All lawns are not the same, and using the right equipment to maintain the lawn is important. After all, unlocking the potential of the lawn can result in significant advantages from curb appeal to relaxing in the backyard to hosting gatherings with family and friends. Here are three key areas to consider with zero-turn mowers, an option that’s gaining popularity.
Here’s What You Need to Mow
(Family Features) All lawns are not the same, and using the right equipment to maintain the lawn is important. After all, unlocking the potential of the lawn can result in significant advantages from curb appeal to relaxing in the backyard to hosting gatherings with family and friends.
Many homeowners may have a push mower, a lawn tractor or both – and technology on lawn equipment has come a long way over the years. Today’s lawn tractors incorporate fuel-injected engines or feature Bluetooth technology that connects with a smartphone.
However, a third lawn mowing option is gaining in popularity – the zero-turn mower. It’s called a zero-turn mower because its design allows users to make zero-degree turns – allowing for easier maneuverability around trees, shrubs, lawn decorations and other obstacles typically encountered when mowing.
Zero-turn mowers are becoming more popular for homeowners because they are comfortable, have great handling and can mow lawns quickly and efficiently.
Here are three key areas to consider with zero-turn mowers:
The steering wheel option offers patented SynchroSteer® technology, providing unparalleled stability on hills and terrain with no turf damage. With four-wheel control, the RZT SX delivers incredible handling and unmatched stability on hills. The line is available in a variety of cutting widths from 42 to 54 inches.
The arrival of milder temperatures means dining al fresco, hosting neighborhood cookouts and enjoying intimate cocktail parties under the stars. When creating a backyard oasis, make your space both inviting and able to withstand the wear and tear of warm-weather fun. The outdoor living experts at Trex, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing, suggest the following tips.
Create Inviting Outdoor Spaces
(Family Features) The arrival of milder temperatures means dining al fresco, hosting neighborhood cookouts and enjoying intimate cocktail parties under the stars. When creating a backyard oasis, make your space both inviting and able to withstand the wear and tear of warm-weather fun.
The outdoor living experts at Trex, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing, suggest the following tips:
Check your deck
Unlike wood, high-performance composites resist fading, staining, scratching and mold – and won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter. Upkeep is hassle-free with no sanding, staining or painting required and food and drink spills wash off easily with soap and water.
“Who wants an outdoor space that they have to spend more time maintaining than enjoying? For me, composite decking is a no-brainer,” said celebrity deck designer Paul Lafrance of HGTV’s acclaimed “Decked Out” series. “It delivers all the beauty and aesthetics of wood without the back-breaking and time-consuming upkeep.”
Food and drink stations – arguably the most crucial element of a party – should be prominent and accessible to guests. And don’t forget a kid-friendly zone with games, such as corn hole, badminton and ladder ball, and other activities to help keep children entertained.
Frame your space
Let there be light
Stock up on storage
Don’t forget the finishing touches
“Thanks to advances in all-weather materials, furnishings and accessories, you can outfit an outdoor living space in much the same way that you would any room in the home,” Lafrance said.
For more outdoor living ideas and inspiration, visit Trex.com.
(BPT) - As temperatures drop, you're reminded that Old Man Winter will soon rear his ugly head. Before the first flurries fly, it's important to take some winterization steps to ensure your home is ready for whatever the season brings.
This five-point checklist will help safeguard your home against winter's woes for another year. For additional winterization ideas and detailed project plans, visit Real Cedar.com.
Inspect each window from the outside to see if any gaps or cracks are present. These small openings let in cold air and are also inviting to small critters looking for protection from the cold.
If you find some gaps, it’s important to seal them quickly. Apply caulk to the openings to prevent cold air from seeping in, helping to cut down on heating bills. Plus, you won’t have to worry about bugs making your home their hibernation haven. Note: never caulk above or below the window and door openings, as this may block moisture drainage.
Prep the deck
The amount of work you have to put into winterizing your deck depends on your decking material. For example, a durable, long-lasting material such as Western Red Cedar requires the least amount of maintenance. That said, all decks require some upkeep.
To preserve your deck’s luster, start by cleaning it with a warm, soapy solution and a soft-bristle brush. Do not power wash as this can damage the wood. It’s important that you remove all dirt and debris from the surface as well as in between the boards to improve ventilation.
Next, inspect the deck for mold. If present, wash the deck with a mild oxygen bleach solution and leave on the surface for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Finally, remove anything that might leave marks on the deck’s surface such as furniture, planters and mats.
Protect planter boxes
The majority of planter boxes are made with Western Red Cedar. That’s because the wood is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects; and therefore, doesn’t require treatment from potentially dangerous chemicals that can leach into soil and plants. But like all garden beds, real cedar planters need protection during the winter months.
Start by removing all soil and cleaning the boxes as you did the deck. Then, if possible, store emptied planters in a garage, shed or under the porch. If you don't have the space to store them this way, then cover them with a water-repellent tarp to protect from moisture buildup, but don’t seal the tarp. As with decks, it’s very important that you allow for proper ventilation.
Look for weak trees or those with dead branches, particularly those near your home. As snow accumulates, the weight may bring down a tree or branches, potentially damaging your house.
Eliminate this risk by removing any dead trees or dangerous branches now before the first snow. Be safe by using the proper equipment for tree trimming and removal, or, consider hiring a pro to do so. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and handling this issue now could prevent costly damage to your home down the road.
Clean the roof
Your roof is a large portion of your home, and it also holds a lot of snow over the winter. To prevent ice dams and other roof problems when freezing temperatures arrive, it's important to clean gutters and check your roof for problems now.
Start by taking all debris out of gutters to ensure free flow for water. Next, walk around your roof and inspect it for any damage. Repair loose shingles and make sure the chimney and vents look intact and secure. Your roof takes on a lot of weight from ice and snow during the winter months and you want it to be as strong as possible.
A few simple steps now can mean a cozy, safe winter for you and your entire family. Add these five steps to your winterization to-do list for this weekend and give yourself valuable peace of mind.
(BPT) - It was supposed to be a community swimming pool, but many people stayed away because they couldn't tolerate the biting, nose-curdling odor of chlorine. Others experienced breathing and skin problems.
So the Evergreen Commons senior center in Holland, Michigan, converted its 65,000-gallon chlorine pool into a saltwater pool. People who had stayed away are now coming back, getting exercise and therapy, while socializing with others.
The senior center is hardly alone. Across the country, traditional chlorine pools are being converted into saltwater pools, sometimes called saline pools.
Swimmers noticed the difference right away after the switch, making their pool experience much more enjoyable. The new system also meant softer water without harsh chemicals that sometimes required a shower to wash off.
Homeowners and pool managers have many motivations for converting pools from chlorine to salt, including:
* Simplified, more convenient maintenance. Saltwater pool owners don't have to buy, transport, store and handle hazardous chlorine chemicals. This saves time and money.
* Water that's gentle on skin, eyes, nose and hair. Saltwater pools have approximately one-tenth the salinity of ocean water and about one-third the salinity of human tears, with no unpleasant chlorine smell.
* A more environmentally friendly approach. Routine pool maintenance doesn't involve the handling and storage of manufactured chlorine and lessens the need for other potentially hazardous chemicals.
How do they work?
Saltwater pools use a generator to convert the salt into mild chlorine that keeps the pool free of harmful bacteria. This chlorine is added to the water at a constant rate, displacing the bad smell and burning irritation we normally associate with chlorine and maintaining the right amount. Once the chlorine sanitizes the pool it converts back to salt. The process continues, over and over again, conserving the salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced.
The technology for a saltwater pool was first developed in Australia in the 1960s and today more than 80 percent of all pools Down Under use this system. In the United States, saltwater pools first began to see use in the 1980s and have grown exponentially in popularity. According to data published in Pool & Spa News, today there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide and an estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are saltwater, compared with only 15 percent in 2002.
The other good news for homeowners and pool managers is that pool salt is far cheaper than traditional chlorine. This is a big reason why so many hotels and water parks in the United States have already made the switch. The initial construction and installation of an electrolytic converter is very small and easily made up in maintenance savings. Even converting an existing chlorine pool to saltwater pool can pay off quickly.
(BPT) - Everyone looks forward to a shift into summer mode, with its sun-soaked days, flower-scented breezes and velvety nights under the stars.
Now's the time to take advantage of a golden opportunity right outside your door. Celebrate summer and all it offers by recreating your outdoor space. Whether it’s a balcony, a patio or a deck, a few touches are all you need to turn it into a highly functional living space.
When done right, a patio makeover is like a boost to your home's square footage of living space without straining your wallet. Think of the patio as a summer room, and the possibilities really open up.
One approach to making your summer room perfect is to start by thinking of your needs and what you love to do. If you could add any room to your home, what would it be, and what would you use it for? Then, turn to a resource like Big Lots, which offers everything you need to build that summer room, while keeping you within budget.
Your summer living room
Transform any outdoor space into a relaxing oasis that’s perfect for unwinding and summer daydreams. Your key piece is a comfortable outdoor couch you can really sink into.
It's always best to start with a neutral-colored cushion, then work the accessories and accent pieces, including side tables, brightly colored throw pillows and outdoor lanterns to make the space feel extra homey and just like an authentic living room. These decor pieces can be easily and affordably switched out year-over-year to make your outdoor space feel fresh and new.
With an easy assembly gazebo, you can also keep the space cool and comfortable in the heat of the day.
Finally, if your patio faces an open or public area, a row of evergreens planted in large colorful pots will transform it into an intimate space with a perfect touch of nature.
Your summer party room
With the right pieces, you can set the scene for any gathering of friends and family. Start with ample seating. Add to the traditional living room setup with an outdoor cushioned bench, and position some accent chairs and tables in a nook or two for conversation clusters. A patterned outdoor rug also helps to delineate spaces on a large patio or deck.
A fire pit always creates a natural centerpiece and gathering spot. Some designs take this up a notch and incorporate the soft glow of fire right into a tabletop, making it easy to talk long into the summer night. As a finishing touch, be sure to have a wireless speaker and playlist ready to set the mood with music.
Your summer kitchen
The downside of summer living is building up unwanted heat in the kitchen from cooking dinner. The best solution is to take it outside. Don’t limit the grill to weekends and burgers and brats. Explore the many grilling recipes out there to expand your repertoire. While you're doing this, set up your patio as an outdoor cooking station that’s ready to go whenever you’re ready to start cooking.
Set up a sturdy table for prepping veggies and meats and a selection of lightweight, outdoor serving dishes. The variety of colors and designs are endless and add to the space aesthetic. (Just as you would indoors, make sure the surface is clean before you get started.) Use colorful crates to keep grilling tools, potholders and outdoor dishes and glassware organized and handy.
Finally, pick up some bright-colored pots that match your decor style and plant rosemary, parsley, basil and other herbs so they’re within easy reach to add fresh flavors to your grilled fish and chicken, as well as those tasty summer veggies. These potted plants also make for beautiful, easy centerpieces.
Your summer dining room
Dining outside is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy food as well as the company of your family and friends. When you choose a patio table, choose one with ample seating, and keep things comfortable and colorful with waterproof cushions. Umbrellas can throw shade on a sun-drenched deck or patio, making daytime dining (or your morning coffee time) more pleasant and easy on the eyes. If you’re looking for something different, a patio umbrella outfitted with lights on the underside will let you linger over dinner longer.
Creating beautiful outdoor spaces can be easy, but it also doesn’t have to break the budget. Big Lots has a wide variety of affordable patio furniture and décor so you can create an outdoor scene with indoor style. Visit BigLots.com or a store near you for all your patio and outdoor accessory needs.
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