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2014 Backyard Design – 5 Simple Ideas

Backyard design, specifically susatinable designs are not as difficult as you think. In fact, here are 5 simple tips and ideas that we think will help you to plan your backyard landscape with years of enjoyment to come:

#1. Sustainability going mainstream:

Sustainable landscaping encompasses a variety of practices and used in every phase of the process including design, construction, implementation and maintenance. Low-maintenance gardens, drought-tolerant plants and less grass have become the norm. This not only makes sense for the environment but also for economical reasons.

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Sustainable design going mainstream

#2. Edible landscapes:

Transform your backyard into a sensory experience that combines both sight and taste. Gardens that incorporate both edibles and ornamental plants will give you a taste of all natural produce while creating an eye-pleasing landscape that will be a hit with both your neighbours and food cost savings.

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Edible landscape

#3. Quality is key:

Times are still tough and spending your money wisely is key. Invest in quality and natural materials that will withstand the elements of nature and your use and enjoyment of the space. Not only do you save money in the long run, but you will save yourself a great deal of stress and aggravation from poorly constructed materials.

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Quality is key

#4. Water Features:

It was popular in 2013 and continues to be trend in 2014. Whether it is for the front yard or backyard, water features add another sensory experience to relaxing in your backyard. You can get relatively inexpensive self-contained systems in an urn or portable fountain to a high-end water wall are popular across all budgets.

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Water features creates a relaxing atmosphere

#5. Indoor living outside:

Extend your home from the inside to the outdoors to create permanent living spaces that will not only add value to your home but also the level of enjoyment of your home. Make sure to take advantage of and use weather resistant fabrics and natural materials such as stone that both fade-resistant and waterproof.

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Indoor living outside

Image sources:
Sustainable Landscape http://www.flickr.com/photos/mccready | Edible landscape http://www.flickr.com/photos/aon/ | Water Features Source: Mcmonagle Stone | Build Quality Source: Turfdesigners | Indoor Living Outside Source: Nordby Design Studio

Practical Tips to Burning Firewood

Did you know that one cord of wood burned as firewood provides the heat equivalent to that produced by burning 200 to 250 gallons of heating oil, depending on the type of hardwood you are using?

If you are burning firewood or thinking about burning firewood here are some great tips that you can apply to your own experience:

  • Freshly cut wood contains up to 50 percent moisture and must be seasoned (approximately 2 years) to 20 to 25 percent moisture content before burning. Wood containing more than 25 percent moisture is wet, or green, and should never be burned in a fireplace or wood stove.
  • Wood must be split into pieces and stacked out of the rain for at least six months to season properly. If you see a place where firewood is just thrown into pile, you are not getting what you pay for.
  • If steam bubbles and hisses out of the end grain as the firewood heats up on the fire, the wood is wet, or green, and needs to be seasoned longer before burning. Do not burn!
  • Well-seasoned firewood generally has darkened ends with visible cracks or splits. It is relatively lightweight and makes a sharp, distinctive “clink” when two pieces strike each other.
  • To maintain proper airflow, regularly remove ashes from your wood-burning appliance into a metal container with a cover and store outdoors.
  • Build hot fires. A smoldering fire is not a safe or efficient fire.
  • Start fires only with newspaper, dry kindling and all natural or organic fire starters. Never start a fire with gasoline, kerosene, or charcoal starter.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Contact us if you have any questions on how to burn your firewood efficiently and effectively. Be safe and stay warm!

Source: Farmer’s Alamanac, US EPA

Free Firewood Sales – Is Burning Pallets OK?

You are tempted and it is hard to resist.

On your drive home, you see companies posting signs saying Free Firewood on their property. You decide to stop at one of them to check it out. You drive around back and you see a large stack of pallets and realize that you really could save money this winter. Someone comes out to meet you and tells it is fine to use as firewood and there have been no reported problems. When he says “reported problems”, it should be cause for you to stop and ask yourself why he would say that?

Here are some reasons why you should NOT burn pallets as firewood:

  • Low flashpoint – wooden pallets catch fire very easily
  • Extremely high temperature – this makes the potential for a fire spreading to nearby objects increase drastically
  • Explosive wood dust – under the right conditions, the accumulation of wood dust can ignite into a fireball which is extremely dangerous
  • Chemical use or exposure – many pallets are treated with toxic chemicals such as Methyl bromide (MB) or a fungicide to increase its life span. It is a pesticide used in the control of pest insects, nematodes, weeds, pathogens, and rodents
  • Releasing harmful toxins – as a pallet is burning, these toxins are released which is a serious health risk. In addition, you have no idea what type of chemicals or particulates have soaked into the wood which can significantly increase the temperature and/or create hot sparks which could lead to an explosion.

Simply put, wood pallets are known to be a major fire risk. Wood pallets need to be properly disposed of. Burning them as firewood is not a proper solution.

Here are some reasons why you should use “log or natural” firewood:

  • Cut to length – firewood is typically cut to length so that it can fit properly in your fireplace (12 inches) or woodstove (16 inches)
  • Free from toxins – the only processing that a “log” firewood goes through is the cutting and the removal of the branches. There are no pesticides and/or fungicides used
  • Eliminate waste – sometimes firewood is harvested strictly for burning. For the most part, firewood comes from felled trees that either do not meet specification for building materials (e.g. too thin) or is a byproduct of off cuts
  • Minimal smoke – properly aged or seasoned firewood will burn with very little to no smoke. This makes your firewood experience more enjoyable
  • Consistent temperature – log firewood has a high flashpoint and provides constant and even heat which makes it more comfortable in your home

Come and see how we age or season our firewood for two years to give you the perfect burning experience. We look forward to supplying you quality firewood this coming winter.