Eco Blog: dedication to Green Hauling

Landscaping and Yard Clean-up for Fire Prevention

May 17th, 2017

oakland hills fire

It’s been almost 26 years since a massive fire ripped through the Oakland hills, killing 25 people and destroying nearly 3,500 homes. The 1991 disaster remains fresh on the minds of many long-time residents, and some local experts believe that conditions in the area could be ripe for a similar catastrophe.

While the 1991 fire led to some improved local policies that includes fireproof materials on homes and improved readiness, there remain several dangerous issues. The area is stuck in a drought, and the highly flammable eucalyptus trees that largely fueled the 1991 blaze have since regrown.

While the city, county, and some local groups wage war over the means necessary to rid the area of flammable materials, homeowners can take some simple steps to protect their individual properties from a fire. Here are several ways that you can direct your landscaping and yard cleanup activities to prevent dangerous fires.

Clean Up

As a homeowner or renter, you should make sure that your property remains clean and tidy. For the sake of fire prevention, this means that you consistently remove dead plants, shrubs, and trees. It’s also important to keep the grass mowed and shrubs pruned. If there is any debris on the property, it should also be removed.

Create Defensible Space

Not only do you want to create a safe zone around your property, but California law also gives some homeowners direction about a home defense zone within 100 feet of the home. According to the California Public Resources Code §4291, homeowners must remove and clear away all flammable vegetation and other combustible growth within 30 feet of the home. A single tree or shrub can remain as long as it is pruned and well-spaced.

You are also required to keep a “reduced fuel zone” in the remaining 70 feet or out to your property line. This means that you create space between your plants and remove plants from beneath large trees.

Landscaping and Proper Selection of Plants

As you landscape and care for your lawn, you should remove any tree branches that are below six feet from the ground. Place only fire-resistant plants in your yard and water them regularly. Mulch might be useful to maintain moisture in your gardens, but it’s important to note that it will also burn. Avoid using wood or bark mulch within three to five feet of your home. Use colored stones or some other flame resistant material instead.

Create Breaks

When you create your fire safe home landscape, you should also create breaks with hardscape materials. This includes using stone walls and pathways that can act as a fuel break to slow down, stop, or change the direction of a fire.

Emergency Readiness

No one wants to think about a fire occurring at their home, but history shows that this sort of tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye. Make sure you’re ready with some emergency preparedness steps in advance. Have your water hoses and fire sprinklers ready and easy to access and your personal exit plan in place. Also, contact your local fire department and ask them if there is anything else that you can do to be prepared.

With some proper planning and the right landscaping around your home, you can ensure that you and your family are as safe as possible from the fire dangers in your area.

Ultimate Guide to Organizing Your Garage

April 26th, 2017

With a long and rainy Winter and Spring headed to the rear-view mirror, it’s time for many here in the Bay Area to start thinking about projects around the house. Quite often, cleaning and organizing a cluttered garage is long overdue task around this time of year.

If you’re among those planning a garage clean-out and overhaul in the coming months, check out the following infographic from our friends at MakeSpace Labs. They’ve laid out a clear and concise, six-stage process for executing a garage makeover. The full post is available at: https://makespace.com/blog/posts/how-to-clean-organize-garage/

Once you’ve complete Step 6 and have all of your items sorted in various piles, contact Fast Haul for a quick and free quote to have all of your junk or donate-able items hauled off to the dump and/or charitable organizations in your community!

Why Illegal Dumping is Such a Foul Act

April 26th, 2017

Most people would be shocked to learn that they have been guilty of illegal dumping at some point. However, that may be exactly what they’re doing if they dispose of waste anywhere but their own receptacle provided by the city or county. Exceptions do exist, such as when city or county governments hold electronics recycling days. Putting old furniture in the yard or along the side of a road with a free sign attached to it is an example of illegal dumping that many people don’t realize. Some others include:

  • Placing waste from a construction site in another company’s bin
  • Dumping contaminated waste from a factory into water or soil without permission or treating it first
  • Throwing leaves, lawn clippings, garden rubbish, or everyday household waste into a park or forest

Why Do People Dump Their Garbage Illegally?

The reasons that people don’t follow rules regarding proper waste disposal are as varied as people themselves. Some simply don’t want to pay to have their trash removed so they use the trash receptacles of other people or businesses and make it their problem. Perhaps they feel desperate to get rid of something, such as a broken TV monitor or old computer, and don’t know how to do so otherwise. Ignorance of dumping laws and available alternatives are a common reason as well, although neither are a valid excuse.

How Illegal Dumping Affects Communities and the Environment

Nothing can make a community look run-down faster than old furniture and trash lining the sidewalks, streets, and yards of homes and businesses. Not only does this practice make neighborhoods look unsightly and lower property values, it attracts crime and jeopardizes health and safety. Vandals may find it entertaining to spray graffiti on the trash or even start it on fire. People walking or biking on a sidewalk may hit an obstruction and injure themselves. Trash piles attract rodents, which can spread disease to people and pets.

Illegal dumping is also hazardous to the environment at large. Common items that people dump, such as freezers and refrigerators, contain types of carbon that damage the earth’s ozone layer. Dumping trash directly into a river, lake, or ocean kills marine life and makes the water unsafe for human consumption. Hazardous waste kills plants, which in turn removes a food source for many types of animals. Some species of animals and plants will never return in the same numbers.

How the Environmental Protection Agency and State Agencies Are Addressing Illegal Dumping

The EPA estimates that 100 million tons of waste material have been dumped in locations across the United States. The solution is to clamp down on people who commit crimes against the environment. A minor offense, such as throwing trash out the window of a moving vehicle, may land the offender with a $50 fine. Fines can reach thousands or millions of dollars in more serious cases.

Large corporations are often the worst offenders because they put making a profit ahead of the health and safety of others. If everyone agrees to do their part and report those who engage in this activity, illegal dumping could be reduced considerably.

How to Reclaim an Overgrown Backyard

March 20th, 2017

overgrown yardMost people move into their homes with the best intentions of enjoying their backyards. Unfortunately, time can get away from them and their backyard becomes overgrown before they know it. Here in the Bay Area, following a relentless rainy season, vegetation is growing at a rate not seen in years.

It’s also possible that the house sat uninhabited for months with no one to tend to the back yard. Instead of relaxing on lawn chairs at the end of a long day, they head back inside within minutes due to mosquitoes and other pesky insects. The family pets can’t enjoy the backyard either due to tall grass and parasites. It will take some hard work, but homeowners can make their overgrown backyard inhabitable again with these tips.

Gather the Right Tools

A typical lawnmower may not work to tame an overgrown backyard full of knee-high grass and weeds. It’s best to avoid the risk of damaging the mower and rent or borrow a brush mower instead. If the area is walkable, a push brush mower should work just fine. Otherwise, it’s necessary to use a tow-behind model. These powerful mowers can easily cut through weeds and grass more than three inches thick.

Some homeowners must deal with several unwanted stumps if clearing the backyard involved removing unwanted trees. Getting rid of them is simple with a quality stump grinder. This method is far superior than trying to eliminate stumps with chemicals or digging them out by hand.

A brush grubber is the ideal tool to remove a single sapling or a section of brush. It’s impossible to remove either one with a lawn mower or chainsaw. With the brush grubber, the homeowner places a set of metal jaws containing spikes around a stump or small tree. After attaching a chain to the other end, the homeowner can pull the section of brush or sapling out with a truck, tractor, or ATV. This tool pulls out everything, including the roots.

Looking for professional help clearing out an overgrown backyard?

CONTACT FAST HAUL TODAY!

Steps to Getting the Overgrown Backyard Clean

Walking through the yard with several trash bags is the first step in regaining control. Homeowners should throw away any small items they don’t want to keep. A wheelbarrow comes in handy to transport larger items to the trash. People who know they want to eliminate some trees or plants should mark them with a ribbon and come back to them later. Other plants, shrubs, and trees could benefit from professional trimming. Homeowners who want to do the job themselves should ensure they have the right tools, including pruning shears. It’s also essential to throw away yard waste immediately.

When mowing the lawn with a regular mower, homeowners should choose the highest setting. Walking in half-lines instead of full lines the first time through saves wear on the mower. The next day, lower the setting and mow the lawn again. Rake and remove grass clippings from the yard right away to allow the new grass to grow without any restrictions. If the yard has a garden or landscape beds, rake them to remove any weeds and then re-establish neat borders.

Breaking down the tasks from most important to least important makes the whole project seem less overwhelming. This is important to keep in mind at the start of clearing an overgrown backyard as well as throughout the project.

Tips for Cleaning Up a Chaotic Garage

March 14th, 2017

garage clear-outHas your garage become a haven for just about anything that you don’t want in your house? Many people have so much junk in their garage that there isn’t even room for their car. Whether your clutter problem is massive or just close to getting out of control, a disorganized mess can lead to stress and even a scattered mind. Fortunately, there is an entire industry built around garage clean-up organization so that you can regain your space and your peace of mind. Here are seven tips for cleaning up that chaotic garage.

1. Block Out Some Time

Cleaning out a cluttered garage properly isn’t a one or two-hour job. If you want to get this task done right, set aside at least a full day and preferably an entire weekend for the work. While not fun by any means, you could speed up the process and might even have a few laughs if you include family and a few friends.

2. Sort Through Everything

You’ll need to pull absolutely every item out of each nook and cranny of your garage. Open closed boxes to find out if you have junk or hidden treasures. As you go through each item, test electronics and appliances to see if they work. Inspect tools and sports equipment for rust or mildew. Now it’s time to make some decisions.

3. Discard and Donate

When you touch each item in your garage, you’ll need to make several piles: garbage, donate or sell, and items to keep. If you expect that your discarded items pile is going to be massive, you might need to rent a dumpster for this occasion. Also, check with your local waste service for rules about discarding certain chemicals and electronics. Arrange for a service, if possible, to pick up donation items as soon as possible. If you’re going to sell some items, be sure that the effort is worth the potential gain.

Looking for professional help clearing out and disposing of unwanted items in your garage?

CONTACT FAST HAUL TODAY!

4. Organize and Strategically Store

You should now have a pile of articles that you’ve decided to keep. The next garage clean-up task is organizing and storing these items in the best way possible. Things that you shouldn’t store in your garage for a variety of reasons include paint, food, and paper products. If you already have shelving and storage systems, use what you have on hand.

5. Invest in Storage Products and Systems

To get the most organized garage, you’re probably going to need to invest in some storage products. Plastic bins are relatively cheap, many are see-through, and they can be stacked. Open shelves and tool systems work well in garages to keep your items easily accessible and organized. Pegboard organization systems are another inexpensive and efficient solution.

6. Use Ceiling and Wall Space

Since your goal is to de-clutter and make room for your car, you’ll want to get as much of your stuff off of the floor as possible. You can do this by using wall and ceiling space to store various items. Pegboards or large bins work well to store tools and sports equipment that you use frequently. Ceiling systems work to keep large items (surfboards, fishing poles, Christmas tree) out of the way. Just make sure that any ceiling storage doesn’t impede your garage door operation.

7. Tips to Stay Organized

Once you’ve achieved an organized garage space, the chaos can slowly creep back in over months and years. You can prevent this from happening with some careful planning and maintenance. Each spring, go through your items and donate or toss out what you no longer use. Sweep out and hose down the floor and apply a natural pesticide to the perimeter to keep bugs at bay.

Congratulations! You’re on your way to a successful garage clean-up project.

 
 
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