Tuesday, September 23, 2014

10 Best Trees for Brilliant Fall Color - Opinion | Alpharetta-Milton, Georgia Patch

10 Best Trees for Brilliant Fall Color - Opinion | Alpharetta-Milton, Georgia Patch 

Every year thousands travel to experience the golden fall foliage of the New England countryside.

Now, enjoy the painted leaf landscape in your own yard by planting consistently vibrant trees. The trees below deliver the most spectacular shades of scarlet, fiery orange or rich yellow, are easy to care for and maintain a unique look each season.

Here are the top 10 trees to plant for show-stopping fall color. Plus, here are some insider tips on planting trees from the certified arborists at The Davey Tree Expert Company.

  1. Maple is the quintessential tree for fall color. Maple trees demand attention with bright apricot leaves that contrast with burnt orange. Maples come in a variety of sizes, so they work in any landscape.
  2. Sweetgum is a fast-growing tree with glorious, red leaves that pop in autumn. Sweetgum trees have glossy, star-shaped leaves that stay longer on the tree—allowing you to bask in the dynamic colors into late fall.
  3. Sweet Birch turns brassy yellow in the fall. Sweet birch trees offer copious amounts of shade in the summer, fend off the bronze birch borer better than any other birch, and have a sugary sap that can be used to brew homemade birch soda.
  4. Katsura welcomes autumn with a spicy-sweet smell and tangerine color. The katsura tree grows in a pyramid like shape with an extraordinarily straight trunk and heart-shaped leaves.
  5. Ginkgo trees showcase a lustrous yellow on their fan-shaped leaves every fall. With the ability to grow up to 80 feet tall, ginkgos fiercely resist insects, disease and pollution.
  6. Smokebush transforms into a crimson red after a summer sprinkled with yellow flowers. Smokebush is a shrub that can be pruned into a small tree with the help of a certified arborist.
  7. Witch hazel is a small tree with big yellow color. Witch hazel offers the full package, complete with fragrance, flowers, and glowing color in every season.
  8. Red-Twig dogwood features ruby red leaves and then unveils red stems. This dogwood blossoms with clusters of white flowers that mature into plum-colored fruit to attract birds in spring.
  9. Sassafras trees repel mosquitoes and dazzle with pumpkin-colored leaves of various shapes. Sassafras smells heavily of licorice, which makes it a delightful treat for wildlife.
  10. Redbud has goldenrod leaves in the fall and delicate pink flowers in the spring. The redbud tree is a small tree with a rounded crown and a forked, light-colored trunk.

How to Plant New Trees and Shrubs

In many parts of the country, planting trees and shrubs in early fall gives plants a head start at establishing roots in the season's cool, moist soil—and allows you to revel in their autumn hues.

  • Dig a hole (twice the diameter and to a depth of two inches less than the full height of the root ball).
  • Position the shrub in the hole (make sure the top of the root ball remains at, not below, ground level).
  • Fill in with soil and water to settle soil.
  • Add more soil to top of root ball (don't pack soil down with foot).
  • Cover the planting hole with one to two inches of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch. But don’t over mulch the tree or “volcano” mulch. Keep the mulch two to three inches away from the trunk or the trunk will rot.

Always talk to a certified arborist. Contact your local Davey professional with any tree service concerns as you plant your landscape this fall.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Top Lawn Care Tips for September

Fall is the best time of the year for growing, sustaining and perfecting your lawn. September was made for growing grass. It's a great time to start a new lawn or improve upon your existing lawn. Cooling temperatures, moisture and many other conditions all conspire and come together to make soil ideal for seeding. With a little work, fertilizer and seed, your lawn will be among the healthiest in the neighborhood.

Fertilizing for The Coming Season

Fertilization should be carried out right after Labor Day and again around the end of October to November. A slow-release fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphates is the desired formula for this time of year. Shaded areas should get half of that compared to non-shaded areas. If you need help choosing the correct formula, your local garden associate at your favorite home improvement store should be able to point you in the right direction.

Mowing the Lawn One More Time

You should continue mowing your lawn throughout September. While some argue that you should cut your lawn shorter at the end of the season, this is usually only true for areas that receive snowfall. In areas with little if any snowfall, grass that is slightly taller will absorb more nutrients and moisture in preparation for winter. Adding up to an inch to your lawn’s height is plenty and should not be exceeded.

As long as your lawn is not completely blanketed in leaves the last time you mow, go over the leaves with your lawn mower vs. raking, It may take a couple of passes, but the finely chopped leaves will help retain moisture and return nutrients to the soil.

Loosen Heavy Clay Soil

Adding gypsum will go a long way in loosening heavy clay soil found so abundantly here in Georgia. It creates a bonding that helps tiny clay particles group together forming larger particles which results in a more porous soil. This increases air flow and water movement. Applying 60 lbs per 1,000 square feet should be plenty to get the job done. If the upcoming autumn season is anything like summer with all the rain, be careful not to over aerate the soil as it will cause it to become more compact.

The One Tip Often Skipped or Forgotten

Lime application is often the forgotten step in creating a healthy lawn. Sure, we all know our lawns need fertilizer, weed-n-feed and water, but what about the state of the soil. Soil is the very foundation for which everything is "built" upon. It is both the catalyst for growth and stabilizer for creating suitable soil. 

What is Lime?

Lime is basically calcium and magnesium. Yes, it is the very same chemicals removed from hard water. The components of lime facilitate the uptake of nutrients and the growth of healthy microbes, and are almost like little pathways or the arteries to each grass seedling providing the very nutrients needed for proper and healthy growth. It also has a double purpose of removing dangerous toxins like aluminum and manganese, Commonly, it is found in a powder or as pellets in most stores like Home Depot. Both lime powder and pellets work equally fine and only vary depending on your method of application.

What Lime Isn't?

Lime is not a fertilizer, pesticide or insecticide. It isn't mulch, compost or anything similar in nature and is in no relation to the fruit.

When Do I Apply Lime?

Regardless of the situation, check the pH of your soil. Georgia clay soil is already slightly acidic. With the proper maintenance can become the ideal soil for a beautiful lawn. Oddly enough, the reason is our own doings. In most cases, the very things we add in the spring and summer for that beautiful green lawn are actually changing the composition of your soil structure.

The only time to apply lime is in the fall and early winter when temperatures are colder. Some people will tell you it is okay in the spring, but several independent university studies have shown this damages the soil. Therefore, the conciseness is that application in warm and hot periods will cause damage to your lawn. The key thing is to apply when it is cool, but not so cold that the ground is frozen and make sure there is no impending rain within the next 24 hour forecast. This is very important in preventing any runoff.

Never apply lime more than once a year. This will cause irrefutable damage. Even if the pH level is not completely on target after application, your lawn should be okay for the next season and you should be able to close the gap in the next seasons.

If your lawn is already healthy, you only need to apply lime every three years. However, check the pH level first to make sure it is needed.  Unused lime can be stored indefinitely and used in the following years. There is no need to discard unused lime.

Why should I start now?

There are a lot of things we as humans do to our lawns during the spring and summer months, i.e., application of fertilizer, which actually alter the pH level – eventually getting to the point that nothing grows.

How Do I Apply Lime?

This varies based in the consistency of the lime. If using pellets, a spreader should work well  and the lime should leach into the soil naturally for the best results. When using fine power, aerate the lawn first and then spread the power evenly for the best application.

The main goal is to get the lime into the top soil and slight dusting over the top. This encourages microbe growth, but the deeper into the top soil, the better the application. Avoid contaminating any flower beds. Different gardens have different pH levels depending on their requirements for optimal growth.

Once applied, check the pH level, if it is still somewhat low and acidic. This is not the end of the world. Do not apply more lime. You will need to add more lime during fall of the next season. 

The Final Results

An attractive lawn has nothing to do with luck. It is all about a lot of planning and hard work. The end goal is to make the soil porous, nutrient rich and sweeter with a balanced pH of around 7. Once you have reached this lucky number, you are all set to replenish your existing lawn or start anew. A beautiful lawn really makes a front or backyard. For other ideas and tips, check out  Factory Direct Remodeling of Atlanta.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's Time to Replace Those Old Drafty Windows

Replacing Older Windows is One of the Top 3 Remodeling Projects

With all the problems with pollution, freak storms, warming trends and increasing utility cost, you cannot afford not to choose LowE vinyl windows in new construction projects or even remodeling projects. With the savings in heating and cooling bills and tax incentives, you really cannot afford to not replace old outdated aluminum and/or single-pane windows.

To start with, vinyl windows completely eliminate drafts, damper sound coming from the inside or outside, offer zero heat transfer in both the hottest and coldest months. If this isn’t enough, maintenance is almost non-existent. Double-Hung, Single-Hung and Casement models allow easy access for cleaning both the inside and outside.  All models are available in standard colors and custom colors. This means the units never require painting inside or out.

How is all this possible?

First, the frame is completely insulated in foam, comes with dual weather stripping and contains thermal and sound barriers via a multi-chambered sash and frame. In addition, LowE insulated glass with an argon gas barrier reflects heat to the outside in the summer and to the inside in the winter. There is absolutely no transfer of heat between the two panes, multi-chambered sash, and argon gas barrier. This same technology prevents penetration of moisture from rain and humidity.

How can there be so little maintenance?

Lower sashes and tilting or swing action depending upon the model allow for easy cleaning. Fusion-welded frames and sashes never chip, peel, crack or warp. Sloped contours repel water to the exterior and away from the window frame. Special shielding also prevents derogation from constant UV and direct sun light’s damaging effects, i.e., fading. The coating and protective features don’t stop there. They are also resistant to pollution, salt spray and dirt.

How about security?

These windows provide maximum security and strength with interlocks and double locks at sash meeting rails, vent locks and title latches. They are also built to withstand extreme storm conditions and wind loads. Now that intruders and mother nature are kept in check. What about other security measures? The frames and sashes are completely impervious to insects.
Vinyl windows are also available in every style, size, shape, multiple types of glass, decorative bevels and even customized grid patterns to perfectly compliment your home. This includes bay, bow, arched, casement, picture and a variety of other window styles. Every window includes a limited warranty for years of enjoyment.

If you still are not convinced vinyl windows are the right direction,  you need only open your next utility bill. These windows are surefire way to lower your cooling and heating costs and actually appreciate the value of your home. Vinyl windows from Factory Direct Remodeling of Atlanta are also made in the USA – meaning fast, convenient and reliable repairs. All materials are green and recyclable and meet Energy Start, AAMA and NFRC certification requirements.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Top 3 Home Remodeling Mistakes

It is possible for a home remodeling project to progress without a hitch. Reviewing these common mistakes will spare you the many horror stories you may have heard or read about.

1. Picking the Wrong Contractor

Clearly, a huge part is knowing if the contractor you have chosen is any good. The keyword here is trust. Don’t believe just whatever a contractor tells you. While this may seem  obvious, it happens because we sort of have to trust when it comes to things we know little to nothing about.

  • Ask to see a badge or business card with proper ID. Any contractor should have identification representing both themselves and the company they represent. They may not even be a contractor or represent the company you thought you were dealing with.  It could be a setup – one guy is keeping you busy talking while the other is robbing you blind.
  • Ask to see a copy of their business license and\or general liability insurance. While they may not always carry this on themselves, they can and will provide copies if asked. In addition, any reputable contractor will pull a permit on every job where a permit is required. Not doing so, could indicate they are unlicensed or the work is outside of their license.
  • Verify any associations and affiliations they are part or are members of, e.g., BBB Accredited Business and NARI. This can all be verified online.
  • Ask how long have they been in business and how many similar jobs have they completed.
  • Review sites have their place, but information can often be misleading regardless of the site. Both testimonials and complaints are fabricated and falsified all the time in just about every industry.  You really need to look at the whole picture to get an accurate assessment of a contractor or company.

You can never learn too much about the person who you are considering accepting. Take a few minutes to inspect their jobs. It will be worth it.

2. Forgetting the Small Details

A lot of people rush right into a project without thinking about the small details. Here are a few things you need to ask and think about when planning your project.

  • Plan every square inch of your project, i.e., deciding to add an electrical socket or light after the fact could cost you additional money.
  • How is project clean up handled?
  • When will the project begin?
  • What is the expected completion date and in what stages will the project be completed?
  • Who can you contact at the office with questions?
  • Obtain a written estimate that is transparent, explains any down payment, other payments and financial obligations if applicable.
  • What type of guarantee and/or warranty is there and what are the specifications?
  • Don't forget to submit your project to your Home Owner’s Association. Some contractors will take care of this for you as a lot of HOAs require prior approval before starting a project.

3. Thinking the Lowest Price is Always the Better Option

It is a natural assumption to think going with the lowest price saves you money. This is not always true. On a low estimate, you must ask yourself, “what is being left out” or what shortcut is being taken.  Everyone wants three things when it comes to making a purchase.

  1. Lowest Price
  2. Best Quality
  3. Best Service

It's impossible to get all three. You must ask yourself which of the three you are willing to give up.  A cheap estimate usually means cheap materials and/or inexperienced workers. Cheap materials means a product that isn’t going to last. Inexperienced workers usually means work that will need to be repeated at your expense.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Temporary Shade - Awnings

Temporary Shade

With the summer heat fast approaching, a lot of homeowners and businesses with patio space are looking to cover their patios and decks from the intense heat and blinding sun. While doing so, some have been quick to jump to a temporary solution. I cannot count the number of torn, frayed, stained and faded fabric awnings and gazebo style umbrellas I have noticed around the greater Atlanta area the past couple of months. This is why I titled this blog entry "Temporary Shade."

Sun, Wind & Rain

Any covering made of fabric is easily damaged if the right severe storm comes along.  It doesn't take much more than a strong gust of wind or heavy rain to inflect the first fatal wound. The damage spreads quickly from there. Mother nature doesn't stop there. Rain stains and mildew sets in. The constant UV rays fade and discolor the fabric.

Damage is not limited to the fabric itself. Metal supports rust and if you have ever been around a mechanized awning, I am sure you are all too familiar with the awning itself coming off its track or basically becoming stuck

Assembly Required

There is one pro with the large gazebo style umbrellas. You can protect them from the elements because they truly are temporary. Most are meant to be taken down, put away and then reassembled when ready to use again. I don’t know about you, but it’s very unlikely I would ever assemble the thing again after taking it down. It has now found a permanent home in the garage.

Permanent Shade

There is a solution to all of this. It’s simple and doesn't cost much more than your typical awning or large gazebo style umbrella. Solid aluminum patio covers are stylish, do not stain or rust, withstand major storms and come in many more designs and options. In addition to various shapes like gable porticos and gazebos, you can also opt for various styles of support columns. Aluminum patio and deck covers can be attached to a structure or free standing and have a lifetime warranty. You get permanent shade with more style, durability and options than any fabric covering could ever provide.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Top 10 Father’s Days Gifts Part II

The Ultimate Father’s Day Gift

 If you want to do something really special for Father’s Day, I am sure your dad or grandfather would love an Outdoor Living Center complete with an outdoor kitchen. This is the latest trend in outdoor living and it is here to stay.

A deck or decorative patio with stamped concrete and/or pavers combined with an ultra-lattice pergola, grilling station, fire pit and outdoor ceiling fans really transforms a backyard from a rarely used empty space into a private oasis that the entire family can enjoy.

What is an Outdoor Living Center?

One could say an outdoor living center is just a really fancy patio or deck, but that would be selling it short. An outdoor living center is a custom area complete with shade, a BBQ area, lounging and relaxation areas and more.

Most patios and decks are not covered. Therefore, they are not really used.

  • Who wants to sit outside in 100 degree weather with no shade?
  • Have you ever started to grill something on the BBQ and then there is a sudden downpour of rain?
  • Wouldn't it be nice to have a cool place to entertain guest for a summertime barbeque?

An outdoor living center provides all this. Adding a cover or ultra lattice pergola creates a 20 degree difference in temperature automatically. Add a ceiling fan and you have a constant breeze on the hottest of summer days. Create an outdoor kitchen in this new living space with a new or existing grill and you are all set to cookout rain or shine. Larger projects can even encompass privacy areas and open areas for outdoor parties. They even make outdoor flat screen TVs now to really create an outdoor oasis. 

How to get started?

Building an outdoor living center is easier than you may think. All it takes is to schedule a free estimate and go from there. The process is pretty simple and the cost is not that high when you factor in all of the benefits. There are even multiple financing options if you want to make monthly payments. Complete the following form to things started just in time for Father’s Day.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Top 10 Father’s Days Gifts

It’s that time again. It’s the day for all of us to remember our fathers and all that they have done for us throughout our lives.  Here comes the “funny” t-shirts, personalized coffee mugs and of the course the infamous father’s day tie.

A Brief History

Starting back in 1972 when Father’s Day was finally recognized like Mother’s Day, the hideous tie has been a staple of what fathers have received for the past 40+ years. Whether it be a gag gift or a serious tie for work, it’s time to break the cycle. Avoid gifts like these and all other apparel including underwear and  items like hair loss products and scented candles. Father’s  Day is now a 12.7 billion dollar industry and is closing the gap with Mother’s Day with 18 billion spent annually. Wouldn’t it be nice to get him something that he would enjoy. 

The Perfect Gift

There are plenty of items that your dad would be more than happy to receive on Father’s Day and better yet, most will last for years to come. That’s why I created a list of the top 10 Father’s Day gifts for 2013. There are gift idea for any budget.

1. Zippo Stainless Steel Wallet

2. Gerber 31-000749 Ultimate Multi Tool Water Resistant Pliers Knife Screwdriver Bundle With UZI 9 LED Flashlight

3. Dremel 7700-1/15 MultiPro 7.2-Volt Cordless Rotary Tool Kit

4. Stanley 94-248 65-Piece General Homeowner's Tool Set

5. Steven Raichlen Best of Barbecue SR8016 Stainless-Steel Beer-Can Chicken Rack with Drip Pan

6. Kindle Fire HD 7", Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB - Includes Special Offers

7. Audiovox Acoustic Research AW825 Mission Style Wireless Speaker (Bronze)

8. Coleman Montana 8 Tent

9. Char Broil K6B 6-Burner 65,000 BTU Propane Gas Grill, with Sideburner

10. 32 In. 720p Outdoor LCD HDTV with 2 HDMI - Black

Part II Coming Soon - Check it out right before Father's Day