Category Archives: Gardening

Tips for the DIY Home Mover

If you are trying to keep costs down on your house move (and who isn’t) then there are a number of options for doing some aspects of the move yourself. Taking the DIY route is definitely not the easy option but it can save hundreds of pounds in the UK, even potentially thousands of pounds on a large move, and equivalent Euro or Dollar amounts elsewhere. So why wouldn’t you want to save that amount of money?

Well there are good reasons why you might choose to pay a professional to do your house removals: pressures of work, moving overseas, a houseful of valuable antiques, expecting a child (have you ever noticed the number of people who move house just before their baby is due? Must be the nesting instinct.

But not all of those reasons apply to all of us, and the bottom line is that there are plenty of good uses for the money we would save for a day or two of hard work – and don’t be fooled into thinking it won’t be hard if you are not used to hard physical work. Carrying heavy boxes, furniture and household appliances will certainly take its toll on your energy.

It’s tempting to think a house removal is simply packing up your small possessions in boxes and shifting those boxes and all your furniture into a van; driving to your new destination and unloading the van but it sounds much easier than it really is (which is why removals companies charge the amounts they do).

But if you are still reading I guess you are convinced that the effort will be worth the savings you’ll make so let’s look at some good advice that can help you out.

10 Top Tips for a Successful DIY house move:

1. Make a list of all the items you will be moving

You might know exactly what you are taking and what is staying but you are likely to rope in some extra pairs of hands on the day and they won’t. This is particularly important when moving out of rented accommodation where you don’t want to forfeit your deposit by taking items belonging to the landlord. The list will also be helpful in estimating how many packing cartons you will need.

2. Give unwanted items to charity

Use the opportunity of moving house to have a serious de-clutter and get rid of all those unwanted possessions. Remember you are the one who will be carrying the heavy boxes so think of the de-cluttering as lightening your load. And your unwanted items will contribute to a worthy cause.

3. Get several van hire quotes

Ask for recommendations from friends or family or, failing that, check out some local websites and forums for recommendations. The van hire company will be able to advise on the size of van that will be best suited to your circumstances so take their advice. Check the small print of any agreements and remember that cheapest is not necessarily best.

4. Don’t book the removal van until the moving date is confirmed

Until you have the moving date confirmed in writing hold off on booking the van because many hire companies will charge a cancellation or re-booking fee which will defeat the object of saving money.

5. Pack what you can in advance.

Packing up boxes for a house move always take longer than anyone expects so start doing this as soon as you possibly can. There are plenty of household and personal items that we don’t use on a regular basis that could be packed early. Just some of the items that can be packed in advance are: books, DVD/CD collections, children’s toys, seasonal items such as gardening tools and also seasonal bedding and clothes. Label every box clearly.

6. Use plenty of protective packing materials.

Always use plenty of bubble-wrap for fragile items and fill any spaces in the boxes with cardboard or old newspaper. When packing plates, bowls and other crockery that is stackable wrap each piece separately and avoid placing too many heavy crockery items on top of each other in the same box. Large plates are less likely to break if they are packed upright.

7. Keep valuables and essentials with you

Pack a small bag to carry with you that has all the essentials you might need when you first arrive at your new home such as toiletries, medicines, drinks and snacks. Also put valuable items in this bag, such as jewellery, passports, insurance certificates and other important documentation.

8. Load the van.

Make sure you have plenty of old blankets or cardboard to protect your furniture from scratches and damage. Lay very tall items such as wardrobes on their side, where possible, and in all cases secure them by tying to the side of the van. Don’t forget to protect items from the floor of the van if lying them on their side. Tie or tape doors and drawers closed to prevent them opening as the van is moving. Use mattresses to add buffer layers between rigid items. Heavy boxes should always be placed on the floor of the van, as should those containing fragile items to avoid breakages as items shift about while the van is on the move.

9. Unload the van.

Depending on how long your journey is from the old home to your new home, try and unload the van the same day. If it is necessary to leave your belongings in the van overnight make sure it is well-secured. And when you do come to unload it is simply a matter of removing everything from the van in reverse order.

10. Enjoy your new home.

Place all furniture and boxes in the correct rooms – it is unlikely that you will have the time or energy to unpack all those boxes straightaway but when you are ready at least the hard work of carrying them to the right place will be done, unless, of course, you had some stuff in self-storage. Now get in a takeaway and crack open a bottle of champagne to celebrate your new home and all the money you have saved doing your own house removals.

DIY Solar Panel in Home and Also Know the Situations Not Supporting These Systems

You may want to reduce your electric expenses but for that you will need to install a capable solar panel system in your house that could supply the energy required in the house. The installation of such a system may need thousands of dollars so what will you do if you want to enjoy the benefits but do not want to spend thousands or do not have thousands to spend in this head. You may be interested to find a system that has the same benefits but less costly. DIY solar panels are the type of systems that has all the benefits of a good solar power panel manufactured in a factory on a large scale but are not as costly as the factory manufactured systems.

You can build your own DIY product because it is easy. Anyone can build this system in his home if he or she finds the DIY projects interesting. You may feel happy to know that thousands of people have built such systems for their home and so you can also do it. Now the question is how to make such a DIY system capable to produce the amount of energy needed in your home.

How to build the DIY solar panels in home?

There are too many guides and tutorials available on the internet. These guides and tutorials explain the construction process of the DIY product. A good manual or guide contains many videos to explain each and every step in detail. These guides will not only tell you that what parts are needed to make a DIY solar product but will also tell you that from where you can buy these products. After carefully reading and understanding the content of the guide, you will know that how you can buy the required parts at a cheap rate. The videos in these guides also explain how to assemble the purchased parts to make a DIY solar power panel ready to lower or eliminate your electricity bills.

Situations when you should not build a DIY solar power panel

There are few situations when you should not think of building your own DIY product. If your home is in an apartment or you are living in a flat where you do not have your own garden or roof then you should leave the idea of building your own DIY solar product. The solar power panel requires at least 8 hours of sunlight everyday to function effectively and if you do not have your own garden or roof then it will not be possible to get the direct sunlight for long hours so you should not plan to make a DIY solar product in such a situation. If your home is in an area where the weather is cloudy all the year then you should leave the idea of making a DIY solar product because the home build solar system will not get the required sunlight.

Safety Tips for the DIY Home Owner

Before you start any renovation project you need to have a plan and the right tools; however you also need to have the right safety gear. I’m going to give you a few tips on what you may need for that do it yourself project.

1. Glasses

The first piece of safety gear is a good pair of safety glasses. You can get them in several different styles depending on the type of work you are doing. If you are cutting tiles or using a grinder I recommend the style that wraps around the side of your eye in case small pieces fly up. You will have to go to your local hardware store to find them.

2. Ear Plugs

If you are using, or are around, loud power tools like jack hammers, you will need to get some ear plugs. For most situations the soft foam type will work fine and you can find them at the drug store or local hardware store.

3. Dust mask or Respirator

These might not be the sexiest accessory however they are very important to protect your lungs. The quality you need will depend on what you are doing. Plain household dust from demolition or basic construction should only require a basic paper mask. However, if there are any traces of mold or old style insulation (which could have traces of asbestos) you will need a proper respirator. Also, if you are working with harsh chemicals or paints you may need a respirator as well. Go to your local hardware store and tell them what you are doing; they can tell you the proper respirator to get.

4. Proper Clothes

Renovations are not the time to worry about fashion. Wear clothes that you are OK with getting ruined. Avoid loose sleeves that can get caught by power tools or get into paint or glue. Don’t wear open toed shoes and try to wear shoes with a thicker sole – especially if there are nails and debris around. You don’t want a nail in your foot!

You are also going to need a good pair of work gloves. Find tight fitting gloves so you can pick up small screws and nails with them. Ladies you can try gardening gloves since most gloves sold in hardware stores are too large for women.

Renovating can be dangerous so you need to make sure you are protected. By making sure you have these basic safety items you can enjoy the renovation and be safe at the same time.

Landscaping and Garden Design

You want to begin a long overdue garden project so where do you start? Some of you will go to the local DIY store and pick up one of the many flyers that these stores produce that show how to do virtually anything from putting a post into the ground to building an extension to your property.

Some of you will go to a library, hunt out the most relevant books that are available and then return home and hope that your research has uncovered the books that have all that you need in them. Then there are those who need to know how things work, who want to take control so, they will treat the project as an excuse to learn something new and will attend night school or college to achieve the desired result.

However and whatever it is that you do for your project you will need to keep track of your costs. It is no use not having a clue on what it is going to cost as you will quickly realise that unless you keep them under review they will spiral out of control and you will spend more than you intended to.

When you are doing the job yourself it is important that you use a software package that allows you to be in control of your costs. It must be easy to understand and allow overspend areas to be identified quickly. It must be easy to use otherwise you won’t bother to use it and control will be lost. There are a few suitable software cost estimators on the market that can be used to help you but not all of them work on the behalf of the everyday designer/builder in a way that is understandable and straightforward.

As an individual you will find this process quite stressful and difficult.

Imagine how the stress levels would rise if you were in a gardening/landscaping business where people come to you for your knowledge and expertise and who want you to the work on their behalf. They will expect you to provide a professional looking quote, a detailed breakdown of costs around each element of the garden design and they will expect and demand that their money is being spent in an agreed manner and will not be interested in excuses as to why something is going to cost more than has specified.

They rightly feel that if costs escalate after the quote has been agreed and confirmed then the loser should be the landscaping company and not the customer. This is why is it is imperative that the professional has control over all aspects of design, build and costs because it protects their profit and this is an essential element of today’s cut throat business activity.

To protect and enhance your most precious commodity, that is, your reputation, is a vital part of your future business. Your clients must trust in every thing that you do for them. They can see that your testimonials show that you work closely with Landscape Architects, Garden Designers, Landscape Contractors, Local Authorities and Domestic Clients on a regular basis. They can see that you are a professional in the delivery of Landscape and Garden designs to cost and quality specifications, and as a Landscape tender consultant who wins and manages profitable projects for both employers, design professionals and contractors. What THEY want from you is someone who understands, and communicates that understanding of what THEY want, by providing clear, concise and accurate information on the project you are undertaking for them.

American Home Vegetable Gardening

A hundred years ago, almost every American family grew some of their own produce at home. In rural America, farming families would grow almost all their vegetables, as well as raise livestock for their meat and dairy needs.

Today, with the advent of mass transportation and the growth of suburban America, there are fewer and fewer self-supporting family farms. Many Americans living in urban or suburban areas do the majority of their grocery shopping at large commercial grocery stores. However, home vegetable gardening has reemerged as a popular hobby for families.

Of all homegrown vegetables, the tomato is considered the most popular crop. Many American families plant at least one tomato plant each year, either in their backyard or somewhere in the landscaping around their home. What is the reason for the tomato plant’s widespread popularity? It is an extremely easy plant to grow, thriving in almost all U.S. climate conditions and soil types. Tomatoes will grow in almost any location that receives at least four hours of sunlight per day. They do require regular watering for optimum fruit production, but will produce some fruit even in dry conditions.

Tomatoes are a fairly disease resistant crop, too, suffering only occasionally from leaf wilt and blight. Good planting and pruning techniques can usually prevent these problems. Tomato bugs, white flies, and cutworms can also pose threat to tomatoes, but these pests can usually be kept at bay with soap spray, cutworm collars placed at the bottom of the plant, or other commercially available pesticide sprays.

Because tomatoes are such a popular plant for home gardeners, they are usually readily available for purchase as young plants from local garden centers and discount stores during the early spring months of the year. Plants found in stores will probably be of the more common varieties and hybrids such as Better Boy, Beefsteak, Sweet 100 (a cherry type tomato) and Early Girl. Less common varieties may have to be purchased as seeds and grown “from scratch” by the gardener. Growing plants from seed is certainly a more economical option than buying already established plants, and can be worthwhile, particularly when planting on a large scale.

Growing plants from seed is not difficult, and seed packets for many vegetables and herbs usually begin appearing on store shelves as early as January or February. Starting plants from seed indoors is a good way to get a head start on the growing seasons, and can often result in bigger plants and larger harvests. All you really need are pots full of soil and a warm, sunny location for them during the day. For optimum seed starting conditions, you can also use a grow light or heat lamp.

Greenhouses can also be enormously helpful in starting plants from seed, because they create warmer growing climates for the plants than the surrounding air outside. For the gardener with space restrictions, indoor tabletop green houses can be a good option, as they occupy no more space than a small table or workbench. For the serious gardener with plenty of outdoor space, a larger outdoor greenhouse may be the better choice. Greenhouse kits to help you build your own greenhouse are readily available through specialty catalogs and online stores.

Though home gardening isn’t what it used to be a century ago, it has adapted along with the American family and our growing and changing way of life. Most families today obtain the vast majority of their food from grocery stores; however, the small suburban garden continues to thrive as a source of good food and a leisurely pastime for millions of American families today.

Home Water Gardens

Whether you’re making your own backyard water garden or hiring a contractor to do it for you, there are things you should definitely be careful of. Given the time and money you’re investing in the project, it’s vital that you’re well-informed before you upturn a single shovelful of dirt or place a single stone.

Common DIY Water Garden Mistakes to Watch For

Gardening industry analysts have found that the average do-it-yourself water garden builder makes, on average, three ponds – not one. Why? Because their planning is too conservative. People tend to be overly cautious, planning small ponds, only to later expand them again and again. When you’re working on your pond design, don’t be afraid to think big if that’s what you really want – you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money down the road.

Proper research will help you here. Taking the time to learn from the mistakes of others is the easiest way to make sure you don’t make those errors yourself. You’ll find plenty of how-to books and instructional DVDs at your local bookstore and online, so get reading. These resources will also give you lots of creative design ideas that you may otherwise not have thought of.

Also, if you’re planning to add a layer of gravel to the pond in your water garden, be very careful not to add too much. Gravel layers thicker than 2 inches can emit noxious gases when they interact with the water treatment chemicals you’ll use to keep the water clean. These gases can be fatal to aquatic life, so be extra careful if you want to house fish or friendly amphibians in your pond.

If you’re going to use a liner to protect the finished product, remember to check closely for cracks and leaks before you cut away and discard the excess lining. Should you miss a leak in need of repair, you may have to refit your entire pond with a new liner, costing you hundreds of dollars that a little foresight would easily have saved.

Pitfalls of Home Water Garden Contractors

The first, and most important, thing you need to know about water garden contractors is that their past work is their only real calling card. For all the promises a contractor may make, if he can’t prove that he’s delivered results in the past, don’t trust him with your garden fountain project.

Keep in mind that the lowest price doesn’t necessarily mean the best product. Firms that both design and build home water gardens have higher overhead costs and therefore charge more, but their expertise will show at every stage of the project and the extra money could be well worth the investment.

Finally, never proceed without a formal contract. This protects both parties, and will clearly set forth your expectations and responsibilities, the agreed-upon cost of the services and a payment schedule. If it makes you feel more secure, have your lawyer take a look at the contract before you sign it.

Sheds and Garden Rooms

Despite invariably mundane contents (paint cans, kids’ bikes, tools), the conventional timber shed, out-building or summerhouse has always had universal appeal. Often tucked at the bottom of the garden, its physical separation from the house promises a hint of privacy, while its scaled-down proportions appeal to the child in us all. Gardeners may see it as a sensible store for seedlings and implements, but anyone in search of peace – from writers and artists to children or those working at home – regards it as the ultimate retreat from the domestic scene.

It’s small wonder, then, that more of us are choosing to add a garden structure to our homes, all the better to provide an extra spot to escape to. For those who work regularly from home, a garden home office not only provides physical separation from a busy household, cutting down on noise and constant interruption, but the (albeit short) commute from home to shed marks an important emotional division between work and evening down-time. Family members with antisocial or messy hobbies – from photography (with a need for a darkroom) to home DJ-ing or portrait-painting – will also appreciate a zone that needn’t be tidied up and in which creating noise isn’t a problem. Then there are those who simply want a quiet spot for contemplation, taking in garden views and fresh air.

If a garden structure appeals, work out your available budget and do your research. The market is huge – offering every conceivable style, combination of materials and interior fittings – and quality and prices vary enormously. There will be decisions on whether to choose a modular unit, a bespoke design or the humble DIY option, though even high-street stores are offering increasingly sophisticated options. It’s worth remembering that a garden office, fully wired and heated, will still cost substantially less than the price of adding a structural extension to the house. Also ask yourself who will use the new room. Try not to be too activity-specific once the garden room is in place, you might decide to keep your quiet study in the body of the house while the kids move their ‘den’ outdoors.

Where the garden escape will go, how much floor space it will occupy and whether its presence is permitted by local planning regulations are key questions that you will need to answer. Regulations include not having the structure too close to the house or a highway, or being in a conservation area, so always check with your local authority before proceeding with your plans. If a specialist company is supplying the structure, they will advise on the regulations. It is generally accepted that a garden building should occupy no more than 50 per cent of the exterior space, but small is good: you don’t want a barn-like room, just a cosy retreat. Think about how the structure will look when glanced through the window. Decide whether to match the style to your own house or to go for a fantasy structure that will be just glimpsed between the trees.

The least sophisticated, but often most charming, form of garden retreat is the humble timber shed. Even the simplest will have a waterproof roof, a door and a couple of windows (budget styles won’t have glass). Finished in plain planking, inside and out, it will blend with garden foliage if timber is treated and stained a natural shade.

Home With Garden Steel Sheds

Space around the house to store things in is always a problem.Sometimes, you may find your attic already cluttered and close to overflowing, not to mention the effort you have to put in just to climb those stairs to reach it. That is when you can make use of garden steel sheds to provide you with the storage space you need.

Garden steel sheds are usually preferred by many, instead of an attic. These sheds are great places to store your thingamajigs like garden tools, DIY tools and kits, old things that you no longer use regularly, and even old car parts that you have not disposed of yet.

These sheds provide you with an adequate amount of storage space where you can easily organize your stuff. You can install shelves and cabinets so that you may be able to locate your things without difficulty.

You can also use these sheds as a hobby area. You may want to do various things that you may not normally do inside your home such as experimenting with engineering projects, or even assembling remote-controlled airplanes and helicopters or any other activities. If you have come up with an ingenious device, you can try out its performance in your shed.

Aside from being a hobby area, you can use garden steel sheds to do some repairs. For instance, if you have old appliances that needed repairs, these sheds would give you a great working area to do them. You would be comfortable enough knowing that even if you make a mess, it wouldn’t matter much!

One great advantage of garden steel sheds is that they are just within your reach. You do not need to tackle a flight of stairs just to store those bulky furniture up in the attic. You can simply walk towards your shed with ease.

Just remember that in order for you to achieve the utmost functionality that you need for your shed, you have to be careful in selecting one. Look for companies who have acquired the right experience when it comes to making these garden steel sheds. That way you would get quality at a reasonable price.

The Benefits of DIY Sheds

The concept of DIY is not a new one but it wasn’t only until recently that their popularity became widespread. In the age of ready-to-assemble homes, it is no surprise that people are so into doing projects by themselves, from fixing their own leaky faucets to building their own garden sheds and garages. There’s just something to be said about building something with your own two hands and seeing it standing erect and proud in your backyard.

The term DIY (do-it-yourself) has been associated with consumers since 1912 mostly in the realm of home improvement and maintenance. The term was coined to refer to the emergence of a trend wherein people took it upon themselves to fix, repair or build various home improvement projects or crafts projects as both a creative outlet and cost-saving activity. Why pay for a plumber to fix your faucet when you can do it yourself for free, right?

As time passed, the concept of DIY grew to include the renovation of rundown older homes and these days, they also include ready-to-assemble modular and kit homes, which has opened doors for potential homeowners and given them better chances of purchasing their dream homes. Also, when you say DIY these days, what comes to mind would be construction projects like sheds and garages which are definitely some of the most expensive home improvement projects if we didn’t have DIY shed kits to work with.

Also, the fact that these shed kits are readily available both online and off also contributed to their rising popularity. For those who lack considerable carpentry skills, these sheds are a God-send because even the most clueless would-be carpenter can easily follow the instruction manual that come with these kits and be able to have a working and structurally-sound shed within days. The fact that these kits also already come with the necessary building materials and with the walls, floor and roof already laid out and ready, all that needs to be done is to check if permits will be required as well as a review of the local building codes.

While the concept of building your own sheds was initially discouraged due to the fact that trying to construct your own sheds with a considerable lack of the necessary skills can result in too many first-time mistakes that can render the whole project a moot point and a general waste of time and money, it is now widely encouraged primarily because it has been afforded a level of ease and convenience that is targeted specifically for amateur carpenters and handymen.

When you simply have to bolt in and connect walls to roofs makes these kits appealing, not to mention the fact that you don’t have to refer to complicated drawings and layouts also makes it ideal for amateur builders who are new to home improvement projects and would like to gauge their level of expertise and understanding. You learn something new and at the same time you grow confident about your ability to learn new things and thus, find it easier to tackle new challenges.

DIY Hydroponics and Strawberries

Hydroponic gardening is becoming more and more popular as a way of growing plants at home and there are many reasons why one would follow this path. Hydroponics is proving to be a very popular method to grow strawberries ans the results are very encouraging for the growers. The plants produce abundant numbers of fruit and they are much larger and more tasty than their soil grown counterparts.

A lot of people have now set up their own DIY hydroponics and produce a lot of their own strawberries and other family favorite vegetables.

DIY Hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants without soil, usually by suspending the roots in a water nutrient system or having the roots sprayed by a water nutrient solution.

There are several systems that can be used and the Ebb and Flow method and the Aeroponics method have proven to be two of the most favored.

DIY Hydroponic Gardening

Strawberries do not like ‘wet feet’ and one may initially think that for that reason Hydroponics would not suit this type of plant but the ebb and flow system and the aeroponics system both suit strawberry growing.

What does need to be realized with hydroponic strawberries is that plants do require nutrients and with hydroponics they are delivered to the plants in water infused with nutrients.

Usually strawberry plants are grown with their root systems suspended and this is when the nutrient infused water is passed over them. In essence the water is just a replacement for soil which in soil growing is what holds the nutrients that the plants needs. It is not actually the soil itself that feeds the plants and so too with hydroponics, it is the nutrients infused into the water that is giving the plants the required nutrient mix.

Ebb and Flow System

Growing strawberries in a hydroponic ebb and flow system requires the soil-less plant to be housed in a small tube and that tube is pushed through an opening in a larger tube allowing the roots to dangle in a larger tube and it is in the larger tube that the water is passed over the roots on a periodic basis.

Aeroponics Hydroponics

With this Hydroponics system the roots dangle in a container and are sprayed with the nutrient rich solution, keeping the roots receiving moisture but not waterlogged.