Curb Appeal

Halloween Home

This year, it seems everyone is ready to celebrate Halloween earlier than ever. We found plenty of options to decorate your yard in a flash on trusty ol’ Amazon.

Create a spooky scene with orange, green, or purple lights and a cool image projection show:

Decorate the porch with some witchy hats or ghostly windsocks:

 

While you’re there, add festive banners to the doorway:

Fashion a giant spider web that will be sure to gather some ganders:

Line your paths with a few jack-o-lantern stakes, or backlight some witchy silhouettes and faux grave stones:

Got leaves? Turn them into decorations:

Make your yard stand out instantly with giant inflatables:

SIMPLE DIY: If you’re not a fan of carving up your pretty pumpkins, try using black removable adhesive vinyl to cut out jack-o-lantern faces. Then gently remove after Halloween for perfect porch pumpkins.

How will you celebrate the spookiest season of the year? Share your decorated yards with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Curb Appeal

Mailbox Refresh

Does an old weathered mailbox got your curb looking drab? Time for a refresh!

Start first by selecting a spray paint developed for exterior use and the type of mailbox you have. We had a sun-bleached brown plastic mail box, and found this spray paint by Behr, at the Home Depot (pictured here).

Our experience: This Behr indoor/outdoor spray paint was easy to work with and had good coverage. It came in a variety of modern colors, has corrosion protection, and states it adheres to “wood, metal, plastic, and more”. (We used it on plastic.) It has been several months now and our mailbox still looks shiny and new!

Note: Some paints will not cure properly in certain weather conditions. Different spray tips may have different prep instructions. Even if you’ve spray painted before, be sure to read the label for use and safety instructions BEFORE painting.

NOW, GRAB YOUR SAFETY GEAR AND HEAD OUTSIDE TO PAINT THAT MAILBOX!

  1. For maximum results, remove any stickers (like vinyl box numbers).
  2. Use newspaper and painter’s tape to snuggly protect any other areas you don’t want painted. Think prime areas for over-spray, like the red mailbox flag and the post. Stand the covered flag up before you start to paint, ensuring no paper or tape is touching areas to be spray painted. PRO TIP: Spray paint particles will drift in the air. Do not spray paint near cars, walls, or anything that you don’t want to accidentally mist.
  3. Read your paint’s label and follow the instructions. Prep your can as the label indicates, and do a small test spray on a scrap piece of newspaper or cardboard. You want a clean even flow with the paint. No spattering.
  4. Spray the box in long continuous strokes, keeping at least 6″ away from the mailbox. (If you spray too close, or for too long in any area, it creates runs and drips.)
  5. Let the box dry for about 30 minutes between coats.
  6. When the box is completely dry, remove the tape and newspaper.

SPRAYING IN A CONTINUOUS MOVEMENT IS THE KEY TO AN EVEN, PROFESSIONAL LOOKING FINISH.

I concentrated on the box part first, keeping the door open, and using a piece of cardboard to shield the edges to keep from spraying inside the box. After that dried, (about 2 hours) I loosely closed the door and spray painted it.

I left the box open over night to make sure nothing got stuck. I also put a little note in there that said “CAUTION: WET PAINT” incase the mail carrier got there early.

VOILA! A better-than-new mailbox!

 

Curb Appeal

Hey There, Hosta!

Simply edging the grass can really make a visual impact in your yard’s appearance. However, adding a plant or light edging to your pathway can take your curb appeal to the next level!

A few plants to consider for your path edges:

Hostas: This shade loving plant produces wide plush leaves, available in variegated colors. This plant’s consistent growth makes maintenance simple. Established plants also produce flower stalks.

Liriope: This is a low maintenance, fairly drought tolerant option to beautify your walkways. This grass like plant comes in a few varieties of colors and grow tiny flower stalks too.

Vinca: This pretty flower-based bush is a very hearty plant that reseeds – which means it continuously fills dedicated areas with vibrant flowers. These relatively low maintenance flowers are available in a variety of colors too!

Lighting: Path lights are an easy way to upgrade your walkways. These days solar and dusk-to-dawn options make installation and maintenance even more simple. We found the options below on Amazon.

Okay, I chose my plant or light, now how do I arrange them?

Plants: Plan for what size the plant will be, not what it is when you buy it. Check the information label on your plant, if the plant will grow to be at least 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall, we’d want to plant them at least 4 feet apart.

Plants AND Lights: Place the lights evenly between each plant so it looks like a planned design.

Lights Only: Use a yard stick or measuring tape to evenly space the lights.

PLANT TIPS:

  • A yard stick is a great tool for spacing.
  • Lay out the plants in their containers to visualize the spacing before digging holes. (Use sticks or paint stirrers to do the same thing for spacing lights.)
  • Be sure to choose plants that are right for the amount of sun or shade in your selected area.
  • Water regularly, this is especially important when newly planted.
  • Before you buy, be sure to research and/or check with a plant specialist at the nursery for information on the plants you like. A good nursery will usually have specific plant information, care tips, and will give you suggestions for planting them to flourish.
  • Research plant safety around pets and children.
Curb Appeal

Front Door Face Lift

Painting the front door can refresh the look of your home in just an afternoon. Learn how-to’s, the products we used, and get some color inspiration below!

Q: Do I need special paint?

“Front Door Paint” as seen on Amazon

A: We recommend a paint that is formulated for use on doors. We choose Modern Masters “Front Door Paint.” It had almost five stars on Amazon, so we felt pretty confident it would work well for our door. The paint is made by Rustoleum, and was available in a lot of fun colors. The “Calm” color performed perfectly and covered everything on a previously burgundy colored door exactly as anticipated without a primer. After painting a standard sized door with two coats plus detailing, there was more than 3/4 of the jar left over.

Q: What color should I choose?

A: Coordinate the front door color with the home’s exterior color.

Choosing colors can be tricky. Ideally, you should choose a door color that coordinates with your home’s exterior color. Visiting paint brands online, like Sherwin-Williams or Behr, is helpful for choosing colors and visualizing. Find the color of your home (or one that is similar from their paint options), and see what “coordinating color” suggestions pop up for accents. Those coordinating colors should give you a simple way to explore color options for your front door. Many paint brands’ websites allow you to upload your own photo for testing colors to make visualizing even easier.

OKAY, LET’S PAINT!

Q: What materials will I need?

For Prepping the Door:

  • Sandpaper
  • Multisurface Cleaner
  • Paper Towels
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Primer as needed (depends on your current door color)
  • Newspapers to protect floor from paint drips

For Painting:

  • Paint formulated for doors
  • Art brushes for details
  • Small roller brush
  • Paint tray
  • Paper towels/damp rag for drips and mistakes

Turn That Drab Door Fab!

  • Clean the door and frame thoroughly, ideally the day before you intend to paint – so that the area has time to dry completely before you begin. Pay special attention to cleaning and detailing the hardware like the handle and the key insert. Get them looking shiny and new so your door looks tip top when it’s finished.
  • Lightly sand any rough spots as needed for a smoother application
  • Keep in mind: If you are choosing a new door color that is lighter than your current color, (example a black door that you want to make light pink) you may need to use a door primer paint first. Primer and let dry before using the door paint.
  • Use painter’s tape to mask off any areas where the paint could bleed over: glass panes, edges, hardware, moulding, house trim, etc.
  • Use a small roller to paint the majority of the door.
  • Use art brushes to hand-paint the details/places the roller cannot get to; around handles, windows, edges, corners, etc.
  • Roller the door with a second coat after you have completed hand-painting the details. This will help to blend any brush marks.
  • Leave the door slightly open to dry* so your wet door doesn’t become painted shut or ruined where the door frame meets the door front.

PRO TIP: Paint the door in thinner even layers. Too much paint on the brush or roller leads to thick drippy layers that run before they get to dry, leaving visible streaks and drips on the door.

  • Even if you roller and paint perfectly, sometimes paint just drips. If you notice drips, use a brush fix them (scoop them up) while they are wet.
  • If the roller is slipping or paint is running, you’re probably using too much paint. Try working it into the brush or roller using the ridges of the paint pan before you paint on the door.
  • Once the door has dried, you may notice some see-through spots. Use a roller or hand brush to evenly cover those areas.

We can’t wait to see your door updates! Share your photos with us via email, and we may feature your door on our social media! @DeAnnaAndCompany

Curb Appeal

Keeping Cool with No Pool

Just because you don’t have a pool doesn’t mean you can’t create your own little back yard or patio oasis! We found all of these fun products on Amazon to keep you cool this summer.

Shade
Shade sails and umbrellas are great for giving your space a little shade and style!

Cool
Every oasis needs a little breeze. Keep yourself comfortable with a small fan. Misting fans or even those water bottle spray fans (popular at the theme parks) provide some air movement and a little cooling mist too. Cell phone fans are small enough to fit in your pocket or bag, and even though they are tiny, the small breeze still feels good in the Florida heat.

Refreshments
If you have never tried a Tervis, now is the time! These tumblers keep hot things hot and cold things cold, for hours! Even when outdoors for a while, there will still be remnants of ice cubes in the cup. Amazing!

Lounging
Relaxing is all about a great chair.
Consider a towel for your lounge chair with pockets on the sides that conveniently hold things like cell phone and books. Or if you’re a picnic blanket kind of lounger, there’s items for you too!

No Pool? No problem!
You can beat the heat with water misters or mini pools!

Tunes & More
Waterproof mini bluetooth speakers, glare protectors, and more things to make your piece of paradise more fun!
Reader sunglasses, anti glare boxes, hand free book holders, and even a device to lotion your back for you!

What kind of back yard paradise will you be creating? Share your “keeping cool with no pool” pics and finds with us on Instagram and Facebook! #DandCOol

 

Curb Appeal

Plants That Keep Pests Away

Mosquitoes and other bugs can become a bother when you’re trying to enjoy the outdoors. Did you know you can make your favorite outdoor spaces less desirable to pests with a few simple plants?

Herb Appeal

We’ve learned a lot of the plants that bugs dislike are simple herbs. Which means you can grow a beautiful herb garden for cooking and keep the pests at bay at the same time. Seems like a win-win!

Pops of Color

Lavender is a colorful plant with a popular scent to us humans, but bugs and other pests don’t like it. Marigolds are also great for pops of color but they don’t smell nice to most humans, AND mosquitos, bugs, and snakes. Luckily, we can’t smell them as easy as they can!

Tears of Joy

A lot of the onion and garlic family of plants repel mosquitos, snakes, beetles, snails, mites, and other bugs.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Lemongrass, lemon bee balm, the grass version of Citronella… basically most lemon scented plants in the garden seem to be listed as a bug deterrent. Mint is another scented plant that apparently mosquitos, flies, spiders, ants, and even some snakes dislike.

WITH ANY PLANTS: Always research the plants for care tips, planting needs, and safety precautions. If you are planting in an area used by pets or curious children, be sure to check labels and with a plant specialist for information on what plants may be harmful.

Deter insects from invading the inside of your home:

TRIM
Trim plants away from the house. You don’t want any limbs or leaves touching the house or roof. A good rule of thumb is to keep 1 foot of space between your house and plants. This way, you don’t give the bugs any highways into your home.

EMPTY WATER
Mosquitos love standing water. Drain any planters or lids that may have collected water.

REMOVE OLD LEAVES
Ants love old leaves and brush. Pack it up in paper bags and get it to the curb before they build a tiny ant town in your backyard.

KEEP AN EYE OUT
Use caution when you’re poking around in old leaves and brush or moving pots and lids. That’s often where critters like to hide.

Discarding Yard Waste:

I know it seems like buying those black plastic “yard and lawn” bags, seems like the right thing to buy for yard waste – but they’re not. Yard Waste facilities can’t take/process them. Make life easier for your yard waste collection team (and the environment) by placing it in open garbage cans (plant material only, no trash), paper bags from the grocery store, or purchase large paper yard bags from home improvement stores. We love the ones from Ace Home Improvement, but have also gotten them from Home Depot and Lowes. We even found them on Amazon:

Here’s to enjoying our outdoor spaces! 

Curb Appeal

Create an Instant Butterfly Garden

Grab the garden gloves! Today, we’re creating a not-so-secret garden that continuously attracts beautiful butterflies and their whimsical friends. The best news is, you can create a butterfly garden on a small budget with just a few good plants – which means you can have fun growing your garden by collecting plants little by little if the need be.

D&CO. PRO TIP: Buy in threes. Three always seems to be the magic number for how many plants to buy, especially when starting out. Grouping three of the same plants together (planting a few feet apart for growth) usually makes the best visual, and also makes it easy for butterflies to find.

Most of the plants that attract butterflies love the Florida sunshine, therefore a great area for a butterfly garden is one that has at least part sun – check plant labels or with an associate for specific plant care and warnings*. Butterfly plants are usually simple looking, with lots of green leaves and small flower accents. A butterfly garden should grow a little more wild than be perfectly trimmed and shaped all the time, if you want the plants to attract the most winged visitors. (Too frequent trimming gets rid of flowers and buds, which are what attracts the butterflies.) Approach your butterfly garden design more like you are building a theme park for butterflies, than creating a traditional tightly manicured garden.

Common Butterfly Attractors:


Monarch Caterpillar eating Milkweed leaves

Milkweed
The easiest way to get butterflies to show up in your yard is to plant some Milkweed. Milkweed is a host plant for Monarch butterflies and comes in a few varieties. We like the type pictured here best. It’s labeled a “host plant” because Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the plant so caterpillars have something to eat when they hatch. The caterpillars will eat this plant down to a nub. Don’t worry, the plant continuously leafs out and grows back again. We suggest planting it behind or among other plants so that you don’t notice as much when the caterpillars eat it all – and they will absolutely eat it ALL! Note: Milkweed is toxic to nearly everything but the Monarch caterpillar, so keep it away from curious children and animals. 


Penta flowers with butterfly

Pentas
These tiny star flowers come in a variety of colors and attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, honey bees, bumble bees… all of the little creatures that make a garden magical. Note: Some varieties are long and leggy, some are neat and shrub-like. Be sure to check labels or ask an associate about the type of penta you are purchasing, so that you know what space is best for planting it.


Yellow Shrimp Plant

Shrimp Plants
Shrimp plants have flowers that kind of look like little shrimps from a distance. It’s a butterfly favorite in any color. Note: Hummingbirds LOVE this plant too. In our yard, they seem to gravitate to the red variety. 

 

 


Plumbago with lots of flowers!

Plumbago
This one is a large loose bush that butterflies and hummingbirds love. You want to keep it a little wild so that the flowers are always plentiful and present – it’s what the butterflies are attracted to and feeding on. 

 

Plumbago

By adding all or any of these four simple butterfly attractors, your garden is sure to be a hit with all kinds of butterflies.  

Share your butterfly gardens with @DeAnnaAndCompany by using the hashtag #GrowWithDandCO

* Keep in mind: some plants can be toxic to animals and humans. Be sure to check labels and with a knowledgable plant associate for information. Additionally, it’s a good rule of thumb to always wear gloves and eye protection while gardening, and to thoroughly wash hands/shower after.

Curb Appeal

Pool Solar Panels – is it worth it?

Living in Florida, we have the ability to heat our pools with the sun using pool solar panels. But is it worth the investment?

In our opinion, yes. If the goal is to regulate a pool’s in-season temperature in an energy-efficient, cost-effective way, then solar panels are a great way to accomplish that goal. Read more to see if solar pool panels are right for your needs.

Solar Pool Panels Perks List:

  • Low energy
  • No giant propane tanks like with gas heaters
  • No reoccurring propane costs because the SUN is the heat source
  • Most economical way to keep a pool at a consistent temperature
  • Lasts 10+ years

How it works:

A solar panel heating system takes water from your pool filtration system and sends it up to your roof to be heated by the sun, moving the water through a series of small tubes in the “solar panels” before returning the newly heated water to the pool. The system has sensors that regulate and keep the pool at the set temperature, automatically adding the solar-heated water as needed to maintain temps. Here in Central Florida, it’s best used “in-season,” late spring through mid fall. You can still warm a pool in the colder months, BUT using it when it’s consistently cold can cause you more general pool maintenance issues. (Likely due to the temperature changes between day and night evaporating the pool water at a higher rate.) Keep in mind that in the winter months shorter days providing less sunlight means less heating capabilities.

What panels are best for:

Solar panels can typically heat your pool up to 10 degrees above it’s current stand-alone temperature.

A solar panel heating system simply does not have the environmental resources to heat a 40 degree pool up to a consistent 80 degrees in the winter. We only rely on our system for the warmer season when the outside day temperatures are more consistent with the night temps. While solar panels can technically work all year mechanically, winter will have less sun (shorter days), which means a lot less opportunity to warm the colder pool water with the solar panels. There’s also a lot more water evaporation if the temperature of the pool is warmer than the air on the colder nights.

How long do they last:

Be sure to ask your provider. Lots of systems are guaranteed for around 10 years. The roof components of a system is typically changed out with a new roof installation, but the mechanics of the system (the power, piping, and controls mounted on the side of the house) can last even longer. Expect a few minor fixes needed along the way, usually due to freezing temperatures in the winter. Fixes should only have labor costs when panels are under warranty.

How much do they cost:

Prices vary but typically around $3,000 to $5,000. Cost usually depends on things like how many panels your pool will need, and the additional materials and labor needed to install your system.

How to choose a solar panel provider:

Make sure they are a licensed, insured contractor. Look for real-world reviews and compare companies. Ask neighbors with pools if they have solar heaters, who they hired, and how their solar panels have worked for them. Warranty is important, so make sure you are getting a quality product that is guaranteed.

Do you have solar panels for your pool? Share your experience with others in the comments section of our Instagram pics for this Curb Appeal article: @DeAnnaAndCompany