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Monthly Archives: October 2018

Choose a Landscape Contractor

Determine the scope of the project, and which services you’ll expect from the contractor – install plant material, build decks and patio, install retaining walls, install irrigation systems and night lighting are some of the services provided by landscape contractors. You may wish to work on some of these projects yourself…is your contractor agreeable to this?

Thoroughly investigate the company – how long has it been in business? – what levels of expertise and education do the employees have? – Ask for recent references and check these out – visit the jobs. Many states require licensing…inquire about this and other types of certification.

Insurance is a big concern….the nature of much of landscaping work requires comprehensive insurance – both liability and worker’s compensation – ask for proof of insurance. Is the company affiliated with local or national trade organizations? – this *may* indicate a high level of professionalism and quality.

What about the little guy, just starting out? If I hadn’t been given a chance over thirty years ago by my first few clients, I wouldn’t be writing this today. I’m amazed that so many understanding people gave a scruffy looking young man in an old pickup a chance! So you can sometimes find a conscientious young person to provide services at reasonable cost. The main thing is to check references, discuss the project thoroughly and insist on a written contract. If a prospect is enthusiastic and seems to really love the work, you may be on the right path.

Also ask about guarantees…will the landscaper or nursery stand behind a guarantee on plant material? What about hardscape items…if the retaining wall caves in, will it be replaced at no cost? How long is the guarantee in place? A recent trend, especially on larger commercial jobs, is to require the landscaping company to maintain the project for the first year. This way, any serious installation mistakes can be dealt with in a timely manner.

If the installation company will be providing some or all of the maintenance, ask for the maintenance schedule. Basic lawn maintenance should include weekly mowing, seasonal fertilization, weed control if desired and aeration or dethatching services. Ask which chemicals, if any, will be used on your property, and require the contractor to provide the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for each.

Need Weekly Pool Maintenance

One of the big things in pool maintenance is keeping the water level maintained. If you had a big party where a cannonball contest was in full swing or half of the street was in your pool you likely lost quite a bit of water. Conversely, if you had a lot of rain and storms over the weekend you will have too much water. The pool equipment works best if the water level is maintained at all times. Your weekly maintenance people will do that.

They’re also there to skim the leaves and debris that may have fallen into the pool throughout the week, to brush the sides of the pool and to vacuum all the dirt up from the bottom. This keeps the pool looking its best and also clean and comfortable for swimmers.

Weekly maintenance workers will also clean the skimmers, keeping everything operating at its optimum efficiency, check water circulation, check for leaks in drains, filters and strainers, and check the filters for wear. They also maintain the proper chemical balance and shock the pool when needed. They will also test the water each week and alert you to what you need to do to improve the conditions until their next visit.

We all want clean water and an inviting pool. By getting the experts in for a weekly check and the necessary maintenance you are doing yourself and your pool a huge favour. Isn’t it time you invested in a good pool expert for your outdoor oasis?

Landscaping Brick

To transform any backyard into a wonderful entertainment area try adding a brick patio. It’s easy for anyone to build. To construct a patio, all you will need is brick and mortar, patience, and some time. You can decide which way to lay them, perhaps in a row all in the same direction. A basket weave design is also another wonderful idea and will give your project a distinctive creative look. To do this you will need to alternate the brick in a vertical and horizontal way, creating a wonderful design in the pattern.

For many years landscape brick materials have become one of the most commonly used items in gardens. You can utilize them to border your flower garden or to build a small retaining wall around your flowerbed. They are also a big support with water gardens. You can use the brick to encase the area around the water, which will add warmth and increased stability to the water feature.

Crushed brick over time will eventually sink into the ground. To help prevent this from happening line the bottom of the walkway with landscape fabric. You can do the basket weave with this idea as well depending on the other features in this area. You will be sure to get many compliments on your design.

Brick is a great way to line flower beds or any areas that do not have an edge by creating wonderful borders. Try using it on high traffic areas where grass has a tendency to wear out. You want to create visual attention to catch peoples’ eyes. The one advantage it has is that it can be laid flat or even stacked, and is easy to mow over to create that clean finished look.

Landscaping brick can be found at just about any building or garden supply center. Old ones found lying around can be cleaned up to look as good as new by using a brush, some soap and water, and a little effort. This is a wonderful way to save money on your project.

Most Economical Pond Pump

The cost of running a pump is dependent on how may watts it uses as electricity is measured in terms of kilowatt hours, or the quantity of watts, in thousands, used in an hour. The larger the pump the greater the watts it uses, however pumps of the same pumping power can differ considerably in their watt usage. An energy efficient pump that delivers 4200 gallons per hour may run at 550 watts while another that delivers the same volume of water may run at 850 watts.

Does that mean that over time the 550 watt pump will save money? Not necessarily. Pumps are only warrented for one or two or three years, generally. If you live in an area where electricity is cheap and the pumps you are considering are warranted for a year or two, then the added cost of the energy efficient pump, and its replacement, may be greater than the energy costs it will save over the same time period.

If, on the other hand, you live where the cost of electricity is high and you are looking at a pump with a three year warrenty that uses significantly less electricity than the other, then the energy efficient pump may more than pay for its extra up-front cost over the long term.

How to know? A Life Cycle Cost Analysis. Find the cost of electricity in your area, figure how long the pump should last, (generally at least two times the warranty), the number of watts it runs on and do the math. Here’s an example.

Say your pump uses 550 watts/hour and you plan to have it running continuously. It has a warranty of two years, so figure it will last four. 550 watts per hour in one day amounts to 13,200 watts. Divide that by a thousand to get kilowatts; 13.2. Multiply that by 365 days in a year = 4,818. Multiply that by 4 years = 19,272 kilowatts over its lifetime. Multiply that by the cost of electricity in your area, say $.20 = $3,854.

Do the same for the 850 watts/hour pump and the result is $5,957. There is a difference in energy costs of usage over their lifetime between the two pumps of $2,102. The difference in purchase price of the pumps will be in the vicinity of $200.00.

Does this mean the energy efficient pump is the most economical over time? In this scenerio it does, which assumed a twenty cent energy cost, a lifetime of four years and continuous running for all of that four years, yes. If the pump is run half that time, say 12 hours a day or six months of the year the energy differential would drop to $2,901, still a considerable savings. Reduce the life time to two years or run the pump for less often and the difference will be still less. In some areas the cost of electricity is much less so the cost of running the pump will be much less.

Let’s look at the same scenerio as the first example above, but instead of an energy cost of twenty cents per kilowatt, we’ll assume eight cents per kilowatt. We’re looking at a pump that uses 550 watts/hour, running continuously. It has a warranty of two years, so figure it will last four. 550 watts per hour in one day amounts to 13,200 watts. Divided by a thousand to get kilowatts gives us 13.2 per day. We multiply that by 365 days in a year = 4,818, and that by 4 years = 19,272 kilowatts over its lifetime. Now we multiply that by $.08 (eight cents) per kilowatt and we have a total cost over four years of $1,541.76 for the 550 watt pump and plugging in the 850 watt number in place of the 550 we get $2382.00 over four years. A difference of about $840.00. Reduce the life of the pump to two years and you have a difference in running costs over that two years of $427.00.

As you see, the less the pump is run, the cheaper electrical energy is in your area and the shorter the life of the pump, the less is the differential in running costs between energy-efficient and non eneregy-efficient pumps. In some cases, when the pump will not be run continuously, when it is fairly small and doesn’t use a lot of wattage and the up-front cost of the pumps is significant, it may make more sense to go with the less expensive pump, especially if you are trying to reduce up-front costs of building a pond.