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My New Bay Window: The Perfect Spot for Enjoying My Garden

I’ve spent a lot of time, money, and effort to make my backyard landscaping look beautiful. I’ve been happy to do it, as I love gardening. But I came to the realization a few months ago that I wasn’t enjoying my landscaping as much as I ought to be. Aside from the occasional barbecue or get-together, there really isn’t too much to do out in the backyard; as a result, I don’t spend a lot of non-gardening time out there.

I started asking myself some questions: What if I could enjoy my backyard more from inside my home? What if there was some way to help bring the outdoors in?

My living room has a large window facing the backyard – that’s a good start. But the furnishings closest to the window face away from the window and away from the nice view. I thought about rearranging my furniture, but there really wasn’t any good way to orient sofas or chairs toward the window. If I did, they would be facing away from the other half of the seating area, not to mention the TV.

I also thought about buying some new furniture. But I didn’t like any of the window-facing arrangements any more than the set up I already had. It took me a long time to get furniture for the room, and to create a space that suited me perfectly. I didn’t want to go through the same process again just to get some more gratification from my backyard garden.

The perfect solution would leverage the large size of my window; it would maximize the modest amount of space I had near the window; it wouldn’t require me to rearrange or buy furniture; it would give me a little space to sit and relax while I enjoy a view of the garden.

I had an idea. I would replace my current, flat window with a bay window.

Bay windows extend away from the house. If large enough, bay windows like these can create whole new spaces for seating. My large window space offered enough room for nook with seating cushions and even a couple of pillows. While the area adjacent my window wasn’t quite big enough for additional tables or chairs, there was space enough to give a little window nook room to breathe.

After researching potential bay windows for a while, I was lucky enough to find a design that complemented the other windows I have on my home. The color match was spot-on, and the custom grilles look almost exactly the same as my other windows. (As much as I would love to replace the rest of them, my budget dictates that I keep the windows I’ve got for a least a few more years.)

My bay window was installed about three months ago, and I’m enjoying it more than ever. The leaves have turned on the trees in my backyard, and I love all of the purples and oranges and crimsons. It’s great to enjoy a morning coffee or tea alongside the window, and ease into the day with a beautiful and relaxing view.

Easiest Produce To Grow & Maintain

If you are like me, and tend to want to “set it and forget it” for almost everything in life from slow cooker meals to gardening, then you are more than likely looking for some easy produce to grow, maintain, and replenish without having to put in a large amount of effort.

There are many different organizations and communities out there that specialize in helping those with disabilities or physical handicaps pursue a normal daily lifestyle, which includes hobbies and activities such as gardening! If you are looking for easy produce to grow and maintain because of your physical constraints, seeking out a senior in-home care company such as Seniors Helping Seniors Baton Rouge can be a major help.

There are many reasons to pursue these types of produce, depending on a huge variety of factors, such as the time you have daily to work on your garden and tend to the plants, your physical condition and ability to maneuver around plants and your yard, and your garden’s location and climate of the area.

In general, there are a few pieces of produce that are hardy, easy to grow, and constantly bring great results and yields. These mighty produce are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, zucchini, and most of the herbs you can think of such as parsley, basil, or mint!

Gardening1

Depending on the size you have available to work with, you may want to start with some simple window plants, that can be easy to maintain and keep up with without having to do too much work. In this case, smaller produce and a variety of herbs may be your best bet, such as peppers, cucumbers, mint, lavender, oregano, basil, and anything else you happen to enjoy.

 

Volunteering Opportunities for Seniors

For many people, retirement doesn’t mean that one has to stop contributing and being a useful member of society. In some cases, retirement is the perfect time to help out in your community in ways that you are truly interested in. Having freedom from a traditional work schedule gives you complete control over how you choose to spend your time, and allows you to help various organizations by volunteering your time. In some cases you may even be able to make some extra money helping out, but for most people the reward comes with knowing you helped someone in your community.

There are many volunteering opportunities out there that are perfect for people aged 55 and older. Plenty of these volunteer positions simply require one to show up and talk or help with a simple, non-strenuous task. If you prefer slightly more vigorous volunteer work, there are many active volunteer positions out there too.

If you are a senior or retiree looking to lend a helping hand in your neighborhood, take a look at this list of opportunities for older adults:

  • Best Friends Animal Sanctuary – For a minimal lodging fee, you can visit the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. This sanctuary is a home to many different animals, and functions as a no-kill animal shelter. It is primarily run by volunteers who come for varying lengths of time to spend time with the animals. This is a great active volunteering opportunity for seniors. Some activities include: walking dogs, playing with cats, brushing horses and other larger animals, and of course feeding and bathing animals. If you’re an animal lover, this is the perfect volunteering opportunity/vacation for you.
  • Seniors Helping Seniors – Seniors Helping Seniors is a unique in-home senior care program that hires seniors as caregivers. They use a matching process to pair you with a senior in your area that needs non-medical help with everyday tasks. These tasks can include light housework, meal preparation, running errands, and even just simple companionship. While this is not a volunteer opportunity, it is a great way to make a difference in your local community and earn some extra spending money while you’re at it!
  • IRS Tax Volunteers – The IRS has a program that trains individuals to help seniors and older adults with their taxes, to make sure they are getting the returns and credits that they deserve. The TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) program will teach you to help senior citizens in your area with their state and federal taxes. If you’re a fan of numbers, or a retired accountant, this is a great way to help other seniors in your community.
  • Online Mentoring – If you enjoy working with kids and passing your knowledge on to the next generation, you can sign up to be an online tutor or mentor for school-age children. Studies show that this method of tutoring is just as effective as face to face tutoring, and it is a great way to volunteer from the comfort of your own home.
  • Local Botanical Gardens – If you have a green thumb, and enjoy working with more exotic plants, chances are you can get a position volunteering at your local botanical garden for several hours a week. Many of these centers are constantly looking for volunteers to help maintain their extensive gardens.

These are just a few of the ways that you can make a noticeable difference in your community after retirement. The best part about retirement is that you have the freedom to choose what you do with your time. Spend that time contributing to projects and organizations that you believe in, and you will reap the benefits that come with helping others.

6 Ways to Enhance Your Outdoor Living Areas

When it comes to sprucing up your front yard, back yard, patio, porch, garden, or deck, there are nearly unlimited options. With enough money, time, and effort, you can create a magnificent outdoor space that’s perfect for hosting, hanging out, gardening, or any other number of activities.

This post will outline 6 different ways that you can easily enhance your outdoor living space. Use these ideas as inspiration for your own back yard, patio, or other outdoor area.

  1. Create an Outdoor Kitchen – These built up outdoor kitchen areas are incredibly popular in hot dry areas like Arizona, and look great next to your swimming pool. Generally, this is a project that requires hiring a contractor to ensure that everything is built up to code, but with the right know-how you could complete the project with minimal help. These outdoor kitchens can be as fancy or stripped down as you like. Maybe you just want some extra counter space for your grilling area, or maybe you want a fancy wet bar with a wine refrigerator. An outdoor kitchen is the perfect addition if you love to host large back yard parties with your friends and family, and provides an excellent way to make food for the party while still being present and able to hang out with your guests.
  2. Design a Creative Eating Area – There are many ways to create a stylish outdoor eating area. One of the first considerations should be what kind of table you want for your patio seating. The table generally becomes the focus of outdoor eating areas, so pick something that really stands out. When I designed my outdoor eating area, I ordered a custom stone table from NEKA Granite Marble Quartz, and they created a stunning granite table that always gets compliments from my guests. Also think about what kinds of chairs will go with your table, and consider whether you want an umbrella as shade, or to build some kind of permanent shade structure. There are many possibilities when it comes to providing shade for outdoor seating, like extendable awnings, pergolas, and or you could position it in a naturally shady location like under your favorite tree. Outdoor seating is a must-have for any modern patio, and will upgrade your outdoor space in a huge way.
  3. Install a Box Garden or Pergola – For me, the main draw to being outside is looking at all the wonderful flowers and plants that grow in my garden. If you enjoy keeping plants, a space for gardening is an absolute must. Box gardens are an incredibly easy project that you can complete in an afternoon (depending on how many you are trying to make). Pergolas on the other hand require a bit more work, and I personally recommend hiring a contractor to put one up for you if you plan to get one. Both box gardens and pergolas are fabulous additions to any yard and provide you with a great way to incorporate your flowers and plants into your aesthetic vision for your outdoor space.
  4. Build a Custom Playground – For parents who love to build, there’s nothing quite as fun as building a magical outdoor play area for your kids. If you’re savvy with power tools, you can get really creative with your playground. Some people build incredibly themed playgrounds that look like a giant castle or pirate ship, others simply add extra fun elements to pre-made playground sets from Lowe’s or Home Depot. One of the best ways to decide what you want to do with your home playground is to take your kids to a bunch of playgrounds in the area and see what they seem to enjoy the most. Do they prefer slides to monkey bars? Do they enjoy the swings? Fireman pole? There are tons of different playground elements to choose from, and if you create your playground from scratch, you can even style it to match the rest of your home and backyard.
  5. Expand your Deck – For some back yards, a deck is preferable to a patio due to soft ground or other conditions. There are many contractors out there that can build incredible decks that have all sorts of bells and whistles. Maybe you want to have a hot tub that sits level with your deck, or maybe you want multiple layers to your deck with doors on the first and second story, or maybe you want a deck with built in planters all around the edges. All of these and many more options are possible when you get in touch with a high-quality deck contractor. Decks are perfect for hosting barbecues and other outdoor parties. Depending on how you set up your deck, it might just become your family’s new favorite spot to hang out.
  6. Put Up a Gazebo – A gazebo can be an elegant touch for any backyard, and can even be attached to your deck as a great spot to avoid bugs. While this project is probably best handled by a trained professional, you can certainly give input in the way of design when laying out the project. Gazebos are another great addition if you enjoy hosting large parties, as they offer guests a beautiful place to sit and enjoy your outdoor space. I recommend getting a screened in gazebo so you have a bug-free oasis when the mosquitos get bad in summer.

These six projects are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating your perfect back yard landscape. All of these projects will increase the property value of your home, enhance your living space, and beautify your property. Your family will be grateful for the extra space to run around, and your guests will be amazed at your elegant entertaining space.

Protecting Your Gardening & Landscaping Business

As a Gardening and Landscaping consultant in Richmond and surrounding Tidewater VA regions, it is very important that you take the proper precautions to help protect all of your assets, whether that be your gardening equipment, your transportation, and especially yourself and your workers. To do this you must have the right insurance. Today, we have the help of Insurance Doctor to discuss all of the insurance coverages you can get for your company.

There are few insurances & coverages that every landscaper should be familiar with and some of those are general liability insurance, business property insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and commercial car insurance.

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General Liability Insurance Specifications

This type of coverage is a must have. If you were ever to have a lawsuit due to accidents or mishaps, then this coverage could be there to help you out. There are many different coverage options within one of these plans but some other coverages may also help you out when theft or advertising injury occur. It can also help with certain property damages, replacement costs, bodily injury, and even personal injury.

The Importance of Worker Compensation Insurance

This coverage is also vital when owning your own gardening consultation company. If one of your workers is injured on the job and medical bills are accruing over time, then this could help cover them. It can also be helpful if someone becomes ill due to work conditions like exposure to chemicals or poorly ventilated work spaces.

Different Types of Auto Insurance for Landscapers

Depending on the type of vehicle you own will dictate which auto insurance you must get. In Virginia, this is a business requirement. You must choose between business auto insurance, commercial truck insurance, commercial pickup truck insurance, commercial van insurance, trailer insurance, and even dump truck insurance if you have a larger operation. Having the correct insurance ensures that, in the event of an accident, you will be covered.

Commercial Trucks Include:
  • Front loaders
  • Tractors
  • Tank trucks
  • Auto haulers
  • Flatbeds
  • Semi-Trucks
  • Box Trucks
Commercial Vans Include:
  • Long Bed Vans
  • Expeditors
  • Couriers

*If you’re running a dump truck insurance, it is most likely that you will also need physical damage insurance to cover your own vehicle.

Each state has different insurance coverage requirements for landscapers so it is very important to know what is necessary to operate your business.

landscapers

Ways to Prevent Accidents & Injuries

The best way to prevent yourself from falling into a financial pitfall is to implement a plan of action that helps reduce unnecessary risks. By building a proper game plan and creating standard protocols you can help reduce your risk of injury or future accidents. Some things that you can do as a landscaper to help achieve this is:

  • Put aside some time before work begins to explain tasks and work that everyone is responsible for
  • Have the necessary equipment to do the job
  • Have first aid available on every job site
  • Have a game plan on what to do if someone is injured
  • Create protocols for use of all heavy machinery
  • Create standard hand signals for when loud machinery is being used
  • Ensure that anyone driving is properly licensed
  • Make sure that no one is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Post proper usage on any danger pieces of hardware like precautions to take when using an auger

These are just a few safe practices a professional landscaping company could put into effect to help reduce the risk of accidents or injuries.

 

 

Got Weeds in Your Garden?

dandelionsAny gardener will tell you that the bane of their hard work is weeding. Weeds regularly pop up even in well-tended garden beds, and compete with your plants for sunlight, water, and precious soil nutrients. Although these weeds may be tolerable in other settings, in your very own garden, they are a nuisance that disrupt the cosmetic beauty of your floral landscape. To properly eliminate bothersome weeds and prevent them from spreading and returning to your garden beds in the future, special care should be taken. If you’re new to the gardening world and are beginning to experience the nuisance of weeds, be sure to consider the following helpful hints:

Cover the Garden Bed with Mulch

Using mulch to cover your open garden bed will help to prevent pesky weeds from moving in and taking over. There are a variety of different options for mulch available, depending on what you’re looking for. For example, large rocks can be used as mulch to absorb and transfer heat from the sun to the flower bed below. Rock mulch can also prevent erosion of the garden’s soil. Other popular sources of mulch include straw, grass clippings, wood chips, and even newspaper. The primary goals with mulch are to cover the soil, protect the garden from weeds, and to aid plant growth.

Weedingpulling weeds

This might seem fairly obvious, but yes – you have to do some weeding to get rid of weeds. If you spend just a few minutes each day pulling weeds from the garden beds, as well as from any surrounding grass area, you won’t need to spend hours weeding on the weekend. Additionally, waiting between weeding allows time for weeds to grow their roots. It’s best to take care of them during your regular daily gardening.

Aerate the Soil

Soil needs to be aerated to allow air, water, and nutrients to enter. If soil is too tightly compacted, then your plants won’t be getting any needed nutrition to grow and thrive. To aerate the soil, use a hoe around the plants about once a week. Often while hoeing, you will be able to loosen up some weeds. Be careful not to over-hoe the soil – you could be planting weeds into your soil.

Outside Help

Some people simply don’t have the tools or time necessary to adequately weed their entire garden. Many services will come to your home and pull weeds in and around your garden, and ensure that weeds do not return in the future. This Chesterfield VA lawn care service for example offers weeding service with their regular mowing. If you find the right professional to meet your needs, weeds won’t be a problem for your garden.

Whether you’re a gardening novice or a pro, weeding is a natural part of the job – literally! But despite these pesky plants, regular tending to your garden will help keep them at bay, and prevent them from harming the plants you work so hard to grow. Happy gardening!

Picket Fencing for Your Garden

vegetablesSo you have started your garden and everything seems to be going well. Your plants are growing strong and providing you with the most luscious fruits and vegetables every. The soil is well balanced and your compost pile is good for months to come. Oh wait…it looks like we have something eating our carrots. I decided to set up a camera over night and low and behold I had a rabbit sneaking in there when I wasn’t looking. I didn’t want to poison that cute little critter but I did need to keep him out. I decided to invest in garden fencing and avoid calling a Richmond fence company. I did some research and I found this great picket fence plan that I could build with a tight metal grating behind that wouldn’t allow that rabbit to enter. By placing the metal grating behind, we will be able to still display the beautiful aesthetics of the picket fence.

 

Step 1:

The first thing you must do is measure the perimeter of your garden. In our case, we have a perimeter of 60 feet with 18t feet on two of the sides and 12 feet on the other two sides. When measuring the perimeter you are also hammering in stakes with string attached to each so you have a guide for where your posts and fence will go.

Step 2:

Pre-fabricated fences make the job a lot easier, but if you feel like your up to the task then continue on. Your next step is to start digging the holes for the 4×4 cedar posts to be placed in. First Dig the 4 corner holes to 2ft deep and 8inches wide. From those holes, measure 6 feet in and dig another hole. The 12-foot sides should have one in the middle and the 18-foot sides should have two.

Step 3:

Drop 4 inches of gravel in each hole, place the 8ft cedar posts in the center base of the whole, then surround with dry concrete and tamp down after confirming the posts are level. The dry concrete will solidify with the grounds moisture.

Step 4:

Cut your 2X4 to 6ft so that each rail butts with the next one. The upper rail should be 36 inches from the bottom and the lower rail should be 12 inches from the ground.

Step 5:

Now it’s time to install the pickets. The base of each picket should be 2 inches from the ground, making sure that each is evenly spaced between each other. It garden pickethelps to have a level board beneath for the pickets to sit on and someone holding a board on top to ensure that they are level.

Step 6:

On one side of the fence make sure to cut away for a door and install 2 hinges. On the other side of the door, you can install a locking mechanism to get in and out of.

Step 8:

When all the pickets are placed and you have your door ready, you can now level off the tops of the cedar posts. Measure up and inch above the pickets tops and cut off. Now you can install the finial caps for a more beautiful look.

Step 9:

Paint or stain the fence to your liking. When the paint is dry, staple on the metal grating so that little rabbit can’t get in anymore. Now you can sit back and enjoy your new garden fence.

 

Starting Your First Garden

gardeningStarting a garden is no easy task – I’m learning that the hard way.  The other week my mother decided that she wanted to plant a garden in her back yard with her senior care services caretaker.  Once they told me about the idea, I knew I would be roped into the project to provide assistance.

Well, it’s been long week out in the summer sun, but I did learn a lot about starting a garden.  Below I’ll share with you some tips I picked up that will help you when you setting up your own.

Have a Plan

If you’re interested in starting a garden, makes sure you have an idea of what you want to accomplish first.  If you go into the project without a clear plan, you’ll likely miss some important details and ruin your garden for the long run.

You should know what you want to plant, what type of soil they need, how much sunlight etc.  All of these details will determine where you place your garden.

Start Small, Grow Large

Don’t get too ambitious at first.  I know how exciting it can be wanting to plant many different varieties of plants, but it’s best if you start with only a few plants.  This will help you to be more in control of what’s growing.  Once you have a solid base and experience, you can begin adding more plants.

Have the Proper Equipment

You need to make sure you have all the necessary tools for gardening.  Some items include shovels, spades, rakes, water hoses, and gloves.  I definitely recommend buying durable, high-quality items, or you’ll find yourself heading to the store for replacements more often.

Collect Your Own Compost

This will save you money in the long run.  Collect fallen leaves, twigs, and other items and begin a compost pile.  Once you have a good pile, you’ll spend less money on mulch.

Don’t Rush

Like with most things in life, it’s important to start slow and not rush the process.  Becoming and experienced gardener takes years, not hours.  Don’t expect to have a fully functioning garden overnight.  Start slow and enjoy the process, and most importantly – have fun!

Get out there and have some fun!  I’m sure you’ll enjoy making your own garden as much as we did.  For more beginner tips, check out this great article.

My Garden Troubles

I love my garden.  I’m out there whenever I can, trimming flowers, pulling weeds, etc.  The other day I was out working in my garden and my dog Roscoe got curious and decided to join me.  I have a pile of mulch sitting off to the side and he started playing and digging inside of it.  Twenty minutes later, he and I both head inside to take a little break.  Without even thinking about it, I let him into the living room without being washed off first and he headed straight to the couch, dirty paws and all.

The upholstery was now filthy.  The worst part yet, was that I was having company over the next day.  I needed to find a way to clean the dirt off quickly.  Because of the fabric used in the upholstery, I wanted to be careful not to use anything to harm the material.  I first tried to use a damp towel, but that only seemed to make it worse.

upholsteryBefore I made the mess any worse, I decided to stop and call in the pros.  I called up a local Phoenix AZ upholstery cleaning company to give me a helping hand.  Thankfully, they weren’t overbooked and were able to make an appointment for the same day.  I was so relieved.

They came in, did their thing, and left in no time at all.  What impressed me the most was that there was no sign of dirt at all!  As a bonus, the area was dried and fresh within the hour.  What a terrific job.

Thankfully everything had been resolved.  The next step for me was to give Roscoe a bath to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  He doesn’t like baths but he deserved one after that incident.

All in all, I’m glad my couch was able to be restored.  Next time Roscoe is outside with me, I’ll be sure to keep him far away from any mulch.

The Benefits of Hiring a Landscaper

Get Some Help in Your Garden

There is no doubt that planting a garden in your lawn will make it a brighter, more peaceful space. In fact, homes without any sort of gardening or landscaping are far less likely to sell those with homeowners who take the time to glamorize their lawns.

Some people enjoy gardening or prefer to do so themselves to save some money. Some would rather work with a landscaper for guidance, and some would rather leave their lawn entirely in a gardener’s care. There are some unforeseen benefits of working with a landscaper.

  • Extensive Knowledge: Your landscaper knows your climate well, and they can plant flowers, bushes, and shrubbery that will thrive in your backyard. This means low maintenance on both of your behalves because the plants will need less upkeep.
  • Chemical Experience: Landscapers also know which fertilizers and pesticides will be the most effective, without you doing a test run. They also know natural remedies that will be harmful to your pets if you own some curious animals. Using a pesticide that doesn’t work could mean losing a plant altogether, and you are back to square 1.
  • Less Effort: Aside from not having to do manual labor in your lawn, a landscaper is typically on a schedule so you don’t have to remember to take care of it. For instance, if you schedule a professional to stop by once every other week, you won’t run the risk of forgetting to weed your garden for months on end.
  • Additional Specialties: Your landscaper should be able to do more than plant and nurture your garden or lawn. Look for a landscaping company, such as the Grounds Guys of Destin FL, that has the capability of implementing hardscaping. Hardscaping means installing fountains, statues, or different types of borders that could be too complex to try on your own.

If you think that hiring a landscaper is in your gardening budget, look for a local company that you can trust to be on time and knowledgeable.