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Building and construction

What to do with Blocked Drains Melbourne

Aug 08, 2019

Every homeowner has experienced a slow draining sink or one that doesn’t drain at all. You have a case of blocked drains when this happens. This means that an obstruction is happening somewhere in your pipes to block your drain.

 

Calling a professional plumber is probably the last thing you’ll do with your blocked drain. You are reluctant to get your wallet out when you can do something about unblocking the drain.

 

DIY Ways to Unblock Your Drains

 

Your reluctance to hire the services of a plumber to clear the blocked drain is understandable. We made it easier for you by providing you with different ways of unblocking the drain in your home, stress-free.

 

The Handy-Dandy Plunger

The handy-dandy plunger provides the perfect old-school trick to try unblocking the drain. Any drain blockages are sucked up using the brilliant mechanism of the plunger. They do require patience, persistence, and strength. But plungers have provided decades of clearing household drains successfully even when it needs a few tries.

 

The Zip-it Technique

A must-have tool in every household is the Zip-it. It is a device with upward-facing hooks on a long plastic stick. Putting the stick down the drain will pull out the grime when you pull it back up. This tool provides the least bothersome way of clearing out the mess that is clogging your drain.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

The most natural and effective all-around home remedies to have in your home are vinegar and baking soda. A drain unblocking solution is provided by mixing 1/3 cup vinegar to 1/3 cup baking soda. You should waste no time in pouring the mixture straight into the drain as soon as you’ve mixed them. It’s because they will cause a fizz as their way of cleaning the pipes. You may leave the solution overnight or let it sit for an hour. Use hot water to flush out the solution before using the drain.

 

Chemical Cleaners

A chemical cleaner can be used when other methods prove unsuccessful in clearing the clog in the drain. Most supermarkets sell various kinds of chemical cleaners. The way to use them is simply to pour it down the drain. You may leave the solution overnight or take a couple of hours to let it do its work. Finish the process by running hot water on your cleared drain.

 

Baking Soda and Salt

Most household kitchens have baking soda and salt. A clogged drain may benefit from these products as well. All you need to do is to mix ½ cup baking soda with ½ cup table salt. Pour it down the drain and wait for 10-20 minutes to make them do their work. After 20 minutes, it’s time to pour boiling water on top of the mix. Mixing these three ingredients produces a dissolving reaction to remove the nastiest drain blockage.

 

Biological Cleaners

A biological cleaner is the best to use when you want environmentally-friendly solutions for your blocked drain. The enzymes contained in the biological cleaners may be able to chew their way through any blockage. However, they are not as powerful as chemical cleaners.

 

It’s time to call a professional plumber to sort out your blocked drain when all methods fail to do so. Look for plumbers fixing blocked drains Melbourne wide to let us effectively and safely unblock your drain in no time at all.

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Wall decors

Wall Murals

Aug 04, 2019

A mural is a piece of art harmoniously applied on to the walls incorporated as a picture on the wall to connect seamlessly with nature. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. A big-picture should then be worth a million words. There are murals suitable for the living room and bedroom. For the bedroom, murals choose the best theme for maximum comfort, as you know, the bedroom is the place where you end and start your day. Make sure you compile a mural that will make you comfortable throughout the sleep mode and that than revamps energy to your senses before going out about your daily work. Murals can be effective for mass communication; in a political scenario, murals can form a source of an effective brainwashing material to make people buy an ideology or accept a brand.

Benefits of Mural walls

Using wall murals for walls brings art into the public sphere to strike a balance with nature mother nature.

  • Murals are eye-catching and demand attention from your visitors or passersby.
  • Murals reinstate a statement about your personality, express what you love and what you stand for. The bring colours back to life again.
  • In business premises, when used thoughtfully gives an impression to your brand and identifies you with your customers.
  • Murals are used to attract customers, mural images invite customers, entice their emotions, and in the end, drive sales to your business.
  • In a conference hall where people are crowded, it makes imaginary space in the minds of your crowd so that they feel comfortable with the virtual space created by mural walls. It opens up their minds, and they feel connected with nature.
  • Murals are more efficient compared to wall paints, they are easy to install and remove on different types of walls

Factors to Consider when Choosing Mural Material

  • Choose a variation that fits your wall without the hustle, for example, consider the shape of your wall, windows, etc.
  • Choose the right products for the right surface. There are options preferred for different surfaces, i.e smooth and rough texture.
  • Consider the duration you anticipate your mural will last.
  • Most important of all is whether it is for an outdoor or indoor wall.
  • The cost of the mural material, you better consider the cost of the material and take care not to drain your budget in the quest for high-quality mural material but remember that there are times when cheap is expensive.

 

 

Types of Mural Materials

  • 3M Textual Wall Vinyl: It works for outdoor and indoor textured surfaces like brick, block, and industrial stucco
  • Dreamscapes wall-covering: It is a wallpaper that can easily be removed or replaced, you can also place it permanently using an adhesive
  • Magnetic Receptive – (Visual Magnetic): it is replaceable and ideal for someone seeking to make a saving on murals expenditure
  • Photo-Tex: this is a mural that easily sticks to the wall surface, and they are fit for indoors only, they can be wrapped around the corners, poles, and ceilings. They can be recycled to save expenditure.
  • 3M Control Tack with Over-laminate: They are fit for indoor and outdoor because they are highly resistant to the external environmental factors.

 

Generally, wall murals create a conducive atmosphere and breathtaking scenery, especially when they are newly installed or when you see it for the first time.

 

 

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Electrical

Top 3 Reasons Why Circuit Breakers Trip

May 26, 2019

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 […]

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Carpentry

Guide to Rotting Brick Siding

Aug 09, 2018

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.

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Roofing

How to Waterproof Wood Shingles

May 28, 2018

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 […]

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Garden & Landscapes

Spring Lawn and Garden Tips

May 01, 2018

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 […]

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Electrical

Seven Electrical Fix-its

Apr 19, 2018

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 […]

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Carpentry

Build a Ramp for Your Shed

Mar 04, 2018

If you’ve own a shed and have ever tried to lug your lawn mower or other heavy equipment into it, you know how back breaking this is. It’s probably high time you build a ramp. It’s easy to do and save you the strain of heaving that heavy stuff into your shed. You need a […]

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Garden & Landscapes

The February Flower – Violet

Feb 22, 2018

The flower most frequently associated with the month of February is the violet (Viola odorata). The violet represents faithfulness, chastity, and humility. The ancient Greeks believed that the god Zeus gave the goddess Io pastures of violets to eat after turning her into a cow to protect her from a jealous Hera. In addition, the […]

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Garden & Landscapes

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Gardeners

Feb 14, 2018

Last year I wrote about gifts for the plant collector in your life. This year I want to let you know about other gifts that will be greatly appreciated this Valentine’s Day by every gardener in your life. Seeds Most gardeners have already started or soon will be planting seeds for this year’s growing season. […]

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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.

What to do with Blocked Drains Melbourne

Every homeowner has experienced a slow draining sink or one that doesn’t drain at all. You have a case of blocked drains when this happens. This means that an obstruction is happening somewhere in your pipes to block your drain.

 

Calling a professional plumber is probably the last thing you’ll do with your blocked drain. You are reluctant to get your wallet out when you can do something about unblocking the drain.

 

DIY Ways to Unblock Your Drains

 

Your reluctance to hire the services of a plumber to clear the blocked drain is understandable. We made it easier for you by providing you with different ways of unblocking the drain in your home, stress-free.

 

The Handy-Dandy Plunger

The handy-dandy plunger provides the perfect old-school trick to try unblocking the drain. Any drain blockages are sucked up using the brilliant mechanism of the plunger. They do require patience, persistence, and strength. But plungers have provided decades of clearing household drains successfully even when it needs a few tries.

 

The Zip-it Technique

A must-have tool in every household is the Zip-it. It is a device with upward-facing hooks on a long plastic stick. Putting the stick down the drain will pull out the grime when you pull it back up. This tool provides the least bothersome way of clearing out the mess that is clogging your drain.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

The most natural and effective all-around home remedies to have in your home are vinegar and baking soda. A drain unblocking solution is provided by mixing 1/3 cup vinegar to 1/3 cup baking soda. You should waste no time in pouring the mixture straight into the drain as soon as you’ve mixed them. It’s because they will cause a fizz as their way of cleaning the pipes. You may leave the solution overnight or let it sit for an hour. Use hot water to flush out the solution before using the drain.

 

Chemical Cleaners

A chemical cleaner can be used when other methods prove unsuccessful in clearing the clog in the drain. Most supermarkets sell various kinds of chemical cleaners. The way to use them is simply to pour it down the drain. You may leave the solution overnight or take a couple of hours to let it do its work. Finish the process by running hot water on your cleared drain.

 

Baking Soda and Salt

Most household kitchens have baking soda and salt. A clogged drain may benefit from these products as well. All you need to do is to mix ½ cup baking soda with ½ cup table salt. Pour it down the drain and wait for 10-20 minutes to make them do their work. After 20 minutes, it’s time to pour boiling water on top of the mix. Mixing these three ingredients produces a dissolving reaction to remove the nastiest drain blockage.

 

Biological Cleaners

A biological cleaner is the best to use when you want environmentally-friendly solutions for your blocked drain. The enzymes contained in the biological cleaners may be able to chew their way through any blockage. However, they are not as powerful as chemical cleaners.

 

It’s time to call a professional plumber to sort out your blocked drain when all methods fail to do so. Look for plumbers fixing blocked drains Melbourne wide to let us effectively and safely unblock your drain in no time at all.

Wall Murals

A mural is a piece of art harmoniously applied on to the walls incorporated as a picture on the wall to connect seamlessly with nature. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. A big-picture should then be worth a million words. There are murals suitable for the living room and bedroom. For the bedroom, murals choose the best theme for maximum comfort, as you know, the bedroom is the place where you end and start your day. Make sure you compile a mural that will make you comfortable throughout the sleep mode and that than revamps energy to your senses before going out about your daily work. Murals can be effective for mass communication; in a political scenario, murals can form a source of an effective brainwashing material to make people buy an ideology or accept a brand.

Benefits of Mural walls

Using wall murals for walls brings art into the public sphere to strike a balance with nature mother nature.

  • Murals are eye-catching and demand attention from your visitors or passersby.
  • Murals reinstate a statement about your personality, express what you love and what you stand for. The bring colours back to life again.
  • In business premises, when used thoughtfully gives an impression to your brand and identifies you with your customers.
  • Murals are used to attract customers, mural images invite customers, entice their emotions, and in the end, drive sales to your business.
  • In a conference hall where people are crowded, it makes imaginary space in the minds of your crowd so that they feel comfortable with the virtual space created by mural walls. It opens up their minds, and they feel connected with nature.
  • Murals are more efficient compared to wall paints, they are easy to install and remove on different types of walls

Factors to Consider when Choosing Mural Material

  • Choose a variation that fits your wall without the hustle, for example, consider the shape of your wall, windows, etc.
  • Choose the right products for the right surface. There are options preferred for different surfaces, i.e smooth and rough texture.
  • Consider the duration you anticipate your mural will last.
  • Most important of all is whether it is for an outdoor or indoor wall.
  • The cost of the mural material, you better consider the cost of the material and take care not to drain your budget in the quest for high-quality mural material but remember that there are times when cheap is expensive.

 

 

Types of Mural Materials

  • 3M Textual Wall Vinyl: It works for outdoor and indoor textured surfaces like brick, block, and industrial stucco
  • Dreamscapes wall-covering: It is a wallpaper that can easily be removed or replaced, you can also place it permanently using an adhesive
  • Magnetic Receptive – (Visual Magnetic): it is replaceable and ideal for someone seeking to make a saving on murals expenditure
  • Photo-Tex: this is a mural that easily sticks to the wall surface, and they are fit for indoors only, they can be wrapped around the corners, poles, and ceilings. They can be recycled to save expenditure.
  • 3M Control Tack with Over-laminate: They are fit for indoor and outdoor because they are highly resistant to the external environmental factors.

 

Generally, wall murals create a conducive atmosphere and breathtaking scenery, especially when they are newly installed or when you see it for the first time.

 

 

Why House Inspections Melbourne should not be skipped

A pre-sale home contract in Melbourne also means beginning the process of endless check writing. Necessary expenses such as lawyer and realtor fees tempt you to cut some corners elsewhere. The home inspection is an expense that you are sorely tempted to skip. Yet, there are crucial reasons why it’s not a good idea to skip pre-house inspections in Melbourne.

 

Why House Inspections should not be skipped

 

Most homebuyers skip the house inspections as a way to cut expenses. Yet, only a house inspection determines if the potential property is a good deal or one that will produce a lot of future financial and emotional problems.

 

It provides the last opportunity for a buyer

A potential home’s condition and its systems are critical information that can only be revealed by a top-quality house inspection. The house inspection report is the only way a buyer can become aware of the immediate maintenance and repairs needed by the home. This provides the last opportunity for a buyer to back out of the deal if he isn’t comfortable with the findings. This saves a buyer thousands of dollars and a load of heartaches.

 

Safety issues

Safety issues in a home can only be addressed by a house inspection. Hazardous things like the presence of mould, radon, and carbon monoxide can compromise the health of a family. A home inspection that detects the presence of these hazardous elements can give a buyer the option to cancel the purchase offer.

 

Detect illegal installations and alterations

Altered or installations in the home that did not follow the building code or were done without the proper permits can be revealed by a house inspection. A home with illegal alterations and installations lowers their price tag, usability, taxes, and insurance coverage. This includes new systems installed in new homes that were not up to code.

 

Health protection

Foreclosed or short sale properties should be subjected to house inspections. Hazardous problems can be part of a home that has often been boarded. Remedying the problem can become too expensive, notwithstanding the health concerns these types of homes pose to potential buyers.

It’s common for house inspectors to find the removal of outdoor compressors and copper plumbing lines in foreclosed properties. These issues make it imperative to hire house inspections especially in short sale and foreclosed properties.

 

Negotiating opportunity

A buyer that hires the services of house inspectors also gets the opportunity to request from the seller a price reduction or repair of any existing problem. The house inspection report provides a buyer a powerful and legal negotiating tool no seller can overlook or ignore.

 

An informed awareness of future expenses

The age of a home’s major systems to include water heaters, cooling and heating, and plumbing can be approximated by a house inspection. The structure’s current condition and the age of the long finishes are issues that can be diagnosed by a house inspection. Wear and tear happens even in the most beautiful homes. Understanding the future costs the home will eventually need is the best way to determine the kind of insurance coverage needed for it.

 

The multiple details about a property you are likely to call home are your responsibility. The property’s inner workings can only be understood with a house inspection. Be sure to organise a house inspection in Melbourne before acquiring the property.

 

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.