Vegetable Gardening in Arizona

gardenVegetable gardening in the Arizona desert can be challenging. Gardening tips that may work in other climates, often don’t apply to gardening in the low desert of Arizona. Yet, growing a successful vegetable garden in the desert is absolutely possible!

Benefits of vegetable gardening in Arizona:

-Ability to garden outdoors year-round. 
-Abundant sunshine – necessary for all living things.

Challenges of vegetable gardening in Arizona:

-Extreme heat. A few vegetables (okra, Malabar spinach, Armenian cucumbers) tolerate the heat and continue producing. Some die, and others go into dormancy only to take off again when the humidity of late July or August sets in. 
-Low humidity. Many desert-adapted plants such as cactus, succulents, and plants with waxy leaves are adapted to less humidity. However, most vegetables and garden plants need more moisture in the air to grow well in the low desert of Arizona. 


Take advantage of microclimates in your yard:

-Some parts of the yard will be warmer or cooler than others. Use those areas to your advantage by growing plants whose requirements match up to the specific microclimate available. 
-Notice in your yard which areas receive the most sun and shade during different seasons of the year. Learn the sun requirements and heat tolerance of different plants. Consider adding shade parts of the garden that need it during the hottest times of the year. Take advantage of the shade provided by larger plants to interplant different crops. 

Water your Arizona vegetable garden correctly:

-Vegetables and fruits do not produce well if they are stressed. Problems in the garden can often be traced back to watering – not enough, too much, or inconsistent water. Plants become stressed and are more prone to diseases and insects. 
-Spend time in your garden each day. You will notice the watering needs of your plants and be alerted to issues with your watering system.
-Water in the morning. Wilted leaves at midday don’t necessarily mean a plant needs water; always test soil a couple of inches deep to see if the soil is dry before giving droopy plants more water. They will probably recover once the sun goes down.

Looking for a new yard to start your garden? We’re ready to start searching for the perfect yard for gardening! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477


Principles of Feng Shui

This concept of feng shui is derived from an ancient poem that talks about human life being connected and flowing with the environment around it. The Chinese words “feng” and “shui” translate to mean “wind” and “water.” The feng shui philosophy is a practice of looking at our living spaces and working environment while striking a balance with the natural world.

Remove Obstacles

Think about how you move through your home and try to make the paths as clear as possible. Efficiency is everything in feng shui, so it’s important to clear obstacles from your path and make your flow as easy as possible.

Keep Things Clean

Having too much clutter around is probably not going to do your mental clarity any favors. In feng shui, clutter is believed to take up valuable space that new incoming energy needs. If you are working from home, make a habit of cleaning up your workspace each day. Not only will it make you feel less stressed out, but it’ll also create a sense of order in such chaotic times. Plus, you’ll get a clean start each day, which should benefit your productivity.

Declutter the Entryway

In feng shui, your entryway represents the way energy enters your home and your life. Remove piles and balled-up socks. If you have space, add some plants and artwork to make the area feel inviting.

Add Plants

Your new life motto should be: When in doubt, add more plants. We’ve got a more detailed primer on which ones will help you find your ideal chi and where they can be best positioned, but the short answer? Plants embody life energy, so they’ll add freshness and vitality to your home.

Go Vertical

Integrating some vertical shapes and lines in your home represents growth and expansion. You can make this happen in a variety of ways by adding some lighting where the light travels upward or add a tree to a corner to make the space feel taller.

Summer Home Maintenance

Summer is in full swing and now is good time to inspect your house to see how your it is doing in the summer heat. Here’s a quick list of 7 summer home maintenance tips and projects you can do to spruce up your home and keep everything running smoothly throughout the year:

Attic Inspections

Attics can be claustrophobia-inducing, but it’s a good idea to brave those tight confines at least once a year. You want to check your attic for any indication of pests or insects, water leakage, mold or mildew.

Rain Gutters

It’s easy for desert dwellers to forget about checking the rain gutters. Gutters can become clogged with dirt and grime, especially after a monsoon season so it’s a good idea to flush out your gutters with the hose at least once a year.

Washing Machine Maintenance

Your washing machine is one of those appliances that needs some light maintenance every now and then. When your washer is not in use, inspect the seal between the door opening and the drum for areas of soil buildup or any stains. If you find any, you can clean it with a mixture of ¾ cup of chlorine bleach and a gallon of warm water. Wipe the area with the bleach-water solution and then let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then wipe dry with a clean cloth, and let it air dry. This will remove any odors and keep your clothes from getting stained by dirt deposits inside the seal.

Clean the Garbage Disposal and Dishwasher

This home maintenance tip isn’t necessarily just a summer chore, but it’s important reminder to clean out your garbage disposal and dishwasher every once in a while. You can easily clean out your garbage disposal by flushing it with hot water and some dish soap. To clean your dishwasher, you should add 2 cups of vinegar to the bottom of the machine and run the machine on low wash.

Wipe Down & Clean Baseboards

Baseboards are often overlooked when it comes to weekly cleaning, but it’s something you will want to do at least once a year to keep dust and dirt from building up. A damp cloth and a little extra time is all you need to clean up the trim around your home.

Wash Exterior Windows

Summer is a good time of year to wash your windows from the outside. Simply fill a bucket with hot soapy water and get scrubbing. If you wash your windows more than once a year, you may be able to get away with just using Windex, but a bucket of soapy water and a sponge will usually deliver the best results.

Clean or Replace Window Screens

Washing your exterior windows won’t make much of a difference if you don’t also wash your window screens. Take off all your window screens to your house and gently scrub them with hot soapy water. If your window screens are too dirty to be cleaned, you may just want to replace them.

Creating a Backyard Retreat

As we stay home more because of the coronavirus, creating a backyard retreat is on the top of many homeowners’ list of home projects.

Tips to transform your backyard space:

Finishes- Consider dark color finishes, sun shelves, complete automation, grotto waterfalls and comfortable outdoor furniture to create and inviting space to relax.

Light it Up- String lights are a simple and inexpensive solution for mood lighting. If your space is under a pergola, gazebo or large tree, dress things up with an outdoor chandelier. Battery operated candles also add a little light.

Adding TVs/Stereos- Incorporating TVs and stereo systems on the patio provide entertainment while outside. Install a TV in a shady spot on a metal, heavy duty wall mount that can pivot for easy viewing.

Add Privacy- Plants and curtains are two easy ways to create a more private outdoor space. Plants such as ficus or citrus trees work well in the desert to create privacy hedges. Hanging curtains around a covered patio or gazebo also softens the outdoor space and helps block the sun.

For more tips, or to find a new home with all the backyard features you are looking for, call us today! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Summer Monsoon Safety Tips

If you’re new to Arizona, you may be wondering what people are talking about when they refer to the “monsoon”. The term “monsoon” comes from the Arabic “mausim” meaning “season.” In Arizona, monsoon is used to refer to our summer season of high temperatures, high winds, and occasionally severe thunderstorms. Often, the more severe storms begin with towering walls of dust hundreds of feet high that move across the Valley. These dust wall are known as “haboobs,” an Arabic term for the similar walls of dust that are common in the Middle East. With the dust comes high winds, typically followed by heavy rains. Sometimes, the thunderstorms can result in microbursts, which are the result of cold, dense air from a thunderstorm hitting the ground, bringing with it intense winds. These winds spread out in all directions and have the potential to cause intense damage.

When is Arizona’s monsoon? Before 2008, the monsoon’s start date and duration varied based on the dew point average. To reduce confusion, the National Weather Service decided to set dates. The monsoon season now officially begins on June 15th and ends on September 30th.

Monsoon Safety Tips:
-Drive cautiously even if your visibility is not greatly reduced, especially at the beginning of a storm when oils and other automotive fluids can make the road unusually slick.
-If you feel like conditions are not safe enough to continue driving, slowly pull off the side of the road as far right as you can, turn off your car, turn off your lights, and keep your foot off the brake pedal. Otherwise, drivers might come up behind you and, thinking you are still in motion, rear end your vehicle.
-If you are outside, stay away from open fields, trees, poles, and other tall objects to avoid being struck by lightning. Also important to avoid swimming pools and golf clubs.
-If you have a landline, do not use it to avoid getting a shock from a nearby lightning strike. Instead use your cell phone, but even this should be minimized to keep lines open for emergencies.
-Avoid plumbing fixtures, including showers, baths, and sinks, since lightning can travel through metal pipes.
-Stay away from windows, which can be struck by blowing debris. It’s not uncommon for the high winds of a microburst to blow around large objects and for large trees to fall down.

Monsoon home shopping tip: When home shopping during or after a rain storm, inspect the ceilings for possible leaks and outside for possible flooding areas. These problems can typically be easily resolved during the inspection period and best to be remedied before closing.

House Cleaning During COVID-19

Spring cleaning your house includes traditionally includes extra dusting, window cleaning and shampooing carpets. With our home cleaning checklist, we’ll give you the best spring cleaning tips, plus additional tips for attacking COVID-19.


Did you know there’s a difference between cleaning and disinfecting? Cleaning is the removal of dirt and germs from surfaces. Cleaning doesn’t kill viruses, but it will lower them. You can clean a surface using a simple combination of soap and water, which is effective against COVID-19. Disinfecting involves using a chemical to kill germs on surfaces after you clean it, which lowers the risk of spreading infection. You can use a simple bleach combination to disinfect, which is ⅓ cup of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. It’s important to let the bleach sit on the surface for at least one minute before you dry it completely.

The CDC recommends regularly cleaning and disinfecting areas of your home that are frequently touched — three times per day if someone in your house is sick. This includes:

-Kitchen and bathroom counters
-Light switches


Spring cleaning is a great time to both clean and declutter your home. If you’ve got major clutter to deal with, getting a portable container delivered to your driveway may be just what you need to get the job done, especially if you need to make room as you work. Having temporary at-home storage can also help if you need to separate items to go to relatives, donations, or a garage sale.

If it’s just a matter of dusting and cleaning a room, here are some quick tips:

-Before getting started, take time to peruse shelves and side tables to see if there are any books or knick-knacks -you can clear out.
-Empty all shelves and dust thoroughly with a feather duster.
-Use your vacuum to get hard-to-reach spots.
-Gently clean your books with a damp cloth.
-Disinfect surfaces before you rearrange things.
-Don’t forget to vacuum ceiling fans, the tops of your windows and moldings.
-Reach corners in rooms where cobwebs cluster with a long duster.


When months go by and you wonder why those trees and blue sky aren’t looking so vibrant anymore, it means it time to clean your windows! Now is a great time to give your windows a wash. If you can reach, wash both inside and out. Might as well enjoy the view while you’re staying home all day, right? If you have slatted blinds, use a damp cloth to wipe them down.


Tile can really start to look dingy if you haven’t done a deep cleaning in a while. If you haven’t been able to find traditional tile cleaners in the supermarket, a simple mixture of baking soda and water will do. Just pour ½ cup baking soda into 2 gallons of water and mix well. This is a great non-toxic cleaning option for bathroom and kitchen floors. You can even do this on your tiled kitchen countertop before you disinfect. Vacuuming and carpet shampooing should be on your list for this year’s deep cleaning. Make sure you move furniture to clean underneath so you can suck up those pesky dust bunnies. Clean under beds and in closets as well.


Your kitchen will look like it is ready for an open house once you polish your stainless steel appliances. First, clean your stainless steel with a soft cloth to remove dirt and grime. Then, soak a microfiber towel in olive oil and slowly buff the steel. Buff again with a clean, dry cloth and your stainless will be sparkling in no time.


If you try to do all your deep cleaning in one weekend, you’ll quickly get overwhelmed and may want to quit before you finish, so try to break it up into easy to manage sections. Don’t forget your electronics and remote controls! Once you’re done with your deep cleaning, it’s important to keep cleaning and disinfecting for coronavirus regularly, especially the commonly-touched surfaces.

Tips on Improving Your Credit Score for Homeownership

growing moneyIf you are currently renting and are considering purchasing a home you may need to check a few things before you begin your search. One of the most important things to know before you venture into home ownership is what your credit score is.

Your credit score will tell you everything about your credit history and this is what lenders will be looking at when deciding whether to approve you for a home loan. You may have thought you were doing everything right but your credit score will be the deciding factor. You are able to request a copy of your credit report from the three reporting companies (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax). If you find something on your report that is fishy you can look into it, this is another way to keep track of any identity theft that may have happened that you may not even be aware of.

Credit scores can range from an excellent rating of 800+ down to below 499 which is as you can guess, not great.  The higher your score the better chance of getting a better rate and being approved for a loan. There isn’t really a secret formula for improving your score except for paying your bills on time and being consistent. Also eliminating debt whenever possible will bump up your score. Some experts will tell you to pay off the higher interest rate credit cards or loans first, others say get rid of the smaller balances. This is really a personal decision, but either way paying off as much debt as possible will increase your credit score.

Another factor is how long your credit history is. If you have had a good history and have a had a credit card for a long time that will work in your favor. If you have cards showing on your report but they have not been used in a while you may want to charge small amounts on them every so often. These will then be considered active when the credit agency is figuring your score. Also do not open a bunch of new cards at once, this will lower the average age of your accounts and will push your score down. Another thing to consider is if you close your cards, this can lower your score as well.  Again these are all suggestions but only you can decide what your best option is.

Those that may have had financial struggles in the past may bury their head in the sand and not want to look at their credit score. However being educated on this will only help you in the end achieve the best loan rates and getting on the road to owning your home.

Have more questions, give us a call! If we can’t help you, we can direct you to an experienced lender who can. Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Fire Safety Tips for Your Home

front entranceWhile not as glamorous or as fun as decorating your home, keeping your home safe from fires is of paramount importance when it comes to safety in your residence. One of the more obvious tips is to make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home are in full working order. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that you change batteries in these devices at least once a year. If you have children or older individuals in your own, you may want to change these batteries twice a year. Following a replacement schedule is the easiest way to remember to do this (ie, on New Year’s Day and on Fourth of July, every calendar year).

However, changing the batteries alone isn’t sufficient. Setting a monthly schedule to test each detector is also critical.  (You can write it on your family calendar to remind yourself). Oftentimes, fire departments discover that fires occur in homes with smoke detectors that weren’t operational, either because the battery wasn’t working, or was disconnected temporarily (ie, after a smoky cooking incident).

Moreover, do you have a home fire safety plan? Does every member of your family know what to do when there’s a fire?  Make sure there are two ways out of every room, and that each member of the family knows what they are. For windows, are they stuck closed? Can the screens be removed quickly? Does everyone know how to check doors to see if they are hot, and if so, how to find another way out? Remember that towels can be used for handling, touching or grabbing items to avoid burns, and also can be used as a cover to protect faces and cover mouths.

If you have a second floor, do you have an escape (rope) ladder in a central location, near windows? And does every family member know where it is, and how to use it if there is a fire? Also, have you designated a meeting spot outside of the home where everyone can meet if there’s a fire? Everyone needs to understand that once they exit the home, they can’t go back inside for any reason (even if there are pets inside). As a corollary, do the adults have a plan to find and transport any pets in the home if there is a fire?

We hope you find these tips to be useful, and worth discussing with your family.

Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks

pumpkin pieRegardless of whether you want to try cooking a new Thanksgiving dish or sticking to your reliable menu, preparing for Thanksgiving dinner is an overwhelming event that rarely goes without unavoidable mishap.

The Turkey Won’t Thaw – Defrosting a turkey takes quite a while. Regardless of whether you neglected to remove the turkey from the freezer in time, or still have a half frozen bird, place it in a sink loaded with cold water, changing the water at regular intervals until it is defrosted. The turkey will take around 30 minutes for each pound to defrost in the sink.

The Turkey Is Undercooked – Grill it, roast it, deep-fry it, smoke it or brine it, cooking a turkey is at the center of Thanksgiving meal preparation. Most cooks fear slicing into a Thanksgiving turkey to find it still uncooked! You can rescue the circumstance via cutting off and serving the parts that are cooked, and putting the rest back in the broiler while everybody eats.

The Turkey Is Overcooked – Well, at least it’s done! You can alwasys salvage an overcooked turkey by smothering it in gravy.

Not Enough Room at Your Table – If hosting Thanksgiving dinner pushes the limits of your home’s ability to accommodate guests, then it’s time to get creative. Once all the seats at the dining room table and folding card tables are taken, start putting people around the coffee table, or seat children on a blanket on the floor, picnic-style.

Not Enough Food – A key part of your Thanksgiving dinner should be making sure you have plenty of food. In the event you have more guests than expected, whip up some extra mashed potatoes, soup, stuffing, rice or pasta!

You’ve Forgotten a Key Ingredient – Google “substitute for” and whatever it is you’re short of and recipe substitutions will be your new best friend on Thanksgiving.

Thankfully, the most important part of Thanksgiving is the time spent with loved ones. Year from now, your kitchen mistakes will be only an amusing story to tell at the next Thanksgiving dinner!

Safety Around Pools

backyard pool

Living in Arizona, we are spoiled by having such beautiful, sunny weather almost year round. With that, most homes here in the Valley of the Sun have backyard pools. However, we have to be ever mindful of the dangers owning a home with a pool can have.

The majority of homes in the Phoenix area have pools, but do we check regularly to make sure that safety checks are in place for our pools? Drowning is the number one accidental death for kids under age 5 and there are things we can do to help prevent drowning.

If you have a gated pool, make sure it is secured and the lock is in good working condition and cannot be reached or opened by a small child. Never prop the gate open. If it has a self-closing mechanism, make sure it works properly.  Have an adult poolside at all times when children are in the backyard. This person must be diligent to not get side tracked: no phone calls, texting or walking away for even a minute. Make sure someone knows CPR and have safety equipment by the pool. Do not leave toys in the pool after everyone is done swimming, toys left in the pool tempt small children who will reach in to try to grab it and before you know it they have fallen in. If your child seems to be missing, check the pool area first and foremost, and really check it. Don’t just look out the window, walk outside and look in the pool.

Pools can be a great source of entertainment and family fun, but they also need to be taken seriously.  Even if your child has taken swim classes and you think they are good swimmers, you must still be vigilant in watching them in and around the water. There is no substitute for a set of eyes on your pool.  All it takes is one moment for a child to slip under water or to panic for a second and go under. There is nothing worse than hearing on the news about another drowning in Phoenix, so please watch your kids around water!