February 2017

  • Dangerous Indoor Plants Children and Pet Households Should Avoid

    There are seven dangerous indoor plants children and pet households should avoid. Okay, so there are plenty more than on this particular list, but these are among the most common and/or problem-prone. We recently looked at how to reduce spring yard allergens and now, we’re turning inside the house.

    People like houseplants because of their benefits. First and foremost, is their beauty, helping to brighten living spaces and make them appear a bit more natural. Also, indoor plants help to improve air quality by taking in carbon monoxide. And, it’s known caring for houseplants is therapeutic, being quite relaxing and rewarding.

    7 Dangerous Indoor Plants Children and Pet Households should Avoid

    There are a number of houseplants which can add a splash of color to your living space. Some indoor plants really add to the overall decor of a home. With the right ones, you have living accents, centerpieces, and conversation topics. But, if your household is home to children and pets, there are more than a few indoor plants which shouldn’t be grown inside. We all know just how curious pets and children are — curiosity is simply an innate trait.

    Have no fear of growing plants in your home; most are perfectly safe. But if you have inquisitive children and pets who may want to chew or crush plants, there are a few varieties to avoid: the handful of plants that can cause allergic skin irritations, stomach upsets, or worse. Some plants are more toxic than others. The good news is that most must be consumed in large quantities to cause any real damage. Often the bitter taste repels a child or pet and stops them from ingesting much of the plant. —Better Homes and Gardens

    And, that’s where the trouble lies. Combine some species of plants with curious little creatures and that’s produces a precarious situation. Just like poisonous landscape plants to avoid, there are species which shouldn’t have a place in your home if it’s also home to young ones and pets. Now, the upside is, most toxic plants require a lot of consumption to cause real problems. But, it’s not worth the risk. So, here are seven dangerous indoor plants children and pet households should avoid:

    • Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum wallisii). Peace lilies are a flowering indoor plant and are especially popular around Easter. These dark leaf, white flower plants have the additional benefit of being low maintenance. Peace lilies make  great spring decor, so they are not only beautiful, but also easy to care for. However, peace lilies have their downside — Spathiphyllum wallisii is toxic humans, canines, and felines. While safe to touch, peace lilies are dangerous when consumed.
    • Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum). Also known as pathos, devil’s ivy is likewise a fairy common indoor plant. A leafy vine, these are also easy to care for but they have a particularly attractive drape. This makes them more tempting to kids and domestic pets. But devil’s ivy isn’t safe for consumption because it causes vomiting and swelling. Like peace lilies, devil’s ivy is safe to touch but definitely not to eat.
    • Sago palm (Cycas revoluta). Sago palm is an ancient species of plant and are great for improving indoor air quality. Sago palm has a distinct structure and small ones are a wonderful centerpiece or accent piece. But, Cycas revoluta is highly toxic and like devil’s ivy, it causes vomiting when any portion of the plant is ingested. Sago palm also causes diarrhea, when consumed and it’s even known to cause liver failure.
    • Caladium (Caladium). Also known as Elephant Ear, caladium plants boast a variety of bright colors, which makes it a great choice for indoor decor. Caladium’s velvet like leaves make the plant beautiful but unfortunately, a bit too tempting for curious children and pets. Consuming the leaves is dangerous because doing so causes vomiting, diarrhea, swelling, and eye pain.
    • Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). A common Christmas ornamental plant, poinsettia is one that’s particularly bright, with red flower. It already has a dangerous reputation for causing vomiting and nausea, but unlike conventional wisdom, won’t cause death. (Many pounds of the plant would have to be ingested to be fatal.)
    • English ivy (Hedera helix). Fine vines and pointed leaves make English ivy a natural houseplant. But, this plant makes the danger list because it causes a number of health conditions, which include: rash, ataxia, vomiting, swelling in the throat, weakness, and dermatitis.
    • Cyclamen (Cyclamen). A dark leaf plant with bright-colored flowers ranging from red to white is what makes them such a great houseplant to pep up decor. But when ingested, it causes diarrhea and vomiting, so it’s not an idea choice for households with children and pets.
  • Concrete Patio Replacement Step-By-Step

    Many homes, especially older homes, have concrete patios. These outdoor features are built to last, and purely for function, having little to do with style or aesthetics. Concrete patios are great for outdoor living because they are a dedicated space and help to define borders. Over time, however, the weather elements, inclement storms, root systems, and foot traffic all take their toll. These combined forces eventually cause even the sturdiest of patios to begin to crack.

    Those cracks only grow larger, and become a source of aggravation because now, you’re constantly having to pull weeds out, plus, insects use them as kinds of miniature highways. What’s more, those cracks present another problem, and that’s safety since you can trip over them, or worse, find a sandal or shoe wedged between. All of this, not to mention the fact, that they completely detract from their already plain, but worn look.

    Refurbishing an Old Concrete Patio

    You are tired of looking at your old, worn, cracked concrete patio and want to do something about it. There’s a few problems, however, which you have to address and most of all, you’re dreading having to break up the concrete. What’s even worse is the fact that it’s likely not just constructed of concrete but steel rebar, a reinforcement material that helps to keep the patio sturdy. What this means is you’ll have to rent a dumpster, rent a jackhammer, rent an acetylene torch or hydraulic bolt cutter, and, get a lot of helping hands to get the job done.

    A concrete patio is made for practicality, not beauty. It starts out looking plain and goes downhill from there. As craters, cracks and stains accumulate, it can go from dull to downright ugly in just a few years. But there’s a simple solution, whether you want to dress up a bland patio or hide an aging one. Covering concrete with paver bricks is much easier than pouring new concrete or laying pavers the traditional way. It requires less skill and less time, and it’s a whole lot easier on your back. —The Family Handyman

    If that’s simply too much, the good news is, you don’t actually have to break-up and discard your old concrete patio, you can simply opt to patch the cracks and then, cover it with pavers, or even bricks. You probably ought to go with pavers because you’ll be able to cover more surface area with less material, which will cut down on expense.

    Replacing a Patio with Bricks or Pavers

    After you’ve filled the cracks and have mowed and trimmed the lawn around the border of your concrete patio, you’ll be ready to start transforming it into something wonderful. Materials and tools you’ll need:

    • long-handled and course scrub brush
    • concrete cleaner or muriatic acid
    • garden hose
    • bucket
    • tape measure
    • chalk line
    • polyurethane construction adhesive
    • pavers
    • landscape fabric
    • wheelbarrow
    • shovel
    • rake
    • sand
    • utility knife

    With all your materials and tools ready-to-go, you can lay pavers over your concrete patio by following these steps:

    1. Start off with a good cleaning. Combine muriatic acid and water or use concrete cleaner to scrub your patio down. Put most of your efforts into the border because this is where you’ll be using adhesive to glue the border down to keep the pavers from shifting. Scrub it clean, then allow it to dry completely. Do this on a sunny day and sweep away any leaves that fall onto the patio.
    2. Lay the border down along the edges. Using a tape measure and chalk line, mark the lines where you’ll create the border. Then, glue the border pavers down directly over the concrete patio. Do this carefully and use adhesive smartly, you don’t want to use too much or too little. If you use too much, you’ll have to deal with the excess and too little won’t be enough to keep the border in-place for very long.
    3. Put down landscape fabric. After the adhesive has dried, then lay landscape fabric onto the bare concrete, but don’t cut it to size just yet. You should wait to do that after you’ve laid all the other pavers into place over the fabric covering the concrete patio.
    4. Lay the remaining pavers into place inside the border. Starting at one corner, work your way in a parallel direction and then lay the next row. You can also get creative and lay the pavers in another type of sequence to create one or more patterns.
    5. Cut off the excess landscape fabric. Once you’ve covered the entire patio surface, you might have extra landscape fabric. Simply cut off the excess with a utility knife.

    Now, you can furnish your newly transformed patio and use it for years to entertain family and friends.