spring checklist

They’re Coming! Take Steps Now to Battle the Bugs

They’re Coming! Take Steps Now to Battle the BugsMany bugs are dormant over the Winter months. Once Spring arrives, they are back in full force. While you are working on Spring yard projects, remember to practice some preventative pest control. Head pests off at the pass before they can invade your home and garden.

Boost Pest Control Effectiveness

Taking steps now will keep you bug-free in the Summer months ahead. Whether you choose chemical or natural pest control, you can take steps to boost their effectiveness around your home. Here are a few suggestions on where to begin.

7 Proactive Steps for Battling Bugs

  1. Remove standing water and fix leaks – Don’t give mosquitos a place to breed. If you have a water fountain, treat it with drop-in mosquito pellets. Keep your pump working because moving water does not allow them to lay eggs.
  2. Clean gutters – Avoid letting leaves block downspouts by cleaning them twice a year.
  3. Remove yard debris – Fallen piles of leaves and tree branches are prime hiding places for mosquitos and other pests. They also spread mold and fungus throughout your garden.
  4. Seal your home – Look for cracks in your foundation, around windows and exterior pipes. Bugs can use these to enter the home. Replace old door seals as well.
  5. Deny access to food – Hang bird feeders away from the house, keep pet food in airtight containers and make sure garbage cans have properly fitting lids.
  6. Fence your garden – Install a wire fence around your vegetable garden.
  7. Cover large openings – Use wire mesh or hardwire cloth to cover openings like attic fans and roof vents. This will keep squirrels out. Check chimney caps to see if they need to be replaced.

Leaks and Moisture Encourage Pest Problems

Pests are attracted to moisture. By eliminating leaks or other moisture issues you can solve the majority your insect problems. Start by inspecting your crawlspace and foundation for moisture seepage. Seal any cracks with caulk or compound cement. If you have a drainage problem around your foundation, consider re-grading the landscaping to drain water away. Channel downspouts in a new direction.

Be Careful Using Insecticides Around Pets and Children

Treating around the perimeter of your home with insecticide is one way to stop bugs from entering your home. Though many products claim to be safe for humans and pets, use caution when applying. Keep children and pets inside while spraying and then for a couple hours afterward to allow the chemicals to dry.

Go Natural with Your Pest Protection

If you are worried about harmful toxins in chemical pesticides, try some natural alternatives. Insecticide soaps are made from organic products and are quite effective. If you want to avoid spraying chemicals of any sort, here are a few ideas:

  • Plant Lavender or Rosemary near your patio or deck to ward off mosquitos.
  • Sprinkle Cinnamon in a child’s sandbox to keep ants out.
  • Mix white vinegar and water to spray on spiders and their webs.
  • Carry dryer sheets in your pocket to keep mosquitos and gnats away.
  • Sprinkle citrus peels around plants infested with mites or spiders.
  • Grapefruit rinds attract slugs; once they take hold you can throw them in trash.
  • Crushed Basil in your cabinets will deter cockroaches.
  • Use Ladybugs to get rid of aphids on your roses.

Welcome Natural Insect Predators to Your Garden

If you want to up the ante, invite natural predators like swallows, finches or even bats to share your garden. Install a bat house in a tree away from your home. Bats sleep during the day and hunt for insects at night. You will probably never see them, although you may notice a decrease in the number of mosquito bites you endure.

Don’t Let Insects Ruin Your Day

Be proactive in fighting pests this year. A few changes around the house can make all the difference. Take the time to treat for bugs now and keep them in check. Enjoy this Summer pest-free. This is your home, show those bugs who’s boss.

Expert Advice

From sprayer tanks and insect foggers to ladders and bobcats, our expert staff is ready to help you protect your home from pests. Looking for a natural way to battle bugs? Our blog, Keeping Critters at Bay Part 3 – No Poison Pest Control, has plenty of helpful, non-toxic suggestions for preventing bugs. As always, 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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Get Those Trimmers Out! Get Your Yard Back in Shape!

Get Those Trimmers Out! Get Your Yard Back in Shape!Now that Spring is here, many of you are diligently working time to reclaim your yard. Getting out those trimmers to cut back early flowering trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses will go a long way to improving the look of your garden.

To Prune or Not to Prune

Pruning isn’t just done in the fall. Some plants benefit from having their dead foliage left attached over the winter. This protects their tender roots. Still, pruning stresses plants. Wait until they have flowered and gone dormant before attempting it. Pruning a plant while it is actively growing invites pests, diseases and fungus to enter through the wound.

Plants to Trim Back Now:

  • Woody perennials – Plants like Artemisia, Buddleia and Lavender bloom on new growth. Pruning now encourages them to send out new foliage.
  • Evergreens – Some species don’t go dormant but do turn brown. Trim off these wilted leaves and apply some fertilizer.
  • Flowering trees – Most early blooming trees set their buds last fall so you are safe to prune now. Avoid taking more than a third off the branches.
  • Roses – Prune after flowering. Even species like repeat bloomers can benefit from tidying up. Remove dead or weak growth.

Ornamental Grasses – Adding Interest All Year Long

Ornamental grasses add beauty to the landscape year-round. If you left yours up over the winter (the birds thank you for that!), now may be the time to cut it back. It depends on the type of grass you have. Cutting your grasses back exposes the crown or base to sunlight and rain.

Two types of grasses:

  • Cool season – Varieties like Fescue, Ribbon grass, Feather grass and Tufted Hair-grass produce new shoots in the early Spring and flower by early Summer. Cut the dead growth back before new sprouts get too high. Avoid damaging the crown or base. This can kill the plant.
  • Warm season – Species like Japanese Blood grass, Maiden grass, Fountain grass and Pampas grass produce new growth in late Spring/early Summer and flower in late Fall. Since these grasses send up new stalks later, you have more time to cut them back. Rake out dead foliage from the base to allow the sun to penetrate.

Prepare for Battle When Cutting Ornamental Grasses

Cutting ornamental grasses can be a bit of a challenge, as these plants like to fight back. Many species have sharp-edged leaves, so be sure to wear heavy gloves, long sleeves and protective eyewear when tackling them. Bind the stalks with rope in a couple of places to make for easier clean-up. With a hedge trimmer, cut the grass back by a third. Now is also the time to divide your plantings. Use a sharp-edged shovel to portion off root sections to transplant.

Give Your Garden a Little TLC

Pruning and freshening up your landscape will get your garden back in shape. Take the opportunity to inspect your plants and determine the ones that need a little extra TLC or fertilizer. Spring clean-up is a daunting job. Never fear, soon your hard work will pay off and the garden you missed all winter long will be a reality.

Expert Advice

Not sure what tool to use for a tough gardening job? Whether it is hedge trimmers and weed eaters or tree pruners and wheelbarrows, our expert staff is ready to recommend the best tool for the job. If you still need help organizing your gardening to-do list, Tackle Spring Clean Up in Your Yard With this Handy Checklist gives helpful tips. As always, 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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Get Your Outdoor Furniture Ready for Summer Entertaining

Get Your Outdoor Furniture Ready for Summer EntertainingGetting your deck or patio ready for summer entertaining is a chore most people are looking forward to. If you stored your furniture and cushions over the winter, you are ahead of the game. If you didn’t, we have some simple tips to help get your outdoor furniture ready to go.

Energize Your Old Stuff

The first step is to clean and inspect your furniture. See what needs to be re-painted or repaired. Don’t toss your old furniture. Energize it with a splash of color or vibrant new fabrics on the cushions. You’d be surprised what a thorough cleaning and a fresh coat of paint can do!

5 Tips for Cleaning Your Outdoor Furniture

  1. Sweep or vacuum off dust and dirt – Covering your furniture while in storage will cut down on some cleaning but it does not eliminate it. Dust can build up. There may also be a few unwanted guests tucked inside.
  2. Give it a gentle cleaning – Don’t power wash them. The harsh spray can wear down any protective coating on the furniture or fabric.
  3. Avoid harsh cleaners – Start with mild dish soap and warm water. Some cushion fabrics are machine washable but use the gentle cycle. Never put them in the dryer.
  4. Fight mold – Sometimes mild soap alone will not remove stains. Use oxygen bleach and a soft scrub brush first. If you use chlorine bleach, test a small hidden section. Chlorine will kill the mold but it can break down your fabrics. Wear protective glasses and mask when working around mold.
  5. Dry in the sun – Allow your furniture to air dry completely. If you clean your umbrellas or hammocks, stretch them out to help retain their shape.

A Gentler Approach to Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

The material your outdoor furniture is made of will determine how you clean it. As tempting as it may be to power wash everything and be done with it, a gentler approach keeps your décor looking better longer.

How Do I Clean This? 

  • Wood: Use mild soap and a soft scrub brush to wash the dirt off. If the furniture is badly stained, try an oxygen bleach cleaner. You can also lightly sand it and clean with a wood brightener. After your furniture is completely dry, apply a clear sealant to protect the wood from UV rays, dirt and mildew. Do this every 1-3 years.
  • Metal: Most metals except aluminum rust. Catching it early is key. Clean with mild soap and water and allow to dry completely. Sand rust spots and touch up with paint. Apply a clear sealant when dry to protect from sun and moisture. A good coat of car wax helps repel dirt. Spray silicone lubricant on any hinges, joints or springs. Inspect your umbrella pole and stand for rust damage, too.
  • Fabric: Outdoor fabric resists moisture but it can get dirty and develop mold. Use a mild soap and let them air dry. Re-treat the cushion covers with fabric protector every year to keep them looking like new. Checked the foam inserts for mold. If badly soiled, freshen things up with new ones!

Did I Miss Something?

When getting your deck or patio ready, don’t focus only on your furniture. There are plenty of items that get overlooked and can use a good scrubbing. Here is a list of things to check out:

  • The grill – Even if you used it all winter, give it a clean start for the summer. Use a wire brush to scrub the grill and the inside elements.
  • Umbrellas – Remove the fabric and wash on the gentle cycle. Dry it outside. (Don’t fold them up wet! Mold will grow.) If the fabric gets wrinkled, iron on a low setting.
  • Storage bins – No one wants to pull a pool float out with spiders on it. Take everything out and vacuum the interior. Rinse down the pool floats, too.
  • Plastic deck chairs – Use mild soap and a scrub brush to clean them. For aging, discolored chairs, consider spray painting them in a bold new color.
  • Outdoor ceiling fans – If your outdoor dining area or porch has an overhead fan, wash the blades and oil the motor.

Save Money by Maintaining Your Outdoor Furniture

Why buy new tables and chairs every year? By taking the time to clean and inspect your outdoor furniture, you extend its life. Spend a weekend whipping your outdoor space into shape. Summer is right around the corner and you’ll be entertaining family and friends before you know it.

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and grinders to paint sprayers and pressure washers, our expert staff is ready to help you find the right tool to clean and repair your outdoor furniture. Planning ahead? Want to make sure you stow your outdoor furniture the right way at summer’s end? Check out our blog, Outdoor Entertaining Storage Made Easy in 8 Steps, for tips on the best way to pack things away. As always, 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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Planting Your Summer Garden – We Can’t Wait to Eat Our Veggies!

Planting Your Summer Garden – We Can’t Wait to Eat Our Veggies!Does the fluctuating Spring weather delay your completion of a vegetable or flower garden? If so, there is still plenty of time to add new plants you’ll can enjoy this Summer. We have a few suggestions on what to plant in your garden.

Know Your Zone, Indiana

Before you start your garden or supplement an existing one, know your plant hardiness zone. This will help you determine when to start planting and when to wrap things up. The frost-free growing season for Indiana is tentatively 163 days (April 27 – October 7).

The Plant Hardiness Zones for Indiana are:

  • Zone 5b – Upstate (Lafayette)
  • Zone 6a – Central (Indianapolis)
  • Zone 6b – South (Evansville)

Vegetables for All Seasons

Vegetables are either cool-season or warm-season plants. Cool-season plants have a growth cycle from early Spring to early Summer and then again in the Fall. Warm-season vegetables have only one cycle, from late Spring to late Summer. Generally, plants grown from seeds are started indoors and transplanted at the appropriate time. This gives them a strong start in the garden.

Spring Vegetables on the Way Out

Cool-season vegetables are wrapping up now. Asparagus, cabbage and spinach are beginning to fade as temperatures rise. Some cool-season varieties can carry over into Summer but they will eventually be affected by the heat. Radishes turn fibrous and develop a sharp taste when subjected to the sizzling summer sun.

Plant Warm-Season Vegetables Now

If you couldn’t start your seeds for warm-season vegetables in early Spring, buy established plants at your local garden shop. Many warm-season varieties take too long to mature to grow from seeds now. For example, watermelon takes three months to mature from seed to harvest. You wouldn’t be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor before the Fall.

10 Vegetables & Herbs to Start in Your Summer Garden

  • Basil and Oregano
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Okra
  • Peppers
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Honey, Have You Seen My Pruner?

Planting vegetables isn’t the only gardening activity this Summer. Flowers, shrubs and trees all demand our attention. Whether it is adding new plants to your landscape or remembering where you left your pruner, there is plenty to do. Here’s a quick rundown.

Summer Gardening To-Do List

  • Trim Spring flowering shrubs and trees – Once they stop blooming, cut them back.
  • Fertilize roses – Check for pests and diseases. Start fertilizing your roses throughout the Summer.
  • Attach supports to tall perennials – Keep leggy plants from toppling over with plant supports or stakes.
  • Pinch chrysanthemums – Trim the tips to keep them bushy.
  • Sow seeds – Plan to have ornamental kale and flowering cabbage in Fall.
  • Divide plants – Thin daffodil bulbs every three years. Divide irises, primroses and arabis.
  • Share cuttings – If you want to get rid of the plants you divide, share with friends and neighbors.
  • Add compost – Spread a layer over your beds and work into the soil.
  • Mulch – Add fresh mulch to supplement what you already have in your beds.
  • Set out birdfeeders – If you haven’t done this already, the birds are waiting!

Enjoy Your Garden This Summer

Spending time outdoors in your garden is one of the most relaxing activities you can do. It has been found to lower stress and improve physical health. Whether you grow vegetables in containers or in raised beds, treat every new plant or technique as a learning opportunity. The best thing you can do for your garden is to enjoy it.

Expert Advice

From tree pruners and Honda tillers to wheelbarrows and shovels, our expert staff can help you take care of your gardening needs. Are you more interested in herb gardening than vegetable gardening? Our blog, A Message to the Beginner of Herb Gardening, can get you started in the right direction. As always, 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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Give Your Yard a Greener Lawn

Give Your Yard a Greener LawnDo you love to mow grass? Do you take the appearance of weeds as a personal insult? Then you are suffering from Lawn Addictive Disorder (LAD). As a part of an ever-growing (but silent) community of lawn obsessed homeowners, you are chomping at the bit to fire up your lawn mower. We are here to help you manage these impulses and get ready for your favorite pastime. Forget baseball season, it’s mowing season!

Don’t Stress Over Your Grass

If you are a lifelong LAD sufferer, you spend a great deal of time stressing over the condition of your lawn. Grass doesn’t have to be a source of anxiety. If managed correctly, you will be cutting patterns across your lush sod soon enough.

Prepare for Mowing Season

  • Let the soil dry out – If your area receives a lot of rain and snow, let the soil dry completely before working it to avoid further compaction.
  • Test the soil – This helps determine the best fertilizer to add to soil. For more on the different supplements available, Get a Head Start on Spring Gardening with Fertilizer gives helpful suggestions.
  • Find the right time – Avoid rushing out to mow your grass right away. Allow it to grow to at least two inches before cutting it back by a third of the desired height.
  • Use a mulching mower – Adding grass clipping back to your lawn provides it with 25% of the nitrogen it needs. Don’t leave large clumps of clippings in your yard. It will kill the grass underneath and invite pests.
  • Sharpen mower blade – A dull blade will stress the grass and encourage disease.

Give Your Grass What It Needs – Nitrogen

Nitrogen helps grass build strong roots and lush leaves. Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in early Spring to encourage growth and then again later to help sustain it through the Summer heat. Water at least one or two days following an application to make sure it gets to the roots.

Practice Good Lawn Maintenance

If obtaining a beautiful-looking lawn is keeping you up at nights, stop stressing. Practice good lawn management and you, too, can have a gorgeous green yard. Here are a few things you should do yearly to keep your turf true to form:

  • Remove thatch – This layer of dead grass and weeds can choke the root system. Rent a dethatching machine to remove it and rake up the debris. If your grass shows signs of disease, don’t add the clippings to your compost pile to avoid spreading them.
  • Aerate or plug Aeration machines pull plugs of grass and soil up allowing air, moisture and fertilizer to get to the roots. This helps soil that has been compacted during Winter.
  • Evaluate your soil – What your grass is planted in matters. Enhance your soil’s health by feeding it a layer of compost after you aerate. Work the organic matter into the plug holes with the back of a rake or stiff broom.
  • Water regularly – Allow your grass to dry out (almost wilt) between each watering. It will encourage the roots to grow deeper and tolerate drought better. Give grass at least one inch of water weekly.

The Best Weed Control is a Healthy Lawn

Face it, weeds happen. The best defense is keeping your grass healthy. A strong root system crowds out weeds. This is the best time to tackle weed issues, before they take over. Different weeds require different products. Ask your garden center for advice. Some herbicides like Round-up will kill everything (grass, flowers, even pets) so be careful when using.

Tackle Those Pesky Weeds

  • Spot treatments – Apply herbicide to broadleaf weeds. Spray dead spots with a fungicide early before it spreads. Thatching will help prevent this.
  • Dial sprayer – When the weed problem is widespread, add a dial sprayer to your hose to administer the herbicide over a wide area. Protect flowers and shrubs with plastic when you apply.
  • Broadcast spreader – Prevent crabgrass by applying a granular weed killer early in the Spring.
  • Dig them out – Sometimes the old ways are best! Use a garden knife to dig dandelions and creeping buttercups up by the roots. 

Obsess Less and Enjoy Your Lawn More

Living with your lawn obsession is possible, if you practice good grass maintenance. Make it your objective to enjoy your yard, not stress over it. Set your sights on loftier goals like cutting the pattern of your favorite baseball team into your front lawn. Your homeowner’s association will love it!

Expert Advice

From rakes and Honda mowers to dethatchers and aerator/pluggers, our expert staff is ready to help you with your lawn obsession. Do you need to re-seed your grass but are not sure how? Our blog, 3 Options for How to Replant Grass in Your Yard, has helpful DIY tips on the best method for you. As always, 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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Springtime Fertilizer for a Hungry Lawn and Garden

Springtime Fertilizer for a Hungry Lawn and GardenIs your garden calling you? If so, it is probably saying “Feed me, feed me”. In Spring, when everything is coming back to life, feed your lawn and garden. Finding the right time is the tricky part. Apply fertilizers after the last frost but not too early. Spring rains cause nutrients to leech away into the soil before your plants can see any benefit. Wait until you see the green popping through!

Why Fertilize?

If you have supplemented your soil with compost and organic matter over the Fall, you are ahead of the game. If not, no worries. Test your soil’s Ph level to determine what nutrients are needed. Don’t guess, it is easy to over-fertilize when using commercial chemical products.

When Do I Fertilize?

Are you giving your garden a good start or are you trying to increase the number of blooms and fruit you produce? Giving your garden what it needs depends on what stage of growth it is in. Established plants need less attention.

The two approaches to fertilizing:

  • Long-term – To replenish nutrients to the soil throughout the year.
  • Short-term – To feed plants now to promote growth.

Give Your Lawn a Nitrogen Rich Supplement

If you are wanting your grass to put on a show for you this summer, make sure the soil is rich in nitrogen. Winter weather can compact your soil and strangle your grass. Aeration allows for better drainage, improved oxygen levels and easier absorption of fertilizers. If you are laying new sod, give the soil a good dose of organic matter first.

Fertilizers Can Be a Mixed Bag

Choosing the right fertilizer is a chore all by itself. There are so many to pick from at the garden center. A good rule of thumb – organic fertilizers won’t contaminate the ground water and are less likely to cause damage if overused.

Types of Fertilizers

  • Compost – Use an aged mix to avoid plant burn. Work it into the top six inches of soil.
  • Manure – Avoid using fresh manure. It gives off heat and ammonia as it breaks down that can harm tender plants.
  • Chemical fertilizers – Use the right NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) blend depending on your needs. Add before planting to allow it to dissipate into the soil and not burn the roots.
  • Organic fertilizers – Consider trying bio-stimulants like liquid seaweed or kelp that you can spray directly on plants or soil and use monthly.

Show Your Garden Some Love

Supplement your garden’s soil before planting with bone, blood or fish meal. These are good options beyond the usual compost and manure. Vegetables will also need a slow-release fertilizer throughout the growing season. Start adding it after your plants have established and re-apply it every few weeks. You can also plant green fertilizers like clover, which will deter weeds and enrich the soil when it dies back.

Your Garden Will Thank You

Help your garden and lawn get off to a great start with fertilizer. Like you, it is ready for Winter to be behind it. Feed your lawn and plants the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. Now, when you hear garden calling, it is probably saying thank you!

Expert Advice

From shovels and wheelbarrows to aerator/pluggers and Honda tillers, our expert staff is ready to help get your Spring yard projects started. Want more tips on growing the perfect lawn? Our blog, Planning for a Green Spring – Feed Your Lawn, will get you off to a great start. As always, 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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Gardening Season is Here! Time to Play in the Dirt

spring gardening checklistIf you are chomping at the bit to get outside and play in the dirt, your chance is almost here. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, our last Spring frost should be around April 18. After that, you should be good to go to get plants in the ground. Getting your Spring garden and yard checklist done means rolling up your sleeves and cleaning out those flower beds. Get busy, you have a lot to do!

Find Your Hardiness Zone

If you need reminding which hardiness zone you live in, you are not alone. Our state seems to be laid out like a jigsaw puzzle. Still, they say we are looking at 182 days of great gardening weather ahead, so bring it on!

Here are the hardiness zones for Indiana:

  • Zone 5B – Northern Indiana
  • Zone 6A – Central Indiana (and pockets of N. Indiana) including Indianapolis
  • Zone 6B – Southern Indiana

Top 10 Tasks for Your Spring Gardening Checklist

Get your Spring gardening checklist in order. Tackling some of the list now will give you more time to focus on planting new varieties once the last frost has passed. 

  1. Remove dead plants – If you didn’t do this during the Fall/early Winter, do it now.
  2. Test the soil – Harsh winters can deplete nutrients. Testing will let you know how to amend it before planting.
  3. Weeding and composting – Pull early weeds now before they take hold. Amend your soil with compost, manure or new top soil.
  4. Prune perennials – Many die back to the ground in the Winter. If you have dead growth stalks, don’t cut them until you see green at the base.
  5. Cut back ornamental grasses – Get rid of old growth.
  6. Roses – Inspect them for diseases and remove dead limbs.
  7. Trees and shrubs – Prune spring flowering plants after they have lost their blooms.
  8. Evergreens – Fertilize them with specially formulated food.
  9. Divide and transplant – Separate perennials to prevent overcrowding. Start a new bed or share the extra plants with friends.
  10. Mulching and edging – Give seedlings an opportunity to peek through before covering them up. Let the soil warm up and dry out slightly before adding mulch to avoid encouraging mildew. Edge your beds to keep grass at bay.

Outdoor To-do List Includes Repairs and Cleaning

Spring gardening projects are not limited to planting and mulching. Inspect your landscape for any basic repairs that are needed like dead tree removal or broken branches. Retaining walls may need shoring up or replacing. Bird feeders and chicken coops need cleaning. If you don’t have a compost bin, now is a great time to build one.

If you are as excited about the warm weather as we are, you won’t mind having a list of things to do. Are you ready to play in the dirt?

Expert Advice

Need a few more outdoor projects? This handy list, 11 Lawn and Gardening Tips for Spring, will round out your DIY to-do list. From Honda tillers and trimmers to edgers and wheelbarrows, we have what you need to tackle all of your Springtime gardening checklist. Let our expert staff help you find the right equipment for your DIY projects. As always, 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 Reap the Rewards of Backyard Farming

backyard farmingFamilies question where their food comes from and why it costs so much. To stay on budget, many turn to backyard farming, which helps stretch their dollars. Urban agriculture is a booming business and many first-time farmers are taking the challenge. If you have been considering starting a garden or raising some chickens or bees, we’re here to help.

5 Things to Know Before You Start Backyard Farming

  1. Know Local Laws – Communities may restrict the size and placement of gardens and what animals you can raise.
  2. Start Small – If you are new to growing vegetables or herbs, consider planting containers first. The next year, if you want more, do plots or raised beds.
  3. Talk to Your Neighbors – You may love chickens but your next-door neighbor may not appreciate your rooster’s wake up call. Consider sharing a portion of your yield.
  4. Do Your Homework – Raising chickens, bees or goats takes routine care. Research online to determine which breed to buy and how to build their shelters.
  5. Join a Co-op – Find a community garden club or organization to join. You’ll gain helpful information while making new friends.

Invite Some Chickens to Your Home to Roost

Many people think raising chickens is a complicated undertaking but far from it. If you love fresh eggs and how cute these feathery critters are, start building a roost. Designs range from the simplest wood and wire structures to elaborate two-story creations. It is entirely up to you.

When raising chickens, keep in mind:

  • Choosing the Right Breed –Do you want chickens for the eggs, to eat or both? There are many different breeds. Your climate makes a difference, too. Hearty breeds like Silkies that have lots of fur-like feathers are best suited for colder climates. Some breeds are aggressive so select ones that are compatible.
  • Daily Care Requirements – Chickens eat bugs, worms and seeds but they still need a balanced diet of high protein chicken feed. Fresh water is a must.
  • Protecting Your Flock – Build an attached wire enclosed run onto your coop for your birds to exercise. Never allow them to roam unsupervised. Even in urban areas, there are still plenty of predators (cats, coyotes and hawks) that can injure or kill your chickens.
  • Interacting with the Birds – Chickens are social animals and need interaction. They consider you part of their flock so get to know them.
  • Life Span of Chickens – Hens live from eight to 10 years and their egg production drops off after three to five years. Decide whether you want to keep them as pets, or (you know) ask them to dinner.

The Buzz About Bees

Despite their stinging reputation, bees can peacefully co-exist with animals like chickens. The birds instinctually don’t go near the entrance to the hive and bees appreciate having the chickens eat the pests that can destroy their hives.

Benefits of Adding Bees to Your Backyard Farm

  • Nutrition – One hive can produce 40 plus pounds of honey depending on the climate.
  • Pollination – Having bees in your garden boosts the volume of flowers and vegetables you produce.
  • Ecosystem – By increasing small local colonies of beehives, you help support the overall bee population. Our world depends on bees to pollinate food sources and keep them growing.
  • Commerce – Not only will you have ample honey to sell, you can harvest the beeswax to make candles.

Goats Get the Job Done

Another animal to consider is the goat. Turn these four-legged lawn mowers loose and no weed is safe. Corporate America is even on-board! Google uses them for “landscape management” at their headquarters in Mountain View, CA. Besides the lawn service, you will have an ample supply of goat’s milk for cheese or bath soap plus all the cuteness you can stand. Just check to see if your community allows them before falling in love.

Reap the Rewards of Backyard Farming

There are so many benefits to be gained from backyard farming. Providing healthier food for your family, improving the environment and experiencing the joy of tending to some amazing creatures are just a few. Take the challenge to become more self-sufficient and live a greener lifestyle. You’ll be happy you did.

Expert Advice

Ready to tackle this year’s vegetable garden? Our blog, Yard/Garden To-Do’s Part 2: Planting a Vegetable Garden, will help you decide what you need to get started. Whether it’s tillers and wheelbarrows or nail guns and circular saws, our helpful staff can help you choose the right tools for your next DIY gardening project. Don’t hesitate to contact us or stop by our store if you have questions about pricing or how to’s — we’re open seven days a week.

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Light ‘Em Up! – Your Outdoor Space Needs a New Grill

Light ‘Em Up! – Your Outdoor Space Needs a New GrillAdmit it. Like a runner on the starting blocks, you are waiting for grilling season to start! While some folks grill year-round, the majority of us hate standing out in the cold, waiting for steaks to finish. If you are considering kicking your outdoor kitchen up a notch or just buying a new cooker, now is the time to start planning.

Move That Idea Off the Back Burner

If you want to build an outdoor kitchen or redesign your deck area for better dining, work up your plans now. Decide what you want to do, how much professional help you might need, and your total budget. Once you decide, keep an eye out for pre-Spring sales.

Some things to consider for your outdoor cooking plans:

  • What type of grill or cooker to buy?
  • What fuel source (gas, charcoal, electric) do you want?
  • Do you need add-ons like burners (warming or cooking) or deep fryers?
  • What material do you want? Ceramic, steel, cast iron?
  • Does it need to be stationary or portable?

Choose a Grill for Every Cooking Style

  • Direct Heat – This is the typical charcoal or gas grill. The heat/flame is directed at the food, cooking it. It is prone to flare ups from grease dripping on flames.
  • Indirect Heat – Same concept as the direct heat grill but a ceramic device is placed between the heat source and food to prevent charring.
  • Ceramic – These insulated cookers (like Big Green Egg or Primo brands) are 400% more efficient at using charcoal, heat evenly and are safer than standard grills. They are also much more expensive compared to standard gas/charcoal grills.
  • Flat Top Griddle – A solid metal surface like most commercial kitchens allows you to cook a variety of foods. The downside? It does not grill the food.
  • Infrared Grills – Heats evenly with high temperatures. Cooking is not affected by wind or rain.
  • Electric – Portable units are quick and easy to use but should not be left outside.
  • Smokers – Primarily pellet fueled, they are good for low, slow cooking. Some do come with a wider range of cooking temperatures.

Find a Clean Source of Fuel

Before you buy another bag of the traditional charcoal, check out some eco-friendly fuel sources for your grill. Cheap charcoal emits cancer-causing toxins when burned that wind up on your food. Like you do with food, read the labels. Here is a rundown of some different materials to burn in your grill:

  • Natural Lump Charcoal – Contents should be hardwood material and any binders (to make the briquettes) should be free of glues and toxic chemicals.
  • Coconut Shell Charcoal – Chemical free, they use recycled waste shells as the main source. Burns just like traditional briquettes.
  • Propane and Natural Gas – A cleaner, more economical option but grilling purists say the taste is not the same.
  • Electricity – Unless you have ready access to an outdoor outlet, you will be running extension cords. Most are portable table-top grills that can be used indoors and outdoors.
  • Flame Disk – A disk made of ethanol biofuels that lights quickly. The ash produced can be recycled.

Design Around Your Family

If your family loves eating outdoors, create an area where you can relax. Consider hiring an outdoor design consultant to help with your plans. They can advise on the right materials and layout to use on your DIY project. Include modern conveniences like refrigerators and ice makers to make dining outside even easier.

Grilling Season is Almost Here!

Warm weather is fast approaching so get ready for grilling season! Whether your specialty is steaks and burgers or smoked turkeys, there are some incredible grill options available to you. You may have a hard time choosing, but no one says you have to buy just one!

Expert Advice

Need to re-design your outdoor dining area to accommodate a new grill? Our blog, Boost Outdoor Entertaining Potential with New Design Elements, has some great ideas on how to add pizzazz to your patio. Whether you need nail guns, ladders or pressure washers, our helpful staff can help you choose the right tools for your next home project. Don’t hesitate to contact us or stop by our store if you have questions about pricing or how to’s — we’re open seven days a week.

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Expert Tips: Size Doesn’t Matter with Gardening

Expert Tips: Size Doesn’t Matter with GardeningIf you live in an apartment or condo and are envious of your homeowner friends’ large gardens, it’s time to accept the gardening challenge. Whether you want to plant flowers or grow vegetables, no area is too small for Mother Nature to take hold. Don’t let your lack of outdoor space keep you from enjoying the popular hobby of gardening.

Bountiful Benefits Grow from Gardens

Gardening offers lots of benefits. Not only is it a great way to grow your own food and enjoy the outdoors, it is a gentle form of exercise. Many find weeding and watering their plants a way to relax and clear the mind. Even with limited space, you can create your own quiet retreat while making your garden grow.

Here are a few tips on getting started:

  • Find the best location – You need at least 3-4 hours of direct sunlight.
  • Know your zone – Where you live affects when you start planting.
  • Get approval – Some apartment complexes and condo HOAs may have restrictions.
  • Start small – You’ll be tempted to overindulge but start with a few plants first.
  • Prepare your beds or containers properly – Good soil starts things off right.
  • Space them out – Give your plants room to grow.
  • Study growing habits – Native plants are the easiest to grow.
  • Don’t overwater or over-fertilize – Not all plants need the same care.
  • Beware of invasive plants – If the ad says fast growing, beware. Do your research.
  • Not all bugs are bad – Don’t overuse insecticides. Bees and ladybugs are beneficial.
  • Weed, weed, weed – Make it a habit. They sap nutrients from your plants.

Look for Planting Potential

Your imagination is the only limitation you face when gardening in a small space. Try thinking outside of the planter to create your own special oasis. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Containers – Don’t limit yourself to flower pots. Anything that holds soil can be a planter including boots, buckets, tin cans, a child’s wagon or even a hat.
  • Window boxes – There are some that do not have to be permanently mounted. Ones that attach to deck railings can blow over in windy conditions.
  • Standing planters – If bending over is a problem for you, consider raised garden beds. They are easy to construct out of pressure treated lumber.
  • Vertical gardens – An old wooden pallet or window shutter attached to a wall provides lots of planting potential.

As Urban Living Expands So Will the Need for Gardening

Many experts have predicted that by the year 2030 nearly 50% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Adapting where our food sources originate and how we view our role in producing it is an issue facing our world today. Your little veggie garden isn’t as insignificant as you thought.

Veggies for Everyone!

If you have your heart set on planting a vegetable garden, start small. Ask your local garden shop which plants work well in containers. There are many tomato, lettuce, onion, kale and herb varieties that do well in compact spaces. If you share a balcony with a neighbor and you want to grow vines of beans, ask if they’d mind and then offer to share the harvest.

Reap the Benefits of Gardening

Gardening isn’t limited to those with large expanses of land. Growing flowers and vegetables in small plots or containers can be just as rewarding. Add some greenery to your life by starting a garden today. Join your local garden club or volunteer to work in a community garden. Let Mother Nature show you how to reap the benefits of planting a garden.

Expert Advice

From shovels and rakes to tillers and wheelbarrows, our expert staff is always on hand to assist gardeners with their next DIY project. If you are interested in growing herbs, check out our previous blog, A Message to the Beginner of Herb Gardening, to learn great tips on selecting and planting the right varieties in your garden. As always, 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 Credit: HGTV.com
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Plumbing Upgrades Can Save Water and Money

Plumbing Upgrades Save Money & WaterWith several states experiencing years of severe drought, most notably California, water conservation is fresh on the minds of homeowners and elected officials. In 2016, stiffer Federal regulations on the flow rate for residential water usage went into effect. To reduce your water usage and save money, consider making some quick DIY upgrades to your home’s plumbing.

Stop Running the Water

Before getting into what to fix first, think about the gallons of water flowing down the drain while you run the water as you brush your teeth, wash your hands or do the dishes. The average person in the U.S uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. Consider turning facets off while the tooth brush is working in your mouth or you’re lathering up your hands or scrubbing grease from pots and pans. We also lose 10 gallons of water a day to just to plumbing leaks.

What to Fix

  • Change out kitchen and bathroom faucets with newer, aerated models
  • replace older shower-heads
  • replace an older toilet with a new, low flow model
  • add a water displacement element to your old toilet’s tank
  • check the seals on your dishwasher for leaks

New Faucets are More Efficient

If your bathroom or kitchen faucets are looking old, why not replace them? Newer, more efficient models have built-in filters called aerators that reduce the flow rate. To add a separate aerator to an old fixture, unscrew the existing nozzle filter and screw in the new one. Many will come with new housing in case the old one is damaged when removing it.

New Shower-Heads for Even the Pickiest Bather

By simply changing your shower-head you can lower your water usage 25-60%. Older, low flow shower-heads have a flow rate of 5.5 GPM (gallons per minute). Today’s fixtures have a 2.5 GPM and provide a steady stream of water that will please even the pickiest bather.

2 Types of Shower-Heads:

  1. Laminar flow – emits individual streams of water
  2. Aerator – mixes air into the water stream for a softer spray

The Lowdown on Low Flow Toilets

Discussing low flow toilets used to be a dirty topic with homeowners due to the toilet’s lack of follow through. Today’s toilets aren’t your grandmother’s loo. They now use as little as 1.6 GPF (gallons per flush) compared to the old ones, which used 7 gallons.

4 Varieties of Toilets:

  1. Gravity assisted – based on the original design but are more efficient
  2. Pressure assisted – pressurized air in the tank forces water out through bowl
  3. Motor assisted – small 0.2 horsepower motor helps flush the system
  4. Dual-flush – 2 GPF selections; one low (0.8 GPF) and one high (1.6 GPF)

All these different toilets come in standard styles and require the same mounting materials as the old-fashioned ones, with one exception: motor assisted toilets require electrical power for the small motor.

Add a Water Displacement Element to Your Old Toilet

Not ready to replace your old toilet just yet? Consider adding a water displacement element to your tank. Before you go out and buy something, try putting a small half gallon plastic bottle filled with sand into the tank instead. The theory is to use less water in the tank but to keep enough for it to flush.

Save on Your Water Bill with Plumbing Upgrade

Sometimes, the littlest changes bring about the biggest results. You can save water around your home by upgrading your plumbing to more efficient fixtures. These quick, easy DIY projects will help cut your water bill and reduce your overall consumption. Happy flushing.

Expert Advice

From cordless flashlights and wet/dry vacuums to caulk cutting saws and right-angle wrenches, our expert staff is always on hand to help find the right equipment for your next DIY plumbing project. Need to know how to replace a faucet? Our blog, Two Quick and Easy In-Home Plumbing Repairs, has helpful tips that will make the installation a breeze. As always, 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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4 Steps to Renew an Aging Concrete Driveway

diy concrete driveway repairYou’ve been working really hard on your home’s curb appeal and there’s one thing that has you stumped – the driveway. Do you repair the cracks or bite the bullet and replace the whole driveway? It’s a quandary facing many homeowners today. Let’s look at your options.

Age Matters When It Comes to Concrete

A driveway puts up with a lot, from the weight of the family cars to harsh weather conditions. Unfortunately, age does matter when it comes to driveways. Concrete surfaces have a life span of 20-25 years before the materials just give out.

Take a Real Look at Your Driveway

Take a close look at the condition of your concrete. Cracks less than a quarter of an inch wide are usually signs of expansion and contraction due to weather. Cracks larger than a quarter inch may be due to tree roots or water erosion underneath. Potholes are normally a sign that the concrete is deteriorating to the point where it needs to be replaced.

What You Need to Repair Your Concrete Surfaces

  • Cement resurfacing mixture – A fast drying polymer based coating that covers cracks.
  • Long-handle squeegee – To apply resurfacing material and work into cracks.
  • Duct tape – Tape off expansion joints to avoid filling them in with resurfacing solution.
  • Chisel – To cut debris from cracks.
  • Wire brush – Helps dislodge broken concrete.
  • Concrete sealer – Fills and expands in small cracks.
  • Trowel – Works sealants into cracks and smooths surface.
  • Sand – To fill in deep cracks first before applying sealant.
  • Water sealer – Helps waterproof your concrete.

Power Wash Your Driveway

Once you determine the condition of the concrete, power wash your driveway. Use cleaners and scrub brushes to remove motor oil, dirt and stains. A clean surface allows sealants to adhere and fill in cracks fully. Let the concrete dry full before using sealants.

Repair Your Concrete Driveway in 4 Steps

Step 1 – Fill cracks and potholes. Use a trowel to compress concrete caulk or sealer into cracks.

Step 2 – Protect yourself. Many products have harsh chemicals and fumes, so wear gloves and a mask.

Step 3 – Let it cure. It may be 48 hours before you can park cars on it. Read your product instructions for recommendations.

Step 4 – Seal it. After your repairs have dried, protect your concrete with water sealant.

Renew by Resurfacing

Resurfacing is an economical way to renew your concrete at a fraction of the cost of replacing it. The liquid compound dries quickly (in about 30 minutes) so work fast with a squeegee to smooth it across the concrete. Tape off your expansion joints so they aren’t filled. For a non-skid surface, use an old broom to brush across the mixture, giving it texture.

So Many Choices

Resurfacing allows you to choose different finishes (glossy or dull), colors and patterns. Due to the quick drying time, test a small area until you get the look you want. This process is not a permanent fix and will need to be re-done every two to three years.

Improve Your Curb Appeal

If you are trying to sell your home, a cracked driveway is going to raise a red flag for buyers. Consider resurfacing prior to putting your house on the market. It is amazing what a fresh, new driveway can do for your curb appeal.

Keep Your Driveway Looking Good for Years

Replacing a driveway can be a big expense but thankfully one that you only have to do once every 20 years, give or take. Repairing cracks as you find them will help keep your drive looking good for years to come.

Expert Advice

From concrete mixers and trowel machines to pressure washers and grout pumps, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY home improvement project. Want more information on repairing a driveway? Our blog, The 7 Step Process to Restore Your Cracked and Eroded Driveways will help. As always, 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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A Message to the Beginner of Herb Gardening

Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington, USADear, Runyon Equipment Rental: Well, well, well! I am not a gardener! My husband has had a vegetable garden for years and does the flower garden for us. I want to try my hand with an herb garden. I stumbled across your website and liked what I saw. I have rosemary in the front of my house and mint on the side. You gave some great ideas on the fragrances and colors. Any suggestion that you can give to get this beginner started would be great! Thank you! – Darlene, Hatfield, PA

Dear, Darlene: First of all, since you are a beginner, I recommend you purchase herbs at Lowe’s and keep your receipt! If the plant dies, you are able to receive a new one as long as you bring in your receipt with the dead plant. This policy was a lifesaver when I first began growing my own herbs. Bonnie plants come in a pot that you can plant in the ground. I think they are the best to buy, but I always cut the plant out of the pot prior to planting.

Some do’s and don’ts:

  • Avoid planting mint or lemongrass in the ground since these plants are known to be invasive and will literally overtake your garden. Plant these in containers!
  • Sage is lovely and grows into a beautiful bush, after about 10 years, though it starts to get leggy. Oregano is another perennial that tends to grow large and will need to be trimmed. I have mine in my English Garden surrounding the bird bath.
  • I love lavender too. I love to cook and make my own herbes de provence which is great on pork and chicken. There are many varieties of lavender, which is in the mint family. If you are using for culinary, buy lavandula augustifolia. Use the purple flower for cooking. I plant rosemary and thyme around lavender since they contrast so nicely.
  • Chives, which are a cross between garlic and onion in taste, add beautiful contrast because of their long green stems. They flower pinkish purple on top. Make sure the stem is not used when adding this herb to food. The texture is tough, and it would be like chewing on a stick. Chives also tend to be spreaders, so I have mine cornered with the patio and paver blocks.

All the above come back year after year and grow with great scent and with vibrant color. All herbs need a lot of sunlight, so  ensure these are planted in areas that receive sufficient sun. I always plant around Mother’s Day, which is right around the corner! Some words of advice – make your hole twice the size of your pot, remove the plant from the pot gently, and rub around the bottom and the sides so the roots are loosened, and then plant in such a position that their little heads poke out of the ground. I use top soil to fill in the hole surrounding the plant.

herbsThe next herbs are annuals. Unfortunately, they wither away at the end of the summer into fall. I always buy dill, basil, and Italian parsley. For eating basil, you will want to pinch off the tops so they won’t flower and make the leaf bitter.  In the summer, you have to pinch daily.

When picking them, grab from the top since it encourages growth. Pick after the dew has dried. I use juice size glasses, filled with water and put them in the fridge in separate glasses. They last about a week or two as readily available ingredients to flavor your cooking.

When drying herbs for winter’s use, I grab my colander and cut what I want, rinse from the hose and rubber band the stems together and hang upside down.  It takes about a week for them to dry out, remove the leaves from the stem over wax paper and dryingherbsthrow into the coffee mill.  I use little box tins from Michael’s and give as gifts too.

Plant citronella and lavender near your patio or seating areas since they are a known mosquito repellent. Herbs are super easy to grow – just water in the morning with a watering can or pump and be sure to water the dirt, not the plant. Feel the dirt, and if it’s not moist – the plant needs water. You’ll want pots that have a hole in the bottom and water until a small stream comes through. When your herbs are in the ground, again, just water the dirt.

Hopefully, you will have a wonderful herb garden that makes you happy like mine does for me. The food tastes so much better with fresh herbs!

From aerators and lawn mowers to wheelbarrows and tillers , our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Looking for additional information on gardening? Check out our infographic on growing vegetables for more helpful tips. As always, 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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Light It Up – Add a DIY Bonfire to Your Backyard

fireThere is nothing better than a roaring fire on a cool spring evening. By adding a fire pit or heater you will extend the time you use your outdoor space for entertaining. Stop waiting for warmer weather! Building a fire pit is a simple, inexpensive project and one hot idea to add value to your home.

Let There Be Fire!

First, ask yourself a few questions about how you plan to use your fire pit or heater?

  • Do I want a heat source or ambience? – To heat a deck, a propane heater works well. If you want to roast marshmallows, nothing beats an open flame.
  • Do I want to burn wood or gas? – Consider the cost of logs and propane tanks when trying to decide. Electric heaters are also an option.
  • How much maintenance do I want? You will have to clean out ash and debris from a wood burning fire pit. Gas heaters will just need tanks replaced.

Watch Out for Flying Embersbonfire snacks

Got your heart set on an open flame fire pit? Constructing one is an easy weekend project. You can make yours as simple or elaborate as you wish.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Check local ordinances – Do they allow open fire pits in your area?
  • Locate your pit away from trees and buildings – Flying embers can ignite roofs and mulch.
  • Use fireproof materials – If you decide to use mortar make sure it is for use on fireplaces.
  • Scout out the desired location – Is it level and dry? Determine if wind direction will blow smoke back toward house. Too much wind will make it hard to keep your fire going.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy – A bucket of water will work too.
  • Keep the area around pit clear – If building the pit on bare ground, lay gravel around it and make sure there is no vegetation or roots to burn.

Easy to Build, Easy to Enjoy

Above ground fire pits are easy to build. First determine the materials you want to use (concrete pavers, fire bricks, stones). You can dry fit the blocks or use mortar. Consider buying a removable metal fire pit bowl for easy clean-ups of ash. Also a wire cover will help catch flying embers.

Steps for Building a Fire Pit:

  • Use the diameter of the wire cover to determine the outline of your pit.
  • Lay the first layer of blocks around the outside edge of the cover.
  • Remove the cover and continue building layers up to desired height – Stagger blocks.
  • Use a level as you go.
  • Install a fire pit bowl – It can lift out and make clean-ups easier.
  • Install grate – To allow air to get to the logs.
  • Place your logs inside, light, and enjoy

Fire Bowls – Keep it Moving

Want something a little less permanent? Portable fire bowls are an inexpensive way to dress up your patio and can be moved into storage over the winter months. Be sure to cover them when not in use to help prevent rust.

Relax with a Blazing Fire

Watching a blazing fire under the stars is a great way to relax. Don’t let the crisp evenings of spring and fall keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. Move the party outside with a new fire pit, fire bowl or heater. Now it’s time to add another log to the fire and get ready for the S’mores. As the caveman once said – “Fire good!”.

Expert Advice

From shovels and wheelbarrows to tampers and concrete mixers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Want more information on how to build your own fire pit? Check out our previous blog “How to Make a Concrete Fire Pit or Fire Bowl in 5 Easy Steps” for more helpful tips. As always, 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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, How-To's, Renovate, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

From Trash to Treasure – Making a Bucket Table with Storage

What do you do if you need a patio table and it’s just not in the budget to buy one? No problem for a DIY-er like yourself: make one! Repurpose an old metal wash tub into a fabulous outdoor coffee table. We’ll show you how.

Build the Perfect Patio Table

If you don’t have an old metal tub laying around, you can find them at farm supply stores and hardware stores. Round or oblong, these tubs are usually low enough to make the perfect table or even a foot stool. Smaller buckets make great side tables or ottomans.

What You’ll Needdiy-patio-coffee-table-from-a-bucket.jpg

  • 1/2 – 3/4-inch plywood
  • 2 x 6 inch boards
  • Drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Sander
  • Liquid nails glue
  • Outdoor silicone caulk
  • Stain and polyurethane protectant

Need Extra Storage? This Table Has It

Decide how large you want the table top to be. A good size is three inches wider than the diameter of the bucket. The inside of the tub makes great storage space, so consider whether you want to permanently attach the table top to the bucket or build it so you can lift it off for easy access.

diy-metal-bucket-patio-table.jpg

Make a Bucket Storage Table in 9 Steps

  • Trace the outside diameter of bucket onto the plywood – Mark 3-inches outside of that line for where you will cut.
  • (Optional) Make the top a lid – Draw a second circle and cut 1-inch inside the diameter of the circle.
  • Cut the circles with the jigsaw.
  • Glue the smaller circle onto the larger one – The smaller one will fit inside the bucket and hold the lid in place.
  • Add liquid nails glue to the larger circle – Add the boards to plywood. Allow 24 hours to dry.
  • Cut the boards in the shape of the larger circle.
  • (Optional) Screw the boards to the larger circle – This will keep them from shifting if glue fails.
  • Sand the top and edges of the table top.
  • Stain or paint and coat with a polyurethane protectant.

Keep Your Table from Blowing Around

If you don’t want to use the inside for storage, consider adding sand or a concrete block to give the table weight so it won’t blow around. You can permanently add the table top onto the bucket by flipping the bucket over and applying liquid nails to the edge. Place the plywood on top and allow to dry. Caulk between the plywood and the bucket to protect against moisture.

Extra Seating Optionsbuckset seats

Create an ottoman with a smaller bucket. Glue 2-inch foam padding to a small plywood circle and cover with outdoor fabric. Keep the fabric taunt and staple it on the underside. The covered circle fits inside the opening of the bucket. If you want the ottoman as additional seating, then be sure to place a concrete block inside the bucket to support the covered seat.

Save Money with Repurposed Furniture

Repurposing old items into useful patio furniture is a fun weekend project. It is a great way to save money, while unleashing your inner creative side. So next time the wind blows your patio furniture off the deck, leaving it in tatters, don’t sweat it. Just laugh and head to the garage, surely you have a few extra buckets laying around. Take that wind!

Expert Advice

From jigsaws and drills to sanders and staplers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Want to create more repurposed outdoor furniture? Check out our blog on building a DIY Outdoor Couch to Enjoy All Summer Long. As always, 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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We’ve Got the 4-1-1 on the War Against Weeds

dandelionsStop Weeds Before They Start

It’s springtime and those pesky weeds have been lying dormant all winter just waiting to burst forth. Never fear, we have the 4-1-1 on how to cut them off at the start; saving you time and money. Effective weed control is easier than you think.

Weed Worries Got You Down?

Weeds are sneaky little buggers. They sleep all winter long and pop their heads above ground at the first sign of warm weather. Weed seeds are in virtually everything from potting soil to grass seed. In fact, the more you disturb the soil the more seeds you are exposing to moisture and sunlight needed for germination. So what are you to do?

Efficiently controlling weed growth is possible when you follow these 8 simple rules:

  • Minimize disturbing the soil – When maintaining your garden avoid digging or hoeing below the top 1-2 inches of dirt to limit the amount of seeds exposed. When planting be sure to cover the freshly turned soil with thick layer of mulch.
  • Mulch – Keep the seeds in the dark! Cover areas around plants with at least 2 inches of mulch. Organic mulches contain weed eating crickets and beetles that devour seeds.
  • Make weeding easy – The old saying “pull when wet, hoe when dry” still applies. Pulling weeds in the early morning when the ground is damp will make the job go faster.
  • Deadhead – This practice isn’t just for flowering plants. By pulling the tops off weeds you are eliminating the seed pods that could drop and germinate.
  • Limit gaps between plantings – Too much space encourages weeds to grow. Consider mass plantings or tightly spaced beds to leave no room for weeds to appear.
  • Keep your tools sharp – Dull hoes can spread weed seeds instead of eliminating them. You want to slice through the weed’s root to kill it.
  • Water plants, not weeds – Burying your soaker hose beneath mulch can reduce seed germination by 50 -70 percent because your plant is building strong roots and crowding out the weeds.
  • Maintain a healthy soil – Fresh infusions of organic matter or compost into the soil will help keep it healthy and keep seeds from sprouting.

Weeds are Everywhere!

Isn’t it amazing just how invasive weeds can be? These annoying sprouts are everywhere. They even find their way up through the cracks in driveways, walks and patios. Yes, you can walk around repeatedly spraying them with a toxic weed killer or try one of these simple methods:

  • Self-leveling sealant – Fill cracks in concrete with this expanding filler to block weeds. Sealing cracks will extend the life of your surface.weeds.jpg
  • White vinegar, salt and dish soap – Combine these with water and spray it on weeds shooting up through cracks. It will cause them to wilt.
  • Salt – Spread left-over rock salt on weeds and watch them dry up. Avoid runoff into your grass and garden because salt will totally kill vegetation.
  • Polymeric sand – Used to fill between bricks and pavers, you can also use this to fill concrete cracks. It has a cement-like quality once wet so work it into the cracks and sweep excess away.
  • Burn weeds away – Use a propane powered weed scorcher or handheld blow torch to run the flame over the weeds to shrivel them up. You are not setting them on fire but depriving them of moisture. Be careful in drought stricken areas.

Stop and Smell the Roses for a Change

Weeds are a fact of life but they don’t have to ruin your gardening experience. By taking these simple steps you will cut your weeding workload down to a manageable level and finally have more time to actually stop and smell the roses. pinkroses.jpg

Expert Advice

From wheelbarrows and shovels to weed eaters and bark blowers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY landscape project. Learn how to improve your garden and flowers with organic compost in our previous blog “10 Good Sense Tips for Building a Compost Bin”. As always, 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.

 

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bring New Life to Your Garden with a Chandelier Bird feeder

chandelier bird feederff

Bring New Life to Your Garden with a Chandelier Bird feeder

Ever wondered what to do with an outdated old chandelier? Renovations often leave us with items we have no clue what to do with. Do you donate them or throw them away? Many times they lay forgotten and unused in the attic, just waiting on a second chance. Give your old chandelier a new lease on life by turning it into an elegant bird feeder.

Add Whimsy and Fun to Your Garden with Yard Art

Yard art can add interest and fill in blank areas of your garden where plants have a tough time growing. Repurposed items like chandeliers add a sense of whimsy and fun to formal gardens and are great conversation pieces.

Express Your Artistic Side

This DIY project is quick, easy and gives you an opportunity to express your artistic side. Here is what you’ll need:chandelier bird feeder

  • An old chandelier
  • Saucers, bowls or cups (one for each arm)
  • Outdoor spray paint
  • Wire cutters
  • Plyers
  • Waterproof glue
  • Plumber’s epoxy putty
  • Ladder
  • “S” hook and chain for hanging

A Stripped Down Chandelier Finds New Life

Start by taking the electrical elements out of the chandelier. Remove the light fixtures and wires.

Next apply waterproof glue to the bottom of a bowl and place one on each arm. Allow the glue to dry overnight before attempting to paint.

Branch Out with Your Paint Choices

Break out of your comfort zone and use bright, fun paint colors (the birds won’t mind). Hang the chandelier from a low tree branch so you can easily cover all sides at once. If you prefer, paint one side, allow time to dry and then flip it over to paint the other side. Paint hides imperfections like excess glue or rough spots. Once dry it is ready to hang from your favorite tree with the “S” hook and chain.

Bling Out Your Birdfeeder

You don’t have to hang your bird feeder from a tree, instead mount it on a painted wooden spindle to create a candelabra feeder or place it on a fence post. Add some “bling” to your chandelier by hanging colored crystals from the arms. Mismatched forks and spoons can act as wind chimes. Set your imagination free and decorate your feeder to reflect your personality.

Re-inventing Old Items is Addicting

Repurposing old items is addicting. Don’t stop with just your birdfeeder. A chandelier can also make a beautiful planter. Substitute terra cotta pots for the bowls and you are ready for planting.

Some other easy DIY garden art projects:

  • Old lamp bases with china platters added on top make unique bird baths.
  • Wheelbarrows make great planters or bird baths.
  • An old sink or bath tub can make convenient raised garden beds.
  • Add bird houses to your chandelier instead of seed bowls.

Turn Trash to Garden Treasures

Reusing old items keeps them out of our landfills and gives you an inexpensive way to add color and creativity to your garden. Get busy and convert some of your would-be trash into outdoor treasures. Your guests will be impressed by the clever, artistic touches in your yard.

Expert Advice

From drills and saws to ladders and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next garden DIY project. Want to make your garden an inviting habitat for wildlife? Find inspiration and helpful tips in our previous blog, “How to Attract Birds and Butterflies for a Livelier Yard”. As always, 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.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Renovate, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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