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Dress up a Drab YardWant to turn your drab yard into your own personal oasis? Well, there are 3 ways to do so. First, decide what it is you want to achieve, how much you want to spend and what you can do yourself.

Rock Walls

Rock walls can draw the eye to a section of the yard or hide what’s behind it. They can be used as dividers or to define individual gardens. A nice rock wall can dress up a drab foundation or make a an eye-catching retaining wall.

Trees, Shrubs & Bushes

Planting trees, shrubs and bushes in the right locations can turn a drab yard into a welcoming one. Always choose plantings based on your USDA zone and what you want to achieve. Do you want a stunning display of blossoms in the spring, shade in the summer or fruit and berries in the fall? Choose accordingly, keeping in mind maintenance and the size of the tree, shrub or bush when fully grown.

Pots and Planters

Spice up the yard with different sized pots and planters. Choose from an array of colors, textures and sizes. Place them along walkways, stairs and in the garden. Fill with nutritious potting soil made for containers and plant annuals and edibles.

Before endeavoring to dress up your drab yard, think ahead about how much time and money you have to spend. For large jobs, call in a local general contractor or landscaping company. They’ll be able to construct a rock wall or two and have the right equipment to plant larger trees and shrubs.

Which ways do your dress up your yard?

About Beaulieu Industries of Maine
Tree Removal Services in Maine
Loam for Sale in Lewiston, Maine

Image: ZachClark

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Did you know that there are several ways to save water using a conventional septic system? There are things every member of the household can do, most of which are free and simply require changing one’s routine. For those who can afford it, upgrading appliances that use water makes a huge difference as well.

1. Only do full loads of laundry instead of several small loads

2. Only run the dishwasher when it’s full

3. Limit time spent in the shower

4. Turn water off when shaving, brushing teeth etc.

5. Upgrade to low-flow toilets

6. Install low-flow/energy efficient appliances when upgrading

What things do you do to save water with your septic system?

Additional Septic System Help

Septic System Installation in Central Maine
List of Septic Safe Toilet Paper
Septic Safe Toilet Bowl Cleaners
Septic Systems: A Homeowners Guide
What Not to Put Down the Drain with a Septic System

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Going green is something many households are striving to take on, including making their conventional septic system a little more earth-friendly. There are several ways that make going green with a septic easy, and they’re low cost.

3 Ways to Make Your Septic “Green”

1. Limit how many chemicals go down the drain. Instead of using cleaners with bleach, which can be harsh on the septic system, try a green product, or in other words, one that is made from natural ingredients.

2. Only flush biodegradable products such as septic safe toilet paper and human waste. Never flush feminine products, cigarette butts, q-tips, trash etc. Septic safe toilet paper doesn’t contain bleach, perfumes or dyes, is single-ply and non-quilted. Many brands are made from recycled materials making it a greener product.

3. Use less water. Not only does this put less stress on the septic system, it’s an all-around green way to go. Fix leaky taps, put a time limit on showers and only run the washer when it’s full.

Additional Septic System Help

Septic System Installation in Central Maine
List of Septic Safe Toilet Paper
Septic Safe Toilet Bowl Cleaners
Septic Systems: A Homeowners Guide
What Not to Put Down the Drain with a Septic System

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As temperatures drop here in the north and other parts of the country, many homeowners are looking for tips on how to reduce home heating costs. Though there are many ways to save money this heating season, we’ve put together a list of 4 ways to reduce heating costs for free.

Tips for Reducing Home Heating Costs

Tip #1: Reverse the Direction Ceiling Fans Blow

Most ceiling fans today come with a little switch that allows you to change the direction the blades of the fan move in. When temperatures outside drop, make the switch from counterclockwise to clockwise. According to thedailygreen.com, setting the fan in a clockwise motion helps to re-circulate warm air in the home which can save up to 10% on home heating costs.

Tip #2: Remove Air Conditioners from Windows instead of Covering Them

Instead of covering your window air conditioners and leaving them in place for the winter, remove them completely. This helps to stop drafts further helping to reduce home heating costs.

Tip #3: Lower Set Temperature on Water Heaters

Thedailygreen.com also suggests turning down the temperature on your home’s water heater to reduce water heating costs anywhere from 6 – 10%. On average, most water heaters are set to an even 140° F but 120° F is suitable for most.

Tip #4: Turn Down the Thermostat

Simply lowering the thermostat a few degrees during the winter helps reduce home heating costs. Lower the temp by a few degrees before heading off to work or school in the morning . Doing this can save you 1 – 3% on your home heating costs.

There are many ways to reduce home heating costs. A good place to start is by stopping drafts. Next, prepare your home for winter by cleaning the furnace, changing its filters and lubing it. The best way to save on home heating costs is to prepare your home for winter.

Related Home Winterization Articles

Weather Stripping: A Homeowner’s Guide
Prepare for Winter: A Homeowner’s Guide
Winter Troubleshooting: A Homeowner’s Guide
Winter Home Improvement Project Ideas
Simple Ways to Stop Drafts in the Home

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

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Fall is here and before the ground freezes, there are a few things you can do to prepare your septic system for winter. Consult your septic pumping schedule to see if your tank needs pumping, check the system cover and take a few measures to prevent the drainage field and tank from freezing.

#1: Have Your Septic System Pumped

One of the most important ways to prepare your septic for winter is to have it pumped, and by that I mean remove the waste inside. If you live in the north this needs to be done before the ground freezes and the snow falls. Contact a local, qualified expert to pump your septic and never open your septic yourself – this is very dangerous for the inexperienced.

Think back to the last time you had your septic pumped; how long has it been? If you’re not sure whether or not your septic needs pumping before the winter, consult this free guide to Figuring Out Your Pumping Schedule. On average, septic systems should be pumped every 3 to 5 years depending on their waste capacity and size of the household.

#2: Check the Septic System Cover for Damage

The cover to the opening of your septic system should be sturdy, visible and free of damage. It’s best to have the cover of your tank level with the grade. This makes it easier to see. Next time you have your tank pumped or maintenance performed, ask the expert to check the cover for soundness. No one should be able to fall through the cover and it shouldn’t move or sink when in place.

The purpose of checking the cover is to ensure safety. Not only can this be done as you prepare your septic for winter, but anytime throughout the year. If you have any concerns about the safety of your cover at anytime, contact an expert in your area to check on its soundness and he or she will tell you if it needs repair or if it should be replaced all together.

#3: Prevent the Drainage Field and Septic Tank from Freezing

In the north we get freezing temperatures and snow; usually lots of it. In some cases, we get freezing temperatures but there is no snow in site. During frigid periods with no snow, drain fields are more likely to freeze. Why? Snow cover acts as a natural insulation. One way to prevent a frozen drain field from happening as you prepare your septic for winter is to stop mowing the grass over the field in late September. This allows the grass to grow a little longer providing some winter insulation.

If it’s too late in the season for you to do this or there is no grass over the drain field, spread a thick layer of mulch to provide insulation. Spread the mulch so it’s about a foot deep. If the septic tank itself has no grass cover, spread mulch over it as well at 1 foot deep and 5 feet past the tanks edges.

It’s important to keep using your septic in the winter, if you’re closing up a cabin etc. for the season then that’s another story, so if you’re going to be out of town for a while, have someone come in and flush the toilet or run the sink a few times. This helps keep the septic in working order.

Image: Niteshift/Wikimedia Commons

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When outside temperatures begin to dip, we tend to notice spots where cold air seeps into the home. Fall is a great time of year to put a stop to cold drafts before the snow piles up outside. Here in Maine and other areas in the north, we crank up the thermostat and fire up the wood stove when the air outside turns frigid. A single draft can thwart our efforts to keep the home warm and hike up the heating bill in the process.

How to Stop Window and Door Drafts

There are 3 ways to stop drafts from entering through windows and doors: weather stripping, indoor plastic shrink film and outdoor clear plastic sheeting. Apply weather stripping around the edges of windows and doors to keep cold air from seeping in and warm air from leaking out. Shrink film can be hung indoors and plastic sheeting out, to stop cold drafts from coming in. Weather stripping is a more permanent measure while clear plastic is usually taken down once outside temperatures warm.

3 Easy Ways to Stop Window Drafts in the Home: Browse and shop window weatherizing products. Includes how to videos for installing weatherstripping foam, shrink film and plastic sheeting.

How to Stop Chimney Drafts

When the fireplace, wood or pellet stove isn’t in use, cold drafts can find their way in through the chimney making a room unbearably cold. On the flip side, warm air can seep out through the opening of the chimney even through a closed damper. To put a stop to this, insert a fireplace plug. The plug acts as a shield and blocks unwanted air from coming in and going out through the chimney. To use the fireplace, wood or pellet stove, simply remove the plug and reinsert it when the fireplace is not in use.

How to Stop Dryer Duct Drafts

When it comes to stopping drafts in the home, the dryer duct is often overlooked. The dryer is connected to an exhaust duct which creates a prime opening for cold air to sneak into the home. In most homes, a flapper made out of metal is already attached to the dryer vent. The flapper shuts when the dryer is off in an effort to prevent drafts. Overtime, these become worn and more often, clogged with lint forcing them to remain open. An easy way to stop this from happening is to install a vent seal.

How to Stop Cold Drafts from Seeping Down the Attic Stairs

Attics are known for being hot and cold spots in the home depending on the time of year. Where the attic stairs lie, there is no insulation or ceiling to block cold drafts from coming into the home. Some homeowners install an attic door to stop drafts. When installing a door isn’t an option, install an attic hatch instead. Hatches come in varying sizes and act as a barrier between cold air and the attic stairs.

How to Stop Cold Drafts around Whole House Fans and Air Conditioning Vents

Cold drafts are attracted to areas where whole house fans and air conditioning vents meet the exterior of the home. In some ways, these are similar to dryer vents. Many are installed with a shutter in an effort to stop cold air from coming in. When this isn’t enough, install a shutter seal as a second line of defense. These are pretty simple to install, can be cut to size and easily removed if need be.

If cold drafts in the home are a result of poor insulation or other costly work, dailygreen.com suggests checking with your local state agency to see if any funding for your home weatherization project is available. I’ve done research on this type of funding in the past and encourage you to look into it. However, keep in mind that funds only last so long, so apply as soon as they become available.

Do you have any tips to stop drafts in the home?

Related Articles

Weather Stripping: A Homeowner’s Guide
Prepare for Winter: A Homeowner’s Guide
Winter Troubleshooting: A Homeowner’s Guide
Winter Home Improvement Project Ideas

Image: bcmom/Flickr

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