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Important pool maintenance tips

 Monday, July 24, 2017     unknown     Home Maintenance Tips

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The dog days of summer are definitely upon us so it’s definitely time to get outside and enjoy the hot and humid weather. For those of us that have a pool in our backyard, having a pool can very much be a blessing for the entire family as a way to beat the heat. But any pool owner knows only too well the time required to take care of your pool.

As a continuation to last month’s blog regarding patio and deck maintenance tips, we’ve come with this list of tips that will enable you to get the full enjoyment out of your pool.

Skim and skim some more

Debris from your yard and elsewhere can create some serious problems for your pool if not managed properly. Be sure to clean any debris from the surface of the pool with a skimmer basket as often as you can and clean any debris in the skimmer itself as it can cause significant problems if it’s allowed to build-up over time.

Vacuuming the pool

Vacuuming your pool on a regular basis – ideally before or right after you use it – is a great habit to get into. It will keep your pool clean while removing any unwanted debris that could damage your skimmer and filter. Vacuuming an average sized pool can take around 30 minutes so be sure to allocate the required time to this activity. Vacuum in overlapping lines as you would when cutting your lawn.

Getting the right chemical balance

One thing every pool owner must do on a regular basis is check the chemical levels of their pool. Failure to do this could result in serious damage to your pool (i.e. algae growth) or to those that use it. The pH or the relative acidity of your water should be between 7.2 and 7.8. If it’s above or below this range you will need to treat the water to return it to these values. Also, if the chlorine is below 1 part per million (ppm) or the alkalinity is less than 90 ppm, you will need to "shock" the water.

Backwash and clean the filter

Your pump filter is a very important part of your pool and needs to be taken care of to ensure it stays clean so you can enjoy your pool when you want to and avoid costly repair bills. Backwashing your filter is a relatively easy and efficient way to clean your filter. Also remember to clean the hair and lint catcher on the filter pump on a regular basis.

Add chlorine/salt and check water levels

Much like checking on the pH, you also need to regularly check the chlorine or salt levels to ensure they are adequate. Add additional chlorine or salt promptly to your pool to ensure your pool will function properly and be safe to swim in, and to help avoid any undue stress or damage to the various components of your pool. It’s also important to carefully check your pool’s water levels on a regular basis. The water should be between 1/3 and 1/2 way up the opening of your pool skimmer.

As you can see, there is quite a bit to do if you own a pool and plan on maintaining it yourself. Creating a regular schedule to take care of these various tasks is the best way to make them less onerous and overwhelming, and to ensure you take care of each item in a timely manner. Do this and you and your family will have a swimming pool you can enjoy for years to come!


Patio and Deck Maintenance Tips

 Monday, June 19, 2017     Suzanne Hooker     Home Maintenance Tips

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With summer upon us, now is the time to get outside and enjoy the weather. For most of us, this will involve venturing to our backyard oasis for a meal, a drink or just some quiet time with a book on your patio or deck. But is your patio or deck looking as good as it once did? Could it use a little sprucing up to bring back that ‘wow’ factor? If so, you will likely find this blog to be of interest to you.

1)    Stain and seal your deck every few years

Decks require ongoing maintenance to protect the wood and structure and ensure it lasts over the long-term. One such job is to seal your deck boards and railings every view years. The way to determine when to do it is when the colour of the stain has a worn or faded look to it. It’s also important to seal the deck boards to ensure the stain lasts as long as possible. Fortunately today there are a number of products on the market that are both stains and sealers so you can save yourself considerable time and money with these products.

Note: You don’t necessarily have to sand the deck prior to using a stain and sealer. Professionals only recommend sanding the deck if there are rough spots or wood splinters in certain areas of your deck.

2)    Avoid painting your deck if at all possible

Unlike staining, painting a deck creates a regular ‘make work’ project for homeowners when it comes to its maintenance. Moisture can easily get under the paint, leading to peeling and chipping and the need to repaint it (including sanding the entire surface). Use a stain and sealer combination instead.

3)    Patios don’t need a sealer

Unless you’re hell-bent on having that permanent ‘wet look’ to your patio, sealing your patio is an unnecessary step that will need to be redone every two years without fail. Sealers can also create a fairly slick surface, especially when wet, which can result in a more dangerous surface for children and seniors. So you’re better off going “au natural” and saving yourself considerable work.

4)    Avoid power washing your deck too often

Wood doesn’t take kindly to water and moisture, which is why most trees have bark to protect their wood from Mother Nature’s waterworks. Power washing or even scrubbing your deck with harsh cleansers can do more harm than good to your deck, drying out the wood and leading to warping and undo wear. It’s best to only power wash your deck every couple of years when it really needs it and instead spot clean your deck if it is dirty or stained.

The same can also be said for your natural stone patios, for many of the same reasons. Again, only clean when and where necessary, ideally with a mild household cleaner (dish detergent is a safe option for less stubborn stains) and never use a wire brush or other harsh materials to clean and scrub your patio and deck, even if they are stained. Only use harsher cleaners (like muriatic acid or chlorine) when absolutely necessary and then only sparingly. Otherwise you’re likely to do more permanent damage.

5)    Remove accumulated debris from your patio and deck

Leaves, snow, grass clippings, tarps and the like can, in sufficient quantities, create an environment that will cause damage to your deck and patio. Wherever possible, promptly remove these items from your deck or patio. Moisture build-up can create permanent damage. This would include removing and storing your patio furniture somewhere other than where you usually place it on your deck. Mold and mildew can build-up on your patio and deck due to their presence, creating unwanted problems.

6)    Repair any damaged deck boards or uneven patio stones promptly

Damaged deck boards and patio stones have a way of replicating themselves over time, in part because damaged areas put stress on neighbouring areas. So it’s best to remove and repair damaged boards or broken or uneven stones quickly before things spread. It’s equally important that you do a visual inspection of your deck or patio at least annually, ideally in the spring after the winter thaw. Look for damaged or cracked boards or support pieces, or for uneven or shifted patio stones.

Hopefully you’ve found the above tips and recommendation helpful, and that they will enable you to protect, preserve and ultimately gain greater enjoyment from your deck or patio. To learn more about the dos and don’ts for deck and patio maintenance, be sure to read a great article from the experts at HGTV that provides countless tips on how to take care of your patio and deck.

As you’ve likely noticed from many of the above suggestions, an ounce of prevention can save you a lot of time, aggravation and money over the long-term! Stay tuned for next month's blog where we will provide you with some helpful tips on how to take proper care of your pool.


Canada 150 – A BIG reason to celebrate

 Tuesday, May 16, 2017     unknown     The Orchard Neighbourhood Community Information - The Orchard

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Canada’s sesquicentennial birthday has been something many of us have been looking forward to for many years, and as Canada’s big day quickly approaches we thought it would be a great time for us to highlight the many events and activities occurring in and around Burlington in the coming weeks.

We’ve done our best to compile a list of events and activities that will be of interest to those young and old. Please share with us what you will be doing to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday on our Facebook page on our blog site.

1)    Canada 150 Mosaic Mural

The budding artists or seasoned pros will likely have this at the top of their to-do list when it comes to Canada 150. The Canada 150 Mosaic project brings together 150 communities and thousands of participants from across the country to create community murals that celebrate Canada's unique history and culture.

Burlington's mural will be made of 400 tiles. The creation will be taking place on May 21st and 22nd, and Burlington residents are invited to come on one of these days and paint their own tile, which will become part of our mural. Drop in to one of the community painting locations noted below to paint your tile. Everyone is welcome - you don’t need to be an artist to participate but note that due to the limited number of mural tiles being created, this event will operate on a first come, first served basis.

Sunday, May 21, 2017      
Burlington Mall
777 Guelph Line
2-6pm

Monday, May 22, 2017
Art Gallery of Burlington
1333 Lakeshore Road
1-4pm

The unveiling of the completed mural will take place on Canada Day, July 1st at the Burlington Music Centre from 10-10:45am.

2)    Love My Hood

This program, which is unique to Burlington, engages residents to build a healthier city by encouraging them to get together, organize and host their own local events in celebration of Canada 150. The Love My Hood program provides resources, support, funding up to $300 and eliminates some of the common barriers for organizing and hosting your own event.

Love My Hood events can be as big or small as you want them to be. Planning Ideas and Resources have been created to make the process easier and simpler to organize for your neighbourhood. You can learn more about this program by visiting the City of Burlington’s website.

3)    The Student Theatre Canada 150 Chain

This unique event encourages Burlington residents to describe in their own words what it means to be Canadian and how they express their Canadian pride. A ‘link’ to a chain will be created through this process of self-reflection. The chain itself will travel throughout Burlington and will be present at various events honouring Canada's 150th.

You can add your own personal link to this chain, which will be featured at Spencer Smith Park on July 1st, 2017. You can pick up your link at any pool, arena or community centre. When you’ve completed it, bring it back to the same city community building and we will add it to our city-wide chain. Go to the City of Burlington’s website for more information on this unique activity.

4)    Bronte Canada Day festivities

A Canada Day celebration wouldn’t be complete without a fireworks display, right? Well one of the best Canada Day fireworks displays in the west GTA for years is only a short drive away for residents of The Orchard and Bronte Creek. Indeed the Oakville Bronte Business Improvement Area (BIA) event is one of the biggest celebrations in Oakville all summer long!

Located right at the foot of Lake Ontario at the Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park, this festival should prove to be an ideal culmination to the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. This free all-day family event will feature activities for the whole family, including:

  • A Farmer’s Market on Ontario Street from 10am to 4pm
  • Vendor Village featuring local crafts and artisans
  • Food vendors
  • Music and performances all day long on three stages
  • Bouncy castles
  • A spectacular fireworks show over Lake Ontario in the evening.

You can learn more about this event by visiting the Town of Oakville’s website.

As you can see, there is a lot to do over the coming weeks in the lead up to Canada Day. We encourage families to use this momentous occasion as a reason to appreciate the many gifts we have in this beautiful country, to share its history and your love for our country with your children and to gather and celebrate a very important period in our country’s history.

However you decide to celebrate Canada 150, we hope you have a ton of fun doing it!


Spring lawn care tips

 Friday, April 21, 2017     Suzanne Hooker     Advice for Home Selling Home Maintenance Tips

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In last month’s blog we spoke about tips for your garden that will help get your yard back on the right foot after the ravages of the winter season. This month we’re going to provide you with some tips for a healthy lawn that will make it the envy of the neighbourhood and create the oasis you can enjoy throughout the summer.

1.     Raking

Once an annual rite of spring, raking the lawn has gone the way of the dodo bird for many simply because it’s a time-consuming and exhausting job! And as you’ll see below, the growing prevalence of aeration has made raking one’s lawn less of a concern. Nonetheless, if your lawn is or has been suffering from thatch (grass and other organic material at the base of your grass), this material may need to be removed through raking before it chokes out your lawn. Often times you’ll just need to rake the problem areas where thatch is most prevalent so it shouldn’t be as difficult a task as you might think.

2.     Lawn aeration

One of the best things you can do to kick-start a healthy lawn is through the process of aeration, which involves using a specialized machine to make small holes in your grass. The winter months can ravage your grass and the soil underneath, compacting it and making it difficult for water, air and nutrients to penetrate and reach its roots. Aeration helps to alleviate this problem and speeds up the return of a beautiful green lawn. Mid-spring is the best time to do this so act soon on this job.

3.     Overseeding and top dressing

Older lawns are bound to get bare or dead patches simply due to its age and the stresses of the summers and winters. The best way to alleviate this problem is to overseed these areas with new grass seed along with a 2 centimetre layer of black earth to provide a fertile environment for water retention and seed germination. It’s best to do this as early as possible in the spring while the weather is still cool and there is plenty of natural precipitation to help these seeds take root.

4.     Fertilizing

Another important step in getting your lawn in shape is to apply a quality fertilizer early on. A phosphorous-rich fertilizer is usually what is recommended at this time as your soil has been depleted of its nutrients over the winter and needs a push in the right direction. Many experts also recommend a weed-and-feed product at this time due to the inherent weaknesses in your lawn and the prevalence of those pesky weeds during these cool and wet days. Whichever fertilizer you use, be sure to fertilize as early on during the cool and wet conditions. And remember to apply a second round in late spring just before the real heat begins!

If you follow these four tips, you should be well on your way to a healthy and beautiful lawn. Combined with the beautiful garden you would have created with the help of our previous blog, your yard is bound to be the talk of the street. Just be prepared to have your neighbours come up to you and ask you for your ‘green thumb secrets’. We know you’ll be more than willing to share the knowledge!

If you’re looking for some more tips on getting your grass prepped this spring, be sure to check out this great blog on the topic.


6 spring gardening tips to bring your yard to life

 Friday, March 10, 2017     Suzanne Hooker     Home Maintenance Tips

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While things are still a little chilly and winter-like outside, there’s little doubt that spring is literally right around the corner. While this conjures up many exciting thoughts, it also means we need to get our gardens and yards prepped for the coming of the warmer weather and growing season.

To help make this an easier job, we’ve come up with this list of tasks you’ll need to complete to get the maximum beauty and enjoyment out of your garden this year.

1)    Slow and steady wins the race

One common mistake many weekend gardeners make at this time of year is going at it too hard from the get go, spending several hours on the first day cleaning and pruning their flower beds, grass, shrubs and trees for the coming of spring.

Many people don’t realize how physically demanding gardening can be, particularly when the temperature is cooler and muscles don’t warm up as easily as they would on a hot summer’s day. It’s best to take it easy the first couple of times you trek out to your garden to do some work. Be sure to keep yourself and your muscles warm, take things slowly, and most importantly be sure to stretch your back, arms and legs before, during and after your gardening workout. Your body will be happy you did!

2)    Cleanup time

The first thing you need to do when you get outside is clean up your yard and flower beds. There can be anything from leaves to damaged tree limbs and shrubs around your yard, not to mention garbage that’s blown in from the neighbours. Be sure to clean up as much as you can; your goal is to provide an ideal environment to promote growth. Anything that might get in the way of this needs to be removed. This includes removing any dead leaves and growth from around your perennials.

3)    Revitalize the soil

The soil is the basis for healthy plant growth throughout your yard so it’s essential your soil is healthy and rich in nutrients. A common item that many experienced gardeners add to their flower beds to rejuvenate the soil is one of either compost, peat moss or manure. Either one will enhance the quality of your soil, providing an optimal growing environment for your plants and shrubs.

4)    Prune your plants

Besides cleaning away any dead parts of your shrubs and plants, you also need to prune some of them back, particularly those that may have lost their shape or become overgrown last summer. It’s best to prune your plants in mid-April to early May to avoid the risk of any frost damage to newly pruned plants.

5)    The importance of mulch

Mulch is one of the most important items for any flower bed, shrub or young tree. That’s because of the many beneficial qualities it provides to your garden, from beautifying your garden to preventing the growth of weeds to helping with moisture retention and regulating ground temperature on very hot days. You will likely need to top up your mulch annually as it decomposes over time, especially over the winter. Be sure to have at least 2-4 centimetres of mulch in all your beds.

6)    Replanting

Winters can be rather harsh, resulting in damage or death to some of your plants and shrubs that then may need to be replaced. Be sure to choose plants based on the soil condition and the amount of sun in the given location. Perennials are the best option for most flower beds since they don’t have to be replaced very year. You can add annuals to all your pots and planters around your home.

While this may look like an overwhelming list of tasks to complete, as we first said, the key is to take your time and do things one step at a time. Before you know it you will have a beautiful garden that will be the envy of the neighbourhood. Happy gardening!