The Basics of DIY Gardening

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Gardens    by: ITC

If you’re trying to create a garden on a budget, you can either hire an inexpensive landscaper or, even better, you can do it yourself. This is the way to go if you want to be creative and get just what you want. All you need, besides enough time and a willingness to try, are some basic guidelines and you’re on your way. A green thumb doesn’t hurt, but you may just surprise yourself and develop one along the way!

Some preliminary work does have to be done. You need to plan out what you’re going to spend on what items. Don’t forget that you’ll have expenses beyond those of the plants you choose. Your garden will have to have such things as a watering system, paving in places, artistic focal points, and fences. Of course, you also need the tools with which to garden, so if you don’t already have them, they must be factored into the total cost.

Planning your design is also important. Since you’re on a budget, you might want to have just one or two consultations with a professional landscaper who can give you ideas for the layout of the garden. Or you can just meander through home and garden centers or peruse home and gardening magazines and get your ideas from there. Checking out house tours to see what others have done is also a good thought. Be sure to do your comparison shopping while you’re buying your materials.

Check around at local garden stores to see who’s offering the best buys. It might pay to go to several, or it could be best to just shop at the one that seems most appealing and ask for their bulk rates. There’s also the internet, of course. There are lots of gardening supply places online, and that offers you the possibility of easy comparison shopping. Right there, too, will be easily accessible reviews and comments on how to create your best garden, and there may be some dialogue going on about problems you’re going to face in yours.

Don’t forget that you’re investing time as well as money in your garden, and time is money. Decide on a target date for your garden’s completion. Then decide on how many hours per day or week you can give to this project. You want a well-balanced life, but you do have to live up to your agreement with yourself on this if you want a nice garden in time for the season. Maybe you can get family and friends involved, too, which makes work and play one and the same thing. Then you’ll all feel a sense of accomplishment because you’ve stuck to your timetable and now have a beautiful place to relax and socialize together.

The Best Types of Patio Surfaces

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens, Shopping    by: ITC

Terraces and patios have been very popular spaces for the outside of the home. Whether it is in the form of rooftop alcoves or Parisian courtyards, only sunrooms and porches have the potential to compete against such paved retreats. Or, at least, that’s what a recent reader survey has told us. Here are some patio surface types that exist today:

1. Patio Stones
Patio stones are sometimes also known as slabs or flags and are flat concrete blocks either in rectangular or square shapes. A lot of home builders, as well as homeowners, choose this popular type of patio surface because they are cheap and very easy to install. Although in the past, this type of patio surface was only available in grey, a wide color range is now available.

Pick colors that mesh well with your house or garden, or construct a floor patterned with dual colors. This type of patio surface looks best when matched with contrasting material, such as bricks, landscape rocks, cedar, rot-resistant wood, or aluminum. Patio stones can also be found in various surface textures, such as those that come with aggregates that are exposed. Their consistent kind of thickness is what makes them easy to install, but they are typically more expensive than normal stones.

2. Flagstone
Flagstone is a natural material which is only available when local resources have them. Flagstone is normally cut in regular lengths and widths, but how thick the piece is depends on the cutting and the stone. The change in thickness seems to make this kind of material harder to install, though. Natural flagstone pieces tend to cost more than patio stones that are manufactured.

A lot of the time, flagstone is considered artistic paving since these broken stone pieces are usually set in very random yet attractive patterns. However, flagstone is quite difficult to set the right way since a patio’s mortar joints tend to be weak and these pieces of stone need to be set tight together. Professional installers should be able to break the stones by hitting pieces of pipe or rebar that have been placed on the proper break line.

3. Bricks
One very popular type of material for building for terraces and patios are bricks. Brick colors are either in yellow or red (though there are more variations available nowadays). Choosing bricks for your outside space is really a very personal choice, though weather conditions may also play a part. If your house is situated somewhere cold, it is important to get bricks made for severe weather so they won’t crack no matter how cold or how heavy the snow falls. These are more expensive compared to hot or moderate weather bricks.

No matter which kind surface you opt for, it is important to invest a significant amount of time deciding on a design which fits in with the rest of your property.

How to Use Weed Burners

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens, Outdoor, Shopping, Tools    by: ITC

Most gardeners face a lot of problems when it comes to the seemingly never-ending onslaught of weeds. Many of these unnecessary plants are actually quite simple to get rid of yourself, while others do tend to be quite persistent as days go on. No matter what your garden situation is, if you manage the weeds in the wrong way, there is always the possibility of a full hard day’s labor or being exposed to harmful chemical herbicides that may cause damage to the environment or to you. This article will show you alternative methods to managing weeds so that you will no longer have to result to chemicals or manual labor: fire.

Weed burners are actually highly effective tools when it comes to getting rid of unwanted and unnecessary plant foliage. These devices come with fuel hoses, metal wands with burner heads, control valves to control gas, and fuel tanks for propane. Hand-held varieties also exist and these are quite similar when it comes to the weed burning function. The difference is that the propane tanks are disposable and can be screwed onto burner wands. Also, hand-held burners are not as powerful and they cost more to use; which is why they aren’t typically recommended.

Weed burners can often be found anywhere online or at garden hardware stores. Most weed burners come in similar functions and designs. What is important is that you are comfortable using a particular burner, as well as its controls. One big difference between weed burners is the BTU rating, which can measure the amount of heat that the burner can actually produce. If the BTU rating is high, the available heat to get rid of plant foliage will also be higher. If your particular weed burner happens to not have strikers or any kind of igniter, you will have to buy one. Before you buy your first weed burner, however, it is important to take some time to get acquainted with the local laws of your state regarding owning and using such a device.

There may be some localities that forbid the use of weed burners during particular times during the year, while some might just forbid them all together. A lot of localities insist that fire extinguishers be nearby while weed burners are in use, while some need you to have a permit to burn. It is always best to be safe and know this before you go ahead with a purchase.

Weed burners tend to be a great alternative to herbicides that are made from chemicals, but users must completely comprehend that weed burners are only meant to manage weeds; safety is always key when using burners to burn weeds.

Easy Home Improvement Projects You Can Do In A Day

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens, Home repair, Plumbing, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

Homeowners are always planning to work on home improvement projects to enhance their homes. However, most people are usually hesitant to start working on one because they think that they would need to work on it for a couple of days or even a week. If you are one of these people who lead a busy lifestyle, there is no need to completely give up on the idea of working on a home improvement project. This is because there are actually plenty of projects which can be completed in just one day. Here are some easy home improvement projects and ideas that you can try.

The first easy home improvement project would be updating lighting fixtures. Before installing a new fixture, you may want to assess the theme or the existing design of the room or space where you would be installing it in. This is needed so that you would be able to choose a fixture which would complement the existing décor or accentuate a certain area. You might also want to replace your existing lights with energy-efficient bulbs to save on your future energy costs. Installing or updating lighting fixtures can easily enhance the theme or design and dramatically change the mood of a room or space and can be done within just an hour or two.

Working on your yard and garden is another easy home improvement project which can be done within a day. You might want to turn a corner of your yard into a place where you can relax through setting up new outdoor benches and planting some bamboo plants. You could even get one of those miniature outdoor ponds or waterfalls which are powered by a small motor and provides soothing sounds of water in motion. These are readily available from most stores selling home building and gardening supplies. You can also add new plants and seedlings as install some outdoor lights to enhance the look of your garden.

Lastly, another easy home improvement project that you can do would be fixing any corroded or leaky water fixtures. These are not very difficult to replace and can be done within just a couple of hours, depending on the number of faucets you have in your home. You can search for the procedure online and you should be able to do it on your own. Changing your faucets or repairing them can greatly improve the look of your kitchen or bathroom while ensuring that you would not be wasting water because of any leaks.

The Top 10 Most Popular DIY Projects

Filed Under: Crafts, DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Featured, Gardens, Home repair, Kitchen, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

We’ve looked around a little to find some of the coolest and most popular DIY projects out there, and these are our favorites. Click the links to get to the original how-to guides, if you see something you like.

10. Mailing Tube Wine Rack

Re-purpose sturdy mailing tubes to create a stylish wine rack. This project is flat out simple: just stack the mailing tubes under a shelf. If you like, you can add a quick coat of colorful enamel. The end result is quite handsome, too. Use the money you save to expand your collection of vino.

9. CD Stack Lamp

This clever lamp takes some effort, but is well within the DIY reach of most of us. It’s the perfect way to transform all those AOL CDs into an awesome accessory. This quirky lamp is an eye-catcher best suited for the basement rec room, game room or family room.

8. Wall-mounted Magnetic Knife Block

Kitchen knives shouldn’t be left to bang around in a drawer, but who has the counter space for a chunky knife block? This wall-mounted magnetic knife holder is a happy solution. Carve slots into the backside of a wood block, then glue heavy duty magnets into the slots. Mount the wood block, and slap your knives on it. Check out the video when you click the link! This baby is way stickier than it looks.

7. Auto-on Watch Holder Pantry Light

Take a plastic wristwatch holder and mix in a dash of ingenuity, and put an end to fumbling in a dark cupboard, pantry or closet. This light works like the one in the fridge. Hook up a reverse switch to rope lights inside the closet or cupboard door. Mount the switch in a watch holder. Open the door and the light comes on; close the door, which opens the switch and turns off the light.

6. Hands-free Flusher

While this gizmo would probably fare best in a frat house, it works if you want hands-free flushing. A foot pedal is fashioned from a wire clothes hanger, shoe polish and some paper towel rolls.

5. Wall Outlet Safe

Your Own Secret Hidden Safe! For Under $2More amazing videos are a click away

Watch the video to see how this one works and for details to make one of your own. A thief probably won’t think to look behind an outlet plate for your valuables, making it the perfect spot to hide jewelry and small treasures.

4. Secret Bookshelf Door

If you’ve ever dreamed of a secret door that is activated by taking a book off the shelf, this project grants your wish. Avid DIYer Simon Shea offers this outstanding project, –or, he used to, but you’ll find an alternative method on Instructables if you follow the link. It takes time and dedication, but it’s really cool.

3. Automated Garden Watering Drip System

DIYer and Green Thumb Matt Haughey explains how to construct an automated water drip system to keep plants properly hydrated, even if you’re away for several days. A parched lawn and garden become things of the past.

2. Homebrew $30 Air Conditioner

When you can’t bear another sultry summer day without air conditioning, this project offers some relief. You can build an effective air cooling unit for about $30. Necessity was the mother of invention for this one, brought to you by college summer schoolers stuck in a dorm with no AC. It’s a bit clunky, but it works. And there’s a closed circuit version that eliminates the water run off.

1. Remote Control Deadbolt

This project isn’t easy, but it gets loads of points for being clever as well as utilitarian. Watch the video for the demonstration, and click the link for instructions on how to build a remote control device to unlock the deadbolt in the garage or tool shed.

Simple DIY Home Improvement Projects

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens, Home repair, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

Today, doing things yourself seems to be the best way to go. This is especially true with home improvement projects. If you have been thinking of enhancing the beauty and functionality of your home but are afraid of having to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars, you need to know that there are many DIY home improvement projects which are simple and easy to do but can give you amazing results. Here are some of them that you can try.

The first would be painting your home interior. This is a simple DIY home improvement project which can certainly be done by any adult and it can greatly enhance the appearance of your home indoors. A simple color change on your walls can instantly enhance your home interior without having to spend too much. Hiring painters to do this project could have you spending quite a bit so it would be a better idea to do it yourself.

When painting the interior of your home, you just need to remember to protect your flooring and trim from any spills. Make use of tarps, paper and paint tape to cover up anything which you do not want to end up getting painted on. If you would be painting large areas, make use of rollers. For more detailed painting jobs, make sure to use a brush.

Another simple DIY home improvement project would be installing new flooring. However, although this is simple, it does require some basic handyman skills. You can first decide on what type of flooring you want to have such as carpet, linoleum or tile. Check the proper way of installing each type as the process usually differs from one type to another.

Refinishing your cabinets would also be a great DIY home improvement project. It could be done by sanding, painting or varnishing. You can also look into some of the newer refinishing techniques such as color washing, which could be simple provided that you have the proper steps of doing it.

Refinishing would be a good alternative to replacing the cabinets altogether since new cabinet systems are quite expensive. Once your cabinets have been refinished, you might be surprised at how much better they look and how much they can enhance your home interior.

A simple but interesting DIY home improvement project would be landscaping. It can easily be done by first planning out your desired landscaping and then researching for some new ideas online. Simple landscaping is not too expensive and could even serve as a DIY home improvement project that everyone in the family can participate in.

Lastly, you could consider constructing a deck or patio. This is still a DIY home improvement project but it could be more suited to those who have some skill in carpentry and building. However, it could still be an easy project because there are many kits which are readily available in the market. When building a deck, it is important to make sure that the ground where you are building on is level, stable and is not prone to sinking.

Building a birdhouse to attract birds

Filed Under: Crafts, DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens    by: ITC

Building a birdhouse in your area for the wild birds helps replace part of the natural habitat lost due to the environmental problems caused by development around most industrial cities, where pollution has reached alarming proportions. People that love the companionship of birds will also find this activity fun and rewarding. While constructing a birdhouse can be as simple as four walls, a roof and a floor, there are many things you would need to consider.

These things come down to size, materials, holes and placement. Wood should be regarded as the best building material (pin, cedar and fir), with aluminum coming close. No other metals are a good option since they would become extremely hot when exposed to the sun. Birdhouses can be made from a mixture of concrete and wood called “woodcrete.” Blue Tits, Great Tits and Tree Sparrows prefer these woodcrete bird houses. Birds nesting in these houses have a shorter incubation period and higher rate of reproductive success, possibly because these synthetic nests were warmer than the wooden bird houses.

The size of the bird house and that of the entrance hole should be related to the types of birds you would want to attract. Entrance holes should be near the top of the box and according to the size of the bird which will use the house. The hole dimension is a critical part in birdhouse building, because if it’s too small the bird species you chose to build the house for will not be able to get inside it. If it’s too large it would allow bigger, more aggressive birds to nest in it. Bird houses should have the interior walls roughened or have ladders to help the young birds in climbing to the opening.

Make it easier to clean after the nesting season by leaving one side of the birdhouse open. The roof is best to be slanted with an overhang of five to six inches, keeping predators from getting inside the birdhouse. It also protects the birds from driving rain. A good option would be to place the birdhouses at locations inaccessible to natural predators. You can make some adjustments to the birdhouses called “predator guards,” which would make it more difficult for a predator to reach inside of the nest. One such adjustment would be a simple additional piece of wood at the entrance hole adding “depth,” and making it harder for a predator to reach inside.

Birdhouses should be placed within 1/4 an acre, because some birds insist on territorial rights, and you could end up with empty birdhouses if they are built too close. Another thing to keep in mind is to paint the birdhouses in natural colors to attract more birds. Especially avoid dark paint as it absorbs heat.

Building a birdhouse is rewarding when you can sit and watch, as birds fill their newly made homes. Just remember to keep the birds’ lives in perspective when building their homes.

The benefits of birdhouses in your garden

Filed Under: Crafts, DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens    by: ITC

Creating a small sanctuary for birds in your back garden, can help to bring nature just a little bit closer to home. Sitting in the garden and watching the feathered friends visit your bird house can be soothing, but also rewarding as you can feel secure in the knowledge that you will be providing them with elements they need to survive.

Birds are very fragile creatures by nature, and they need to find shelter from the weather, food and water, somewhere safe and comfortable, to nest and raise their families. By erecting a birdhouse in the garden, you will be able to provide them with all their requirements.

A little forward planning before buying a birdhouse is preferable. There are considerations over size to ponder, for example, you don’t want the resulting house to look overbearing in a small space. Alternately, too small a birdhouse can get lost in a yawning back yard. Whether you tree-mount the birdhouse or have a free standing one, will dictate your choice.

Birdhouses are important for the birds and can become a little safe haven for them. Attention should be paid to which type of birds you want attracted to your garden. It may help to be aware of the particular types of birds that are native and common to your area, and target those. The type of feed that you put out on the table will be the attracting factor. It is possible to attract migratory birds which may pass overhead, but if you put out seed in the hope of attracting an exotic bird which is not native to your area, then your birdhouse could be left largely abandoned.

The pinnacle of sitting in the garden and watching birds visit, is seeing them occupy a birdhouse which you have constructed and designed yourself. There are several benefits to doing this over buying one. Not only will it unleash your creativity, but you can fine tune the designs to suit the birds, and how the building appears aesthetically in your garden.

A birdhouse of your own design can complement your own home, and even building a miniature replica of your abode to go that extra mile. Building a pitched roof with a good overhang will provide important shelter from the elements birds need. Fine tuning the garden around the house with favorable and familiar bushes, trees and shrubs will help with their nesting needs.

Watching the comings and goings of birds is more than just a relaxing distraction. Listening to their song and observing their habits, bird watching is something that can be enjoyed with the family, passing knowledge onto children. Time spent this way cannot only be calming, but can be therapeutic as a stress reliever too.

How to build homemade birdhouses

Filed Under: Crafts, DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Gardens    by: ITC

Building homemade birdhouses are easy once you know how many things just lying aimlessly around the house can be used to house a whole family of feathered friends. Things like plastic gallon-sized milk cartons. How many of these do we throw away in a week? When you take a look around you can find many things that can aide you in constructing a homemade birdhouse or adorning one.

The environment will also thank you for your endeavor in helping to keep unwanted items out of the landfills that are thrown away everyday. If more people would get on this bandwagon, we could eliminate a good chunk of trash and do our part in recycling as well as taking care of nature in the process. Homemade birdhouses can increase the abundance of wildlife in your very own community starting with your own yard.

Birdhouses allow for the possibility for many different and rare birds to nest and migrate to areas where before there wasn’t any or at least very little. Even people in booming cities can bring birds into the city more if they will put up birdhouses. Birdhouses are not exclusively for the country or more rural parts of an area by no means.

Homemade birdhouses are great to make anytime of the year but, will see it’s greatest use in the spring time when many birds are nesting to prepare for little ones that will arrive at the start of the warm season. You will also find that many birds will count on you to provide housing for them and will return every spring to nest and make a home for their young year after year.

Almost anyone can acquire nails, wood glue and a few pieces of wood to get the job done if you are wanting to go the more wood stable homemade route. You can find a whole world of birdhouse plans online to construct your very own birdhouse. You can keep it simple or go more extreme and construct a bird condo of sorts and you can even add a box on the side of the house built exclusively for holding nesting materials. Pretty neat, huh?

One will find that birds appreciate any efforts you make and will feel quite comfy in their new homemade birdhouse, no matter how you go about it. You may even find that you get so good at it, you may be able to profit from the homemade birdhouses that you make. So many people like to purchase things that are homemade, simply because it has more meaning and has been constructed and crafted with homemade loving care. Plus, homemade birdhouse can be one of kind and will allow you to use your imagination to add whimsy to an otherwise boring wood box.