Archive 2018

Pest Control: An Organic Approach

Biological and organic pest control dates back to 3000 BC in Egypt where cats were used to control pests like rodents that were invading grain storage. By 500 AD in Europe, domesticated ferrets were used as mousers. Mongooses, believed to have started with ancient Egyptians, were used in homes to control rodents and snakes.

Within agricultural management, pests may be animals, insects, and rodents that harm crops and vegetation. Largely, chemical and biological methods are used to control pests. For some urban dwellers, pests are defined as insects, rodents, birds, reptiles, wild animals, and other organisms that invade residential and commercial buildings as well as gardens, residential yards, orchards, surrounding vegetation and outdoor buildings. Most residential homeowners and commercial business owners attempt to control pests by using chemical products or traps. Few use organic or biological methods to control pests. Pests invade residential, commercial, and industrial sites within cities and urban areas. They contaminate food, damage structural wood (termites), chew through fabric and infest stored dry goods. They cause financial loss, carry disease, cause fire hazards, and are a real nuisance. Some methods of control include improving sanitation and garbage control, removing standing water, modifying habitats, using repellents, growth regulators, baiting, trapping, and chemical pesticides.

Biological pest control is a method used to control insects and mites, by using other organisms. Though this method relies upon human management to control the process, it involves predation, parasitism, herbivory, and other natural forms of pest control. One of the disadvantages of biological control is when the control insect turns into a major pest. For example, the multicolored Asian lady beetle was introduced into the United States to control aphids. Instead, it became a pest that invades homes during the winter months. In Hawaii, the small Indian mongoose was used to control snakes and rats in the sugar cane fields. But instead, it preys upon native Hawaiian birds, amphibians, reptiles, and poultry. Annually, the mongoose population causes approximately $50 million dollars worth of damage in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Similarly, in the U.S. mice, rats, squirrels, and other rodents cause tremendous damage chewing on wires, fabric, plastic, and other household items.

Physical pest control uses baiting and trapping methods to control wild animals, rodents, and insects that damage homes and property that disturb human dwellings and cause humans physical harm. Old-fashioned sticky flypaper is a method of physical flying insect control. Additional methods use glue boards, chemically treated bait traps, ultraviolet light bug zappers that use sticky chemicals to attract and trap flying insects. Rodents are trapped using spring traps. Some wild animals are trapped and relocated. Acoustic devices are used for detecting damaging timber beetles.

Organic and natural gardening and pest control are used because people want to avoid using harmful pesticides within their gardens and homes. Commonly used household items can be used as solutions to eliminate insects in a garden or within a home. Lavender and spearmint can be grown within indoor container gardens to help repel moths but they do not kill the moths or their eggs. In the outdoor garden, two effective plants for nematode control are the painted daisy and French marigold. Both of these plant varieties actually kill nematodes in an efficient manner. Learn more about organic and natural gardening and pest control methods to safely grow herbs, vegetables, flowers without using harmful pesticides.

Concrete: Still a Great Option for Many Projects

Concrete is used for a multitude of structures and surfaces. For example, concrete is used for buildings, roadways, floors, sidewalks, driveways, walkway systems, patios, porches, floors, countertops, awnings, barriers, highway dividers, and as a stabilizing material for fence posts, poles of all types, mailboxes, and numerous other uses. Without a doubt, a smooth concrete surface is much safer to walk on than dirt, brick, old deteriorated concrete, and grass which can have unseen holes and ruts. The cost of installing a concrete sidewalk, driveway, or walkway is greatly offset by the years of walking and driving on a resilient long-lasting concrete surface. Today, a popular choice is still a smooth plain concrete surface. But if you want to upgrade, there is a lot more that can be done to concrete than even ten years ago. The concrete market has greatly improved with design offerings. Landscape artists are designing curb appealing textured and colored walkways that vastly improve the resale value of a home. There are walkways and driveways that are concrete but designed to look like brick. Cement can be embossed which produces a shiny surface. There are flower designs, or geometric shapes, colored squares, imprinted logos and embellishments, textured borders, and an endless list of designs that far surpass the concrete sidewalks, driveways, and walkways of previous decades. The cost of installing concrete is well worth the return on investment. Resale values may improve 50% or more with a smooth concrete driveway, sidewalk, and an appealing walkway system. For outstanding curb appeal, add a curved stamped walkway to your home’s entrance.


Advantages of concrete:  Poured concrete is durable, safe, and economical. By several years, concrete lasts longer than asphalt. Concrete is said to have a lower carbon footprint over its lifecycle. It can be reclaimed and recycled. Studies show that over a 50-year period, to produce, maintain, and rehabilitate concrete pavement uses one-third the energy required for asphalt pavement. In addition, concrete’s thermal mass has an 8% advantage over other building and paving materials.


Disadvantages of concrete:  With all the benefits of concrete, there are a few drawbacks. Though long-lasting and durable, installation is expensive. A major component of concrete is cement which is one of the main producers of carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas. In addition, the process and material used to produce, dispose of, and to recycle concrete are not environmental-friendly. To obtain the raw materials to make concrete, the process involves a large amount of energy and water to dig in quarries for sand and other aggregates which leads to environmental destruction and pollution. During several months of the year, the smooth surface of concrete can become slippery in cold climates where ice and snow occur. In addition, over a period of many years, due to inclement weather, concrete eventually degrades and needs to be replaced. Though a relatively low-maintenance product, concrete does take a certain amount of care and maintenance to keep it in good repair so that it will last for many years.


Fences: All You Need to Know

“Oh give me land, lots of land under starry skies above, “Don’t fence me in”…. Those lyrics are the beginning of a popular tune sung by Bing Crosby many years ago and adored by many people who loved to wander the country’s wide open spaces without being “fenced in”.  It’s true that the purpose of fences is to enclose and protect people, animals, homes, and businesses from harm and unwanted intrusion. Fences can keep things in and they can also keep them out. There are definite advantages and disadvantages to having a fence. A fence can provide security and deter an undesired trespasser from entering your property. A fence can keep out unwanted animals and wildlife.


Advantages of fences:  

Fences are good for homes and schools to keep children contained within a play area and to keep out unwanted animals or people that may do harm to them. Fences are good for a home’s property value. Statistics show that when buyers with children and pets are seeking a home to purchase, they want a home that has a ready-to-use fence in good condition. It saves the new homeowner time and money if they do not have to construct a fence. Homes with fences located in urban areas sell better than homes without fences. The need increases near school zones, bus stops, and on residential streets with high-volume traffic. As well, experienced realtors know that a fence increases property resale value. For established homeowners who want to improve their landscape and increase their property value, installing a fence is the perfect time to upgrade as a complete package. When planning the new landscape design, ensure that it includes a new fence. Doing so will save time and money rather than completing a new landscape design and then adding a fence after the work is finished.

There are many fence types, styles, and options to consider when installing a new fence system. Hiring a skilled landscape designer and an experienced fence installation company, in the long run, will save a lot of money.


Disadvantages of fences:

Most experienced homeowners and realtors know that there are more advantages than disadvantages to having a fence constructed. The drawback of any fence is the required maintenance to keep it in good shape. What good is a fence that is falling down? Without regular maintenance, metal fences rust and wood fences deteriorate and fall apart. Fences that become unattractive also become an eyesore and detract from property value. Property lines must be surveyed and carefully documented and consider an adjoining neighbor who might not like the idea of a fence constructed on or near to their property line. Sometimes neighborhood disagreements occur over constructing fences when opposition arises. An added expense is hiring an attorney to resolve fence property line disputes. Then, consider zoning restrictions that must be followed before a fence is constructed. Violating zoning restrictions can lead to fines and penalties. When it comes to fences, the cost is another disadvantage. Fences can be expensive to construct, repair, and maintain.

Simple tips for low cost home improvements

Simple tips for low cost home improvements

Homeowners are very well aware of the fact that home improvements can potentially increase the price of their property. However, most individuals have limited budget so they want to lay emphasis on cost effective projects. The real problem lies with how to carry out economical home improvements.

Fortunately, there are many ways in which low cost home improvements can be carried out. It can increase the value of the property several scales higher. Nevertheless, here are some tips that must be taken into account when looking forward to low cost home improvements:

1. Landscaping

The first thing that purchasers see when entering the home is the yard. This is where landscaping comes into play. It delivers the first impression and is a reflection of the value of the property. It needs to be clean, in an orderly manner and beautiful, of course. Fortunately, most of the landscaping can be done by you and there is no need to hire a professional. For example, flowers can be planted and the yard can be made greener. There are several options that can be taken when renovating the land so look at that in detail.

2. Painting

Paint is one of the economical ways to make the house look fresher and newer. However, the bigger the project, more expensive it is going to be. But, it is not always mandatory to get done with the full house painting. You can always do selective painting. Choose the areas that are absolutely necessary to paint. For example, the front door, interior rooms and the basic exterior can be added with a fresh coat of paint. This will not only contribute in enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal but it even increases the value of the property and attracts more purchasers.

3. Replacements

There are many things in the house that are easier to replace. This can modernize the appeal and feel of the house. For instance, lighting fixtures can be changed to something which is more consistent with the current trend. Moreover, windows must be replaced as well. Consider installation of energy efficient windows that can help you to save considerable amount of money with energy bills. Replacement of appliances can be expensive so it must be considered only when it is absolutely imperative to do so. Otherwise, old appliances can be used; it would not have an impact on the property’s value.

4. Cleaning

One of the best ways to get the house cleaned and keep it in best order is to hire a professional service. But this is not an economical idea. De-cluttering can be done by you without incurring any costs. Clean the homes. Work on the windows, carpets and garage. Clutter must be removed absolutely to give a fresher feel to the house. Clutter can give a very bad impression on the potential purchasers. It even ruins the aesthetic appeal. Consider de-cluttering the house. This can have a positive impact on the overall house in all aspects.