Show Notes: Fall Landscape Trends and Stair Safety – On the House

Show Notes: Fall Landscape Trends and Stair Safety

By on September 7, 2017

If fall landscape renovations are on your “to-do” list, we have the latest trends for you. Looking for a Saturday home maintenance  project? Here are two for you:  Give your stairs a quick safety check up to make them safer for the entire family, and then clean your door knobs. When was the last time you did that?


What Is ‘Haint Blue’?

Here’s Why Southern Porches Have Blue Ceilings

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of sipping sweet tea on a sun-drenched wraparound porch down South, you might have looked up to find a colorful surprise.

Porch ceilings in the American South (and parts of the Northeast) are almost always painted blue — whether the rest of the home’s exterior is white, yellow, pink or any other color of the rainbow.

It’s no coincidence.

The folklore piece refers to the concept of “haint,” a Southern variation on the word “haunt” that refers to a ghost or spirit. “Blue represented water, and apparently spirits can’t traverse water,” said O’Neill. “People would paint the ceilings, the window trim, and sometimes the doors (to keep spirits away).”

What started as superstition has since translated into a design trend. “No one would think twice about painting their porch blue, because their grandmother’s and their parents’ (porches) were blue,” O’Neill explained. “It’s permeated into porch design.”

In fact, the pale blue-green tint is now known in design circles as “haint blue.”

And there’s one more perk: Blue paint is believed to keep bugs and birds from nesting. While some think this is due to the heavy doses of lye that used to be in the paint supply, there’s a psychological argument, too.

If an insect perceives that a ceiling is really the sky, it instinctively wouldn’t nest there. It depends how deep you want to go into the brain of an insect … but it’s not unlike how ladybugs will land on a white house. It’s a visual trick.”

Whatever the reason, it sounds like spending some time under a blue ceiling won’t leave us feeling blue!


The Top 5 Landscape Design Trends Of Fall 2017

 While many people mistakenly associate only the spring and summer with outdoor activities, fall is prime season for many landscape projects. With autumn just around the corner, the National Association of Landscape Professionals(NALP) announces its official list of the top landscape trends anticipated to receive increased interest and adoption by homeowners this coming season. The association foresees an uptick in landscape enjoyment and projects this fall, thanks in part to forecasts that predict a warmer-than-usual season in most parts of the country.

Homeowners look to extend the summer outdoor entertaining season and adapt their landscapes for enjoyment throughout the year. By working with a landscape professional, homeowners can learn how to implement the latest trends into their landscapes and discover the options that work best for their location and lifestyles.”

  1. Technologically advanced fire features.Fire features continue to be a top homeowner request, and during the fall in particular, fire pits and fireplaces are in high demand. In keeping with the home automation trend sweeping the nation, today’s fire features offer advanced technological capabilities, with the ability to be programmed to turn on/off at particular times or to be controlled from the indoors or with a smartphone. This automation trend also extends to irrigation systems, which is especially useful during the typically wetter fall season, to prevent excess watering of lawns and landscapes.

  2. Contemporary twists on classic fall plantings.Flowers, shrubs and trees that highlight the rich, warm colors of the season and reach their peak blooming time in the fall and winter months, such as chrysanthemums, boxwood, and maples, are hallmarks of fall landscapes. Several classic plantings are also now engineered to be more hardy and longer-lasting. This season, expect to see the classics married with modern-day style, with plants arranged in contemporary groupings, and landscape designs reflecting clean lines and simple sophistication.

  3. Increased focus on lighting up landscapes for safety.While developing landscapes so they can be safely enjoyed is always a top priority for landscape professionals, more and more design elements of landscapes, such as LED lighting, prioritize safety. Proper landscape lighting is especially important during the shorter fall and winter days, ensuring outdoor play areas are well-lit and walkways are easily accessible through the evening and nighttime hours. Not limited to lighting, the emphasis on safety also plays a role in fall landscape maintenance, when it is important to preemptively evaluate and manage tree branches or overgrown roots that could become a property hazard.

  4. Low-maintenance, natural-looking materials.The latest hardscape materials mimic the look of real wood and natural stone without the associated maintenance. Porcelain tiles are quickly becoming a material of choice, as they are less susceptible to degrading from harsh weather conditions, an especially desirable quality during the fall and winter. Similarly, this trend includes faux finishes and materials on outdoor furniture, such as synthetics that look like real leather.

  5. Stunning interiorscapes.During the fall and winter months, “interiorscapes,” or indoor landscapes, will become more prevalent as homeowners seek to bring the outdoors in. No longer limited to basic houseplants, large living “green” walls, made entirely of greenery and other plants, create dramatic focal points in interior rooms and courtyards, while tropical container gardens, such as arrangements of edible citrus trees, bring a taste of the island life to properties in cooler climates.

The voice of the landscape industry, NALP develops its trends reports drawing from the expertise of landscape professionals representing various regions of the U.S. who are at the forefront of outdoor trends. The landscape trends are also influenced by broader lifestyle and design trends.

Fall is prime time to plan landscape enhancements and complete landscape maintenance tasks to ensure a healthy, vital landscape come spring. Tasks that should be completed in fall include seeding or over seeding the lawn, investing in proactive weed control measures and developing a snow removal plan.


Kitchen Appliance Care

Kitchen appliance maintenance is probably going to make the most difference in your home overall, as the machines here are generally used quite often. Though a broken kitchen appliance should usually be handled by an appliance professional, keeping them clean and using them properly is something that homeowners should pay attention to if they are to function well over their lifetimes.

If a gas appliance stops working, check to see if the pilot light has gone out. If you have the manufacturer’s instructions handy, they may show you how to safely relight the pilot yourself.

Wait until you have a full load of dishes before running the dishwasher; this will not only save you money on energy and water bills, but can also extend the life of your appliance, too.

Has a burner on your electric stove stopped working? They are generally inexpensive and easily replaced. Yellow flames in a gas stove are an indication of a problem. Flames should always be blue, so seeing other colors means that you’re not running at full efficiency; you may want to call a service professional.


 Safety Check Your Stairs

 Every six minutes, a child ends up in the emergency room because of a stair-related injury. And these visits aren’t just about scraped knees – three out of four of those kids suffer head and neck injuries! To protect your family, take fifteen minutes to check the safety of your stairs. If you discover any issues, contact a professional contractor to help resolve the problem.

 New homes are by no means immune to danger, but older homes are more likely to have problems. If your home is more than ten years old, it’s important that you check your stairs at least once a year to make sure they stay safe.

Check the following things on your staircase: 

Clutter. If your family commonly sets things on the stairs to bring them up and down, it’s time to break that habit. Small items on the stairs are dangerous, especially if a young one is racing to the dinner table! Instead, place a basket near – but not on – your stairs and put items destined for another floor in the basket. 

Stair treads. Check the length of your stair treads. Are they deep enough for the whole foot of the largest-footed person in your home? If not, they’re a potential fall hazard.

Balusters. If you have small children in your home, this is especially important. Use the “tennis ball test” to make sure your stair balusters (also called spindles and stair sticks) are safe. If a tennis ball can fit between the balusters, a small child can also fall through that space!

Light switches. Does your home have a light switch on the top and bottom of the stairs? If not, a late-night tumble could happen. In the United States, building codes require light switches in both places if the staircase has six stair treads or more. But some older homes may not be equipped with both switches.

Handrail. Give the stair’s handrail a hard tug. Does it move at all? If so, it should probably be tightened up. 

Uniformity. Stand at the top of your flight of stairs and look down. Do all the stair’s edges – including the very top landing – line up? If any stair is misaligned, it’s a fall hazard. Note: This is a relatively common problem in new homes.


No More Dirty Door Knobs

 Doorknobs come in many different materials — brass, silver and crystal, to name a few — but what works for one knob may be too harsh or too weak for another. Here’s how to treat the most common types: 

Brass or Silver
For fine metal doorknobs of brass or silver, head to your local hardware store and look for a product that’s specifically designed for the material. (Brasso works great on brass.) Pour the cleanser onto a slightly damp sponge and rub it on the knob using a circular motion. Allow the cleanser to dry into a haze (it will look similar to car wax), and then wipe it off with a clean, soft terry towel or rag.

Crystal (or Similar Materials)
For crystal or similar materials, try a general purpose cleaner. But find one that is generally safe for most surfaces and that does not contain solvents, which can damage metals. (Krud Kutter is one good option.) Spray the knob’s surface, allow the cleanser to sit (but not dry) for a minute or two and wipe vigorously with a clean, soft towel or rag. Multiple applications may be required to get your knob sparkling, depending on how long it’s been since its last polishing.

Clear Coated
Some old doorknobs are clear coated, which means the polish won’t reach the knob. To polish the material underneath, you can remove clear coats using solvents like mineral spirits. But be sure to use them in well-ventilated areas. Mineral spirits and other solvents tend to have a strong odor.


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