Categories
Yard

The Principal Advantages of Steel Sheds

It’s clear that more and more people are trying to install garden sheds in their backyard or replace the old, and usually too small, ones with more modern solutions.

Having a space where you can leave your tools, garden furniture, and every other thing you don’t want in your house, but don’t want to get rid of is quite useful and allows you to have a much cleaner home and garden. What’s more, it can be used as a garage for your car and bikes or a workshop where you can hone your craftsmanship skills without disturbing anyone living with or near you.

The Principal Advantages of Steel Sheds
The Principal Advantages of Steel Sheds

Initial considerations

Once you’ve established that you need a shed, your next step should be choosing the right one. This decision depends on many factors, such as the size you can fit in your garden and your budget. When you make up your mind about how big it should be and where you’ll build it, you have to decide if you’re going to use wood or steel as the material.

Although many people can only imagine having a wooden shed, there are so many advantages that steel provides that it would be unwise to discard them so easily. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent features that you might be missing.

Price

Probably the most notable advantage of steel sheds is the fact that they don’t cost as much as their wooden counterparts. That means you can build a bigger shed, provided you have enough space, or simply spend that money on some additional feature you’d like to add. There’s a good reason why so many people are now introducing these units to their gardens, especially since steel sheds come in all shapes and sizes.

Weight

Steel sheds are delivered in lightweight packages, which means you’ll be saving on the shipping costs and you’ll find manipulating them much less stressful. This is particularly important if your garden is relatively small or cramped. Another advantage of having a lighter shed is that you can move it more easily.

The Principal Advantages of Steel Sheds
The Principal Advantages of Steel Sheds

Easy to assemble

It doesn’t take an experienced builder to put up a steel shed, but you do need the right tools and clear instructions. Some packages even come with all the equipment you need for assembling the shed, which means you don’t have to invest in some tools that you won’t need ever again.

They last longer

Despite their weight, steel sheds are surprisingly solid and don’t get damaged so easily. This is another reason why their popularity has been constantly increasing over the years. You can expect your steel shed to last for many years to come, which means your investment will pay off. Most manufacturers offer a ten- to twenty-year warranty because they are quite confident about the quality of the material, usually galvanized steel, they use in the production process.

Maintenance is almost unnecessary

Steel sheds require little or almost no maintenance whatsoever because the material provides excellent protection from the elements and rust, but you still might need to repaint it every five years or so. This is just to make sure that your shed will last longer and in the meantime, all you would need to do is occasionally hose it down.

The Principal Advantages of Steel Sheds
The Principal Advantages of Steel Sheds

Multifunctional spaces

The trend of making various spaces multifunctional and custom-made is also present here. Since no two people have exactly the same needs, it’s only logical that everyone is looking for some very specific solutions and steel garden sheds fit the bill. For example, the people behind Acura can integrate this flexibility into their designs, allowing for clear spans of up to 40m.

No need for a foundation

In most cases, steel sheds don’t need foundations, which means you won’t have to spend more money on builders and have people dig up your garden. Smaller ones are simple to assemble because they just need a flat patch of ground, but some larger units may still need foundations. If you’re not sure about whether your unit needs foundations, you should contact the manufacturer, who’ll be able to give you the answer.

Don’t worry about fire

Unlike wooden sheds, steel ones are fire retardant and can only melt, but that only happens when they are exposed to extremely high temperatures. This means that you’re highly unlikely to lose any precious item you may keep in the shed because of fire. Wooden sheds, on the other hand, can actually catch fire quite easily, while plastic ones simply melt and deform even under lower temperatures.

Ventilation

Most modern steel sheds feature either active or passive built-in ventilation systems, consisting of fans or openings in the roof or on the wall. It is important for the shed to be properly ventilated because that’s how you prevent the buildup of condensation, which might affect the stuff you keep in the shed.

Naturally, if you can afford it, you should purchase a unit with fans, since it’s more efficient, but even if you don’t want to spend that much money, the good, old openings will do the trick. The important thing is that there is a ventilation system.

Security

It’s relatively easy to have reinforced hinges installed to provide extra protection against thieves, which is definitely the case with wooden and plastic sheds. You can actually choose the strength of metal structures depending on how secure you want your shed to be in terms of security. Needless to say, the thicker the metal, the better protection you have.

No-fuss renovation

If you want to give your shed a makeover, a steel shed will allow it without any problems. You can paint it using special paints and you’ll notice that the coatings are much more resilient than wood. Also, while a wooden shed needs to be painted every year, a steel one can easily go five years without the application of a new coat.

As you can see, there are quite a few advantages of having steel shed over a wooden or plastic one, even though it might not be everyone’s first choice. Still, with its price, ease of maintenance and protection, it’s quite clear that this type of shed provides better value for money.

Categories
Pests

Garden Bug Killers Are Other Bugs

No one really likes bugs. Upon finding a creepy crawly while working in your garden. Your first reaction will probably be to kill it. Unless it’s a spider. In which case, it’s probably to run. But really, how much do you know about these little guys? Big and small, good and bad, let’s look at some of the most common ones in North America.

Pests. Every garden has them. In a lot of ways, without them, gardening would be something everyone would do. There is nothing more discouraging than walking to the garden you’ve been working hard on all summer, to find your stems striped. Plants wilted for no apparent reason. You’ve got a bug problem.

Aphids

Aphids
Aphids

There is more than one type of aphid out there. Some specific to certain plants. They are tiny green, brown, or black insects, that puncture the tissue of the plant and feed on the sap. They usually sit on the underside of the leaves out of the sun, or along the stems. Aphids can carry viruses and transmit them into the plants.

A plant with an aphid infestation maybe has deformed, wilting, or browning leaves. When feeding on the sap, they will produce a sweet secretion known as “honeydew” that can attract ants or other sweet-seeking bugs.

Ants

Ants
Ants

Garden ants can be good or bad depending on where they are and what plants you have. Much like earthworms, ants tunnel down into the earth allowing water and air to get to the roots. While gathering and storing food they also disperse and plant seeds unknowingly.

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers 
Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are one of the most destructive pest insects, partly because they have a “swarm” stage in they’re life. If they swarm in your garden, you can bet there won’t be much left when they’re done. Grasshoppers are a bigger insects up four inches long. Like a cicada, they shed their exoskeleton. Grasshoppers eat all different kinds of leave, and sixty to one hundred mg of dry weight a day.

Despite their swarm, grasshoppers are rather solitary, and lone grasshoppers tend to be smaller. When a grasshopper brushes another grasshopper’s legs. it causes a chemical release. Which in turn causes them to grow faster, and lay more eggs.

They usually live for about one year. Once grasshoppers infest your garden it can be hard to get rid of them, short of spraying a chemical deterrent. Try and keep the surrounding areas clear of weeds, and keep your garden as controlled as possible. The less foliage, the less likely you are to get overrun with these little herbivores.

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles
Japanese beetles

If you love roses as much as I do, and are fortunate enough to have some in your backyard, I’m sure you’ll be somewhat familiar with Japanese beetles.

Large metallic green bugs, tend to feed on ornamental plants as well as common weeds. They love lush green leaves, and, of course, roses. Japanese beetles live about 60 days, appearing around July, and dying off by October. If you’ve noticed holes in the leaves of your roses, or no leaves at all, these guys might be your problem. The only luck I’ve had at getting rid of them is with a powdered deterrent sprinkled on the leaves and blooms of the rose.


Good bugs against bad bugs

Now that you know a few of the bad ones. What do you do about it? Well, you can use chemicals, but really the answer could be much simpler than that. God gave us the solution to the problem. Other bugs.

Praying mantis

Praying mantis
Praying mantis

The Praying Mantis is one of my favorite garden insects. They are the only bug known to be able to turn its head a full 180 degrees. The females can grow up to 6 inches and fly. They’ll vary from a leaf green color to an earthy brown.

Mantises eat crickets, different types of beetles, grasshoppers, flies, and other annoying critters. But they don’t come without their downsides. They also eat beneficial insects like butterflies and honey bees.

Lady Bugs

Lady beetles bugs
Lady beetles bugs

Ladybugs are known as one of the most beneficial garden insects. They can eat up to 60 aphids a day. Among other soft-bodied insects. Keeping ladybugs in your aphid-infested garden is fairly easy. Just lightly water the leaves and keep them from getting too dry, especially in the heat of the summer.

Spiders

Argiope Spider
Argiope Spider

There are a few different types of typical garden spiders, and what you have will vary depending on where you live. One of the more common ones in North America is the Argiope Spider. Or more commonly the “Writing Spider” or “ “Zipper Spider”, due to the zig-zag pattern in its web. These spiders are black with a yellow to the orange pattern on their back and legs. They can get up to 28mm in body size, and eat insects up to twice their size. But lucky for us, their venom is harmless to humans.

Wolf spiders are another common spider in our gardens. They are over 125 different kinds in the U.S. and can be over one and a half inches long. They are hunting spiders and don’t spin a web at all. Wolf spiders can swim and can run up to two feet per second. Although their venom is relatively harmless, they can be aggressive and their bite is painful.

The best way to attract and keep spiders in your garden is to put down some mulch or grass clippings between your plants. This will provide protection from the sun and rain and create a nice environment for our eight-legged friends.

Conclusion

Despite these nasty pests, there are good bugs as well. I lot of you avid gardeners know that some insects are beneficial, if not a necessity to plants. Bugs like honey bees, butterflies, wasps, and moths, are needed to pollinate. Earthworms create tunnels allowing air and water to get to the roots. Peonies wouldn’t even be able to bloom properly without ants.

So don’t underestimate they’re rolling in the thriving of your garden, and be careful when using chemicals to get rid of other bugs.

Categories
Pets

How to Take Care of a Betta Fish

Also known as “Siamese fighting fish”, betta fish are popular pets due to their brilliant, vivid colors and long, flowing fins. They’re relatively intelligent, and some can even perform tricks and recognize their owners. With proper care, bettas can live as long as three years.

Let’s take a look at the basic guidelines required to keep your betta happy and healthy.

Essential Equipment

Before you buy your favorite betta from the pet store, it’s important to have the proper equipment for providing suitable habitat for the fish. Here are the bare essentials:

A Five-Gallon Tank, or Larger

Aqueon Betta Fish Tank Starter Kit, Half Gallon, Blue

Although bettas can live in one-gallon bowls or tanks, experts recommend providing a larger home. In the wild, bettas may live in rice paddies that contain a few inches of water, but the paddies typically form a larger body of water that contains a complete ecosystem. If you want your betta to live as it would naturally, consider using tank that holds five gallons, or more.

Food

Tetra 77019 Betta Floating Mini Pellets for Bettas, 1.02 oz

Bettas are carnivores. To provide your fish with a balanced diet, feed it a variety of foods, such as betta pellets, betta flakes, freeze-dried bloodworms, and freeze dried shrimp. Diversifying your betta’s diet with a variety of proper nutritional sources helps ensure the fish has the vitality it needs to make those quick, occasional darts around the tank, with tail colors flying.

A Thermometer

Marina Floating Thermometer for Betta Fish Tank with Suction Cup, Aquarium Thermometer, 11201A1

A thermometer lets you monitor the tank’s temperature, so you can adjust it as needed. However, once the temperature is within the proper range, adjustments should be slight. Fish care experts recommend keeping the temperature of a betta tank between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (25.5 and 26.5 Celsius).

Decorations and Accessories

JIH Aquarium Fish Tank Plastic Plants and Cave Rock Decorations Decor Set 7 Pieces, Small and Large Artificial Fish Tank Plants with Cave Rock (CU89Red-7)

While tank accessories aren’t critical to the health of your betta, providing a diverse environment can help the fish exercise muscles used for fin control. Your local pet store should have a wide range of options, including rocks, driftwood, and live or artificial aquatic plants for aquariums.


Setting Up Your Tank

How to Take Care of a Betta Fish

Now that you have the essentials ready, it’s time to set up your betta’s new home. Start by thoroughly rinsing the tank and all accessories with filtered water to remove microscopic impurities.

Next, place your accessories in the tank. If you’re using a filtration system — filters and aerators are not required, but they can be beneficial — set that up, too. Now, it’s time to fill the tank with water. Don’t use tap water. Tap water contains trace elements that can harm or even kill your betta.

Fill your tank with filtered or bottled water, or use water specifically sold for bettas. Again, water temperature should be between 78 and 80 degrees. Bettas can survive in temperatures ranging from 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, but 78 to 80 degrees is the range in which they thrive.

Be sure to position the tank away from fans, heaters, air conditioners, or anything else that could cause temperature fluctuations.


Acclimating a Betta to a New Tank

Acclimating a Betta to a New Tank

It’s important not to move your fish immediately from the pet store bag into the tank. The fish needs to acclimate to the temperature first. Place the fish and half of the water from the pet store bag in a separate container, such as a large bowl. Bettas can jump, so be sure to keep the bowl covered with a lid that has air holes.

Wait for 30 minutes, while the water temperature adjusts to match the temperature in your tank.

Once the temperatures match, add water from your tank that is equal to the amount in the bowl. Wait another 20 minutes for the temperature to even out. Then, use a small fish net to remove the betta and place it directly into the tank.


Feeding Your Betta

Feeding Your Betta

Now that your betta is situated in its new home, it will probably have quite an appetite. Feed the fish the previously mentioned betta pellets and/or flakes two to six times daily. Treat your new aquatic pet to freeze-dried shrimp and bloodworms about once a week.

If you choose to feed your betta live worms, be sure to rinse them with filtered water before placing them in the tank. However, if your tank has a gravel bed, don’t feed the fish live food. The organisms may use the gravel at the bottom of the tank as a hiding spot.

Above all, don’t overfeed. Overfeeding bettas can be dangerous or even deadly. Only feed your fish as much food as it will eat in approximately two minutes. It may be tempting to treat your new friend to a feast, but the consequences can be severe.


Maintaining Your Tank

Marineland Portrait Glass LED aquarium Kit, 5 Gallons, Hidden Filtration

If your tank doesn’t have a filtration system, change the water once a week. If it has a filtration system, it’s fine to change the water at two-week intervals. Changing all of the water at once can kill bettas, so only replace the water in portions of roughly 20 percent at a time.

When cleaning the tank, remove half of the water and all of the tank accessories, and place them in a large, clean bucket. Use a small net to place your fish in the bucket, too. As you do this, don’t disturb the substrate at the bottom of the tank. You don’t want dirty water in the bucket.

While you’re cleaning the tank, keep roughly half a tank’s worth of water in the bucket, at the proper temperature, so your betta won’t suffer. Use clean paper towels to thoroughly clean the inside of the tank, then rinse the tank with filtered water. Do not use soap. Replace the substrate, and clean your accessories.

When everything is clean, place the old water back in the tank, then use your net to place the betta in the tank. Slowly pour temperature-conditioned, new water into the tank, filling it up.


Adding Other Fish

If you love aquatic life, you may want to give your betta some friends. However, it’s generally a bad idea to have more than one betta in a tank, as they can be quite aggressive — hence the name, “Siamese fighting fish”. While female bettas are less aggressive than males, they have still been known to attack each other.

Here are some creatures that make excellent tank mates for bettas:

  • Guppies
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Blue Gouramis
  • Neon and Ember Tetras
  • African Dwarf Frogs
  • Catfish
  • Khuli Loaches

As much as you may love a diversity of creatures in your tank, avoid overcrowding it. If you plan to add multiple fish quickly — and possibly some more later on — upgrade to a larger tank.


Signs Your Betta Is Healthy or Unhealthy

As long as you feed your fish properly and monitor the tank’s temperature daily, your betta should have a long, happy life. Here are signs that reveal if your fish is healthy or unhealthy.

Healthy:

  • Consistent eating habits
  • Seems alert and active
  • Body colors remain bright
  • Aggressive reactions to outside stimuli

Unhealthy:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Muted body colors
  • Elevated scales
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Erratic behavior/swimming
  • Weight loss / bloating
  • Labored respirations
  • Listlessness
  • Frayed fins

As with any pet, it’s good to speak with a professional if your fish appears to act abnormally. Check on your betta regularly, and be proactive if it seems to be struggling. A betta is a great fish to have as a pet, and this simple guide can help you be the attentive owner it needs.