Category: Fireplaces

Signs of a Skunk in Your Yard

Skunks are nocturnal insects that sometimes cause problems in the urban scene, the most frequent criminals being the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) and the spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis). Everybody knows about the poisonous scent these mammals produce, but few know that skunks are carriers of rabies, canine distemper, canine hepatitis and a score of different diseases. Understanding the symptoms of a skunk in your yard is the first step to removing this potentially dangerous animal.

Faint Odor

Skunks are famed for being smelled long before they are seen. Even if they are not spraying, everywhere that a skunk frequents may be tainted with their odor, especially den places. If you’re regularly smelling a dim skunk scent while working in your garden or yard, you may have skunks as fresh neighbors. Should you smell skunk in late winter, it may be because males in the region are fighting for the available females.

Holes in the Lawn

If you discover around, 3- to 4-inch-wide holes in the lawn, this can be a telltale sign of skunk feeding. Unlike other digging creatures like dogs or raccoons, skunk holes are normally shallow and perfectly circular. They dig just deep enough to locate grubs and other soil-dwelling insects. Skunks may occasionally dig cone-shaped holes beneath construction bases that enable them access under the structure. Search for footprints like a cat’s, but with five feet, in the loose soil of those excavations.

Rolled-Back Sod

In lawns where grubs have broken the sod considerably, skunks may simply roll up the sod back like a rug. They prevent digging if possible, therefore loose sod is a particularly attractive choice for skunks. While it seems that peeling back sod is far better than digging in the yard, if the sod has been upturned for very long, the grass may be badly diminished and need replacement.

Barking Dogs

If neighborhood dogs suddenly begin barking at night, then it may be because skunks are afoot. Skunks are nocturnal, meaning that they hunt at night — dogs within fenced yards will happily make a huge ruckus when skunks pass nearby in their nightly rounds. Even if these skunks are not headed to your yard straight away, it’s possible that they will eventually pay you a visit.

No Signs

When you don’t have any pets to accidentally cross their paths, it’s possible that skunks may occupy the empty spots under your outbuildings or deck without being discovered. If you watch closely in early summer, then you may see female skunks taking their kits along as they search for food at dusk or after dark.

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Chemicals for Fruit Trees

If cared for correctly, fruit trees will offer delicious crops which it is possible to enjoy directly from the branch. Certain substances can help maintain your own fruit trees healthy by controlling pests, treating ailments and supplying nutrients. All you have to do is select the suitable substance for the task.


Fungicides help control diseases brought on by fungal pathogens which attack and damage trees. Neem oil controls powdery mildew spores, scab and rust. Liquid cooper fungicides — including Bordeaux mixture, that can be a combination of copper sulfate and lime — control the two fungal and bacterial diseases like leaf spots, brown rot, leaf curl, anthracnose and fire blight. Sulfur prevents the spores of fungal pathogens from germinating and may be used as a preventive spray against rust, powdery mildew and other fungal diseases. Benomyl controls a broad collection of fungal diseases, including brown rot, leaf spot and powdery mildew. Captan controls fungal pathogens like brown rot, scab and cherry leaf spot, but might worsen powdery mildew infestations. Fungicides containing mancozeb control rust, scab and fruit spot.


Horticultural oil is commonly used as a dormant spray to control overwintering insects such as mites, scales and aphids, and their own eggs. Insecticidal soap controls spider mites, aphids and scales. Both horticultural oil and insecticidal soap have a very low toxicity level to beneficial insects, like bees, and insecticidal soap may be used on fruit trees up to this day of harvest. Carbaryl and permethrin control maggots, fruitworms, leafhopper, mealybugs, leafroller, scale, aphids and pear slug. Both insecticides are toxic to beneficial insects and cannot be used on fruit trees within 7 days of harvest; mites may increase with repeated permethrin therapies. Bacillus thuringiensis targets only the larvae of certain butterflies and moths, like fruitworms, leafrollers and caterpillars, isn’t toxic to beneficial insects or bees, and is safe to use until the day of harvest. Pyrethrins is just a plant-based insecticide controlling earwigs, whitflies, beetles, aphids and leafhoppers. It can be utilized up to this day prior to harvest but repeated use increases the number of mites on the tree.


Carried by insects and spread by rain, bacteria will enter fruit trees through wounds, flowers and openings. Copper sprays, including bordeaux combination, control bacterial diseases like fire blight and bacterial leaf spots. Young leaf of apple, pear and plum trees are sensitive to copper sprays; if using copper bactericides on those copper-sensitive fruit trees in the spring after the dormancy period is finished, use a diluted mixture to avoid unintended leaf damage. Streptomycin sulfate heals fire blight on apple and pear trees, but cannot be used on apple trees within 50 days of harvest or on pear trees within 30 days of harvest.


Fertilizers supply the nutrients which fruit trees need for vigorous growth, flowering and fruit production. Balanced fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, and will help keep trees healthy. But Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences recommends performing a foliar analysis to ascertain exactly what nutrients that the fruit tree is missing to reduce the chance of nutrient toxicity and above fertilization. Every species of fruit tree has their own particular amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium they should receive. As an instance, plums, cherries and apples need about 3 to 8 ounces of 10-5-10 fertilizer for each and every year of this tree age, not to exceed 8 lbs of fertilizer for a ripe fruit tree. Follow the recommended ratio and directions located on the fertilizer label to avoid accidental harm to the fruit.

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Insect Sprays for Pear Trees

Like many fruit trees, pear trees are vulnerable to numerous insect pests that could damage their foliage, reducing productivity, or straight damage fruit, rendering it inedible. While many of the same pests that afflict the apple tree also have an effect on the pear tree, pears generally take less damage from insects than apples and other fruit trees. While you can often choose enough pears for your family to enjoy even with no insecticides, establishing a spray program can help you achieve larger and higher-quality yields.

Pear Pests

Pears are suffering by numerous insect pests. Scale insects, mites and aphids are tiny pests that mass on leaves and twigs, inflicting the horticultural version of a death by 1,000 cuts into your pear trees. These pests are controlled via the application of a dormant oil using an insecticide only prior to bud-break. Caterpillars of the codling moth infest your cheeses, leading to wormy, inedible fruit and constitute a serious pear tree pest in certain areas.

Spray Schedules

Pests that assault pear trees can vary based on the area where you reside, and seasonal variations cause insects to strike at different times. Before purchasing insecticides to get your pear trees, then contact your community extension office to get a spray program for pear trees. These programs will say when to apply insecticides to most effectively control pest problems. As an instance, in the San Francisco region, pear tree owners must apply a dormant oil in January or February and 2 doses of insecticide against codling moth at the end of May and June.

Spray Safety

Insecticides are poisons and must be handled accordingly. When buying an insecticide, read the label carefully and adhere to all safety precautions. Whenever possible, pick the least-toxic option available. Pay particular attention to directions about protective clothing, disposal and storage of unused chemicals. Do not make the wrong premise that “organic” equals “safe”; organic pesticides can also have a high level of toxicity and must be handled with the same caution as their conventional counterparts. Never spray over instructed on the product tag; more is better, and too much of some pesticides can damage the tree. When spraying pear trees, insecticides can roam on the breeze and contaminate neighboring plants, wildlife or water sources. Avoid spraying on windy days. Insecticides kill the good bugs in addition to the bad, and thus don’t spray trees in blossom or you will kill the honeybees your trees depend on for pollination.

Tree-Spraying Tips

Insecticides to control several common pear pests are combined using horticultural oils. If you reside in a place which experiences freezes, avoid spraying any striped insecticide when a freeze is expected that night, as the oil will damage the tree if not fully dry. Allow at least 12 hours for complete drying. To be effective, insecticides must liberally cover each one the leaves and fruit on the tree. Spray the tree till the leaves are wet enough to drip. Properly pruning your pear tree will cut the total amount of spray required to control pest problems.

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How to eliminate Bees in Bushes

Although mammals serve important functions for plants, such as pollinating flowers and maintaining destructive pests at bay, they can also be a danger to children and pets which may soften them unknowingly. If you would like to eliminate bees in trees and shrubs, then wait until evening or early morning, once the bees have returned to their nest for the night, and wear protective clothing to avoid bee stings as you work.

Wear protective clothing, such as shorts, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, closed-toe shoes and a bee veil on your face. Tuck pant legs into your socks, and tuck the top’s long sleeves into your gloves to close off openings. Don’t allow the bees access to your skin.

Find the origin of the bees. It may be a nest in bush divisions, but most likely the nest is underground. Keep an eye out for the opening from which the bees fly out.

Spray the nest and exposed areas near the nest using an aerosol spray containing pyrethrin and rotenone. Those chemicals sedate bees as toxins kill them. The spray is harmless to nearby plants and won’t contaminate the soil.

Watch the bushes periodically during the next couple of days. If you find any bee activity in them, reapply the aerosol spray.

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The best way to Anchor Wrought Iron Fence Posts to Concrete

Wrought iron fencing gives a sturdy, stylish addition to your lawn whilst at the same time offering some function, like containing a pet into a particular area. You can add it to the edge of your lawn or use it to dress up an otherwise dull area. Sometimes the fencing is installed around a concrete porch to create an enclosed space. If you’re setting up your iron fence on top of concrete, you’ll require a few particular hardware to anchor it to the surface.

Measure the edge of the concrete surface and mark the planned location of the posts.

Put a fence post in its location and mark the location of the holes at the welded plate that is on the bottom end of the article. Use a pencil to mark through the holes onto the concrete.

Remove the post and drill the hole locations using a power drill and a masonry bit. Drill down to a thickness that will accommodate your concrete anchors.

Place the article back in place and set the fastener part of the concrete anchor through the holes and to the concrete. After hammering in the fasteners to all holes of the post, place the bolt of the concrete anchor onto the fastener and tighten it down. Use a wrench to secure it completely.

Drill a hole into the concrete in which the gate posts must be located. Use a distinctive core drill that is able to drill into concrete without moving all the way through the bottom of the material.

Employ a concrete epoxy into the hole. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for mixing the epoxy. Fill out the hole, then put the article inside. Use a level to adjust the article and ensure that it’s vertical to your concrete.

Stabilize the article by bracing all four sides using some thing like wooden planks. Remove the braces when the directions say the epoxy should be dry.

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What Height to Mount a Mantel?

Mantel height isn’t a random decision; the [National Fire Protection Association]( — the NFPA — sets criteria regarding positioning of a mantel in relation to the fire box. Local building codes can also order considerations and criteria. In both scenarios, there are variations from fire kind — wood burning, gas insert, canister, electric — and also way of ventilation. **Before you set up** a fireplace, surround or mantel: * Check any local code or by-law restrictions. * Check the company’s manual, which should provide particulars regarding minimum clearance conditions.

Minimum Mantel Vertical Clearances

The NFPA says that mantel thickness is directly related to the required height clearance between the surface of the fire box and the base of the mantel. For combustibles, such as wood or particle board, encompassing a sloping fireplace: * A 2-inch thickness needs to have a minimum height clearance of 11 inches. * A 4-inch thickness needs to have a minimum height clearance of 13 inches. * A 6-inch thickness needs to have a minimum height clearance of 15 inches. * An 8-inch thickness needs to have a minimum height clearance of 17 inches. * A 10-inch thickness needs to have a minimum clearance of 19 inches. **Confirm manufacturer’s installation instructions** prior to finalizing a mantel style; some wood-burning fireplaces must have a minimum 12-inch clearance.

Minimum Mantel Horizontal Clearances

Mantel height is frequently the principal concern of homeowners, however, mantel width can also be important. In the case ofhorizontal clearances of woodwork or other combustible materials](, frequently as a trim thickness, the projection of the end material impacts the space required from the outside border of the fire box into the interior edge of this trim: * less than 1 1/2 inches thick requires a minimum 6-inch clearance. * Facing 1 1/2 inches or heavier requires a minimum 12-inch clearance.

Materials Matter

Mantel material selection is an important consideration, both with regard to what is seen and that which stays unseen, as non-combustibles like glass, concrete or natural stone might be installed at a lower height. The unseen elements are equally, if not more important, than the visible. Stone applied over wood studs and regular drywall is substandard. To match lower height criteria, start with metal studs covered with non-combustible board and also affirm clearances with the manufacturer. If painting or applying different finishes to wood trim, brick or even firescreens, first assess the suitability of this end for heat-resistance and flammability.

Scale and Proportion

In addition to the several regulations and recommended allowances, proportion and scale should affect your layout. Identical fireplaces in 2 separate homes, one having an 8-foot ceiling and the other using a 20-foot ceiling, demand distinct mantel treatments. At the taller space, the mantel would make a unified statement using a wider and possibly thicker mantel. The treatment should extend up the wall, not stop at the 8-foot mark to chop the space in half.

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10 Tips for Organizing a Renovated Basement

Whether you are in the beginning of a basement renovation or nearing the end, it is never too soon to begin considering its eventual aesthetic. While the decoration design is all up to you, you may want to think about some layout ideas that benefit a wide selection of looks. Follow Interior Designer Garrison Hullinger’s advice, and you are going to be sailing smoothly to the fantasy cellar you have been awaiting.

Chelsea Atelier Architect, PC

1. Decide on finishes first. Before furnishings come into play, you are going to want to decide finishes. Hullinger suggests setting consistency with other parts of the home by employing the same baseboard trim, window molding or doors that are seen on the different floors of the home. The dark wood finish from the staircase is replicated in the woodwork of this basement.

Leslie Goodwin Photography

2. Use can light. “Lighting is everything when it comes to achieving a fantastic result from your basement remodel,” says Hullinger. He proposes using small can lights completed with a clear or haze finish alzak trim kit, allowing the can to fade into the ceiling. “Five-inch cans can provide great protection,” he says.

LDa Architecture & Interiors

3. Light shelves up for purpose. See that other regions in your cellar, such as bookshelves, might gain from additional lighting. “You can easily create drama in a built in shelving area with the addition of light to highlight household collections or precious artwork,” says Hullinger.

4. Know where your pipes and other mechanics are located. “If you are thinking about adding a wet bar prior to the renovation is complete or down the road, you can keep costs down several times by adding the new sink close to a bathroom or laundry room,” says Hullinger.

Peregrine Design Build

5. Build in storage. “This is your chance to increase your chances for storage and organization,” says Hullinger. “Do not leave this out of your plans” Built-in bookshelves throughout the walls of a cellar can corral anything from toys to toss blankets to ski gear.

6. Look closely at window treatments. If your basement has large windows and is equipped with a tv, make sure you install blinds that effectively darken the room to decrease glare on the screen. Hullinger recommends motorized blinds. “The benefits versus prices are a win-win,” he says.

Dream House Studios

7. Boost visual space. Create a feeling of height by choosing light colors for the ceiling and flooring. “It traces the eye,” says Hullinger.

8. Use colour to create play. Design a cozy and visually intense space by painting the walls and ceiling the exact same color. “This leads to an enveloping feel, like a cozy den you might discover in nature,” says Hullinger.

Powell/Kleinschmidt, Inc..

9. Consider carpet tiles. “Carpet tiles currently are a significant trend for residential spaces, and lots of the 24-by-24 inch tiles possess a lifetime guarantee,” says Hullinger. “If irreparable harm occurs on the floor, you can replace the damaged tile one at a time.”

ALLDECOR Home Staging & Design

10. Use functional fabrics. Maintain the area family friendly by employing practical fabrics such as dark upholstery that hides stains, or slipcovers and fabrics that are easily washed. “This ensures that the whole family, including the pets, can hang out from the area without great stress for the upholstered items,” says Hullinger.

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Natural Cactus Fungus Remover

Though a healthy cactus is lovely and interesting to look at, one that is experiencing a fungal infection isn’t. Several different types of fungal pathogens influence cactuses. While cures for fungal diseases for cactuses are several, those which are available are natural and organic.

Copper Sulfate Fungicide Mixture

Copper, sulfur and lime are approved fungicides for its growing and dormant seasons. Mix 6 1/2 tsp of copper sulfate with 3 tbsp of hydrated lime and 2 pints of water. Filter the mixture through cheesecloth to remove any undissolved particles, and add the liquid to 1 gallon of water and pour the mix to a lawn sprayer. Liberally spray your cactuses with the mix, repeating every seven to 10 days and whenever it rains. This therapy works for cactuses suffering from Anthracnose and stem rot. Anthracnose is distinguished by light brownish fungal lesions with pink pustules. Stem rot typically affects younger cactuses, starting as small yellow spots and turning to brown spores that cause shriveling and shrinkage of the plant.

Removing Diseased Cactuses

Several cactus fungal diseases have no cure, such as leaf spot, dry rot and antiviral place. All three are characterized by discolored circular spots with fruiting bodies which grow as the disease progresses. No fungicides will cure your cactus of these diseases. In case your cactus has one of these diseases, the most natural method to control that the fungus is to remove and destroy the contaminated cactus. Always use caution and wear protective clothing, including long sleeves and gloves when removing a contaminated cactus.

Preventing Fungal Diseases

Fungal pathogens infect cactuses which are weak as a result of improper growing states or maintenance. Providing your cactus with the correct maintenance is a natural preventive to avoid infection. Wet soils are the usual cause for cactus disease and cactuses cannot live in wet or waterlogged soil for extended. Ensure your cactuses have soil with excellent drainage. When expanding them in a container, choose a specially invented cactus potting mix and consistently use a pot with a minumum of one drainage hole. When growing cactuses in the garden, provide a sand mixture amended with 25 percent pumice to give drainage but also retain nutrients.

Good, Old-Fashioned Water

If you notice fluffy white funguslike bodies in your cactus, this is the indication of a mealybug problem, although you may mistake it for a fungal disease. Also called cochineal insects, mealybugs are little red insects which feed on cactus, producing fluffy white sticky mounds to shield them from the components since they eat. They’re common on prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa), that grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10, and relevant species. You can normally control a little infestation with a strong stream of water in a garden hose. Spray the cactus with water, making sure the stream is not strong enough to damage the plant. To get tough-to-remove mealybugs in hard-to-reach places, use a cup of warm water with two drops of unscented dish soap and a soft toothbrush. As always, exercise caution and wear gloves when working on a cactus.

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Vole Control for Crown & Daffodils Imperials

You may be last to understand, when voles create a meal of your flower bulbs. Vole damage often does not show itself before blooms that are long-awaited fail to appear. Like many animals, voles have their favorites. If you are wise, you’ll capitalize on those tastes and choose accordingly. Daffodils (Narcissus spp.) , which increase at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 11, and crown imperials (Fritillaria imperialis), which increase in USDA zones 5 through 9, ranking low on vole-preferred menus. Harm may discourage to bulbs.

Vole-Resistant Bulbs

Gardeners have long thought that daffodils repel many garden pests, but researchers at Cornell University put the question. Researchers voles a daily diet including bulbs comparable to a tempting mix of dried, ground bulb and applesauce and your newly planted fall beauties, of flowering bulbs. Crown imperials and daffodils were one of the bulbs in both applesauce-enhanced delicacies and the fresh, to voles. Other highly vole-resistant bulbs comprised grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum), which increase in USDA zones 4 through 8. Planting these and comparable non-preferred bulbs sends voles.

Vole-Preferred Choices

In addition to using bulbs limiting vole favorites helps protect your garden from damage. While daffodils and crown imperials abandoned voles turning their noses up, Cornell researchers discovered that tulips (Tulipa spp.) , which increase in USDA zones 3 through 8 had diving into. Voles prefer the same bulbs which deer and squirrels love to feed . Tulips rated and revealed no resistance to vole damage, either new or at the blend. Other bulbs to avoid in vole-prone areas comprise crocus (Crocus spp.) , which increase in USDA zones 3 through 8 and reticulated iris (Iris reticulata), which increase in USDA zones 5 through 9.

Vole Deterrent Plans

To help bulbs create it through winter, begin with surrounding them with bulbs. The New York Botanical Garden recommends a wall of daffodils as a successful vole deterrent. Add a couple handfuls of gritty material, such as oyster shell, to the planting hole when planting bulbs that are vulnerable. This dissuades approaching voles. Use hardware cloth to form cages to protect tulips and other bulbs which voles tend to eat. Use a gauge chicken wire to your ground-level lid to deter deer and squirrels as well. These steps are not essential, although daffodils and crown imperials in in-ground cages, should you wish.

Vole Buffers

It is also possible to create the surrounding area less hospitable voles of your bulb garden. Also called meadow mice, voles spend some time above and under damaging over bulbs and making runways involving their burrow holes. By removing the grass and crops that shield their 14, reduce vole populations. Limit hiding areas in thick vegetation near. Create weed-free buffer areas . University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program recommends a minimal vole buffer. The wider the area, the less probable voles will risk crossing the divide.

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Requirements for Outdoor Hot Tubs

If your plan is to integrate a hot tub into your outdoor landscape, your setup procedure wills smooth, letting you relax under the stars with delay. By soaking in a superbly hot tub, respite can be provided from an exasperating moment. The tub water and jets help reducing strain, soothe too-tight muscles and preparing your system.

Codes and Regulations

Ensure that your hot tub installation conforms to all local building, electrical and plumbing codes. You may also need a building permit before you may begin your bathtub’s installation. Such as California and Minnesota, you need to set the tub back at least 5 feet. Into the edge of the structure of the tub, measure for an above-ground hot tub. As you would a swimming pool if your hot tub will have its high flush with the ground, measure the tub. Many building authorities require fences or other security barriers around hot tubs. Fence requirements are similar to those of swimming enclosures. Some local codes may allow tub covers that are approved to serve as security barriers.

Stable Surface

Put your hot tub on a surface that is stable, rather than. Concrete is quite expensive and takes some time to heal while installing a concrete slab is an ideal solution. If you go that path, use a 4-inch-thick reinforced concrete foundation that can support 120 lbs per square foot. Stone or crushed gravel will get the job done if concrete is not possible. Make sure the ground underneath has been compacted and can drain tub water and rainwater. Space around the spa’s perimeter for a walkway.

Electrical Supply

For security reasons, and to ensure your hot tub works properly with the electrical system of your home, employ a professional electrician to execute all applicable function. The plumber will set up a 50-amp neutrally protected Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. The GFCI must be adjacent to the hot tub on an exterior wall at least 5 feet from any hot tub water or other water. To help have an notion of placement, measure the distance from the hot tub location to your main breaker box. Also, note if a house has a dedicated 50-amp breaker in the breaker boxif notyour electrician must add you to deal with the hot tub load.

Water Supply

You don’t need a water resource that is dedicated or special plumbing fixtures to fill your outdoor hot tub. Plenty of patience, and A long garden hose, a water source that is reliable are the tools you need. While you may face statewide, regional or local water restrictions that restrict your ability to fill your hot tub, Spa Association and the California Pool has some news. In March 2014, CPSA dispersed materials telling tub owners of their household water use compared to houses with grass-based landscaping. CPSA provided suggestions to spur water conservation efforts to increase.

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