Monday, August 18, 2008

Potted Gardens

Potted gardens may be more temporary than in-ground plantings, but they usually reward creative design and a liberal willingness to change. With potted gardens, you can experiment freely with combinations and new plants, especially considering that you can simply redesign these planters next season. It’s not advisable to use garden soil if it’s infertile or drains badly. You can overcome locations of shade and add pizzazz by brightening dark corners with colorful flowers in pots.

You can even extend the growing season by bringing the potted gardens indoors for the winter. You are even able to grow plants that otherwise would not see the light of day in your garden. Limited space can be used more efficiently or even broken up in large areas of landscape with the use of pots. Finally, it’s significant to keep invasive plants under control because they tend to overrun a garden.

It is vital to keep plants neat and clean through regular sprucing. This not only enhances the look of plants, but reduces the avoidance of insects and disease dilemmas. Remove all spent flowers, dead branches and dying leaves. Leaves should be dust-free by washing the plants with temperate water and gentle true soap - avoid detergent because it can create damage to buds and leaves. Cover the pot to stop soap from entering the soil. If tips of leaves become dry and brown, trim them off tidily with sharp clippers.

Humidity can be increased by laying plants on trays which are lined with a variety of pebbles and filled with warm water to about one half inch of the pot base. Keep a pot of water on the stove, if you heat with wood.

Training contains many minor care activities that differentiate the beginner from the experienced indoor plant gardener. For example, pinching is the removal of one inch or less of the stem tip and leaf growth to incite new growth just below the tip and promote lateral branching. Pinching can be a continuous or one-time activity, depending on the desires of the plant owner. Frequent pinching will sustain a plant compressed, but suitably filled-out.

Potted gardens allow you to garden in what would otherwise be impossible locations and add life to any type of setting with colorful plantings. You can set the potted gardens in a window box and attach the pot to a deck railing or window sill. A planter that’s set down on each tread of the entry stairway is another possibility. Suspended gardens in baskets from overhead beams, pergolas and eaves can add an undeniable attraction to your home. In other words, any bit of emptiness in space can be a spot for a potted garden.

This type of gardening is quite enjoyable because it affords the opportunity to rearrange or change pots and the plants in them in a short space of time. You can combine different plants with similar light and moisture requirements, pay careful attention to the tenderness of the plants you choose and water them regularly during the summer months, with that intense heat and humidity.

About The Author
Jena Luthowski writes about, and

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Soundproofing a condo or apartment from upstairs neighbors.

How do I soundproof my condo or apartment from my noisy neighbors upstairs?

This is by far the most asked question I hear on a daily basis. It is a question asked by prominent architects, engineers, major developers, and contractors. We are now finding that this is also of major concern of individual homeowners who rent part of their house to tenants. Many factors need to be considered when assessing an upstairs noise issue. The first question you should ask is simply this, is the problem impact noise, or airborne noise (TV's, Stereos, telephones etc.) coming down from above. Nine times out of ten, impact noise is the main concern.

What is impact noise?

It is the noise caused by people or animals walking across the floor above (generally hardwood). This type of noise is considered to be structure borne noise and is one of the most difficult noises there is to soundproof from. Impact noise is basically sound that travels directly through the joisting structure from the floor above, directly into the hard mounted ceiling below. Another term for this is known as "foot fall "noise. Impact noise travels through the floor joists structure at speeds of over 1200 times greater than the transmission of sound traveling through ambient air. Keep in mind that most home joist systems as well as studded walls are generally 16 inches on center, so not only do you get the speed of the impact noise shooting downward, but the perfectly spaced joists act as tuning forks thus causing the sound to sustain (last longer) compounding the impact problem. The best and most effective way to stop impact noise from above is to isolate the joist structure and the floor above (which is generally hardwood) from the ceiling below. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The most common is to float (suspend on acoustical sound clips or resilient channels) the ceiling using either resilient isolation clips and furring channels (hat channel) or the most common method of floating, RC-1 (resilient channel). The good, the bad, and the ugly of both these methods will be discussed in depth. First we have the industry standard, which is RC-1 or resilient channel. This is a flanged Z channel (generally with only one flange that attaches to the joist) and a larger flange to support the floated drywall ceiling. RC-1 can be purchased from a drywall supply company, or a contractors supply house. The resilient channels are usually attached perpendicular to the joists and the rows are evenly spaced approximately 2' to 3' apart. The longer flange (of resilient channels) in a ceiling application will all face the same direction to obtain maximum resilience in the new ceiling assembly. Remember, that the longer flange is the one the drywall screws into. Always use screws when you drywall, never use nails. Once the RC-1 is properly installed across the entire ceiling, you are ready to drywall. The new drywall will be screwed directly through the drywall and into the resilient channel's (longer) 1" flange. You will use 1 to 1½" self-tapping drywall screws or in rare cases, sheet metal screws. If the resilient (floated ceiling) is installed as per manufacturers instructions, there will be approximately a ¼" gap around the entire perimeter of the new floated ceiling. The floated ceiling must never make direct contact with the adjoining walls. This is NOT negotiable folks. The ¼" gap is then filled with an acoustical caulking, (OSI 175 is a good caulk for this application) and then finally the new ceiling will be taped, mudded, and painted just like a like a hard attached joist mounted drywall installation. The caulk is the interface between the resilient ceiling and the adjoining walls. There you have it, the common mans floated ceiling.

Now if you are really serious about soundproofing your ceiling, you have the sound clip and furring channel method of floating. This installation is quite similar to the RC-1 installation, however, the sound clips system will more than double the soundproofing and impact isolation protection of a perfectly installed RC-1 system. Basically you will need one sound clip for every 4 sq ft of ceiling area. For example, if your ceiling is 400 sq. ft. total, you will need 100 sound clips to complete the installation. Check with the manufacturers installations instructions for more detailed installation information. Once you have the sound clips screwed to the joists, you will then snap in the furring channel. We haven't talked much about metal furring channels or "hat" channel, as they are commonly called, so let me briefly describe this material. Furring channel, or hat channel is a galvanized steel channel that is 7/8" in height and measures 2 3/8" from flange to flange. When using furring channels in conjunction with sound clips, you always want to purchase the 25 gauge channels as opposed to the 20 gauge, which is too stiff for this application. The furring channel will be compressed by hand and will snap perfectly into the joist mounted sound clips. The channel rows will be spaced from 2' to 3' apart (check installation instructions). The first row will begin about 4" from the adjoining wall and then each row will be spaced from 2' to 3' apart. Now comes the fun part! You will screw the new drywall directly into the furring channel, keeping the screw as close to the center of the hat channel as possible. If the drywall meets directly in the middle of a channel, make sure to stagger the screws down the length of the drywalls (alternate them one each side of the seam). Now, just like with the RC-1 installation, you must maintain a ¼" gap around the perimeter of the newly floated ceiling assembly where the drywall does not touch the adjoining walls. Once again, this area will be sealed with the OSI-175 acoustical caulking material, and you will tape, mud, and paint the ceiling as usual. There you have it folks, professional sound isolation at a fraction of the cost that the "Big Boys" charge. A good analogy of the floated ceiling method is to visualize your ceiling as being like a trampoline. The new ceiling must not contact the adjoining walls and thus it is free to do its resilient thing exclusively. Keep in mind that the impact isolation is accomplished at the sound clip and joist connection where there is a thick neoprene rubber grommet on the clip that breaks the circuit between the sub floor above and the newly floated ceiling.

Lastly, if you are able to float 2 layers of drywall on the sound clips, it is recommended that you use Green Glue sound dampening compound between the 2 layers of drywall. I hope this article has been informative and gives you hope that you can indeed soundproof you apartment or condo from those stomping neighbors upstairs.

About The Author
Robert W. Orther
Dr. Bob is the Senior Technical Advisor at Soundproofing America Inc, the leading authority on Soundproofing and Acoustical treatment technology.
Soundproofing America, Inc.
Senior Technical Director
Soundproofing Expert to The New York Times, The San Francisco Herald Examiner,
The San Diego Union Tribune, and the Charlotte Observer
Ph (877) 530-0139 Toll free Fax (347) 721-9079

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Modern Decor Tip: Blend Not Match

Are you having a difficult time trying to match the colors of the different pieces in your modern color scheme? Want to know how Interior Designers solve this problem? I'll let you in on the secret...they blend not match. You can do it too. In fact, I recommend it because it will allow you the freedom of being able to incorporate more pieces into the color scheme and it will make your life easier too since you won't go crazy trying to make all of your decor match perfectly!

How do you determine what blends and what doesn't? A good rule of thumb is to stand back and look at the pieces in question together and to go with your gut feeling or (if you don't quite trust your eye for color) seek out a second opinion from a friend or family member with a good eye. This method is especially helpful when you're working with a pattern that may take on one general color when viewed from a distance. I also like to take a close look at each patterned piece to see which colors they're comprised of. Have fun and remember; blend not match!

About The Author
Bridget Greuel is a designer and writer for Zazzy Art Decor at and Topic Tuner at Zazzy Art Decor features modern art and decor shopping and decorating tips.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Cedar Village – Apartments of Choice

There are rumors and opinions that the Las Vegas real estate market is heading for a crash. I beg to differ. I agree that the rise in rates has not been as high lately as it was in the dizzy days of the past two years, but that is because certain projects were overpriced and if there is a drop, it is only making the prices more realistic. Investors in Las Vegas properties will still make a decent profit because the number of people coming to Las Vegas is only increasing everyday. Las Vegas real estate investors should expect a lower rate of appreciation compared to the last two years.

Nevada has shown the fastest population growth in the nation for the past eighteen years and in 2005, about 7,200 people moved here every month making that almost 86,500 in just one year. The number of tourists in 2005 touched a staggering 40 million.

The economy is booming here because of tourism and the construction jobs available. A growing economy and population will continue to drive real estate prices upward. Inflated prices have created a demand for housing under $200,000 and there are over thirty high-rise condominium projects currently under construction. This has also led to the conversion of 15,000 apartment units to condos. Out-of-town buyers will pick up most of these condominium units that range in price from the low $200,000s to several million dollars.

The high-rise development has not had a direct affect on the local housing market. The strong economy has seen to that but the dramatic increase in price of starter homes has resulted in many young families and retirees seeking rented accommodation. The city has a growing labor force of construction workers and workers to fill new positions in the growing entertainment and hospitality industry. Most of them seek rental housing at least to begin with. There is an acute shortage of apartments in Las Vegas and apartment demand is expected to increase rapidly. One of the most incredible rises in the real estate market was the 346-unit apartment complex that sold for $12,750,000 in April of 2004 and then resold in January for $40,500,000.

There is very little land available for development in the central part of Las Vegas and if you are working in the city, you may not want to move too far out. In east central Las Vegas near Stewart Avenue and Mojave Road, you could find just what you are looking for in Cedar Village Apartments on East Cedar Avenue. This is a gated community with a gated entrance having remote controlled access. Security is further enhanced by the presence of foot patrol. The apartments range from one to three bedrooms and have large eat in kitchen, well equipped with dishwashers etc. The rooms are fitted with vertical blinds, air conditioning and free satellite TV. Most have either a balcony or a patio and there is laundry facility as well.

Common facilities include playgrounds, a swimming pool and hot tub and spa and there is convenient public transport as well. The only snag for animal lovers is that they have a no pets policy. Nevada Housing Division recommends the complex and assists in finances.

About The Author
Tony Sena of is a full service real estate agent specializing in relocation to the Las Vegas Valley. Tony has lived in Las Vegas for 29 years and is a former Henderson Police Officer. He is very know­ledge­able of the area and has over 5 years experience, making him an experienced real estate agent you can count on.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Get the Most from Woodworking Tools with Some Useful Tricks of the Trade

Many of the great woodworkers have become skillful because they have had the opportunity to watch and learn from a pro. Undoubtedly, serving as an apprentice under a professional woodworking expert is the best way to hone your own skills but not everyone has this opportunity. However, if you have the drive and passion for woodworking, it is entirely possible to become highly skilled by simply reading about the subject. The following includes some useful tricks of the trade that will surely help you to get the most out of your woodworking tools. A woodworking expert is not born; it takes time and some useful hints.

Wood is the woodworker's most important tool. Without wood, your woodworking tools would have no job and there could be no end product. The first trick to woodworking is knowing how to properly cut plywood, and that involves using the right tools and manipulating the wood in the appropriate way. Different cutting jobs require different blades. Blades differ depending on the number of teeth, the width, angle and the rake of the blade. Before cutting, assess which blade best suits your cutting needs and which one will help you to produce the cleanest cut possible. When you are ready to cut, score the cut first by running the plywood through your saw once, removing only a small piece. The next cut that you make will be much cleaner. To keep a clean line in your cut, use a router. Make sure that your router is fitted with a straight bit as this will help you to achieve a clean line. A pilot bit and a straight edge will also help produce a clean line. You may also want to consider purchasing a panel scoring setup. Some saws can be fitted with a plywood panel scoring setup that is most useful if you cut a lot of plywood. This setup consists of a smaller blade that first scores the surface of the plywood before the wood reaches the cutter.

Once you have your wood cut, it is necessary to sand down the rough edges. You may not realize it, but sandpaper is one of your important woodworking tools. Here are some helpful wood sanding hints. For easy handling, some woodworkers cut their sandpaper into smaller pieces if they have a sanding block or a finishing sander while others fold the sandpaper to rotating sides as it wears down. However, make sure that your sandpaper is not folded so that two abrasive sides touch as this will wear down the paper against itself during use. To prevent this, fold the paper so that the abrasive sides contact only the non-abrasive sides. This simply requires a single cut along half of the sheet.

Once all your wood is cut and well sanded, you are ready to build. Handling wood is not always easy though, but there are tricks that can help you to do the job right. Anyone who has ever tried to nail into the end of board knows that splitting can happen because as the nail is driven into the wood, the wood fibers are forced apart causing the grain to split. Experienced carpenters will flatten the tip of the nail with a hammer before driving it into the wood because a flattened tip will slice through the wood and crush the fibers rather than split them. This woodworking trick is most useful when installing molding and trim.

There are so many tricks of the trade to be learned when it comes to woodworking. You will find that as you begin to amass a larger knowledge of woodworking tips, your projects will start to look better, and you will be well on your way to becoming a woodworking expert. Woodworking professionals will tell you that there exists an important relationship between the tools you use and the wood you handle.

About The Author
John Mann is an experienced home renovator and webmaster. Visit his website Workbench Ideas ( for workshop tips.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Live Longer – Breathe Better With Air Purifiers!

"Understanding Air Purifier Filters"

DID YOU KNOW? The air in your home could be up to 100 times dirtier than the air outside – with millions of particles, pollutants, allergens, gases and bacteria in the air. Air purifiers can help clean this air to ensure you are breathing in healthy, uncontaminated air.

Just because you can't see anything doesn't mean it is not there.

Many people spend a significant amount of time in their home so it is important to minimize the health risks from indoor air pollutants. These pollutants can be a direct cause of asthma, headaches, congestion, allergic reactions, low energy, nausea, dizziness and irritation of eyes, nose and throat. Unfortunately pollution in today's world is everywhere. The good news is there are things you can do to improve the quality of air in your home and air purifiers are more available and affordable than ever before.

STOP! Before you buy an air purifier, it is important to understand different types of filtration systems that are available. This way you will ensure you are getting an air purifier that addresses your specific concerns. There are a variety of techniques used in indoor air purifiers:

1. HEPA Filters

HEPA Filters stand for High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter. These are the most popular filters used in air purifiers designed to eliminate dust, dust mites, animal dander, skin flakes, pollen and smoke.. In order for HEPA filters to get certified they must pass rigorous testing which confirms the HEPA filter is able to filter our 99.97% of pollutants in the air that are 0.3 micrometers in size.

BEWARE! Air purifiers with filters that claim to be "HEPA type" or "HEPA like" filters may not meet those standards.

Many air purifiers use HEPA filters because they are extremely effective and can trap more pollutants than other filters. HEPA filters tend to be expensive which is why many companies use a pre-filter which is less expensive and helps preserve the life of the HEPA filter. Most pre-filters will remove particles 5-10 microns and larger, such as pet hair and large dust particles. In fact, some pre-filters are proven to remove 90% of all particles in the air!

HEPA filters will not remove gases or odors and for this reason air purifiers often use HEPA filters in conjunction with carbon filters.

2. Carbon Filters

Carbon filters are the most effective odor remover used in air purifiers. In addition to odors, carbon filters also have the ability to remove chlorine and pesticides. Activated carbon is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove many chemicals, some potentially lethal, from the air.

When considering a carbon filter, understand how much activated carbon is in the filter. The more activated carbon a filter has, typically the longer it will last. Activated carbon absorbs to its surface so when there is no longer any surface left – it needs to be replaced. Ideally get an air purifier with Granulated Carbon instead of Carbon Pads because it has more surface area and therefore will last longer.

Carbon filters do not remove airborne allergens or micro-organisms for this you should use an Ultra-Violet (UV) Light Filter.

3. UV Filters

UV Filters are proven effective to sterilize germs, bacteria, fungi, mildew, mold and other micro –organisms. It is important the micro-organisms are exposed to the right amount of light for a specified period of time to be effective. For this reason there is some debate on the effectiveness of UV Filters. UV filters can be successful when combined with HEPA filters because the HEPA filters are used to capture the air long enough to be sterilized by the UV light from the UV filter.

4. Ionic Filters

Air purifiers using Ionic Filters purify the air by sending out ions into the air which have an opposing charge to the particles. These particles such as dust, smoke and pollen, stick to the ions and simply drop out of the air. They are cleaned up when you vacuum, mop and dust. If you buy an ionizer without a fan, ensure it is placed in an area that has good air flow. Also, some ionic air purifiers produce ozone as a byproduct. Ozone can be bad for your health in large amounts so to be safe ensure the unit emits less than 50 parts per billion.

5. Electrostatic Filters

Electrostatic Air Purifiers are a variation on the ionic air purifiers. Electrostatic purifiers pull air through a carbon or HEPA pre-filter which catches larger particles like pet hair and dust. The smaller particles then pass through an electrical field where they stick to ions which have an opposing charge and are collected on magnetic plates inside the filter. Electrostatic filters are effective in cleaning viruses, gases, allergens and bacteria from your home. They tend to get dirty quickly so it is important to clean the filter and plates regularly to maintain its effectiveness.

These are five of the most popular and effective filters on the market. It is important to do your homework and understand which air purifier and filter is best for you! Check online – the internet is a wealth of information and you can find many great air purifiers and filter providers. You spend a lot of time in your home so it's important to ensure you are breathing the cleanest, healthiest air you can!

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The author of this article is not a medically trained physician; therefore, any theories or suggestions put forward are intended to supplement and not replace the advice of medically or legally trained professionals. All matters concerning your health require medical supervision. Please ensure that you consult your doctor prior to adopting any suggestions put forward by e-Smart Living, as well as about any condition that may require medical diagnosis or medical attention. E-Smart Living is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for any injury sustained either directly or indirectly from information put forward in this article.

About The Author
Shelley Moore has spent over 15 years in the health and wellness industry. She is a certified Personal Trainer and Health and Wellness Specialist. Her website provides healthy, safe home products that help people lead a life full of energy and vitality.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Your House As A Painting: What Art Can Teach You About Decorating Your Home


One of the most important, most fundamental - and most overlooked - aspects of painting is an appreciation of the frame. This does not refer to the wooden strips that a picture is "framed" in, in order to hang it up; but, rather, it refers to the relationship between the body of the painting and the area beyond its edges. Every artist makes the conscious decision to end his or her painting somewhere, to mark off a small area in which to create his or his art, to limit the scope of the painting and separate it from the rest of the world.

In a home, think of each room as a distinct painting, and the boundaries of each room as its frame. When decorating, keep these frames in mind, and decorate within - as opposed to through - them. In other words, keep the elements of one room's décor clearly within that room. You may establish a theme for the entire house, or for one floor, or for one multi-room space, but do not blend rooms into each other. Keep each room clearly defined; keep each painting inside its frame. Make it clear where the kitchen ends, and where the living room begins.

Golden Thirds

One of the first rules (or, less strictly, guiding principles) of artistic composition is the rule of golden thirds: the simple concept that a composition's main focus should be located somewhere on a set of imaginary lines that criss-cross a canvas at the horizontal and vertical intervals of one-third and two-thirds.

In order to apply this concept to home decorating, visualize all the planes (floor, walls, ceiling) of a room, and use your imagination to "draw" the golden thirds across them. Then, try to concentrate your decorations along these lines. For example, establish a line one-third of the way down your living room wall, and use it as guide as to how high to hang a set of paintings or other wall hangings; or, "draw" a line two-thirds of the way across your kitchen floor and place your kitchen table overtop of it. Usually, you'll want to use one or two big elements, such as furniture, in combination with golden thirds so as to utilize the lines without making them obvious.

In a more general way, the rule of golden thirds leads away from static, unimaginative, and rigid symmetry by forcing the artist - or decorator - away from the very middle part of the composition.


After the frame is set, and the composition and concept complete, a painter decides on a palette with which to colour his or her painting. A good palette is usually minimal, featuring perhaps three colours that are then used and mixed to create an artwork with a dominant colour scheme, and therefore a strong character.

In home decoration, a palette can take the form of at least three things: colors, just as in a painting; specific objects, like a collection of spoons or a set of rugs; or themes or motifs, such as seashells for the bathroom or arches for a hallway. The key to using any one of these types of palettes is to pick elements that both fit a room by themselves and that provide ample opportunities for fruitful combinations. And, also keep in mind that because each room is "taken in" at once, it is more important to make sure that the palette in each room is solid than it is to make sure that, say, the rug in the living room matches the one in your bedroom.


Although home decoration is a different art than painting, both are, indeed, still arts. Therefore, the methods, techniques and theories that have been perfected throughout history in painting can be quite easily adapted to fit decorating. As American music composer Lukas Foss said: "Most people think an artist tries to be original, but originality is the last thing that develops in the artist." So, even when no one notices that your beautiful new dining room is based on "a van Gogh", they won't miss that it's still beautiful - and that's all that matters.

Oh, and remember to have fun, be creative, and feel free to break some rules after you learn them!

About The Author
Karen Rhodes is a lifelong resident of the Chattanooga area and is a successful REALTOR®. Check out for more information on Chattanooga and it's surrounding areas.

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