Tree trimming guide

Regular trimming of tree branches is a fundamental step in any garden maintenance schedule.

Trimming overgrown branches has many benefits. It triggers new growth so you can use it to encourage new leaves, flowers, or fruit production. It will also help combat diseases by cutting of the sick parts of the tree and introducing better airflow to the healthy sections. So by trimming our plants, we keep them healthy and living longer. Lastly, pruning trees and shrubs allows us to shape them however we want.

Unless you have very tall trees that would require you to climb higher than you’re comfortable with then pruning can be done easily by yourself if you have the right tools for the job. It might not be easy at first but it’s definitely a skill that anyone can master with enough practice. To help you, we’ve prepared a short guide that will answer the three basic questions about plant trimming: when to trim, with what tools, and how.

When

This depends on the kind of tree or shrub you want to trim. Most plants are fine with pruning when out of season – the period from January to March being the most ideal. Having no leaves obstructing your view will help you identify which branches need to be pruned. But doing so right after they lose their foliage can be risky because if there is a sudden spike in temperatures then the plant can start growing unexpectedly. It is better to wait until late winter to make sure that pruning won’t encourage any new sudden growth.

However, be aware that each tree acts differently and the above are just general rules. Especially flowering trees can be quite capricious. Early blooming trees, such as magnolias and cherry trees should be pruned after they finish blooming. If you have doubts, research your particular type of tree before doing any pruning.

With what

The tools you use should be adjusted to the size of the branch. Thinner parts don’t require large power tools but thick branches might need to be removed using a power saw. You should also have a good pair of hand shears to trim small twigs and a manual saw for larges branches. A folding saw is a good choice because it can be safely stored when not in use. The best folding saw will allow you to quickly get through all standard-sized branches that need trimming.

How

The cuts should be made at a downward angle so that water cannot settle in the wound because that can lead to eventual rotting. So logically, you should never remove branches that are growing upwards because it will be impossible to stop the water from entering the wound.

Locate the dead branches and twigs that need to be removed. Also, decide which ones pose a potential hazard – for example, some branches are growing too low and might fall down on someone. You should also cut off any weak-looking growths that tend to form at the base of the trunk.

The more you prune your trees, the better and more efficient you will become. Just remember that you shouldn’t go too fast to avoid accidentally cutting off too much.

Should you be using lifting straps

Lifting straps are very useful when weight training. They allow you to hold onto heavier weights for longer because you don’t have to maintain the proper grip all the time. Of course, the grip should not be neglected but the main purpose of weight lifting is, as the name suggests, to lift. Lifting straps give the lifter the peace of mind to focus on the pull and not the grip. This is useful if you are lifting weights for longer periods as naturally, the grip will weaken with each pull. But fatigue should not stop you from continuing training. That’s where the lifting straps come in.

What do lifting straps look like

Different straps are used for the right and left hands. One end of a lifting strap is meant to be wrapped around your wrist and the other one is attached to whatever you are lifting, be it a barbell or anything else. They are usually around 1 to 1.5 inches wide and 12 to 18 inches long.

The material used to make lifting straps can be either leather, nylon, or cotton. The best lifting straps are made out of a material that suits your needs. Leather can change shape with use but it isn’t as restrictive as other materials. Nylon is the strongest one and is used for heavy lifting, although it moves around on the wrist when soaked with sweat. Cotton is the most commonly used material as it provides a good balance of comfort and strength.

What are the benefits of using lifting straps

Some weight lifters are of the opinion that using lifting straps will make the grip weaker and if you aren’t able to lift weights by yourself then you should not be lifting them at all. However, the truth is that unless you are training to participate in a competition that prohibits the use of lifting straps then it doesn’t really matter.

Yes, you should be working on strengthening your grip as well but for most people, the priority is strengthening a specific muscle group and not the grip. And if a weak grip is the only thing preventing you from working on what you want to train then go ahead and use lifting straps. Grip training can be done on its own and it doesn’t have to be at the expanse of weight training.

That said, there are some circumstances in which lifting straps should not be used. They only work for some weight lifting exercises such as dumbbell or barbell rows, deadlifts, rack pulls and similar. They will have no effect on bench presses etc. A simple way to determine which exercises are suitable for lifting straps is to consider gravity. When lifting, if the only thing working against you is gravity and not some other factors, then it is okay to use lifting straps to help yourself.

Lifting straps are a good addition to any weight lifter’s gym bag. If you haven’t had a chance to try them yet get a pair for yourself because even the best lifting straps aren’t that expensive.

New Orleans - The Best City To Visit

New Orleans – The Best City To Visit

New Orleans is situated in southeastern Louisiana and is the biggest city in the state. This city lies on the Mississippi River and is a major port of the United States. It covers an area of three hundred and fifty square miles and has a population of over three hundred and eleven thousand residents. This city can trace its roots back to May of 1718 when it was founded by the French Mississippi Company, under the scrutiny of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. In 1763, according to the terms of the Treaty of Paris, this colony was ceded to the Spanish Empire. It would remain under the control of Spain until 1801, when it would once again become a French colony. In 1803, Napoleon sold the territory to the U.S. in the Louisiana Purchase. After that, New Orleans received an influx of Americans, French, Germans and Africans. During the War of 1812, the British dispatched their forces to conquer the city. This invasion was thwarted by Andrew Jackson who assembled a force that contained Kentucky Riflemen, local militia and pirates, African Americans and U.S. regulars at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. During the American Civil War, New Orleans was captured by the Union.

Today, New Orleans is a city that has increasingly dependent on tourism for its survival. Luckily, the city has a large amount of attractions and attractions millions of tourists each and every year. New Orleans is in the list of the ten most visited cities in the United States of America. Each year over ten million tourist flock to the city every year. Before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, there were over two hundred ad sixty-five hotels with over thirty-eight thousand rooms in the city. After the hurricane, there were one hundred and forty hotels with around thirty thousand rooms available to guests. The most popular attraction in the city is the French Quarter. The city when it was founded, was originally centered on the French Quarter. Today, the entire district is a National Historic Landmark and contains many buildings of historic significance. The district is known for its combination of guest houses, bars, hotels, residences, tourist oriented properties and its historical attractions.

One of the main attractions in the French Quarter is Jackson Square. Jackson Square is a park that was declared a historic landmark in 1960. Opposite the square are three eighteenth century buildings. These are St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere and the Cabildo. St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest operating cathedral in the United States. The church was erected in 1789, and in 1793 achieved the status of cathedral. St. Louis Cathedral is the most recognizable landmark of New Orleans. The Presbytere derives its name from the fact that it was built on the residence of the Capuchin Monks, though it never served as a residence of clergy. The Cabildo was built as the residence of the Spanish city government of New Orleans in 1799. It was also used as the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803 and was used as city council until the 1850’s. In 1911, it became the Louisiana State Museum. Now the Cabildo has exhibits that cover the history of Louisiana from its settlement, through the Civil War and reconstruction all the way to present day. Running the length of the French Quarter is Bourbon Street. This street is known for its large number of bars and pubs. Some of the bars on this street include the Old Absinthe House, Pat O’Brien’s Bar, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, Napoleon House Bar & Restaurant, Johnny White’s Bar, The Bourbon Pub and Molly’s at the Market.

The National World War II Museum is another prominent attraction in New Orleans. The museum was opened in the summer of 2000, on the fifty-sixth anniversary of D-Day. The lobby of the museum is very large and contains aircraft that are suspended from the ceiling. The top floors of the museum deals with the social, economic and political conditions that led up to World War II. The museum also contains a gift shop, electronic maps of the Pacific, models of the beaches and amphibious vehicles of the D-Day and two auditoriums where educational videos are available for patrons to view. Another attraction to visit while in the city is the Audubon Zoo. The Audubon Zoo covers an area of fifty-eight acres and contains over two thousand animals. Animals housed here include gorillas, white tigers, orangutans, white alligators, a Komodo Dragon, gila monsters, anacondas, vipers, rattlesnakes, reticulated pythons and beaded lizards.

New Orleans - The Best City To VisitAquarium of the Americas is another prominent attraction in New Orleans. The aquarium opened in 1990 and features over ten thousand animals taken from over five hundred and thirty species of aquatic life from North and South America. One of the primary exhibits is the Caribbean reef Exhibit which features a thirty foot tunnel that is surrounded by over one hundred and thirty thousand gallons of water. There is also an Amazon exhibit which is basically a greenhouse that contains stingrays, Macaws, Piranhas and snakes. Another exhibit is the Mississippi River Gallery which contains catfish, owls and alligators. The Gulf of Mexico exhibit has a seventeen foot tank that is filled with over four hundred thousand gallons of water and contains seat turtles, fish, sharks and stingrays. Also located on the premises of the Aquarium of the Americas are exhibits for penguins, sea otters, as well as an IMAX Theater.

Other prominent attractions in the city of New Orleans include Preservation Hall, the Garden District, Audubon Insectarium, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World, Longue Vue House and Gardens, Old Opera House, Audubon Park, Confederate Memorial Hall, the New Orleans Mint, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the New Orleans Botanical Garden. The city is also home to numerous hotels, many of which have historical value. Hotels in the city include the Royal Sonesta Hotel, Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, Bourbon Orleans Hotel, Windsor Court Hotel and the W Hotel.

Athens - One of the world's oldest cities

Athens – One of the world’s oldest cities

Athens is the biggest city and the capital of the country of Greece. It covers an area of fifteen square miles and has a population of over seven hundred and forty-five thousand residents. Athens urban zone is the seventh most populous in the European Union and the city is also to be one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is an important center for Greek economic, financial and political life and is rated as an alpha world city. Athens is a city that has been inhabited on a continuous basis for over seven thousand years. Its history can be traced to the Neolithic period when it was a fortified settlement on top of the Acropolis in the fourth millennium BC. The city at this time bears no resemblance to the Athens of today. It occupied an area of only one square mile and was surrounded by walls. The city was named after the goddess Athena, who was daughter of Zeus. According to myth, Athena won the role of the protector of the city by defeating Poseidon in a contest where the citizens of the city chose her over him.

By 1400 BC, Athens had become an important part of the Mycenaean civilization. From the tenth century BC on, Athens became an import center of trade and was very prosperous. In the first century BC, many Athenian military structures and homes were leveled by the Roman commander Sulla. Under Roman rule, the city achieved the status of a free city. During the five centuries under the authority of the Roman Empire, the city remained an important center of philosophy and education. In 529, Emperor Justinian close the schools of philosophy when the Roman Empire converted to Christianity. That same year, Athens fell under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. Until the seventh century, the city became overrun by Slavic peoples and began a journey into insecurity. Its fortunes changed for the better in the ninth century and the city began an economic recovery. This upward spiral continued until the twelfth century, when the Golden Age of Byzantine art began in the city. In the nineteenth century, the Prince of Bavaria Otto was declared the king of Greece. He moved the capital of the country back to Athens and started the construction of public schools.

Today, Athens is a vibrant city with a thriving tourists trade. A popular attraction in the city is the Acropolis.  The Acropolis of Athens is a rock that rises four hundred and ninety feet above sea level and has a surface area of three hectares. On it rests a complex of buildings. In the center of the Acropolis is the Parthenon (also known as the Temple of Athena Parthenos). North of the Parthenon is the temple called Erechtheum. There are also the ruins of a theater known as the Theatre of Dionysus. Several hundred feet away is the ruins of the Theatre of Herodes Atticus. South of the gateway that was known as the Propylaea is the Temple of Athena Nike.

Another important attraction in the city is the National Archaeological Museum. The National Archaeological Museum contains a collection of artifacts from all around Greece and covering the timespan of prehistory through late antiquity. This museum was founded in 1889 and contains nine sections. The sections of the museum include Near Eastern Antiquities Collection, Prehistoric Collection, Egyptian Art Collection, Sculptures Collection, Vlastos Collection, Vase and Minor Objects Collection, Metallurgy Collection, Santorini Collection and the Stathatos Collection. Major attractions of the museum include the Aphrodite of Cnidus, Ninnion Tablet, Egyptian mummies, Poseidon of Cape Artemision, Varvakeios Athena, Pitsa panels, Antikythera mechanism, Capitoline Venus, Jockey of Artemision, Daidala , Mask of Agamemnon and Statue of a Nereid. Ancient artists and sculptures represented in the collections here include Myron, Hermonax, Scopas, Damophon, Euthymides, Agasias, Lydos and Cimon of Cleonae.

The Ancient Agora of Athens is another prominent attraction in the city. It was a place where citizens could assembly in public. At these assemblies citizens could discuss politics and hold political meetings. The Ancient Agora of Athens is a perfect example of one of these ancient forums. Building contained here include Tower of the Winds, Vespasianae, Gate of Athena Archegetis, Agoranomion, East Propylon and Fethiye Mosque. Also located in the city is the National Garden of Athens. This garden is situated behind the Greek Parliament building and was commissioned in 1840 by Queen Amalia. Originally, the garden had a large collection of over five hundred different species of plants, but many of the species couldn’t tolerate the hot Mediterranean climate and died. The collection of flora and fauna that is currently located there is a much smaller collection than was originally planned for this beautiful and elegant park. The main features of this park include a zoo, botanical museum, duck pond, a children’s library, a cafe and a small playground.

Athens - One of the world's oldest citiesOther prominent attractions and landmarks in the city include the Acropolis Museum, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Hellenic Parliament, National Library of Greece, Pnyx, Temple of Hephaestus, Philopappos Hill, Arch of Hadrian, Zappeion, Olympic Sports Complex, Kapodistrian University of Athens, Plaka, Areopagus, Monument of Lysicrates, Panathinaiko Stadium, Mount Lycabettus, Stoa of Attalos, Byzantine and Christian Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, New Acropolis Museum,  the Athens Concert Hall, Athens Planetarium, Athens City Hall and Omonoia Square. Athens is also home to quite a number of great restaurants and hotels. Popular restaurants in the city include Vitania, Kouklis Ouzeri, Akropol, Eden Vegetarian Restaurant, Daphne’s, Trastellis, Apostolos, & Co and the Athens Hard Rock Cafe. Popular hotels in the city include The Athens Gate Hotel, Fresh Hotel, The St George Lycabettus, Hermes Hotel, Athens Center Square Hotel and the Airotel Hotel Parthenon. Athens also has a large collection of shopping districts, malls and unique store fronts. This is a beautiful city to take in not only the culture but also the history of Greece.

Explore San Antonio

Explore San Antonio

San Antonio is located in the United States in the state of Texas. It is the second largest city of the state and the seventh largest in the country. It is situated in the northern portion of South Texas and is the center of  Texas tourism. The city covers an area of four hundred and twelve miles and has a population of  almost one and a half million residents. San Antonio was originally inhabited by Native Americans who dubbed the area “land of refreshing waters”. Near the end of the seventeenth century, Spanish explorers stumbled upon the Native American settlement on the feast day of St. Anthony of Padova. They named the area San Antonio in his honor. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Spanish War Council approved a spot on the San Antonio River for the construction of a military fort. This fort was established by the Domingo Ramon expedition. Two years later, the Governor of Texas reinforced the fort with additional soldiers and their families. This would become the official beginning of the villa. At the same time, the Mission of San Francisco de Solano was joined with the mission of San Antonio de Padua. Governor Alarcon named the area that was composed of the fort, mission and the villa San Antonio de los Llanos. The next year, the Marquis de Aguayo moved the San Antonio de Bejar fort to a site on the Plaza de Armas. The city would continue to grow and it became the largest Spanish settlement in the state.

Explore San AntonioIn 1821, Mexico achieved its independence and invited American settlers to settle the area north of San Antonio. When Santa Anna repealed the Mexican constitution of 1824, violence broke out in many parts of Mexico. The white settlers of Texas joined forces with Hispanic Texans and called for the return of the constitution. Through a series of skirmishes, the Texans were able to force out the Mexican forces in many of the anglo settlements. In December of 1835, Texan forces captured San Antonio from Santa Anna’s brother in law General Martin Perfecto de Cos. This decisive battle gave the Texans complete control of Texas. In 1836, Santa Anna subdued resistance in most areas of Mexico and began a march against San Antonio. Several patriots garrisoned and fortified the mission called the Alamo as an impromptu fort against Santa Anna’s advance. Famous volunteers who occupied the fort included Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Barrett Travis and a company of Hispanic Texan volunteers. Santa Anna set out to take the Alamo by force on March 6. After several attacks, his troops overwhelmed the weak defenses of the northern wall and captured the fort. The following year Texas independance was attained. In 1845, the United States annexed Texas. This act led to the Mexican War which lasted three years and ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. San Antonio would become a frontier city of the American West and hosted a large population of cow ranchers and herders. In 1877, the first railroad reached the borders of the city and it began to become assimilated into American society.

Today, San Antonio has a strong economy that is based upon four areas; government, health care, financial services and tourism. The health care industries crown jewel is the South Texas Medical Center, which is a collection of clinics, research centers, hospitals and educational facilities. The United States military also has a large concentration in the city. In fact, the defense industry employs almost ninety thousand people in the city and contributes over five billion dollars to the local economy. The tourist sector is bolstered by the influx of over twenty million visitors every year. Tourism employs over ninety-four thousand people in the city and contributes almost nine billion to its economy. It also brings a lot of tax revenue to the city thanks to the hotel and motel tax, as well as sales taxes.

Explore San Antonio

One of the most popular attractions in the city, besides the Alamo, is the Cathedral of San Fernando. This Roman Catholic church is the mother church of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the seat of the archbisop of San Antonio. It is considered one of the oldest cathedrals in the country and is also known by its Spanish name, Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe. The church was built in 1731 and was named after King Ferdinand III of Castile. Today, the church is visited by over five thousand people each week for Mass. The church also sees over nine hundred baptisms, one hundred funerals and one hundred weddings each and every year. The church is also home to concerts, television specials and symphonies all year round. Another popular attraction in San Antonio is the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium. This zoo was founded in 1914 by Colonel George W. Brackenridge. It opened its first cageless exhibits in 1929 and opened its aquarium in 1948. In 1966, the Hixon Bird House was opened in the complex and now contains one of the largest bird collections in the world. Today, this fifty-six acre zoo has over thirty-five hundred animals taken from almost eight hundred species. The yearly attendance of the zoo is almost nine hundred thousand people a year.

Other popular attractions in the city include San Antonio Japanese Tea Gardens, McNay Art Museum, Brackenridge Park, the Witte Museum, Splashtown San Antonio, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, the Texas Transportation Museum, Museo Alameda, Woodlawn Theatre, SeaWorld San Antonio, Tower of the Americas, The Torch of Friendship, Menger Hotel, the Spanish Governor’s Palace, the Fairmount Hotel, HemisFair Park,  Arneson River Theater, Bexar County Courthouse, San Antonio Botanical Garden, the Emily Morgan Hotel, the San Antonio Cavalry Museum, Aztec On The River, the River Walk and El Mercado. The city of San Antonio is also home to a number of restaurants and hotels. Prominent restaurants in the city include the Fig Tree Restaurant, Boudro’s On The Riverwalk, El Mirador Restaurant, Casa Rio and the Guenther House Restaurant.