(BPT) – The best bathrooms are more than just functional areas – they’re sanctuaries where you can escape, reset and recharge. And as one of the smallest and most-used rooms in the home, that’s likely why they’ve become the most popular remodeling project (78 percent), according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Luckily, simple updates can breathe new life into this small space. Transform your boring bath by incorporating these fast, fresh updates that don’t cost a fortune.

Create a focal point with updated faucets
It’s a focal point, one of the most frequently used items in the bath, so it’s important that your vanity incorporates a fabulous faucet. If you prefer more traditional styling, the Moen Wetherly bathroom faucet offers a refreshed, old-world design that’s guaranteed to add a touch of luxury. Or if you like a more industrial, yet elegant look, Gibson bathroom faucets feature an edgy, square-shaped high-arc spout and sleek lever handles. And to keep your new fixtures looking flawless, both are available at Lowe’s in Spot Resist Brushed Nickel finish, which resists fingerprints and water spots, maintaining the brilliance of the faucet.

In addition to the beautiful styling, you’ll feel good about your update, since each bathroom faucet has been certified to meet WaterSense criteria, meaning the fixtures meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guidelines as an environmentally responsible and efficient product.

Add beauty with bath hardware

Once you’ve upgraded your faucet, look to the other metallic accents in the room for a subtle, yet effective way to pull together the design. Coordinating bath hardware, such as towel bars, rings, robe hooks, shelves, knobs and pulls, will instantly add a functional and fashionable impact.

Let there be light
Assess your current lighting to ensure it offers the look and feel you want for your bath. Too dark? Add new decorative fixtures that complement your faucets and hardware. There are many styles that feature multiple lamps for added illumination. Too bright? Add a dimmer switch to your lighting to soften the mood when you’re looking to relax.

Set the mood with color

According to Freshome architecture and design blog, room color affects our moods and thoughts – so choose wisely. Add a splash of color to the walls with a fresh coat of high-gloss paint to give the space an instant facelift. Create a zen retreat by enhancing your bath with shades of yellow, which are energizing and uplifting; or soft blues, which are calming, relaxing and serene.

Next, add coordinating textiles; a fabric shower curtain, plush bath towels, rugs and bath mat can add a finishing designer touch.

Shower sanctuary
A quality showerhead can dramatically improve your daily showering experience. Take your shower from lackluster to luxurious with the new Moen Halo rainshower. The pivoting, double-ring design offers up to 60 percent more coverage than standard rainshowers and features three consumer-preferred spray settings – all presented in a clean, modern design to make a style statement in any bath.

Replacing a showerhead can be a quick and inexpensive project, simply unscrew the old showerhead and attach the new one to the shower arm.

Add a finishing touch with furniture

No matter the size of your bathroom, we all want more storage. Look around your home for unused accents, such as a small shelf, chest – or even a cupboard or armoire. The extra drawer space will come in handy to keep your clutter under control – while also adding a bit of style, warmth and pizzazz to your newly updated room.

Don’t think that fix-ups have to be long, drawn-out projects. By following these fast updates, you’ll be surprised how quickly and easily you can take your bathroom from boring to a spa-like sanctuary.

Courtesy of BPT

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The hard truth: You can’t be too cautious when it comes to participating in social media. According to a CareerBuilder.com survey, 37 percent of employers check sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in their research of candidates. And the employer scrutiny of social media takes on a whole new dimension for many once on the job as a growing number of employers are establishing policies about the use of social media on and off the clock for their employees.

The clash between employee use of social media and employers has come to a head with the dramatic rise in the number of legal cases involving employees and their use of the Internet both on and off the job, according to FindLaw.com, the nation’s leading website for free legal information.

“The photos and comments you post on social media websites can follow your career for years to come,” says Solomon Gresen, an employment law attorney with the Law Offices of Rheuban & Gresen in Los Angeles. “When you start posting online, you create a digital trail that’s available for all to see – including current and future employers. And, in many ways, what you post remains forever.”

In one case, an employee was fired when she posted photos of herself dancing and throwing a Frisbee at a festival on her Facebook profile. Why? She was on a temporary leave and claimed she was in severe pain from an old back injury.

“I would strongly urge parents to talk to their high school- and college-age children about the importance of building a reputable online presence,” adds Gresen. “One careless Facebook post or inappropriate tweet could wind up damaging your reputation and negatively impacting your career potential.”

Here are some additional tips from FindLaw.com on how to avoid career-limiting social media mistakes:

Ask about your company’s social media policies. With more companies adopting social media policies, educating yourself is key. If there aren’t any policies at your workplace, it’s best to use common sense.

Search yourself. Want to check out what your potential or current employer may see about you online? Do a search of your name on any of the leading search engines to get a snapshot of how you appear digitally to others. If you see any red flags, manage them right away – or be prepared for the situation should an employer bring it up with you.

Complete your LinkedIn profile. Many recruiters search LinkedIn for candidates. This is one place to put your best foot forward and attract employers. Don’t treat it as an online resume with every career detail – just include highlights of your work history and accomplishments.

Don’t lie or exaggerate your work experience. The Internet offers employers the opportunity to corroborate information you claim about yourself. Therefore, it’s wise to not lie or exaggerate on your resume or LinkedIn profile.

Avoid sharing sensitive work-related information. Don’t share privileged or confidential information about your company or customers. It could put your career and the company at risk.

Don’t vent about work. Don’t complain about your boss. Don’t gripe about how boring work is. Don’t play hooky and then post photos about your incredible day off. Always assume that someone from your company may be watching what you say or post.

Be careful about what photos you share. With smartphone cameras connected directly to social networks, photos can easily be posted without a second thought. Photos of you participating in inappropriate or risky behavior can quickly tarnish your professional reputation. Employers want employees who mirror company values. If they’re looking for ways to quickly whittle down a large pool of candidates, this is one of them.

Be cautious about who you connect with. In the world of business you’re known by the company you keep. The same rule applies to social media. Everything you like on Facebook or follow on LinkedIn or Twitter factors into your online reputation.

Use your privacy settings. Want to limit some of the problems mentioned and put space between your personal and professional life? Adjust your privacy settings. Many social media platforms have controls that allow you to fine-tune how your information and posts are displayed.

To learn more about employment law, visit FindLaw.com.

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Upgrading your home’s exterior lighting is a surefire way to increase your home’s curb appeal and resell value. And a well-lit front lawn can also deter would-be burglars. Most of  the outdoor lighting of one’s home adds a welcoming touch for family and guests. Here you can learn about outdoor lighting trends, common lighting problems and their solutions, and things to consider when selecting outdoor lighting fixtures.

First and foremost, it’s important to give a considerable amount of thought to the placement of your outdoor lights. Just as you would not place several lighting fixtures like table lamps or wall sconces in a single area of your living room, you don’t want to place exterior fixtures too close together either. This is a common problem when integrating pathlights into your outdoor lighting solution. Too many pathlights, too close together can make your walkway look more like the runway at an airport. Instead of placing the lights directly opposite one another on either end, try a staggered approach. The light will flow less harshly.

Another common mistake in selecting outdoor lights is in finding the proper lighting direction, or limiting “light pollution”. Outdoor lights should not obstruct one’s vision or interfere with one being able to see the entire landscape of a yard or area clearly. On a similar note, the lights should not shine directly into the road or a neighboring yard either. To avoid such issues, look for spotlights with glare guards.

Just as it would be boring to find the same exact lamp in every room of one’s home, it’s boring to see the same outdoor lighting fixture repeated throughout the yard. It can make the home appear institutional as opposed to personal. Use a wide variety of fixtures to light your yard; it will enhance the character and charm of your home.

Be sure to balance your home’s exterior lighting. Another common mistake in outdoor lighting placement, is to inadvertently divide the yard by placing too many lights in one area and too little in another. You want to evenly distribute light throughout the canvas of your home. You don’t want your yard looking like a parking lot.

Finally, like most things in home d├ęcor, less is more. Outdoor lighting should call attention to the beautiful and unique features of your home. It should not be intrusive. Proper outdoor lighting calls attention to various parts of your home’s exterior, not the entire surface area. Over illumination is never attractive indoor or outdoor.

by: Melinda Cayetano 

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7064.shtml 

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Only one in 10 adults believes this is a good time to sell a home. If you’re on hold in the real estate market, now is the time to get your house in order – literally. Make the right changes today, and you’ll get a better price tomorrow.

But before you invest in a home-improvement project, consider your potential buyers with this fact in mind: More than 3.5 million baby boomers turn 55 each year, according to the U.S. Census. Since people aged 45 to 64 make up more than a quarter of today’s U.S. population, there’s a good chance you’ll be selling to someone in this age group. Will your home appeal to them?

Your chances will be better if your home has “aging in place” design features that make it easier for older adults to live on their own longer. These modifications are the fastest-growing segment of the home remodeling industry, says the National Association of Home Builders. Because they range from simple fixes to full-scale renovations, making aging-in-place changes can suit any budget.

Best of all, this type of project not only improves a home’s resale value for the future, it also increases its safety and comfort for all residents right now.

Add a bath where none exists

Adding a bathroom on the main living level is a smart strategy to appeal to older adults, says national home safety expert Meri-K Appy. “Falls are the leading cause of home injury deaths, and older adults are at greatest risk for them,” she says.  “Eliminating the need to use stairs and reducing the distance to a bathroom can be a great safety advantage.”

A new bath is also a sound investment. This one improvement was shown to return more than 53 percent of its cost at resale in the Remodeling Magazine Cost vs. Value Report.

A macerating toilet system is a good way to lower the cost of adding a bath, says Otis Dardy, owner of Dardy Construction in Conyers, Ga. Dardy recently used macerating, or up flush, technology to install a full bathroom in a home that lacked below-floor plumbing drainage. With conventional plumbing fixtures, Dardy would have had to dig through the concrete, creating a costly and time-consuming mess. Instead, he used Saniflo up flush technology, which allows you to add plumbing to any room in your home, even the basement, without having to break up the floor.

Macerating plumbing systems pump waste and water from a toilet – as well as a sink, shower, wet bar, even a washing machine – upward through small diameter piping.

Before Dardy knew about macerating plumbing systems, many of his customers who wanted a bathroom couldn’t afford the cost of creating new drainage. “I can save them a ton of money now,” he says. “It will also work if you want to convert a walk-in closet into a powder room.”

Looking for more ways to update a bathroom with aging adults in mind? Put a telephone line in the bathroom. You may also want to install grab bars in and near tubs and showers while adding a hand-held showerhead. It not only makes bathing easier, but it also helps when it’s time to wash a pet or clean the tub. Use low, open shelving, and place nightlights in hallways and bathrooms to improve illumination and reduce falls.

Universal improvements

If you’re doing a kitchen remodel, consider using nonslip flooring. Some designers recommend cork tiles, which have the added advantage of being environmentally friendly.

To make your kitchen workspace more user-friendly, vary the height of your countertop areas to accommodate both standing and seated cooks, and don’t forget to install bright task lighting. Always choose appliances with controls that are easy to read and easy to use.

Push/pull levers are a must for kitchen faucets, and installing thermostatic and anti-scald devices can reduce hot-water burn injuries.

If you’re replacing windows, make sure the hardware is easy to operate. Installing a new entry door? Choose a low-maintenance alternative to wood. All stairways inside and out should have two handrails and bright overhead lighting.

Less-expensive improvements include replacing doorknobs with handles that are easier to open and putting D-shaped pulls on drawers and cabinets. Replace any dim bulbs with bright overhead lighting.

Courtesy of BPT

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One of the easiest and most fun ways to enjoy everything the water has to offer is on a personal watercraft (PWC). Personal watercrafts have taken great strides toward modernization; the PWCs of today are quiet, run on clean four-stroke technology engines, include significant safety features, are more stable, and are designed to accommodate up to three passengers.

Because advances in technology have made personal watercraft options from brands like Sea-Doo, Jet Ski, Kawasaki and WaveRunner more accessible and easier to use, more people are enjoying them each year. PWCs are also incredibly versatile and are becoming popular for towing wake boarders, tubers, and water skiers, exploring waterways and fishing. They can even be used as transportation to and from overnight camp sites.

To fully enjoy a PWC, riders must be responsible, safe and educated about operating one. Before you insert the key into the ignition, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

* Are you of legal age in your state to operate a PWC?

* Do you know your craft and the specific ways it operates compared to other PWCs?

* Have you read all instructional materials and labels from the manufacturer?

* Do you know the “rules of the road” on the water?

* Are you wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) and neoprene shorts?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to head back to the dock.

Responsible riding isn’t just about personal safety. It also includes being considerate of those around you. Be mindful of other vessels in your vicinity and how your rate of speed or wake affects them. And don’t forget about marine life: Respect ecologically sensitive areas.

The Personal Watercraft Industry Association offers important safety tips, rider rules, local laws and PWC etiquette for riders of every skill level. Information on instructional courses and downloadable safety materials, including a brief handbook titled Riding Rules for Personal Watercraft and PWC Orientation Checklist can be found at www.pwia.org. Additional information can also be found through the United States Coast Guard. Getting educated about riding a PWC responsibly will ensure you’re equipped to handle the vessel and can enjoy a fun-filled day on the water.

Before you get your feet wet, remember to ride responsibly. Visit www.pwia.org to learn more about riding responsibly, or visit us on twitter @PWIA_News.

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Now that the warmer weather is arriving, drivers will be hitting the road in earnest to enjoy it. In fact, according to Hankook Tire’s latest Quarterly Gauge Index, 56 percent of Americans are planning to take a road trip that involves driving 50 miles or more. On average, they estimate they will drive 1,025 miles. What is it about summer – besides the obvious pleasurable weather – that has so many people hitting the road?

Family time: The same survey found that one third of Americans will consider taking a road trip for family reunions. Not only is the warmer weather ideal for driving, it is perfect for picnics, barbecues and other fun outdoor activities. 

Music concerts and festivals: The sounds of birds chirping aren’t the only tunes filling the summer skies. From Coachella to the New Orleans Jazz Festival to Bonnaroo, music fans will rack up the miles to jam with their favorite artists.

Sporting events: With America’s favorite pastime in full swing, many people will be traveling to their local ballparks to take in all the action. But why stop there? Avid fans also pack up and follow their teams to opponents’ stadiums.

There is no shortage of reasons for taking a drive this summer, but before cruising away you will want to take care of a few items.

Cleaning – Carry your spring cleaning efforts to your vehicle and make sure it is tidy before heading out. Hankook Tire found out that 49 percent of American drivers polled stated they plan to clean their cars before their closets this summer, compared to 32 percent who said they will first clean their closets. The survey also uncovered that not all Americans share a spring cleaning mindset. Nineteen percent do not intend to clean their cars or their closets.

Check that tire pressure – Drivers should check tire pressure at least once a month to ensure proper inflation. When tires are under-inflated, they wear out faster, are less efficient and waste energy and fuel. Properly inflated tires save you money at the pump. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires

Avoid potholes – Potholes are prevalent in the summer, when temperatures rise and high moisture levels cause sinkholes. Try not to drive directly over potholes to mitigate any damage to your tires.-

Be prepared for any weather – Summer isn’t all sunshine, as rain is often sprinkled into weather forecasts. Tires like the Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 have an advanced silica tread compound for improved traction in both wet and dry conditions. They also offer lower rolling resistance, delivering improved efficiency and fuel savings by minimizing wasted energy.

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If you are considering taking the plunge and having your home insulated, you may want to consider roof insulation. Just what is roof insulation? It is a product that lives up to its name, and could be called the hidden insulation, because many people do not even know that an outdoors form of it exists- they do research about the best kind of insulation for their home, and make a choice without becoming informed about roof insulation.

Roof insulation works silently to make your living space more comfortable. It has been tested and found to reduce the overall cost of heating your house by an astonishing 13%! This type of insulation can also help to keep your house a great deal cooler during the summer months. That can add up to a nice amount of money in a few years time, perhaps even enough to pay for your roof insulation and installation!

There are two types of roof insulation. One of these types goes on the outside of your home in the area between the roof’s shingles or tiles, and the sheathing used on top of the rafters as a place for the roofing. Normally, a type of foam board is stapled to the sheathing, and the roofing material is then installed on top of the foam board. This gives you a layer of protection from hot and cold air drifting into your home’s attic and then into your living space. Rigid fiberglass insulation can also be used for this purpose. It is a lot easier to install this type of insulation when you are also replacing your roof shingles or tiles, but it can definitely be used on a roof that is already in place or a flat roof as well.

It may only be necessary to place roof insulation in your attic space, which some contractors will call loft insulation. This is the more common type of roof insulation, and you will find that more people have heard of this alternative. Rafter vents are needed to keep any build up of moisture from getting the insulation wet. Once this has been accomplished, the space between the rafters can then be filled with insulation.

Spray foam insulation is one choice that the homeowner has for roof insulation in their attic space. A smaller attic, such as one you cannot stand up in, is a good candidate for this type of insulation. Professionals spray the foam into all the spaces, cracks, and crevices, and it does an excellent job of keeping out air.

Another type of attic roof insulation is that familiar pink colored roll that looks a bit like a huge roll of carpet. These are known as batts, and are usually made of fiberglass, but can also be made from rock wool. The pink batts are flexible, and it is easy to cut and fit them into the needed spaces. It is best to leave this type of installation to a professional, for fiberglass can be rather tricky to work with. It is easy to get some of the fibers embedded into your skin, or even in your eyes. As you might imagine, this is quite painful, and potentially dangerous to your eyesight. There is also the risk of breathing in the glass fibers.

The various types of roof insulation that are available will make your home a comfortable place to live, whether it is winter or summer.

 by: Simon Shannon

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_3754.shtml

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Are you thinking about using a keyless entry deadbolt for your home, but are not sure this is smart? Then you need to be aware of the many reasons why it is smart for anyone.

There are a number of reasons that you have to be aware of, but the following are the most essential reasons for you to know.

One: Security – When you use a keyless deadbolt, this will make your security much better for your family. No burglar is going to be able to just break into your home anymore.

They will have a very difficult or even impossible time trying to get in. These deadbolts are designed so they will be able to keep people out that you don’t want in your home.

When you want to keep your family safe, security is the most important thing you can provide them against burglar danger. The only way to make sure that your family stays safe is to make sure that danger can’t get into your home and this lock was designed to do just that.

Two: Convenience – You will not have to worry about losing your keys and not being able to get back into your house, when you have this type of lock for your home. With it being keyless, it is very simple for anyone in your family to get in and not get locked out.

Three: Prevents theft of your keys – Using a keyless door lock requires the use of your fingerprints for your family to get into their home. This means that you will be safe from someone taking your keys and using them to gain access to your home and they won’t be able to make a copy of them either.

This will prevent anyone from being able to get into your home from the theft of your keys. That means better security and safety for your family, which is very important these days.

Four: Multiple users – You can choose to add as many people’s fingerprints to the deadbolt system as you need to. Adding and removing fingerprints is really easy for any family to do.

This makes it simple for everyone in your family to have their fingerprints added so that they never have a problem getting into your home.

These are the main reasons that you want to consider using a keyless entry deadbolt for your home. There are many benefits to using this type of lock for your home, as you can see. Now, you just need to decide if this is the right type for your home, or if you prefer another type that may not offer these benefits for your family.

 by: Jeff Schuman 

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_6661.shtml

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installing%20saltwater%20poolsHot summers send everyone scurrying into their pools to cool off, and the biggest new trend in swimming pools is salt water. First developed in Australia, saltwater pools offer several advantages over conventional chlorine and have become incredibly popular in the last decade. 
People no longer have to tolerate the eye-burning, nose-curdling sting that comes from chlorine. Saltwater pools only have one-tenth the salt of ocean water and about one-third when compared to  human tears. They are also gentler on the skin and hair than traditional chlorine pools. And pool owners don’t have to purchase, store, and handle harsh chemicals, so maintenance is easier, more convenient, and saves time and money.
More chlorine pools are being converted to salt water and today there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide. An estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are salt water, compared with only 15 percent in 2002, according to data published in Pool & Spa News.  
Since the Evergreen Commons senior center in Holland, Mich., converted its 65,000-gallon pool to salt water, members have been pleased with the results. “The minute you walk into the pool area you notice a big difference,” says Jodi Owczarski, the center’s community relations director. “There is no longer that chemical smell. People also tell us that the water is much softer. In the old pool, people said they sometimes had to wash twice to get all those chemicals off, but in this pool, they only have to wash once. All in all, people have been thrilled with this new system.”
In saltwater pools, chlorine is automatically produced as water passes through the generator. As the water exits the generator and enters the pool, the sanitizing chlorine reverts back to salt, and the process repeats itself, conserving salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced. 
installing%20saltwater%20poolsSaltwater pools require less maintenance than traditional pools, but pool owners still should test weekly for pH and chlorine, and monthly for other water balance factors and for salt levels, which can drop due to splash-out, rain and filter back-washing. Most pool owners test their pool water themselves with test strips and periodically bring a sample in to a pool retailer for testing.
Anyone who has made the decision to move to a saltwater pool should make certain they use salt specifically designed for that use. An average 20,000 gallon pool requires 530 pounds of salt at startup; with quantities that large, even small amounts of contaminants within the salt can cause pool problems. That’s why ultra-pure salt is best for salt water pools. Salt water systems can also save money in the long run over chlorine-based alternatives.  
There have also been questions about the effect of salt water on pool construction materials, decks and surrounding structures. When pools are properly constructed and normal maintenance is followed, salt water has no effect on pool finishes, equipment and decks. Most materials are suitable for salt water pool construction, and most kinds of stone and decking materials will last if treated and sealed properly and periodically rinsed off. 
If you’re considering a saltwater pool, talk to a knowledgeable builder or retailer, or get some insight from other saltwater pool owners. You can also find more information at the Salt Institute website.



Courtesy of BPT

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A garden is a glorious thing. Regimented flower beds, perfect lawns, riots of color, scent and shape. So why spoil it with trailing hosepipes, unsightly watering cans or even lengths of visible irrigation piping? Underground irrigation is simple, effective and affordable – the perfect way to ensure every plant in the garden receives all the water it needs, without marring the look of the place.

Underground irrigation is exactly what it sounds like: a network of tubes and feeders running under the soil, which carry water to all the right places. The tubes in an underground irrigation network rise to the surface at predetermined points, where they eject water through nozzles, spray heads or pop up sprinklers: which not only hides the workings of the garden’s watering system, but also enables the gardener to pinpoint exactly where water is needed and deliver it efficiently, without spilling a single drop.

The true beauty of underground irrigation lies in this two-fold use. No-one likes to see a beautiful place covered in hosepipe and drag marks – and no-one, in our resource-impoverished world, wants to waste water. By tracking water exactly to where it is needed, underground irrigation can save up to 80% of the water a person would need to use when watering the garden using hosepipes and watering cans: and by being hidden, underground irrigation ensures that nothing upsets the layout and design of a domestic outdoor space.

Underground irrigation is as flexible as it needs to be. The network of piping used in underground irrigation can be added to at will, which means that any underground irrigation system can start simple and develop in perfect step with the garden it has been installed to water. Controlling an underground irrigation system is equally easy: the watering nozzles and pop-up spray heads are driven by water pressure, so there are no power issues. In the simplest form of underground irrigation a gardener just turns on a tap and watches the water pop out at all the stations along the chain.

Gardeners who require more control in their underground irrigation systems can add electronics – a range of keypads and control centers can be bought, which allow underground irrigation systems to deliver different amounts and rates of water at different times of day or year. In this model, underground irrigation systems can be sectioned into programmable areas, whereby differing amounts of water or types of delivery are activated at nominated times of day and night.

Underground irrigation offers a perfect combination of invisibility and control, suitable for any garden. And with its water-saving capabilities way beyond any other method of garden feeding, it’s an ideally sustainable way of keeping domestic outdoor spaces blooming.

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_5022.shtml

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