Archive for January, 2010

What Are The Best Patio Heaters?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Patio heaters or other types of outdoor heaters can turn your patio from a space that’s only comfortable during temperate months into that you can use in fall and winter, too. Here are some things to consider when you’re choosing the best patio heaters for your particular use.

What kind do you want?

§         Patio fire pit

A patio fire pit is the least expensive type of patio heater, and it’s simply a container we can build a campfire. You can do one of two things with a fire pit; you can simply establish it as a suitable container that you can move from place to place, or you can install one permanently. Not just a “fire pit,” in fact, these can be very stylish, depending on your decor.

§         Mexican chimineas

Other types of patio heaters include the Mexican chimineas. This is simply a clay or metal pot, freestanding, that has a short chimney on top and a wide opening at the bottom. It gives the atmosphere sort of unique and homey, “old world” feel.

§         Patio fireplace

A patio fireplace is a fireplace that’s actually built into your patio, either as a freestanding cast-iron stove, or constructed similar to an indoor fireplace. These can be fueled by electricity, wood, or propane gas.

§         Standalone patio heaters

Standalone patio heaters are the most versatile type of patio heater, and are simply a freestanding post with a propane burner. This is probably the most consistently warming (and among the least expensive overall) of the options, and uses either natural gas or propane fuel; some models use electricity, as well.

Which should you choose?

The type of patio heater you choose is going to depend on your own particular needs. If you like a rustic feel, the crackle of fire, and a sort of “sitting around the campfire” atmosphere, the patio fireplace or patio fire pit are good options, and they’re not that expensive. However, be aware that you are going to have to “feed” your patio heater, in that it’s going to need to be continually fueled with wood when you use it. And of course, it’s also going to require some cleaning and maintenance.

The Mexican chimineas, too, is a good option, again if you prefer a more rustic feel.

Considerations

While the fire pit is the cheapest and easiest to set up, it does require some maintenance. For maintenance free patio heating that’s also the most consistent, your best bet is probably to go with the standalone patio heater. Because you can move standalone patio heaters from place to place with no muss and no fuss, you’re also not limited to one location, as with some other options. And, they may be the most safe to use as well, although of course safety is always a consideration with these types of outdoor heaters, anyway.

Choose the right patio heater for you, and enjoy your patio year-round with friends and family, not just during the summer. 😉

Patio Heater

Patio Heater

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What Kind Of Gardening Gift Is A Worm Bin?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Almost anyone who has an organic garden will set up a worm bin sooner or later. A worm bin is simply a compost bin

How A Worm Bin Works

A worm bin or vermicompost pile as it is called works simply. Instead of just allowing the food from your kitchen to decay on its own, you put it in a bin where you have placed worms. The worms eat the vegetable and fruit matter and when they eliminate waste you have compost.

Building a worm bin is simple. You can use any material such as rubber, wood, plastic or galvanized tubs. Most serious worm compost users like wooden bins because wood breathes better and absorbs excess moisture.

How to Make a Worm Bin

Build a wooden box twice the size you want for composting and put a removable divider down the middle. Drill holes about 1/8 of an inch apart in the bottom four inches of the box to provide ventilation. Make two lids the right size for each half of the box from tops or other material that will help block out rain. This will keep excess moisture out.

Preparing the Bin

Now you need to prepare your bin the day before placing your worms inside. You do this by filling the bin with thin strips of shredded newspaper, straw or dry grass, and then putting a light covering of dirt on top of it. Water, the dirt lightly but thoroughly. Let it sit for 24 hours before adding your worms.

Ordering Your Worms

There are many places where you can order your worms from. The best worms to use are red wigglers or European Night crawlers. You will need 1 lb of worms for every square foot of surface area on your compost pile. Add the worms to your bin and then add some fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen.

Maintaining Your Worm Bin

In order to maintain your worm bin, simply add more fruit and vegetable scraps at least once a week and sprinkle with water every other day. Keep your worm bin covered unless it becomes overly damp.

When the worms begin making compost the height of your newspaper or dry scraps will lower when the bin looks to be about ½ full then add more newspapers or dry grass.

Harvesting Your compost

In order to harvest your compost you need to separate the compost that is not completely decomposed and the worms from the compost. To do this prepare the unused side of your bin as you did the first side. Remove the divider and then take the lid off the side with your compost and worms in it. Since worms like the dark, the worms will begin to move to the side of the compost bin that is dark, this takes about two or three weeks. Replace the divider and use the compost.

Since your worms will be reproducing, grab a handful and take the afternoon off to fish. Who knows not only can these worms help you grow prize winning vegetables, but they may help you catch that prize winning fish you have been after as well. 😉

Gardening Gift Worm Bin

Gardening Gift Worm Bin

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What Are Pergolas? Giant Gardening Gifts!

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

If you have never heard of a pergola, this article is for you.  A pergola is a structure that has pillars supporting a strong wooden framework. The wooden frame is then covered with some sort of live vegetation or plant. The result is a shade supplying structure that adds personality to your garden area.

The best example I can offer is that of a grape arbor. We have all seen grape arbors, haven’t we? I am sure you have at one time or another. But pergolas can be much more than that. We will see exactly what I am talking about very shortly.

Pergolas may take several different forms. They can be a free standing structure such as a gazebo type or act as a walkway between two buildings or pavilions. It is even possible to have a pergola that is a lean to type that is used to simply sit or stand under for shade.

The word pergola is originally derived from the Latin term “pergula” meaning an “eave that projects”. However, the term as we use it comes from an Italian word that was first coined by John Evelyn in a 1645 text.

Usually the structure has marble or stone pillars supporting the wood roof. Nowadays though, the materials can be just about anything. Sometimes an all wood construction is utilized, but modern material like nylon or hard plastics may be tapped for the pillars. The roof or cover is always wood and is interwoven with vine like plants or foliage.

The resulting structure is one that strikes a balance between nature and human habitation. As the plants and vines above receive the sunlight needed to grow and thrive, people can walk or stand beneath it and stay out of the bright sunlight while still enjoying the outdoors.

Building a pergola in the backyard can be a beautiful addition to the family area and add ambiance to the yard or garden. As time goes by, the covering plants and flowers will become thicker and more beautiful with each passing season. It can actually add value to the home as well.

Plans can be purchased that will show you how to build a pergola yourself. These plans are simple and can be followed by anyone, even if you have never built anything before. All you need are some tools, hardware and a little time. Believe me, it is well worth the effort.

If you are more of the prefabricated kind of hobbyist, kits are available that include the materials precut and ready to assemble. Just follow the easy 1-2-3 instructions and you will have your pergola up in no time at all. Pergolas are a beautiful way to add to your property in a very simple way.

For instance, it is possible to connect your garage to the house with a walkway pergola. This provides protection from the hot sun during summer months and may keep the walkway clear of snow in the winter. Either way, this is a good way to beautify your yard or garden in a natural way that is earth friendly. 😉

Outdoor Pergola

Outdoor Pergola

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Garden Lanterns Are Elegant Gardening Gifts

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

There are many different kinds of garden lanterns, and in fact, with the amount of outdoor lighting to choose from it can be very overwhelming. There are hanging lanterns of all descriptions, from Chinese lantern styles to more traditional, and just about everything in between. There are also some really nice ‘candle’ style lanterns, that will sit on the rail around your deck, or on your patio table. The cool thing about these is that while they give off the soft flickering glow of a candle, they are in fact an electric or battery operated light.

For garden lanterns, there are post lights as well. These are probably the best for outdoor lighting in your garden, and they come in a number of varieties. Some are like lamp posts, which can illuminate your way if you like to do some night gardening, and there are stake lights. Stake lights you simply push into the ground where you want them, for instance to allow you to walk around without stumbling into your plants. It can be a cool way to allow guests to enjoy the ‘fruits’ of your labor.

Now there are basically three different power sources for garden lanterns. One of them are regular electric outdoor lighting. You have two options with these, one is hooking them directly into you home’s electric grid, either by direct wiring, or by plugging them into an outlet. While these are great, there are a few draw backs. One is that you have to turn them on, and the other, they can suck electricity. The other way is with battery operated lights, and of course, you have to change the batteries, and you have to turn them on. Now you can buy a timer, which you can set to come on automatically for both of these.

Now instead of dealing with all the hassles of regular garden lanterns, the best idea for outdoor lighting is the solar powered lantern. While the initial cost can be a little higher, there are many advantages over the others. One big reason to buy these is that they won’t draw on your power bill, and you never have to worry about changing batteries again! Instead of drawing electricity from a battery or your house, these gather energy from the sun. There are two different kinds of solar lights. You can find many different kinds of lights that have small built in panels, that draw the sun’s energy during the day, store it and then turn on the lights at night. You also have sets with a separate panel, so you can place the lights anywhere around your garden, as long as the panel is in direct sun.

The other really nice thing about solar powered garden lanterns is that you never have to worry about turning them on, setting some kind of timer, or even not having them in a power outage! The new state of the art solar powered outdoor lighting systems use LED lights, which draw very little power, and these lamps can keep your walkways lit for up to twelve hours on a single charge. So stop wasting your money, as well as precious energy, and pick up some of these lights instead. Mother Nature will thank you. 😉

Garden Lanterns

Garden Lanterns

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Porch Swings Are The Best Kind Of Gardening Gifts

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Do you feel that your garden needs something different? Are your plants and decorations just not enough? Maybe you could use a porch swing or patio swing. Both offer different ways of decorating your garden. They also offer an inviting atmosphere for guests. Of course, these swings come in different styles, shapes, and sizes. It’s important for you to know the differences before selecting either one. This article will talk to you about different patio and porch swings, and what one may be perfect for you.

A porch swing is exactly what the name says. They are mostly used for your porch. These types of swings are only ideal if you have a large porch. You could also have a porch that connects to your in ground swimming pool. You may want to have a porch swing near that. Of course, you and your guests wouldn’t want to get splashed! These swings usually come with their own separate stands. You can also connect them to the roof of your porch, if you have one. Most swings usually fit up to four people, depending on which kind you prefer. You can also purchase them in fabric or wood versions.

A patio swing, on the other hand, is good for a smaller porch area. They will typically sit up to two people. It’s perfect for couples who want to enjoy the sunset together. You can usually set these swings on your patio or in your garden. They add a nice touch to any kind of garden. Some of these swings also come with a gazebo. This will make entertaining in the summer time a lot more fun. This brings an inviting style to any backyard.

Always make sure to do your homework when choosing different swing styles. Of course, you don’t want to end up with a child’s swing set! It may be cute, but wouldn’t be appropriate for an adult party. You can find the different styles of swings at various home stores. It’s always best to observe each one, especially the prices. Do your homework on the pricing as well. A similar style could cost less at a different store.

Lastly, you should make sure that your patio swing or porch swing is sturdy. The last thing you want is for your guests to come crashing down on the ground! This can be very humorous; but dangerous as well. You should always check the information to see how many pounds the swing holds up to.

No matter what type of swing you choose, it will bring your garden together. You’re more than likely to enjoy the outdoors more. Even if you’re not fond of being outside! 😉

Porch Swing

Porch Swing

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Three Reasons Why Garden Plaques Make Wonderful Gardening Gifts

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Anyone that has a garden will always be looking for decorative objects.  For example, if you have a rose garden, you may want elegant gazing balls, fountains, or resin animals to create  a complete thematic setting.  Today, many people also find that garden plaques can create a beautiful and charming accent piece.  Therefore, if you have friends that enjoy gardening, you can purchase gardening plaques for a wide range of gifting occasions.

Inexpensive

If you are looking for gardening plaques, you will find that they are far less expensive than other types of gardening decorations.  Without a question, there are hundreds of discount sites online that offer a wide range of styles and sizes.  Even if you decide to purchase a plaque during an off-season, you can always store it away for a suitable gifting occasion.  As may be expected, if you are a gardener, and find a particular design appealing, you can always purchase a second unit for yourself.

Fun to Shop For

Each year, thousands of artists come up with intriguing new designs for gardening gifts.  This includes plaques with rioting chipmunks, playful rabbits, and all sorts of other amusing designs.  At the same time, if you are looking for a more serious looking ornament, you will also find designs suitable to your needs.  Once you start looking for gardening gifts, you can easily spend hours browsing through a wide range of websites.  No doubt, if you are tired of winter, or simply want to look at tasteful objects, you will enjoy the search process.

Suitable for Many Occasions

No matter whether you are shopping for a friend, teacher, family member, or co-worker, garden plaques are ideal for gift giving.  Consider a situation where your child has a teacher who expresses an avid interest in gardening.  As may be expected, there will be times when parents will want to get together in order to purchase a special gift from the entire class.  Rather than purchase knick knacks or a box of candy, gardening gifts may be much more suitable.

In a similar way, gardening plaques can be used to express a wide range of sentiments without being overbearing to the recipient. You may even find that gardening gifts will be suitable for people that are recovering from some type of illness.  Aside from being able to choose bright and cheerful designs, the recipient is also sure to look forward to a time when he/she will be able to enjoy all the rewards associated with having a garden.

When you know someone for a number of years, it can be difficult to find a gift that will reflect your sentiments.  Interestingly enough, you may have the same problem when you want to offer a special gift to someone that you do not know very well.  When these people express an interest in gardening, you can easily find plenty of garden plaques that will help you achieve your goal.  At the very least, you won’t be stuck giving out items that do not have a personal touch to them. 😉

Garden Plaque

Garden Plaque

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Adding Garden Birdhouses

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Placing birdhouses in your backyard garden is a great way to attract birds. You just need to know what kind of birdhouse will attract the birds you want. Some of them are great for the small birds while others are better for the bigger birds. Once you decide which kind you want in your garden, then either purchase or build one.

That is right you can build your own. Just have to get the right plans to cut the wood from. It is important to realize here that you need to choose the right wood for the job. Do not use pressure treated wood because of the chemicals that it has in it. Use something like cedar, which stands up to the weather.

There are some similarities between all birdhouses, regardless of which bird you are building for. The roof needs to slant enough to allow any rainwater to run off. A drain hole should also be placed in the bottom to allow the water to run out if it does get inside.

Make sure the house is well ventilated by placing some small holes up around the top. It could get too hot for the birds otherwise. You want the birds to nest happily in the houses not fry!

It is also best to make the birdhouses in a way that they can be taken apart and cleaned. You can simply do this by using galvanized-metal hinges to attach the sides and other pieces. Galvanized metal will not rust or deteriorate like other metals do in the weather.

Be sure not to build any perches for the house. Birds do not need them to access the house, and they only provide convenient handholds for predators. Now let’s talk about the size of the holes.

No matter what size bird you are attracting, the hole should be just big enough for that bird to go in it. It should not be a lot bigger than the bird needs, because it could let predators into the birdhouse you have made. This is where your research comes in, as far as knowing which bird you are building for.

Do not place the houses too close to each other. You need to allow the birds about one-fourth acre of land in between each birdhouse. Feeders can be scattered in between the houses though. Maybe place a birdbath here and there too. This will make your garden a complete haven for birds.

To your delight, you can watch birds lay their eggs in the house you built for them. You can also see them flutter about the garden and yard between the birdbaths and feeders. Just sit down and relax to see how many bird species you can view!

This will increase your enjoyment of the wonderful feathered friends that live in your area. Year after year the birds will return to the birdhouses to raise their families. As long as you maintain the houses the birds will come. 😉

Garden Birdhouse

Garden Birdhouse

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    Add A Garden Bird Bath

    Friday, January 1st, 2010

    If you love birds, and you want them to congregate in your garden so that you can watch them, you probably already know that adding a bird feeder or two to your garden is a good way to attract birds. However, did you know that adding a garden bird bath will also help attract birds to your garden, so that you can watch them frolic and play with each other?

    A garden bird bath also provides a water source for your garden, whereby the soothing, trickling sounds of water can add to the ambience and atmosphere there. Many, many different species of wild birds will be attracted there, and in fact they won’t be able to resist a garden bird bath. This is especially true if it’s a hot summer and they need some refreshment and cooling down.

    What should you look for it when you buy your garden bird bath?

    There are some things you should look for when you buy a garden bird bath. For one, most garden bird baths are electrical in nature, such that you’ll need to “plug them in.” If you don’t want to go for a plug-in model, solar powered bird baths are in excellent choice.

    How deep should your bird bath be?

    Birds prefer relatively shallow water. For best results, optimal depth should be about 3 inches. If you do find a slightly deeper design that you would rather have, you can put some smooth pebbles in the bottom of the birdbath (just make sure the birds can easily use the birdbath) to make it the optimal depth of about 3 inches.

    What texture should the bird bath have?

    Stone bird baths are a great choice because not only do they look natural and therefore very “in place” in your garden, but they also have a little bit of a rough surface, and birds like this because it’s easier for them to hang onto the edges.

    Choose a bird bath that fits your garden’s design and size

    An overly large, ornate bird bath is likely not going to sit well if your garden is small and “neat.” Similarly, if you have a particularly large garden, a petite bird bath is going to get swallowed up in it — unless you would prefer to “sprinkle” several small bird baths throughout your garden for birds to use. Again, anything in a natural material, such as stone, is going to fit well in most gardens.

    Situating your birdbath

    Make sure the bird bath goes into place in your garden where birds will feel safe and comfortable, free from predators, etc. You want them to be able to relax and enjoy their baths, so that you can watch them and enjoy them too. (In other words, don’t put the bird bath in plain sight of Fluffy’s or Fido’s favorite observational perch. While the antics between kitty/dog and birds may be funny, you’re certain to scare your birds away, so that they won’t want to come back!)

    Finally, once you have the right bird bath installed, and once you know it’s working properly, make sure you clean it at least once a week. In fact, during the summer, it’s wise to clean it every day. Mold and algae aren’t helpful and certainly will drive birds away — but those same birds will think yours is the “hopping spot” in the neighborhood if you do keep it clean.

    So provide your feathered friends a safe and healthy place to congregate and perform their ablutions — and give yourself hours of enjoyment at the same time — with a garden bird bath! 😉

    Enjoying A Bird Bath

    Enjoying A Bird Bath

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