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Gardening Tips and Tricks For Late Autumn

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Preparing for the Winter Months: Gardening in October

When you feel that first solid bite in the breeze and you see the songbirds winging their way south, and the trees are bursting with fire-laden hues, you know you can’t be spending the weekend curled up by the fireplace with a good book. Not for long.

While the weather is still gardener-friendly, you must shorten your “to-do” lists for the coming of late fall and early winter. Now is the time to attack your lawn and garden by planting your spring bulbs, buying and maintaining your trees and shrubs, doing your late autumn lawn care, using common-sense watering strategies, building a compost bin and making your own compost, controlling the many common garden pests, and winning at the weed-whacking war before the sudden onset of the fickle, cold and all-enveloping winter season.

Planting Your Perennials

Plant the spring-flowering bulbs until the ground becomes frozen, and prepare your tender but tenacious perennials for the coming seasonal changes. Remember that in the milder climates, bulbs can still be divided and transplanted. Plant hardy bulbs anytime before the soil freezes, but it’s best to plant them early enough so the root systems can grow before winter arrives. In some climates, you can plant until Thanksgiving or even Christmas. Late-planted bulbs develop roots in the spring, and may bloom late. But they’ll arrive on time by next year.

Be sure to position the bulbs at their proper depth. They must be planted so their bottoms rest at a depth two-and-a-half times each bulb’s diameter. In well-drained or sandy soil, plant an inch or two deeper to increase life and discourage rodents.

Choosing Your Trees and Shrubs

October is a wonderful time to shop for trees and shrubs at the nursery. They’re now showing their best and brightest colors there. You can plant them now and over the next few months, so that strong, healthy roots will grow over the winter.

You must carefully plan out your landscape to choose which trees you wish to plant for providing proper lawn coverage and the most beautiful scenery. When an appropriate tree is purchased, selected and planted in the right place, it frames your home and beautifies your land, making both more enjoyable. Trees can greatly increase the resale value of property, and even save you on energy costs.

Visualize your new trees at maturity while realizing that some trees develop as much width as height if given enough space to develop. Picture each tree’s size and shape in relation to the overall landscape and the size and style of your home. Trees peaking at forty feet do best near or behind a one-story home. Taller trees blend with two-story houses and large lots. Trees under thirty feet tall suit street side locations, small lots and enclosed areas such as decks and patios.

There are two basic types of trees you will be considering for purchase. Deciduous trees include large shade trees which frame areas with a cool summer canopy and a colorful autumn rack of superior colors. In winter, their silhouettes provide passage for sunlight. These trees can shade a southern exposure from summertime heat, and allow winter sunlight to warm the house. Evergreen trees have dense green foliage that suits them for planting as privacy screens, windbreaks or backdrops for flowering trees and shrubs. But they are handsome enough to stand alone. They do not lose their leaves, called needles, and provide year-round shelter and color. You should be sure to include a wide variety of both kinds of trees in your landscape to avoid losing them to diseases or pests. Buy disease- and pest-resistant trees.

When buying a tree, look for healthy green leaves if it has any, and also well-developed top growth. Branches should be unbroken and balanced around the trunk, and on dormant or bare-root stock they should be pliable. Examine the roots, which should form a balanced, fully-formed mass. Reject trees with broken or dried-out roots. Avoid trees showing signs of disease, pests or stress such as wilting, discoloration, misshapen leaves, scarred bark and nonvigorous growth. Consider the size of the tree. Young trees have a better rate of success when planted, and most flowering trees grow quickly, so start with less expensive, smaller specimens. And be sure and buy all your plants from a good quality nursery with a decent reputation.

Don’t prune a newly planted tree unless its form needs improving. Prune flowering trees in spring, after blooming, to correct unsightly problems. Crab apple trees are an exception and should be pruned in late winter. But you can remove diseased or dead branches anytime of the year, and much of this is done during the winter. Apply fertilizer when needed in the second and subsequent growing seasons. Mulch to conserve moisture, reduce weeds and eliminate mowing near the tree. Spread wood chips or bark four inches deep and as wide as the tree’s canopy around the base. But don’t mulch poorly drained over saturated soil. Wrap tree trunks after planting to prevent winter damage from weather and pests. And stake young trees, especially bare-root trees and evergreens, to fortify them against strong winds. Stake loosely and allow the tree to bend slightly, and remove stakes after one year.

Shrubs are often planted and used merely as foundation plants or privacy screens. But shrubbery foliage is vastly more versatile, and can go a long way toward livening up your landscaping. Countless varieties of gorgeously hued and beautifully leafed shrubs are available through nurseries and garden catalogs.

You must start by learning what varieties thrive in your area. Try visiting your local arboretum, where you may view different kinds of shrubs and decide whether they fit your gardening plans. Decide what overall look you want at different times of the year, and then find out which shrubs will be flowering, producing berries or sporting colorful foliage at those times. Compare what you find to the inventory at your local nursery, and ask the professionals who work there lots of questions.

Understand the characteristics of each shrub before you plant it. Flowering and fruit-bearing shrubs enhance a new home, but improper pruning and care will ruin the beauty of all your hard work. Some shrubs bloom on second- or third-year wood. If you’re maintaining a shrub because you’re hoping it’s going to blossom, but you’re cutting off first-year wood every year, it’s never going to bloom.

Some varieties are a foot tall at maturity, while others reach over fifteen feet. A large shrub will usually require more pruning. Also determine the plant’s ability to tolerate various soil conditions, wind, sun and shade. You don’t put a plant that’s sensitive to the elements in an open area. Use hardier plants to shelter it.

Not all shrubs work in every climate. Witch hazel, for example, blooms in fall or winter and is hardiest where minimum temperatures range from thirty degrees below zero to twenty degrees above. It would not be a good choice for very dry, hot climates. But some shrubs such as buddleia, hydrangea and spirea perform well across a wide range of growing zones.

Late Autumn Lawn Care

Aerate lawns in mid- to late-October, while the grass can recover easily. If you core aerate, make your cores three inches deep, spaced about every six inches. Break up the cores and spread them around. If your lawn needs it, thatch and follow with a fall or winter fertilizer. Even if thatching isn’t needed, your lawn will be happy for a dusting of fertilizer to help roots gain strength before the spring growing season. Overseed bald patches or whole lawns as needed. Rake and compost leaves as they fall, as well as grass clippings from mowing. If left on the ground now, they’ll make a wet, slippery mess that’s inviting to pests.

Good gardeners use heavy-duty molded plastic for shaping neat edges of beds. You can buy these from garden centers, nurseries and mail order suppliers in rolls of flat, four- to six-inch-tall plastic, and the edging installs easily. You’ll save yourself countless hours of removing grass and weeds that otherwise creep into your beds.

Watering Your Lawn and Garden

You can’t forget about watering in the middle of fall. The summer’s long over, but proper moisture now is key to your plants’ survival over the cold winter months. You’re likely to hear two pieces of advice on watering. One is that you should give established plants an inch of water per week, whether from rain or irrigation. The other is that personal observation of your own garden is the only way to judge how much water it needs. One fact about which there is more agreement: the ideal is to maintain constant moisture, not a cycle of wet soil followed by dry soil.

Although overwatering can be as big a problem as underwatering, most gardeners err on the side of too little. Your needs will vary through the year depending on the rate of evapotranspiration in your garden. Evapotranspiration refers to the two ways that plants lose water. There’s evaporation, the loss of water to the air from soil, water and other surfaces. Then the other way is called transpiration, or water lost primarily from the leaves and stems of the plants. You can often obtain evapotranspiration rates for local areas from water departments and other agencies. You will see a graphic description of how a plant’s natural need for water changes during the growing season.

In the meantime, keep these pointers in mind:

1) Water when it’s needed, not according to the calendar. Check the top six inches of the soil. If it’s dry and falls apart easily, water. Your plants will also show signs that they need water. Wilting, curling or brown leaves mean that your plants may lack adequate water. Meanwhile, bear in mind that excess water creates a lack of oxygen in plants, making them show similar symptoms to underwatering.

2) Water slowly, not more than one-half inch of water per hour. Too much water can be lost to runoff. This is why handheld watering cans or handheld hoses generally work only for watering small areas.

3) Water deeply. With established vegetables and flowers, six inches is a minimum. With trees and shrubs, water one to two feet or more. Shallow watering does more harm than good; it discourages plants from developing the deep roots they need to find their own water. Except when you are watering seedlings, soil should never be wet only in the top layer.

The increased use of piped municipal water and the invention of sprinklers have made mechanical irrigation the most commonly used watering method, particularly for lawns and large areas. Sprinkler irrigation works best with well-draining soils and shallow-rooted plants, or where a cooling effect is desired. But sprinklers have several disadvantages. They waste water, since much of it is sprayed on areas other than the root zone around the plant. Because much of the water is thrown high in the air, loss due to evaporation can be significant. Sprinklers can also foster fungal diseases and other problems with some plants such as roses that don’t like having wet foliage. Sprinklers require good water pressure and are best used on plants which are not in bloom. Several types of sprinklers are available.

Building a Bin and Making Your Own Compost

A bin will contain your compost pile and make it more attractive as well as keep it from spilling or blowing over into your yard. A circular or square structure can be made from fencing wire. The idea is to push the compost material together to make it heat up and rot properly. The bin should be at least three feet wide and three feet deep to provide enough space for the spreading material. Use untreated wood or metal fence posts for the corners and wrap sturdy wire fencing around them. The fence mesh should be small enough that rotting materials won’t fall out. When the compost is ready, unwind the wire and scoop from the bottom of the pile. Then re-pile the undecomposed material and wrap the wire back around the heap.

Many hard-core gardeners feel that three compost bins are the best for serious composting. By building a trio of bins you can compost in stages: one bin will be ready, one will be brewing and one will always be starting. Installing a cover, such as a plastic tarp or a piece of wood, helps to cut odor, control moisture and keep out wild pests. You will also want to use the right ingredients for a proper, lovely smelling rotting compost heap.

It’s easy to cook up your own pile. At first, layer grass clippings with a dash of leaves and twigs to create a concoction that turns into humus, the best plant food. Added ingredients for the compost comes from everyday waste in the kitchen and yard. But avoid any items that ruin your compost. Use green materials such as fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, and grass and plant clippings; and brown materials, such as leaves, wood and bark chips, shredded newspaper, straw and sawdust from untreated wood. Avoid using any meat, oil, fat, grease, diseased plants, sawdust or chips from pressure-treated wood, dog or cat feces, weeds that go to seed or dairy products. These can befoul, spoil and make smelly and rancid a perfectly good productive compost heap.

There are two types of composting: cold and hot. Cold composting is as simple as piling up your yard waste or taking out the organic materials in your trash such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds or egg shells and then piling them in your yard. Over the course of a year or so, the material will decompose. Hot composting is for the more serious gardener; you’ll get compost in one to three months during warm weather. Four ingredients are required for fast-cooking hot compost: nitrogen, carbon, air and water. These items feed microorganisms, which speed up the process of decay.

Concentrated Pest Control

Slugs and other pests don’t disappear as the weather gets cooler. You’ll find them at all life stages in October, from eggs to youngsters and adults. For slugs, use whatever measures you prefer, salt, slug bait or saucers of beer to eliminate them. It’s best to catch them at the early stages to stop the reproduction cycle. And keep the ground well-raked and tidied to reduce their natural habitat.

Here’s a list of common garden pests and how to control them:

Thrips: Adult thrips are about one-sixteenth-inch long and have dark bodies with four fringed wings. Their size makes them difficult to detect in the garden. They attack young leaves, flower stalks and buds. Spray young foliage, developing buds and the soil around the bush with an insecticide containing acephate.

Cane borer: This insect is the maggot of the eggs laid by sawflies or carpenter bees in the freshly-cut cane of the rose after pruning. One telltale sign is a neatly-punctured hole visible on the top of the cane. To remove the pest, cut several inches down the cane until there are no more signs of the maggot or pith-eaten core. Seal all pruning cuts with pruning sealer.

Japanese beetle, Fuller rose beetle: These will eat parts of the foliage and sometimes the flowers. Pick beetles off the bush by hand. Or spray foliage and flowers with an insecticide containing acepate or malathion.

Leaf miner: This insect can be spotted on foliage by the appearance of irregular white chain-like blisters containing its grub. Remove foliage and discard it to prevent further infestation.

Spittle bug: This small, greenish-yellow insect hides inside a circular mass of white foam on the surface of new stems, usually during the development of the first bloom cycle in early spring. Spray a jet of water to remove the foam and the insect.

Roseslug: When you see new foliage with a skeletonized pattern, indicating that it has been eaten, chances are it’s the roseslug. Remove the infected foliage and spray with insecticidal soap or an insecticide that contains acephate.

Leaf cutter bee: As its name implies, this very small yellowish-green insect jumps on the undersides of foliage to feast, often leaving its white skin behind. The damage caused by this insect often results in defoliation. Use an insecticide containing acephate or malathion to prevent it from establishing a strong colony.

Rose scale: This insect hides under gray scales, normally on old canes or stems. It feeds by sucking the sap, weakening the plant. If the infestation is localized, try removing it with a fingernail. Or spray with an insecticide containing acephate.

Weed Whacking Made Easy

Actually, this is a slight exaggeration. There’s no rest for the wicked. Keep staying ahead of your nasty weeds all this and next month. They serve as Home Sweet Home for all manner of pests and bugs, and destroying them before they flower and seed will save you much work in the future.

Preparation is the key. All gardeners know what it’s like to have their yards invaded by unwelcome plants. Although there’s no really easy way to banish weeds, there are a few solid techniques you can use to reclaim your turf. At the very least, you can limit this utmost in hostile takeovers.

Here is a simple outline of effective battle strategies you can use in the fall:

1) Be a mulching maniac. Mulch acts as a suffocating blanket by preventing light from reaching weed seeds. At the same time, it holds moisture for your plants and provides nutrients for your soil as it decomposes. Apply coarse mulch, such as bark or wood chips, directly onto soil. Leaves, grass clippings, or straw work better as a weed deterrent with a separating layer of newspaper, cardboard or fabric between them and the soil.

2) Water those weeds. Pulling weeds is easier and more efficient when the soil is moist. You are more likely to get the whole root system, and your yanking won’t disturb surrounding plants as much either. No rain? Turn on the sprinkler or even water individual weeds, leave for a few hours and then get your hands dirty. Just ignore the strange looks from your neighbors as you lovingly water your weeds.

3) Cut weeds down in their prime. Weeds love open soil. But if you till or cultivate and then wait to plant, you can outmaneuver the weeds. Till the ground at least twice before you plant. Your first digging will bring dormant weed seeds to the surface where they can germinate. Watch and wait for a few weeks until they begin to grow. Then slice up the weeds again with a tiller or a hoe, only don’t dig as deep. Now it should be safe to put precious plants into the soil.

4) Pass the salt. Try sweeping rock salt into crevices between paths. Although more harsh, borax also works well. Be sure to wear rubber gloves with the latter material. You might need to apply a few doses, but be aware of any surrounding plants because both products kill the good plants along with the bad.

Food for Thought

In addition to performing these autumnal lawn and garden duties, you may want to harvest your fall vegetables such as the perennial squashes. Do a taste test and harvest them when flavor is at its peak. If you’d like to extend the harvest of carrots, turnips and other root vegetables, leave some in the ground to mulch as the weather gets colder. Early next month, before temperatures drop too much, seed cover crops such as clover, peas or vetch to enrich the soil. It will serve as a natural fertilizer, stifle weed growth and help loosen up the soil for next year’s crops.

As for your houseplants that you’ve put outside for the summer, if September was mild enough that your geraniums and other such plants are still outdoors, be sure to make them cozy inside before the first frost takes a bite out of them. Take geranium cuttings of two to four inches to root indoors. If you treat houseplants chemically, be sure to keep them warm and away from direct sunlight. Fertilize houseplants now and they won’t need it again until March. And remember to get your poinsettias and your Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti ready for well-timed holiday color. Give them a daily dose of ten hours of bright daylight or four hours of direct sun and fourteen hours of night darkness. Cacti need a cool environment of fifty to sixty degrees, while poinsettias prefer a warmer sixty-five to seventy degrees. Be sure and let your cacti dry out between waterings.

For a true gardenaholic, winter is often considered to be the enemy. But with a few steps toward preparation in the early- to mid-fall, you can take care of your lawn, garden and houseplants in a way that will keep them thriving and surviving until the dawning of yet another most welcome and bountiful springtime.

The information in this article was gleaned from the MSN House and Home website and the Better Homes and Gardens website.

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Stuff – Best Tech Magazine to Like-Minded Tech Fans

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Stuff is the world’s best-selling gadget monthly magazine for over a decade, published by Haymarket Consumer Media. The magazine started off as a bi-monthly in the US in 1996 by Dennis Publishing and the focus shifted to being more lifestyle orientated in 1998; the same year that rival publishing group Haymarket Consumer Media bought the title in the UK. Haymarket Consumer Media also took over ownership of Stuff magazine in 25 other territories, such as: Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Middle East, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam. It has a global circulation of 1.36 million copies.

Stuff is a men’s magazine carrying reviews on various consumer electronics, and previews of possible future technology. With a Stuff magazine subscription, you can take an alternate look at the planet’s best gadgets, tech and apps. The magazine is all about the pure, unfiltered joy of tech and gadgets. It provides a monthly project that helps you get more from your already existing gadgets, including learning new skills, tricks, and hacks to bring your level up to a new standard, and breathe new life into old kit.

The magazine investigates and uncovers new trends in tech. Some of the past episodes included the championing of 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and going behind the scenes with Vine – 6-second video app and its makers to discover how it conquered the world of social media. Stuff is first to tread where no other technology magazines think to tread. Whether you are an Apple or Android fan; the magazine caters to everyone. By being global and having 25 editions with 1.36 millions readers, it has definitely come to be known as the best technology magazine to like-minded tech fans every month.

The magazine produces the world-famous Stuff magazine Top 10s, and ranks everything including latest phones, computers, tablets, games, apps, TVs, home cinema, hi-fi, headphones, cameras, consoles, media players, sat-nav, etc,. So whatever you decide to get in the tech world, be sure to first check the latest issue of the magazine to get acquainted with all the info you will need to get the best gadgets.

Haymarket has always been trying to spice up the magazine for its readers and recently unveiled a new look for the magazine in 2013. The aim is to continue providing a premium monthly magazine that is more relevant in an ever changing media landscape, in competition with other abundant free technology news and features. The editor of the magazine is Will Findlater.

Redesigning the magazine every few years is sometimes necessary; especially now since apps and OS updates have become pivotal in technology enthusiasts’ lives. Therefore, the magazine needs to revamp itself and find better ways of integrating latest news and features that tech fans are wanting to read about. However, Stuff magazine is not all about gadgets; cars, robots, sport, toys, watches, music, films, fashion, and funky furniture also don several pages of the magazine.

The team also created templates that work on the iPad and other mobile devices. This enables the magazine to go into the digital platform and reach more interested readers. A Stuff digital subscription will give you access to all that you expect from the print version of the magazine. The team has maintained Stuff’s distinctive character, by keeping its accessibility and with that has been a big part of the brand’s success to this point. So grab a copy of the Stuff digital magazine and enjoy every aspect of the latest in tech news from around the world.

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Tips on Buying a Bedroom Furniture Set

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Buying a new bedroom furniture set can be a chore. Who has the time these days to go comparison shopping to big box furniture stores, wholesale stores, discount furniture stores, and designer furniture stores in search of the perfect bedroom set?

Here are the basics you should know before you buy.

Cost: The sky is the limit when it comes to bedroom furniture sets, especially if you start looking at designer furniture, expensive wood materials, leathers, and etc. For those with budgets, a basic set including a frame, headboard, and 1-2 nightstands can be purchased for around $500. A bedroom set can also save you time and money because you will spend less when buying a set and you won’t have to shop around for individual pieces to match and complete your room.

Styles: The style you choose for your set will set the tone for your bedroom. Do you want something practical, fun, light like a storage bedroom set? Are you looking for something traditional like a four-poster bed set? Maybe a bed set with an upholstered headboard? Something modern that is platform-style which is low to the ground? Knowing what style you prefer will help you make a decision more quickly.

Size: Most bedroom furniture sets come in full-sized, queen-sized, or king-sized. As the central focal point of a bedroom, deciding on a size is not only based on what size you prefer, but also the size of your room and how much of a statement you want to make. Do you need space for bookshelves? A work desk? A reclining chair for reading?

Typical bedroom set pieces: Many bedroom sets begin with a bed frame and headboard. Bedroom sets can go up to 6 additional pieces that could include: night or bedside tables, dressers, chests drawers, mirrors, bookcases, and storage benches. Buying bedroom furniture set is often more aesthetically appealing because additional pieces will match your bed frame.

Designer or non-designer? Some of the most popular household brands today include South Shore, Modus Nevis, Prepac, Young American, and American Drew. When it comes to designer bedroom furniture sets, most of your guests won’t notice whether something is designer or not – but they will notice when your bedroom set is good quality. Generally speaking, better quality sets will cost you more but will also last you longer.

Kids’ bedroom sets: Last but not least, if you’re looking for a bedroom set for kids, it’s better to go simpler and choose something more affordable because the furniture will wear quickly. Choose additional pieces that are practical, that will actually be used, and a style that will stand the test of time – that means no to the race car bed.

Good luck!

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Smart Homes Are The Future Of Living

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WHAT IS A SMART HOME?

When you hear people talk about “smart homes,” they are merely referring to the way that you can control and monitor your home’s systems remotely. You can check the temperature, turn down the cooling, make sure the doors are locked, and much more. If you want a smart home, you don’t have to go out and buy a new home. You can make changes to your current home, adding and installing features that you can control with a computer, a tablet, or a mobile phone. Smart home products are popular for several reasons:

  • They are convenient.
  • They save you money.
  • They keep your home more comfortable.
  • They make your home safer.
  • They are easy and fun to manage.

HOW TO CHOOSE SMART PRODUCTS

Smart products can be a little more expensive than your typical home fixtures. For that reason, most people choose not to upgrade their entire home all at once with smart products. That is one of the benefits of transforming your abode into a smart home. You can choose to do it all at once or in steps. If you want to start with a few essentials, select smart home systems that will have the greatest impact. We recommend asking yourself a few questions to help you decide:

  • What home systems are costing me the most money to run? Or, which monthly bills related to my home do I most want to reduce?
  • What home systems do I most frequently forget to monitor?
  • Which home features do I wish would monitor themselves?
  • Where do I feel like my home is lacking in safety?

This list should help you narrow down your list to things like self-locking doors and windows, a fireplace or stove with an automatic shut-off, faucets that use more water, an inefficient heating or cooling system, or house lights that are frequently left on when not needed. Smart home products can solve any and all of these problems.

HOW THEY WORK

Smart home products are quick and easy for a professional to install. Just talk to your home builder, plumber, or electrician about smart products you are interested in. Once installed, they are easy for the entire family to use. You can have your smart products up and running in as little as one day.

  • First, have the specialist walk you through set up or follow the owner’s manual to set up the smart home system initially.
  • Download any apps you need or set up your account on websites that monitor the smart feature in your home.
  • Access the app or website at work, at the gym, or anywhere on your phone.
  • Finally, get a good night’s sleep knowing all is well with your home.

You can customize your smart home system to exactly how you want it to work. This is what makes smart homes so convenient. Every family has different needs, such as when they eat, sleep, shower, clean dishes, and turn the lights on. Your smart home systems will work with your family’s schedule, minimizing energy usage and saving you time and money.

HOW THEY SAVE MONEY

How exactly do smart homes save you money? Several ways. Have you ever looked at your water bill and wished you could lower it permanently? Have you ever wondered what was causing your heating bill to skyrocket? Everyday life and every season has fluctuations, but smart products help to minimize those fluctuations while still meeting the family’s needs. For example, a smart thermostat can be programmed to keep the house cooler at a certain time of day and then warmer during other times. When the house is always comfortable, there is no need for you to constantly be going back to the thermostat to turn it up. And if you never have to turn up the temperature, then you’ll never forget to turn it back down again. An added benefit of smart heating and cooling systems is that they usually include more energy-efficient heaters and air conditioners.

WHAT’S TRENDING WITH SMART HOMES

Manufacturers are constantly coming up with new and amazing products for smart homes. For example, not only can you program your thermostat from your phone, but now you can even install a smart thermostat that can remember your heating and cooling preferences and automatically set your home’s temperature without you touching a button. Talk about staying comfortable without shooting your utility bill through the roof! Here are a few other popular smart products on the market:

  • Water leak sensors
  • Water shutoff valves to stop leaks
  • Automated, electronic water softeners/conditioners
  • Water heater shutoff
  • Water-conserving faucet attachments
  • Automatic irrigation sprinkler systems
  • Energy-saving, programmable thermostats
  • Automated air conditioning systems
  • Motion detectors
  • Automatic, timed lights
  • Light dimmers
  • Digital security system
  • Automated home locks

GETTING STARTED

Make sure you get high-quality smart home systems by talking to neighbors about products they have used and asking the experts about the highest-quality products they offer. You can also tell quality products by whether they come with a warranty. If you prefer to start slow, choose one or two smart changes to your house. You can experience the convenience and the monthly savings before making further upgrades to your home. Every upgrade will make a difference and save energy and money. The more smart products you invest in, the more you’ll enjoy the benefits!

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3 Home Technologies That Are Going Away

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Technology is a field that evolves very rapidly, either out of necessity or through consumer demand. What once used to be the latest and greatest will eventually become obsolete, replaced by newer and hopefully better technology. Here are three home technologies that are going away and how they are being replaced.

  1. Landline Phones

Landline phones exploded in use throughout the middle of the twentieth century. This enabled people to communicate with others much more quickly and efficiently than before. However, the increasing use of mobile phones in the late 1990s through today has made it easy for households to do away with their landline phones and exclusively use personal mobile phones. Cellphones usually come with other features besides the ability to make calls, such as texting and GPS navigation, making them a convenient option when traveling.

However, there remain disadvantages to going fully mobile, such as receiving worse cell quality in remote areas and less reliability when calling emergency services. Some other alternatives to landline phones include voice over internet protocol phones and online services that offer voice and video calling.

  1. Cable Television

Cable television is still ubiquitous in many households but is being replaced by streaming services, often offered by the cable networks themselves, as well as online platforms that allow people to watch shows, movies, and news on demand. Some of the benefits of cable include the ability to watch sports and other broadcasts live, as well as the opportunity to choose a cable package with a limited selection of channels or a wider selection including premium channels at a more expensive price point.

Today, streaming services often offer a larger selection of shows and movies for even lower prices. Most streaming services allow you to pay by the month and give you the option of streaming on more than one device at a time.

  1. Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs are still easy to find, but are slowly becoming regarded as more expensive and less environmentally friendly than compact fluorescent lamps and light-emitting diodes. CFLs and LEDs work in most modern light fixtures and are a good investment for your lighting needs, especially considering the fact that many U.S. states are starting to limit the use of incandescent lights. CFLs and LEDs generally last longer than traditional light bulbs, leading to less hassle in replacing bulbs.

Consider these three home technologies and their replacements the next time you are looking to save money or upgrade your house.

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Maxwell Drever explains the concept of the affordable housing crisis

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People all across the globe are facing the problem of an affordable housing crisis. It is affecting millions of individuals who belong to the medium-income spectrum. Grabbing a look at national analytics, you will understand that ever since 2018, the problem has aggravated. Individuals who offer 35 to 40 hours each week and earn minimum wages fall within this category. They are finding it hard to afford or two to a three-bedroom apartment for themselves because it adds to the burden on their financial expenses. Hence, countries in a global setting have come up to solve this problem.

Research reveals that the cost burden on the middle-income group has increased by 30%. It is a reason why they are looking for affordable, well-maintained, and reasonable housing to cut down on their struggles. Around two-third renters have reported the hardship of affording a new house for themselves because their savings are low. It is here that affordable housing turns into a crisis. It is not only limited to the middle and lower-income groups but also to other sections of society.

The problem of construction for investors by Maxwell Drever

You may be thinking that affordable workforce housing is only a problem for the middle-income group. However, it is not so. Even the investors and real estate agents face similar issues because construction material costs are soaring high. For example, the cost of lumber has increased by 16% in the last few years.

Although the index keeps on fluctuating, Maxwell Drever says it has remained elevated for the earlier few months. Remember that a minimum of 5 to 10% of the increase in construction material prices adds to the cost. Hence, the problem builds up for the investors and other related agents. It is why most home builders are finding it hard to construct reasonable and affordable housing to cater to the market.

Problems faced by the government

Federal governments introduce multiple policy options for providing tax cuts and benefits to society. All these get targeted towards the middle-income group; surveys reveal that they hardly get the advantages. On the other hand, some policy options get designed for the investors and real estate industry. Implementation of these policies is sometimes a challenging task. Hence, the governments are facing the problem of restrictive practices and their impact on the broader economy.

Transportation issues in affordable housing

Affordable housing is not only limited to the residence itself. The increasing rent and property prices push low. Hence, the middle-income groups move further away from the main urban centers. It is here that the problem of transportation comes into play. Low housing costs in the suburban areas often compel the middle-income groups to spend a lot on transport, claims Maxwell Drever.

Hence every section of society is suffering from the problem of affordable workforce housing. The crisis has taken a global form, and that is transforming itself every day. For dealing with policy options, transit access, job opportunities, people are trying to analyze the available options. Hence, the crisis is multifaceted and requires a combined effort.

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Home Improvement

Beginners Tips For Greenhouse Gardening

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Greenhouses make a great addition to any garden. They allow you to grow plant varieties that would not be suitable for outside areas, and to extend the growing season for other species. But for those first considering setting up a greenhouse in their garden, it can seem daunting to know where to begin. Here are a few pointers to get you started.

Heat

On sunny days, your greenhouse will heat up nicely as the sun’s rays are refracted through the glass. But you’ll also need other means of heating for colder times. Electric heaters are the easiest to install, but you could also use gas (although this method will require you to vent the greenhouse for fumes. You will also need some way of preventing the temperature becoming too high in the greenhouse. Avoid installing air conditioners for cooling, as these dry the air. Passive vents or exhaust fans will do the job, or consider constructing your greenhouse with windows at either end that can be propped open, to allow air to flow through.

Light

In winter the amount of light coming into the greenhouse is often not sufficient o support the plants, particularly if they are juveniles. Installing fluorescent or LED lighting above your grow beds will help ensure they have enough light.

Water

While the exact amount of water required in your greenhouse will vary depending on the species of plants you’re growing and the temperature, as a general rule, plants and growing beds ill dry out more quickly than beds outside in the garden. So give plants a good soaking whenever you water. Avoid spraying the foliage too much, as this is one way disease can spread between plants.

Soil

One of the key components in the success of your greenhouse gardening is your soil. Most greenhouse novices begin growing in beds or pots (or a combination of the two). As such you need to have soil that drains sufficiently to prevent water logging, but also retains moisture well so that the water is available for the plant roots to access. The soil should ideally be slightly acid and, crucially, contain a lot of organic material. One of the ways to ensure this is to add compost.

Compost

Because the soil won’t be getting organic matter – the rich topsoil full of nutrients and bacterial activity – from natural sources as the soil outside may, from, for instance, leaf litter, animal droppings, decaying plant material, you need to add a good proportion of compost to your growing beds. Some recommendations call for all much as a third of your beds to be made from compost. This will give the plants the most nutrient rich growing medium in which to thrive. Whenever possible choose an organic fertilizer, or, better yet, start your own compost pile using scraps form the kitchen and plant cuttings from the garden.

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Home Improvement

Gardeners Mantra

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How many times have you planted a new plant, tree or bush hoping for a fully developed plant in no time? Many gardeners both seasoned and new love to see the fruits of their labor. However, many gardeners are impatient and wish for fast growth on short oder. For those that get frustrated waiting for that favored plant, tree of bush to take off, they often find themselves pulling up the plant, taking it back to their favorite nursery or throwing it away only to start over thinking they’ve done something to kill it or stunt it’s growth when often times, this isn’t the case.

What’s a gardener to do? Many who are trying to start a new area or add to an existing have to follow the gardeners mantra regardless of region or location in the country. While different locals offer different planting seasons and plant types that thrive in their respective area, all plants need a little time to get established and take off. It’s well known that all gardening and landscape work is based upon seasons and so is the growth potential for any plant, tree or bush.

So, what is the gardeners mantra?

Three steps to every plants success is this. First year SLEEP, second year CREEP and the third year LEAP. It’s that simple of a statement which basically says, you’ll need patience.

Stage One: First Year SLEEP

All plants, trees and shrubs initially go into a shocked state upon initial planting into a new location. Like any living organism, it’s ability to try and survive is innate and any plant has techniques to insure it lives on to produce. So, while a good gardener does everything possible to help the process through root stimulator and nutrients, the plant still has to go into a somewhat dormant state before getting fully established.

For the first year in a new garden, expect only to see the plant in the state that you planted it. Any leaves or flowers will look exactly like it did when you first took it out of the bucket and put it in the ground.

Stage Two: Second Year CREEP

Once the plant, tree or shrub makes it through the first cold season of fall and winter, it’s ready to start to change. The second year is when it starts to work on it’s foundation system, roots. This second year, more work is being done below ground to insure that future growth can be maintained and it’s feeding system is in tact. Second year growth on exposed plant material will be limited and therefore why it looks like it’s not doing much. It then “creeps” along on growth and takes it’s time getting use to it’s surroundings and environment.

Stage Three: Third Year LEAP

This is the year the gardener is rewarded with all of the hard work. Now that the plant, tree or shrub is established and has a strong foundation, it will literally leap into a major growth spurt. Knowing that all water and nutrients will make it to it’s extremities, it will flourish beyond your expectations and begin to bring forth the expected shade or flower to please the gardener who so painstakingly helped it along.

This is the good year as well as many good years to come. Every plants life cycle has great potential, but the third year and beyond is the time when every gardener gets the reward of the plant, tree or shrub they were expecting. Patience and time is the sub-mantra of the prepared gardener, but the main mantra every gardener should adopt is:

First Year SLEEP, Second Year CREEP and Third Year LEAP!

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Home Improvement

Hydroponic Gardens – Picking A System To Suit Your Requirements

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Hydroponic gardens consist of raising plants in a growing medium other than soil. Most times, this means suspending a plant’s roots in a tray of water that is concentrated with nutrient solution. The roots then absorb the essential nutrients that they need in order to provide maximum growth. Because of this, hydroponics gardening plants generally utilize the nutrients more efficiently and then produce bigger blossoms and larger yields. By doing some research online, you can find several successful systems for producing a successful hydroponic gardening system.

Many indoor gardeners employ the Ebb and Flow method (also known as the Flood and Drain method). With this hydroponic gardening system, a submersed pump floods the grow tray with a nutrient rich solution at regular intervals. A mechanism monitors the surrounding environment to help determine the amount of nutrients to provide to the plants for optimum growth. With this hydroponics grow system, gardeners can use a variety of different growing mediums. Gravel and Grow rocks are also helpful when placed in the bottom of the grow tray to help the plants get the nutrients provided by the solution. Or, for smaller plants, gardeners may choose to use individual pots that they can easily move around if needed. Beware of power outages, though. Since some equipment runs on electricity, a power outage can cause the roots to dry out quickly.

The water culture technique is an ideal way for providing nutrients to your hydroponics grow system. Using this raised gardening method, plants are placed on a Styrofoam sheet which is floating in water that is rich in nutrients. A pump then bubbles the nutrient-rich solution towards the roots so they get a great mixture of essential nutrients and oxygen. The ideal vegetables to grow in the water culture method are lettuce and other small plants that grow rapidly in water. Plants that do not grow well in water should be grown using one of the other hydroponic gardening systems. The water culture method is also popular for classrooms to teach young students about the growing process.

Perhaps the simplest method for a hydroponic gardening system, or raised gardening, is the Wick method. With this hydroponics gardening method, there are no expensive equipment to buy and no moving parts. The gardener simply places one end of the wick into a solution rich in nutrients and the other end of the wick is placed into the growing medium, where the plant roots are. The nutrient solution is then transferred into the growing medium. For diagrams and free plans about how to build this type of hydroponics grow system, visit simplyhydro .com. One disadvantage of this hydroponic gardening system though, is that it is not ideal for large plants, as they use up the solution and water faster than the wicks can supply the nutrients.

You can discover either hydroponic gardening systems or raised gardening methods that provide a wide array of benefits to passive or avid gardeners. With a hydroponic gardening system, you can be as involved or as uninvolved with the growth of your plants as you want to be. Gardeners have been able to find many hydroponic gardening system diagrams and plans in books and on the internet, including many free ones at “simplyhydro .com”. Finding a hydroponic gardening system that suits your needs is not a difficult task.

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Home Improvement

The Power of Focus In Your Podcast Marketing

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Today, I want to share with you the POWER of FOCUS.

What does that mean?

Let’s say you want to focus on Gardening. OK, that’s a good niche. It’s a popular niche. I’m just using that as an example. You could choose boxing or car repair – whatever you have identified as your niche (we also talked about that before as well).

But “Gardening” is really a general category. It may be specific as compared to something else, but the category “Gardening” is a general category.

Your podcast could simply be about “Gardening” and then you could cover different aspects of gardening.

Or you could zero in on one aspect alone and become the expert of that area.

For example, there could be Indoor Gardening; Outdoor Gardening; Rock Gardens; Vegetable Gardens; Flower Gardens; Patio Gardens and I could go on and on.

How can you market this to your specific target audience?

Well, for a lot of podcasters, they want to use advertising. Which is fine – if you do it correctly.

What I see with most new business owners, and podcasters as well, are ads that look like their competitors ads. And they all look almost exactly the same!

They will say things like, “The Best Service” and there will be their picture there or their logo. There will be a list of services or products they offer and then a link to their podcast. They will list things, let’s stick with gardening as the example, they will list things like:

Landscape bricks; four different types of mulch; top soil; pre fertilized soil; fertilizer; bird netting; animal netting; vegetable seeds; vegetable transplants; planters; etc.

Then, there will be their podcast website saying something like “We discuss all these topics and more to help you grow your garden!”

You can put whatever niche you want in there and put whatever products and services you would normally advertise for. You may have even tried ads like that.

The problem, as we covered about the archer shooting arrows in the fog, you are not really aiming at anything!

Here is what you need to do. Pick ONE Topic and use that in the ad.

One area. ONE, not two. Just ONE.

For example:

Patio Gardening. Have several podcast episodes that deal only with that aspect of your niche.

Use that information in your ad.

You can put something like, “We are the patio gardening experts. If you are looking at establishing a patio garden, listen to our podcast to receive great tips on establishing your patio garden.”

Then, in the podcast, you can have a call to action such as, “Give us a call and we will help you get set up for success” or something similar. I’m just doing this off the cuff. You can phrase it appropriately for your niche.

But that would be it! Nothing else. No other products or services.

You can put a picture of a patio garden in the ad and set it as the photo for your episodes. You can put that photo on your website.

Then, you split test the ad…

If you get no responses with listing the website; change it to an email address and run it again.

If you get some responses with one way of running the ad, change the product or service description JUST A LITTLE BIT, maybe a word or two at the most. Then run it again…

Change the photo. Then run it again.

Change the colors used. Then run it again.

If the responses go down, change it back and run it again.

You do this until you have the ad that gets you the best results for “Patio Gardens.”

Then, you do the same process all over again with another area. In Gardening, you might run, Vegetable Gardens. Pick one type of vegetable and start the process all over again.

If you did one week of episodes in each area with a small ad each week, by the end of the year, you will probably have 8-10 well-tested ads that are generating you some great responses.

These can be used over and over again.

If you are marketing in the city, patio gardens are probably the way to go. You can have guests on the podcast to give tips on setting up the patio gardens!

Instead of marketing to all of the different types of gardens available and hoping somebody listens to you, speak ONLY TO ONE PERSON. And do not confuse them with too many options. Confusion will equal no action at all!

Speak to ONE Person in ONE Category of ONE Niche and offer ONE Product.

Let your competitors run the long list of services. Become known as the SPECIALIST, in this example, of “Patio Gardens.” Every time someone thinks about starting a patio garden, they should be thinking of your podcast!

Like I said, you can offer other services and products as well – but your advertising, at least initially, needs to focus on ONE THING – drive traffic to your podcast with marketing targeted to your desired audience.

Take a look at your niche you have chosen and figure out what the ONE area is you will market. Then start formulating your ad.

By staying focused on speaking directly to that one person in one segment of your niche, with only one message, you will begin to see the download numbers start to increase in your podcast stats and possibly drive extra traffic to your website!

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Home Improvement

Consult Them in Confidence for Carpet Cleaning and Maintenance Services

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When you install all those precious carpets, some thought should be spared for their long life that requires careful cleaning. The cleaning service refers to several aspects of daily life like the mattress, tiles everywhere, vinyl, upholstery, and curtains. Some cleaning work attempted in a DIY approach with internet help may be possible. The safest approach when it comes to expensive stuff is professional carpet cleaning carried out by the experts with their time-tested methods and approved green materials that do no harm the carpet or the environment. They would flit around silently and complete the task without interference in the working or home schedules, leaving the scene neatly arranged like before.

Fourteen years is a long time

The learning from experience has been a bitter-sweet journey and crossing a decade did bring a quota of happiness well deserved after all the ups and downs. Meanwhile, as we witnessed changes in technology, machinery, and materials, success brought a big boost. So many years later and it seems like several decades, we go about attending to emergencies, routine cleaning and maintenance services and repairs with a greater confidence, armed with technical know-how.

Certification does help and it is easier to convince of our authenticity. As the society grows more and more specialized, you are required to be an expert rather than a handyman. The IICRC certification gives an air of invincibility and licensing too has its many advantages.

Assurance of thorough carpet cleaning services

Some companies make sweet promises, but leave you disappointed in the end. Avoiding shortcuts and leaving things half done is not the policy that results in retaining customers and earning more referrals that they aim for. The result of such patchy work with inferior equipment and cheap chemicals would be carpeted that retain the wetness over several days. They can certainly assure of absolutely fast and reliable carpet cleaning services with the best machinery and chemicals.

The very powerful Amtex truck-mounted machine is the latest in the equipment and the cleaning is done through several stages. The cleaning temperature is extremely high with a strong vacuum action, carpets get cleaned faster and dryness is quickly achieved. The result is a longer life for the carpets. That is not only a promise but a guarantee. If at all unsatisfied, they will re-clean and even refund if something is yet amiss.

Stubborn stains may be bothering you

Hidden away for years perhaps are stains on the carpet that seem to be forever, particularly for those who attempted cleaning by themselves. If referred, our workers would probably get rid of them quickly and leave the carpet as good as new. If you never got the carpets cleaned professionally, give it a try and watch the carpets being transformed anew. Some terrible stains just won’t go and you will be informed accordingly. Did you know of the several cleaning services that may be most appropriate?

Standard Carpet Cleaning

Steam cleaning takes care of the usual soiled carpets through several stages by the high powered machine.

Deluxe Carpet Cleaning

Excessively soiled carpets require the deluxe service that involves pre-vacuuming, carpet agitation, stain treatments, fiber rinsing, and high powered steam cleaning.

Master Carpet Cleaning

An intense cleaning session for the ultimate results! If it is the favorite carpet or very heavily soiled, go for it. Pre-vacuuming, carpet shampooing, stain treatments, multiple fiber treatments including stain protection and powerful truck mounted steam cleaning are the procedure.

Encapsulation Carpet Cleaning

Using little moisture, this procedure results in very quick drying and is most suitable for businesses. The results are better too, and carpets remain clean longer.

Commercial Carpet Cleaning

Exposed to greater wear and tear that results in heavy soiling, commercial carpets require an intensive cleaning procedure.

Emergencies and repairs

Offering services round the clock, the workers are geared to attend to flooding and other crises that may occur at the dead of night. Perhaps everybody has faced such an occasion with water entering the house and soaking the carpets and the furniture.

In such a situation, avoid getting things done by yourself. Armed with the right machinery and a strategy that has been applied successfully many times, workers will drain out the water and save the carpets from damage. In addition, insurance claim processing may require with their assistance too, being well versed in such matters.

Should you need carpet repair services?

If the carpet has developed tears and strings getting pulled through long use, workers have the best solutions. Frays and burn marks, stains and re-seaming, re-stretching, installation of carpet trims, patching and re-laying, they do them all in a jiffy. Carpet cleaning and other services would be well done, leaving them in excellent shape for the longer future.

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