Instead of toiling behind a mower all weekend, you can shave up to 40% off your mowing time (compared to a standard 21″ mower) with the Toro Timemaster 30″ Walk-behind lawnmower.
Reclaim your weekends with this twin-blade mower which features a reliable 190cc Briggs & Stratton engine and TimeMaster’s Personal Pace® automatic drive system to assist in maneuvering the mower across all types of terrain. Just press the top bar and the mower will walk with you at your speed.
Here’s a quick video of the mower on startup. It should provide a good indication of sound level at idle and as the blades are engaged.
A larger sized mower can be tough to store, but the handle flips up so it can be stored flat against the wall. The deck can also be raised and lowered with easy adjustable handles.
Fuel and oil are easy to add and the mower started for us on the first pull every time.
The Toro Timemaster comes with a 3 year warranty and it’s solid construction should last for years. Learn more at the Toro Timemaster website.
The ongoing drought that is afflicting California and other parts of the country should have everyone evaluating their landscape water usage. Potable water is a finite resource, and our lawns and irrigation systems can be large guzzlers. Here’s how to convert your lawn to a more water efficient landscape using drought tolerant plants.
In addition to consuming water, lawns are often treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides that can have a negative impact on the environment. Drought tolerant plants require less maintenance than a lawn and can consist of native grasses, wildflowers, and succulents.
Don’t rush to tear up your lawn just yet. You’ll need to fill the space with more than just flower beds and potted plants. Do your research, and find yards and landscapes that appeal to you. Speak to homeowners you see working on their yards, and inquire about about their water usage and plants they used. Your neighbors can also be a great resource for finding reputable landscape designers.
Beyond plants, you will also need a plan for other outdoor elements like paved walkways, stone and gravel beds, and water drainage systems.
Rent a sod cutter to assist in removing your lawn. You can sell or giveaway your sod on Craigslist instead of throwing it away.
Once all of the lawn is cleared away, build your landscape features such as hills, flower beds, and walkways. Keep in mind that drought tolerant plants require excellent drainage and can die if left in standing pools of water.
A plant nursery can help you identify native plants in your area and sell and source these plants for you. A native plant will be as adept at surviving in your yard as it is in an open field. No fertilizer or pesticides are needed and water demand for native plants matches what they get from the environment.
Native plants grow quickly and look more natural in your home setting. They are also dynamic and change with the seasons, so you no longer worry about a lawn turning brown.
Take note of plants that can grow and spread quickly (vines and other climbing plants), which can push out other plants that are placed near them.
Some native plants may only be available as seeds which require attentive hand watering until them become established.
After converting your yard to native plants you will notice an uptick in wildlife returning to your yard. Birds, butterflies, and bees may flock to the natural habitat you’ve created. Add a birdhouse to accelerate the process.
If you live in LA you could be in for some cash if you tear up your turf as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday voted to increase funding for its turf-removal program, as more and more residents and businesses swap water-guzzling lawns for more drought-tolerant landscaping.
The MWD will boost its turf-replacement budget by $350 million for one year, but will also change certain terms and conditions of the extremely popular program.
The district voted to cap the total reimbursement for residential customers at $6,000, paying $2 per square foot of lawn removed.
Photo by Emmanuelle Bourgue, Steve and Michelle Gerdes, FarOutFlora, JP Newell, and Art Jensen.]]>
We love our 1920’s bungalow but it leaves much to be desired when it comes to security. We’re not paranoid, but there have been break-ins in the area and we want to make sure our home doesn’t become another statistic.
We’ve added motion-sensing outdoor lighting, put our indoor lights on timers and raised the height of our backyard walls, but our French doors in the backyard are a liability. The doors are great as they let in a lot of light but the glass would be easy to break, and then with a twist of the lock from the inside a thief could get in. To remedy this we wanted to add double-cylinder locks to every exterior door which require a key to lock and unlock from both the inside and outside. It’s an extra bit of security that can make a world of difference between a robber only getting as far as breaking a panel of glass, to them being able to open the door and walk out with as many belongings as they can carry.
Another concern is that we have lived in this house for six years and over time we have provided multiple house sitters, dog sitters, and neighbors with copies of the key. Some were returned, some were not. We also don’t think our landlord ever changed the lock when the old tenants moved out, so who knows how many people have a key.
This all adds up to some compelling reasons to change our locks. We’ve had great success with Kwikset’s SmartCode keyless entry system, and we really love the new Kevo SmartLock, but our solution was a bit more low-tech but just as effective.
Our plan was to add double-cylinder locks to our three exterior house doors as well as to our separate studio and garage. And replace all of the door knobs with locking knobs.
Kwikset’s SmartKey re-keying locks, solidified our choice for going with Kwikset all around. The SmartKey enables you to re-key any lock in just a few seconds. No more calling a locksmith or having to replace cylinders. Just use the included SmartKey which recalibrates the tumbler so it can accept and new key. You need to have the old key to make it work so there are no security concerns. We can now re-key our home if needed just for the cost of cutting new keys.
Here’s the SmartKey shown being inserted into the slot next to the key. It’s a simple process for rekeying the locks.
Kwikset’s website makes it easy to shop for locks and levers of all types, styles and finish. We went with a satin nickel finish on two doors and brass finish on the front door for this double cylinder deadbolt, and added Tustin keyed entry levers, also with SmartKey technology.
Here’s the new knob next to the old one.
The deadbolts locks screwed right in as well as the levers. The deadbolts and levers were basically plug and play and lined up perfectly with the existing strike plates and door jambs.
After all of the locks are installed you simply choose a key to use as your master then use that to re-key all of the locks to. See the video below for instructions.
Changing out all of our locks took a bit of time but has been well worth it considering the peace of mind we now have when we leave the house locked up for the day or for the week.
The newest locks from Kwikset are BHMA/ANSI Grade 1 certified – the highest level of residential security. They feature patented side locking bar technology which offers improved security by protecting against lock bumping, an attack technique used to defeat conventional pin & tumbler locks.
We highly recommend upgrading your deadbolt locks now, as waiting is often times too late.
Earth Day is this week (April 22nd), and to honor that we’ve joined up with America’s Tire to celebrate the occasion by upcycling a used tire and turning it into a succulent planter.
We started this project by stopping into America’s Tire in North Hollywood. They had a pile of used tires that were no longer suitable for driving on but would make a perfect planter. We chose the smallest tire we could find as we didn’t need this planter to take over the yard, plus we wouldn’t have enough soil to fill it.
In addition to the tire we needed a piece of 1/2″ plywood, 1 1/2″ self-tapping screws, succulent/cactus soil, water permeable weed fabric and our succulent clippings. We also used a small set of wheels that are made to put under pots so this planter would be movable.
We made a basic compass and drew a circle on the plywood that was about an inch smaller than the diameter of the tire. This would ensure we made direct contact with the sidewall and the screws would have plenty to bite into.
We used a jigsaw to cut our base in the plywood and then attached it using the screws. We used a hole saw to drill some drainage holes then placed the permeable fabric inside the planter to keep the soil from falling through.
Next we filled the tire with our succulent mix. In hindsight we could have filled the tire cavity with regular soil but we had enough of the mix for the project.
Our yard is filled with all types of succulents but we have an abundance of Jade, Aeonium, and Burros Tail. With the help of my 3 year old son, we compiled some clippings and placed them in the new tire planter. He enjoyed using the pruning shears and discussing how we are helping the plant stay healthy as well as how we are starting a new pot from a recycled tire.
Succulents grow year round and the Spring blooms are surprisingly gorgeous. We’ll give our new tire planter a good watering and make sure the soil is thoroughly dry before the next watering in a week.
We’ll share an update in a few months of our new tire planter as we imagine it will be overflowing with beautiful green plants.
Thank you to America’s Tire for partnering with us on this project. The store managers were pleasant to work with and we wouldn’t hesitate to send our friends and family to their shop to get an honest assessment of their tire needs.
Sitting down on a dirty lawn chair just sucks and unsightly mold is just gross. Here’s an easy way to keep your patio furniture clean using Scotts Outdoor Cleaner Plus OxiClean. Los Angeles doesn’t have the cleanest air and in the Spring there is pollen and other airborne particulates floating around. This all leads to dirty patio furniture. The dewpoint temperature also drops at night and our outdoor cushions get damp which leads to mold and mildew stains.
We’ve been reluctant to use a cleaner because of the harsh chemicals, but Scott’s Outdoor Cleaner is a great solution. It’s safe on fabrics and to use around lawns and plants (which we have a lot of).
To clean your furniture just spray it on the surface to be cleaned and let the solution set for a few minutes. You’ll see the foam action go to work as it lifts the stains and dirt off your furniture.
To spot stains give it a scrub and rinse with water or wipe with a clean cloth to finish.
Scotts Outdoor Cleaner Plus OxiClean can be used on concrete/brick, wood, composite wood, vinyl, patio furniture (including outdoor fabrics), roofing shingles, fiberglass, painted metals and more.
This product is available as a sprayer like we used, garden sprayer with hose attachment, and gallon size. Select your product here.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Scotts®Plus OxiClean™ Outdoor Cleaner via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.]]>
With so many options available, buying a lawnmower can be a bit confusing. Luckily there are a lot of websites out there that can help guide your buying decision. When you are ready to pull the trigger on a major purchase (like a zero-turn mower), the ability to shop online can be difficult.
Toro is aiming to simplify the task of buying a mower online with their new Z-Builder website.You start by selecting your steering option (levers or wheel), then continue to build your mower by choosing the platform, deck size, engine, and any additional options you may need.
You can visually see your mower come together as you add or subtract options, and the price dynamically changes based on what you’ve selected. The website works from your desktop or mobile device, and when you are ready to purchase, just add it to your cart. In 10-14 days, it will be delivered to you by your local Toro dealer. Buying a lawnmower (or anything), doesn’t get any easier than that.
Previous Toro zero turn mowers were only available with steering levers, but Toro has brought the convenience of a steering wheel to their zero turn platform. The steering wheel brings the precision of zero-turn mowing to a new homeowner who may have previously shied away from zero turns because of the levers.
The intuitive steering wheel and speed control pedal make this zero turn tractor easy to use. The tilting steering column makes it comfortable for any operator and easy to get on and off.
You can build your new custom Toro zero turn mower directly through Toro or Home Depot.
This video shows you how easy it really is.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Toro but all opinions are 100% represented by Timothy Dahl of Charles & Hudson LLC.]]>
With more and more devices in your home being controlled and monitored by smartphone apps the battery drain increases. No need to worry about this with a battery-powered case and one of the best available is the Resurgence from Otterbox.
The best thing about the Resurgence is that you’ll hardly believe it’s a battery pack in a case. The weight and thickness are not much more than their outstanding slim Symmetry cases, but the on-demand battery backup power is a game changer for those that need it.
Carrying a charging cord and finding an outlet is a reality for those of us who keep our smartphones with us 24-7. But you can cut the cord with this case. It also alleviates the need for carrying an awkward external battery pack which is really lame.
The 2,600 m-AH battery will double your iPhone 6 battery life and will stop charging once the battery is full which saves it for more charging later. The LED on the back of the case is like a fuel gauge, letting you know where you stand on a charge.
Beyond the battery, the case is still offers military-rated protection and will protect your smartphone all day and night.]]>
Home generators are becoming more popular by the day but an actual home battery would be even more interesting. Elon Musk of Tesla, Space X, and Solar City, has just announced a “very large utility scale home battery”.
Home batteries power up overnight, when energy companies typically charge less for electricity. Then, they can be turned on during the day to power a home. Though home batteries cost thousands of dollars, many utility companies will offer rebates.
At a battery conference last year, Tesla’s Stationary Energy Storage Director Arch Padmanabhan showed off some of the company’s early plans, including a 10 kilo-Watt hour residential battery and a 400 kWh commercial/utility battery for large buildings.
In a pilot project, Tesla has already begun offering home batteries to SolarCity (SCTY) customers, a solar power company for which Musk serves as chairman. There are 330 U.S. households currently running on Tesla’s batteries, the majority of which are in California, according to company analyst Trip Chowdhry.
Those batteries start at about $13,000, though California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PCG) offers customers a 50% rebate. Tesla’s batteries are three-feet high by 2.5-feet wide, and they need to be installed at least a foot and a half off the ground. They can be controlled with a Web app and a smartphone app.
It’s unclear if the batteries that Tesla plans on announcing next week are the same as the ones in the pilot program or in the presentation made at the battery conference last year.]]>
We’ve used professional thermal imaging cameras from Milwaukee Tool and other manufacturers, but the Seek Thermal camera is the first one that turns your smartphone into a thermal imaging camera. You simply download the app, plug in the camera, and you can start viewing your home and taking photos.
Priced at $249, the camera plugs into iOS and Android devices and works with a free app to convert heat energy into an image that can be seen, and recorded, on your phone or tablet. It allows you to detect and assess the unseen problems in your home – like water damage, loose wires, poor HVAC performance – and can even help cut your energy bill by exposing energy inefficiencies.
Here are some photos we took of the camera in action. Note, our floor heater only has a pilot light on but it’s sensitive enough to show a lot of heat (and heat loss) from our heater. The kettle on the stove had been off for a couple hours but you can still see the heat radiating form it. I also detected my body heat from a reflection in the mirror and our refrigerator.
This is an amazing device that provides instant results and can be extremely helpful when doing your own energy audit.
More from Seek Thermal.
Welding is often done outside or away from a power source, so instead of lugging a welder and cord to your job, use this new portable stick and TIG welder from DeWALT (DCW100K). It can be operated in cordless mode for maximum convenience or easily plugged into a 20 Amp circuit or generator.
With an internal lithium ion battery, the DCW100K recharges while it’s plugged in. The external 4.4lb 50 minute charger keeps the DCW100K ready to use remotely at any time. Weighing less than 25lbs, the welder itself is easy to move around a job site whether it’s for mechanical, fleet field or jobsite repair and install, or stair and railing work.
At 140 Amps Max Stick and 150 Amps Max TIG, the DCW100K offers pro-grade performance for a majority of job site and construction applications. The unit features a digital display which indicates the amperage and control values, manipulated via adjustment dial. Other displays include a Stick/TIG Welder Type Selector and a Hot Start/Soft Start setting which allows the DCW100K to start easily and maintain a stable arc at low amperage. Additionally, an Arc Force Dynamic setting increases the amperage, helping to prevent the weld pool from solidifying. A battery status bar shows the remaining charge. Finally, the DCW100K includes a 13-ft. stick electrode lead as well as a 10-ft. grounding lead.
Ward Smith, DEWALT product manager said, “DEWALT continues to push the boundaries of cordless innovation on the jobsite delivering a portable power solution for the welding professional. The DCW100K Cordless Welder delivers premium performance in a lightweight and portable package.”
This welder is available from Amazon now.