Monthly Archives: June 2015

Keeping Critters at Bay Part 2: Solutions for Moles & Raccoons

Rid Yard of Moles & RaccoonsWhile admiring your recently groomed landscape, you notice a raised dirt trail snaking its way through the yard. No mole is going to destroy your lush sea of green grass or ruin your veggies. But before you go into combat mode and start acting like Bill Murray in Caddyshack, take a breath. There might be a simpler (more natural) way to battle moles and other pests without having to resort to land mines.

Know Thine Enemy

Bill Murray’s plan for troublesome rodents works fine – especially for laughs. Why not learn a little bit about the pesky mole, first? They are insectivores and from the same family as bats. Their main diet consists of insects, grubs and larvae like earthworms. They are around 4-8 inches in length with paddle-like front feet and have little to no vision. What moles are best at is digging. They can tunnel up to 100 ft per day. Only one other mole skill may rival this – they eat day and night.

Traps Aren’t the Only Way

How do you battle this underground critter? Experts say that traps work the best at eliminating moles, raccoons and other pests, but we’d prefer to go a more humane route first. Home remedies have had spotty success, but they are worth a try. Many of these measures need to be taken before you plant your gardens. However, if your yard consistently has moles and other pests then you may find them helpful.

  • Trench around your garden – Dig a trench around your garden to force moles and other burrowing pests to tunnel in a new direction. Keep in mind though, this isn’t practical for a large garden or lawn and the labor is intense.
  • Line your garden bed with wire – Dig down deep enough to place a layer of wire mesh in the bottom and along the sides of your garden area. This will force the pests to seek easier food sources.
  • Eliminate grubs – Getting rid of one of the mole’s favorite foods will cause them to seek elsewhere. The only problem is that earthworms are still available in your garden and you need them to keep your soil healthy.
  • Sprinkle kitty litter – By spreading kitty litter into the mole holes the smell will deter the moles from returning to the tunnel. Unfortunately they will dig alternate ones.

Plants that Chase Pests Away

A natural way to eliminate a wide variety of pests including moles, raccoons and even the heinous mosquito is to practice companion gardening. For years farmers have been planting “companion” plants in their vegetable gardens to create a vegetative barrier that deters insects and pests. Companion plants are ones that pests have a natural aversion to like marigolds, daffodils and Crown Imperial (Fritillarias). Adding these plants around your lawn or garden may help deter moles, raccoons and squirrels from eating away at your veggies or flowers.

Here is a short list of plants and the pest/s they repel:

  • Calendula (pot marigold) – raccoons and dogs (not a true marigold, so moles will not be repelled)
  • Castor beans – moles (poisonous, so keep away from small children and pets)
  • Crown Imperial – rabbits, mice, moles, voles and ground squirrels
  • Daffodils – moles and deer
  • Garlic – aphids, Japanese beetles and rabbits
  • Lavender – moths, fleas and mosquitoes
  • Mexican Marigolds – insects, rabbits and moles
  • Mole Plant – moles and ground squirrels (poisonous, so keep away from small children and pets)
  • Oregano – pests in general

Put Down the Dynamite

Keeping critters at bay doesn’t have to be a war of wills. There are natural solutions you can try before you turn to setting traps or using chemicals. Surrounding your garden or lawn with plants that naturally repel pests looks great and won’t poison your soil. It’s a win-win. Besides, if you do go all “Caddyshack” and dynamite the mole holes, you will eventually have to fill them back in. So leave the explosives alone.

If you are determined to go with a chemical deterrent, then check out our blog post Protecting Plants from Pests, for the lowdown on safely using pesticides to ward off unwanted visitors to your lawn or garden.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From trenchers to wheel barrows and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Keeping Critters at Bay: Solutions for Mosquitoes (Part 1)

Enjoy Your Yard This Summer Sans MosquitoesNothing will shut a backyard cookout down faster than mosquitoes. No one likes the bites or the itching, so what can you do? Years ago you may remember the bug man driving through your neighborhood trailing a chemical fog of DEET insecticide, a potent nerve toxin that renders an insect paralyzed. Once praised for its ability to eradicate the pesky mosquito, DEET has proven to do more harm than good. Still, with the threat of Malaria and West Nile virus looming in all that buzz, a solution is needed.

The Natural Way to Battle Mosquitoes

Today many choose to go a more natural route in the war against the mosquito. Totally wiping them out is a wonderful dream, although not realistic. There are things you can do to put a dent in the mosquito population in your yard. Here are a few tips:

  • Eliminate standing water – Walk around your yard and turn over anything that holds even the smallest amount of water. The female mosquito lays her eggs in as little as two tablespoons of water. They hatch in a mere seven days.
  • Check for low spots in your yard – Look for areas that may need to be re-graded or have a French drain installed to prevent standing water or marshy ground.
  • Trim the shrubs and bushes around your house – Overgrowth is where mosquitoes love to hide during the heat of the day. Eliminating the brush and weeds will give them nowhere to lurk.
  • Treat water features and fish ponds – Add mosquito dunks made of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a bacterium that’s harmless to wildlife, pets and people, to any permanent water source. It keeps the mosquito larvae from hatching.
  • Aerate ornamental ponds – Keep the water moving in these features to prevent female mosquitoes from laying eggs.
  • Tie your tarps tightly – Water can gather in the folds of the tarps you are using to cover things like firewood, gas grills and boats. Pull the tarps tightly around these items to keep water out. The same goes for market umbrellas – close tightly when not in use, being careful to brush free of spider webs or trapped insects upon re-opening.
  • Toss any unnecessary items – You may have been saving that tire for a kid’s swing, but leaving it sitting to collect water only allows mosquitoes to breed inside. Toss it!
  • Treat your yard – You can purchase spray insecticides as well as granules that can be applied to the yard. These will not hurt pets or small children and can last up to three weeks.
  • Keep your gutters clean – These are the most overlooked culprits around your house. Clean them out and make sure downspouts are clog free.
  • Inspect your screens and doors – You should have 18″ x 14″ mesh wire in your screens and doors to keep bugs out. Make repairs to any holes or loose fittings you detect.

Mosquitoes Driving You Batty?

If you do have to be outside during peak mosquito times – mid to late afternoon – wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Shoes, socks and even gloves will help keep you bite-free. Burning citronella candles has proven to be effective in keeping the pests away. If you want a totally natural deterrent, then place a bat house in your yard. Bats are said to eat up to 600 mosquitoes an hour.

The Smell of Success

Add a few plants like Citronella Grass, a low maintenance plant that grows best in a container, to help your yard ward off mosquitoes naturally. Make sure to buy Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus, which are the true varieties that ward off mosquitoes.

Plants like Lavender and Lemon Grass give off a scent that the insects hate when their leaves are crushed. Press a few leaves in your hand and rub the scent on your skin to ward off the pesky predators. Try locating some of these plants near your patio and doorway to help set up a “scent barrier” for your home.

  • Chrysanthemums
  • Marigolds
  • Mexican Marigolds
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemon Grass
  • Lemon scented Geraniums
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Eucalyptus
  • Anise
  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Clove
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree

Cat Nip is also effective, planted away from flowers beds – since your cat may decide to roll around in it. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From pressure washers for cleaning gutters to insect and lawn sprayers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Go Wild with Your Garden – How to Attract Birds & Butterflies for a Livelier Yard

Build A DIY BirdhouseYou have been diligently whipping your yard into shape this gardening season, yet something is still missing. Then you realize you need to add a little wildlife to your landscape.

When gardeners start designing, they sometimes forget to add plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Adding a few birdhouses to your landscape will provide hours of entertainment as you watch all the wildlife interact.

Building a Better Birdhouse

Building a birdhouse is fairly simple; however, you can’t just put one up and expect your new tenants to move in immediately. You first need to decide what species of birds you wish to attract. Many bird varieties have preferences when it comes to the type birdhouse they will occupy, so do your homework first. Here are a few basic rules to follow for building a birdhouse.

  • Location, location, location – Select a suitable nesting location based on the type of birds you are trying to attract. Some like their houses to be in an open area while others prefer to have the protection of trees limbs or shrubs.
  • It’s all about design – Different species like different type houses. Some will nest in apartment style houses (Purple Martins) while others want to be alone, away from other birds (House Wrens) in smaller houses.
  • The right opening – The “front door” to the bird house is important. One size does not work for all birds. Different species like small openings (Chickadees) while others like different shaped openings (owls like oval front doors).
  • Height matters – Birds like Purple Martins like their houses built high (15-20 ft) on poles and House Wrens like houses 6-8 ft high hanging from tree limbs.
  • The more the merrier – Make several houses from different designs and place them in different locations in your yard. You will be able to see which design and location works.

Natural Selection

The best material to use for a birdhouse is untreated wood. Make sure your birdhouse design has thick walls that provide adequate insulation. Cut ventilation slits at the top of the house and holes in the floor for drainage. Extend the roof out in the front and slant downward to keep rain out. Adding a baffle will help to keep raccoons, snakes, cats and other predators from getting into the house.

Butterflies & Hummingbirds, Oh My!

Now that you have taken care of the birds, it’s time to attract more butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard with nectar- and pollen-rich plants. Wildflowers and old fashioned varieties of flowers are great for this. Adding a water feature like a fountain or bird bath not only attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, it helps them beat the heat, too.

Keep in mind that a yard where dogs or cats roam about, or one with very little tree or shrub shelter, may cut down on how many butterflies and hummingbirds you attract. Try one or more of these plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard.

Butterflies Love:

  • Butterfly Bush
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Daylily
  • Fennel
  • Lavender
  • Liatris
  • Marigold
  • Phlox
  • Russian Sage

Hummingbirds Love:

  • Bee Balm
  • Canna
  • Crape Myrtles
  • Foxglove
  • Fuchsia
  • Verbena
  • Zinnia

Many of these plants do double duty and appeal to both butterflies and hummingbirds. Select a variety that have different flowering seasons, extending the freshness of their food supply.

Hummingbird Feeders

Designed specifically for hummingbirds, commercial feeders use the color red to attract them. Gardeners add food – usually a mixture of ¼ cup sugar in a cup of water – to mimic natural flower nectar. Hummingbird feeders come in two types, bottle or saucer. The most important things to consider when choosing a hummingbird feeder is the size and how easy it is to take apart and clean. Bacteria and mold grow in sugar water, which also ferments, so change it often (daily in very hot weather).

Bottle hummingbird feeders can be glass or plastic, often with red plastic flowers and bee guards on the feeding ports. Choose one with red bee guards, because yellow ones can actually attract bees. Saucer hummingbird feeders are usually plastic and have feeding ports in the top, making them fairly bee-and wasp-proof. If the feeders have large enough perches, Orioles, Downy Woodpeckers, Cape May Warblers, and other bird species may visit them. Hummingbirds tend to be territorial when it comes to feeding sites, so you may see a little action at the hummingbird water hole, so to speak.

All in all, planning ahead to attract wildlife such as birds, butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard will provide months of entertainment as you watch your garden come to life.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From circular saws and post hole diggers to wheel barrows and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Tackle Your Lawn in Less Than an Hour

How to Tackle Your Lawn in an Hour or LessHaving a lush, green lawn is every homeowner’s dream. It’s a badge of honor the whole neighborhood can see and it means something because it is not at all easy to achieve. The weekends already pass by too quickly and the thought of spending your entire weekend doing yard work can be infuriating. Don’t give up your sanity or your weekends to have an enviable yard. This one hour plan will change your views on yard maintenance and have your neighbors asking for your secrets.

First 15 Minutes: Master the Art of Watering

Get a jump start by beginning in the yard early. In the first 15 minutes, master the art of watering. If you water too much, your lawn will have deep, but few roots. Water too little and you will have too many shallow roots. Early morning waterings will have less evaporation and your water will go straight to the grass. You want to water deeply, though infrequently. You should use a rain gauge to determine exactly how much you need to water each week.

Mother Nature is your friend, so embrace the natural moisture that is provided by rainfall. Most grass types need about 1 inch of water each week. You can use sprinklers for between 5-15 minutes, depending how much your lawn needs to reach the 1in mark.

Next 30 Minutes: Make the Most of Mowing

For the next 30 minutes, make the most of mowing. Mowing the lawn is a notorious chore, but done correctly it can save you time and stress. Invest in an efficient lawn mower to cut your mowing time in half. Find a machine that works with you, instead of against you. Popular Mechanics compiled a list of the best choices – be sure to read the comments to discover real people’s opinions.

Have your blades sharpened at the beginning of every season so that you can get the most from your effort. [Runyon can sharpen your blades for a small fee, so bring in your mower and the service department will fit you in.] While you mow, try to take off just ⅓ of the grass’ height at a time. You want the plant to be able to continue photosynthesis. By not taking off too much, you keep enough plant tissue on the blade to do so.

Final 15 Minutes: Hand Weed Your Lawn

A lawn free of weeds is a true prize, and can feel far away. Most homeowner’s first response to the appearance of weeds is to seek out a chemical herbicide. This is often a big mistake. These weed killers can be dangerous to humans and pets and often weaken the grass you favor along with the weeds. The strongest combatant to weeds is a healthy, thick lawn. If your lawn grows strong, it can defeat pesky weeds in the war for space. A dense lawn blocks out the sun needed for their seeds to sprout.

For the final 15 minutes, hand weed your lawn and take note of the different types of weeds you see. These can be signals to other issues in your soil that can be corrected. Certain weeds grow only where the soil is damp, some only in over fertilized areas. Learning to identify the types of weeds that plague your garden can help you eliminate them and save more time.

In just an hour, you’ve made huge improvements to your yard. Follow this quick plan each week and your yard will be the talk of the neighborhood. Finally, you can stop worrying about your lawn and get back to enjoying your summer.

Guest Author: Jane Blanchard

Jane Blanchard is a writer at Modernize. For more tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com. And to purchase or rent lawn equipment in the Indianapolis area, visit Runyon Equipment Rental in-store or online.

*Photo Courtesy of rockymountaintrees.com
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Refresh Your Home with Interior, Exterior & Shutter Paint

DIY Home Refresher: Interior, Exterior and Shutter PaintingSummertime is often when we decide to spruce up our homes, and nothing can give your home’s exterior better curb appeal than a fresh coat of paint. Whether you decide to tackle the outside of your home or just an interior room that needs a makeover, painting is an easy DIY project.

Preparation Pays Off

There is only one word to remember in painting: “prep”. The key to any successful painting job, whether it is the exterior of your home or an accent wall in your den, is preparation. To achieve a professional paint project, follow a few key steps.

Prepping an Exterior Paint Job:

  • Pressure wash your house – Removing the dirt and debris will make sure the paint adheres correctly. Learn more about it in our blog, How to Pressure Wash Your Home’s Exterior for Paint.
  • Remove add-ons  Take down storm windows, screens, shutters, awnings, wall-mounted light fixtures and even downspouts.
  • Scrape loose paint – Remove cracking, peeling paint and sand smooth before painting. If paint is intact, don’t scrape to the bare wood.
  • Repair surface flaws – Use a repair compound that is rated for exterior use. Sand after it dries.
  • Remove old caulk – Re-caulk around door trim, windowsills and other areas with paintable exterior caulk.
  • Repair and re-putty windows – Remove old putty and apply new glazing. Let dry before painting. Don’t forget to check under eaves and doors for any damage that needs to be repaired.
  • Use drop cloths to protect flowerbeds and lawns – Gently tie up shrubs or small trees to keep them from rubbing up against wet paint.
  • Prime bare wood or anywhere repairs are made – The primer will help the paint adhere to the wood or newly repaired area. The primer you use depends on the paint you are going to use.

The average paint job on the exterior of a home can last from five to eight years if the proper preparations are done.

Why Not Paint the Shutters?

Since you have removed your storm windows, screens and shutters, now is the perfect time to repair or paint them. A paint sprayer makes an easy job of painting shutters. (Check out our blog post on Airless Sprayers to see how they can make quick work of your painting jobs.)

Here are a few guidelines for painting shutters with a paint sprayer:

  • Clean the shutters to remove grime and mildew.
  • Scrape off loose or flaking paint.
  • Lightly feather sand the shutters.
  • Prime any bare spots.
  • Starting with the back, paint all the shutters on the same side, let dry and then flip them over to paint the other side. This will keep the painting uniform.
  • Spray at a slight upward angle so that you can paint the upper portion of each slat.
  • Spray the entire face including the frame.
  • Use a dry brush to eliminate drips and runs.
  • Avoid drips and runs by painting two or three light coats rather than one heavy coat.
  • Paint the metal hinges that hold the shutters in place.

The Inside Scoop on Interior Painting

Painting the interior of your home is similar to what we’ve discussed for the exterior. Preparation is still the most important part. Though time consuming, prepping your walls the right way will give you professional results. Here are some steps for guaranteeing success:

  • Remove as much furniture as possible – Cover the remaining pieces with plastic to protect against accidental spills.
  • Clean the walls – After vacuuming or dusting, wipe them down with a damp cloth. When washing down kitchen walls, use a mixture of 3 tsp of laundry detergent to a gallon of warm water to eliminate grease build-up.
  • Tape trim, windows and door frames – No matter how steady your hands are they will get tired. Stay on the straight and narrow by putting blue painters tape down. Remove immediately after painting (before the paint dries) to avoid peeling off any with it.
  • Prime walls – Some say a wall with multiple coats of paint doesn’t need it. However, if you want a uniform look to your color choice, don’t take the chance – prime.
  • Use a brush where you can’t use a roller – Use a paint brush to get around trim and in the corners of walls.
  • Use the “W” technique – Paint a 3 x 3 foot “W” pattern on the wall and then fill it in without lifting the roller. It helps hide seams where you picked up the roller and put it back down.
  • Paint the trim – Once the walls are dry, tape where the walls meet the molding and door frames. Straight edges give you a crisp, professional look.

Find out more tips for painting the interiors in our blog, Painting Walls in Your Dream Home Made Easy.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY painting projects. From pressure washers to paint sprayers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Create a Custom Picture Frame in 6 Simple Steps

How to Make A Custom Picture Frame

Have you ever come across an incredibly unique poster, painting or photograph that doesn’t fit into a standard frame size? If you live in Indianapolis you’ve probably seen the Neighborhoods of Indianapolis poster, which unfortunately falls into this category. Because of this, I had to find a new solution for framing mine, and since a custom frame from a craft store costs a small fortune, I decided to utilize my dad’s expert DIY ability instead.

First things first, gather the tools…

Thankfully my dad has a mecca of power tools in his shed, so he was able to come up with everything we needed. However, for those of you without an extensive tool collection, Runyon has a huge array of tools for rent and purchase. Stop in or check out our website for the full catalog of products. Here are all the tools you need (assuming you already have trim for the frame and plywood for the back frame piece):

Things to keep in mind, according to good ol’ dad…

The goal is to find a way to join the corners of the trim that will ultimately form the frame. If you want to get fancy with it you can use a router bit to form tongue and groove joints, but this is only optional. You could also consider a layered frame look, i.e. stacking trim to create a shadow box style. The key to this whole process though, is to make sure your parallel sides are exactly the same size in length and that the corners are cut to perfect 45-degree angles. Accuracy is crucial for this to work properly.

And now the steps…

  1. The first thing you have to do is measure and cut your frame sides into parallel pieces i.e. make sure parallel sides are equal in length. Also, make sure you leave enough length for the 45-degree angles in the next step.
  2. After cutting the trim pieces to the correct length, it’s time to measure and cut 45-degree angle corners. The miter saw is integral for this step because it will ensure accurate cuts. Test and fit your pieces as you go to make sure they line up with no gaps.
  3. Once all your frame pieces are the proper length and have well-fitting corners, glue and clamp the corners together for at least an hour.
  4. Then for additional stability, toe-nail the corners together with a brad gun (nailer). At this point your frame should be complete with the exception of the back piece and hanging hardware.
  5. Attach the back piece of plywood with a nail gun after ensuring it’s the correct dimensions (i.e. enough to cover the frame opening, but not too big that it overlaps outside the far frame edge).
  6. And the very last step, install hardware for hanging the frame. You can pick up brackets, a wire set, etc. from a hardware store. Just be sure whatever you buy is rated for at least the weight of your frame – for instance, mine weighs about 50 lbs.

And voila, you’re ready to hang and admire your picture for years to come! If you have any additional questions about this process or the tools used, please don’t hesitate to comment below or contact us. Happy DIY-ing!

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Outdoor Refreshers: Install Decorative Outdoor Lighting

How to Install Decorative Outdoor LightingFirst and foremost, outdoor lighting adds safety to your property. A well-designed exterior lighting plan increases visibility around your home, along paths, sidewalks and stairs and in your yard, eliminating darkness and shadows. Investing in outdoor lighting certainly pays for itself in the long run and enables you to extend your outdoor activities well into the night. So, are you looking for an intermediate-level do-it-yourself project that will also enhance your exterior lighting plan in the process? Reward yourself – and your landscape – with decorative outdoor lighting.

Sunshine at Night

Solar and low-voltage lighting for outdoor use is economical, safe and easy-to-install and operate. Usually sold as lighting systems, both are shock-less, safe for children and pets. While low-voltage lighting includes a power pack, cable and lamps or fixtures that can be adjusted to your liking, everything you need for solar lighting is contained in the fixtures themselves. Low-voltage lighting is brighter than solar lighting. Also, avoid using any solar or low-voltage products labeled “interior only.”

Choose solar lighting in areas:

  • that get lots of direct sun
  • that are large or remote, such as the corners of your property
  • that are located far away from a power source
  • that are near water, such as a pond, swimming pool or hot tub
  • that are rough terrain, such as rock gardens
  • that require very low light

Choose low-voltage lighting in areas:

  • that are near the house
  • that are on smooth terrain
  • that are shady
  • that need to be illuminated, such as landscaping features, decks, patios, architectural surfaces or features, statues, walls, fountains, pathways, walkways, steps, destination areas in the garden or house signs
  • that are in need of a border

How to Plan Exterior Lighting

Survey your property to determine areas in need of illumination. Bring along a measuring tape and take measurements, especially to exterior power outlets.

Look for dark spots and corners that might need lighting for safety reasons. Note hazardous steps or curbs that could use light. Make a sketch detailing landscape features and their location, such as the house, pathways, driveway, water features, gardens, trees, shrubs, garden art. Be sure to include each location of any outdoor electricity source.

Decide which areas would benefit from solar light installation, keeping in mind these areas need no wiring. Choose the types of low-voltage lights you want in each area – downlights, backlights, uplights, and softlights (see below). Be sure to check your plan against local codes. You might need a permit before you begin work.

Lighting Effects and Techniques

Getting creative with your exterior lighting plan is as simple as choosing different light effects that pack a powerful visual punch.

Downlighting directs light toward the ground and is used to create safe pathways and stairs.

Backlighting directs light onto a wall or fence behind the desired subject to be highlighted and is used to feature trees, artwork or architectural enhancements of your house.

Uplighting directs light up, illuminating the underside of a surface, and is used to feature address signs, statue, foliage or fountain.

Soft lighting directs light in all directions for an atmospheric effect and is used to create mood, romance and ambiance.

Shop for Light

Low voltage halogen lights range from about 4-50 watts. The higher the wattage, the higher the level of brightness. Choose light fixtures first, then add up the wattage. You’ll need a power pack that supplies enough wattage for all lamps. It takes 110 volts. Divide a large lighting system into smaller ones if necessary, using a power pack or transformer for each. In addition, you’ll need cable and cable connectors to support the wattage. As mentioned earlier, solar lighting is all-inclusive.

DIY-ing It All Together

  1. To install your lighting system, keep safety in mind at all times.
  2. Place the power pack within 1 foot of the outdoor electricity source – 110 volt standard US household current with a GFCI receptacle. Use a waterproof cover to protect the receptacle and plug-in. Do not install the power pack indoors.
  3. Attach the low voltage cable(s) and turn on the power pack. Always read power pack instructions.
  4. Lay the cable to your lighting fixtures according to your plan. Keep it above ground rather than burying it. You can use cable connectors to join two or more cables, or to change run direction. For runs of over 150 feet or if you’re using 10 or more lamps, use heavier cable.
  5. Attach the individual light fixtures to the cable with the power on.
  6. Make sure the fixtures produce light when connected. Follow the instructions provided with the light fixtures.
  7. Set the timer on the power pack to the ON/OFF times you desire.
  8. Do not use extension cords.

Wait Until Dark

Do the lights come on? How do they look? Make adjustments by resetting the timer or moving lights around. After you’re satisfied with your decorative outdoor lighting design, bury the cable with dirt, mulch, sod or rocks. You can also hide it behind foliage.

Illumination Transformation

Now that you’ve installed your decorative outdoor lighting, you home and outdoor living spaces, landscape and gardens will feel inviting and magical. Summer nights are made for this! Come holiday time, consider switching out light bulbs for color and charm.

By the way, you’ve also provided safety and security for your home. How practical of you!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with gardening projects. From ladders and other equipment to event lighting and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Patch or Resurface Your Cracked & Spalled Concrete Driveway

How to Repair A Spall or Cracked DrivewayFor those of you with garages at the forefront of your home, it’s safe to say a cracked and spalled driveway completely dampens curb appeal. And with such bipolar Indiana weather, it’s no wonder freeze-thaw conditions contribute so much to this. Depending on the cause of concrete driveway failure, there are solutions and ways to prevent unwanted defects.

What’s Causing Your Driveway to Fail?

The first step in repairing your driveway, is to determine what is causing it to fail.

If it is a stabilization issue, then unfortunately resurfacing won’t permanently fix the issue. The reason being, that when the foundation under placed concrete starts to deteriorate, there is a void created, which results in the concrete cracking and falling more than the concrete around it. You could level out the concrete temporarily, but if the concrete underneath the patch moves, then inevitably the patch will move with it. In essence, the concrete can’t support itself and falls through. The only solution if this is the case is to tear the driveway out and pour completely new concrete at full depth.

On the other hand, if you have concrete cracks or spalls not caused by a foundation issue, then there are a few easy approaches for remedying them….read on….

Preventing or Patching Concrete Spalls

Many driveways have spalls. Freeze-thaw in the winter and summer creates pop-outs when concrete contracts, then expands. This phenomenon pops pieces of concrete loose (hence the name), which result in what are known as spalls. A way of preventing this is to keep water from penetrating into the concrete to begin with. Concrete sealer can assist with this – you can purchase sealer here.

For repairing spalls, the first step is to use a pressure washer for cleaning them out, then clean them up with a hand grinder and wire wheel. After all the debris and loose bits of concrete are removed from each spall, you can fill in the voids with Concrete Resurfacer. Keep in mind, the color may not match exactly, but it will do the trick.

Leveling Your Driveway and Filling-In Cracks

If your main issue is concrete cracks (not caused by stabilization issues mind you), then you can also use Concrete Resurfacer to level the surface of your driveway. However, this is only recommended for use on substrates with 1/8″ or less difference in depth. On anything 1/4″ or greater, you can use Skim Coat.

Expert Advice

Our goal is to assist with any repair tricks and tips to keep your home happy and healthy, so please let us know if you have additional questions about this process. We have an entire concrete division as well, so be sure to check out our Runyon Surface Prep website for the full line of products.

Categories: How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

10 Good-Sense Tips for Building a Compost Bin

How to Build a Compost BinAs you clean up your yard this summer, consider how you plan to dispose of all that yard waste. Maybe it’s time to start composting grass clippings and weeds. Building a compost bin can be as simple as looking around your yard for materials you can recycle and make into a container. Before we start construction though, let’s decide how best to set up our composting station.

  1. Define your composting needs – Do you want to get rid of yard waste or do you want to commit fully to recycling and add kitchen scraps into the mix?
  2. Check for local restrictions – In some areas you have to set compost bins a certain distance from lot lines. This is particularly true in urban areas.
  3. Consider the physical work required – Compost piles need to be “turned” to allow materials to aerate and to avoid clumping. You will need to shovel the compost material with a pitch fork or other heavy-duty tool, which means your upper body can get a good workout. If “turning” compost does not sound like fun, consider constructing a “tumbler”-style bin and crank your way to the perfect compost.
  4. Determine a location – Find a spot in your yard where the bin can benefit from an adequate mix of sun and shade. Full sun will dry out your pile and full shade won’t allow the pile to dry out enough. Avoid putting the bin close to trees so it doesn’t damage the roots when you stake it into ground.
  5. Place close to a water source – Watering your compost pile is the key to promoting good breakdown of materials. A compost pile should be kept moist like a damp sponge, but not soaking wet.
  6. Keep drainage in mind – Make sure the location for the bin is level and offers good drainage.
  7. Plan for good ventilation – Compost piles need adequate ventilation for the materials to decompose.
  8. Size always matters – Build a bin that is not less than 3 feet by 3 feet or greater than 5 feet by 5 feet. Too small and the compost may become compacted; too large and it will not get adequate air circulation.
  9. What’s that smell? – If you are adding kitchen waste like fruit and vegetable peels then your bin may attract pests. Burying the peels in the compost will deter critters from creeping into your compost pile. You can add calcium or lime to keep any unwanted smells down, too.
  10. What will the neighbors think? – Once you have decided where to build, consider how others might view your gardening project. Camouflaging the bin with lattice or high growing shrubs to block the view will help it blend into the landscape.

After considering these factors, you are ready to select the design of your compost bin. You can build a composter out of a number of different materials. If you are using wooden slats, be sure to keep a 1-½” space between the boards for good air flow. If you need to keep rodents out of your pile, incorporate chicken wire and a secure lid into your design. Avoid using plywood since the moisture in the compost pile will cause it to break apart. Building a compost bin can be as simple or a complex as you want to make it. All you need are the materials, some basic tools like a hammer and circular saw and your imagination.

Once you’ve completed your brand new compost bin, it’s time to start layering. Start off a compost pile by layering equal measures of brown waste, green waste and top soil. Water the pile once you’re done and wait for nature to take its course. After a week or so, “turn” your pile and work in new materials. You don’t have to continue layering once your compost pile has started.

Brown Waste vs. Green Waste vs. Other Waste

Here’s a quick look at what constitutes brown and green waste, and what other materials are suitable for a compost pile:

Brown Waste:

  • Dead leaves
  • Shredded paper
  • Coffee grounds and coffee filter
  • Cardboard
  • Woody hedge clippings and twigs
  • Sawdust
  • Hay or straw

Green Waste:

  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Flowers
  • Nettles
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings
  • Vegetable crop residue
  • Young weeds
  • Herbivore manure
  • Tea leaves

Other Waste:

  • Egg Shells
  • Hair (both human and pet hair)
  • 100% pure wool or cotton
  • Vacuum bag contents
  • Wood ash

Find out what NOT to compost and more information in our blog, Go Green: Create a Compost Collection Pile.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your composting projects. From circular saws to wheel barrows and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

*Photo Courtesy of House Logic
Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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