Blog Archive for June, 2017

Best plants for container gardens

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 29, 2017

Container gardens provide a great way to add natural color wherever you want it. Perk up your curb appeal by placing colorful container gardens by your front door, along the walkway, or around the yard. Dress up your outdoor living spaces. Add a dash of seasonal color.

The container can be anything that will hold soil and plants, and provide sufficient drainage. From a ceramic pot to a watering can, birdbath, wheelbarrow, and even an old chair, you can get creative with your container garden ideas.

Now, what do you plant in it?

For a pleasing blend of colorful blooms and foliage fillers, here are ideas for the best plants for container gardens.

Begonias are hardy plants that produce colorful blooms, and require only partial sun without much watering.

Coleus is a favorite among gardeners because of the wide variety of colorful foliage. Depending on your choice, it can range from drought-tolerant to needing shade.

Osteospermum is also known as a “Cape Daisy”, and it does indeed look like a daisy. You can choose from a spectrum of bloom colors, from white and pale yellow to vibrant orange, pink, and purple.

Pansies and violas produce perky splashes of color and they will continue to bloom into the fall.

Pentas—aka “Egyptian star flowers”—are a great addition to a container garden. Pentas don’t require much care, other than the occasional feeding and good drainage, and the tiny flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Petunias thrive in containers, from hanging baskets to pots. They beautifully cascade down the side of the container. Their big blooms do well with sunshine as long as they can escape to a little afternoon shade.

Verbena produces dense clusters of flowers throughout the summer and into the early fall. This annual doesn’t require a lot of water.

Yucca has long, sword-like leaves that add height and interest to your garden. The plant welcomes sunlight, and this perennial has a long life.

Flowering vines, like the moon flower, morning glory, and passion flower are a natural choice for a container garden because they add color, volume, and shape.

If you want to attract butterflies, plant cosmos, bachelor’s buttons, and dahlias.

No matter what you plant in your container garden, start with good soil and drainage. If necessary, add more drainage holes to ensure the soil doesn’t stay so wet that it leads to root rot. Blend in fertilizer and feed your garden regularly. Also, be sure your plant choices can thrive with the amount of sun and shade you’ll be offering them.

Fireworks and Festivities to Light Up Your Independence Day

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 28, 2017


Looking for somewhere to celebrate Independence Day this year? Your neighbors at Tuskes Homes have a few local favorites we’d like to share with you. Whether you’re in the Lehigh Valley or Northeastern PA, there are plenty of fireworks and festivities nearby that are perfect for celebrating the Fourth of July with family and friends.


For those celebrating in the Lehigh Valley…

Allentown Independence Day Celebration and Street Festival  This annual festival is a local tradition, offering live music, delicious food, carnival rides, a petting zoo, and, of course, a stunning fireworks show. Held on July 1st in the J. Birney Crum Stadium and along Linden Street in Allentown, this unique celebration will offer fun for the whole family, and admission is free!

SteelStacks Independence Day Celebration  Another Lehigh Valley favorite, SteelStacks in Bethlehem will be hosting a spectacular celebration from July 1st-4th. This event offers three days of music and patriotic programming, plus backyard games and a pie-eating contest! On July 4th, enjoy a free concert by the Allentown Band, along with a breathtaking fireworks show.

“Fourth on the Field” at Coca-Cola Park  Coca-Cola Park’s fourth annual “Fourth on the Field” Independence Day event will feature a massive fireworks show—three times larger than the park’s post-game fireworks displays! Visit the home of the IronPigs, and enjoy patriotic live music, family fun, appearances by all of the IronPigs mascots, and tasty food options from the park and local food trucks.

Heritage Day in Easton  This popular festival celebrates Easton’s role in the founding of the United States in 1776! Heritage Day features historic reenactors, musical performances, and a beautiful fireworks display over the Forks of the Delaware River. There will be plenty of activities for kids, including pony rides, face painting, and puppet performances. Watch history come to life this Independence Day with Heritage Day on Saturday, July 9th!


For those celebrating in Northeastern PA…

Wilkes-Barre’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration  This famous celebration is a Luzerne County favorite, drawing a crowd of hundreds each year. With live music, amusement rides, and food and craft vendors, this event offers fun for all ages. The festivities will conclude with a performance by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic and a magnificent fireworks display over the Susquehanna River.

Broad Street Pocket Park Fireworks and Viewing Party On July 3rd, head over to downtown Hazleton’s Pocket Park at the corner of Broad Street and Laurel Street for an Independence Day party! Enjoy a live music performance by Northeast PA’s own Kartune, plus food and drinks from local vendors. Children can also take a look inside a new police car, firetruck, and snowplow. At the end of the night, you’ll have a perfect view of the city’s exciting fireworks display.

Pergola particulars: How to pick yours perfectly

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 22, 2017

A pergola creates an outdoor room without walls, the perfect addition for the back yard. The feature—constructed of pillars, beams, and cross-beams—can provide a cozy oasis or a place to host your outdoor party. Before you start building your pergola (or having a professional builder do it for you), consider the pergola particulars, so you know how to pick yours perfectly.

How will you use it?

Will your pergola be a garden feature, something to add vertical interest with trailing vines along the beams and pillars? Are you thinking about this space as a peaceful oasis where you can escape with a good book, a cup of coffee, or just your thoughts? Or will your pergola be entertainment central, with an outdoor kitchen, furniture, and lighting? Determine how you need your backyard pergola to “perform”. This will help you determine the size and other features.

What style do you like?

Pergola design ranges from rustic to traditional to contemporary. Decide on the style that suits you. An arched pergola is ideal for a garden feature, where the flowers and vines grow along the curves in a naturally-looking way. Choosing straight lines gives a clean style that can be adapted to your taste by choosing the wood type and stain you like, or opting for maintenance-free vinyl in white or black.

How much shelter do you want?

A pergola is an open space, but if you’re leaning toward more shade or shelter, you have options. Install roof cladding for the most protection from the elements, or acrylic panels to keep out the rain. A pergola canopy or shade cloth adds color and the soft draping of fabric. You can also construct your pergola with the beams placed more closely together, which can provide a surprising amount of shade.

Do you need lighting?

Picture your pergola lit up at night, a place to enjoy stargazing or extend your entertainment into the evening hours. Solar lighting will offer soft illumination, or you can hire an electrician to wire your pergola for lighting and other electrical uses.

How big should your pergola be?

Size is relative. A pergola should be sized to scale with other outdoor structures. If you’re placing it near your pool, make sure that the pergola isn’t dwarfed by the size of the pool, and vice versa. Consider future uses for your pergola. If you plan to eventually add an outdoor kitchen, build a pergola that will grow with your vision.

The Best Local Places to Celebrate with Dad this Father’s Day

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: June 15, 2017


Looking to start a new tradition with Dad this Father’s Day? We at Team Tuskes know just how special this day can be. To celebrate, we put together some of our favorite Father’s Day traditions—both old and new, across the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern PA!

If you’re in the Lehigh Valley…

IronPigs Baseball: Take Dad out to the ballgame!

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs will be playing at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Enjoy the stadium’s tasty (and dad-friendly) ballpark snacks, like roasted corn from Aw Shucks, or pizza and other favorites from Pig Stop. To really show Dad he’s super, celebrate at “Superhero Night” on Saturday, and enjoy a special fireworks show at the end of the game. If you’re bringing Dad to the park on Sunday, don’t forget your baseball mitt—the field will be open to the public for fans to play catch after the game, just for Father’s Day.




Lehigh Valley Zoo: Explore your wild side!

Dads are sure to have a wild time at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, located in Schnecksville, where they’ll receive half-price admission this weekend! The zoo will be full of fun Father’s Day activities, like animal-themed craft stations where kids can make gifts for Dad. Enjoy the zoo’s Wonders of Wildlife shows, where you’ll get up close and personal with some of your favorite wild animals, and bond with Dad while interacting with animals from across the globe.




SteelStacks Grand Prix: Start your engines!

Race down to Bethlehem this Father’s Day for the first-ever SteelStacks Grand Prix! The Lehigh Valley Grand Prix and SteelStacks have teamed up to plan an action-packed afternoon of fast-paced go-kart racing and exciting family activities, perfect for Father’s Day. Racing teams, sponsored by local businesses, will zip down a half-mile track at up to 40 miles per hour. Spectators can watch from the grandstands and cheer on their favorite teams, free of charge. Then, check out the car show presented by Chevy 21, enjoy a snack from one of the event’s many food vendors, or compete in a virtual go-kart race in the Mario Kart Tourney at the ArtsQuest Center. The action kicks off at noon!




If you’re in Northeastern PA…

Sand Springs Golf Course: Hit the green!

There’s no better tradition than a round of golf on Father’s Day. Luckily, our Sand Springs community in Drums, PA is tailor-made for a perfect day with Dad! In addition to our homes, Sand Springs has an 18-hole championship golf course and a wonderful restaurant, bar, and grill. To celebrate Father’s Day, Sand Springs is offering 18 holes of golf with cart, a hot dog, and soda for just $32. Or, make a reservation for the Father’s Day FEAST—a buffet on the patio serving all of Dad’s favorites. For more information regarding tee times and buffet reservations, call 570-788-5845 today!



Color me sold! How paint color impacts your home’s sale price

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 15, 2017

You’re getting your home ready to put on the market. You clean out the clutter and the personal items. You boosted the curb appeal. You put a fresh coat of white paint on your bathroom walls.

Which one of these actions will actually reduce the amount you get for your home?

The white paint is going to cost you.

According to Zillow’s 2017 Paint Color Analysis, the choice of light blue or periwinkle for your bathroom walls could increase your home’s sales price as much as $5,4440, while your white wall could lower the price by up to $4,035.

Zillow studied 32,000 photos of homes that sold between 2010 and February 2017, and compared the price to the Zillow estimate, when compared to similar homes with white walls. They analyzed color combinations for various rooms and the exterior paint color to determine the best color choices.

The right shades of blue and gray in certain living areas will fetch you a better price, too: $1,809 for the kitchen and $1,926 for the bedroom (light cerulean to cadet blue), but cost you $820 in your living room!

Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, explains, “Painting walls in fresh, natural-looking colors, particularly in shades of blue and pale gray not only make a home feel larger, but also are neutral enough to help future buyers envision themselves living in the space. Incorporating light blue in kitchens and bathrooms may pay off especially well as the color complements white countertops and cabinets, a growing trend in both rooms.”

Homes with the exterior paint color of “greige” (gray and beige) added $1,526, while medium brown, taupe, and stucco seemed to cut the selling price by almost $2,000.

Even the color on your front door can increase your home’s sales value to a buyer. The choice of navy blue or dark gray could boost the selling price by $1,526.

Here are some other room color choices to avoid:

  • Pink bedrooms = -$208
  • Yellow kitchen = -$820
  • Red dining room = -$2,031

For a minimal investment in the right paint colors, you can easily brush up the sale price of your home.

10 ideas for a pet-friendly home

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 8, 2017

Your pet is part of your family, so make sure your furry friends feel like they’re also part of your home. Here are 10 ideas for pet-friendly home.

  1. Remove temptation. Dogs and cats have a powerful sense of smell, so they’re drawn to fragrant items and places, which could include your garbage, pantry, and countertops. Keep a strong lid on your trash can and keep food out of the reach of pets. Remember, certain foods are toxic to dogs and cats, like grapes, raisins, chocolate, onions, mushrooms, and xylitol (artificial sweetener). In addition, a dog can choke on small bones discovered in a trash can.
  2. Get rid of dangerous plants for pets. Some common house plants present a risk to pets, who often can’t resist chewing on foliage. English ivy, lilies, azaleas, mums, tulips, and oleander should be removed from any areas where your pets roam freely. Click here to browse the ASPCA’s complete list of toxic plants.
  3. Another reason to put down the toilet lid. The toilet bowl is a curious place for animals. Dogs and cats may go there for a drink, and end up ingesting chemicals. Small animals—hamsters, kittens, guinea pigs, gerbils—have been known to fall in and drown. For safety sake, make sure everyone in your family closes the toilet lid.
  4. Tuck strings, cords, and wires out of reach. Animals may chew or become tangled in the cords from your electronics or window treatments. Protect your animals and your home by keeping those pet hazards out of reach.
  5. Put a latch on cabinets. Cabinet doors can be easily opened with the nudge of a nose or paw. Prevent your pet from getting into your stash of cleaning supplies by putting a child-safe latch on your lower cabinet doors.
  6. Secure your screens. Cats and dogs love to look out windows. They might get a little too excited when they spot a squirrel or bird. If your window screen isn’t firmly secured, your cat or small dog can push the screen and fall out the window. Check your window screens to make sure they are tightly secured.
  7. Provide safe chew toys and scratching posts. It’s natural for dogs to chew and cats to scratch. Cats mark territory with scent from glands in their paws and also scratch to sharpen their claws and stretch their muscles. You can prevent them from taking out their natural instincts on your furniture, flooring, door trim, and windowsills by presenting palatable alternatives. Put healthy chew toys in various places for your dog. Place scratching posts and boards (preferably with coarse surfaces, like sisal rope) near the areas where you cat likes to scratch. Rub catnip oil on the scratching surface to entice the cat.
  8. Give them their own space. You have your bedroom, so why not give your dog or cat their personal space? A dog bed with toys and perhaps a blanket with your scent on it is perfect for your canine companion. Cats prefer to hide away in a secluded space, so a quiet retreat away from bustling activity will be ideal. A perch on a windowsill is also a welcomed space for a cat to relax.
  9. Shop wisely for home furnishings. Be sure your upholstery and carpets are stain-resistant and sturdy. Avoid anything with a thick nap or pile because pet hair will find its way in there and become difficult to remove. You might also consider purchasing furniture that blends in with your pet’s fur color!
  10. Top your bed with washable duvet covers. A majority of homeowners welcome their pets into their beds. A duvet cover is easy to remove and wash—and far less bulky that a comforter.

When you create a safe environment for your pet, you’re less likely to have those “oh no!” moments.

House-hunting tips for successful online home searches

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 1, 2017

Nine out of ten people who search for a new home use the Web at some point. According to Google, the number of real-estate related searches appearing on this browser increased 253% in four years.

We rely on our mobile devices for all sorts of research and purchases, so why not use this power tool when tackling the hunt for the perfect home? But, like any other online research, make sure you’re using the right resources that will give you accurate and useful information. Here are some tips for successful online home searches

  1. Use a reliable real estate search site. Realtor, Zillow, and Trulia are the most common sites for browsing listings. Realtor is the most up-to-date of the three, but you probably won’t find “For Sale By Owner” listings there. The site is sponsored by the National Association of Realtors, so it feels no obligation to list properties that aren’t represented by one of its members. Zillow is useful for gauging home values (although the numbers are calculated using an algorithm, so don’t count on them as a negotiating tool). Trulia has some valuable features, like using map overlays to learn more about a neighborhood’s schools, crime statistics, and amenities.
  2. Know your priorities and deal-breakers. To avoid wasting your time with homes that just don’t meet your needs, make a list of your criteria—location, size, age, and maximum price of the home, number of bedrooms and baths, lot size, and home style (e.g., single-family, duplex, condo, townhome). Enter those into your home search, as well as any other important features, like a swimming pool, attached garage, basement, fireplace, central air, handicap accessible, hardwood floors, or water view. You can specify new construction or look only for homes within communities. Start with the “must have” list so you don’t exclude a possible winner that is only lacking a feature that you could honestly live without.
  3. Research the school system. If you have school-age children, you can easily learn about the quality of the schools in the district. Go to org to review the ratings of each school, including private, charter, and magnet schools.
  4. Check out the neighborhood. If you’re new to the area you’re searching, it’s important to learn about the neighborhoods. Sites like Neighborhood Scout show you statistics on crime, average income levels, public school test scores, and home value trends. HomeFair has a tool that lets you compare the population’s demographics, including cost of living, between two cities. Go to Google Maps to get a satellite view of the area, with locations of nearby schools, hospitals, restaurants, and other services. If you’re unsure about the weather in the new area, visit The Weather Channel’s website.
  5. Check out the social, cultural, and recreation scenes. The city or regional Chamber of Commerce is a great resource for identifying popular local attractions, historical sites, and activities. Visit Facebook pages for those areas, and also search in to see what’s happening.

Of course, there’s only one way to truly get the feel for a home, a street, a neighborhood, and a town. Go for a drive, look around, stop and talk to people—you know, the old-fashioned, “manual” method.

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