Posts Tagged ‘garden tips’

How To Quickly And Efficiently Rake Autumn Leaves

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

“Listen! the wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
Humbert Wolfe
[source]

Watching the trees change color is one of the best things about the beginning of Autumn. But then those beautiful orange and yellow leaves fall from their branches and clutter up the lawn.

While having a yard covered in colorful leaves may be pleasing to the eye, it can actually cause trouble for your lawn, that’s why it’s always a good idea to rake up the leaves as often as needed. If you stay on top of it, it won’t be such a daunting job.

Here’s an easy and efficient way to rake your leaves:

What You’ll Need:
Wide Rake
Large Tarp
Somewhere safe to dispose of the leaves (like a compost pile).

Start by spreading the tarp on the ground next to the area you’re going to be raking. Then use the rake to pull the leaves onto the tarp, using a throwing sweep to lift the leaves over the edge of the tarp.

When there is a pile of leaves on the tarp a couple of feet high, gather the four corners together and drag the tarp to your place of disposal to empty it out.

Repeat the process by placing the tarp on different areas until the yard is free of leaves.

Until the next time the wind comes up, that is.

[source]

raking autumn leaves

How to Build a Porch Swing

Monday, July 12th, 2010

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Few things beat the relaxation of sitting back in the shade passing a cool spring evening in a porch swing. For those who have some basic power tools and skills to use them, here are the steps to building your own wooden swing.

Steps

  1. Determine the appropriate size for your swing. This includes the overall width, which may require locating the centers of porch ceiling joists to give optimum anchoring locations, but also will require you consider how deep the seat will be, and how tall you prefer the back.
  2. Choose the materials you will use for building your swing. This article describes building with treated southern yellow pine, but cedar, fir, cypress, juniper, or even birch will work equally well, so long as the thickness of the components are adjusted so they are strong enough to support the weight it will carry.
  3. Gather all the tools, fasteners, and lumber you need for the project. Here is the list broken down by type, see Things you will need for dimensions and sizes.
    • Tools: circular saw, jigsaw, hammer, tape measure, square, and drill with bits.
    • Fasteners: wood screws, eye bolts.
    • Lumber:15-1X4 (50 × 100 mm) by Ten foot (2.4m) boards.
  4. Set a table up to work on. The illustrations show a pair of metal sawhorses with a sheet of plywood as a make-shift table, but any flat surface that provides a workspace at a comfortable working height will do.
  5. Measure 7 2X4 boards the length you will want the finished swing to be. The one used as an example here is 5 feet long. Cut these boards to length, being careful to make all cuts square (90 degrees).
  6. Set blocks on the table to support the boards, then attach a stop for keeping them from sliding while you rip them to width. The seat slats are 3/4 inch (1.9cm) thick, the back slats (which support less weight) are 1/2 inch (1.25cm). For a seat 20 inches (51cm) deep, you will need about 17 slats, for a back 18 inches (45cm) tall, you will need 15.
  7. Rip the number of slats of each width you will need, depending again on the height of the back and width of the seat you choose to build. Again, the illustrations show a swing 20 deep and 18 inches tall, which is comfortable for a fairly tall individual, but may not be as comfortable for a person with shorter legs.
  8. Drill through each strip one inch (2.5cm) from each end with a 3/16 drill bit to keep the wood screws that will attach them from causing the strip to split. Drilling for the center support is optional, depending on how hard the lumber you choose to use is.
  9. Mark a pattern with a curved edge, rounded over then curving back out of a 2X6 board, similar to the one in the picture. The amount of curve depends on your preference, the seat and back can actually be straight if you prefer.
  10. Carefully cut three identical pieces of the curved back and seat boards with a jigsaw, leaving the narrow end a bit long for trimming to fit the joints together.
  11. Cut a miter at the ends of the back and the seat board so they join at the correct angle for the amount of slant (recline) you want your seat to have. You can start by cutting a 45 degree angle on either piece, then lay it on top of the opposite piece, and judge the amount of angle you want. Mark the angle by scribing to the piece previously cut on a 45 degree angle. The length of the two angles will probably not be the same, but it won’t matter, since they are on the bottom rear of the swing, out of sight.
  12. Drill pilot holes for the screws which will join the seat and back boards together, then fasten them with 3 1/2 inch, #12 gold plated wood screws. This is a critical connection, since the screws are the only support for this joint, and it will have a good bit of pressure in it, so depending on the length of the joint, use two screws set at opposing angles and tightened securely.
  13. Set the three completed frame (connected back and seat) pieces on your table, and lay the strips of wood you ripped earlier across them. Screw the ends to the outside frames, then center the middle one and fasten it, also. It may be easiest to attach one strip to the rear of the seat first, then another at the front edge, lastly attaching one at the top of the back.
  14. Use a framing square to check the angle of the back and seat to make sure it is square, and rack (shift sideways) it if needed. Space additional strips across the seat, leaving a 1/4 to 3/8 inch (6 – 9.5mm) space between them. You can tack these temporarily or go ahead and fasten them securely, but you may find it necessary to adjust them to get your spacing to work out uniformly. Take note that you are using the thicker (3/4 inch, 19mm) strips for the seat, and the 1/2 inch (13mm) strips for the back.
  15. Cut a wedge shaped 2X4 board about 13 inches (33cm) long, tapered from 2 3/4 inches (7mm) on one end to 3/4 inch (19mm) on the other for each (two) armrest support, then cut another board 22 inches (56cm) long, tapered on one end from 1 1/2 inches (3.8cm) to full width in 10 inches (25.4cm) for each armrest itself. Generally, the armrest will be about 8 inches (20cm) high, and 18-20 inches (approx. half a meter) long.
  16. Locate the height you want the armrest on the back frame, and locate the position you want the support on the seat portion of the frame, and attach these with 3 inch (7.5cm) #12 wood screws. Fasten through the top of the armrest down into the support board with two more wood screws.
  17. Drill a hole through the armrest support and the seat frame for the eyebolt that will attach your swing chain to the swing, and drill through the back frame for another eyebolt for the back chain. Install your eyebolts, using washers to keep the nuts from drawing into the wood frame, and tighten them with a wrench.
  18. Locate the position and height you will install your swing, install eyebolts or eyescrews for the overhead connection, and measure the length you will need your chains to hang your swing. You may find you need to adjust the chains to get the swing tilted back the proper amount to be comfortable for you.

Tips

  • Sand any edges smooth to prevent splinters or other injuries which may occur from the wood.
  • Curve any edges that may need it to prevent children from bumping into them and injuring themselves.
  • Finish with an exterior coating such as polyurethane or paint to make your swing look better and last longer.
  • Use galvanized or coated fasteners to prevent corrosion. Galvanized fasteners are not recommended for cedar wood, however.
  • Consider making the length of your planks 8 feet when you buy them. Typically, 8 foot lumber is least expensive, and scrap may be used for other projects.

Warnings

  • Use safety precautions when operating power tools.
  • Connections must be secure for safe use of the finished swing.
  • Never let small children play on this swing unattended, they may fall off, and it may swing into them.

Things You’ll Need

  • Fifteen 1×4 boards as long as the width of your swing
  • One 2×6 board, 8 feet long
  • 30 (approximately) 3 or 3 1/2 inch, number 12 gold plated screws
  • 180 (approximately) 2 inch, number 8 or 10 gold plated wood screws
  • Two 3/8 inch by 3 inch galvanized eye bolts with nuts and washers
  • Two 3/8 inch by 2 inch galvanized eye bolts
  • Length of chain (3/16 inch) to hang swing
  • Power tools and hand tools described in project steps

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Build a Porch Swing. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


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6 Ways You’re Wasting Water And May Not Know It

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Did you know that the majority of wasted water in households is through the bathroom? It’s true. Here are a few ways your bathroom habits may be running up your water bill, as well as a couple other things you’re doing to waste water that you may not even be aware of.

1. Leaking Toilet: Of the more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted by households each year, the majority comes from the toilet. If your toilet constantly runs, check the flapper valves and the inner parts. To check for “silent” toilet leaks, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank; if the coloring makes it to the bowl within 15 minutes, your toilet is leaking.

2. Trashcan Toilet: Even if your toilet isn’t leaking, improper use of it can lead to unnecessary flushing, which results in wasted water. Do not use the toilet as a trash can – if you have a tissue, throw it away or compost it. Flush nothing down the toilet except bodily waste and toilet paper.

3. Asleep at the Sink: When you’re standing at the bathroom sink shaving, brushing your teeth, or even washing your face, turn off the water when you’re not using it. Simple as that. Also, taking showers uses much less water than taking baths.

4. No WaterSense: In an effort to make your home as water efficient as possible, look for the WaterSense label when buying or replacing appliances. Working with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the WaterSense program makes it easier for consumers to identify water-efficient products.

5. Overwatering the Lawn: Reports show that more than 50% of residential water – water treated to be drinking water – is used to water the lawn. To help conserve water without having to let your lawn die, do not water it during the hottest part of the day so you’re not losing water through quick evaporation. Also, avoid watering when it’s windy so the water isn’t blown away before it hits the grass. Lastly, make sure the water lands only on what you’re watering – don’t let it water the driveway or street.

6. Small Loads of Laundry: Only use the washing machine when you have a full load of laundry. Combining small loads will minimize the use of your machine, which means less water is used.

Do you have any other ideas on how to stop wasting water and saving money at the same time?? I would love to hear them…..

[source]


Image Source

Planning The Landscaping Of Your Garden

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Author: Owen Jones

Landscaping techniques allow the gardener to transform a simple backyard into a lovely garden. There are many paths to having a beautiful garden, because there are many types to choose from and there are different tastes too. Chacun a son gout. Some types of garden need a great deal of maintenance and others less so, but even a slabbed or concrete backyard requires some maintenance.

The best way of going about making something beautiful out of your backyard is planning and perhaps the easiest way of planning is to create a plan or a drawing of your garden.

If you decide on this route, the first thing you will have to do is obtain some graph paper and plot the exact size and shape of your garden onto it, using as large a scale as will fit on the sheet of graph paper.

When you have done that, put in in unmovable objects like a brick shed, a drain or septic tank, a fish pond and doorways et cetera. Then you should photocopy it, maybe five or ten times. This is so that you can make mistakes, change your mind or even allow everybody in the household to make their own design from their own investigations and imagination.

If you consider that this is beyond your abilities, you are probably wrong. It really is not difficult, kids draw on graph paper all the time in maths lessons. Nevertheless, if you do not want to do it this way, then you will have to rely on plans cut out of magazines.

So, collect all your ideas from magazines and place them in a file. Similarly, if you are making a diagram on paper, save your ideas in a folder, but also draw them on your graph paper.

Set yourself or your team a deadline of say, a fortnighy or a month, but you do want to do the majority of your work in the spring or the summer, when the weather is warm. On the appointed day, get together and combine all your plans into one.

Put all the superfluous material aside and forget about it. Do not overcomplicate the situation by having all the designs in the active file. Now you are ready to go to work and instigate the ideas.

The choice is now whether you do the work yourself or whether you get a contractor in. A builder will have experience, and so will be able to get the work done quickly. They will also be able to offer practical suggestions, if what you want to accomplish is tricky. The other side of the coin is that it is a great deal more expensive.

If you decide to do it yourself, you might find it a good idea to divide your plan into segments. It could be done in quarters of the garden at a time, if that is feasible, or you could do all the groundwork first, followed by the brick and blockwork, then the pond etc. Depending on your plan. The only thing that should to be done last is the planting of the plants

Owen Jones, the writer of this article writes on quite a few topics, but is at present concerned with outdoor accent lighting. If you would like to know more or check out some great offers, please go to our website at Outdoor Wall Lamps.

Article Source

About the Author: [Owen Jones has traveled extensively for many years and has various websites]

landscaping your garden

Kids And Family Camping Trips. Be Prepared So Your Kids Will Have Fun Camping! by Dave Clair

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Kids And Family Camping Trips. Be Prepared So Your Kids Will Have Fun Camping! by Dave Clair

Taking your kids camping can create the kind of fond memories that they will cherish for a lifetime. In order to make sure your trip is a success, be prepared on your next camping trip. Being outdoors with their endless energy and imagination is all they need to have a great time, as long as the basics are covered.

You’ve heard it said: Safety first. First aid kids are a must. Kids are great at getting bumps and cuts and scrapes when they are outdoors. Make sure your first aid kid is up to par.

Personal care items are very important. Bring toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, tissues, and other related items.

Nothing is worse than sleeping on the hard ground with a poor sleeping bag. Bring good sleeping bags, along with some extra blankets and extra pillows to make sure they are comfortable.

Lanterns and flashlights are a must. Bring plenty of batteries for them, too. Your kids will have more fun if they have their own flashlights and they’ll be a lot safer in the dark.

With younger kids, you need to prepare for boredom control. Small toys and coloring books can work wonders for this. For long car rides, bring some travel board games.

Bring food that kids will eat! Hot dogs, marshmallows, trail mix, etc. Don’t assume that your kids will be happy eating things they aren’t used to just because you are camping. Don’t forget to pack plenty of clean water.

You might like sitting on a tree stump all weekend, but your kids probably won’t. Camping chairs and folding tables can make a huge difference and make your family way more comfortable around the campfire.

Be ready for any kind of unforeseen accidents by packing extra clothing. Kids have a gift for getting dirty, wet, or rips in their clothing.

Follow these tips and your kids will have a wonderful time camping with you. They will have memories they will treasure for a lifetime.

About the Author:

Learn more about folding tables at mightychair.com

Free Articles from PopularArticles.com: Kids And Family Camping Trips. Be Prepared So Your Kids Will Have Fun Camping!

Save Money! Improve Your Home With Artifical Building Materials

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Believe it or not, you can build with plastic and no one will ever know! It’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between artificial materials and materials found in nature.

And artificial is so much cheaper!

Here are some of the best state-of-the-art building material look-alikes:

Fiber Cement Siding

Average price: $13,000 to replace existing siding and trim with fiber cement
Savings: 25% less than wood

Unlike vinyl siding, which comes in large sheets, this consists of individual shingles or clapboards nailed in place one at a time to closely resemble wood. Made from recycled wood fibers mixed with cement, this siding won’t rot.

home improvement fiber cement siding

Manufactured Stone

Average price: $1,700 to create an interior floor-to-ceiling wall above a fireplace
Savings: 50% less than real masonry

Get the look of real stone for a chimney, a fireplace or porch posts with these artificial rocks that are molded from concrete and then individually tinted to slightly different colors for an authentic appearance.

home improvement manufactured stone

Engineered Stone Countertops

Average price: $2,500 to $5,000 for an average kitchen countertop
Savings: Same price as granite, but needs no sealing

Made from chips of quartz pressed together with resins, the best-engineered countertops look like real stone that just happens to have an extremely uniform pattern on its surface (man cannot mimic a highly variegated look yet – maybe in a couple of years).

home improvement stone counters

Cellular PVC Trim

Average price: $120 per window or door, installed
Savings: Costs 20% more than cedar up front but lasts longer and better

Made by injecting air into vinyl chloride (a liquid form of vinyl) and then forming it into solid pieces of trim, the resulting boards get cut, nailed and even shaped into custom profiles by the same tools and techniques used for wood.

home improvement cellular pvc trim

Stamped Concrete Patios

Average price: $4,000 for a 16 x 20 patio
Savings: Half the cost of bluestone

Instead of laying individual bluestones, cobbles or bricks, a contractor can simply pour a slab of concrete and then emboss and tint its surface to make it look like any one of those far more expensive materials.

home improvement stamped concrete

Find out more about Plastic fantastic building materials at Money.Cnn.Com

How To Make Perches For A Hummingbird Feeder

Friday, March 26th, 2010

How to Make Perches for a Hummingbird Feeder

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

The best hummingbird feeders are easy to disassemble and clean, and have perches for the birds to sit on while drinking nectar. The most commonly available hummingbird feeders have a base and a removable nectar reservoir, but no perches. You can get more enjoyment out of your hummingbird feeder by adding perches. The birds will be much more likely to stay for several minutes, and you’ll have better luck seeing and observing them. Heavy coated wire can be used to make an inexpensive but effective perch for the birds to sit on.

Steps

  1. Prepare the feeder. Remove the base from the reservoir and place the base on your work surface.
  2. Make the anchor wire. Measure around the point where the reservoir attaches to the fee plus 1″ (2.5cm).
  3. Secure the anchor wire. Bend the last 1/2″ of each end of this wire into a little hook. Bend the wire into a circle and hook the ends together. Bend the wire a little more if necessary to make it round. Fit it over the feeder base. It should be a loose fit.
  4. Make the perch wire. Measure the circumference of a circle about 1″ larger than the circumference of the feeder base. Cut a length of the heavy-guage coated wire equal to this length plus 1″.
  5. Secure the perch wire. Bend the last 1/2″ of each end of this wire into a little hook. Bend the wire into a circle and hook the ends together. Bend the wire a little more if necessary to make it round. Lay it around the feeder base.
  6. Make the connector wires. Measure the distance between the two round wires. Cut connector wires equal to this length plus 1″. The number of connector wires you’ll need is equal to the number of feeder holes in the base.
  7. Use the connector wires to connect the anchor wire and perch wire. Bend the last 1/2″ of each end of each connector wire into a little hook. Hook each onto the anchor wire with the hook facing upward spacing them so that the connectors are between the feeder holes. Put the perch wire into the hooks at the other end of each connector wire. You will likely have to “play” with bending the various wires to get everything to fit together.
  8. Clamp it together. Once you’re satisfied with the arrangement, use the pliers to clamp down all the connector wire hooks. The whole thing should look like two wheels connected by spokes. It should be rigid enough that if you pick it up, the various parts don’t rearrange themselves.
  9. Fill the feeder. Fill the feeder with hummingbird food, and hang it where you can see it.
  10. Enjoy visits from your new friends!


Video (see below)

The hummingbirds will use the perches, and stay at the feeder longer, increasing your chances of seeing them.

Tips

  • If your connector wires are too short, you can always bend the perch wire in a little bit where it meets the connectors.
  • If you don’t have a tape measure, you can just start bending the wire “freehand” around the feeder base and cutting the wire when you meet up with the end.
  • If the heavy wire is not very flexible, (i.e. it doesn’t flop or bend much if you shake it gently) you may not need to bend the ends into hooks. You can just “butt” the ends together bending the wire so that the ends are close together. Hummingbirds are very small and only weigh a few ounces so they aren’t going to bend the wire by sitting on it.
  • Use coated wire as some believe that birds do not like to stand on metal.
  • Don’t worry if it’s not perfect or beautiful — the birds won’t care. In fact, they’ll likely show their appreciation for your efforts by hanging around more.
  • Remember to clean and refill the feeder every few days. Perches won’t entice the birds to come if the food is moldy or the feeder is dirty!


Things You’ll Need

  • Hummingbird feeder with wide base and removable reservoir
  • Heavy-guage coated wire
  • Thinner wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Tape measure (optional, but helpful)


Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Perches for a Hummingbird Feeder. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.