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When introduced beyond their natural geography, many species of trees and vegetation can infest and degrade land while harming native ecosystems. They have the potential to overtake fields and forests, or even the resources native grasses and vegetation need to live, which results in killing off valuable grazing and production land.

Stringent control and eradication measures are often necessary to minimize the spread of invasive trees and prevent damage to the environment. Fortunately, there are a variety of options for removing these tenacious intruders from your property.

Invasive species by region

Before we dive into the “how” of invasive tree and vegetation management, it’s important to understand the types of vegetation you are likely to encounter. Following is an overview of invasive species you can expect to find in the various regions of the U.S.

Northeast

Invasive Sumac trees can be found across much of the country, but they pose the biggest threat in the northeast and into midwestern states like Ohio and Michigan. Sumac trees grow quickly, aggressively, and in dense thickets. If left unchecked, they can outgrow and displace native vegetation by cutting off access to nutrients and force out wildlife by consuming their natural habitat and/or the vegetation they depend on for survival. Due to their dense foliage, Sumac trees also block rain and sunlight, which brings unwanted changes to the ecosystem’s soil chemistry and temperature.

kudzu-overtaking-trees-JessevehamKudzu (Image by Jesseveham, Shutterstock)

Southeast

Invasive tree species across the southeastern region of the country include the Brazilian Pepper Tree, Chinese Tallow, Privet, and Saw Palmetto. For reasons that include toxicity, deposition, and invasive root systems, these trees can rapidly overtake natural habitats and reduce the profitability and usability of production land if left unattended. Separately, Kudzu trees cover an area that stretches from Texas to New York. While ideal for shading porches, feeding livestock, and helping to control erosion, Kudzu trees grow quickly and produce vines that cover and kill native plants, envelop trees, snap branches, and climb buildings and powerlines. They can withstand drought, frost, and fire damage and remain dormant for several years before germinating. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct annual maintenance and kill every root crown, which can take several years.

Midwest

The Boxelder is a species of maple with brittle wood and a fast growth system that thrives in wet bottomlands common in the Midwest. While these trees help stabilize stream banks and shelter wildlife, they are considered a weed in many urban areas. Their weak wood causes them to split or drop their limbs in relatively light wind conditions, making them a landscape maintenance nightmare. The Boxelder’s rapid spread can be attributed to how quickly it germinates after dropping its seeds — winged papery fruits that spin through the air and travel great distances away from the parent tree.

eastern-red-cedarEastern Red-Cedar (Image by R_Johnson, Shutterstock)

Central U.S.

Native to Kansas and originally limited to rocky bluffs, the Eastern Red-Cedar began terrorizing the “central” portion of the U.S. from South Dakota down to Oklahoma and parts of Texas when new land management practices led to a decrease in controlled fires, allowing forests to spread. Because they grow year-round in temperatures above 40 degrees and in a variety of precipitation conditions, these trees damage the surrounding grasslands by intercepting 25 percent to 60 percent of rainfall thanks to their dense canopies, consuming anywhere from six to 16 gallons of water each day, and fueling wildfires because of their flammable foliage, thin bark, and propensity for containing oils.

Northwest

While technically not a tree, Scotch broom is a nuisance in the Pacific Northwest, particularly along the sides of highways. This thick, bushy shrub thrives on sandy, disturbed soil and quickly establishes deep, woody roots. It adds massive amounts of nitrogen to the soil that negatively impacts and changes plant communities. It also produces many seeds, which can last in the soil for up to half a century.

Diamond-Mowers-Brush-Cutter-Pro-XImage courtesy of Diamond Mowers

Stopping the spread

In some cases, invasive tree species can be tamed by using chemicals or controlled fires. However, the most effective way for managing overgrowth is through mechanical control, which can be accomplished with the use of skid-steer attachments and a three-step process:

1. Brush cutting

The first step is getting to the source, which typically involves cutting back branches and brush to access the tree’s trunk and roots. The best tool for this job is a brush cutter because this versatile, high-performance skid-steer attachment excels at processing material such as thick grass, brush, and branches. At Diamond Mowers, we offer the Brush Cutter ProX, a rotary mower that features four hydraulic motors for optimal blade performance and safe handling for different types of land and applications with different cutting widths.

Diamond-Mowers-Forestry-Disc-MulcherImage courtesy of Diamond Mowers

2. Mulching

Mulching is the process of grinding trees and brush down into finer material for quick decomposition. For this step, either a disc mulcher or drum mulcher is recommended, and selecting the right attachment for this job is as simple as assessing the size of the trees. Our Forestry Disc Mulcher cuts trees and brush up to 14 inches in diameter and mulches the same vegetation up to 6 inches in diameter while our Drum Mulcher mulches trees and brush up to 9 inches in diameter.

3. Stump grinding

To prevent trees from re-sprouting, you’ll need a stump grinder. This process is typically done after trees have been cut or mulched. Diamond Mowers, for example, offers two types of stump grinders designed to grind stumps of virtually any size to below ground level thanks to their 1-inch-thick heavy-duty wheels equipped with carbide teeth.

You don’t necessarily need all three attachments. A mulcher, for instance, may be sufficient for Steps 1 and 2, depending on the size of the area and the material being cleared.


This article was written by Matt Nelson, product manager at Diamond Mowers. If you have questions about invasive trees and vegetation on your property, consult an arborist or landscaping professional. For more information about equipment related to managing these intruders, visit Diamond Mowers’ website.

The post Help in managing the spread of invasive trees and vegetation in the U.S. appeared first on AGDAILY.

This content was originally published here.

Landscaping and energy efficiency are increasingly going hand in hand as electricity and gas bills can be reduced with a proper garden design approach.

Landscaping and lawn care in modern architecture begins to be considered very seriously. All the smart buildings that are currently being designed and built massively incorporate plants and green areas to regulate temperature. Neighbourhood communities are showing more and more interest in the use of efficient means for managing their energy and water since they represent an important part of their maintenance budgets.

1. Professional lawn care expertise

Although lawn care may seem simple, it also has its tricks. The lawn in the garden should look good and be durable at the same time. Hence, the question always arises about what care you need. The lawn is one of the most important elements of the garden. Each lawn area requires specific care. We need to scarify it, aerate it, fertilize it, and in general take care of it so that it is always in good condition. If you have an intensively used lawn area (with a lot of trampling) they will offer you a special intensive lawn care service, where they will do special work so that it better resists the use that is given to it (special fertilizers, cutting, scarifying more continuous, etc.).

Lawn care in the already established garden is carried out throughout the year.

2. Use trees and shrubs as windbreaks

A windy day is nice if you have windmills in your yard, but too much wind can damage your home. Thick groves and hedges block strong winds. They will also prevent air and cold from seeping in through windows and cracks in the foundation of your home.

Fences also stop strong winds, as do structures like gazebos, pergolas, storage sheds, and outdoor porches. The thick foliage vines filter the sunlight. In fall and winter, leafless trees with thick trunks and branches protect your home from cold winds. Conifers (pines and other evergreens) are even better windbreaks in winter.

While you want to protect the inside of your home from cold air, be careful not to cut off circulation to the outside. Homes must allow sun and air to enter the roof and exterior walls to dry after rain or snow.

3. Layer your landscaping

You wear sweatshirts and coats to keep warm, and the layering of different types of trees creates beautiful and useful windbreaks on your lawn.

For example, the first layer might be ornamental trees, the second layer of evergreen shrubs, the third layer of perennials, and the fourth layer of vines and ground cover on the lawn.

Factors to consider for increasing energy efficiency through landscaping:

4. Drip irrigation

Drip irrigation is a pipe network system that delivers water to plants at their roots. The process keeps the soil at its ideal moisture level without wasting water through sprinklers and indirect garden hoses. With a drip irrigation system, there is less chance of stray spray, erosion, evaporation, and leaching. You won’t waste precious water and there will be less wear and tear on your home plumbing.

      Lawn care and landscaping are so closely and deeply connected that you can’t do one and evade the other. We hope that we have been able to help you with our suggestions and ways that landscaping can help you increase the energy efficiency of your home.

This content was originally published here.

When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-CA) unveiled her ridiculous Green New Deal three years ago, her ‘fact sheet’ lectured us about the perils of cow farts and the need to eliminate airplanes, while simultaneously waxing poetic about the need to financially support those who are “either unable or unwilling to work.”

Excuse us for our skepticism, AOC, but it seems like you have ulterior motives when you try to scare us about global warming and then attempt to leverage that fear to enable fellow, lazy leftists to sit on their asses all day.

So, when we see an article such as the one published yesterday by Yahoo News titled “Leaf blowers, lawn mowers and fertilizer: How lawns contribute to climate change,” we need to scrutinize every aspect of their assertions. Consider the following points from the report:

“’[Lawns] are huge nitrogen consumers, and nitrogen is the most energy-dense nutrient that we manufacture,’ [scientist] Kent said. ‘When you add all that energy we’re dumping in lawns and compare it against the amount of biomass that’s being stored in the soil and the tissue, you come up with 1 acre of lawn [that] contributes approximately 3,112 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, which has the energy equivalent of 156 gallons of gasoline’ Kent added.”

“Likewise, short, regularly cut grass does not absorb much water — an increasingly important task as climate change leads to more flooding from heavier storms — and that runoff can funnel fertilizer and herbicide into lakes, rivers and oceans, potentially poisoning fish and harming swimmers.”

What are the solutions? You won’t be surprised:

“There are also lower-impact ways of caring for a lawn. Using only manual tools, like a push mower, or electric ones, will remove the emissions from two-stroke engines. According to the Electric Power Research Institute, replacing half of gas mowers in the United States with electric mowers would save as much emissions as taking 2 million cars off the road. Taking a more natural approach to lawn management — cutting it less often, skipping the weed killer and letting the clovers and dandelions grow — would also minimize the impact.”

If totally altering our economy is unnecessary for addressing climate change – and credible analyses on the matter state exactly that – then what meaningful impact would we accomplish by having a nation scattered with clover and dandelion-filled lawns in constant need of mowing? The answer seems pretty obvious. Nothing.

Why are the climate cultists targeting lawns? Because they need to come up with new topics and ideas. Billions of dollars are being spent on climate change research worldwide, and they have to look at something. So, the real question is.. why not attack green lawns? They’re probably owned by money-hungry conservatives anyway.

Jordan Case Writes at The Blue State Conservative

The post They’re Coming for Your Lawn Mower appeared first on Granite Grok.

This content was originally published here.

The worldwide pandemic has affected many industries across various regions. Both residential and commercial construction sectors have deteriorated. In this case, some of the projects started have faced many challenges. However, the economy has improved after the pandemic became manageable. Home construction projects have been rejuvenated, thus increasing the demand for heavy construction equipment.

The construction tools are required throughout the projects, and not every company owns them. This has led to increased demand for renting them, as shown by a survey done by Purchasing.com. Renting is a cheaper alternative compared to purchasing this Equipment. Moreover, they require them for a short time, which has promoted the popularity of the equipment rental companies.

Should you rent Equipment?

Most home construction companies rent the machinery since they do not own it. Most of these projects require many tools. A company could own some of them and lack others needed at a particular time. Most of the construction projects are long-term, and thus, rental Equipment could be costly. The company may decide to make a large order of Equipment and thus save the cost that could have been used to rent. Self-owned Equipment is better since the owners control maintenance.

Operating and Transportation cost for Equipment

The budget incurred in the project should be calculated before its initiation. This helps in the reduction of unplanned expenses. The transport and operating cost should be included. Some of the Equipment requires specialists to operate. Therefore, such Equipment needs an operator from the rental company who is also paid.

Equipment available for rent

Boom lifts

This is a vehicle whose role is to transport the tools and workers to the site of work that is high above the ground. There are various types depending on the role they are required for. One of them is the telescopic boom lift used for long distances since it has one long arm. They are efficient for any terrain and thus their preference. Articulating boom lift is the other type. It is also known as a Knuckle lift. Its arms are segmented, and it can fit through various obstacles at the worksite. The knuckle lifts can be used in crowded sections such as cities or near markets. Find out more about boom lift rental.

Excavators

These are heavy machinery used in making trenches and at the foundation of the construction. They are powerful and highly efficient for various projects. These machines are available in the Equipment rental industries with all the requirements such as the bucket, dippers, and boom. Each of the various parts of the excavator is customized to the need. In this case, there are both small and large excavators available. Such machinery is crucial during the building of the foundation of large buildings.

Aerial and Scissor Lifts

These are special lifts that have some differences in their mode of performance. They carry the workers and their tools on high parts of the construction site. However, the scissor lift only moves vertically, while the aerial lift can move both vertically and horizontally. These lifts have a load limit and a maximum height at which they can move.

Most of these machines need trained persons to operate. You will need to consider getting the best operator to ensure good work is done in a safe manner. The Equipment also requires care since they are costly, and thus paying for damage could be expensive. Agreements are crucial between you and the rental company to avoid disputes.

Do you want to build a patio in Houston?

The post Equipment Rental for Home Construction appeared first on Texas Patio Building | 281-865-5920.

This content was originally published here.

There are a few DIY projects that homeowners must do in order to improve the house structure. These projects are important for the safety of the home and its inhabitants. In this article, we’ll discuss what these projects are and how to go about completing them.

1. Fixing Structural Defects

One of the most important things that homeowners can do is fix any structural defects in the home. These defects can include things like cracks in the walls, ceilings, or floors; improper roofing installation; and foundation problems. If left unchecked, these defects can lead to more serious problems down the road, such as water damage, mold growth, and even structural failure.

Fortunately, most of these defects can be fixed relatively easily with a little bit of DIY know-how. For example, if you have a crack in your wall, you can use a patch kit to fix it yourself. You also need to remember that it is imperative to get professional help if the repair project you are going to do is too big a scale for your DIY capabilities. If you have a roofing issue, the professional team at smartroofingleads.com recommends getting in touch with a reputable roofing contractor. A bit of research into the sites of some contractors will lead you to the right professionals that will handle your roofing needs. With that, you can hire a roofing contractor that can efficiently do the roof repairs for you. And if you have foundation problems, you may need to call in a professional to fix them. But no matter what the defect is, it’s important to address it as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

2. Installing Gutters and Downspouts

Another important DIY project that homeowners should consider is installing gutters and downspouts. Gutters and downspouts play an important role in keeping water away from the house foundation. If they’re not installed properly, water can pool around the foundation, which can lead to water damage and even structural failure.

Installing gutters and downspouts is a relatively easy project that most homeowners can do themselves. All you need is some basic carpentry skills, a few tools, and some materials. And if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, you can always hire a professional to do it for you.

3. Sealing the Exterior

The final project that homeowners should consider is sealing the exterior of the house. Sealing the exterior is important because it helps protect the house from the elements. It also makes the house more energy-efficient, which can help save on utility costs in the long run.

There are a number of different ways to seal the exterior of a house. You can use a sealant or coat of paint, for example. Or you can install weatherstripping around doors and windows. Whatever method you choose, make sure to consult with a professional before starting any project. They can help you choose the right products and methods for your home.

4. Fix Plumbing Issues

If you have a plumbing issue, it is important to fix it as soon as possible. A plumbing leak can cause water damage to your home and can also lead to mold growth. In addition, a plumbing leak can be dangerous, as it can lead to electric shock. Leaks in plumbing joints are a common problem in houses that can be remedied using basic plumbing knowledge. Using a wrench set, an adjustable wrench, a pipe joint compound, and a Teflon tape, you can fix leaks in plumbing joints and get rid of drips that can damage the floor or wall.

5. Fix Electrical Issues 

One of the most common electrical issues is a tripped breaker. A tripped breaker can be caused by a number of things, such as a faulty appliance or a loose wire. To fix a tripped breaker, you can reset the breaker or replace the fuse. If you have dimmed lights or outlets that don’t work, you may need to replace the light switch or outlet. You may also need to replace the wiring in your home. If you have a faulty outlet, you should have it replaced right away. A faulty outlet can be dangerous and can also cause a fire.

6. Fix HVAC Issues

The most common issues with HVAC systems are dirty filters, clogged coils, and refrigerant leaks. Dirty filters can cause the unit to work harder and run up your energy bill. Clogged coils can lead to the system freezing over or short-cycling, while refrigerant leaks can damage the compressor. Clean or replace filters every month, clean coils every two to four months, and have any refrigerant leaks fixed by a professional.

These are just a few of the DIY projects that homeowners should consider when it comes to improving the house structure. By completing these projects, you can help ensure the safety and security of your home. And you may even save some money on energy costs in the long run. So if you’re thinking about doing some home renovations, be sure to add these projects to your list.

This content was originally published here.

A construction worker smiles on May 28, 2020 in New York City.Builders have been struggling to hire and keep up with the demand for real estate. Now they're raising wages.

Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

The homebuilding sector is hiring more workers and increasing wages — and that could mean more affordable housing is on the way.

The construction industry overall added 60,000 jobs in February, and wages for nonsupervisory positions saw the fastest rate of growth in 40 years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Average hourly earnings in construction are up 6% on a year-over-year basis in February, the fastest pace since 1982," Odeta Kushi, First American's deputy chief economist, told Insider. "Attract and retain more builders and there will be more ground-breaking on new homes."

The US homebuilding sector has experienced it's fair share of setbacks in the last few years. Between labor shortages and a lack of building materials, homebuilders just can't seem to catch a break –  but February's employment and wage growth offer some optimism. If wages continue to rise, they're likely to entice more potential builders. As the industry grows, it could lead to an uptick in homebuilding that could result in more affordable housing.

"The rise is positive news for an industry that has been grappling with chronic labor shortages,"  Kushi said. "We need more homes built and, in such a labor-intensive industry, you need more workers to build more homes."

Higher wages could lead to more housing construction 

Housing affordability remains at historic lows as a lack of available homes for sale has increased buyer competition. The downturn in construction is attributed to many factors but largely a labor shortage that has stalled construction projects across the country.

"The skilled labor shortage in the construction industry is not new, it's been an issue for more than a decade now," Kushi said. However, she noted that February's data is favorable as the rate of residential building is up 6.2% compared to pre-COVID levels. 

According to an October survey conducted by the National Association of Homebuilders, more than 55% of single-family builders reported a shortage of labor across 16 homebuilding trades, with the greatest being among carpentry trades. The NAHB also notes that subcontractor shortages are even more widespread than "shortages of labor employed directly by general contractors." According to them, at least 90% of single-family builders reported a shortage of subcontractors in each of the three categories of carpenters (relating to occupation and training) and 80% to 85% reported a shortage of subcontractors in six other trades.

"Attracting skilled labor will remain a key objective for construction firms in the coming quarters and will become more challenging as the labor market strengthens and the unemployment rate declines," NAHB researchers wrote.  

If the homebuilding sector welcomes more workers, it could relieve the housing market of affordability woes. This is because as more homes are introduced to the market, homebuyers will have to compete less for available inventory. As competition eases, home prices are likely to moderate and eventually fall. 

"Higher costs in construction due to labor scarcity is one factor responsible for recent home price gains," Robert Dietz, NAHB SVP and chief economist, told Builder Online, adding that "the future of homeownership depends on the cost of new housing, and improvements can only be made through industry-wide efforts to improve the labor outlook."

Read the original article on Business Insider

This content was originally published here.

Photo: Rachel Maxwell (Shutterstock)

It’s the time of year when gardeners are itching to get some plants in the ground—but if you live in a climate zone where it’s still too early, there’s another project you can tackle now to kick-start this year’s garden. If you’re looking to maximize your space, take advantage of more direct sunlight, or just design your garden to be more attractive, a trellis is a great solution.

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Some plants are designed to climb, such as pole beans, peas, and nasturtium. Giving them a structure will ensure proper growth and, in the case of vegetables, a higher yield. But other plants can be grown on trellises, as well, by training the vines. Using a trellis to take your garden vertical can improve yield and make the best use of a small space. You can also put up more permanent trellises to grow a privacy screen or to double as a fence.

What materials do you need to build a trellis?

Since a climbing vine will often climb almost anything, there are many materials, from wood to metal, to choose from when designing a trellis. Choosing a material that is both cost-effective and sturdy enough to hold up your plants is the key: Remesh, bamboo, and pre-cut steaks are a good place to start to both save some money and create a sturdy structure that will last.

The most difficult part of building a trellis is getting it to stay upright. There are a couple of solutions for this problem, but using a solid fence stake will help. For a single panel of flat trellis, you’ll just need two stakes, some baling wire or other sturdy wire, and one panel of remesh or hog fence at your desired height and width. These wire mesh products come in a variety of sizes, but you can also trim them to fit your needs with a hack saw or a sturdy pair of wire cutters.

How to build a garden trellis

Once you’ve chosen your size, drive your fence posts into the ground at each corner where you want to place your trellis. You can use a fence post driver or a heavy mallet, and make sure to sink them at least 1-2 feet into the dirt to build a sturdy structure. Then, you can attach your wire mesh to the posts with the metal tabs provided and some baling wire at the top and bottom corners for stability.

To build a simple arch-shaped trellis, you can use a similar method by doubling the number of fence stakes and using a longer piece of wire mesh. Drive your posts at the bottom two corners of your arch, and attach the ends of the mesh to each pair of posts at the bottom and about 4-5 feet from the ground. This is a way to add some beautiful space for your climbing flowers or some extra space for your veggies.

You can also use bamboo stakes to hold up your trellis. The advantage to bamboo is its more natural look and that it can be easily trimmed to whatever height you want with a handsaw or chop saw. Follow the same steps as with the metal stakes, using your baling wire to hold the mesh sheets in place. If you’d rather avoid metal all together, bamboo mesh is also an alternative.

This content was originally published here.

While creating some videos about potting soil (links below) I reviewed a lot of commercial products, looking at both ingredients and marketing claims. What a mess out there! It’s no wonder gardeners are confused when they go out an buy a potting mix. I created this post to try and bring some clarity to the situation.

I will go through a process of selecting a good product while pointing out the important issues and showing you what marketing gibberish you can ignore. This discussion applies to potting soil for houseplants, outdoor containers and starting seeds.

Selecting the Best Potting Soil and Potting Mix, credit: Pistils Nursery

Potting Soil vs Potting Mix vs Potting Compost

What is the difference? I covered that in detail in this video. It depends on where you live, but in short, in the UK potting compost is soil based with added peat or decomposed wood. Australia uses the term potting mix and it’s wood based with no soil. In North America we are totally confused and use both mix and soil, interchangeably. Normally they are peat-based with no soil.

In this post, I will use both potting mix and potting soil interchangeably to get more google hits 🙂 My focus here is on soilless material.

What Does Potting Mix Do For Plants?

This will surprise many of you. It allows plants to grow in what amounts to a hydroponic system which provides support and air. That’s it. We add water and fertilizer. The media is inert and even when it decomposes it adds virtually no nutrients.

Once you understand this, selecting a good potting mix becomes easier.

Selecting a Base Potting Soil

The first criteria is to select your base product and there are three common options; peat, decomposed wood and coir.

Any of the tree options work. If you have access to peat, I would use it since that is the historical standard in horticulture and we know it works well.

Peat Moss

Peat and peat moss are almost the same thing. It has been and still is the gold standard in North America. It was the standard in the UK as well but they are moving away from it and using decomposed wood because of environmental concerns.

Use of peat in horticulture is not nearly as big a problem as the internet would lead you to believe. You can read more about that here, Peat and Peat Moss – the True Environmental Story

Peat slowly decomposes but adds almost no nutrients.

Decomposed Wood

This can be made with a variety of wood products including bark, and is partially decomposed wood. It provides good drainage, lots of air and holds water. It provides few nutrients, in part because of the high C/N ratio.

Coir is ground up coconut husk and is playing a bigger role in replacing peat because people are under the incorrect belief that it is a more eco-friendly alternative.  If you look at the whole life cycle of the product you find that production causes significant harm to fresh water in India and Sri Lanka. See, Is Coir an Eco-friendly Substitute for Peat Moss?

It functions very much like peat.

Additives to the Base Potting Mix

Commercial products add lots of additives to the base material. Some of these are beneficial to plants. Others add value but are not needed and some add no value at all. Additives are used mostly to differentiate one product from another. Ignore the claims and understand their real value.

It is common sense to think that plants need lots of different things in their media, but it’s not true. Many orchid mixes include several additives and none are needed. I grew orchids in plain bark for 20 years and then switched to plain coconut husk for the next 25 years. I’ve grown hundreds of species and won regular show awards. Remember epiphytic orchids grow on plain bark in nature.

Orchid growing naturally, credit:  aboutorchids.com

Charcoal absorbs nutrients which is a good reason not to use it. It is not needed.

Earth Worm Castings

There is a strong unfounded belief that worm poop has special powers. It is just a form of organic fertilizer.

Organic fertilizer does add nutrients, but they also cause a problem in pots. You never know how much nutrient they add. If they decompose faster they add more. If they decompose slower they add less. So you never know if you are under or over feeding your plants.

The “organic” part adds nothing to the plants. The base of your potting mix is already organic matter – adding more does not change things.

Many products now add fertilizer and that feeds your plants for a couple of months which sounds great, but it is a problem. Is it overfeeding or underfeeding your plants? Does it include calcium and magnesium? If you use soft water you probably need added calcium and magnesium. If you use hard water you don’t want any added.

The manufacturer of the media does not know what kind of water you will use, but you do. So it is much better for you to add the fertilizer you need.

Ignore any added fertilizer and supply your own.

Limestone is added to compensate for the acidity of peat moss. Decomposed wood and coir are less acidic and don’t need it.

I tested the pH of peat moss using my tap water which is quite alkaline and the pH of peat rose after a couple of days. If you have similar water you don’t really want limestone in your mix.

The limestone is also not good if you are growing acid loving plants. It is better to add some yourself if you need it.

Meals: Alfalfa, Kelp and Feather

These are all slow release organic fertilizers and as discussed above for worm castings, they don’t really add much value to a mix.

Microbes and Mycorrhizal Fungi

These are becoming hot garden products and they are now added to more potting mixes. Microbes play an important role in real soil, but potted plants are not growing in real soil. Microbes are not need in our pots and it isn’t even clear that they add any benefit. You can grow almost any plant hydroponically without microbes, even orchids.

If you fertilize, the plants do not need microbes and if you add a good level of phosphate then plants won’t even allow mycorrhizal fungi to connect to them.

These additives add no value, but they don’t do any harm either, except to your pocketbook.

Finally an additive that is worth adding. Perlite increases drainage and air in the media. It will make your base media drier and provide more air at the roots. It also compensates a bit for overwatering – which is a very common problem.

If a commercial potting soil contains perlite it is usually only a small amount. You might want to add some more.

The addition of sand increases drainage. It does the same as perlite, except that it is heavier and therefore makes the mix heavier. That can be an advantage for small tippy pots but it’s not so great for large planters that need to be moved around.

Rather than buying a product that contains sand, add it yourself if it is needed.

Soil (loam)

Soil seems to only be added to a mix in the UK, where it is a major component. I have no idea why the UK and US are so different in this regard – we grow the same plants.

Vermiculite also makes the media drain better, but unlike perlite it holds more water resulting in a wetter mix. Perlite seems more popular in commercial mixes than vermiculite and since most gardeners have a tendency to overwater, I’d stick with perlite.

What Are the Best Additives?

Which additives do you want in a purchased product? Some perlite or sand is an advantage. The rest add little or no value so add them yourself if and when they are needed.

Marketing Potting Soil

Marketing hype also confuses the purchasing process with a number of words or claims that really don’t mean much and add no value to the product. Ignore all of the following.

Black Soil

I always get a chuckle about this one. Gardeners associate black with good soil. So if you are selling “potting soil”, why not call it “Black Potting Soil”?

The word black tells you nothing about the quality of the product. Ignore it on bags of potting soil and on bags of real soil where the term is used even more.

Organic Soil

The word organic has been abused so much that it doesn’t mean much any more. There is no such thing as “organically certified potting mix” but products are labeled as organic.

There are OMRI certified products, but that designation means that the material can be used in organic farming. I am not sure how that helps a gardener growing houseplants or even raising seedlings for a vegetable garden.

The word organic on a bag adds no value.

Natural Soil

The main ingredients are either peat, coir or wood – all of these are natural. That means all potting soil is natural even if the bag is not labeled as such.

Sterile Soil

There is no such thing as sterile soil. It is possible that the mixture was sterilized or that one or more ingredients are sterilized, but packaging facilities for potting mix are not sterile environments. And even it the manufacturer did produce a sterile product, as soon as you place a plant in it, it is no longer sterile.

Most of the ingredients in potting soil are fairly pest free and sterility is not really an issue. Any pests in potting media either get in there during the bulk storage period, during packaging or after you open the bag.

Big Plants and More Blooms

Such labels are quite comical. Remember that the potting media is a hydroponic system that provides very little to the plant. Growth and flowering are mostly determined by temperature, humidity, fertilizer levels, water and light. You can grow big plants with lots of blooms in just about any media provided the other parameters are correct and there is enough air for roots to grow.

Specialty Blends

There are special blends for plant categories like succulents, African violets, vegetables, and even seed starting mixes. None of these are needed.

There are also some gimmicky blends like “moisture control media”. You don’t need that either. You control moisture by watering correctly.

Some plants do require a drier or wetter environment and I suggest using the base product and amending it when needed with sand, perlite or vermiculite.

What is the Best Potting Mix?

Select the base material. Then look for a product that uses this base and does not have too many additives.

Name brands tend to be better than no-name brands. Really cheap brands are not worth buying, but you also don’t need the most expensive ones. You pay high prices for special additives that are not needed, or for over priced branding.

Once you find a brand that works for you, stick with it. Over time you will get to know it and understand how to properly water it. This is much better than constantly switching brands to save a dollar or two.

Figure out how much you can use over a couple of years and buy in bulk. It will save you money and media does not get old, provided it is kept dry.

What do I use? I have been using ProMix for many years. It is peat-based and has a bit of perlite in it. It now comes with mycorrhizal fungi which add no value. ProMix is also used a lot in the horticulture industry.

For succulents, I add some sand. For plants that like to be on the dry side, I add some perlite. For outdoor containers I add garden soil which translates into much less watering – see video below. But for all seedlings and 95% of houseplants I use straight ProMix.

Will other mixes work just as well as ProMix? I am sure they will. Buy a good product that is available locally and stick with it.

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When you are looking to upgrade your mailbox, the first thing you will notice is that there are a lot of different styles and designs to choose from. Some are very traditional, while others are more modern. Depending on your personality and the overall look of your house, you may want a classic style or something a little more unique. Finding the perfect mailbox can be tough, but we have compiled some DIY Mailbox Post Plans that can help you build the perfect mailbox for your home. The style you choose should depend on what type of house you have and what look you are going for.

DIY Mailbox Post Plans

These 14 DIY Mailbox Post Plans are from simple designs to elaborate projects. We've done all the research for you, so that means all you have to do is pick one! These plans range from rustic posts made from wood to modern styles made from metal and more. You don't even need extensive construction skills or tools because most of these plans are very easy to follow and simple enough for beginners. However, if you do have some experience under your belt, then this should be a piece of cake for you!

How To Get A Tougher Mailbox

Let's face it, most of your neighborhood mailboxes seem to be made from a combination of junk and styrofoam. You can almost see the letters through the box, and they are held on with little more than a lick of melted plastic. For an avid do-it-yourselfer who has been looking for a way to reinforce their mailbox, here is an easy DIY project that will give you a nice, sturdy mailbox that can withstand even the fiercest winds.

Midcentury Modern Mailbox Post And Address Sign

Have you seen the new midcentury modern mailboxes popping up all over? This Midcentury Modern Mailbox Post And Address Sign is the perfect addition to your home! This DIY project is unique and stylish. It's easy to build, inexpensive, and looks fabulous in any decor. You will have so much fun building this and it will be a great weekend project for you and your friends! Let's get started!

Reclaimed Wood Mailbox

Mailboxes are the quintessential symbol of homeownership. Some people buy a new mailbox to match their new home, some update their old mailbox by painting it, and some folks even build a mailbox themselves. A cool option is to make your own reclaimed wood mailbox from an old pallet! You can have just as much fun making your own reclaimed wood mailbox as you do deliver mail with it. A beautiful wooden mailbox will add flair to your property. It's simple to make and easy on your budget, too.

Tired of the ugly mailbox in your neighborhood? Why not build a new one that is both functional and decorative? It only takes a few tools and materials to create this beautiful cedar post mailbox. The materials needed to build this post are fairly inexpensive, and it will cost a fraction of the price of buying a manufactured mailbox. Cedar is naturally decay-resistant, so you can use it in any area without worrying about it getting damaged or breaking down. Cedar is also lightweight and easy to work with, making it perfect for DIY projects like this one.

Bicycle Sprocket Mailbox Post

If you're looking for a unique way to display your mail, then this is one fantastic idea. The mailbox post is made from bicycle sprockets and hubs. The idea is to completely disassemble the bike, take out the sprockets and hubs, and use these to create a very cool mailbox post. In order to pull off this project, you will have to know how to work with metal. You'll need access to a metal lathe, too. But if you have these tools and the know-how to use them, then you can make this awesome project happen.

Paneled Mailbox Post

The paneled mailbox post is an easy build that will add curb appeal to your home. It can also be used to hide unsightly utilities, such as electrical wires. The post has three panels, which means you can paint it however you want. Some people choose to paint each panel a different color, while others choose a more subtle approach by matching the color of the panels to the mailbox post. This guide shows you how to make a mailbox post out of panels. It's not hard if you have the right tools and are willing to put in a little time.

DIY Mailbox Post

This DIY mailbox post is simple and effective for a small price tag. It is made with pressure-treated wood and a metal bracket, which allows you to put your mailbox at any height that you want. This post is relatively easy to install, requiring only basic carpentry skills. However, if you are not handy in the workshop, this post might not be for you as it requires some drilling and hammering. Despite these downfalls, this mailbox post looks great and will last for years to come. The best part is that costs $44 to create!

This is one of the most simple mailbox post ideas. However, it is also one of the most effective. It works great for those who want to save money on this project, and it also looks quite good. This can be a bigger project for some people since you will be cutting lots of wood and creating a wooden frame for this mailbox post, but it still isn't too difficult. Once you have all of the supplies for it, you should be able to get this one done in about two to three hours.

Scale House Mailbox

Scale House Mailbox is a model train enthusiast's version of the roadside mailbox. It has a slot on top to hold letters and packages and a red flag on the right side that flips up when a letter has been received. With a bit of preparation, you can have your very own scale house mailbox in no time at all. It's a fairly simple project that yields fantastic results, and it can be finished in an afternoon.

If you're looking for the best way to receive multiple mailboxes in one mailbox, consider using duplex mailboxes. A duplex mailbox has two compartments, allowing you to receive mail directly into your home when you're not home. This is especially helpful if you want a single location where all of your family members can get their mail.

Cardboard boxes are a common sight in the corner of any room, filled to the top with junk. But when you're looking for a gift for someone special, those same cardboard boxes can be used to make a fun and inexpensive gift from the heart. If your loved one is moving into a new home or just getting ready to go off to college, this cool DIY Cardboard Mailbox Gift can be the perfect addition to their dorm room or home.

There is nothing like a beautiful mailbox to greet your guests. If you want a DIY mailbox makeover or just want to change the look of your current one, follow these steps. Tape off the area you plan to paint with painter's tape. It is best to choose a tape that is easy to remove. Sand the surface of your mailbox until smooth.

Paint the mailbox in an outdoor paint and let it dry for several hours before removing the tape. Add new numbers or letters with stencils and exterior paint of your choice. You can also consider cutting simple designs out of colored paper and gluing them on. Attach the flag to the top of the pole with a small screw inserted through one of the holes in the base of the flag mechanism.

DIY Mailbox Makeover Your Neighbors Will Envy

It's a great way to make your mailbox stand out from the crowd. Now, it may not be possible for you to change the design of your mailbox but the paint you use can make it look brand new! Use this tutorial and transform your old, boring mailbox!

Make A House Shaped Mailbox

Constructing a house-shaped mailbox is a fun weekend project that you can do with just a few tools. Whether you want to create a post office box for your business, add an interesting feature to your front yard or simply have something unique to store your mail in, this guide will show you how to make a house-shaped mailbox.

Many people think that putting up a mailbox is the end of their quest for mail organization. But with all the junk mail we get these days, it's important to have something on hand that will keep the unwanted mail out of sight and off our minds. Luckily, there are plenty of creative ways to put a spin on conventional mailboxes and turn them into works of art or useful pieces of furniture.

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It’s a new year and a great time to get your DIY skills to work. Renovating homes is costly, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, which are the most used home areas. You walk into your bathroom, and you finally decide that you’ve had enough. Having family over during the holidays had you blindsided for a bit, but you can put things into perspective now that everything’s settled down. Your bathroom’s a total mess, and cleaning it won’t solve anything. A quick call to your plumber confirms what you already know. Building a new bathroom is your only option.

Bathroom Renovation Guide

The cost of a new bathroom may scare you away, but you can limit how much you spend by doing most of the hard work yourself. As projects in the home improvements niche, bathroom remodelling can be tricky to handle all by yourself. Still, we’ve made things easier with this complete step by step guide for do-it-yourself renovations. Let’s begin!

1. Set Out Your Tools

Without the right tools, you’ll find yourself neck-deep in murky waters before you know it. A quick trip to your hardware store will solve the problem if you don’t have any tools. Some of the tools you’ll need for your new bathroom project include:

2. Identify Your Design Plan

There are many bathroom remodelling tips for DIYers to explore when remodelling a bathroom. These 2022 bathroom design ideas include the best layout for small toilets and walk-in showers, among others. You must choose a cost-effective method for renovation projects based on your bathroom layout.

3. Remove Bathroom Fixtures

Start by stripping the existing bathroom of all its plumbing fixtures and fittings. It’s important to note at this point that you’ll need to adhere to all safety precautions necessary. Before removing anything in your existing layout, ensure that you’ve shut off the water coming in from the pipes and that you have removed and drained out the toilet. This will prevent any sudden spills that can disrupt your work.

4. Install New Fixtures

Now that you have a clear outlook on what you want your bathroom to look like, you can begin the actual work. One of the best things about a bathroom remodel is that most of the pipes have already been placed, so you won’t need to worry about those unless you’re making any significant changes. You can also check out trendy bathroom tips for different bathroom layouts if you’re remodelling family bathrooms or a small space.

Suppose you’re ditching the regular bathtub in your old bathroom for a freestanding bath or walk-in shower. In that case, you must follow your manufacturer’s guide for installation. Plumbing work can be pretty tricky, and we recommend following your expert’s advice to the letter, even for mundane things like cabinets or a heated towel rail.

5. Work On New Flooring

Most bathrooms use tile flooring, but you can decide to do something more DIY-friendly. Before you begin to work on your floor space, it’s necessary to check your subfloor to ensure that there are no issues. Your bathroom needs to be durable enough to handle constant foot traffic and moisture, so you may need to remove the old material when remodelling.

Installing or laying flooring will undoubtedly take up a chunk of your time, even if you have a small bathroom. That’ll be great if you have someone to help out in this process. The ideal subfloor is two stacks of thick plywood placed atop each other, and you’ll also need some concrete if you’re going with natural stone tiles. Don’t forget underfloor heating!

6. Fix The Walls

This is one of the final steps to complete bathroom installation. If you’re not installing wall tiles, you’ll need a smooth surface to work with, especially if you want to go with a glossy finish. You can also use acrylic material for your shower walls because of their durable and easy-to-install nature. Check out some bathroom wall ideas and pick which resonates best with your décor.

7. Sinks, Faucets, and Everything In Between

After fixing your walls and shower enclosure, you’ll be able to install your sinks and faucets. You can also bring in a new vanity, wall-mounted taps, cabinets, mirrors, and other accessories you need to hang on your bathroom walls. Your bathroom should be taking shape already!  Caveat emptor: use a certified plumber and electrician where required for wiring and pipe work and install shower, bath, taps and toilet.  What’s most important is water-tightness, and getting advice on how to achieve it will set you up to succeed with a dry, mould-free bathroom.

8. Clean Up

Now that you’ve done all the hard work, it’s time to see results! Clear out all the dirt, and include any extra décor you may have missed. Reconnect your pipes and then test run to see if everything is in order. If you’ve chosen to install new bathroom lighting, turn on the lights to see the best of your bathroom design!

Finally…

Congratulations! You’ve done it! And all by yourself too! Now, all that’s left is to enjoy a nice warm bath in your dream bathroom. You’ve earned it!

This content was originally published here.

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