Archives for June 2013

Do-It-Yourself!

Do-it-yourself projects can be enjoyable and very rewarding, but, you must take proper precautions to prevent injuries.

Safety comes first!

Protect Your Back

  • When you need to move heavy items, use the tools the pros rely on; a wheelbarrow, dolly, or an extra set of helping hands.
  • When you do lift – lift properly.  Keep your back straight and your legs bent whenever lifting anything; whether it’s lightweight or heavy.
  • When carrying materials or supplies, do so in a way that’s least harmful to your back.  Usually this means keeping materials waist high and centered between your legs.

Dress Properly

  • Wear long sleeves and pants.  Use safety gear; gloves, safety glasses, ear plugs, for certain projects a hard hat is warranted.
  • Proper footwear is important – choose footwear suited to the task at hand; running shoes are well suited when you’re painting – if you’re handling lumber or drywall, steel-toed work boots are the better – and safer – choice.

Ladders

  • Set the ladder close to your work.  If your hips go outside the ladder’s side rails, you are overreaching and risking a fall.
  • When setting up a stepladder, make sure all four legs are supported and the spreaders are fully opened.
  • Lean a straight or extension ladder against the house so that the distance from the foundation of the ladder’s base is about one-quarter of the ladder’s height. Check to see that the tops and bottoms of both ladder rails are making firm contact.
  • Always face the ladder when ascending or descending.  Grip the ladder firmly with both hands and place your feet squarely on each rung.  Do not turn around on the ladder or proceed as if you were on a conventional stairway.
  • Don’t stand on the top of a stepladder. On a straight or extension ladder, stop when your shoulders are even with the top of the rails.
  • Don’t carry tools loosely in your pocket; they could fall on someone below.  Before carrying any materials up a ladder, make sure you have a secure place to put them when you get to the top.
  • Wear slip-resistant footwear when working on any ladder.

Protect Your Skin

  • Professionals always exercise extreme caution when working with chemicals – so should you.  Even if a chemical appears harmless, there are many risks; it could rub off someplace else such as in your eyes or on the kids or a pet. Extreme caution should be practiced at all times when handling chemicals.
  • Avoid touching your eyes and even your clothes, as you might have forgotten that  you rubbed off some chemicals onto your clothes and now you’ve used your shirt to wipe sweat off your face potentially harming skin and eyes.
  • Sand and aggregate can be abrasive to your skin.  Wear long sleeved shirts and pants, and water-proof gloves.

Protect Your Eyes

  • Whether you’re welding, laying cement, working with a compressor, sanding drywall or working on a rooftop, be very aware of the dangers and always, always, wear safety goggles or glasses.

Landscaping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them!

With the arrival of spring and summer many homeowners head for the outdoors.  As well as taking care of spring clean-up duties and a multitude of maintenance chores – many will start into gardening and landscaping projects.  Whatever your landscaping goal; attracting birds and other wildlife to a backyard sanctuary, adding colour, creating a theme garden, or improving the curb appeal – and value – of your home, it’s easy to make ‘mistakes’.  Here are some of the most common landscaping mistakes, and a few tips on how to avoid them.

Guarded Entries

Accentuating an entry pathway or doorway by planting shrubs on each side usually isn’t a good idea – especially when the now innocent little shrubs will eventually grow to block the entry!  Instead, consider planting on one side only, which allows the shrubs room to mature – and you opportunities to reshape or enlarge the bed, add shrubs or other perennials, add a garden focal, or annuals for a seasonal display of colour.

Crew-cutting Your Plants

It’s not a good idea to plant a large shrub or small tree in a location where you’ll be required to constantly ‘flat-top’ prune it.  Here again, remember that those pretty little shrubs and trees will grow!  Right now it may look great tucked in against the foundation or under a window – but as it matures it will grow to obstruct the view and light from reaching the indoors – it may become misshapen as it crowds against foundation walls, or causes damage to facia and eaves….and, you’ll find yourself cutting off the top!

Hodgepodge

A plant collector’s landscape may be interesting, or it may create visual pandemonium.  We most often choose plants based on their colour – either because we like the colour or we feel the colour will complement the exterior finish of our house.  Keep in mind that colour is only one aspect of creating an appealing landscape design, repetition of plant form and texture are also important as they provide ‘links’ bringing landscape and architectural areas together.

Glutted Gardens

Quite often we purchase plants that are all about the same size initially, but grow too many different sizes.  To keep our planting visually ‘nice’ we place all the plants at the same spacing because it looks ‘right’.  Instead, try this approach; choose larger plants for the key landscape areas, then fill-in with ‘temporary’ annual flowers/plants (annuals can be planted in the ground or in containers).  Add more shrubs or perennials as the larger plants mature.

All in a Row

It’s a natural tendency to plant tall plants in back and a row of shorter plants in front of them.  Instead, group plants in masses or sweeps, stagger plant heights in the beds and let a ground cover ‘creep’ along the edges or a vine to ‘flow’ around some of the plants.

The Foundation is Showing!

Resist the urge to snuggle plants close to house walls or plant to cover every inch of the foundation.  You’ll be sorry for having done so when it’s time to paint, put up ladders to clean windows, access the roof, eaves-troughs, or put up holiday lights and decorations! Also, if the foundation is surrounded by garden beds it becomes difficult to gauge whether or not the ground is sloping ‘away’ from the house. Maintaining the slope ensures that water is directed away from your home, rather than towards it, where it can seep in.