Pond and Pool Maintenance, Landscaping, Roofing, and Home Improvement. Odd Jobs for an affordable cost. Serving the needs of customers in the Richmond Virginia area.

Let's Winter-Proof Your Home

Winter-Proofing Your Home

Colder temperatures and blustery winds will soon be a part of our daily life as winter ebbs ever closer. It’s important to begin winterizing your home long before the icy temperatures arrive. By taking a little time each weekend, your home will be ready for winter weather without much effort. You can keep more warmth in your home by taking the time to winter-proof your home. 

Begin by checking with your local utilities to see if they have any programs to help you save on your winter energy bills. Many utilities have a home heating check-up or can at least recommend steps you can take to ensure your home isn’t wasting energy during the winter months. With proper upkeep and weatherproofing, you can save money this year.

One of the easiest things to do to winter-proof your home is to check for leaks around your windows and doors. Light a candle and hold it about six inches from the window or door and move it around slowly. If the candle flickers, you know there’s a leak in that area. By weather stripping or caulking to stop the leaks, you can save up to 15% off your heating bill.

After you’ve added weather stripping, there could still be a draft. You can find plastic sheeting kits that will help block drafts, at most home improvement stores and even discount stores. The plastic sheet is stretched over the window and then gone over with a blow dryer. This creates a barrier, which will keep the cold air out.

Crawl under the home or in the attic, wherever your ductwork is, to check the seals, as they will wear out over time and with use. Replace any ductwork that is damaged and re-tape any joints, which have come loose. While you’re working around the ductwork, you may also want to ensure there is enough insulation in both areas of your home.

Your heating unit or furnace should be checked each year to ensure it is working properly. Have a professional come out unless you’re very familiar with the mechanics of your furnace. Remember to clean or change the filter in your furnace each month during the winter. This will help it run properly and could reduce your heating bill. If your heating system runs on natural gas, you’ll want a professional to check it for gas leaks.

Clean out the gutters around your home and inspect the fascia boards. While you’re up along the roof, check the roof for damage and cracks in the chimney if you have one. Make any repairs that are needed to ensure your home is as safe and secure as possible before winter arrives.

Winterize your air conditioner, whether it is a window unit or a large whole-house unit. Shut the water off to the air conditioner so you don’t have to worry about it freezing. You’ll also want to cover it with an insulated blanket to keep snow and debris out of it.

Insulate pipes, wires, or vents, which lead outdoors. This will help keep cold air outside where it belongs. It would also be helpful to check around your light switches and electrical plugs. If you notice drafts around them, you can put insulation behind the plate to keep the cold air out. 

When you winter-proof your home, the time and effort is an investment in your home. Winterizing your home will result in a warmer house even if you set your thermostat a couple of degrees cooler. You’ll also notice a difference in your energy bills during the winter months.

How to Protect Your Pipes from Freezing

As summer draws to a close, you may be thinking about the coming winter. Is your home ready for the first frost? You can learn how to protect your pipes from freezing before it’s too late.

Over a quarter of a million homes experience frozen pipes each winter. Not only are frozen pipes expensive to repair, your home and contents may be ruined. In a matter of minutes, a one-eighth inch crack can release 250 gallons of water and disrupt your life in ways you may never imagine.

Sub-zero temperatures and cold winds can wreak havoc on your water pipes if they’re not protected. What can you do now to prepare for that first frost to ensure your pipes don’t freeze and burst this year?

* Know where the main water shut off valve is to your home. This will enable you to shut the water off to the house should one of the pipes freeze and burst. The quicker you can get the water shut off, the less damage will be done. This will also give you time to call the plumber for help.

* Find out where the water pipes are located in your home. In most cases, they will be in the crawl space under your home or possibly in your attic. Once you’ve found exposed pipes, wrap them with insulation. The more protective insulation you can wrap around them, the less likely they are to freeze and burst.

* In extremely cold temperatures, you may also want to use thermostatically controlled heat cables. These can be wrapped around the insulation and should only be used according to manufacturer’s instructions for installing them. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. independently tests and approves these cables; be sure to use only those which have been UL approved.

* Take the time to seal up any leaks around the pipes, which may be allowing cold air into the area where the pipes are exposed. This could mean checking around electrical wiring, which comes through the walls, dryer vents and the pipes themselves. Use flexible insulation, caulk, or a can of expandable foam insulation. By blocking as much air as possible, you’ll lessen the chance of the pipes bursting.

* Disconnect and remove any garden hoses that won’t be used during the winter. Turn the valve off to the spigot and drain all of the water from the faucet. 

* If you must leave a faucet active for whatever reason, remove the garden hose between uses. You can also put an insulated cap over the faucet to keep it from freezing.

* When the temperatures are expected to get especially frigid, leave a trickle of hot and cold water running, in at least one sink that is on an outside wall. This may be just enough to avoid freezing pipes. 

* Allow cabinet doors with un-insulated pipes under it to remain open. This will allow the warm air from the house to heat the pipes and keep the pipes from freezing.

* Keep the thermostat to your home set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit even if you’re not going to be home. Then ask family or a neighbor to check on your home periodically while you’re gone to ensure the temperature doesn’t fall too low.

No one wants to experience a burst water pipe. By getting ready for the first frost, you’ll be well on your way to avoiding one. 


"This website and it's posts may contain affiliate links.

I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase though a link!"

Great reasons to have a water garden installed

For many people around the world, the garden is the most sacred part of their homes. After a hard day’s work, it is always a refreshing thought to be able to go home to a garden where bright blooms, pleasant scent, and fresh breeze will greet you. It is enough to refresh the weariest souls and to make a lot of us happy. Once coupled with the inspiring sight of running water, the garden is transformed into a magnificent place that can easily become the centerpiece of our homes. Such is the purpose of the water garden. Water gardens have become very popular options for many households. Though some water garden types require a lot of space, other kinds do offer flexible positioning. These days, you can have a water garden inside, yes, INSIDE, your own home. 

Below I will be discussing water gardens in full detail. You will learn how to build your own water garden, using the most basic of materials so that you’ll be able to keep the costs down. The necessary expenses required to build your own water garden should not be restrictive. Water gardens should not be exclusive to a fortunate few. So read on, dear friend, and discover the magic that water gardens can bring to your life. Building them is an experience worth savoring. And having your own water garden is a pride that is truly fulfilling. 

There are many reasons why a lot of people have fallen in love with water gardens. First, and most obvious, is the fact that water gardens are simply fascinating. Few sights are more calming than running water in a controlled environment, passing through a bevy of organic-looking components which are inspired by nature. Ever seen a waterfall in real life? Picture a miniature version of that, which is situated right at the center of your house, and you’ll immediately know why water gardens have become the Holy Grail for many homeowners looking for something different to display in their homes. Second, water gardens are flexible ornamental displays. You can create one in your backyard, if you have the space. If not, you can create a container water garden and place it inside your own house. 

Such a container water garden will have its own basin, and the size can be adjusted to fit the available space. Third, water gardens instantly add profound beauty to any household. Will your guests immediately notice your new curtains? Your new carpet? Your new dinnerware? No. But a water garden will always, always catch their fancy, and this can even become a great icebreaker for future parties, as it is an excellent topic for discussion. 

Water gardens, believe it or not, do not require a lot of financial investment. You can create one for under $150, if you’re on a tight budget. The price can go down several notches if you do some smart canvassing. Maintenance won’t even cost you a lot. Water garden supplies enjoy a certain degree of permanence. They don’t usually break down. And they rarely require repair. 

Speaking of maintenance, water gardens are not difficult to maintain. Changing water, feeding the aquatic life which you may have decided to raise therein, and cleaning the power tools, all of which can be done on a weekly basis (except feeding the fish, of course), do not require a lot of time and effort from the homeowner. Sixth, water gardens perfectly complement any household. 

Whether it’s the interiors of the house, or a plain backyard, or even an actual garden, water gardens will prove to be the best centerpiece you can ever invest in. Seventh, water gardens are a feast for the senses. Whether it’s the sight of sunlight glimmering over the water, or the smell of the lilies on a warm summer day, or the sheer joy of watching the koi fishes during their feeding frenzies, or even the simple sight of water cascading from the rock formations you have carved with your own hands, water gardens provide an amazing journey for most of our sensory perceptions. They are the total package. Their designs are often enigmatic, and their execution is always fascinating. 

A lot of people think that water gardens are expensive or very difficult to make. 
As you will discover, these impressions are not correct. And the fact that you will have your very own water garden in your home will prove to be a very rewarding and satisfying feeling, given the common beliefs associated with them. Creating a water garden involves a fusion of engineering and art. Your water garden must be beautiful. But it must also be functional. One without the other will make your water garden a failure. It is this symmetry between two different disciplines that makes the process of creating a water garden truly an exhilarating, and ultimately a very rewarding, challenge. Water gardens are a lot of fun. From the process of creating them to the moments of savoring their enchanting benefits, water gardens are very fulfilling

You’ll never regret your decision to pursue a water garden for your home! If you have passed by the mall and stopped to admire some beautiful water gardens for sale, or if you have visited a friends or family members and you can’t seem to get their water gardens out of your mind, you are telling yourself you NEED a water garden.

Let us take care of one thing, first. If you wish to have a water garden immediately, go to your local shop and purchase a ready-made water garden for two hundred dollars or so, or purchase a pre-designed water garden kit that you’ll just have to assemble.  
OR, if you live in the Richmond Virginia area, you can contact me for an estimate.... 

But if you do realize the fact that building a water garden from scratch is far more satisfying than procuring one which can be enjoyed right out of the box, or you’re not afraid to invest a good deal of labor into building your very own water garden, not because you’ll be able to save more money, but because you find this route a more rewarding and enjoyable experience, then by all means go for it!.

The fun is in seeing your creation come to life. And such are the things that you will cherish for a long, long time. This is very true, especially for water gardens where art is just as important an ingredient as engineering. A water garden of your own design, created through your own hands, is yours. It’s a thing of beauty that you have crafted yourself, the soul of which you have breathed life into. 

There are many kinds of water garden setups which you could decide to build. You are most probably familiar with two of them: the container water gardens which you can readily purchase from any appropriate shop, and the pond-type water garden, which is majestic in its seeming tranquility, fabulous symmetry, and sheer size. There is, of course, the common water garden, which may not be as big as a pond nor as transportable as a container water garden, but nonetheless serves its aesthetic and functional purposes well. 

There are the three kinds of water gardens.

The Pond-Type Water Garden - The pond-type water garden is the most demanding of the water garden setups we will tackle. Not everyone will be able to choose this kind of design, because of the following reasons: 
 • You have to build a pond… a literal, actual pond. Not everyone has the space for a pond in their backyard. 
 • Worse, ponds will take up the otherwise available area that can be used for a variety of purposes such as hosting parties and other gatherings. 
 • Maintaining a pond is more difficult than maintaining smaller water garden setups. Not everyone can spare the time or the effort for this. 
 • Ponds are dependent on environmental conditions. 

If you’re living in a locality that experiences a lot of snow, building a pond will be quite impractical. You’re better off with smaller water garden setups. If you can look beyond these disadvantages, and more importantly, if conditions are in favor of building your own pond, then pond-type water gardens are better options overall. They are the ultimate goals for many aqua-horticulturists and waterscape artists, given the massive area upon which they can work their magic. 

Let’s take a look at what’s in store for you if you do decide to take, and are capable of taking, this route: 
 • Ponds offer a wider space for a variety of excellent designs that will only enhance the beauty of your water garden. 
• Ponds are perfect setups for aqua life which you may decide to populate your water garden with. Carp, gold fish, and other aquatic animals, as well as a wide variety of water plants, will have no trouble settling in a pond, compared to smaller water garden designs. 
• Contrary to popular belief, ponds are simpler for your initial layout. You don’t have to concern yourself with intricately ergonomic design and micro-management of components. A pond-type water garden is expected to have a wide area that is tranquil, after all. You won’t have to touch this area. Its beauty lies in its serenity. 
 • Ponds can actually become the centerpiece of not only your garden or your backyard, but of your entire lot as well. 

Hosting a reunion between family and friends? Set your tables and chairs around the pond area for some amazingly enchanting effects that your guests will never forget. 

Container Water Garden - The sudden surge in popularity enjoyed by water gardens during this decade can be attributed to the availability of container water gardens. Let’s face it, a great majority of people who want to own water gardens either don’t have the space to host one, or the resources to build big setups. For them, container water gardens are a heaven send. 
• Container water gardens are perfectly portable. They are not transfixed on just one spot. You can move them to other areas whenever you wish. 
 • Container water gardens are relatively cheaper compared to building permanently situated water gardens. They require smaller power tools and smaller materials. 
 • Container water gardens have their own basins, which make cleaning an easier task. You won’t have to siphon the water out of an immovable pool. You can simply turn over the basin to remove the water and accumulated materials. 
 • Container water gardens make great indoor decors. They are fabulously unconventional and are sure to catch the attention of your visitors. 
 • In the event that you have to move out to another place of residence, you can take container water gardens with you. You won’t have to sell them with the house that you’re going to leave. 
 • Container water gardens can come in a wide variety of designs. 

You’d be surprised to discover the sheer number of possibilities you can accomplish in planning and building these kinds of water gardens. Of all the types of water gardens, container water gardens are the most practical. Granted that they may be too small for some people’s preference, the fact remains that these water garden varieties are largely responsible for the current interest in waterscapes these days.
Transfixed Water Garden - Transfixed water gardens are probably the setups most familiar to a lot of people. These are water gardens built over small areas of land. They are not as big as ponds, but they are not transportable like container water gardens. They are permanently situated in the location where they are established. The disadvantages of transfixed water gardens are quite obvious. But this setup has its own share of benefits. 
 • Transfixed water gardens make waterfall designs easier to execute. 
 • Transfixed water gardens give surrounding areas a focal point that, if implemented properly, can make the space look wider, or the theme more congruent. 
 • Transfixed water gardens can even become the central points of your garden's or backyard’s design. 
 • Transfixed water gardens have the best ability of blending with the surroundings. It can look like an organic part of your garden or backyard. 
If you have a budget that is slightly higher than what is required by a container water garden, but still not enough to purchase a pond-type setup, or if you do have such a budget but the available space is not big enough to accommodate a pond, a transfixed water garden would be your best option. 

Read an article about Magical Fairy Gardens on our Fresh Garden Lovers blog.
You will find our newest ebook and planner on the subject as well! 

See a preview below. 

Click below to purchase! 


"This website and it's posts may contain affiliate links.

As an Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase though a link!"

Tips to Help Reduce Attic Heat

Tips to Help Reduce Attic Heat

Attics get very warm in the summertime. So what’s the best way to beat that heat? Many companies want you to believe that there is only one solution to fixing the temperature in your attic. However, no one product will necessarily make your home more energy efficient. Here are six different ways to reduce the temperature in your attic and save you money.

1. Try using a thermostatically controlled roof mounted ventilator. They will help to keep your attic much cooler in the summertime. The thermostat will usually start at 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature that the attic fan usually starts at.  

2. Using insulation only keeps the attic's heat from traveling through your home. Nevertheless, by adding powered attic fans, you will draw more air into the attic. While it does help to reduce the heat in your attic, putting these fans in your attic costs more because of the loss of conditioned air. The air you lose from the attic is then drawn into your home from the outside, which will cause your cooling bill to go up. 

3. Radiant barrier: This coating material gets sprayed onto the outside of your roof to help reduce the amount of heat that is radiated into your attic. The radiant barrier is shown to reduce about 68% of the heat that is being radiated into the attic. This will keep your attic cooler, which will reduce the cooling load on your home. 

4. Continuous ridge vent: This vent runs along the entire ridge of your roof. It is placed at the highest point of your roof so that the hot air rises to get out. However, for best results you must have sufficient vents to allow for the free airflow. The biggest downside to this type of cooling system, though, is that you must install it when you are installing either a new roof or building a new home. This type of venting wouldn’t work properly on an already existing roof. 

5. Standard “turtleback” vents: These are the most common vents and are very effective when enough of them are installed. Turtleback vents can be placed on an existing roof and allow for greater airflow, when properly installed. 

6. Check for restricted vents. Your vents can get clogged from dirt, rust, or insulation that was blown in from the attic. Make sure they are all open and will allow for the maximum amount of air to pass through. 

The best time to make these types of repairs to your attic is during the wintertime when it is much cooler and a lot more bearable to fix the cooling in your attic. Just make sure you think ahead before the summertime, because many people don’t think they’ll need any sort of repairs until the problem is already there. 

So what are you waiting for? Start saving money on your energy costs by cooling down your attic.


"This website and it's posts may contain affiliate links.

I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase though a link!"



Soil primarily had its beginning from rock together with animal and vegetable decay, if you can imagine long stretches or periods of time when great rock masses were crumbling and breaking up. Heat, water action, and friction were largely responsible for this. By friction here is meant the rubbing and grinding of rock mass against rock mass. Think of the huge rocks, a perfect chaos of them, bumping, scraping, settling against one another. What would be the result? Well, I am sure you all could work that out. This is what happened: bits of rock were worn off, a great deal of heat was produced, pieces of rock were pressed together to form new rock masses, some portions becoming dissolved in water. Why, I myself, almost feel the stress and strain of it all. Can you? 

Then, too, there were great changes in temperature. First everything was heated to a high temperature, then gradually became cool. Just think of the cracking, the crumbling, the upheavals, that such changes must have caused! You know some of the effects in winter of sudden freezes and thaws. But the little examples of bursting water pipes and broken pitchers are as nothing to what was happening in the world during those days. The water and the gases in the atmosphere helped along this crumbling work. 

From all this action of rubbing, which action we call mechanical, it is easy enough to understand how sand was formed. This represents one of the great divisions of soil sandy soil. The sea shores are great masses of pure sand. If soil were nothing but broken rock masses then indeed it would be very poor and unproductive. But the early forms of animal and vegetable life decaying became a part of the rock mass and a better soil resulted. So the soils we speak of as sandy soils have mixed with the sand other matter, sometimes clay, sometimes vegetable matter or humus, and often animal waste. 

Clay brings us right to another class of soils clayey soils. It happens that certain portions of rock masses became dissolved when water trickled over them and heat was plenty and abundant. This dissolution took place largely because there is in the air a certain gas called carbon dioxide or carbonic acid gas. This gas attacks and changes certain substances in rocks. Sometimes you see great rocks with portions sticking up looking as if they had been eaten away. Carbonic acid did this. It changed this eaten part into something else which we call clay. A change like this is not mechanical but chemical. The difference in the two kinds of change is just this: in the one case of sand, where a mechanical change went on, you still have just what you started with, save that the size of the mass is smaller. You started with a big rock, and ended with little particles of sand. But you had no different kind of rock in the end. Mechanical action might be illustrated with a piece of lump sugar. Let the sugar represent a big mass of rock. Break up the sugar, and even the smallest bit is sugar. It is just so with the rock mass; but in the case of a chemical change you start with one thing and end with another. You started with a big mass of rock which had in it a portion that became changed by the acid acting on it. It ended in being an entirely different thing which we call clay. So in the case of chemical change a certain something is started with and in the end we have an entirely different thing. The clay soils are often called mud soils because of the amount of water used in their formation.  

The third sort of soil which we farm people have to deal with is lime soil. Remember we are thinking of soils from the farm point of view. This soil of course ordinarily was formed from limestone. Just as soon as one thing is mentioned about which we know nothing, another comes up of which we are just as ignorant. And so a whole chain of questions follows. Now you are probably saying within yourselves, how was limestone first formed? 

At one time ages ago the lower animal and plant forms picked from the water particles of lime. With the lime they formed skeletons or houses about themselves as protection from larger animals. Coral is representative of this class of skeleton-forming animal. 

As the animal died the skeleton remained. Great masses of this living matter pressed all together, after ages, formed limestone. Some limestones are still in such shape that the shelly formation is still visible. Marble, another limestone, is somewhat crystalline in character. Another well-known limestone is chalk. Perhaps you'd like to know a way of always being able to tell limestone. Drop a little of this acid on some lime. See how it bubbles and fizzles. Then drop some on this chalk and on the marble, too. The same bubbling takes place. So lime must be in these three structures. One does not have to buy a special acid for this work, for even the household acids like vinegar will cause the same result.  

Then these are the three types of soil with which the farmer has to deal, and which we wish to understand. For one may learn to know his garden soil by studying it, just as one learns a lesson by study. 

In less than a week it will be Spring. 
Here is just a simple list of things you should do before planting.

1. Get your toolshed in tip top shape.
Sharpen the blades on cutters, shears etc., oil moving parts such as hinges, and figure out what new items you need to buy or replace. 

2. Pull weeds, clear out old mulch and debris.
Remove everything right down to the bare soil. 

3. Trim and Prune.
Trees and shrubs shouldbe given a good pruning at the start of Spring (or earlier), especially those that bloom on new branches. You should use a clean rag and some isopropyl alcohol to sterilize your pruners before each cut. This helps keep you from inadvertently spreading plant disease in the garden. 

4. Prepare the soil for planting.
Begin by preparing your garden beds. The first thing to do is loosen the soil by tilling or turning it. If you don't have a tiller you can use a sharp spade. Turn the soil over about 12 to 14 inches deep to loosen.

5. Set up your garden beds.
Now is the time to build garden beds, install irrigation, garden hooks and window boxes, buy new pots and packets of your favorite plant and flower seeds.

6. Divide perennials into segments.
One of the best rules of thumb is the rule of three, meaning planting on a triangle or zig zag rather than a straight line. Give your plants some room to grow and breathe. Some perennials tend to crowd each other causing them to deteriorate year after year. 

7. Early Planting
Get the first wave of planting done. Many plants can be started indoors this time of year for planting out in spring, and particularly hardy vegetables (onions, potatoes, artichokes, and some lettuces) are ready to be planted now. Look at the plant information for whatever you intend to plant.

8. Time to Apply mulch.
Apply a thick layer of mulch everywhere you can. Mulch is more effective at keeping weeds at bey if you get it on the ground before the weeds start sprouting. 

You can mulch the area even if you are still waiting to plant. Just don’t wait too long to mulch an area, or the weeds will get there first!

The Best Flowers to Plant in Spring

Summer Lilies
New England Aster
Summer Lilies
New England Aster
and Violas.

The Best Vegetables to Plant in Spring



7 Important Reasons To Keep Your Gutters Clean

It’s hard to remember the importance of well maintained gutters when you have a multitude of other things to deal with such as the Holidays, and the onset of Winter among other things, but stop a moment to consider the problems which can arise from not attending to it.

Check out this informative short video from Robert Weitz, certified microbial investigator and principal of RTK Environmental Group.

Aside from things like home value, and landscape damage, keeping your homes gutters in shape can also save you money. Let's look at just some of the top reasons why gutters are so important to your home.
1: Roof Damage
Leaves and other debris that clog up your gutters where water is flooding over, can have issues with rot on your roofing. 

2: Damage to Gutter System
Overflowing water can damage the fascia that runs right behind your gutter. This is an important component of your gutter system.

3: Damage to Brackets
Clogged gutters are holding lots of weight, which can damage brackets.

4: Keeping Out Pests
Clogged gutters are often a nesting site for insects (ants, termites, mosquitoes, etc) as the moist enviroment is a breeding ground. Even birds may like to create their nests in them.

5: Cracks in the Foundation
Water that overflows or pools along the foundation of your home can freeze and cause it to expand and generate cracks.

6: Basement leaks 
Clogged gutters can cause water problems in the basement should you be lucky enough to have one. Improperly drained water can causes cracks, which can lead to crawl space or basement flooding.

7: Cracks in the driveway 
Not properly cleaned gutters and downspouts can cause water blockage, which may lead to sagging driveways.

These reasons should be enough for any home owner to stay on top of gutter maintenance, but it is certainly understandable how that is not always in a home owners schedule. This is why you should take special care to make these a priority on your home, before the cold winds of the north catch up to us all! (Hint: It happens every year)