Monthly Archives: August 2014

  • Beginner: Create a Stunning Raised Tree Bed

    When it comes to landscaping, raised beds will make your yard stand out. Raised beds can be done around trees to add extra design flair. This project can be done with the help of children within a few hours. Here are the steps for creating a raised tree bed, along with ideas on different materials that you can use. Yard Fun

    For raised tree beds, you will need a shovel and rake which can be found at Gather flowers or plants for the bed, a garden barrier, and topsoil.

    The first step is to clean around the tree based on the size you would like the bed, as well as the shape. Many people prefer circular beds, but a square shape is also an option. Remove the grass from around the tree. Break up the soil in the tree bed area with the shovel and rake. Be careful not to damage the root of the tree.

    Next, you’ll need to prepare a barrier for the plants. A garden barrier such as a metal tree ring can be placed around the perimeter of the flower bed. This barrier will give growing flowers or plants a neat appearance. If the soil is prone to weeds, you may want to add in a weed barrier to the freshly tilled soil. If not, move on to adding topsoil. Lay the soil about three or four inches thick. Add a layer of protection such as wood chips or rubber mulch.

    You may enlist the help of your children for the next step – planting the flowers and plants. You can get creative here by using the same flowers around the entire bed, or alternating between various kinds of flowers. You can do a mixture of flowers and plants or do just plants alone. Consult an expert at your local nursery to find out which plants and flowers grow best in your area.

    Once the planting is done, it’s time to add some style to the flower bed with a border. Tiles, stones, and rocks are standard materials. Or, get creative by using items such as dried coconuts, benches, logs, wattle, concrete blocks, planks, and rebar. The possibilities are endless!

    Finally, the tree bed should be watered on a regular basis to keep your flowers and plants healthy.

  • Intermediate: Preparing the Home for Severe Summer Storms

    With summer upon us, severe weather can strike at any time. Depending on where you live, hurricanes, tornadoes, storms flash floods, or wildfires could be in your future. Before a storm heads your way, there are precautions every homeowner should take to ensure their home and yards are ready. Check the following features of your home to avoid unnecessary damage when the next severe storm comes your way: Storm

    • Roofing and shingles – Inspect the roof gutters and shingles for any damage that might have occurred last season. Unfixed damage can cause leaks during heavy rains. If you’ve already had heavy rain or hail in your area this summer, double-check to make sure everything looks okay. Those who aren’t sure what to look for should consider hiring a roofing professional for some peace of mind.
    • Gutters and downspouts – Failing gutters can cause problems with the foundation of a home. To prevent this, attach extensions to the base of your downspouts to carry water away from your home’s foundation.
    • Windows – Reinforce windows and storm shutters to minimize damage from thunderstorms and tornados. It is best to board up windows for hurricanes, so keep boards in an accessible place on your property. Don’t wait to buy boards until a hurricane is headed your way, as you don’t want to risk the possibility that stores might sell out.
    • Sump pumps – If your house has a basement and your area gets hit with excessive rain each summer, consider installing a sump pump to remove excessive ground water. An unprotected basement may flood and damage floors, walls, and items stored in the room.
    • Standby generator – According to the U.S. Department of Energy, weather-related power outages have doubled since 2003. Losing electricity means your sump pump will stop, your refrigerator won’t be able to keep food cold, and your security system will be disarmed. Invest in a standby generator – they run on propane or natural gas so they don’t need to be refueled. It will allow needed systems to keep running such as your sump pump, large appliances, lights, and security system.
    • Landscaping – If your property has trees that are too close to the house or overgrown limbs and branches, trim them down. Broken branches or toppled trees may cause power outages and property damage.

    All homes should be equipped with an emergency supplies kit. Avoid putting this kit together at the last minute. Instead, dedicate a space in your pantry or garage for storing storm-related essentials. This includes at least three days worth of water, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, blankets, warm clothes, and medication.

    The National Weather Service has additional survival and safety information for severe weather. Get all the supplies you need to stay safe at

  • Beginners: How To Create The Best Home Floor Plan

    Choosing a floor plan for your new house or apartment is important because your decision will have an impact on your comfort level at home. Once you’ve selected a plan that works with your lifestyle, furnishing the space is the next challenge. If you are actively looking for a place to rent or buy, we suggest taking a weekend to research various options in plans and furnishings.Intro Environmental Safety

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  • Introduction to Outdoor Craft Projects

    Participating in outdoor craft projects this season can improve the look of your outdoor space and allow the entire family to have fun together. No need to be an expert with crafting. Newbies can easily build up their experience and confidence in a variety of ways.Intro Environmental Safety

    Here are four projects to try over the course of the next few months. Your family and guests will surely notice the difference in your outdoor ambiance with these great creations:

    • Garden markers: You’ll need unused or antique forks, twine, and wine corks. With the fork standing on the handle, wrap twine around the handle and make a bow where the handle meets the fork head. Stick the cork into the fork horizontally. With a marker, write the name of each plant or flower, such as “basil,” “cilantro,” etc. Stick the forks into the soil in front of the appropriate plants.

    • Clothespin Flowerpot: Using a recycled tuna can and clothespins, you can make yourself a unique flowerpot (it can double as a candle holder, as well!) Simply arrange the clothespins around the perimeter of the can and insert a plant or flower. Position these around the yard to create a mini herb section or to fill in a spot that needs some greenery.

    • Mosaic garden pot: You’ll need a garden pot, which should be washed and dried in the sun for a day. Spray the inside with clear polyurethane sealer to keep moisture from the plant from entering the porous clay. Glue on your tiles and mosaic parts. Get creative and use buttons, stone, and other miscellaneous items from around the house. Once tiling is complete, leave it for one day and then grout. Before the grout dries, wipe off the pot with a soft, dry towel. In a flash, you've got yourself a beautiful homemade mosaic garden pot.

    • Teacup bird feeder: Round up some vintage teacups and saucers. First, you'll need to sandpaper the bottom of a copper cap, the bottom of the cup, inside the saucer, and the bottom of the saucer. Mix epoxy and place it on the rim of the cup and inside of saucer using a Q-tip. Set the cup on top of the saucer and hold in place. After about 30 minutes, turn it over and using epoxy, stick the copper cap on the back of the saucer. While that sits, sand a copper pipe. Once everything is dry, place copper pipe inside the cap and stick it into the ground. Place birdseed into the cup and saucer. With this beautiful piece, you will be a hit with the birds and your neighbors!

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