Monthly Archives: June 2014

Summer Landscaping and Gardening Tips

Whether or not you consider yourself a green thumb, it’s safe to say that a nice home looks best with a bright green yard and just enough flowery plants and shrubs, especially in summer. Spending time in the yard with your hands in the dirt is not only good for the aesthetic value of your home, but good for the soul, too. Research shows that gardeners feel more satisfied with their lives and are less likely to suffer bouts of depression – even better, CNN Money reports that good landscaping can increase your home’s value from 5-11%. There are more reasons to keep your lawn happy and healthy, but these two reasons alone are enough to get you outside, even during the hot summer months.

This summer, as you care for you lawn, your landscaping, your herb and veggie garden, flowers, fruit trees, hanging baskets – anything you enjoy pruning and nurturing – keep these general tips in mind:

  • Mow for healthy grass. Many people feel that shorter grass keeps the maintenance down, but the truth is the shorter you cut your grass, the more you’ll have to mow. Lawns should be about 2-3 inches high, and keeping the mower on its highest setting helps grass stay green and healthy, which means less up-keep.
  • Irrigate as needed. During the dry summer months, certain kinds of grasses need consistent water. Even though a hefty July rainstorm will soak your lawn, it may run off more than you think, depending on your region. Know what kind of grass you have and its watering needs, and save water by investing in irrigation systems that water efficiently.
  • Practice deadheading. And no, we don’t mean dancing around in tie-dye. Deadheading is a way to keep your flowers and shrubs blooming and flowering longer, and involves cutting back flowers and pinching spent buds to prevent early seeding.
  • Choose drought friendly plants and prepare before dry spells. Especially if you live in high-drought areas.
  • Compost, mulch, and fertilize well. There are so many great options for organic matter and making your own compost, so find the best that works for you. Well-fed plants are happy plants.
  • Don’t neglect the lawn on vacation. Have people who care for their own lawn come by and keep it alive for you when traveling.
  • Store and use hoses well—cool water is best. A hot, crinkled hose can spray hot water onto your plants and lawn, stressing even the hardiest varieties.
  • Check for and monitor pests regularly. It’s important to use insecticides and pesticides only when necessary, and know their effects on other plants, the important pollinating bees, and pets and people in your yard. If you stay on top of your lawn and garden, pests will be easy to remove before they get chompin’.
  • Weed once a week. No matter how hot it is, put on a hat and get to it. Get yourself a good kneepad and remove weeds the best way possible: by hand.
  • Hanging baskets need extra care. Through the summer, these plants need daily watering, weekly fertilizer, and consistent pinching and pruning.
  • Harvest daily. If you’re growing fruits and veggies, it’s important to pull summer varieties daily so the plants aren’t damaged by the weight and they keep on giving.
  • Edge your lawn and raised beds. To keep everything bright and clean, edge your lawn, sidewalks, and even fence lines. Bricks beside raised garden beds are useful, too.
  • Water plants and lawns early. Cool mornings with early sun are the best times for yard work and watering. The soil accepts the water before the heat evaporates it, and your body is fresh and less likely to tire and burn.

Though it may seem like hard work, we all know that good manual labor makes for a proud exhaustion at the end of the day. If your house and lawn is in top shape, it makes the payoff even better, especially when it comes time to sell your home and move on to the next. Increase your own happiness and property value by keeping your lawn fresh and green all summer long.

Keeping Breakables Safe

One of the hardest things about moving is assuring your breakables make it to your new home safely. Most of the time, our breakable items are our most precious items – good plates and glasses, antique ceramics and figurines, expensive mirrors and picture frames that house family photos, and precious electronics. We’ve gathered some great tips for keeping valuables safe and secure in transit, so you feel at home in your new space.

Gather the Right Tools and Materials

Often, the biggest moving mistake people make – and later regret – is not having the right packing materials on hand. We know moving can be expensive and tedious, but even more costly can be the annoyance of replacing costly items when you’d rather be setting up your new home. You don’t have to buy the most expensive packing materials to keep your breakables safe, either. Plan over a six-month period, save old blankets, towels, papers and shipping boxe,s and you’ll only have to invest in a few extra things come moving day.

Plates and Glasses

The best way to pack glasses is with bubble wrap and paper, according to most. Wrap and tape glasses individually, then place them in well-lined boxes labeled accordingly. Many people use newspaper or towels to save money, but know that newspaper will require extra washing and towels may slide and slip.

Dishes can be wrapped in bubble wrap or paper, but the most surprising way to pack dishes lies in their placement boxes. Many stack their dishes as if they’re in the cabinet, but we found that placing them wrapped on their sides is the best. Be sure the box is well-lined and labeled, too. If a plate or dishware is antique, it’s best to keep it separate and double-wrapped. The more fragile or meaningful the item, the more secure it should be.

Mirrors and Frames

We recommend doubling up on these items. Tape the front of any glass in an X shape to keep from shattering, and then consider wrapping them in cloth or paper. We think it’s a good idea to pack them in a thin frame box, or make one of your own. Many people tape mirrors and frames and simply use blankets in the back of the truck to keep them safe, and they end up shattering anyway. Save boxes year round and then cut larger ones and mold them to your frames and mirrors.

Lamps and Shades

The best way to pack lamps and shades is to first remove all your shades and wrap them in paper, cloth or bubble wrap. Choose large boxes that will accommodate the shades when stacked together, with plenty of extra room for padding. Once stacked and in the box, do not put anything on top – shades can easily crush. Simply label as fragile and “this side up” and keep an eye on them in transit. The rest of the lamp, depending on the size and shape, can be wrapped and placed in its own box.

Electronics

People quite often leave the television alone, and hope the movers will keep it safe, or that the right place in the truck with a blanket will keep everything in top condition, only to find a deep scratch and unworkable items when they arrive. Treat all electronics like fragile glass, and you won’t have this problem. Keep things like computers safe with you in the car if possible, and use bubble wrap, tape, and cardboard to safeguard televisions, stereos, and microwaves – anything with delicate internal mechanisms.

The Big Stuff

What about the antique bed frame that doesn’t come apart? The piano? The old wooden trunk with delicate latches? It’s important to safeguard these big items just as much as the dishes. If you have an old, valuable desk to move but would be heartbroken to find it scratched or damaged, consider wrapping it in paper or investing in cardboard edges. Be sure you use the right tools to transport it from the door to the truck and once in utilize all your extra towels and blankets to keep it safe and immobile.

Patience

What’s the most valuable material you can have on hand when packing breakables? Patience. Give yourself plenty of time, if possible, to really safeguard your belongings and pack well. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll stuff an antique mixing bowl or family heirloom into a box of socks and hope for the best. Though sometimes it can work, you’re better safe than sorry.

Estes SureMove is happy to provide you with all the moving tips you need, especially when moving across the country. Visit our homepage for a free quote today!

Keep Your Home Safe While on Vacation

It’s that time of year! Warmer days, trips to the beach or the lake, getaways in the mountains, vineyards, or state parks of your choice – the world is your oyster, as the saying goes. As you and your family plan your summer vacations, it’s important to pack well and plan for anything. Most importantly, however, is how you leave your home while you are gone. It’s easy to just lock up and forget about your life at home while you lounge on the beach or hike in the mountains, but safety is important – you want to be sure your life is still there when you return! To keep your house safe and in mint condition, here is a list of things to do before you leave:

  • Turn off all major appliances. This will help conserve energy and keep the house safe. Unplug everything you can, even televisions, computers, charging plugs, and kitchen appliances that you won’t need to use.
  • Adjust thermostats and water heaters. You don’t want the house to cook while you’re gone, but you certainly don’t need the air-conditioning set to 65. You can also change the setting on the water heater so it doesn’t work hard to heat water you won’t be using for a while.
  • Keep the house safe. Vacationing home owners can be victims of theft, so be sure to keep a low-energy porch light on at night or set timers so you home appears occupied. Keep a car out front if possible, and hold the mail or arrange for a neighbor to pick it up. Make sure neighbors you trust know that you’re gone, and have friends drive by or stop by occasionally to check up.
  • Keep the plants and pets happy. If you can afford a sitter, that’s your best option for safety on a summer vacation. They can keep the house occupied, feed the pets and water the plants. Otherwise, you may want to install a self-watering mechanism in plants or have someone stop by to water them if you’ll be gone long. If your pets are staying home, be sure someone stops by regularly to feed, walk, and check on them.
  • Print emergency information. Give it to several people, family and friends. They’ll need to know how to reach you in case of an emergency at home.
  • Check the washer and dryer. Nothing is worse than coming home to moldy clothes left in the washer. Better do the dishes, too.
  • Check the refrigerator. Plan to eat perishables before you go out of town, and compost or toss the rest.
  • Check your bills and set up an auto-response for important email addresses. You want to make sure everything is paid and anyone who might need correspondence knows you’re gone.
  • Arrange for lawn care for long vacations. Almost as bad as moldy clothes, is coming home to grass that’s up to your hips. See if you can pay a neighbor’s teen to mow it for summer cash. You can also invest in a soaker hose that keeps flowers, lawns and veggies watered without waste.
  • Lock up and remove all extra keys. Once you’re sure you have the house keys in a secure spot in your luggage, consider removing any hidden keys around the exterior. Give them to a close friend or family member for safekeeping until you return. Check all windows and doors, and place stoppers in sliding glass doors, too.
  • Have someone take out your garbage. This one’s another good tip for making the home look lived in while you’re gone.
  • Don’t share everything everywhere. Although it may be necessary to send an auto-email response, consider keeping your social media as private as can be. If you want to share your location and photos as you go, up the privacy settings and scan your friends list to be safe.
  • Install safety features. If you can afford it, and you plan to be gone for longer than a week, you may consider a home security system that adds that level of comfort while you’re gone.

We hope these are helpful tips as you ready your home and family for summer vacation. At Estes SureMove, we believe a happy, safe, and secure home helps make moving easier when the time comes.

Choosing a New Place to Live

Many times, we don’t have a choice in where we live. Maybe your job brought you where you live now, or your last move took you closer to family. Maybe you got a job after college and stuck around your college town to build your resume and never moved, or maybe you’ve stayed in the place where you were born, building a life where you were raised, and haven’t had the opportunity to move. These are all normal parts of life for many Americans, but for most of us, the itch to move and change the scenery bites every so often. Once you’ve scratched that itch and decided it’s time to move, how do you decide on your next hometown?

The Best Place for Your Lifestyle

The most important thing to do before you begin looking for your next stomping ground is to assess your lifestyle, your desires, and your needs and hobbies. Make a list of what you need from a place you call home, and be specific. These questions and tips will help:

  • Are you a family person or do you plan to stay single for a while? Or, has your family grown up and it’s just you and your partner needing less space and a quiet place?
  • Do you need roommates, or can you afford to live alone?
  • How important is it to be in or close to a big metropolitan city? Do you like to be in walking/biking distance of most amenities, including your job?
  • If you crave a more rural setting, can you afford a commute to work?
  • Are you interested in a suburban community, or something more spread out?
  • Do new houses and developments appeal to you? Or, do historic houses with classic charm call your name?
  • How important is a good school system to you and your family? Does living near a University appeal or repel you?
  • Will a few basic grocery stores and shopping malls suffice? Or, do you crave a variety of options from farmer’s markets and locally owned shops?
  • Don’t forget the weather. If you’re moving to the Midwest, consider tornado threats. The Southeast comes with hurricane warnings and the Southwest, brush and forest fires. Are you a hot weather person? Do you prefer a wet climate or a drier one? Cold or ice cold? Rainy or blue skies?
  • Is a thriving arts culture important? Is a variety of religious and spiritual opportunities important?
  • Can your job come with you or do you need a place that has options to fit your working needs?
  • How does this place actually look and feel? Do you need trees and parks? Open sky? Tall buildings? Family-style houses and big lawns? Trust a gut instinct and take a walk and/or drive around to see if you feel inspired.
  • Every city and town has its crime, but the important thing is to know what your new home is known for. Contact your local police department to inquire about local crime and safety.
  • If you are buying, you may want to check into local property values, taxes, and development.
  • Is affordability important? Of course it is. Be sure you take a good look at your budget and choose a place that is both inspiring and won’t break your bank. It is possible to have both.

Once you understand your own needs, then you can go online, start browsing different lists and articles, and narrow it down. There are plenty of websites devoted to narrowing down the best places to live by category, and it’s up to you to decide which sources are reputable and why.

How to Pack for a New Place

Once you’ve decided to change your neck of the woods, it’s important to assess your belongings now before you pack. Your current lifestyle may be completely different from your new home. Maybe you’re moving because you’re expecting your first child and want to be closer to schools, but currently live in a big city apartment. Maybe you’ve been living in Missouri and have endured its long, cold winters and now are headed to the South for its warm summers and active, outdoor lifestyle. As you begin packing the house, consider only keeping one parka instead of five. Donate or sell your ice fishing gear to make space for a canoe.

These are just quick examples, but we do recommend taking your new home and town into consideration as you pack. The less you haul across the state or country, the more money you save – especially if you’re using Estes SureMove and only pay for the space you use!

Labeling Tips for a Sure Move

When the day to move your family into a new home arrives, the ease of the day and the weeks that follow depend on how organized you have been in your packing process. This means neatly packed boxes and of course, safeguarding against damage of any kind. It means planning the days ahead with precision, packing the truck on a good day after a hearty breakfast with plenty of helpers, and unpacking the truck in a way that makes setting up shop in your new home a breeze.

A foolproof way to make unpacking easy (and dare we say it, even fun!) is to get real on your labeling system. We’re not just talking basics like bathroom and bedroom, fragile items and winter clothes, but taking the time to get specific and if you’re up for it, color-coded. Below are some fun tricks to making the labeling process worth the extra effort:

  • Print large enough labels to include their contents. This may seem unnecessary, but the more specific you can be, the better. When you start unpacking, you should prioritize so you can decorate as you go, instead of moving things around later, adding steps, and a few weeks onto your move. The faster you can make the new house feel like home, the better.
  • Color-code everything, and make it bright. This makes boxes easy to identify and separate into the precise room and area in which they belong on the fly. Instead of just getting boxes in the door, get them where they belong. When you’re tired later and don’t have to move boxes again, you’ll thank us.
  • If you’ve color-coded, make a master legend. Paste it at eye level so you and everyone who is helping you move can see it as they bring in boxes and furniture. You can even stick a colored label at the entryway to each room so everyone knows each room’s future purpose.
  • For general boxes, use labeling tape. This labeling tape is also color-coded so be sure you match it to other labeling systems if you are using more than one.
  • Play with colored duct tape! At any hardware store, you can find up to 20 different colors and designs on duct tape these days, so if buying and printing labels is out of your budget or doesn’t feel crafty enough, create your own system with colored duct tape. You can write the contents on the tape with colored Sharpies, too. Have fun with it! Who doesn’t love having extra, useful duct tape lying around for future fix-its?
  • Label all sides of boxes, if possible. Though this might feel wasteful, at least hitting up two sides of the box will help make actually seeing those labels you spent good time on, easier. A better tip is to use color dots for three sides, then put the master label with its contents on one side to save money and time.
  • Label furniture, too.  Clearly, you don’t have to include contents on a sofa, but a quick sticker to assure the chair for the study doesn’t end up in the second floor extra bedroom will save you the heavy lifting.
  • Create an open first label. Make this an extra label for boxes that need to be opened right away. You won’t even need to check the contents on these first because you’ve planned so well.
  • Don’t forget to label fragile items. Make this label the biggest and brightest.
  • Make little labeling tags for wires and disassembled furniture. You can color-code these the same way you do the rest of your boxes and furniture, too.
  • Inventory your boxes. In addition to your labels, number your boxes to keep track of your life. Writing things like box 5 of 10 for each room makes it easy to know what’s missing.

We hope these labeling tips help you organize your move in the most creative and simplified way as possible. As with most things, just a few extra steps make for a more relaxed task. When you’re ready to haul your belongings to your new home, call Estes SureMove for a free estimate!

Homeowner Tips for a Cool and Clean Summer

We have all heard of spring-cleaning, and it’s important to dust and air out the house during those first few green and sunny spring days. Even more important is to prepare the house for summer months, and to keep a running list of good cleaning habits nearby so summer is fresh and easy, even when it’s hot and humid. Summer months mean running the air conditioning and fans, which means that air and dust is circulating constantly through your filters, fans, and open doors. Summer also means longer days and many outdoor activities – more dirt and wet clothes, patio meals, sun kissed skin, insect bites, and green thumbs. Here are some tips to keep the home clean, cool, and ready for anything during our more active, outdoor days:

  • Clean the filters. Keeping the house cool is important for most people during the summer days. It’s also good for allergies, but a clean filter goes a long way. Changing the air filters in your A/C unit helps the air stay clean longer, and your system will work more efficiently, cooling off your hot skin and your power bill.
  • Vacuum vents. Don’t forget to change the air filters and vacuum all the vents in the house, too. If you have pets or highly allergic family members, best to change them every 30 days.
  • Dust the fans. While you have the vacuum out, clean the fans (ceiling fans too!) as best as possible, and run the hose along the floorboards, wall corners, and behind furniture. The less dust and grime there is to circulate, the better.
  • Check on major appliances. Many home maintenance companies experience slower business in summer so it’s a good time to check on the house and appliances. Cash in on deals and good service when you can!
  • Hose down the patio. Break out the outdoor patio furniture and grill, along with any children’s toys and gardening equipment and give them all a good hosing down in the summer sun to dry. This also gives you a chance to check for any insect infestations hiding in storage crevices and clear them out.
  • Wash out the winter. Everyone knows it’s good to put away winter clothes and blankets, but do you wash them all first? This saves time when it gets cold again in the fall and assures proper, clean storage. It’s also a good time to flip and clean the mattress, too.
  • Pressure wash. Summer is a good time to pressure wash the deck and siding, porches and patios. Renting a pressure washer can be affordable, but if you’d still like to save money, many stores sell cheap add-ons for your basic garden hose and work well for basic up-keep.
  • Landscape. Trim away any branches and rogue bushes that are near power lines and HVAC units to keep from costly repairs down the road. While you’re at it, check the health of any trees and vegetation on your property and remove any dead or dying material. Then plant your gardens.
  • Stop dirt in its tracks. With all the extra dirt tracked in during summer months, it’s a good time to invest in sturdy nylon mats for each doorway so the tracking stops there.
  • Stock the first aid kits. Many forget that summer mean sunburns, scraped knees and insect bites, so prepare the medical kits and cabinets for summer emergencies. Restock your first aid kits and consider making family emergency bags if you live in an area prone to natural disasters.
  • Sparkle the glass. Clean the windows and sliding glass doors. And don’t forget the tracks of the windows and doors, too.
  • Extras. Clean and hose out the gutters for summer storms, and while you have the hose out, spray and dry the lawn mower, too.

There are plenty more tips out there, but we think these are a good start. It may seem like a lot, but a well prepared home will grant you more time to enjoy the long summer days with your family. We’re moving pros at Estes SureMove, but we know there is much more to an easy moving process than simply packing up. Being a savvy homeowner makes life easier when you’re in the home, and when you’re ready to pass it on to the next.

First Move for Graduates

Graduating from high school or college is a liberating rite of passage for many teens and young adults. It is at this point that the years of hard work finally pay off, and the new grads head off into the “real world”. However, with the newfound freedom also comes the moving process. If it is you or your child’s first move, it could turn into a headache quickly, although it does not have to be.

The good thing about moving off to college is that generally, your son or daughter moves into a space smaller than his or her bedroom. In addition, the room is usually already furnished. Therefore, you are not transporting more than clothes, some electronics, bedding and fixtures. However, for someone moving back home or into his or her own place, there will be a little – or a lot – more moving to do.

Moving is not an easy process, but it is not as difficult as it sounds either. With proper planning, the move can be handled quickly and efficiently. For entering college freshmen, schools often offer a checklist of the necessities and recommendations of what else to bring along. The checklist also outlines what is not allowed in the dormitories.

Regardless of whether you or your child is headed off to school, or going into the real world, we offer a checklist of our own as well. It offers advice and tips for every step of the way, from the planning stages, to who to contact and alert, to the aftermath when everything is moved in. You should not have to do everything on your own, and while family and friends are there to help, let Estes SureMove help you make the move to or from school a smooth one!

We here at Estes SureMove offer convenient solutions to help you reach your moving goals. Regardless of how big or how small the dorm room or apartment is, Estes SureMove offers a moving truck that is perfect for you. We offer a 28’ moving truck, but only charge you for the space you need. In addition, we drop the truck at your residence, and give you three (3) days to load everything. From there, we deliver the moving truck to the destination, and give you three days to unload your haul!

You have enough on your mind with getting into or leaving school. Let Estes SureMove at least take a small load off…literally!

A Small Checklist to Help You Find the Perfect Home

Last week, we talked about the moving process for a graduate headed off to college or into the “real world”. This week, it is all about finding the right place for you, and turning new your place – whether you rent or own – into a “dream house”. If you are not familiar with moving, we have you covered. There is a lot to consider before you start packing, but with a little preparation, it can be a smooth process. All of these things should factor into where you live, and can help make your new place somewhere to call home for years to come.

Daily Commute
Chances are you do not want to spend your mornings and/or evenings stuck in traffic. Therefore, consider finding an apartment close to where you work. By living closer to the office (say, a few miles away), you will be surprised at how much you will save on gas every month.

If you live in a big city, look at the public transportation options. Consider living near a train station and riding to work. Although it may be an extra expense, you could also offset things with the money potentially saved on gas.

Amenities
What exactly do you look for in your next place? Do you want a balcony overlooking the neighborhood, or a large backyard for the kids? If you live in a building, perhaps you want a pool and/or a fitness center. Those are all things to consider, but also think about amenities inside the individual home/apartment. Perhaps you want a dishwasher or fireplace, or maybe a washer and dryer. You might prefer natural lighting, and therefore want extra windows. While you may not want to sound like the picky couples on the various house hunting shows, you still have the right to want a few bells and whistles. Just try not to get too picky.

Size/Space
Depending on how many people live in your new place, space will likely be a factor. If you are getting married or expecting, more room is always a good idea. If it is just you, maybe you want to downgrade, which saves money on heating and energy costs. Not everyone needs a luxurious home, and some prefer a studio or one-bedroom unit. Just remember when you start packing that you will also need rooms and closet space to store your belongings.

Nightlife
Do you like going to Happy Hour after work? Maybe you want to check out some of the street festivals during the summer. If nightlife is a big deal, consider finding an apartment close to the social scene. Having bars and restaurants within walking distance always comes in handy, especially if you have a favorite place to go. In addition, you save a little gas and get some exercise in the process!

Before you even pack the first box or reserve a moving truck, you have a few things to consider. And even after you find the “perfect” spot, keep in mind your security deposit or down payment, and getting approved. At the very least, you at least have a better idea of what to expect. Happy hunting!