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If you’re leaving your house unattended for a little while, there are lots of ways to make sure your space is secured and least of a target as possible for potential break ins. In this post, we’ve collected all the best tips and precautions for you on how to keep safe and street wise.

  1. Alarm system

Having an alarm system in your home is a great investment. Not only can you go away in peace knowing that any unknown movement will be picked up on, but it can also provide a lot of reassurance. There are many type of systems available for whatever you may need, some of them including CCTV, outdoor sensored lighting, alarms on as many doors of the house as you like and even remote controlling so that you are able to check up on it whilst you are away. Always expect the unexpected!

2. Look lived in

Simple tasks like mowing the lawn really do make a difference to making sure your home doesn’t look neglected and vulnerable to break ins. Additionally, setting timers for the radio and lights in your house whilst you are away is a great way of deterring potential suspicions. Set timers for the usual time of day that you’d use these: for example if you use a radio to wake you up in the morning keep it on during your time away, making sure it can turn itself off. The same thing goes for lights: install a timer switch to set the light in your hallway to turn itself on when it gets dark for a few hours and people will think that you are living in the house as normal!

3. Warning signs

In order to be extra safe, it’s also worth making sure that anyone who may be potentially thinking of breaking and entering knows that you have security measures in place. Even if you don’t have a real alarm set up in your house or are yet to get one done, we would suggest getting an alarm bell box on the outside of your home, real or fake. This is a clear signal that you have taken precautions to secure your home.

4. A safe

If you are worried about any high value possessions you may have, using a safe will keep your mind at rest, in the knowledge that they wouldn’t be accessible to anyone who tries to find them. To take extra precaution, be sure to hide the safe away not in an open space where it could be easily found, perhaps at the back of a wardrobe or in a loft.

5. Help from your neighbourhood

If you are aware that your neighbours are around during your time away, it may be worth asking them to keep an eye out or check up on your home for anything unusual. This could be in the form of collecting your post, parking their car in your driveway or even coming in every day to feed a pet or open and close your curtains. Alternatively, if this isn’t an option for you it’s worth having at look at your local neighbourhood watch scheme to see how you could get involved and receive community alert messages.

6. Durable doors

In the majority of break ins, criminals break into the house or flat through the door either by forcing the lock or kicking it in. With this in mind, it’s important to keep your doors strong and secure. Which material is your door made out of? If you feel like this is a possible risk for you, consider fitting in a bar for extra strength and precaution. For advice on how best to install it, speak to your local locksmith who should be able to guide you through it.

In addition, glass doors are vulnerable as they are easy to break and then give access to the locks. Switching to laminated glass will mean that your glass is much more durable. Adding film will also give it that extra layer and make it more difficult to break.

7. Deliveries

Whilst it’s easier to prevent making deliveries to your address for when you’re away, trivial deliveries like letters and milk can be easily forgotten about. Luckily enough, postage services like The Royal Mail have in place a ‘Keepsafe’ service. This allows the post that you’d be receiving to be kept aside by them for up to 2 months, should you need it. As for milk deliveries, be sure to let them know the period of time that you’re going away for and they will be able to put deliveries on hold for you.

8. Home exchange

If you prefer to have someone living in your house keeping an eye on it all the times there are plenty of sites available should you wish to do a home exchange. Similarly to AirBnB, they include ratings, feedback and recommendations of other users for your safety. There is trust on both sides of care for one anothers spaces and best of all, you can go away and stay in another person’s accomodation for free! Not too shabby.

We hope you found some useful tips and tricks about how to keep your home secure if you’re going away. Remember, it’s always good to double check everything is safe and secure before you leave and try not to be too vocal about it: not everyone has to know that the house could be empty! We’ve thought of everything so that you don’t have to, 😉 have a great trip!

 

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Christmas is over and the new year is fast approaching! All that’s left is a few extra pounds and what’s left over from Christmas day and its build up. We’ve recognised that it’s this time of year where waste rises considerably more, so we’ve put together some ways for you to spend the post-Christmas period sustainably and guilt free.

1. Gift wrapping

  • Re use your leftover gift wrapping for another present later on in the year. If your paper has been teared in awkward places or has rips, simply` trim them along the edges when it comes to re-wrapping and fold over the areas which may not look as neat. If you are left with a smaller piece than you originally had after first wrapping, use it for a future gift which is smaller, such as accessories or jewellery which don’t take up too much space.
  • One of the best ways to sustainably gift your presents is to present them in gift bags. They can be used over and over again and don’t require any additional effort like folding and sticking. The same can apply to bows and foils which may have also been used to decorate your gift. If you wish to dedicate 2019 to the year of recycling to the max then be sure to try out giving gifts in gift bags from now on – not only does it look as fabulous as gift wrapping paper, but also encourages other people to pass them on and re use them too!
  • Another reason to not throw away your leftover Christmas wrapping paper is to use them for crafts. Pretty patterned or coloured wrapping papers have many other uses. For example, say you have some pretty gold wrapping paper left over – use it to cut out stars which you could be used to decorate cards and more. You could even use your favourite patterned ones the following year and DIY your own baubles by placing it in a clear ball. However, if your wrapping paper is particularly christmassy (with snowmans or reindeers), there’s no harm in storing it neatly for next year to save you some cash – and it doesn’t take up much space!

2. Recycling your tree

The time has come to take your Christmas tree down – it has done its job of embellishing your home all season, witnessed family coming together and the joy that comes with it. Along with the responsibility taken on when buying your tree, recycling it is also an important part of keeping sustainable over the Christmas period.

  • If you have an artificial tree be sure to keep it for as long as possible as it’s made out of plastic PVC which is incredibly difficult to decompose. According to the Carbon Trust, “you would have to reuse your artificial tree for at least 10 Christmases to keep its environmental impact lower than that of a real tree”. In order to store it away for the following year, we would advise cleaning it branch by branch to remove accumulated dust before storing it in its box. When storing it, avoid places which are too wet to better preserve the tree and the colors of the branches.
  • If you have a natural fir tree this is definitely the more ecological option in comparison.

– If you have already bought and used a tree which has been  cut at the root then it would have already dried out and can not be replanted. Make sure it does not end up in a landfill as they can take up a lot of space and the tree produces methane gas as it decomposes, an incredibly potent greenhouse gas.

– The most ecological way to dispose of it would be to recycle it – this can be done in multiple ways. The most obvious would be to put it next to your recycling bin for it to be collected, however there are many local councils which have tree collection points to ensure that as many trees are recycled at possible. Make sure to check your local council’s website for more information.

– You can also reduce your carbon footprint by turning your tree into wood chip for your outdoor areas or drying it out completely and using it as wood for your winter fires.

  • The ideal way of loving the planet you live in is by growing your own tree. Buying a pot grown tree means that you’ll be able to re plant it’s roots in your garden for the following year. The only downside is that your tree must not be kept indoors for longer than 12 days as there is a risk of them dying. However, Fir trees are very resistant plants so once re planted their root systems will get back into action rapidly, allowing them to flourish again for the following year. They need very little attention over the year, just make sure to keep watering it well.

Alternatively, should you not want to buy an actual tree, there are lots of ideas of how to make your own tree out of fun materials here.

3. Food waste

Although it’s certain that we love to eat our hearts out over the Christmas period, a lot of it still goes to waste. According to WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), UK households throw away £15 billion worth of food over the entire year, generating tonnes of avoidable greenhouse emissions. 

Here are a few seasonal tips on the best way to try and prevent it:

  • With your leftover turkey (or chicken) carcass, boil it into a soup that will last you for weeks.
  • Leftover fruit can be blended together into smoothies. If you have grapes with your cheese board, they can be frozen to go with drinks or by themselves – they taste like sorbet!
  • If you use Stilton cheese it can also be frozen for future cooking.
  • Cooked turkey can be blended for turkey mince or frozen for a later date.
  • Whip any leftover cream and freeze it.
  • Christmas cake can also be frozen. Top tip – pre slice and wrap it in greaseproof paper to save you from de freezing the whole thing if you just want a slice. 😉
  • Get inventive with leftover sauces, meats and herbs and turn them into whichever pies, curries and sandwiches take your fancy!

4. Old toys

Whilst the kids are off playing with their new toys after Christmas, there is a chance that they could reject their old ones. Its normal for kids to like the latest trends as they come, so if you find that your child isn’t playing with a toy that father christmas got them a few christmases ago, don’t throw it away. Instead you could:

  • Give it a new life with another child by donating it to friends and family who may want them. If this isn’t an option, charity shops or giving them to your local council will most likely take them. You could even give them to a place of worship, sometimes churches and synagogues take in toys for their community – whether you’re religious or not! There’s always a way, you can be sure that another child will thank you 🙂
  • If possible, give old toys a makeover. For example, should you have an old toy shop which has become worn and torn, revamp it with a lick of new paint or some extra nuts and bolts. It’ll soon be as if it was brand new!
  • If you have a board game which has some pieces missing or even a pack of cards don’t have any aces… recycle them and get back that cupboard space.

 

We hope you’ve picked out some useful top tips and inspiration, don’t forget to make sure to love the planet in the same way that you have shown love to your friends and family this holiday season!

 

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Bathroom Renovations – Mistakes to Avoid

Are you thinking about renovating your bathroom? If so, then you may want to try and avoid these mistakes which occur often with bathroom renovations. Such mistakes may appear mild at the beginning, but could cause a major disaster long term. Bathroom renovation mistakes can cost a fortune to correct, and also be very time consuming. Many people fail to realize that a bathroom is the only place in the house that is subjected to harsh environmental conditions. Bathrooms can become very humid, and experience a large range of temperatures. Warm temperatures and humid conditions create a breeding ground for mold, especially if the bathroom lacks ventilation. Bathrooms are in constant use, not only by you, but your guests too.
Spend your money wisely. Design your bathroom the correct way by avoiding these top 5 bathroom renovation mistakes:

1. Inefficient Bathroom Layouts

A bathroom should have enough space to ensure one is comfortable while using it. The items to be installed in the bathroom should not occupy the entire space. Sometimes there is not enough space left to comfortably access the shower. It is usually an uncomfortable experience to always squeeze yourself in the shower on daily basis. You should always be alert to avoid this bathroom renovation mistake by having a bathroom plan drawn to scale. It is usually a good idea to have your bathroom design drawn up by a professional designer. Many bathroom suppliers offer a free design service, which involves drawing a 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) model of your bathroom design. They will probably come up with ingenious ways to maximize on space that you had not thought of. It will sure help you avoid a lot of sizing mistakes which happen during bathroom renovations.

2. Poor Quality Bathroom Products/Furniture

When it comes to bathroom furniture and fittings, you normally get what you pay for. Although a cheap tap may look nice and shiny, it could have a poor-quality chrome coating. Some metallic coatings may not be durable enough over a long period of time. Some may even be more sensitive to harsh cleaning products such as bleach. It is worth investing money in known brands when it comes to taps and metallic fittings such as handles. If you want the best, then consider using stainless steel where possible, as it is very resistant to corrosion. Another important bathroom item is the shower. Invest money in a decent shower with excellent seals. Simple showers are likely to stay cleaner for longer then ones with lots of grooves and edges.  Frameless showers are very low maintenance as they are constructed from less parts.

3. Inefficient Ventilation

This is a probably one of the most common mistakes which occurs during bathroom renovations, and it is a complex one too. When a bathroom has an improper ventilation, problems will start arising. Inefficient ventilation can be a breeding ground for mold. Also, lack of ventilation may cause more condensation to form, resulting in damp patches on walls. Any materials within your bathroom that naturally absorb moisture such as wood could also become affected over a long period of time. We always recommend using extractor fans that vent directly to the outside, rather than recirculating ones. Although extractor fans are essential, they can be noisy. There are many types of extractor fan which are activated in different ways such as light switch, pull cord, motion sensor or even humidity sensor. Personally, we prefer light switch activated extractor fans because they can be switched off immediately when leaving the bathroom, rather than a 15-minute time delay.

4. Choosing the Wrong Bathroom Tiles

This is another issue that is common among those who are renovating their bathrooms. Did you know that some wall tiles require sealing? If this is not carried out, then mold is likely to grow within the pores of your tile material. Always ask the manufacturer is your wall tiles require sealing before installation. Another thing to consider if the tiling grout. Tile grout is the most likely things in your bathroom to become moldy first. Therefore, it may be a good idea to have less tile grout by installing very large tiles. Also, you should consider of tile grout colors such as dark grey. Not only do other colors look different and fantastic, it will help to hide mold that will grow in years to come.

4. Choosing the Wrong Bathroom Flooring

Bathroom floors get wet on a daily basis, which is why selecting a suitable floor is important. Most people underestimate the importance of bathroom flooring. If you are choosing tiles, then make sure they have a rough surface. Installing smooth tiles on the floor can be dangerous when wet. Non-slip flooring will help you prevent unnecessary injuries, especially when getting out of the bath or shower. Some people think they can use normal laminate wood flooring. However, they soon find out that water can penetrate the wood structure of this flooring, causing it to swell and break apart. If you are after a laminate wood look, then we recommend using Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT). They are similar to laminate flooring as they are tongue and groove. But the difference is the material, as they are 100% plastic and therefore waterproof, making it ideal for bathroom renovations!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Warton Woodworks
Enjoy this article about mistakes during bathroom renovations? Warton Woodworks is a Loft Conversion and Home Renovation Company based in Essex, UK. They have extensive experience in the fields of carpentry, loft conversions and home renovation. More articles like this can be found on their Home DIY Blog, which is part of the Warton Woodworks website. Articles are based on their real world projects and experience.

Many homeowners have a lawnmower, but few know how to use it and often end up causing more damage to the grass by making simple mistakes! Read our lawn mowing tips to make sure that you cut the lawn perfectly, every time!

Lawn Mowing Tips and Tricks

thehandymano mano lawn mowing tips feature cover photo

Don’t set your mower too low!

Many don’t realise that you only need to cut the top third of the glass blades at any time, this sounds like a waste of time as you’ll have to cut it again sooner, but, longer grass blades develop a deeper root system which mean that it is easier for the roots to find water. If you cut the grass too low, you risk ‘scalping’ the lawn, which means that the roots will focus on growing upwards rather than downwards and growing longer roots. It also means that you’re more likely to get weeds, as taller grass blades shade the soil and prevent weed seeds from sprouting.

Choose your time wisely!

Many people mow their lawn on a hot afternoon, but, this can cause a lot of damage to both the lawn and the mower! We recommend mowing in early evening when the lawn is dry, as this allows enough time for the lawn to recover before the afternoon heat the following day. The lawn has to be dry otherwise you’ll risk getting an uneven trim and any wet clippings can clog your mower and, if not raked up, can end up thrown out onto your grass and result in patchy, brown spots!

Stay sharp!

For the cleanest cut every time you mow you lawn, make sure that you keep an eye on your blades and sharpen or replace them as necessary. Dull blades can do more harm than good by tearing up the grass and causing their edges to brown,leaving you with an unhappy lawn! You can find many tutorials online about how to sharpen mower blades or you can head to your local hardware store or a sharpening service.

How often?

Many people choose to mow their lawns based on a routine, ie every weekend. However, this can cause problems for your lawn, and one of our most important lawn mowing tips is to mow it as of when it seems like it needs cutting. Make sure to cut it less frequently in early spring as the grass takes longer to grow at this time of year. In late spring and summer, you may need to mow it more often (such as every week) which is possible as long as you’re never cutting off more than a third of the grass blades. In summer, we recommend leaving the grass clippings on the lawn as they can help retain moisture and add in more nutrients!

Take your time

If you mow the lawn too fast then you’re likely to miss parts of the lawn and create more work for yourself in the long run. If you rush your job, then you’re more likely to have an uneven cut and leave behind poorly mulched clippings, even if it’s dry grass!

Got green fingers for more advice? Try our other articles: 

Types of Shrubs – Seasonal Guide

Top Nine Low Maintenance Flowers

Up for changing your garden but unsure about what shrubs to go for? Here’s our complete guide to different types of shrubs and when to plant them! So you can finally shrub up on your knowledge 😉

What is a shrub?

Types of shrubs mano mano the handy mano

Let’s get this clear before we move on to the various types of shrubs! A shrub is mostly any woody plant that has several stems and is usually less than 3 meters tall. Think of them as small trees!

How do you plant a shrub?

Before you get all excited about the different types of shrubs which you can have all year round, you need to make sure that you know how to plant one prior to buying one! Fortunately, we put some simple instructions together for you!

Step 1: Pick a location Make sure that the shrub won’t grow to block your driveway, entrance, or become an obstruction to anyone else!
Step 2: Prepare the ground Remove any trace of weeds, grass or flowers. If you don’t remove them now then they’ll soak up your shrub’s moisture and nutrients!
Step 3: Dig a hole The hole needs to be at least double the width and depth of the bottom part of your shrub; this leaves room for roots to grow freely in the compost surrounding them
Step 4: Fill hole with compost and put the plant in! Fill the bottom of the hole with at least an inch of compost, and place your plant in the center of it. Finish by filling the area around the plant with a mixture of compost and soil. And voila!

Find our range of claw weeders and rakes here, they even come with a soil-loosening tools buying guide!

Types of shrubs to plant in summer

Hydrangea Paniculata

Types of shrubs mano mano the handy mano Hydrangea paniculata

One of the easiest shrubs to grow, the beautiful Hydrangea provides fluffy clusters of while flowers that eventually fade into shades of pink and green. They tend to blossom in late summer and autumn, and are perfect for a large container or any landscape spot!

Oleander

types of shrubs oleander the handy mano mano

You may have seen these on the road, this is due to the fact that they are so easy to grow! Throughout summer, Orleander produces pink,red,purple, yellow, lilac and sometimes white flowers. Be careful though, it is very poisonous so keep your animals off them!

Spirea

types of shrubs spirea thehandymano mano mano

Another easy-to-grow shrub is Spirea! In midsummer it produces clusters of pink flowers, however, you can also get golden or lime green leaves if you buy the ‘Goldmound’ variety!

Rose of Sharon

types of shrubs the rose of sharon thehandymano mano mano

Not all roses need to be difficult! The rose of Sharon blooms during hot seasons and produces flowers in shades of pink, lavendar, blue and white. Our top tip is to look for more sterile varieties, such as Minerva, to avoid lots of weedy seedlings which can fill up your garden!

Types of shrubs to plant in winter

Firethorn

types of shrubs the handy mano mano mano firethorn

These beautifully bright orange berries look stunning in the winter! The leaves stay green throughout summer and then turn a darlker green-brown over winter. You can use it as a hedge or against a wall or trellis!

Witch Hazel

witch hazel types of shrubs the handy mano manomano

These delicate petals bloom and curl up at night, but, on a sunny winters day they emit a strong but lovely fragrance! The flowers range from yellow to red, depending on the variety you choose.

Paperbush/Edgeworthia

Paperbush, or Edgeworthia, is a multibranched shrub that drops its leaves in mid-December to reveal its bark and white and yellow clusters of flowerbuds. Also with a strong fragrance, the Paperbush emits a lovely aroma during winter days – what more could you want in a shrub?

Want some more gardening advice, petal? Why not try these articles?

Top 8 Weird Flowers

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