Get to know the Ryobi 190cc Self-Propelled 4 Stroke Lawn Mower

Ryobi Lawn Mower

Mowing your lawns can be quite the workout, it becomes a weekend chore that you don’t always want to do between emptying the catcher, pushing the mower row after row, you get more of a workout than a CrossFit champ.

Having the right mower means you can get the lawns mowed faster and easier. The Ryobi 190cc Self-Propelled 4 Stroke Lawn Mower will help you do just that.

With our latest garden project on the go, we were more than happy to team up with our friends at Ryobi to share our thoughts on this model with you guys.

What’s under the hood?

  • Powerful 190cc 4-stroke OHV Yamaha engine
  • Self-propelled drive
  • Mulching and side-discharge options
  • 460mm cutting path with adjustable cutting height, meaningless passes to get the job done
  • 4 swing back blades for increased cut and safety
  • Deck cleaning ability for a standard garden hose

I know some of you are already fizzing!

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This mower also comes with a 2 year replacement warranty, and she’s a real head turner!

Our review on the Ryobi 190cc Self-Propelled 4 Stroke Lawn Mower

Our section size is roughly 600 sqm so not a grand estate by any means. The mower we had before this one was around the same price but I noticed they cut very different. Where the old mower would scuff this one would glide nicely and adjust itself to suit – magic! The self-propelled engine is brilliant for getting the mower through areas that are usually really difficult and would be soooo good for large sections and steep sections, maybe a little bit of an overkill for our small yard.

The catcher is super easy to use as it just hooks on so has not potential to break like the old ones did, its also 55 litres so makes for less visits to the compost heap or green bin.

I’ve done a lot of research on mowers and I think Ryobi have nailed this! Especially with the Yamaha engine and all the easy to use features. Supplying the kit all in one is also so handy for different styles of mowing to achieve a bit of #lawnpawn.

You can find the 190cc self-propelled lawn mower, along with the rest of the RYOBI range, at your local Bunnings Warehouse.

 

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Capturing Water With The Marley Twist®

Water diverter The Marley Twist®

Environmental concerns on our waterways and newly chlorinated town supply water in Christchurch have us thinking of ways to create our own sustainable hub that keep us healthy as well as provide efficiencies. Growing up on a Farm there were many common practices that have been tried and tested over the generations that urban growth has forgotten about.

When innovation combines with a process that isn’t all that new, it’s bound to not just improve but impress. I saw that Master Plumbers had released their product of the year at the NZ plumbing awards and it was the Twist®, I was already conjuring up ways to use this in our backyard. While yes, this is a sponsored post, I’ll tell you now that we were all set to buy one prior to the collaboration but our renovations got away on us.

Marley Twist

Get to know The Marley Twist®

A compact rainwater diverter that turns your downpipe into a free source of water. Quick connect any standard garden hose, “twist” to the on position and enjoy the benefits. Rather than letting rainwater flow away into the stormwater system, Twist can be used to divert rainwater to a storage tank for all the jobs around the house. We’ve been using ours for the below:

  • Fill Frankie’s water
  • Wash Frankie after her muddy runs at the park
  • Wash the lawn mower
  • Clean hands after gardening
  • Water for our goldfish

Marley Twist

The Marley Twist® is designed with aesthetic and function in mind. Designed to capture free rainwater and has been specifically designed and manufactured in New Zealand for New Zealand conditions. Water is our most precious natural resource, and a regular clean supply, whether in urban or rural areas, can no longer be taken for granted. Easily installed, you can put the Twist® onto existing downpipe/s to really maximise clean water capture. And when integrated as part of a Marley spouting and downpipe system they carry the same Marley 15 year guarantee.

Easy Install

We’ve put together a “how-to” video guide to installing The Marley Twist®, watch below:

Shop for your colour here: http://bit.ly/MarleyTwist

NB: This is a collaboration with Marley, all words are our own.

D.I.Y Planter Box

Planter box

There’s no denying that the thought of a lush garden is amazing, but they require a lot of work. For those of us who have small backyards, busy schedules or want to create a garden that is niche to a type of flower, planter boxes are a great solution.

I remember when I was younger making a stylish planter box with my step mum and then replicating it as a gift for my nanas birthday! When we got Frankie (our Boxer puppy) Georgias stepsister Nicole checked in on her for the first week, which we really appreciated so wanted to say thank you. As you will know if you follow our blog, I like to get creative with gifts, be it a repainted bike, upcycled chair or in this case – a planter box, gifts with thought are always the best received!

Nicole bakes amazing cakes (check out her Instagram) so the planter box will help her grow colourful flowers to put on the cakes she makes. Planter boxes are great for things like lilies, tulips, daisies or for mini vegetable gardens. I also got some new Ryobi Powertools from their One+ range that I wanted to take for a test run (very happy).

Handy tip – buying the wood, this can start costing some serious coin, I looked around for the best deal.  This day it was from Musgroves, I managed to pick everything up for $30 NZD. Musgroves sells recycled building materials and timber, so super cool for a look around too, I could easily get lost for hours looking at their range of character pieces.

Watch the step by step video below

5 Plants Toxic to Dogs

Boxer dog plants

You all know how much we love our plants, we put in hours of hard work so they grow into abundant blooms and foliage. Georgia and I are EXTREMELY house proud and have spent a good part of the last year carefully selecting plants to grow around our yard.

When little Frankie (our Boxer puppy) popped up as available we had her within 12 hours of seeing the ad online. After the first week, I think it’s safe to say she’s home. Whats ours is hers and this certainly includes our plants.  Our front porch makes eating the Westringia Grey Box’s we have planted between the laurels like eating fish n chips on the lounge floor. The leaves that have fallen from the pittosporum, Frankie treats like M&M’s  and eats them by the dozen.

With this in mind, we started researching what was toxic to Dogs. While we care about our garden, we care about Frankie more and want to make sure she’s free to be the lady of the garden as she pleases while we are at work and can’t reign her in.

Here’s a list of common plants that relate to New Zealand homes that are toxic to dogs.

1. Autumn Crocus

Toxic plant to dogs

The Autumn Crocus can cause an intense burning sensation in the mouth, vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, liver and kidney damage, and even heart arrhythmias. Although the entire plant is considered toxic to dogs, the toxicity is highest in the bulbs of the plant, which are generally located close to the surface – sorry safron lovers!


2. Azalea & Rhododendron

Poisonous Azalea to dogs

Ingestion of just a few leaves of Azaleas can cause oral irritation with subsequent vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. In severe cases, ingestion can cause a drop in blood pressure, coma, and even death. A common one in New Zealand so it may pay to fence these off when flowering.


3. Cyclamen

Poison Cyclamen

Also known as Sowbread because pigs love them, the Cyclamen is a common household flowering plant with poisonous properties (i.e., terpenoids) to dogs. It can cause oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, heart abnormalities, seizures and death. We have one of these in my backyard so will be ripping it out and putting some in pots up on sills in the house.


4. Grape Vines

Grapes toxic

If ingested in large quantities, they may cause GI upset such as vomiting or diarrhoea. The concern would be if there were grapes on the vines that your dog could ingest. Grapes can be very toxic, causing kidney damage or failure after even a small amount is ingested.


5. Daffodil

Daffodil

A  cheerful addition to the garden, but they contain poisonous alkaloids that can cause vomiting, excessive salivation, diarrhoea, convulsions, tremors and heart problems. The bulbs are the most dangerous part of the plant.

The whole plant is poisonous however the bulb is the most poisonous to plants.


If your pooch has a taste for flowers and plants you can look to isolate or eliminate the plant that could cause them much grief.  Always see your vet if you see things like a change in skin colour, itchiness, fatigue & excessive saliva.

Installing an Espalier kit

Espalier is an ancient practice of controlling woody plant growth for the production of fruit, by pruning and tying branches to a wire support.  A French name which comes from Italian “spalliera” (to support or lean on). 

Espaliered fences are becoming popular in residential areas limited to spaces, community gardens, driveways and the like. We’ve been wanting to cover a fence that is the first thing you see when you enter our front yard, it’s a great way to take the focus off a boring space and let’s face it, they look pretty cool!

We were on the hunt for a smart system that we could use for so long, then we stumbled upon Lock Jaw who was also a local business to New Zealand. When you research espalier there are usually four types that are popular:

  • Horizontal
  • Candelabra
  • Verticle
  • Diamond

We decided to choose diamond as that would cover up most of the fence we wanted to hide when fully trained and looks super slick!

You can watch our video for install instructions here!


The tools you need are:

  1. Power drill (we use Ryobi)
  2. Potriveter
  3. Tek screw drill bit
  4. Measuring tape and pencil
  5. Wire and snips

The install is surprisingly easy if you have a straightforward fence to drill in to. Lock Jaw makes the install super easy with guides on their website. We followed the pattern that they had on the box when threading the wire which took all of 1 minute!Espalier FenceThe only thing you really need to know is to keep the distance between each gap the same when making the diamond kit, that way your diamonds will turn out even!

We went down to Oderings to buy our climbers, Georgia and I were very happy with the selection of climbers they had and the young guy helping us out knew his stuff! We decided that we didn’t want to wait a year or so to start seeing real growth so chose the Potato Vine which in the Nightshade family and they were already really long to begin with.  When planting we gave them lots of compost in the hole and then gently wrapped them around the wires. When finished we soaked them with water to give them a strong start.

We are very excited to see the espalier kit next year after a good 6 months growth! It’s better than we imagined and has added so much to that first glimpse of our front yard. Now for the rest of the yard!

You can buy the Lock Jaw Kit here: 

Lock Jaw website 

King size set

Lock Jaw Diamond King Espalier

A spring guide to your garden

Kiwi’s love spending time outdoors, our backyards are where we do most of our entertaining over the warmer months so we put a lot of pride into their appearance.

In spring we put the brollies away and start prepping our gardens, it’s the perfect opportunity to do all the ground work so your outdoor spaces are looking primo for summer.

So what do you need to do? Where do you start? It can be challenging to know which garden maintenance jobs we should do specifically during spring that won’t damage the plants and is a good use of time.  We’re getting our yard prepped, so created a list to help you through it.

CLEAR THE LEAFAGE

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Clear away winter deciduous leaf debris, dead branches and old leaves that are still hanging on but look like they won’t be for much longer. We’ve just done this and used a leaf blower to mulch the all the leaves and it doubles as compost, you can also use your lawn mower to do this.

WEED THAT GARDEN

Garden-weeds

Spring is when plants are at their best so clear weeds before they make them selves at home! Start thinking about making your life easier with things like weed mat, bark, sprays and planting crawling plants. Think about how much time you have to spend in the garden this summer. Weed mat is our life saver in the garden and we spray every month to keep the weeds down.

PRUNING

nature-2

Spring is the season for plant growth. So have a look on websites like www.tuigarden.co.nz to gets some tips and tricks.  Make sure you get onto pruning early so it doesn’t kill any growth for the spring!

USE THE MULCH

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Soil, just like us thrives when it’s getting nutritious food. Use the mulch that you made with the leafage or any compost you’ve accumulated over the winter in your garden. go to your local garden centre and get some fertiliser when you’re wanting your plants to shoot up. Oderings is always a good option or just a local nursery or garden centre.

ELIMINATE THE PESTS

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Black spot, slugs, snails and mites – get these buggers nice and early! Go to your local hardware store and they will have plenty of chemicals available along with guides and info for you.

DECK AND PATIO CLEANING

decks-pic

Moss and mould most likely grew over the winter on your deck/patios. Use a water blaster or a high-pressure hose with a garden friendly cleaning solution. Be careful not to remove any paint and get a professional green keepers help if you’re worried you’ll make a mess.

TRANSPLANTING AND SPLITTING

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In spring we can split and transplant the plants that have spread. Plants will adapt quickly to being divided with the warmer weather and drier conditions and spring is a good mix of both so they won’t dry out too much while they are taking to the soil.

LAWN CARE

Mug large

During winter, lawns become bogged and full of weeds and moss. Spring is the best time to aerate your lawns and grow new grass. You can get weed and feed products that clip onto your hose so no mixing needed. You can seek a lawn care experts help and get a plan in place so your lawn is looking lush in summer if you are too busy to pay attention to your lawns. Now is also a good time to start re-edging your front lawn and reshape.

Wait for the soil to drain and the weather to warm up, before planting to give seedlings the best chance.

GROWING HERBS FOR SUMMER COCKTAILS

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Spring is a harsh season for frosts and random weather conditions so seedlings should be raised in a covered sunny location where they won’t be touched by a frost or the wind. Start transferring these to your planter boxes around October so they are established come summer.

How to style your house with white walls

Having white walls in a house is a controversial choice based on who you are talking to. Growing up we had textured wallpapers, borders and multicoloured wallpapers, all things that you only see today in motels that haven’t seen the bristles of a paint brush in over 20 years.

Here’s how we’ve used our white walls as the base and worked out from there…

Choose a colour pallet

Painted Bookshelf

Because white works with anything, you’ll have to choose a colour pallet that best reflects your style. Pastels, bold hues, vibrant colours – they all work and often together.

With our house, we go bold with black and the rest stays to a natural pallet. The two work really well together as black helps a piece stand out where you want it to and the subtle colours like sky blue and slate greys naturally blend together and don’t compete.

On the other hand, your white walls could look seriously cool with pops of bold colours and plants always look great with the colours too.

Styling white walls
Image sourced via pinterest

Select your material

Scandi bedroom decor, Guest Bedroom

Scandinavia is a great example of people who style well.  Everything in a good Scandi home is complimentary and adds depth without competing.  We take this method and apply it to all of our furnishings and manchester.  Pompom knitted throws, thick cotton woven cushions that match our tribal style died rug, linen bedding and natural wood tones offset with black and white – they all work together as natural styles but also natural colours – which looks great with white!

P1170960

Get your style hat on

The best thing about white walls is that everything soon becomes a focal point (something to be cautious of too). We use it to our advantage as we love to style. Our favourite purchase is our HUGE Chelsea light in our lounge. Always remember that lighting can add so much character to a room, especially if the whole room is white. We love using glass to style, glass reflects light and is so simple and easy to dress up!  Lastly, you should try styling with plants instead of “things” you’ll have a healthier home and they look so damn good! (See how we’ve styled with plants here).

How we restored a bookshelf

Painted Bookshelf

Displaying a group of objects in a home adds an area of interest where people naturally gravitate towards. In our lounge, we have applied the rule of thirds to our main wall.

The rule of thirds in design basically means that objects are visually more appealing in odd numbers.  We’ve applied this by having three stacked vintage suitcases to the left, our TV and sideboard in the middle and our newly upcycled shelving to the right.

The restored Bookshelf

We like to be bold with our furniture so we make sure it all aligns to a cohesive style that exists throughout our home. Our latest find was a home made Rimu bookshelf from a lovely couple that I would guess made it many years ago. I’m always glad when I pick up furniture because It’s a bit like a classic car where you know someone really enjoyed it back in the day and with a bit of TLC – it can be enjoyed for years to come.

 

Usually, with furniture, I have found it on TradeMe after putting hundreds of items on my watch list and making a last minute bid.  This was a different story, I knew what I wanted and I’ve spent months looking for it, so when I found it I flicked them a message and asked for a buy now!

Keeping the piece in-line with our recently upcycled sideboard with Loftmotif hairpin legs, I sanded it back with 80 grit and then 120 grit disks and painted it with black fence stain.  Now why I use fence stain for these pieces is because it dries fast and I like the streaky look so they are not “Jet black”. When the bookshelf was dry, I applied a coat of Newtons beeswax. If you’ve read our blog recently -you’ll know I love this product!! After an hour I buff it off with a microfibre cloth and prepped the wall.  Using wall plugs for GIB I made a template that aligned with the holes and marked it up level on the wall.

After a few minutes, it was easily installed and really secure because of the wall plugs I used.

 

Then for the fun part – styling!! We already had all the ornaments and plants from a KMART ladder shelf that was there before, but of course had to buy a new plant for the occasion… a drooping one too!!

 

We love our lounge, even more, it all works so well together and surprisingly we have a huge amount of floor space now!

TOTAL SPENT 

  • Shelves $20.00
  • Wall plugs and screws $6.00
  • Plant $23.00

Touring our villa – Indoor plants

Indoor plants have so many benefits.  Some can cleanse the air removing toxins and making your home a tranquil retreat.  They are fantastic space fillers and some can purify whilst making the room smell fragrant.  My favourite thing about plants is they relax me- they are so therapeutic when you take the time to care for them.

I get so many people asking me what’s plants I have and what I can recommend for certain areas of the home…. So I’m taking you on an indoor plant tour through our villa so you can see what we have and how we care for it.

Bokshelf


HERB GARDEN | Having Herbs in the Kitchen is a MUST! Here we have Sage, Thyme and Rosemary – all perfect for everyday cooking.  Having herbs in the Kitchen also make the room smell great and are super easy to care for with a water squirter. See Niq James at Headspace hair for these (he has so many on display – hence the reason I go there).Herb Garden


SUCCULENT | I once made a succulent ball out of moss and assorted succulents.  I left it at our old flat by mistake. This is the last soldier left – they are soldiers too!!  Succulents reproduce like rabbits and are the perfect plant for a low-maintenance plant owner.Succulent


Cyclamen | The most affordable plant on the planet. I purchased this for $1.50 and it’s one of my favourite plants.  The flowers on a cyclamen are so quaint, they pop up for a while then cut themselves off.  I have this one in the kitchen window to the left of the sink.Cyclamen


EXOTIC PLANT | well so the label said haha.  This is above our little dining table and gets the morning sun.  If I keep its water up to date it produces huge leaves that look magnificent when you are walking towards the kitchen.P1140754


BABY’S TEARS TERRARIUM | Another beauty from Niq James at Headspace.  Baby’s tears can grow in swamps so of course, I’m putting it in the bathroom! Terrariums are great to add an ornamental aspect to a plant. The sharp lines of this one go well with the subway.Terrarium in bathroom

 


BROADLEAF | We kept killing our plants in our last lounge because of the heat pump.  So I did some research and people were raving about plants that are traditionally trees being hardier than their fancy friends. We sat it in a Karen Walker Home mug and it has remained there ever since!

Ornaments


ARROW HEAD | These bad boys have huge potential to do great things.  I keep this one trimmed back, however, let them do what they want and they turn into a vine! A very low maintenance plant too which is always a plus!Marble pot


GRAPE IVY | The hanging plant is a Grape Ivy. This thing is out of control!!!  It’s like an uncontrollable child haha. I just love how fast it grows so you can soon have a real feature piece.  Give it a trim and it bounces right back!Lounge


TERRARIUM | Another Niq James special.  We absolutely LOVE this one. It’s like a little community of activity with 3 different plants growing in there. You see guests stand there captivated by it haha. So easy to water as well.  Keep it nice and moist and the plants love it!Terrarium


FIDDLE LEAF FIG | The “now” plant to have. If you look on Instagram everyone that blogs about their home have one, so of course we had to have one.  Super hard plants to track down (we actually found this at the warehouse and people were scragging each other to get them).  We have ours sitting in a seagrass basket and it looks SO COOL!  Fiddle leaf fig


SUCCULENT | As I said earlier, these plants are hardy!  This one gets watered every 2 months!! It was originally standing up and then one day it fell over so we just left it like that and it’s been growing great ever since!  This one has great colour and is a cool feature plant on our sideboard.Succulent


STRING OF PEARLS | Another very “now” plant. Minimal watering and these will grow forever!  tHis is about 3 months growth from nothing!  You can also transplant them really easy and they will re-root. We have this one hanging in our guest bedroom.Scandinavian wall hanger


MAIDENHAIR FERN | Laundries don’t have to be boring so we hung our Maidenhair Fern by a concrete macrame wall hanger. The lush growth is so nice when you are doing your washing or walking out to the back deck.  It’s something so simple that adds a really nice touch!Laundry plant

If you want to know where any of these plants are from – just comment below!