Simple Landscaping Around Your Home

If you want to give your home a little extra value, and curb appeal then go for plants that will flower at different times during the summer. Simple Landscaping Around Your Home will give you some tips you can work on.

Having a few evergreen trees around your house front will also give the place a good look year round, but just dont plant them too close to the house, or there root systems can cause you trouble with the foundation or any drains you might have.

Hanging Flower Pots

Flower baskets hanging around the place, or window boxes  with flowers always look good, and will only require watering, so are not to difficult to take care of, and even a few flower pots on your porch or steps always gives a good look.

Perennials

For flowers perennials are a great way to go, as they don’t require replanting each spring, nor do they require to much care.

Coneflowers

The Coneflowers grow just about anywhere, and come in a variety of colors, from red, white, yellow, orange or purple flowers.

Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds seem to love this plant, and it will spread from year to year while growing up to 2 or 3 feet tall, and a herbal tea can be made from the dried leaves.

Bee Balm

Bee Balm is another good plant to grow around your home, with it red,pink, or purple flowers it makes a good attraction for hummingbirds and bees, and also a herbal tea can be made from it, as well as a variety of medecinal salves.

The Black-Eyed Susan

This is another perennial plant that will look good with it yellow or orange blooms, and is best planted in a large group for a more fuller look.

It can grow up to 30 inches in height, and will withstand the heat and dry periods. growing just about any place you put them.

Hostas

Another perennial that looks good around the home, and this plant does like the shade but can tolerate some sun also.

Once they are growing well for a few years, you can cut some off with a shovel, and planting some where else, which saves buying more.

They will flower in the later part of summer, and are an attracter for hummingbirds and bees.

Phlox

Phlox is another perennial that blooms in later summer, and comes in colors of pink, purple, red and white, plus it will spread out over the years where ever it is planted.

It has a beautiful bloom of flowers that attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.

The Bleeding Heart

The Bleeding Heart plant will bloom early to mid summer, and will usually grow 10 to 15 inches tall, with the bees, and hummingbirds enjoying there flowers.

Having planted one in a small barrel planter it just keeps getting bigger each year.

Astilibe

The Astilibe is another perennial, that will give you flowers each year, while requiring very little care, and will spread out in your flower beds.

Its blooms come in pink, red, or white, and can be from 2 to 3 feet high, and this plant is not to fussy as to where you plant it.

The Iris

The Iris is another plant that requires very little care, growing just about anywhere you put it, but it does prefer a moist place.

The flowers on this plant arrive in too early summer in a variety of colors from white, blue, yellow, and many bicolors.

 

Daffodils

Daffodils will be one of your earliest flowers to bloom, showing there colors in early or mid spring, and once planted will return each year.

There flowers come in yellow, orange, white, red, and a peach color, and look real good if planted in groups.

These are just a few of the perennials you can grow around your home, and that require very little maintenance as they will return each spring from there root systems that lay dormant during those cold winter months.

The Annuals

The annuals are a one season plant, so if your thinking about why to bother to plant annuals, well annuals will produce the most flowers for the longest time period. They need to produce a lot of seeds for there shorter life spans, and so more flowers are produced on the annuals.

Personally I usually buy a few hanging pots of annuals each year even if they do require  more care.

Petunias

Petunias grow very easy, and come in just about any color you can think of, but do require attention in order for them to have a continual bloom all summer.

Zinnias

Zinnias are another summer flower that requires lots of sunshine for there blooming, and also come in a variety of colors, along with dalias they make a great display in your flower beds.

Marigolds

Marigolds are also another summer flower, you can plant in your flower barrels or in the garden to keep away any pest that are making a meal of your vegetables.

Geraniums

Geraniums are an easy to grow plant that will last the summer outside, and you can bring them into the house for the winter, and they will keep blooming.

If they get to large the plant can be cut back, as they seem to be very hardy, and I have found a piece of the plant broken off, so just poked it into some soil, and in a couple of weeks it had rooted and was forming new leaves.

One other Geranium to have around the house is the Lemon Geranium, at it will hep to keep the mosquitoes away, so can usually be planted near the doors of your home, along with a few Lavender plants that mosquitoes do not have a liking for.

Pansies

Pansies are also a flower that look good in your flower beds, or pots, and will like the full sun as they flower for most of the summer.

The Morning Glory

This is another summer blooming plant, and if planted early in the spring after frost they should bloom by mid or late summer.

They come in a variety of colors, and are popular with the hummingbirds and butterflies.Exposing them to the full sun will give the longest bloom time, and they prefer a soil that is not to rich in organic matter, and are able to grow just about anywhere.

Evergreens

If your choosing to plant evergreens around the front of your house, then its best to pick a variety that can be pruned and managed, growing to 5 to 10 feet in height.

Blue Weeping Colorado Spruce

An example is the Blue Weeping Colorado Spruce, that will only reach a height of 10 feet, loves the sunshine, and can survive at temperatures to -50F.

North Star Dwarf White Spruce

The North Star Dwarf White Spruce will grow in the shape of a pyramid, with the wider branches at the bottom.

It will reach a height of between 5 to 10 feet , and about 4 feet wide, preferring a sunny spot with almost no pruning involved to maintain it, so is very easy to grow.

Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Another tree s the Dwarf Alberta Spruce, which can reach a height of around 10 feet, and will withstand the colder climates.

Dwarf Japanese Black Pine

If your looking for something a little shorter then try out the Dwarf Japanese Black Pine. This evergreen only grows to about 4 feet in height, and 2 feet wide, and looks great in small gardens.

There are many more evergreens that stay small, and give a great look to the front of your home.

So in concluding evergreens or flowers will give a better look to your home even if some maintaining is required, and if ever deciding to sell the place, they will give you greater value.

You can read also Spring Clean Up Tips

 

Installing Pex Plumbing

If you have to do some plumbing at your place, than I would suggest looking into Installing Pex Plumbing for easy repairs. It will save you time and money compared to copper, galvanized pipe, or CPVC  plastic.

Installing Pex Plumbing

Galvanized Pipe

In many homes the plumbing pipes were made from galvanized steel, but the problem with these pipes is that over time rust would build up, and thus give a lower volume of water. Have had quite a few complaints from people wondering why there water pressure was so low at there sinks.

Many of the galvanized pipes were replaced in the 60s and beyond, by putting in the plastic CPVC which has to be glued at the joints, or the copper pipes which are soldered together.

In the plumbing business copper pipes take so much longer to install than any of the plastic water systems.

Then in the 60s Pex tubing was often used in radiant heating systems, for moving hot water from a heating system to radiators in your home.

As time went on Pex became more popular with being used for plumbing in homes, and in the year 2000 and up it was replacing the copper and CPVC pipes as well.

Advantages

One of the advantages with Pex is being able to bend it, as long as it is not a 90 degree turn, so it can be run often directly to sinks, toilets, or showers without any loss of water pressure from fitting 90 degree elbows.

As far as price goes Pex is cheaper than copper, as a 100-foot roll of 1/2 inch will run about $25 to $30 dollars, and the fittings are very reasonably priced as well.

Valves for Pex are from 6 to 10 dollars each, and are a push fit onto the Pex than crimped tight, making for a very quick connection and saving time, were copper fittings need to be soldered together which is something you need to be good at, plus the price of copper has gone up.

Pex tubing comes in red, blue and white, so if your doing your own plumbing you can use the red for hot water, and blue for cold, so there will be no mix up when connecting up to your showers, sinks, toilets, and laundry machine.

The fittings for Pex are attached using a compression tool on metal bands were ever a connection is needed, and there is a special cutter to cut the Pex tubing that gives a very clean cut.

The cutting tool is usually priced at about 30 dollars here in Canada, and the compression tool goes from 70 to 100 dollars, with most hardware stores selling the tools for the Pex fittings.

Copper and the CPVC pipes will bust open from freezing before Pex does, but all plumbing pipes will burst if frozen hard enough, so it is better to drain them if left in an unheated house, which can avoid costly repairs. The foam wrap can also be used to keep the hot water hot on pex as well.

Installing Pex Plumbing

Disadvantages of Pex

Pex does not like sunlight, and will become brittle if exposed for to long a time, so best to go with some other type of plumbing for running water outside.

It also requires special tools for its connections, which can be bought at almost any hardware store that sells Pex.

Pex Through Walls

If you’re running Pex through 2×4 studs in your walls, drill the holes in the center of the 2x4s, so the drywall screws will not put a hole in the tubing, and as an extra precaution you can add a steel plate over were the Pex is installed.

For any home-owner or do it yourself er Pex is an easy product to hook up, and very adaptable to all other plumbing types.

One thing that’s important to remember, is when crimping the Pex tubing to any fittings is to have the ring within 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the end of your Pex pipe on the fittings, and be sure the jaws of your crimping tool close security on the rings.

Manifolds

A manifold for Pex is considered to be a distribution point for the water lines that will run to your shower, sinks, toilet, etc.

It is a copper or plastic tube that has 1/2 inch fittings coming off it, and you can crimp your 3/4 inch line from the water pump to one end of it.

These manifolds come with different amounts of outlets on them, you just need to figure out how many lines your running off it, and buy the appropriate one.

Some also come with valves on the outlets, which are helpful if you just wanted to shut one line off for repairs to taps, or showers, but than I recommend valves close to the sink taps, and toilet to be able to shut them for repairs, instead of running down to the basement, or were ever your main water pump valve is located.

The plastic manifolds are made with a high performance thermoplastic, and will not be affected by heat, moisture, or high chlorine levels, and they also resist corrosion and scaling, so are as good as the copper manifolds.

Connecting to a Hot Water Tank

Connecting Pex to your hot water tank is also very easy, but the recommendations for this is that you have at least 18 inches of copper pipe coming out of your water tank before connecting with the Pex.

Also, if you happen to crimp the O rings the O rings in the wrong place they can be cut of with a rotary tool, or recently i have seen a special tool for this, and than cut the Pex back for a fresh fit on your connection, apply a new ring, and crimp it in the right place.

Bathtub Fittings

When you are connecting Pex for a bathtub, there is a copper stub out that is secured to a 2×4 for this. It will be positioned over the center of your tub, and can be cut later at the right length for your faucet spout after the wallboard or cement board and tiles are installed.

The Pex tubing will be crimped onto the stub out making for a very easy and quick installation.

Expansions

Another thing is that if you’re running Pex for a long distance, you might wont to leave a loop in the run for expansion and contraction, but for shorter runs the Pex can be left loose between connections, and not stretched tight.

There are plastic straps that allow the Pex to move, and are used were ever needed to hold the lines in place, and they come in 1/2 and 3/4 inch size.

Grades

You will find that there are three different grades of Pex A, B, C, with A being slightly more flexible than the other two, but the difference is so little that any of the three grades work well in the home.

So in conclusion if your looking to do some home plumbing repairs, and are looking for a money saving way to do it, than give Pex a try.

Any comments, just drop me a note,

Wayne.

Sanding Wood Floors and Refinishing

Sanding Wood Floors and RefinishingThis article is about Sanding Wood Floors and Refinishing, and in this case the wood floors are in an old farm house, with one floor being painted a gray color from an oil based paint.

Sanding Wood Floors and Refinishing

Removing the Old Paint

Trying the floor sander on this paint did not go to well, as the paint just glued itself to the sand paper on the drum.

So to make life a little easier I used a paint scraper on it first to get most of the paint off, and while this requires a fair amount of time, it did work well.

This room was only 12 by 12 feet, so the scraping didn’t take too long.

After that the rough sand paper on the drum floor sander lasted a lot longer with only going through about 3 or 4 of the sand papers.

Also, as the floor was not level, it took a while to sand out the higher spots.

There was a few carpet tacks to pull out, as someone must have had a carpet covering this floor at some point in time.

Sanding

Once the rough sanding was complete, which can take a while depending on the condition of the floor, than you can go to a medium like number 40 or 80 sand paper for 5 or 6 passes before switching to the fine sand paper for finishing your floor.

Then you can use an edger around the outside of the room where the drum sander can’t reach. Start with the rough paper, than down to medium and fine.

Also, is a good idea to take off any small 3/4 inch moldings around the baseboards, so that your not left with a line showing after sanding, and replace these after floor is finished.

If you have any closets that are too small for the drum sander, than the edger can be used in them, and a small mouse sander with its v shape works well for the corners.

You will find that some small sanding is required where the drum sander might have left some marks.

Random Orbital sanders

If you have a random orbital sander it can be used to remove any spots where the drum sander overlapped.

Usually giving the floor a good vacuuming, and using a strong light you can see any places that need a touch up sanding.

Dust

You will also wont to cover any doorways that are open with a plastic or blanket of some kind.

Even with the dust bags on the drum sander and edger, there always seems to be dust, and would suggest wearing a mask when sanding just to help keep you healthy.

Floors

If your floor is very uneven with some high and low spots than your first rough sanding should be across the grain of the floor boards to level them out.

Usually most floors are fairly level, so the sanding is with the grain of the wood,

And always get enough sandpaper, because the more often you have to change paper, the faster your floor sanding will go.

Start with a 24 grit, than 40 or 80 grit, than up to 120 for the fine sanding.

Once your floor sanding is done, than its time to get out your shop vacuum, and take your time to clean up all dust on the floor, windows, walls, and anything else in the room.

Polyurethanes

Sanding Wood Floors and Refinishing

Next question to ask yourself is what do you put on your floors, and that depends on the individuals likes.

For my own floors I used Minwax Polyurethane clear gloss, and have seen other floors where a satin finish was used, which is not so shiny.

One floor in my log house was done with an oil based Polyurethane, and is still standing up to the wear and tear of every day traffic.

Most of these Polyurethanes require 2 coats to be put on, but a third coat can be applied with a 4 to 6 hour drying time between coats.

Always give a light sanding between coats, and a vacuuming, where light sanding means using fine sand paper to go over the floor lightly.

A sanding attachment used for gyprock works well, and you can even use a broom handle on them so is easier on the knees.

Staining

If you decide to stain your floors for a darker look, than is best to follow the recommendations on your can of stain.

Most stains can be put on with a rag or paint brush, and wiped in the direction of the grain of wood to give it a uniform coverage.

Also, would suggest wearing a pair of rubber gloves and knee pads when doing this.

Allow your stain to dry completely as per instructions on the can, before applying a Polyurethane to protect the floor.

There are some finishes that are a two in one, where the stain and protective finish are done in one step.

One thing about applying stain is to always try it out first on a scrap piece of wood, or in a closet corner to see how it looks first.

Minwax

Minwax has a Polyurethane with an oil base that does not require sanding between coats, so this will save you some time when applying, and they also have a water based Polyurethane for hardwood floors.

The Minwax also sells a top coat with a crystal clear finish, that gives a very durable finish, and again requires no sanding between coats.

Having used this product myself have found it to be excellent to apply, and does stand up to traffic.

Sanding by Hand

Some people do attempt to sand small rooms by hand, which means using a belt sander, or random orbital sander.

The belt sanders do work, but take a lot of time, and the sander has to be of good quality to be able to do a floor or outside deck.

One thing I have used on a small floor is the motorized gyprock sanders.

They actually work fairly well if your not in a hurry, and have the attachments to collect dust in your shop vacuum.

With a good level floor or deck to start with these tools can be used, but will take you a lot longer than the drum floor sander and edger.

T’he gyprock sander can cost anywhere from 300 to 600$, and to buy a belt sander another couple hundred or more for a good one.

So if you don’t have these tools on hand, than it is cheaper to just go and rent the floor sander and edger, which will get the job done faster, and mabey even better.

Finishing

So no matter which way you decide to sand your floors, one thing experience has taught me is to take your time and do a good job, and in the end you will have a great looking floor.

And before moving any furniture back in your room, follow the instructions from what ever you put on your floor for the time it takes to dry.

Many of these products require you to wait 24 hours, before moving furniture back in the room.

You can read also: Installing Oak Wood Flooring in a Hallway

Conclusion

So best of luck on sanding your floors, and any comments are always appreciated.

Wayne.