Spring is Here! Time to Dig out the Spring Gardening Checklist

As temperatures rise, and the soil thaws, your garden begins waking up. It’s time to prep, plant, prune, prepare beds, and care for your lawn.


Prep the beds. Remove winter mulch or, if well composted, work into the top layer of the soil. Work in some leaf mold or well-rotted manure, too.

Prune. Now is the time to trim fruit trees if you didn’t prune in winter. Prune before buds begin to break into bloom or you’ll stress the tree and get a tiny crop (or possibly none).

Perform basic maintenance. Check stonework for frost heaves. Check and clean the deck or patio now so you don’t have to do it later; make any repairs.

Start seeds indoors. You’ve spent the winter reading seed and plant catalogs, so now it’s time to make your choices and plant some seeds.

Plant veggies. Hardy vegetables, such as onions, potatoes, artichokes, and some lettuces, should be planted now.

Divide perennials. Before plants have begun spring growth is a good time to divide many perennials. Share some divisions with your friends this year.

Repair raised beds. Fix trellises and fencing. Soggy winter soil puts a strain on raised beds; sometimes a stake will rot and give way. Trellises and fencing are easiest to repair now, with less growth to work around and fewer roots to disturb.


Build new flower beds. This year, install complementary shrubs offering blooms throughout the season.

Stop feeding the birds. Take down and clean feeders, and put them away until fall.

Enjoy the spring show. Resolve to plant more spring-flowering bulbs next fall.

Plant hardy annuals. Sow seeds outdoors or transplant seedlings.

Apply mulch. If you mulch now, you’ll have next-to-no weeding come summer.

Thin dead foliage of ornamental grasses and ferns. Pull plant skeletons. Once new growth begins, it’s harder to thin ornamentals without damaging the plant. And if you didn’t get around to it last fall, pull the old tomato, squash and other plant skeletons to clear the bed for planting.


Deadhead bulbs. Remove spent blossoms from spring-flowering bulbs; let foliage die back without removing it.

Go shopping. Pick out flats of your favorite bedding plants. Remember to pick ones not yet in bloom for stronger plants.

Prune spring-flowering shrubs. Trim away spent blooms, and thin too-thick branches to rejuvenate older plants.

Pull young spring weeds. Any weeds that appear will be easiest to pull now, as the roots are shallow.

Prepare your lawn for spring. Rake the lawn to remove dead growth and winter debris. Re-seed bare patches. Pre-emergent herbicides may be applied now.

Weaver Homes is a Pittsburgh and Mars area new homebuilder featuring single family homes patio homes and custom homes. Visit www.weaverhomelive.wpengine.com for more information.

Homeowners Enjoy a Variety of Tax Breaks

With tax season upon us, it’s a good idea to remind new (and potential) homeowners that in addition to the joy of owning your own home, you also inherit new tax considerations. The good news is you can deduct many home-related expenses. These tax breaks are available for any abode, whether single-family home, townhouse or condominium. The bad news is your taxes will get more complicated. In most cases, homeowners itemize. That means you move to Form 1040 and Schedule A, where you’ll have to detail your tax-deductible expenses.

If you do find that itemizing is best for your tax situation, here’s a look at homeowner expenses you can deduct on Schedule A.

  • Mortgage interest

Your biggest tax break is reflected in the house payment you make each month since, for most homeowners, the bulk of that check goes toward interest. And all that interest is deductible, unless your loan is more than $1 million. Interest tax breaks don’t end with your home’s first mortgage. Did you pull out extra cash through refinancing? Or did you decide instead to get a home equity loan or line of credit? Generally, equity debts of $100,000 or less are fully deductible.

  • Points

Did you pay points to get a better rate on any of your various home loans? They offer a tax break, too. The only issue is exactly when you get to claim them. The IRS lets you deduct points in the year you paid them if, among other things, the loan is to purchase or build your main home, payment of points is an established business practice in your area and the points were within the usual range. Make sure your loan meets all the qualification requirements so that you can deduct points all at once.

  • Taxes

The other major deduction in connection with your home is property taxes.

A big part of most monthly loan payments is taxes, which go into an escrow account for payment once a year. This amount should be included on the annual statement you get from your lender, along with your loan interest information. These taxes will be an annual deduction as long as you own your home. If this is your first tax year in your house, dig out the settlement sheet you got at closing to find additional tax payment data. When the property was transferred from the seller to you, the year’s tax payments were divided so that each of you paid the taxes for that portion of the tax year during which you owned the home. Your share of these taxes is fully deductible.

  • Home improvements

Save receipts and records for all improvements you make to your home, such as landscaping, storm windows, fences, a new energy-efficient furnace and any additions. You can’t deduct these expenses now, but when you sell your home the cost of the improvements is added to the purchase price of your home to determine the cost basis in your home for tax purposes. Although most home-sale profit is now tax-free, it’s possible for the IRS to demand part of your profit when you sell. Keeping track of your cost basis will help limit the potential tax bill.

  • Energy credits

Some energy-saving home improvements can earn you an additional tax break in the form of an energy tax credit worth up to $500. A tax credit is more valuable than a tax deduction because a credit reduces your tax bill dollar-for-dollar. You can get a credit for up to 10% of the cost of qualifying energy-efficient skylights, outside doors and windows, insulation systems, and roofs, as well as qualifying central air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, water heaters, and water boilers. There is a completely separate credit equal to 30% of the cost of more expensive and exotic energy-efficient equipment, including qualifying solar-powered generators and water heaters. In most cases there is no dollar cap on this credit.

What’s not tax deductible

While many tax breaks are available to a homeowner, there are a few things for which you have to bear the full cost.

  • Private mortgage insurance, or PMI, is a cost you probably won’t be able to deduct, unless you meet the requirements of a special PMI law.
  • Property hazard insurance premiums remain non-deductible, even though the coverage generally is required as part of the home loan and is included as a portion of your monthly payment.
  • Homeowners association dues, any additional principal payments you make, depreciation of your home, and general closing costs and local assessments to increase the value of your neighborhood, such as construction of new sidewalks or utility connections, are non-deductible.

Weaver Homes is a Pittsburgh and Mars area new homebuilder featuring single family homes patio homes and custom homes. Visit www.weaverhomelive.wpengine.com for more information.

Your Family’s Complete Guide to Spring Cleaning

The weather is getting nicer which means spring cleaning is right around the corner! Although it gets a bad rap, there are plenty of ways to make spring cleaning FUN for you and your family, and you don’t have to lose a day (or entire weekend) to mopping and scrubbing with a bad attitude! Here are 10 tips to help you clean smarter, not harder, this year:



  1. Have a plan. If you start cleaning without setting priorities, you’ll never feel finished. Map out your tasks for the day so you’re not blinding jumping in without knowing what your goal is.
  2. Strategize. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Let your helpers work on the tasks they do best and they’ll perform much better.
  3. Get the kids involved. Giving children their own cleaning supplies and/or cleaning kit can help them feel more useful and needed, which will keep them focused and on task throughout the day.
  4. Make it fun. Spring cleaning isn’t Scrubbing Bubble Dance Party, but you can make the task more enjoyable with squirt guns or bottles for the kids and and upbeat music for everyone!
  5. Schedule regular breaks. Even Martha Stewart would be overwhelmed by the idea of hours of uninterrupted cleaning. Regular breaks can help you stay motivated, but don’t let short breaks turn into long ones or you’ll stray too far off course.
  6. Turn it into a makeover. Don’t just clean, give your home a décor update. New paint and decorations can change a room’s entire character while leaving it sparkly clean.
  7. Keep snacks around for motivation. You’re going to get hungry and you’ll never get anything done if you have to stop every time you want a nosh. Keep a bowl of granola or nuts handy to keep your energy levels up.
  8. Make it a game. Make a contest of cleaning and award prizes to the winners so it feels just like playing. Perception is reality, right?
  9. Bribery! Use money and small rewards as a way to keep kids (and adults) focused.
  10. Reward yourself. You’ve been planning, organizing, wrangling your helpers. You’ve been working hard so make sure to reward yourself for a job well done. Treat the family to a delicious dinner or head to the local park for some outdoor fun in the sun!