Build a Rain Garden

There’s a new garden in town. It is (mostly) easy to install, looks good year-round, requires almost no maintenance and has a terrifically upbeat impact on the environment. No wonder rain gardens are such a great new gardening trend!

Storm water runoff can be a big problem in summer during heavy thunderstorms. As the water rushes across roofs and driveways, it picks up oil and other pollutants. Municipal storm water treatment plants often can’t handle the deluge of water, and in many locations the untreated water ends up in natural waterways. The EPA estimates as much as 70 percent of the pollution in our streams, rivers, and lakes is carried there by storm water! By taking responsibility for the rainwater that falls on your own roof and driveway, you’ll be helping to protect our rivers, streams and lakes from stormwater pollution.

To reduce the excess water runoff, many towns are encouraging businesses and homeowners to install rain gardens in their yards. Rain gardens are specially constructed gardens located in low areas of a yard where storm water can collect. The idea is to have the water naturally funnel to this garden. The rain garden collects water runoff and stores and filters it until it can be slowly absorbed by the soil. Rather than rushing off into a storm sewer or a local waterway, the rainwater can collect in a garden where it will be naturally filtered by plants and soil.

Installing a rain garden is easy.

You simply dig a shallow depression in your yard and plant it with native grasses and wildflowers; things that are easy to grow and maintain in your area.

What makes a garden a rain garden?

First, the garden will be designed with a low spot in the middle to collect and absorb rain water and snow melt. This depression can range from a few inches in a small garden, to an excavated trough that’s several feet deep. Second, rain gardens are usually located where they’ll catch the runoff from impermeable surfaces like sidewalks and driveways, or from gutters and roof valleys. Third, rain gardens are usually planted with native wildflowers and grasses that will thrive in tough growing conditions. Finally, rain gardens are designed to channel heavy rains to another rain garden or to another part of the garden.

Your rain garden should be located at least 10 feet from the house. The garden’s size and location depends on the yard. The ideal situation would be to locate the garden in a natural depression. You also can funnel water from downspouts on gutters into the garden. The soil should be well drained so the water doesn’t sit in the garden for more than two days. A special “rain garden” soil mix of 50 to 60 percent sand, 20 to 30 percent topsoil, and 20 to 30 percent compost is recommended. You can dig this mixture into the soil to depth of 2 feet before planting.

Once you’ve identified the new garden’s location, remove the sod and dig a shallow depression approximately 6-inches deep. Slope the sides gradually from the outside edge to the deepest area. Use the soil that you remove to build up a slightly raised area on the lowest side of the garden. This berm will help contain the stormwater and allow it to percolate slowly through the rain garden.

If your rain garden is no more than about 6-inches deep, stormwater will usually be absorbed within a one- to seven-day period. Because mosquitoes require seven to 10 days to lay and hatch their eggs, this will help you avoid mosquito problems.

Your downspout or sump pump outlet should be directed toward your rain garden depression. This can be accomplished by a natural slope, by digging a shallow swale, or by piping the runoff directly to the garden through a buried 4″ diameter plastic drain tile.

Plant Selection… The final touch.

The most difficult part of building a rain garden (if it can even be called that) can be plant selection. Plants need to be tough enough to withstand periodic flooding, yet attractive enough to look good in the garden. Deep-rooted, low-care native plants, such as asters, and tough non-natives, such as daylilies, are best. If properly designed, the rain garden can consist of a blend of attractive shrubs, perennials, trees, and ground covers. Planting strips of grass around the garden and using mulch also can help filter the water.

New plants should be watered every other day for the first two weeks or so. Once they are well established, your garden should thrive without additional watering. Fertilizers will not be necessary, and only minimal weeding will be needed after the first summer of growth.

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The Law and Recruitment for Business – How a Solicitor Can Help You

Whether you have a small business and are just about to recruit your first employees or run an established business and are looking to expand, making sure that you comply with the recruitment elements of employment law is vital and could help to protect you from employment disputes in the future. In this article, we look at how an employment solicitor can help you when you are recruiting new staff.

Advertising vacancies

Whether you are advertising a job in a newspaper, on your website or via the Job Centre, it’s important to make sure that you comply with the relevant recruitment laws. For example, the job that you’re advertising must pay at least the National Minimum Wage and the hours that you expect your new employee to work must be in accordance with working times legislation.

It’s also important to ensure that the wording of your advert doesn’t discriminate, for example, on the basis of age, gender or race. Occasionally occupational requirements mean that that a vacancy is only suitable for a certain group of people, but exceptions are rare and it’s important to make sure that you take professional advice before advertising this type of vacancy.

An employment solicitor will be able to help you to ensure that the terms of vacancy which you are advertising and the wording of your advertisement comply with the law.

Staff selection

You must also ensure that you follow the correct procedures when selecting your new member of staff. There are a range of legal issues to bear in mind when designing your selection procedure. For example, you need to ensure that the questions you ask when interviewing potential employees or any tests that you ask them to complete are directly relevant to the position for which they are applying and are not discriminatory in any way. If you need to ask job applicants about their health, you must also ensure that you follow the correct legal procedures.

An employment solicitor will be able to inform you about recruitment laws relating to employee selection and help you to produce any necessary documentation or interview questions.

Offer and rejection letters

Once you have selected your new employee, you will need to write to them to confirm your job offer. You will also need to let any other candidates know that they have not been successful. The content and wording of these letters are important and badly worded letters could cause issues in the future, so it’s worth asking an employment solicitor to help you to draft these letters.

Contracts of Employment

Finally, a new employee must receive a contract of employment. This will inform your employee of their rights and responsibilities, as well as your rights and responsibilities as their employer. It should include details such as the hours that the employee must work, the duties that the job includes, their leave entitlement and the amount of notice you require from them if they want to leave and that you will give them should you need to end their contract. The contract of employment is one of the most important documents that you will produce for your employees, so it’s worth asking an employment solicitor for advice when you are producing it.

You can hire an employment solicitor on a case by case basis if you are only likely to be hiring employees occasionally. However, if you are likely to be taking on new staff regularly, it’s worth considering keeping your solicitor on a retainer, so that you can use their services whenever you need to.

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Has the Bradenton Real Estate Market Hit Bottom?

With Bradenton, Florida having one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, many people look to the Bradenton real estate market as an indicator of whether or not the real estate market has bottomed out.According to James Cramer, writer for New York Magazine, the time to buy a home may be very, very soon!In fact, Cramer provides ten reasons in his article, On June 30, 2009, Buy an Apartment, “why everyone who now thinks there’s no end in sight to weakening home prices will look like a fool in nine months and will miss the best opportunity to buy since the 1989-1991 real-estate crash.”Cramer points to the Bradenton real estate market and the Bradenton foreclosure rate as one of his top ten reasons that he thinks the real estate market will turn around and turn around soon.However, while Cramer writes from New York City on how the Bradenton real estate market has bottomed out in the summer of 2008, the fact is, as a Bradenton real estate agent, I have still seen first-hand a decline in prices over the past 5 months. Although there does seem to be a slight leveling off, whether or not the Bradenton real estate market has hit rock bottom is a question that remains to be answered.Cramer does however present some other good points in his article and hopefully his prediction is correct.His best argument, I believe, is the decline in new-home construction thereby narrowing the gap between supply and demand.Another indicator that the gap between supply and demand may be narrowing in the Bradenton real estate market is that the number of listings added to the Mid-Florida MLS has been down over the past couple of months. Then again, this may a false indicator as many people wait until after the holidays to list their home. If MLS listings continue to decline in January then we may have a true indicator that the supply and demand gap is truly narrowing and that the Bradenton real estate market is in fact going to bounce back very soon.

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