DIY & HOW TO
The Real Green Screen - Using Plants & Screens for Privacy
A new challenge for both urban developers and dwellers is how to achieve a balance between embracing nature and preserving privacy. The simple solution is to combine the two, with screens that allow light and air through and can also act as a structure to train creeping plants. Plants can have a strong visual impact as well as a proven benefit to our health when we spend more time around them, so make even more use of them by cleverly incorporating them into your space. With endless applications, indoors and outdoors, commercial and residential, you can mask unattractive features or make a visual statement almost anywhere. Not only is the result functional, you’re also helping to improve your building’s environmental sustainability..
Where to use them
If you want to mask an area of your backyard such as a hot water tank or an external air conditioning unit a screen with a climbing vine is an instant improvement that will only look better as the plant grows. You can even use this method to add extra height to your fence if your neighbour is a little close or overlooks your property. If you live in an apartment with a balcony it’s a quick way to get a bit more privacy and sound reduction from your immediate neighbour or whatever your balcony may be facing, like a busy road. It’s a quick, easy and cost-effective way to conceal your indoor or outdoor areas from unwanted onlookers or to screen off unappealing sights all while introducing some greenery.
Screen with vines or vertical garden?
The main distinction between training a vine on a decorative privacy screen and a full green wall is the number of plants and the complexity of the setup. Because of a higher capacity, you can fit more plants and more variety in a green wall, which may also require an irrigation system to be installed. A screen and a few creeping plants is a comparatively subtle look but also quicker and cheaper to set up. However, with the right drainage system are perfectly suitable for apartment balconies, rooftops and even large indoor settings such as an office foyer.
Which creeper plants to use?
When choosing a creeper for training along your security screen, you need to consider whether you would like to have native plants or something from abroad, flowering or even deciduous. If the idea of more shade in summer but more sunlight in winter sounds like a feature you like, a deciduous creeper like Wisteria could be a good match for you. If you want bold, bright flowers consider the classic Bougainvillea, but remember it does come with thorns. For a perfumed flower, Madagascan Jasmine thrives in tropical climates but prefers a somewhat sheltered spot. Grape vines can come in an ornamental variety that doesn’t bear fruit and it sports striking burgundy, red, orange and yellow foliage in autumn before losing its leaves in winter and growing new, green ones in spring.
Putting up some privacy screen panels up and training creeping vines along them not only looks fantastic, it can bring nature and privacy to your indoor or outdoor space for a price that won’t break the bank.
- Cody McConnnell
- Tags: Atlantis Vertical Garden DIY green wall DIY Vertical Garden Wall facade screening garden screening Green Wall Grow wall Living Green Wall Living Wall Systems Outdoor Vertical Garden Sustainable House Sustainable Living Vertical Garden Brisbane Vertical garden Design Vertical Gardens Vertical Hanging Garden vine walls
The Sustainable Benefits Of Skylights
The Sustainable Benefits Of Skylights
Skylights make a sustainable improvement to any home. As an excellent source of natural light, skylights emit over three times as much light as a same-sized vertical window, the Australian government reports. Skylights therefore save energy on heating and cooling, contribute to a healthier, cleaner home environment, and cut down on your energy bills. Here are some of the sustainable benefits you can expect from installing skylights in your own home.
Eliminates mould and mildew
Windowless roofs are prone to harbouring moisture which causes mould and mildew. In some cases, mould and mildew need treating with harsh chemicals (typically bleach) toxic to the environment. Mould spores also lower indoor air quality and exacerbate allergies and asthma causing irritated eyes, nose, and throat. Skylights eliminate mould and mildew by letting in light, a natural deterrent to fungi and bacteria. They also warm up the temperature which reduces mould-friendly moisture. Getting mould and mildew professionally removed can cost from $200 for one ceiling, so skylights can save money by avoiding the problem in the first place.
Skylights improve energy efficiency by heating and cooling your home with less need for a HVAC system. It’s essential your skylights are correctly installed, however, so there’s no possibility of drafts or excess heat which could spike energy bills. Switching to a double pane skylight can also reduce heat loss by 15%, saving roughly $2,500 in energy costs. Ideally, a skylight with a southern exposure will warm the home best in winter months. Also use insulated wood, vinyl, or fiberglass window frames instead of energy-inefficient aluminium and steel.
Skylights let in plenty of natural light so you use less artificial lighting. To get the most out of the natural light, install your skylights based on cardinal directions rather than aesthetics. North-facing windows are good for even levels of sunlight throughout the day without too much glare. South-facing windows are also good for lighting and limiting heat during warm months and increasing it during cold spells. On the other hand, east- and west-facing windows are good for lighting, but not for solar heating in the winter.
Skylights have plenty of sustainable benefits which reduce energy use and save money. But, the increase in natural light is also good for your own mental health. When you’re exposed to sunlight, you get a serotonin boost and your mood increases. Ultimately, skylights are great for the environment, your wallet, and your quality of life.
- Rhiannon Duke
DIY Maintenance Tips for a More Eco-Friendly Home
The construction of sustainable homes in Australia has been a growing trend in 2018, according to Green Roofs Australasia website. Many people are spending more time with their loved ones relaxing at home. To adapt to new sustainability trends, many homeowners are opting to make eco-friendly improvements to their homes. The earth’s resources are getting depleted, and therefore, it’s vital for you to take necessary measures to protect the environment.
Here are some simple DIY maintenance tips for more eco-friendly home:
Minimize Wastage of Water
One of the eco-friendly ways to reduce water usage and minimize wastage in your home is byusing gutters to trap and direct rainwater to storage tanks. It’s a sustainable mechanism that can reduce the use of energy by water pumps. Smart water pumps that automatically switch themselves can be installed. Other measures that can be taken by you include fixing leaks in the pipes to minimize water wastage, not letting the tap water run without use and by changing your lifestyle. One of the holistic approaches that you can take in your lifestyle includes installing a low flowing shower head that saves a lot of water.
Clean Using Natural Products
Many of the cleaning solutions and detergents contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and your health in the long run. After using the cleaning solutions, it’s washed away with water and drains into the sewer and sometimes the chemicals mix with the water supply. It means that the water has to undergo thorough purification that uses more energy before it’s released for human use. However, you might be ignoring the eco-friendly cleaning substitutes that can be used right in your home. Consider using natural products such as lemon, vinegar, baking soda among other alternatives for your daily cleaning tasks in place of toxic chemicals and contribute to a green environment.
Compost Your Food Leftovers
Composting is a good way of maintaining an eco-friendly environment. Instead of disposing of the food scraps and leftovers in your home, you can opt for a compost bin. The size of the bin depends on the size of your home and the leftovers you have daily. You can be surprised that the amount of food you throw away is beneficial to you. For people having gardens at their backyard, compost is the ultimate natural source of fertiliser for their soil. Compost-grown food is rich in nutrients and free of chemicals. You can start contributing to a sustainable environment today by simply getting a compost bin and fill it with the food waste.
More people globally are becoming environmentally conscious, and that’s a positive thing to embrace. Adopting eco-friendly home maintenance ideas helps you contribute to a green, sustainable environment and further saves you money.
Author Ali Chalmers (Environmental Research)
- Cody McConnnell
Reducing Your Swimming Pool's Environmental Footprint
Construction costs in Australia, especially in residential areas, are among the highest in developed nations. Average construction costs are estimated at 40 per cent higher compared to the construction cost of the United States. This led to the government through the Green Building Council of Australia advocating for the development of the Australian green building revolution, with its main goal being the adoption of more green building practices. In return, these practices will help reduce the construction and running costs while minimizing Australia's environmental footprint.
To promote the initiative, individuals can start by making their homes more eco-friendly. For a start, homeowners can try out good water collection and storage practices. This begins the journey of being eco-friendly by reducing the cost of your water bill. Since water is the most-used commodity in the house, such practices can be really helpful especially for people with swimming pools in their backyards.
Swimming pools - though a favourite relaxation style for most Australians in the warm summer - can be very unfriendly to the environment. The average cost of running a swimming pool is about $31.30 per week in electricity alone. This is without factoring in the negative effects of chemicals used in maintaining a good pool. To enjoy swimming in a healthy way, pools need to be made eco-friendly. Implementing the following practices can make your pool environmentally-friendly and reduce your household's green footprint.
Scaling Down On Chemical Use
To kill bacteria and algae, pool owners use chlorine and other chemicals. These chemicals, however, cause skin and eye irritation while simultaneously contributing to ozone pollution. Reducing or avoiding chemical use is therefore necessary. To achieve this, homeowners can install a salt water pool that requires fewer chemicals, since salt water makes conditions harsh for bacteria and algae growth. Water purification tablets or the use of ozone and UV systems can be deployed as alternatives in water purification.
Also, using aquatic plants is the most recommended way to make your pool eco-friendly, such as sphagnum moss. It limits bacteria growth and absorbs metals compounds found in swimming pool water. This proves to be a more natural way of purifying your water, making it eco-friendly.
Have A Cover For Your Pool
Installing a pool cover is the easiest improvement homeowners can make. Having a swimming pool cover reduces water loss through evaporation by 97 percent. This brings about major cost savings, since fewer amounts of water will be used to refill the pool. Covers also come with an added advantage of reducing your chemical use, as well as resources used to clean with pool. A cover ensures that minimal foreign objects, such as leaves and dust, come into contact with the pool when not in use. Heat covers also prevent heat loss, allowing homeowners to swim even on cooler days with little additional expenses on heating.
Investing in Solar Heaters
For anything to be eco-friendly, using clean energy sources is paramount. The sun provides an unlimited source of clean energy that can be used to heat pools. Heating swimming pools is the main reason pools come with astronomical water bills. Gas pool heating costs range from between $5.44 and $23.13 per hour to run. Use of clean solar energy brings costs down to a range between $0.35 to $0.65 per hour. A series of tubes are fitted in the pool that absorbs heat from the sun to warm the water, saving on energy and electric bills.
Automation of Water Pumps
Swimming pool pumps characteristically run for longer than the required time. This leads to high energy use that automatically increases costs. Manually turning the pumps on and off can have the effect of circulation if it exceeds or goes below recommended running time of about six hours daily. Fitting automatic pumps, therefore, comes as an invaluable addition. The pool self-regulates and turns the pumps on automatically when required, leading to cost savings.
A swimming pool is always an enjoyable addition to any home in Australia. The prohibitive costs associated with running a pool often act as a hindrance to people wanting to own one, but by implementing these eco-friendly practices, you can save money and the environment while still having a swimming pool at home.
- Rhiannon Duke