Get garden tools prepared for new year

Winter is the time for gardeners and the garden to rest. During this slower gardening period, take the time to check and prepare garden tools for the tasks that begin in spring. Repairing, cleaning and sharpening garden tools now will make them easier and safer to use, plus it will preserve your investment.

An annual inspection of garden tools is recommended to keep them in working condition. Begin by determining whether the handles need repair and if the tool is sharp and sturdy. Wood handles can be revived by cleaning, gentle sanding and then rubbing on boiled linseed oil. Apply a coat of oil with a rag and let it soak in for five to 10 minutes, then reapply until the wood no longer absorbs the oil. Let it cure for eight hours before using the tool. Always wear gloves when working with chemicals. If the handle is cracked, look for a replacement handle. This is often less expensive than purchasing a new garden tool.

Remove any rust with a wire brush. If the rust is significant, soak the tool in pure vinegar for a few hours to overnight. Brush off the remaining rust with a wire brush or steel wool rated 000 or 0000. Repeat if needed. The best way to prevent rust is to always dry tools prior to storing them. Laying them on a warm surface in the sun for a couple of hours will suffice. Coating steel surfaces with lubricating oil also helps prevent rust.

There are two types of pruning mechanisms: bypass and anvil. A bypass pruner cuts when one blade “passes by” the other. Anvil pruners cut when the blade presses against a flat lower plate. Bypass pruners are the preferred tool for pruning live plants, while anvil pruners work best when cutting dry plant material.

To inspect pruners, look at the blades. If there are divots or nicks, the tool might need to be professionally sharpened. The divots are the result of pruning a tree or shrub that is too big for the tool. Typically, hand pruners can cut wood with a diameter of 3/4 inch while loppers can cut up to 1 1/2 inches. For branches larger than 1.5 inches, use a pruning saw or a rope saw. Check the pivot on the pruning tool for wobbliness and smooth motion. Tighten if needed.

The most essential gardening tools for a beautiful backyard (part 3)

Pruning Shears

Like the trowel, a reliable pair of pruning shears is one of those essential things used for gardening. It should be one of your go-to tools because of its wide array of uses.

You can use pruning shears to cut away dead leaves and flowers as well as trim bushes and trees. A durable pair of shears is essential because you want to make a clean cut and avoid damaging the plant.

If you’re dealing with larger or tougher branches, a pair of two-handed shears will be your best bet.

Kneeling Pad

While kneeling pads aren’t a necessity, they do make gardening more comfortable. If you find yourself kneeling on the hard ground and your knees ache, invest in a kneeling pad.

This type of pad protects your knees and keeps your pants from getting covered in stains. The best type of kneeling pad should be thick enough to provide comfort. Some even have handles to help you stand up or double as a gardening chair.

If you don’t want to drag your kneeling pad around, you can use a pair of thick knee pads instead.

Taking Care of Your Tools

Once you have your gardening essentials, you need to know how to care for them. Proper care ensures that your tools will last for years to come.

Make sure to clean your tools after each session in the yard. Wipe them down, use a brush, or spray them with a hose to remove caked-on dirt. Clean tools not only last longer but help to prevent the spread of disease.

To care for wooden handles, rub them with linseed oil. Remove sticky sap or plant residue with turpentine or WD-40.

Rusty tools? Instead of tossing them, try to remove the rust with vinegar.

Proper storage prevents rust and damage. Hang small tools on a pegboard and larger tools from hooks on the wall. Keep them easy to find and access so you’re always ready to maintain your lawn and garden.

Having the right tools is key to caring for your yard and garden. Keep these essential gardening tools on hand so you can keep your backyard looking beautiful all year.

National Stadium designed by architect Kengo Kuma in Tokyo is complete

Opening on December 21, Tokyo’s new National Stadium will replace its older, 56-year-old arena of the same name. (Rendering courtesy Kengo Kuma Architects)

In one month, Japan will celebrate the opening of its new $1.4 billion National Stadium ahead of next summer’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Designed by Kengo Kuma and the Azusa Sekkei Corporation, construction on the 68,000-seat arena has officially been completed as of this week, according to the Japan Sport Council.

The project is located in Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu Gaien district and took almost exactly three years to build under the supervision of national construction giant Taisei Corporation. National Stadium is nearly twice the size of the venue it’s replacing, an arena of the same name that was built 61 years ago for the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics—the last time the city hosted the event. It’s set in the same space as its predecessor near one of Tokyo’s largest parks and features an all-timber-and-steel framing system that will allow lush greenery to spill over the pagoda-inspired structure’s sides when it grows in the next decade.

Kengo Kuma’s vision for National Stadium quickly came after nearly a decade of controversy that surrounded its build-out. Zaha Hadid was originally supposed to design the stadium as the centerpiece of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, but her proposal seemed too costly to complete in time for the 2020 grand opening. Instead, Kuma’s stadium, with its half-covered roof and open-air columns , was both cheaper and easier to build. The design team sourced more than 70,000 cubic feet of larch and cedarwood from Japan’s 47 prefectures, and while it was a clever sustainability move, the gesture also drew criticism over allegations of endangered tropical timber that was used.

The National Stadium is one of 42 venues used during the international event next summer. Eight of the total spaces are completely new and all were designed by local architects. As the largest stadium in the city, National Stadium will play host to the opening and closing ceremonies of both the Olympics and Paralympic Games, as well as some soccer and track and field events.

The official opening celebration for the National Stadium is scheduled for December 21, after which the site will host its first event: the Emperor’s Cup soccer final on New Year’s Day.

The most essential gardening tools for a beautiful backyard (part 2)

Garden Cart or Wheelbarrow

When it comes to useful horticulture tools, wheelbarrows top the list.

If you’re a beginning gardener, you may feel a wheelbarrow is unnecessary or too expensive. But if you have a large yard, a wheelbarrow can make transporting leaves, plant matter, and other materials easier and faster.

A wheelbarrow is also useful if transporting heavy landscaping materials because it doesn’t require as much heavy lifting on your part.

You can use your wheelbarrow or garden cart to transport debris from your yard to your trash or your compost bin. You can also use it to carry your garden veggies back to the house.

Shovel

If you’re serious about gardening, a shovel needs to be on your list of gardening tools. You want a long-handled shovel with a pointed tip. Like the trowel, the pointed tip helps you break up soil and dig larger holes with ease.

Look for a sturdy shovel with a comfortable grip. Wooden-handled shovels are the most common type you’ll see. They’re budget-friendly and good for beginners.

Fiberglass-handled shovels are another option. Fiberglass-handled shovels are both sturdy and won’t give you splinters.

Having a pair of gardening gloves help protect your hands while shoveling or raking.

A Quality Mower

If you have a beautiful garden and you want to show it off, you need to keep your yard in top shape. No matter how stunning your garden is, no one will notice it if you have an unkempt yard.

If you have a small yard or want to reduce the noise you make, consider buying a push mower. Make sure you get one that cuts cleanly to promote a healthy lawn.

A mulching mower is also a useful tool because it chops up the grass so it can be redeposited as fertilizer. Proper lawn care and maintenance are the key to a healthy, beautiful yard.

The most essential gardening tools for a beautiful backyard (part 1)

Did you know that 35 percent of U.S. households grow food either at home or in a community garden? Now more than ever, people are getting into gardening and yard work.

Creating a beautiful backyard and garden takes effort, but having the right tools for the job makes it easier.

If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve compiled a list of useful gardening tools and their uses. So keep reading to discover which essential gardening tools you need to create your backyard oasis.

Trowel

A trowel is a handheld tool similar to a small shovel. It has a sharp pointed tip and a scoop blade.

You use trowels to break up the soil, scoop soil, dig small holes, and add fertilizer.  Because of its versatility, a quality trowel should top your garden tools list.

A good trowel should have a sharp enough edge to cut through grass, tough soil, and roots. It should also have a sturdy handle that’s easy to grip and comfortable to hold.

Leaf Rake or Leaf Blower

If you live in an area with deciduous trees in or around your yard, you need to invest in a quality rake or leaf blower.

Leaf rakes rake up dead leaves and small debris like twigs. A good leaf rake should have tines to collect leaves and grass clippings. It needs to be sturdy as well so you can sweep up twigs and small debris.

If you hate cleaning debris out of your rake, you might want to invest in a leaf blower instead. A leaf blower might save you time and effort, but it can create noise pollution. Before buying a leaf blower, make sure your city doesn’t have any noise limit laws.

Did you know that dead leaves can benefit the garden? Moving leaves from your yard to your garden creates food for earthworms. Earthworm castings help improve the quality of your garden soil.

Mohegan Unveils Casino Development Concept for Hellinikon

Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, in partnership with GEK TERNA, unveiled INSPIRE Athens, its concept for the first Integrated Resort and Casino in Greece. The resort consists of a luxury hotel, entertainment venues, convention center, shopping, dining, casino, and a comprehensive mix of premium amenities, Mohegan says in a press release.

The development will help launch a new era of tourism growth and economic prosperity for all of Greece and the entire region. The building’s iconic design was created by Steelman Partners, an international architectural firm that specialized in IRC design. The concept form draws inspiration from the architectural history of Greece, especially from Athenian buildings and sculptures including the Caryatids and the Acropolis.

“We understood that INSPIRE Athens was meant to symbolize more than an integrated resort,” said Mario Kontomerkos, Mohegan Gaming, and Entertainment’s Chairman and CEO.

“It is our hope that INSPIRE Athens would be the catalyst that sparks the entire development of the Hellinikon area into the coveted Athenian Riviera, forever redefining the modern identity of Greece.”

Mario Kontomerkos, Mohegan Gaming, and Entertainment’s Chairman and CEO added, “Our overarching design was meant to be iconic in nature, yet characterize Athens’s historic architecture and rich culture while adopting a new stylistic narrative that inspires the region’s future.”

Much of the resort was designed to capitalize on the Greek affinity for the outdoors where virtually all the resort’s restaurants, bars, lounges, and nightclubs offer both indoor and outdoor experiences. The collection of food, beverage, and retail outlets includes internationally-recognized brands as well as domestic favorites that accentuate traditional Greek dining, drinking, and shopping.

INSPIRE Athens intends to be southern Europe’s center for A-list music concerts, theatrical performances, major sporting events, and other arts and cultural activities on a weekly basis. Officiating the announcement of the IRC was Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment’s Chairman and CEO, Mario Kontomerkos: “We hope we’ll have the opportunity to turn our vision into a reality and further elevate Greece as a must-visit travel destination with this landmark hospitality destination.”

He also mentioned his direct ties to the region as a Greek-American and his ambition for contributing both locally and nationally to the country by aligning with key travel, tourism, and workforce development goals. The INSPIRE Athens development is estimated to create more than 7.000 jobs in the region during and after construction, including direct, indirect, and induced.

The completion of the Integrated Resort and Casino is expected to increase tourism in the Attica region by at least 10 percent and contribute millions of euros every year to both the government and the people of Greece in taxes, infrastructure improvement, and public services.

Store garden tools properly during the winter months

There’s a chill in the air and your gardening activities are likely slowing down. It’s time to get those small engine tools properly stored for the winter so you’ll be able to hit the ground running next spring.

It’s always a good idea to change the oil and filter in your gas-powered tools before storing it for an extended period of time. Here’s a little tip – run the piece of equipment for a bit first. This will warm the engine and you’ll get better oil flow when you drain it. Additional, the warm oil will much more easily remove any dirt suspended in the oil. Don’t forget to change the oil filter meanwhile. Check the owner’s manual to ensure you use the recommended amount, quality and viscosity of the oil.

If you notice the spark plugs are worn or burned, now is a great time to replace them. Gap the plugs based on manufacturers’ recommendations using a gap tool. Be careful not to over-tighten when replacing the plug. Using a torque wrench and correct torque to reinstall the plug will help avoid the possibility of stripping the threads in the engine block.

After changing the oil and filter, take the time to clean the engine. Most small engines are air-cooled and have cooling fins on the engine block. Keeping those fins clean will help prevent overheating the engine. It also is a good time to inspect the air and fuel filters and replace them if necessary.

It’s never a good idea to store a piece of equipment with gasoline in it. Old, stale gas can evaporate over time and leave a buildup in the carburetor. This buildup will make the engine more difficult, or impossible, to start next spring. The easiest way to empty the tank is to simply run the engine dry. The tank will be ready for fresh gas next year.

Another way is to fill the tank with fresh gas having a gasoline stabilizer added to it. You must use fresh gas as the stabilizer only stops deterioration; it can’t reverse it. Mix the stabilizer with at least a gallon of fresh gas rather than trying to decide how much to add to a small tank. Storing an engine with stabilized gasoline in the tank will prevent the problem of seals drying out.

Taking that little extra time to properly maintain and prepare a small engine in the fall will help get your spring gardening activities off to a great start.

The best architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright

2019 is an important year for those who admire the late architect Frank Lloyd Wright: this year marks 60 years since his death, and 60 years since his greatest masterpiece, the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, opened in New York City, the United States. The Guggenheim Museum was one of eight of his buildings to be awarded Unesco World Heritage status.

Here are the most striking creations of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York City, the United States

Though the curving Guggenheim is a world away from the blocky, Cubism-inspired designs of properties like the Fallingwater house in Pennsylvania, it still has a variety of Frank Lloyd Wright trademarks. The inclusion of a large glass dome and the use of exposed concrete, for example. The museum was built inorder to house the art collection owned by Solomon R Guggenheim, and it opened 6 months after Wright’s death. He originally wanted the exterior of the building to be bright red, which he believed was the “color of creation”.

Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School, Tokyo, Japan

Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School, open to the public, was commissioned by Yoshikazu Hani, who wanted to build a school that felt like a home. Wright achieved this by adding ornate patterned window frames, a beautiful courtyard, and various other decorative touches, including the beautiful pendant lamps in the dining room. Look closely and you will also find out that the former school’s unusual dimensions as Wright designed this as a “child-sized” building.

Unity Temple, Chicago, USA

Designed as a replacement for Chicago’s Oak Park Unity Church, the Unity Temple is another of the buildings given Unesco World Heritage status this summer. The temple was a major game-changer in the field of ecclesiastic architecture – a cube that was made from bare concrete, topped with an enormous slab – and also one of the first of Wright’s buildings made with exposed concrete, which became his signature style. He compensated for the lack of windows and fortress-like appearance by installing skylights made with green, yellow, and brown glass, designed to remind worshippers of the natural world.

Behnisch Architekten completes the Adidas World of Sports Arena in Germany

Behnisch Architekten has completed the new office and reception building Adidas World of Sports Arena, marking the main entrance of Adidas’ headquarters campus in Herzogenaurach, Germany. With a sculptural shape emphasizing the group’s passion for sports, the Adidas Arena welcomes visitors to the headquarters with a strong visual identity, which is illustrated in its expressive, functional architecture.

In a balanced interplay between landscape, transparency, and a modern concept, Behnisch Architekten has set up a striking landmark within the Adidas World of Sports campus, which is formed by an abstract volume housing three workspace floors as well as hovers above a modeled landscape. This sculpted hill accommodates the entrance area of the building, part of which is publicly accessible, leading to a vast atrium suitable for many events.

Within the bright atrium, a dramatic floating staircase forms the heart of the building to take employees up to the three-story workspace section. With a total floor area of 52,000m2, the Arena building provides about 2,000 employees with modern and sustainable workspace organized on organic, flexible principles. The 3 levels are connected, both horizontally and vertically, through the main street, resembling a marketplace suspended in mid-air. On each floor, the main street is adjoined by 6 kitchen hubs that represent 6 key cities characterized by distinctive colors, materials, and types of furnishing in order to form individual addresses within the building. Work areas differentiate with areas for formal or informal meetings and recreational zones, organized as variegated clusters around lightwells of various sizes optimized in order to supply ample natural light.

The Arena’s façade incorporates a particularly developed shading system and sun control adapted to the orientation of each elevation, optimizing the interplay between maximum light transmittance. Thanks to its extensive use of recyclable materials and implementation of up-to-date energy-efficiency standards, the Arena has been submitted for LEED gold certification.

Frank Lloyd Wright and his 10 most striking creations

Frank Lloyd Wright is arguably the most well-known and revered architect of America in the 20th century. He believed there was a right way to design in the world, a natural architecture which served both functionality and beauty without sacrificing anything. He saw in offices, houses, and temples, the potential not only for art, but also for artistry – the ability to build dignified structures with a respect for the environments.

Frank Lloyd Wright and his most most striking creations

Wright conceived of over 1,000 designs and also executed around half of them over his 70-year career. He had a sweeping vision, spanning places of worship; museums, schools, and office spaces; private homes and hotels. In 1936, he started designing “Usonian” as an affordable-housing solution in the United States, a number of which still stand up to now. In the same year, eight of his buildings earned UNESCO status for pivotal role in the development of modern architecture.

Underpinning the designs of Wright was his belief that Nature, with a capital “N”, was sacred. His philosophy of “organic architecture” proposed that built environment had better accommodate the natural world in a greater whole. He drew inspiration from Japanese art and architecture, especially its emphasis on spirituality, harmony, and geometric simplicity, which praised the Japanese understanding of structure as “miraculous.” That is evident in differating degrees across his oeuvre. In 1957, Wright described the goal of an architect in missionary terms: “to help people understand how to make the world a better one for living in, life more beautiful, and to give rhyme, reason, and meaning to life”, or in other words, a perfect unity of materiality, philosophy, and the natural world.

There are the most striking creations of Frank Lloyd Wright to understand the celebrated architect.

  • The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York City, the US
  • Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School, Tokyo, Japan
  • Unity Temple, Chicago, the US
  • King Kamehameha Golf Course Clubhouse, Hawaii, the US
  • The Dwight D Martin House, Buffalo, the US
  • Taliesin, Wisconsin, the US
  • Fallingwater, Pennsylvania, the US
  • Johnson Wax Headquarters, Wisconsin, the US
  • Ennis House, Los Angeles, the US
  • Yodokō Guest House, Ashiya, Japan