Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Color Blue: A Non-Toxic Wasp Deterrent?

Rumor has it that wasps and hornets won’t build a nest under any structure that is blue in color.  The logic goes that the blue color mimics the color of the sky, and the insects will avoid nesting there.  Whether this is true or not, I cannot say — I have not tested this theory personally.  That is, until now.

My child’s wooden swing set in the backyard has been a hot spot for wasp and hornet nest buildinVinyl Canopy Topg for the past two years, and I’ve been reluctant to spray chemical poisons anywhere near his play area.  After much research on non-toxic wasp and hornet prevention, I found a few random references online to the use of the color blue as a deterrent.  This year, along with a few other non-toxic preventative measures, I plan to replace the green vinyl canopy top on his swing set’s club house with a blue one.  Who knows, maybe it will do the trick.

Do you have any non-toxic wasp and hornet prevention tricks that have worked well for your home?  Please share your success story by posting a comment.

How to Select the Best Patio Furniture Covers


Patio Furniture Covers

As the weather turns intensely cold in winter or hot in summer, enjoying time on your patio can be unbearable. Before retreating inside for the rest of the season, be sure to protect your investment by covering your furniture with outdoor furniture covers, also known as patio furniture covers. Severe weather conditions like wind, rain, sleet, snow, hail, ice, and even blazing summer sun can significantly damage outdoor patio furniture over time. Covering your furniture with outdoor covers can significantly extend the life of your wood, metal, or all-weather wicker patio furniture. Not just any outdoor furniture covers will do, though. Selecting the best covers means considering the material with which the covers are made, the size of your own patio furniture pieces, and any special features you may desire. Here are some ways you can choose the best patio furniture covers.

Choosing Materials

Low-grade patio furniture covers may last only one or two seasons because they are often made with cheaper vinyl or plastic. These inferior materials are not constructed to withstand extreme temperatures. High quality covers can be constructed from a variety of materials, but there are a few critical qualities you should insist upon before making a decision. Outdoor furniture covers should be made of a durable waterproof and UV resistant material that can hold up beautifully against extreme temperatures and weather conditions, both hot and cold, without being compromised. Also, covers should be lightweight so that they are easy to use and easy to store when not in use. Some covers are backed with a soft cloth material to help prevent anything from scratching delicate furniture surfaces, which is a necessary component if your patio furniture sits near any trees that may drop small branches or other debris throughout the changing seasons.

Choosing the Right Size

Low quality patio furniture covers usually fit poorly and provide just a few basic sizes. Many high quality covers come in standard sizes, too, but a larger range of shape and size options are on hand. If the dimensions of the furniture covers do not exactly match the dimensions of your specific furniture pieces, the solution is not to purchase the next largest or next smallest size. The best choice would be to purchase custom fit patio furniture covers. Even though they may be more expensive, custom fit covers are actually the best buy when standard sizes don’t fit. Because custom covers fit your specific furniture pieces exactly, they will certainly provide the most suitable protection for your furniture through many seasons. Outdoor furniture covers that are too small will not provide adequate protection because parts of the furniture are exposed to the elements. Covers that are too large can act like balloons on a windy day, inflating with air and, more than likely, blowing completely off of the furniture. Additionally, patio furniture covers that are too large have excess material that can sag and allow moisture to collect on rainy and snowy days. Standing water attracts mosquitoes and other pests in summer, and, if not removed, standing water can stain or mildew the cover. In addition, standing water can freeze in winter, which can cause significant damage to the cover’s material.

Optional Features

Although not necessary for adequate performance, most high quality outdoor furniture covers come with special features which can bring added value to the purchase. Some special features you may find include elastic hems, Velcro closures, zipper closures, leg ties, and even built-in storage pockets which help covers remain clean and tidy while stored away. Piping along the seams is an attractive feature with the practical function of directing water off of covers. Some outdoor furniture covers are incorporated with air vents which decrease the condensation build up that can form underneath the covers. Air vents can also help prevent outdoor furniture covers from catching too much air during especially windy days. Spending a little bit more time at first to find the best material and the appropriate sizing for your outdoor furniture covers will pay off in the long run. By covering your outdoor patio furniture properly, you will ensure a long life for your furniture. Otherwise, choosing lower end covers now will most likely result in having to spend more money later to replace poor quality furniture covers that do not survive more than a year or two.

Green RVs Save Resources and Money

There’s no doubt that oversized, gas-guzzling Recreational Vehicles exist.  But the RV industry is working hard to make greener, more environmentally friendly RVs to help conserve resources and to meet the needs of more earth-conscious (and money-conscious) travelers.  For example, lighter and smaller RVs reduce the need to fill up at the gas station as often, while hybrid and electric RVs and motor-homes make gas station visits rare or non-existent.

In addition, environmentally friendly features available in RV interiors add even more value.  Energy Star appliances, LED light fixtures, and eco-friendly textiles are just a few of the green components going into newer Recreational Vehicles.

RV vacations mean freedom for many travelers — freedom to go when and where you want, and to have the comforts of home along every mile.  Taking to the road feels even better when you can drive a “green machine” that truly saves money and resources when compared to more traditional travel.  Truck Camper RV Covers

Saving money and resources is also important when you’re not out on the road.  Cover your RV with protective RV covers when the vehicle is not in use.  RV covers extend the life of your RV or motor-home by protecting it from exposure to harsh weather and other damaging elements.

The Recreational Vehicle has been around for a hundred years, and it will surely be around for another hundred thanks to new innovations that allow travelers to go lightly and make less of an impact on the environment.

Heat Your Pool the Solar Way

Solar Pool Cover
Solar power is fast becoming the method of choice for powering things around the homes of the environmentally conscious. You can use solar power to provide light both inside and outside your home. Did you know that you can also use solar power to heat your swimming pool? Solar pool covers are a great way to warm you pool faster, keep it warm longer, and cut down on evaporation which leads to costly chemical loss. Solar covers float freely on the surface of your pool and do not require weights or tie downs. This makes putting on and taking off the covers a very easy task. Your water temperature can be raised by 10-15 degrees with regular use! All you need is the sun. The sun’s rays capture heat and transmit it into the pool via bubbles on the cover’s surface. It is an inexpensive and effective way to heat your pool so that you can swim earlier and longer!

Solar Cover CloseupSolar Cover

4 Steps to a Safe and Healthy Sandbox


Covered Wooden Sandbox Kit - 5ft Square

Now that spring is officially less than a week away, it’s time to start preparing the backyard play area for another year of serious fun.  One piece of play equipment that parents often overlook, though, is the sandbox.  Whether you already own a sandbox or are planning to buy or construct one in the upcoming season, here are some important tips for maintaining a healthy sandbox for your kids:

  1. Replace old sand with new.  It’s a good idea to remove old sand from your sandbox every couple of years and replace it with new, clean play sand.  Play sand is preferable to ordinary building sand, which can contain clay and other materials that cause staining.
  2. Examine sand toys for dangers.  Digging, raking, scooping, and moving sand takes a toll on sand toys.  Even the best sand toys don’t usually last for more than a year or two.  When they break or become damaged, toys with sharp or pointy edges can easily cause injuries.  Discard damaged sand toys, and replace with new, sturdy ones.
  3. Keep your sandbox covered.  If your sandbox does not already have its own cover, purchase a sandbox cover or have a custom sandbox cover made.  Sandbox covers are essential for keeping the play sand clean and safe for use.  Harsh weather, yard debris, trash, insects, and outdoor animals can all contaminate play sand and make it unsafe or unfit for use.  Tarps and other makeshift covers do not adequately protect sandboxes because they can be easily dislodged by animals or windy weather conditions.
  4. Inspect sand periodically.  Take a few minutes every week or so to check the sand for any broken toys, sharp sticks or rocks, or any other potentially harmful debris.  The sandbox is also a good place to look for lost shoes and missing kitchen utensils.

Nothing inspires creativity more than a big box of sand and a few basic tools.  With a little preparation, your backyard sandbox will soon be safe and ready for the best imaginative play that your kids can throw at it.

Hit the Greens with the Ultimate Protection


Time to make the most of this warm weather and get outside on the greens! The perfect time for golf is here. Shine up your clubs, stock your golf bag, and consider updating your golf cart. Golf cart enclosures offer protection on the course. No more worrying about rain or intense sun for you. Stay dry and comfortable, any time of year. Strong, clear windows and heavy-duty vinyl tops and sides make your cover last for years. They even come with a carrying case to store the enclosure away when you don’t need it. You can pick patterns and sizes and choose from several options. You can find the exact level of protection that you need to make this season of golf the best one ever!

Golf Cart CoverCarrying Case

Easy Tips for Maintaining Wrought Iron Furniture

Wrought Iron Furniture

Wrought iron patio furniture brings a timeless, romantic quality to patios, decks, and porches.  If cared for properly, it can last an indefinite number of years.  If not properly cared for, though, wrought iron can chip, rust, and lose its original appeal.  While wrought iron furniture doesn’t require a lot of special treatment, it does need to be cleaned and checked periodically to ensure that it stays in the same good condition as it was when you first acquired it.

How to Clean Wrought Iron

  1. Using a clean rag or sponge, wipe down your furniture with a mix of mild dish soap and warm water.  This will ensure a gentle, but thorough, cleaning.
  2. If you encounter more stubborn dirt or minor rust, sand those areas lightly with a medium to fine grit sandpaper.  Wipe clean, and touch up the area with the appropriate type of paint.  If touch up paint did not come with your furniture when you purchased it, you can find touch up paint at your local hardware store.

How to Protect Wrought Iron

Just like any patio furniture, wrought iron should be properly protected when not in use.  The best way to doPatio Furniture Covers this is by using patio furniture covers.  Patio furniture covers protect wrought iron from damaging weather conditions and the sun’s ultraviolet rays.  Covering your wrought iron furniture after each use or at the end of the season is completely up to you.  Be prepared to spend more time cleaning and maintaining the furniture, though, if you decide to wait until fall or winter to cover it up.

Overall, maintaining wrought iron patio furniture is easy and requires very few supplies.  It does, however, require periodic care to keep chipping and rusting at bay.