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Conserve Water in your Home Garden! July 6, 2011

Posted by CraftmarkHomes in Home & Lawn Care.
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It’s wonderful to have a garden and add a splash of green in an urban environment; but our gardens tend to consume massive amounts of water; something that’s becoming an increasingly scarce resource in many parts of the world.

Irrigation accounts for the bulk of water use in homes, particularly in drier areas over the summer months. A few of the biggest mistakes made are:

a) Plant selection; usually by using plants that aren’t native to the area
b) Sprinklers that throw water up into the air, which is then windblown or evaporates
c) Watering during the hottest part of the day
d) Over-watering

Here’s some tips for reducing your garden watering footprint – and to save some money on water rates at the same time.

Plant selection

When you’re next shopping for plants for your garden, consider not only your area’s current rainfall, but what’s projected for the future. In many regions of the world, rainfall is dropping; so a plant that might get by fine now without additional watering may not do so in the future.

Sprinklers

Many sprinklers throw out fine droplets and on a hot day, these droplets simply evaporate. While your garden gets some water, much is lost. Look to buy a sprinkler that throws water closer to the ground in large drops

Drip irrigation

This can save you a ton of water. Drip irrigation (aka  trickle irrigation or micro-irrigation) consists of a series of pipes with drippers hanging off them that deliver water directly to where it’s needed. Given the targeted nature of the delivery, far less water has to be used.  Using a special piercing device on the main pipe, you can attach drippers exactly where you need them and you can plug the hole at a later date if need be. The equipment is simple, easily scalable, pretty cheap and durable and can be purchased at most hardware stores and nurseries.

Tip: when using drip irrigation, you’ll need to check the drippers regularly as they can get clogged with water-borne particles, particularly when used with a greywater or blackwater recycling system. Birds also have a tendency to move the dripper hoses as they forage.

Irrigation timers

If you use an irrigation timer, set it to run half the normal time, but run it a second cycle a minimum of half an hour later. This will dramatically reduce runoff. 

Check your equipment

Check over your hose and sprinkler connections for leaks – a drop wasted each second can add up to a couple of gallons each day. Also check the heads of your sprinklers are clear for maximum effectiveness. 

Watering time

The best time of the day to water is either just on sunrise or just on sunset, as this minimizes water evaporation

Make use of old soda bottles

Richelle D. contributed this tip: “I have several 3 liter bottles, filled with water and pushed upside down into the ground to water my outdoor trees.  The soil draws the water from the 2 liter bottle or even gallon jugs when dry.”

Mulch, mulch, mulch

Mulching is adding layers of plant material such peastraw or bark to keep the sun off the soil and therefore retain water. Mulching is one of the most effective ways to reduce water needed in a garden – up to 50%. Mulch has the added benefit of preventing weed growth, deters pests, helps to stabilize soil temperature and provide nutrients to the soil as the mulch decomposes.

User fertilizer sparingly

Try to avoid using high nitrogen fertilizers during dry conditions as they will encourage growth and your plants will need more water.

Aerate your lawn and garden

Aerating tools can be purchased at most hardware stores for around $50. An aerator pulls out small plugs of soil allowing air and water to penetrate deeper. Deeper moisture means deeper root systems; which makes plants more resistant to dry spells and requiring less water.

Make trees a watering priority

Grass may die, but it grows back quickly, whereas a tree may take decades to grow. Trees also provide protection from the harsh sun for other plants and can reduce ground temperatures in a garden substantially. If you have to choose between watering your lawn and watering your trees; prioritize the latter.

Consider a rainwater tank

Given the amount of water gardens require; consider adding a rainwater catchment system to your property – it can help act as added insurance for a reasonable supply of water during the dry months or when your local authorities introduce restrictions.

There’s all sorts of rain water tanks and barrels available to suit your premises, ranging from holding a few dozen gallons, to thousands.

Rainwater catchment formula

So much water is wasted through not harvesting rainfall. To get an idea of how much water you’re missing out on, use these simple rain water catchment formulas:

Metric:

1mm of rain on 1 square meter of roof equals 1 litre of water

Imperial:

Roof square feet multiplied .6 for every inch of rain = gallons

By the way, many local governments now offer incentives and rebates if you install a water tank, so check with your local council for any programs they may have in place.

Recycling household water

Just as water is wasted outside the house, so it is inside. Thousands upon thousands of gallons go down our drains each year from the the washing machine, shower, sink and toilet. You can do simple things like:

– putting a bucket in the shower
– run a hose from your washing machine outlet to the garden (if it’s not uphill)

Article Source: http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/242/1/Saving-water-in-the-garden.html

It’s Time for the Annual Spring Cleaning! April 7, 2011

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There comes a time each year when we need to turn our attention to house spring cleaning.  We are usually busy doing daily and weekly chores. But this type of deep cleaning is needed. For not only will it ensure that every nook and cranny of our home has been thoroughly cleaned, it will also enable us to concentrate on maintenance and prevention cleaning afterwards.

Preparing your home for spring cleaning
Clutter is the most prevalent problem facing spring cleaning.  Before we can get down to the business of serious cleaning we first need to get rid of the junk that clutters our homes.  Pick up and toss old magazines and papers.  Put away toys and other items back in their respective areas.  

The key to successful spring cleaning is to be able to get to all walkways, surface areas, windows and doors.  Your home should be open enough to get to the dirt that hides in nooks and crannies.

What needs cleaning?
Spring cleaning conjures up images of sunny days with the windows thrown wide open and sunlight flooding every room.  It provides thoughts of freshness and summer scented air.  

While it may not be possible to attend to every inch of your home, spring cleaning should cover lots of tidying, dusting and scrubbing.  Study each room and make a list of what needs to be done.  Your list will provide you with a timetable as well as what equipment will be needed.  From this you will be able to divide up your chores into manageable sections.  If you are aiming at washing all your curtains for instance plan to do them all at the same time.  Without the clutter of curtains you will have the opportunity of getting to curtain rails, windows and windowsills.  This will also give you the opportunity of dusting and cleaning high up into the corners of the ceilings.

Spring cleaning tips
Spring cleaning is traditionally undertaken in spring, especially in colder climates.  The warmer weather provides the motivation needed to get rid of dust and grime accumulated during the winter months.  However the warmer weather often calls for outdoor activities and spring cleaning is far down the list.  There are ways to help you get organized and in doing so alleviate the time taken for this chore.

1.    First, decide how much time you want to dedicate to the task and when it is most convenient.  For instance some people may prefer to tackle the task over an entire weekend while others may prefer to devote a few hours to it each day over a period of time.

2.    Ensure that you make your task as enjoyable as possible.  Put on your favourite music and be sure to take sufficient breaks.  Order your favorite take out foods as a treat at the end of the session.

3.    Ask for help if you can.  Get your family or friends involved and offer them incentives for helping you.  Equip each person with a bag they can keep on them filled with cleaning materials and a list.

4.    Be brutal about getting rid of items you no longer have any use for.  Sort and separate them and sell them if you can.  You can also offer them to friends and family or donate them to charity.  Most charities will accept almost anything for fundraising.  Be sure however that you offer them goods that are in good working order.

5.    If you are disposing of hazardous materials ensure that you do so in an environmentally friendly way.  You can either deliver them to a waste station or arrange for them to collect.

6.    Arrange those items you are keeping in containers and find an area where you can store them neatly.

7.    Once you have finished spring cleaning why not rearrange your furniture for a fresh look.  If you can afford it, spring cleaning offers a perfect opportunity for re-decorating or re-painting.

8.    Spring cleaning is a great way to get rid of the old and bring in the new.  Pay attention to every area.  De-clutter your bookshelves, cabinets, clothes and even your computer.

Read more: http://www.articlesbase.com/home-improvement-articles/house-spring-cleaning-a-necessary-task-1798795.html#ixzz1IsDm9K3K

Get a jump on your lawn now to save lots of time later! September 25, 2009

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Lawn Care

Fall Yard Maintenance – Yard Landscaping

Yard landscaping for next year doesn’t begin next spring, rather, it begins this fall. Proper fall yard maintenance lowers the risk of plant diseases next spring. Raking the lawn ensures your grass won’t smother under a burden of fallen leaves. Of course, fall yard maintenance means winterizing: putting your plants to bed properly, sheltering them where possible from the rigors of winter.

Fall Yard Maintenance
Answers to frequently asked questions about fall yard maintenance. Includes tips on watering, mowing, raking, weed control, sheltering shrubs and getting snowblowers ready for winter. Some of these fall yard maintenance tips could end up saving you a lot of money!

How to Use Leaf Blower/Vacs
This brief article addresses how to use leaf blower/vacs in the sense of developing a plan for employing leaf blower/vacs as one component in a yard-cleanup arsenal. Where it makes sense, use them to supplement rakes. 

Lawn care – Save time & money with these 10 tips July 17, 2009

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Craftmark Homes - Park Ridge

With personal travel on the decrease, people are spending more time in their outdoor spaces this year. Although entertaining and personal enjoyment are high on their list of activities, spending time and money aren’t. The good news is that a better lawn with less work and money aren’t mutually exclusive. These tips can help you trim an hour or more off the average 6 hours per week people spend mowing and gardening. You can also save $100 or more this season and get a better-looking lawn. But that’s only the beginning.

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