Which is the Best Type of Lawn Sweeper?

While a lawn sweeper is not something that every homeowner needs to own, having a lawn sweeper makes easy work out of clearing the lawn of leaves and other debris.  Lawn sweepers are somewhat of a luxury because they are not used on a constant basis, but if you have a lawn that is covered with many leaves or a large lawn where the cleanup process is painstakingly time consuming, then a lawn sweeper can be a great garden tool to own, and one that saves you lots of time.

What exactly is a lawn sweeper, or a lawn leaf sweeper as it’s sometimes called?  It’s a device that is rolled or pushed along your lawn to sweep up leaves and other loose debris in order to clean up the lawn.  Lawn sweepers are similar to vacuum cleaners, but are used outdoors.  Just as you would push a vacuum cleaner along the carpet to remove any loose dirt or items, you can push or tow a lawn sweeper along the grass to pick up leaves, pine needles, loose grass, and other small objects.

lawn sweeperA lawn sweeper works by rotating a set of brushes along an axle while the device is moved across the lawn.  The brushes essentially sweep up any leaves or other small debris into a hopper.  The hopper contains the leaves until it fills up or you have completed the job, at which time you can empty it.  The sweeper will pick up most small items, but may not pick up larger or more difficult items such as pine cones or small twigs.  The shorter your lawn is cut and the flatter the surface you are pushing the lawn sweeper across, the easier it is for it to pick up loose items.

There are two main types of lawn sweepers – push lawn sweepers and tow behind lawn sweepers.  A push lawn sweeper is similar to a push lawnmower.  The operator of the lawn sweeper pushes it forward in order for it to move across the lawn and do its job.    There are push lawn sweepers that are manual and those that are automatic.  Manual push lawn sweepers require a bit of manpower to get them moving, while an automatic or powered lawn sweeper is self propelled, just like a self propelled lawn mower.  Tow behind lawn sweepers can be attached to a ride-on tractor or mower.   A tow lawn sweeper can be attached whenever needed or unattached when it is not.

Lawn sweepers can range in price from around $100 to hundreds of dollars, depending on whether the sweeper is a manual push model, an automatic model, or a tow model and what features it contains.  Different models contain different size hoppers and options.  One drawback to some lawn sweepers is that they are somewhat difficult to assemble after you bring them home, so when possible, it is best to find a retailer that will assemble it for you prior to purchase.

There are a number of companies that manufacture lawn sweepers and before purchasing one it is best to check out some lawn sweeper reviews to see which model will best suit your needs.  A lawn sweeper review should tell you the model, price range, positives and negatives of any features, ease of use and assembly, how large the hopper is, how wide the coverage is, as well as any other pertinent information that you may be interested in about lawn sweepers.  Reviews are a great way to get an idea of which is the best lawn sweeper for you based on your specific type of lawn as well as your budget.

lawn sweeperSome models of lawn sweepers to consider are listed below.  You will see that a number of companies that make lawn mowers also offer models of lawn sweepers as well (and some companies that make vacuum cleaners also make lawn sweepers).  This list does not include every company that offers lawn sweepers, so there is a wide selection to choose from.

Lawn sweeper manufacturers:

  • Agri-Fab lawn sweepers
  • Parker lawn sweepers
  • Brinley Hardy lawn sweepers
  • Huskee lawn sweepers
  • Precision Products lawn sweepers
  • Yardwise lawn sweepers
  • Lambert lawn sweepers
  • Ranch King lawn sweepers
  • Ohio Steel lawn sweepers
  • Craftsman lawn sweepers
  • Hoover lawn sweepers
  • Oreck lawn sweepers
  • Swisher lawn sweepers
  • John Deere lawn sweepers

If you are looking for an easy way to clean up your lawn each fall or anytime a lot of leaves, grass, small twigs or other debris accumulate, then using a lawn sweeper can make the chore easier and can save you time.  Lawn sweepers are easier to use than leaf blowers.  The only thing to keep in mind is that you need a place to store your lawn sweeper when not in use, so make sure you have room in your garage, shed or other type of garden building.

DIY Guide to Block Paving Your Driveway

Block paving is a popular and attractive way to complete patios, walkways and even driveways.  One of the reasons that paving blocks are used so often by homeowners to enhance their outdoor décor is due to the versatility that block paving bricks and stones offer. Block paving comes in a wide variety of designs, materials, styles, and price ranges.  An added benefit to using block paving is that many homeowners can complete the project on their own without having to hire professional landscapers or home improvement contractors. DIY block paving allows the block paving cost to remain lower than it would otherwise be if completed by a professional and offers more opportunities for homeowners to enjoy what might otherwise be an expensive option for their backyard, patio, driveway or other exterior area.

Types of Block Paving Materials:

Before detailing the steps of how to lay block paving, let’s first look at the different block paving designs and materials available.  Block paving generally is separated into two basic types:  concrete block pavers and brick pavers.  Concrete paving blocks are constructed from molded concrete which can have color, textures and design patterns added to enhance the surface look.  Brick pavers are made from kiln-fired clay and look like regular bricks.  Both block and brick pavers are available in a variety of thicknesses, color choices and patterns.  The type you choose will depend in part on the look you are trying to achieve and the location where you are laying block paving.

Photo courtesy of Elvis Santana

Photo courtesy of Elvis Santana

Block pavers are available in a wide selection of shapes and sizes.   Consumers can choose from rectangular block pavers, square block pavers, round block pavers, or paving block in a variety of other shapes, such as hexagons, triangles, semi circles and more. The most common shape of block pavers is rectangular, although using other shapes or a combination of shapes will add to the design element of the finished project.

Block paving stones also come in a variety of color options.  The colors of concrete paving blocks come from the addition of concrete dye.  The dyes and color processes of different block paving companies and manufacturers may differ and part of the difference in varying quality of pavers depends on the color process used.  High quality pavers will maintain uniform color throughout the paver, while cheap block pavers may only have the color added near the surface of the paver.  This can be a problem when pavers are cut or as they wear over time.  Most pavers will experience some fading of the dye over the years, however, so if you need to match pavers at a later time to new ones, the colors may not match.  Brick pavers are naturally colored based on the clay used to create the pavers.

Block Paving Installation:

Block paving project planning – Before you begin your DIY block paving project, it is best to measure and plan out your area, select the block paving pattern you will use, determine the amount of block paving materials you need, and make sure you have all of the appropriate tools to complete the project, as well as any additional landscaping supplies you may need.   Determining how much you need in block paving supplies is based on measuring the area of the location to be covered (length times width) to determine the square footage.  It is best to allow for at least 5 – 10% waste to ensure that you have enough materials.  If you are dealing with intricate block paving patterns, uneven edges or a lot of cutting of block paving bricks, you should allow for additional waste.  Block paving suppliers should be able to help you determine the amount of paving supplies needed based on measurements you provide.

Photo courtesty of Elvis Santana

Photo courtesty of Elvis Santana

Block paving pattern choices– When it comes to block paving designs, there are a number of patterns to choose from.  You can lay the pavers in a straight rectangular pattern similar to the way subway tiles are laid, which is referred to as a stretcher bond pattern.  Herringbone patterns are very popular methods of laying block pavers and in these designs interlocking paving blocks are laid in alternating horizontal and vertical arrays to create a puzzle-like pattern.  A basket weave pattern is another popular option and is achieved by alternating two rows of rectangular pavers horizontally and then vertically in a continuous pattern for each row and then reversing the pattern for the next row.  These are just a sample of the block paving pattern choices available.

Block paving installation methods – There are two basic types of block paving installation methods.  One is called flexible paving installation and the other is referred to as rigid paving installation.  Flexible paving involves setting up and leveling a bed of sand upon which the block paving stones are laid and then filling the joints between each paver with a fine sand.  Rigid paving installation involves creates a mortar bed to hold the block pavers and filling the joints with mortar.  This method is similar to building a brick wall, although it is done horizontally instead of vertically.  Most DIY block paving installation projects involve the flexible paving method.

Laying block paving – The most important step in laying block paving stones is preparing the ground properly and beginning with a level surface.  You need to begin by removing any loose soil, rocks, etc. and then compacting the existing surface.  A layer of crushed stone should be added and compacted using a plate vibrator to provide a solid base surface.  You may want to consider laying a weed block layer, but this is not always necessary.

For flexible block paving installations, you must then lay a bed of sand and compact it using a plate vibrator.  Use a level board that spans the length of your surface to determine whether the area is level and fill and compact any areas that require additional sand.  You can use the boards to level the sand by dragging them across the surface.  Leveling can also be done by using a string that spans the surface area.

Photo courtesty of Elvis Santana

Photo courtesty of Elvis Santana

Once the sand is level, you can begin laying your block paving stones or bricks.  Lay out a few pavers to figure out the best way to begin your pattern.  Begin laying full paving stones in the desired pattern and leave space for the blocks at the edges that must be cut to finish the area or to create a specific pattern.  Cut block paving stones and brick using a saw and blade appropriate for the material and thickness of the paver (check with the supplier to find out what type of cutting tool is best).    After all of the block paving stones are laid, you should then compact the entire area again using the plate vibrator to ensure that they are level and compacted into the sand bed.

Once the pavers are laid and compacted, joint sand can be added to fill in the joints.  After adding the sand, the pavers should be compacted again to fill the sand into the joints.  Additional sand should then be added.  Any excess sand that does not fall into the joints can be swept away.

If you are using a rigid block paving installation method, you must lay a level of concrete mortar after the ground is initially compacted and leveled.  Lay the brick pavers in the mortar and allow the mortar to set.  Fill in joints with additional mortar once paving stones are set using a trowel.  Most often, rigid block paving is handled by professional installers.

These installation instructions are intended only as a guide in order to give do-it-yourselfers an idea of the basic steps of the installation process.  They are not complete instructions and additional information should be acquired before beginning the project.  You can find detailed step by step block paving installation instructions either from block paving suppliers or by doing a bit of research online.

Photo courtesty of Elvis Santana

Photo courtesty of Elvis Santana

Block paving sealing – Once installation is completed, a block paving seal should be applied to protect the surface of the pavers.  Adding a block paving sealer is an important step in maintaining the look and functionality of the pavers for the long term, since the seal will repel water, stains and dirt.  It will also help to preserve the color of the block paving stones.  Sealing block paving bricks and stones is an important step in the installation process.

Block paving maintenance – Following installation and sealing, block pavers require some basic ongoing maintenance to keep them looking their best.  You should sweep any dirt or debris off of the pavers occasionally to prevent a build-up of dirt or to prevent moisture from being trapped and thus mold or algae from building up.  For flexible paving installations, you should also spray a weed killer once or twice each year between the joints to prevent weeds and stray grass from growing between the pavers.   If you notice a build-up of mold, mildew or algae on the pavers, you should remove it so that it does not become slippery.  A block paving sealant should also be reapplied periodically to keep the pavers protected (check the label on the block paving sealant to see how often it should be applied).  The use of a pressure washer to clean block paving should only be used sporadically and only if absolutely necessary, since the pressure from a power washer can dislodge some of the paving blocks and can remove the sand between joints in flexible paving installations.  You may also need to periodically add more sand to the joints to keep them from moving and to keep your patio, walkway or driveway from looking it’s best, whether the area is powerwashed or not.

Paving designBlock paving provides a rich and unique look to patios, walkways and driveways.  While block paving prices may be higher than other material choices, they can be installed by homeowners, which brings block paving costs more in-line with other material options if a professional installer is not used.  Even for those homeowners that cannot or do not want to take on a DIY block paving project, the additional cost of block paving as compared to other paving options is often worth the enhanced aesthetic look the block pavers provide to the finished space.  Block pavers offer beauty and versatility that are unsurpassed and can be placed in intricate patterns for increased interest and design.

Block paving specialists can show you a variety of designs, products and styles so you can select a paver and design that fits your budget without sacrificing style.  If you decide to hire professional block paving contractors to complete the job, it is best to get a number of estimates before determining which contractor to use, since block paving prices can vary rather widely among contractors.  Be sure to find out the extent of work that needs to be done, as well as the type of products that will be used.  Checking references is also a good idea before deciding which block paving company you will choose.

Beginners Guide to Buying Patio Lights For Garden

Patio umbrella lights are a great way to enjoy your outdoor space long after the sun goes down.  There are many different styles of patio umbrella lighting available and which type of patio umbrella light you choose will depend on the mood you are looking to evoke, the style that complements your outdoor décor, as well as how much light you need.

Patio umbrella lights can be battery operated, electric or solar powered, and can provide a festive atmosphere or create a more romantic mood around your patio.  No matter what style you choose, a patio umbrella with lights can extend the use of your outdoor space, liven up the party, or simply give you and your family some extra time to enjoy together outdoors.  And all of these benefits come at a reasonable price, since most outdoor patio umbrella lights are relatively inexpensive to purchase, as well as easy to install.

Not sure which type of patio umbrella lights to choose?  Here are a few options to consider:

Patio umbrella light styles:

patio umbrella lightsPatio umbrella string lights – These are some of the most popular patio umbrella lights available and provide a festive atmosphere for any patio.  They are perfect for party or for everyday use and attach to the ribs of the patio umbrella, where they light up the night overhead.  Patio umbrella string light options are available in different colors and styles, with some of the more popular styles having names such as Island and Harbor – evoking a festive feel.  Patio umbrellas can still be closed up with umbrella string lights attached.

Patio umbrella chandelier lights – For a touch of elegance and romance, add a patio umbrella chandelier light to your outdoor space.  These lights resemble mini chandeliers that gracefully hang beneath your patio umbrella and provide a soft ambient glow.

patio umbrella lightsPatio umbrella lamp lights – These lights look more like a lamp or lantern and attach to the umbrella pole.  A patio umbrella lamp light can contain a single light, or may contain two, three or even four lights spaced around the pole to look like a lamppost.  These are sometimes referred to as patio umbrella globe lights, since the lights are typically surrounded by globes.

patio umbrella lightsPatio umbrella sphere lights – This style includes a single light that is clamped around the umbrella pole.  A patio umbrella sphere light is round with a number of lights shining down and can provide varying amounts of light to your patio table.  The light can be adjusted to rest at any height of the umbrella pole that you want.

Patio umbrella party lights – Similar in style to patio umbrella string lights, a set of patio umbrella party lights can have your patio looking festive in no time.  Select from styles such as tropical luau, Mexican fiesta, or holiday themes to light up your next outdoor get together.

Patio umbrella candle lights – These lights resemble a set of candles gracing the edges of the patio umbrella pole, but are small incandescent or LED lights, rather than real candles which can be a fire hazard.  They provide a romantic feel outdoors when the sun goes down.

Power sources for patio umbrella lights:

Battery operated patio umbrella lights – By using a battery, patio umbrella lights can be used anywhere, without having to worry about a power source.  Some styles use rechargeable batteries and others use traditional C or D size batteries.

Electric patio umbrella lights – While you will find some styles of patio umbrella lights that run off of electricity, there are not many, since having to plug the lights into a power source is not always convenient out on your patio.  In some cases, battery operated umbrella lights will also come with an AC adapter so you have the choice of which power source to use.

Solar patio umbrella lights – A solar patio umbrella light soaks up energy from the sun by day in order to provide ambient lighting by night and this style of umbrella light is becoming increasingly more popular due to its environmentally friendly nature.

Types of lights for patio umbrellas:

LED patio umbrella lights – Many patio umbrella lights contain LED lights, rather than incandescent bulbs.  LED bulbs do not burn hot, do not attract insects, are more energy efficient, and last far longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Incandescent patio umbrella lights – For styles of patio umbrella lights that resemble more traditional lights (such as lamp lights or globe lights), incandescent bulbs are still often used.  They are inexpensive to change and come in varying wattage.

Patio umbrella light installation is simple to do and typically only requires a few minutes to attach the lights to the umbrella canopy or umbrella pole. Patio umbrella light prices will vary by design and manufacturer, but most are a relatively inexpensive addition to your patio and provide many benefits.  You can buy patio umbrella lights at many retailers that sell patio umbrellas, patio furniture, and other outdoor décor, and you can also easily find patio umbrella lights online by doing a quick search.  In addition to online patio and backyard accessory retailers that offer different light styles, you can find patio umbrella lights at sites such as amazon.com and Ebay.

There are many different styles of patio umbrella lights to choose from and no matter what style you choose, you will be able to get added use from your patio space long after the sun goes down.

How to Choose a Patio Set in Natural Materials

If you choose natural materials for your new patio set, you will find that your furniture blends well with the garden environment. It will feel like part of the whole garden area, rather than sticking out like blood on snow. That strong contrast is the effect you would be creating if you chose white plastic garden furniture, for example.

For the most part, the materials in which patios are made are in natural colors too (being made of terracotta or stone, which may be quarried or reconstituted to look like it). Patio sets made of natural material seem like an extension of this and any vegetation growing around the patio, and will be easily integrated into the overall effect.

To get the natural look with your outdoor furniture, choose a patio set in wicker, bamboo or teak in a natural medium brown shade in a classic style. These materials will not demand attention but they all have a look of quality which will attract admiring glances.

If you want to add a dash of color you can do so with accessories. Small touches of color, exactly mimic nature where you have a lot of greenery and brown branches enhanced with a few bright flowers.

When choosing cushions for your patio furniture you can either stick with a natural theme and choose plain cotton or linen cushions in cream, beige or soft green or use the opportunity to add some color. If you choose natural, plain cushions for your patio set, you can always add color with a throw, tablecloth or colored pots of flowers on your patio instead.

If you want to light your patio at night, do not choose anything too bright or garish such as colored lights if you want to maintain the natural theme. You can usually create sufficient light with small lanterns or even a candle or two on your outdoor table.

Tips for proper cutting of a tree using a chainsaw

Chainsaw is not a tool which could do the job without having any significant input from you. It is true that it is very powerful and versatile equipment, but still the productivity of your any related project is ensured when you make the full use of the tool. The majority of the users today use it for the purpose of cutting the logs or for the trees. Both are serious tasks and require a lot of planning in order to make the most of the chainsaw tool. Here, we will be specifically talking about the usage of the chainsaw tool for cutting a tall tree which probably is rated as the most difficult job that you can ever do while using such a sophisticated equipment. The following section must be read from point to point by all the professional and amateur readers who are having issue sin cutting down a tree using the chainsaw.

Tips for chopping down a tall tree using a chainsaw:

There are many things related to your safety and the maintenance of the tool which must be ensured before you begin with any task. But for now, we will be concentrating primarily on the tree cutting tips with the use of a chain saw which are given as follows:

Preparing the environment –

The environment preparation means that the surrounding area where the tree would later fall should be cleared from everybody and all of your belongings. It is the first step which ensures human safety and also of the things that you possess. Using a ladder, the top of the tree must be tied to a rope which must be held up by one or two people in order to give it a balance once it lean towards its tilted direction.

Determine the direction in which the tree is tilted –

This is where your planning starts and you devise out a strategy as how you are going to cut the tree. Every tree in this world has a certain shape and almost all of them are tilted in some direction which is notable in most of the cases. Therefore, determine the direction in which the tree is tilted and then start by cutting a notch in that tilting direction.

Cutting against the notch from the other side –

The first notch that you make shouldn’t be more than 25 percent of the total circumference of the tree. Once you accomplish this goal, then the next step is to cut again a notch from the other side which is towards the first notch that you created using the chainsaw. Once this second cut gets deepened, then the tree will start slightly to lean well away from you. And it’s the time the tree has got its final cut.

The tree finally fells –

Once either the notches meet or they are near to meet, the tree falls down. Make sure that you or the other guys helping you in the project are well aware of the fall and they have taken all safety precautions in order to avoid any injury. It should be kept in mind that the whole area where the tree is going to feel down should be made clear of any human or living thing around it in order to avoid any accidents or loss.

Conclusion

It is just not an easy work to get a tall and huge tree down to the ground with just one blow. Rather, it’s a whole set of various steps that you will have to take before, during and after you have deployed your cutting tool. There should be a clear vision in front of you about how you will manage to cut the tree and what would be the best point where you will start cutting for better cutting and quick results.

Determining the right direction and the right point to cut a tree is as important as it is to use the chainsaw in the correct manner. So it would be in your favor, if you follow all necessary steps carefully so that the whole task gets completed quickly and easily without any problems.