What Every Home Owner Needs to Know About Home Owners’ Insurance Rates

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Home owners’ insurance is necessary coverage for every home. But this necessary coverage can also be unnecessarily expensive if you’re not careful. Insurance rates can be influenced by a wide variety of factors, including your credit score, the local fire station, even the pool or trampoline in your back yard. And you could be paying too much for your home owners’ insurance if you have factors that raise your insurance rates.

In this resource, you’ll learn everything you need to know about home owners’ insurance rates. You’ll find out how much most home owners pay for their insurance, common claims and how much they usually cost insurers, and how often home owners submit claims. But more importantly, you can learn what insurers look at when determining your insurance rates, including factors that can raise your rates. Plus, you’ll find tips for what you can do to reduce the cost of your home owners’ insurance rates.

Home Owners’ Insurance By the Numbers

Home owners’ insurance is a $70 billion dollar premium industry in the United States. Nearly every American home has a home owners’ insurance policy and most home owners will pay about $1,000 per year for insurance coverage. Want to know more? Check out these statistics on home owners’ insurance.

  • Almost every home in America is insured. 95 percent of homes in the United States are insured. Mortgage companies typically require that home owners maintain a quality home insurance policy for the life of the loan. (Enhance Insurance)
  • On average, Americans pay $1,096 in annual home owners’ insurance premiums. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Florida home owners pay the highest home owner’s insurance premiums at an annual rate of $2,115. In fact, most of the Gulf Coast region pays higher home owners’ insurance premiums than the rest of the country. Texas home owners pay an average of $1,837 (ranked second), Louisiana home owners pay an average of $1,822 (ranked third), and Mississippi home owners pay an average of $1,395 (ranked fifth). (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Home owners in northern states and the Midwest tend to pay less for home owners’ insurance. Idaho home owners pay the lowest at $561, Oregon home owners pay an average of $568, and Utah home owners pay an average of $609. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Home owners that live in an area with significant storms will pay more for home insurance. Areas with significant storm activity pay about 2 percent more on average for home owners’ insurance. (Peachstate Insurance)
  • Home owners’ insurance rates typically go up each year. In recent years, they have increased by five percent or more. In 2012, rates increased 5.6 percent, while they went up 6 percent in 2013. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Even as rates go up, home owners may not be paying enough. 64 percent of homes are under insured. (Enhance Insurance)
  • Most home owners do not file a claim on home owners’ insurance in any given year. In 2014, only 5.3 percent of insured homes had a claim. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Property damage is the most common type of claim, accounting for 97.3 percent of home owners’ insurance claims in 2014. This figure includes theft. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Fire, lightning, and debris removal is the most severe claim, averaging $39,791 per claim. Bodily injury and property damage is the next most severe at $20,453 per claim. Wind and hail, water damage and freezing, and all other property damage are typically well under $10,000. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Wind and hail claims are the most often submitted claims with a frequency of 3.13. Water damage and freezing have a frequency of 1.86, and all other property damage has a frequency of .99. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • About 2.1 million burglaries occur in the United States each year and 74.5 percent of them are residential. Burglaries typically have an average property loss of $2,230. (Ameriprise Financial)
  • About one in 15 insured homes has a claim each year. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Lighting strikes are not as rare as you might think. About one in 265 homes has a property damage claim related to fire and lightning each year. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • State Farm, Allstate, and Liberty Mutual are the top three writers of home owners’ insurance by direct premiums written. Combined, these three insurance companies make up more than 35 percent of the market share. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Poisoning is by far the leading cause of unintentional injury death at home, making up 51.4 percent of claims. Falls (29.4 percent) and flames or smoke (3.5 percent) are the next highest. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Hail storm damage can reach up to $1 billion annually, though a particularly damaging Kansas City hail storm in 2001 caused $2 billion in damage. Home owners who live in locations where hail storms and tornadoes are prevalent pay more for their home owners’ insurance coverage. In face, in Colorado, about half of home owners’ insurance premiums go to coverage against hail and tornadoes. (Insurance QnA
  • Most fire related home owners’ insurance claims start in the kitchen. Each year, an average of 154,7000 homes are damaged by fires using cooking equipment, adding up to $724 million in damages each year. (Insurance QnA
  • Water leaks in homes account for about 23 percent of all property losses suffered by home owners. Leaks and water damage are primarily caused by freezing pipes and plumbing failures. Up to 93 percent of damage caused by leaks could be avoided with a system in place to detect leaks. (Insurance QnA

How Insurers Determine How Much You Should Pay for Home Owners’ Insurance

When determining your rate for home owners’ insurance, insurance companies look at a number of different factors that can indicate the potential for loss, cost to remedy losses, and more. These include:

  • The size of your home, specifically square footage, as well as any additional structures such as a garage
  • Home construction, materials, and home features including roof type
  • Age of the home including the age of home systems including plumbing, HVAC, and electrical
  • Number of people living in the home
  • Location of the home factoring in the likelihood of damage due to a disaster such as hurricane, tornado, hail, wind, or wildfire
  • Neighborhood crime rates
  • Coverage level
  • Replacement cost including local building cost
  • Fire protection
  • Pets

Factors That Can Increase Your Home Owners’ Insurance Rates

While basic factors look at pretty broad information, there are other factors that may seem insignificant, but can dramatically increase your home owners’ insurance rates. And while something like the breed of your dog or the trampoline in your backyard may not seem like a factor that can make you pay more for home owners’ insurance, the fact is that they can and they will.

Filing a Claim

It hardly sounds fair that you could be asked to pay more for your insurance simply for using it, but that’s the reality of home owners’ insurance. Insurers know that policy holders who have made a claim in the past are likely to make another claim in the future.

A history of frequent insurance claims — whether on your home owners’ insurance, auto, or other insurance coverage — can raise your home owners’ insurance premiums significantly. You may be subject to an increase or even a non renewal or cancellation of your policy if your insurer determines that you represent too much of a risk.

This shouldn’t scare you off from filing an insurance claim if you truly need it. Dealing with $20,000 in hail damage is tough to swallow and you shouldn’t fear making a claim for major losses, especially if you rarely file claims at all and you’re an otherwise upstanding policy holder. But think twice about making multiple claims, especially small ones, within the same year or even few years. Insurers typically raise rates in policy holders with a history of frequent insurance claims, not those who infrequently make claims when it’s really worth it.

Calling About a Claim

Home owners may not be surprised to find out that filing a claim can raise insurance rates. But even if you simply call and decide not to file a claim, your rates could go up.

Consider this situation: your home is damaged and you’re not sure whether it’s covered on your policy. You call your insurance company to find out, but decide not to file a claim because your coverage is lower than your deductible. You may consider the matter closed, but your insurance company does not.

The query is likely to be recorded with details of the damage, even if you make no claim. The damage will likely be reported to your Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report, which is similar to a credit report for insurance. Queries typically stay on your CLUE report for seven years.

While a single phone call should not cause a problem for your insurance rates and ability to obtain insurance, more than a few can be troublesome. If insurers see a number of queries on damages, you could face a higher premium at renewal or even a non renewal of your policy.

Owning an Expensive Home

It should be no surprise that owning an expensive home will cost you more when it comes to home owners’ insurance rates. Everything costs more in an expensive home — and that means insurers will have to pay more to repair or replace your home than they would a more modestly priced home. The more expensive a home is, the more it will cost to insure.

Your Credit Score

In most states, insurance companies are allowed to use your credit history when determining rates for home owners’ insurance. Your credit score reflects your responsibility and how well you pay your bills. Insurance companies know there is a strong connection between people who responsibly pay their bills and those who make a claim. Typically, home owners with a good credit score are less likely to make a claim, while a policy holder who is behind on bills may be more likely to file a claim. Home owners with bad credit scores may pay rates that are double that of home owners with good credit scores, so this factor can be significant.

The Age of Your Home and Materials

As your home gets older, particularly your roof, materials can become more susceptible to damage and deterioration. Newer homes tend are often easier to repair and less subject to damage. And new homes have newer systems, such as plumbing that’s less likely to break down and cause water damage. They may also be built to higher construction standards than older ones. Older homes may be more costly to repair not just because they’re more susceptible to damage, but because they may need to be repaired with materials that can be difficult to find. Insurers know that this may make replacement costs go up, so your home owners’ insurance premiums will rise as well.

Home Remodeling

Improving your home adds to the value of your home. And when the value of your home increases, so does the cost to replace it. Home owners’ insurance companies will take into account that after a major renovation project, it will be more expensive to rebuild your home to its current state in case of a loss. This can lead to an increase in your home owner’s insurance premium — but your home won’t be under insured.

Recreational Equipment

Owning a pool, tree house, or trampoline is fun, but these pieces of recreational equipment can also be dangerous. You may be held liable if anyone is injured or dies while using the equipment on your property — and it doesn’t matter if you gave them permission or not. Simply owning this equipment can make your home owners’ insurance premiums increase.

Home Based Businesses

Typically home owners’ insurance coverage is limited to personal property with very limited coverage for business equipment. If you work from home or have a business based out of your home, you may need additional coverage. And if you have customers come to your home to conduct business, you could have liability and property loss risks not covered by your home owners’ policy. This may require you to add an endorsement or separate business policy for your home.

Ownership of a Potentially Aggressive Dog

In the first half of 2012, one out of three home owners’ insurance liability claims was for a dog bite. Due to rising medical costs related to the treatment of dog bites, the cost of this claim continues to rise. Insurance providers may hesitate to provide home owners’ insurance coverage, or raise rates, for home owners with dogs including wolf hybrids, huskies, malamutes, German shepherds, chows, rottweilers, and pit bulls. However, some states prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on the breed of pets.

Living Too Far from a Fire Station

Insurers want to know that if there’s a fire in your home, the fire department can get there quickly to put it out before your home burns down and becomes a total loss. If you live more than five miles from a fire station, you may be subject to higher home owners’ insurance rates. Insurers also want to know how well your local fire department can handle emergencies, so they’ll look into whether you have a professional or volunteer department as well as fire district ratings when determining your home owners’ insurance rate.

Owning a Vacation Home

Vacation homes are typically more expensive to insure. It hardly seems fair, but insurance companies know that if you’re not spending a lot of time in your home, you’re less likely to be able to spot problems before they become serious issues that would warrant a claim. Burglars are more likely to hit a mostly unoccupied vacation home, and water leaks may go unnoticed for weeks or months. If you’re renting your home out with a service like AirBnB, don’t plan on renting it out for more than 90 days a year. Once you cross that threshold, your vacation home is considered a business and you may not be covered for claims on the property under your personal home owners’ insurance policy.

Neighborhood Crime

If you live in a high crime area, or your neighborhood has been recently targeted by burglars, your insurance company will probably be justifiably nervous about potential burglaries in your home. Property damage claims related to theft are one of the most common home owners’ insurance claims, and if you show an increased risk of this claim, your rates will be increased accordingly.

Lapses in Policy

If you don’t renew your insurance coverage and let your policy lapse, insurers could see that as a sign of risk and subsequently charge you more for your home owners’ insurance premiums. It’s a good idea to pay your premiums on time and keep your insurance coverage current.

How to Reduce Your Home Owners’ Insurance Rates

While some factors that raise your home owners’ insurance rates are beyond your control, like burglaries in your neighborhood, or the age of your home, there are some factors where you can make smart changes to save on your rates. If you’re looking for ways to reduce your home owners’ insurance premiums, try out these tips.

  • Maintain a good credit rating: Insurance companies typically use credit information when determining rates for home owners’ insurance. If you have a poor credit rating, you could end up paying more for your home owners’ insurance. Protect your credit by paying bills on time, only using the credit you need, and keeping balances low. It’s a good idea to regularly check your credit report to identify problems and report any inaccuracies that may be taken into account with insurers.
  • Don’t file small claims: Home owners’ insurance is for major incidents, not wear and tear. If your deductible is $500, don’t bother filing a claim or even calling about $750 in property damage. It’s just not worth the potential increase in rates. Save your claims for when you really need them, like a hail storm that takes out your brand new roof.
  • Make your home as fire proof as possible: Add a fire sprinkler and fire alarm to your home and be sure to keep a fire extinguisher handy. It also helps if you live near a fire station, and it’s best if the fire service is professional rather than volunteer staffed.
  • Install disaster resistance measures: Installing storm shutters, retrofitting your home for an earthquake, or buying stronger roofing materials can better prepare your home to stand up against serious disasters. Some insurance companies will lower your premiums if you make these improvements to your home and lower their risk.
  • Get a home security system: Burglaries and fires make up a significant portion of claims home insurance companies have to pay out every year, so if you take steps to mitigate losses from fire or burglary, you may be rewarded with a significant discount. Using a burglar alarm, smoke detector, or dead bolt locks can result in a discount of up to 20 percent on your home owners’ insurance premiums. Additional discounts may be available for homes with an alarm that is connected to police, fire, or other monitoring stations.
  • Ask about special discounts: Home owners’ insurance companies may have discounts available that you’re not aware of, such as special rates for retirees of employees of certain companies.
  • Update your home’s systems: Older homes are often charged more for home owners’ insurance because their systems are more likely to break down and cause a problem, such as a roof that is significantly damaged during a hail storm, or old pipes that burst and flood your home with water. If you update systems including your air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, and roof, be sure to tell your insurance company, as you may get a break on your home owners’ insurance rates.
  • Get a security inspection: Many insurers will offer you a discount if you work with your local police department or constable to make security improvements to your home. An officer can come out to your home, inspect it, and make recommendations for improving your security. You can then make those changes and get another inspection and submit the report to your insurer for a discount.
  • Carry a higher deductible: Home owners’ insurance is really just for significant losses, even disasters. That means you probably shouldn’t go through your insurance company to handle a $500 window fix, for example. But a major leak that causes $10,000 or more in damage is worth a claim. If you’re able to raise your deductible to $1,000 or higher, you will typically save on your monthly home owners’ insurance premium. And you’ll also be less tempted to file small claims that could put you at risk of a higher premium in the future — or even non renewal of your policy.
  • Stay current on premiums: Pay your premiums on time and maintain continuous coverage, avoiding lapses in coverage, to indicate to insurers that you’re a responsible home owner.
  • Shop around annually: When it’s time to renew your policy, consider your coverage, property value, and current situation. It’s a good idea to make sure you have the right amount of coverage. And by shopping around and asking for quotes from multiple insurance companies, you could save significantly on your premiums. Be sure to compare apples to apples, looking at the same coverage and deductible levels. And don’t forget to ask about multi policy discounts and other ways they can help you lower your premiums for home owners’ insurance.
  • Investigate prior losses before you buy a home: If you’re in the process of purchasing a home, you should know that claims made before you buy the home can influence your rates. A home with multiple claims within a few years may be labeled as risky regardless of who is living in it. And if there are unresolved issues, you could be stuck paying higher rates. When buying a home, ask for a copy of the home’s loss history report with disclosure statements to get a record of the claims filed within the past five years.
  • Talk directly to an agent: It’s convenient to apply for coverage online, but an insurance agent can really help you get the best deal. Speak with a licensed insurance agent to discuss your needs. They can help you get the right amount of protection and even identify discounts that you might not have been aware of otherwise. You can also talk to them about potential scenarios you want to investigate, like how much you might save if you update aging home systems like a roof that’s more than 15 years old.
  • Take advantage of multi policy discounts: While it’s a good idea to shop around for the best rate on your home owners’ insurance policy, keep in mind that it can pay to combine your auto and home insurance, even life insurance. Most companies will take up to 15 percent off of your premium for buying two or more policies from them. Of course, you should make sure that the combined price of your policies including discounts will be lower than getting each coverage from separate companies.
  • Maintain your policy: Insurance companies love loyal customers and often reward long term policy holders with a reduction in your premiums. Loyalty discounts typically kick in around three years and may increase after six years or more.
  • Complete a home inventory: While a home inventory may not help you save on home owners’ insurance premiums, it can help you to more accurately recover losses. Only about 50 percent of home owners have prepared an inventory of their possessions to document losses. Your home inventory should include a list of your belongings along with video or photo evidence. Record model or serial numbers, keep receipts for purchases of value, and remember to record upgrades to your home as well.

Update From:http://www.choicehomewarranty.com/blog/every-home-owner-needs-know-home-owners-insurance-rates/

10 of the Most Popular Tiny Houses of the Year Let’s just say, you really like mini porches.

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Even though small homes are all the rage, they’re not for everyone. After all, it takes some serious creativity and design skills to make a couple of hundred square feet feel like the Taj Mahal. But these top 10 mini abodes piqued your interest this year and we’ll go so bold as to say we bet they even made you consider going tiny.

1This Aboriginal carving-covered home.

tiny house

 
 

The Esk’et Tiny House is located in Canada and, even though it’s only 280 square feet, it includes a luxe fireplace to help keep the homeowners warm during harsh winters.

2 This festive green cottage.

tiny house

 
 

In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is this whimsical cottage (courtesy of Sit With Me In My Garden!) which transforms into Santa’s workshop during winter, thanks to peppermint balls and candy canes galore.

3 This Hampton’s artist retreat.

tiny house

 
 

Nestled in Sag Harbor is this small, 600-square-foot cottage, which is the ultimate artist escape for writing, painting and anything else your creative mind might enjoy.

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4This tiny home with a giant kitchen.

 
 

If you need proof that you can live big in a small space, here it is: The blogger behind My Empty Nest hosted Thanksgiving dinner in her Sherwood, Oregon, house last year.

5 This cheery little cottage.

 
 

It’s amazing how much happiness this 260-square-foot home fits into its mini frame — from the wraparound porch to the yellow and red palette to the Northern California coastline location.

6 This real-life snow globe.

 
 

If you want to witness winter’s wonders, but stay cozy and warm, look no further than this 160-square-foot home known as the Escape Vista.

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7 This home that boasts a front porch.

 
 

Dough Schroeder of Timbercraft Tiny Homes in Guntersville, Alabama, built this 150-square-foot house in a way that totally maximizes what little space it offers, including space for you and a guest at night.

8 This high-end designer’s abode.

 
 

This sleek home designed by New Frontier Tiny Homes features all of the latest design trends, including a farmhouse sink, shiplap and subway tile in just about 200-square-feet.

9 This emerald beauty.

 
 

Tiny Heirloom makes mini homes that are all about the details, starting with this Granny Smith apple-colored door and ending with an interior that can be custom-made depending on your lifestyle.

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10This guest-friendly abode.

Update From:http://www.housebeautiful.com/design-inspiration/house-tours/news/g4073/most-popular-tiny-houses-2016/

How to Choose the Perfect Paint Color for Every Room in Your House

How to Choose the Perfect Paint Color for Every Room in Your House

We asked the experts for their no-fail picks.

Committing to a new paint color is scary. We asked a group of pros to share their go-to hues—from soft and soothing to rich and splashy—so that you can find the ideal one for every room.

How to Choose the Perfect Paint Color for Every Room in Your House Chart

graphic by Katie Field

Paint pricing: Benjamin Moore Regal Select Interior, $50 a gallon; Regal Select Exterior, $52 a gallon • Sherwin-Williams Harmony Interior, from $51 a gallon • Farrow & Ball interior paint, $95 a gallon • Dunn-Edwards Everest interior paint, from $42 a gallon • Valspar Reserve interior paint, from $42 a gallon; Reserve exterior paint, from $46 a gallon

Where to buy them: Wool Skein by Sherwin-Williams, Wickham Gray by Benjamin Moore, Mink by Benjamin Moore, Chocolate Candy Brown by Benjamin Moore, Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore, Shining Knight by Dunn-Edwards, Precious Pearl by Dunn Edwards, Amazing Gray by Sherwin-Williams, Heartthrob by Sherwin-Williams, Shaker Beige by Benjamin Moore, Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore, Simply White by Benjamin Moore, Dovetail by Sherwin-Williams, Rainwashed by Sherwin-Williams, Apple Blossom by Benjamin Moore, Glass Slipper by Benjamin Moore, Prussian Cadet by Valspar, Tan Whirl by Dunn-Edwards

See This Living Room Go From Dark and Dated to a Country Cottage Dream

 

OK, this one deserves a slow clap. How do you take a dark, drab ’60s living room and turn it into an airy living and dining room dream? Ask Jenna Diermann of Jenna Sue Design Co. She’s in the middle of revealing her fabulous flip of a cottage house in Mi Wuk Village, California, room by room (check out the exterior and the kitchen!), and this one started as a doozy.

 

 
 

It was dark and outdated, and the layout just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to Diermann.

 

 

 

So while using it as a workspace for renovating the rest of the house, Diermann got to work. The plan was to utilize the room as an open living room and dining room. All it took was painting the paneling white and adding recessed lighting to brighten up the space.

 

Of course, she kept the pretty brick fireplace, but she addd a reclaimed wood mantel and gave it a coat of paint, too.

 
 

Then she installed cabinets to match the ones in the kitchen.

 

And wide plank Pergo flooring.

14 Things Designers Notice the First Time They Enter Your Home

 
 

10 Ways to Protect Your Garden from Critters

 

Live peacefully with hungry animals, big and small.

 
 

Those fuzzy little bunnies are adorable hopping around your back yard — until they munch on your newly planted veggies and mow down your marigolds. Like it or not, your wild neighbors aren’t selective about what’s yours and what’s theirs. “Your yard and garden are part of a larger system,” says Matt Tarr, associate extension professor and wildlife specialist at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. “They’re a continuum of the habitat around your home.”

While it’s not possible to make your garden completely critter-proof, here are a few ways to minimize the nibbling and live peacefully with hungry animals, big and small:

 
 

1 Identify the culprit.

 
 

Choosing the right kind of management methods, such as how tall a fence you might need, means you have to figure out who’s eating what. “Critters most likely to case the quickest damage are deer, rabbits and groundhogs,” says Tarr. Look for telltale signs: Deer may leave tracks in the soil and make clean snips on herbaceous plants or tear woody plants. Rabbits make sharp cuts on herbaceous and woody plants and may leave pellet droppings. Groundhogs leave large mounds of dirt 10 to 12 inches in diameter at entrance to their burrows, typically eating greens, not woody shrubs. Birds peck holes in fruit or steal it before you even know it’s ripe.

2 Fence it.

 
 

Fencing is the most effective (and sometimes only!) way to keep unwanted visitors out of your garden. “Put up a fence from day one to prevent them from finding the food source in the first place,” says David Drake, extension wildlife specialist and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A fence that’s a few feet tall will work for most rabbits, though persistent bunnies and groundhogs may burrow under. To prevent that, bury it about 10″ deep. Chicken wire, hardware cloth or rabbit fencing are the least expensive alternatives for small mammals. A fence that’s at least 4 feet tall will work for many deer situations. But if your neighborhood is overrun by deer, you may need one that’s 8 feet tall. Plastic bird netting can be placed over small edible bushes like berries the week or so before they ripen, to protect fruit.

3 Choose less tasty plants.

 
 

When they’re hungry enough and competition for food is high, animals will eat anything. “Nothing is foolproof,” says Tarr. But there are certain kinds of plants that are less appealing than others, especially plants that are highly aromatic, fuzzy or have prickles. Thus, while hostas, arborvitae and azaleas are often favorites for deer, they’re generally not interested in many types of ornamental grasses, holly and barberry.  Look around your neighborhood to see what’s fared well, talk to nurseries and consult your local coop extension service for lists of less tempting regional plants.

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4 Protect new plants.

 
 

Those brand-new nursery plants, which have been pampered and fertilized before you bought them, offer delectable, tender new growth. “Whether a plant is tasty or a deterrent to animals has to do with the nutrient and chemicals a plant produces,” says Tarr. “Plants recently purchased from a nursery are nutritionally superior. The animals can sense those micronutrients, and they’re naturally attracted to them.” New plants also cannot withstand as much grazing damage as established plantings. Fence off or use trunk wraps or protectors for new plants and shrubs once you put them in the ground.

5 Garden in pots and raised beds.

 
 

Sometimes you can eliminate nibbling opportunities by elevating pots or planting in raised beds. A raised bed two feet or taller will limit rabbit damage, especially if you add a short fence on top. Pots can be mounted on railings, or try planting greens in window boxes out of the reach of hungry bunnies.

Cedar Complete Raised Garden Bed Kit, $979 BUY NOW

6 Don’t be too tidy.

 
 

If you live in a less urban area, let the shrubs and grasses around the edges of your yard go a little wild. “If there are a lot of other opportunities for food around you, your garden will be less attractive,” says Tarr. “Animals will be less likely to come out into the middle of the yard to your garden to expose themselves to predators if there are other good food sources along the edges.”

 
 

7Contain your compost.

 
 

Open compost piles attract all kinds of creatures that then discover the other delicacies in your backyard, says Drake. Use a self-contained compost bin with a lid to keep marauders away. And if you feed your pets outdoors, be sure to bring their bowls inside after meals so you won’t attract skunks, opossums and raccoons.

8 Scare them away.

 
 

Metallic streamers, or bird tape or an old-fashioned scarecrow may keep birds away, though you’ll have to move it around daily. “You can’t let it just sit there. Otherwise, once they get used to it, that particular technique loses its effectiveness,” says Drake. Motion-activated sprinklers or lights are another possibility for mammals.

9 Try repellants (with fingers crossed).

 
 

Odor repellants are granular and attempt to keep the animal away from an area in the first place with a bad smell. Taste repellents are sprayed on vulnerable plants. They repel by flavor or by causing the animal to feel sick when they ingest the treated plant. “It’s sort of like if you ate at a buffet and became ill,” says Drake. “You wouldn’t want to go back there anytime soon, and neither does the animal.”  It’s important to note that while repellants may upset wildlife tummies, they are not designed to hurt the animals — just to train them to stay away from a specific area. But taste is personal, so some animals will eat treated plants anyway or will get used to the bad taste. Also, these products typically have to be used year-round and must be reapplied after rain.  Of course, you’ll want to keep your pets away from repellants of any sort, too. Homemade repellents using human hair, bars of soap, garlic or a host of other ingredients don’t work much better. “Try them until you get sick of trying them, then put up a fence,” Drake suggests.

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10 Do a reality check.

 
 

“In any given year, a number of factors including the severity of the winter and the number of animals in the area affect how much damage you may incur,” says Drake. There are good years (when you’ll see little loss) and bad years (when you’ll feel like you opened up a free salad bar for the neighborhood critters). Keep your perspective though, and realize what you’re doing in your yard benefits the local wildlife, too, even if you didn’t get to enjoy that heirloom tomato you planted. As a gardener, there’s always next season!

6 Eco-Friendly Home Décor Finds

6 Eco-Friendly Home Décor Finds

Recycled Glass Jug

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The touch of twine on the neck gives this recycled glass jug a pretty, earthy flair. Use it as a doorstop in an entryway or as décor on a screened-in porch.

Woven Chindi Metal Bench

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Made in India with repurposed fabric scraps, this one-of-a-kind bench offers a great way to add some eclectic flair into your space.

Recycled Rope Doormat

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Leave dirt and debris at the door with this durable mat at the ready. The recycled polyester is resistant to mildew, so it can withstand the springtime mudroom mess.


Common Good Dish Soap

common-good-dish-soap

A concentrated, plant-based formula enhanced with natural extracts is stored within a sleek glass bottle to tackle a multitude of kitchen messes.

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Reclaimed Teak Garden Stool

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Whether adorning your indoor workspace or your exterior potting shed, this reclaimed teak stool will be a—ahem—natural fit wherever it’s placed.

Farmstead Stoneware Striped Serving Bowl

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Crafted in Portugal with lead-free glazes and scrap materials, this handmade bowl may have had minor environmental impact, but its bright colors are sure to offer major wow-factor.

Photo by bambeco.com