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When Should I Have My Trees Trimmed?

Trimming your trees is a delicate science because each species and regional weather plays a role in overall plant health. Cutting most of a tree’s branches off from the leader could invigorate some species while killing off another. Before you hire tree trimmers for your property, take a look at some critical factors that must be evaluated.

Readying Trees for Fall and Winter

Depending on the region, you might have a severe cold season ahead. If your trees have many limbs that are weak or cracking already, prune these plants in the summer. Most species have completed their major growth and flowering periods by late summer so trimming at this point doesn’t compromise the trees’ health. Remove questionable branches and prune for overall shape. Don’t strip the trees of many branches, however. They still need enough leaves to photosynthesize and remain strong through the winter.

Encouraging Vigorous Spring Growth

Another trimming strategy is pruning in the late winter. Ideally, you want to cut away branches that don’t contribute to spring growth. By removing the branches in the late winter, you reduce the time that the tree is exposed to the weathering elements. New growth is almost instantaneous at that point, so that the tree recovers from the trimming stress. With fewer branches to support, the tree can concentrate on flowering and fruiting in the near future.

Avoiding Tree Diseases

One of the worst times of the year to prune your trees is fall. During this time period, spores and other particles float freely through the air. They’re essentially looking for any organic surface to latch onto and reproduce. It’s the last reproductive effort of the season for many fungi and other microorganisms. If you prune your trees in the fall and leave those cut sections exposed, they can succumb to fungi and bacterial growths.

Considering Tree Species

One of the major reasons why it’s important to consult with an expert for tree trimming is particular species care. In fact, some trees should be pruned at certain times of year for the best overall growth. Apple trees, for example, are best pruned in the late winter. Magnolia trees, in contrast, should be trimmed after their blooming period ends. Professional tree trimmers can easily create a plant care schedule that works for your property and specific tree species.

If you have a tree that’s just been established in your yard, it’s best to use a hands-off approach to its trimming. Freshly planted trees need time to work their roots into the ground. If you trim the branches and leaves too soon, the tree doesn’t have the strength to grow vigorously afterward. Ideally, allow this tree to grow another season before pruning it.

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Organization Operations: How to maximize your Donor Support

According to the National Philanthropic Trust, charitable donations are at an all-time high. For example, American individuals gave almost 360 billion dollars in 2014, which is a seven percent increase from 2013. On the other hand, corporations donated almost 20 billion dollars in 2014, which is a 14 percent increase from the year 2013.

Know Donor Targets
Non-profit organizations must be familiar with donation trends and preferences. For example, research by the National Philanthropic Trust also shows that over 30 percent of donations went to religious organizations while 15 percent went to educational organizations. Moreover, 12 percent went to human service organizations and eight percent went to health organizations. Clearly, donors have clear preferences when it comes to giving away their money. For that reason, donor organizations should associate themselves with the above mentioned groups. If possible, form a collaborate partnership that will allow you to use the organizations’ symbol on your donor literature and website. Gently remind donors that both your organization and the well-known organization are equally committed to your shared cause. For example, joining forces with a well-known organ donation program will help your non-profit health care organization.

Advice for Online Non-Profits
Online non-profit organizations have their own unique challenges, such as lack of brand awareness or market penetration. However, online donation platforms are convenient for potential donors to give money because they simply have to log in online and sign a simple pledge. Still, eliciting online donations will depend on the attractiveness and user-friendliness of the website. First, be sure to follow standard e-commerce security protocols, such as requiring multi-layered sign-in authorizations and displaying well-known security certifications. Be sure to inform online donors of the high level of security protection and use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption to safeguard your donor’s personal and financial information. Second, ensure that the website is neat in appearance, easy to navigate and visually appealing. Avoid multiple banners, vague headlines and confusing color schemes. Be sure to clearly illustrate the donation process, ideally through an embedded video tutorial.

Be Driven by Results and Relationships
Many non-profit organizations fail because they flounder in marketing and administrative processes. As a result, the non-profit promises much more than they actually deliver. Be sure to have objective goals that are regularly measured and shared with donors. On the other hand, think of a donor as a lifelong customer, instead of just a one-time financial transaction. Focus on cultivating positive and long-lasting relationships with donors. In order to accomplish this, be sure to offer multiple interaction opportunities for donors. Ideally, offer creative multiple ways for donors to engage your organization. Be sure to offer identical online, telephone, in-person and social media opportunities.

In review, donor support can be maximized through partnering with major donor organizations and improving your website’s security and appearance. Be sure to nurture both results and relationships.

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Five Strategies to Sell Your Beach Front Property Faster

Many people dream of owning a beachfront property, but when it comes to finding buyers for a beachfront home, the process becomes more difficult than it seems it should be. The keys to success when selling beachfront homes are proper pricing and great negotiation skills. The target buyers of beachfront properties may be retirees, water lovers or just investors looking for properties to turn into rentals. Selling a beachfront property requires you to demonstrate its lifestyle and investment potential.

1. Listing the Beach Condo
Hire a professional real estate agent to help you make the sale. Look for a realtor who specializes in selling beachfront properties and has knowledge of the local market. Work with your agent to ensure there is adequate exposure for the property. Advertise the property both in print and online media. Include nice photos of the property and use the beach as a selling point.

2. Staging
This refers to the process of preparing the beachfront property before it goes on the market. This process helps to make your property appealing to potential buyers. An important staging strategy involves advertising the property and fixing obvious defects or flaws in both the interior and exterior of the property. Make sure the landscaping is appealing and the home’s interior is fresh and relaxing. Help the potential buyer envision the property as his own. Staging may take some time but it can help you sell your beachfront home faster even in challenging property markets.

3. Professional Assistance
Some property owners feel they can save more by selling their beachfront properties on their own. The fact is, properties sell faster when you enlist the services of a real estate agent. Moreover, you are likely to get a better price when you use a real estate agent.

4. Showing the Beach Condo
Make sure your beachfront property is neat and appealing to prospective buyers. Buyers prefer to see a property that is move-in ready. Provide additional information about the beachfront rental market in the locality for investors who might prefer renting the beachfront home out. If you rented your property out, provide statistics of its performance. Show prospective buyers the amenities available with the property.

5. Negotiating
Disclose the total bill for the property including additional charges such as association fees and other expenses. The buyer will have to budget for these expenses in addition to insurance, taxes, and mortgage. Price the property appropriately. A higher price can work in your favor if the demand is high and supply is low. However, if there are many beachfront properties on the market, consider starting a lower price point.

Many people find it challenging to obtain financing for purchasing beachfront homes. Consider negotiating with cash buyers to avoid funding contingencies associated with prospective buyers looking for mortgages.

 

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Buying Hunting Land: Important Facts You Need to Know

If you’re an avid hunter, the idea of buying your own land to hunt probably sounds pretty appealing. It’s important, however, that you do your research and check out a few things about a tract of land before you commit to a purchase. Otherwise you could end up with a patch of land that you can’t hunt or that has nothing on it to hunt.

Know the Neighbors

You’ll need to know how big the piece of land you’re buying is an be aware of who owns the surrounding land. You don’t want to buy a small area and then find out residential buildings will be going up on the acreage next to yours. Learn everything you can about proposed roadways, rail lines and other development plans that could impact the property.

Food and Water

Know what your quarry likes to eat and make sure the property you’re buying has an abundance of it. Animals need a steady supply of food and fresh water to live comfortably, and if you’re land doesn’t have it, you’ll be sitting in a tree stand all by yourself. If the land has water but lacks the desired plant life you could grow it yourself, but be aware that this takes time.

Shelter

Game animals won’t live just anywhere. Deer, for instance, gravitate towards tall brush and trees for cover during the day. Make sure your property has plenty of comfortable places for your quarry to live as well as adequate food and water. You wouldn’t visit a grocery store that was miles from your home, and neither will wildlife. Make sure the property has shelter as well as food and water.

Hunting Pressure

Ask around and try to get an idea of how heavily any adjacent properties are hunted. When too many hunters crowd an area, game wises up and seeks shelter in a quieter setting, so it may not be wise to buy land in heavily hunted areas. On the other hand, if you limit your hunting activities and visit your land only minimally, you may be able to create a respite that attracts animals in the midst of a heavily trafficked area. Be sure to consider this before you buy.

If you consider these factors and weigh them carefully, you’ll be able to find a piece of land that you can hunt and enjoy for many years to come. The key to buying hunting land is to take your time and do your research so you don’t end up pulling the trigger on a property that looks great but fails to deliver.

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Common Strength Training Mistakes to Avoid

Strength training is an important part of your overall fitness program, whether you want to lose weight or improve your health. In fact, studies have shown that people who have incorporated strength training into their weight loss plan are more likely to keep off the unwanted pounds.

When you decide to incorporate strength training into your workout routine, it’s important to perform the exercises correctly. Here are some common mistakes people often make while strength training and how you can avoid them.

Skipping the Warmup

Going right into an intense weight training session without a proper warm-up can increase your risk of injury. Prepare your muscles for your workout with a few minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as a brisk walk on the treadmill or elliptical machine.

Speeding Through the Routine

It’s tempting to lift quickly, since momentum is doing the bulk of the work. To get the most out of your lifting session, use slow and controlled movements when lifting the weight. Be sure to rest between sets, as this allows you to replenish your muscle energy stores.

Overdoing the Sit-Ups

Many new exercisers fall into the trap of completing hundreds of sit-ups, hoping they’ll achieve six-pack abs. Unfortunately, excessive sit-ups and crunches can cause serious back pain or injury. Instead, try spine-stabilizing core exercises, which include side planks and modified curl-ups.

Not Completing a Range of Motion

If you’re attempting to lift too-heavy weights, you will reduce your range of motion. To gain strength, decrease the weight until you can complete the range of motion for one set of eight repetitions. Lifting the proper amount of weight is key to achieving proper form.

Following an Unbalanced Program

Focusing on certain muscle groups and ignoring others can increase your risk of injury while strength training. For instance, hamstrings must be strong when engaging in leg press and squat movements. Well-conditioned abs can stabilize your spine while engaging your lower back muscles. A balanced program can help you improve your overall body composition.

Not Sticking to the Program

Weight training offers a host of benefits, including increased bone density and lower blood pressure. You’ll also burn more calories while at rest. In fact, studies have shown that strength training may be a better path to fitness than cardio alone. But to receive these benefits, you must find a program that incorporates all your muscle groups through a variety of exercises. Working with a personal trainer can be a great way to learn how to properly perform each exercise.

Most of all, don’t give up! With a well-balanced program, you will notice a difference and how you look and feel. When you start a weight lifting regimen, you will be able to increase your health and well-being.

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5 Simple Ways to Prioritize your Income

After years of dealing with overspending and once again, being ill-prepared for any financial surprises, now is the time to go on a budget and take control of your finances.

Create a budget

Before you divvy up your income, track how much you spend for one week and evaluate the data. Then, you can custom create a budget framework that you are able to stick with because it is customized for your family to work with your lifestyle and financial goals.

Auto payments

Next, set up auto payments for all household expenses including mortgage, insurance, utilities, credit cards and car payments. To pay off your car or mortgage faster, set up payments every four weeks so that there is an extra payment made each year.

Savings

Another automatic payment should be set up-and that is a payment to yourself! Set up an automatic savings plan and with each paycheck, take 10% of the gross and automatically deposit this into your savings account. In ten months, you will have easily saved one paycheck’s worth of income and have made a good start in protecting yourself for that inevitable rainy day. In addition, you can even set up several separate savings plans and thumbnail them as subcategories. Some possible savings could include a travel savings plan, an education savings plan for yourself or your children, a home savings account, etc. This way, you can earmark money for a particular excursion or personal goal.

Learn to cook

Your food bill is the number one place to cut cost. Instead of spending money on convenience foods, learn how to cook food that you enjoy eating. Buy meats in bulk and divide them up into dinner sized portions and freeze them. In addition, for some meals, do not showcase meat, and instead, fill up on beans and vegetables. Take advantage of better prices of in-season fruits and vegetables at the local Farmer’s Market, or join a coop and fill the freezer. Learn how to bake bread and easily grow your own pots of herbs from seed.

Instead of going out to eat, make your splurge a bottle of high quality Italian or Greek olive oil or fine imported cheeses and really savor these specialities. Lastly, substitute. For example, instead of buying chips, buy inexpensive bags of popcorn and make it the old-fashioned way on the stove.

Pay off Your credit cards

Whether you pay off the biggest interest card, or the smallest total bill, start paying off your cards. If you have set up your auto payment feature for your credit card bills, you have already started. Now it is time to make the next step and focus on another card and make extra payments. Of course, you will not be using the credit cards until they are paid in full. Once they are paid, create rules as to when you can pull them out.

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Natural Strength Standards for Men and Women

Time magazine has reported on the increasingly popular trend of using technology to measure personal fitness. There are monitors and screens and timers on watches, equipment displays and gym walls. The idea behind all of this information is to let you know where you stand. Some people measure themselves against their past performance while others like to compete with their friends and gym buddies.

If you enjoy strength training, it is easy to feel discouraged when you see the massive weights begin moved by the people you are trying to measure up to. You might want to consider a few numbers to give yourself a more realistic perspective.

Natural Strength Standards

The standards discussed here are for natural strength training. That means these numbers are being put up by people who are not taking performance-enhancing drugs and are not using artificial aids like lifting belts and shirts.

There are several organizations that have been formed to foster natural strength training, and the weight ranges we will discuss for men are taken from the national records of those organizations. The numbers for women are suggested by Livestrong.com.

Men

Strength is usually measured across three common lifts: the squat, the bench press and the dead lift. Standards depend upon the size, age, gender and level of training of the individual lifter and are based on a single repetition. Take as an example a 220-pound man in his prime. He is a very strong man if he can do a 350-pound squat, 235-pound bench press and 370-pound dead lift. If, however, he wants to compete at the highest levels of natural bodybuilding, he will need to aim for the records that stand at about 650 pounds for a squat, 450 pounds for a bench press, and almost 700 pounds for the dead lift.

Women

Now consider a woman who weighs 132 pounds. If she has been training for a couple of years and has reached the point of being stronger than about half of her lifting counterparts, she will be able to do a 130-pound squat, 90-pound bench press and 160-pound dead lift. If she keeps training for a few more years and reaches an elite status of being able to out-lift 95 percent of other female lifters, she will be capable of a 210-pound squat, 150-pound bench press and 275-pound dead lift.

If you are dedicated to improving your strength through purely natural means, these numbers will give you something to shoot for. Whether you are just trying to improve your health and fitness or if you have competitive ambitions, you can achieve impressive gains the all-natural way.

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3 Smart Winter Plumbing Preparations

Autumn is the time of year many people begin taking steps to winterize their homes in anticipation of freezing temperatures. Yet, the first freeze of the year often results in frozen pipes and expensive repairs. Homeowners can spare themselves the misery and expense if they make three smart winter plumbing preparations. Make sure to fix leaks, insulate pipes and protect outdoor faucets. Doing ensures one will enjoy the festive holiday season without the worry and expense of winter plumbing disasters.

Prepare Outdoor Faucets

Outdoor faucets are just as likely to freeze as exposed pipes. Despite this, people often forget garden hoses and outdoor faucets when winterizing their homes. Homeowners can spare themselves the expense of repairs by detaching and draining their water hoses, and storing them in a warm place. If possible, people should cut off the water supply to outdoor faucets before insulating them against freezing temperatures. Homeowners can use plastic and newspapers to protect their outdoor faucets, according to CNN.

Fix Leaks

A small plumbing leak seems like a minor inconvenience until temperatures drop below freezing. The reality is water spraying from a broken pipe affects a larger area and is more apt to cause extensive damage. Rather than wait, homeowners should inspect all exposed pipes inside and outside of their house. If pipes are insulated, check for any sign of moisture to discover hidden leaks. Fixing hidden leaks before the first freeze will save homeowners money and protect their homes against water damage.

Insulate Pipes

Chances are most homeowners insulated their home’s pipes last winter, but that’s no reason to assume old insulation will suffice. Check any existing insulation to make sure it will protect pipes during freezing temperatures. Don’t forget to make sure all exposed pipes are insulated, including those in the crawl space, attic and even the garage. For an extra layer of protection, Ready.com advises homeowners let faucets drip during freezing temperatures to help prevent the pipes from freezing.

Waiting to winterize one’s home until after the first freeze of the season is a recipe for disaster most homeowners will regret. Take the time to check for any possible leaks inside and outside of one’s home, insulate exposed pipes and protect outdoor faucets. These three simple winter plumbing steps will help prevent extensive damage to the house, protect the home against freezing temperatures and save homeowners a great deal of money.

 

 

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Accent Walls: Making a Powerful Statement in Any Room

Creating an accent wall in a room is one of the boldest and most powerful ways to make a unique design statement in your home. An accent wall adds elements of visual and sometimes even architectural interest to the room, and can be used to enhance an existing focal point or to create a new focal point in the room.

Enhancing An Existing Focal Point

To enhance an existing room focal point like a fireplace, the design added to the wall is placed around the fireplace, which draws the eye to that wall. Interest can be created with a contrasting color of paint, or by using a paint shade several shades darker than the rest of the room. Design elements like stripes or geometric shapes can also be painted on your wall to create an inspired look. Choose paint colors that are currently trending, by using design magazines or websites. Colors trending today include bright colors like turquoise and shades of tangerine orange.

Other existing focal points can be an oddly shaped window or a large bookcase that covers the wall. A window can be enhanced with drapes on either side, with the wall painted an interesting color. A bookcase or rows of shelves can feature accents like books, souvenirs from travels, statues, framed photographs, unique vases or pottery to draw the eye to your accent wall.

Other Ways To Create A Unique Accent Wall

Another interesting way to create an accent wall is to hang a large piece of artwork on the wall that almost covers it. Bright colors will attract the eye, as well as interesting themes of your chosen painting. Once you’ve hung the artwork, display pretty lighted sconces on either side of it or a light above it to highlight it. You can even paint a large wall mural on the wall or have one painted for you to create your accent wall.

Specialized painting techniques can also be used in fascinating ways to create an accent wall. Try using techniques that create a faux leather look, or the look of stone, wood, metal or brick for visual artistry. This can give your wall an interesting textured look, or can give it a weathered appearance.

Your Personality Shines Through Your Accent Wall

No matter what method you choose to fashion your accent wall, the most important thing is to let your personality shine in your creation. This helps you design a room that you’re proud of and will love spending time in. It also creates a room that you’ll love to show to others. Accent walls are a wonderful way to spice up any room and create visual interest, whether you choose subtle or bold accents.

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4 Uncommonly Known Winter Pests

Uncommon Winter Pests One: Field Crickets

Homeowners might get annoyed about hearing loud crickets outside a home, but it is worse when the insect is inside a home’s walls or hopping around on the kitchen floor. Field crickets hatch in the spring, but by late autumn, the insects are adults. This is a helpful insect because it devours spiders and flies, but no one wants these crickets inside their home in the winter. However, with a loss of habitat, field crickets do invade homes to find food, and the warm temperatures of a building will lead to the insects breeding. This insect can squeeze through tiny holes and crevices, so to prevent invasions, fill openings with caulking and nail down baseboards inside a home.

Uncommon Winter Pests Two: Smelly Skunks

Skunks are also losing habitat, making it difficult for the animal to find a place to stay warm in the winter. While a skunk will not hibernate, the animal does become less active and seeks a den to nest with other skunks. Skunks have a distinctive odor, and the spray from just one of these animals makes people feel ill. However, if one skunk finds a way to hide in a crawl space underneath a home, then others will follow the scent. To prevent skunk invasions, make sure to cover crawl spaces with mesh wire fencing, and if a skunk is near a home, then do not approach it to avoid being sprayed or receiving a bite.

Uncommon Winter Pests Three: Ladybugs

Ladybugs are actually a beetle that most individuals consider cute to look at because the insects are usually bright red with small black dots. There are also color variations of yellow, orange or brown, but these beetles can quickly become winter pests inside a building when homeowners do not take action. Ladybugs seek a place to nest and stay warm in the winter, leading to an attraction to brightly lit buildings. The typical time for swarms to fly in search of a warm area is in the late afternoon as the temperatures begin to drop in the winter. To prevent invasions, homeowners should turn off exterior lights in the late afternoon and close draperies to keep a building dark.

Uncommon Winter Pests Four: Snakes

Snakes are a cold-blooded reptile that seeks warmth in the winter by going deep into the soil or invading a building. Most snakes are not venomous, but homeowners do not want this reptile inside a home because larger ones have been known to capture family pets such as cats or dogs to constrict and consume for a meal. Prevent snake invasions by sealing holes and crevices around a building’s foundation and windows.