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Tips For Keeping Your Firewood Dry
If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace to keep those cold winter evenings toasty, then you will want to have a well-stocked supply of dry firewood. It is imperative that you keep your wood stock well organised and dry, to ensure that the wood does not take in moisture or become corrupted by animals.
Why Only Burn Dry Wood?
Freshly cut fire wood has a moisture content of around 50%, but this wood cannot be used as firewood due to a natural bio product that is released when burning wet wood – creosote. Creosote tar lines your chimney, and gradually builds up to the point where it can cause a chimney fire if not cleaned regularly.
Additionally, wet wood tends to give off a lot more emissions and smoke, which are unhealthy for the environment, odorous to your home and harmful to your lungs. Regular inhalation can lead to a variety of health complications.
If all of those reasons aren’t enough to convince you, dry wood is also more energy efficient than using wet wood. During the burning process, wet wood needs to evaporate more water content, which reduces the energy (heat) that is given off by the wood.
The optimal moisture content of dry firewood is around 15-20%. Wood that has been split and dried in the correct size for your fireplace is easier to light, and correct storage prevents rot and fungus from settling in.
Air flow around wood allows it to evaporate moisture without it causing rotting, so having a good storage facility/shed/box is important. Additionally, air flow underneath the wood will assist in your wood drying evenly, and allow for any moisture to evaporate without rotting the wood or growing fungus.
Where to Store Wood?
Best practice is for storing the bulk of your wood at least five feet away from the home. This allows it to have enough air flow to dry easily. However, wood that is to be used immediately should be brought into the home at least one day before it is to be burnt. This is because humidity in the home condenses on the surface of the wood if it is cold, which will make it hard to light.
Firewood that is being stored inside needs to be a safe distance away from the fireplace to ensure that there is no chance of it catching a spark and going up in flames. Different local governments have their own regulations about this, so be sure to check what the requirements are for your local area. For tips on building a fire storage area in your garden, talk to one of our gardening experts at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre.
What You Need To Know About Australian Standard AS4013
During the cooler months of the year, we often feel the pinch of the cold, and we are drawn to heating our spaces and places by any means necessary. Often the most pleasing way to do so is by burning wood, using a wood heater, which brings both the warmth of natural wood as well as the pleasant aromas that accompany this mode of heating. As many of us are aware, we have been burning wood for centuries without too much regulation, but like many things in the world of today, this too has become an area where things are being regulated. As a result, it is important that we are aware of whether our wood heater complies with Australian Safety standards.
The Science behind It
Scientists have been doing a bit of research and discovered that smoke from wood heaters has some distinct elements that include the unburnt fuel that goes into the atmosphere as well as some pollution, which can lead to respiratory conditions if inhaled. They tell us that minimising the wood smoke pollution by ensuring that your wood burning heater complies with the AS4013 will be beneficial to everyone, including your hip pocket.
Choosing the Right Wood Heater
A key inspiration for the Australian Standard is likely to do with the quality of some of the wood heaters that are now on the market. Manufacturing cheap products might work for some companies who save themselves money by not adhering to the Australian Safety Standards, but it will not do you any favours in the long run. Also, you could be contributing to your own ill-health. According to the Consumers Federation of Australia, it was found that in the smoke that is emitted from burning wood, there can be small particles that when inhaled are able to breach the lung lining and end up in the blood stream. Additionally, they found that there might often be other chemicals that end up in the blood stream, which could be detrimental to your health.
Thankfully, there are ways of reducing the likelihood of these health risks so it is important to research thoroughly the product you are buying, or talk to an expert who knows more than you do, such as one of our friendly staff at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre. One way of reducing the risk of chemicals getting from the wood into your blood stream is through using wood that is dry, as well as opening the air controls on the device for around 15 minutes after you have put in more wood. It is recommended to buy a wood heater that conforms to the AS4013, as well as choosing one that is more fuel efficient.
Which Rock Is Going To Rock Your Landscaping?
In Australia, we are lucky to have a vast array of beautiful rocks for use in the many different garden areas, enabling you to bring to life the vision you have in mind of what you want to create. At Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre, we know rocks, and with many years of landscaping experience, our expert garden gurus have seen and assisted with a variety of different garden creations. Read about some rocks below, and stop by to let us show you how you can really get your landscape garden rocking.
One of the most versatile and available rocks for landscaping in Australia is Mudrock, also known as River Mud Rock or Mudstone. It is a fine-grained earthy brown silty rock that can be easily split into sheets, which makes it a very versatile rock for creating the landscape that you desire. Mudrock is commonly used for seats, floors, edging, water features, walls and steps, and it is available in varying different sizes and shapes.
With a medium to coarse grain, granite is available in a variety of colourings, from darker greys and blacks to light pinks and yellows. It is a tough rock, which has seen it commonly used in construction, but it lends itself well to garden landscaping for both a rustic or formal feel. It can be used for a variety of different areas in your garden, including water features, steps, pillars, floors or features.
Is a garden really complete without pebbles? For areas where drainage is needed, pebbles are an excellent choice that is both pleasing to the eye and functional. They are usually taken from creeks, beaches, lakes, rivers or quarries, adding a splash of colour to garden borders, pathways and dry creek beds. Wet them to bring out their unique colours and enjoy the feel as they crunch beneath your feet on pathways.
Volcanic Basalt Rock
Another excellent landscaping rock is Volcanic Basalt, also known as Colac rock or Honeycomb rock. It is a fine grained, dense rock, dark in colour and with a granular appearance. It gets its honeycomb appearance from a process whereby gas bubbles explode to form holes on its surface that over time usually gather mineral matter, which encourages moss to grow, adding character to its appearance. It is commonly used for steps, retaining walls, features and flooring, and it is available as larger stones, varying sizes of pavers or smaller pebbles.
Sandstone is a popular rock for landscaping and construction in Australia, and it is available in a variety of different sizes, shapes and styles. It is a very versatile stone, which can be used for a range of purposes, including walls, features, floors, furniture, edging, and even outdoor ovens. With its soft light brown to orange colouring, it lends serenity to any garden or living space, and it is popular both indoors and outdoors.
From The Ground Up: Knowing The Importance Of Soil In Landscaping
When landscaping your garden there is much to consider. What sort of plants you want to grow, how you want to design your garden, what you plan to use your garden space for, how much money you want to spend on it, what you need to build to complete the space and who is going to do the work. One area that is of the upmost importance is having a healthy foundation for your plants in which to grow. The health of your soil is one of the fundamental considerations because it can make a huge difference to the longevity of the space and how much maintenance work you will need to do, to keep it at its best.
Healthy plants cannot grow in unhealthy soil, the same way good ideas cannot grow in a negative headspace. We all know that keeping your soil in balance is imperative to ensuring that your plants get the best start in life, and that they continue to flourish as the days, weeks and years roll on. But even more important than that, is to ensure that your soil is alive with life and vitality. Your soil is a living breathing organism, so get it into shape before you even think about buying plants. Talk to one of our garden gurus at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre about how to get your soil into shape.
Reduce Pests and Disease
Believe it or not, but the health of your soil will have a big impact on the amount of pests and disease that frequent your garden. Pests and disease are a natural part of the way that Mother Nature cleans up after herself. They come in to clear away anything that is not healthy, to correct the imbalance in the garden. Healthy soil keeps your plants in optimal condition so that your plants are thriving and there is nothing to clean up.
Keep Weeds at Bay
If there are key nutrients missing from your soil, the weeds will come in to provide the missing ingredients that your soil is lacking. They also come in to fill in the spaces that are not covered, which is why mulching is such a great weed deterrent. Creating that balance yourself means that your garden does not have to take matters into its own hands, leaving more of your energy to enjoy your garden, and focus on the fun stuff, rather than fighting weeds, pests and disease.
How To Start Designing Your Garden
Like any project, creating a garden space will be more successful if you start with a plan and follow the steps to create a space that suits your vision for how you want to use it. Rather than leaping in and throwing your energy around before you have assessed the situation, a plan will make things a lot more manageable and organised. It will also help you to stay on budget, as well as to give you the space to make changes on paper, rather than when you already have things in the ground.
What Have You Got?
The first step is to draw up a map of the situation as it stands. This means drawing the current landscape, including its surrounding areas as well as what you already have growing there. You may be able to incorporate some of the existing garden attributes into your new design. If there are existing hard structures such as pergolas, paved areas and water features, your design plan could work in harmony with them.
How You Want to Use the Space
The next and probably most important question is how you want to use the space. Do you want a quiet Zen Space where you can relax, walk quietly and spend time sitting out in the garden? Would you prefer to use the space for growing food plants and creating a vegetable garden? Or do you want a bit of both? Knowing what you want to do with the space and how you plan to spend your time in there will assist you in creating a design that will work the best and deliver the results that will be most pleasing to you.
Combine the Existing Picture with Your Vision
Once you know what you have got, and what you want to create, start creating. This means drawing up a few different designs about where you want everything to go and what will work best for the vision you have in your mind. Pay attention to which parts of the garden get the most sunshine, and where there are shaded areas at different times of day. Certain plants will thrive best with full sun, while others prefer to have sunshine in the morning, and shade in the afternoon, or vice versa.
Choose Your Plants and Materials
Once you have your design ready to go, now you can make a list of the plants that you will need, what materials you are incorporating and start preparing for how you are going to tackle it. You may find that it is easier to manage if you do a section at a time, but really, it is up to you what feels right, and what will work best for your timeframe.
Tips To Make The Most Of Your Backyard
We’ve all heard of the tiny house movement, but have you ever considered the joy that can be found in a tiny garden? Those who do not have the luxury of a large garden space to do with, as they please, will be presented with the interesting challenge of making the most of the space that they have. This will mean thinking outside the box, which is always the best place to get the creative juices flowing. The good news is that by implementing some creative gardening methods, a small space can be more than enough for the garden of your dreams.
Create a Focal Point
Even though your garden is small, it doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. If you are putting in an effort to create a garden, you will likely be planning to spend a bit of time in there, so make sure that you create a space that is aesthetically pleasing. Begin by creating a plan of how you want it to look and what you want to include; then draw up a design of your vision. Include a focal point such as a water feature, ornament, large rock or a bench for the garden.
Use Creative Garden Techniques
Make the most of a small space by creating more efficient garden areas. One way to use a wall area is to create a vertical garden. This can be done quite easily and it allows you to grow a variety of different plants along the wall. Vertical gardens are not only economical on space but also on water consumption.
Another technique is companion planting, a Native American tradition that allows for different vegetables to use the same space, assisting each other to grow together. One example of this is corn, beans and squash, which complement and support each other as they grow. There are many different garden techniques that you can use to maximise the space available, so talk to our gardening experts at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre for more ideas.
The joy of sharing your garden with birds and bees is definitely worth the effort of providing a space where they enjoy. This means planting natives and food plants for them as well as providing a water source where they can come to cool off and wet their whistle on a hot day. A bird feeder invites birds to come into the space so that you can enjoy their company, and the sound of their sweet singing creates atmosphere in your garden.
Four Tips On How To Water Your Plants The Right Way
Like you, if your plants do not get enough water, they start to dry out and will begin to wilt and look unhealthy. Plants need a balance of both water and oxygen to their roots for them to be in optimal condition and have the best growth. Finding that balance is important to ensure that your plants are looking good and in good health. Different planting methods will need a different watering schedule, so do your research and, most importantly, get to know your plants!
Use a Soaker or a Drip Irrigation System
The first tip is to use the correct system for watering. The idea with watering is for the plants to get a thorough watering, evenly, but not too often. It is actually better to do it less often and give them a really good water, than to do it often and give them a quick sprinkle. As the root system benefits from drying out a little, a good soaking after they have been dried out will promote growth of the roots.
Focus on the Roots
When you water, stay away from the leaves as much as possible and focus on the roots. This includes watering evenly around the root area of the plant, to ensure that there is even growth. The roots are the part of the plant that draws all of the nutrients from the soil up and into the plant. Watering the leaves makes your plant much more susceptible to diseases so stick to focusing on the roots.
Water in the Morning
The idea is for the plant to get as much moisture as it needs from the soil around its roots, and then for the soil to dry out enough so that there is not too much water left overnight when the temperature cools down. Watering your plants in the morning allows for the water to be absorbed throughout the day and does not leave too much dampness in the soil overnight, when it can cause problems. Another benefit of watering in the morning is that if the leaves do get wet they will have enough time to dry out before the temperature cools down in the evening, and so prevent disease.
Use Quality Soil and Mulch
Know your soil and ensure that it is in good health before planting. Different types of soil will retain water or allow it to run off and be lost before the plant can get what it needs. You may have to prepare the soil by adding particular fertilisers or organic matter to get it into optimal health before planting. Use mulch to prevent water running off and drying out your soil.
If in doubt about any of these tips, or if you need more information, pop by the Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre and have a chat to one of our friendly gardeners.
Five Tips For Spending Less On Your Garden
Gardening is a relaxing and enjoyable pastime that not only gives you a chance to recharge your batteries as you potter around in the green spaces, but it can also provide you with food that you can eat.
The benefits of spending time in a garden have been recognised by the mental health profession for many years as it is extremely therapeutic to while away a few hours getting your hands and feet into the soil. The costs of raising a garden can sometimes blow out though, which can cause people to think twice before they embark on the adventure of growing their own garden space. Here are some tips for spending less on your garden:
1. Make Your Own Compost
Why buy from outside when you can make your own very simply by using kitchen waste, garden clippings and any other garden waste including sticks and other bits and pieces. Most organic matter can go into your home-made compost, except for a few items of which you need to be aware. Talk to our staff at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre for more information.
2.Grow Your Own Seedlings
Rather than spending your money on seedlings and raising pots from garden shops, make your own out of newspaper or egg shells. Both of these are biodegradable so you can simply put the seedlings in them in the ground, and they will help the soil as they break down.
3.Propagate from Existing Plants
Buying plants can prove to be quite costly, which is why it makes sense to propagate from plants you already have, rather than to go through the expense of buying new ones.
4. Mulching Saves Money and Time
Mulching your garden not only saves you money on water but it also stops weeds from growing, which then reduces your need to work on removing them; this could be costly if you choose to go the chemical method.
5. Do I Really Need This Plant?
Impulse buying, whether it be on miscellaneous items or on plants, can end up costing you quite a penny and in some cases – wasting money. As is often the case, if you buy a plant that you don’t actually have a space for in the garden, yet, you may leave it in the small pot that it came in, while you decided where to put it, and it may end up drying out and dying. Plan where you are going to put your plants before you buy them, so you do not lose money on impulsive purchases!
How To Create Your Own Stress-Free Garden At Home
If you are looking for a quiet place to escape from the world at the end of the day, look no further than your own garden. This is a place where you can invite the birds and the bees to take up residence by planting accordingly, as well as possibly creating a food source for yourself, and somewhere that you can relax and unwind. Making it a stress-free experience will have a lot to do with your planning and preparation, as well as how you choose to work with the space.
Make a Plan
The first thing you need to do is to work out exactly what your expectations are of your garden and prepare it accordingly. If you want to grow food to eat, you will likely design the garden differently from how you would if you want simply to have somewhere to sit and relax with a good book. Your plan will assist you in working out what sort of plants you want to get, as well as where you are going to plant them. The most stress-free way of growing food plants is to companion plant, that is, plants that complement each other, which keeps pests down, utilises the space well and assists your plants to be happy and healthy.
Preparation is Key
Organising all aspects of your garden will help immensely in keeping the place as stress-free as possible, because you will know where everything is, and be able to find it easily when you need it. Create a board for your tools to hang and organise your seeds so that you know what is what and where to find them when you want to use them. Prepare the soil to accommodate the plants that you are choosing for your garden, and plant them in places that are conducive to them surviving.
Make Plant Tags
Part of being a happy gardener is having the knowledge of what you have growing in your garden. Research your plants and learn all about what they like. Make sure that your plants have tags so that you can easily identify them later. Often when we are planting our seedlings into the ground we imagine that we will remember what they are, but sometimes things can get mixed up and we may forget.
Choose Appropriate Plants
For stress-free gardening, you need to plant items that are going to be happy where you are planting them. Putting a plant or vegetable that likes the shade in full sun is not going to lead to stress-free gardening because if your plants are not happy you won’t be happy either. Ensure that the plants you are choosing are going to thrive in your garden and deliver the results that you are seeking. If you aren’t sure about a particular plant or need more information about complementary planting come and talk to our gardeners at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre.
How Much Do You Pay For A Professional Gardener?
The big question that many people ask us at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre is how much they might be expected to pay for enlisting the services of a professional gardener. Good question!
It really is not a question that we can give an exact answer to, but we can look at the sort of work that you might get from a professional gardener, for the different wage price brackets, and go from there. Having said that, these prices will vary depending on the location where the work is to be carried out. Usually they may quote you a price for a whole job, or for a specific number of hours, but this is best discussed with them when you are talking with them about the work.
Your basic garden labourer who does gardening and labouring work for a living, but who has not gained any horticultural qualifications, will be happy to work for $20-$25 an hour. They will do the hard yakka work for you such as weeding, clearing, relocating garden waste, pruning and general garden maintenance duties. If you are lucky, they may bring knowledge and awareness regarding different plant species and garden practices; however, this is a fairly basic entry level position, so they will be a helping hand to assist you with the basics.
Skilled Garden Worker or Landscaper
A skilled garden worker or someone who is employed by a landscaping company will usually be paid anywhere from around $30-$70 an hour. They will often bring knowledge and experience to the work and will have ideas that they can share with you.
Professional Landscaping Designer
A professional landscape designer is usually paid approximately $70-$180 per hour. This is because they have the relevant qualifications to design your garden to professional standards. They will hold your hand and advise you of things that you might not have thought of, that will make a difference to the quality and design of your garden.
Arborist or Tree Chopper
Having trees chopped down usually costs a lot more per hour than other gardening work, basically because they have chainsaws and wood chippers, and at times need to hire machinery to complete the job. For these guys (and gals) things could get dangerous so you are essentially paying them for risking their lives and limbs to get your work done. Their experience in their craft is another reason why it is worth paying a professional to do this work, because you really don’t want a tree falling on your house.