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Roofing 9 Safety Precautions from a Marietta Roofer

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If you are not financially positioned to hire a professional roofing in Marietta, GA or if you just prefer...

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Roofing How to Repair Asphalt Shingled Roofs

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In fact, this article was a collective effort submitted by a roofer.

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Electrical Top 3 Reasons Why Circuit Breakers Trip

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In every home whether it’s a modern one or an older one, there’s a device which is used to...

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Garden & Landscapes Extending the Use of Your Christmas Tree into the New Year

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Since Christmas is fast approaching, let me share you these tips on how you can still use your December...

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Carpentry Guide to Rotting Brick Siding

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Brick veneer siding has long been admired as one of the most stately materials to use when building a...

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Garden & Landscapes When to Prune Roses in Coastal California

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If you live in coastal California and are wondering when to prune your roses, just remember this: After the...

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Garden & Landscapes 5 Great Dwarf Conifers for Your Landscape

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Conifers are perfect staples for the landscape. They serve as anchors and/or focal points for various areas in the...

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9 Safety Precautions from a Marietta Roofer

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If you are not financially positioned to hire a professional roofing in Marietta, GA or if you just prefer...

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How to Repair Asphalt Shingled Roofs

1 year ago

In fact, this article was a collective effort submitted by a roofer.

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Top 3 Reasons Why Circuit Breakers Trip

1 month ago

In every home whether it’s a modern one or an older one, there’s a device which is used to control all the electrical system of our house. That device is called circuit breaker. The old version of this breaker was called fuse which used...

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Extending the Use of Your Christmas Tree into the New Year

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Since Christmas is fast approaching, let me share you these tips on how you can still use your December...

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Guide to Rotting Brick Siding

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Brick veneer siding has long been admired as one of the most stately materials to use when building a...

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9 Safety Precautions from a Marietta Roofer

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If you are not financially positioned to hire a professional roofing in Marietta, GA or if you just prefer...

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How to Repair Asphalt Shingled Roofs

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Top 3 Reasons Why Circuit Breakers Trip

1 month ago

In every home whether it’s a modern one or an older one, there’s a device which is used to control all the electrical system of our house. That device is called circuit breaker. The old version of this breaker was called fuse which used...

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Extending the Use of Your Christmas Tree into the New Year

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Guide to Rotting Brick Siding

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9 Safety Precautions from a Marietta Roofer

Working on roofs can be risky business. If you are not financially positioned to hire a professional roofing in Marietta, GA or if you just prefer doing your own roofing services, please practice these basic roofing safety tips.

#1 – Exposure

Both extreme heat and extreme cold can create serious health hazards. Dress according to the temperature. On hot days, plan your work hours to coincide with the cooler or shady times of day. On cold days, strive to catch the sunrays.

# 2 – Slips and Tumbles

Wet roofs are slick. Get in the habit of avoiding wet roofs. When possible use a bucket truck for shingle transport. Practice utilizing safety-climbing gear, roofing jacks, and ladder jacks.

# 3 – Skin Risks

When considering roof related risks to skin, the talk often involves sunburn or scrapes and cuts. These are the common risk, but exist also the long-term risks of possible skin cancer. Use sunscreen. Wear clothing that helps reduce windburn. A hat protects the head. Safety sunglasses protect the eyes.

# 4 – Creatures With Stingers

The risk of falling from a roof or a ladder can be greatly compounded by an unexpected encounter with a nest of wasps. Yellow jackets, once disturbed, can inflict multiple painful stings and will chase the nest offender as far as 200 to 300 yards. Never begin work without surveying the area for signs of hives and nests. If any nest is present, take preventive measure before attempting to work on the roof.

# 5 – Rotted Roofs

Survey the work area. Test for any weak sections of sheathing. When forced to walk upon a rotted roof, utilize planks and the existing rafters. Work from a bucket truck if that is at all possible.

# 6 – Electrical Hazards

Improperly insulated electrical wires can be deadly to a roofer. Even wires that appear to be correctly shielded can present a serious chance of electrocution. Do not work near electrical wires without installing the proper insulator blankets before the job begins.

# 7 – Hand Tools

Accidents happen. Every roofer has experienced his or her share of minor cuts, smashes, and pinches. Some have even endured severed fingers. Take care of your tools. Perform routine inspections of your equipment. Always wear safety glasses.

# 8 – Power Tools

Set power nail guns and Air Nailers require additional attention to details. Work away from yourself and others. Always wear safety glasses. Avoid awkward positions during the setting process. Keep watch for flying debris.

# 9 – Metal Flashings

This material is sharp and quick to cut the careless roofer. Wear gloves. Fold any cut edges to reduce the risk of skin lacerations. Wear eye protection at all times.

These tips are designed to help the do-it-yourself roofer work in safety.

How to Repair Asphalt Shingled Roofs

While cleaning out your roof gutters did you notice a large amount of granules in them? If so, you may have a potential roofing problem in the making.

As asphalt shingles wear they tend to shed the granules that make up their top layer and thus become more prone to leaks.

Thankfully asphalt shingles are one of the easier types of roofing materials to repair. What follows is basic information on how to repair asphalt shingled roofs.

Materials Needed:

  • Galvanized roofing nails
  • Hammer
  • Flat shovel
  • Ruler and a pencil
  • Roofing cement
  • Replacement shingles
  • Pliers
  • Metal Flashing
  • Industrial scissors
  • Putty knife

A Word about the Weather

Asphalt shingle work is best done on a fairly warm day only because the heat makes the asphalt shingles more pliable.

Asphalt shingle repair instructions

As you are up on the roof look for any curled, worn, loose, misaligned, missing or otherwise damaged asphalt shingles.

Use roofing cement and nails to flatten, secure and realign any shingles that are in need of attention.

In the case of a curled asphalt shingle you may need to apply firm pressure or use a weight to hold the shingle down until the roofing cement has a chance to properly take hold.

If during the course of your roof investigation you discover missing and severely damaged shingles you will need to replace them with either a new asphalt shingle or a piece of metal flashing.

Asphalt Shingle Replacement Instructions

Replacing an asphalt shingle is a fairly easy task. Begin by taking out your flat shovel and slipping it under the asphalt shingle that needs replacing.

Next pull up on the shovel thus loosing the nails that are holding the asphalt shingle into place.

Once the nails have been loosed, pull them completely out of the shingle using your pliers.

Measure and cut the amount of shingle needed for the replacement. Slide the new piece of asphalt shingle up under the shingle located directly above the space left vacant by the damaged shingle.

Make sure you align the asphalt shingle properly so that it is in perfect harmony with the other asphalt shingles.

Afterward, drive new galvanized nails through the holes left by the nails that you removed previously.

If you are unable to reuse the old nail holes, make sure that you seal them completely with roofing cement before making new nail holes.

Once the asphalt shingle has been nailed into place, take out your putty knife and roofing cement. Use the putty knife to apply roofing cement to the nail heads and any loose parts of the shingle.

Proceed by applying pressure to the cemented areas to help the cement to take hold.

Instructions for Using Flashing Patches

In some instances you may want to use a piece of roofing flashing to help support a damaged asphalt shingle. If this is the case, follow the steps above but substituting the asphalt shingle with the metal flashing.

Additional Information

This article is not meant to be a replacement for the assistance of a professional. In fact, this article was a collective effort submitted by a roofer.

Therefore, those homeowners that are afraid of heights, or have questions and concerns, should consult with a local, licensed roofer. You can check this website The Roof Clinic if in case you need one, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.

Anyone attempting the above roof repair does so at one’s own risk. No warranties or guarantees of a successful asphalt shingled roof repair are expressed or implied herein.

Top 3 Reasons Why Circuit Breakers Trip

In every home whether it’s a modern one or an older one, there’s a device which is used to control all the electrical system of our house. That device is called circuit breaker. The old version of this breaker was called fuse which used to be in older houses. The main job of the circuit breaker is to control the power supply. They are usually like a white cylindrical shaped device fixed in a socket with one direction pointing upwards showing the ON button and other pointing downwards showing the OFF button. Sometimes these breakers are also tripped due to some reasons and then needs to be reset to ON position. The important point here is to understand the reason behind the tripping of circuit breaker and how it can be solved. Let us discuss some of the major reasons causing this issue.

Excess amount of power usage

One of the most common reasons for a circuit breaker to get tripped is the excess amount of power used. There is a certain limit for our breakers to supply the amount of electricity but when we demand something beyond its limit, it tends to trip. This happens when we use some home appliances which have more voltage. As soon as  we start that appliance, our power goes off which results in the tripping of our circuit and we end up calling professional electricians ballarat for fixing it.

Short circuit

Short circuit can be caused by the wrong wiring of any appliance or if the wires get damaged due to poor condition. In this way the damaged wire comes in contact with the neutral wire causing the burning of the switch board. The other reason is due to the wrong wiring of any appliance. The moment you plug in, a small blast occurs indicating that there was a wiring problem. One more reason is the continuous tripping of the circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker keeps on tripping it will damage the switch board.

Excessive supply of energy from the power house

Sometimes it happens that the flow of energy from the power house increases just for a second. This increase can be for a second but it can damage your breaker. Since these circuit breakers are designed in such a way that they can handle a specific amount of energy. If that amount of energy is likely to be increased, they often get tripped and can also destroy some of the home appliances running at that time. So one of the reasons for tripping if from the power house not from our house but still we should keep a check on every possible reason from our side and make sure everything is running accordingly.

 

Extending the Use of Your Christmas Tree into the New Year

christmas-tree-recycling

Since Christmas is fast approaching, let me share you these tips on how you can still use your December Christmas trees longer in the coming year. 

The Christmas presents have all been opened and the holiday season has drawn to a close for another year. That means it’s time to take down the tree, right? Not necessarily! There are a few ways to make your tree seasonally appropriate for a little longer!

Real Christmas Trees

If you have a real Christmas tree, you can keep it indoors as long as it continues to retain its needles. If it is shedding needles and needs to be taken outdoors, you can still make use of it. One option is Christmas tree recycling. Many areas offer curbside pickup or have drop-off points for the collection of Christmas trees, which are then recycled into mulch. Contact your local municipality to find out if Christmas tree recycling is offered in your area.

You can also move the tree in its stand to an outdoor area and redecorate it for the birds. Smear pine cones with peanut butter and roll them in bird seed to make ornaments, and use a needle and thread to string popcorn into a garland. Place it on your patio or somewhere that you can see it from inside your home and enjoy watching birds devour the treat.

Redecorating Your Tree for the Coming Months

For those who have artificial trees or whose live trees are still hanging in there, redecorating the tree can keep it seasonally relevant. Here are some decorating ideas for subsequent months:

If you take down your red and green decorations and trade them in for blues and purples instead, you can decorate the tree on a snowflake theme and enjoy it for another month. Look especially for snowflake-themed decorations, which will help emphasize the winter theme.

If your tree is still up in February, decorate it for Valentine’s Day! Cut pink and red hearts out of paper and use yarn or ribbon to hang them from the branches for an instant holiday change makeover. You can also use small Valentine cards (the type kids exchange at school) to make quick and easy ornaments.

By March, it’s almost time for spring! Decorate the tree with silk flowers in bright, cheerful colors to usher in the new season. Springtime is also time for Easter; make the tree into an Easter tree by decorating it with plastic eggs.

Guide to Rotting Brick Siding

Brick veneer siding has long been admired as one of the most stately materials to use when building a house. It’s classic and sturdy look add to not only it’s curb appeal, but perceived value as well. Brick siding does have some problems that other materials do not have and can be very costly to repair if performed incorrectly. If you have a brick house and are having any of these problems, this may help you determine why your brick is deteriorating.
Brick Half Walls with Brick Sills

Because the cost of brick is substantially more than most other siding options, many people that choose brick do what is called a half wall or a skirt. The brick is laid 4 feet up the wall and is capped with either a cast concrete sill pitched 15 degrees out to allow water to run off of it, or the brick laid on it’s side pitched 15 degrees out. Problems occur when brick sills are used because the water penetrates the mortar joints and sits on the bricks directly underneath, causing the bricks to actually rot, much like wood rots with significant water contact. Also, brick sills tend to allow water to travel into the top mortar joint and rot the first layer of brick underneath the sill. In severe cases where freezing occurs, the faces of the brick may be completely gone. This is called spalling and is a sign water damage to bricks. If brick sills are present on a home, they should be replaced with cast concrete sills as they will control the moisture and water much better, not to mention make the wall more sturdy.

No Weep Holes in Brick Veneer Walls

Brick veneer walls are made to allow moisture that penetrates through the mortar joints and is caused by temperature differentials to escape from behind the wall and run out of holes at the bottom of the wall called weep holes. There is a gap (or at least there should be) of about 1 to 2 inches to allow water to flow freely down the wall and out the weep holes. When there are no weep holes, the water builds up and has no where to escape causing the brick to absorb the moisture and decay. What’s worse is that because all of the excess moisture is sitting against the sheathing of the house, the wood sheathing is likely to rot and moisture will penetrate into the wall cavities. Once this happens this becomes a breading ground for mold.

Bowing Brick Walls

Bowing brick veneer walls are a sign of either poor installation or massive moisture that has caused the mortar to deteriorate around the wall ties that hold the brick onto the side walls. The middle bows out and stair step cracks are present in the middle of the wall and probably run to the corners or a single corner. if the cracks run through the bricks themselves, the bricks should be removed as there is extreme pressure from the wall not being properly supported and could fall and cause serious injury. This is more common on old commercial buildings from the later 1800’s and early 1900’s, but has occurred on newer structures as well.

Spalling Brick

Brick usually only spalls in climates where the temperatures freeze, but this can occur is areas where the brick is exposed to consistent moisture as well. Most of the spalling issues (spalling is when the face of the brick cracks off) are caused by poor mortar joint finishing. Straight recessed mortar joints allow water to penetrate the entire mortar joint and allow the water to sit on the brick causing major problems with the integrity of the brick. The best mortar joints are concaved inwards so the water drips along the mortar joint, but does not penetrate the mortar, causing the brick to last much longer.

Vines on Brick Walls

Vines that attach to brick walls are invasive and will literally become what supports the wall if the vines are allowed to take over. The vines grown int the mortar joints, popping out the mortar and shifting the bricks. This is usually not noticed because of the cover from the vines. Vines should not be grown near a house and should be cut back to ensure that the vines will not take over a wall of your house.

Even though this article is about the negative points of brick veneer and possible faults, it should be noted that the above scenarios only occur if the work is performed improperly. If the brick veneer is installed properly, using the correct masonry methods that have been used for over 100 years, brick veneer can be one of the most durable and long lasting siding choices there are.

When to Prune Roses in Coastal California

If you live in coastal California and are wondering when to prune your roses, just remember this: After the start of the new year is the best time to prune.

Experts say when it comes to pruning, January is the most favorable month in which to do it. That’s because it needs to be done before new growth starts popping out. If you prune too late, you may end up stunting the rose’s growth and hurting its chances to bloom.

It’s a delicate balance in coastal California, because roses often never completely go dormant, as they do in colder parts of the country. Our temperatures rarely dip below 30 degrees. Sometimes roses don’t appear as though they’ve entered dormancy at all.

Nevertheless, if you prune, January is probably your safest bet. This is usually when coastal California will get its coldest temperatures of the year. The weather often starts warming in February and new growth can be quite rapid at that point.

And yes, most roses do better after being pruned. Cutting away the dead growth and excess canes will enhance the beauty of the plant as well as its health. Pruning encourages strong new growth as well as improving air circulation throughout the plant, which can help curtail the fungal diseases that some roses are subject to.

Gardeners should arm themselves with a pair of long, thick garden gloves, a bypass pruner and a long-handled lopper or hand saw. The gloves are to prevent thorn pricks, while the lopper or hand saw will help you with stubborn canes. The bypass pruner is for more precise work. Also handy are a small rake to clean up debris.

Your tools should be sharp and clean for efficient cutting. If you go to buy a new tool, check for ergonomic features such as padded handles that will make the chore easier on your hands.

Modern roses like hybrid teas, grandifloras and floribundas should be cut back by about half their height. Cuts should be made at a 45-degree angle just above a bud whenever possible.

Also, pay attention to the shape of the rosebush. Unless it is trained into a tree, you will want to make it into an open vase shape, cutting out any canes in the center or those that are crossing. Also eliminate any dead, broken, weak or diseased stems or leaves.

Your rose will look a bit bare when you are finished, but rest assured, it will grow quite quickly given a few warm days.

Other rose varieties need more specialized care. Old rose varieties don’t need to be pruned, except for shaping. Ramblers, climbers, repeat bloomers, Bourbons and Portlands should be pruned lightly to remove dead wood and can be pruned more thoroughly after their first bloom.

Be sure to pick up what you’ve cut off and dispose of it appropriately. This removes any source of potential disease, as well as dangerous thorns.

If you have a question about pruning or what should be done to your particular roses, contact your local nursery professional or rose society chapter.

 

Sources:
Personal experience
http://www.californiagardens.com/Essays/rose_pruning.htm
http://gardening.about.com/od/rose1/a/RosePruning.htm
http://www.huntingtonbotanical.org/Rose/resources/RosePruning.htm

Laminate Versus Hardwood Floor for Your Home

When you decide that you want new floors for your home, the choices can be confusing as well as overwhelming. There are quite a few differences, and the type that you choose will depend on your situation and what features you want. So in the laminate vs hardwood floor debate, what should you choose?

First consider the benefits of laminate floors. They are extremely durable, but they do have some limitations. They can be damaged if something is dropped on them, furniture is dragged, or other events happen. With care, they can last a while, but they last less than 20 years. Laminate flooring is stain resistant and won’t fade or change color as the years go on.

There are some disadvantages to laminate flooring as well. These floors are made of thin, artificial surfaces that mimic hardwood or tile. You cannot resurface or refinish them. The patterns that they come in are often repetitive. If your laminate floor needs to be repaired, it’s difficult to do unless you are a professional with the proper tools, in which case it’s a snap. All laminate floors are floating type floors, and while this isn’t a disadvantage most of the time, there are some people who dislike it. Some owners complain that their floors sound hollow or that there is a click and clap feel underfoot when you walk. You have to upgrade the underlayment that is under the floor to get rid of that.

Now in your decision of laminate vs hardwood floor, consider the benefits of hardwood floors. These floors are more natural looking. Because these floors are natural, you will not find repeating patterns. Instead, you will find that every piece of flooring is completely unique. There is a large variety of hardwoods you can choose from for your floors, such as oak, cherry, or pine, and depending on the care you give the floor and the kind you choose, a hardwood floor can last 20 to 100 years or even longer. You can change the color if you want to and you can refinish the floors whenever you want to.

The disadvantages of hardwood floors are that they can be scratched and dented easily. You have to take precautions, such as adding felt pads under the feet of furniture. Hardwood floors are more prone to water damage, but this is often temporary, whereas if water damage occurs to laminate floors it normally is permanent and requires replacement.

Also consider the resale value of your home when you are debating laminate vs hardwood floor. Hardwood floors often provide a much better resale value. It depends on the care you have given your floor and whether it’s solid wood or engineered. If your laminated floor is discontinued, it’s very difficult to find it again if someone needs to replace any, whereas it’s easy to find hardwood, so this can be a factor with buyers as well.

Hardwood Flooring in Atlanta, GA is more than willing to assist you if you need more information on laminate versus hardwood. They provide quality hardwood floors for over 25 years in the business. Visit their website today and be guided comprehensively on choosing the perfect hardwood flooring for your home.

5 Great Dwarf Conifers for Your Landscape

Conifers are perfect staples for the landscape. They serve as anchors and/or focal points for various areas in the landscape. They also lend structure plus offer year-round color. You may not, however, want something that grows to be a massive tree or shrub, especially if you have a small yard. You can, though, choose dwarf forms. Many of these so-called dwarf conifers, however, are not strictly speaking dwarves. They are instead slow-growing conifers, which means that it may be thirty years or more before their size becomes an issue.

Hinoki false cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa)

Many members of the genus Chamaecyparis can grow to be quite large — up to 60 feet. Even the Hinoki false cypress can eventually reach 50 feet; however, there are cultivars of this variety that are even slower growing. Look for ‘Minima,’ with its dark green foliage. You might also like ‘Nana Aurea,’ which has outer foliage that is tinged a golden color. ‘Nana Gracilis’ has dark green foliage and a pyramidal shape up to 10 feet. Hinoki false cypress generally offers unique forms and texture to the landscapes in Zones 5-8. Plant in an area where they can get full sun in the morning and have shade in the afternoon. They prefer humus-rich, well-drained soil. This conifer also does well in humid areas.

Mugo pine (Pinus mugo)

Usually this compact pine is cut back hard to make it look more dense. It can actually grow 2-4 inches per year until it is 10-15 feet tall and just as wide. There are actual dwarf varieties, however, which only grow to be 2-6 feet tall. Look for ‘Corley’s Mat,’ ‘Sherwood Compact,’ and ‘Slowmound.’ This is an extremely hardy evergreen in Zones 2-7 and will tolerate most conditions.

Norway spruce (Picea abies)

The Norway spruce, with its dark-green foliage and pyramidal shape, has been a popular choice for large landscapes. In recent years, however, dwarf versions have been introduced and are relatively easy to find at most greenhouses. Look for ‘Clanbrassiliana,’ ‘Echiniformsis,’ ‘Little Gem,’ and ‘Perry’s Gold.” Prefers full sun. Hardy in Zones 3-7.

Creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)

This is probably one of the most popular evergreens for a groundcover. Mature plants have feathery-like foliage that grows only 1-2 feet tall but spreads 4-8 feet along the ground. Look for ‘Icee Blue’ that has blue-green foliage and ‘Mother Lode’ that has golden-colored foliage in the summer. Hardy in Zones 4-9.

Sawara cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera)

Usually this particular cypress is not normally grown in smaller landscapes, because it can reach 150 feet in height. There are, however, much smaller cultivars, which are quite popular. One of my favorites is ‘Golden Mop,’ which has bright, golden-yellow foliage throughout the year and which grows slowly into a mound that is only about 3 feet tall. Other people prefer the ‘Filifer’ cultivars, such as ‘Filifera Aurea Nana,’ which is also slow-growing but is a bit taller at 5 feet. Hardy in Zones 4-8.

If you are interested in other ways to add color to your garden, see: Bring Color to the Winter Landscape with 5 Trees with Ornamental Bark.

 

References:

Blume, James D. New Garden Book. Des Moines, IA: Meredith Corporation, 1990.

Roth, Susan. New Complete Guide to Gardening. Des Moines, IA: Meredith Books, 1997.

How to Waterproof Wood Shingles

Exterior wood shingles can withstand the elements for years if they are properly waterproofed and otherwise maintained. The shingles that require the most maintenance are wood roofing shingles, which should be completely waterproofed every 3-5 years.

No matter what type of wood shingles you have on your home, the technique is the same. If you must waterproof roofing shingles, you should consider your comfort working on your roof before beginning. If you are comfortable working on the roof and navigating a ladder, you shouldn’t need help to complete this project.

Step 1

Clean the wood shingles with a mixture of wood cleaner and water. You should dilute the wood cleaner according to the manufacturers instructions and apply it to wet shingles that have had 15 minutes or so to absorb water. Wait 15 minutes before continuing.

TIP: If you are working on a roof, start from the top and work down to the gutter, working in sections. Wood shingle cleaner can make the roof very slippery, creating a falling hazard.

Step 2

Scrub the shingles with a soft bristled nylon brush, removing any mold and mildew as well as debris. Add more diluted wood cleaner as necessary to the shingles.

Step 3

Rinse the shingles, making sure to point the hose in a downward angle to avoid forcing water between the shingles and creating leaks.

Step 4

Examine the color of the wood, especially if it has altered considerably while cleaning it. If you would like, you can apply a wood brightener to clean, wet wood. Simply apply with a brush and allow it to soak into the wood for approximately 45 minutes. The excess should then be washed off of the shingles. Wait at least 24 hours, until the wood shingles are completely dry, before attempting to waterproof them.

Step 5

Apply a combination waterproof stain and sealer to the surface of the wood shingles. Just like cleaning shingles, it is best to start from the top and work your way down. Maintaining a wet edge will prevent apparent brush marks. When applying, be sure to be generous, but do not apply more than can be absorbed the shingles in 30 minutes.

Step 6

Use a dry brush to remove any wet areas of waterproofing on the shingles. This will ensure that the color is even and no area is over saturated with waterproofing.

Spring Lawn and Garden Tips

Now that spring is just around the corner, it is time to start considering how we take care of our grass, lawn tools, the garden and of course, the great crew of bugs that find their way around your house. Think all is lost? Hardly, with some planning and organization your yard can look like you spent a million bucks on it.

Do you always plant flowers in your garden, if so you might be like many people who grow their own plants from seeds. If this is you, always remember it is best for your plants if you plant them in a small container with a small amount of soil added to it; a cheap alternative is an egg carton. This way you can easily monitor the size of your seedlings, and make sure they are watered properly, remember too much water will cause the seeds to rot.

Do you always wear gloves in the garden to help protect your hands? If so, consider purchasing latex or other such gloves. They are cheap, and when they are dirty simply change your gloves, they do not stiffen up like cloths gloves do, and they are inexpensive and lightweight. Since they conform nicely to the shape of your hand, it is almost like using no gloves at all.

Speaking of gloves, remember the beauty secret of slather your hands in hand lotion and keep gloves on for a while? Guess what makes the perfect opportunity to slather up? You guessed it, gardening and moisturizing your hands at the same time is a great way to multitask. Your hands and garden will both look great when you are done.

Looking for ways to keep weeds at bay, but still recycle? Old newspapers are the answer here. Place newspaper around your flowers and cover with either mulch, or soil. The newspaper will eventually dissolve, and help your plants, all while helping keep the weeds from taking over your flowerbeds.

Want fertilizers from around the house? How about the fish tank water next time you change the tank water, it is wonderful and loaded with nutrients to help your plants grow. Another great source is water used to boil pasta in, the starch in the water will help all plants; just remember to always let the water cool completely before using so you don’t burn your plants.

Want some suggestions on keeping your grass beautiful and healthy? Look no further, here are several great tips. Let’s face it the best time to mow is in the morning because it is not hot, but the grass just won’t cooperate right? Wrong! Now a simple solution is to spray the top of the grass with vegetable oil. No, you are not making a salad, but the vegetable oil will keep the grass from sticking to your lawnmower so you can quickly and easily mow your yard to get on with your day. After you are done mowing, or even between mowing morning makes the best time to water your lawn if necessary. Do not water daily unless the lawn needs it, otherwise it will speed the growth of grass and mean more frequent mowing will be necessary.

Garden tools causing problems, are the handles on your tools hard and making life harder on your hands? If so try these tips, paint the handles of your garden tools a right color and they will always be quite simple and easy to spot lying around the yard. Want to keep tools clean and help prevent rust? Store you shovel into a bucket of sand, not only will the sand help keep your tools clean, it will also help repel rust from setting up house on the tools. Hard handles can be a very serious pain for hands when gardening needs to be done, to help make the handles easier to handle, take some light grade sandpaper to soften the handles.

See as I said nice simple tips that do not require a lot of time or energy or even money. What is better than simple ways to improve your life easily and with little effort or hassle. Great benefits and beautiful gardens await you this spring.

Seven Electrical Fix-its

Fixing electric problems is a cinch. Not only can you save money by safely making repairs and maintaining electric equipment yourself, you can do it with full confidence in your ability. You’ll find that any uneasy feelings you have will be replaced with pride over these seven accomplishments.

Do remember to shut off the electric current at the breaker box, and never combine electric work with mind-altering substances!

  1. Replacing old or cracked outlet and light switch covers is a breeze, and also the easiest of the eight. Using a phillips or a regular screwdriver, remove the screw in the center of the old cover. A little pry of the screw driver will un-stick minor gumminess while layers of dry paint might require the use of a razor knife slicing around the cover lightly. Using the new cover, insert the screw and center the cover over the electric device. When you are certain of proper placement, turn the screw until firm, but not tight.
  2. Replacing electric outlets and switches doesn’t require a working knowledge of house wiring. Remove the cover and the screws placed on the outer edges. Play close attention to the wire placement, and draw an adequate diagram. Never, ever trust your memory! Remove the wires from the old device and correctly re-wire to the new device. Do not leave wires touching or lose. Attach the new device to the wall and replace cover.
  3. Replacing old or damaged light fixtures can be a real pain in the neck. Use of a ladder or at very least a step stool is very recommended. Locate the screws at the base of the light fixture that connect it to the unseen underneath and remove them. Study the wiring and once again make a diagram. Twist off the wire nuts and disconnect the wires from the light fixture. Inspect the new fixture and it’s wires. If the wires have not been bared yet, make a slight, rounding slice through the plastic about one half inch down. Pull off the plastic scrap and match each wire parallel to its counterpart, with the bare wires pointing in the same direction. Wire nuts should be replaced with new, preferably the inner gel type. Casually twist the bare wires around each other. Pushing in the wires while turning the nut to cover the bare wires will give a good connection and protect against electric arcing. Time to put in the connection screws and your done.
  4. There is no need to throw away your items that have a frayed electric cord. It can be repaired using black electrical tape. When purchasing this, don’t assume any black tape will do. It must be electrical tape. Examine the damage and review your options. If the cord is barely showing a wire, then wrapping the fray a few times with tape is all that is needed. If the fray is long, severe or showing both wires, then cut the cord and remove the damaged area. Remove a small section of plastic coating and slice both cords down about one inch between the wires. Twist one wire from each cord half together firmly and then lay the twisted wire against the cord. Wrap this section of cord well, being sure to cover the bare wire with overlapping tape. Repeat with the next two wires. Two or three rounds of tape will hold the spliced cord together. A job well done!
  5. To replace a cord’s plug, cut the end off and bare the wires. The new plugs vary and you should look for a hint of how to attach the wires. There is no need to worry about ‘am I connecting the wrong wire to this point?’. It is impossible to do this in electricity because it is an alternating current, not a direct current. Press the plug together and you are done!
  6. The replacement of a lamp light socket is seldom thought of. If the lamp is of sentimental value however, it might be best to replace the electric socket instead of trashing the lamp. Unscrew the top from the base and remove the light socket from the wiring. Be careful not to pull the wire out of the lamp when connecting the new socket. After all, you can’t reinsert the socket through a small hole. Putting wires on the new light socket takes only a minute since the procedure is so basic. Afterwards, just screw it back onto the base and you’re done.
  7. Maintaining an inside breaker box is relatively easy and can prevent electrical fires. Electricity can be turned off at the main breaker within the box, but for absolute protection shut it off at the main breaker box outside. When looking at the inside electric box, you should notice bare wires attached to the breakers by screws. Over time these screws may loosen up and promote arcing. Tighten all screws. Inspect for any signs of burnt wires or equipment. If there is a burnt wire and it is only at the end, cut the burnt piece off and reconnect to the breaker. Wire should have the insulating plastic as far to the end as possible. If there is a burnt or faulty breaker, replace immediately.

If however, there is major burn damage, the electricity should remain off and an electrician consulted.

Congratulations, you are an amateur electrician! Not only did you get the job done, you did it safely. Now you can spend the money that would have went to pay the certified electrician.