Monday, 25 March 2013

Best Tips for Landscape Gardening

Landscape gardening has often been associated with the painting of a picture. Your art-work teacher has told you that a good picture should have a point of interest, and the rest of the points simply go to make the piece more beautiful. So in landscape gardening there must be a picture in the gardener's mind of what he desires the whole to be.

From this study we will be able to work out a little theory of landscape gardening.

Let's start with the lawn. A good extent of open lawn space is always beautiful. It is restful. It adds a feeling of space to even small grounds. So we might generalize and say that it is good to keep open lawn space. If someone to cover his lawn with a lot of trees, with little flower beds here and there, the general effect is choppy and fussy. It is a bit like an over-dressed person. One's yard has lost all individuality. A single tree or a small group is not a bad arrangement on the lawn. Do not centre the tree or trees. Let them drop into the background. Make a pleasing side feature with them. In choosing trees you must keep in mind a number of things. You should not choose an overpowering tree; the tree should be of good shape, with something interesting about its bark, leaves, flowers or fruit. While the poplar is a rapid grower, it sheds its leaves early and is left standing, bare and ugly, before the fall is old. Mind you, there are places where a row or double row of Lombardy poplars is very effective. But I think you'll agree with me that one lone poplar is not. The catalpa is quite lovely by itself. Its leaves are broad, its flowers attractive, the seed pods which cling to the tree until away into the winter, add a bit of picture. The bright berries of the ash, the brilliant foliage of the sugar maple, the blossoms of the tulip tree, the bark of the white birch, and the leaves of the copper beech are beauty points to consider.
Placement makes a difference in the selection of a tree. Suppose the lower portion of the yard is a bit low and moist, then the spot is ideal for a willow. Don't group trees together which look awkward. A long-looking poplar does not go with a nice rounded little tulip tree. A juniper, so neat and prim, would look silly beside a spreading chestnut. You must keep proportion and suitability in mind.
I would never advise planting a group of evergreens close to a house, and in the front yard. The effect is very gloomy. Houses surrounded are over capped and are not only gloomy to live in, but truly unhealthy. The requisite inside a house is sunlight and plenty of it.

As trees are chosen because of certain good points, shrubs should be also. In a clump I would plant some that bloom early, some that bloom late, some for the beauty of their fall foliage, some for the colour of their bark and others for the fruit. Some spireas and the forsythia bloom early. The red bark of the dogwood makes for a bit of colour all winter, and the red berries of the barberry cling to the shrub well into the winter.
Certain shrubs are good to use for hedge purposes. A hedge is prettier usually than a fence. The Californian privet is excellent for this purpose. Osage orange, Japan barberry, buckthorn, Japan quince, and Van Houtte's spirea are other shrubs that make great hedges.
I forgot to say that in tree and shrub selection it is usually better to choose those of the locality where you live. Unusual and foreign plants do worse and often harmonize but poorly with their new setting.
Landscape gardening may follow along very formal lines or along informal lines. The first would have straight paths, straight rows in stiff beds, everything, as the name tells, perfectly formal. The other method is, of course, the exact opposite. There are danger points in each.

The formal arrangement is likely to look too stiff; the informal, too fussy, too wiggly. As far as paths go, keep this in mind, that a path should always lead somewhere. Its job is to direct one to a definite place. Now, straight, even paths are not unpleasing if the effect is to be a formal garden. The danger in the curved path is an abrupt curve, a whirligig effect. It is far better for you to stick to straight paths unless you can make a really beautiful curve. No one can tell you how to do this. 
Garden paths may be gravel, dirt, or grass. You may see grass paths in some very lovely gardens. I doubt, however, if they would serve you nearly as well in your small garden. Your garden areas are so limited that they should be re-spaded each season, and the grass paths are a great bother in this work. Of course, a gravel path makes a fine appearance, but again you may not have gravel at your command. It is possible for any of you to dig out the path for two feet. Then put in six inches of stone. Over this, pack in the dirt, rounding it slightly toward the centre of the path. There should never be depressions through the central part of paths, since these form convenient places for water to stand. The under layer of stone makes a natural drainage system.
A building often needs the help of vines or flowers or both to tie it to the yard in such a way that it forms a pleasant whole. Vines lend themselves well to this work. It is better to plant a perennial vine, and let it form a permanent part of your landscape scheme. The Virginia creeper, wistaria, honeysuckle, a climbing rose, the clematis and trumpet vine are all satisfactory.
Close your eyes and picture a house of natural colour, that mellow gray of the weathered shingles. Now add to this old house a purple wistaria. Can you see the beauty of it?
Of course, the morning-glory is an annual vine, as is the moon-vine and wild cucumber. Now, these have their special function. For often, it is necessary to cover an ugly thing for just a time, until better things and better times come.

Flowers go well along the side of the building, or bordering a walk. In general, though, keep the front lawn space open and unbroken by beds. What lovelier in early spring than a bed of daffodils close to the house? Hyacinths and tulips, too, form a blaze of glory. These are little or no bother, and start the spring right. Some make bulbs an exception to the rule of unbroken front lawn. Snowdrops and crocuses planted through the lawn are beautiful. They do not disturb the general effect, but just blend with the whole. One expert bulb gardener says to take a basketful of bulbs in the fall, walk about your grounds, and just drop bulbs out here and there. Wherever the bulbs drop, plant them. Small bulbs as those we plant in lawns should be in groups of four to six. Daffodils may be planted, too.
The place for a flower garden is generally at the side or rear of the house. The backyard garden is a lovely idea, is it not? Who would want to leave a beautiful looking front yard, turn the corner of a house, and find a dump heap? Not I. The flower garden may be laid out formally in neat little beds, or it may be more careless, hit-or-miss sort. Both have their good points. Great masses of bloom are attractive.

You should have in mind some notion of the blending of colour. Nature does not  consider this at all, and still gets wondrous effects. This is because of the tremendous amount of her perfect background of green, and the limitlessness of her space, while we are confined at the best to relatively small areas. We should not blind people's eyes with clashes of colours which do not at close range blend well. In order to break up extremes of colours you can always use masses of white flowers, or something like mignonette, which is in effect green.

Finally, let's sum up our landscape lesson. The grounds are a setting for the house or buildings. Open, free lawn spaces, a tree or a proper group well placed, flowers which do not clutter up the front yard, groups of shrubbery these are points to be remembered. The paths should lead somewhere, and be either straight or well curved. If you start with a formal garden, you should not mix the informal with it before the work is done.

Saturday, 16 February 2013


Complicated bathrooms require careful design, but as long as moisture control is accounted for during every step in the process, even the most ambitious creation can expect many years of useful service.

1.Exterior bathroom walls must be able to dry
Cold-climate wall assembly dries to the exterior In regions where interior humidity levels are typically greater than those on the outside, a vapor barrier is placed on the interior surface of the wall, while
permeable sheathings are used on the exterior.
Hot/humid-climate wall should dry to the interior
In regions where exterior humidity levels are typically greater than those on the inside, the vapour barrier goes on the outside of the wall, while permeable sheathings go on the inside.

Plumbing lines belong indoors
If plumbing lines have to be located along exterior walls, the best way to maintain an impermeable vapour barrier (and to ensure that the pipes won’t freeze) is to frame a nonstructural “water”
wall for pipes inside the exterior wall.

2.Seal all gaps to keep moisture in its place
To prevent moisture from escaping a humid bath environment and condensing within walls, floors or ceilings, every penetration should be sealed with a long- lasting, flexible sealant such as polyurethane foam.

3.Looks funky but makes sense
Placing water controls closer to the door (rather than centred on the shower head) makes them easier to use and lessens the likelihood of water escaping from the shower.

4.Keep recessed lights inside conditioned airspace
Although recessed lights that carry an IC-rating can be placed in an insulated ceiling, an airtight installation is extremely difficult to achieve. A better solution (if ceiling height permits) is to install these lights inside a soffit or a dropped ceiling.
Covering walls and ceilings with drywall before building the soffit creates an air barrier between conditioned and unconditioned spaces

5.Double-seal vulnerable joints to make sure all the water stays in the tub
The weight of a tub full of water puts great stress on caulked joints. If the tub unit does not have a lip that extends up the wall, use 50-year silicone sealant to caulk the joint where the backer-board meets the tub, as well as the joint where tile meets tub.

6.A little bit of lip keeps water in its place
A solid-surface vanity top that combines basin, counter and backsplash in one seamless unit is leak- proof but creatively limiting. Substituting a 1⁄2-in. tall cove for a full backsplash still contains water splashes yet allows clients to trim the vanity top with a variety of materials, such as tile or mirrors.

7.Don’t just dump it in the attic
The necessary components of an effective bathroom exhaust system include a high-quality, quiet fan unit, and a short run of insulated ducting that directs water vapour out of the house before it’s able to condense.

The installation of a ventilation system is critical. The duct system should take the shortest, most direct route to the outside; but even a short run of ductwork can be troublesome. To prevent trapped condensation, I use insulated, rigid pipe, and I make sure that the pipe has a slight pitch, either to the outside or back to the fan.
In tight, modern houses, an adequate supply of return air must be provided in conjunction with the ventilation. This can be as simple as making sure there is at least an inch of air-space under the entry door or as complicated as providing a passive makeup-air duct.
Even if it’s perfectly installed, an exhaust system won’t get the job done unless it is used. I strongly recommend to my clients that they leave the fan running—with the door closed to make sure moisture cannot escape into neighbouring rooms—for at least 30 minutes after taking a shower or using a whirlpool. Placing the ventilation fan on a timer makes following this advice easy. An even easier solution is to connect the fan to a humidistate that will automatically turn the fan on and off according to the humidity levels.

Foolproof switch guarantees fan is used
This programmable timer-switch ensures that the fan runs
long enough and often enough to clear the air.

Baths need regular maintenance
After eliminating unnecessary moisture problems, constant vigilance is the key to maintaining a dry bathroom. Indoor air humidity and temperature must be controlled through-out the home. What might be a comfortable condition for the homeowner might not be ideal for the home. Relative humidity be- tween 40% (winter, generally) and 65% (summer), with a constant temperature around 68°F, is best. Frequently inspect visible caulk joints and redo them when they first show signs of degrading. At least a few times a year, get a good flashlight and summon the courage to poke around in the basement, crawlspaces and attic, looking for any signs of moisture leaks, musty odours or nasty bugs.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

7 Easy Steps To Make Your Bathroom More Energy Efficient

There are a number of design features and fittings that can improve bathroom energy efficiency and reduce energy bills and greenhouse pollution. Remodelling your bathroom to make it more energy efficient will improve your home because doing it right will reap the benefits of health, safety, comfort and will save you money and energy.

1. Energy Efficient Hot Water System
Select an energy efficient hot water system and place it as close to the bathroom and laundry as possible to reduce pipe length and reduce heat loss.

2. Energy Efficient Ventilation Fans
Bathroom moisture is often controlled by the use of an exhaust fan. The fan sucks out the moisture-laden air, which is then replaced by drier outside air.
Install properly sized energy efficient ventilation fans to control moisture in the air while you shower or bathe. By removing moist air and drying out your bathroom, a ventilation fan will help prevent mold and mildew. Fans help remove moisture, which can increase the level of humidity in your house. High humidity can damage building materials. Worse, high humidity can cause mold growth and mold may affect your family's health. Install self closing exhaust fans to avoid heat loss or gain when not in use

3. Energy Efficient Lighting
Another easy way to make your bathroom more energy efficient is to install energy efficient labelled lighting (e.g., Light Fixtures: suspended lights, ceiling-mounted lights, cabinet lights, recessed lights, or compact fluorescent bulbs). Attractive, energy-efficient lighting adds value to your home and reduces home energy bills.

4. Insulation - Insulate Walls and Ceilings
The walls behind tubs or showers are often poorly insulated and air-sealed. Opening these walls as part of the remodelling project provides an opportunity to ensure comfort by sealing air leaks with caulk or expanding foam and installing insulation. Also make sure to air seal around plumbing and electrical penetrations.

5. Energy Efficient Windows and Doors
If you are replacing windows, doors, and skylights, consider those with the energy efficient label. New technologies in the glass and frame systems help make your home more comfortable, and lower heating and cooling costs too.

6. Energy Efficient Shower heads
The shower is the largest user of household hot water. Install an AAA shower head to reduce the amount of hot water consumed. AAA shower heads are available at many bathroom supply stores and hardware stores. A flow rate of approximately 7L per minute is considered as AAA for shower heads.

7. Water Pipes and Water Saving Devices
Insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss and save energy. Install water saving devices like water saving aerators and flow regulators in your taps. Select water saving taps that have a similar water saving rating.

These are a few great and easy starting ideas for anyone to improve overall bathroom efficiency.