Category Archives: Home and Garden

Guide to Basic Landscape Maintenance

Landscaped garden with pond

Landscaped garden with pondLandscape requires thorough maintenance for every plan to look their best. Which is why most people often refer to commercial landscaping services in St. Clair Shores for help when it comes to their lawn.

How do you begin with managing it? Here are a few ways on how to maintain your commercial landscape.

Start with the soil

Bear in mind that the soil’s acidity level is essential to keep all plants healthy. Not because your dirt looks black doesn’t mean that it has the right pH balance for the grass. Take a few dirt samples around the yard and let the local extension service test its pH level.

You can fix the issue by adding lime to your soil to help raise the pH level or lower it. Most types of grasses prefer a pH level between 6.0 and 7.2.

Apply mulch to your garden beds

Mulch is a great way to keep the soil as well as its moisture. It even adds organic nutrients to your soil once it decomposes and helps control weed growth as well. It also helps add a refreshing look to your landscape by giving it a groomed appearance.

Apply less fertilizer to plants in shady areas

People often apply too much fertilizer to shady areas which in turn, kills them faster. It also needs less water because it less evaporates as well. So, when you go ahead and check these areas, it’s best to shift the controls on the spreader so the irrigation system will be spreading less amount.

These are a few of the things that you might want to consider when maintaining your lawn. To get the best help that you need, it’s advisable to reach out to professional lawn services near your area. You may ask a few referrals from your friends or colleagues for help.

Make Greenhouse Plants Flourish in Winter with Grow Lights

greenhouse grow lights

Growing healthy plants can be difficult even when conditions are optimal. What happens, then, when it’s winter and everything is dead? Attempting to grow anything might seem like an exercise in futility.

Greenhouses are wonderful for growing plants in any weather or season. It provides warmth, maintains a consistent temperature, protects plants from harsh winds and harmful pests, and more. Still, there are some problems a greenhouse can’t solve. One is to make the winter days longer for your plants to get more sunlight.

Thankfully, you can purchase geodesic dome kits that produce solar power. This makes it easier to install grow lights and help your plants flourish in the winter months.

What are Grow Lights?

Grow lights or plant lights are artificial light sources that provide a balance of cool and warm light to accelerate plant growth. It supplements the natural light your plants receive and enables them to produce more food through photosynthesis. Depending on the lights you get, it may provide a full light spectrum like sunlight or a tailored spectrum to address specific plant needs.

Installing grow lights to your greenhouse is a smart idea, especially if you live in the north or are attempting to grow plants in winter. Although natural sunlight in winter and a moderate greenhouse environment will help your plants survive the season, the limited hours of winter daylight means less efficient photosynthesis and smaller plants.

The Right Lights for the Right Plants

Take note, though, that not all grow lights are made equal. Using the wrong kind of grow light or the wrong spectrum of light can harm your plants, rather than help it grow. Different types of grow lights include:

  • Fluorescent lights
  • Incandescent lights
  • High-intensity discharge (HID) lights
  • Light-emitting diode (LED) lights

LED light

Plants benefit the most from blue (cool) and red (warm) lights. Lights in these spectrums are absorbed better. Blue lights aid in chlorophyll production while red lights help in seed germination and increase flowering or budding.

High-intensity discharge (HID) lights are commonly used in commercial greenhouses. Under HID lights are two types: metal halide and high-pressure sodium. Metal halide grow lights, which serve well as a primary light source replacement, produce light in the blue spectrum. Meanwhile, high-pressure sodium bulbs, which have nearly double the lifespan of metal halides, emit yellow to orange-red lights.

Using a combination of the two types of HID lights balances the strengths and weaknesses of both lights and gives you more control over greenhouse plant growth.

Avoiding Novice Mistakes

The wrong kind of light is far from the only mistake you can make when using grow lights.

Uneven light distribution causes similar problems to insufficient light. Some plants may grow slower or become spindly as they stretch towards the nearest light source. The recommended lighting setup in greenhouses is 20 to 40 watts of light per square foot.

Providing too much light can be troublesome, too. Excessive light causes plants to become pale or sunburned. Remember not to leave your grow lights on for the entire night. Plants still need around eight hours of darkness each night to convert the starch produced during the day into sugar and to store it.

Taking care of plants during winter requires more effort and care. The controlled environment of greenhouses and the supplementary light grow lights provide helps plants thrive in the cold and short days of the winter season.

How to Have a Complete Thermal Enclosure System at Home

roof installation

A home with a complete thermal enclosure system is comfortable and energy-efficient across the board. It’s highly beneficial in cold countries, such as Kansas and Missouri. Retrofitting your house with features to trap thermal energy gives your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units more power to regulate your indoor climate. This measure can help render outdoor elements like drafts less of a factor in the temperature of your finished rooms. To a complete thermal enclosure system, focus on these home improvements:

Insulation Installation

Experienced insulation contractors in Kansas City will agree that increasing the R-value of your roof and walls help minimize unwanted heat flow throughout the house. Considering that most homes in America don’t have adequate insulation, you should doubt whether you have a sufficient blanket of comfort around your house.

Living in an uninsulated or under-insulated house can only mean two things: spending more on energy or dealing with extreme cold and muggy weather regularly. Neither of them is desirable, so it only makes sense to put your home improvement dollars on adequate insulation before anything else.

Installing good insulation on the roof deck can help resist solar heat, keeping your attic from feeling like a furnace in the summer. Incorporating high-quality insulation to wood studs will significantly reduce thermal bridging in walls. You can noticeably feel the difference during the hottest and coldest days.

Air Sealing

Do you know that an ordinary American home has about a half-mile of gaps behind the walls and around windows and doors? These holes can be an equivalent of a having a window open 365 days a year. Imagine the amount of energy you’re wasting just because the air you cool or heat quietly escapes your house.

Identifying every air leak throughout the house is imperative. You can investigate the problem yourself, but it’s better to leave the auditing to professionals. Pros have specialized tools to spot leakages fast and accurately. After all, they’re the ones who can determine the most suitable technique to seal them.

Other than saving energy, air sealing contributes to noise reduction. This activity also eliminates small entry points to your house, which pests might use to take shelter inside your home. Your rooms might even stay clean longer since the airbore dust from the outside can no longer get in easily.

Window Upgrade

window installation

ENERGY STAR–certified windows are excellent insulators. They have a minimum of two panes filled with a non-toxic, inert gas to keep heat inside a room. They also contain low-emissivity coatings that can reflect the sun’s invisible light, deflecting most of the infrared and ultraviolet rays trying to get in.

But then again, not all high-performance windows are equal. Check out the ratings written on the label provided by the National Fenestration Rating Council, and find out the minimum energy efficiency requirements in your area. In Jackson County, for instance, a combination of a 0.30 U-factor (or less) and a 0.40 Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (or less) promises outstanding results.

You probably have a long list of things that you want to improve in your house, but make sure that these projects are high on the agenda. Prioritizing them can enhance the way your home looks and works.

Read More
December 29, 2018   Home and Garden

Fluff Up Your Backyard: Tips to Help Birds Stay Warm This Winter

Bird eating

Bird eating

With snow piling high and cold wind blowing hard, winter is harsh for everyone, including birds. Their bodies may know how to adapt to the cold weather, but it still won’t hurt to give them a hand this season. You can help them survive wintertime by merely making your backyard welcoming to birds.

Install Bird Feeders

Now that you’ve rolled up your retractable awnings or winterized your pool, it’s time to install bird feeders in your backyard. You can scatter seeds in the ground to feed the birds, but this can be a problem when snow piles up. It’s better to nail or tie a hopper or tube feeders around a tree trunk. This way, you can make sure that the seeds are accessible and dry whenever birds drop by at your yard.

Put Out High-Energy Food

Bird eating on a palm

Seeds, nuts, suet, peanut butter, and other food high in fat can boost the energy of birds, helping them generate more body heat to endure the freezing weather. Filling your tube feeders with seeds and nuts is easy. But with suet and meat scraps, you may need to use a mesh onion bag if you don’t have a suet feeder. Peanut butter, on the other hand, is a convenient feeding option. You need to smear it on the bark of a tree or put it in open trays that can be securely placed on an elevated spot.

Provide Shelter

Add a roost box to your backyard to provide a safe, sheltered place for birds this winter. A roost box is similar to a birdhouse, but it’s not ideal for building nests. Instead, it provides a secure shelter for multiple birds during poor weather or freezing temperatures. Sleeping or resting together, several birds can share body heat and increase their chances of weathering winter.

If there are birdhouses currently installed in your backyard, furnish them with layers of clean, dry meadow grass to make them suitable as roost sites during the cold season. And plug some of the air vent holes of your birdhouses with removable weather stripping to reduce cold air entering the shelter.

In case you don’t have the time or means to install roost boxes or birdhouses, you can simply build a brush pile. Use large fallen branches to keep the pile stable and sticks, twigs, and small branches to create perching spots for birds. Brush piles, however, are not the most attractive shelters for birds. Place bird feeders near your pile to draw birds in during harsh, cold weather.

Make a Windbreak

A pile of yard debris or an old Christmas tree can be enough to create a windbreak. When the cold wind is drastically reduced in your backyard, it is likely to attract more birds than usual. This way, you get to feed, shelter, and keep more birds safe as they wait for spring.

Sure, birds can fluff up their feathers or tuck their bills into their shoulder feathers to stay warm. But you can always make it easier for them to tough out a harsh winter — you only need compassion and a bit of extra effort while preparing your backyard for the cold season.

Read More
December 23, 2018   Home and Garden

Tips for Installing Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Floorings

Hardwood Floorings

Hardwood flooring is a classic, designed to fit practically any type of décor to your home. When installing one, here are some things you should keep in mind.

Figure out the size

First things first, you should know the size of the room to know how much hardwood you’ll need. You could buy hardwood flooring in Orange County in one large batch and get a better price instead of coming back every now and then to finish up the project.

Note that not all rooms are perfectly square or perfectly rectangle. You’ll have to get a good look at the flooring plan to find out exactly what shape you’re dealing with.

Use Kraft paper

Man putting Kraft Paper

The subfloor should be structurally sound because this is where the hardwood would be resting. You’d want to clean the subfloor thoroughly, making sure there’s no debris before the Kraft paper is installed on the surface.

Kraft paper helps make sure there’s no moisture that will ruin the hardwood floor later on. Cut around the Kraft paper if there are certain items in the room that cannot be moved — such as a radiator. Cabinets and tables should be cleared away.

Find the joists

Locate the joists of your floor and lay out the hardwood flooring perpendicular to it. This will help you create a more structurally firm output. Professionals typically install them from left to right.

Don’t cut indoors

At some point, you’re going to have to cut the hardwood floor to fit in the space. If you do so, make sure to cut it outdoors. The debris from the cut can settle on the spaces in between and cause problems later on.

Note that hardwood flooring installation is best done if you have ample experience in woodworking. If you’re not confident in performing the job, it’s best to leave it to the experts.

Read More
December 21, 2018   Home and Garden

Top 3 Signs That Your Home Needs Insulation

Worker insulating a house

Worker insulating a house

Insulation is one of the most effective ways to create a barrier against noise and heat flow, which is essential to keep any property — more particularly, your home — warm during the cold winter days and cool during the hot, scorching days.

How Insulation Works

This is done by installing a material, such as cork, open or close cell spray foam, polyurethane foam, fiberglass, mineral wool, and cellulose, into the flooring and walls before adding the final touches to the home’s surfaces.

The type of material depends on the insulation you want to achieve, as they all have varying properties and they can differ in costs. For instance, polyurethane foam may be costly, but it has an R-value of R-6.3 and it makes as a great sound insulator. Fiberglass, on the other hand, is less costly and has an R-value of R-3.1. It also does not absorb water.

A properly insulated house does not just provide the most optimal, comfortable indoor conditions for you and your family. It also saves you a big deal of cash in terms of your energy bills. How? That is because insulation is your appliance’s best friend. They help in maintaining the ideal environment in your home, so they do not have to work as hard.

Insulation Maintenance

Much like any other valuable asset you may have, your insulation also requires regular checkup and maintenance. Here are some signs that your house needs insulation.

1. Constantly changing temperatures

Ideally, indoor temperatures ought to stay at a constant figure, especially when spray foam insulation experts in either Kansas City or elsewhere, do the job. This is often an indicator that much of the indoor heat is being retained. However, if you notice a sharp change in indoor temperature, chances are either your house is under-insulated or was not insulated at all. This makes the attic, walls, and floor leak air in and out of the house, creating an unfriendly environment in your home.

2. Having high-energy bills

Water bill consumption and costHigh-energy bills are an indicator that your HVAC system is overworking. This means your heater has to perform in the odd hours to maintain desirable temperatures during the cold winter. On the other hand, the air conditioner is forced to work several times harder to keep away the scorching summer heat. This is due to lack of proper insulation that would otherwise complement the functioning of these appliances.

3. There is a pest infestation

Remember that home insulation is not just meant to provide the most conducive indoor temperatures. Another essential function of home insulation is to keep animals and pests away from your cherished property. Therefore, the presence of these intruders suggests it is high time you thought of replacing the old insulation on your attic, roof, and floor.

When insulation in your home is damaged, a series of problems are created. The costs involved in correcting the mess can be overwhelmingly high. This is why you should keep inspecting for insulation problems on your home, so you detect and fix them early.

Read More
December 21, 2018   Home and Garden

How to Create a Hassle-free Garden

Man watering his plants

Man watering his plants

While some gardens are easy on the eyes, keeping them in excellent shape can be a tedious process. Exerting too much effort or incurring huge maintenance bills can suck the joy right out of the experience. High-maintenance gardens require regular weeding and watering. Some even need large square planters. For the average homeowner, this might be too much. Luckily, you can avoid such a predicament by considering the following things:

Maintenance

The appeal of your garden is likely to wear off quickly if it saddles you with repetitive chores, such as trimming, mowing, weeding, and watering. With a careful selection of plants, you can create a lovely garden that doesn’t tax your efforts to the limit. Instead of fussy and delicate plants, opt for drought-tolerant plants, as they won’t need regular maintenance.

Combining drought-tolerant ground covers with spring and summer bulbs creates a lavish garden that looks resplendent all year round. Perennial plants also make an excellent choice because they eliminate the need to replace them yearly.

Pests

It wouldn’t do to create a lavish garden only to attract the wrong kind of admirers. If you live in deer country, you might wake up one day to find that these large mammals were all over your garden. However, that shouldn’t deter you from creating a garden; you only need to be smart about it.

Deer are allergic to aromatic herbs, such as juniper, catnip, common thyme, and sweet woodruff. Peppering your garden with such herbs will not only create a fragrant landscape but will also serve as effective deer control.

Home gardens are meant to be a source of pride and joy, not a constant source of headaches. You need to tread carefully when establishing one to avoid saddling yourself with endless tasks.

Read More
September 8, 2018   Home and Garden

The Health Benefits of Owning a Pool

a family swimmingSwimming can be one of the best ways to improve your well-being while enjoying yourself. Aside from the standard health benefits, home pools can give you more advantages. Read on to learn about the benefits of owning a swimming pool.

Psychological Benefits

Swimming improves one’s psychological health. It is one of the best ways to relieve stress and to improve one’s mood, as the calming waters soothe one’s spirit. Also, swimming has been proven to provide deep sleep afterward. Thus, it is ideal for those who have a particularly stressful career or lifestyle.

Promotes Healthier Skin

Swimming and exposing your body to the sun has more benefits for your skin aside from giving you a tan. Sunlight gives you more vitamin D, which helps improve your heart’s health and shields you against most common skin problems. As with anything, avoid overexposure and utilize protection when bathing for long periods. This advantage is a valid reason to call a construction company like Dolphin Pools & Spas.

Strengthens Your Endurance

The physical benefits of swimming go beyond weight management or exercise. As people age, our bodies grow weaker and break down, something that regular athletic activities like swimming can help resolve by keeping our bodies active. Also, thanks to the water relieving the pressure and impact of your movements, you can stay active without the risk of injury. Finally, you can build your muscles while enjoying yourself.

Swimming pools can be such a luxury when you consider the benefits they offer you. After all, they provide a lot more than just pure recreation. Beyond that, they also give you and your family better health and happy memories.

Read More
September 5, 2018   Home and Garden

AC Installation: The Things You Don’t Know Can Cost You

installing ACIf you’ve decided to replace your old air conditioner, it’s only important to do some research to know your options. You need to choose a new unit that fits your home’s cooling requirement and your budget. Installation follows the selection process, and you have to get it right the first time.

Know the Risks

While installation may seem something like you could handle on your own, do take note that what you don’t know can hurt and cost you in the long run. An improperly installed air conditioner will not only raise your electric bill but can also shorten the lifespan of the equipment. Air conditioning installation companies in Knoxville, TN share the other consequence of a bad job:

Proper Installation

These things would never be an issue when your new air conditioner is properly installed by a professional. As AC technicians know what they’re doing, you can expect that your indoor comfort will be taken care of. There’s also peace of mind that that system and all of the parts are working or operating according to the specifications of the manufacturer. Other benefits include:

AC installation is something you need to get right the first time. And this isn’t something you could accomplish with trial and error or following guides on the Internet. Proper installation means taking enough time to make sure that every component is secure and functioning. You need an expert for this, which can then let you breathe easy knowing that the job is done right.

Read More
August 16, 2018   Home and Garden

How Much Would You Save By Using Solar Energy At Home?

Man Behind a Solar PanelMore households in Australia have increasingly relied on solar energy to save money from high electricity prices, and these solar installations included solar rooftops.

Some owners have chosen to spend extra to reduce their energy consumption further by having insulated roofing. In Brisbane, it’s possible for an average townhouse to save $684 every year with solar power.

Falling Rates

National Energy Market retailers such as AGL have lowered their prices by 1.5 per cent in Queensland. While this is good news, the actual amount may remain expensive for heavy users. Whether or not you have a high electric bill, it’s still best to find ways on how to reduce your power bill. In May, Australians nationwide had almost 19,000 small solar rooftops that powered more than 38,000 houses.

The installations contributed to around 600 megawatts between January and May. By 2020, renewable energy will be responsible for one-third of power generation in Australia. If solar installations are too expensive for your budget, the Queensland government offers financial assistance to interested homeowners. You can apply for zero-interest loans worth up to $4,500 for a solar rooftop installation, which is payable within seven years.

Roofing Replacement

Those who plan on replacing their roof along with a solar installation should know that the cost will be dependent on the materials. Solar tiles are now available on the market, while shingles are the cheapest option if you’re already content with solar panels.

Homeowners in Brisbane should also consider insulated roofing due to the changing temperatures at certain seasons. Even if you save energy by using solar power, it may only offset the amount of electricity consumed by your indoor heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

Conclusion

Electricity takes a significant share of household expenses, so consider the benefit of using solar and insulated roofing as energy-efficient options. How much does your electric bill cost every month?

Read More