Monthly Archives: February 2017

Expert Tips: Size Doesn’t Matter with Gardening

Expert Tips: Size Doesn’t Matter with GardeningIf you live in an apartment or condo and are envious of your homeowner friends’ large gardens, it’s time to accept the gardening challenge. Whether you want to plant flowers or grow vegetables, no area is too small for Mother Nature to take hold. Don’t let your lack of outdoor space keep you from enjoying the popular hobby of gardening.

Bountiful Benefits Grow from Gardens

Gardening offers lots of benefits. Not only is it a great way to grow your own food and enjoy the outdoors, it is a gentle form of exercise. Many find weeding and watering their plants a way to relax and clear the mind. Even with limited space, you can create your own quiet retreat while making your garden grow.

Here are a few tips on getting started:

  • Find the best location – You need at least 3-4 hours of direct sunlight.
  • Know your zone – Where you live affects when you start planting.
  • Get approval – Some apartment complexes and condo HOAs may have restrictions.
  • Start small – You’ll be tempted to overindulge but start with a few plants first.
  • Prepare your beds or containers properly – Good soil starts things off right.
  • Space them out – Give your plants room to grow.
  • Study growing habits – Native plants are the easiest to grow.
  • Don’t overwater or over-fertilize – Not all plants need the same care.
  • Beware of invasive plants – If the ad says fast growing, beware. Do your research.
  • Not all bugs are bad – Don’t overuse insecticides. Bees and ladybugs are beneficial.
  • Weed, weed, weed – Make it a habit. They sap nutrients from your plants.

Look for Planting Potential

Your imagination is the only limitation you face when gardening in a small space. Try thinking outside of the planter to create your own special oasis. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Containers – Don’t limit yourself to flower pots. Anything that holds soil can be a planter including boots, buckets, tin cans, a child’s wagon or even a hat.
  • Window boxes – There are some that do not have to be permanently mounted. Ones that attach to deck railings can blow over in windy conditions.
  • Standing planters – If bending over is a problem for you, consider raised garden beds. They are easy to construct out of pressure treated lumber.
  • Vertical gardens – An old wooden pallet or window shutter attached to a wall provides lots of planting potential.

As Urban Living Expands So Will the Need for Gardening

Many experts have predicted that by the year 2030 nearly 50% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Adapting where our food sources originate and how we view our role in producing it is an issue facing our world today. Your little veggie garden isn’t as insignificant as you thought.

Veggies for Everyone!

If you have your heart set on planting a vegetable garden, start small. Ask your local garden shop which plants work well in containers. There are many tomato, lettuce, onion, kale and herb varieties that do well in compact spaces. If you share a balcony with a neighbor and you want to grow vines of beans, ask if they’d mind and then offer to share the harvest.

Reap the Benefits of Gardening

Gardening isn’t limited to those with large expanses of land. Growing flowers and vegetables in small plots or containers can be just as rewarding. Add some greenery to your life by starting a garden today. Join your local garden club or volunteer to work in a community garden. Let Mother Nature show you how to reap the benefits of planting a garden.

Expert Advice

From shovels and rakes to tillers and wheelbarrows, our expert staff is always on hand to assist gardeners with their next DIY project. If you are interested in growing herbs, check out our previous blog, A Message to the Beginner of Herb Gardening, to learn great tips on selecting and planting the right varieties in your garden. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Photo Credit: HGTV.com
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Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's, spring checklist | Leave a comment

Make Your Home a Smart Home with These Electrical Updates

If you’ve always envisioned living in a house where a computerized voice fulfills your every want or whim, then the future is here. Today’s technology is finally making life a little easier in the one place we need it, our homes. We’ve put together a list of easy DIY updates you can do around your abode to bring it into the 21st century.

Smart Home Electrical Updates

10 Wireless Devices for Your Smart Home

  • Smart Thermostat – They are as easy to install as the old thermostats and the control screens walk you through the set up.
  • Doorbell with Motion Sensor – Automatically know when a person is at your door and respond to them with your phone.
  • Accent Lighting – Some systems work with existing lamps and allow you to program them to shut on and off via your smartphone. You can also adjust brightness and color.
  • Irrigation Controller – You are no longer at the mercy of an old-fashioned timer, you can now use an app to control when the system runs and change it with weather conditions.
  • Garage Door Opener – Motion sensors automatically turn on lights and a timer will put the door down if you forget.
  • Security System – Most offer cameras and motion sensors. Decide if you want to monitor the system on your phone or have professional monitoring.
  • Home Electricity Monitor – This wireless device attaches to your breaker box and gives real time stats on your home’s energy usage.
  • Smoke & CO2 Detectors – They look like the old versions but these notify you on your phone if there is a problem.
  • Outdoor Lighting – Individual light fixtures now come with wireless features and an app to set timers from any device.
  • Electrical Outlets – These wireless plug-in devices allow you to control everything from the coffee maker to the TV from your phone. Some come with UPS outlets for charging that very busy smart phone of yours.

Consider a Controller Hub

Wireless devices can make life easier and save money but too many can be chaotic. Consider buying devices that work off a computerized voice controlled hub like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. These systems allow you to add on individual gadgets instead of buying single devices that you must control through multiple apps.

Upgrades Aren’t Just High Tech

Though it may not be high tech, consider upgrading your home’s basic electrical system. Every year over 51,000 residential fires are caused by electrical malfunctions. Install Arc Fault Circuit Interruption Outlets (AFCI), which shut off when an electrical arc or discharge is detected.

If you aren’t prepared to tackle electrical DIY jobs, do the prep work like running cables and installing wall boxes. Bring in a professional electrician to do the final power hook-ups and to make sure you are up to code.

Come Out of the Dark – Make Your Home a Smart Home

Modernizing your house is always a wise move. Advancements in technology can help make your home safer and more efficient. One last gizmo to mention may end many arguments around your house – it’s the motion-sensor toilet seat light. It lets you know the status of the seat with different colored night lights. Now that’s a device we can all get behind. Isn’t technology great?!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help find the right equipment for your next DIY home update. Looking to address some outdoor lighting issues? You can find plenty of handy DIY tips in our blog, 9 Easy Steps to Keep Outdoor Lighting Bright. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Photo Credit: Hardware Journal
Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Leave a comment

Plumbing Upgrades Can Save Water and Money

Plumbing Upgrades Save Money & WaterWith several states experiencing years of severe drought, most notably California, water conservation is fresh on the minds of homeowners and elected officials. In 2016, stiffer Federal regulations on the flow rate for residential water usage went into effect. To reduce your water usage and save money, consider making some quick DIY upgrades to your home’s plumbing.

Stop Running the Water

Before getting into what to fix first, think about the gallons of water flowing down the drain while you run the water as you brush your teeth, wash your hands or do the dishes. The average person in the U.S uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. Consider turning facets off while the tooth brush is working in your mouth or you’re lathering up your hands or scrubbing grease from pots and pans. We also lose 10 gallons of water a day to just to plumbing leaks.

What to Fix

  • Change out kitchen and bathroom faucets with newer, aerated models
  • replace older shower-heads
  • replace an older toilet with a new, low flow model
  • add a water displacement element to your old toilet’s tank
  • check the seals on your dishwasher for leaks

New Faucets are More Efficient

If your bathroom or kitchen faucets are looking old, why not replace them? Newer, more efficient models have built-in filters called aerators that reduce the flow rate. To add a separate aerator to an old fixture, unscrew the existing nozzle filter and screw in the new one. Many will come with new housing in case the old one is damaged when removing it.

New Shower-Heads for Even the Pickiest Bather

By simply changing your shower-head you can lower your water usage 25-60%. Older, low flow shower-heads have a flow rate of 5.5 GPM (gallons per minute). Today’s fixtures have a 2.5 GPM and provide a steady stream of water that will please even the pickiest bather.

2 Types of Shower-Heads:

  1. Laminar flow – emits individual streams of water
  2. Aerator – mixes air into the water stream for a softer spray

The Lowdown on Low Flow Toilets

Discussing low flow toilets used to be a dirty topic with homeowners due to the toilet’s lack of follow through. Today’s toilets aren’t your grandmother’s loo. They now use as little as 1.6 GPF (gallons per flush) compared to the old ones, which used 7 gallons.

4 Varieties of Toilets:

  1. Gravity assisted – based on the original design but are more efficient
  2. Pressure assisted – pressurized air in the tank forces water out through bowl
  3. Motor assisted – small 0.2 horsepower motor helps flush the system
  4. Dual-flush – 2 GPF selections; one low (0.8 GPF) and one high (1.6 GPF)

All these different toilets come in standard styles and require the same mounting materials as the old-fashioned ones, with one exception: motor assisted toilets require electrical power for the small motor.

Add a Water Displacement Element to Your Old Toilet

Not ready to replace your old toilet just yet? Consider adding a water displacement element to your tank. Before you go out and buy something, try putting a small half gallon plastic bottle filled with sand into the tank instead. The theory is to use less water in the tank but to keep enough for it to flush.

Save on Your Water Bill with Plumbing Upgrade

Sometimes, the littlest changes bring about the biggest results. You can save water around your home by upgrading your plumbing to more efficient fixtures. These quick, easy DIY projects will help cut your water bill and reduce your overall consumption. Happy flushing.

Expert Advice

From cordless flashlights and wet/dry vacuums to caulk cutting saws and right-angle wrenches, our expert staff is always on hand to help find the right equipment for your next DIY plumbing project. Need to know how to replace a faucet? Our blog, Two Quick and Easy In-Home Plumbing Repairs, has helpful tips that will make the installation a breeze. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Leave a comment

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