Fall Regulations

When you take the keys for your new home the house should comply with all regulations relating to falls. . . . . but after you move are you planning to do some improvements.

If you are planning a deck for entertaining or modifying the garden with retaining walls you need to think about protecting your family, and guests.

You can do a lot of damage with a fall from from a relatively low height.

If someone falls and you haven’t provided appropriate barriers you could be personally liable and the insurance company has the opportunity to avoid paying compensation.

National Construction Code

Here is a summary of the current regulations  on protecting from falls:

Where people could fall 1 m from a floor, or through an opening a barrier must be provided.

The barrier must be continuous and extend for the full extent of the hazard; and be high enough to protect people from accidentally falling

The construction shall prevent people from falling through the barrier, including small children, and should be strong enough to withstand thee impact of people; and the pressure of people pressing against it.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Effective Bird Control Strategies for Your Garden

Guest Post by John Smith

It takes a lot of effort and works to till, plant and weed out your garden.

However the results are far worth it— vegetables, fruits, and flowers grow which you can proudly share with friends and family.

But, there is a pesky problem. . . .Birds— they love your garden, too.

Especially those seeds and fruits and vegetables they can put their beaks into.

Birds are not only a common hazard you can find destroying your gardens, and droppings are very unsightly!

So, what do you do? . . . Try these 5 strategies for a bird-free garden!

1. Bird Barriers

This is probably the most effective bird control strategy.

Bird netting can allow the sun or rain through while keeping pesky birds away.

They are simple to install and can just be tossed on top of your fruit trees.

For some common plants like blueberries, you can erect fence posts, bamboo or other stakes which the bird netting can hang on and sturdily anchor it to the ground with strong wires.

If carefully handled and maintained nets can be reused for several years.

Moreover, any bird guard material can be effective, like window screening and chicken wire (smaller birds can pass through).

If birds are pecking on your freshly planted garden seeds, then you can cover them with a layer of landscape tulle or fabric and removing them when the seeds have germinated enough.

You can also attach spikes to the building where birds love to congregate.

2. Get A Dog

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pandoozy/6334535751

Sheepdogs, border collies, and other breeds love to chase birds are quite good at it.

You can either hire a trained dog handler so they can patrol a bird-infested area or get a dog for yourself and train him.

Walk your dog in the early evening and early morning hours when birds are most active.

You not only control pesky birds but you also got yourself an adorable pooch to live with.

3. Scare Tactics

Birds are scared of humans, however, who likes the idea of standing in their garden all day long?

Well, a scarecrow can do the trick.

You can buy a pre-made one from your local garden store. Or, much better, create your own scarecrow by simply constructing a cross out of woods, cover it with clothes and stuffed it with straws to make it more realistic.

You can place your scarecrow in the vicinity of the birds and watch them fly away scarily.

You need to move your scarecrow around every few days in order to prevent pesky birds from getting too comfortable with it.

You can also change its clothes to scare birds more.

Like scarecrows, you can also place decoys throughout your garden.

Get a number of cheap, plastic animal decoys and place them on your garden.

Choose natural predators of birds such as coyotes, swans, owls, and snakes.

Re-position them every few days in order to keep the birds on edge.

4. Activate Water Deterrents

This strategy might not be feasible in every space, however, it can be a great tool in keeping birds away from your plants and vegetation while also effortlessly showering them with water.

You can buy and install a motion-sensor sprinkler aimed at the infested bird area.

Every time a bird tries to land on your precious garden, the sprinkler will sense them and a spray of water will be sprayed, scaring them away.

Do not worry about the strength of the water stream since they are harmless and only keep birds away.

5. Build A Distraction

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kables/8367405

The only reason why birds love to hang out in your garden is that they are looking for an easy and convenient food source to nibble on.

Building bird feeders are a great way to attract these birds to a particular area in your garden and keep them away from other areas that you want them to avoid.

Just make sure that you monitor your feeds every day and give those birds an easy access in order for them not to look at other food sources in your garden.

Conclusion

Although some birds can be quite beautiful to look and enjoy at others can be downright destructive and pesky.

The tips above can help in order to deal with a pesky bird problem.

If these birds stubbornly decline to leave, then boost up your efforts by trapping or hunting them, or call in pest control pros in Pretoria.

How Much Did That Swim Cost?

$25 or more ?

Think I am joking?

Initial cost

For a reasonable sized pool with a paved surround and proper fences you are unlikely to get away with less than $60,000.
Add it to your mortgage and you are going to be paying at least another $3,000 a year.

Running costs

Typical costs are:

  • Electricity is going to be around $1,000 a year.
  • Chlorine and other chemicals: $400 a year.
  • Maintenance of pumps covers etc $200 a year.

Plus much more if you are going to have heating!

Overall

Based on the above figure annual costs are going to be around $4,600.

But how many times a week will it be used over the 13 weeks of summer?

Well it could be 30 times during the summer holidays but over the whole 3 months 14-15 times a week is more likely.

$4,600 divided by (13 x 14) = $25.27 . . . and you don’t even get a decent swim, 2-3 strokes and you hit the wall.

 

SPA/HOT TUB

Not got space for a swimming Pool?

Would you like a spa/hot tub?

I know when I go on holiday I quite enjoy getting in a hot spa at the end of the day.

Before you make the decision to buy it’s worth thinking about what it’s going to cost.

Initial Requirements

Besides the cost of the initial unit there is where its going to be located.

  • Landscaping around it, or on a paved area. ( I would say on a paved area so it can be removed easily*)
  • If you are thinking of on a deck the deck will need to be strengthened as a spa full of water, and people, can be 2-3 tonnes.
  • Under a roof, or pergola.
  • Will you need a pool fence or just a lockable hardcover (Check your council requirements)
  • Running power/ electricity to the unit.

*Pools and spas can put future buyers off a property. 

Ongoing Costs

Typically the biggest cost is going to be heating. . . . Increasing the water temperature from 20ºC to 35ºC for a 1,000 litre spa would take around 17kw hrs of electricity costing around $5.(even using a heat pump its going to cost around $2) An insulated cover will help a little.

Other cost will include; running the spa pumps, running filter pumps, disinfection, and ongoing maintenance and repairs.

Additional water usage due to refilling the spa, and evaporation losses.

 

Even though I enjoy a spa, every time I have looked at the costs, I’ve decided against it. . . so it remains a holiday treat.

 

 

 

 

Decks, Balconys, and Safety

Last weekend this attractive looking balcony collapsed killing 2 people and injuring 17

For the full story check out the following link: The Age

With the party season now underway its worth thinking about whether your balcony/deck is up to the situation.

Loading

You may think that you are just inviting a few friends round……. but the average adult weighs over 75Kilos,

So if you are having 20 guests around for a party their combined weight will be over 1.5 tonne, that’s heavier than my car.

Get them to group together for a photo and all that weight is in a small area.

If they start dancing there are dynamic forces as well.

What can be done?

Well if you are planning a deck in the future make sure that it’s properly designed and constructed.

There is no room for “That looks strong enough….No worries”.

If you have an existing deck then check that its up to scratch:

  • No rot in the timbers
  • No corrosion
  • No loose fittings
  • Make sure the wall bolts holding the structure against the walls are secure.
  • Handrails are secure
  • Maximum spacing between balustrade rails should be 100mm

Before a party its a good idea to stop too many people going on a balcony, so put a couple of tables out there,

A table loaded with food might seem heavy but it will still be lighter than 4 or 5 adults.

Planting Shrubs

A lot of gardening web site tell you that you need to improve all your garden soil before you start planting.
Well in the case of shrubs I take a different approach, which has worked well for me.

Starting

The ground of a typical site following the build is in pretty poor condition.

Little top soil so even the weeds are struggling to survive.

A week before planting I look to kill all the weeds using  a weedkiller containing Glyphosate. (If you want a non chemical solution I would suggest using a steam gun) You are aiming to kill the roots , not just the foliage.

I normally follow up with a second weedkiller the day before planting.

Planting

Rather than improve the whole area and give potential weeds a break I concentrate on the area where the weeds will spread over the next 2-3 years.

I dig a hole around 3-4 times the diameter of the shrubs pot and around 100mm deeper and place the plant on a bed of compost in the hole.

I then backfill around the rootball with a mixture of 50% compost and 50% material excavated from the hole.

If you have got a worm farm it’s a good idea to include a couple of trowels of that material, with a few of the worms.

Make sure the backfill is firm so the plant doesn’t move around.

Mulch

Rather than buy expensive wed mat I simply use a layer of newspaper, typically at least 3 sheets thick with generous overlaps.

I then cover the paper with a mulch, either gravel, or bark as in the photo.

If you are doing a big garden don’t buy your mulch by the bag, it’s cheaper to buy it by the cubic metre from a garden supplier.

 

 

Thinking About Pets

Did you think about your pets when you planned your new House?

Will the House and garden be safe for your pets when you move?

Here are some things to think about:

Planning

Where will the pet sleep at night?

Where will it have access to during the day?. . . . For instance check out this Cat Lovers House

Where will it food be placed? and a litter tray be for cats? I like to keep the litter tray away from carpets, and anywhere else where I might walk with bare feet.

Are you going to give a dog access to the whole of the back yard or just a run.

Will there be shelter for the dog in the yard? We used to leave the dog bed under the verandah at one house, at another we had a porch at the back door.

How are you going to deal with a wet dog after a walk?. . . a regular reader of this blog told me they have planned an extra large laundry with a shower big enough to wash their two dogs.

When You Move In

Are any fly screens cat/dog proof , , , I would recommend any fly screens that protect doorways have a strong metal mesh.

Are all gates in place.

Do  the fences go right down to the ground, and are high enough to prevent jumping. . . . we had a medium sized dog which had never escaped until we moved to a new house and my wife got a job.  . . . It then started jumping a 1.5m brick fence.

Is there a risk your pet will try to dig under the fence?

Do you check your plants to check they aren’t toxic to your pets?

 

We have only had dogs and cats as pets, so there may be other questions for different pets.

 

 

Alternatives to Retaining Walls

When it comes to a change of gradient in your land most people just thing ‘Retaining wall’.

Perhaps you should think about some alternatives using a slope.

What you need to consider is how to make sure at that erosion is prevented when rainfall gets washed down the slope.

A great example is this slope has been protected by large boulders carefully placed to appear like a natural rock outcrop.

Another approach is to construct something like a drystone wall but laid back at an angle of around 45 degrees like this second example.

For more inspiration just try Google Search ‘Rockery’ for hundreds of ideas.

Why Adding a Patio to your New Home is the Right Choice

Guest post by Bryan Alexander

If you happen to live in Western Australia, you get to experience more sunshine hours than almost anywhere in the world,

With the outdoor lifestyle firmly embedded into the culture, you really should spend some time thinking about your outside area.

With a little creativity and a suitable budget, you could transform the most important area of the home, and make it a special area for you, your family, and your friends to enjoy.

A Comprehensive Solution

There are online companies that are dedicated to transforming outdoor areas, and for those who live in Western Australia, Perth Better Homes provide patios in Perth, and their in-house design team will help you to explore the possibilities, and whatever the outcome, they have the resources and the know how to make it happen.

They are experts at designing and creating unique outdoor areas that blend in perfectly with the home, and they can work to the client’s budget, which is ideal. 

This type of company would be able to arrange landscaping, awnings, lighting and garden furniture, and if you wanted to start from scratch, they would have the resources to complete the project.

Maximise your Summer Enjoyment

Having a nice terraced area with adequate shading and nice furniture is by far the best way to experience the long summer days and evenings, and with an outdoor kitchen, the patio is complete.

Entertaining will take on a whole new dimension, and your party dates will soon be etched on everyone’s calendar, and with some professional help at the design stage, you really can’t go wrong.

Add Living Space

If you have a very comfortable terraced area, you have effectively increased your living space, and with the right screening, the area can be turned into a room and can be used all year round.

If the patio is adjoined to the rear or the side of the property, you can install some sliding or bi-folding aluminium doors, which gives you easy access to the outdoor area.

Al Fresco Dining

There is definitely something special about enjoying a nice meal in a quiet, shaded area of the garden, and if al fresco is up your street, the perfect ambience can be achieved with the right awning and some suitable garden furniture.

This Mediterranean style is very popular in Australia, as the climate is ideal, and with the right lighting, the evenings will give you and your family a warm, inviting glow.

Complement the Property

You probably have your home just as you want it, but imagine what you could do if you added a stylish patio?

It would certainly add value to the property and with the right design,and would  complement the residence, and you and your family will always have a special reason for looking forward to the arrival of summer.

With the right help, there is no limit to what you can achieve in the garden, and the unlimited design options means your garden will have a truly unique look that will be the envy of all.

Landscape Ideas for Saving on Energy

Guest Post by Joel Sidaka

Would you believe that with strategic landscaping, you would be able to save money, increase property value, and make your place look more appealing?

Yes, you read it right, by following some of these property renovations, you will be able to conserve energy through landscaping.

6 Ways to Save Energy Through Landscaping

1. Pay Attention to the Wind

The first on the list of our property maintenance tips would be to pay attention to the wind and utilize fences or shrubs to guide direct cooling breezes to your property.

Aside from that, you will also be able to stop the sun from directly hitting your home and turning it into an oven. You should also consider planting large evergreen trees on the west side of your home, as it would effectively block the hot rays of the afternoon summer sun.

Drought-tolerant plants are also helpful, because they could decrease the effects of humidity as well.

Also refrain from directly planting thirsty plants near your home. . .  Instead, put them in the corners of your garden.

2. Proper Shading Is Also Important

You also have to pay attention to where you are going to plant the trees.

Many landscapers suggest that you plant them on the west windows and the east should be your next priority.

Also, choose a tree that could be planted within 20 feet of the window, and would be at least 10 feet taller than your window. By doing so, you will have the assurance that you will get ample shade from it.
If you are thinking of planting a tree to protect you from the noon sun think again.

During summer, the sun is high at noon, which  means that the tree shadow would fall directly under it, and would not be able to shade  your home.

On the other hand, during winter, the shadow of the tree would fall on the house all throughout the day. Thus, it is not efficient at all.

3. Natural, Organic Mulches Are Heaven-Sent

If you’ve been doing DIY landscaping for the past few years, you probably know by now that watering flowerbeds are nothing but a necessity; since all plants need water, even the healthy ones.

However, there are also steps that could help you improve the health of your plants, and make them last longer even if you fail to regularly water them.

Not just that, it is also possible to make them heat resistant.

Organic mulches, such as wood chips are perfect for this.

You simply have to place the mulch around the roots of the trees and flowerbeds.

4. Maximize Dead Spaces

If you want to insulate your home in both summer and winter, then you should consider planting shrubs, vines, and bushes close to your property.

Make sure that as they mature they is space between them and your house as well as from each other.

5. Be Responsible When Watering

If you really want to control your energy use, it is important that you become responsible on how you use water.

According to the US EPA, its ideal to water your plants when the weather is cool, this is early morning.

Likewise, the sprinklers should be set to water only selected areas.

This would also help you prevent wasting water on other parts of the yard.

Invest in rainwater tanks and you can use the water you have collected for watering your plants.

Do not forget to check the taps, hoses, and plumbing to see if there are any leaks that need fixing.

6. Go Manual Whenever You Can

During the hot summer months, it is ideal to modify and raise the mower’s cutting height to let the grasses grow long.

This would not only shade the roots, but would also reduce the occurrence of browning.

As for the equipment, use manual tools whenever possible in order to conserve energy.

If you really have to use larger equipment, then just rent or borrow one. This would prevent you from overspending.

Final Words

Having a green landscape on your property can be your first step toward a more sustainable conservation movement.

Although it might seem like it will not do much, after quite some time, you will realize that there is great potential behind it.

By making your landscape more energy efficient, you will be able to save a few dollars, which you can spend on other things.