How to get rid of red ants

These have proved to be one of the difficult pests to get rid of at home. The ants might take a few weeks to clear.

First, you need to understand the different types of red ants:

Fire ants- commonly known as Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA). They are reddish-brown in colour. They create their nests by burrowing into the ground. A large mould of loose sand dirt of about 2 ft wide and 1 ft high without a clear entry point will definitely tell you about a colony of fire ants.

Carpenter ants. Larger in size than the fire ants with some reddish or orange in colour. What you will find common with the carpenter ants is that they set up colonies in wooden structures which would cause a significant damage. If you are not keen, you might mistake them for termites.

Tawny crazy ants. Known for their attraction to electrical wiring, they can cause damage to computers, sewage plants pumps and can even set off fire alarms. The name comes from their long legs that make them walk in a crazy pattern. The abdomens are also hairy. Tawny crazy ants are a natural predator of fire ants. They nest under debris on ground- compost, garbage or stumps.

Leaf cutter ants. Reddish brown in colour ants that can cause damage to trees and shrubs surrounding your house. They can strip all the leaves from a tree in a few hours. A colony of these ants could comprise of more than 1 million ants. They nest underground in undisturbed fields.

Bigheaded ants. You will mostly find these in the soil. The name comes from the fact that they have a large head as compared to the rest of the bodies. They nest under logs, stones, slab foundations and landscape timers.

How do you get rid of red ants outside your house?

Ants could take over your lawn taking away the privilege of enjoying some time outdoors. You don’t want to get bitten or stung while resting on your grass lawn. How do you get rid of ants outdoors?

Use ant treatments. One of the treatments you can use is the non-repellent treatment. What happens is that the ants will carry the liquid insecticides to their nest where they will end killing the colony. The other treatment you can use is the granular pesticides. Being solid, ants will mistake them for food and carry them to the nests where the colony is.

Use ant killer sprays made from natural ingredients. You can either spray the ants directly or when you have seen them.

Sprinkle cinnamon next to your home’s entry points. This method will not kill the red ants but will discourage them from entering. Make sure to apply the cinnamon along door & window sills and any cracks in the wall.

Use vinegar to make spray. Spray the solution of vinegar and water directly to the red ants or their entry points.

The above methods should help you get rid of red ants. However, in many cases, you will find that you might need the services of a pest control professional– either a company or an individual.

How to get rid of thistles

Trying to pull out thistles by hand could prove to be one of the hardest tasks to do as a homeowner. It has known to be one of the impossible weeds to get rid of.

How to identify thistle

This biennial or perennial weed has soft green, spear like leaves with numerous lobes and having sharp barbs on them. There are three common types of thistles namely; Musk, Tall or Canada Thistles. Thistles have a long taproot or their spreading rhizomes make them to keep recurring in your grass more often. Whether you are doing it organically or chemically to get rid of thistles, be prepared to do it repeatedly. One flower can produce up to 120,000 seed, so you can imagine how fast they can spread if not given attention.

Try making the yard or your garden less friendly to thistles and other weeds development. Thistles will normally grow in low fertile soils and the open areas as well. By making your soil more fertile, you will be reducing the growth of thistles.

I have come across people who try to uproot the thistles by hand but I can tell you that the process is tedious and need to be done more than once. You will need a pair of heavy leather gloves to protect yourself. Dig up the long tap root as much as you can while trying to remove them. Look out for the thistle plants when they are young to increase the possibility of eliminating them. If this proves to be futile, its time to look for a herbicide to deal with them.

One of the ways to get rid of thistles is using vinegar. Spraying old vinegar will kill the weeds without having the need for using harmful herbicides. However, the downside of using vinegar is that its not selective. It will kill any weed sprayed in that area of application.

Another biological method to deal with thistles is to provide competition to them. Plant vegetables close together to prevent the sprouting of thistles.

Get a tool like stand-up weeder tool to help with removing the thistles. This tool will catch the entire plant thanks to its foot pedal feature that makes it easier for it to get the whole weed.

Another method used is by cutting the thistle plants at ground level. By cutting the leaves, the plant won’t be able to produce food hence by deprieving the root food, they will eventually die.

Use heat to kill the weeds. Use a clear plastic sheet over the chosen area. The heat will pass through the sheet and get trapped underneath. By leaving it like this for a couple of weeks, the thistles will eventually die.

Apply mulch to a greater deal. By putting mulch, it will conserve moisture and enrich the soil preventing the growth of new thistles.

By keeping the lawn thick, it will prevent the emergence of new thistles.

I believe using chemical control should be the last resort. Try the organic approaches and when they fail, resort to chemical application.

How to get rid of leaves without raking

I have heard it and I know that dealing with fallen leaves during the fall season is very tiring. There are many creative ways of getting rid of leaves without raking that you can apply.

Using a leaf vacuum.

These leaf vacuums simply suck the leaves and shred them into smaller pieces which are then collected into a bag. Make sure that the leaves are dry and not wet. They make the process simple and does not create a mess when dealing with the leaves. When dealing with larger lawns, it’s advisable to combine the leaf vacuum with a leaf blower. Pile the leaves using the blower which can then be collected by the leaf vacuum easily and quickly. Some leaf blowers have the capability of leaf vacuum, so check them well when purchasing one.

Use a leaf and lawn sweeper

Using a leaf and lawn sweep is undoubtedly one of the simplest ways collect leaves on your yard or grass lawn. They have a rotating rake that will just lift the leaves and grass into the colleting box.

Using flat cardboard

Use a flat piece of cardboard and push the leaves and move forward. This is one of the cheapest options that I can think of.

Using leaf blower.

There are several types of leaf blowers that you can purchase depending on your budget plus the size of your yard. Some people will prefer getting the backpack leaf blower which is the most common. Check with your state regulation as some do have laws against the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. Follow these steps when using a leaf blower.

The first thing is to decide where to take your leaves when blowing them.

Hold the leaf blower properly and ensure that it’s pointing down at all times.

Start from end to the other as you’re blowing. It will only make your work easier if you started from one corner to the other instead of being all over the place.

For a quicker job, avoid blowing the leaves to tough areas like drains, gutters or corners. You will only be making your job hard if you blow them to these areas.

Use a lawn mower

To mulch the leaves

This is simply mulching using your lawn mower. The first thing that you need to consider is identify if the lawn mower has the capability to mulch. They have a bag and a side discharge feature. Most people like mowing in circles which is very challenging to most of homeowners. You can opt to leave the mulch on your lawn which will in turn serve as compost. This works best for yards with a few leaves on the ground.

To mow the leaves and collect the leaves

Another thing that you can do with the lawn mower is mowing them and collecting them in the grass collecting box. The mower blades should lift the leaves up off the grass and blow them into the collecting bag. However, this is not advisable if you are dealing with a lot of leaves.

How to kill a mulberry tree

Mulberry is a tree species with cultivars that produce purple berries. These berries do stain anything they touch. So, you can assume the kind of damage they can do to your favourite clothes. The trees can sprout in unwanted areas as a result of berries spread from seeds resulting from bird droppings.

Mulberry tree provides food for both humans and animals. Their shallow roots that grow above the surface of the soil pose a hazard to the people walking near the tree. You don’t want to get tripped every time you go past one. Since they frequently drop seeds, they can grow in your lawn at a great speed.

If you are looking at ways to get rid of mulberry tree, you need to kill the roots. I have seen a lot of questions in forums and among homeowners asking how to kill mulberry tree once and for all.

  • In order to achieve this, you will need a shovel to dig up the small mulberry saplings to remove the entire root system or the tree will eventually grow back.
  • Depending on the size of the mulberry tree, cut them off at the roots using either a shovel or a chainsaw. A chainsaw can also be used to cut the tree down at the trunk to prepare herbicide application that will kill the root system.

Apply the herbicide solution directly to the roots. Make sure you are wearing protective gloves. The roots will absorb the chemical and eventually die. We all know the implications of not using protective gloves when handling the chemical herbicides. You might end up getting burned. One of the chemicals you can use is Glyphosate.

It is very important to use caution when handling the herbicides. Read the product label carefully and ensure that the tools used are well handled.

I have heard from people who used this method then came back saying that the tree re-emerged. Experts have said that the surefire way to get rid of a tree is digging it up.

How to ensure that you get it right; Drill holes. This is done on an uncut tree or the stump that is left after cutting the trunk. As always, observe caution when operating the saw.

If you are not willing to use a chainsaw, you can poke two small holes on opposite sides of the foil to your floral tubes. Cut the branch and install the tube. Ensure that you get as close to the main trunk as possible. After a few weeks, you will start to see the results. The leaves will start to dry up and the tree will eventually die.

It is always important to ensure that you have a good-looking lawn and eliminate anything that should not be there.CategoriesGardening Tips

How to take care of your garden

One of the surest ways to eliminate plant diseases is to understand and manage the conditions that normally cause them. How do plants in your garden get a disease? Diseases will happen if a plant gets sick, a pathogen then attack the plant and the environmental conditions promote the disease.

Here are ways that can help you eliminate the chances of diseases in your garden

Before buying the plants, examine them carefully. This will prevent their introduction to the garden in the first place. However, it is not easy to check the plant and know that its sick. You will need to read a lot of magazines and books to understand how healthy ones look like. Check the top of the plants as well as the root quality.

Plant disease-resistant varieties. Check for plants that will fight disease once they get infected.

Opt for the yard waste that us fully composted. Remember, not all materials in a compost pile will decompose at the same rate. Infected plant debris that have not fully decomposed and being re-introduced in your garden will increase the chances of having the disease in your garden.

Use the correct fertilizer. Too much fertiliser will burn the roots thereby reducing their ability to absorb water. Strong leaves can fight diseases while starved ones can easily be affected by leaf spots.

Water properly. Many pathogens will do well in water as the plant need water. So how do you ensure that you’re not promoting diseases while watering? Choose watering methods that will limit moisture on a plant’s foliage. Hold the leaves out of the way as you water the leaves if watering by hand. Otherwise, the best alternative to use here is soaker hoses and drip irrigation.

Always prune damaged limbs at the right time. Wounded limbs can become infected over the winter season and pruning late winter will prevent the disease from spreading to new growth. When pruning, use sharp tools to ensure clean cuts. These will heal rapidly.

Check out for bugs. Bacteria and viruses will enter a plant through the openings and having bugs will aid in this. Aphids are among the most carriers and can spread the disease very rapidly.

Use the fall to clear the garden. This will help control diseases should they be already in your garden. Diseases can survive on the dead leaves and leaves, meaning they could attack new leaves as they emerge in spring.

Don’t crowd plants. Space your plants and observe the mature plants as they spread. Crowded plants will create their own humidity creating a conducive environment for diseases to thrive. Improve the airflow around your plants which in turn reduces high humidity and allow quick drying f the foliage. As you might have noted, crowded plants will grow poorly for their competition for water, light and nutrients. They weak plants are susceptible to attack and can spread very quick. Trim out the crowded, old stalks and damaged plants in this case.

How to sharpen and clean a chainsaw

How to safely use a chainsaw

Personal protective equipment. The first and most important is to get the right gear. Get a hard hat, slip resistant and cut protection gloves, cut retardant or steel toe boots, eye-protective goggles and chaps with around 8 layers of cut-retardant material. In short, you need to have eye protection, ear protection, long pants, gloves, chainsaw chaps, sturdy boots and a long sleeve shirt. Ensure that you are not wearing loose clothing.

Now that you are well clothed, take a keen look at your working area. Ensure that there are no bystanders and keep clear of anything that might get damaged.

One thing that most homeowners forget is that they operate the tool over shoulder height or on a ladder.

Before using your chainsaw, it’s important to check it first. Ensure the chain is not loose and that everything is intact and nothing missing.

Using the chainsaw

Chainsaw operations are divided into three- limbing, bucking and felling.

Limbing- removing branches from a downed tree.

Bucking- cutting the trunk of the downed tree to desired length.

Felling- cutting the tree in a controlled manner so that it falls where expected.

Starting the saw

To safely start a chainsaw, place the chainsaw on the ground and between your legs. Ensure the chain brake is engaged and that the choke is closed with the start switch on. Next, pull the start control out to the ON position. The third step will involve pulling the starting handle with your right hand until the saw fires. Step four involves pushing the choke in and pull again. When the saw starts, you will need to squeeze the throttle quickly to disengage the high idle. Turn off the ignition switch to stop the saw.  

When handling a chainsaw, maintain good footing, keep good balance by not overreaching and watch for tripping hazards. Keep your left hand including the thumb firmly around the front handle.

How to deal with kickback and pinching. Kicking occurs when the top corner of the bar is pinched or hits a hard object.

Chainsaw general maintenance

In order for the saw to continue serving you, you need to observe general maintenance. Here are some of the things to keep checking on your saw.

Regularly inspect the bar and clean it.

Check the chain tension every time you use the saw and adjust as necessary.

Check the air filter and clean or replace if need be.

Always check and follow the manufacturer’s manual and especially on using the right fuel.

Observe and check the operation of the throttle lockout, oiler and chain catcher.

How to sharpen the chain

Its always good to keep the chain sharp. Check the manual on how to sharpen the chainsaw. Some chains are not to be sharpened manually as they require a specific sharpening device.

Should you decide against hiring a professional to do the sharpening and do it yourself, make sure that you are wearing heavy work gloves. The first step is to secure the bar and activate the brake to ensure that the chain is locked. Sharpen the cutting teeth and when done, turn the saw to file the other teeth. After finishing with the teeth, file the depth gauges with a flat file.

Projects to add value to your home

Most people think that in order to add value to your home, you will need to spend a lot in your projects. In case you want to sell your home, what will you do to make it more appealing than your neighbors? Making those small fixes around your house can increase the value of a home by as much as twenty percent. With many homeowners, these are some of the changes that can be done- bathroom renovation, repainting your walls, updated kitchen and improved flooring.

Here are some tips that you can follow:

  1. Upgrade the kitchen. Start by changing the paint.
  2. Start small and plan what you need at that specific time. Identify what you need first- between getting upgrades for yourself and for your home value. Upgrades for your home may include replacing old faucets, doors and lightings. On the other hand, upgrades for you include furniture, window treatments and artwork. Just decide on what upgrade you are working on at a specific time and proceed gradually.
  3. Tackle one room at a time. Even if it involves a simple coat of paint, tackle one room at a time. This will of course be dictated by the amount of free time that you have, your budget and comfort level.
  4. Clean your house by removing dirt before it accumulates. Remember, a buyer would be more willing to spend on a clean house than one with a lot of dirt and junk.
  5. Beautify your bathroom. Check on your faucet, change your countertops to granite of marble and always keep it clean.

What can you do to increase the value of your home at low budget?

  1. Replace or paint doors. Should the doors be in awful state, consider replacing the doors. If they are in good condition, paint them afresh.
  2. Do low maintenance landscaping. Here, you can use plants that will do well in your region and also those that re drought-resistant. They will require less water and maintenance.
  3. Plant a tree. The trees will provide shade in the future plus reduce cooling costs to as much as forty percent.
  4. Upgrade the kitchen appliances. This is not a cheap alternative as you will be required to purchase new appliances like dishwashers, stoves and microwaves.
  5. Replace your carpet with wood floors. Hardwood floors are getting common and popular among potential homeowners.
  6. Improve the energy efficiency. Get a professional to evaluate a home’s insulation, window efficiency, HVAC systems and other factors that impact the efficiency of a home. If you are looking at an inexpensive way to improve a homes energy efficiency, install a programmable thermostat.
  7. Maximize storage space. One of the ways to achieve this is installing shelving units.
  8. Keep it clean. Ensure the interior is clean from the floor to the ceiling. Clean your windows, mirrors and doors.

Here are some of the home improvement projects to avoid.

  • Sunrooms.
  • Home office remodelling.
  • In-ground swimming pools.
  • Room additions.
  • Whirlpool baths
  • Garage additions.
  • Gourmet kitchens with high-end accessories.
  • Expensive landscaping.

I hope this article will help you as you try to increase the value of your home most being DIY.

Home improvement ideas under $100

If you are thinking that you cannot revamp your house with roughly $100, you must be wrong. I will provide some of the idea that you can do for less 100 bucks. Most of these ideas are both inexpensive and do it yourself projects meaning you don’t have to hire an expensive contractor. When looking at these home improvement ideas, not all will work for your home; so, choose the ones that will work for you.

Some of the common ideas include painting your walls- this being one of the most common ways for redefining your home, adding a low cost stair runner- this helps with strengthening grip on slippery stairs, installing dishwasher for water conservation- try saving energy by getting new Energy Star-qualified dishwasher to save on electricity and water bills, rewire a vintage entry lantern- these lanterns look as if they were crafted by blacksmiths from their humble designs, renewing old flooring with paint- this will bring life to your rooms with painting the floor with a light checked pattern being the most common idea among most homeowners, make shade and add privacy together with interior shutters- installing shades will prevent neighbors from seeing what is in your rooms plus adding wood shutters will make it look beautiful and lastly, get more flowers without spending more bucks- this technique involves dividing perennials every three to six years to thin clump-forming plants.

Basement Renovation Ideas

  • Replace carpet stairs with beautiful wooden ones.
  • Design a basement bar.
  • Reduce clutter with DIY shelving.
  • Replace your basement door with a French door.
  • Install hardwood like vinyl plank flooring.

Bathroom Renovation Ideas

  • Get new handles for your cabinets.
  • Repaint your cabinets.
  • Add a feel of stone exterior to your tub.
  • Design an amazing mirror frame.
  • Get a ladder shelf.
  • Design your toilet paper holder with your own ideas.
  • Get matching set for carpet and towels.
  • Replace your old flooring with vinyl tiles.
  • Try a deep bathtub.

Bedroom Renovation Ideas

  • On your plain closet doors, add mirrors.
  • In your children’s bedroom, store their books with a book tree shelf.
  • Get yourself a hidden room.
  • Design murphy beds.
  • Adopt clever closet storage.
  • Get a large mirror to open up your room.
  • Design your throw pillows.
  • Get blackout curtains.
  • Makeover your closet door.
  • Get a beadboard ceiling.
  • Repaint your room and remember to choose the rights colours.

Kitchen Renovation Ideas

  • Place drawers under the sink.
  • Install pull-out shelves.
  • Get new main appliances.
  • Install glass cabinets.
  • Design vertical storage for your utensils like baking pans.
  • Re-decorate with kitchen artwork.
  • Put few plants in your kitchen space.

Living Room Renovation Ideas

  • Facelift the fireplace.
  • Design custom Semi-DIY shelving units.
  • Add panelling to your walls.

What about the common rooms including stairs, closets and hallways?

  • Replace plain doors with panelled masterpieces.
  • Creative storage under the stairs or design book shelves.
  • Get a day bed and reading deck.
  • Add frames to your light switches.

Let budget not be your reason for failing to add a bit of life to your home. There are some ideas that are DIY and can be done by literary any homeowner.

How to get paint off your carpet

If paint happens to drop, drip or splash onto your carpet, you will need to attend to it as soon as possible. In order to deal with the paint exclusively, its good to identify the kind of paint you’re dealing with. The type of paint you are trying to remove will affect the cleaning method and products you will be using. In order to understand better, there is latex paints, oil paints, water-based paints and acrylic based paints.

  1. Removing oil paint

The first step involves to scrape off the paint using a putty knife. This should help remove a good chunk of paint if its still fresh. The next step is to blot up with a clean white cloth. Add turpentine to your cloth and continue to blot. The purpose of this is to separate the paint from the carpet fibers. At this point, you can easily remove the paint without scrubbing. To clean up the area, mix dish washing detergent and cold water.

  • Removing acrylic paint

First, use a wet rag- that you can throw away to wet and moisten the spot first. Use less than 15ml/ tablespoon of laundry detergent to your rag. It is important to note that you don’t have to scrub the spill into the carpet but rather blot it away.

The second step- Use acetone added to your rag and dab the spill. Its important to note that you will be using just enough acetone to wet the rag.

The third step involves using a carpet cleaner to remove the spill. This will try and clean the area. A toothbrush could come in handy to gently scrub the carpet. Apply the chosen carpet cleaner to the carpet and scrub the carpet using the toothbrush.

The fourth step would be to vacuum the carpet cleaner. This will need a wet vacuum to achieve the best of results. Using a dry vacuum could get seriously damaged.

For you to get the paint out completely, repeat the second, third and fourth steps as this would take even up to 2 hours while trying to clean the carpet.

  • Removing latex paints and water-based paints

Use a towel to blot the paint spill. Get a towel that you can throw away as it might get stained.

On the second step, clean the spill using a dishwashing detergent solution. To get this right, use a tablespoon of the detergent plus a cup of lukewarm water. Add the solution to a rag and blot the spill. Should the paint happen to dry, let the solution sit on the stan for around 5 minutes before attempting to clean it up.

Now you can vacuum the solution. This prevents the liquid from creating mold and remember to use wet vacuum.

Repeat the process if need be to completely remove the stain.

As seen from the above processes, it is very possible to remove paint off your carpet without hiring the professionals. You can easily achieve the results should it be latex, oil, water-based or acrylic paints.

How to sharpen reel mower blades

What I like about reel mowers is the clean cut they will give you. However, you will need to keep the blades sharp. Reel mowers have five cutting blades. A gear inside the wheel hub turns the reel and as the machine goes through the grass, the reel will trim grass to the same height as the cutting bar. Unlike the rotary mower and line trimmer, the reel mower makes clean and even cuts.

Reel mowers have blades that spin from north to south in a vertical pattern as opposed to other forms of lawn mowers. Some of the causes of the blades getting dull is as a result of the blades contact with stones, tree trunks, rocks and other forms of obstructions.

When it’s time to sharpen the blades, you can either opt to do it yourself or hire the professionals to do it for you at a cost. How do you know that its time to sharpen your reel mower?

  • When the cutting unit is noisy
  • When your schedule shows it is time to sharpen
  • When the grass is not cut cleanly

Alternatively, you can check the cutting edges and the bed knife. Check if they are dull, bent or being run without slight contact against each other.

When the wheels become dull, the user will be required to work extra when pushing the mower along. Dull blades will likely push over blades of grass rather than cutting them. In addition, rusty blades can cause damage to your grass making the lawn more prone to turf diseases, fungus and pests.

When the blades get dull, they need to be sharpened. The blades could get dull quicker if you are using the reel mower to cut grass longer than 4 inches or if you cut the grass when it is still wet and damp. Sharpening the blades of a rotary lawnmower could either use a bench grinder or electric handheld power grinder. These cannot be used on reel mower blade.

If you need to use a file to sharpen the reel mower blades, mill file is the right tool.

Should you decide to file the blades, wedge a broom handle into the blade assembly to prevent it from accidentally turning while filing. Remove the debris using a stiff wire brush or sandpaper rated for metal. Pass the file on the rusty blades around three to five passes. When you think you have done a good job on the first blade, remove the broom handle and rotate the cylinder to access the next blade. Use the broom handle to prevent it from rotating and repeat the sharpening process. The last process is to lubricate the moving parts.

If filing is not for you, then you can use a sharpening compound on reel mower blades. Here, you will use a kit that comes with a handle and a sharpening compound. Apply the compound on the blades to sharpen the beveled edges as they scrape against each other. Use the handle to turn the reel mower’s driving gear in one direction for three to five passes and then turn to the opposite direction.