Category Archives: Garden

Tips in Landscaping your Garden

Landscaping is usually a fairly big task, consuming much time and energy. But before you hire that professional, here are some tips that could save both time and money.

1. Spend some time thinking about exactly how you want the final design to be. You need to take account of the style and function of your landscape. Do you want to include an area for entertaining? A barbeque? Is there to be an area for children to play, a fishpond or a swimming pool? An idea of the plants you want to be there will also help. Focus on the area where you spend most of your time. That’s a good place to start.

2. Think twice before hiring a pro. An independent designer might cost you hundreds of dollars when you may be able to access free plans on the internet or at a nursery. But if you have an awkward block such as very steep ground, a pro might give you the expertise to save costly mistakes.

3. The style of your home must be taken into account. If you have a rural cottage, formal gardens surrounding it will look out of place. Think also about your lifestyle. Do you want to spend hours caring for many beds of annuals or pruning beds of roses? If so, go ahead and plant them, but if you’d rather spend your free time at the beach, then go for an easy-care garden and landscape.

Here are the various landscape styles you can choose for your own garden:

a. Formal. This style uses lots of straight lines and perfect geometrical shapes. Orderly arrangement of plants instead of random positioning is employed. Close arrangement and pruning is seen on many landscaped gardens with this style.

b. Informal. This kind of landscaping workds well with cosy cottages. Beds with curved edges instead of straight lines and random placement of plants suit this landscape style.

c. English Garden. This style emphasizes the harmony between the house’s architecture and the garden.

d. Formal/Informal Garden. This style often comes with a brick walkway that exudes formality. This walkway leads to the rear with a circle of plants. The arrangement of plants resembles the English garden style but it has no formal borders.

e. Oriental. It is often the kind of garden found in small backyards. It uses rocks, evergreens and water. A wide variety of plants create several interesting angles with this style.

Planning ahead your garage

What would your dream garage look like? Some people want
to have it fitted for the car, others dream for a really nice
workshop, a laundry room, a gym or a rehearsal studio for their
own musical band. Some other people only want it to expand their
living space and improve their lifestyle.

How much money do you have to work with? Even if you want
only to remodel, rebuild or only reorganize a small area of your
garage you must have a budget. It is imperative to have in mind a
specific target and a realistic and finite budget for it.

The first step is to carefully evaluate your needs regarding the
space and your needs. Even if it is a small garage, you can find
plenty of space to use for your work area.

Making the decision regarding whether to do the project
yourself or to hire a contractor depends on several factors,
including your skills and the magnitude of the project. Having
only basic skills you can produce a great reorganization project.

You can buy the needed furniture yourself according to your
needs and your available space. Cabinets, shelves, pegs and
hooks are a must have in order to turn your garage into usable
space over a weekend. If you have a greater project in mind,
maybe you should consult a plumber or an electrician.

If you are planning to convert your garage into a living area
you’d better be a professional or you’ll be risking decreasing
the safety and value of your own home.

If you opt for a contractor, and this is the choice that we
recommend regardless of the project’s magnitude or your skills,
get one whose work you’ve seen and if you have the chance,
get some recommendations. It is better to see with your
own eyes the skills and some relevant work of the contractor so
you can decide whether you could be satisfied with his work or
not.

Costs and construction times vary with the scope and the
magnitude of the project. If there are no structural issues,
finishing and enclosing a garage and turning it into useable room
would take less than two weeks. The costs depend on the
materials that you decide to use, but keep in mind that expensive
does not necessary mean quality and that cheap does not grant you
reliability every time.

Your garage can be a place to spend many happy hours for a long
time to come if you plan it right according to your needs and
dreams.

BENEFITS OF GARDENING FOR KIDS

Apparently, we can see how nature is treated these days. It is a sad thing to know that people do not pay attention so much anymore to the environmental problems. What can we do about this? It’s as simple as starting with the children. It is good to see the children’s involvement with environment-friendly activities. One such nature-loving activity that children could easily get their hands on is gardening. Why should you consider gardening for your children?

Here are the benefits that gardening could easily provide the children with:

1. Science

In planting, children are indirectly taught the wonders of science like the plant’s life cycle and how human’s intervention can break or make the environment. They can have a first hand experience on the miracle of life through a seed. This would definitely be a new and enjoyable experience for the kids.

2. Life

Watching a seed grow into a tree is just as wondrous as the conception to birth and growth of a child. In time, kids will learn to love their plants and appreciate the life in them. Gardening could actually help simulate how life should be treated — it should be with care. The necessities to live will be emphasized to kids with the help of gardening – water, sunlight, air, soil. Those necessities could easily be corresponded to human necessities, i.e., water, shelter, air, food. By simply weeding out, one could educate how bad influences should be avoided to be able to live life smoothly.

3. Relaxation

Studies show that gardening can reduce stress because of its calming effect. This is applicable to any age group. More so, it stimulates all the five senses. Believe it or not, gardening may be used as therapy to children who have been abused or those who are members of broken homes. It helps build one’s self-esteem.

4. Quality Time with the Family

You can forget about your stressful work life for a while be soothed by the lovely ambience in the garden. You can play and spend quality time with your children. You can talk while watering the plants or you can work quietly beside each other. The bottom line is, always do what you have to do, together with your kids. You might discover a lot of new things about your child while mingling with them in your garden.

Let kids become aware of their environment’s needs. And one way to jumpstart that environmental education may be through gardening. It’s hitting two birds with one stone — teach them to respect life while you bond with them.

Garage materialism is growing

Ever since the first suburbs were built, the garage
became a measure of the financial prosperity of a
family. At first there was one, then two, but now four
garages are becoming the newest form of decadence in
home building. A real estate agent would say that
people have a log of gear and items these days so there
is a huge demand for a place to store them. These
garages, in some instances, may be larger than many apartments,
housing more cars than ever. The third and maybe
fourth family car is a necessity for families where kids
stay home longer and the restrictions on street parking
are one of the factors that point towards building larger
garages.

Moreover, every man has his love for the “toys”
such as boats, jet skis, motorcycles, bikes, power tools
and workbenches and these “toys” need storage. A
look into a three or four car garage may reveal tools,
bikes, sporting gear, a workshop and a 25-foot boat.
This visual degradation of the suburban landscape is an
aspect of materialism that won’t stop turning any time
soon.

Not everybody likes this trend. Some home builders
spend the extra time and money on architectural plans
that can split these huge expanses of square footage into
opposite sides of the house. A problem that appears
here is the problem of the house’s design after this
transformation. The most aesthetical are the back-
loading garages but they require the use of the backyard
space for turning radiuses. Side-loading garages need
wider home sites but can make the front of the house
look enormous. With the current rising costs for
land, in many areas this is not feasible in the long run.
This is a sign of a mega-materialism, that is: if one is
good five is better so more and more people understand
only one thing: that a garage is not good unless it is as
big as a basketball court.

When will it stop?
Are we going to have the house attached to a garage ten
times bigger than the house? Maybe it would be better
for everyone to think twice before making such a commitment
when buying a house attached to the garage. Maybe it
would be better if people would care about the simpler
and more basic things in life than owning a four car
garage.

Hydroponics Gardening

Hydroponics was derived from the Greek word hydro, which means “water” and ponos, which means “labor or water-working”. Hydroponics gardening involves growing plants with their roots in other nutrient solutions and without soil.

Hydroponics gardening is as simple as ordinary gardening. Both of them necessitate sufficient light, water, temperature, light, and humidity. But with hydroponics, no soil is used. Instead a soil substitute holds the roots while nutrients are carried by the water. Indoor hydroponic gardening is not that hard and plants respond well to this method of growing.

This is one of the major considerations in hydroponics gardening since it sustains the plants. One has to make sure that this nutrient solution maintains a pH level of 5 to 6 after dilution. In hydroponics gardening, the plants should be watered more than three times a day. this is usually done using a pump and timer.

If your hydroponics garden is located indoors, the most suitable temperature is between 71 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, this temperature may change depending on the different types of plant you are working on, e.g. tropical plants.

Place your plants somewhere they can receive ample amount of light. Otherwise artificial light must be used. High pressure Sodium lights or bulbs are a suitable substitute for natural light.

Humidity is good. When the room’s temperature rises, the air will be able to hold the sufficient amount of moisture your plants will need.

A hydroponics system can be fully automated. Since it is water-based, the gardener has no soil to dig or weeds to pull. Also, the water can be re-used to prevent wastage.

With hydroponics, an excellent yield of quality plants can be easily achieved. Home hydroponics systems and DIY kits are are readily available in most hardware stores.

Sealing a garage floor

The floor of your garage is exposed to intense corrosion
and deterioration due to road salt, oils and other auto fluids.
Sealing your garage floor reduces dust and makes
cleaning and sweeping easier. A clear acrylic concrete
sealer protects the concrete from damage and stains. Also
the same sealers can be used on concrete walks and
driveways or as a primer under acrylic or polyurethane
floor paints. You should take care when and where you
apply a sealer because they cannot be applied over paint or
other coatings.

In order to do the sealing yourself you need several
materials and tools: protective clothing, neoprene rubber
gloves, goggles, a stiff brush and a bucket, a paintbrush, a
cartridge-style respirator with organic-vapor and small-
particle filters, paint roller with extension handle and tray,
medium nap roller cover, a concrete degreaser and of
course some concrete sealer. Usually ½ gallon of sealer is
used for approximately 100 square feet.

Before sealing you have to clean the floor because it has to
be free of dirt, grease and oil. To do this you should use a
stiff scrub brush to apply the cleaner and concrete
degreaser according to the instructions. Allow the solution
to lay on the floor for 15 to 20 minutes more for stubborn
stains after scrubbing. After his you should rinse
thoroughly with clear water. You may need several
applications. Many concrete sealers contain hazardous
chemicals that may be harmful to skin and eyes and the
vapors are not safe to breathe but the vast majority are
acrylic. The best way to avoid damages to your skin, eyes
and lungs is to wear the protective equipment made of
neoprene rubber gloves, goggles and a respirator with both
organic-vapor and solid-particle filter cartridges. During
the process of sealing the floor you should continuously
ventilate the garage by opening all doors and windows and
also using a fan would be a great idea.

After cleaning and drying the concrete, the sealer has to be
applied. The sealer should be tested in an inconspicuous
area before applying. Some uneven density in the concrete
may result in light/dark appearance that may be
objectionable. By using the medium-nap paint roller with
extension handle is the easiest way to apply the sealer. Start
in a rear corner continuing to work your way out of the
garage. Before doing anything else you should allow the
sealer to dry as indicated on the sealer bottle, usually for a
few hours. For a driveway the procedure is essentially the
same but it would be quicker to use a garden sprayer to
apply the sealer to a large driveway. You should act with
caution not to over spray on other material due to the high
risk of staining.

Safety A Garage Necessity

The garage door. This is the first and most important “contact” of
your garage to the world. If you want full confidence in your
garage, this “contact” should be 100% secure and safe. Also the
door says a lot of you and of your taste in design. You can have a
beautiful house but if your garage door is a wooden, plain,
white one with that makes an awful sound when opened or
closed, says a lot of you and your negligence regarding style and
safety.

An ageing garage door and opener could be a real threat for
your children or pets. Injuries and death are a thing of the past
with the new openers and garage doors. If you plan to remodel
your garage, one of the first steps in doing this must be changing
your doors and openers.

Old garage doors have been heavy, huge, wooden colossus that
rot and crack. Even though wooden doors provide a wide range
of styles and textures the problems related to poor insulation are
real and even of present times. An alternative is the fiberglass
material, inexpensive, easy to lift, resistant to corrosion and the
require little maintenance but they also provide little insulation
and security.

If you want a maintenance-free, durable and not-wrapping garage
door you need steel. They also provide good insulation, being
made of two or more sheets of steel alternating with a variety of
insulating materials. The also come in various textures, styles,
shapes and colors suited to your needs. Moreover, you can add
windows including the reflective type that provide an obscure
view into the garage.

In 1991, automatic reversal doors for garage door openers have
been required by law in the United States and in since 1993
optical sensors became a requirement. The sensor works perfect
for your safety: if something gets in the way of the sensor beam
while the door is going down, the sensor sends the door back up.
Also the new design provides more security and quieter
operation. Today, the silence options include a belt-driven trolley
made of Kevlar or, the cheaper option, a screw-drive model with
a plastic-lined track to lessen the noisy contact of metal-to-metal.

Remote controls have been upgraded so you can find a
remote control having enough buttons to control the lightening or
appliances in your home and garage. Another option for your
remote-control buttons are the child-safe lock-out and the rolling
security codes witch automatically change every time the garage
door opens to prevent the stealing of your opener’s code.

Even though you have all these changes added to your garage,
security and safety are not 100% guaranteed. It is better that the
installation of a new garage door and opener be done by a
professional team who can make the proper adjustments that will
allow the sensitive equipment to provide you with the maximum
amount of safety in your garage.

Music studio in a garage

Music is your hobby and you want to practice with your band.
The only available place that you can think of is your garage but you
also have neighbors that must not be disturbed while you are
practicing. The only solution to use your garage as a music
studio is to soundproof it or build a small studio in one corner of
the garage. For this you need to use two existing garage walls
and build another two new walls on an angle to improve the
acoustics of the studio.

After measuring the angle you will have to anchor sole plates to
the garage floor and frame the first new wall. After finishing the
framing for the second wall and adding a door to this one you
have to insulate the garage walls to help deaden the sounds. Next
you will hang drywall on the new walls and patch the seams. The
final layer of sound-deadening material will be applied to the
walls and to the ceiling. This layer is made of some secondhand
carpeting. After applying these carpets you can cover them with
some strip boards pinned onto the wall with nails.

Healthy hands are the Gardener’s Best Tools

Here are the major reasons why one should consider getting a pair of trusty gardening gloves:

Gloves protect your hands from blisters, thorns and cuts while doing rough work like digging or pruning in the garden. Investing in one or more pairs of quality gloves is a good decision.

Here are some tips on how to choose the pair that will suit you best:
1. Look for quality leather gloves with a cloth back; this will let the gloves breathe and keep your hands dry, cool and comfortable.

2. If mud bothers you, select rubber gloves with cotton lining.

3. When spraying pesticides or chemicals choose gloves that are made from neoprene. Gloves made from latex or any type of plastic may not offer the best protection.

4. When pruning roses, use gloves that reach up to the arms.

5. If you usually operate large garden machinery, buy gloves in brown instead of red as the latter may dye your hands.

6. Light cotton or even fingerless gloves may be useful for transplanting seedlings. They will allow more dexterity and so help to prevent the tiny roots from being crushed.

7. And of course, make sure that the gloves you buy actually fit your hands. If you have small hands, try the children’s gardening section. there’s nothing worse than trying to garden is gloves that are too big.

Major garage transformation

One of the most commonly encountered questions when
thinking about converting your garage for a new use is
the warmth of the floor. Whether you are choosing to convert
your garage into a spacious home office or to convert it into a
gym room, you have to take into consideration some
improvements for your floor.

Since the garage has a concrete and uninsulated floor you
should focus on making it warmer and more resilient. Furring
up the floor with wood and plywood can accomplish both
tasks. As a warning, you should use pressure-treated wood or protect
the wood which is in contact with the concrete by placing a
layer of felt paper between the wood and the concrete.

First of all measure and determine how much you want to raise the
floor. All garage floors have some amount of slope from the
back wall to the wall with the garage door in it to allow the
water runoff. To achieve a level floor you will have to adjust
the joists, for this if you are placing the joists perpendicular to
the slope in the floor each of them would have to be ripped
down or shimmed up and if the joists are parallel to the slope,
you can rip them on a taper or use shims to level them.

Ok, you finished remodeling the floors, now it’s time to
examine your walls. You might be surprised to find out that
your walls are not even with the foundation they sit on. They
may be set back from the foundation or maybe overhang it in
other areas. Only one step will solve these problems: selecting
a lumber size that is deep enough to extend the framing past the
concrete. By notching each end of the furring strip and
attaching one strip to the face of each wall stud will result in an
even wall that completely hides the foundation. Also it will be
deep enough for the R-21 wall insulation, this type of
insulation being the most common code requirement.

When remodeling the walls and the floor several obstructions
may appear. Obstructions like pipes, ducts, wires and other
impediments to smooth walls may exist. For small obstructions
such as wires or small pipes you could adjust the furring strips
enough to accommodate them. The solution for larger
obstructions is to box around them. If the obstruction is a water
heater or something that you will need access to, you can frame
it in and enclose it on three sides and then provide a removable
access panel for the fourth side.

A building permit may be required for a garage make over.
Of course all the methods presented here are purely theoretical
and only for guidance. All garages are different and some
adjustments to the used methods or materials may be required
in order to accommodate to your garage.