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How To Pick The Best Firewood for Clean-burning, Long-lasting Fires
Who doesn’t love a toasty warm fireplace to heat up their home during the cold winter months? If you have ever struggled to get it going, you may be surprised to know that different woods will produce very different results.
Your choice of wood is one variable that you can control, to assist in getting a good fire started. Additionally, how the wood is arranged prior to lighting the fire will have a major impact on how well the fire allows for oxygen to feed the flames and burn the wood.
Kindling in a Variety of Sizes
An important part of choosing the right wood is in the size of wood for getting the fire going. The first thing you need is a good stack of dry kindling of various sizes. After arranging the newspaper in place, you will arrange the kindling from smallest to largest before placing the smaller of the hardwood logs. At this point you can light the newspaper and get the fire going, before putting on the log that you want to burn.
Dry and Dense Wood
When choosing logs for your fire, it is best to look for wood that is dry and dense. Wood that is lighter and less dense, will burn quickly, and you will find that you are using a lot more wood than if you were using a harder wood. Wood that is moist, will burn slower, but is not as clean as dry wood, and it will actually need to use some of the heat energy to get the log burning. It also leaves a residue in the chimney that will require extra cleaning.
Hardwood is the usual wood of choice, as it burns longer and slower than wood that is not as dense. It is best to split your hardwood into logs of a similar size to fit into your fireplace, while having some smaller sized logs for getting the fire going.
Believe it or not, but how well you store your wood will have a huge effect on how well it burns, as well as how long it will last.
- Wood needs to be stored in a well-ventilated area, preferably inside, but if you are only able to store it outside it needs to be covered with a tarp or a waterproof cloth.
- It will need to be elevated above ground level to prevent moisture and stacked in such a way that allows oxygen to flow around the wood.
- A pattern of crossing the wood is a good way, but as long as you allow air flow to travel around the wood it will prevent moisture from getting into it and deteriorating the wood.
Talk to Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre for information about finding a good wood supplier near you.
Organic Materials You Can Use To Keep Your Garden Pest Free
If there is one thing we have learnt from the recent court case involving ‘Roundup’, it is that using toxic chemicals on your garden can be extremely detrimental to your health, in a variety of ways. Firstly, if you are administering the chemicals to the garden personally, there is a good chance that your health may be damaged from inhaling the chemicals. Secondly, the plants and vegetables that are exposed to unnatural chemicals could then be eaten by you, which would then put those chemicals directly into your body. Thirdly, any animals or insects that come into contact with the plants could also experience the ill-effects from exposure to the chemicals.
The important thing to remember is that there are other ways of assisting with weed and pest management, so it is worth it to do your research and to use alternative methods. The fact is that the Earth is more intelligent than we think, and it usually has all of the resources available for keeping it in good health. It is simply a matter of doing research and assembling the right ingredients at the right time, in the right place.
A quick internet search will give you access to a variety of recipes for natural home-made insecticide sprays that are useful for treating for mites, aphids and other bugs. These can be vegetable oil based, soap based, neem oil based, garlic based, chilli pepper based, or even made from diatomaceous earth (which is a natural insecticide.)
A key aspect of keeping your garden health and pest free is in applying preventative measures to discourage pests from stopping by to sample the merchandise. These might include removing weak plants, interplanting and rotating crops, ensuring that your soil is as healthy as it can be; also water early to avoid wet foliage for long periods of the day. Other methods include clearing the garden of areas where pests would set up camp and move in for the long stay, cleaning your tools regularly to prevent cross infection of pests and using a seaweed spray to discourage slugs.
Coffee Grounds, Copper and Citrus Rind
Believe it or not, but coffee grounds are an excellent deterrent for slugs and snails. They hate them almost as much as they hate copper. Lay a ring of copper around the base of plants or sprinkle coffee grounds on the soil to keep slugs and snails away. Alternatively, you could create a trap for attracting slugs away from your plants with a simple piece of citrus rind from a grapefruit or orange. The slugs will be attracted to the rind where they will feast until you remove them to your compost bin or another area away from your plants.
The Top Four Choices For Firewood
When the winter chills hit the air and we are looking for a way of keeping the family warm, many people are seeing the benefit and joy of having a wood combustion heater to heat their homes. The key to getting the most out of your wood combustion heater is choosing firewood that is going to give you the best experience, both on your hip pocket, for the environment and inside your fireplace.
The best kind of wood for burning in a wood combustion heater are your hardwoods, as the softer woods burn too quickly, which would mean you are burning more, and running out faster. In Australia, we are lucky to have a variety of hardwoods that are available depending where you live. Some of these include red gum, beech, ironbark and gum. Your local supplier such as Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre will be able to point you in the direction of a plentiful supply. Having said that, be sure to order wood early before winter to ensure that you have a good supply ready for when the temperature really cools down.
For some, there may be concern with the sustainability of using wood for burning, so it is important to be mindful of from where your firewood is being sourced. Often arborists will have a stockpile of good hardwood available from trees they have cut down, which they usually sell by the truckload. A good garden centre will likely have a good supply of plantation hardwood or be able to point you in the right direction. Plantation hardwood is grown sustainably to ensure that it is replenished for the following years, so choosing sustainable sources is a must.
Dry is Best
The drier the wood, the better it is for burning. The more moisture content in the wood means that it will not burn properly and the energy from the fire will be used to dry the wood as it burns, which means less warmth for you and your family. Additionally, wood that has been freshly cut, and is still moist produces pollutants that can clog up your chimney, which will need to be cleaned out more regularly; otherwise, it becomes a safety hazard.
If wood is not stored properly, it will gather moisture and not be in optimal condition for burning in your wood heater. Wood should be stored preferably in a shed that is well ventilated and also provide protection from the weather. If you need to store it outside, it should be stacked in a way that it is stored off the ground and there is ample space to allow for air to circulate around it.
Gardening: DIY vs Professional Landscape Artists
Creating your own garden from scratch sounds like a romantic idea but the idea does not always go according to plan, which is why many people cut to the chase and hire a team to do the job for them. However, there are factors to take into consideration when deciding if you have the skills necessary to create a landscaped garden that both survives and thrives.
Some people have the time, money and inclination to landscape their garden themselves, but for others they just want a product that is going to look fantastic for the foreseeable future, without too much work on their part. Let’s have a look at the factors to consider before making that decision.
If you are a horticulturalist by either hobby or profession then it is likely that you will know a lot about plants, including what they need to thrive, how their root systems grow and where to best place them in a garden. In this case, your extensive knowledge would be an advantage if you were to landscape your garden yourself.
Having said that, industry knowledge is what you would be getting if you hired a team of landscaping experts, and this is a different arena entirely. Firstly, by using a landscaper who does landscaping for a living will enable you to get the best price on materials. Additionally, they will usually keep abreast of developments in their industry and will be able to advise you on modern gardening techniques and styles of which might not be aware. Last but not least, they would know exactly which council permits (if any) are needed.
Size of the Job
The size of the area that is to be landscaped is definitely a factor that needs to be taken into consideration. If there is a small landscaping job to be added to an existing garden, repair work, or if your idea is for a small garden with a simple design, you would most likely be able to do this yourself. But if there is a large area, or a detailed plan with bold additions that you may not be sure how to execute, you will find that the benefits of hiring a team will outweigh the costs involved.
Budget and Time
If you are a person who has a large budget (in case costs blow out), which often they do if you are doing it yourself, and have a lot of time on your hands, then doing it yourself is likely to be a very rewarding experience and worth the trouble. However, if you are on a limited budget, and are very time poor, hiring a team will ensure that the work is done in a reasonable time, according to your own specifications and within budget.
For landscaping ideas or for help with finding a landscaping team to make your garden beautiful, come and have a chat with our friendly staff at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre today.
Landscaping Styles: Which One Fits Your Home?
There are numerous landscaping styles that one could choose for their home, from the English garden, to the Desert Landscape, the Zen style and everything in between. Choosing and designing a landscaping style to suit your home will take some planning and considerations to ensure that the style you choose will be able to thrive. At Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre, we have a huge variety of plants to fit any style that you choose, but first, let’s work out what style is going to suit you and your home. Here are some of the questions you might like to ask yourself to make the decision clearer.
Climate and Conditions
One of the most important considerations you will need to make is about the climate and conditions of your garden space. Some plants will thrive in warmer temperatures in a sunny garden, while others prefer shade. Choosing a landscape style that is congruent with the surrounding atmosphere and conditions will assist the plants to thrive and keep the garden looking beautiful all year. If the area is very dry, then you would be mindful not to choose a landscaping design that has a lot of thirsty plants, otherwise, you would need to spend a lot of time on maintenance.
What Will the Space Be Used For?
Be sure to factor in space for everyone to enjoy doing what they love to do, otherwise, you will end up having a battle on your hands and your landscaping will likely suffer the most. If you have children and pets who will want to use the space for running around, playing games and getting up to mischief you may need to consider this when planning your landscape design. For example, you most likely would not choose to landscape the whole garden area into a Zen garden in this case – but you could decide to have a Zen garden area in one part of the garden, while keeping space for the family to spread out.
How Much Maintenance Are You Prepared to Do?
Some garden styles will thrive very well if they are watered regularly, and then left alone to their own devices, while others will need careful maintenance to keep them looking their best. A big question to ask yourself is how much time you are prepared to commit to your garden, and then make your landscaping choices accordingly. Be realistic!
What Style Will Fit Your Home?
If your existing home has a specific style, then you will want to choose a landscape style that fits in, otherwise in some cases, things might look and feel a bit weird. Having said that, if you fall in love with a landscape style that does not fit the current style of your home you could always give your home a bit of a makeover, or add in some design features that could blend them together.
Environmentally-Friendly Tips For Keeping Your Garden Pretty
There are so many different ways of using eco-friendly gardening practices for keeping your garden pretty as well as in good health, but here are some important ones to get you started. Be sure to come in to visit us to talk about other tips for keeping your garden beautiful.
The best rule of thumb for having a well-functioning garden space is to choose plants that are native to the area where you live. These plants will thrive in the climate, as well as blend well with each other, and attract pollinators and be beneficial in other ways. Plants that are not native may not integrate well into your garden. They may not thrive, and could be detrimental to other plants in your garden.
Group Plants Mindfully
It matters where you place your plants. Look at the needs of each individual plant and try to group them according to what their specific needs are. Take into consideration factors such as how much sun they require to be healthy, as well as how much water they like and what sort of soil suits them the best. During the planning stages of your garden, look at your garden as a whole and divide it into different zones for the different needs of your plants.
Welcome the Bees and Insects
You may have heard the story that Morgan Freeman has made his ranch in the United States into a bee sanctuary but may not understand why this is a very important thing for him to do. Most people do not realise that birds, bats and bees are important pollinators for all of the other plants, across the world. Much of the food that you eat comes from pollinators doing their job to keep the plant world humming along (and not just in your backyard, but also in every backyard).
One way that you can assist the longevity of both your own life and the lives of every other living species, is to create a sanctuary for pollinators. This can be done by planting specific plants that attract them. Additionally, insects such as wasps, ladybugs, flies and beetles will eat a lot of the nasties that attack your plants so be sure to add plants that are food for them too! Speak to some of our garden experts at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre for more information about which plants will attract native friends to your garden to keep it in top shape.
Birds Are Your Friends
Creating a space that feels like home for different bird species is another important way of keeping your garden naturally beautiful. Include a bird bath where they can have a drink and play in the water, as well as a bird feeder. Birds will eat caterpillars and grubs, which would eat the leaves of your plants and cause them to become sick.
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.