Useful Landscaping Tools To Boost The Image Of Your Home

For the avid do-it-yourself landscaper, the right tools are important. After all, if one wishes to save money on the expenses associated with having a well cared for yard, it is best to make sure that he or she has all of the tools necessary to create an attractive landscape. By understanding some of the most common tools used for basic landscaping needs, you can ensure that you have everything you need to keep your lawn in the best possible shape, bringing delight and distinction to your grounds, be they large or small.

A beautifully landscaped yard can increase the image and value of your home.
A beautifully landscaped yard can increase the image and value of your home.

Shovels, rakes, trowels, and hand cultivators. These are the most basic of tools when it comes to landscaping. Every home should be supplied with these basic implements. They make just about every landscaping endeavor possible. Shovels to remove sod and turn soil, as well as dig the holes necessary for fixtures like trees and hardscapes, Rakes are essential to smooth out planting beds and prepare ground for things like sod without packing the dirt. Trowels and hand cultivators allow you to perform minute work that requires more attention to detail. All of these tools are necessary to the proper functioning and care of a landscape.

Pruners and shears. These tools are used to improve the appearance of woody plants and trees. They keep plants from encroaching in other areas, and they also promote the overall health of the plants. They help maintain a neat appearance, and if you have topiary concerns, they are indispensable in maintaining a set shape. There are hand pruners, tools that help with the smaller branches and are easier to use, loppers for getting thicker branches that are to large for pruners, and even pruning saws that can help you with the toughest of branches. Hedge shears provide a way for hedges to be trimmed more conscientiously than with electric or gas-run trimmers (although these are widely available and can make maintaining hedges much easier).

Lawnmower. This is perhaps one of the most common and most obvious of landscaping tools. It is meant to keep the grass at a reasonable level, and to keep the lawn neat and healthy. Related to lawnmowers in the trimming department are things like weed trimmers, which are very useful in keeping edges that can’t be cut by a mower nice and neat. Additionally, the use of some special machinery, designed to eliminate thick brush is useful to have on hand, even it is only in the form of a machine rented once a year.

Other tools of interest. Of course, there are specialty tools that may be needed depending upon on the features of your landscape. If you have a water fixture, it is important to make sure that you have the proper pumps and filters, and that you have little skimmers that can allow you to remove larger pieces of debris from the water. Automatic sprinklers can make watering the lawn and your other plants much easier, and you should have a garden hose for special watering needs. Make sure the sprinklers remain well maintained to avoid leaks, water waste, and high water bills. Regular household tools such as hammer and nails, levels, and drills can be helpful if you have built landscape features like patios, decks, pergolas, and trellises. They can also be useful in building things like containers and creating raised beds.

Wheelbarrow. A wheelbarrow will always be of infinite use for the avid landscaper and improver. Wheelbarrows are very useful for moving debris as well as bringing needed implements to their proper places. They haul dirt and bring in plants. They make it possible to for one person to carry a load that otherwise she or he would not be able to handle. For the serious landscaper, a wheelbarrow is indeed necessary.

Chainsaw. A chainsaw is a very useful tool but can also be quite dangerous. Take the time to learn how to properly operate a chainsaw before using one. A chainsaw can be used to cut down and remove old brush and trees. If a tree seems tricky or possibly threatening your home or other structures, it may be more appropriate to hire a tree removal expert like Arbor Lawns, Inc.

When you have all of the tools necessary to take care of your landscape, then you are well rewarded for your hard work. Acquiring the more common tools can also save you money in the long run, as they can be used over and over again. Additionally, many of the more common landscape tools are fairly small in size and easy to store in a garage or a shed. As long as they are kept neatly arranged in place, they are easy to get to when needed, and not hard to find. Proper maintenance of you tools is important: keep them from becoming rusty, and make sure your lawnmower and other gas or electric implements are well oiled and always have plenty of gas. Proper care of your tools ensures that you will be able to properly care for your landscape.

Kitchen Countertop Materials: Comparison Shopping for your Renovation Project

I was helping my daughter having the kitchen in her Raleigh home remodelled recently. She was having problems trying to decide on a new countertop material. Walking through the counters area in Lowes gave her a few ideas, but she was still undecided when the time came to choose a month later. I decided to write out a quick comparison of all the materials and costs for her and when I was done I thought other people might find it useful as well, so here goes.

Most people are familiar with laminate countertops. (Formica is one brand name.) They’re a thin surface of high-pressure laminate applied to a thicker base of plywood or particleboard. Pluses: The standby, available in literally hundreds of patterns and colors, laminates are the least expensive (next to tile) and durable, requiring less upkeep than tile. Minuses: Easy to scorch with hot cookware, the use of layers in their construction makes it tricky to repair chips, show scratches, especially lighter colors, so not usable as a cutting surface. Less durable than natural stone or solid surface; use with under mount sinks is not recommended. Cost: $25 to $50 foot

Solid surfacing, (brand names Corian, Fountainhead, Avonite and Surrell) a newer countertop material, is durable and mimics the appearance of natural stone materials like marble or granite. Pluses: Gives seamless surfaces, easy to care for. High impact resistance, easily repaired, nonporous and seamless, so won’t trap dirt, collect bacteria or stain; easily. Minuses: May melt from hot pot; looks non-natural in some color schemes, licensed contractor required for installation and repair work. Cost: $60 to $110 per foot.

Natural woods. Used in butcher-block style arrangement. Maple, oak and other hardwoods, make durable and elegant countertops. Pluses: Good surface for cutting foods; scratches easily repaired by sanding; easy match with wood cabinets and floors. Minuses: Requires a finish to preserve appearance, may scorch with hot cookware, allows bacterial growth, so needs regular cleaning. Not practical for entire countertop – good for small sections. Cost: $50 to $75 per foot

Granite. Popular for their elegant and rich look, natural stone countertops will last longer than most kitchens. Pluses: Adds to value of home, hard durable surface, very heat resistant. Minuses: very expensive, requires care since it is porous and must be sealed periodically, grease will stain. Cost: 60 to $200 per foot for granite $60 to $130 per foot for marble (stains easily and not recommended for food prep countertop)

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile: This is the countertop material my daughter was replacing. While the counters were in pretty bad shape, refurbishing was an option. Tile has a comforting, classic look and is inexpensive.. Pluses: Easy to clean up after a mess. More heat resistant than laminates solid surfaces, inexpensive, unless you are thinking about custom or hand-painted tiles. Minuses: Can chip and crack easily; needs regular maintenance to keep bacteria out of grout. Scrubbing grout. Cost: $10 to $25 per foot.

While she didn’t go for this option, I feel it is important to mention. While carrying out my research, I ran across something I had never considered. Countertop refinishing is something that can be done yourself with a kit bought at any large home improvement store or you can hire a professional. You can keep your current countertop, repair any dings or damage, choose whatever color you like, and the job can often be completed in one day. The costs were significantly lower than replacing the countertops and I am still unsure why she did not go this route.

So, what countertop material did she choose in the end? For it’s reasonable cost and reparability, Corian got the nod for the new kitchen. We found a color that was very close to a granite look and we also liked the ten year warranty.