Go Green, Stay Green – Eco-Friendly Renovation Tips

go green, eco friendly renovation tips. Child hugging a treeOnce the catchcry of nature loving ‘hippies’, GO GREEN has become a global movement and going green has become serious business.  In the building industry, regardless of whether it’s a brand new home or renovating an old weatherboard, today’s environmentally aware home-owner wants eco-friendly and value for money.

It’s all very well for building material suppliers to say, “Ah, but we source timber from dedicated timber plantations.”  Unfortunately, not every country does that, and some 46-58 thousand square miles of natural forest are lost each year – equivalent to 48 football fields every minute – according to worldwildlife.org.

The problem with trying to do the right thing is not everyone can afford it upfront and they don’t understand the false economy behind choosing the cheapest option first.  Items that are marked biodegradable or energy efficient, for example, are much more expensive than their less environmentally aware counterparts.  The same applies to the majority of ‘green’ products.  So how do you renovate ‘green’ while on a budget, and is the added upfront expense justifiable?

Green Renovation Tips

  1. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Sometimes, you have to compare the end result and environmental impact of throwing out and replacing a perfectly good appliance, or furniture, with something new and shiny.  This applies to everything, including floor and window coverings.  Save your money and the environment and only replace as needed.
  2. Need vs want. Don’t waste spare cash on trendy wants.  Keep to the needs on your list – plenty of time for luxury spending later when you can afford it. Investment in something that will save you money over the lifetime of the product makes better sense than buying something now because it’s in fashion for a season.
  3. Recycle.Reclaimed pavers, timbers, window and door frames are not just for the budget conscious.  It is good sense environmentally to use recycled materials from demolition companies, and likewise, you may be able to sell (or donate) your own unwanted materials.
  4. Need to buy new materials? Sometimes it is unavoidable, in which case insist your builder uses materials with low environmental impact – that is, it does not have a negative impact on resources that are not renewable or not easily renewable and does not negatively impact on the environment, wildlife or human health and wellbeing.
  5. Be superficial – facelift! Some items don’t need to be replaced and can be given a new lease of life with a simple coat of paint. Remodelling your kitchen?  You don’t HAVE to throw the entire thing out and start from scratch.  Consider just replacing cabinet doors and bench tops.  Ditto old houses – why destroy what can be given a new lease of life with more cost and environmentally effective means?
  6. Are there financial incentives? Depending on the State you live in, your State Government may offer financial incentives and rebates for switching to energy saving systems and appliances. Find out more about incentives for saving energy.
  7. Insulate. There is little sense in investing thousands in a ducted air conditioning system if your house leaks at window and door openings and your ceiling is not insulated.  A well-insulated home will retain warmth or coolness much more efficiently and cost-effectively than a non-insulated home – good for the planet AND for your wallet.
  8. Go Solar. Solar panels need little introduction.  If you can afford it, include solar panelling in your budget – you will get your money back and then some, especially if you are power-savvy and continue to pay attention to power saving rules.
  9. Let there be light! Before installing even more light fixtures and fittings, consider extra, well-placed window placements and skylights.  Compare flicking on a light switch versus opening a curtain.  Need we say more?
  10. Be Water Wise. In addition to buying white goods that are water efficient and energy efficient, consider rainwater tanks and a system for more efficient use of runoff from rain in winter, plus water efficient tapware.  Also, check your government water authority for your state’s rules on the use of ‘grey water’.

Recycled Composite Decking

At this time of year, a popular renovation is decking, and an excellent example of how spending extra now can save you later.  More environmentally-aware consumers combined with advances in technology have seen a rise in the introduction of recycled timber composite products.

Eco friendly decking from New Tech WoodCompanies like NewTechWood use recycling technology in the manufacture of their composite decking, cladding and screening products and every month their efforts alone are saving over five million kilos of plastic from being buried in landfills and saving forests into the bargain.

NewTechWood composite timber is manufactured with 60% carefully selected recycled timber and dense wood fibre, and 40% high-grade recycled plastics (HDPE) that allows for greater strength and durability.

And the ‘greening’ doesn’t stop there…NewTechWood composite has an advanced premium shield encasing ALL four sides around its inner core. The shield and core are extruded together under a very high-temperature mould simultaneously, so there are no adhesives or chemicals used that are harmful to the environment. This protective shield means there is no need for oil, paint or seal your NewTechWood deck – ever… thus still no need for hazardous chemicals – ever.  As the years go by, this is great news not only for the environment but also for your wallet.

NewTechWood composite does not release any harsh or toxic chemicals into the air and because it is termite resistant you never need to worry about expensive and toxic termite treatments either.

Yes, it costs more upfront than real timber from real forests – but the environment will thank you and you’ll definitely save over the lifetime of your deck! For more information browse the website or contact us.

Top Tips to Stay Safe This DIY Season

The footy season is over and there are no more excuses for delaying the completion of home maintenance and renovation projects.  Those who can’t do it themselves will hire a professional, and you can’t get much safer than that, but to the delight of many a local hardware store, this is the time of year when hordes of avid DIY fans also go shopping.

DIY home maintenanceAccording to Australian health and safety statistics, this is the time of year when the number of accidents around the home also increases – attributed to Do-it-Yourself enthusiasts.

Falling from ladders tops the list, followed closely by injuries from power tools and machinery, with a majority of accidents being attributed to men, particularly over 55 years of age.

Authorities warn that the more accident prone among us need to realise our limitations. If a task is not within our skill level or we don’t have the proper equipment or experience for the job, then leave it to the experts.

Top DIY Tips

For the keener (stubborn?) DIY-er who refuses to heed this advice, the following tips are for you:

  1. Ladder Do’s and Don’ts. ALWAYS place on a level and stable surface.  If you need to level one of the legs, don’t use a brick. Position timber blocks, recommended dimensions 400 x 200 x 50mm, beneath the leg.  Don’t try to extend your ladder by placing it on a higher surface, like beams balanced on sawhorses, or milk crates, for example. If you need to reach a higher place than your ladder can reach, hire an extension ladder.  Ensure you place the ladder against a secure surface and not somewhere it can slide or be knocked away.  You can also tie the ladder in place to prevent slipping or tipping. Never stand higher than the third rung from the top, and keep your centre of gravity between the side rails. Don’t over-reach or do exertive pulling or pushing that can throw you off balance. Likewise, don’t leave heavy tools perched precariously atop of ladders, waiting to fall on the head of unsuspecting passers-by below.
  1. Power Tools. Safety guards, clamps and locking clips are invented for a reason.  Use them.  There are horrendous stories of sheet metal and timber pieces becoming flying weapons, and people losing thumbs and fingers with electric saws because they tried to rush and thought they’d save seconds by ignoring the safety requirements.  Nail guns are probably best left to the professionals, but if you must use one, don’t rush.  Set the gun to the safe sequential-fire setting to avoid misfiring and shooting yourself or someone else by accident if you stumble.

Hammering, DIY home maintenance3. Hammering. Speaking of nails, you can avoid the risk of hammering your fingers by using a small blob of BluTack to hold small nails in place while you hammer them in. You can recycle the Blu-Tack, but not your fingers!

 

  1. Clothing. Don’t wear loose or floppy garments that can get caught in machinery. Footwear – if you value your toes, wear protective shoes – thongs don’t count. Tie your hair back if it is long and avoid wearing loose jewellery that can be caught in machinery or saws.
  1. Protective Gear – Do use earmuffs to protect your hearing when using noisy equipment.safety sign wear goggles Use eye goggles to protect your eyes from metal and sawdust when sawing and grinding. Use a face mask to avoid inhaling dangerous substances and dust particles, especially if you’re under your house or in the roof space where you can encounter toxic chemicals from pesticide use, asbestos, mould spores, rat droppings, etc.
  1. Essential Services. Don’t mess with electricity or plumbing – there is a reason why it is illegal to do your own and you must hire a licenced tradesman. Non-contact voltage testers are a must for checking if wires are live or not.
  1. Don’t play with Pressure Washers. These are not toys and can be very dangerous.  Many people with deep flesh wounds and scars where the water burst has literally painfully peeled back their flesh can attest to this!
  1. Know How to Lift Safely. Get help with heavy items.  And remember, lift with your knees, not your back.
  1. Beware the Critters! We’re talking wasps, spiders and snakes that can lurk in unexpected and rarely used spaces around your home, not to mention hazards such as chewed electrical cables exposing live wires, or termite damage that weakens structures – maybe the one you’re standing on!
  1. No Brainer. Keep all tools and equipment away from pets and children. This should be a no-brainer.

Popular DIY Task – Deck Maintenance

A popular DIY spring job is the annual deck maintenance.  If that is on your list of To-Do’s this spring, and if you have a timber deck already, chances are it is on your list and will be for the rest of your life.  If you’d rather it wasn’t, then check out a composite product like NewTechWood decking.  It is low maintenance – you never have to sand, seal, paint or varnish it – ever – unlike real timber which must be maintained regularly for its lifetime.

kids playing on composite deckAnd speaking of safety, NewTechWood composite decking comes with a valuable BAL29 Fire Rating and a Rll slip rating; AND you’ll never have to worry about splinters.  Also with its hidden fastener system, you will never have to worry about rusty or protruding nails, and with the option of the mini clip system, catching a stiletto heel in the decking gap is also a thing of the past.

Top this with a 25-year warranty and you can see why many DIY enthusiasts love NewTechWood, which is also fully capped providing full protection against UV damage, fading, water, staining, mould and termites.  You know what this means?  No more dangerous chemicals needed to treat your deck.  However, while NewTechWood offers the above tips on protecting your safety… the rest is up to you!

Tips to Rejuvenate Your House for Spring (and Years to Come!)

At this time of year, you may want to freshen up your home and get ready for some exciting summer entertaining.

However, renovations can be expensive and ‘cheap’ is not always ‘smart’. The dollars you save on cheaper options up front may well cost you dearly in a few years’ time when you find yourself up for the costs of repairs or replacements already, not to mention the amount of precious spare time you have to sacrifice in the process.

So, here are some quick tips to help make your money go further and your renovations last longer.

 

Boost Street Appeal

Be discerning – how does your house look from the street?  Stand on the footpath and view your house objectively.

spring house rejuvenation, before picture
Before Renovations

Some things you see daily become invisible but suddenly stand out when you view your house from another angle. Would your house look better rendered? What if you remove some bushes or replace that outdated verandah balustrade? How different might your house look then?

 

Spruce Up Your Trims

That peeling or cracked fascia might have become invisible to you, but any state of neglect will be obvious to others and reflect on the overall appearance of your home.

You probably don’t have to replace your fascia.  Sometimes, timber putty and a lick of paint can work wonders.  However, if you are tired of replacing worn, peeling or damaged fascias or house trims and you want a long-term solution that requires no maintenance, consider a composite product.

For example, NewTechWood has cladding and other decorative façade boards that are a recycled timber/plastic composite, completely protected from the elements and termites and never need any maintenance, sanding, sealing or painting – ever.

 

Paint Gutters

Is your guttering damaged, sagging, or is the paint peeling?  Damaged guttering not only looks awful and affects the appearance of your property, but it can also lead to roof leaks which creates a whole new set of time and money consuming problems for you.  When painting the trim of your house, don’t neglect your gutters!

 

Repair or Replace Fences

A dilapidated fence can make the entire property look rundown and neglected.  Repair or replace your old damaged front fence and if you don’t really need to have one, just remove it. Problem solved.  Replace the fence line with plants.  If you want low-maintenance, low-cost, go for Australian natives.

 

Maintain Pathways

If you have faded concrete pathways, a fresh coat of paint will give your whole garden a face lift.  Replace damaged pavers – which are also a trip hazard. Or replace them with a timber composite pathway that you won’t have to maintain.

 

Refresh Verandahs and Patios

If your verandah or patio is cement, its paint may be peeling and it may be suffering years of scuffing from toys and outdoor furniture.

As with the pathway, a fresh coat of paint will rejuvenate this area and brighten the ‘face’ of your home.  Alternatively, consider an outdoor floor rug for your outdoor dining area which will hide the scuff and scratch marks and prevent new ones.

If your verandah is timber, is it long overdue for resanding and oiling or resealing?  Are the nails popping out? A sad truth about timber is it does require ongoing and regular maintenance to keep it looking good and to keep it from warping, rotting, fading or being eaten by termites.

before and after composite pavingThere is a solution to this problem, and it’s called composite. Composite timbers, like NewTechWood, are popular due to being maintenance free and environmentally friendly because they’re made from recycled material.

NewTechWood is valued because of its patented Ultrashield technology, giving it 360 degrees protection from UV, fading, warping, splitting, rotting and termites.  Its 25-year warranty is just the cherry on the cake.

As with all composites compared to natural, it may cost slightly more up front, but in comparison with natural timber, you’ll never have to work on it or spend more money on its upkeep, and with its choice of modern colours, you’ll find something that matches your house perfectly.

 

Fix Faded Paint

Regardless of whether your house is brick, fibro or clad, if the paint is old, faded and peeling, your house is going to look rundown and decrepit. Painting is something that does need re-doing eventually.

Termite-ridden and weather-worn, warped cladding will also need replacing.  Unless you have an unpainted brick home, this ongoing cost and maintenance is unavoidable. You can, however, consider having feature walls of cladding that do not require painting and that adds a modern touch to your home.  Again, if you really want to just put something up and forget about it and avoid painting and maintenance issues, consider a composite product, like NewTechWood.

 

Hide the Ugly Stuff

Whether it be ground-level air-conditioning units, pool equipment or just an ugly part of the yard where nothing but weeds will grow, you can use decorative screening to shield it from view.

There are many modern timber and metal laser cut and embossed screens you can choose from that are suitable for decorative use on house walls and fences as well as stand-alone in your garden. NewTechWood also offers a composite screen board that can be used to screen off your patio or parts of your garden that you want to shield or hide away and is also used for stylish front fencing.

 

Get Creative in the Garden

Last, but not least, the garden itself.  Mowing lawns can become tedious and time-consuming.  You don’t have to have a lawn.  You can replace your garden with a native theme involving mulch and pebbled surfaces, or more decking to provide extra entertainment areas or special focal points in your garden.

Visit a nursery and ask about plants and trees that require little water and maintenance.  Unless you are after an old-fashioned English country garden effect, you don’t need to invest a lot of time and money on garden plants in order to enjoy flourishing greenery.

On the other hand, if you do like lawn, accept that you will have to water, fertilize and mow it regularly because nothing screams UGLY louder than long unkempt, weed-ridden, dying grass!

house and garden after renovations
After Renovations

Save Time and Money

Remember, if you want to save time and money for the long term, and not just one or two seasons, what you save today on cheap options may be a false economy.

Do it right.  Do it once.  Then you can spend many, many summers relaxing and enjoying your house instead of working on it, plus we’re sure you’ll find better ways to spend your hard-earned money than on property upkeep.

 

Solutions For Rooftop Gardening Challenges

The move to ‘green’ the planet via rooftop gardening, to convert ugly concrete jungles into sustainable, usable green living areas, is increasing. Roof top gardens offer significant health, environmental and societal benefits.  So why isn’t everybody doing it immediately? Well, it’s not without its challenges.

Major Challenges

Two major challenges facing rooftop garden design is managing the weight restrictions and drainage issues.  Solving these problems is Atlantis who have developed drainage cells of high strength, that are lightweight, easy to install, and compared to traditional methods, also low in cost.

These drainage cells were specifically developed to facilitate adding roof top gardens and planter boxes to building construction without having to add heavy aggregate for drainage. These cells drain excess water while retaining an optimum moisture level, which is ideal for promoting plant growth in planter boxes and roof garden applications.

An added bonus for the environmentally conscious is that Atlantis drainage cells are manufactured from quality recycled materials.  They offer long term durability and are resistant to chemicals.  Used in conjunction with Atlantis geotextile, it functions as a protective membrane for waterproofing and providing ventilation for concrete slabs which alleviates heat induced stress and cracking.  It’s ideal for creating landscape mounts, structural fill for planter boxes, podiums and roof top gardens.

Problems solved!  The next question is: Is it worth the bother? Here are a few reasons why rooftop gardens are worth the effort.

Enhancing Air Quality

Rooftop gardens enhance air quality.  Rooftop gardens take carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air while releasing oxygen.  They absorb and transform sunlight and regulate ambient temperatures.

Rooftop gardens also lower both the surface and surrounding air temperatures through a process called evapotranspiration.  This process reduces ‘heat islands’ in city communities responsible for increasing power demands and which also contributes to air pollution and greenhouse gases. In fact, rooftop gardens are proven to absorb heat and insulate buildings better than traditional roofing.

Reduce Energy Costs

Rooftop gardens are proven to assist in the reduction of energy costs because less power is needed for temperature control. Air conditioners don’t have to work harder or longer and there are fewer spikes in energy demands which also means reduced energy bills for consumers. (The National Research Council of Canada did a study and found exposed roofs can heat up to as much as 70 degrees Celsius on warm days whereas the same roof type, protected by a roof garden, remains around 25 degrees Celsius.)

Harvest Rainwater

Rooftop gardens also create large catchment areas for capture and harvest of rainwater. Rooftop trees and vegetation reduce stormwater runoff and protect against erosion. Canadian researchers found that roof gardens reduced the amount of runoff by as much as 75%, and delayed the run-off time by 45 minutes.  In addition, run-off from bare roofs contain many pollutants, but this is also reduced as it is filtered through roof top garden soil.

Rooftop gardening also offers the opportunity to utilise these otherwise wasted building spaces to provide an affordable method to feed local populations. In Northern America, some restaurants are growing their ingredients on their own roof space.  One company has established rooftop greenhouse farms and sells their produce in local city markets – a brilliant idea offering fresh produce without the need for expensive freight and providing employment for locals.

Enhancing Community Life

In other parts of the world, people living in apartment buildings have converted their wasted roof and landing spaces into communal garden areas where they can plant and share herbs and vegetables among residents.  The health and cost savings for these families can be enormous.

Another benefit to rooftop ‘farming’ is the plants do not suffer from pest attacks like their ground-dwelling counterparts.  Snails and slugs are too lazy to slime their way up skyscrapers!

And then there is the obvious benefit of adding aesthetically pleasing improvements to otherwise ugly concrete cityscapes.  This also provides therapeutic benefits for those who live and work in high-rise buildings and offers space for relaxation or recreation that otherwise would not exist.

Finally, there are the savings from less wear and tear of roof structures during summer and winter months with contraction and expansion.  Roofs covered by vegetation enjoy longer lifespans because contraction and expansion are reduced.

Getting Started

Initially, when considering a rooftop garden, you will need to contact your local Council for their laws and guidelines.  Then you will need to determine what type of rooftop garden you want that meet the regulations.  The easiest gardens involve container plants. These can include vegetables suitable for growing in pots and planter boxes.  Just remember your rooftop garden will get very hot in summer, so choose plants that are more able to handle the added heat.  Also, choose plants with non-invasive root systems or limited root systems that don’t need a lot of soil.

Obviously, you will also need to ensure your roof structure is suitable for a rooftop garden so you should consult a professional, an engineer or architect to determine this.

For some inspiring rooftop garden ideas, talk to the team at NewTechWood. Whether you want stylish, eco-friendly screening or decking, we’ve got the products to help make your rooftop garden an oasis.

 

10 Creative Uses For Screening in Your Garden

There are myriad uses for screening that will provide privacy and points of interest around your garden and add value to your home.

Screening can be both decorative and practical and can be something as simple as well-placed plants through to carved and engraved metal or timber decorative screens.

Whether you want privacy, to hide something ugly, or simply to renovate, here are 10 creative ways you can use screens for privacy or decorative purposes.

screening with NewTechWood timber

Fencing. Fencing comes in a variety of styles, from dainty white pickets through to tall concrete barricades. With slat fencing, you can place your screening panels vertically or horizontally for a modern, stylish look, and still be protected from passing eyes while enjoying air flow.

Creative Gates. Who said gates couldn’t be fun and still be secure? Try using a decorative metal screen, which will serve the same purpose but provide an unusual and attractive point of interest.  With so many styles to choose from you can match any garden theme.

screening in the gardenGarden Art. Decorative screens can also be purely ornamental and support special garden themes. Think of the visual impact the new decorative screens make when used as art on fencing or exterior walls.  Think of tropical plants and bamboo reed screens with water features for that touch of Bali. Think of white trellis screening, the perfect touch for a lovely English garden with archways and climbing scented roses.  Or maybe you like something more avant-garde.

 

Two-Storey Privacy. With second storeys becoming more popular, there is that uncomfortable awareness that neighbours can see everything you do from their elevated position. A decorative, cleverly placed screen can provide an attractive and effective shield against this unwanted attention. You will need to place the screen closer to your outdoor sitting area than the fence line.  The closer it is to you, the less they will be able to see you.  Try matching your roof and wall screening for a modern look.

screening at the top of a fence to increase height

Increase Fence Height. Need to raise the height of your fence? Consider decorative screens, or lattice, which you can leave bare or cover with vines, which will also add attractive greenery as well as extra height for privacy.

Hide Ugly Fencing. Don’t know what to do with your ugly old grey super six fence?  You can paint it, but you can also cover it with reed or bamboo screening and create an exotic forest or tropical ambience in your outdoor area.  Likewise, many an ugly fence panel has been covered with a decorative screen which comes in a variety of colours and patterns to suit all landscapes.

Vertical Garden Screening. You can use a vertical garden, like Atlantis Gro-Wall, to screen off ugly fences and walls, and this is also useful if you have limited space to have a garden.

overhead screen using NewTechWoodOverhead Shelter. Sometimes, you don’t want a completely covered patio. Sometimes you want to let some sunshine through but maintain some protection. At the cheaper end of the scale is traditional shade cloth, but for a more stylish solution, try screening boards. If you don’t like the idea of regular maintenance, try a composite product, like NewTechWood composite screen. Being fully capped to protect the core, these boards will last the test of time and are UV, moisture, white ant, rotting, warping, mould resistant and zero maintenance – they never need oiling, sealing or painting.

External Pergola Privacy. Provide privacy for your external Bali hut or pergola. You can install clear al fresco plastic blinds which will keep out the wind and rain but won’t protect from prying eyes.  Other options include reed or bamboo blinds, or if you’d prefer something permanent, try timber, reed or bamboo “walls”, or lattice screening. You can also use cladding. NewTechWood composite cladding is maintenance free and has the stylish look of natural timber. Decorative metal screens will also provide stylish privacy while still allowing airflow.Facade screening

Façade. Want a decorative screen that allows for privacy, air flow, and doesn’t require plant life for good looks? There is a growing trend to use Atlantis heavy duty plastic Façade.   Façade can be used to grow creepers and vines vertically up walls and fences, but some people like to use it just as it is for a modern, edgy look which goes well with an industrial-look architectural style. Façade gives you the option.

Don’t forget to check with your local council or body corporate, as applicable, before undertaking any expensive, major works as many have rules regarding fence heights and similar modifications that may affect your plans.

Want more screening ideas? Contact us for great ways to incorporate NewTechWood no maintenance composite screening into your garden or home improvement project.

 

 

 

Creative Pathways to a Modern Garden

garden paths. This is a composite decking pathway in Sol Beach Resort, ,Korea.

Unlike commercial landscaping, where path styling and material plays a significant role, many homeowners pay less attention when it comes to their garden paths and boardwalks, focusing instead on the practical need of providing a walking surface to approach their house…or the shed…or the yacht moored to their private jetty!

Garden paths can be more than just a practical solution for navigating one’s property. With a bit of creativity, you can transform your garden into an invitation to explore and enjoy every colourful nook and cranny, while adding interest and value to your home.  And today, you have products that make for more creative pathway possibilities and offer safer navigation and zero maintenance, which we will explore here.

Consider Purpose

Consider the purpose of your path.  Is it a practical link from the garden paths. This is a stone walkway.front gate to the front door?  Or to reach the garage?  Or is its function purely decorative…perhaps to meander lazily through a colourful maze of hollyhocks, larkspur and lavender in your showpiece garden?

Your choice of design and material will depend on your path’s purpose and location: practical and simple to avoid slips and trips in heavily trafficked areas or a creative work of art to add beauty. NewTechWood composite timber looks equally at home in a modern or rustic garden setting.  With its natural timber look and feel and choice of natural colours, it is a favourite with landscapers who want to use timber but avoid all the hassles that go with real timber, i.e. warping, rotting, termites, splinters!  You can match it easily to your decking, cladding or garden screening, too.

Does it Suit the Terrain

Garden paths for hilly terrainWill your path be crossing carefully tended grass, lumpy moist-retaining surfaces, or just plain sand? Will it need to be stable in very wet weather? Will it be raised, or involve steps? Is the area level, uneven, rocky or sloped? Not all path materials are suitable for all terrains.  Think of mud slides on sloping areas, and soft ground issues, for example.  While smooth slabs of rock and polished pebbles add rustic appeal to a garden, in the wet they can become slippery and unstable surfaces, and not everyone appreciates the moss that is attracted to it.

 

Size Matters

Size matters depending on space available and your budget.  In small spaces and light traffic areas, you can consider gravel with a few stepping stones. You don’t have to spend extravagantly to provide a pathway that is practical as well as eye-catching.

Plus there is little point spending a fortune on a path that winds all around the garden to link your laundry to the clothes line, especially as you’ll just end up cutting across the lawn on a more direct route!

Garden Paths Can Make a Statement

Pebbled pathwayThe front path is one of the first things people see when they enter your property. Does your path scream dull and uninviting?  Or does it welcome your visitors with the promise that a warm and thoughtful welcome awaits them?

If your budget is generous, your front path can be an amazing work of art, but at the other end of the scale, even the dullest concrete path can be rejuvenated with a border of colourful plants and a lick of paint.

If you can’t afford the amazing work of art but the idea of a concrete path leaves you cold, consider a timber deck path which will add warmth and character to your garden.  NewTechWood composite timber adds modern appeal to any garden and with a 25-year warranty, you know it’s going to stand the test of time (and cost a lot less than the pebble masterpiece pictured here.)

Illusions are Good

angled deckingIn modern suburbs where housing lots have become smaller, yard spaces have shrunk correspondingly.  Don’t let this thwart your creativity.

You can create the illusion of length or width in your yard by laying pavers or decking boards horizontally or longitudinally.

Consider the use of benches or garden statues at various points of your garden pathways for added interest.

Select groundcovers and winding pathways are creative and cost-effective, water saving use of a small backyard instead of lawn.

Choice of Materials

Your choice of paving material will depend on its function and also needs to complement its surroundings – garden and architecture, colour and styling.

Natural Timber is at home in modern and rustic gardens, although you will have to consider regular maintenance needs and termites.

If your heart is set on timber, you can consider composite natural look pathwayproducts, such as NewTechWood, which looks like the real thing but is termite resistant. It’s also UV and fade-resistant and totally maintenance free.

Pavers will last and are also relatively maintenance free, but not all are non-slip and will attract moss in damp areas.  They also stain easily due to their porous nature. Composite timber, like NewTechWood, looks great in modern and rustic settings and is stain resistant, thanks to its Ultrashield technology which provides 360 degree capping to protect the core.

Cement is a cheap option, although in time it will crack, fade, is hot to walk on and stains easily.  On the other hand, it’s great for children’s bikes and skates. You can also spend more and have stamped concrete with or without colour. It is patterned to resemble paving, flagstones and tiles. However, some concrete surfaces, when painted, can be quite slippery when wet, even with a non-slip coating applied. NewTechWood composite timber has an R11 slip rating and is chosen for public walkways, boardwalks and parks internationally, so you know it’s safe.

Your cheapest path options are mulch, gravel or pebble.  A popular look these days combines bluestone gravel interspersed with concrete pavers, but you can also replace the gravel with ground covers or small plants to add colour and interest.  If you want the pebble look, go with crushed pebble as it is not as slippery.  Another drawback with pebble is it tends to roll and travel and get caught in shoe soles.

mulch pathwayMulch pathways look at home in natural and rustic garden settings.  It’s the easiest and lightest material to work with and an obvious choice for the budget conscious. Some tree lopping services provide free mulch just so they can get rid of it.  Just remember that beautiful red or black mulch you buy today will soon turn grey, and within a few years you will have to top it up as it will decompose.  The beauty of a product like NewTechWood is it is fade resistant and testing has proven it will still be as beautiful in 25 years time as it is the day you buy it.

To stop your mulch or gravel material from spreading, you can use decorative edging, such as a row of small rocks, or a plastic or concrete edge that is readily available from any garden store.  Landscape timbers also look great as a border in rustic settings.

 Last, But Not Least: Safety

If you live in an area where there is a lot of rain or snow and ice, you need to be extra mindful of the type of material you use. A smooth pebble pathway may look extraordinary, but becomes impractical and downright dangerous in wet weather.  Check for slip ratings, where applicable.Avoid dangerous garden paths and walkways. Trip hazard.

Do a risk assessment. Does it need to be child-friendly? You can avoid accidents by determining if toys like roller skates may be used safely or will snag in paving gaps, sending your precious offspring headfirst into the garden beds.

Will you be carrying washing baskets or equipment that impairs your vision of where you’re stepping?  Choose a path that instils confident walking without the need to look where you’re placing your feet.

Then there is the little matter of shoe type. Stilettos appreciate a smoother, crevice free surface, whereas workman’s boots or everyday sandals are not so fussy about terrain.

Consider also different stride lengths and gait patterns – the paving needs of a tall adult are quite different to that of a child or shorter person if confronted with stepping stones. If your pathway is not level or presents any kind of hazard, consider garden lighting to assist visitors to find their way safely in poor light.Before and after: NewTechWood compsite wood pathway versus dirt.

Do you live in a bushfire area? Don’t let that deter you from a rustic ‘timber’ look – NewTechWood composite timber comes with a BAL 29 fire rating!

And finally, whether your pathway needs are humble or grand, there is no denying that a carefully chosen pathway beats raw dirt any day!

 

Grow Your Own Vegetables in Small Spaces

Find out how to grow your own vegetables in the smallest of spaces and enter our Mother’s Day competition before May 12 for your chance to win a vertical garden kit. Read our latest blog for details.

‘Pot’ Farming (With a Difference!)

The trend to cultivate healthier, chemical-free, organic vegetables is growing.  Many of us are concerned about the over-use of chemicals on our vegetables, but buying organic is not always possible.

We all want affordable, healthier food and growing your own makes sense.  Plus, there is something very special about the taste of fresh, untainted home-grown produce.  It’s also very convenient to have your favourite herbs and veggies growing right outside your back door.  And for others, there is the simple pleasure of mixing one’s hands in the rich soil, planting seeds and watching them flourish.

However, if you live in a city apartment with limited balcony space, chances are the idea of farming your own veggie patch is not something you’ve entertained recently. The good news is you can grow your own vegetables, even with limited space.

We’re not talking tiny pots of chives growing on the window-sill, although you can do that, too.  We’re talking large pots of chives…and parsley, mint, sage, tomatoes, lettuce, chillies, and anything else you want to grow in your very own veggie patch.  And we’re not talking about allotments or shared gardens either.  We’re talking about that tiny space you call a balcony.  You see, you can also grow your vegetables in pots vertically…not horizontally.  More on that later.

Windowsill Gardens

windowsill pots, grow your own vegetablesFor starters, you have prime farming land sitting right on your windowsill, perfect for your own herb ‘garden’. The beauty of this is when it is raining, you don’t have to go outside to pick your chives or parsley – it’s right within hands-reach, and you know it’s good quality and bursting with flavour.  In fact, if you’re a novice gardener, a window-sill herb garden is a great place to start.

Some of the easiest herbs to grow on your window sill include chives, lemongrass, parsley, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and coriander. It’s best to buy young plants that haven’t already been growing outside and don’t expect too much from them in winter. Don’t plant all your herbs in one container. You only need one bully herb with an invasive nature and before you know it, it will have taken over the container.

Each container should have drainage holes and they prefer terracotta pots to plastic.  Place small pebbles in the drainage tray for the pots to sit on for improved drainage and ventilation, which will also help stave off fungus.

If you are starting from scratch, use a good quality, organic potting mix specific for herbs.  And of course, as with all living things, they also appreciate being ‘fed’ occasionally.  Make sure you use a fertiliser specifically for herbs and does not promote ‘flowering’ because you don’t want your herbs to ‘flower’.

Don’t over water your plants. If your leaves start to yellow, they are getting too much.  Let the soil dry between watering, but not so dry that your plants wilt!

Branch Out to the Balcony

Once you’ve achieved green-thumb confidence, you can branch out (pardon the pun) and farm your balcony.  You can make room among your potted palms and flowerpots for vegetables.

Some of the easiest vegetables to grow in pots are tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, beaStrawberry plant vertical, grow your own vegetablesns, peas, spring onions, beets, spinach, eggplant, zucchini, kale and radishes.  You can also grow strawberries.  Be adventurous.

Terracotta planters are great for balcony veggie gardens and you can also buy special hanging containers just for growing tomatoes and strawberries, but as with most things in life, you can spend as much or as little as your budget allows.  Some people start their gardens off in ice-cream containers with holes in the bottom!

Make sure you place your balcony plants per their needs – some prefer plenty of sunlight while others appreciate the shade.  You will also need to re-pot your young plants as they grow larger.  If you don’t, it would be like you trying to cram your size 7 feet into your childhood sandals.

Again, your vegetables will thrive when given a little food now and then. Your garden centre can advise on the best fertiliser for your vegetable(s) and read the instructions for how often to feed.  Some fertilisers are slow release over a few months while others only last a couple of weeks.

Grow Your Own Vegetables – Go Vertical

Now you know there is no excuse for not being able to grow your own vegetables and herbs, regardless of living space.  Ah, but what about those whose barrier to farming is their balcony is so small they can barely fit a table and chair on it?

Vertical garden, grow your own vegetablesWell, thanks to products like Atlantis’ Gro-Wall Vertical Garden kits, that’s no longer a problem. Now, everyone can have their veggie patch and eat it too! With their standard Gro-Wall 4 kit and their new thinner Slim Pro kit, everyone can enjoy a garden on even the narrowest balcony.You can plant a mixture of your favourite vegetables intermingled with pots of colourful flowers and leafy green ferns, and best of all, you can pack up your vertical garden and take it with you when you move.  All you need is a blank wall.

In fact, this Mother’s Day, if you live in Western Australia, Urban Direct Wholesale is holding a Mother’s Day competition and your mum can win a fabulous Atlantis Gro-Wall 18-pot vertical garden kit of her own!  All you have to do is visit their facebook page, click on the video, tag your mum and say why she should win.

The lucky winner will be chosen and notified on 12 May 2017. Happy gardening!

 

Add Exterior Appeal, Boost Property Value with NewTechWood Composite Products

First impressions count and you only get one chance to make a good first impression, which is important if you’re looking to sell your home or simply increase its value. You need to pay as much attention to the kerb appeal of your home as you would your interior finishes.

NewTechWood composite timber cladding

We spend a fortune painting, replacing floorings and fixtures, and renovating our kitchens and bathrooms, with scant consideration to the exterior.  We often think if the lawn is mowed and the garden beds weed-free, a spot of external paint is all it needs.

Unfortunately, it isn’t only books that are judged by their cover, and you should think of your home exterior much like a book cover.

To start with, you should have a designated external entertainment area and most Australian houses have pergolas or ‘Bali huts’ for this reason.  You can lay a composite timber deck or incorporate composite screening and cladding to save you money and maintenance, such as NewTechWood composite timber products. It comes with a 25-year warranty, is UV, water, stain and termite resistant and looks like real timber. However, unlike real timber, it requires no maintenance – no sanding, no oiling or sealing.  Ever.

Use NewTechWood Composite Timber Products

If your outdNewTechWood claddingoor entertainment area is concrete, but its appearance is aged or lacklustre, you can give it a new lease of life by painting it or construct a composite timber deck over it.  In our harsh Australian climate your outside entertainment area must be covered.  You can add a real touch of class by cladding your patio ceiling, and again, you can avoid the maintenance issue of real timber by using a composite timber product, like NewTechWood.

No outdoor living space is ever complete without some form of greenery. Hanging baskets always add green appeal but when it comes to garden beds if you weren’t blessed with green thumbs and your plants always die, consider succulents which come in all shapes and sizes and different varieties flower at various times of the year.  It is quite hard to kill a succulent!

The use of synthetic turf is also becoming more common place for small pockets of front yard where you’d like to grow grass if you didn’t have to water and maintain it, but you want the appeal, colour and look of a healthy lawn.

Add Instant Appeal with NewTechWood Wall Cladding

Another technique foNewTechWood composite wall claddingr updating the exterior of your home and adding instant appeal involves the use of cladding. Exterior wall cladding is an architectural feature which makes your home stand out from the cookie-cutter designs it’s competing with and can offer functional benefits as well as visual enhancements to your personal space.

On a functional level, whether you want to build a fence or just divide your backyard, you can use cladding in a variety of ways.  For example, to hide ugly pool or air-conditioning equipment, to offer you privacy from prying neighbours, or to provide shade from the afternoon sun.

The real beauty of wall cladding is it doesn’t have to be functional…it can be purely decorative.  If you want to add some pizzazz to your home you can clad parts of the external walls to make a special feature, such as NewTechWood decorative wall claddingthe gables.

Whether you are going for beach-hut chic, rustic appeal, or a modern contemporary touch, strategically placed external cladding in the right colour can really set the mood.  Think about the ‘look’ you want to achieve. With wall cladding, you can maintain a modern look choosing a grey-clad in a shadow-line profile, or choose walnut or teak for a more traditional timber look.

Wall cladding can also be suitable for older properties from the fifties and sixties to replace fibro or add a touch of class to otherwise plain exteriors, whereas houses from the Victorian era are already ornate. If you have a Victorian home, NewTechWood cladding can be used very successfully to tie in the old home with a new extension.  Cladding can also disguise an existing ugly extension and new bricks that don’t match the colour of the old.  And it’s perfect for coastal homes as the composite material is durable and withstands the hard-wearing pounding from sun, sea and sand.

Environmentally Friendly, Maintenance Free Home Improvements

Whatever product you go with to spice up the exterior of your home, you’ll need to consider your budget.  Consider the costs and your labour time involved in future upkeep and maintenance.  Sometimes the cheapest product is not your best option.  Be eco-conscious and use products that come from sustainable sources.  Think about quality and how long you want it to last.  Do you mind spending a lot of time and money maintaining real timber?  Would you prefer a product that is long lasting and requires no maintenance?

NewTechWood wall cladding is perfect for decorative use externally or for internal lining on alfresco area walls or ceilings.  It utilises a patented aluminium clip system to install the cladding. The system allows for air circulation between the cladding and joists, keeping the inside dry and isolating water from the outside.

You can install it then forget about it, but the real difference it can make to your home will last forever.

Find out more or talk to the team for advice about the best NewTechWood product for your next home improvement project.

 

Considering Slat Fencing? Then You Need to Consider The Regulations

composite timber slat fence, front boundary

Do you want a functional divider for your garden, complete privacy, or increased security? Slat fencing screens are an affordable and popular option.  With neat lines, slat screen fencing is both attractive and functional, allowing airflow along with privacy.  However, as with most building work, each local government council has their own rules and regulations.  Building permits may be necessary for some circumstances.

Check Regulations with your Local Council

A quick check with your council to establish local ordinances for your area can save you a lot of time and money.  Different councils have different rules governing fence height as well as the spacing gap allowed between the slats, depending on where your fence is to be located.  Suburbs in Perth are subject to different fence height regulations.  Your front fence can be anything from 1.2 to 1.8 m high, and your backyard fence can be 1.8 to 2.4m high.

The allowable slat gap spacing may also differ between councils. The spacing between slats is governed by visual permissibility regulations.  For example, in Wanneroo and Joondalup, a front fence exceeding 1.2m in height is required to be 50% visually permeable.  Therefore, a front fence comprising 100mm slats requires a gap spacing between the slats of no more than 50 mm.

There are special rules governing slat fencing if it is going to be used around a pool, and corner blocks also have a different set of rules.  Your council can provide you with your local rules including all laws governing distances, setbacks, allowable heights, slat gaps, and more.

composite timber slat fencing, fancyConsider the Neighbours

Once you’ve determined the regulations for your planned slat fence, your next consideration is the neighbours. Do you expect your neighbour to share costs for a dividing fence?  Most States have fencing Acts that govern dividing fences and describe the process for sharing costs with neighbours and for handling disputes.

Common sense things to consider include will your front fence interfere with your neighbour’s view of a special landscape feature, i.e. the ocean, or interfere with their vision when exiting their property? They will also want reassurance that a dividing fence does not encroach on their side of the boundary line.  If in doubt, use a professional surveyor.  Discuss your fence plans with neighbours in advance so they are in agreement, and get the agreement in writing to avoid potential legal problems.

Choose Your Slat Fencing Materials

Next, you need to choose the most appropriate materials for your slat fence with the most common options including traditional timber, aluminium, or composite timber.  Be aware that if you live in a heritage protected suburb, some fence materials are not permitted, i.e. bamboo.  Your local council can advise you on these restrictions.

Natural timber brings with it both affordability and beauty, and on the hottest days will not burn the plants growing close to it, but with this also comes a lifetime of upkeep and maintenance, and a shorter ‘life-span’ than aluminium or composites.  It will need regular repainting or oiling and staining to maintain protection for the wood and maintain its appearance.  However, even with that constant attention, over time it will be prone to warping, mould and rotting due to weather damage, not to mention the destruction caused by termites and other wood boring insects.

Aluminium is the most expensive option, but it will handle our hot Australian climate conditions better than natural timber and requires no maintenance.  It will last much longer than timber and is not prone to warping, rotting, or termite attack, however, depending on the type you buy, it can get very hot, and you need to consider any plants nearby that might suffer from the heat generated.  Depending on the manufacturer, its warranty can range anywhere from 2 to 10 years.

Consider Composite Timber Slats

A third option, composite timber, which is a combination of recycled timber and plastic, is a more attractive option for many because it is designed to look like real timber without the problems inherent with real wood.  And while it is also slightly more expensive than natural timber, it is cheaper than aluminium.  You never have to repaint, oil or seal it.  It is hard wearing, long-lasting and maintenance-free, and some come with 10-year warranties.  But shop around. For example, NewTechWood offers a 25-year warranty.

NewTechWood composite timber slats are treated with Ultrashield technology.  They are not only termite proof, they are UV and mould resistant, and will not rot or warp.  If you want slats that look like natural timber, but without all the maintenance and upkeep, this is your best option.  It also comes with aluminium channels, in different colours to match and coordinate with your fencing.

Old lattice fencingAs with slat fencing, screening has also come a long way from the days of timber lattice – do you remember the rusting nails, the peeling paint and broken lattice structure?

Slat screens also have their own set of rules which differ between Councils. When used as a privacy screen, as opposed to something to conceal an eyesore such as pool pumps and equipment, some of the considerations are that the maximum visual permeability allowed is 20%, and all privacy screens must meet minimum height requirements of 1.6m (above floor level).  In addition, the area of vision through the slats must be no more than 45 degrees.

Know the Installation Rules

Don’t rely on your installer to be aware of specific rules that pertain to your suburb; check with your local Council yourself. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Want to know more about slat fencing or composite timber slats? Talk to our friendly team about your project or get a quote.  Visit our showroom to see and feel the beauty of composite timber.

UltraShield Composite Decking.

Timber and Water – Fencing & Decking for Your Seaside Location

Here in Perth, especially in the western suburbs, it’s great to live by the beach to find relief from the hot summer sun. However, that hot sun and that beautiful salty air that feels so great against our skin isn’t so great for our outdoor areas and building exteriors. Special care and consideration needs to be taken in coastal regions to ensure the longevity of your fencing, decking, and even your home.

The Problem with Timber 

timber rotTimber is a classic material that many homeowners love to use for their homes and gardens. However, if you live near the ocean, timber is a poor choice for decking your outdoor living area or using in fencing as it’s not likely to last very long, even with proper care and maintenance. This is because UV rays dry out and crack the paint and seals used to maintain the timber, and the salty moisture in the air then seeps into the wood, causing mould and rot.

Similar Issues with Metal 

To avoid the common issues that people have with wood, many choose to use steel fencing instead. However, the use of metal comes with its own set of issues. Salt is highly corrosive to steel, causing it to rust much more quickly than it would in non-coastal areas. The closer your home is to the waterfront, the more severe this problem will be.

Composite Materials

That said – outdoor living is such a huge part of the Australian lifestyle that you will still want to invest in your outdoor living space to enjoy the sun and the sea breeze. So what are you to do to prevent your decking and fencing investments going down the drain after a few short months exposed to the sea air?

Composite materials provide the answer that you are looking for. While you’ll still get that welcoming and traditional aesthetic that timber offers, composite timber materials do not have the same weaknesses as their timber and metal counterparts when exposed to the elements, making them the perfect choice for seaside homes. Rather than having to constantly maintain, repair and replace your decking and fencing, composites deliver the long-lasting durability, being UV resistant and rot-free.

With quality composite timber (like the level of quality you’ll find in NewTechWood products), you’ll get a deck or fence designed to fully mimic real wood, right down to the grain texture. This way, you can achieve the classic look of wood that people love so much, but without all the hassle and cost of frequent maintenance and repairs.

Composite Cladding

Urban direct wholesale, cladding by Laura and Charles photography, North Perth

As well as composite being a fantastic material for your decking and fencing, composite cladding for your home’s exterior walls is also a great option for coastal areas – it doesn’t get affected by the salt air and so protects the walls of your home from succumbing to the harmful UV rays and salt air near the coast. Even cladding the exterior wall facing the coast or facing the sun at the hottest point of the day can have a huge impact on your home’s longevity.

To learn more about our products and what we can do for your home, get in touch with us today!