Ditch the Sprinkler with These Water-Efficient Landscaping Ideas
From efficient plants to water-smart landscaping, your lawn can certainly do its part to improve water efficiency.
Ready for a shock? The average US household guzzles down 320 gallons of water a day—that’s about nine full bath tubs’ worth of liquid! And about 30 percent of that gets dumped out straight on the lawn. Conventional water sprinklers are so inefficient that about half of all the water they use is totally wasted.
No wonder we’re witnessing record-level droughts. Though a lot of the US has recovered from the catastrophic drought conditions we saw a few years ago, globally, we’re not in the clear. According to the NOAA, almost every continent on the US has been impacted by dry conditions this year. Kenya, in particular, is suffering right now from a record-setting drought, which has been devastating to local farmers and wildlife alike. That’s a pretty big issue to be up against, but fortunately, we can all play a small part in conserving water—right in our own backyards. From efficient plants to water-smart landscaping, your lawn can certainly do its part to keep waste at bay. Read on to find out how.
Mulch the Eco-friendly Way
Many new gardeners assume that mulching is just for appearances—but did you know it does a lot more for your beds than covering up the dirt? Mulch not only roots out troublesome weeds, it conserves moisture in the soil. A layer of it around plants more closely mirrors natural conditions, since forested areas are typically topped with nutrient-rich plant debris. Inside this mixture of twigs, bark, and leaves are beneficial microbes that subsist off the decaying matter. As these organisms break down organic material, transforming it into soil, they give off a sticky, almost glue-like substance that holds the topsoil together so that it has a crumbly texture. Soil with this texture holds in water much more effectively than other consistencies. Mulching with organic materials like leaves or pine needles kicks off this natural process, so that the soil is less likely to dry out—and it also forms a protective layer that keeps water from evaporating as fast.
Forget the Landscaping—Go for Hardscaping
Turf is overrated, at least where water conservation is concerned. Hardscaping, the collective name for stone features used to landscape a garden or exterior area, gets points for being drought-tolerant—and when used properly, can really add some modern verve to your lawn. A terraced backyard, for instance, uses stone boundary walls to create multiple tiers—which can then be topped by native plants or beds of pebbles.
Other options? If you have a smaller lawn, try extending your paved patio out further from the back door. Leave openings for attractive beds that provide a peak of color, without being too hard on your water profile. Or add a “dry creek bed” finished with appealing native stones and pebbles—as a bonus, permeable paving like this helps collect rainfall and return it to the soil. Curved paths, steps, and stacked retaining walls all offer notes of interest in the hardscaped yard. And the best part? You’ll never forget to water them!
Spruce Up Your Beds with Ornamental Grasses and Succulents
Most lawns are pretty thirsty—experts recommend giving your grass about one to two inches of water a week, which is about two-thirds of a gallon for every square foot. That means that if you’ve got quite a bit of turf on your hands, your lawn could be practically guzzling water!
The alternatives take a little more planning—and a designer’s eye—but they’re definitely worth it when you weigh your water footprint. In particular, native ornamental grasses make for a pretty stunning display. Try pairing two species at varying heights for a more polished look. These work well along a fence or border wall, or in place of less drought-tolerant shrubs against your house or beside an entryway. You should try to pick varieties that are native to your area. If you need help with that, the National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder can help you identify some that will work.
Succulent gardens also make a nice addition to the water-efficient home. There are a number of desert-hailing plants, such as Yucca, Agave, Sempervivum, Delosperma, Opuntia, and Sedum, that can survive extremely low temps. These species require very little water—in fact, if you live in a rainier part of the country, you may want to cover them occasionally to prevent overwatering. Likewise, you may need to mix coarse sand or pumice to give them the consistency they like. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, xeriscaped areas in Las Vegas saved the city 39 percent of its annual summer water consumption, so these kinds of improvements definitely have a lasting effect.
When You Do Water, Do It Wisely
No matter how hardy the plant, most species need a little supplemental watering every once and awhile, especially during the driest parts of the year. Certain techniques definitely are more water-efficient than others, however. For instance, never water your garden during the hottest part of the day. Not only will the water evaporate more quickly, meaning your plants don’t get the good soak they deserve, if the sunlight is very intense, the reflection from the water droplets could damage the leaves.
Likewise, you can adopt practices that will minimize runoff as well. For instance, a short watering—say one to four minutes—three to four times in a day is much more efficient than a long soak. If you must have the sprinkler, turn it off after a rain or in the winter, when most plants are dormant. Investigate a water-saving smart irrigation system. Using your input, such as your soil type, area, and sun exposure, these WiFi-connected sprinkler controllers are able to create a customized watering schedule that delivers just the right amount of irrigation— no more, no less. Many can even access weather reports to automatically cancel watering if it’s just rained. And the EPA estimates that products labeled with its WaterSense efficiency rating save an average 9,000 gallons of water per household annually. That’s a lot of water for one little change! With updates like these, the future of our water table is right in your hands
House Training Your Dog or Puppy
7 steps to house-training your new dog
The following is a guest post by Jennifer Warner Jacobsen, Adopt-a-Pet.com
Happily, house-training your new dog or puppy can take patience and time, but it is usually not complicated! We have lots of experience from house-training many foster dogs and puppies, and helping new adopters to easily and kindly train their new canine family member to take care of ‘business’ in the appropriate potty spot. We prefer the term “house-training” to “house-breaking” because you really are training your puppy or dog to go where you want – hopefully without having to break any bad habits! Here are the basic steps to house-training your dog or puppy:
Keep your dog under constant supervision while inside – if you must take your eyes away even for a second, confine your dog either in a crate (proper crate training is needed), or in a room with a hard-surfaced floor where accidents may be easily cleaned up, or outside in a secure area. With some dogs and in some homes its best to “tether” them to you, keeping them on a leash attached to you at all times. Close doors or block off carpeted rooms and rooms with rugs that can’t be taken up.
PICK A SPOT
It is easiest for a dog to learn to go in one specific spot, rather than just outside. Pick a “potty” spot, be it in your yard, a grassy area out front, or a corner of your patio. Most dogs prefer porous surfaces (dirt/grass/gravel/carpet/newspaper) if you have a bit of what the dog has gone on before, you can place it where you want the dog to go.
MAKE A ROUTINE
In the beginning, the more often you go to the potty spot, the better you chances of success! Put your dog and yourself on a firm daily schedule of sleeping, feeding and play/exercise, and your dog will start to go to the bathroom on a schedule. And you can make sure he’s at the right spot when the time comes! A typical schedule would include going to the potty spot first thing when you wake up, after breakfast, then at set intervals throughout the day. Two hours apart is great. Longer times will work, it will just take longer for your dog to learn to physically be able to hold it for longer periods.
Take your dog to his potty spot at the times you’ve set and wait (on a leash is often best). Allow the dog to circle and sniff, but don’t encourage him to play…this is serious business time! Be patient and wait for at least five minutes. If he starts to relieve himself, praise quietly until he is finished, then praise him very enthusiastically and reward him with a game or food treat. If he doesn’t go, it’s back to supervision until the next set time. Continue with the routine, and once he’s going when you take him out, gradually increase the time between visits to the potty spot. When you’re down to three times a day and no more accidents inside (anywhere from two to six weeks), you’ve house-trained your dog.
LEARN THE COMMAND
A phrase like “Get Busy” or “Go Potty” (or anything else you prefer) can really help your dog to understand when and where to go the bathroom. Use it just like you use any verbal command – like “Sit,” you say it before you want your dog to do it, and then if he does, give him lots of praise and treats. It won’t work to say it too many times in a row (two or three is enough), and should be said in a happy tone of voice, never as a punishment. Also, if you catch your dog in the act of “getting busy” in the correct spot, you can say “Get busy!! Good dog! Get busy! Good good!!” so they associate that phrase with what they are doing.
If you see your dog about to go, or in the middle of relieving himself indoors, you can say ‘NO’ firmly, but do not raise your voice or yell. Then, immediately take him to your chosen place outside and reward him – praise, treats or play, which ever he most enjoys. Although he has done nothing to be praised for, it is essential that he associate going to that place with reward. If you have caught him in time he will still need to go. If he does go, lots of praise and rewards!
The worst thing you can do is punish your dog for ‘accidents’ that you discover after the fact. Dogs cannot make a connection with punishment for something they did in the past. Some owners will say, “Oh, but he knows he has done wrong because if I show him the mess he looks guilty.” The dog has simply learned that if humans are present and there is a mess on the floor, he is likely to be told off or punished, and yes he will cringe or cower down if you yell. He has not learned not to make the association – and not to make the mess in the first place.
Also… Yelling, making a loud noise with pennies in a can, swatting your dog with a newspaper, pushing your dog’s nose in his mess… aside from being inhumane, they often have the effect of making the dog afraid of you… or afraid of going in front of you. Then, housebreaking will take even longer, or may never happen. This is usually what has happened to dogs that go in the house only when left alone, or in a back room when you aren’t watching. Positive reinforcement is the fastest, easiest way to train. Punishment is the slowest and least-pleasant way to get a dog to do what you want, and often doesn’t work at all, especially for housebreaking!
When or if your pooch has an accident inside your home, thoroughly clean by using biological washing powder solution or a specially formulated enzyme product to remove all traces of the smell. If possible, keep your dog away from these areas until the training is complete. If they keep going on the same spot, put a tarp-covered chair or other pee-proof object in front of or on top of that spot – or lock them out of that room until they are solidly house-trained.
These steps do work quickly for most dogs. However, some dogs or puppies, like those from pet stores and puppymills (where they are forced to go to the bathroom in the same tiny space where they sleep and eat) can be more of a challenge. If your dog is more than 8 months old, and after a month of following these steps you are still having accidents, please consult a professional trainer for assistance. Other reasons why your dog has accidents in the house may include: stress and tension in the household, anxiety (for example, about being left alone or changes in routine), illness and submissive urination. Before beginning any training program, a clean bill of health from your dog’s veterinarian is advised.
Sometimes it feels like it’s taking ‘forever’ and some dogs will make progress and then take a few steps back, but this positive-reinforcement housebreaking method has worked time and time again for many dogs around the world, and it can work for yours, too!
OBX Fireworks 2016 July 4th Schedule
OBX Fireworks 2016 July 4th Schedule
The Outer Banks is a great place to be on July 4th. There are a multitude of activities and fireworks all up and down the beach. You can even get a front row seat without fighting traffic from your oceanfront home (search here)! Below is a list of all the locations where you can view OBX Fireworks 2016 July 4th displays. Enjoy a live band, eat watermelon, run a 5K or just relax and watch the fireworks.
Duck – Town of Duck 4th of July Parade at 9 AM, dixieland band and watermelon too
Ocracoke Island – 8 PM- 9 PM Party at NPS docks with Deejay Tommy Hutcherson. 9 PM fireworks.
Corolla – Corolla Festival of Fireworks at Whalehead Club in Historic Corolla. Live music by Tidewater Drive Band, food vendors, cornhole tournament, watermelon eating contest and games. Starts at 5 PM, Fireworks at dusk.
Kill Devil Hills – Fireworks at dusk at Avalon Fishing Pier at MP 6.
5th Annual Freedom 5K – Town Hall, one miler and fun run too
Manteo – Celebration starts at 3 PM and fireworks over the sound at the Manteo Waterfront at 9:30 PM.
440th Army Band from 8-10PM at the Roanoke Island Festival Park Outdoor Pavilion
Avon – Fireworks at 9 PM at the Avon pier
Info provided by The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce
Corolla Flood Zones Likely Reduced
Corolla Flood Zones are being reduced, thanks to a new remapping scheduled to be approved later this year. New maps would change the number of houses in the V flood zone from 1,097 to just 126. The V zone, as designated by FEMA, is a coastal area with a 1% chance or greater of flooding and have the additional requirement of being able to withstand the ocean waves. Many oceanfront homes currently fall under this rating. The number of houses in the flood zone AE, which is still the 1% flood chance without wave action, would also be reduced. The maps only account for previous floods, they do not take into account sea level rise.
“It’s pretty safe to say most of our oceanfront homes are out of a flood zone,” said Currituck County planner Jason Litteral.
The last maps were based off data from the 1980’s. The new maps were made with more accurate methods of taking detailed elevation readings. Much of the flood zone reduction may be attributed to the significant vegetated protective dune structure in communities like Pine Island. Other communities that would benefit from the new maps include Buck Island, Corolla Light, Spindrift, Ocean Sands, Ocean Hill, Whalehead Club and Villages at Ocean Hill.
Flood zones limit the height of the ground floor for structures. Flood zone “V” homes must have their bottom floor at 12 feet above sealevel (13 ft for Currituck County). “A” flood zones normally are at least 4 feet above sea level.
County administrators and homeowners alike are hopefully optimistic that these new more detailed maps will provide some flood insurance premium relief if they are passed by the North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program.
Information provided by: Hampton, Jeff. “Currituck Oceanfront Homeowners Happy, Surprised When Flood Zones Reduced.” PilotOnline.com. The Virginian-Pilot, 28 Feb. 2016. Web. 6 Mar. 2016. <http://pilotonline.com/news/local/environment/currituck-oceanfront-homeowners-happy-surprised-when-flood-zones-reduced/article_0136e661-e9f5-5901-a80f-6f154263132e.html>.
OBX Holiday Events 2015
Your guide to all the local OBX Holiday Events in November and December 2015.
Even though it is the off-season for our beach resort community, there are plenty of events to get you in the holiday spirit. Run a 5K to work off those holiday dinners, see the lights at the Elizabethan Gardens, watch the Manteo Christmas parade, shop at First Friday in Manteo, the Festival of Trees or check out the Holiday Tour of Homes.
Take the whole family – it’s spectacular!
11/26 – 5K Turkey Trot in Duck
December 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 23, 26, 30 (Wednesdays thru Saturdays) January 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 (Fridays and Saturdays) from 6pm-9pm – Stroll along enchanted garden paths and discover the joy of the season with holiday lights, sights and sounds transforming The Elizabethan Gardens into an illuminated winter wonderland. Adults $11, Youth (ages 6-17) $9, Child (5 and under) $6.
11/27-28 – Island Foodways at Island Farm in Manteo
See how Roanoke Island families prepared for winter in the 1850’s.
11/27-28 – Hangin’ With Santa at Kitty Hawk Kites
11/28 – Annual Season’s End Festivities at Chicamacomico Life Saving Station in Rodanthe
12/3 – Holiday Bazaar & Silent Auction + Santa Visits
12/4 – Shopping, Silent Auction, Live Music
12/5 – Half-Price Bazaar Sale, Holiday Social and Benefit Auction
12/4-5 – Manteo Christmas Celebrations
12/4 – Christmas Tree Lighting
12/4 – First Friday
12/5 – Christmas Parade
12/5 – Duck Yuletide Celebration
12/6 – Breakfast with Santa at Pamlico Jack’s in Nags Head
12/11 – Holiday Promenade in Rodanthe, Waves and Salv0
Winter Wonderland Train Display
12/12 – Hatteras Village Christmas Parade
12/12 – Cape Hatteras Light Winter Climb
Enjoy as many of the OBX Holiday Events as you can!
The Currituck Club
The Currituck Club is a luxury gated golf community that spans from ocean to sound in Corolla, NC. What a wonderful place to live, retire and vacation! Located near the Currituck Lighthouse and historic Whalehead Club, there are many local activities close at hand to the Currituck Club. You can go on a wild horse tour, rent a jeep and explore the 4×4 beaches, surf, fish the oceans and sounds, hike a nature trail, eat fine cuisine or shop!
The Currituck Club has several smaller communities nestled within its sand dunes, maritime forest, marsh and shoreline. Windswept Ridge offers condominiums with views of the fairways. The Hammocks is an award winning community of soundside homes on a natural ridge at the north end. Magnolia Bay homes border the Currituck Sound at the south end of The Currituck Club.
There is a free trolley ride during the season that will take you from ocean to sound and to the many amenities in between. The Currituck Club offers 5 pools, 7 lighted tennis courts, children’s playground, fitness trails, a fitness center with cardio equipment, free weights, bocce ball, shuffleboard, cornhole, volleyball and basketball. There is also a Surf Shack and Beach Valet to help with all your beach going needs.
Perhaps the crowning jewel of The Currituck Club is the 18 hole, 6,885 yard golf course designed by Rees Jones. This top rated links style course has over 4 miles of bermuda and bent grass, pro shop, grille and locker rooms. Consider becoming a member to enjoy all the Currituck Club has to offer with your property.
Our team is an excellent knowledge base for this community. We can help you find the home you’ll enjoy for years to come within The Currituck Club.
Outer Banks Seafood Festival
The 4th Annual Outer Banks Seafood Festival is coming up on October 17th from 10:30 AM – 6:00 PM at the Outer Banks Event Site in Nags Head. A veritable seafood lovers’ paradise, the Outer Banks Seafood Festival combines fresh locally caught seafood, history of the fishing heritage on the Outer Banks, activities for the kiddos and local arts and craft vendors in one place with a gorgeous view of the sound.
There is no parking onsite – but they are running shuttles from multiple locations in Nags Head and Manteo. This year you can hear the musical stylings of The Mustang Outreach Program, Southern English Band, Unknown Tongues, Croatan Highway Band, Old Enough to Know Better and Jonny Waters and Company.
Come out and sample food and drink from Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar, Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe, Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant, Dirty Dicks Crab House, Jolly Rodger, Kelly’s Restaurant and Tavern, Mulligan’s raw Bar and Grill, OBX Moveable Feast, Proof Bakery, Salty Dawg Smokehouse, Sam and Omies, Stripers Bar and Grille, Ten O Six Beach Road Bistro, Full Moon Cafe, Outer Banks Brewing Station, Sanctuary Vineyards, and the Weeping Radish Brewery. Whew!
After you’ve had your fill of seafood – check out the Outer Banks real estate for sale in Nags Head! It’s Fall on the Outer Banks and that’s a great time for buying or selling a home. The weather is mild, the ocean is still warm, there are plenty of local activities still going on and the traffic is lighter! It’s going to be a beautiful weekend!
~Life is Short, Buy the Beach House~ OBXListings
January 2015 Newsletter
Who is ready for summer? We are! Now is a great time to start looking for that beach house or to list your property and upgrade. 2014 saw an increase of 8% in the overall sales volume. Oceanfront and soundfront home sales increased and come June, our insurance rates should decrease about 9%!
Please contact us if we can be of service to you either in buying or selling! We’d be happy to provide you with a customized Market Report for your particular home, subdivision or area. Let us help you make your dream of owning a beach house a reality!
2014 YTD Residential Sales Update
OBX MLS Real Estate Headlines:
Hot off the press is our October Newsletter and October Year to Date Market update for Residential Sales on the Outer Banks. See Year to Date comparisons for 2013 to 2014 in total sales, units sold, average price, median price and percent change.
See posts on how to search by map or by positive cash flow investment properties here. View our Featured Properties.
Read articles on Tips for Staging a Home, Popular Upgrades, Mistakes Home Sellers Shouldn’t Make, Reasons Why Home Sales Fall Through and Spa-like Bathroom Remodels. Click here to view the newsletter.