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woodworkboss.com

How to Stain Wood: Tips for Newbs and Old Hats Alike

Staining wood has been used for centuries to enhance and preserve wood projects. Learning how to stain wood properly will save you time, headaches, and heartache. After spending hours making a perfect trinket box, ruining it during the staining process can be crushing (yes, the voice of experience is whispering in your ear).

Every type of wood has peculiarities. Likewise, different types of wood stains act differently. Understanding these perks and quirks will help you make good selections. If you already know the basics, we apologize for the simplicity of the first few sections. You may skip ahead. If you are new to wood staining, read everything.

Your finished projects will be the masterpieces you set out to produce. Our master woodworkers have years of experience and will reveal tips and tricks about staining projects. Put on your safety glasses and nitrile gloves. We’re about to have some fun!

Difference Between Stain and Paint

The most notable difference between paints and stains is in the final appearance. Paints cover wood grain, adding color to the surface of a project. Stains bring out the natural coloration and grain of the wood. Although some color variations are available in stains, you should invest in purple paint if you want a purple deck.

Both paints and stains protect wood surfaces. They are both available in acrylic (water-based) and oil-based. With one look at a stain and a paint side-by-side, the most notable difference is the product’s thickness or consistency. Stains are much thinner than paints.

The other significant difference is in how they work on wood. Paint is a cover and stays on top of the surface of the wood. The stain is a penetrant, so it soaks into the wood.

When it comes to cost, the stain is almost always the less expensive option. While paint offers a greater variety of colors, it also hides the natural beauty of wood projects.

In addition to wood stains, there are concrete stains available. If you look at redoing that old driveway, staining the concrete can add some pop to your property. You can’t use regular wood stains for concrete, though, so make sure you’re in the right department when you’re purchasing stains.

Difference Between Water- and Oil-Based Stains

The type of project you are staining will have a bearing on whether you should use an oil-based or water-based acrylic stain. Applying a stain to a wooden deck is much different than adding some color to an interior stair rail.

If you have questions about stains, it is always encouraged to ask your local paint and stain specialists. You’ll find them in your local hardware or paint store and sometimes at the big box home improvement warehouses.

Looking at the pros and cons of oil and acrylic stains will help you make the right choice of stain for your project.

Oil-based stains

Using oil-based stains requires a bit more preparation, safety precautions, and cleaning materials. Oil stains require Linseed oil or mineral spirits as a thinning agent and mineral spirits for clean up.

Pros:

  • Provides a more even finish
  • Extremely durable and long-lasting
  • Deeper penetration

Cons:

  • Drys slower – easier to get a more even finish
  • Susceptible to mold and mildew

Oil-based stains are great to use on exterior projects. They penetrate deeper, which produces a richer color and adds protection to the wood surface.

Water-based stains

The ease of cleanup makes water-based stains very popular for project woodworkers. They create a nice finish but are not as easy to work with and clean up with water. No special precautions or materials are needed other than latex gloves (unless you want stained fingers).

Pros:

  • Quick-drying
  • Easy cleanup
  • No harmful odor or fumes
  • Not flammable
  • Breathable stain (no venting or respirator required)
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Resistant to mold and mildew

Cons:

  • Not deep penetrating
  • Require multiple coats for deeper coloration
  • More difficult to use due to quick drying time

While there are many advantages to both stain bases, the ultimate decision depends on each individual’s preferences. Consider the type of project you are staining. Oil-based stains do withstand exterior conditions better.

Selecting Your Stain

Using the pros and cons of oil- vs. water-based stains, you should be able to make an informed decision when selecting your stain.

Picture frames, jewelry boxes, and furniture all offer unique ways to display wood projects. If this is the type of project you primarily work with, water-based stains would be a good option.

If you have an older home with real wood baseboards, chair rails, door frames, and crown molding you are touching up, then oil-based stains will offer greater longevity.

The type of project you are staining has a bearing on what stain you select. Many woodworkers keep a variety of stains on the shelf. Stains are not like paints — a little goes a long way. Unless you are staining an entire outdoor deck or another large project, you probably can buy the quart or pint-sized cans.

Stains are available in cans, sprays, gels, and combination stain and finish. For our purposes here, we are only using the mainstay type that comes in paint-style cans. Call us old-school if you must, but we like the tried-and-true methods.

Stains are colored to match natural wood colorations, not a specific type of wood. If you can’t afford mahogany wood for your project but want the vibrant, reddish hue, you can buy the white oak and use a mahogany stain to obtain a very similar shade.

How to Stain Wood

The first step in staining your project is to collect the supplies you will need to complete this process:

  • Sandpaper or blocks in varying grains
  • Cleaning cloths (ole t-shirts work great)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Paintbrush
  • Dropcloth
  • Wood filler (optional)
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner (if needed)
  • Wood stain in a shade of your choice
  • Topcoat sealing product (optional)

Once you have your material assembled, you can set up your work area to begin staining your project. Lay your drop cloth under your work area. The stain is stain, and it stains. Wear old clothing, coveralls, or a shop apron to avoid ruining anything with a wayward splash.

Preparing your project

Before staining your project, you need to prepare the wood to accept the stain. The surface should be free of any imperfections, which of course means grabbing that sandpaper.

If you have a small palm or orbital sander, you can use that to speed up the process. Start with coarse-grit sandpaper (80 to 120 grit), then shift to finer grit sandpaper (180 to 220 grit). Wipe down the surface with a lint-free cloth in between each grit change.

After sanding, wipe the dust with a clean, dry cloth. In between each round of sanding, wipe the surface with a damp (not wet) cloth. This raises the grain of the wood and gives you a better final surface.

If you are working with a softwood, you should condition the wood before staining to avoid blotchy results with your stain. With some hardwoods, such as mahogany, you may need to use a filler to achieve a completely smooth finish.

Applying your stain

When you are ready to apply your stain, be sure to stir it thoroughly in the can. Using a damp cloth (old t-shirts again), dip the cloth into the stain and then rub it liberally across your piece. Always wipe in the direction of the grain.

You could also use a brush for this step, but the rag offers better coverage with less streaking and “heavy” spots. Thinner layers work better. If you want a darker finish, apply additional coats of stain. Each coat will add more color.

Once you have your piece thoroughly covered, wipe away excess stain with a clean, dry, and lint-free cloth (yes, of course, those old t-shirts).

Clean up right away, especially your rags. Once the stain dries on them, it is never coming out, and you can toss that rag right in the trash. It’s just an old t-shirt, but reusing them is excellent for the environment.

Grab a cup of coffee and a muffin. Check your Facebook or Instagram. This is the “hurry up and wait period.” Let your piece dry, or “cure,” for at least 24 hours.

When your project is finished

Once your stain is dry and you have given it time to cure, it’s time to think about final finishes. There are many choices available, from varnish to polyurethane. They each have advantages and disadvantages.

In the end, your decision will probably be based on the type of project you are completing and what you want in the final look. Some projects don’t need a top coat and are beautiful with their stain shining through.

Types of penetrating finishes available:

  • Tung oil
  • Danish oil
  • Linseed oil
  • Walnut, soy, and lemon oils

Types of surface finishes:

Some final finish products will add a look of yellow to your piece. Be aware of that, so you don’t get a shock. Others fade over time and “yellow.” Most are clearly labeled and will warn you of any color-changing or aging effects. Read the labels.

Whether you are resurfacing a table, reconditioning an outdoor deck, or adding a finish to a jewelry box, you want your project to look fantastic. Take your time, select great products, do the project right.

Handy Tips for Future Projects

We use old t-shirts as shop rags. They are versatile, lint-free, and washable. Try to stick to lighter colored shirts and don’t use any that have iron-on transfers (you can use the back panel). When cut, each t-shirt will make four shop towels.

Wear gloves. Otherwise, you may have stained hands for the next several months. We use nitrile gloves most often. They are easy to find, disposable, easy to store in a draw or on a shelf, and available in various sizes.

Wear old clothes, coveralls, or a shop apron. We know we mentioned this earlier, but we don’t want you to ruin your favorite jeans.

Ventilation and Safety

We also mentioned earlier that water-based stains are safe to use without extra steps for ventilation. However, the same rule applies to them as with low-VOC paints. It would be best if you still ventilated even though you technically don’t have to.

If you are using oil-based stains, please remember that the stains and thinners are flammable. A bucket of used rags left in the corner can combust. Don’t leave clean up tasks undone. When you clean rags with mineral spirits, lay them out on a flat surface to dry. Do not ball them up in a pile and stuff them in an old coffee can.

Ventilation is crucial when using oil-based stains. They should be used outside when you are able. If you use them inside, keep windows open and use a small oscillating fan to move the air around. Follow ALL the safety warnings on all the labels.

If you are using oil-based inside, please make sure that a second person is in the area but not breathing the same fumes in your shop. They’re not a canary. Tell them you will be working with stains, and ask them to check on you periodically.

Cleaning up the Easy Way

We try not to waste anything. When we cut out our old t-shirts, we save the sleeves. We use the sleeves as cleaning rags, too, then we throw them away, which makes cleanup easy. This is a great trick if you’re working with icky, messy stuff.

Keep a sticky lint roller in your shop. When you have a lot of sanding dust on your bench, you can roll most of it off, so it isn’t flying around in the air. When you use a small foxtail to finish up, you aren’t making more of a mess.

Always keep your shop as clean as possible. Getting stray dust or dirt in the finish on a project you just spent hours making perfect is depressing.

Making It Last

When we do projects, we may expect them to last forever. We do have a reasonable expectation that they will last a few generations, though. Taking care to select a good finish is part of making things last.

We hope you enjoyed our discussion of stains and finishes. May your next project become a masterpiece. Let us know in the comments what you’re working on.

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growwherever.com

12 Reasons You Need A(nother) Houseplant in Your Life

If you are anything like us, 2020 is ending, and your houseplant collection is flourishing. You spent months building your plant collection by adding new green and flowery friends to your indoor space.

Perhaps you find yourself in a situation where you wonder if your plant obsession is getting a little out of control. Well, it is not. You are in perfect control of building your well-deserved houseplant empire. One could easily argue you need more plants because of all the beautiful benefits houseplants offer their caretakers.

1. Sense of Accomplishment

There has never been a moment like now with social distancing efforts and having to stay home to wish to connect with someone.

Since contact with others is limited these days, the routine of the day tends to become even more limiting as we have less unique experiences to brighten the day.

That is where houseplants come in as saviors. Caring for houseplants takes the edge out of mundane day-to-day tasks.

Houseplants require attention, and in return, they thrive. As your plants thrive, you feel accomplished, and you are contributing positively to your world even if the world feels small right now.

2. Deep Breaths and Calm Down

Having plants in your home reduces not only psychological stress but physiological stress, as well.

The interaction with plants works to help your body produce its own antidepressants by triggering serotonin release. Interaction with plants means the daily and weekly care you give your plants, talking to them, and repotting them as they grow.

This stress-reduction happens because your heart rate goes down, and you get a feeling of comfort and satisfaction.

With everything going on in the world, this alone is a great reason to fill your home with plants.

3. I Feel So Disconnected, and I Like It

It is easy to get sucked into an online presence and create distractions by staring at your phone.

The conditions of the world right now and wondering what happens next create a lot of anxiety. It is easy to doom-scroll online, which manifests even more stress.

Pulling the plug from technology to focus on your houseplants will give you a break from the doom and gloom.

Also, investing that time to watch and see something grow because of your care is a special and unique reward.

4. I Feel So Close to You Right Now

There has never been a moment like now with the social distancing efforts and having to stay home to wish to be around others. Even introverts sometimes want to be around others.

Taking a break from technology to focus on something alive is fantastic, and houseplants help humans feel connected with something natural.

Since face-to-face interactions are at an all-time low right now, buying plants helps fill the crippling void of loneliness.

Plants respond to sound, so instead of talking to yourself, say nice things to your plants and watch them grow.

5. It Is Easier than You Think

Often potential plant owners shy away from houseplants because they struggle to keep things alive or feel as though houseplants are not worth the trouble.

However, this is not true.

Several houseplants are fantastic for those who cannot keep things alive.

For instance, spider plants are magnificent plants that do well in hanging baskets or just in a pot. These plants create baby spider plants that drape off the plant’s sides, making an impressive display of plant glory.

Snake plants are another hard-to-kill option for newbie plant-parents. Snake plants like light, but they are okay with neglect. These plants also tend to make snake plant babies easily so that you can add to your collection.

6. Keep it Clean

Plants are fantastic for humans because plants use photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis converts carbon dioxide into oxygen. Even better than cleaning carbon dioxide from the air, plants remove toxins, as well.

Now, there is no real way to know how many plants you need in your house to effectively work as a purifier because NASA did their testing in a sealed room.

Obviously, your best option is to add as many houseplants as you can manage. We give you permission. It is for science, really, and who can argue with that?

7. Oh, the Humidity!

Houseplants can increase the humidity in your home, which can help with issues related to dry air. Nosebleeds, anyone?

Plants take the water from the soil to hydrate their leaves and stems. The plants use some of the water for their own needs; however, the rest evaporates. This process is called transpiration.

Some plants are better at raising the humidity levels in your home. Houseplants with small leaves like desert plants or succulents are not the best options.

However, plants with large leaves that can absorb more light through photosynthesis are the best at increasing humidity in your space.

8. Sleep Easy

It is not just the purified air that is amazing. Houseplants help your breath at night, too.

Many plants are active at night, such as the snake plant, which means they actively absorb carbon dioxide at night.

Other night active plants to consider are aloe vera and the neem tree, to name a couple.

Also, the bamboo palm takes it a step further and cleans formaldehyde from the air, just in case this was a concern you have.

9. Peace and Quiet

If you ever needed a reason to fill your home with plants, you will have one now. If you live in a noisy area with a lot of outside noise filtering into your home, plants can help.

All parts of a houseplant work to absorb sound.

However, for effective noise-canceling, you must remember the amount of plants matter. Therefore, you need more houseplants.

The size of the plant and the surface area of the leaves make a difference. Clearly, you need plenty of large plants, as well.

Also, pay attention to how you display your plants for noise reduction. Plants should be at the perimeter of your space, so the sound waves that vibrate off the walls have a chance for absorption by the plants.

10. I Feel So Productive

If you find yourself sluggish and unmotivated to accomplish your tasks and responsibilities, you are getting a clear signal that you must buy more houseplants.

Research proves that even though plants do not have a work-related function, having plants in workspaces increases productivity.

We feel it is a valid reason to buy another houseplant or three.

11. It is a Generational Thing

It may seem odd to think of houseplants or gardening being generational, but it often is.

Younger generations may find themselves newly interested in houseplants due to circumstances of the chaos that is 2020. Still, many witnessed an older family member indulge in the joy of gardening and houseplants.

It makes sense that level of joy makes an imprint as young adults pick up the habit of keeping houseplants.

Also, it is a fantastic bridge in a generational relationship because of a shared passion. For instance, if you have been socially distancing from your mom out of concern, talking to her about houseplants will help you feel closer.

12. Going to Need You to Stay in Your Lane

If you are getting the side-eye from your partner every time you eyeball a new plant or bring one home, remind them of all the great reasons why it’s worthwhile to invest in the houseplant hobby.

Many new plant wonders feel the end to hide their plant habit to avoid detection. Many quietly add to their collection subtly until the collection starts to take over the room

It is easy to feel guilty about any type of self-care, but if you feel bad for investing in your houseplants – do not do this.

Buy your houseplants because they please you and be happy.

Where Did These Bugs Come From?

One reason plant parents shy away from houseplants is the concern about pests.

Yes, pests are annoying. When you keep houseplants, they create a perfect environment that some bugs just love.

However, the pests are a lot easier to contend with than you think. Many pests require insecticides or fungicides to manage. Fortunately, some products are safe for plants and pets that handle more than one problem.

Just be sure to spray the leaves and the soil’s tops and underside to prevent and eliminate fungus issues, spider mites, whiteflies, mealybugs, and much more.

Also, if you find fungus gnats are taking over, and you do not want to use a spray, look into sticky fly traps.

Another fun option for houseplant pest control is the use of carnivorous plants such as the Venus flytrap, pitcher plants, or butterwort.

Creating Your Plant Space

There are several ways you can display your plants even if you think you do not have the room. If anyone tries to tell you differently, you can educate them on all your options.

Freestanding shelving dedicated to houseplants is an excellent option for houseplant display.

Hanging planters of varying length give you a lot of opportunities to take advantage of prime window space. Macrame hangers are making a come-back, although many would argue they never actually left the houseplant scene.

If your ceilings are high, you can add a shelf above your windows from which you can anchor your plants. Be sure to look for wood shelves so you can add the anchor hooks.

Also, there are plenty of wall brackets to add to the wall surface from which to hang plants. Just be sure you keep in mind how far the plant needs to hang from the wall or winder. For instance, a four-inch small pot will not need as much wall clearance compared to an eight-inch pot.

Also, window ledges and bathrooms are fantastic options, as well. Most houseplants are tropical or subtropical in nature, and they love humidity.

For instance, snake plants, prayer-plants, and even ferns love high humidity. Therefore, make sure your light conditions are suitable and fill your bathroom with the added tranquility of houseplants.

In the End, Buy the Plant

Houseplants are addictive and fun. However, there is so much joy to be had fiddling around and caring for plants.

We find the additional work pleasing because it enables us to see the fruits of our labor.

Plants grow and even bloom under the care and words of their caretakers.

Buying and keeping houseplants is rewarding, improves your emotional and physical health, and gives you something rewarding and productive to do with your time.

What houseplant did you buy today? Answer in the comments

Featured Image by Leonardo Iheme from Pixabay

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gpunerd.com

Steam Hidden Games: How to Find, View, and Play Them on Steam

When you hear about Steam hidden games, you might wonder if you’re missing out on some secret stash of games on Steam. And although that is what it sounds like, Steam isn’t hiding any games from its players.

The fact is that there are tens of thousands of games available for purchase on Steam.

And depending on how many you have in your library, some of those games might get lost in the shuffle. Plus, once you 100 percent some of those games, what do you do with them?

Deleting them all together might actually break your heart, but have no fear because Steam gives you another option — Steam hidden games.

What Are Steam Hidden Games?

Steam hidden games is a section in Steam where you can hide your games for whatever reason you choose. The platform gives you this option because they don’t want you to have to delete games.

That’s because if you start deleting games, you might forget about them. But you paid for them, so it would be a shame to delete and forget about all that progress you made.

Not only that, but those games might have updates and additions that you won’t know about if you don’t keep track. How will you beat the new additions or benefit from any updates if you don’t still have these games in your library?

On the other hand, you don’t want to junk up your list with games that you don’t play anymore. So, Steam hidden games gives you the option to keep the games in your library without having them crowd out the games you’re currently playing.

How to Hide Your Games

Hiding your games on Steam is pretty straightforward and easy to do. First, launch Steam and figure out which games you want to hide in your library.

Next, right-click on the first game you want to hide, choose “Manage,” and select “Hide this game.” Continue through your list and hide each game you want in the same manner. You’ll notice your list of games shrinking, but fear not, they aren’t leaving Steam.

You will find your hidden games in their own section within your library.

Where to Find Steam Hidden Games

When you want to access your Steam hidden games, all you have to do is go up to the menu at the top and hit “View.”

The second choice down in that menu is “Hidden Games” — select it. On the left side of your Steam screen, there will be a list of all your Steam hidden games in alphabetical order.

You can either play them from here, or you could unhide the games to make them visible in your regular library.

Unhide Them This Way

If you choose to move your games back to your library, you have a couple of options for how to unhide them. The first way is just to do the opposite of what you did to hide them in the first place.

Right-click on the game you want to unhide and move, scroll down to “Manage,” and choose “Remove from Hidden.” That will move your game out of the hidden menu in your library and back to your regular library. You’ll find it alphabetically organized, like your other games.

But that’s not the only way to access your hidden games. There’s another way.

Or This Way

Open Steam and go to your library. On the left-hand side, you’ll see your list of games. At the top of your list between Games and ALL, you’ll see a search box.

Type in the name or the partial name of the game you want to unhide, and that game will pop up. Right-click, as mentioned above, and unhide your game or play it right from the hidden section.

From here, you can also find all your other Steam hidden games because underneath the game you just searched for, you’ll see a category named “HIDDEN.” If you click on that word, all your hidden games will appear on the right.

Right-click on them there and unhide or play at will. Or you can unhide them by clicking and dragging the games one by one to the top of the left side of your screen, where a box will appear.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to keep your Steam games organized how they default. You can also organize them in ways other than alphabetical or place them in subcategories. That way, you can personalize your Steam and make it user friendly according to your preferences.

Organization Is Key

Whether your games are hidden or in plain view, you don’t have to have them organized by the alphabet. Here are some other ways you can organize your steam games.

  1. Friends Playing
  2. % of Achievements Complete
  3. Hours Played
  4. Last Played
  5. Release Date
  6. Size on Disk
  7. Metacritic Score
  8. Steam Review

In addition to or instead of sorting your games this way, you could also create game collections. To do this, just click on a game either in your visible library or your hidden game section and drag it to the “Create A New Collection” box that appears to the right of your games list.

Once you drag it there, a box will pop up for your new collection, prompting you to name it. After you name your collection, you can drag other games there and organize your game list.

Another option is to add your favorite games to your favorites list by right-clicking or dragging. That way, your best-loved games will be right at your fingertips. Note that you can use these features on all your games, including those you want to hide.

Why Would You Hide Games on Steam?

There is one main reason why you would hide a game on Steam, and we’ve already touched on it. The biggest reason to use Steam hidden games is to clean up your library and reserve those spaces only for those games you currently play.

If you have a ton of games on Steam, this might be a good way to quickly get to the games you want to play without having to scroll through the ones you don’t.

You can think of it as a spring cleaning of your digital world. In fact, it’s similar to what you should do with your overflowing inbox or your computer, in general.

Hiding allows you to organize your library without purging games you might want to play again someday.

Don’t Panic: Hiding Doesn’t Mean Deleting

Hiding games on Steam isn’t the same as deleting them altogether. When you delete a game, the game is not only gone but so is all your hard work.

Remember, you paid for that game (probably), and you spent countless hours earning achievements. It would be a shame to delete all that in one fell swoop.

So, before you delete your old games from Steam, consider hiding them instead. You don’t want to think about that game down the road and wish you could play it again and have it not be there.

You also don’t want to decide later on that you want to earn those last two achievements or look for that Easter egg you just learned about, only to remember you completely deleted the game.

The good thing is that hiding your games means that they are still waiting for you whenever you’re ready to return.

Hide Now Seek Later

As you can see, Steam made it easy for all of their players to organize their game cabinet. Steam’s hidden games function gives you the power to keep all of your games without having to sift through them to find the one you want to play today.

You can save those old, finished, or nearly finished games for revisiting whenever the mood strikes. And you don’t have to worry about them junking up your library in the meantime.

How do you organize your games on Steam? Did you know about Steam hidden games? Let us know how you keep your library tidy in the comments below!

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pestkilled.com

Tips to Get Rid of Houseplant Pests: Fungus Gnats, Mealies, and Thrips, Oh My!

If you have plants, you likely have houseplant pests, too. And even though you did not mean to bring the pests home, you might feel as though you are stuck with them.

Fortunately, there is a way for you to enjoy your houseplants and mitigate the pests issue.

But, it does take time to get rid of houseplant pest issues entirely.

One of Us… One of Us

Ever since the beginning of social distancing, many of us are stuck inside looking for a new hobby.

We set out and kept busy learning to keep indoor plants alive, and the next thing we knew, we had 45 new plants vying for prime spots at our windows.

We started hanging our plants with lovely hangers and even learning how to macrame our own plant hangers. Now, it’s a current and ongoing obsession if we are honest.

All was well for quite some time until we noticed the stickiness from aphids and a large number of fungus gnats flitting about like they owned the place.

Household pests were on the verge of ruining this fantastic oasis, and something needed to be done.

Unwanted Company in Your Houseplants

Household plants are a beacon of hope for bugs and pests. Indoor growing conditions for plants are very appealing to nuisances.

Bugs really like the air circulation, or lack thereof, because high winds destroy small flies.

Also, higher levels of humidity, standing water, and moist soil are havens to some pests.

Say Hello to My Little Friends

You are not inviting all the common outdoor bugs into your home if you have plants.

But there are some common houseplant pests to look for.

Spider Mites

If you notice your leaves have little light-colored dots and the leaves begin to fade to bronze color, you might have spider mites.

You have to look very close to see spider mites scurrying about on your plant, sucking the sap out of the leaves.

After a while, you notice webbing on your leaves and stems, which tells you the population is booming.

You could handle spider mites with an insecticide from a store or one that you make yourself. Another option is a predatory mite, which is all discussed below.

Aphids

Aphids are little pests that travel quickly from plant to plant and feast off the sap from plants. They like new growth, and they go for the fresh green stems making your new foliage look rough.

If the infestation is bad enough, you may see the aphids clustered over the stems of new growth.

You might also notice your plants are sticky, or if you have a hanging plant, there might be sticky residue under the plant.

Also, ants really like this sticky residue, called honeydew, and when you see those ants, it should confirm your infestation of aphids.

You can wash aphids away with a decent stream of water. You might also try using fragrance-free dish soap to make a weak mixture and spray your plant’s leaves on top and bottom.

Neem oil and insecticides are also great options for safely eliminating aphids. Also, you could wipe the leaves with rubbing alcohol, but not all plants like rubbing alcohol.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are horrid little flies that love the soil in your houseplant pots.

These flies love the moisture in the top couple inches of your plants.

You could dry your plant’s soil out by delaying watering them.

However, if you have plants as we do, they dramatically die if you vary from their watering cycle. Some plants are fussy like that.

You can help prevent fungus gnats by adding pea rocks or sand to the top of the soil because that makes it harder for them to get to the soil.

Also, castile soap mixed with water will kill the larvae, as does a fungicide.

Thrips

Thrips are the color of hay, and they love the underside of houseplant leaves. These houseplant pests love the juices from plants.

This pest is tough to see because they are so small, and as the thrip population booms on your houseplants, you may notice silver streaks on your leaves. As the infestation gets worse, you may see brown streaks.

Manage thrips with neem oil or an insecticide spray.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are tiny whiteflies that infest your plants and do damage, all while inviting even more pests to their party.

Also, whiteflies suck on your plants and flowers’ sap, which causes that part of your plant to die off. Eventually, whiteflies can kill your houseplant.

The honeydew created, just like aphids, attracts ants and fungal diseases, which can further damage plants.

Neem oil usually works to eliminate whiteflies, as does a weak concoction of water and dish soap. Also, consider sticky traps or an insecticide.

Mealybugs

If you think you have whiteflies, but you notice they do not fly around when you disturb the leaves, you have mealybugs.

Mealybugs have a white powder wax over them, and they go for the sab inside the leaves.

Also, this is another pest that secretes a sticky honeydew that brings its own set of problems.

A full-on infestation of mealybugs are challenging to manage; in some cases, you may have to say goodbye to your plant entirely.

Fortunately, mealybugs are local to the plant and will not spread to the other houseplants.

If you catch the infestation early enough, you can try going after the bugs with rubbing alcohol. Also, an insecticide is effective.

Preventing the Infestation When You Bring Home a New Plant

Bringing home a new houseplant is fun. However, instead of getting your plant home and immediately setting it up with its new friends, you must ensure the plant does not have its own infestation waiting to damage your other plants.

Inspect new plants

Take a good look at your new plant. You want to look for bugs, eggs, and webs.

Be sure to inspect the underneath of the leaves where pests like to hang out and feast. And be careful to look at new growth, too.

Quarantine new plants

If you are like us, you may already have a staggered approach to introducing new plants, so you do not have to explain that, yes, you bought a new plant because leaving it at the store to feel neglected was just not an option for you.

Since you are hiding your plant habit and later pretending the plant “has been there the whole time, what are you even talking about,” take the time to quarantine your new friend to ensure you did not bring any extra “friends” home.

It’s tricky tricky tricky

This quarantine and inspection process is essential because bugs can hide.

As you quarantine your plant, you have time to watch for bugs as they grow into adult pests, which means they will be easier to see.

You can also force plants out of the soil, where some like to hide, by submerging the pot in a bucket of water.

You want to make sure you do not wash over the top of the plant, but the soil absorbs water through the drainage holes.

After about 15 or 20 minutes, drain the pot well.

Now is an excellent opportunity to spray the leaves top and bottom and the soil’s surface with one of the suggested insecticides and fungicides.

If you are uncertain about the soil, take the time to re-pot after carefully removing all the old dirt and planting in fresh soil.

Now That the Houseplant Pests Are Gone

Now that you know how to prevent pests in the first place, you must keep monitoring to eliminate as many opportunities as possible for future infestations.

Stopping new houseplant pests in their tracks

You could have a perfect score for handling new plants, so you do not bring houseplant pests home when you shop for a new plant.

However, infestations happen, so you must remain vigilant.

If you see the warning signs of a new pest colony, have the necessary tools on hand to prevent pests from going out of control.

Insecticides and fungicides

If you have pets and do not want to spray a chemical, but you are concerned about spider mites, aphids, and thrips, you want a spray that uses botanicals.

If you need a spray that is an insecticide, fungicide, and miticide that still qualifies as organic, try Garden Safe Fungicide3.

When you use a pest control spray, do not be shy. Pests will try to hide, so you must spray the tops and the bottoms of the leaves. Also, do not forget the lower leaves and the top of the soil.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a powered sedimentary rock that is effective in killing a whole lot of household pests.

If you sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth over the top of your plants’ soil, it will kill the mites, fungus gnats, flies, and ants.

Wear a mask and gloves, and do not rub your eyes when you work with this substance.

Incidentally, it is excellent for killing flea infestations, too.

Sticky traps

Sticky traps are a fantastic way to trap flying pests such as fruit flies and fungus gnats. You peel off the cover, and the sticky traps attract the flying pests with their yellow color and trap them.

We can confirm it is very gratifying to wake up and find your sticky traps a graveyard for pesky fungus gnats.

Carnivorous plants

Carnivorous plants are an option for some pests.

However, you must be careful because carnivorous plants could develop their own infestations, yet they are not as easy going when it comes to insecticide sprays or homemade options.

For instance, Pitcher Plants and Venus Fly Traps will eat up fungus gnats and become victims themselves.

However, we can confirm it is very gratifying to see these two plants eating their way through the fungus gnat population.

Another option for fungus gnats is Butterwort.

Butterwort is a live sticky trap that fungus gnats find irresistible. The Butterwort has shimmery leaves, and when the bug lands, it gets stuck on the sticky fluid.

The flying bug dissolves into food for the Butterwort, making it a beautiful graveyard of fungus gnat destruction.

Homemade sprays for houseplant pests

There are plenty of homemade options for sprays, and research shows their efficacy. The spray recipes usually include neem oil mixed with water and applied to the leaves and the soil.

Also, homemade sprays made with concoctions of onions and garlic along with neem oil is useful.

Predatory bugs for houseplant pests

It may seem counter-intuitive to bring bugs into your home on purpose, but many friendly bugs feast on your pests.

For instance, predatory mites, Galendromus occidentalis, will hunt down and devour spider mites. Also, these friendly mites have no interest in chowing on your plants.

Plus, you only need 1 friendly mite for every 10 unfriendly mites. When they eat them all up, your friendly mite will provide continued control if your spider mites come back.

Ladybugs are another option for predatory bugs. When you look at ladybugs, you typically do not think them to be particularly dangerous, but the ladybug is the bringer of death to many household plant pests.

Ladybugs are beneficial for consuming aphids, but they will eat any soft-bodied bugs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Houseplant Pests

We dug up answers to a couple of common questions regarding houseplant pests.

Which houseplants resist pests naturally?

Several plants are more pest-resistant than others. That said, plants are not 100 percent immune from pests.

Snake plants are a good option. Plus, snake plants handle low light and neglect rather well. It has tough skin, making it not pest-friendly. Although snake plants are not suitable for pets and kids, keep them up and out of the way.

Jade plants are another option for natural pest resistant. For the same reason as snake plants, keep them up and away from kids and pets.

Dragon trees are from Africa, and they are drought tolerant and pest resistant. The plant likes low light and invites neglect while still thriving. Also, it’s toxic to pets and kids, so keep them away.

Chinese evergreen is a tropical plant that is pest resistant and does well in low light. However, like the rest, it is toxic to pets and kids.

Do houseplants harbor or attract pests?

House plants do both.

When you buy a plant from a store or nursery, it may already have an infestation.

Also, houseplants are an oasis for some pests, and they attract them, as well.

Therefore, it is vital to quarantine and treat your plants before bringing them inside or near your other plants.

Also, ongoing maintenance is necessary.

I’m All About That Plant

We love plants. We do not, however, appreciate the houseplant pests that love our houseplants.

Fortunately, there are several ways to handle this problem.

Your first line of defense is preventing an infestation in the first place. New plants should be inspected separately. In some cases, the soil needs replacing.

Once you are sure your new plant is free from bugs, you may move it to meet the new family.

However, your work is not done yet.

It is vital to watch for houseplant pest infestation and be proactive about preventing out of control infestations.

How did you handle your houseplant pest situation? Answer in the comments.

 


A teacher by trade, Victoria splits her free time between freelance writing, her camping blog, and (frantically) guiding her teenagers into becoming functional adults.

Categories
dishwasherguides.com

15 Genius Dishwasher Uses for a Cleaner Home Today

If you’re in charge of keeping the kitchen clean, your dishwasher is likely one of your most prized possessions. But the list of potential dishwasher uses includes much more than just cleaning your pots and pans.

Dishwashers deliver the high heat and intense water pressure needed to remove grease and caked-on food. Did you know this same intensity can deep clean many items around your home, too?

15 Innovative Dishwasher Uses You’ve Never Thought to Try

Your dishwasher is a lot more useful than you might realize, but don’t get reckless! On the other hand, there are a lot of dishwasher uses.

But before you start throwing household items into your dishwasher, take a moment to think about the risks. Many manufacturers will explicitly say if you can run an item through the dishwasher. If you can’t find this information, you can normally tell if putting an item in the dishwasher is safe based on the materials.

Regardless of material, you should always handwash sentimental or valuable items. While using your dishwasher can be convenient, it’s not worth the risk.

Now, with that all out of the way, let’s get started:

1. Pet supplies

No one wants to eat off of dirty dishes, hence why dishwashers are so commonplace. But while we wash our own plates after every meal, how many of us do the same for our pets?

Some pet owners like to pre-wash their pet’s dishes before running them through the dishwasher. This isn’t technically necessary but can eliminate that semi-irrational ick factor of mixing dog or cat food with your own dinnerware.

Many pet toys, like the West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone Chew Toy, are also dishwasher-safe. Any hard plastic toy can usually be washed on a low-heat setting with no issue.

2. Bath toys

Over time, rubber ducks and other bath toys can accumulate a nasty layer of soap scum. Throwing your child’s hard plastic bath toys into the dishwasher is a great way to sanitize and de-grime them.

Wash bath toys on the top rack of your dishwasher and keep the heat to a minimum. While these toys can withstand moisture and warm temperatures, your dishwasher can get a lot hotter than your kid’s bathwater.

3. Oven mitts and pot holders

Silicone oven mitts and pot holders are great candidates for the dishwasher. A quick cycle on the top rack can remove visible food debris and kill off bacteria you can’t see with the naked eye.

If your oven mitts and pot holders are made of fabric, don’t worry. You can wash these items with your laundry instead.

4. Kitchen appliance parts

Want to play 4D chess with your kitchen cleaning routine? Take those tedious appliance parts and run them through the dishwasher.

Some (but not all) of the kitchen items you can place in the dishwasher include:

  • Exhaust filters
  • Burner covers
  • Refrigerator racks and bins
  • Microwave plates
  • Spoon rests

Handwashing these items is fine. But running them through the dishwasher every few months will sanitize them and really get into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.

5. Cosmetic tools

Spas and salons use something called an autoclave to clean and sterilize tools between clients. This device uses extremely high heat to kill off bacteria.

We don’t need to worry as much about the cleanliness of our combs, hairbrushes, nail files, and trimmers at home. Still, running your personal care items through the dishwasher can sanitize and make them look like new.

Tools made of hard plastic and metal can be washed with this method. Avoid putting tools featuring rubber, small removable parts, or natural fiber bristles in the dishwasher.

6. Glass decor

Glass vases and light fixtures can collect a surprising amount of dust. Mix this dust with everyday grime and debris, and a simple feather duster just won’t cut it.

You can safely put most glass decor in your dishwasher for quick, thorough cleaning. As always, use the gentlest setting and place these items on the top rack.

Avoid washing glass decor adorned with paint or decals. The heat and water pressure of your dishwasher will erode these details.

7. Cupholders

If your car or favorite patio chair has a removable cup holder, give it a spin through the dishwasher every now and then. It is a convenient way to wash away sticky residue and built-up dirt.

8. Bathroom accessories

Take a look around your bathroom, and you might be surprised by how many items are dishwasher-friendly. You can wash ceramic, metal, and hard plastic items, including soap dishes, toothbrush holders, and liquid soap dispensers.

Some rubber shower mats can also be placed in the dishwasher to remove soap scum and mildew. Wash bathroom items separate from your dishes to avoid cross-contamination.

9. Sponges and brushes

We tend to view our cleaning supplies as, well, clean. Unfortunately, sponges and scrub brushes harbor an alarming amount of bacteria.

To get the most out of your kitchen sponges and brushes, place them in the dishwasher. You can do this as often as you normally run your dishwasher to kill off germs and remove gross odors.

Steel wool pads can be run through the dishwasher, too.

10. Grill accessories

If you can clean your stove parts in the dishwasher, it makes sense that you can clean your grill accessories as well. Yet, so many people neglect to thoroughly clean their outdoor cooking space.

Spatulas, grates, tongs, and griddles are just a few grill-related items that are much easier to clean in the dishwasher than by hand. Since your dishwasher uses such high heat, hardened grease won’t stand a chance.

Some grills feature cast iron grates and griddles. Treat these pieces the same as you would a cast-iron skillet (in other words, don’t put them in the dishwasher!) Non-cast iron parts and accessories are fair game.

11. Vent covers

Trust us — you don’t want to know what kind of dirt and debris is sitting in your HVAC vents. One way you can help cut down on this build-up is by regularly cleaning your vent covers.

You can wash metal vent covers in the dishwasher on a low heat setting. Make sure to remove and safely set aside all screws and mounting hardware first.

Sadly, vent covers that have been painted should be handwashed only.

12. Vacuum attachments

Another item that can quickly go from clean to filthy with day-to-day use is your vacuum. Any hard plastic attachments, like your vacuum’s crevice tool, can safely go in the dishwasher.

Stick to handwashing attachments featuring soft rubber or fiber bristles. Of course, electric-powered vacuum attachments should never go in the dishwasher.

13. Flowerpots

Flower pots get dirty. So what do you do when you need to sanitize a pot that’s been contaminated by disease or pests? Or if you want to repurpose an old flower pot for a different project?

Ceramic and terra cotta pots can go right in your dishwasher for an easy cleaning solution. You can also wash plastic pots on a low-heat setting in the top rack.

We recommend rinsing away any clumps of soil or fertilizer from the inside before loading up your dishwasher. Handwash any containers featuring paint or other decorations.

14. Trash cans

Your bathroom, bedroom, and office trash cans can be sanitized in your dishwasher. Don’t forget to wash the lids and hard plastic liners, too.

Again, this is one household item you’ll probably want to run through your dishwasher alone. No one wants to know that their dinner plate was washed with the bathroom garbage can.

15. Baseball caps

This is one dishwasher hack that you might be familiar with. However, washing a baseball cap in your dishwasher is not as easy as load-and-go.

First, you should never wash hats with cardboard brim supports in the dishwasher (for obvious reasons). Second, using the wrong detergent on your baseball cap could spell disaster. Many dishwasher detergents contain bleach.

If you check all of those boxes, though, you can absolutely wash a baseball cap in the dishwasher. Wash hats alone in the top rack for the best results.

Dishwasher Uses: Turn Your Dishwasher into a Super-Cleaning Machine

As you can see, your dishwasher can do a lot more than clean cups, plates, and silverware. But for the cleanest home possible, you’ll want to proceed with a few things in mind.

Think carefully about the type of detergent your dishwasher uses. Most household items should be washed with a bleach-free detergent. Lemon-scented dishwashing soap may also damage some items.

Place small items in a dishwasher basket before washing. Failing to do this could mean losing your items or even damaging your dishwasher’s interior.

And, finally, always err on the side of caution when washing non-dishes in your dishwasher. If you’re unsure whether a specific item will make it out of the rinse cycle in one piece, then it’s best to just handwash it.

Are there any other items you clean in the dishwasher that we missed? Let us know your favorite cleaning tips in the comments below!

Categories
lovebackyard.com

To Rake, or Not To Rake: Should You Leave Your Leaf Litter In Place?

It is a question that is asked year after year. Spring, fall, summer: When is the best time to rake? Should you even rake at all? While many people hate to rake, there are arguments both for and against that make sound, scientific points.

There is a difference between raking and using a leaf blower, too. It isn’t just the annoyingly loud sound of the leaf blowers either. If you’re interested in finding out why you should tell your neighbor to quit waking you up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday, we have you covered.

Raking leaves does serve many purposes, as does not raking. After exploring the matter in way too much detail, we understand what makes a perfect summer lawn. If you’re ready for some barefoot grass next summer, we should warn you that it will involve a rake or two.

Rake? Don’t Rake? Why It Matters

Nobody likes to rake leaves. Well, maybe some sadistic people do. Most people hate it. The chore that keeps giving. You rake one day, and the next day your yard is full again. This endless cycle continues until all the neighborhood trees have dropped their bounty.

If you live in an area with zoning restrictions, you must rake, or the city gives you a citation and possibly a fine. That’s certainly no fun, so you rake. If you are in a more lenient municipality, then you have the choice.

The decision then comes to what you do with the leaves and how you use your yard. If you garden, rake and save those leaves because they do make great compost. If you’re into saving all the bugs and nature’s forgotten critters, don’t rake. The creepy-crawly things live in those rotting leaves, and it becomes a whole eco-system under the snow.

If you like a lush, green lawn, some claim that leaves starve a lawn of oxygen, sunlight, and water to reach your grass. That cycle deprives your grass of nutrients, thus making your yard sparse and icky. If you like “barefoot” grass, the argument is that raking is a necessity.

Types of Rakes and How to Use Them

“Rake” is a universal term. Most people have a picture in their head of a standard leaf rake or a garden rake when they hear it. There are more than 15 different types of rake, and they all have a different purpose.

Don’t worry. We aren’t going to bore you describing all of them. We are going to discuss the most common types briefly. These are the ones most homeowners use to maintain an exceptional lawn and garden area.

Leaf, lawn, landscape, or flex rakes

Most people picture a standard leaf rake as a flimsy fan-shaped rake with plastic or metal tines. While the leaf, lawn, and flex rakes all look similar and can do the job of raking leaves quite well, there are some differences.

A landscape rake has stiffer tines and is useful for doing heavy-duty jobs. The leaf rake has flat or round plastic tines and is perfect for moving lightweight leaves around quickly. Lawn rakes or flex rakes usually have flat metal tines and more flexibility than their plastic-tined brethren. All are commonly seen perform leaf-raking duties.

Garden rake

The garden rake has a short, stubby head and pointy, rigid steel tines. It is often seen spoofed in cartoons as an unwitting victim steps on upturned tines and catches the handle in the face. While it may be funny to watch, it does happen in real life, so always place your garden rake tines down.

Although you can use this rake for leaves, it is not very useful on the open lawn. It does a much better job scooping leaves out of garden areas and under shrubs. It is also great with wet leaves, but it will snag some of your grass along the way. This rake is great for loosening soil before seeding your lawn.

Thatch rake

A thatch rake removes the layer of organic debris that can build up on your lawn. It has a steel head with tines that are more like blades. The sharp tines grab the thatch while leaving your grass intact. If you don’t rake this fall, you may need a thatch rake in the spring to help your lawn breathe.

The Argument for NOT Raking Leaves

The cat ate my rake is not an acceptable reason not to rake unless you happen to be Joe Exotic, and a tiger did eat your rake. On the plus side, there are valid points made by the folks in the anti-raking camp.

Fallen leaves provide a wide variety of benefits:

  • Food, shelter, and nesting for wildlife
  • Winter protection for creepy-crawly insects
  • A layer of organic material (insulates the ground)
  • Leaves compost adding some nutrients for the grass
  • Composted leaves also feed biological microbes

The natural mulch formed by leaves suppresses weeds, according to David Mizejewski, a National Wildlife Federation Naturalist. While Mizejewski also confirms that a thick layer of leaves will smother a lawn, he makes recommendations to repurpose the leaves in other areas, such as planting beds.

A healthy leaf layer becomes a mini-eco-system. Among species using the leaf layer as a primary habitat are chipmunks, wood frogs, toads, box turtles, and salamanders. Also included are beneficial critters such as earthworms, millipedes, and a wide variety of insects.

Many species overwinter in leaf layers. Butterflies and moths winter as either eggs, pupae, or adults, depending on species. In addition to being pollinators, many of these provide spring food for birds feeding new hatchlings. Don’t forget the bats, which also winter in leaf layers. They won’t survive winter to eat all the spring mosquitoes if you remove their habitat.

Why You Should Rake In the Fall

There are a significant number of arguments against leaving the leaves where they fall. Although many people claim that leaving some leaves can be beneficial, especially as a mulch (more on that later), they also support the smothering theory. The reigning recommendation is to take some care and at least thin the layer of leaves.

If you are in an area with a homeowner’s association or other municipal requirements for leaf clean up, there are recommendations for getting the most benefit from fallen leaves.

  • Move leaves to flower beds
  • Use leaves as a mulch around trees
  • Cover wintering garden beds
  • Use a mulching mower to pulverize leaves
  • Use as a fill layer in between food scraps in a compost pile

If you don’t have a mulching mower or leaf shredder, you can always put the leaves into a galvanized metal can and run your weed trimmer inside the can. (The manufacturer does NOT recommend this and please wear safety goggles and gloves)

The take-away from this argument is that, if you must rake, do not just dispose of the collected leaves. With so many viable and beneficial uses for them, recycling, reusing, mulching, or composting should be a part of your fall yard cleaning routine.

Mulching Might Be a Great Compromise

Mulching is a type of mowing that pulverizes leaves and grass and returns the tiny pieces to the soil. Alternately, they can be bagged and saved for use later, in a compost pile or your garden.

Mulching is a great way to add fertilizer to your lawn without an extra expense. It is also a great way to avoid raking those pesky leaves that fall off your neighbor’s tree and land in your yard. If you plan a fall planting of cool weather grass seed or fescue, mulching is a great way to ensure healthier growth.

Is a Leaf Blower as Good as Raking?

Every neighborhood has that one person. You know them. They have a huge, gas-powered, backpack-style weed blower that they seem to run from sunup to sundown in the fall. It’s loud, and you can hear it from three blocks away as they chase that last leaf of the season off their lawn.

As you roll over and pull the pillow up to cover your ears, you wonder why on earth they can’t rake like ordinary people. Aside from the annoyance of noise and the exhaust fumes’ evident environmental impact, are leaf blowers beneficial to a lawn?

The experts say, “No.” Their reasoning is sound. If you must remove leaves for aesthetics or local ordinances, it is healthier for your lawn to rake. Explain that to your neighbor.

As you manually remove that layer of leaves, your rake is disturbing the top layer of soil. This aerates the ground somewhat, allowing for better oxygenation for your grass. Although it is not as effective as actually aerating your lawn, it is more beneficial than using a leaf blower.

To Rake or Not to Rake?

There you have it — whether or not your rake your fall leaves is an individual choice that involves several factors. The bottom line is that if you opt to clear the leaves from your lawn, use them elsewhere.

Remember that it is much easier to rake dry leaves than wet, so wait out that rainstorm and give things time to dry out. Using the correct equipment is also the best option for optimal results. Or you can pay the kid down the street because they probably want to buy the latest version of their video game.

We hope you enjoyed this discussion about the pros and cons of raking fall leaves. Let us know how you perform this arduous task in the comments section.

Categories
caregiverconnection.org

Fight Depression with Movement!: 6 Effective Workouts for Seniors

Many adults over the age of 50 struggle with depression. It can be particularly bad for those who are isolated. And let’s face it, a lot of us are isolated these days. But there’s something we can do to help the people in our lives feel better: workouts for seniors.

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go out and join a fancy gym. You can actually get all of the benefits of exercise right there in the living room.

Today we’re going to take you through six incredible workouts for seniors that are not only effective, but they’re also a whole lot of fun.

Depression and Isolated Seniors

Depression can cause some serious health problems in older adults.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, socially isolated seniors are at risk for premature death. It really is that serious. In fact, the CDC says loneliness is comparable to obesity and smoking when it comes to the health risks for seniors.

And that’s not the only problem.

Isolated seniors are 50 percent more likely to suffer from dementia too. Loneliness has also been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Because loneliness often leads to depression, there is also an increased risk of suicide.

That’s the bad news. But there is something that can help fend off feelings of depression and loneliness in isolated adults.

Believe it or not, workouts for seniors can do isolated adults a world of good.

What the Science Says About Exercise

According to doctors, including those at the Mayo Clinic, exercise can ease anxiety and depression symptoms in all adults. But it’s particularly beneficial to seniors.

The problem is when people get depressed, exercise is often the last thing they feel like doing. But if they can find the motivation to get started, workouts for seniors can be extremely helpful.

Exercise can not only counter the symptoms of depression, but it can also prevent those symptoms from coming back once you start feeling better.

It works in two ways.

First, exercise takes your mind off of your worries. It’s a great way to break the cycle of negative thoughts.

But even more importantly, workouts for seniors also trigger the release of feel-good endorphins. These natural chemicals in the brain provide a sense of well-being.

The psychological and emotional benefits of exercise shouldn’t be underestimated. Doing it regularly can be a huge boost to self-confidence. It’s also a very healthy way to cope with the stresses of everyday life.

Elements to Include in the Best Workouts for Seniors

When you’re putting together a new workout program for seniors, there are a few things to think about. First, you want something that will get the heart rate up and provide some aerobic exercise. Strength training is also extremely important for seniors. We’ll go over this in more detail in a minute.

It would be best if you also looked for exercises that include balance and flexibility work. All six of the workouts for seniors that we’re going to go over today meet these criteria.

Other important factors you should consider include:

  • Safety of the workout
  • Simplicity
  • Variety of movement
  • Enjoyment

6 Effective Workouts for Seniors

These six workouts for seniors are not only effective, but they’re also fun and appropriate for any fitness level. But before you start any new program, it’s always best to check with your doctor first.

1. Walking

One of the tried and true workouts for seniors is simple walking. Walking will elevate the heart rate and improve the cardiovascular system. It’s also excellent for balance and mobility, and it can strengthen the muscles and joints. But the best thing about it is that almost anyone can do it.

For former runners, it’s a nice gentle alternative that is low impact. That means it’s easier on aging joints.

You can try taking a 10 or 20-minute walk around the block on a nice day. But even when the weather isn’t cooperating you can still walk in places like shopping malls. You can even do walking exercises right there in the living room.

Here’s a great video that will take you through a one-mile walking workout for isolated seniors. This one is ideal for people who don’t particularly like leaving their homes.

2. Water aerobics

If you have access to a pool, then you’re in luck! Another one of our favorite workouts for seniors is water aerobics.

The great thing about the water is that it supports the body and puts less stress on the joints. Water aerobics improves the cardiovascular system and builds strength because the water’s resistance activates the muscles.

The water pressure helps to move blood throughout the body and puts less strain on the heart. For seniors who have issues with arthritis, water workouts are ideal.

Another thing that we love about it is that it increases mobility, flexibility, and balance. Because gravity’s impact is less in water, seniors can get a greater range of motion in all of the exercises.

You also don’t have to worry about overheating in the cool water. That means you can work out for longer.

And on top of all of that, water aerobics is super fun!

3. Senior Pilates

Pilates and yoga are both excellent workouts for seniors. While they are definitely similar, there are some notable differences too.

Senior Pilates can be done with or without equipment. For people who are isolated at home, Pilates is one of the best workouts for seniors because it’s easy to do, and it doesn’t take up a lot of time. Seniors can improve strength, mobility, flexibility, endurance, and coordination by doing just 10 minutes of Pilates a day.

Another thing that we love about Pilates is that it helps with balance. Balance tends to be a weakness for many people as they age, leading to accidents and falls. But Pilates can help with that. It also balances both the large and small muscle groups in the body.

Senior Pilates focuses on building core strength. That’s important because we need a strong core to do everyday tasks and movements. Having a strong core improves posture and puts the aging body into proper alignment too.

When you’re looking for the best workouts for seniors, you should find modifiable exercises. Slow progressions and modified movements are the way to go, especially for seniors who are new to working out. That makes Pilates one of the best options.

With all of the workouts for seniors that we’re going over today, it’s important that older people listen to their bodies. All of the movements in Pilates are deliberate. They should feel challenging, but they shouldn’t cause any significant pain.

4. Senior yoga

Many different types of yoga are beneficial to health and overall wellbeing. Senior yoga is one of our favorites because it connects the body with the mind and spirit, it’s gentle, and you can do it at any fitness level.

One of the concerns for aging adults is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become weak and brittle. Senior yoga is beneficial because it actually strengthens the bones and can help prevent this disease.

Of all of the workouts for seniors that we’re going over today, senior yoga is the best for stress reduction. It’s very relaxing and helps with reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and lowering heart rate.

And that’s not all.

Senior yoga also improves sleeping habits. Many seniors have difficulty sleeping as they age. But people who practice yoga report sleeping deeper and longer.

Just like with Pilates, yoga improves balance, stability, mobility, flexibility, and overall strength. It’s also an excellent way to reduce the aches and pains that come with aging.

All of the workouts for seniors on our list will help to decrease depression. But yoga is likely the best for isolated seniors who are battling depression and loneliness. It’s a natural mood booster. Yoga combines movement with deep breathing and meditation, which all improve overall well-being.

If you are working with a senior who is brand new to exercise or who has taken a long break from it, the best type to start with is Hatha yoga. It’s very gentle and slow.

5. Chair yoga

Yoga really is great for seniors at any fitness level. You can even do it in a chair!

Chair yoga is an adaptive practice that’s perfect for seniors who have limited mobility. It’s basically a modified version of Hatha yoga that you do in a chair.

All of the incredible benefits that we talked about in regular senior yoga also apply to chair yoga. From a seated position, you move your body through flows of motion that increase strength and flexibility.

Not only does it increase the range of motion, but it also teaches pranayamas, which are relaxing stress-reducing breathing techniques. And it incorporates meditation and creates spatial awareness.

If you are working with seniors who suffer from conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, or osteoporosis, chair yoga is an ideal workout. It will also benefit seniors who have trouble getting up and down from the floor.

The chair helps keep you stabilized as you move through the poses, and it provides extra support. And most senior yoga postures can be adapted to do in a chair.

Just like regular yoga, chair yoga is a mind-body experience that will improve mood and decrease depression.

6. Resistance training

While we’re talking about the best workouts for seniors, we can’t forget about strength training. A natural part of aging is that we lose muscle, and the bones get weaker. The best way to combat those two problems is to do resistance training.

Now that doesn’t mean that you have to go to the gym and push around a bunch of heavy dumbbells. You can actually get strength training benefits by doing exercises using just your body weight for resistance. Another great option is using resistance bands.

Resistance bands replace the weights. They build and tone muscle and help to strengthen the bones.

Whether you use your body weight or resistance bands, there are several amazing benefits to strength training. Some of those include:

  • Reduced symptoms of back pain, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis
  • Reduced depression
  • Weight management
  • Improved balance and posture
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased metabolism
  • Improved glucose control
  • Increased strength and muscle mass
  • Increased bone density

If you’re working with seniors who are new to working out or who have taken a long break, be sure to start slow with strength training. Just 10 to 15 minutes on the first day is plenty. Even with that short amount of time, they may feel it in their muscles the next day. Feeling a little sore after a workout is perfectly normal.

And it’s worth noting that it takes longer to recover as we get older. The soreness, though, will decrease as you get stronger. Seniors will get the most benefit from resistance training if they do it three to four times per week. But it would be best if you waited until the soreness has gone away before you go for your next workout.

The Bottom Line About Workouts for Seniors

All six of the workouts for seniors that we went over today are effective and fun. So why choose just one?

Seniors will see the most benefits by doing some type of exercise at least three times a week. For those who have taken a long break or maybe who’ve never worked out before, adding variety by mixing up the workouts is the best way to improve mood and overall health. We call that cross-training.

That means you can take a walk on Monday, do some chair yoga on Wednesday, and have some fun with water aerobics on Friday. Not only will training this way prevent boredom, but it will also make you less likely to get injured. And on top of that, it also makes the workouts way more fun!

So don’t let the seniors in your life suffer from depression. Introduce them to the wonderful world of exercise, and you’ll both feel better.

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extensivelyreviewed.com

The Best Chess Sets: Interesting Boards for Your Queen’s Gambit Lover

The Queen’s Gambit captured our imagination, and now many of us find ourselves looking for unique and unusual chess sets. The game of strategy remains a popular pastime, and the thrilling Netflix series has inspired many new players to delve into the wonderful world of chess. However, you don’t want any chess set but something spectacular and interesting.

Perhaps you have the perfect space to display an awesome board with unusual pieces. Alternatively, you may wish to introduce your children to the game and want something to grab their attention. Whatever you desire, we have a list of different and exciting chess sets to set your game on fire.

Awesome Chess Sets

Chess originated in India around 1500 years ago by a mathematician who presented his tyrannical king with a new game called “Chaturanga.” Today, we know the game as chess. It remains as popular now as it did in the 6th century.

Our list of exciting chess sets introduces a spectacular range of innovative games to challenge every player. The Three-Player Chess from Husaria may sweep you away to another dimension with its multi-layered twist on the classic game. Alternatively, why not put your children under a spell with the fabulous Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set from The Noble Collection.

You may wish to enhance your interior by using artistic chess sets on a coffee table. The beautiful 10-Inch Fine Glass Chess Set from Srenta makes a stylish impact in a lounge. And the artistic Rajasthan Stone Art Chess set from Shalinindia features hand-carved stone pieces on a glorious inlaid board.

However you choose to make your move, you don’t need to take a gambit with our fabulous selection of interesting chess boards.

Chess Benefits

People worldwide enjoy playing the noble game of chess. In living rooms, pubs, and libraries, the board game offers the chance to battle your opponent over the cherished checkered board.

However, did you know that playing chess is good for you?

Health benefits of playing Chess

Skilled chess players learn to anticipate an opponent’s next move. Consequently, scientists believe that playing chess enables the player to empathize and aids in building healthy social relationships.

Chess sets memory

Playing chess involves memorizing numerous combinations of moves and their potential outcomes. So, research demonstrates that playing chess improves your memory. And the game helps you develop better planning skills as you plan your strategy across the board.

Older players may benefit from the complicated flexibility that chess provides, and researchers found that playing chess may help improve the cognitive abilities of people living with dementia. Indeed, the game keeps you in a tip-top mental state as you plan and strategize.

Playing chess engages many skills, including our memory, critical thinking abilities, and spatial skills.

Our List of Chess Sets

We chose some very unusual and different chess sets for our list. Each set comes with a host of positive customer reviews to provide you with peace of mind.

Be prepared for some fantastic games with some challenging and stunning chess sets chosen for their unique appearance and gameplay.

10-Inch Fine Glass Chess Set

Every Queen’s Gambit addict may love this fabulous 10-Inch Fine Glass Chess Set from Srenta. It makes a stylish addition to any household, and better still, you may challenge your loved ones to a tense game of chess.

The stunning set consists of beautifully crafted pieces made from frosted and clear glass to delineate the opposing sides. Each piece sits atop a glorious glass chequerboard with frosted squares.

Attention to detail remains key together with expert craftsmanship. Each glass piece uses a soft felt bottom to prevent scratching or damaging surfaces, and the board itself features a beveled edge. Anti-scratch pads fitted to the bottom of the board protect the surface upon which it rests.

The 10-Inch Fine Glass Chess Set from Srenta makes an alluring addition to any interior.

Star Wars Chess Game

If you love unique chess sets, you will adore this fantastic Star Wars Chess Game from Hasbro Gaming. Who doesn’t want to play a tense strategy game using highly detailed Star Wars figurines?

Give yourself over to the dark side with iconic figures such as Darth Vader and Boba Fett. Join the rebel alliance by playing as Han Solo or R2 D2. Each memorable model features a host of intricate details representing the entire Universe of Star Wars films.

The game contains 32 Star Wars figures together with 32 Star Wars chess bases. It also features a fabulous board reminiscent of the glossy floors of the Empire.

When you consider the best chess sets, the Star Wars Chess Game from Hasbro Gaming represents a unique experience. You may imagine yourselves playing as a Jedi or a Sith in a strategic battle to decide the fate of the Universe. Chess sets don’t get much better than this!

Three-Player Chess

When you consider unique and unusual chess sets, the Three-Player Chess game from Husariav provides a distinctive entry in our list.

The hand-crafted set features hornbeam and beech pieces exquisitely crafted and finished. The extraordinary 3-sided board uses beech and birch to create a distinctive, traditional pattern with beautiful pyrography detail.

A felt-lined interior stores the pieces in three compartments, and a decorative metal clasp keeps the board securely locked after play.

The hexagonal wooden board and the three-person play creates a chess set that stands out from the others. Using traditional crafting techniques and natural materials, the Three-Player Chess from Husaria proves a worthy addition to our list of unusual chess sets.

Dragon Chess Set from CHH

If you love Game of Thrones, then you will adore this fantastical Dragon Chess Set from CHH. With its beautifully detailed chess pieces and extraordinary board, the unique board game makes a dramatic statement.

The intricately detailed dragon chess pieces feature pewter with a poly-resin base. Each piece sits atop a glorious glass chessboard with a frosted glass checkerboard pattern.

The board itself floats above a rugged landscape of rocks and castles with a splattering of dragon bones and shields. The polyresin base cleverly suspends the board from the tips of four turrets at each corner to present a dramatic landscape on which to play.

The Dragon Chess Set from CHH certainly belongs on the list of unusual and unique chess sets. Plus, the artistry and detail create an unforgettable atmosphere to enhance your strategic gameplay.

Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set

You may find yourself casting the wingardium leviosa spell when you play with this fantastic Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set from The Noble Collection. The set officially authorized by Warner Brothers features the chess pieces from the second Harry Potter book and film.

Each piece measures 2 to 4 inches, and the playing board is 18.5 inches by 18.5 inches. The chess pieces represent a detailed recreation of the Wizard Chess set and include 32 beautifully detailed pieces stored in 2 gorgeous drawstring pouches.

The striking black and white board features the Harry Potter logo and a sumptuous marble pattern in a high gloss finish.

Harry Potter addicts and chess players may love the Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set from The Noble Collection. Stunning craftsmanship and intricate detail combine to create an unusual yet distinctive chess set on which to battle your opponent. Watch out for those disarming spells!

Lord of The Rings Battle for Middle Earth Chess Set

Hobbits and Orcs beware as you play this incredible Lord of The Rings Battle for Middle Earth Chess Set from The Noble Collection. Transport yourself into the fabulous world of Middle Earth as you play a game of tense strategy and patience.

You may command the forces of light with outstandingly detailed figurines such as Gandalf, Aragorn, and Frodo. However, watch out for your dark opponent as they attack you with Saruman, the Nazgul, and Gollum.

Superb quality and fantastic craftsmanship combine to bring the books and films to life with pieces measuring from two to four inches. Play across a stunning graphic chessboard with the one true ring burning at its heart. The board measures 18.5 inches by 18.5 inches.

When you search for unique chess sets, the Lord of The Rings Battle for Middle Earth Chess Set from The Noble Collection fits the bill perfectly.

Strato Chess from

If you feel that your game needs a challenge, this board may prove the most challenging chess sets of all. Take your game to the next level with this fabulous 3D Strato Chess set from John N Hansen.

The game sits on three levels using a stunning stainless-steel framework. The boards themselves consist of Lucite and features 32 felted plastic chess pieces.

Players must strategize movements that include traveling up and down the board. The three-dimensional nature of the game adds a unique twist to gameplay with another layer of fun.

Take your game into the next dimension with the Strato Chess from John N Hansen. Chess sets won’t feel the same after playing this outstanding game.

Rajasthan Stone Art Chess Set

You may combine art and strategy with the stunning Rajasthan Stone Art Chess Set from Shalinindia. The beautiful game adds a touch of artistic style to any interior.

Craftsmanship and artistry combine to create hand-crafted chess pieces carved from real stone. Furthermore, the beautiful chess board features a black and white stone inlay design housed within a hand-made wooden box.

The box’s velvet-lined interior proves the ideal place to store your gorgeous chess pieces, and the board measures 10 by 10 inches.

Many chess players consider the game an art form, which remains evident in the stunning Rajasthan Stone Art Chess set from Shalinindia.

Four Player Chess Set

Challenge yourself and your friends by playing the Four Player Chess Set from WE Games. The spectacular twist on the classic strategy game sees up to four players battling for supremacy of the board.

The board measures 24 by 24 inches, and the object of the game is to capture the king, meaning there is no checkmate.

Each set uses 4 distinctive colored pieces and includes 16 of each color with an extra queen. The robust set features durable plastic pieces with a matte finish to prevent glare.

Chess sets don’t come much more challenging than the Four Player Chess Set from WE Games.

Disney Pixar Toy Story Collector’s Chess Set

Travel to infinity and beyond with this fabulous Disney Pixar Toy Story Collector’s Chess Set from USAOPOLY. Adults and children alike may love this cute and highly collectible game displaying all of your favorite characters from the films.

The set features intricately detailed characters. The blue team employs Jessie, Buzz Lightyear, Dolly, and Bullseye with the little green aliens as pawns, while the gold team features Bo Peep, Woody, Forky, and Hamm with the Army Men as the pawns.

The chessboard uses a striking blue and white checkerboard pattern, and each beautiful figure arrives sculpted from durable PVC.

When you consider chess sets for all the family to enjoy, the Disney Pixar Toy Story Collector’s Chess Set from USAOPOLY is sure to raise a smile.

Our Chess Sets Explored

The Queen’s Gambit influenced a whole new generation of chess players to explore the game and learn how to play chess. Whether young or old, it is never too late to learn the beautiful game.

Children may love the Disney Pixar Toy Story Collector’s Chess Set from USAOPOLY featuring all of your favorite characters from the films. The highly detailed pieces may provide hours of enjoyment for all the family.

If you want to challenge chess’s perceptions, why not try the Four Player Chess Set from WE Games? The highly unusual chess set offers a different spin on the classic game that may keep you occupied for hours.

Whichever set you choose, the game of chess represents an excellent way to engage the family and learn new skills. You may improve your memory and planning skills or simply make a new friend.

Do you play chess? Why not tell us about your experiences by leaving a comment in the space below?

Author bio

Sean Kerr lives in Cardiff, Wales, and is a published author with over 10 novels to his name so far and still counting. As well as writing his next bestseller, Sean also runs a successful jewelry making business and sells his creations online.

Categories
authorityshoe.com

10 Best Running Shoes for Beginners (Plus a Guide to Must-Know Terms!)

Ask any running enthusiast, and they’ll tell you: “The only way to find the best running shoes for beginners is to go to a physical store and get fitted.”

We agree that your local running store is a valuable resource. But for many, paying them a visit isn’t an option right now.

So if you’re ready to jump feet-first into shopping for running shoes online, we’ve put together a quick and easy guide to get you started.

Best Running Shoes for Beginners: Anatomy 101

From a manufacturing viewpoint, running shoes are made of dozens of small, interconnected parts. Fortunately, as a consumer, there are just a few of these parts you need to be aware of.

Upper

Watch a few running shoe reviews on YouTube, and you’re sure to hear this term. Luckily, it’s extremely straightforward.

The term “upper” encompasses everything on a shoe that covers the foot. This includes the heel counter, tongue, toe box, and lacing system.

Insole

Your running shoe’s insole is the piece of material your foot actually rests on. Insoles are normally quite thin and exist to protect the heftier midsole underneath.

Midsole

In the simplest term, the midsole is a running shoe’s actual underfoot cushioning.

Midsoles range from extremely thick and cushioned to hard and thin. When you see shoes advertised as including air, gel, or foam, the brand is talking about the midsole material.

Outsole

Since midsoles are made from somewhat soft and forgiving materials, exposing them to the elements would spell disaster. The outsole’s job is to protect the shoe’s inner-cushioning and provide traction against the running surface.

Running shoes (and their outsoles) are typically classified as either road or trail shoes. If you plan to run on both types of terrain, you’re going to need multiple pairs of shoes.

Best Running Shoes for Beginners: Terms to Know

Shopping for running shoes can feel like interpreting a foreign language. Here are the must-know terms for beginners and how to use this information to find the perfect pair of shoes for your newfound hobby:

Stack height

When running shoe manufacturers talk about stack height, they’re referring to the amount of material between your foot and the ground — i.e., the insole, midsole, and outsole. The larger the stack height, the more cushioning between the running surface and your feet.

Stack height plays a big role in running shoe comfort and performance. For example, the barefoot running trend saw an increase in shoes with stack heights as thin as one millimeter (mm). These shoes offer little more than a thin piece of rubber between you and the ground.

For beginners, we recommend a stack height near 20 mm. This is what most runners prefer but still gives you plenty of room to experiment with different stack heights down the road.

Drop

Directly related to stack height, a shoe’s drop refers to the differential between the heel and toe box heights.

Most running shoes have a non-zero drop. The higher the drop, the higher up your heel sits in relation to your toes.

Zero drop shoes feature a heel and toe that are the same height. This mimics the angle of your feet when standing barefoot. While zero drop shoes go hand-in-hand with minimalist running, you can also find zero-drop models with tons of cushioning.

Again, the best running shoes for beginners are somewhere in the middle. Look for a drop between 8 mm and 12 mm for your first pair of shoes.

Stability

Running shoes that advertise greater stability are inherently better, right? Well, depending on your foot shape and running gait, this may or may not be true.

Runners can be grouped into several categories, depending on how their feet hit the ground:

  • Neutral runners land in the middle of their feet. Their ankle stays in a neutral position, and weight is evenly distributed across the foot.
  • Supinating runners land on the outer edge of their foot. This angles the ankle inward and can put the runner at greater risk of injury.
  • Pronating runners land on the inside of their foot. The ankle flairs inward, again putting them at increased risk of injury.

Stability and control shoes are designed specifically for those in the last category. These running shoes offer more support and help “steer” pronated feet into a more neutral position.

Neutral and supinating runners should always wear non-stability shoes. These models are typically marketed as “neutral” shoes or simply lack any mention of control.

Learning your foot strike pattern can be difficult, especially as a beginner. If you don’t know which category you fall into, invest in neutral shoes for your first pair.

10 Best Running Shoes for Beginners You Can Buy Today

Looking for a way to maintain your fitness without stepping foot in a cramped gym? Or just ready to try out running for the first time?

Here are the best running shoes to spend your first miles in:

1. ASICS Gel-Venture 7

Want to ramp up your hiking and turn it into trail running? Or are you a casual road runner looking to hit the dirt? The ASICS Gel-Venture 7 is a great shoe to start with.

Since off-road running involves a lot more wear-and-tear on your feet and ankles, the ASICS Gel-Venture 7 offers extra shock absorption in the heel and a stiff upper.

Despite the extra midsole padding, these shoes feature a stack height of 20 mm and a drop of 10 mm. This makes them some of the best running shoes for beginners or fans of mid-range cushioning.

The ASICS Gel-Venture 7 does weigh a bit more than average, but this is to be expected for heftier trail running shoes. The women’s version weighs 8.7 oz, and the men’s version weighs 10.3 oz.

2. Brooks Ghost 12

If, after trying on a few models, you think you’d prefer a pair with lots of cushioning, the Brooks Ghost 12 might be the perfect fit.

The Brooks Ghost 12 is a neutral road shoe with a standard 12 mm drop. However, the heel stack height measures a whopping 31 mm.

Yes, this means lots of soft padding between you and the ground. But it can also mean a shoe that feels unstable or cumbersome on non-flat surfaces.

Brooks is known for making extremely lightweight shoes, but with such a thick sole, the Ghost 12 is an anomaly. The women’s version weighs 9.3 oz, and the men’s version weighs 10.4 oz. For beginners, though, the extra weight shouldn’t be a big deal.

3. Altra Escalante 2

The Altra Escalante 2 is a shoe experienced runners either love or hate. When it comes to finding the best running shoes for beginners, though, it’s definitely a unicorn worth mentioning.

These road shoes feature a moderately thick stack height of 24 mm. But this cushioning is contrasted by a zero-drop design. In other words, the sole is the same thickness at both your heel and your toes.

As far as the upper is concerned, the mesh knit material is extremely breathable and flexible. Yet it also won’t slip around during wear.

Overall, the Altra Escalante 2 is a neutral, lightweight shoe built for speed. The women’s version weighs just 7.4 oz, while the men’s version weighs 8.8 oz.

4. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36

One of the best ways to save money as a new runner is by buying “outdated” shoes. After all, companies are constantly releasing new and improved models of their most popular shoes and putting the older versions on sale.

Nike’s Pegasus is one of the best-selling running shoe lines of all time. This is largely because of its simple, middle-of-the-road design. And with the release of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37, the most recent predecessor is more affordable.

Unlike other shoes, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 varies in a few ways between the women’s and men’s versions.

The women’s version has a 20.75 mm heel height with a 9.45 mm drop. It weighs 8.08 oz.

Meanwhile, the men’s version boasts a 22 mm stack height and a 10 mm drop. It weighs a bit more at 9.58 oz.

5. Adidas Duramo 9

While the Adidas Duramo 9 are technically running shoes, they really work best as cross-trainers. Instead, they’re ideal for anyone who does light running workouts alongside interval training or weightlifting.

Adidas does market these shoes as suitable for road or trail running. You’ll likely have no issue on manicured gravel roads or soft grass. Realistically, though, the Duramo 9 outsole won’t provide enough traction for rough terrain.

These running shoes feature the Adidas Cloudfoam material in the midsoles for supportive cushioning. The heel stack height comes in at 23.5 mm with a 9.5 mm total drop.

Adidas states the women’s version weighs 8.2 oz while the men’s version weighs in at 10 oz.

6. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20

Another great pair of older running shoes are the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20. Since Brooks tend to be a bit expensive sometimes, last season’s models are a great place to find the best running shoes for beginners.

The Adrenaline GTS 20 has a thick sole, measuring 30 mm at the heel. Paired with the shoe’s 12 mm drop, these are very similar to the Brooks Ghost 12.

The big difference is that these are stability shoes and have built-in support for runners who overpronate.

Compared to the Ghost 12, these Brooks shoes are also nearly identical in weight. The women’s version weighs 9.4 oz, and the men’s version weighs 10.6 oz.

7. Reebok Forever Floatride Energy 2

Looking for any shoes, not just the best running shoes for beginners, is a challenge when you have wide feet. If you’re someone who needs or prefers a wide toe box, we recommend the Reebok Forever Floatride Energy 2.

This is another neutral shoe built for running on the road, indoor track, or treadmill. What you sacrifice in heavy-duty traction, though, you really make up for in weight and comfort.

These shoes feature a rather thick stack height of 29 mm. A standard drop of 10 mm balances the thick heel out quite a bit.

Reebok’s Forever Floatride Energy 2 lives up to its name as the lightest pair of shoes on our list. The women’s version weighs just 7.3 oz, while the men’s version weighs 8.8 oz.

8. Merrell Trail Glove 4

Overall, we encourage beginners to try out moderate cushioning and drop for their first pair of running shoes. But if you just can’t resist the “barefoot” trail running trend, the Merrell Trail Glove 4 is a good middle-ground.

At first sight, these sleek shoes certainly don’t look like they’re built for the trail. The rugged outsole and lightweight mesh upper beg to differ.

The Merrel Trail Glove 4 is lightly cushioned with a stack height of 11.5 mm. Since these are zero drop shoes, the heel and toe are level with each other.

Both the women’s version and men’s version of the Trail Glove 4 weigh 8 oz on average.

9. New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v3

As far as premium running brands go, New Balance is certainly up there. So if you’re looking for the best running shoes for beginners, stick with a budget-friendly model like the Fresh Foam Arishi v3.

New Balance doesn’t actually share an exact stack height for the Fresh Foam Arishi v3. Based on the brand’s similar running shoes, the heel likely measures around 30 mm thick.

We do know that these shoes feature an 8 mm drop, which is slightly less than the average.

Despite the thick sole, these shoes aren’t outrageously heavy. The women’s version weighs 8.2 oz and the men’s version weighs 9.2 oz.

10. Saucony Cohesion 11

The Saucony Cohesion 11 is a simple introduction to a brand known for running tech and innovation. This simplicity also means these shoes won’t cost a small fortune.

New runners can expect a neutral, road-friendly design from the Cohesion 11. While great for short distances, you won’t want to put in dozens of miles at a time wearing them (something beginners don’t need to worry about, anyway).

With so much cushioning inside, the 29 mm stack height isn’t surprising. The 12 mm drop is also a little more than average, but nothing crazy.

The Saucony Cohesion 11 falls right in the middle in terms of weight. The women’s version weighs 8.2 oz, and the men’s version weighs 9.6 oz.

Time to Hit the Road with the Best Running Shoes for Beginners

On your search for Cinderella’s slipper, remember that every runner is different. Just because someone you know or follow online loves a specific pair doesn’t mean they’ll be the right fit for you.

With that said, running is one of the most accessible sports in existence. You don’t need any expensive equipment or gear. All you need is a pair of shoes and a bit of motivation.

What are the craziest shoes you’ve run in? Share your story in the comments below!

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gardenaware.com

Rabbit Fertilizer for Houseplants: Here’s What You Need to Know

Rabbits poop a lot. In fact, one bunny can produce a ton of manure in just one year. That’s a lot of cleanup. And, if you’re not using it, that’s a considerable waste. Use it? Yes, rabbit fertilizer is a thing.

Rabbit droppings are amazing for your garden. They’re organic, high in nutrients, and, best of all, free. So, how can you use them on your plants? And what about other droppings?

What Makes a Good Fertilizer?

Fertilizer helps your plants grow. It does this by providing a boost of essential nutrients. It’s like a multivitamin for your garden.

Horse and cow manure are traditional fertilizers. But you can’t use just any old poo. Different droppings contain different combinations of nutrients.

And some droppings are not simply useless but can actually be harmful.

What makes rabbit fertilizer so amazing? And what sort of manure should you avoid?

Consider the source

The best fertilizer comes from herbivores. Horses, cows, and rabbits fall into this category.

Other animals with garden-friendly droppings include:

  • Guinea pigs
  • Fish
  • Chickens
  • Sea birds
  • Bats

To name a few.

Carbon to nitrogen ratio

Carbon and nitrogen are important nutrients that all plants need. But the real magic is in the relationship between the two.

Nitrogen helps plants to generate proteins, amino acids, and enzymes.

The carbon in your soil provides energy for your plants to grow. That is similar to the carbohydrates that give us quick energy for growth and movement.

But the thing is, your plants can only utilize the carbon if the soil also contains the appropriate amount of nitrogen.

Horse, chicken, and cow manures all have a carbon to nitrogen ratio that plants love.

Rabbit pellets contain approximately two percent nitrogen, which is an even better balance than those three stand-bys.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus helps plants to develop strong networks of roots. It also helps your plants to produce healthy stems. And there’s nothing better for encouraging blossoms and fruits.

Rabbit droppings contain one percent phosphorus, and that’s great news for your plants.

Potassium

The K in the “N-P-K” formula for healthy plants is potassium. Potassium helps your plants to digest nutrients and to produce their own food.

“Bunny gold” is one percent potassium.

Other nutrients

Rabbit manure also contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron, sulfur, manganese, copper, and cobalt.

In fact, according to Michigan State University, fresh rabbit droppings are four times more nutritious for plants as horse or cow manure and twice as nutritious as chicken droppings.

How to Use Rabbit Fertilizer

Horse, cow, and chicken manure are “hot” fertilizers. That means you need to compost them before you put them on your garden. Otherwise, they can burn your plants’ roots.

Rabbit manure contains less uric acid and ammonia than either horse or cow manure. As a result, it doesn’t burn.

It doesn’t need composting, either. While you can add it to your compost pile, you can also use it straight from the source, as it were.

Using rabbit fertilizer straight

Can you use your rabbit’s droppings right out of the litter box? You bet you can.

Untreated rabbit fertilizer makes an excellent topdressing for your garden, trees, or houseplants.

You can also work it into the soil to improve drainage, moisture retention, and soil structure.

Rabbit droppings don’t have a strong smell. But like all manure, it can attract flies. If this concerns you, bury your manure beneath a bit of soil.

Composting rabbit fertilizer

Although untreated rabbit manure won’t harm your plants, some people may be (rightly) cautious about applying raw dung to vegetable beds.

If you’re worried about potentially harmful pathogens, you might prefer to compost your rabbit droppings. It’s easy and will make your compost wonderfully rich.

Making bunny brew

Another way to use your rabbit droppings is to make rabbit compost “tea.”

Simply fill a five-gallon bucket most of the way with water and add a large scoop of rabbit droppings. Let it sit for a few days, stirring it every now and then.

You can use the water to water your plants. As for the sludge at the bottom, you can put that on your plants, also. Or, you can add it to your compost pile.

Rabbit fertilizer and worms

Worms love rabbit manure. And rabbits and worms can be a garden match made in heaven. But you have to do it right.

Rabbit droppings typically have quite a bit of urine on them. That boosts the nitrogen concentration. It also adds salts. Both of these can be toxic to worms if you use the droppings incorrectly.

Never use raw rabbit manure as your worms’ bedding.

Instead, if you want to add it to bedding, pre-compost the manure for a few days.

When you think it’s ready, put a small amount of your pre-composted manure in a test bin and add a handful of worms. Allow the worms to bury themselves.

Wait 15 minutes. If the worms are huddled together or trying to escape — that is, if they’re on the sides and the ceiling of the bin — then the manure needs to age a bit longer.

You can also mix the pre-composted rabbit manure with a carbon-rich bedding material like wood chips or newspaper in order to improve the carbon-nitrogen balance.

How to Collect Rabbit Fertilizer

Many rabbits use a litter box, which makes things easy. But even if your bunnies do their business “outside the box,” there are still some efficient ways of gathering up their offerings.

Create a collection facility

Many hutches have wire floors, which allow rabbits’ droppings to fall through.

We don’t recommend bare wire floors for the entire hutch. That can be painful in the short term and injure your rabbits’ sensitive feet in the long run.

To protect your rabbits’ feet, cover most of the wire with a plywood sheet, but leave a few inches of wire near the walls. It will allow droppings to fall through.

Place sheets of corrugated PVC beneath the hutch to catch both droppings and urine for easy disposal. This video shows one way of doing this.

Wait, you can use the pee?

Can you use your rabbit’s liquid output, too?

Urine luck!

Rabbit urine is also rich in nitrogen. And if you’re ambitious, you can collect that, too, for your garden.

Check out this alternate urine collection strategy.

Build a worm bed beneath your hutch

If you have outdoor rabbits, another option is to build a worm bed beneath your hutch. This can provide you with worm castings, which are also valuable for your garden.

Start with a wall around the bed. It can be any size you like, but the walls should go down a minimum of 12 inches.

Next, lay down two to four inches of a carbon-rich material like shredded newspapers or wood chips.

After that, your rabbits will do their part.

Once you have an inch or two of rabbit droppings on top, mix the bedding and the manure, and wet it down. Keep an eye on the temperature.

Mix and water your bed every day for two to four days. Keep checking the temperature.

Once the bedding is cool, you can add your worms.

Weeds and Rabbit Fertilizer

One concern with some manure-type fertilizers is weeds.

Specifically, when an animal ingests viable seeds, those seeds sometimes pass through to the manure and sprout unwanted plants in your garden.

Rabbits eat a diet of hay, primarily. Fortunately, though, most feeding hay for rabbits contains no viable seeds.

That reduces the chances of this type of weed invading your garden.

What About Other Pets?

If rabbit droppings are such a great addition to your garden, what about other types of dung? Can you turn dog doo to garden gold, as well? What about cat scat?

Unfortunately, not all manure is created equal.

Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs and rabbits share a similar diet. Although guinea pigs are omnivores (unlike rabbits), pet varieties often eat a plant-based diet of feeding hay and compressed hay pellets.

This makes their droppings similar in nutritional content and similarly compostable.

But…

Guinea pigs can carry Giardia. Giardia is a parasite that can cause a serious and highly unpleasant diarrheal disease called giardiasis.

Although raw guinea pig manure won’t hurt your plants, you might not want it on your food crops.

To be on the safe side, compost your guinea pig manure for several months before using it to fertilize food plants.

Fish

Anyone who has ever kept fish knows that they produce their share of “output.”

And yes, you can use it in your garden!

Fish waste is rich in nitrogen, though lower in potassium and carbon.

Here’s a peek at one person’s aquaponics setup.

Chickens

Chicken droppings are a time-tested gardener’s friend. You can use it as a soil amendment as well as for fertilizer.

Chicken manure works very well on edible crops. However, this brings with it some health and safety concerns.

Raw chicken droppings contain a host of bacteria and other pathogens that can be harmful to humans. What’s more, they can live in the manure for as long as a year.

Always wear gloves when working with chicken — or any — manure. And don’t use raw chicken manure in your garden.

Not only does raw chicken manure contain bacteria and pathogens, but it’s “hot” manure that can burn your plants’ roots.

Always compost your chicken manure before putting it on your garden.

Hedgehogs

In some places, hedgehogs, like rabbits and guinea pigs, are popular small pets.

But hedgies eat a different diet from rabbits and guinea pigs. Hedgehogs are omnivorous, and their diet is markedly higher in protein.

This makes their droppings inappropriate for use as a fertilizer.

Hedgies can also carry Salmonella.

Cats and dogs

That is a straight-up no.

Dogs are omnivores, and cats are obligate carnivores. It makes their feces unpleasant. It also makes it inappropriate for use as fertilizer.

Not only do cat and dog feces contain the wrong nutritional balance for your garden, but also:

  • Cat and dog droppings harbor harmful bacteria
  • They may also harbor parasites
  • It is very acidic
  • It takes an extremely long time to break down
  • The smell will make you unpopular with your neighbors

So when it comes to your garden, dog and cat “doo” is a don’t.

Rabbit Fertilizer for the Win

There are many reasons why connoisseurs refer to rabbits’ droppings as “bunny honey” and even “bunny gold.”

Rabbit fertilizer is nutritious, organic, and free. A single rabbit can produce between 200 and 300 pellets a day or up to a ton of manure a year.

You can use rabbit manure as is or compost it in a number of different ways.

And if your supply exceeds your demand, you can even sell it!

Have you used rabbit manure in your garden? Do you have any tips for our readers? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!