Hide Your Unsightly Backyard Features With A Lattice Fence

A beautiful backyard can be marred by the presence of an exposed air conditioner unit, cable wires, gas or an electric meter.  Fortunately, there is an easy solution to hide these outdoor necessities without breaking the bank.  This article outlines how to use lattice panels to build a fence around your unsightly outdoor features.

Materials Needed

  • Tape measure
  • 4×8 feet vinyl or wood lattice panels
  • 8 feet tall posts
  • Post hole digger
  • 40 pound bags of cement
  • Cement mixer or wheelbarrow
  • Nail gun
  • Deck nails
  • Circular saw (optional)

Installation Process

Before leaving for the hardware store, make sure to carefully measure the area to be enclosed.  Write down the height, width, and depth of the area.  At the hardware store, purchase the appropriate number of panels and posts.

Remember that the area still needs to be accessible.  Leave enough room so that a utility worker can read your meter and you can perform maintenance on your AC unit.  Also, before digging any holes, contact your utility companies so that they could come and mark any underground wires.

Use your post hole digger and dig 8-inch round holes.  The holes need to be 3 feet deep to provide stability for the 8 feet tall posts.  You need to strategically place the posts according to how much space you want in between the posts.  If the post holes are 7 1/2 feet apart, then you won’t need to cut the lattice panels to size and you can shave some time off the installation.

Prepare the cement mix according to the directions on the package.  Use a cement mixer or a wheelbarrow to mix the water and cement.  You will need to mix one 40 pound bag of cement per hole.  Stir well to eliminate any clumps.  When it’s time to pour the cement, ask a friend to hold the posts and make sure that the posts are straight and even.  Let the cement dry for 24 hours.

If needed, cut the lattice panels to size using the circular saw.  Then, with the nail gun, nail the lattice panels to the posts so that they are flush against the outside of the posts.  Place nails at 7 inch intervals 

Tips

Don’t just use any fencing material.  Lattice fencing is ideal because it allows for air flow required around the AC unit.  Allow for 1.5 to 2 feet in space between the a/c unit and the fence.

Use your lattice fence as a trellis and plant climbing vines on it.  Morning glory and Clematis are two great choices and will add colorful interest to your landscaping.

Consider the pros and cons of wood versus vinyl lattice.  Vinyl is more durable and weather resistant but comes in limited color choices.  Wood is paintable but needs to be stained and treated to withstand the outdoor elements. For more tips, contact a residential landscaping company.

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Spring Is Here! Make Your Backyard More Colorful

Now that spring is here, you can open those windows and enjoy spending time outside. To make your time outside more enjoyable for you, add some color to it by coloring your concrete patio, and planting a nice flower garden.

Color Your Patio

If you have a patio, it is a great place to spend some time relaxing with your family. If it looks boring to you, there are things you can do to dress it up a little. If the concrete is a plain color, you can change the color of it to brighten it up. If you want a big change, use a color stain on it. You can purchase this stain at most home supply stores, and apply it yourself by following the directions on the packaging. Once it dries and cures, the color will look natural.

If you want a more subtle change, use a translucent acrylic stain on the patio. It gives your concrete a light translucent color. When you are finished, you should put a clear sealant on the patio to hold the color in.You can purchase this sealant at the home supply store, and in most cases you will brush it on.

If you are putting in a new patio, talk with the contractor about adding color to the concrete before they pour it.

Plant a Garden

As you are sitting on your patio, it can be relaxing to sit back and look at beautiful and colorful flowers. You can create a flower garden in any size you wish. Choose an area that gets sun throughout the day.

Use a shovel to remove the grass until you only see soil. Use a tiller or a rake to break up the soil, and then put about two inches of compost over the soil, and work it in. Compost gives the soil nutrients so the flowers will be healthy.

Put an edging around the flowerbed to not only make it look nice but to keep out weeds. This edging could be decorative rocks. You can also purchase steel edging at a home supply store that is pushed into the ground around the bed. This type of edging is not seen but it works great at blocking the weeds.

When you finish, head to your favorite garden center, and choose your flowers. Talk with the garden center employee if you are not sure what flowers will grow best in your yard. When you get home, decide where you want to put the flowers. Remove each one from the pot, and dig a hole in the soil the size of the root ball. Place the flower into the hole, and fill the hole around the flower back in with the soil you removed. When you are finished, water the entire flower garden well.

If you need help coloring your concrete, contact a concrete contractor to do the job for you. If you are having problems with the flowerbed, you can hire a landscape contractor like Ray’s Four Seasons Sun Rooms to teach you how to plant and care for your flowers, as well as help you design the bed.

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Focus On Safety For Your Swimmers

It’s just plain hard to believe that swimming weather is right around the corner. In some states the temperatures are already warm enough for those who are die-hard swimmers! Are you building a new pool for summertime fun, or do you have one already? Either way, you are right to be concerned about safety when it comes to your swimmers. The statistics for drowning are pretty dramatic, as it ranks as the fifth most common cause of unintended death from injury in the United States. Of that number, children ages one to four have the highest drowning rates.

There are some things you can do to make sure that your children are not part of those tragic numbers. One of the most important things to do is to make sure children receive swimming instruction so they can be strong and confident swimmers. Follow these steps to add to the safety.

Set Simple Rules - Even if you’ve heard these rules before, they bear repeating.

  • Of course, children must understand that they must never swim by themselves.
  • An adult must always supervise the swim. Here’s the catch, though. It takes only a short couple of minutes for a child to drown. Adults who watch children at your home must understand that and watch children in the pool every minute. No going in the house to use the bathroom, to check something in the oven, or for any other reason. If an adult needs to leave the pool, the rule should be that kids get out of the pool. This could be a great time for snacks!
  • When there are many children swimming, you should have more than one adult supervising the fun. If there are several adults, it’s a good idea to designate one as the main observer. Don’t assume that somebody else is watching the children. In fact, it would be ok to get the designated watchers to wear a whistle around their necks.
  • Children should never be put in charge of watching over other children. Period.

Put Up A Pool Fence – The tranquil water looks totally safe for little ones. They’re just too inexperienced to equate water with possible danger. In addition, that pool just looks like it’s inviting a child to play! Protect little ones by installing a pool fence. Here are some things to consider when you make the choice of which fence to purchase.

  • Wooden fences may be attractive, but you can’t see through them, so they are not the best choice.
  • Wrought iron is a good choice. Not only are wrought iron fences gorgeous, but you can definitely see what’s on the other side. They are extremely durable, even though eventually you’ll need to paint them.
  • Vinyl mesh fences are a really good choice. There are no gaps through which little bodies can squeeze, and they can’t be climbed, partly because there are no footholds. An added bonus is that vinyl mesh fences can be removed. They are beautiful, too, as they are virtually transparent, so you can see the pool area through them.
  • No matter what type fence you select, make sure that you set it so the only reason you’re using it is to get to the pool, not to take out the trash, care for pets, or to get to another area of your property.
  • Be sure that pool gates have a secure lock on them that little fingers can’t open.

Of course, nothing is totally childproof but these ideas should give you years of safe swimming with the children who use your pool. Contact a company like Everlasting Fence for more information about pool fencing.

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Avoiding A Cold Nose And Frozen Toes During A Heating Outage With Two DIY Heaters

If there is one thing that will surprise you the most when the heating system stops working in your home it will be just how fast the temperature will start to drop. You can think you have the most well-insulated house ever, but without consistent heat, it will no doubt get cold pretty fast. While you are waiting for the heating and cooling expert to arrive, there is no reason for you to wander around your home with a cold nose and frozen toes. Here are a few genius ways to create your own temporary heat source.

The Terracotta Heater

Sounds strange enough, but you can use two terracotta pots of different sizes, a handful of tealight candles, and a few ceramic tiles to create an efficient heater that will heat a small room in just a short amount of time.

  1. Create two stacks of ceramic tiles, three or four high, with a gap between the two large enough to allow enough room for about four tealight candles.
  2. Light your tealight candles and place them directly between the two stacks of ceramic tile.
  3. Invert the smallest terracotta pot and place it directly over the lit candles, allowing the sides to rest on the two stacks of tile.
  4. Place a small piece of aluminum foil inside of the hole at the base of the first pot to block airflow.
  5. Invert the second, larger terracotta flower pot and place it directly over the first. It should also be sturdily resting on the two stacks of tile.

The Paint Can Heater

With a clean empty paint can, a roll of toilet paper, and an entire bottle of rubbing alcohol, you can build a mini fire pit that is clean burning and will provide a far amount of heat. Follow these simple steps to create your own.

  1. Clean and dry the empty metal paint can thoroughly.
  2. Remove the cardboard insert from the center of the toilet paper roll and insert it inside of the can completely. It will be a tight fit.
  3. Pour the contents of the bottle of alcohol into the can and watch the toilet paper readily accept all of the liquid.
  4. Use a long lighter to set the toilet paper on fire.

Because the toilet paper is acting as a wick and the alcohol burns consistently, your paint can fire pit will continue to provide heat for several hours. This can be enough to keep your hands warm and generate heat to fill a small space.

With a little creative thinking and the right materials, you can easily create a temporary heat solution. This form of heat may not be permanent, but will usually suffice while you are waiting for the heating repair specialist like one from Universal Enterprises Inc. to arrive.

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Household Hacks: Tips For Clearing A Clogged Drain

A slow drain can quickly become a huge annoyance when it becomes clogged and will not allow water to flow through the pipes. When you’re facing a clogged drain, you’re sure to want a fast and easy fix. Try the following methods to clear your drain quickly. If you find that these methods don’t do the trick, you should contact a reputable plumber for professional service.

Boiling Water

Clearing a clog in a drain doesn’t get any easier than this! As a first measure against a clog, simply boil a kettle of water, and slowly pour the hot water into the drain. Pour a small amount, allow the water to seep in, and then continue pouring. In many cases the super hot water will break up the debris that is causing the clog in your pipes. 

A Wire Hanger

A plain old wire hanger can become an excellent DIY plumbing tool in a pinch. All you have to do is unwind it so you have a straight piece of wire with a hook shape on the end. Insert the hook shaped end into the drain and slowly push it down into the pipe. The hook of the hanger can be used to pull out hair and other debris that commonly causes clogs. After you have pulled out as much stuff as you can find, run the hot water to help clear out what is left in the drain.

Rent a Power Drain Snake

A drain snake is a type of plumbing tool that you insert into your pipes to clear out clogs. Depending on the nature of the clog, it will either break up debris, or attach to the debris causing the clog so you can pull it out. Most large home improvement stores rent drain snakes for an affordable rate. 

Make Your Own Drain Cleaner

No need to drive to the store- you most likely have the ingredients needed to make an effective drain cleaner in your kitchen. Combine equal parts baking soda and vinegar, and then pour the mixture down your clogged drain. These chemicals react when combined, and will begin fizzing immediately, so don’t combine them until you are right next to the drain and ready to pour. For best results, leave the mixture in your pipes for at least a couple of hours, or overnight if possible. After the baking soda and vinegar has had enough time to dissolve the clog, run very hot water down your drain.

If your clog seems to be impervious to your DIY tricks, consider calling places like Armstrong Services Inc for professional assistance. 

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4 Reasons To Use Propane Heat Instead Of Electric Heat In Your New Home

If you are in the process of building a new home, one thing that you might be debating about is the type of heat to use. You might like the idea of electric heat, but you should know that there is one better option — propane heating. These are a few reasons to consider using propane heat in your home instead of electric.

1. Your Furnace Can Last Longer

Did you know that propane heaters can last far longer than electric heaters? A lot of people don’t know it, but one great way to save money in the long run is to invest in a propane heater that will last your family for years longer than an electric heater. You probably won’t have to deal with as many repair issues, either.

2. You Can Use It in an Emergency

One main reason to consider installing a propane heating system in your home is the fact that it can still be used in an emergency. If your power goes out due to a winter storm, for example, you don’t have to worry about you and your family going without heat.

3. Propane Is Cleaner

Propane is a cleaner and more environmentally-friendly option than electric heat. Plus, along with being a better choice for the environment, you don’t have to worry about as much of a mess; since it is released as a gas rather than as a liquid, propane doesn’t spill or leave a residue. This can be safer and cleaner and can allow you to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

4. It Gets Warmer

If you live in particularly cold temperatures or simply want to make sure that your home stays as warm and cozy during the winter as possible, then you should definitely consider the benefits of a propane furnace. Propane furnaces actually get much hotter than electric furnaces and operate in shorter intervals than electric heaters rather than releasing warm air over long periods of time. Not only will this help you save on your heating bill each winter, but you can also enjoy the benefits of a warm and toasty home.

As you can see, there are quite a few reasons why homeowners often choose propane furnaces rather than electric heat in their homes. If you’re in the process of building a new home, then you might find that a propane heater is your best option. Contact a company like Self Heating Cooling for more information.

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Special Considerations For Installation And Repairs On Composting Toilets

Because composting toilets require little to no plumbing, you are unlikely to need a plumber’s help for this kind of repair. However, composting toilets do need maintenance and an expert’s help to install them. If you decide that you want to replace your current toilet with a composting toilet, here is what you and your plumber need to do.

Relocate Your Toilet to an Outside Wall

If your current toilet is located on an inside wall in your home, the plumber will have to remove it, seal off the toilet stack, and relocate your toilet to an outside wall. A composting toilet empties waste immediately into a composting chamber located on the outside of your home, and there is no current design that will easily move the waste from an inside wall to a chamber underneath the outside wall.

Making Repairs to the Compost and Drainage Chambers

If you do not dig your chambers to the necessary and specified depths for your composting toilet, you will have problems with leaks as well as odors. It is the biggest reason for hiring a plumber to install the toilet and avoid these issues later. Not all composting toilets are the same, either, so save the instructions that come with your toilet.  It will help your plumber accurately install the toilet.

Fixing Flushing Problems

Many composting toilets rely on just a little water in the reserve tank to flush solid waste into the chamber below. If you cannot get the waste to go down by simply pouring a bucket of water into the toilet basin, then you might have an overflowing chamber. Your plumber can open up the chamber and use a camera scope to see what the blockage is about.

Maintenance Is Easy

Usually the only maintenance required for a composting toilet is cleansing the bowl inside your home and emptying out the “fresh” compost outside. If you garden a lot, you never have to buy fertilizer because of the frequency with which you clear the composting chamber. If you go on vacation, be sure to empty the toilet’s composting chamber before you leave and then you will not have to call a plumber when you return.

One Last Simple Fix

Either you or the plumber you hired to install your composting toilet will need to seal the base with plumber’s grade caulk. The caulk will keep any liquid waste from pooling around the base. It will also seal the composting odors from escaping through any cracks in the floor around the toilet.

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