How To: Implement Zen Components into Your Home and Life

Let’s be honest–we all can stand to benefit from a little Zen inspiration in our lives. Our everyday activities can overwhelm and slow us down causing many to burn out. But adding a little serenity to your life (and home) can make a huge difference in how you think and feel.

Today we’re featuring a home from coldwellbanker.com that truly doubles as a sanctuary of peace and relaxation. Not only is its inside fabulous but its outdoor living area is really a work of art. Check out the photos below.

Embrace Nature

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Plants are known to promote a calming affect. Be sure to include them in every space you can. I personally have them all throughout my home, in my room, and on my desk at work.

Keep Your Color Scheme Neutral 

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Light colors are thought to have healing and relaxing properties. So a neutral color pallet, like the one you see here, is the perfect for helping to bring out your inner zen god or goddess. Water also a representative of emotions of fluidity and adaptability.

Make use of Natural Resources 

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We’ve learned that optimizing Zen teaching means embracing nature. Implement any and all (if possible) of the five elements, also known as Wu Xing, into your personal space. Here, wood is being utilized beautifully. Wood is said to symbolize vitality.

Simplify Your Furniture and Decor 

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The simple and light colored furniture in the photo are great for taking time to sit and meditate (or just relax). Try going for simple and no-fuss decor. A Zen home or lifestyle is all about minimizing distractions.

For more information on this home click here. To see more incredible homes check us out on Instagram and Pinterest.

The post How To: Implement Zen Components into Your Home and Life appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

How to Prolong the Life of Your Plants During Summer

After a cold and rainy first half of the year, many people thought summer and sunshine would never come. Well, it is certainly here now! While it may be easy for us to beat the heat by staying indoors with air conditioning, visiting the beach, or even taking a dip in our backyard pools— for plants staying cool and alive is significantly harder.  A lot of us take pride in our perfectly manicured lawns and gardens and understandably become brokenhearted to see them wilt, discolor, and even die during the tough dog days of summer. However, there are some tips and tricks that can help to prolong the life of your plants this summer.

1. Set a feeding schedule
One of the most common mistakes people make, that actually helps to speed up the deterioration of their plants and lawn, is to water at the wrong time of day. The best time to water your greenery is either in the morning, before the sun comes up, or in the afternoon, when the sun is beginning to go down. The key is to never water when the sun is out and beaming. If you do, the water almost becomes like oil, and it will certainly fry your precious plants. The same goes with lawns. Moreover, aim to use water that is as close to air temperature as possible. Too hot or too cold may send your plants into shock. (Hey, we didn’t say this was an easy job!)

2. Choose wisely
While they may all seem beautiful, be very choosy when it comes to deciding which plants and flowers to grow for your space. Not all are created equal, meaning that not all greenery can survive in all climates. Speak to a professional, or even an attendant at your local plant store to decide together which plants are best suited for your region. If you live in a very hot area, sensitive plants aren’t the best option. Look into some beautiful annuals like Bells of Ireland, Pansies, and Black-Eyed Susans.

3. To Go Organic or Not
Many believe that going organic in the food we eat and the food we feed our plants is pointless. However, there is a point to changing up the diet and going healthier with organic alternatives. In regard to your greenery, using organic fertilizer is better for plants and lawns because it provides sustained nourishment. On the other-hand, chemical fertilizer is more like fast-food–it delivers a quick fix but its results and benefits are not sustainable.

We here at Coldwell Banker hope that these few tips will help you to improve your lawn and garden’s condition this summer. Best of luck! If you have any other tips or tricks, leave a comment below!

Information courtesy of The Daily Green.

Grow Your Groceries

As a girl from the Garden State it is my duty to show you one of my new favorite websites! Are you one of those people who has every intention of starting a garden but always seem to miss the right time to plant?  Then SproutRobot is for you. Basically, SproutRobot is gardening for Dummies. (Totally not calling you a dummy though!)

This is a super easy to use website and a fun way to grow your groceries. Tell them where your garden is by providing your zip code and what you want to grow and they make you a personalized planting calendar. When it’s time to plant, they mail you seeds and/or send you an email.

I typed in the zip code for my town, West Orange, and this is what I got back:

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It also showed me what to expect for upcoming weeks:

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According to their site, all their seeds are high quality non-GMO seeds from Botanical Interests. All transactions are done through Amazon.com which I also thought was pretty cool.

SproutRobot is free to sign up for and they also have paid packages that offer a variety of cool tools and functions.

How to Grow Flowers for Your Home in the Winter

Here in the Northeast, the days are getting kind of dreary. It gets dark early. It’s getting a bit chilly and we’re constantly checking our Weather Channel app to see if snow is in the forecast. Sure our friends in Southern California, Texas and Florida are enjoying spring-like weather, but during the winter our homes could use a little something extra to brighten the place now that the holiday decor is gone.

This video from eHow is the perfect fix for some moody winter blues. Flowers brighten up any room in any home, but what’s your green thumb to do now that it’s winter? The video above with P. Allen Smith gives you some simple steps on how you can grow flowers for your home in the winter.

Take a look and let us know what you do to liven up your home in the winter in the comments.

 

Image courtesy of Flickr user AngryJulieMonday

Home for the Harvest

I grew up in a home where ingredients like basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary and tomatoes were grown on our deck in our backyard. From planting to checking on growth it was always a fun family activity that we looked forward to each year. It may be my mind playing tricks but our homegrown ingredients always seem to taste fresher and more delicious than the store bought ingredients.  As a girl from the Garden State, I believe fresh ingredients are essential for making a successful holiday meal.

In the ongoing Best Places to Lives series, we are examining the many ways a home is about lifestyle.  Our homes can represent who we are and what we love to do.  And if you have a garden, homes can also reveal what we like to eat.

In neighborhood backyards across the country, including those at the White House and even rooftops in New York City, kitchen gardens are popping up in some unexpected places.  With Thanksgiving just around the corner, at Coldwell Banker, we decided to look through our listings to find homes that could be the perfect setting for a farm-to-table feast.

Whether you support the sustainable food movement or just love the idea of celebrating the holidays by cooking with your own fresh ingredients, these homes will give you a chance to live out your harvesting dreams.

Take a look at these homes with gardens let us know what you think!

180 Spotted Dog Ct, Watsonville, CA $1,495,000

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Friday Harbor, WA $2,890,000

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15 Gelding Hill Road, Newtown, CT $549,900

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Have you ever grown your own fruits and vegetables at home?

How to Easily Make An All-Natural Pest Repellent

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No varmints in my garden please.

Walk down the aisle in Home Depot and you’ll discover a hundred different ways to get rid of pests inside and outside of your home. Which one is the best one? Are the chemicals in them ok for your lawn? Are they okay for your family to be around? Will they even work?

These are the questions I consistently find myself wondering, especially now that my wife has turned a portion of our backyard into a pretty bountiful vegetable garden. That’s why I found this great video from eHowHome so interesting.

In the video, popular designer and lifestyle expert, P. Allen Smith, shows you step-by-step how to easily make an all-natural, and effective, pest repellant for your home or garden. Watch the video below to avoid a Caddyshack moment in order to get rid of those varmints.

 

Image courtesy of Flickr user net_efekt

Lawn & Garden Month: Clean Up That Yard! [Gift Card Giveaway]

Delmar, NY home

This Delmar, NY home, listed on coldwellbanker.com, has beautiful curb appeal.

With all of the lawn and garden tips we’ve highlighted this month, we’re sure you could give Martha Stewart a run for her money! We couldn’t think of a  better way to celebrate the end of Lawn and Garden month than  hosting a gift card giveaway for all our new and experienced green thumbs.

Simply leave us your  tip in the comments section below, on how you would use lawn and gardening to give a home beautiful curb appeal. Leaving your tip will automatically enter you for a chance to win a $100 gift card! The winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, May 4th, 2012. Be sure to leave your tip by May 2nd, 2012 in order to be considered.

 

Official Rules

 

Need to get those creative juices flowing? Jessica Edwards, a Sales Associate with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty, talks about the importance of keeping a tidy yard and provides fantastic tips to help ensure your home has eye-catching curb appeal.

Remember…To sell your house you have got to clean up that yard!

 

Lawn and Garden Month: Planning a Low Maintenance Garden

The reward of a beautiful garden is well worth the work you put into it.

I know what some of you are thinking, “this woman is crazy, the words low maintenance and gardening go together like orange juice and toothpaste (not well)!” I have tried this before and wasted my money. I am not home enough and simply do not have the time to pay attention to a garden. Excuses Excuses, this time is different. Don’t miss out on the benefits of gardening!  Check out these tips and give it another go.

Face the Facts: There’s Good News & Bad News

Bad News: Maintaining a beautiful garden often takes hard work. From planning, to planting, to proper maintenance, gardens require one of the most valuable things you have…your time.

Good News: Well thought planning prior to planting can save both time and money and we have the tips to do it!

Do Your Homework

The first step to planning a garden is deciding how you plan to use it. Will you be growing your own vegetables (there is nothing like fresh basil, YUM) or do you simply want a flower garden that will add beauty to your yard? Keep in mind those who will be sharing in the beauty of your garden. Do you have kids or pets that may affect the area where your garden will grow?

After you decide what function your garden will serve it is important to study your yard prior to planting. Note the health of your yard, where do current plants thrive? Do certain areas receive more sunlight than others? Are there any weeds? Is there a place where water accumulates?

Once you assess the current status of your yard, jot down some notes and head to the store to seek professional advice on which low maintenance plants fit the following criteria:

  • Thrives in soil, sun and your climate
  • Looks good for more than one season
  • Perennial (A plant that has a life cycle that lasts more than two years)
  • Will not outgrow the space you plant it into

Keep in mind that native plants grow on their own and don’t require a lot of attention.

Make Smart Choices

Here are ten perennial plants that blogger Marie Ianotti from About.com Gardening suggests as smart choices for a low maintenance garden:

  1. Blazing Star: Blooms: Mid-summer through fall  Colors: Purples or white
  2. Coneflowers: Blooms: Summer  Colors: Purple, white, orange, yellow, pink & red
  3. Coral Bells: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer, but grown for its foliage. Colors: White, pink or red
  4. Foam Flower: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer Colors: White or pink
  5. Globe Thistle: Blooms: Early summer to Early Fall Colors: Blue or white
  6. Hosta: Blooms: Generally mid-Summer Colors: Purples or white
  7. Peony: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer Colors: Pinks, white, reds or yellow
  8. Russian Sage: Blooms: Mid-summer to Fall Colors: Blue
  9. Sea Thrift: Blooms: Spring to Early summer Colors: Pink, rose, lilac, red or white
  10. Siberian Iris Blooms: Late spring Colors: Blues, purples or white

A popular, “out of the box”, solution is growing a garden out of the basket of an old bicycle.

Consider Container Gardening

A great solution for a “wannabe green thumb” that doesn’t have hours to spend on their garden is opting to use the container gardening method. Let your creative juices flow when selecting your container and think beyond planter boxes and hanging baskets. Some of the most beautiful container gardens are grown out of household items that you may look at as junk. A popular, “out of the box”, solution is growing a garden out of the basket of an old bicycle. Other fun ideas include cowboy boots, wheel barrows, bird feeders, dresser drawers and rain barrels.

One benefit of container gardening is that you don’t even need a yard. Decks, windows, balconies and front porches can all be used as a starting point for your garden. For more information on container gardening check out “What is container gardening?”  by TLC.

 

Avoid Common Garden Mistakes

Check out our blog post on avoiding common garden mistakes on tips. This post is packed with goodies and secrets that will guide you through common mistakes that may have tripped you up in the past.

Stick With It

Commit to giving your garden the TLC that it needs and deserves. Be patient and give your garden time to grow before giving up on it. If you see your garden going downhill don’t give up! Seek the help of fellow gardeners in your neighborhood, local nursery or go online and reach out to the garden community.  Share your passion for your garden with a family member or neighbor. Hobbies that are shared with loved ones are always more enjoyable.  The reward of a beautiful garden is well worth the work you put into it.

Good luck and happy planting! Enjoy the extra time you will have after planting your low maintenance garden!

Lawn & Garden Month: Avoid Common Garden Mistakes

Nip these common garden mistakes in the bud and enjoy gardening this year.

Resist the urge to plant too early in the season!

Timing

A few beautiful days of 70 degree weather is enough for anyone to catch spring fever. But before you say ready, set, grow; do your homework. Resist the urge to rush into breaking out your gardening arsenal of tools too early! As many seasoned gardeners know, patience is key.

First things first. Understand your local climate. A great resource which will help you to understand your planting zone’s climate is the United States Department of Agriculture’s interactive map.

Planning

 Having a plan will not only ensure that your garden has a theme but will also help you to stand firm against impulse buying once you get to the store. Write down a list of what you will need prior to purchasing seeds, soils, tools and all other garden essentials and stick to it. The bare minimum that any green thumb needs to get the job done includes a shovel, spade, garden fork, pruners and a hose (splurge on one that won’t kink up).

Water

It may sound like common sense but many people aren’t aware that it is possible to drown a plant. Too much water can be deadly to a plant. Conversely, relying on rain alone as your plants source of water is a mistake as well.  There are three keys to ensuring that your plants are being water properly:

1) Touch Test: This is an easy one! Stick your finger in the dirt, if it is wet then skip watering until the soil feels dry again. When the time comes to water, focus on the soil, not the leaves. Again, this may sound silly but this is a very common mistake.

2) Time of Day: Prime watering time is in the morning. By giving your plants a drink in the morning you will avoid water evaporation.

3) Amount: When it is time to water make sure you water deeply, meaning water your plants with at least an inch of water. It is better saturate your plants less often than to water only a bit at a time.

Ladybugs are good for gardens

Good Guys and Bad Guys

While many cringe at the sight of bugs in their garden it is important to understand that many bugs do play an important role in cultivating healthy gardens.  Many bugs are good for soil, others help to pollinate flowers and some even eat other bugs which could be potentially harmful to your garden.

According to http://www.varanasiestate.com these are some of the good guys:

  • Ladybug
  • Dragonfly
  • Ground beetle
  • Hover fly
  • Beneficial nematodes
  • Big-eyed bug
  • Braconid wasps
  • Damsel bugs
  • Minute pirate bug
  • Rove beetles
  • Honeybee
  • Assassin Bug

Animal control *TOP SECRET*

One of my mom’s best kept gardening secrets (don’t tell her I told you) is shaving Irish Spring soap bars over all of her flowers. This trick does a great job deterring deer, rabbits and other animals from munching on her beautiful flowers.

What are your green thumb secrets? Please share with us in the comments section and feel free to post pictures of your gardens on our Facebook page.