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5 Backyard Projects to Finish Before Fall

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Many homeowners put off backyard projects until the very end of the summer season for a variety of reasons. Some projects take a lot of planning, too much time, or it might feel like summer will never end. But before you know it, the air is cooler, and fall is around the corner. Fall and winter both change the soil as well, which can cause trouble when it comes to unfinished projects. Listed below are five backyard projects you should finish in fall.

Install Water Features

You should complete the installation of all your backyard water features before the end of fall. Leaving part of the ground in your yard open will most likely cause the frost line to drop in that area, which consequently makes the completion of either a pool or pond much more challenging once the warmer weather conditions resume.  Your backyard ground might also get saturated as a result of moister conditions, potentially causing structural water damages.

Build a Shed

If you have been preparing the construction of a shed in your yard, it is important to finish this project soon. The moisture levels and the soil in the ground keep shifting throughout the cold weather seasons. Such movements, however slight they may seem, could cause a staggering amount of damage to a permanent foundation lacking the stability provided by the full weight of a shed. 

Install or Refinish a Backyard Patio Space

The weather conditions that come after summer are not conducive for outdoor projects, including patios. The work on a patio in need of refinishing might be affected by the salt carried from roads as well as the cold, bad winter weather. Paints take much longer to dry in fall, particularly when compared to during the warm summer months. As a bonus, installing or refinishing a patio provides additional protection from various causes of damage such as moisture, which usually occur after summer. 

New Fencing

The updating of your backyard fencing is another project to complete. Fencing around a garden provides much more than privacy, especially during the cold winter months. New or improved fencing acts as a better barrier to keep the cold winds from reaching your house when compared to old and worn out fences. Backyard fencing also reduces drafts in the home, which consequently may lower your heating bill. 

Landscaping

You should perform all of your landscaping projects such as the mulching of plants, the addition of perennials, and pruning of branches before fall. The cold weather that comes after summer usually affects most plants negatively, which means any attempt at landscaping after the warm climatic conditions of summer poses a potential threat to the well-being of your backyard plants. Additionally, the new perennials you plant after summer might not be sufficiently established in the soil by the time winter comes, and could become victim to the cold weather. 

 

If you were planning on doing any of these projects, make sure to get them done as soon as possible! Check out our home maintenance checklist below for more items to cross off the list before the end of the year.

Download the   Checklist

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Tips for Paying Off Your Mortgage Faster

There are several ways to pay off your mortgage faster and save on interest payments. Even better, not all methods require spending a lot of extra money! Take a look at the list below: Make extra principal payments.  You can pay extra money toward your mortgage balance each month or make a larger, lump sum payment on your principal each year. This reduces the amount due on the mortgage as well as reducing the amount of interest that will accrue. Extra money can also be added to the principal payment from bonuses, gifts, savings and extra earnings. Just remember to make a note on the check for the money to go towards the principal! Make one extra mortgage payment per year. One of the easiest ways to make an extra payment each year is to pay half your mortgage payment every other week instead of paying the full amount once a month, otherwise known as “bi-weekly payments.” With these payments, an extra payment is made so that the total number of payments that one makes adds up to 13 payments in a year rather than the 12 that would have been made with monthly payments. This adds up to significant interest savings over the duration of a mortgage. You also want to make sure that if your lender accepts this kind of payment they will not charge you a prepayment penalty. Also verify that the bi-weekly payments are being applied to the principal amount and not the interest. Otherwise, you won't notice the savings. Reduce your balance with a lump-sum payment. Have you inherited money, earned a bonus or commission, or sold a large item? You could apply that amount to your mortgage’s principal balance. Another option is any time you have a month where you have that third paycheck, apply that to the principal on your mortgage. This will happen twice a year, adding an extra principal payment to your mortgage loan. While paying down a large debt is nice, it's not a requirement. Consider making sure you have enough to work toward other financial goals, such as an emergency fund, before paying more on your mortgage. However, there are many options you can explore that best fit your budget. You can learn more about buying your first home with our Get Mortgage Ready Guide below.

Mortgage Interest Rates Up - Is It Still a Good Time to Buy?

You've seen the headlines and heard the chatter - mortgage interest rates have gone up. How long will this last? Will this be a return to renting for people who were thinking of buying a home? Or is it just a small adjustment in the overall scheme of things? 

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