Possums And Tree Damage: Advice For Homeowners

For some people, the possum is a much-loved Australian animal, but these small mammals can cause problems for gardeners and tree lovers. Possums enjoy living in Australian suburbs and will make their homes in many places, including trees and shrubs, but they can also cause extensive damage. If you have a problem with possums in your garden, learn what you can do about the problem.

About Australian possums

Australian homeowners will normally see one of two possum species, the brushtail possum and the common ringtail possum. In most places, the law protects possums, and homeowners have limited options to deal with an infestation. Some states allow people to hire licensed wildlife controllers to deal with brushtail possums, but it’s illegal to move the animals further than 50 metres away from the capture site.

Possums will eat leaves, flowers and fruits from a wide range of trees and shrubs. Most possum activity is normally harmless, but if you have a lot of possums in your trees, they can over-graze and cause long-term damage. Sometimes the creatures will nest in trees, and they may also use trees to gain access to your home or other buildings.

Protecting trees from possums

Many homeowners use possum guards or bands around the trunks of trees to stop the creatures climbing. Tree bands need to be at least 60cm wide to effectively stop the animals getting up the tree. You can buy these devices in metal or clear polycarbonate. Cats and dogs commonly attack and injure possums, so you should place the guard above the first fork of the tree to give the animal refuge. 

Effective pruning and lopping can also stop possums causing trouble. Cut back the crown of any trees near your home or other buildings, and aim for clearance of at least 2 metres between the tree and any surrounding structures. Remember that young possums can leap up to 2.5 metres horizontally or downwards, so you may need some fairly severe pruning to protect your house.

Repelling possums

Possums can also damage ornamental plants and fruits in your garden. A floppy fence around your garden can stop the animals getting in. Install a galvanised chicken wire fence that’s 80 centimetres wide and buried 20 centimetres in the ground. Bend the top of the wire to curve the upper section outwards, as this will stop the possum climbing over the fence.

Chemical repellents are not generally effective against possums, and you should only consider trapping possums if the creatures cause serious damage to your property. Only a licensed trapping company can offer this service, which possums find highly stressful. Generally speaking, you should look for more humane ways to stop the animals gaining access to your property.

You may want to consider installing a nest box. If one territorial possum adopts the nest box, it will keep other animals away from your garden, and is more likely to leave your trees alone. Install the box upright, at least three metres off the ground, and avoid treated timber, paint and smelly glue.

Possums can damage your trees and shrubs, but Australian homeowners must take careful action to control populations. Contact an arborist, like Southern Highlands Tree Services, for more advice about keeping possums away from your trees.

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Benefits Of Installing An Outdoor Awning This Summer

As summer rapidly approaches, it’s time to start thinking about how you plan to keep your home cool and how to survive the summer months in relative comfort. While air conditioning is a modern convenience many of us lean on throughout the hotter weather, minimising the need to use it is a financially savvy and environmentally friendly option.

Installing an awning on the exterior of your windows is a highly effective method of passive heat reduction. Here are some of the top reasons why you should have awnings installed before summer hits this year.

Heat Reduction

If you have large windows facing east or west in your main living areas, you might have the privilege of watching beautiful sunrises and sunsets; however, you will also be victim to increased heat entering your home. If your windows receive considerable sun in the morning or afternoon, heavy, rubber-backed curtains or double glazing can only do so much to keep the heat at bay during an Australian heat wave.

Installing an outside awning can reflect the suns rays to drastically reduce the heat that enters through your window panes by up to 80%. Harmful UV rays are also stopped by an awning, keeping you cool and skin safe.

A cooler room means less air conditioning, equating to an energy bill reduction during the summer months. When the hot weather passes and you want the heat to come in, awnings on a roller system can easily be retracted to provide your living areas with full sun for maximum heating effects.

Increase Visual Appeal

Installing attractive awnings that are historically appropriate for your home design are not only functional. They add to the character and style of your home. Think of an awning like the eyebrow that your window is missing! There is a huge range of colours, designs and awning styles to suit your tastes and budget, so speak to a local authorised awning dealer, like Quin’s Canvas Goods Pty Ltd, for a catalogue today.

Shade Your Outdoor Living Space

So many Australians have beautiful decks and patios that just don’t get used regularly during the summer months because the heat and UV rays make the idea of a relaxing outdoor meal or beverage an unappealing prospect. A retractable awning installed over your patio area gives you back that outdoor living area for entertaining and enjoying precious family time. The size, shape and colour of your awning can be tailored to suit your outdoor space, offering  your guests not only a shady place to rest, but also an area where your outdoor furniture will also be protected from the elements. Automatic retractable awnings make entertaining a breeze. With the click of a button, you have an instant shady outdoor entertaining area, without the need for awkward, heavy umbrellas or an expensive permanent roof.

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3 Tips To Prepare Homes For Professional Carpet Cleaning

While your carpeting is perhaps the most attractive element of your home, every so often a needless stain can cause it to look unsightly. Some stains can be removed easily, but when a stubborn carpet stain wreaks irreparable havoc, you may need to call in the professionals. You can undertake some preparatory measures in advance to make the most of using professional carpet cleaning services – after all, when you pay a minimum fee of $25 for a standard room, you want to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck. Here are 3 tips to properly prepare your home for professional carpet cleaning services.

Remove Furniture From The Way

Remember that carpet cleaning professionals are there to do the job of cleaning your carpets. They are not paid to move furniture from one room to the other. You might want to note that some cleaners may charge extra for moving furniture – so it’s best to get this out of the way on your own. The responsibility lies with you to prepare an accessible environment for them to freely move around in their cleaning efforts. Coffee tables, floor lamps, sofas and chairs are difficult to clean around and can get damaged in the cleaning process. With furniture moved out of the room, you are bound to get a more comprehensive cleaning result. Keep all your furniture away until your carpets are fully dry.

Protect Walls From Damage

Professional carpet cleaning services require long and heavy cords and hoses for cleaning. As the professionals pull the cords and hoses through your home, you may notice friction at the bases and corners of your walls – this can cause ugly black marks to appear on your walls when the hose rubs against the corners. To prevent this, you can apply a high-quality painter’s tape to areas where the hoses are likely to rub against the walls, like stairway bases and wall corners. Painter’s tape will not leave marks or damage your wall when you apply it and it’s easy to remove when you don’t need it anymore. This is especially useful for light coloured walls that get stained easily. 

Thorough Carpet Vacuum 

Some carpet cleaners charge by the hour, while others charge per room, depending on the size and extent of the cleaning job at hand. Stubborn stains will naturally need a more rigorous cleaning process and will be more expensive than a standard cleaning job. To cut some costs, you may want to do a thorough vacuum clean before the cleaner arrives – this way you can remove the top layer of debris and let the professionals focus solely on the deep cleaning process. By lessening their workload ever so slightly, you can save a few dollars.

These tips will help you better prepare to get the most out of investing in professional carpet cleaning services. For more information, contact a carpet cleaning service, such as ChemDry South East.

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Thinking Of Installing Shade Sails? Two Ways They Help Make the Most Of Your Outdoor Space

You may have seen these pieces of colourful material strung up in various outdoor spaces. Now you’re thinking of installing one or two to accent your backyard. Here are two innovative ideas for using these shades to make the most of your yard space.

Shade Sails Defined

Shade sails are similar to awnings, but instead of being attached to a wall or fence on one end, they have several anchor points. These could be fittings attached to structures or specially installed poles. If you are installing a shade sail over your patio, you might be able to anchor it to your house wall or fence, with or without an additional pole.

The number of attachments depends on the size and shape of the sail. For example, a triangular shade sale would usually have three, one at each point. A square or rectangular shade sale usually has four. Shade sales also come in off-beat geometric shapes, so you may end up with five or more anchors. The shade sail cloth is available in woven or knitted fabric. The latter is favoured because it is resistant to unravelling and lasts longer.

Installation is best done by a professional, unless you are an experienced do-it-yourself type. Most shade sails have a quick release system which makes them easy to take down and put back up. It’s just the installation of the anchors and/or pole system that is complicated.

Creative Ideas for Your Personal Space

Pool and/or Patio Shades

Add a new look to your pool and/or patio area by using layered shades. Combine different colours and shapes to create an abstract-like shade area. If you have a large pool and accompanying deck, you can opt to put the shade sails over part of the area, leaving the rest open for sun worshipers. By placing the shades at different angles, it’s possible to insure you have a shady spot to relax in no matter what the time of day. String some miniature fairy lights from shade to shade and you have a colourful spot for entertaining after dark.

Make Use of Wasted Outdoor Space

Sometimes the layout of a home on a lot creates small outdoor spaces that go unused. One example is the space between your house and the perimeter fence. It may only be a few feet wide, but if you put a shade sail over it and add a comfortable lounge chair you can make this your personal relaxation spot.

Another area that sometimes is overlooked is the space between your home and that detached garage. You may even have enough room to put in a small patio and some comfortable chairs. In this case the anchor points should be fairly simple to install because you already have two solid structures in place. The shade, or shades, would be placed between them.

Whether you decide to put the shades in yourself or call in a specialist, such as Shades of Blue Shade Sails, you’ll end up with a colourful and practical addition to your outdoor space.

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Best Materials for Garden Paths

A garden path can be anything ranging from a gravel track, to a series of ornate stepping stones or a mulch strewn avenue. Each different type of garden path has its own unique charm and its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Here’s what you need to know about setting up some of the most common garden path varieties.

Gravel

Gravel paths come in several basic forms: crushed stone, crushed shells and smooth pebbles. Crushed stone is best if you plan to use the path in a way that might result in the gravel being easily disturbed or thrown up (i.e., by frequently running wheelbarrows or equipment along the track). This is because, unlike smooth pebbles, crushed stone locks together due to the jagged edges of its fragments.

Gravel of any type is sold according to the size of its fragments. For standard garden paths “the finer the gravel the better” is a good maxim to stick by (finer gravel is simply more likely to be comfortable underfoot) although larger gravel might be preferable if your path acts primarily as a decorative feature; i.e., on the bank of a pond.

When ordering gravel, it is important to first take measurements of the length and width of the path you plan to create. Contact a retailer, and give them these numbers, and they will be able to advise you on how much gravel you need in order to complete the job. (Unless your path is going to be particularly small, it’s always a better idea to order the gravel to be delivered to your home, rather than to try and collect it from the retailer.) Commonly you’ll be aiming for a gravel path around 7 centimetres deep, 1 metre wide.

Bear in mind that the primary downside of gravel, of any type, is that it will become slightly displaced over time (and you will likely end up bringing some of it into the house with you by accident).  

Mulch

Mulch is a more “natural” and hassle-free option than gravel, which achieves largely the same end result. “Mulch” is a word used to describe bits of bark, wood-chips or similar organic material. It can be used to create beautiful paths that evoke a powerful “rustic” feel and blend in seamlessly with the surroundings of your garden without distracting from the natural atmosphere (as gravel can sometimes do).

Other benefits to using mulch for your garden path include the fact that it is cheaper than gravel and also softer underfoot.

A mulch path, like a gravel path, will generally be around 7 centimetres deep, 1 metre wide. Material can be ordered based on length and width measurements.

The key downsides to using mulch for a garden path are that it will decompose over time (typically you will need to “refresh” your mulch path with new material every 2-5 years), and also that any excess moisture will saturate the path, making it soggy.  

Stepping Stones

Stepping stones are timeless and beautiful, summoning up images of paths leading down to enchanted ponds in palace gardens. What’s more, they are by far the easiest option available for creating a garden path.

Stepping stones are large and heavy, yet this is almost never a setback as you will not need many of them to complete a path. They do not have to be perfectly aligned, they do not have to be perfectly level with one-another, they simply need to sink into the ground within stepping distance of each other.

As with the other path options, you may benefit from measuring the length of your proposed path and getting in touch with a retailer in order to hear their suggestion for how many stones you will need and in order to arrange for delivery. If your path is not going to be too long, however, you can easily just take a drive down to the nearest garden centre and collect the stones yourself. You might even be able to find suitable stones elsewhere in your garden, depending on your local environment.

Installing a stepping stone is simple: place the stone on the ground where you want it to be, dig an outline around it with a spade, remove the stone, dig out the outlined area to a depth equal to the height of the stepping stone, and then replace it in the indentation.

Downsides to stepping stones include the fact that they are liable to become slippery in wet weather, and do not provide an ideal track for dragging gardening equipment (i.e., a wheelbarrow or lawnmower) along. As you get going, a professional, like Kent Excavations, can help you as you work.

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How can asthmatics improve air quality in their homes?

For asthmatics, improving the air quality inside the home is necessary for improving quality of life. Asthma is caused by certain allergens that are carried in the air and cause reactions in people who suffer from asthma. These allergens will often settle on surfaces in the home and so it is imperative that asthma sufferers are aware of measures they can take to improve the air quality in their home in order to keep asthma attacks at bay. If you suffer from asthma, you should consider these measures:

Switch your air conditioning on.  Two things that can bring on asthma attacks are dust mites and mould. Dust mites and mould thrive in humid environments, and using air conditioning systems to reduce the humidity of an indoor space can be extremely effective for improving air quality for asthmatics. Pollen can also be the enemy of asthma sufferers, and by keeping windows closed and cooling your home with an air conditioner, you can effectively keep outdoor pollen at bay. In order to make sure that your air conditioning unit, like from West Air Conditioning, is keeping your air clean as well as cool, you will need to regularly clean the coils and filters of the unit.

Vacuum at least twice a week. Efficient vacuum cleaners will suck those nasty dust mites from any surface, and it’s a good idea to vacuum your house at least twice a week if you are asthmatic. You should pay particular attention to soft furnishings and carpets as this is where dust mites and other allergens love to settle. You should ensure, however, that you are using a certified asthma-friendly vacuum. Some of the cheaper models in the marketplace can actually pump dust mites back into the air. They might make your surfaces look clean, but the air in your home will still be polluted with allergens.

Cover your pillows and mattresses. Many asthma sufferers who make great efforts to remove carpeting and soft furnishings from their house can still find themselves becoming short of breath in the night. More often than not, this is because dust mites are living within soft mattresses and pillows. To prevent this from happening, it’s a very good idea to cover your pillows and mattresses with plastic or specialist allergen impermeable covers.

Follow these tips and your home environment will no longer be a hotbed for allergens but a comfortable space with greatly improved air quality.

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Home Fire Safety Tips

Fire is one of those primeval forces which everyone would be wise to fear and respect. When kept under control it can be used for all manner of constructive purposes, but when it rages out of control, the result is all too often death and mass destruction.

In the event of any large-scale fire it’s futile (not to mention incredibly dangerous) to attempt to do anything other than call the fire department, step back, and let them take care of the job. But how do you try to prevent a house fire or tackle it in its early stages?

Here are some straightforward tips for home safety against fires:  

Take Preventative Precautions

The best way to deal with any crisis is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Be constantly aware of your surroundings in the home, and make sure that don’t leave candles burning unattended, leave the stove on accidentally, or discard cigarette butts anywhere where they might catch alight. Familiarise yourself with the leading fire prevention tips.

If the worst comes to worst and you do find yourself facing down a fire in your own home, your odds of being able to win increase dramatically if you’ve laid out a strategy beforehand. Having a fire-extinguisher and fire-blanket, like from Fire Protection Services Pty Ltd, should be among the bare minimum of your emergency toolbox. Both items can be stored away out of sight during the course of day-to-day life, and both will mean the difference between being able to stop a developing blaze in its tracks or not.

Be Aware of the Risk Factors

The top dangers during a house fire are often not the ones you would expect. If the fire is big enough that you have to worry about the flames reaching you, then you should be much more worried about the ‘hidden danger’ of smoke inhalation. Smoke inhalation is the number one cause of deaths from fires, and many victims don’t see it coming.

Any house fire includes a number of unknown factors being released into the air as appliances and belongings combust. All smoke is different, depending on what is burned. Toxic and poisonous compounds of different types are likely to be released into the air during the blaze, and these can poison you outright. Another less commonly spotted danger is the risk of asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen, as a roaring inferno might consume all (or at least the majority) of the oxygen in its immediate vicinity.

Know about the hidden risks and factor that knowledge into your decision to act or run.

 If Unable to Control the Fire, Retreat

Different types of fire (electrical, gas, etc.) will respond differently to different firefighting techniques. This is why a variety of fire-extinguisher types exist, ranging from CO2, to foam, to water. If you find that your chosen firefighting method isn’t working at reducing the size of the fire, or containing it’s spread, you must evacuate the vicinity immediately. This is where your home fire escape plan should come into play. If you find yourself being overwhelmed by smoke, breathing through a damp t-shirt, cloth, or towel, and lowering to the ground will enable you to avoid being overwhelmed. If the fire is advancing towards you and threatening to engulf the whole house before you can get away, close the doors behind you as you escape (and ideally block the gaps beneath with towels or clothes as you go) this will help slow the spread of the fire and hold back the full force of the smoke.

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