Building Your Own Deck – Home Building Centers Have All You Need

Adding a deck to your home can increase the property value and provide a sturdy mud free way to entertain guests. It is possible to build your own deck in a weekend. In order to extend the life of your deck and get the most use out of it you need to carefully consider where you want to build it. Once you decide where you want to add a deck you need to take good measurements. Of course your deck does not have to be a permanent addition to your house. You could choose to build a portable or floating deck.

Depending on your need and the size of deck you want to add you may need to get a building permit. However, you could easily build a portable or floating deck that could be moved to meet your needs. Of course a floating deck would need to be lightweight in order to move it. A portable deck should not require any building permits or digging holes for pouring concrete.

Building your own deck is a large project that requires detailed how-to information. You will want your deck to be sturdy, safe and last for years. In order to get the most from your building materials consider wood as well as some other great the alternatives.

Many people automatically think of wood when considering a deck and wood can last a very long time if properly treated against the elements. Make sure you choose quality lumber and finish it with a good waterproof stain to help protect and extend the life of the wood. It is a popular choice for all types of decks but will be very heavy so may not be ideal for a portable deck.

Composite wood is a combination of wood and plastic that looks like wood. It is much lighter and will last longer than natural wood. Composite wood may be the ideal material for a portable deck because it is so lightweight. It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between composite and real wood and composite may be more expensive.

Vinyl would be the most expensive choice for materials. However, vinyl requires little maintenance and will last an extremely long time. You can easily wash it off with a garden hose but it will be sensitive to scratches and dents.

Home building centers have a variety of complete how to instructions for building different types of decks. Once you have decided where you want to put your deck, what type of materials you want to use and taken all your measurements, visit your local building center and they can give you a list of all the materials you will need.

A floating deck can be placed near a shady spot in the corner or center of the yard. Any type of deck makes a nice addition to your home whether you build it yourself or hire a contractor you will have to make some decisions and your local home building center can be a big help.

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Retail Tip – Add-On Selling – Garden Center and Auto Repair Examples

Add on selling, companion selling, related selling, suggestive selling. No matter what name we give to it, it works.

I was reminded of this not long ago when my colleague, Jan Collins, was doing some training for a group of garden centers.

Jan had the challenging task of improving the sales skills of this successful group of garden centres. She started off with an evening seminar for all the employees to cover in basic terms the key selling skills. This was going to be followed up by one to one coaching with all of the staff members in the outlets of this group of garden centres.

Things were going well at the seminar until Jan got to the topic of add-on selling. This is when the resistance set in. These dedicated people did not want to appear pushy. They were happy to give product knowledge and advice but did not feel that it was appropriate to recommend additional products. It was up to the customer to make that decision in their view.

The break through for Jan occurred from an unlikely source. One of the ladies present who was certainly not a people person said “Well, I always tell them to get snail pellets and a growing agent when they purchase plants from me. I don’t want them going home and killing my plants!”

While everyone had a bit of a laugh about her attitude she did get the point across. It was clear that they were doing their customers a disservice if they did not recommend to them if they did not purchase the appropriate support products.

During the next phase of the training, Jan was working with staff in the garden centres at a time when they had a promotion on for punnets of seedlings. She observed one of the ladies who previously had felt most uncomfortable about the whole idea of add-on selling having great success. A customer came up to this lady having made a selection of a couple of punnets of seedlings. The staff member congratulated the lady on her purchase and asked her if she had snail pellets at home as it would be important to protect the seedlings. She also recommended a growing agent. Most times that she did this, customers would purchase both snail pellets and a growing agent. Occasionally they said they already had them at home or they didn’t need them but no offence was ever taken. Customers appreciated the suggestions.

The lady was clearly pleased with the result she was getting and the reaction from the customers. In fact, at one stage when things quieted down she turned to Jan with a big smile on her face and gave her a thumbs up sign as a demonstration of how well it was going.

Just after this an elderly gentleman came into the garden center and selected a punnet of seedlings. He appeared to be a regular customer and the lady chatted to him briefly and after processing the transaction farewelled him without any suggestion being made about either the snail pellets or the growing agent.

When things quieted down Jan went over to the lady and congratulated her on the great result she was getting but then asked why she hadn’t made the suggestions to the elderly gentleman. In response the lady said that he was a pensioner and she knew very well that he didn’t have much money so she felt it wasn’t appropriate. Jan said to her “So it’s alright then if the snails eat this gentleman’s seedlings is it?”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought about it like that” she said looking quite distressed. She now felt quite guilty that she hadn’t looked after this regular customer properly.

Auto Repairs
I told this story to a group of automotive repair and service outlets soon after this occurrence.

I had been working with these outlets on establishing a system for follow-up phone calls once they had checked over a car that was in for service. The outlets which followed the system carefully were able to increase their average sale per customer quite considerably in a genuine way by phoning the customers to alert them to any extra problems they had identified and to ask if the customer would like the problem dealt with there and then (advising them of the additional fee involved) or whether they would prefer to wait until the next service. Of course, if there was a safety issue involved they would stress to the customer that it should be done at that time.

This was at an evening seminar and late the following afternoon I had a phone call from one of the most successful of the franchisees who followed this system religiously and was rewarded for doing it with increased sales and happier customers. His first words to me were “Jurek, it works!”

“What works, John?” I said.

He explained to me that my story about the garden centre incident had really hit home to him. Within his catchment area he had a number of elderly customers. While he always followed the system I have explained with his other customers he tended not to do this with the elderly customers when he knew they were on a pension and fairly hard up. After my story he decided to take a different approach. That very morning he’d had a car booked in by an elderly pensioner. On checking the car John pointed out to this pensioner that there were a couple of additional things that needed done. John explained the additional cost involved in this to him and also advised that it could wait until the next service in three or four months time or alternatively they could do it there and then. The pensioner said “Oh, I’d rather get it all sorted now”.

The lesson from this is never pre-judge your customers. Give them the appropriate information and recommendations concerning any additional products or services you feel are appropriate for them. They can then make the decision as to whether to purchase or not. The result of this will be increased sales and happier customers.

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Garden Centers and Plant Nurseries – The Three Points to Look Out For

With the rising cost of plants today, many home gardeners are understandably tempted to seek out less showy garden centers, and buy their garden plants at cheaper establishments. This is all very well, but as with most things, cheap can prove to be very dear indeed. While a cheap plant nursery is not necessarily a bad one, it should pass three tests before you consider buying plants from it.

Plant Labels

The sign of a professional nursery is that the plants are labeled properly and clearly. This is important not simply for the convenience of the customer, but as an indication of how seriously the establishment takes plant identification. While the label may contain the plant’s common name, it ought to include its botanical name as well. A nursery that is sloppy about its labeling is liable to sell you the wrong plant! Remember that plants in their juvenile state can be difficult to identify by appearance, and so to a great extent, the purchaser is dependent on the professionalism and good faith of the garden center.

Weeds

Heavy weed infestations are clearly a sign of a poorly run plant nursery. More serious though is the nursery’s potential as a source of noxious weeds, especially of the dangerously invasive type entering your garden. As a gardening contractor and regular purchaser of plants, I always enquire whether the plants are grown in a potting medium, or in garden soil. Remember that it is much cheaper for the nursery to grow its plants in garden soil, but then the danger of dangerous weeds is greatly increased. With regard to weeds, cheap could spell disaster!

The Quality of the Plants

Plants that look poor are less likely to develop as successful garden specimens than those that seem to be in good shape. However, here a nasty trap could be waiting for the unwary, because a handsome appearance is not necessarily the sign of a worthy plant. On the contrary, a top-heavy specimen, that is one that is disproportionately large for its container, is liable to have a tangled and knotted root system, which may prevent it from breaking out into the garden soil after planting. A plant that has outgrown its container, should long have been potted on into a larger one, and is another sign of a poorly run establishment.

On the other hand, a small plant in a large container is also undesirable as the plant’s roots could be starved of air. Considering that the retail price of plants is largely a function of the container size, it follows that in such cases, the customer is getting an inferior specimen at an inflated price.

My name is Jonathan Ya’akobi. I’ve been gardening in a professional capacity since 1984. I am the former head gardener of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden, but now concentrate on building gardens for private home owners. I also teach horticulture to students on training courses.

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Get Landscaping Ideas to Improve Curb Appeal at Garden Centers

Homeowners looking to add curb appeal or market value to their homes can get started with landscaping ideas and products at local garden centers. Planting trees and selecting colorful flowers will not only provide a welcoming atmosphere to visiting guests, but doing so may also raise the sale price of the home. The right kind of mulch can be an easy and inexpensive way to polish up a yard’s appearance, cover up problem areas, and promote the health of existing plants. The upkeep of grass with products and regular maintenance will ensure its healthy and attractive shade of green remains. Finally, colorful pottery can brighten dark spots, while installing lawn art, such as wind chimes and sculptures, adds a unique and personal touch to the home’s exterior.

Add Trees and the Right Flowers

As many people associate trees with cleaner air, less pollution, and a step away from an urban environment, planting a few trees in the front yard not only improves the general aesthetic of a home’s exterior, but it can also boost a home’s market value. According to a study, homes on the real estate market with trees-especially those planted between the sidewalk and street, called “street trees”-sold for an average of $7,100 more than houses without trees.

Colorful flowers and plants don’t have to be limited to flower beds; they can be arranged around the mailbox, on the edge of the driveway, or along the entryway. With the right combination of plants, colors, and pattern arrangements, landscaping homeowners can provide a welcoming and cheerful scene for visiting guests and prospective home buyers.

Selecting the best flowers may depend on the right color scheme desired, the time of year that homeowners choose to showcase their homes to guests or potential home buyers, and how much upkeep an individual is willing to do. Annuals attract buyers and guests for their brightly colored blooms, but must be replaced every year. Perennials, however, bloom at different times of the year and last longer-more than two years on average. Those working on a landscaping project may ask for advice at garden centers when choosing the right flowers. Homeowners should also have a landscaping design in mind. Trees and flowers must be placed with adequate space in between to avoid a disorganized clutter, rather than the desired look of manicured scenery.

Mulch the Flower Beds

Simply adding a two-inch layer of mulch in the flower bed or on the dirt surrounding plants and trees can instantly give a lawn a more refreshed and polished look, while also covering up problem areas, such as dead patches usually found around trees. Homeowners looking to sell their houses may find that mulch and its variety of colors and smells may appeal to the senses of potential home buyers.

Additionally, mulch promotes plant health as it holds in much-needed moisture, maintains a moderate soil temperature, and reduces weed growth. For maximum curb appeal, experts warn against the use of red mulch. While this bright and eye-catching color can grab people’s attention, red mulch can easily clash with the color schemes of other flowers and landscaping accessories. Instead, stay neutral with darker colors such as dark brown and black.

Greener Grass

Grass usually makes up the largest part of the lawn, so its health and appearance plays a major role in a home’s curb appeal and general first impression. Homeowners can opt to restart or refresh their lawn by seeding or choosing new grass at the garden center. The right type of grass selected should be based on the location’s climate and amount of annual rainfall. For example, those who live in areas with low annual rainfall should consider Buffalo, Bermuda, and other types of grass that are considered drought-resistant.

In the meantime, healthy grass with an attractive shade of green can be achieved with a few maintenance tips, such as the use of fertilizers and other products; regular mowing, edging, and trimming, and also keeping a watchful eye for various diseases.

The Use of Colored Pots and Lawn Art

Landscaping homeowners can remedy gloomy spots and corners when they shop for colorful pottery at garden centers. Lawn art pieces such as bird baths, wind chimes in the entry way, or even cherubic sculptures are a great way to add a dramatic touch. Also, individuals have an opportunity to add their own personality to a landscaping project when they select pieces that best reflect their unique tastes.

It is imperative that homeowners select lawn pieces that are resistant to all forms of weather, such as rain, wind, and snow. With the wrong kind of material placed in the front lawn, a shopper could be replacing a bird bath every time it’s damaged by rain or windy weather-or having to deal with guests taking a second glance at a tarnished eyesore.

Also, while it could be enjoyable to shop for sculptures and pottery, it can also be easy to take it too far without a landscaping design plan in mind. Homeowners should remember that much of the curb appeal of a home’s exterior relies on minimal upkeep, making big differences with small simple changes, and a crisp and clean view for onlookers and guests. While lawn art can be unique and great to look at, too much art-especially when arranged close together-can distract from a lawn’s natural beauty.

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