Is Your Garden Ready for Spring?

With the warmer months rapidly approaching it’s no wonder most of us our turning our attentions to our beloved gardens. However the cooler months tend to mean our gardens have been somewhat neglected so it’s difficult to know where to start trimming and preening the wilderness that has taken over.

[Photo courtesy of geograph.org.uk]

So today we are discussing the simple ways we can organise and preen our gardens so they are ready for us to enjoy over the spring and summer period.

Clear Out the Debris

Sometimes the winter damage can look worse than it actually is, due to all the debris that has accumulated over the colder months. So beginning with clearing out all the debris will give you a better idea of what actually needs doing.

Re-energise the Earth

The winter months tends to leave the soil in your garden packed and undernourished, so revitalising the soil is really important. Just adding compost,and fertilizer where necessary, will have the earth healthy and ready for the sunnier seasons.

Nurturing Existing Plants

For those plants that have survived the winter, you’ll need to prune in order to prepare them for the spring and summer. Deadheading flowers and extracting dead leaves will leave your plants ready to flourish and blossom.

[Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net]

Look Up

Look at the trees in your garden and evaluate their health and positioning. It’s important to keep trees trim particularly if they are situated close to your home. Hiring a local tree service company is a good idea if you’re unsure about how to care for the trees in your garden.

New Flowers and Shrubs

Look around your garden and consider the colours and types of plants you’d like to add to get your garden looking tip-top. Some fantastic spring plants are snapdragons, pansies, lilacs and tulips. So take a trip down to your local garden centre and start planning how to breathe new life into your garden.

Maintenance

Once you’ve done all the cleaning, re-nourishing, potting and planting it’s easy to think the work is done. But maintenance is key in order to keep your garden in premium condition throughout the warmer months. Dust off those little hand pruners and do a weekly inspection of the dead flowers and leaves that need removing.

Inspect your flowers and plants for insects. Looking for holes or stickiness to leaves could mean an infestation so take a sample down to your local garden centre for advice on appropriate action.

Keep your garden hydrated by watering regularly. Drip irrigation pipes and soaker hoses are generally more effective at evenly distributing water around your plants that standard sprinklers, so consider investing in one of these if you don’t already have one.

Finally, have fun with it. Gardens are the wildest area of our homes and we should be free with the way we nurture and care for them. Finding new and creative ways of adding colour and diversity to your garden is such a rewarding way to spend time over the warmer months. Then of course, there’s nothing better than sitting back on a spring evening and admiring our handy work.

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Pimp Your Mega-Mansion

If there’s one thing that the super rich love doing, it’s pimping their mega-mansions. It’s almost a rite of passage for them – something they feel they have to do in order to feel a part of their exclusive club. The good news is that a lot of what they end up doing can be replicated in our own homes, sometimes at a tiny fraction of the cost. Here are some of the ways that the rich and famous have pimped out their homes.

Install A Waterfall

Water features are an essential part of pimping up any home. But now a home in Tiburon, California has taken the concept a step further by including a 10-foot waterfall on the inside of the house. The home itself looks more like a temple and has been dubbed “The Nirvana House” which is in keeping with the state’s new age vibes. The future owner of the house will be able to turn the waterfall up or down, from peaceful stream to raging torrent, depending on his or her mood.

[Photo courtesy of Alistair McMillan/wikipedia.org]

The house itself is listed for sale at more than $11 million on a San Francisco brokerage site. That’s pretty steep for most folks, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t include your own waterfall feature in your front garden.

Bullet-Proof Windows

When you’ve got an expensive home, there’s a lot of stuff you need to protect, including the occupants. Bulletproof windows not only stop bullets, but they also prevent the windows being smashed in and thieves entering your home. Bullet-proof glass comes in different grades. The weakest grades will stop a bullet, but repeated assault with a blunt instrument can still smash them. Companies, however, have developed glass hybrids which reflect impact energy and transfer it back into the person hitting the window, preventing breakage.

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[Photo courtesy of GregoryButler/pixabay.com]

Heavy-duty glass is, understandably, expensive. However, it’s not necessarily out of the range of many well-to-do homeowners looking for an extra little bit of protection. A house near Central Park in New York recently sold for more than $25 million, complete with a triple layer of bullet-proof glass.

Indoor-Outdoor Pools

[Photo courtesy of Dylan Tweney/flickr.com]

Those who live in temperate climes have a dilemma on their hands when it comes to swimming pools. Should they be built indoors or outdoors? Well, why not both. The owners of a mansion in Snowmass, Colorado have decided to build a swimming pool with half of it inside their home and the other half outside, surrounded by a patio area overlooking the mountains. The exterior painting is designed to complement the outdoor part of the pool, while the indoor section is plain masonry. Will your new pool be as uncompromising?

Home Theatre

Home theaters are all the rage among the rich and famous, especially among actors who can enjoy spending hours watching themselves on the big screen. It’s not unusual for the super-rich to spend upwards of $2.5 million on a home theater, just to watch a DVD that cost $8. The most famous example of a home theater inside a mega-mansion is the theater in the Ziegfeld mansion.

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Don’t Have A Roof-Ache!

When it comes to our home, there are loads of things that can go wrong. In fact, we end up having to spend a small fortune on repairs every year. But one place which often can be forgotten about is the roof. After all, we are unlikely to look up there when we are going about our daily life. But there could be problems developing which could soon end in costly repairs. Therefore, here are some things you can do to avoid a roof-ache!

[Photo courtesy of /pexels.com]

Keep an eye on your attic

For a lot of us, we tend to use our attic to store items that we can’t find homes for. In fact, it can end up being a haven of old toys, luggage, and Christmas haven. And it means we rarely go up into the attic. But to ensure you notice problems with your roof, you need to be ensuring you are checking in the attic. After all, there can be signs in the room which mean there is a problem with your roof. For one thing, if there is a lot of light coming into your attic, it could be a sign that you are missing shingles. And they will need to be replaced quickly before you end up with a leak in your home. Also, if you notice water spots on your attic walls, it’s a sign that there is a problem with your roof flashing. Therefore, keep an eye on this to ensure you notice a problem quickly.

[Photo courtesy of Katherine Bowman/flickr.com]

Watch out for shingles in your yard

You also need to be careful to watch out for shingles in your yard. After all, if there are loose shingles found in your back garden, it’s likely they have come off your roof. And if you do have missing shingles, your roof is unlikely to be protected from the natural elements. So if a storm hits, you could soon find a leak in your property. Therefore, as soon as you notice shingles, it’s a good idea to contact a roofing company. That way, they can go up onto the roof and see how many is missing. They can also help you to make the decision whether you need to replace the roof. In fact, a lot of roofing companies like Anderson Contractors will give you a free quote so you can decide whether it’s something you can afford to do. And remember most roofs only last on average 15 years. So it might be time to replace it if it’s older than that!

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[Photo courtesy of Jan-Mallander/pixabay.com]

Get an annual roof inspection

While you might forget to look at your roof, you can still keep on top of it if you get someone to come out to check it annually. After all, the roofer will check everything to make sure it’s all in top nick. And then will make any fixes that are needed to keep it in good condition. That way, you can stop any problems in their track before they get worse and cause you a small fortune. You can also schedule them to come every year so that even if you forget, you will get a reminder telling you to book it!

Remember to ensure you are covered by home insurance. That way, you can get the funds you need if something does go wrong with the roof!

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Designing a Desirable Outdoor Kitchen

Summer is fast approaching which means that it will soon be time to take the entertainment outdoors. If you want to impress your friends and family with the standard of your barbeques, brunches and garden parties, the one thing that you should consider doing is building your own outdoor kitchen.

For a lot of people, an outdoor kitchen is the height of luxury and the perfect way to entertain when the weather is good. I mean, imagine sipping a cocktail on the deck while the birds sing, the flowers bloom, and your dinner cooks over an open fire. Bliss, right?

If you decide that an outdoor kitchen is for you, there are a number of things that you will need to consider to ensure you get it right, but if you pay attention and think carefully about your wants and needs, you’ll be able to build the perfect outdoor kitchen in no time at all.

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[Photo courtesy of toddpharistx/pixabay.com]

An Extension of Your Living Space

First and foremost, you should think of an outdoor kitchen as an extension of your living space. A well-built outdoor kitchen will add value to your home if it is able to offer shelter, shade and comfort. This means that you will need to locate it in an area that is near trees, or where you can easily erect an awning to keep the area cool when you’re cooking in the hot summer months, and you’ll probably want to install an outdoor heater for the cooler months., This might be starting to sound expensive already, but you can get a loan quickly, and if you do the job right, the value of your property should increase as a result.

Think About the Surroundings

As I mentioned above, your outdoor kitchen should be an extension of your indoor space, but it also needs to fit in with its outdoor surroundings. Ideally, you should locate your kitchen as close to the house, on a patio or decking, as possible, so that there is a seamless flow from indoors to outside, and you should try to incorporate as many of the same colors and materials in your outdoor kitchen as you would find outside.

Additionally, you should take a look at the colors and textures present in your garden and try to incorporate some of them into your design too. For example, if you have lots of plants and trees in your garden, using bamboo or other natural-looking woods would be a good idea, and if you have lots of bold, bright flowers, incorporating pinks, oranges and yellows into your kitchen and awning will help everything mesh together in spectacular style.

Planning the Layout

You probably spent a lot of time planning the layout of your indoor kitchen, and you should do the same with your outdoor space. Of course, there are some further considerations to make when you’re planning the layout of an outdoor kitchen. After all, there are no walls, windows or doors to work around. Most of the best outdoor kitchens tend to be designed a simple ‘L’ shape, which leaves adequate room for all of the necessary appliances, with plenty of space left over for dining.

When it comes to outdoor kitchen appliances, you should always try to plan your layout so that hot appliances like fire pits and grills are separate from cold appliances, such as the refrigerator.

Finally, you will want to create your design so that there is ample space for you to chop, peel and prep with ease.

Which Appliances Do You Need?

Of course, in order to adequately design your outdoor kitchen, you will need to decide on which appliances you want to have in your new kitchen area. There are a mind-boggling number of appliances you can use outdoors from a basic gas grill to a wood-fired pizza oven and from a standard refrigerator to a kegerator made specifically for keeping beer cool. Take some time to explore your options and pick out the items that will best enable you to cook, relax and entertain your guests in style.

Choosing Materials

We know that, when we build an indoor kitchen, we must choose materials which are hardworking and able to stand up to a lot of wear and tear, and this is even more important when designing an outdoor kitchen. After all, your new kitchen will not just be contending with your messy cooking style – it’ll need to hold its own against the elements too! That means that you need to choose tough materials that will hold up well and which are easy to clean and maintain. Stainless steel is a good option because as well as being very strong, it will reflect the colors of the garden back, for an attractive look. Another great material to use in an outdoor kitchen is tile. You can buy tiles in a vast range of colors and styles, so you can easily choose something to match your current style, and you can wipe them clean.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Once you’ve planned the location, layout and materials you’re going to use to create the ideal outdoor kitchen; it’s time to start thinking about all those little extras which make a space feel prettier and more personalised.

One of my favorite ways to decorate outdoor space is with simple solar powered lanterns or fairy lights. They will add a bit of sparkle to evening parties and ensure that you can see what you’re doing when you’re cooking.

Of course, you will probably want to install some more powerful lights, so that you can still see what you’re doing when it’s really dark. You could buy battery powered wall mounted lights if you need to save money, but if you have the budget to spare, wiring up some outdoor lights on the wall closest to your outdoor kitchen would probably be a good idea.

Potted plants and flowers make a great addition to any outdoor kitchen space, helping it to blend in with the rest of the garden, and adding little points of color and interest too.

Furniture

Of course, furniture is the most important part of any outdoor kitchen (apart from cooking apparatus). After all, there is little point cooking up a storm on your gas grill if you have nowhere to enjoy it afterwards. In an ideal situation, you should choose outdoor furniture which is moisture resistant and which can stand up well to the sun. Rattan furniture with waterproof cushions is always a good choice, as it’s hardwearing and attractive, but visit your local garden center and see what catches your eye.

No matter what furniture you choose, you will want to install an awning or gazebo over your seating area, so that if it does start to rain, your food won’t be ruined and you won’t be drenched by the downpour.

Citronella

If you want to be able to enjoy your spare ribs and a cool beer without having to swat away all manner of bugs, you will need to invest in some citronella candles and incense. These smell perfectly pleasant to the average person, but insects really do not like their scent and will give any area where they are burning a wide berth.

Party Time

Once the hard work is over, and your perfect outdoor kitchen has been designed and built, it’s time to enjoy yourself. Invite a few of your best friends over and celebrate the new addition to your home by cooking a backyard banquet that blows last year’s barbeque straight out of the water. After all, an outdoor kitchen should be enjoyed!

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