Tips To Keep Your Dog Tick-Free This Summer

dogs in grass

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Summer and fall are great time for your dog to get out and enjoy the great outdoors—however, it is also a great time for ticks. It is a tick’s main goal to find another animal, or host, to latch on to and if your dog is spending a lot of time outdoors—they are going to be a major target.

Ticks aren’t just annoying and gross to remove, they can also cause serious health complications and spread diseases like Lyme or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

However, while serious, ticks are almost impossible to spot outside, because of their size. Many ticks are the size of a grain of sand, and you won’t even notice them until they have been engorged on blood and multiplied in size. At this point is where you are most likely to find them on your canine companion.

If a tick has reached this point, they may already be passing on diseases to your dog. With this in mind, there are a few tips on how to keep your dog tick-free and healthy whenever they spend time out in your yard.

Preventatives to Keep Ticks Off Your Dog

dog with towel

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One of the first and most important lines of defense against ticks is a preventative treatment. There are a few different options out there that you can apply right at home to ultimately help keep your pet safe.

  • Spot On Treatments: These can be purchased over-the-counter or from your veterinarian, which can control both fleas and ticks. Typically, you need to apply these treatments every month, but sometimes they can fade or wash away with time.
  • Oral Medications: Monthly oral medications can also be used to kill ticks that get on your dog’s skin. Typically, most dogs will eat these medications on their own, or they can be mixed in with other treats.
  • Shampoos: Bathing your dog with a shampoo that has medicated ingredients in it will kill ticks on contact and protect your dog from further tick infestations. However, the shampoo treatment does not last as long as topical treatments and will need to be done every two weeks.
  • Tick Collars: Your dog can wear a special collar during tick season that will help repel fleas and ticks. You need to make sure that your dog (or another dog) isn’t chewing on that collar, and that it isn’t causing an allergic reaction on the skin.
  • Sprays and Collars: These treatments can be used in between baths and are most effective when applied right before your dog is going into an area that is heavily occupied with ticks. Make sure to keep these treatments away from their face and eyes.

Checking For Ticks On Your Pet

dog getting groomed

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Even with a diligent preventative regimen, sometimes dogs can still get ticks. It just happens. This is why it is so important to regularly check your pet for ticks to make sure that they don’t have any ticks you’re your dog has thick fur or hair you will need a fine tooth comb to search for ticks. Here are the primary areas to check on your pet:

  • Head and Ear: With so many crevices in the head and ears, meaning there are lots of places for the ticks to hide. Make sure to look inside and outside the ears and pay particularly close attention if your dog is profusely scratching their ears.
  • Groin: Roll your dog onto his belly and make sure that you check his groin—it’s a dark, moist area where ticks love to hide.
  • Under the Collar: Most owners don’t remove their dog’s collar very often, so when you are checking for ticks, make sure to look underneath their collar.
  • Toes: Many times, ticks will be found crawling between your dog’s toes or the bottom of their feet, but this is a commonly overlooked area.
  • Tail: Underneath the tail is a dark, moist area that provides a desirable place for ticks to call “home.” Make sure to check near the base of the tail and to comb through your dog’s thick fur around their tail with a fine comb.
  • Under Their Front Legs: Make sure to run your hand under your dog’s armpits, or where their front legs meet the body and feel for ticks.

Chances are, you may accidentally think a mole or skin tag is a tick, but make sure to double check every bump or lump you feel. A tick is black, brown or tan and have eight legs. The more blood they consume, the larger they will get.

If you do happen to find a tick, you want to quickly remove that tick in the right way.

Grab a pair of gloves and a clean tweezers. Grasp the tick as close as possible to your dog’s skin and slowly pull it out in a steady, straight motion. Drop the tick into some alcohol and clean your pet’s wounds with antiseptic.

Make sure to keep an eye on your dog and the place you found the tick. Monitor your dog for infections in the area and look out for symptoms of illness, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite or neurological problems in your dog. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet right away.

Keeping Your Dog’s Outdoor Space Clean and Safe

Dogs get ticks when they are outside, plain and simple. But it doesn’t mean that there aren’t things hat you can do to keep your dogs safe from these ticks. Here are a few tips on how to keep your dog tick-free by keeping their outdoor space clean, safe, and (mostly) free from ticks.

If you have a large yard filled with trees, shrubs and plenty of green spaces, then you can try a natural, safe, outdoor spray for your yard. You can also try mixing apple cider vinegar with water to create a tick repellant spray. Always make sure that you read the label or check with your vet before spraying anything in your yard.

If your yard backs up to a wooded area, place a buffer between your lawn and these wooded areas using mulch, rock beds or woodchips.

dog in yard with kid

If you have a lot of plants, flowers or trees around your dog’s outdoor kennel, you can also try to spray some Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth, a dog-safe product that you can buy on Amazon or other home improvement stores. This product can be sprayed in grass and on these plants to dehydrate bugs and will keep both ticks and fleas away.

In addition to treating your yard, it is also important to make sure that your dog’s outdoor kennel is staying clean and healthy. Otherwise, you are giving ticks plenty of spaces to live and hide. Regular cleaning and spraying their kennel will help keep ticks away from your dog when they are trying to sleep.

dogs in kennel

Here at Horizon Structures, we know just how important it is for your dog to have a safe and welcoming place to call “home.” This is why we create durable, easy-to-clean outdoor kennels for dogs that are easy to keep safe and sanitary.

Together with the right outdoor kennel and the right cleaning and preventative approaches, you can keep your dog tick-free and healthy all season long!

dog kennel

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Simple Ways to Elevate the Outdoor Living Entertainment Experience ~ Your Recipe to Success!

The 1753 Italian expression ‘al fresco’ translates to ‘in the fresh air’ and outdoor living lifestyles embrace the health benefits of eating outside with the delights of “Al Fresco” dining.

It is interesting to note that both physical and mental health can be improved by eating outdoors. Stress reduction of lowered blood pressure and heart rate and less muscle tension, increase in vitamin D levels helping the immune system and the release of ‘good mood’ endorphins are all triggered by outside living, and food tastes better outdoors than indoors as all your senses are heightened when eating in the great ‘outdoors.’

Here are some tips to help you elevate your outdoor living entertainment experience in the following ways:

  • ‘Chef up’ your food offerings and provide tasty delights and ensure food is safe to eat
  • Have time to sit down and enjoy your guests’ company
  • Provide a pleasurable seating and set up arrangement for your guests
  • Keep the children entertained

Food and Food Safety, First and Foremost

 We’ve all heard or even experienced the food poisoning or tummy upsets that can come from sunbaked mayonnaise potato salads, the unappealing sweating cheese board pass around, the fly buzzed cold cuts and lukewarm or undercooked chicken or hamburgers.  Nobody wants to make their guests ill as a result of poor food safety practices at a backyard barbeque or family get together dinner. Here are a few simple rules to follow to help prevent bacterial food poisoning.

Bacteria will thrive in temperatures between 41° and 140° F. This is why you’ll hear chefs say, “Serve hot food hot and cold food cold.” Ensure that when food leaves the kitchen in any stage of preparation it is either on ice or if cooked kept on a heat source as the type of food dictates. Keep food out of direct sun and temperatures above 90°F warrant special provision for cooling and/or limited time outside. Protect food from flies and pesky flying insects with mesh covers.

Safe temperature when cooking meat is 165° F for chicken/turkey. Fish, pork, and beef (whether steaks or chops or roasts) to 145°F and ground beef/pork/lamb to 160°F. Use a thermometer to check the temperature before serving.

In Italy and other hot climate Mediterranean countries where al fresco dining is common, food is often served in multiple courses rather than all at once to ensure it is eaten quickly once set upon the table and not left out in a buffet style extravaganza for hours on end for people to pick over. This is a great idea as washing up can be completed as the meal progresses and dishes are cleared away regularly leaving the table clear of detritus and unappetizing half-finished plates and dishes of food that will attract wasps and other stinging or biting unwanted visitors.

Follow the 2-hour rule as a maximum time frame for leaving prepared foods outside and only 1 hour if the temperature is over 90°F.

The Grill Meister

Center stage for the outdoor dining production is often the grill. The variety of grills and outdoor kitchen set ups can be lavish and include everything from wood-fired pizza ovens to charcoal grills to high end gas cooktops, rotisseries and fridges safely ensconced from the weather under permanent cover of pavilions with drop down shutters.

 

Whatever outdoor cooking set up is available, the use of a grill or grate can add an appealing texture to the offerings. Increase flavor of the veggies or meats with the use of fresh herbs, spicy dry rubs and prevent veggies sticking to the grill by rubbing them with olive oil before placement. This will also help prevent firm texture veggies like zucchini, asparagus, eggplant, broccoli, peppers, and onions from drying out.

Prep In Advance and Enjoy More Time at the Table

 Part of the obligation of hosting or throwing a party or event, or even spending time with immediate family dining al fresco, is the endless up and down from the table and walk to and fro to the kitchen.

Alleviate the number of journeys required to the fridge by keeping multiple coolers handy well-iced or plugged in if available to source beverages. A cooler (especially a large one with wheels like luggage) also makes a great transportation unit for prepared foods that can be plated in advance and delivered in one shot out to the diners. Investigate the hot and cold food savers that are available on the market. Many are glass, that are covered with a plastic lid and are pretty enough to go straight on the table for serving with lid removed. A quick tableside dressing with a garnish of fresh herbs or squeeze of lemon can add vibrance and freshness at the last minute.

Think outside the usual barbeque fare when offering dining delights. Consider healthy alternatives and add elegance to your fare with blinis dressed with smoked salmon and chives, or a seasonal summer peach cake made from grains such as polenta or quinoa. Many foods can be prepared days in advance or even weeks in advance set in the freezer until needed. When serving alcohol, it is always advisable to offer your guests a food source whether that be hors d’oeuvres with cocktails or dessert snacks with after dinner drinks.

Set the Scene

Making the table décor pretty and attractive is not hard and does not have to be expensive. Hanging outdoor lights stretched in rows across a pergola or trees in the garden, hurricane candles on the table or more modern LED lighting options, mix and match placemat color schemes with a variety of textures and designs all add pleasure to the outdoor dining experience. Mapping out the table landscape with colorful ceramics, rustic or elegant stemware and fabrics, and including different light sources can create an ambience that relaxes guests and offers a warm welcome.

Flowers from the garden can be plucked and placed in any style garden container or vase. Herb plants like oregano placed up and down the table offer a fragrance that guests will love and provide some protection from bug attraction to the table. Oregano plants placed on tables are widely used in Greece for the purpose of mitigating bug traffic around diners at tavernas up and down the country and across their beautiful islands.

Ensure the table is also set to be functional with everything in easy reach for every diner. Set multiple salt/pepper, serving cutlery options, stemware including water jugs and an ice bucket kept handy is always a good plan.

Don’t make the mistake of making guests feel uncomfortable by sitting them close together unless your visitors know each other well. Careful selection of the size of the chairs and the size and shape of the table is essential if the outdoor patio or level space is restricted. Elbow room for use of utensils is needed to eat. You don’t want to seat people so close together they can hear their neighbor swallowing.

It is important to allow sufficient room around the seating area of the table for guests to be served food and for them to leave the table without upsetting other guests with requests for moving chairs or squeezing by. For ease of movement armless chairs are excellent. A 36” space behind each chair is usually sufficient to allow both actions, with a distance of 24” between the center of one chair to another to facilitate companionship without feeling confined.

Obviously, family gatherings especially those that include children can be less constrained, and it can even be helpful to sit closer to young children to help them navigate their dining experience.

As a rule, round tables are best for conversation, narrow tables with bench seating offer intimacy for conversation and food sharing. If you are seating your guests at a rectangular or long table, try and place the conversationalists in the middle seats opposite each other, and the quieter guests at the end if you want to maximize the flow of conversation.

A Word About Glass

The use of throwaway cups and plates and cutlery for outdoor use does save on the washing up after the event, but it also does not elevate the taste or presentation of the food or drinks served.

Pool side use of glass stemware and china/ceramics should be carefully considered for the obvious reason of the chance of breakage occurring that could result in injury to bare feet of patrons around the pool or actual broken shards or pieces of glass or china entering the water itself.

Modern materials utilize innovative glass feel products that are guaranteed not to shatter or chip. These items offer a good compromise for use around the pool where it is wished to avoid the use of plastic, non-recyclable, or paper products.

 Final Note: Keep the Kids Entertained

Multi-generational gatherings offer the very best type of meaningful memory making opportunities. Where young and old mix together, much pleasure can be derived from the outdoor living entertainment of watching the interaction between the two. However, it is not easy to keep kids’ high energy levels at bay for long periods, so distractions to occupy their inquiring minds and divert their high jinks is an essential part of making your event a happy time for all parties.

Consider providing age-appropriate board games, pool toys, football or sport activity like a quick and easy set up badminton court where the shuttlecock won’t hurt the windows, crafts, playset or other distractions in your backyard where kids can mingle and let off steam. If you have a brick wall or side of a garage or building handy it makes a great movie screen for projection from a tablet or other device with the simple hanging of a large white or light-colored sheet.

The addition of a kids’ table is often employed for younger children, although my British self always enjoyed being part of the main party and sitting with the grown-ups sampling the same food they did and enjoying their repartee during mealtimes. With permission to leave the table early, the adults were still able to enjoy their own conversations after the meal while my young compatriots and I would be allowed to run about the garden and play.

Memories are made today, and your backyard offers many opportunities to make plenty of good outdoor living experiences!

How to Use a Kennel to Train a New Puppy

Too often, people think about a kennel as somewhere to put a dog when you don’t have time for them. However, an outdoor kennel can be an invaluable training aid for a new puppy.

When used properly, a kennel can help you train your puppy so that they’ll get to spend more time in the house with you without destroying your things or making you crazy. Here are some tips on how to use an outside crate/kennel to train your new puppy:

What Do We Mean By “Kennel”?

When we talk about training your puppy with a kennel, we’re talking about a kennel that is separate from your home and has an indoor and outdoor portion. We don’t mean a wire or plastic crate.

The indoor and outdoor portions of the kennel should be separated by a dog door. The outer portion should be covered and protected from bad weather. The inside portion should be small enough that a puppy will see it as a bed.

It should be just big enough to turn around in and stretch out when lying down, but no bigger. If you’re buying a kennel for the size your dog will be as an adult, you may need to block off part of the interior portion to make it small enough to be useful for potty training a puppy.

Train Your Puppy to Chew on Appropriate Things

For most people, one of the most challenging aspects of training a puppy is preventing them from chewing on everything in the house. Puppies explore the world with their mouths, so it’s perfectly natural for a puppy to put their teeth on everything. As puppies teethe, all sorts of unexpected things can be soothing to their sore gums.

If puppies are allowed to chew on inappropriate objects, it is much more difficult to teach them to chew on the right things. Therefore, training a puppy what’s OK and what not OK to chew requires constant supervision. However, you probably need to work, eat, and take a shower, which can leave your puppy with the opportunity to chew on something they shouldn’t.

A kennel can be the perfect solution. Your puppy can hang out in their kennel with an assortment of appropriate chew toys and nothing for them to chew on that they shouldn’t. Using a kennel in this way has the double advantage of keeping your puppy from chewing on anything inappropriate and teaching them to enjoy chewing on toys.

Later, when your puppy sees the same toys in your house, they’ll recognize them as desirable things to chew on. This makes it less likely that your puppy will chew on something else in the house instead of their toys.

Eliminate Biting and Overly Rambunctious Play

Just as puppies put their teeth on all sorts of things in your home, they’re also very likely to put their teeth on you. It’s perfectly natural for puppies to bite. It doesn’t mean that your puppy is aggressive or that they don’t love you.

Puppies bite one another and adult dogs in their pack. Play biting teaches puppies bite inhibition and makes a serious bite in the future less likely.

However, people have thin skin compared to dogs, and the same bites that are playful in a litter of puppies can be painful to you. When puppies get very energetic and keep biting even if they’ve been reprimanded, it can be very difficult for them to have the self-control to stop.

Techniques like physical punishment, yelping or yelling, or even biting the dog back are more likely to escalate the behavior or break the bond between you and your dog. Putting your puppy in their kennel when they can’t control their nipping is a great way to give them a chance to calm down and develop the self-control to listen the next time you tell them not to bite.

Being separated from you when your puppy is in the mood to play is an innate punishment, but it’s not the kind of punishment that will break the bond between you and your puppy. It is, however, a punishment that will make it less likely that your puppy will keep biting the next time you tell them to stop.

Potty Training

Ideally, when you’re potty training a puppy, you’ll let them out at least every 2 hours that they’re awake and after meals or periods of playing. You need to watch a puppy very closely for signs that they are about to have an accident inside so that you can get them outside to an appropriate place. Every time your puppy goes to the bathroom inside without you noticing it reinforces that it’s okay for them to do so, which will cause potty training to backslide.

You may not be able to let your puppy out this often or watch them this closely. Paper training can be a great alternative that allows your puppy to learn to eliminate in the appropriate place themselves, without you having to take them outside.

There are some issues with traditional paper training, however. For one thing, it tends to be messy. Puppies love to play with paper or newspaper at the bottom of their pen, which can make laying down the paper and keeping it down a challenge.

Furthermore, once puppies associate paper with going potty, they may try to go on any magazine they find around the house. Some puppies even associate rugs with paper and will tend to go on rugs, which of course is not what you want.

Using artificial turf in a kennel is a great alternative. You can use artificial turf in the same way you would use paper in traditional paper training. Lay artificial turf over the entire outer part of the kennel.

Your puppy will naturally leave the inside portion with their bedding to go on the outer portion on the artificial turf. Gradually reduce the amount of AstroTurf until it’s only in a corner of the outer part of the kennel.

When your puppy gets old enough to hold it until you can let them out, they’ll naturally associate artificial turf with grass and wait to go outside on the grass. This can be a great way to potty train a puppy if you don’t have time to take them out every couple of hours.

Prevent Separation Anxiety

Perhaps you’re able to be home all of the time with your puppy and you may wonder why you would even need a kennel. However, there can be some negative consequences of spending too much time with your puppy as they’re growing up.

Puppies who are allowed to spend all of their time with their families are more likely to develop separation anxiety. To prevent separation anxiety, it’s best to give puppies scheduled time away from you.

While putting your puppy into a crate or another room can be helpful, your puppy may still be able to smell and hear you in the house. If later in life you leave them entirely alone and they can’t smell or hear you, separation anxiety could be triggered.

An outside kennel can be the perfect way to prevent your puppy from developing this kind of separation anxiety. Your puppy will learn that when they are in their outside kennel they can play with their toys by themselves and that you will return soon.

By doing this from the time your puppy is very young, you can teach them that being away from you is a great time to play with a particularly desirable toy like a stuffed kong and that it isn’t a cause for concern.

Teach Self-Control

Another tip on how to crate/kennel train your puppy is to teach self-control, a skill that your dog develops, not a behavior that they are trained. Dogs with good self-control are much more pleasant companions. When used properly, a kennel can be a good way to teach your dog self-control.

By putting your puppy in their kennel with a great chew toy that they don’t always get, you can teach your puppy to focus on their toy instead of something else going on in the yard. You can try putting your puppy in the kennel and then doing some gardening.

Your puppy will learn that they can’t always get to you, but that they can find ways to occupy themselves. In time, your puppy will stop performing frantic behavior to try to get to you and instead quietly occupy themselves.

Later in life, this skill translates to a dog that can look away from something tempting when on a leash or in the yard instead of giving in to the impulse to behave erratically.

Use a Kennel Appropriately to Train Your Puppy

A kennel can be a superb training aid to make your life with your puppy a lot easier and more enjoyable. The trick is to use the kennel deliberately and consciously as a training aid, rather than just using it as somewhere to put your puppy when they’re driving you crazy. By utilizing these tips, you’ll likely find that your puppy learns to be a more pleasant and happier companion.

Bring Heritage Home with Traditional Board and Batten Siding

The advent of the sawmill in the 1830’s changed how homes and barns were built and sided forever. The common and garden ‘barn siding’, board and batten, has seen a huge increase in popularity in the home market in the past few years, with its rural appeal and legacy look.

Board and batten traditionally consisted of wide boards of wood placed side by side, with narrow battens (thins trips of wood) placed over the seams.

The thin flexible wooden strip of wood is named after the batten of similar nature that was used to flatten out sails on a ship and is also credited to the expression ‘batten down the hatches’ from its use at sea where it was placed across door handles to secure them from flapping open.

The use of traditional board and batten siding began in the Gothic Revival period of architecture as a new style of vertical lapping of thin ‘baton’ strips of wood placed over wider boards to seal out moisture and drafts. As trees grow vertically their timber was milled the same direction and it was simple to use the long planks of wood in the same direction and gave the advantage that rain and snow would not collect on each projecting batten.

Sawmills were able to churn out vast quantities of lumber in these thin strips and when added to fill the gaps between wider boards they vastly improved the seal of the siding of a building.

The use of board and batten in barn and house construction was easy to install and offered a user-friendly alternative to building a log cabin. The addition of the batten made the interior of the barns and homes warmer than a log-built structure.

Originally, log homes were not energy efficient having multiple gaps and crevices that allowed heat out and cold air in during winter months. Additionally logs often harbored insects and creepy crawlies of many species and allowed vermin access to the interior space. While the gaps in logs were commonly stuffed with moss or lichen, clay or dirt, the inevitable dampness and stickiness that emanated from their surfaces as they aged provided a less than perfect environment in which to live.

Farmers quickly embraced the board and batten because it was less expensive than a log built, less arduous to construct and more efficient. It also offered the amazing ability to construct buildings taller than before, as log homes were commonly only built to a man’s height, as that was as far as he could reach!

Today modern board and batten home siding is designed for effect and there is no addition of battens after the boards are placed across stud walls. There is a tremendous variety in colors, materials available (wood, vinyl, steel and fiber cement), and size of boards. It is an aesthetic architectural choice that offers the appeal rural and traditional characters.

When it comes to building a horse barn, the pros and cons of board and batten siding are similar to those in days gone by, but not the same. Amish craftsman in the barn building industry have long used board and batten installed in the traditional manner as separate pieces of wood, and the rustic quality of the finished result is hard to equal when it comes to mirroring and honoring past traditions.

The Pros of Board and Batten

  • Easy install
  • Effective for making an airtight seal
  • Varietal materials can be used, including wood with its natural insulation properties, steel, fiber cement and vinyl
  • Battens used in certain modern-day products are purely decorative offering versatility in design
  • Wood can be stained with long lasting products to offer protection from insect damage and water damage
  • Siding can be painted or produced in a range of colors
  • Traditional, rustic appeal when wood is used
  • Flexibility in creative design – the closer together the battens are spaces the more textural/3 dimensional the finished appearance
  • Boards and battens can be installed horizontally or vertically

The Cons of Board and Batten

  • Installation can be a lengthy process increasing labor costs
  • Bottom of unprotected/sealed boards and battens may rot with ground contact
  • Requires due care and attention to install with specific spacing for girts/studs or framing support members
  • Steel and fiber cement materials can be more expensive than vinyl and wood options

When resourcing the best siding option for your horse barn consider products such as low maintenance LP Smartside and Duratemp ( a manufactured wood siding), as well as traditional board and batten wood products. All offer pros and cons and with research the barn building budget can be ‘brought into line’ with clever use of the right siding option

Consider however the long-term costs of implementing a siding that will require repainting, re-staining or other maintenance. Stains today are available with a 15-year warranty. Also bear in mind that factory applied stains and paints will necessarily last longer than those applied on site, as moisture and humidity is controlled in the factory environment for optimal temperature and conditions during application.

The type of wood used, and its grade also significantly affect its longevity. While a Grade 1 (less knots) or top of the line wood such as cedar is not necessary, products such as Southern Yellow Pine or Cypress can make fine siding choices. When housing animals there are many safety advantages of opting for wood over metal siding too.

Placing the boards vertically will increase the appearance of height of the building while placing them horizontally will promote an appearance of a wider building with a larger footprint.

The closer together you place the battens the more each effect will be impacted.

Vertical placement offers better water shedding capability and offers less opportunity for small insects such as hornets to nest.

Color considerations are also important to factor into your selection of traditional board and batten siding, as the color of the side of the building dramatically influences the overall aesthetic of the structure. Barn color choice does matter! And not just for appearance, it also directly affects how hot or cool the building will be to use during extreme temperatures.

Try to locate a horse barn building company that can offer multiple options in the siding style and materials used to give you a complete choice to enable you to make the perfect selection for your needs and wants that also offers warranty protections for products utilized.

Making The Most of Your Hobby Greenhouse

The acquisition of a hobby greenhouse is every gardener’s dream event. The virtually bug-free, temperature-controllable environment is a boon to not just the length of the growing season but also offers an opportunity for experimentation and creative flair.

There are a few things to know before you grow. Pre-emptive measures can save plant loss and increase the satisfaction of owning your very own backyard hobby greenhouse. Let’s dig in…

Enhance Temperature Control

The addition of fans and shade cloths to a greenhouse can make all the difference to counteract the effects of extremely hot weather. Not all plants enjoy being baked under polycarbonate or glass despite regular watering. The use of humidifiers and the ability to modify the temperature of the greenhouse interior are valuable tools for creating a microclimate where plants will thrive.

Automated fans work well, and additional oscillating fans can help defray heat spots within the greenhouse.

Coordinating some form of wireless temperature transmitter to communicate any huge variances in temperature that may occur and require immediate action.

Ant Invasion

Inevitably the busy and resourceful ant fraternity will discover your plants and the feeding supply keeping them healthy and growing. While wiping down surfaces with acidic products such as vinegar and lemon juice may deter their travel across certain surfaces, it is best to deal with their activities on a more permanent basis and eradicate their presence.

An effective but simple trick is to dissolve some sugar in warm water and add a teaspoon or two of boric acid (easy to source at your local pharmacy and inexpensive) to the recipe and place the mixture in a saucer or shallow vessel with access for the troop of ants to find during their reconnaissance. The clever ants tell each other where this rich new food source lives and before long with military precision a long line of ants will march back and forth from sugar mixture to their nests to store and digest the feast. This ingestion will cause their demise.

Water Management

Don’t forget to add gutters to your backyard hobby greenhouse if you don’t want muddy ground on either side of the greenhouse or water migrating into the interior of the space. The collection of guttered water for watering needs may be an option if the roof contains no toxins or toxic chemicals within its construction at seams or materials used for roofing.

Many gardeners use the long sides of their greenhouses as handy additional beds to set up plants that may benefit from their proximity to the warmth of the siding of the greenhouse during summer months and/or protection from strong winds.

Know Your Bugs

It is inevitable that bugs of some sort will either fly into the greenhouse when the screen door is ajar or arrive on a plant moved into the greenhouse from elsewhere.

Some research into the more common pests that attack plants and the ability to recognize and treat them can prove useful in preventing an infestation and attacking any emerging threat before it takes hold.

Common pests include aphids, mites, cabbage loopers, caterpillars, slugs, and whiteflies.

Biosecurity measures such as placing screens on the open greenhouse windows and at doorways and regular checking of plants within the greenhouse are good ways to mitigate the risk of pest intrusion.

You may consider adding yellow sticky cards and other user-friendly safe ‘traps’ around the space to capture unwanted residents that try to set up shop. However, be aware these sticky mats can also capture beneficial visitors that actually help plant life stay healthy such as ladybugs and spiders.

Fungus and Diseases

All plants can host diseases from time to time and being able to recognize and treat common issues quickly is a smart way to minimize their damage. This is a great resource for handling everything from powdery mildew to mites.

Write It Down

Keeping a record of high and low temperatures, and your growing pattern and success of growing and going green is a huge asset when it comes to those long winter evenings pondering about how life with the backyard hobby greenhouse could be more productive.

Every location and even micro-region provide different challenges and tracking daily changes can help you manage a better trajectory next season.

Bottom Up

Water seedlings and plants from the base to avoid the myriad of issues that can occur with damping off. Don’t use ice cold water as this can shock plants and lead to plant loss.

Remember to dilute all fertilizers and apply carefully away from roots. Follow recommendations from the manufacturers of these products carefully.

Be careful not to use soil and mulch products that are chemically treated as this may negatively affect the safety or organic benefit of vegetables or fruits that are to be ingested. There are many remedies that can be used to safely preserve, treat, and grow healthy plants and vegetables that do not require the use of risky or untested products in the greenhouse food chain that you are likely planning to feed the family.

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3D Your Backyard with the Whole Kit and Caboodle

Making the most of your backyard space may include creating lawns and areas for the kids to play, the addition of a playset, designing functional vegetable gardens and increasing the aesthetic value with pretty beds of flowers, spectacular shrubberies, or majestic trees.

If you want to make the world of difference to your property, consider going 3D in a simple and fun way by building a pergola or pavilion. These structures not only look great, but they also offer a boost to your outdoor living lifestyle by increasing the amount of time you can spend outside regardless of weather impediments such as hot sun or summer showers.

Building an outdoor living structure is like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle and it’s a fun filled experience that the whole family can be involved in making it a satisfying and educational event that yields more than just a great structure at the end of the day. Ensure you keep children a safe distance away when moving, lifting, or raising the heavier parts of the kit such as headers and posts. Kids love to be involved in finding the right bolt or handing you the right screws on the ground and are all good learning opportunities.

The ‘whole kit and caboodle’ arrives with components all pre-drilled/measured and all materials included. Building it is akin to working with a massive Lego set that is all pre-engineered to fit together in perfect unison. It’s the best jig-saw puzzle ever.

A two-person crew may be needed to lift rafters atop the frame and secure framing members for the roof of a pavilion and finish the roof. Detailed instructions arrive with the kit and just a few tools are needed that are usually readily available in most homeowner’s toolbox.

Let’s Dig In

The site needs to be level and ready to go before you start building a pergola or pavilion, and the kit package should be set as close as possible to the site and left unopened and protected from the weather until you are ready to start.

Timewise you should allow approximately 4-5 hours for two people to put together a pergola that is 10’ x 14’, but of course the timeline depends on the talent and experience of the crew. A pavilion will require more time as it is a bit more involved. The roof will require ridge installation and roofing materials will need to be laid.

Measure Carefully

In any building project the number one rule is to be accurate with the measurements. When you purchase a kit for a pergola or pavilion a lot of the guesswork is taken out of the project as the materials are prefabricated making the construction easier to do right and more pleasurable to undertake.

In fact, building from a kit can make Mom and Dad with very average construction talents look like rockstars of the building trade! As long as you don’t mind climbing a ladder and being on the roof of the pavilion wielding a hammer or stapling down tar paper.

Read. Read. Read.

The manual provided with each kit is simple to follow and has illustrations that showcases exactly what needs to be done and in what order. Unlike working with a 2D jigsaw on the coffee table over the holidays the 3D jigsaw will be a bit more involved. You can’t just start with the straight pieces and go to the middle later.

A few thorough read throughs of the entire manual will help you retain and understand the process. Try and pick a good weather day without blistering heat or rain to complete the project and take lots of breaks to refresh and reread the manual. It’s a lot easier to do it right the first time.

More Posts More Labor

A simple rectangular structure with four posts will obviously be easier to assemble than a larger 6 or 8 post structure. That’s something to consider when you are sizing the project before you purchase the kit.

Maintenance Madness

If you are like many busy homeowners, you like doing things once and not having to come back and repeat and repair the job later.

Think about choosing modern products such as Azek and vinyl rather than traditional wood if you want a low maintenance option. Similarly, a metal roof rather than a shingle roof may be your best choice as it will last longer without requiring repairs.

The Pergola/Pavilion Advantage Over the Gazebo

All three outdoor living structures provide added value for a healthy outdoor lifestyle, but the advantage of building a pergola or pavilion is that they offer a gathering space that is readily adaptable for both small and larger family events. They will accommodate varying numbers of visitors whereas the gazebo will be limited in its ability to host the number of guests at an event by its interior space defined by the fixed walls.

The EZ Shade Advantage

To provide additional protection to the occupants of the pergola or pavilion from the sun’s rays or cool breezes, consider purchasing an EZ Shade. The versatility this product offers is a valuable adjunct to the functionality of the structure.

7 Benefits of Having a Gazebo in Your Backyard

You’re a fan of your backyard. You’re a natural showman. You enjoy spending time with nature. However, you despise roasting in the summer heat. Having a gazebo in your backyard means you don’t have to accept both the good and the bad. What better way to enjoy the great outdoors and entertain friends and family than with a gazebo of your own? This article will break down the benefits of a gazebo and how it may enhance your outdoor space while also increasing your property value.

Your backyard can be transformed into an inviting meeting space for friends, family, and guests by installing a gazebo. You can have a barbeque on the Fourth of July or just relax for a bit in it while enjoying a romantic picnic. And as a bonus, mosquitoes can be kept at bay by adding a screen package. Just imagine all the opportunities! Here are some of the benefits of having a gazebo in your backyard.

1. A gazebo in your backyard means endless outdoor fun

Having a gazebo in your yard adds a level of coziness that is hard to beat. Gazebos are an excellent choice for outdoor gatherings. They’re a great tool to make your backyard enjoyable for the whole family. When entertaining, a gazebo provides a spot for your visitors to unwind and enjoy the company of others. Thanks to the structure, you may enjoy the shade of your gazebo on those hot summer days. To put it another way, you’ll be able to spend more time outside in your garden.

2. Gazebos have something for everyone

A gazebo’s versatility in design is a major perk of the structure. It’s up to you where you choose to put your gazebo, whether it’s tucked away in a secluded spot or right next to your house. If you want a more open-air situation with some shade, the roof can also provide that option. The walls of your gazebo can either be completely open or have some natural coverage.

On the other hand, a screened wall allows you to see, hear, and smell the outside world while protecting you from mosquitoes and other biting insects. The shape of a gazebo might be octagonal, square, elliptical, or oval, and it can even fit a hot tub. The options are endless!

3. A gazebo in your backyard is perfect after the sun goes down, too

The perfect area to host a get-together with friends, a gazebo makes a great spot for setting up a table or bench and relaxing with a drink or two. Little dew droplets can collect on surfaces under the open sky when the sun sets and the temperature decreases. People either leave or go inside when that happens, which isn’t much fun on a Friday night! No matter how humid the weather is outside, you won’t have to worry about getting wet in a gazebo since it will keep you dry and comfortable. If you explored some backyard lighting ideas with your beautifully lit gazebo, you would finally be able to enjoy the space at night! You can even spend the night here and sleep under the stars if you’re in the mood.

4. It makes a great workspace

Even if it’s raining or dark outside, a gazebo is a great place to work on your bike, for example. Or, spend time on quieter activities like losing yourself in a great novel or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. When you need to work on something in the winter, having a flat, firm, dry spot to work on in your backyard is invaluable. If your gazebo has a power outlet, you can use power tools with an extension cord. Consider building a log burner or fire chimney to remain warm at night while working, which may also be used to entertain visitors and relax with the family.

5 They will fit anyone’s backyard

A Victorian-inspired design is one of the most popular choices. Still, these backyard buildings may be customized to fit any style or color scheme. In the event that intricate scrollwork, whimsical cupolas, and twisted pillars don’t suit your taste, there are so many more varieties to choose from. You can even plan the style of your gazebo according to your other backyard renovations, so it all fits together aesthetically. Rectangle gazebos may fit more square or rectangular dining tables than other designs with more sides, maximizing floor space while also looking more modern. A rectangle or square footprint for your gazebo may function better depending on the available area. It doesn’t matter what shape or style you choose for your gazebo; everyone who sees it will be impressed.

6 With a gazebo in your backyard, your home value grows

If you do it right, a gazebo can increase the value of your home by more than the cost of construction. A gazebo can add some much-needed value to a garden that lacks focal points or a designated area for relaxation. Adding a gazebo to your backyard is a great way to increase the value of your home for potential buyers. A gazebo is always a summer outdoor living trend loved by everyone; thus, publicizing this feature is a big bonus.

7. They provide storage space

You may wish to protect your BBQ, furniture, or plants from the elements by building a gazebo instead of a shed in the winter. If you put your lovely garden furniture under a gazebo, you won’t have to sand and re-paint it every year, saving you time and effort. The same is true for pricey BBQs, which may rust over time if left exposed to the elements over the winter. Containerized plants that are sensitive to rainy conditions or are vulnerable to wind or frost damage may benefit from being kept under a gazebo when the weather is harsh.

Final words

Gazebos are an excellent choice for spending time in the fresh air. But this is not all they offer. We hope our guide has helped you understand the benefits of having a gazebo in your backyard. So, what are you waiting for? Any time of year, a gazebo is a way to go!

Photo Credit:  https://unsplash.com/photos/NeTPASr-bmQ

The Do’s and Don’ts of Horse Barn Landscaping

Many horse property owners love the idea of landscaping around their horse barn but don’t know where to start. Dressing up the horse yard can add much beauty and aesthetic appeal to the space.

Practical personal touches such as welcome mats to minimize muddy footprints, benches to perch on to watch the world go by waiting for a ride, containers planted with bright annuals to protect vulnerable posts from errant parking accidents are some great ideas to get started making your barn the most useful and best it can be. But permanent horse farm landscaping both hard and soft, should be undertaken with some careful planning.

There are plenty of resources available as to what plants/trees/flowers you should select, what to avoid as they may be toxic to horses, and how to lay out a garden for textural interest, seasonal appeal and proportion and layout of hard and soft landscapes in a space.

But here are some special considerations outside of the normal gardening practices and toxicity factors of soft plantings that you may wish to consider.

1. Is Growing Fast Going to Last?

It is part of the modern-day culture that folks want everything to magically appear as ‘complete’ in short order and as a consequence property owners often choose plants and trees that are fast-growing. The problem with fast growing nursery stock is that often it is not as securely rooted or doesn’t have the longevity that slower growing options provide.

Carefully evaluate the overall suitability of the site location, proximity to existing structures and the timeline for soft landscaping to reach maturity, and the height and breadth that such greenery may attain before you dig that square hole for the balled-up rootstock.

Trees that are upright in profile are less likely to scratch, dent or ding high sided vehicles such as horse trailers with overhanging branches than trees with an umbrella profile. Though the latter may offer valuable shade options for hand grazing a horse beneath after a bath on a hot summer day.

Going up rather than out with the form of the trees selected, is a generally a good choice for lining driveways. Pretty ornamental pear trees with their stunning white flowers in Spring, rustling Poplars that mirror rural French roadways and curtain noise from nearby road traffic or coniferous trees that offer windbreak protection in winter months are all good choices to line driveways.

Always consider how the grass areas are going to be maintained. Trees with low spreading boughs can impede the passage of the safety rollbar on zero turn mowers and tractors. As a result, large areas of long grass will need to be trimmed around these plantings, causing extra labor and time for someone if the horse barn landscape is to be kept pristine and well-appointed. Similarly stone walls and fence lines will need extra attention at their bases to keep grass at bay. It is particularly hard to strim vegetation around wire fences.

Trees planted close to a building also pose a risk of damage to the structure as they grow and exceed the roof height and may topple in high winds or lose boughs and branches. General directions suggest planting deciduous trees that are likely to attain the 70-100 feet range in height, a minimum of 30 feet from a structure.

2. Trees and Shrubs Will Flower and Fruit

 Mother Nature’s reproduction program necessarily means that trees and shrubs will flower and afterward produce seedlings, often in the form of fruit, berries, nuts, cones, and other means of propagation.

The question is does the barn owner want to attract the wildlife that comes with nature’s bountiful provisions? Apples and fruit attract bees and wasps, nuts attract squirrels, and seemingly every type of shrub attracts deer! All wildlife carries with it the risk of transmitting disease to livestock. Whether it be from ticks, feces, or other means of contamination.

Think carefully about planting a deep-rooting Persimmon tree or American Filbert (hazelnut) tree that are highly attractive to many species of fauna.

Wildlife can also cause significant property damage if animals take up residence in the barn or underneath it. Smoke bombing woodchucks out of their barn tunnel haven can result in fires to the building. Eradication of wildlife from any structure is always a difficult task to complete effectively and safely.

Juice from fruits and berries can also be tracked to the interior of the building and cause paint damage to vehicles. For example, Elderberry trees offer a bounty of berries in late summer, but their rich red hue tramped across your new wood floor in the tack room may not be a welcome addition to the color palette.

3. Out of Sight Should Not Mean Out of Mind

Deep-rooting trees and shrubs should not be planted close to or over well/ town water or sewer pipes or cable/telephone lines. Even if they don’t damage the service lines below by wrapping their roots around them, if it becomes necessary to excavate the area to remedy a broken or blocked pipe or update or upgrade the cable or electrical system, trees and shrubs will need to be removed.

4. Mulching Mayhem

It is common to add mulch to garden areas to provide a moisture barrier to evaporation of water. Certain types of wood/rubber chips and treatments they receive may be toxic to horses

Bear in mind that high winds often lift chips/debris from garden beds and cause mulching mayhem with the ‘whirling dervish’ effect created. These chips may then be deposited in grazing areas and may be toxic if ingested by a horse.

5. How Much Water?

In cold climate it is a good idea to add some form of weatherproof watering system such as a frost-free faucet outside the barn that is handy for use for watering the garden all year around. Automated systems are very useful in warmer climates and can additionally save on water wastage.

Water run-off/snow melt from the roof of the horse barn on the other hand, should be guttered and taken away from the structure. Not only does this help prevent flooding in and around the barn, the high rate of discharge of excess water from a roof can make a muddy mess both on the ground and splashed onto the side of the building and will wash out soil around plants.

Some roof types may even discharge toxic water. Never use roof run-off for a horse’s water needs and risk ingestion of toxic or contaminated water.

6. Consider the Ins and Outs

The layout and materials used in the horse farm landscaping design should account for snow plowing needs in areas where snowfall is likely. Access to all building ingress/egress points will require snow removal for safety, and emergency and daily use. Consider keeping access paths at least 10’ wide, so larger equipment may be utilized if needed.

Similarly high traffic areas will require drainage solutions be installed to avoid muddy walkways during heavy rain events and ice conditions in cold climates. Planning and implementing drainage solutions before laying gravel, concrete or grass can eliminate not just headaches in daily use but also prevent injury to horse and human.

7. Hardscape Distances

Paths should be wide enough to accommodate a horse being led with handler at its side.

For barns with center aisles, access with UTVs or tractors may be needed for daily chores such as mucking out stalls.

Allow enough space for large equipment to turn around in parking and access areas. The off-track for large trailers is substantial and gate widths should also accommodate even the less talented drivers!