Browse Category: Fireplaces

Do-It-Yourself Brick Fire Pit Designs

Installing a brick fire pit is a do-it-yourself endeavor that provides a landscaping feature and social place to your home. Bricks and stones can be found in various sizes, colours, shapes and prices. Choose the brick option and fire pit design which goes best with your landscape and style.

Stone Pavers

Stone paver bricks are ideal as the main construction for the fire pit due to their size. These bricks have a small curve which will create a round fire pit design. Stone pavers are large so less manual and bricks work is required to construct a fire hole. Set the first ring of pavers about 12 inches below the ground to place the structure set up. Stagger the pavers in a “brick function” style; each layer ought to be set so that the borders don’t line up to increase the strength of their fireplace wall. Use a masonry glue between the individual scoop and each layer to hold the bricks in place so there is not any risk of them sliding or falling over.

Modest Brick

Standard clay brick is another option for the fire hole structure. This brick style is smaller and requires more bricks and labor to construct the outside wall of the pit. Small bricks can be found in a rectangle or with a small curve shape, so you can construct either a square, rectangle or curved fireplace. Set this brick wall 6 to 12 inches beneath the floor and secure them in position with brick mortar, instead of masonry adhesive. Laying bricks is not a easy job and might require that you hire a masonry expert to construct the outside wall of the fireplace. The finished layout with these bricks is similar to a brick wall.

Natural Stone

Organic stone or flagstone is best to cap off the cover of the fire pit design. These stones and rock are often flat and large, which produces a ledge across the top of the fireplace. Organic stone works well with the broad paver brick construction, but could also accent a small brick layout. Secure the stone in position with masonry glue between the brick and stone layers. Add another layout element into the flame pit by installing these flat organic stones at the ground across the bottom of the hole.

Internal Construction

Placing a metal ring inside the brick fire pit protects the brick from the burning place. Build the fire pit across the exterior of the metallic ring so there’s a 2- to 3-inch gap between the ring and the brick construction. Fill the gap with pea gravel to provide support and insulation between the hot metallic ring and decorative brick wall. You can also put in a 3- to 4-inch layer of pea gravel into the bottom of the fire pit to help prevent water build up inside the construction.

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The way to Remodel Solid Slab Cabinet Doors

Solid-slab doors are just what the name suggests. They’re a single flat piece of wood, typically with very little or no adornment. They may be laminated hardwood, or even a single bit of medium-density-hardboard or plywood. They’ve a nice, tidy look, but after a few years might have become dull. There are several methods to spice them up with basic tools.

Route a Design

One very common way to remodel a door is to track a design in the front. All you need is a routing jig and hand router. This jig opens and closes on the face of the doorway to steer the router. Stretch it open, drop it above the doorway and tighten it. You may then install block or curvy shaped corners into the jig. Pick a type of fluted cutting bit, and install it in just about any hand router. Set the depth to cut about 3/16 inch heavy, and also run the router around the inside perimeter of the doorway, using the guide to get it direct and consistent. This remodel project ends in a pattern cut into the face of the doorway.

Trim the Edges

Some slab doors have an angle cut on them. Use a table saw to trim the edges of the door off square. Insert a profiled edge by choosing a profiled router bit with a bearing at the bottom. By deciding on a router bit with a posture, you do not need a guide because the little bit employs the posture to stabilize it. However, if you choose a bit without a posture, you may add a small guide to the router base to achieve the identical thing. Run the bit around the doorway by means of a hand router. This type of remodel will bring about a carved or curved edge that’s attractive and shows more craftsmanship than a straight, square edge along with a beveled edge.

Overlay

Another very simple way to dress up a door is to add an overlay molding. Consider having a 3/8-by-1/2 inch bullnose molding on the front. This type of decorative molding includes a flat bottom, but is curved on top. Miter four bits to form a rectangle, 2 inches from the outside perimeter of the doorway. After you get all the mitered corners to fit how you like with tight corners, glue each bit and pin nail it to the front of the doorway to produce a raised-molding look to the slab door. This layout is used frequently to provide slab doors a more complicated look that’s aesthetically pleasing.

Lines

One of the more prevalent slab door layouts is made up of nothing more than saw cuts into the face of the doorway. This layout was extremely popular during the ’60s and still looks great today. To accomplish this, specify a saw blade to cut just 1/8 inch heavy. Pass the doorway above the blade in regular intervals at approximately 1 1/2 inches apart across the front of the doorway. This normal kerf mark gives the door a grid layout that’s tough to miss. Keep the grid pattern down the drawer fronts to provide the doors a regal look. The stain will then sink into the kerfs and emphasize the doorway even more.

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Expand Window Design Solutions With Short Curtain Rods

Chalk this up as one of those solutions that is so obvious I can’t believe I’ve never thought of it earlier: extra-short curtain rods. These petite pretties are an ideal fit for a tight wall space, curiously shaped windows and a host of other design problems which produce a complete pole difficult to install. They will not necessarily provide privacy — they’re used more as a decorative finishing touch, decorating a view with floor-to-ceiling texture and color. If you want to display sunlight or prying eyes, you will have to coating them with blinds, shutters, shades or sheers.

There are lots of short curtain rods in a variety of styles on the market. But if a full size model catches your attention, think about using a carpenter or metalsmith cut it down to size.

Where could you use shorter curtain rods in your house? Let us know in the Remarks.

Erika Bonnell Interiors

Arched windows can be difficult to frame with standard drapery rods, but shorter variations in this space work beautifully. They enable continuation of the drapery panels which dress the window, yet are not so long as they seem monolithic.

Paula Grace Designs, Inc..

Abbreviated rods work well in a small area where full-length models might appear overbearing. Here, dangling them right at the ceiling prevents them from getting lost in a field of wall space and visually heightens the room.

Peregrine Design Build

Got a window which reaches the ceiling? Here is the solution. Short striped drapes on small rods add color and volume to what otherwise could be a corner.

Layout By Lisa

Full rods and drapes will not always fit into narrow slivers of distance; these miniature ones permit the panels to remain tightly gatheredout of the way of the windows.

Driggs Designs

This room requires a similar strategy. On long rods the drapes would seem too awkward and laborious.

Shoreline Construction and Development

Sometimes a complete rod simply appears too thick for an airy space similar to this one. These allow for draperies to soften the bank of windows without upsetting the serene balance.

Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc

I adore this solution for dressing up a bay window. Angled rods fit neatly into the corners and play up the design.

Martha O’Hara Interiors

Short rods nimbly bridge the gap between the sliding doors and the small window tucked beside the fireplace .

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Tips about Organic Pesticides for Vegetable Gardens

Vegetable gardeners must contend with pests ranging from grubs, weeds, insects like aphids and leaf-chewing beetles, slugs and mildew spores. Problems with these insects may be minimized by employing smart gardening practices such harvest rotating crops, carefully choosing vegetable varieties resistant to local pests, practicing good sanitation by eliminating weeds and mulches and implementing naturally derived organic pesticides when required.

Greatest Use

Unlike synthetic pesticides, organic pesticides have been made using botanical and mineral-based origins. Although both kinds can be toxic, organic pesticides break down a lot more quickly than conventional chemical products. However, because of this toxicity, even organic pesticides should be utilized as part of the integrated pest-management program only after other vegetable garden cultural strategies fail. When organic pesticides have been required, broad-based application may not be necessary; frequently spot treatment of affected crops is effective. It is helpful to keep records whenever an organic pesticide is used and whether the treatment successfully controlled the issue.

Groups Available

Commercial organic pesticides may be bought to manage common vegetable garden insects. Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly referred to as Bt, is a bacterial agent used to control insect issues. Other biopesticides include insecticidal soaps and horticultural oilsthat can be utilized to manage aphid infestations. Additional organic goods to fight pest insects comprise diatomaceous earth, pyrethrums, rotenone and neem. Organic vegetable gardeners seeking to avoid issues with fungal disease turn to goods containing copper, hydrogen peroxide or sodium bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, shouldn’t be overused, however, since it may result in a buildup of sodium in the soil. Besides its insecticidal properties, neem oil in high concentrations — 70 percent — may curb issues with powdery mildew. Iron phosphate is offered in pellet form as an organic pesticide used to kill slugs and snailsthat prey on leafy vegetables.

Make at Home

Organic pesticides may also be economically made at home from typical kitchen and household items. As an instance, organic insecticide may be created utilizing chopped onions, garlic and chili peppers that are then mixed with warm soapy water. The mixture should stand immediately before winding and using. Another make-at-home organic pesticide uses liquid dishwashing soap combined with vegetable oil and water. Recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this organic insecticide is effective against whitefly, spider mites and aphids and may be used on vegetable crops such as carrots, cucumbers, eggplants and peppers. Talcum powder is utilized to visually control insects like flea beetle and corn ear worm; however, it must be reapplied after every rain to continue being effective. Weeds can be managed using an organic herbicide made of salt blended with vinegar that’s brushed straight on weeds. Homemade pesticides may also be dangerous if not used correctly, so tag bottles appropriately and store away from children and pets.

Latest Information

Because the record of organically approved pesticides is ever-changing, before using any new product, vegetable gardeners can consult the National Organic Program, that defines organic standards, and also the Organic Materials Review Institute, which provides lists of approved and disqualified pesticides for use in organic gardens.

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Which to Do First When Buying the Kitchen: The Countertops or New Appliances?

Remodeling jobs modernize the texture of a house more than an updated kitchen. New appliances and countertops are each cook’s dream but a small preparation will be in order to ensure results. With a variety of countertop materials from which to choose and today’s new appliance styles, installing the elements in the order is essential.

The Kitchen Plan

Countertop design usually revolves round the appliance specifications. If you’re going to install any specialty type of appliances, like a range that is wider or narrower than the 30 inches, a drop-in cook top or a off-size refrigerator, you’ll need the blower measurements. If you’re not revising the cabinet configuration, however, the appliances should match the size of the appliances that are present.

Countertop Factors

Countertop’s type you select determines how it’s installed. When the countertop is laminate and in good shape, you can install new laminate right on top. If you want a strong composite-type countertop, a poured concrete top, the whole existing top must come off, revealing the cabinet bases. The new countertop base should be built to the specs. By way of instance, once you’re installing post-form countertops they break on the cabinet base. Granite slabs might require a foundation layer of plywood, though concrete plank might be required by a ceramic tile manufacturer as a base.

Appliances and Fixtures

The dishwasher inserts below the counter so it doesn’t alter the countertop arrangement. The same holds true for a trash compactor and other appliances. You might need to accommodate the edge of the countertop adjacent to the refrigerator so it doesn’t extend in the space allocated to the refrigerator if the refrigerator is a tight fit. Check local codes to ascertain the type of exhaust port required for your cooktop and microwave when you’re going with a cabinet configuration. Cooktops with vents that are built in right behind the appliance might require adapting the countertop backsplash to fit.

Countertops Go On First

The countertop must be set up, before you’re able to drop in slip or a selection in an dishwasher. Using a paper template of this countertop configuration, for example, placement of appliances and fixtures, such as the sink, will help you identify problems before you install the countertop. In some type of countertops, in advance , framed block workouts that represent the sink and range are built such as poured cement. When measuring for block workouts or cutouts, don’t measure the true appliance, then use the”rough in” dimensions provided by the appliance, or sink, manufacturer. Countertop materials are generally pricey so the old carpenter adage,”measure twice,cut once” holds true.

Appliances: The End Touch

Place and plumb the sink prior to installing the dishwasher, which depends on linking to the sink’s water supply and drain lines. If your slide-in range, dishwasher or refrigerator appears out-of-whack initially, don’t fret. The legs below these appliances are individually adjustable so that you may raise or lower each corner till the appliances are plumb and level.

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DIY Wall Mounted King-Size Headboard

King-size headboards are not that difficult to create yourself once you mount them to the wall. An Oriental rug or older quilt can double as a headboard when attached behind the bed. Measure the width of this king-size bed, for example, frame that holds it, then matching the width dimensions to the do-it-yourself headboard you make. The height of the headboard is a matter of preference, however maintaining it relative to the magnitude of the bed and the room gives a balanced look.

DIY Tufted Headboard

Collect the equipment to create your very own tufted headboard. Including the fabric yardage to cover front and back of the headboard, medium density fiberboard or plywood, a power drill, a staple gun, polyester or fiber batting, high-resolution button cord as well as also the buttons — which you cover yourself. Draw out the design to scale on graph paper first; plug in the places of the buttons to create the tufts. Transfer the design to the cut board; drill holes for the buttons, and cover the backing using the batting, stapling it set up. Mark the locations for the buttons on the fabric and staple it to the board. Cover the buttons together with fabric and thread them through the holes, tying them away on the rear. Mount the board using hardware that will not pull out from the wall, like screws into studs, anchor or toggle bolts.

Door Headboard

An old door at least 80 inches tall, cut each end to match the width of this king-size bed and repurposed as a headboard, usually only prices the time it takes to cut and mount it — unless you choose to paint it. It is possible to distress it, paint it or hang it since it came off its hinges to get a vintage look. When you mount the fence, fasten it during the studs behind the drywall so it does not come down to you as you are sleeping.

Ceiling Mounted Drapes

Attach a curtain pole to the ceiling in a U-shape round the bed’s measurements with hardware that will not pull out. Hang drapes on the other side of the bed and on the sides. Catch the side drapes about two-thirds of this way from the ceiling, and pull them back to the wall where you fasten them together with tiebacks. This headboard works especially well once you lease and do not want to mar the wall. When you move, then simply remove the curtain poles; stain the drywall and repaint.

Rustic Chic

After measuring the dimensions of the bed’s width, repurpose old wood cut into equal lengths and then fasten it to the wall horizontally behind the bed. You may also add molding or wood trim around the edges for a finished look. Or stagger the planks after cutting them to shorter lengths, allowing each board end in the middle of the one below it. Lightly sand to get rid of rough wood, and then paint, stain or leave raw, based on the room’s decor. You could also stencil or paint a design on the headboard after it’s installed.

Barn Door

Add vertical planks on the other side of the bed to meet its width, securing them to the wall using anchor bolts, screws into studs or tap bolts so that they do not pull loose. Cut horizontal and diagonal bits, securing them to the boards already on the wall in the barn door design of your choice. Lightly sand the boards to avoid getting splinters in pillows.

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How to Arrange Furniture in a Living Room and Better Utilize Your Home Space

Poor furniture arrangement in a living room can make the room look cluttered or feel unbalanced. Simply by rearranging the furniture, then it is possible to open the space and make the room appear larger with a balanced, harmonious feel.

Traffic Flow

Among the most crucial elements of suitable furniture arrangement is traffic stream. Stand at one of these entrance points in the room and walk toward an exit stage. Make note of any furniture or other barriers that block your route and rearrange or eliminate those items. A cozy walkway needs to be at least 2 to 3 feet broad. Entry or closet doors should have the ability to open broad without being blocked. Furniture also needs to be functional without interference from other pieces. Leave adequate space behind things like rocking chairs and recliners, so the furniture does not bump tables or walls when in use.

Focal Points

Determine the room’s focal point, which could be a fireplace, entertainment or media centre, a sculpture or large painting or large window with a viewpoint. Large living rooms or fantastic rooms frequently have two focal points. Create conversation places by organizing seating furniture in front of focal points. Place two couches facing each other in front of a fireplace for a face seating arrangement. Create a cozy U-shaped arrangement with a couch facing the amusement center and two side seats facing each other or placed diagonally. Two seats flanking an end table in front of a viewing window create a small, intimate area for conversation.

Space and Balance

Open up the space by removing litter and unnecessary parts of furniture. Locate a different room for bits you infrequently use. Float furniture in the middle of this space by pulling it away from the walls. Use nesting tables for additional surfaces when required instead of taking up additional space with multiple end tables. Fill narrow or awkward spaces with built-in shelving or tall bookcases to create vertical lines and use vertical space for storage. In small rooms, utilize multifunctional furniture like storage ottomans, which can also serve as coffee tables and additional seating. Use a combination of light and airy furniture with legs or glass and heavier, solid bits spread evenly throughout the room to maintain a balanced feel.

Create Zones

Long, narrow dwelling rooms can be challenging to arrange, particularly if they have more than one focal point. Divide the space into separate zones to make it more manageable. Establish separate conversation areas with area rugs, and anchor the furniture by putting at least part of each piece on the carpet. Placing furniture, like a long sofa and coffee table , on one side of this room would toss a broad, square room off balance, but in a narrow room, it creates a natural walkway next to the wall. Another option is to replace a huge sofa with two smaller loveseats vertical to the long wall, for face seating; foot traffic goes to the wall in order that the conversation area remains intact. A desk placed at the end of a very long room creates another workspace also stops the “tunnel” or “bowling alley” effect. Unify the region by repeating colors, shapes or textures throughout the room.

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What All About?

How do you tell the difference between homes that look environmentally friendly and ones who actually are? Home certifications can help. Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is just one certification that aids all sectors of the home-building sector use a few of the best methods of sustainable construction and design.

Your first two concerns about certification are likely to be, “What’s in it for me? And “How much is this going to cost?” Let’s take a look at some of the fundamentals.

Butler Armsden Architects

Advantages of LEED Certification

The advantages touch everyone involved. For the homeowner a voluntary certification like LEED for homes increases accountability for quality checks on the building site, therefore decreasing the frequency of costly mistakes. Additionally, as stated by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-certified homes use on typical 20 to 30 percent less electricity and water, with a few homes consumed to 60 percent less energy use than a house built to meet code minimums.

In addition to the decrease in monthly utility bills, many cities and states have tax breaks and incentives for environmentally friendly construction. While the LEED rating itself doesn’t address individual incentives, the requirements often predominate. In Reality, the U.S. Department of Energy includes a searchable Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. You and your project team can appear federal and state incentives to present your budget a little boost.

Finally, if you ever need to sell your house, you can request a higher price to get a LEED house than comparable homes on the marketplace. 1 study in California, for example, revealed an 8 to 9 percent increase in the market value of green-certified homes.

Meanwhile, any builders wanting to put themselves apart should consider learning how to construct based on LEED requirements. Most agree that there is a steep learning curve, however using over 100,000 home units certified from the U.S. (and a lot more from the pipeline), it could set an experienced business even farther apart from the audience or help a new company jump ahead. The same holds for designers who wish to show clients that they may be creative even in environmental parameters.

Prices of LEED Certification

It is hard to pinpoint an exact percentage increase in building costs that you will probably see with a LEED house. It depends on what you’re comparing it to. Within an apples-to-apples comparison using a high quality, uncertified construction that follows best-practice guidelines, the cost difference is hardly noticeable: maybe 2 to 5% higher).

In a comparison with the normal house on the marketplace that just meets the minimum construction codes (apples to apples in this little fruit metaphor), the percentage would be far higher: maybe 20 percent.

By earning points in eight classes, the finished house can reach these ratings:
Platinum (90 into 136 points)Gold (75 to 89 points)Silver (60 to 74 points)Certified (45 to 59 points)Whether you’re in the market for a LEED house or trying to build yourself, understanding what goes into these scoring categories can help you formulate your queries for your real estate agent or home builder.

1. Innovation and Design Process (ID)

Points available: 11

Points earned for: making certain that the residence is sustainable, durable and cost efficient, using a well-rounded approach into the layout.

Items to keep in mind: This category of credits is meant to see if you truly mean it if you truly wish to create a sustainable house or if you are just searching for a quick certification. The lesson: Plan early and strategy often. You need to get your project team to the same webpage when possible and make sure that every professional involved is willing to use the best approaches, instead of the easiest methods.

The design of your house should be integrated with the choice of your group. It should take into consideration the path of the sun and the use of solar heat to reduce intake. The house also needs to be durable and high quality, not only to continue you through time, but also to offer a good foundation for all of the future of construction technology may hold.

2. Location and Linkages (LL)

Points available: 10

Points earned for: Selecting a sustainable place for your house. To be really green, you must try to use an present infrastructure.

Items to keep in mind: Urban infill projects located near transport, services and public parks are the perfect candidates for this. This doesn’t mean that your countryside cabin can not be LEED certified; you might need to work harder in different areas to acquire enough points.

The simplest way to earn points within this class is by buying land in an already certified LEED neighborhood.

Natural Balance Home Builders

3. Sustainable Sites (SS)

Factors available:
25 (minimum of 5 required)
Points earned for: Managing the impact of the building process and landscaping on your bit of property and neighboring surroundings.

Items to keep in mind: There is a 5-point minimum necessity for this section, because the sustainability of a house doesn’t stop at the walls. To reduce your environmental footprint, you’ll need to check out your whole parcel of property and even beyond. Your building team will need to correctly control erosion and storm water runoff to reduce the down the stream impact of construction activities. Additionally, your landscaping can’t include any crops that are considered invasive in your area.

To earn points in this class, your layout needs to consider everything from landscaping to pest control. As an example, you can earn points by employing drought-tolerant plants and using permeable paving methods to allow rainwater to filter naturally through the ground. You can also use innovative technologies like green roofs (sometimes called living roofs) to raise the amount of green area on a small lot.

Feldman Architecture, Inc..

4. Water Efficiency (WE)

Points available:
15 (minimum of 3 required)

Points earned for: Conserving and using less water in and about the house.

Items to keep in mind: This class is rather straightforward. However, you do need to reach three or more points. There are numerous easy fixes you can pursue, such as low-flow bathrooms and energy-rated appliances. Harvesting rainwater and with different sources of recycled water are rewarded, as is landscaping that has low irrigation demands (for example, it uses native plants adapted to your climate).

For a comprehensive list of products that meet the guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for water efficiency, such as fittings like taps and showerheads, check out its Water Sense site.

South Park Design Build

5. Energy and Atmosphere (EA)

Points available: 38

Points earned for: Building a more efficient residence, which absorbs cleaner and less energy.

Items to keep in mind: This really is one of the most complex classes, using a number of options for pursuing credit points and many mandatory measures. By way of example, all homes must meet the minimal requirements of Energy Star. Beyond this your project group can assess the energy efficiency of your designed home in a number of ways, such as the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) or Title 24 Energy Code if you’re located in California.

The objective of the section is basically to predict how energy efficient your house will be, based on factors such as insulation, air filtration, windows, heating and cooling, hot water, lighting, refrigerants and renewables.

The major question here is cost. Designing for exceptional energy performance requires an increase in building costs relative to a ordinary home. More insulation and higher-quality windows may take their toll on the total budget. Many LEED-certified homes achieve their evaluations by picking up points in different categories and skimping on this one. The added costs of the class are also highly determined by your local climate. By way of example, in hot and humid locations, good dehumidification can lessen the cost of cooling your home.

Keep this in mind whenever you’re interviewing builders or looking at licensed houses. On completed constructions, it could be worth it to look at the individual score from 38 points within such a credits. The long-term impact of an efficient house could be more significant to the utility-paying homeowner compared to cost-cutting builder. But keep in mind that no two homes are the same, and no two builders. So it’s always best to have a full understanding of the pros and cons of investing in your home’s energy efficiency given that your particular climate.

KW Designs

6. Materials and Resources (MR)

Points available: 16 (minimum of 2 required)

Points earned for: Reducing the demand of fresh materials and minimizing waste.

Items to keep in mind: This group of credits often gets a whole lot of attention from homeowners interested in recycled rugs and sustainably harvested wood flooring. While environmentally preferable products are surely part of the section, there is also a strong focus on resources and materials utilized in the practice of construction.

Two from the 3 main categories of credits in this class address building waste. From the standard American construction industry, one of the largest waste elements is discarded framing material. According to the National Resources Defense Council, the financial motivation to reduce wasted framing substance is notable, even on an individual-home basis.

South Park Design Build

7. Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ)

Factors available: 21 (minimum of 6 required)

Points earned for: developing a healthy and comfortable indoor environment whilst managing pollutants correctly.

Items to keep in mind: That is another big category, covering the general sustainability of the job. The way that you manage the air you breathe in your house can have enormous effects on your general health and comfort. This implies, for example, choosing a fireplace that seals closed and paying special attention to bathroom and kitchen exhaust systems. Some other simple fixes to help improve indoor air quality are to maintain garages detached and to install shoe-scrubbing mats at entryways.

Like other classes, this set of credits can be addressed by participating in a parallel program — in this instance the EPA’s airPLUS program.

We often inquire about natural venting: “When I open up my windows, won’t I’ve healthy indoor atmosphere” Well, it depends on where you reside. Naturally occurring pollens, levels of humidity in certain climates and pollutants out of neighboring constructions may still affect your health. Mechanical ventilation and filtration may be a good means to ensure high quality indoor atmosphere.

Ltd, Camery Hensley Construction

8. Awareness and Education (AE)

Factors available: 3

Points earned for: Educating the homeowners and passing knowledge about sustainable house construction.

Items to keep in mind: A sustainably designed house has limited effect in case you don’t know how to use it. As with any other product, your house should include a user’s manual. Responsible owners of LEED-certified homes know how the path of the sun affects the heat advantage in their house, understand the significance of a durability checklist and also understand the need to be familiarized with their house’s systems.

For another credit, you may then “pay it forward” by passing that knowledge and information on to other people.

Are you considering building an LEED-certified house? Please tell us in the Comments.

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What sort of Animal Will Eat My Strawberries From My Garden:

If birds and other pests are crushing your dreams of strawberry fields forever, take heart. Many animals love eating strawberries (Fragaria spp.) , but it is possible to slow the path of destruction. Sometimes, growing strawberries in a pot or patch near the house is sufficient to discourage visitors. In other cases, you might have to construct a chicken wire structure to send the message that trespassers are not welcome.

Furry Fiends

Squirrels, raccoons and deer are opportunistic marauders that will happily eat your own strawberries. Repellent sprays offer some protection, even though they have to be reapplied frequently, especially after rainfall or watering. These work best if you live in a dry climate and use drip irrigation in order that the plants remain dry. Dogs occasionally sample strawberries and dig the plants up.

Feathered Flocks

Most small mammals, including robins, crows and blue jays, believe strawberries, which develop in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 10, a particular treat and appear to have a knack for knowing when the berries are only ripe. Even though you’re able to hang metallic tape or tape tins close to the berry spot to frighten birds away, these tactics generally offer only a temporary solution since the birds quickly become used to them.

Crafty Solutions

The most effective solution is to use exclusion or barrier methods that make it impossible for animals and birds to achieve the berries. Spread chicken wire with 1-inch holes above the berries to keep birds away from them, although this method won’t work for raccoons and squirrels that can crawl right under the cable. An alternative is to make a wooden frame or PVC pipe hoop tunnel. Staple or tie the chicken wire to the frame and secure the framework above the berries. To harvest the strawberries, just lift the framework from the way.

Invertebrate Invaders

Sensors are smaller and less obvious than birds and mammals, but they can cause significant damage to your strawberries. Slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids are all common pests. Bury a shallow bowl of beer in the ground level close to the strawberries to attract and drown slugs and snails. Put rolled up sheets of newspaper in the strawberries to capture earwigs that like to guard there. Gather and destroy the papers each morning. To dispatch aphids, spray strawberry leaves thoroughly with insecticidal soap. Apply a ready-to-use insecticidal soap, covering the tops and bottoms of the leaves on a cool, overcast day. Applying it on a sunny day can burn the strawberry plants. Insecticidal soap is safer than many pesticides. Similar to other detergents and soaps, it causes skin and eye irritation and vomiting or indigestion if ingested. Gently wash fruit that’s been treated with insecticidal soap before consuming it.

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The way to Get Rid of Aphids & Thrips

If aphids or thrips are plaguing your crops, do not despair. At one time or another, these insects bother almost all garden or indoor plants, decreasing their vigor and blemishing them using their waste. Aphid colonies drink sap from succulent stems and the undersides of leaves, while slender, winged thrips favor tender leaf and leaf buds. Some of same methods effectively rid your plants of both.

Identifying the Invaders

Aphids and thrips are small enough you may not observe an invasion until their feeding visibly damages your plant’s health. Aphids — miniature, pear-shaped insects of nearly any color — latch onto stems and leaves and drink the plant’s sap through sharp, hollow mouth components. Most aphids in hot climates give birth to live young, and many of them reproduce year-round. Their vintage calling card is honeydew, the sticky leftovers of their feeding. Slender, winged yellowish to black thrips puncture plant tissue and devour its mobile contents, such as chlorophyll. Pale stippling or silvering along with specks of dark excrement mark their feeding sites. Wind carries thrips from plant to plant.

Bug Them to Death

Green lacewing larvae prey on aphids and thrips, and inviting these beneficial bugs to your garden helps maintain both insects in check. Each female lacewing places hundreds of eggs, and each larva consumes up to 600 thrips or aphids a day for two to three weeks before pupating. Adult green lacewings feed on nectar and pollen from flat, shallow-throated flowers. Lure the adults from scattering annual sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) and cosmos (Cosmos spp.) Around the backyard, and let their babies go to perform.

Wash Them Away

Spraying your outdoor plants with water from the hose dislodges and drowns aphids and thrips. Aim in the leaf undersides where the insects congregate. To eliminate thrips, place your hose’s spray attachment to spray and fine early in the morning, once the hose water is chilly and the lethargic insects aren’t very likely to fly off. Eliminating thrips requires three or more treatments spaced every a couple of days. This technique also works with aphid-infested indoor plants, since aphids are inactive. Simply take the plants out or set them in a sink or bathtub for spraying.

The Soap Solution

Nontoxic, ready-to-use insecticidal soap controls aphids and thrips on garden and indoor plants. It suffocates the bugs it reaches, therefore direct the spray in the backs of the leaves, the stems, leaf and leaf buds and shoot tips where the insects gather. Treat them when no honeybees, lacewings or other beneficials are present, and when no direct sunlight will hit and possibly harm the plants. To remove the insects, you need to spray on the plants until they drip and then repeat the spraying every two to three days, or in the label’s suggested interval. As a precaution, wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, socks, shoes, protective eyewear and a respiratory mask when spraying. Consistently apply the soap according to this label’s instructions.

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