How to Finish the Fronts of Concrete Steps

Plain concrete steps aren’t exactly attractive. They are just there — easy and boring. If you have a set of concrete steps, you can enhance the appearance of these and add a little style and thickness by simply improving the fronts of the steps with a small shade. Concrete stain is a very simple way to do this without causing the slippery danger that painted steps creates. The stain includes an acid which causes a chemical reaction using the concrete, etching into the surface and eternally coloring it.

Scrub the steps with a scrub brush and soapy water to remove any debris and dirt. Rinse the surface with a water heater once it’s clean. Let it perform dry for a couple hours before rinsing, but do not allow it to dry out entirely. Water is needed to assist the chemical reaction.

Fill out a garden sprayer using a concrete stain in the shade of your choice. Read the directions and include water accordingly. Place the top on the sprayer and shake to mix everything together. The sprayer needs to be designed to be used with acid solutions.

Cover and tape the tops off of the steps if you don’t want to complete them as well.

Cover the steps using a template pattern or use tape to make a layout if you want.

Spray the steps with the stain, moving the nozzle back and forth across the steps.

Remove the stencil or tape in the steps and allow the stain dry for a couple hours.

Watch for a deposit to build up around the surface of the stained region. When it forms, scrub the surface with soapy water and a brush to remove the residue. Allow the surface dry immediately.

Fill a separate sprayer using a concrete sealant and spray on the front of the steps to maintain the stain over time.

Remove the covering from the tops of the steps after the sealant has dried for a few hours.

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PH Testing Devices for Pond Water

Whether a pond has an acidic or alkaline bent shows up in the water’s pH. The pH range runs from 1 to 14, with lower numbers indicating acidic water and higher values indicating alkaline water. A reading of 7 is neutral. Most ponds run between 6.8 and 7.8, with values fluctuating through the day. Checking a pond’s pH is a very important step toward keeping water chemistry. You’ve got several options with respect to monitoring pH, the majority of which you might purchase at garden centres, pet shops or online.


Paper test strips are also referred to as litmus paper, pH paper or just test paper. Retailers sell packages that contain tens of thousands or even a hundred test strips in them. The paper includes a reagent that reacts with hydrogen ions in the water. Drop a test strip into a vial that contains a sample of pond water, and the reaction occurs. In a few moments, the test strip changes color. By comparing the color of the test strip to a color wheel included with the strips, then you can determine the pH of the pond. Test strips provide a fast reading, but it’s a subjective one, as it involves a color comparison, which might be difficult to interpret.


Liquid tests work similarly to paper test strips. Add some drops of reagent to a sample of pond water and then wait for the color change to happen. These kits comprise a color wheel for comparison purposes, and they suffer with the identical subjective interpretations as paper test kits. The benefit of liquid over paper is that the entire sample may be disposed of at once, rather than needing to choose out a wet test strip prior to pouring out the contents of the sample vial.


Electronic, electronic read-out metres are accurate pH measurement tools with quick analysis and display. Meters should be calibrated periodically with alternatives of a known pH. The test solution is often packaged with meters or may be bought separately. A meter picks up the quantity of hydrogen ions present in pond water through an electronic probe. The meter is a battery powered, handheld tool that’s typically small enough to maintain the pocket.

Price Factors

Both analyze papers and analyze solutions are low cost options that offer precise enough readings for many ponds. Batches of test papers or a bottle of falls often sell for $10 or less as of 2012, and resources are easily available either online or in local shops. Electronic meters are considerably more expensive, ranging from approximately $60 to a few hundred dollars per unit. If you intend to check pH several times daily for extended periods, a meter may offer convenience and ease of use.

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What Types of Ferns Prefer Acidic Soil?

Ferns generally prefer shady gardens using acidic soil. Soil with a pH of 7 is considered neutral. A pH below 7 is acidic, while a pH above 7 is alkaline. Different kinds of ferns have particular soil pH conditions within the acidic selection, however. Some types of ferns need acidic soil with a lower pH, but some prefer soil that is just slightly acidic. Still others are going to grow in acidic, neutral or slightly alkaline soils. Your soil pH can be determined with a simple pH test. It’s worth determining before deciding which kind of fern will thrive in your garden soil.

Low pH Soil

Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata), also known as sword ferns, and flowering ferns (Osmunda regalis), also called royal ferns, prefer a lower pH. Boston ferns are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 9 to 11. This kind of fern grows in soil with a pH of 5.0 to 5.5. They do best in humid conditions in partial to full shade where the land is high in organic matter. Its bright-green fronds grow to a height of 3 feet and width of 6 inches. Flowering ferns are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 10. They grow in soil with a pH of 4.3 to 5.2. This kind of fern has brown, leafless fertile fronds and infertile, leafy fronds that can be up to 6 feet tall. The 2-inch extended leaflets are spaced slightly apart along the frond, giving the fern an open, airy look. It favors organically rich soil in full shade but will tolerate up to six hours of direct sunlight so long as the soil is kept moist.

Low to Moderately Acidic Soil

American climbing ferns (Lygodium palmatum) and Japanese tassel ferns (Polystichum polyblepharum) prefer a soil pH of 5.1 to 6.5 and are hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9. American growing ferns, also known as creeping, Hartford and Windsor ferns, grow long, 3- to 4-foot tall twining fronds that will climb nearby plants. Its leaflets are palmate or shaped like an open palm with fingers outstretched. They’ll grow in partial or full shade. Japanese tassel ferns, also called Japanese lace ferns and Korean tassel ferns, grow to a height of two to three feet with dark, glossy green fronds and finely dissected or serrated leaflets. Dappled or full shade with rich soil that is kept uniformly moist is most effective for this kind of fern.

Moderately Acidic Soil

Cinnamon ferns (Osmunda cinnemonea) and Ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) prefer soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Cinnamon ferns grow to between 5 and 3 feet tall with light green fronds. This kind of fern has sterile and fertile fronds. The sterile fronds are cinnamon brown when they first emerge but change graduallyto green as they mature. The fertile fronds remain cinnamon brown and do not develop green leaflets. They are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 10. A planting website with visually rich, moist soil in partial shade is ideal for the fern, but it is going to grow with as much as six hours of direct sun exposure or dappled shade. Ostrich ferns grow to a height of 2 to 6 feet with dark green, finely dissected fronds. They are hardy in USDA zones 2 to 8. In warm Mediterranean climates, they need to be planted in a shady place with rich soil that stays uniformly moist.

Acidic to Alkaline Soil

Holly ferns, Japanese holly ferns or Asian net-vein holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum), and Christmas or dagger ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides) prefer a soil pH of 5.6 to 7.8. Holly ferns are hardy in USDA zones 6 to 11. They grow to a height of two feet with dark green, pointed leaflets that resemble holly tree leaves. This kind of fern prefers organically rich soil in partial or full shade, but will grow with as much as six hours of direct sunlight. Christmas ferns are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9. They grow to a height of two feet with leathery green leaflets that resemble small Christmas stockings. Fast-draining soil that is high in organic matter in partial or full shade is ideal for this kind of fern.

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What's a Tomato Paste Plant?

Home gardens, farmers’ markets and supermarket produce shelves overflow today with a dizzying array of tomatoes, from rainbow heirloom to beefsteak to bite-size grape and cherry varieties. One special type of tomato is that the paste variety, which also may be called Italian or plum tomatoes. Traditionally, glue tomato crops are developed for processing, but today, their fruit has evolved into a tastier tomato liked fresh from the vine.

About Paste Tomatoes

Paste tomatoes have also traditionally been used for maintaining because they have a dry, meaty flesh and less juicy seed gel, with few or no seeds, making their processing easier than for other tomato varieties. Tomato paste plants produce a fruit that is typically elongated and plum or pear-shaped. The paste tomato plants themselves are typically briefer than other tomato types, and determinate cultivars produce prolific numbers of adult fruit in 70 to 80 days. This is an extra advantage for maintaining and processing paste tomatoes, which can be best done in large batches.

Common and Recommended Varieties

Of all of the paste tomato plant varieties, “Roma” is among the most popular conventional paste cultivars. This classic paste tomato is developed on a compact vine that creates 3-inch-long, plum- or pear-shaped red fruit. The Italian “San Marzano” is another famous glue tomato variety, and some think its 3 1/2-inch-long fruit surpasses the “Roma” as much as full-flavored taste is concerned. “Amish Paste” tomato plants are grown in the United States for over a hundred years, producing deep red fruits that aren’t overly acidic. Past the common red paste tomatoes are the “Tangerine Mama” and “Golden Mama” varietiesthat produce a mild sweet lemon juice. Other noted paste tomato varieties include “Mama Leone,” “Jersey Devil,” “Russian Big Roma,” “Viva Italia” and “Principe Borghese.”

Growing at Home

Paste tomato plants can be grown in home gardens like any other tomato variety. If you’re sowing from seed, plant indoors six to eight weeks before your last frost date. After any chance of frost has passed, young plants may be put outside in soil mixed with compost. Tomatoes are generally sun-loving, warm-weather plants, however, the paste varieties “Mama Leone” and “San Marzano Redorta” are flowers which grow well in foggy, cooler spaces. Indeterminate varieties like the “Jersey Devil” and “Russian Big Roma” will likely require staking, caging or use of a trellis for extra support. Glue tomato plants require regular watering, about 1 inch of water per week, to ensure healthy growth and development of fruit.

Use in Cooking

Fruit from paste tomato plants have many uses in the kitchen. Whole or crushed paste tomatoes are maintained to be used in making salsa and chili or chili sauces over winter. Paste tomatoes may also be used to make ketchup or tomato paste, which is frozen as opposed to canned. The “Principe Borghese” assortment is just a paste tomato that is more commonly maintained by drying as opposed to canning, and others like “Big Mama” have deep flavors for use as slices in salads.

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Repairing Cracked, Discontinued Tile

A cracked tile may be an eyesore that detracts from the entire room. Generally speaking, the first step to fixing a cracked tile is to replace it with a new one. But sometimes this isn’t possible, particularly when your shingles have been discontinued and you do not need a replacement. In this case, hairline and other minor cracks can be repaired with a small amount of epoxy and some paint.

Clean the cracked tile, utilizing tile cleaner or dish detergent to be sure the crack and the region surrounding it’s free of any dust, grease or debris. Dry the tile thoroughly, using a soft cloth.

Mix the epoxy on a bit of cardboard. Stir the epoxy with a craft stick till it’s crystal clear and tacky.

Scoop up some epoxy on the end of a craft stick, if the crack is wide. Alternatively, use a toothpick to get a thin or hairline crack. Use the epoxy directly onto the crack. Make sure it passes the crack and makes a level surface with the remaining part of the tile. Turn the craft stick horizontally and scrape it across the surface of the tile to remove any excess epoxy from the tile. The epoxy will begin to harden within 10 minutes, so eliminate any excess as soon as it’s noticed. Allow the epoxy dry for 24 hours.

Apply a small amount of oil or urethane-based paint to the epoxy, with a fine, artist’s paintbrush. Verify the paint matches the tile. Work in slow, cautious strokes to blend from the paint with the rest of the tile until the split is unnoticeable. Allow the paint dry completely.

Brush a layer of urethane sealer over the painted tile to seal the paint and keep it from peeling or flaking. Allow the sealer dry fully.

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How to Edge Landscapes for Drainage

Not all natural areas are easy to keep. Some have soil that’s packed and hard, creating a great deal of water run-off and leaving small water in plant beds. Other areas’ plant mattresses simply can not retain the enormous amounts of rainwater that drop during certain times of year. If your landscaping includes drainage issues, then just a little bit of digging may fix those problems.

Dig a trench that’s 3 to 4 inches wide and 4 inches deep around the landscape’s plant mattresses. If the soil is soft, you may have the ability to use a hoe as opposed to a scoop.

Create smaller trenches in the plant beds using a hoe or trowel. The smaller trenches will stop standing water around crops, helping mattresses that do not absorb water well, such as those using clay soil. They also help when it rains too much at once and the soil cannot absorb all of the rainwater quickly.

Slope the small trenches within the plant beds toward the mattresses’ outer trenches. Make each slope very minor, such as a 1/4-inch drop each four feet of trench, so that water doesn’t rush too quickly out of their mattresses. Use a level to look at every single slope. By flowing gradually, some water in the small trenches will have enough time to absorb into the soil. The rest of the water will soak into the soil along the beds’ outer trenches. Maintaining rainwater close to the plant mattresses will help the area retain moisture.

Dig shallow trenches along the borders of walkways. During downpours, rainwater will fill the trenches, keeping standing water off the walkways. In case a walkway is on level ground, slope its trenches to help rainwater move elsewhere. If a plant bed is nearby, then an option is to dig trenches from a walkway to the plant bed to help water the bed plants.

Fill trenches that border plant beds and walkways with gravel or smaller stones to make a better look. Fill trenches inside plant mattresses using a combination of gravel and sand, and cover those trenches in plant beds with soil and mulch to conceal them. Sand, gravel and small stones allow water to flow freely during trenches. Sand also prevents soil from settling in trenches.

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How to Make Linoleum Floors Smell Good

New linoleum flooring may off-gas, emitting fumes you can smell throughout the space. Pet injuries and other family mishaps may also create an older floor scent less than brand new. Remove those unpleasant odors by cleaning the ground with a vinegar or baking soda solution. Add essential oils to make the flooring smell better.

New Linoleum Smell

New linoleum flooring may emit a slight odor, similar to olive oil, for several months after installation. The glue used to hold the linoleum in place may also give off a strong chemical odor. To rid the space of these unpleasant smells, open the windows as frequently as possible. Put a box fan or window fan in one window, then drawing air out of the room. If you have another fan, place it in a window on the opposite side of the room or home, to draw fresh air into the room. Bowls of vinegar, baking soda or coffee grounds put around the room also help to absorb the unpleasant odor, making the room smell better. Keep bowls of these natural odor absorbers from young children and pets.

Baking Soda Mopping Mixture

Rather than using a store-bought merchandise to mop the linoleum, make your own cleaner that has natural odor-removing properties. Insert 1/4 cup baking soda to 1/2 gallon of warm water, stirring well. Mop the floor with it, wringing out most of the moisture, then enable the baking soda mix to sit for several minutes. Mop the floor again with clean water then. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil, such as lemon or lavender, to create a pleasing natural scent, if you prefer.

Vinegar Odor Remover

Vinegar removes odors such as those left behind by pet accidents. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle to spritz certain areas after cleaning up the litter, or spray on the entire ground with a very light mist of the vinegar solution; then go over it with a soft, dry cloth. Vinegar may also be used to clean the ground — include 1/2 cup of it to 1/2 gallon of warm water in a bucket. Add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil to make the flooring smell better.

Vital Oil Spritzer

If the flooring is already relatively clean but you don’t care for how it smells, create your personal freshening spray by mixing one or more essential oils with either distilled water or even plain vodka. Add some water or vodka to a fine-mist spray bottle, then pour five to ten drops every one of your favourite scents. Replace the lid; shake the bottle, and spritz the ground thus a light mist falls to the ground. Adjust the amount of oils in the mix until you enjoy the scent. Test the spray in an inconspicuous area first; just utilize the spray when pets and young children are out of the room.

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How to Get Sunken Chair Marks Away Carpets

Furniture and carpeting do not always play well together. Moving a heavy chair reveals indentations left behind by its legs, creating small craters in the carpeting. These indentations can easily be remedied in many cases, however, using moisture or steam.

Removing Chair-Leg Carpet Dents

Run your fingers through the carpet fibers over each indentation to assist coax them back into position. For plush carpeting, this may be enough to take care of the issue, or it will at least help resolve it. If the indentations stay, place an ice cube inside each dent left behind by the seat, leaving them to melt down entirely. After a couple of hours, run your fingers or the bowl of a spoon during the carpet over the affected areas to assist the fibers return to their original spots. Steam provides a different way to remove dents — place a moist white cotton cloth over a dent, ironing the cloth on a low or medium setting to heat the carpet fibers back into position. Lift the cloth after a minute or so of ironing to see if the dent is gone; if not, iron it a little more.

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How Many Dry Ounces of Potting Soil Are in 1 Gallon?

Plain soil from a garden can weigh 12 lbs per 1 gallon. Add water, which weighs 8.3 lbs per gallon at room temperature, and also a large container can develop into an immovable item. Soilless potting mixtures, based on their composition, can weigh a few ounces to 1 pound per gallon. Their lighter weight and receptive texture keeps moisture and allows pot-bound origins to stretch and breathe.

Potting Mix Contents and Measurements

Potting mixtures are composed variously of coir, peat moss, humus, compost and soil conditioners such as vermiculite or perlite in combinations intended for successful container gardening. Potting mix bags typically record contents in quarts or cubic feet, not gallons. So comparing contents from gallons isn’t quite as accurate as with the other dimensions. 1 gallon, however, is equivalent to 4 quarts or roughly one-sixth of 1 cubic foot. Soilless potting mixes may vary in weight from 16 oz to 117 oz for 4 quarts.

Mix Composition and Weight

Commercial potting mixes vary widely in composition, and also the materials’ dry weight contains moisture from environmental humidity. A mixture based on coconut coir, which weighs 11 1/2 oz a 1 gallon, weighs less than a mixture that contains peat moss, which weighs 60.8 oz per compressed gallon. General mixtures heavy in vermiculite or perlite that chew oz per gallon weigh much less than cactus mixtures containing mud, which can weigh over 160 oz per gallon. For general usage, however, a lighter potting mixture provides better moisture retention and also allows drainage for extra water.

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Fixing Carpet With Furniture Indentations

If you are hesitant to move your furniture due to the scrapes it leaves behind in the carpet, don’t worry — that the indentations aren’t permanent. Erase them fast with one of several moisture-based solutions that enables those rug fibers relax back into position once again.

From Cold to Hot

Place an ice cube on the indentation and let it melt in position — a massive score may need more than one cube. Utilize the damp carpet fibers back and forth with your hand, the side of a wooden spoon or even a comb. Vacuum the region, if necessary, to assist the fibers recover their initial positions. To get a steam therapy, place a slightly damp white tea towel over the dented area; then iron it onto a cotton setting, moving the iron about gradually. Leave the towel in place for at least 15 minutes after ironing to help refresh the rug fibers. When you’ve got a steam cleaner, steam-clean the carpet rather, following the steamer manual’s directions.

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