Late in 2018, Eco-Cycle, a Boulder-based recycler, and COPIRG, the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, re...
Want to get the kids away from screens and outside for some fresh air? Many outdoor projects will not only lur...
Four out of five homes in the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roof. And it’s easy to see why. The wide var...
Curb appeal is beneficial in various ways. Curb appeal can make a home more attractive to prospective buyers a...
The season for fresh fruits and vegetables grown right in the backyard is upon us. Warm weather breathes life...
CONTRIBUTED BY DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS The Shofu-en Japanese Garden was dedicated on June 23, 1979 with a forma...
Homeowners who are good with their hands can tackle many minor home improvements on their own. However, more c...
CONTRIBUTED BY KARL STECHER Millions of nature watchers and enjoyers all over the country feed birds. It helps...
Compacted soil can have a dramatic effect on grass. Compacted soil blocks oxygen, water and nutrients from rea...
Few things beat summer heat better than walking into a comfortably chilled air conditioned home. Air condition...
Late in 2018, Eco-Cycle, a Boulder-based recycler, and COPIRG, the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, released their State of Recycling in Colorado report. Colorado generated a record 9.3 million tons of waste in 2017 and overall diverted just 12% of it to recycling centers, well below the national rate of 35%. Residential recycling rates in communities across the state vary widely from 9% to 61%, according to the report.
It is projected that Coloradoans could recycle 32% of its waste, including bottles, cans, and paper. National studies indicate that participation in recycling increases when communities make it convenient for consumers by bundling trash collection together with single-stream recycling in which all recyclable items are placed in one bin, to be sorted out at a processing facility. In addition, a variety of programs are being developed around the state to encourage effective recycling.
Widespread recycling could bring significant benefits to Colorado’s economy and environment. According to the State of Recycling in Colorado report, almost $250 million worth of recyclable material which is currently being thrown away could be recycled here in the state, generating jobs and improving local economies. Recycling creates on average nine times more jobs per ton of waste than landfills do. In support of our environment, increasing statewide recycling to 28% would decrease carbon emissions by over 2.2 million tons per year, reduce air and water pollution, and conserve natural resources. Recycling creates value from our waste, producing ongoing economic, environmental, and social benefits.
The greatest challenge for most consumers is knowing what to recycle and what not to. Sending only recyclable materials to processing centers reduces the added expense of sorting out inappropriate items and discarding them, and also protects valuable equipment from breaking down.
The Villager will be running an ongoing series of short notices in coming weeks designed to educate readers about the best practices in recycling. Consumers who understand the importance of recycling and who are educated about how to do it effectively can make a great contribution to improving life in Colorado. Look for Recycling Simplified notices in the Digs section.
Want to get the kids away from screens and outside for some fresh air? Many outdoor projects will not only lure your whole family outdoors once the jobs are completed, but the family may actually want to help you.
1. Make a backyard movie theaterWho wouldn’t love watching movies under the stars? You’ll need a DVD projector and a large screen. You can use a large drop cloth or blackout cloth stretched over a PVC frame or between two trees for a screen, if you’ve got them. Stretch it taut and secure so it doesn’t move with every breeze mid-movie. Provide plenty of blankets or rugs and pillows so everyone can relax during the movie, and pop up some popcorn! You can rent a projector, collapsible screen and popcorn machine. Visit RentalHQ.com to find rental companies near you.
2. Build wooden benchesFor kids – and grownups – who aren’t keen on lying on the grass to relax, offer outdoor seating options in shady spots. Sturdy wooden benches are not hard to build, and there are plenty of templates online for different approaches. One creative method is to build a bench around the trunk of a favorite large tree. Get kids involved in helping with construction and painting. Supply cushions for a comfy, shady spot for kids to read, talk and daydream.
3. Get out the s’moresFire pits are all the rage, and for good reason. They’re easy to make, and people love gathering around a fire to roast marshmallows and enjoy a summer evening. You’ll need to check local ordinances regarding fires before you begin. Pick a spot well away from bushes or foliage, with no overhanging branches or structures. You should also call 811 to check that there are no underground utility cables where you’re building. Fire pits can be dug into the ground, at ground level or raised slightly above ground level. Materials vary, but include stone, brick or metal, and you can make it any shape – round, square or rectangular. Using heavy stones and bricks is an easier task if you have – or rent – a wheelbarrow or cart for transporting materials.
4. Create a playhouse or gazeboTo attract everyone in the family, create a little outdoor space for kids to play in or for adults to enjoy a beverage and relax. Depending on the size and design of your project, this can be a straightforward build or a more complicated structure. Online templates can give you ideas for different design options, so you can choose what works best for your space and skill level. If you can, build a screened-in structure to keep the bugs out for maximum comfort. You will need to purchase lumber for your posts, floor, joists and beams, but again, you can keep the design to a simple rectangle or square to make the job easier. Tools you will need include a miter saw, jigsaw and power drill. If you don’t have all these power tools, you can rent the equipment you need for construction.
5. Put up a tree swingIf you’ve got an older but sturdy, healthy tree with a good-sized horizontal branch, this could be a great spot for a tree swing. Make sure the branch is long enough to occasionally relocate the swing, to prevent damage to the tree. You can make either a simple disk-shaped swing with a single rope, or a traditional rectangular swing with 2-4 ropes. There are plenty of home improvement websites offering rope swing designs. You’ll want to use strong rope, such as a 3/4-inch twisted polypropylene rope. Tools you may need include a handsaw or miter saw, a sander, a power screwdriver and power drill.
The entire family will find renewed interest in spending time together outdoors with your creative additions to the yard. Now is a great time to start a fun new project – before the summer flies by. Visit RentalHQ.com to locate all the tools you need, so you don’t have to buy items you may rarely use.
Four out of five homes in the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roof. And it’s easy to see why. The wide variety of available colors and styles, combined with durability and affordability, has made asphalt shingles the leading choice for residential roofing in the country.
But, like all exterior building products, asphalt shingles start to age as soon as they are exposed to nature. Buildings experience aging factors differently, so it’s difficult to predict how long shingles will last. With storm chasers and insurance adjusters claiming roof damage or defective shingles after major weather events, it’s important for homeowners to arm themselves with information about what type of roof aging is normal, and most importantly, what type is not.
What is normal?
It’s natural for a roof to age, and the process begins as soon as shingles are exposed to nature. The sun can raise rooftop temperatures as high as 50-70 degrees above the ambient air temperature. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun and heat have been shown to accelerate roof aging, as have pollution, hail, snow, ice, falling tree limbs and people walking on a roof.
Here are a few common signs of aging shingles:
Curling is a common phenomenon in some shingles and is not considered a defect. It is natural for asphalt to age and shrink with time, which may result in a slight curling of the shingle edge.
Minor cracks may also appear on the shingles as they age, but industry experts say it is a normal weathering characteristic and not cause for alarm, as long as the cracks do not penetrate through the shingle and the roof is still performing the intended purpose of shedding water.
“Minor cracks may not be noticeable from the ground, but people often spot them while hanging their Christmas lights,” said roofing industry expert Rick “the Roofer” Taylor, a longtime roofing contractor now working as a traveling trainer for shingle manufacturer TAMKO Building Products. “The intense heat from the sun can deplete some of the protective asphalt oils, and that can cause minor cracks.”
Dark brown or black streaks down the roof are common in particularly moist or humid areas of the country, and are the result of algae growth on the shingles. While not particularly attractive, these stains should not affect the shingles’ ability to shed water.
Some granule loss on the shingles is to be expected, especially if a roof has been recently repaired or replaced, since extra granules are a part of the shingle manufacturing process. Loose granules are usually noticed collecting in roof gutters after the shingles are installed. This type of granule shedding is common and not a cause for concern.
What is cause for concern?
While minor curling, surface cracking, closed blisters, algae stains and some granule loss can all be signs of normal roof aging, some more serious roof wear and aging could be indicative of a potential problem, and should be examined and monitored.
These roof issues may need attention:
Blisters, or small circular raised areas, are often the direct result of under-ventilated attics or excessive use of plastic cement – both of which are installation errors. If the blisters are closed and are not affecting the shingles’ performance, they are not a cause for concern. But if the blisters are open, exposing the asphalt, the roof is vulnerable to water penetration and requires immediate attention.
Buckling, a distortion of the shingles, can be a possible sign of inadequate roof ventilation, issues with the roof deck or other installation errors and may require attention.
Deep cracks that penetrate through the fiberglass mat should be investigated, as they may compromise the roof’s ability to shed water and make it susceptible to leaks.
Excessive granule loss that exposes the shingles’ asphalt layer is a reason for concern and requires immediate attention.
Armed with this basic information, homeowners should be able to distinguish between natural processes that are no cause for alarm and issues that do require attention and repair. Visit www.tamko.com for more information about roofing repair and replacement.
Curb appeal is beneficial in various ways. Curb appeal can make a home more attractive to prospective buyers and give existing homeowners a place they want to come home to. In its study of the worth of outdoor remodeling projects, the National Association of Realtors found standard lawn care and overall landscape upgrades were most appealing to buyers, as well as the most likely to add value to a home.
Although plants, grass and other items can improve curb appeal, homeowners should not overlook hardscaping.
Hardscaping is an industry term that refers to the non-living features of a landscape. These features can include everything from decks to walkways to ornamental boulders. Introducing paths or paver walls to a property helps develop that home’s hardscape. Hardscape and soft elements often work in concert to create inspiring landscape designs.
DIY landscape designers can heed certain tips to make the most of hardscape features on their properties.
As with many landscaping projects, homeowners must first determine what types of additions they would like on their properties. Common hardscape features include patios, decks, walkways of pavers or bricks, and retaining walls. Hardscape elements can be functional or simply decorative features that add whimsy to the yard.
Choose a theme
The right style allows hardscaping and softscaping materials to work together. For example, homeowners may want to give their yards an eastern feel, complete with a koi pond and decorative bridge or trellis. A formal English garden, however, may include manicured paths with stepping stones and ornate topiaries. Mixing too many styles together can take away from the overall appeal.
The pros suggest looking at the overall plan of the design, even if all of the work can’t be completed at once. This way the eventual finished project wil be cohesive.
Think about the purpose
Hardscaping can look good but also serve key purposes. Pebbles or gravel can mitigate trouble areas that don’t grow grass or plant life well. Retaining walls hold back soil in yards with sharply inclined hills. Mulch can set perimeters around trees and shrubs, as well as planting beds. Fencing, another form of hardscaping, is essential for establishing property boundaries and adding privacy.
Consult a professional
While many hardscaping additions can be handled by novices, large-scale projects, such as patios and decking, can change the grading of the yard. Professionals can map out how to handle drainage issues and meet building codes. In addition, professional installation can ensure hardscaping features last for years to come.
Hardscaping should blend with the nature around it and take its cues from the surrounding environment. This can help softscaping and hardscaping work as one.
The season for fresh fruits and vegetables grown right in the backyard is upon us. Warm weather breathes life into fresh berries, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, and many other delectable fruits and vegetables.
Home gardens can be supplemented with delicious finds from the supermarket or farmer’s market, including melons, corn and more.
The bounty of the garden can be made more abundant and fruitful with the addition of the right soil amendments. Compost is a key element of rich, nutritious soil. Scraps from items that have been grown in the garden can then be reused in the production of the compost that feeds that same garden. It’s a continuous circle of garden life.
Getting started with compost is relatively easy. Homeowners should choose an outdoor space near the garden but far away from the home so that it won’t be disturbed by kids or animals. Some people opt for an open compost pile, while others choose closed bins to contain the possible smell and to camouflage the compost. A sunny spot will help the compost to develop faster, according to Good Housekeeping.
The next step is to start gathering the scraps and materials that will go into the compost. Better Homes and Gardens suggests keeping a bucket or bin in the kitchen to accumulate kitchen scraps. Here are some kitchen-related items that can go into the compost material:
In addition to these materials, grass and plant clippings, dry leaves, bark chips, straw, and sawdust from untreated wood can go into the pile. Avoid diseased plants, anything with animal fats, dairy products, and pet feces.
A low-maintenance pile has an equal amount of brown and green plant matter in the compost plus moisture to keep the bacteria growing and eating at the right rate. Aerating the compost occasionally, or turning the bin when possible, will allow the compost to blend and work together. Compost will take a few months to form completely, says the Planet Natural Research Center. The finished product will resemble a dark, crumbly soil that smells like fresh earth.
Compost will not only add nutrients to garden soil, but also it can help insulate plants and may prevent some weed growth. It is a good idea to start a compost pile as a free source of nutrition for plants and a method to reduce food waste in an environmentally sound way.
CONTRIBUTED BY DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS
The Shofu-en Japanese Garden was dedicated on June 23, 1979 with a formal ceremony, complete with a blessing from a Shinto priest. The garden was designed by renowned landscape architect Koichi Kawana, who created Japanese Gardens across the United States, including Balboa Park in San Diego, Chicago Botanic Garden and Missouri Botanical Garden.
Shofu-en means “garden of pine and wind” and is a traditional Japanese garden that also reflects its Colorado setting with native Ponderosa pine trees. Japanese trees cannot survive in Colorado, so the native trees are regularly pruned and shaped to keep the petite, sculptural aesthetic. Many of the Ponderosa pines are more than 100 years old. The trees were collected by the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society with permission from Rocky Mountain National Park.
A traditional tea house and bridge were built in Japan, taken apart, shipped to Denver and reassembled by Japanese artisans in 1979. The north gate and concrete lanterns were also made in Japan. The tea house garden and Bonsai Pavilion were added in 2012.
Celebration Events And Programs
Haiku TreeOn view through late October. Included with Gardens admission. Visitors are invited to write a haiku and attach it to the haiku tree in the Japanese Garden, across the path from the pond deck. In Japanese, a haiku poem is usually divided into three groups/lines of syllables, the first and last with five syllables, the second with seven. The “tree” is made to look like a udon noodle drying.
Then and Now PhotosOn view through December 31, 2019
Visitors can look for enlarged historical photographs in the Japanese Garden that show how each location looked in 1979 through the early 1980s.
Japanese Tea CeremonyJuly 27, 28, August 10, 11, 24, 25, September 7, 8, 21, 22, 10 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.$35, $30 member
For centuries, the tea ceremony has been considered the epitome of Japanese life, based on harmony, respect, purity, tranquility and elegant simplicity. Experience a traditional ceremony inside the Gardens’ tea house.
Forest Bathing Guided WalkMonday, August 5, September 9, 9-11:30 a.m.
Experience the relaxing Japanese practice of forest bathing: shinrin-yoku. Studies suggest that a regular practice of forest bathing may be associated with a reduction in blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones. During this walk, the guide invites ways to engage the senses for closer connection with the surrounding nature.$30, $25 member
Pikachu and Hello Kitty Meet and GreetFriday, August 9 and 23, Sept. 13 and 27, Oct. 4 and 18, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.Included with Gardens admission
Japanese pop culture characters Pikachu and Hello Kitty hang out in the Japanese Garden for photos with visitors. During inclement weather, the characters will be in the Boettcher Memorial Center lobby.
Japanese Chabako in the GardensSunday, August 11 and September 8, 9-9:40 a.m., 10-10:40 a.m. and 11-11:40 a.m.$14, $12 member
The tea ceremony has been an integral part of Japanese culture for centuries, prized for its inclusion of many of Japan’s traditional arts. This tea ceremony takes place not in the traditional teahouse but out in the Gardens. This immersive demonstration of the Chabako practice (boxed tea), is specifically designed to be enjoyed outdoors, where tea and a sweet will be served along with a discussion on tea and the seasonal motifs within the Gardens.
Denver Taiko Drum Performance and Mini-LectureThursday, September 17, 6:30-7:30 p.m.Included with Gardens admission
Visitors can enjoy two 15-minute performances by Denver Taiko and a brief lecture about the history of Taiko drumming. Denver Taiko was founded in 1976, a nonprofit community organization that honors their cultural heritage through the exhilarating performance art of Japanese drumming.This event is made possible by Sakura Foundation.
Gather: An Intimate Pop-Up Sushi DinnerSeptember, TBD
Gather is a pop-up dining experience featuring four to five innovative courses prepared by local chefs. The 2019 series’ culinary theme is Asia and is presented in partnership with the Asian Chamber of Commerce and Dragon 5280. The September event features Japanese cuisine in the Orangery. The event is BYOB and the chef recommends pairings in advance.
Homeowners who are good with their hands can tackle many minor home improvements on their own. However, more complicated projects often require the services of professional contractors to ensure the renovations are done right, completed on time and within budget.
Choosing a home services provider requires careful consideration on the part of homeowners. The wrong contractor can cost homeowners time and money, so homeowners must exercise due diligence when vetting contractors before going forward with a home improvement project.
Types of contractors
The Federal Trade Commission notes that the scope of a project may necessitate hiring various types of contractors. The more complex a project is, the more likely it is that homeowners will need to hire contractors who specialize in certain areas. Understanding the differences between contractors can help homeowners make informed decisions.
General contractor: General contractors manage home improvement projects. This includes hiring subcontractors and supervising their work. General contractors also secure building permits and schedule inspections.
Specialty contractors: Specialty contractors focus on specific areas of a project. For example, homeowners who are remodeling their kitchens may need new cabinets installed by a contractor who specializes in cabinets and cabinet installation. That contractor is a specialty contractor.
Designer or design/build contractor: The FTC notes that these contractors both design and build projects.
Architects: Architects design homes as well as any additions or major renovations to homes. Architects are often necessary when projects involve structural changes to existing homes.
Hiring a home services provider
Once homeowners determine which type of contractor they need, they can they begin researching local professionals.
· Speak with neighbors, family and friends. Neighbors, family members and friends who have worked with contractors in the past are great resources. Seek recommendations from people you trust, even asking to see completed projects if possible.
· Utilize the internet. Websites such as HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List are free of charge and can be great resources when homeowners are looking for contractors. Each site includes reviews of contractors from past customers and contact information for local contractors.
· Confirm qualifications. The FTC advises homeowners to confirm contractors’ licensing and qualifications before hiring anyone. Some areas may not require licensing, but many do. Homeowners can contact their local building department or consumer protection agency to determine the licensing requirements for their area.
Hiring a home services provider is a complicated process that can be made easier by homeowners who do their research and take the decision seriously.
CONTRIBUTED BY KARL STECHER
Millions of nature watchers and enjoyers all over the country feed birds. It helps the birds and brings them in for a closer look.
Hummingbird feeding is easy and inexpensive. A feeder costs $10-20 at supermarkets in the pet food aisle. More elegant feeders (and with expert information given as well) are available at Wild Birds Unlimited at Yale and Wadsworth, a store owned by local birdwatchers whose owners also have a weekly radio show.
Once you have the feeder, you can make your own hummingbird food. Stir one part granulated sugar into four parts water. It is not necessary to color it, which would add artificial ingredients to nature. Hang the feeder from a tree branch or ceiling hook on your porch. Migrating hummingbirds high on the wing need to see your feeder. Food should be changed every two to three days, but a natural additive called nectar defender additive will keep the food intact for weeks.
It is astounding that these tiny creatures travel hundreds, or even thousands, of miles in migration twice a year. The rufous hummingbird, seen here especially in fall migration, travels 2000 miles in his trip from Alaska to southern Mexico.
Four species of hummingbirds are seen regularly in Colorado. Broad-tailed hummingbirds may arrive in early April, and nest in the foothills and mountains. Black-chinneds frequent foothills, but also nest in our suburbs. Fall migration adds two species: the rufous, which has a rusty overall appearance (males have a dark rufous throat); and the calliope hummingbird, whose males have a beautiful throat of vertical red and white candy stripes. Rufous birds are often noticed by their behavior…they chase the other hummers away. A few other species, rare to Colorado, may be seen here on occasion.
Spring migration occurs mainly in the foothills and higher. But in fall, birds are abundant here on the plains. “Fall” migration for birds actually begins in summer. For example, migrating calliope may be present in the mountains on July 4th. But our local peak for these migrants is from mid-July to late August, with some birds still coming through into September. Birds may spend a few days at your feeder developing energy stores for their long migration. Or they may stop for a Big (little?) Gulp, then continue on southward.
If your feeder is positioned near a window, for easy viewing, fine. But the birds, intelligent as they are, can be relatively tame, and you may sit in a chair five feet from the feeder for watching without binoculars. And the birds may buzz past within a foot of your ear.
Birds feed from early light and then all day in few visits. But they eat more during migration. The best viewing time seems to be the hour and a half before sunset.
Best wishes enjoying nature by feeding hummingbirds. Your yard can be fully equipped by tonight.
Karl Stecher is a retired neurosurgeon who has been watching birds intensely since he earned his Boy Scout Bird Study merit badge. He has seen over 800 species in the original American Birding Association area. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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