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600 Miles of Roots

Untangling the fuzzy facts about pampas grass

Pampas grass has a mixed reputation, and rumors around lawn care circles allege that just one clump produces a root mass that can unravel to a length of more than 600 miles. If you drove that distance east from the Bryan-College Station area, you’d make it to the Florida panhandle. What else should you know about this unusual ornamental?

Are Those Fronds Friend or Foe?

The sight of a Texas sunset through those feathery plumes adds a special beauty to the evening, but early settlers saw them as something more practical. Pampas grass was imported from South America to feed grazing herds. This plan proved to be mistake, but the plant’s rooting tenacity and efficient reproduction techniques made it a permanent part of the landscape. The flowers are dioecious, which means that each shrub is either male or female, and all it takes is one gentleman … Read Full Post »

Signs Gas Oven Not Heating Properly and What To Do About It

Gas oven not heating properly

Few things are more frustrating for the home cook than having food turn out unexpectedly bad. Burnt edges, raw centers, undercooked meats and uneven browning can ruin a meal that took precious time to prepare.

Signs Your Gas Oven is Not Heating Properly 

Anyone can have an off day, but if these problems are consistent, they can leave you wondering if there is a bigger problem. If you’ve been using the same gas oven successfully for months or years and suddenly experience cooking difficulties, your oven’s failing heating element, digital controls or other components could be to blame. Here are five signs that can help you recognize uneven or inconsistent heating.

One or Both Elements Don’t Produce Heat

It seems like an obvious problem, but anyone can get in a hurry and not realize that one of the heating elements in your oven is not igniting. If your food isn’t turning out as expected, … Read Full Post »

Can Termites Spread Through Clothes?

Can termites spread through clothes

Termites are a big threat to your home. How do these dangerous pests find their way onto your property? Can termites spread through clothes? Learn more about termites, their preferred habitats and their behavior so you’ll be better equipped to protect your home against the menace of these wood-munching insects.

Can Termites Travel in Clothes?

The biggest questions homeowners usually have about termites is how they spread. Since termites look similar to ants to the untrained eye, many of us assume termites travel in the same way ants do. That might mean they could crawl into your suitcase while you are packing or hitch a ride in your gym bag when you set it in your garage before you leave.

The truth of the matter is that most of the serious damage done to a home by termites is linked to the subterranean species. These termites prefer to stay close to the soil, as … Read Full Post »

How Many Roaches Is An Infestation? Assessing Your Problem

How many roaches is an infestation

The first sight of a cockroach in your home can send waves of panic down your spine, often accompanied by high-pitched shrieks. While nobody wants to have an eye-to-eye encounter with roaches, the truth is that pesky pests love our homes. What’s alarming is the fact that for every roach you see, it’s likely that there are many more you don’t. These nocturnal pests can be extremely hard to detect. They nest and breed comfortably in the dark and hard-to-reach areas of your home. Roaches usually live in your house without being noticed for a long time.

After that first encounter, most homeowners want to quickly and effectively handle the problem before it gets out of control. So, exactly how many roaches is an infestation? Knowing the extent of your problem is often the first step in deciding what to do next.

Cockroach Infestation Signs 

Unfortunately, there is no magic number of cockroaches … Read Full Post »

Tarantulas: Science Fiction Stars Gone Wild

Almost everyone can identify a tarantula. The fierce-looking, hairy spiders can grow as large as dinner plates and cause arachnophobic homeowners to hug their chandeliers. They are pests to some and pets to others, and if you live in Texas, you’ll probably encounter one sooner or later. If you’re unlucky, you may find one in your yard. If your luck is even worse, one might decide to slip into your home unnoticed. In either case, you should be prepared.

What to do if You Encounter a Tarantula

First, relax. Finding a huge, hairy spider is disturbing, but tarantulas aren’t the dangerous monsters many people think they are. Compared to some of their fellow arachnids, they’re not very dangerous. They have fangs, but they rarely bite unless it’s in self-defense. If a tarantula does bite you, it would hurt like a bee sting, and you might have some mild swelling. Unless you’re severely … Read Full Post »

How to Add a Water Feature Without Attracting Mosquitoes

How to stop mosquitoes breeding in water features


Ponds, fountains and other water features can transform your backyard into a tranquil oasis. If you live near a highway or in a noisy area, water features can drown out ambient noise and replace it with a soothing, natural sound. Adding a water feature can also enhance existing landscaping, often at a marginal cost and with little required maintenance. Lastly, providing a water source in your yard can help local wildlife, including birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. There is one animal that you don’t want to attract when you add water to your landscape, however: mosquitoes.

How to stop mosquitoes breeding in water features

Most species of mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. Larvae can thrive in even an ounce of standing water. With that in mind, if you do want to add a pond, waterfall or a fountain to your landscape, you’ll want to learn how to add a water feature without attracting … Read Full Post »

The History of Toilets: How Modern Features Can Transform Your Bathroom

history of toilets timeline

You probably take your toilet for granted—that is, until you have a problem. How have toilets evolved over time, and what recent advances have changed the way you spend time in your bathroom?

The History of Toilets Timeline

Before the invention of flushing toilets and sophisticated plumbing, many people used chamber pots or simply used the restroom in the streets. Obviously, people of this age weren’t very sensitive to odors. The Saxons created pits in the streets with wooden seats over them. People in some countries built drains under their homes that led to rivers or primitive sewer systems. Ancient Egyptians used limestone or wooden seats with sand-filled containers under them. These primitive toilets had to be emptied by hand. People in the Indus Valley civilization built grid-patterned streets with sewers underneath. Their toilets were flushed with water.

Who Invented the Modern Toilet?

Although the invention of the modern flush toilet is sometimes attributed to … Read Full Post »

Air Conditioning History Timeline

air conditioning history timeline

It’s hard to imagine a hot Texas summer with sweltering temperatures consistently topping 100 degrees without air conditioning. As citizens of a modern world, perhaps we’ve become spoiled in our expectations of daily amenities, and this got us thinking: who was the genius that invented the modern air conditioning system?

That question turned out to be a little more difficult to answer than we thought. The “invention” of air conditioning was not so much one single “Aha!” moment, but rather several ideas over a few hundred years that got us to the modern HVAC system that we all know and love. Below is a brief air conditioning history timeline to explain how the air conditioner parts and functions have evolved.

Ancient Egypt: Where It All Got Started?

Ancient Egyptians are vaguely credited as being the first to use evaporative cooling by hanging wet cloth or reeds in windows and doorways. As the wind blew … Read Full Post »

What Attracts Scorpions to My Home?

Of all of the common household pests here in Texas, one may be the creepy-crawliest of them all: the scorpion. While some scorpions may be limited to crawling on the floor, others are able to climb walls, drapes and hide in the folds of clothing. You might find a scorpion in a variety of places, such as inside of a shoe or under a piles of clothing. In addition to being painful, a scorpion’s sting is venomous and can cause serious illness. In a few cases, the sting may even cause death. To know how to eradicate these poisonous pests, homeowners must understand what attracts scorpions to homes.

What Attracts Scorpions to My Home?

The more you know about these arachnids, the more equipped you are to know where and when to spot them, how to know they have made it inside of your home, and most importantly, how to get them out—for … Read Full Post »

Best Temperature For AC To Save Money: Tips And Tricks

Best Temperature for AC to Save Money

Summers in Texas are longer and hotter than in other areas of the United States. This increased use of air conditioning is one of the primary factors in the increased spending on electricity and natural gas, which means homeowners have less money to spend on other things. It’s not all bad news, though. With the help of some money saving tips and techniques for coping with increased summer temperatures in central Texas, you can save some of your hard earned income. Read on to learn more about the best temperature for AC to save money. By following these simple tips, you can have some extra spending money to use to pay for items your family will really enjoy.

Raise The Temperature

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends keeping the indoor temperature of your home at 78 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce your electricity bill. Although this might seem high at first, it is a … Read Full Post »