern for NewHomeSource. You can find him on Google+

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5 Garden Gadgets That Will Save Your Summer Harvest

garden gadgets

Gardening is simple with handy gadgets, like these Aqua Globes that keep plants watered for two weeks.

 

By Patricia L. Garcia

When it comes to gardening, I like to throw caution to the wind. I laugh in the face of climate zones, soil testing and any other reasonable gardening advice. That’s probably why my garden is not as prolific as it could be.

Part of the reason why I don’t take the time to properly test my soil is because it’s just too stinking hot outside. The summer heat makes it difficult to do all of the tasks necessary to keep a blooming garden a-blooming. While I may never change my gardening ways, I can certainly take advantage of a few gadgets that will make garden maintenance easier. Check out these garden gadgets that will help save your garden — and your sanity — this summer:

Aqua Globes, Amazon.com, $17.99

Every summer, I fight with the heat and sun. Should I really have to water my garden morning and night? To help keep plants hydrated during the summer (and other seasons too), try Aqua Globes. As pretty as they are practical, these hand-blown glass globes keep houseplants, patio plants and hanging plants watered for up to two weeks. Just fill the globes with water, stick them into your plant’s soil and voila. The best part about these cool little contraptions is that if you’re a DIY enthusiast, you can make your own version out of wine bottles.

Parrot Flower Power Plant Sensor, Apple Store, $59.95

Parrot Flower Power Plant SensorDo you ever wonder what your plants are feeling? No, really: Is that spot on the patio sunny enough? Are you a little too heavy handed with the watering? Do your plants really appreciate the music you play for it? OK, Parrot’s Flower Power Plant Sensor doesn’t really tell you what your plant is thinking (looks like my plants will continue to get a healthy dose of Fleetwood Mac, even if they don’t like it), but it will monitor your plant’s health and send you a notification on your iPhone, iPad or iPod when something’s needed.

The plant sensor monitors soil moisture, fertilizer level, ambient temperature and light intensity, so you can develop just the right watering and feeding schedule, as well as determine if your plant is in the right spot. And, despite its name, you can totally use this on plants other than flowers, like trees, shrubs and veggies.

Husqvarna Automower 305, Amazon.com, $2,374

Husqvarna Automower 305Does your lawn need a buzzcut? This summer heat can really make mowing a brutal chore. While I really enjoy this outdoors task, most folks dread it. The Husqvarna Automower comes to save the day – all by being green and awesome. This electric-solar hybrid mower does the mowing for you, while you lounge on your back patio sipping lemonade. What’s better? It’s quiet, so you can get your lawn mowed later in the evening, without disturbing neighbors. Huzzah!

 

Burpee Easybloom Plant Sensor, Burpee.com, $14.99

Burpee Easybloom Plant SensorAgain, I like to throw caution to the wind when it comes to gardening, which means I have never tested soil in my short gardening “career.” But, anyone who’s even slightly serious about gardening knows that the foundation to any garden is good soil – if you don’t have healthy soil, you’re wasting your time. However, certain plants do better in harsh conditions than others.

Burpee’s Easybloom Plant Sensor takes the guesswork out of gardening. Simply stick this sensor into the ground and let it do its magic: the sensor analyzes the soil to determine how much sunlight the spot gets, as well as temperature, humidity, soil moisture and drainage. Then plug it into your computer to get recommendations on which plants will thrive in the spot you tested. Genius!

Hose Bollards, GarrettWade.com, $59.99 for a set of two

TGarrett Wade Hose Bollardshe simplest “gadget” of the bunch, these wood bollards help protect flower and garden beds from hoses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve trampled my garden plants with a hose while not paying attention during a watering session.

Just set up a bollard at each corner of your garden bed so that hoses are “caught” before they roll over fragile plants. Your plants will thank you by growing big and strong.

 

Lusterleaf Prop-Ups Plant Support, Wayfair.com, $74.99 for set of 24

Lusterleaf Prop-Ups Plant SupportPresumably, once you start using all of these gadgets, your garden will be overflowing with produce. In some cases, that could be a problem, like when your tomato plants are falling over everything else in your raised bed.

It’s easy to get them under control with plant supports, like these from Lusterleaf. The discreet metal supports are angled for easy functionality and don’t distract from colorful blooms.

 

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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Backyard Hero: Our Favorite Home Sports Equipment

home sports

Whether your prefer soccer, football, stickball or broomball, you can likely find a way to incorporate it into your newly built home.

By Seve Kale

As it does every four years, World Cup fever has taken over the globe. No matter which team you follow, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of last-minute goals, diving saves and international rivalries. Why not bring some of the excitement to your own backyard?

Adding a home sports set-up can keep kids entertained during the empty summer months, as well as provide an opportunity for some exercise. No matter the size or layout of your yard, chances are you can make it sport-friendly with a little imagination and the right products. You might even discover a newfound passion for the game!

Though soccer might not be your cup of tea, you’ve probably fantasized about hitting a three-pointer in the final seconds of a basketball game or catching a winning touchdown pass at some point. In honor of La Joga Bonito and the World Cup, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite backyard sports equipment.

Whether your prefer soccer, football, stickball or broomball, you can likely find a way to incorporate it into your newly built home. We’ll give you the assist with this list of our five favorite products. After all, if you build it, they will come!

Now Serving
Now Serving

Nothing says “Summer’s here!” like a pool party. Why not incorporate some athletic activity with this pool volleyball net from Cool Pool Products? You’ll simultaneously flaunt your beach body while helping to tone it. Organize a neighborhood tournament or simply practice your serve — you’ll never be bored in your pool again. Photo Courtesy of Cool Pool Products.

Straight Shootin’
Straight Shootin’

If you find yourself unable to pick a favorite sport, we’ve got your answer. The Multi-Court from SnapSports is a single system that allows you to play basketball, tennis, volleyball and just about anything else you can think of from your own home. If you’re a basketball purist, SnapSports also offers systems set up particularly for hoops. Photo Courtesy of SnapSports.

Batter Up!
Batter Up!

A residential batting cage just might be the ultimate stress relief: Imagine coming home and knocking a few pitches out of the park to decompress after a long day of work. Sounds pretty great, right? The Cimarron Batting Cage from Baseball Batting Cages promises a durable product that will bring out the slugger in anyone, regardless of skill level. Photo Courtesy of Baseball Batting Cage.

Sink a Putt
Sink a Putt

Want to practice your short game without a long drive to the golf course? Available in a variety of synthetic or natural materials, backyard putting greens are a convenient way to stay sharp. For the particularly dedicated, there are even multi-level setups that allow you to practice your chip shots and other techniques. Photo Courtesy of Tour Greens.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!
GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!

Do you dream of scoring goals like Messi and Ronaldo? Do you imagine stopping shots like Tim Howard or Memo Ochoa? The first step is practice and your backyard is as good a place as any. Available at sporting goods stores or online, these soccer goals from Forza will provide professional intensity to backyard matches. For added excitement, get one of your friends to narrate the match and scream “GOOOOOOAL!!!!” anytime someone scores. Photo Courtesy of Forza.

 

Seve Kale is a writer for NewHomeSource. You can find her on Google+.

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