Too Close To Home - Pre-Evacuation Checklist - Prepare Your Home Before You Leave It Beh

With the recent scare that ran through many So Cal citys and the total devastation that is continuing up North , I wanted to post something online that could be useful for all of us.  Prior to any of this happening , I had the attitude that Id be in control and if anything like this ever happens it wouldn't be a issue to evacuate or that everything would be a piece of cake.....

Boy was I wrong.....I never put any thought into any preparation , and when the call came thru to evacuate , I found myself in a state of panic , un prepared, and overall running around in circles..

I search the web, found this great little article with pointers and wanted to share this, please take a moment to read this, it will save you time , and most of all your sanity......

PRE-EVACUATION PREPARATION STEPS

When an evacuation is anticipated, follow these checklists (if time allows) to give your home the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

Home Evacuation Checklist – How to Prepare for Evacuation:
Inside the House

  • Shut all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked.
  • Remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters.
  • Remove lightweight curtains.
  • Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors.
  • Shut off gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights.
  • Leave your lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions.
  • Shut off the air conditioning.

Outside

  • Gather up flammable items from the exterior of the house and bring them inside (patio furniture, children’s toys, door mats, trash cans, etc.) or place them in your pool.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Move propane BBQ appliances away from structures.
  • Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters. Fill water buckets and place them around the house.
  • Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running, they can affect critical water pressure.
  • Leave exterior lights on so your home is visible to firefighters in the smoke or darkness of night.
  • Put your Emergency Supply Kit in your vehicle.
  • Back your car into the driveway with vehicle loaded and all doors and windows closed. Carry your car keys with you.
  • Have a ladder available and place it at the corner of the house for firefighters to quickly access your roof.
  • Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals.
  • Patrol your property and monitor the fire situation. Don’t wait for an evacuation order if you feel threatened.
  • Check on neighbors and make sure they are preparing to leave.

Animals

  • Locate your pets and keep them nearby.
  • Prepare farm animals for transport and think about moving them to a safe location early.

Heres a link to the original article below

http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Pre-Evacuation-Preparation/

Beware of the Quick Flips--Success or Disaster--MK Property can help!

Do you blame Home Depot or LOWE's or how about these fly by night television shows that have regular people remodeling their new home in 30 days!!  Buying a home is and will be your biggest purchase and by taking the right steps investing in a home inspection on your future property will give you a better understanding of the property itself. Especially if the property is considered a flip , the attention to detail could be neglected and replaced with the flipper just looking to make a quick profit....

Now understand me when I say Ive done a ton of homes that turn out to be gems.  I'm actually amazed at what a general you tuber is able to accomplish with little knowledge and skill at times but what I want to focus on is safety first and foremost and structural integrity that gets compromised at times.  

In my line of work Ive seen a 50 gallon water heater get moved to the attic with no structural supports , a water heater of that size, filled with hot water can weight more than 550lbs!  Another common mishaps is electrical gremlins throughout the space from incorrectly installing fixtures, lighting and outlets, more than half the time Im guaranteed to find one of more outlets installed incorrectly.  Areas like crawlspaces and attics tend to get the most neglect , its out of site , out of mind..but having a home inspector , he should enter each space in the structure and provide a overview of the condition of each area.

In the end a home inspector is hired to provide you with a detailed report describing and rating each sector within the structure (Electrical, Plumbing, Structural), give you a overall understanding of what issue are current, and work with the potential buyers if they have any additional concerns prior to buying the home.

No matter if the home is a brand new build or freshly remodel, investing in a Home Inspection is a must , especially with the Interwebs nowadays.  There just too many variables out there that can turn a dream home into a disaster property......

 

10 Garage Safety Tips.

One of my favorite sites to visit daily is The Spruce https://www.thespruce.com/, amazing content and pictures for all of you new home dreamers out there, check out this article by Jeff Beneke.  All credit goes to him, I just wanted to share his article about garage doors, probably the most neglected part of a home and one of the easiest to maintain.  If you have any question , please make sure to call MK Property Inspect for all your home inspection needs...

 

Garages are great for a whole range of reasons—storage, home projects, play—but, for all of those reasons, they can also pose safety and security challenges. Through the International Door Association (IDA) and the Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA), the Overhead Door Corporation has prepared this list of garage door safety tips for keeping everyone and everything safe and secure.

 

  1. Make sure the garage door opener control button is out of the reach of small children.
  2. Do not let children play with garage door remote controls.
  3. Consult the owner’s manual and learn how to use the garage door’s emergency release feature.
  4. Visually inspect the garage door each month. Look at springs, cables, rollers and pulleys for signs of wear. Do not attempt to remove, adjust or repair these parts or anything attached to them. A trained door repairman must make adjustments to these parts, which are under high tension.
  5. Test the garage door opener’s reversing mechanism monthly by placing a 2 x 4 board or a roll of paper towels in the door’s path. If the door does not reverse after contacting the object, call a qualified garage door professional for repair. If the opener has not been replaced since 1993, seriously consider a new one with auto-reverse as a standard feature.
  6. Never place fingers between door sections and explain the dangers to children. If you have small children, consider a door with panels that can’t pinch
  7. Do not leave the garage door partially open. When activated again, it may travel downward and come in contact with an object in its path. This also impacts your home’s security as well
  8. While on vacation, unplug the garage door opener unit or use a vacation lock console security switch, which renders remotes unusable and is an optional accessory to most openers.
  9. If the opener does not have rolling-code technology, which changes the access codes each time the opener is used to prevent code grabbing, be sure to change the manufacturer’s standard access codes on the opener and remote control, or consider investing in a newer model with more safety and security features that are now standard.
  10. A new trend in home invasion is gaining access to the home by stealing the opener or car. Never leave the remote control in the car or with a parking attendant. Consider using a key chain remote and always lock the entry to the inside of your home – especially if your opener is programmed to your vehicle. It is a small inconvenience for safety and security.

Spring Watering tips , When to Water.

A friend once had a summer job at one of New England's premier nurseries. He told me that the nursery owner always had his new employees spend the first two weeks doing nothing but watering plants. By teaching his staff how to water a plant properly, the owner ensured the health and vitality of his inventory. But he also used this initiation period to identify the best employees: people who paid attention.

When it comes to watering, there are no hard or fast rules. It's a judgment call that depends on the type of plant, the soil, the weather, the time of year and many other variables. Fortunately, it's easy to figure out what to do — even for a teenager on a hot summer day. You just need to check the soil.

If you're working in a nursery, you lift each pot before you water. Over time, you get to know how heavy a pot should feel if the soil inside the pot is thoroughly moistened. If it's not heavy enough, you water slowly until all the soil in the pot is moist and water runs out the bottom. Then you lift the pot again to check that it feels right.

Watering is of no value if the water runs down the outside of the root ball, leaving the roots at the core of the plant dry. This can happen if you water too quickly or apply too much water at once. Slower watering is usually more effective. The key is to ensure that water gets to the root zone — whether you are tending seedlings, watering houseplants, watering a row of tomatoes or soaking thirsty shrubs and trees.

 

After thoroughly watering a  hanging basket lift it to get a sense for how heavy it should feel. When it feels light, it's time to water.

You can't use the "lift test" in your garden or landscape, but you can use a soil moisture sensor to see if it's time to water. For a more thorough investigation, push a spade into the soil near your plant and pull it back to see how the soil looks. If it feels moist to a depth of 6 to 12 inches, you're in good shape. If it's bone dry, water!

The Best Way to Water

  • Focus on the root zone. Remember that it's the roots that need access to water, not the leaves. Wetting the foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of disease.
  • Water only when needed. Automatic timers are especially useful; just make sure to watch the weather, and reduce frequency when rainfall is abundant. Too much water can be just as damaging to plants as too little.
  • Water deeply and thoroughly. Lawns and annuals concentrate their roots in the top 6" of soil; for perennials, shrubs and trees, it's the top 12". In heavy soil, it may take hours for water to percolate down 6-12". Use your finger or a shovel to check the progress.
  • Water in the morning. If you do get moisture on the leaves, this gives them time to dry out. It's much more difficult for plant diseases to get a foothold when the foliage is dry.
  • Mulch everything. Mulch reduces surface runoff and slows evaporation from the soil.
  • Use the right tool. For efficient watering at the root zone, use a soaker hose or an even more precise drip irrigation system instead of a sprinkler. 

This and many other great tips can found at http://www.gardeners.com.

 

The Myth of "Winterizer" Fertilizer

We hear a lot about using a "winterizer" fertilizer on our lawns during the fall months. Such a fertilizer will, according to claims, "enhance winter hardiness" of our grass.

But, will it? Only if the fertilizer is high in nitrogen, and you will know that by understanding how to read the numbers on a bag of fertilizer.

Most "winterizer" fertilizers marketed at this time of year, contain higher percentages of phosphorus and potassium and lower levels of nitrogen. This might be expressed on a fertilizer bag as "8-18-22" fertilizer -- 8 percent nitrogen, 18 percent phosphorous and 22 percent potassium, listed in that order.

Those who advocate using fertilizers with this type of formula say that the need is based on research. But, the research has been done with WARM-SEASON grasses, such as Bermudagrass or Zoysiagrass, neither of which is well-adapted to our climate (and should not be fertilized with nitrogen in fall anyway!) No evidence is available to suggest that extra phosphorus and potassium in fall benefit COOL-SEASON grasses used here, such as bluegrass, fescue or ryegrass.

The most important nutrient for fall fertilization, as with earlier-season applications, still is NITROGEN. Nitrogen applied in the fall is the most important lawn fertilization of the year. Use a high-nitrogen fertilizer, such as 25-5-5 or something with a similar formula. Because of the widespread acceptance of the "winterizer" myth involving phosphorus and potassium, high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer may not be readily available at this time. If you have high-nitrogen fertilizer left from earlier applications, use it. If you're out, use urea (46-0-0) at 2 lbs/1000 square feet or ammonium sulfate (18-0-0) at 5 lbs/1000 square feet.

Next year, be sure to buy additional high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer for use in fall. Store under dry conditions until use. Follow fertilizer applications with lawn watering.

Make your fall application to the lawn about October 15, while grass still is green and while 2-3 weeks remain before the ground freezes. If you have very sandy soil (uncommon in the metro area except along South Platte and eastern areas) do not fertilize later than late September, as nitrogen leaches readily through sandy soil, especially during winter months, and will contaminate ground water. On sandy soils, it's best to use "slow-release" nitrogen fertilizers such as organics, IBDU, or sulfur-coated urea, to reduce potential for groundwater contamination.

By Robert Cox,Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Agent - Horticulture

Winter in Coming....make sure your chimney is ready.

Nothing is quite as warm and cozy as a crackling fire in autumn. But before you touch match to kindling, take a good look around your fireplace and chimney to make sure you're following these essential guidelines for a safe—and warm—season. Poorly maintained fireplaces can cause house fires or other dangers, so it's important to take precautions now, before the season really kicks in. Whether your fireplace is gas, electric, or wood-burning, we've got the tips you need to get your hearth ready for the cold months ahead

1. Arrange a Yearly Inspection

All chimneys should be inspected and cleaned by a chimney cleaning professional at least once a year, or about once every 80 fires. A thorough cleaning will remove any buildup of creosote, an oily and highly flammable byproduct of burning wood, giving you a safer fireplace.

2. Check for Cracks and Damage

Check for cracks and loose joints of the firebricks inside the fireplace, and check the exterior masonry for damage. Hire a professional mason to do any repairs—never try to repair firebrick with regular mortar, as the mixture cannot stand up to high heat. 

3. Inspect the Chimney Cap and Damper

Make sure the fireplace damper is working properly and that there is no debris preventing it from opening and closing. Confirm that the chimney cap is firmly attached and in good condition. The cap should include protective screening to keep birds, squirrels, bats, and other pestsfrom entering the chimney.

4. Clear Away Tree Limbs

While you are outside checking the chimney cap, prune any overhanging tree limbs that may be encroaching on the chimney. Not only do tree limbs present a fire hazard, they can also restrict the proper draft of the chimney and damage the cap.

5. Clear Out Ashes

Clean out the firebox once a week, or whenever ash is more than an inch deep. Coals can remain hot for up to three days, so make sure everything is completely cold. Sweep or vacuum the cold ashes and dispose of them outside—wood ashes are perfect for garden beds and compost piles.

6. Consider Heatproof Glass

Consider installing heatproof glass doors to improve theenergy efficiency of your fireplace. Doors can also prevent sparks from escaping the fireplace and damaging the surrounding flooring. If your fireplace already has glass doors, clean them with a paper towel and glass fireplace door cleaner.

7. Clean Brass Fireplaces

Fireplace surround naturally by spreading a thin film of tomato paste, tomato sauce, or ketchup on it; letting it sit for an hour; and then cleaning with hot soapy water. Alternatively, you can use a good-quality commercial brass polish and a soft microfiber cloth. Avoid using highly abrasive scrubbing cloths, metal-bristled brushes, or steel wool.

8. Store Wood Outside the Home

Stock up on good-quality firewood, and store it away from the house to avoid attracting pests. Hardwoods like oak, maple, and birch burn hotter and longer than soft woods like pine. You can also burn specially made fireplace logs, like Duraflame or Pres-to-Logs. Never burn treated or painted wood, which both produce dangerous fumes.

9. Maintain Your Gas Fireplace

If you have a gas fireplace, check to make sure that the pilot light is on and the vents are all clear and working properly. Check the logs, liners, and burners for cracks, and replace any damaged components.

10. Maintain Your Electric Fireplace

If you have an electric fireplace, check all the wires to make sure none are frayed or broken. Also, make sure that all connectors are securely fastened. Finally, be sure to vacuum and dust the fireplace on a regular basis.

 

9 Quick Home Maintenance Tips

Home maintenance isn't restricted to repairs. In fact, certain tasks--when performed regularly--may actually prevent things from breaking in the first place. But when things do go wrong (and it's inevitable that they do), we have some backup plans that you can try before you grab the phone to call for pro. Appliances and plumbing are the most frequent offenders, but they also often can be the simplest to care for. From the gutters to the living room carpet, there's a reliable method for keeping every part of your home clean, safe, and well maintained.  

 

The quickest fix is to not have the problem in the first place. Here's a checklist of items every homeowner should get to regularly.

1. Test your garage door opener monthly to ensure that it reverses when it hits an obstruction or when its sensor beam is interrupted.

2. Vacuum the clothes dryer's exhaust duct at least once a year. If the duct is plastic, replace it (it's a fire hazard). Rigid sheet-metal ducting is best.

3. Replace furnace filters quarterly, or as recommended by the furnace manufacturer.

4. Test all GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets monthly. Press the test button and use a voltage tester to make sure the power goes off.

5. Clean leaves and debris from the condenser of a central air conditioner seasonally.

6. Once a year, vacuum the refrigerator coils underneath the appliance.

7. Have the fireplace chimney inspected and cleaned annually.

8. Inspect window and door caulking and weather stripping yearly.

9. Replace the batteries in smoke detectors yearly. And remember, even recent hard-wired smoke detectors have backup batteries that must be replaced. If you have never checked yours, do so.

 

How Much Does a Pool Fence Cost?

They say you can’t put a price on peace of mind. Of course, when “they” say this, they’re usually trying to sell you something. And guess what? The thing they’re trying to sell you actually does have a price – usually more than you want to pay.

In the case of swimming pools, the price of peace of mind starts ataround $1,200. That’s a ballpark figure for a mesh pool safety fence designed to keep unsupervised children and pets away from your pool.

While other safety equipment is also important, a pool fence is the first and best line of defense against tragic accidents. Installing one is a no-brainer, and in many places, it’s required by law.

As with other pool features (and pools in general), the actual cost of a pool fence can deviate a lot from the average. That’s because there’s a wide range of options to choose from, including different sizes, styles, and materials. That said, while pool fences might come in a lot of different forms, most of them have to meet certain minimum standards.

Pool Fence Laws

In many cities and counties, the law requires swimming pools to be surrounded by a fence or other barrier. This isn’t the case everywhere, and the exact requirements vary from place to place. However, many local governments have adopted guidelines published by The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The CPSC specifications are designed to “prevent a child from getting over, under, or through” the barrier to gain access to the pool. According to the CPSC, an effective pool safety fence:

  • is at least 4 feet tall
  • has no handholds for footholds that allow climbing
  • offers less than 4 inches clearance on bottom
  • features a self-closing, self-locking gate

To find out what the law says in your area, check with your local housing department. Even if there’s no requirement for a pool fence, the above guidelines are a good starting point for those who make the choice to install one. It’s also 

Removable Pool Safety Fences

For the cheapest and most flexible solution, many pool owners choose specially made pool safety fencing. This mesh fencing is anchored into a pool deck or other surface, and can be removed when the pool isn’t in use (assuming local laws allow it). This type of fencing is designed specifically to meet the requirements of pool safety laws in your area, though you may have a few different options for height, etc.

The cost of pool safety fencing is typically about $15-20 per linear foot, fully installed. For large projects, the cost per foot may be less. If the ground slopes or there are fewer options for anchoring, the price can be higher.

One other thing to consider: If you’re planning to take the fence down in the offseason, you’ll need to factor in the cost of a good safety pool cover. Standard pool covers aren’t designed to hold the weight of a person, and therefore aren’t safe enough for this purpose.

Other Types of Pool Fences

While they work well for many pool owners, removable mesh fences are just one option. Other popular types of pool fencing include:

  • Bars made out of steel, aluminum, vinyl or wrought iron
  • Glass panels
  • Wooden planks

Each type of fence has its strengths and weaknesses. It just depends on your preferences. Do you want privacy, or an unobscured view of the pool? Do you need the fence to serve as a wind barrier? Which type of material blends best with your home and pool? These are some of the questions you have to ask yourself whenbrainstorming pool fence ideas.

Compared to the basic mesh option, these types of fencing are all over the map when it comes to price. The only way to get an accurate figure is to talk to contractors in your area.

Additional Cost Factors

Besides the type of fence you choose, there are a few other things that can impact the final price:

Upgrades. If want a higher quality gate, more than one gate, a taller fence, or stronger materials, it’ll cost you extra. But then, you knew that.

Alarms. Many pool owners have an alarm installed on the fence gate for extra security. People with young children should also install an alarm on the backdoor of their house if it opens to the pool area. As a matter of fact, it’s required by law in some places.

Removal of Existing Fence. If there’s already a fence in place that doesn’t meet your needs for whatever reason, you’ll have to pay extra to have it removed.

Regional Differences. Materials and labor cost more in some parts of the country than others. This can have a significant impact on the cost of a new fence.

Contractor Pricing. It’s no secret that contractors – whether they’re fencing contractors or general pool contractors – often quote vastly different prices for the same job. Sometimes it’s for good reasons, other times not. That’s why it’s always smart to get estimates from multiple contractors to make sure you’re not overpaying.

Self Installation. The ultimate way to save money on a pool fence is to install it yourself. If you’re installing removable safety fencing, you can follow the step-by-step instructions provided by the manufacturer. That said, most pool owners would be wise to choose a licensed contractor for the job.

Roofing Tips: Drip Edges Are Essential

Of the hundreds of shingle roofs put on each day, how many are put on with metal drip edges? Almost all shingle roof manufacturers show it on their installation instructions and the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association "Residential Asphalt Roofing Manual" shows it in its recommended application procedures. The International One-and-Two-Family Dwelling Code's Chapter 9, "Roof Coverings," states that "Asphalt shingles shall be applied according to the manufacturer's printed instructions…"

So why do so few residential shingle roof installations lack metal drip edges? For one reason, the metal edging is the first item to get omitted from a bid whenever a price is given to install a shingle roof, whether on a new roofing project or a reroof. Unless the specifications or the scope of work expressly calls it out, this item will be omitted in both the submittals and the installation. Even if drip edge is called for, are such particulars as the type of metal, the gauge, and the dimensions ever given? Or is a thin aluminum drip strip from the local home center adequate?

One "old timer" actually tried to justify the absence of drip edge material on a project by saying that he had been putting on shingles for almost 15 years and did not think drip edge was necessary-whether it was called for or not. His mindset was that if you extend the shingles far enough over the edge of the deck into the gutters, you shouldn't need any edge metal.

Most Critical Drip Edge Location

Obviously, the most critical location for drip metal is exactly at the location of the majority of the drips-the eaves! Rake edges should also get metal edging, but it is simply not as critical. And the installation sequence of the edge metal with the felt underlayment is optional in most manufacturers' printed instructions. You can install the felt either on top of or below the edge metal. And since water travels somewhat parallel to the rakes, this does minimize the need for coverage.

However, the edge receiving the most water on a steep-sloped roof needs the best protection affordable. If the shingles are extended much more than 3/4-1-inch over the edge, they tend to bend, eventually fracturing along the edge of the roof deck below. If the metal edging is left off, this decreases the chance for all of the water cascading over the eaves to make it into the gutters, if indeed there are any. Otherwise, shingles breaking along the line of the roof deck allow the possibility of water getting into the substrate by turning back up under the bottom of the shingle. The deleterious effects of this condition are exacerbated when the underlayment is not fully extending over the edge and/or if the fascia board is not flush with the lower edge of the wood roof deck.

Many times the roof deck is installed early on in the project and covered with felt in order to dry the house in and speed up the interior work below. Roofers will hurriedly run a cutter along the edge of the wood deck, but rarely do it in a straight line. This leaves the edge of the felt somewhat short of the edge, thereby failing to overhang the roof deck. It only gets worse when the (usually 3/4-1" thick) fascia board is added later when the finish work is being done. This makes the felt edge that much farther from the true drip edge.

If water now gets under the shingles, it can possibly cause short-term staining and long-term deterioration of the lowest edge of the roof deck and along the top of the fascia board. Prolonged existence of this condition can also affect the ends of the roof joists or trusses used to attach the fascia board.

This should point out to builders to specify, install, and insist on adequate metal drip edge to give residential clients the most value for a relatively low-cost item. It is ironic that contractors who leave out the metal drip edge in an effort to save money lessen the long-term value of a home. It is an issue whose absence and consequential side effects may take years to discover. But, in all fairness to the consumer, it is an item that should be included to proved a quality installation.

Lawn care 101 , Get ready for summer !

1 Know the Numbers

When you buy fertilizer, you'll see three numbers on the label. These numbers show the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium, respectively, which are the primary nutrients needed to feed your lawn. So a 20-5-10 bag will have 20 percent nitrogen, 5 percent phosphate, and 10 percent potassium. The rest of the bag usually contains filler material that helps ensure an even application. The 20-5-10 mixture is a good basic mix for spring.

2 Use a Slow-Release With the Right Amount of Nitrogen

Slow-release fertilizers break down their nutrients over a longer period of time, so you can wait longer between applications. "With slow-release, you can go every six to eight weeks, depending on your watering, instead of every four weeks," Turnbull says.

He recommends a slow-release that contains nitrogen but not too much. "The most nitrogen you need on a lawn is one-tenth of a pound per week. The grass can't get any greener than that. If you use more, you're only going to make the grass grow faster so you have to mow more often," Turnbull says. "The secret is to get it as green as possible without growing it fast." Turnbull recommends giving your lawn between 2 and 3 pounds of nitrogen over the entire growing season. "If you go with 25-0-4, that gives you 1 pound of nitrogen, so over four weeks, that's a quarter pound per week," Turnbull says. "That's too much. At that point, you're baling hay instead of mowing a lawn.

3 Go With Granules

When pros apply fertilizer, they often pull up in a tanker truck and spray your entire lawn in an impressively short amount of time. But pros do this every day, so they know how to factor in the wind and make sure the yard gets even coverage and have the equipment to get the job done right. Homeowners, on the other hand, should use granules and apply them with a spreader.

"Granular fertilizer is very easy to apply accurately," Turnbull says. "When you're spraying, it's tough for a nonprofessional to get a consistent application across the lawn."

4 Plan 5 Applications—and Start Now

Turnbull says to give the lawn its first feeding of fertilizer in the spring when the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Your local university extension office can give you the soil temperature, but you'll know when the soil warms up to 55 because the lilacs begin to blossom and the grass starts growing. For most parts of the country, that means the first feeding should take place by about mid-April. So if you haven't started, now's the time.

The second feeding should happen about four weeks later, in early to mid-May. Then fertilize every six to eight weeks after that through October (see tip 5 for whether you should choose six- or eight-week intervals). For the third feeding, use an organic material, such as manure, instead of a traditional fertilizer.

And remember that fall feeding is critical. "Grass is still growing in the fall. The roots are going down and they need fertilizer," Turnbull says. "This is the most important application of the year."

5 Don't Forget About Watering

Contrary to what some people think, the more you water your lawn, the more fertilizer it needs. "With more water, there is more growth, so you need more fertilizer," Turnbull says. "As the grass grows, it uses more nutrients." If you have a sprinkler system, you'll need to fertilize about every six weeks. Without a sprinkler, you can wait another two weeks between feedings.

Be sure to read what the fertilizer label says regarding watering before or after the application. Granules need moisture to break down, and some fertilizers require you to wet the lawn with about a quarter-inch of water before applying them.

6 Fill 'er Up and Close the Hopper

When you're ready to fill the spreader, park it in the driveway—or, if you can't, at least put a tarp under it. This keeps any spilled granules from accumulating in one stop on the lawn, where it can burn and kill the grass.

"Make sure your hopper is shut when filling up the spreader," Turnbull says. "That's lesson number one that everyone forgets at least once."

A broadcast spreader is a better choice than a drop spreader for homeowners. Broadcast spreaders are easier to use, and since they disperse the fertilizer a wider distance, there's less chance you'll end up with strips in your yard casued by not overlapping the rows properly. Plus, at my local Lowe's, broadcast spreaders are significantly cheaper. They start at $32, while drop spreaders start at $84.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

7 Apply, but Don't Over-Apply

The fertilizer label will give you the application rate. But don't follow it. "Start out at half of what's recommended on the bag," Turnbull says. "One of the biggest mistakes I see is going with the spreader wide open."

He recommends spreading the fertilizer at half the recommended rate, or slightly less, in one direction on the lawn, then spreading it again at half the rate in a perpendicular direction. This pattern gives better coverage and helps prevent over-applying. "Too little is better than too much. I always recommend to err on the side of too little," Turnbull says.

Cover the perimeter of the yard first, then fill in the middle. Since you're applying the fertilizer at half the recommended rate, it won't spread out very far, so you don't need to estimate how much spacing to keep between rows. "Go tire track to tire track," Turnbull says. "This ensures good coverage."

8 Sweep Up Stray Granules

Sometimes, fertilizer ends up on your driveway or patio, despite your best efforts. If that happens, sweep it up rather than letting the rain wash it away.

"If you don't sweep it up, it just adds extra pollution," Turnbull says. "It gets washed away and ends up in the rivers and streams. Sweeping up the fertilizer is good for nature."