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Spring Gardening For Your Home This Coming Season

Spring is here at last! Perennial plants and bulbs planted last fall will begin to unfold in all their glory, adding splashes of colour to bleak lawns and gardens.

This is also the time to ask yourself a question: does your garden and exterior landscape need a new look? More and more homeowners today are looking for innovative ways to beautify their back yards, lawns and gardens – not only for their personal satisfaction but because well-placed shrubs, trees, flowering plants and an attractive lawn can increase their property’s value by as much as 10 per cent or more.

Adding even the simplest patio, walkway, planters, flower beds or water feature can dramatically change the way you experience your outdoor home environment, while adding elegance and distinction to your home. Before you start digging, planting and considering features like ponds, fountains, bird feeders and waterfalls, it is important to plan ahead how you will achieve the effects you want. Whether you are looking at a simple revival or a major landscaping overhaul, it’s a good idea to first try different designs on paper or play around with one of the new landscaping software programs.

While “virtual” gardening calls for a bit of a learning curve, it is a great way to get into the gardening mood long before the soil in your garden is actually workable. Some software packages will let you drag and drop realistic trees, shrubs, flowers, fences and paths, allowing you to do things that are next to impossible in your real garden. But it may be just the thing to help some zealous gardeners set down their hoes until the soil is just right.

Soil must be monitored regularly until the time is right for digging. The rule of thumb for working soil is that the frost be out of it and that it not be water-logged. There also a rule of thumb for removing winter mulch – wait until tulips show 10 centimetres of growth.

Once all the worst frosts have passed, the busy gardening season begins. Digging and turning over the first 15 to 20 centimetres -and adding a combination of compost, peat moss and fertilizer as you go is the best thing you can do for your soil. Unlike compost, peat moss has no nutritional value, but will add fibre and acidify your soil, which is good for most plants. For plants that don’t like the acidic effect of peat moss, you can compensate by adding lime as directed. Lime is also useful for repelling cutworms and earwigs.

Early spring is also a good time to prune fruit trees and other deciduous trees and shrubs. Be sure to dress wounds bigger than 2.5 centimetres in diameter with tree paint to prevent rot and infestation. Conifers have sap that runs in spring and are best left for pruning in early fall. Evergreen shrubs such as creeping junipers and cedars should be left unpruned until their new growth has stopped around mid-summer. To keep them in control, trim them back at least half their new growth.

This is also the time when your lawn needs major attention including aeration -piercing your lawn with holes to allow for better penetration of air, water and fertilizers. This, in turn, encourages new and deeper root growth. Aeration should be done professionally, either by renting the appropriate equipment or hiring a lawn maintenance company to do it for you.

Fertilizing your lawn goes without saying. It is the most important fertilizing treatment for lawns each year. Do it early, preferably using a slow-release fertilizer with a high nitrogen content and after you’ve given the lawn a good raking.

Once you have got all these things out of the way, it’s time to get down to the serious business of gardening. As you decide what to plant where and how and what other features to add to your personal retreat, keep the following tips in mind.

Garden centres and nurseries are mobbed in spring, so be prepared before you get there. Start a shopping list of what seeds, bedding plants and shrubs you are going to need to get your yard in gear. Think of your yard as a cluster of “outdoor rooms”, some for enjoying sunshine, others for growing vegetables and others for appreciating the beauty of flowers, shrubs, trees and foliage plants.

Flower and vegetable beds need a lot of thought and planning, especially if you want continual colour or growth from spring through fall. You may have to plant more than one kind of annual or vegetable in a particular location to accomplish this. You’ll also have to consider other factors such as sun, shade, heat, reflected light, winds and soil conditions.
Prepare the soil a couple of weeks before you plan to start planting. Leave the prepared soil beds idle for about 10 days to allow any weeds time to germinate. Remove weeds before sowing or transplanting the area.

If you are planting seeds directly outdoors, make sure you don’t place them too deep in the soil. Many seeds need exposure to light to germinate. If the plants don’t tolerate frost well at the seedling stage, ensure that all danger of frost has passed. Plants grown indoors may go into shock if not hardened properly before being transported to the garden. This process takes about 10 days. Start by putting the plants outdoors for an hour or two during the hottest part of the day and gradually increase their exposure. Water transplants before you plant them and once or twice every day.

Bedding plants purchased at garden centres or nurseries should already be hardened. Always look for stocky, compact plants that have a healthy green colour. Avoid tall, lanky specimens that have yellow leaves and appear to be stretched. These are already in stress. Never judge a plant by its height. Quality transplants are short with thick stems and have side breaches close to the base.
Consider including more exotic annuals in your garden beds, in addition to the usual varieties. While these often cost more, they also often winter over well in your home, allowing you to replace them outside again year after year.

If you plan to include a water feature such as a pond, fountain or waterfall, plan it into your design in advance and try to keep it simple. To enjoy the visual treat and hear the gentle rolling of water, be sure to place the water feature close to your home or an outdoor seating area.

Quick Removal Of Mold At Your Home During Spring Cleaning

Quick Removal Of Mold At Your Home During Spring Cleaning

Quick Removal Of Mold At Your Home During Spring Cleaning

Mold is a fungus that grows from spores that circulate through the air. The spores only grow into mold when they come into contact with a damp surface. Mold growth can be prevented, but once it starts, mold removal is the only way for you and your family to be safe from its effects, which can include agitating existing conditions like asthma and allergies, among other things.

Throughout this article, we’ll look at some basic methods that homeowners can use to get rid of mold once they notice it growing on a surface in their house. There are also some types of mold that are proven to be toxic and, as a result the spores can have some seriously adverse health effects on anyone who breathes them in, so precautions must be taken when it comes to dealing with mold should you ever find it.

Where People Find Mold

Because mold grows on damp surfaces, some of the most common places that homeowners find it growing include bathroom walls, because of shower heads, as well as basements, attics, crawlspace and concrete foundations, which can often be exposed to large quantities of water during storms.

Many homeowners tend not to think about these places after it rains, which means that the mold has nothing but time to grow to the point where it can become a serious threat if someone comes near the place where the mold has grown. At the very least, the mold that has grown will create new spores that it can spread to other parts of the house, so immediate mold remediation makes sense.

Let’s take a quick look at how to remove mold if you comes across it:

1. First, keep in mind that you’ll want to wear gloves and respirator. Gloves for keeping the mold off of your hands and the respirator mask to keep from breathing mold in. It would also be worth your while to cover yourself from head to toe before beginning your mold removal. You should also seal the area to prevent further spreading of mold.

2. Once you’ve found the mold, you want to apply a light mist of water to the surface where the mold is. After that is done, use soap and a brush to remove as much of it as you can and then use a disinfectant to kill any mold spores.

3. Use plastic bags to dispose of any materials that are infested with mold after your mold removal job is done to your satisfaction. You’ll also want to thoroughly wash any clothes worn during the process. You can often verify that the job was done completely when you no long notice the musty or mildew type smell that mold emits.

These quick tips are meant to give you a general overview of how mold can be removed so that you and your family are safe from the adverse effects that the fungus can inflict on people who breathe in the spores.

Along with spring comes the annual spring cleaning. So when you’re conquering cluttered closets and attacking ancient attics, remember that they shouldn’t be the only things on the to-do list: your heating and cooling system needs attention too. Since proper up-keep can increase a system’s efficiency and therefore decrease electricity bills, cleaning your system can save money.

Preventative maintenance inspections are the best way to reveal air leaks, rust, corrosion and dust build-up in your air conditioning system. A properly maintained unit will have increased efficiency and can decrease energy bills because it’s not working as hard to keep you comfortable. In this economy every penny counts, so while a properly maintained unit can keep you comfortable, a maintained AC unit also helps reduce costs in utility bills.

When an air conditioner is turned on after sitting around all winter, water may be produced in the form of condensation on cool indoor coils, and drains from these coils can become blocked from dust and algae growth. A blocked drain can cause flooding or water damage in the area surrounding your indoor unit. Often preventable complications can cause major equipment malfunctions.

To keep your air conditioner unit in excellent condition, follow these five tips:

1. Clean or replace air filters regularly to help the AC unit run more efficiently.

2. Open vents in all rooms – closing them could restrict air flow and cause system malfunctions.

3. Remove shrubs, grass and leaves from the condenser coil and within three feet of outside unit.

4. Install a programmable thermostat – it automatically changes the temperature when away or asleep.

5. Inspect and caulk windows and doors annually where needed. This can help your system to maintain a more even temperature.

To avoid equipment malfunctions and other headaches, homeowners should hire a professional technician to perform a tune-up on their air conditioner, which includes examining ductwork, checking the refrigerant level and tightening the wiring connections. This is also a good time to check your home’s safety equipment to ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

Avoid the annual headache with spring cleaning and reap the benefits of spring savings instead.