How to Choose Pulls or Knobs for Your Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

One part of a kitchen cabinet that not many people think about very much are kitchen cabinet pulls and kitchen cabinet knobs. Choosing either kitchen cabinet knobs or pulls can make a huge difference in the overall look and style of your kitchen. It can be really difficult to choose between kitchen cabinet knobs and

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Four Easy Do-It-Yourself Soil Tests

Soil is the foundation of your garden. Knowing what makes up your soil and how to amend it is an important part of successful gardening.  Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to test their soil’s pH or even begin. 

Well, if you’re like most gardeners, you don’t have the time or money to get a professional test done on your soil. So how can you be sure your plant selections are going to thrive in your yards? That’s where these simple DIY tests come into play. 

The following easy do-it-yourself tests will give you a good start on knowing your soil’s strengths and weaknesses. The results from the tests will give you an idea as to whether or not professionals should do more testing before any changes are made based on this information alone. Let’s get started!

The Squeeze Test

This test is based on the premise that soil with good texture will form a ball in your hand and fall apart when lightly squeezed. Be ready to get your hands when testing your soils using this method. In this soil test, soils are classified as clay soils, sandy soils, and loamy soils.

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Clay soil is nutrient-rich but slow draining, while sand is quick draining but has trouble retaining nutrients and moisture. Loam soil is considered the ideal soil because it retains moisture and nutrients while draining well. In the squeeze test, you’ll need a handful of moist soil from your garden or from near plants that are growing well. 

Be sure to use only a small amount from around the tops of plants. Avoid collecting soil from dry areas around plant roots, which could be hot and baked, as this can damage the organism living in the soil. In the squeeze test, the soil should form a lump that holds together well but can break apart easily by hand. This result shows it is loam soil, which is ideal for plant growth. 

Sandy soil will remain crumbly and may be difficult to squeeze together in your hand, while clay soil will form a hard lump and crumble when squeezed. For slow-draining clay, you can break up the soil with mulches and drainage aids like perlite and vermiculite. 

The Puddle Test

Drainage is another important aspect of your soil that you must consider because it allows water to pass quickly without pooling. If your soil has poor drainage, it can cause root rot to your plants. Culinary herbs are the main culprit of root rot due to their shallow root system. 

The Puddle Test
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The puddle test is the best way to check soil drainage. Take a handful of moist soil and roll it into a ball in your hand. Then, drop the ball into a bucket filled with water. If your soil sinks, you have good drainage. If not, drill some holes in your garden beds at least 6 inches deep before planting your herbs. 

If the water takes more than four hours to drain, then you have poor drainage. Fortunately, you can amend this by mixing some organic matter, such as peat moss or compost, into the soil around your herb plants.

The Vinegar and Baking Soda Test

Soil acidity, alkalinity, and soil pH are very important elements to the soil. Some plants will thrive better in more basic soil or acidic soil. But soil that is too extreme can also be a problem. It can prevent them from getting nutrients. 

The Vinegar and Baking Soda Test
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To find out the pH of your soil, put a teaspoonful of soil in a small glass jar and add half a teaspoon of distilled white vinegar. Put on the cap tightly and shake well for about one minute. Let it sit for another five minutes to see if there are any bubbles that appear on the surface.

If it fizzes, you have alkaline soil with higher pH, which you can remedy by using a fertilizer rich in sulfur and acidifying nitrogen. Some plants can tolerate alkaline soil, while others like parsnips and peanuts will do well in the sweet soil. If your soil doesn’t fizz after the vinegar test, add distilled water to another container with the same amount of soil and add half a teaspoon of salt.

Stir occasionally for 15 minutes and see if there are any noticeable changes. If you see the particles change, your soil has acidic properties, meaning that you have sodium chloride in your garden, which can be harmful to plants, so be sure to use compost with neutral pH to reduce the risk.

If your soil doesn’t change its properties, you have a neutral pH, meaning adding compost is beneficial for the plants. Learn how to make compost so you can add it to the soil. A pH of 7 means that the soil has an alkaline nature – there are more nutrients available to your plants, and they do not tend to die as often as those growing in acidic soils, so be sure to use only fertilizers with a pH of 5-7.

So, by doing this simple test, you will be able to quickly determine your soil’s pH, which is especially important if you plan on growing any plants that do not tolerate acidic or alkaline soils, such as most vegetables. You will also discover whether or not the soil has any organic matter in it. The more organic matter, the better because if there is none, you will need to take some time to break down any hard dirt clods before planting, which can be difficult for novices.

The Cabbage and Wire Test

Soil that is too compact will inhibit root growth, choke off available water, and prevent worms and other vital soil critters from moving freely. To test soil compaction, plug a wire flag vertically into the soil. Mark the depth at which the wire bends.

Make sure the wire bends where it cannot be pushed down straight. You can easily push the wire down a foot or more. Don’t let it bend because the more it bends, the more it becomes compacted. You remedy compaction by amending your soil organic material, aerating organic materials, and avoiding walking on the wet soil in your plots.

When it comes to the cabbage test, you can purchase a home testing kit or use a more advanced DIY test using red cabbage. Red cabbage contains a pigment known as flavin that dissolves in water and will turn red in acidic solution and greenish-yellow in basic solution. 

Allow one tablespoon of soil from your garden to dry on a white saucer, then bring one cup of distilled water to boil in a pot with a lid. Add two cups of chopped red cabbage into the boiling water. Cover and boil until the water turns dark purple. 

Make sure you wet the soil and sit for some minutes, then tip the saucer to allow water to run to the side. If the soil turns blue or green, it’s alkaline, and it turns red, then the soil is acidic.

The Peanut Butter Jar Soil Test for Sand, Silt, and Clay

This is a very easy test. Fill a jar halfway with soil, then fill the rest of the way with water. The amount of water needed will vary depending on your jar size, so it’s best to start empty and add water until the jar is two-thirds full. Put in one teaspoon of dish soap and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. 

The soap will suspend the particles to see how many there are and what kind they are. The jar should be enough to do about a cup of soil. If not, use another jar and combine the results. Calculate the percentage of silt, sand, and clay, which should add up to 100 percent. 

Healthy soil will consist of 20 percent clay, 40 percent silt, and 40 percent sand. If you have sandy soil, you can remedy this by adding humus, aged manure, peat moss, and sawdust with some extra nitrogen. For silt soil, add coarse sand, gravel, compost, and well-rotted horse manure. If you have clay soil, coarse sand, and not beach sand, plus compost and peat moss will work well.

FAQs on 4 Easy Do-It-Yourself Soil Test

re home soil test kits accurate?

Yes, but you have to follow the directions carefully and take several samples from different garden areas or lawns.

How much soil should I get for a soil test?

In general, take at least a cup of dry soil from each spot. However, if there is not enough soil in any one spot to fill a 1-cup measure, take a 1/2 cup from two different spots.

Is it expensive to get a soil test done professionally?

A local extension agent can perform a low-cost or free soil pH test for you, but you would have to go in person to their office and pick up the report. It may be worth your time, though.

Final Thought on Four Easy Do-It-Yourself Soil Tests

When considering what your soil needs for the plants to thrive, it’s good to consider a complete report from your cooperative extension. However, carrying this simple test can help you understand what your soil may be lacking. Then you can take the next step toward creating a healthy garden.


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Window Mullions vs. Window Muntins

Have you ever heard of mullions and muntins? Well, these are terms that are used interchangeably in window construction. They’re architectural jargon that every homeowner should know.

The difference between mullions and window muntins is that mullions are structural members in a window frame, while window muntins are simply vertical dividers used to separate glass panes. In this article, we’ll differentiate the two as well as cover a few of their uses. Keep reading!

Definitions and Meaning

The definition of muntins dates back to an English architecture glossary from 1850. The English joiners applied this term to both outside upright stiles and middle vertical bars of the frame.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, mullions are vertical bars between the glazing bars in a window, screen, or panel. Mullions represent heavy, vertical pieces between adjoining window units that join window frames with one another.

Fixed, operable windows can be performed using the muntin bars. They can also help strengthen a window structure and assist in transferring load from the glazing points to the wall by changing its shape and preventing any cracks that may occur.

What are Window Mullions?

Mullions have many more functions than just separating glass panes. You can use them to create an elegant focal point or support large windows with multiple panels. Before the Victorian Age and the advent of inexpensive plate glass, the manufacture of large sheets of glass was very rare.

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Even though there were more significant pieces of glass, they were used to create mirrors which were expensive at times. Therefore, they had to create large windows with supportive mullions to hold small glass panes together. And since glass joints were also weak in case of large openings, they added some depth to distribute the wind load evenly.

Additionally, mullion bars often contain decorative elements such as crown molding or other carvings. These elements make them attractive when paired with stained glass inserts or clear glazing options like our translucent white vinyl. Window mullion styles have since evolved and are now used with large divided windows and doors.

What are Window Muntins?

Window muntins muntin refers to the narrow strips of wood, metal, or most commonly plastic that divide a window into smaller panes that let in light. They are typically located within the window frame and hold the window panes intact through cross members attached with screws to keep them together.

What are Window Muntins?
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They are any vertical divider used in windows, doors, and furniture, especially in older windows like the traditional sash windows. They are often used on large windows or French doors and can be made of wood, metal, or plastic. However, not all windows with individual panes have a wooden piece that divides them. Instead, they have simulated divided lites. 

These lites resemble muntins but are encased within window panes. You can also add them on both the interior and exterior of the glass and over the outer surface of the front window panes to get an excellent divided look. Although muntins are associated with windows, they can mean any vertical divider, be it windows, wood panels, furniture, and doors.

These are thinner and have a custom design since they aren’t real. Some windows have no dividers, having only the glass panes that sit next to each other until they meet an obstruction or end of the wall. Muntins are not only used in windows. They can be added to doors to create individual lites. Muntins were also used in outer walls where early buildings didn’t fit for carrying large windows.

What is the Difference between Mullions and Muntins?

Both of these terms are used in window and door construction, and they describe dividing and joining glass and frames. The main difference between window mullions vs window muntins is that mullions divide openings while muntins divide glasses. Muntins are sash bars made of wooden and metal strips that separate and hold panes of glass in the windows. They divide single-hung window sashes or casements into a grid system of all small window panes.

Additionally, mullions divide the window or door opening into smaller blocks, while muntins are the vertical pieces of wood separating glass panes. Mullions also allow dissimilar items such as glass and vinyl to be joined together while the muntins separate them. When manufacturers refer to mullions, they think of both vertical and horizontal bars, but the correct name of the horizontal mullions is the transom. 

lternative to Muntin and Mullion Terminology

Window mullions and muntins are often confused because they can be technically identical. Their difference is subtle but important. The phrase mullion glass refers to a window frame with mullions, which means there are divisions between each window pane instead of one large piece of glass. 

The term mullion itself is interchangeable with the term window muntin because the two words refer to the same thing. There are several other types of window dividers that can be used in place of mullions and muntins, including grids, bars, and grills. These can usually hold more than one pane of glass or mirror each, which is why they are often found in large windows.

Styling Muntin vs. Mullion

When you want to apply muntins and mullions in your home, you need to consider the shape, color, and material. Different colors and materials can give your home a completely different look, especially when it comes to the materials used in each. 

To achieve better results, make sure your muntin contrasts well with your home’s exterior paint color. When it comes to mullion, make sure it matches the style of the house as a whole.

Mullions can be made from wood or metal, and they can have a more rustic look which would work well with your country house design. When choosing between muntin vs. mullion, make sure you choose one that will meet both your needs and your taste when it comes to home decor

FAQs on Window Mullions vs. Window Muntins

Why do windows have mullions?

Mullions are vertical elements that divide two or more units of windows. Their main purpose is to provide rigid support to the glazing of the window. You can also use them as decorations.

re mullions and muntins updated?

Yes, mullions and muntins are used as an updating feature for either new or old houses. They can be made to look modern, but they can also have a more traditional look that adds detail to homes’ exterior design.

Final Thought on Window Mullions And Window Muntins

Both window mullions and window muntins can add much to the design of your home. The choice is yours regarding which one you want to update your exterior and add detail to the windows. Adding these elements into your home is a great way to show your personality through your home and merge beauty with function.


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How to Use Core Aeration

Maintaining a healthy lawn is hard, but there are a number of steps you can take to achieve this. You need to fertilize your grass, mow it at the right height, and water it regularly. But if nutrients don’t reach the soil underneath your turf, you’re going to have problems with thatch build-up and nutrient loss.

Lawn aeration helps improve drainage by removing plugs from the top layer of soil, allowing air and water in a while, helping reduce soil compaction below ground level. It also brings up minerals that were trapped beneath the soil surface into contact with roots for better absorption.

If you’re looking for ways to achieve and maintain a beautiful lawn, then this article will help you learn more about using core aeration. We’ll discuss why it’s needed and what it involves. Read on!

What is Core Aeration?

Core aeration is one of the best practices for lawn care because it improves overall health and appearance while reducing weed growth potential. The process involves using an aerator machine or core aerating tool which removes plugs from two inches deep or more depending on how long you run the machine over your lawn’s surface. This will help loosen compacted soil and allow water and air to reach the lawn’s roots better.

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What is the Best Time for Core Aeration?

For cool season grasses, core aeration should be performed in early fall or early spring. For the warm season grasses, core aeration should be done in late spring to early summer. When aeration combines with growth, grasses recover quickly and fill in areas where aerator equipment exposes soil.

When Do Lawns Need Aeration?

All lawns can benefit from core aeration, especially when the soil is compacted. Lawns in heavy shade or with thatch build up are great candidates for core aeration. Any time grass has difficulty growing or staying healthy due to compaction or poor drainage, this indicates that core aeration might be needed. Soils high in clay also benefit from core aeration.

Also, note that dethatching and aerating are two different things, although they work in handy. Thatch is the layer of decomposing organic matter that forms at the lawn surface between soil and grass. The thatch works like compaction to block the passage of air, water, and fertilizer to the roots.

Dethatching removes some grass blades while aerating opens up channels in the soil to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach grasses’ root systems. Aggressive spreading grasses like Kentucky bluegrass in northern lawns and Bermuda grass down south form more than any other grass type.

If your grass looks stressed and your soil is hard to the touch, you may have compaction problems. You can confirm that by using a simple screwdriver test. Take your regular screwdriver and stick it into your lawn’s soil by hand.

Why Core Aeration Helps Lawn

Lawns get heavy use, such as acting as neighborhood playgrounds and racetracks. Kids and pets running around the yard can also lead to soil compaction. That said, your grass roots need air, water, and nutrients to grow thick, deep, and strong. When the soil becomes compacted, it will inhibit the flow of essentials that supports thicker, healthier tuff growth.

Excess lawn thatch and heavy organic matter buried under the grass surface can also starve the grass of essential elements. Therefore, the hollow tine core aeration will help alleviate additional compaction so air, water, and nutrients can reach grass roots.

If lawn grasses are deprived of their basic needs by compacted soil, they’ll struggle, especially in stressful situations such as heat and low rainfall, thus losing their healthy, rich color. The grasses will gradually thin and die out completely. If there’s no oxygen, water and nutrients will be inches away.

Other Methods of Aerating Your Lawn

Apart from plug aerators or core aeration, there are other methods of aerating available equipment. They include:

Spike Aeration

Spike aerators have hollow tines that penetrate the soil and remove small cores of soil. Spike aeration is quick, easy to install, and can be used on lawns with little maintenance. The spikes create holes for water and nutrients by pushing soil aside.

Spike Aeration
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Slicing Aerators

These are blades attached to a wheel, which slice through the lawn’s surface. This method is similar to the spike aerators in that it also removes cores of soil from your lawn. The slices will give rise to new shoots and roots, giving rise to thicker turf.

How to Aerate Your Yard

You can find lawn aerators, power rakes, and other power equipment at your local store, hardware stores, and some big-box retailers. You can also hire lawn service from equipment rental companies and lawn and garden stores. Here’s how to aerate your lawn:

Flag Utilities

Flag utilities or other pipes loosen the soil around those with a shovel. Remove plugs from holes, then drag the aerator behind you across your lawn. With space between each pass, turn over all of the soil that was brought to the surface. Replant grass seed or transplant seedlings as desired

Time Your Aeration Right

For best results, time your aeration to coincide with your lawn’s physiological stage of development. Late summer is the best time for quick relief from compacted soil, while late spring or early fall are ideal times for lawn restoration and strengthening. Aerate when the soil is soft, like after an irrigation cycle or a recent rainfall. 

This will allow the hollow tines to penetrate the soil easily, making it easier to do their job. Hollow and solid-core aerator tines will struggle to penetrate hard, dry soil, making the process less effective.

Be Thorough

Cover your entire lawn at least once and the second time at a cross angle. Pay attention to lawn surfaces with heavy foot traffic, driveways, and sidewalks because these sections will be more compacted. If your lawn is smaller, you may only need to do it once.

Forget the myth that if you apply a pre emergent herbicide on your lawn in the spring, it will destroy your herbicide barrier. This is not always true because aeration won’t affect crabgrass control or weed prevention.

What to Do After Aerating

After aerating, if possible, combine lawn aeration with other lawn care maintenance such as fertilizing, adding soil amendments, and overseeding. Water, fertilizer, and grass seed needs to get through the lawn surface into the soil where they can start growing grass roots. After aerating your lawn, let soil plugs or extra soil dry where they fall.

What to Do After Aerating
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Core aerating will open the soil to allow water, fertilizer, and seed to move down in the soil for faster root growth. You can also help restore your lawn by application of fertilizer immediately after core aeration. Better yet, make your compost for this purpose.

FAQs on How to Use Core Aeration

When should you core aeration?

Core aeration can happen anytime, but the best time is usually in the spring and early summer or fall. It’s recommended to core aerate when there’s the most root growth.

Should you water before core aeration?

Yes, you should water one to three days before aerating. This is because the soils must be moist to help the machine penetrate through to remove soil plugs. Do not aerate overly soaked and completely dry soil because the aerator will pull out small soil cores from the lawn, which should be left to break down.

Final Thought on How to Use Core Aeration

As you can see, adding aeration to your annual task list will help you maintain your lawn and make it look more beautiful. Plus, you save money in the long run by having a healthy lawn.


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