Posts Tagged With: DIY

Use Your Home as a Canvas to Express Yourself

Ways to Personalize Your HomeIf your home is your castle, shouldn’t it look like yours? When working on home improvement projects, put your personality into the equation. Getting inspired by DIY designers is fine, but in the end, your domain should be a reflection of your tastes. Time to get creative and express yourself!

Reveal Your Personality

Personalizing doesn’t mean putting your monogram on everything. It is a way of communicating your style and interests through design. From the paint colors you choose to the flowers you plant, a home is simply a blank canvas on which to reveal your personality.

5 Ways to Personalize Your Home

Little personal touches inside and out are the best way to make a big statement. Here are just five quick and easy DIY projects to help you do just that.

  1. Display Your Interests: From family photos and vacation souvenirs to hobbies and sports memorabilia, use these items in different and unusual ways. Add them to furniture with upcycling or exhibit them in unexpected places like a garden bench or a flower pot.
  2. Show Your True Colors: Add your favorite shades throughout the house – on pillows, as accent walls or on the front door.
  3. Be Inventive: Why just put up wallpaper when you can stencil a design on your wall. If you love English manor décor a la Downton Abbey, add crown molding and ornamental flourishes to your ceiling for that Victorian feel.
  4. Stage Scenes: Just the way a set designer stages scenery for a movie or a play, you can do the same with your home. Whether it is painting the front door or using colorful plants as accents, create a look for your entrance that gives a warm and inviting feeling.
  5. Re-use, Re-Invent & Re-organize: While personalizing your home, don’t forget to re-purpose old furniture, re-use items and organize spaces in new or more efficient ways. If your family drops everything on their way into the house, look for ways to create a place for coats, book bags and muddy shoes right inside the front door.

Where Do You Start?

No need to feel overwhelmed; consider personalizing your space a work in progress. Start with one area and then move to the next. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Paint Your Front Door: Make a great first impression (and express your style) by reinvigorating the front of your house. Our blog, 10 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal Now, has other ways to make your residence stand out.
  • Landscape: Create a peaceful oasis for you and your family to enjoy. Want to add a water feature to your garden? Read How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps.
  • Decorate with Color: Start small. Try adding an accent wall in your living room or dining room. Learn how to achieve the look you want here: Paint Like a Pro – Tips for Painting Your Ceilings and Walls.
  • Stencil Artwork and Peel n’ Stick Graphics: These are great alternatives to having paintings or photographs on a wall. Experiment and combine some of each for a one-of-a-kind display.
  • Personalize Your Home Address: Create a display for your house numbers that reflects your favorite pastime like fishing or skiing. Put your wood working skills to the test and customize one just for your house.

Let Your DIY Projects Reflect You

Don’t worry about whether your home looks like those on your favorite home improvement shows or some fancy website. Home is where your heart is, so let your DIY projects reflect what you are passionate about. It’s time to let “you” shine through.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to pressure washers and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home decorating project. As always, if you have any questions about 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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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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Renovate, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Decked Out for Entertaining with a New Deck!

Get Decked Out for Entertaining with a New DeckDetatched

 Do you never have enough room to entertain family and friends? Consider adding a new deck. Having the extra space to cook out or enjoy a quiet summer evening is one reason why building a deck is such a popular DIY project. It adds to the beauty of your home and increases the overall value of your property.

Deck Materials – Maintenance Free versus Natural Beauty

With so many materials to choose from, the decision really comes down to what is important to you – maintenance free, natural beauty, or cost? Budget and personal preference are what usually determines the materials used. Do your research though. Some wood materials are beautiful but dense and difficult to drill. You will need special equipment.

Here are five of the most commonly used decking materials:

  • Pressured treated lumber – The most popular, this material is inexpensive, pest resistant, and easy to install. It can split and crack if not treated every 1-2 years. Yearly power washing is recommended.
  • Redwood and cedar – More expensive than pressure treated lumber, they resist decay and pests. To keep their natural color, a preservative will need to be applied every 2-3 years. Left untreated, the wood turns a soft shade of gray.
  • Tropical woods – These exotic materials (massaranduba, ipe, and tigerwood) are durable and beautiful but pricey. They are dense hardwoods which makes them difficult to cut and drill so special installation is required. They also do not accept stains well.
  • Composite – This material is made from wood fibers and recycled plastics. Though more expensive than pressure treated lumber, it comes in a variety of colors, is weather and stain resistant, and very low maintenance. Prone to mold and mildew, a yearly power wash is a must.
  • Plastic – Since it contains no wood, this material is virtually maintenance free. It does not have the look of real wood but it also doesn’t have the upkeep.

Who Says a Deck Has to be Square?

Think outside the box, don’t limit your design. No one said you had to build a square deck. Opt for a multi-leveled deck that flow out from your home and into your garden. Consider wrapping the deck around your house to allow other rooms to open out onto your new space.

Plan Wisely and Keep Your Guests Safe

Whatever your design, remember to check local building codes. Depending on the size of your deck, you may need to apply for a building permit. If you plan to entertain a large number of people on your deck, invest in additional supports and make sure the substructure can handle the excess weight. Keep your guests safe.

Don’t Skimp on Materials That Matter

Will your deck be attached to the house or freestanding? To build the safest, most durable structure possible, avoid the temptation to skimp on fasteners, nails or screws. Buy a high quality, non-corrosive material like stainless steel. Inferior screws and nails will corrode, discolor and shorten the life of your deck.

Things to remember when building your deck:

  • Wood materials have imperfections – Sort through your lumber, choosing the best boards for highly visible areas. Keep pieces with defects for out of the way sections.
  • Create a solid base for your deck – Set your foundation posts in concrete and allow them to set before continuing your construction.
  • Make sure your deck is level – If attaching a deck to your house, make sure the ledger or board you secure to the outside wall is securely fastened and level.
  • Space your boards – Lay boards 1/8” apart to allow for expansion and contraction.
  • Protect it – Applying a weather-proofing finish will guard your wood against the elements and keep it looking great.

Company’s Coming – Time to Get Decked Out

Once you have your deck completed, go wild and decorate! Don’t be afraid of adding color. Deck stains now come in a wide assortment of colors. Add a pergola for some additional shade, install outdoor speakers or hang flower boxes from the railings. The sky is the limit so get out there and fire up that grill. Your company is coming.

deck

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to augers and concrete mixers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY building project. A new deck needs some pizzazz! Learn how to add decorative outdoor lighting in our previous blog “Outdoor Refreshers – Install Decorative Outdoor Lighting”. 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.

glossy deck

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

 

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[INFOGRAPHIC] Guide to Growing a Vegetable and Fruit Garden in Indiana

Finally, the long-awaited spring season is here, along with its warmer weather, sunshine, and rainy days! With that said, now is the time to start designing and planning for the garden of your dreams. Liven up your outdoor space by creating a garden of beautiful, fragranced flowers. Or perhaps you would like to take that extra step toward self-sufficiency this year and home-grow your produce. Well, if so, you are in luck! We have put together an easy-to-follow beginner’s guide for growing a productive vegetable and fruit garden, and best of all, we have tailored it for the Indiana harvesters. Enjoy local, healthier, home-grown food straight from your backyard by following this simple guide! Please remember that we have a variety of gardening tools for rent and purchase here to help you accomplish any gardening task headed your way– from aerators and lawn mowers to wheelbarrows and tillers – we got you covered!

Infographic_complete

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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

Easy Ideas to Use Stepping Stones in the Garden

Amazing-garden-designAre you excited about Spring? We sure are! Like you, we can’t wait to start working on our gardens. Time to get a game plan together and decide which DIY project to start on first.

Why not create a captivating garden path using stepping stones? Simply trail them throughout your landscape and lead visitors on a magical tour.

Secret Gardens, Hidden Treasures

Garden paths are used to draw interest to out-of-the-way sections of a landscape or to highlight features like ponds, trellises, or gazebos. The style of your home and grounds should dictate the location type of path to create – formal or informal.

Keep a few things in mind when installing a new path:

  • Use – Heavy foot traffic will need sturdy materials like stone that won’t break easily.
  • Cost – Come up with a budget and then shop for materials. A lengthy path will require a lot of materials.
  • Shape – Consider curving paths as well as straight-lined walkways, which can reveal your garden as you walk.
  • Mix it up – Combine materials (pavers/concrete or stones/mulch) to add interest. Create contrasting borders or patterns.
  • Sun or Shade – Dark stones absorb heat, which could make them too hot for bare feet. Smooth stones often remain slippery if in damp areas. Lighter colors and textures are neutral and may be your best option.
  • Hard work – Moving pavers, gravel, or stones around is exhausting so recruit volunteers to help or spread the job out of time.

Choosing Materials

Once you’ve decided where you want your path, pick your materials. For formal paths, many choose brick pavers or flagstone. Informal trails will give you more options, from gravel and stepping stones to turf, decomposed granite, or mulch. With budget in mind, make your selection and set your creativity free.

Peaceful Retreat for Guests

Give visitors a secluded niche along your path where they can relax and unwind. Install a decorative garden fence, gazebo, or bench, creating a peaceful retreat. Fragrant flowers planted along the path will add to their enjoyment. Don’t forget to hang some twinkling lights for those moonlit strolls.

Stepping Stones in the Garden

A great way to create a meandering trail through your flower beds is with stepping stones. An informal design works with a wide variety of materials. No matter what type of stones you choose or filler you opt for, the process is generally the same:

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  • Boundaries – Determine the width and length of your path and mark it off.
  • Clear– Remove all grass and debris. Put down landscape material.
  • Level – Put down a layer of sand and level it out.
  • Position – Decide if you want the stones in a random placement or a checkerboard pattern.
  • Press – Stones should be pushed into the sand and leveled.
  • Fill – Add gravel, mulch, or planting soil to grow ground covers like Scotch moss.

Discover the Wonders of Nature

Your wonderful landscape reflects all your hard work and love of gardening. Help others enjoy the fruits of your labor by tying it all together with a relaxing stepping stone path. Lead them on a relaxing journey around your property to discover the wonders Nature has to offer. You’ll surely have a number of repeat guests.

Expert Advice

From wheelbarrows and shovels to saws and drills, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY landscape project. Now that you have your garden path planned out, are you ready for Spring planting? Our blog, Get Started on Your Spring Gardening To-do List, may have the ideas you need. 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, Gardening and Lawn Care, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

6 Easy Steps for Installing a Hammock

hammock

Dreaming of tropical vacations? Those lazy warm weather days don’t have to be a figment of your imagination any longer. Install a hammock in your backyard and get ready to relax.

Tropical Splendor in Your Own Backyard

Custom hammocks like the ones made at Pawleys Island Hammock Shop on Pawleys Island, South Carolina conjure images of white sandy beaches and fruity drinks sporting umbrellas. Capture the feel of the tropics right in your own backyard by installing one of these lazy day body slings. No matter which hammock you choose, it’s a simple weekend project with big benefits.

Hammocks Like Peace and Quiet

If you don’t have two trees close enough to hang a hammock, then you will need to install a couple of support posts. To help select a good spot, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What type soil do I have? – The firmer the better to properly install the posts. (You don’t want the leaning tower of Pisa experience when you get in the hammock)
  • How deep of a hole can I dig? – If the ground is full of tree roots or rocks, you might collapse from exhaustion before you dig deep enough to properly plant the posts. Or, you’ll need special equipment.
  • Do I really need that shade? – Some trees drop lots of leaves so you may not want your spot directly under a tree.
  • Where is the most relaxing location? – Avoid the tendency to put the hammock next to a pool or other gathering spots. Look for a secluded area.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, here is what you will need:

  • (2) pressure treated 4×4 posts
  • Shovel
  • Post hole digger or an auger attachment
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Screw driver
  • Bag of quick set concrete
  • Gravel

Place Post Holes Properly

Measure the hammock lying flat from ring to ring, then add an additional 24 inches. This will tell you how far apart to position the posts. Dig the holes 8-12 inches in diameter and at least 24 inches deep (30 inches if your soil is sandy or loose).

Hammock Hardware First

Putting the hardware on first before planting the posts in the ground is much easier. Decide how high off the ground you’d like your hammock. Installation instructions should have precise measurements on where to place the hardware. Measuring down from the top of the posts, drill holes and install the hook screws by hand (tighten with a screw driver inserted through the eye to give a better grip).

Now you are ready to install the posts:

  1. Pour 6 inches of gravel in the bottom of each hole.
  2. Mix up your bag of quick set concrete.
  3. Place a post in each hole with hardware facing the opposite pole.
  4. Use a level to make sure the posts are plumb.
  5. Pour the concrete around each post and allow 24 hours to dry.
  6. Attach the hammock to hook screws.

A New Hammock Adds to the Perfect Backyard Oasis

Warmer weather is almost here, and now you are ready for it. Clip in your hammock, close your eyes, picture a peaceful island oasis, and let the rocking lull you to sleep. Sometimes the simplest breaks are the best vacations. Yard work can wait another day!

Expert Advice

From augers and shovels to concrete mixers and drills, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY backyard project. Want to create an even more elaborate backyard retreat? Find your Zen by adding a soothing water feature. Our blog, How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps may inspire 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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Reorganize Your Home Office and Make Tax Time a Breeze

Every year at tax time you promise to be better organized. We’re here to help you make that resolution a reality. Getting ready for the tax deadline (April 18 this year) isn’t about rounding up receipts and files. It’s about embracing a different way to approach the piles of paperwork we all have. Creating a well-organized home office is the first step in eliminating the clutter from our lives.office area

Think about how your office or work space is laid out. Do you have enough room to work on your desk? Can you easily find documents and files? Decluttering your office is the best way to get organized. Purge your papers by dividing them into three categories:

Shred, File or Review

  • Items to Shred – Junk mail or papers containing personal info.
  • Items to File – Papers to keep for taxes or that relate to your house or car.
  • Items to Review – Papers that need a response like bills to be paid.

Establish Work Zones

Once you get your papers under control, think about how you use your office. Often the layout can promote clutter build-up as soon as it is cleared. Establish work zones – desk, files, supplies, and electronics. Give items a specific place where they are kept.

Improve Your Work Flow with DIY Projects

Being the handy DIYer that you are, here are a few ideas that might improve your work flow and free up space:

  • Clear your desk – Keep only what you use regularly on it.
  • Box it up – Storage boxes and stackable trays keep supplies and files out of sight until needed.
  • Build shelves – Organize materials up and away from desk with containers that are clearly labeled.
  • Think peg board – Mount it on the wall to hold pockets and containers for supplies and papers.
  • Invest in a label maker – Keep files and bins clearly marked for easy retrieval.
  • Use a fold down desk – If your office is in an open area, a fold down desk will allow you to shut it away from sight.
  • Closet it away – Convert a small closet into a supply/ storage area. Hide printers and other electronics in there.
  • Build a mail center – Stop clutter as soon as it arrives. Hang files as you enter the room to sort mail into. Place a trash can, shredder, and recycle bin close by. Go through each hanging file weekly.
  • Paint – Brightly colored walls energize an office and help stimulate your creative juices. Coordinate your filing cabinets with a new fun color.

Go Green with Electronic Bill Pay and Storage

Think about revising your filing system. By going green and keeping copies of your bills and important papers electronically, you eliminate the hassle of filing papers. You will still need to back up your computer files monthly, to a separate hard drive for security or possibly to a cloud storage.

Designate a Tax Area in Your Office

Get in the habit of putting all tax papers in an ongoing file bin as they come in. You will only have to sort through them when you are ready to begin tax preparation. Designate an area in your office for tax file storage, either in its own filing drawer or a hanging file box.

No Stress Tax Time

Say goodbye to those endless searches for lost tax forms! A fully functioning office saves you time and money. Reorganizing your home office will keep you prepared for tax time and make April another glorious spring month on the calendar.

Expert Advice

From drills and circular saws to nail guns and belt sanders, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to reorganize and redesign your home office. Want to build some unique shelves for your office? Here is a project from our blog, How to Make a DIY Wood Palette Shelf in 5 Easy Steps,that you may want to try. 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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Invigorate Your Kitchen for Less – Creative Remodeling Project Idea #1

Remodeling Project #1 - Update Your CountertopsOne of the most popular remodeling projects is renovating the kitchen, a project that can also easily become the most expensive. Forbes magazine lists the average kitchen makeover budget at close to $54,000. Wow, good thing we’re into home DIY projects! Let’s look at ways to invigorate your kitchen for less.

Create a Remodeling Plan

Think about why you are remodeling. Are you updating the kitchen to resell your home? Or are you looking for a change? Answering these questions can help you establish a realistic plan and avoid the expensive pitfalls of kitchen renovations. Determine which projects you want to do yourself and which ones you want to leave to the professionals.

Decide What You Want Done the Most

If you just want to freshen up the look of the most popular room in the house, what in your kitchen stays – the cabinets, the countertops or the appliances? If you want all new stainless steel appliances, then start your budget there and build on that. Decide what you want done the most and what you can exclude.

Popular Materials for Countertops

Determined to have granite installed in your kitchen? Expect to spend 10-15% of your overall kitchen remodel budget just on the countertops. Granite, marble and engineered stones are popular. They do come at a price.

  • Granite – Scratch and heat resistant; can stain if not sealed properly
  • Marble – Carrara is popular, can stain and scratch
  • Soapstone – Bacteria, acid and stain resistant; can chip on edges
  • Natural and Engineered Quartz (Silestone, CaesarStone) – Heat and stain resistant
  • Wood – Popular with many chefs; inexpensive
  • Glass – Recycled or mosaic; can chip and show scratches
  • Concrete – Can be tinted and textured for aesthetics
  • Laminate – Inexpensive; wide range of colors available
  • Solid Surfaces (Corian, Wilsonart, Avonart) – Stain and bacteria resistant; not heat tolerant.
  • Stainless Steel – Durable; heat resistant and easy to clean

Money-Saving Countertop Ideas

Save money by getting creative with your countertops. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Paint laminate surfaces – Be sure to cover your paint choice with several protective coatings of polyurethane (matte or high gloss finish).
  • Tile – Mix it up. Select different types of tile for the countertop and the backsplash.
  • Wood – Re-purpose old wood doors. Use old countertops as a template to cut out the wood. Sand, stain and coat them with polyurethane.
  • Concrete – Apply it right over your old surfaces or buy it in slabs built to your exact measurements.
  • Stainless Steel – To get a seamless countertop, order materials cut to specific measurements.

Many of these countertop options require 24 hrs. drying time between coats, so be patient. Good things come to those who wait (and do it themselves).

Dream Kitchens for Less

You can have the dream kitchen you want by rolling up your sleeves and creatively re-inventing an old space. By saving money and redoing the countertops yourself, you can use the extra cash to buy new appliances or redo the cabinets and floors. Even grilled cheese sandwiches will taste better made in your newly remodeled kitchen! As Emeril Lagasse says, “Bam!” – what a kitchen.

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and drills to concrete mixers and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for kitchen remodels and more. Learn more tips from our blog, Install a Tile Backsplash in Your Kitchen for a Fresh New Look. 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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Winterize Your Pool and Sprinkler System in 10 Steps

winterize your pool and sprinkler systemWith the weather getting cooler, the first fall frost won’t be far behind. Your lawn is slowing its growth and your pool is likely doing nothing but collecting leaves. Winterizing your pool and sprinkler system should be at the top of your to-do list.

1. Drain Irrigation Lines

Shutting off the water to your sprinkler system is the first step. Your main shut-off valve should be located in your basement or crawlspace. There are three different methods for draining the lines:

  • Manual drain
  • Auto drain
  • Blowout

2. Blowing Out is Best

To insure that you have removed all the water from your pipes, blowing out the lines is the most effective. Determine what type of lines you have – black polyethylene pipes or white PVC piping. The type line you have will determine how much pressure you can use to remove the water.

3. Too Much Pressure = Damage

Polyethylene pipes can withstand up to 50 PSI (pounds per square inch) while PVC can take up to 80 PSI. You will need to check your air compressor’s rating before you start. Too much pressure in your lines and you can seriously damage your pipes and valves.

4. Watch for Flying Debris

Connect the air compressor to the mainline just after the backflow device. Always keep at least one control valve open to avoid damaging the system. Start with the furthest sprinkler location and blow-out each line. Be careful of flying debris coming out of your lines. Wear safety goggles and keep clear of the valve during a blowout.

5. Insulate Exposed Equipment

Besides blowing out the lines, make sure you protect any equipment that may be exposed to the elements. The backflow prevention device is usually located outside near the foundation. The “bonnet” and “poppet assembly” inside this device can freeze and burst, causing costly damage. Wrap it with insulation and cover with a plastic bag. Duct tape the bag shut to keep out moisture.

6. Remember the Controller

Don’t forget to address your automated controller. Put it into “rain” mode, which will allow the timer to continue to run (saving your programmed settings) but shut off all the valves. If your controller connects to a pump, you may want to disconnect the power to it. You will lose your settings but the pump motor will not burn out from continuous use.

7. Preparing Your Pool for Winter

Winterizing your pool is a definite must-do. Clean all the debris from around and out of the pool. It’s important to leave water in your pool. Without the weight of the water, frozen ground can expand and cause a pool to rise up, cracking it. Lower the water level just below the mouth of your skimmer.

8. Cover Pool for Safety

Make sure the water chemistry is balanced to protect against staining and etching. Add a winterizing chemical kit to the water to keep it clear of algae. Cover the pool to keep out debris, inspecting the cover for any tears. To keep water off of the cover (and children safe), you may want to invest in an automated pump. Store all of your pool equipment (ladders and slides) to protect them from harmful weather damage.

9. Winterization Plugs Keep Water Out

As with your irrigation system, you need to drain all plumbing lines associated with your pool. After blowing the water out of the pipes, seal the line on the pool end to keep water from getting back into it. Many pools come with plugs specifically for winterization.

10. Winterize Filter, Too

Don’t forget about your filter. There is a plug at the bottom that will allow water to drain out. Open the air relief valve if you have one. Put the multiport valve in the “closed” position and remove the pressure gauge. Cover any exposed equipment with insulation and a plastic bag to keep moisture out.

Winterizing your pool and irrigation system keeps you from experiencing the headaches of ruptured water pipes and costly repairs. While ice sculptures created by a burst pipe might appear beautiful, your wallet will not think it is so spectacular. Save your money for more important things like suntan lotion and a new pair of shades.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY winterizing projects. From leaf blowers and wet/dry vacuums to air compressors, 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, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

[DIY How-To] Repurpose Your Dead Trees Into Mulch & Firewood

how to repurpose dead and fallen tree limbs

Are your trees healthy? Even though fall is typically not the season to prune your trees, which encourages growth or flowering next spring (this is usually done after the coldest winter weather has passed), it is a perfect time to assess the health of the trees on your property. Removing dead limbs won’t encourage growth, and will help eliminate potential problems brought on by inclement weather. It will also provide you with ample mulch and firewood for the long cold months ahead.

Remove Tree Limbs

  • to get rid of diseased parts and save the tree
  • to avoid personal injury or property damage
  • to cut back overgrowth

Start at the Top

Look for tree hazards by scanning the tree from top to bottom. Use binoculars if needed and check how vigorously the tree is growing. Compare its growth to others around it. Vigor is reflected in the amount of leaf cover, leaf size, color and condition. If the tree seems to be thinning or experiencing stunted growth, then it may not be flourishing as robustly as it should.

How Does the Trunk Look?

Continue your examination down the trunk of the tree. Look for forked trunks, which indicate potential weaknesses. Signs of decay may also be evident. These present themselves as cavities, cankers or conks (fruiting bodies of fungi) on the trunk itself.

Getting to the Bottom

Finally, check root zone of the tree. Look for mushrooms and other fungi that might be growing around the base of the tree. This is a sign the tree roots may be decaying. Construction and trenching are often causes of root damage, so protect your trees when work is done near them.

Make Your Cut Count

Pruning dead limbs is necessary to keep you and your property safe and it needs to be done properly. Make clean cuts with sharpened tools. Look for the “collar” or swollen tree flesh that develops where the dead limb joins the healthy section of tree. This is the tree’s natural defense system. Make your cut using a pruner or a chain saw just outside the collar, leaving as little stub as possible. Do not remove the collar because it is needed to fight any remaining disease.

Making Mulch and Firewood

Once you have examined your trees and removed the dead limbs, recycle the debris into mulch or firewood. Using a wood chipper, you can make easy work of breaking it all down. The size of the tree limbs determines the size of the chipper you will need. You can mix grass clippings in with your grind or even run the mixture through the chipper twice to get a finer mix. For larger tree limbs or stumps use a log splitter to cut the debris down to a usable size for the fireplace.

“Snag” a Place for Wildlife to Live

Food for thought – if a dead or dying tree does not pose a hazard to people or property – why not leave it as part of your landscape? “Snags” or wildlife trees are excellent habitats for a variety of species of animals. Birds and small mammals use snags for nests or storage areas. Woodpeckers feed off the insects in them and hawks use them as perches for hunting. Snags can also be created from living trees. An arborist would be able to help you select a good candidate for a snag in your yard. Snags provide hours of wildlife watching.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with all of your landscape projects. Check out some of our blog posts on how to remove a dead tree for more information on tree cutting, as well as a list of tools you might want to use in getting rid of tree limbs and trunks. If you have any other 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 Cut Tile for Do-It-Yourself Tiling Jobs

Perfecting the art of cutting tile is essential for any self-respecting do-it-yourselfer. You may want to tile a floor, a shower, a backsplash or an accent for any room in your home. Chances are, you’ll be cutting tile to fit around the room, to accommodate the faucet or cabinets and to customize a personal creation. We’ll discuss how to cut tile using a tile cutter and a tile saw.

Tools of the Trade: Tile Cutter versus Tile Saw

Tile Cutter vs. Tile Saw

Other tips:

  • A tile cutter needs to be wider than the tiles. Measure the size based on making a diagonal cut from corner to corner.
  • Make sure the tile cutter has a rotating guide for making cuts at different angles.
  • Always fill a tile saw reservoir with water before cutting

Cutting Tile

  1. Practice cuts using scrap tiles first.
  2. Buy enough tile to accommodate waste, whether you’re using a tile cutter or saw.
  3. Mark the glazed tile surface using a pencil, making a tick where a cut begins and ends. Adjust the guide on a tile saw for the correct measurement.
  4. Slide the lever on the tile cutter so the blade is closest to you. Place the tile glaze side up on the cutter or the saw, making sure the tile sits snug against the stop or guide.
  5. Score a tile by moving the cutter lever so the steel wheel is on the tick mark at the edge of the tile, then pushing down on the lever and dragging the wheel across the tile with even pressure. Then push down on the lever and apply pressure to both sides of the score line, and snap the tile in two.
  6. For a saw cut, turn the saw on, move the tile gently into the blade and let the blade to all the work cutting the tile.
  7. For L-shaped notches, use a tile cutter to score both sides of the tile, and tile nippers to snap along one of the lines and hope the piece breaks cleanly along the second line. If not, that’s why you’ll have more tile than you need, for mistakes.

Finishing the Cut

Use a sharpening stone to smooth out the cut edge of a tile, unless it will be hidden under molding.

To learn more about the aesthetics of installing tile, read our two blogs: Install a Tile Backsplash in Your Kitchen for a Fresh New Look and The 4 Secrets to Beautiful Tile Accents in Your Home.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with renovating your bathroom or kitchen. From tile cutters to tile saws, 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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5 More Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard

5 Landscaping Ideas for Your Fall Garden

Since fall landscaping is done after the growing season has essentially ended, gardeners don’t have to worry so much about weeding, since weed seed is dormant, unlike in spring when it’s just bursting to grow. And in the spring, you’ll see a whole new garden that blooms early! This article is our third on tips to freshen up your landscape for fall, adding color, texture and panache!

1. Contrast Light and Dark

They say that opposites attract, especially when they’re dark and light. Play up the drama of silvery ornamental grass plumes with deep-color foliage, such as that of Diablo ninebark, purple-leaf filbert, ‘Velvet Cloak’ smoke bush or ‘Black Lace’ elderberry.

2. Decorate with Accents

Give your landscape personality with found objects and artwork installations such as ironwork or statues or ornaments. Just like indoors, adding artistic accents to your landscape will reflect your personality.

3. Think Small

Not every planting in a fall landscape has to be big and bold. Planting shrubs with subtle details like richly colored berries or fruits, such as the beautyberry, which produces small clusters of amethyst-purple fruits in fall, give your garden exquisite beauty up close.

4. Punch it Up with Container Plantings

Perk up dull spots in your garden with containers filled with grasses, mums, asters or flowering kale that put on a beautiful show for weeks.

5. Relax and Enjoy

Take advantage of wonderful fall weather with seating area that lets you sit back and enjoy your landscape. Include a fire pit or fire bowl for warmth, or place the seating on the east side of a favorite tree to enjoy the remains of the day.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. From lawn mowers to leaf blowers and everything in-between, 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 Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard

4 Landscaping Ideas for Fall

Many people think spring is the best season for planting, but gardeners have figured out that fall is actually the best season for planting and landscaping. Because of the cooler temperatures and increased rainfall, fall is great for planting perennials – plants that come back year after year. There are far more “good days” in the fall when the soil is still warm, which allows a plant’s roots to establish better and grow until the ground freezes, or continue to grow throughout a milder winter climate. In the spring when the ground is cooler or in the summer, when it’s hot and dry, a plant’s roots can get stressed and unhealthy, and grow less robustly.

Fall is also a great season to give your garden a “boost,” planting turf grasses, spring-blooming bulbs, “cool crop” vegetables and certain annuals – plants that last only one season – to enjoy well into the cooler season. This is the first of three articles on tips to freshen up your landscape for fall, adding color, texture and panache!

1. Create the Unexpected

Add a series of intimate spaces to your landscape, which helps give the sense that the garden goes on and on. Start by planting evergreens in a variety of coordinating colors near the edges of your property, giving you privacy throughout the year. The evergreens also act as a dramatic backdrop for other trees, shrubs and flowers to show off their brilliant fall color. Then use large shrubs and small trees as living walls, forming outdoor “rooms” and adding interest to your yard. Since no one spot has an entire view of your garden, there’s something unexpected around every corner.

2. Pattern with Shapes

Build a theme in your landscape by repeating a plant shape. Plants develop different shapes as they grow. Some have an upright look, others are mounded, and still others weep gracefully. Couple an upright columnar white pine with a tall blue spruce, which give rise to a narrow, intimate path. Boxwood pruned into round balls all in a row gives the allusion of a string of pearls. Weeping willows planted together with a ‘Viridis’ Japanese maple and forsythia resemble a girl’s long hair fluttering in the breeze. Combining plants with different growing habits makes your landscape more intriguing.

3. Add Carpets of Color

Ground-hugging ground-cover plants reduce weeds and protect the soil while creating a vast expanse of color, especially in the fall, when plants can turn from greens to vivid purple-reds. The fall show helps make your garden more interesting.

4. Include Structure

In addition to plants, give your garden visual interest by incorporating a structure such as a pergola, an arbor, a fence or retaining wall — even an assortment of pots and planters grouped for visual impact will do the trick. Stone is maintenance-free and suited to a variety of landscaping styles. However, choose a material that complements your garden, giving to a natural look, and be sure it fits your budget.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. From lawn mowers to leaf blowers and everything in-between, 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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12 of Our Favorite Woodworking Tips and Tricks

12 woodworking tips & tricksWhen it comes to woodworking, there’s no greater relationship than that of a carpenter and his (or her) saw. After all, a woodworker relies most on cutting machines to create works of art out of wood — even if it’s just a window frame. Woodworkers are always ready to try new ways of working faster and smarter in the shop. Great advice, tips and tricks on sawing are readily available, too. Below are 12 important ones to keep in mind during your next wood project.

  1. To crosscut safely, clamp a one-inch block of wood to the fence of your table saw before the blade, then make the cut length by setting the fence scale one-inch greater than the desired length. This way, the end of the board is free of the fence during and after the cut — and you can avoid getting a board kicked back directly at you.
  1. Stair gauges are an inexpensive way to make your own crosscut guide for circular saws. Usually used to lay out stair jacks, stair gauges are available at hardware stores or home centers and can be clamped on the same tongue of a carpenter’s square and used as notch markers. Make sure to clamp the square in place so it won’t slide around while you’re cutting.
  1. Use a drafting square for measuring accurate 2- to 3-foot squares. Drywall squares can be inaccurate and carpenter squares can be especially cumbersome because they have to be hooked onto the edge of the work piece. Drafting squares are accurate, as well as, inexpensive and can be as useful as a tape measure in the shop.
  1. If you’re always trying to find a level workspace, put your saw on a mobile base so it’s easy to move around the shop. Then find a convenient place for sawing where the floor is level and free of obstruction. Mark wheel positions on the floor with duct tape in a bright color. Now you can roll the saw to the same flat spot every time you saw. 
  1. To avoid staining wood with oozing glue along joints, clamp the pieces together using tape instead of glue. Lay the tape down on the joint, then cut the tape along the joint with a sharp blade. Separate the tape pieces, apply the glue and clamp them together again, so the glue oozes onto the tape, not the wood. Peel off the tape before the glue dries.
  1. When you have to cut, shape, file, sand or finish something small, reach for your hot glue gun and glue the piece to a pedestal stick instead of fumbling with a clamp. When you’re finished, gently pop the piece loose with a putty knife. If this doesn’t work, try sticking the work piece into the freezer for an hour or so, freezing the glue, which will usually give way with little force. A third option is to try a hair dryer or heat gun to warm the piece slowly and soften the glue for removal without scorching the wood or damaging the finish.
  1. Install saw blades so the teeth face forward, because hacksaws are designed to cut with a forward stroke. When you do a lot of cutting, the blade will heat up and expand, so check and make sure the blade is tight in the saw, tightening when needed so it won’t bend.
  1. To use your shop space economically, raise the base for your saw about 3-1/8 inches higher than the bench top, so you can slip a short length of a 4×4 under each end of your work piece for support. This way, you won’t have to devote space to a long support table and you won’t have to clear the entire bench to make a cut.
  1. Whenever you raise and lower your saw blade, save wear and tear on your saw table by taping a wooden stop-block to the column of your radial-arm saw about 1/8-inch below the surface of the table. The block prevents the blade from digging deep into the table.
  1. Build a hold-down for your radial-arm saw like those available for table saws and router tables by attaching two screw eyes to the saw’s fence about 8 inches to the right and left of the blade. Make the hold-down out of 3/4 x 3-inch stock at a length that’s equal the width from the fence to the front edge of the saw table. Fasten on a handle. Position a roundhead screw in the end of the hold-down so it sits flush with the thickness of the wood you’re cutting. Make sure the fence is securely anchored so it doesn’t pull up when you push down on the hold-down.
  1. Make your own reusable sanding blocks from scrap 3/4-inch plywood. Cut 2-1/2 x 4-3/4-inch blocks for each sandpaper grit you commonly use, spraying adhesive on both a square of cork tile and each block. Stick a block to the cork and cut the cork flush with a utility knife. Spray the adhesive on a sheet of sandpaper and stick it on each block cork side down, cutting the sandpaper flush with the cork. Label each block. 
  1. Stack your table saw or circular saw blades for storage or transport using plastic coffee can lids as spacers instead of cutting them out of hardboard or plywood. Spacers help prevent the carbide teeth from chipping each other. The lids of three-pound cans work great; simply bore a hole the size of your saw’s arbor in the center and place them between your blades.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next woodworking project. From wood saws to clamps and blades, 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 Make a Concrete Fire Pit or Fire Bowl in 5 Easy Steps

Adding a specialty feature like a fire pit to your backyard retreat can create a relaxing atmosphere in your landscape, not to mention, it can also help to extend the use of your outdoor space in cooler seasons, adding warmth and light. Even though a fire pit can be considered special, no special tools are required for do-it-yourselfers to make one.

How to Make a Fire Pit

How to Make a DIY Concrete FirepitIf a fire pit is more to your liking, here’s how you can make one:

Step 1. Prepare an area for the fire pit, making sure it’s a solid, level foundation with base rock or sand.

Step 2. Build a wood form for pouring concrete using wood nailed together in a square or a rectangle. The form needs an exterior box and a smaller interior box that creates a five-inch gap where the concrete goes. Build the form as high as you want the fire pit, using stakes to hold the wood in place as well as to the ground. Make the entire wood form sits level.

Step 3. Reinforce the wood form, making a grid with rebar. Drive pieces of rebar vertically into the corners and along every foot inside the form. Then run rebar horizontally between the vertical rebar and tie them together with steel metal wire. Cut wire mesh or matting pieces to fit inside the form for extra reinforcement and tie it to the rebar grid with wire.

Step 4. Pour concrete inside the form, tamping down to fill any holes. Smooth off the top with a trowel and tap the forms to release the wet concrete from the forms while drying. Let the concrete dry overnight. Once the concrete is completely dry, carefully remove the wood forms.

Step 5. Add any finishing touches to your concrete fire pit, such as a slate top or fine sanding of the concrete for smoothness. Fill with fire pit about three quarters full, placing a metal fire bowl on top, so it’s flush with the top of the concrete frame. Add decorative glass around the outside of the metal fire bowl until only the top rim of the bowl is exposed.

How to Make a Fire Bowl

How to Make a DIY Concrete Fire BowlIn fact, you can craft a modern, elegant fire bowl using nothing more than concrete, a tarp, sand, some plastic sheeting and a permanent marker.

Step 1. Lay out a 10-foot by 10-foot tarp on the ground, drawing a circle on it with the permanent marker that’s at least 36 inches wide.

Step 2. Pour out a bag of fine sand in the middle of the circle, adding enough water to make it the consistency of beach sand for building a sand castle. Begin to mound the sand into an inverted bowl shape as wide and round as the tarp circle, smoothing it out with your hands or a trowel. Continue to add wet sand to the mound, until it’s as large as you want the fire bowl to be. Cover the “sand mold” with a plastic sheet to prevent moisture evaporation.

Step 3. After preparing the concrete, take the plastic sheeting off the sand mold and cover it with the wet concrete, applying in layers until the concrete is about three inches thick. Insert several straws near the top of the concrete layer through to the sand, creating drain holes for rainwater. Cover with plastic sheeting.

Step 4. While the concrete is still wet, place a board on top of the covered concrete and use a level in north-south-east-west directions, making sure the top is level and straight for the bowl to sit on when it’s inverted. Smooth out as necessary.

Step 5. Allow the covering concrete to slow dry for at least 48 hours. Once it’s dry, lift the bowl from the sand mold and remove the straws. Lightly sand the concrete fire bowl to your preferred smoothness, if needed.

Expert Advice

Stop by our store for a full line of CTS Rapid Set concrete mixes, designed to harden and set within minutes, making your job faster and simpler and allowing you to move onto the next step of your project much sooner than with other concrete mixes. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next DIY project. We’re open seven days a week!

*Photo Courtesy of The DIY Network
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How to Make a DIY Wood Palette Shelf in 5 Easy Steps

How-To Build A Palette ShelfIt’s pretty incredible the amount of things you can make out of a wooden palette, one of which being a wood palette shelf. Since shabby-chic and rustic charm are two popular trends lately, this could be an ideal project for you. Not only is it inexpensive, but it is functional and makes for a unique addition to your home. Simply gather a few materials and follow the five steps below and you’ll have a wood palette shelf all your own!

Gather Your Materials:

5 Simple Steps:

  1. Sand your palette to satisfaction. First, sand your palette down to remove any chalk lines and create a nice smooth finish for a more even stain. This is where you’ll use both sanders, depending on which part of the palette you are sanding down. The micro belt sander gets between slats and in smaller spaces better, and the vibrating sander can smooth out the top surface.
  2. Liberally apply your stain. Once you’re satisfied with the sanding job — accomplishing a shabby-chic appearance — it’s time to apply the stain. This can be as liberal as you want. For a darker stain, apply as much as you want until you’re happy with it.
  3. Let the palette dry a while. Then, leave the palette be for about 15 hours so that all the stain is dry. Preferably outside if possible, otherwise it’ll really stink up a room.
  4. Spray on a few clear coats. After your palette is entirely dry, spray on the clear adhesive spray to seal in the stain and color. Two full coats are recommended.
  5. Hang your new creation. Lastly, get out your drywall screws and drill. Line up where you want your new wall feature and screw it into place (preferably into studs).

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next DIY project. From palette shelves to repurposed coffee bars, 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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Keep Your Garden Happy with These End-of-Summer To-Dos

10 End-of-Summer Gardening To-DosAs the end of summer draws near, seasonal changes require do-it-yourselfers to adjust their gardening to-dos, to keep up with their harvests, maintain their full, lush flower beds and simply enjoy their favorite growing time of the year! As with any circle of life, the care of plants shifts slightly to keep them happy and healthy. With that in mind, consider the following end-of-summer to-dos this August:

  • Water deeply and well, rather than shallow and often. Light daily sprinkles of water draw a plant’s roots closer to the surface, making them more vulnerable to disease. This is especially true of tomato plants. Watering early in the day allows plants to absorb moisture before the hot sun dries the soil and ensures that the foliage dries before nightfall, which protects them from fungus. Check water needs of hanging baskets once or twice daily.
  • Change the water in bird baths or water features more regularly, so the stagnate water does not become a breeding ground for mosquito larvae and other insects.
  • Prune summer blooming shrubs for shape, after they have finished flowering.
  • Plant new evergreen trees and shrubs, so they can have several months to grow new roots, watering every week until the ground is frozen.
  • Now is also the time to plant late flowering plants and shrubs such as Rose of Sharon, Hydrangea, Butterfly Bush and shrub roses, as well as ornamental grasses such as Japanese Maiden Grass, Fountain Grass or Switch Grasses.
  • Go easy with fertilizing roses now — studies have shown that keeping your roses a little “hungry” helps them over-winter better.
  • Continue to deadhead flowers on annuals and perennials so they continue to bloom longer into the season. Apply fertilizer to annuals once every two weeks for continued flower production. If perennials need to be rejuvenated, cut them back, give them some fertilizer and enough water, and watch them re-bloom. However, let some of the flowers go to seed now, to reseed for next year.
  • Cut back and divide rhizomes by lifting the entire clump with a rake or spade and discarding the oldest, bloomed-out middle sections, then replant.
  • Sprinkle spring-flowering perennial seeds such as forget-me-nots around your garden for an attractive under planting for bulbs such as tulips in the spring.
  • Make note of blank spots in your garden, then buy late summer bloomers and plant them to add color, making sure they get the water they’ll need during the hot, dry weather to become well-established.
  • Plant fall and winter vegetables, including green onions, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, radishes and winter cauliflower. Toss overgrown or rotting produce on the compost heap, and remove infected plant matter to prevent attracting diseases and pests.
  • Harvest herbs and dry them in a cool, airy and shady place, or freeze.
  • Prune and fertilize Halloween pumpkins for big results. Start by taking off all but one or two pumpkins from the vine.
  • Mow your lawn more often to defend against weeds. Grass also goes dormant this time of the season, so water brown lawn regularly and deeply.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next gardening project. From landscaping tools to fertilizers tree spades, 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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Keep Gardens Thriving with 3 Simple Maintenance Tips

One of the pleasures of summer living is enjoying a homegrown bowl of salad greens and vegetables harvested from your garden. Not only are these meals super fresh and bursting with flavor, harvesting your garden is one of the ways to keep it healthy. In addition to watering, weeding, mulching and composting, home gardeners need to tend to their patches of produce and petals all season long. Below are three more ideas to keep your gardens thriving.

3 summer garden maintenance tips1. Replant Leafy Vegetables

As the summer heats up, cool-season salad vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard grow stalky and bitter as they go to seed. Pull them out, pitch them unto the compost pile, and replant the area with quick-growing, warm-season veggies and herbs like loose leaf and oak leaf lettuce, red romaine, beans, summer squash, basil or rosemary.

2. Protect Berries and Fruit

Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are not only nature’s candy for people, but critters love them as well. As your plants bear fruit, covering them with bird netting or synthetic fabric row covers will protect from a raccoon’s midnight raid or a bird’s early morning breakfast. Another possible deterrent from birds stealing your harvest is stringing Mylar flash tape over and around your garden.

3. Secure Climbing Plants

Climbing roses, clematis, even string beans and hops produce new growth faster in the summer and will benefit from the help of an arbor, trellis or garden stake. Secure plants loosely with any soft or flexible material such as hook-and-loop plant ties or garden tape, allowing for expansion. Avoid using twist ties with wire centers, which can rust and cut into plants over time.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next gardening project. From landscaping tools to garden tillers, 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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5 Items on Your Mid-Summer Gardening Checklist

5 Items on Your Mid-Summer Gardening ChecklistFor do-it-yourself gardeners, the summer season is just starting to heat up! Now’s the time to enjoy all the beauty that your garden, yard and landscape have to offer — at least until summer’s end, which isn’t until September 23.

Yet, a gardener’s work is never done – from mowing the lawn to weeding flower beds – the best way to keep your home grown oasis looking fabulous is regular maintenance. The more care and passion you put into making your garden grow, the more enjoyment you’ll receive, not only from puttering among the begonias but from relaxing to take a look at your handiwork. With this helpful gardening checklist, you’ll be well on your way to enhancing your garden experience!

1. Re-plant Annual Flower Beds: Replace cool-weather annuals that have stopped blooming or have already died back with heat-loving varieties such as verbena, lantana and geranium (in some areas of the country, these plants are considered perennials). Adding new annuals refreshes the garden with color and abundant flowers.

2. Add Tropical Flair: Surround your patio or deck with bird-of-paradise, fig, elephant’s ear, hibiscus, dracaena or bougainvillea, warm-climate plants that love the heat and humidity, which intensifies during the dog days of August. In the fall, move these tropical plants indoors and enjoy them as houseplants. Also, check the supports of palm trees, which are required for the first six to eight months to deter them from toppling over. Do not nail the supports to the trunk of the tree.

3. Add a Water Garden: From in-ground ponds with water lilies to container water gardens that display green and burgundy cannas, papyrus or pitcher plant, a water garden can actually add a cooling element to your landscape.

4. Tend to Vegetables: At this time of year, stop harvesting asparagus and rhubarb so these perennial edibles can prepare for next year’s crop. Mulch the area to prevent weeds from taking over the beds. Protect precious tomatoes from hornworm by inspecting the foliage in the morning and evening, when the big green-and-white caterpillars are feeding. Pick them off the plants with gloved hands and drop them in a jar of soapy water.

5. Prune Shrubs: Spring flowering shrubs such as lilac, hydrangea and spirea should be cut and shaped immediately after flowers fade. Wait until late summer or early fall, when there’s no danger of pruning away next year’s developing flower buds.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next gardening project. From planting advice to landscaping tools, 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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5 Ideas to Spruce Up Your Garden with New Plants

Create a Garden Oasis with These 5 IdeasThe long days of summer are just right for getting all those garden improvement projects underway. Along with abundant sun and warmer weather, new plants have a chance to establish root systems and thrive during summer months… just like people tend to do, enjoying a tall glass of lemonade (granted, plants prefer a cool drink of water). Although you may have a fabulous garden already, there are so many ideas for expanding it, or creating designated areas for entertaining or relaxing. This time of year is perfect for enjoying the outdoors, so make your backyard oasis your own. All it takes is a little hard work and a passion for making your garden vision a reality. Below are five ideas for sprucing up your garden.

1. Plant New Trees

If you live in a frost-free or rainy region, give your garden a tropic vibe by planting palm trees. To protect tall palms from wind damage, support them with stakes for at least a year, until roots are established. Other trees that lend themselves to an exotic landscape are Japanese maples, which can add vibrant color in the summer and fall. Ginkgo balboa, sumac and flowering fig have the added benefit of a voluptuous fruit harvest, ready in September. (Helpful Tool: tree spade)

2. Add a Shade Garden

Almost any yard or garden has shady areas. Don’t let them go to waste! From hydrangeas to hostas to hardy fuchsias, fill those dark areas with shade-loving perennials or shrubs and see it come to life with beautiful greens, gentle lavenders, stunning blues and pinks with some showy flowers for good measure.

3. Aquatic Life

Aquatic plants such as water lilies and lotus add depth and breadth to any water feature, especially those located in a sunny spot. Fill two-thirds of a 12-inch diameter pot with garden soil (do not use potting mix). Then place the roots of one plant into the center of the pot. Cover with two to three more inches of soil, and add a light pea gravel covering. Place the entire potted plant in at least 12 to 18 inches of water, and watch them flower.

4. Carpet of Succulents

Succulents such as hens-and-chicks, aloe and sedum are low-maintenance, drought-tolerant sun-lovers that will grow anywhere, from pots to cracks in a stone wall, even in the shade. With so many varieties in striking shapes, colors and blooms, succulents also provide visual interest in nearly any type of garden. Protect succulents from extreme cold and don’t over-water, otherwise, they are easy to maintain, keeping your garden lush.

5. Garden Path of Herbs

Hardy herbs such as rosemary and thyme not only flower in the summer, but also add intoxicating fragrance, especially when planted along a garden path. Group the herbs with a sprinkling of Alyssum in white or purple to intensify the sweet smell (especially after a summer rain). Plus, with a little judicious clipping, you can enjoy an herb-filled marinade or dressing for all that summer grilling you plan on doing!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. From landscaping tools to tree spades, 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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Advanced Tutorial: How to Reupholster a Chair in 5 Steps

Reupholstered Chair (before and after)Reupholstering any piece of furniture, let alone a complex wingback chair, is not for the faint of heart. It takes a decent amount of hard work, familiarity with sewing and using power tools, an eye for detail and a precise hand. Although this particular project took several weeks to finish, the result was well worth it all. Now, there is a lot involved in reupholstering a sturdy piece of furniture on your own, so below is a loose set of steps. Also, consider the following tips before undertaking such a project, or for you ambitious DIY-ers, keep them in mind throughout the project.

Difficulty: moderate-hard

Necessary Tools and Supplies:

  1. Fabric (this project took about 6 yards)
  2. Sewing machine and thread
  3. Pliers and/or flathead (for prying up staples)
  4. Scissors
  5. Fabric marker
  6. Staple gun
  7. Nailer
  8. Screwdriver

Reupholster Your Chair in 5 Steps:

1. Prep Work: First things first, you have to take off the chair legs (unscrew with a screwdriver). Then you must begin taking staples out of all the fabric. This may seem simple (I certainly thought it would be), but be prepared for a lot of prying — having the right tools really makes a difference here. I used a pair of pliers and a flathead screwdriver for popping out the staples.

Now, be sure as you take each piece of fabric off that you label which part of the chair it came from so you don’t mix them all up. Then once all the upholstery has been removed from your chair, you can start tracing and marking the old fabric pieces onto the new fabric, again being sure to mark which piece goes where.

2. Sew Back Together: Next, you have to sew together your new fabric pieces (based on which of the old pieces were sewn together…be sure you make note of this too). Again, this was a process, and it took really careful detail, being sure to cut and sew very close to the original fabric.

This chair had piping as well, so I also had to sew the piping and then sew each between the two respective pieces they went between. The cushion cover was crucial in this step because I had to make sure it fit correctly. And keep in mind, it is much easier to make a piece smaller than to try and make it bigger.

3. Assemble It All: After the upholstery is sewn and categorized by where it goes, you can begin placing each piece onto the chair form. My suggestion is to begin placing each piece in the same order with which you removed each piece. So, the first piece I took off on the old chair was the bottom side panels, so I put those back on first, then worked my way up. Again, this will be as complicated or as simple as the original chair, ottoman, couch, etc. that you choose. I also chose to add tufts, so this was something I made sure to place before stapling anything down.

4. Secure Down with Staples: After each panel is in place, you can begin stapling them in an organized order. For this chair, the back panel and the bottom panel were the last to go on. Keep in mind, you want the fabric secured well, not too tight, but also not too loose. If worse comes to worse, you can always take staples out and re-do them. However, this would be arduous and counterproductive, so be sure the fabric is placed well before pulling the trigger.

5. Final Touches: The last step is to put your legs back on the bottom and the cushion back in the seat. Then, as long as everything looks clean and crisp, you’re done!

Resources and Help:

This was definitely the down-and-dirty version of reupholstering, not as specific as a post explicitly for reupholstering a wingback chair. That said, if you would like a resource for step-by-step pictures and nitty-gritty details, check out this blog post. It helped me a lot. Really once you start though, it all starts making sense. If you have any questions about how to reupholster, the tools to use, renting tools, specifics on my process, etc. please comment below or email me (heidi@runyoncompanies.com) Happy reupholstering!

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For Healthier, Stunning Roses, Prune, Prune, Prune!

How to Properly Prune Your RosesMost flowering trees and shrubs benefit from annual pruning, especially roses. Not only does pruning rid the plant of dead and diseased wood, it encourages new growth and gives it a nice shape — one that promotes beautiful blooms. With a few tools such as pruners, long-handled loppers, shears and thick gloves, a gardener can cut and shape to their heart’s delight!

For some flowering plants, timing an annual pruning is important. For instance, here’s a list of trees and shrubs that respond favorably to an early summer pruning, after a bloom:

  • Azalea (Rhododendron species)
  • Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)
  • Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spirea x vanhouttei)
  • Flowering Crabapple (Malus species and cultivars)
  • Forsythia (forsythia x intermedia)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus species and cultivars)
  • Hydrangea, Bigleaf (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  • Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
  • Magnolia (Magnolia species and cultivars)
  • Mockorange (Philadelphus coronarius)
  • Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
  • Rhododendron (Rhododendron species)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora)
  • Slender Deutzia (deutzia gracilis)
  • Weigela (Weigela florida)

When and How to Prune Roses

When gardeners think of pruning, most likely it’s associated with rose bushes — although pruning techniques apply to all flowering trees and shrubs. Pruning a rose bush is very good for the plant plus it’s pretty difficult to kill a rose bush with bad pruning, because most mistakes grow out quickly with this hardy plant that produces such delicate blooms. Generally, roses respond best to pruning in two ways:

1. If the plant blooms on new season growth, prune while dormant or just when the plant is about to break dormancy

2. If the plant blooms on last year’s canes, prune after flowering.

Rose Pruning Basics

  • Use clean, sharp tools and protect your hands and arms from thorns by wearing thick gardening gloves
  • Prune potted roses the same as planted roses
  • Remove any broken, dead, dying or diseased wood and weak, twiggy branches all around the bush
  • Remove sucker growth below the graft
  • Begin pruning from the base of the plant, cutting to open its center for light and air circulation, which dries the leaves and helps prevent foliar diseases from attacking
  • Make clean cuts at a 45-degree angle, about 1/4 inch just above a “bud eye,” or the area on the stem where branching occurs
  • No reason to protect a pruning wound, as cuts are called; however, you may apply Elmer’s Glue to a cut, if rose cane borers are a problem pest

Pruning for the Healthiest Roses

Most rose gardeners are interested in removing dead, damaged or diseased branches from their plant to promote the growth of large, full flowers that are pleasing to the eye.

  • Cutting dieback or broken branches promotes vibrant growth
  • Pruning away winter freeze damage opens up the plant to air circulation
  • Removing diseased wood prevents the disease from spreading to the rest of the bush or to neighboring plants

Prune out crossing branches, all branches smaller than a pencil in diameter and even extra long canes, which prevents the roots from being loosened by strong winds or freeze/thaw cycles. Pruning is also an opportunity to correct any problems with the plant’s overall form or reduce the overall size of a plant in relation to the rest of your garden.

For most rose bushes, leaving six to eight strong, healthy canes will produce a full, nicely shaped plant. Deadheading, a form of pruning to remove spent blooms, prevents the formation of rose hips or seedpods and encourages new, attractive blooms (although rose hip cultivation can be advantageous for home chefs who make rose hip jelly and tea drinkers who enjoy a cup of rose hip tea).

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. 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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Easy Bush Removal Takes Planning and a Few Power Tools

Remove Unwanted Bushes in 5 Easy Steps

Seasonal maintenance or an update to a mature landscape could mean removing overgrown, diseased or unwanted shrubs and bushes from your yard. You can do it yourself, with a little planning and a few power tools. Here are Runyon Rental’s easy-to-follow instructions:

Step 1. Survey the situation. Look around each bush for bird nests. Schedule the removal after hatchlings leave. Make sure the bush is not a protected species. If it is, you may be obligated to follow certain removal procedures or transplant to an appropriate site. And last but not least, know where utility or sprinkler lines are buried before digging into them. Call your local utility company for this specific information.

Step 2. Choose your tools. Depending on the size of the removal job, you can start with a heavy spade-type shovel, manual hedge clippers and a large wheelbarrow to get it done. To save yourself some sweat, consider renting a power hedge trimmer, a chainsaw, a stump cutter and even a wood chipper, for easier cleanup.

Step 3. Cut down to size. Cut each bush to a manageable size, removing branches first, and cutting the trunk into manageable pieces that fit into the wood chipper. If you’re going the manual removal route, leave enough of a stump above the ground to get a good hold on it. Otherwise, cut the bush down to the ground.

Step 4. Remove the stump and roots. Especially if the bush is diseased, get rid of the stump and the roots with a stump cutter. Most of the roots can be pulled from the ground manually. If you’re working without a stump cutter, dig a trench around the stump and start breaking it down by cutting through the roots and throwing away any soil containing them, until one piece of the stump is left. Dig the shovel deep into the ground near the stump, moving it back and forth until the roots directly below the stump are cut. Then stick the shovel into the trench, angling it to the middle and push and lift. Repeat this procedure around the entire stump until you can lift it out with your hands.

Step 5. Fill the hole…with soil and continue with your new plan for the landscape. Throw wood chips on the compost pile or use as mulch.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. 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. If you plan to plant a new bush or tree, ask us about our tree spade rentals!

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How-To Remove Your Dead Tree in 6 Simple Steps

How-To Cut Down Your Tree in 6 Simple StepsIn addition to providing beauty and increasing your property value, trees keep the air and water clean, hold soil in place, and give you and your family a shady spot to enjoy a sunny day. It’s a tough decision, removing a tree from your property, but if the tree is old and dead, taking it down helps keep your yard and the surrounding area safe. No one wants an old dead tree falling into a neighbor’s yard.

There are a number of reasons why you’d want to cut down a tree besides it being already dead. Is the tree healthy? Is the trunk damaged? Is it leaning to one side or dead on only one side? Is it interfering with power lines? Is there enough space around the tree for more growth? And finally, is the tree stunting the growth of nearby trees? Depending on the answers, you may decide to take the tree down.

Tree removal can be a job best left to a professional arborist, one who is fully insured, licensed and certified by the state in which the tree lives. However, depending upon the size of the tree and the scope of its demise, do-it-yourselfers can handle a successful tree removal with ease. Below are the six steps of how to do it.

Step 1. Prepare for the fall. Determine the direction the tree leans naturally, because this is the direction you want the tree to fall. Make room for the fall by clearing away anything in the way, making sure the tree won’t hit anything of value like a fence, car, power lines, house or other structure. Keep helpers and family out of the way. Remove any of the lower tree branches with a handsaw or a chainsaw.

Step 2. Choose two escape routes. Determine two ways to get away safely from the base of the tree as it falls.

Step 3. Make the undercut. Using the chainsaw, make a V-cut at a 90-degree angle on the side of the tree in the direction it is leaning, about one quarter into the circumference of the tree.

Step 4. Begin the backcut. On the opposite side of the undercut, start cutting the tree about two inches higher than the V-cut. As soon as the tree starts to fall, turn off the chainsaw and hurry away using the safer of the two routes.

Step 5. Remove limbs. Once the tree is on the ground, move from the bottom of the tree to the top, cutting branches on the side opposite from where you are standing. Then cut the tree trunk into pieces.

Step 6. Clean up. Feed the cut branches into a wood chipper. Use a stump cutter to grind the stump into wood chips. The wood chips can be recycled into your landscape.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next home improvement project. 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. We’d love to help you with all your landscaping needs!

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[INFOGRAPHIC] Plan the Perfect Summer Event & Outdoor Entertaining Space

Summer is the perfect time to have friends and family over for outdoor entertaining and parties. So why not pull out all the stops this year and cover your bases with this in-depth event planning guide. Not only does this involve prepping your yard, but event equipment and unique DIY inspirations can make your home the perfect spot for relaxing and entertaining this summer. We hope you can take a few ideas and best practice tips from this infographic, and as always, let us know if you have questions about the equipment, steps or other specifics. Happy outdoor party planning!

Event Planning & Outdoor Entertaining Infographic

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Build a Rain Barrel for Your Garden in 5 Easy Steps

How-to Build a Rain Barrel in 5 Easy StepsWhat’s a great way to conserve on water this summer? Collect water in a rain barrel and use it for watering your potted plants, flowers, vegetable garden, or even your lawn. Not only are rain barrels friendly to the environment, they’re easy and economical to make on your own. Using one can also help to reduce utility bills. Experts calculate that you can collect up to 300 gallons of water for every inch of rain that falls on 500 square feet of roof, which can add up to more than 1,000 gallons of water a year. Thank those rain clouds for that big gulp!

How to Build a Rain Barrel

Rain barrels come in all shapes and sizes and can be made easily from plastic drums or trashcans. Some even include a garden pot on the top for planting flowers, which makes for an attractive water feature. Here’s what you’ll need to make a rain barrel:

  • Large 55-gallon plastic garbage can or barrel with lid
  • Tube of watertight sealant, roll of Teflon tape or Silicone caulk
  • 2 rubber washers and 2 metal washers
  • 2” male and 2” female threaded electrical PVC conduit adapter with a threaded coupler
  • Sections of 2” PVC pipe
  • Hose clamp
  • Spigot
  • Glue
  • Unions, reducers and valves
  • Landscaping fabric or screen
  • Cordless drill
  • Hole saw
  • 4×4 treated lumber and construction screws or stainless steel lags or stepping stones to stack for rain barrel stand

Step 1: Drill Hole

Drill a hole near the bottom of the barrel for a spigot. Leave enough space under the hole to place a watering can underneath it.

Step 2: Insert Spigot

Place a metal washer onto the threaded end of spigot, then put a rubber washer over the threads to help hold the washer in place. A bead of waterproof sealant or watertight Teflon tape applied over the rubber washer will prevent leakage. Insert the spigot into the hole. If using sealant, let it dry and put a rubber washer, then a metal washer onto the spigot threads inside the barrel, securing it in place with the hose clamp. This helps to keep the spigot from coming loose.

Step 3: Make Entry and Exit Holes

Your rain barrel will sit under the gutter downspout. With a saw, cut a hole in the lid, large enough to accommodate the largest water flow, so it runs right into the barrel. Next, drill a couple of holes near the very top of the rain barrel, for any overflow to run onto the ground. To conserve even more water, connect two rain barrels by placing a short length of hose or PVC pipe from the overflow hole to the other rain barrel, so any excess water will run into it, reducing loss of overflow water.

This step can also be accomplished using PVC pipe. Cut holes in the barrel bottom with a hole saw. Then screw in a 2” male threaded electrical PVC conduit adapter. Bead silicone caulk around the opening and screw on a threaded electrical PVC coupler. Next, glue together sections of 2” PVC pipe, unions, reducers and valves. As long as you’re at it, install an overflow pipe so you can direct the excess where you want it.

Step 4: Seal Top

To create a debris and insect barrier, cut a piece of landscaping fabric or tight screen and mount it to the inside of the lid, then put the lid over the top of the rain barrel to secure.

Step 5: Position Rain Barrel

  • To use a watering can,place your new rain barrel directly underneath the downspout in a way that’s easy for you to fill the watering cans.
  • To use a hose, wand or spray nozzle, elevate the barrel on a stand for more water pressure. Build a platform out of wood or stack stepping-stones and place the platform underneath the downspout and put the rain barrel on top of it.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you find easy ways to keep your yard looking great. 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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Improve Your Existing Turf with Slice Seeding in 7 Easy Steps

Slice Seed Your Lawn in 7 Easy StepsEspecially if your lawn turf was planted years ago, re-planting with today’s improved grass varieties can help your mature lawn resist disease and insect damage, making it stronger and more adaptable to the changing conditions of your yard due to landscaping, sun and shade.

One of the best ways to make dramatic improvements to your lawn in short order is by slice or slit seeding. Conventional and over-seeding are great for helping to thicken an existing lawn. Use slice seeding to make direct contact with the soil for the seed to germinate quickly. The technique literally slices into the soil, creating rows for the seed to fall into, all in one motion.

Steps for Slice Seeding

Step 1: Prepare your yard. Slice seeding is designed to work on the existing turf and soil. Remove any large rocks or debris from the area and mow the lawn to about 1-inch in height, which gives new seedlings the best start.

Step 2: Determine the condition of your lawn. If the thatch is too thick to establish new seed, use an aerator to reduce the layer before seeding. This allows the equipment to slice easily through the thatch and into the soil.

Step 3: Crank up the seeder. The slice seeder cuts vertically through the grass and thatch, into the soil, dropping seed in the rows cut behind. Run the slice seeder over the entire area to be seeded.

Step 4: Add a starter fertilizer. A good fertilizer with slow release nutrients will feed the new seedlings and help develop the plant and its roots.

Step 5: Water, water and water some more. New grass requires gentle watering frequently for short periods of time. For the first 3 to 3 1/2 weeks, do “light, frequent” watering three times a day (morning, noon and evening) for approximately 10 – 15 minutes, while establishing plants. Use a sprinkler system or a water hose that comes closest to natural rainfall, to avoid washing seed away from the soil surface. After your turf grass is established, switch to “heavy, infrequent” watering one or two times a week to a depth of 4 to 6 inches, which takes around 45 minutes. Consider using automatic timers to make watering easy.

Step 6: Stay off the grass. Avoiddislodging the shallow roots of new seedlings, which stops any new growth completely. Do not walk on new grass and keep dogs and other animals away too. It’s a good idea to cordon off any sections of lawn that were slice seeded until it matures.

Step 7: Mow when the height is right. Wait until new grass blades are 2.5 to 3 inches high before making your first cut. When the blades reach around 4 inches, mow back to three inches; avoid removing more than 1/3 of the total blade length. Only mow as your lawn grows, which could mean every four or five days in the spring. If the lawn dries out stop mowing all together, until adequate moisture returns.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next lawn and landscaping project. 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. We’d love to help give your lawn an upgrade!

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How to Plug Your Lawn in 3 Easy Steps

Aerate and Plug Like a Pro!

2×2, 12×12 and add water. One way to quickly establish a new lawn, or a bare part of an existing one, is by planting pieces of sod called plugs. This technique works especially well during the warm spring-summer season, spreading grass varieties such as Zoysia and Bermudagrass. A plug is a 2×2-inch piece of sod, which is planted in rows 12 inches apart and 12 inches away from each other. Eventually the plugs take root, or rhizomes, spreading the grass across your yard.

Sprigs will also do the job of plugs. Sprigs are smaller versions of plugs, or 1- to 3-inch pieces of rhizomes. Sprigs are usually planted by hand and will also root into the soil to grow grass quickly. Sprigs work well for smaller plant areas.

Steps to Plug Your Lawn

Step 1. Remove all grass and weeds from the existing lawn by tilling the soil, then add organic amendments as needed and rake smooth to remove any rocks, plant roots and sod chunks. Soften the area to be plugged by watering thoroughly.

Step 2. Use a hand-held grass plugger, a shovel or an aerator/plugger to dig holes in a checkerboard pattern. Fill holes with a lawn starter fertilizer before planting the plug, then tamp down the soil to prevent air pockets. Specifically formulated for new grass plugs or seeded lawns, starter fertilizers give that extra nutrition for fast growth. Not to mention, it prevents root burn.

Step 3. Give each plug and the entire area another deep watering and continue for 7-10 days until plugs are established, roots have grown out from them and new grass growth appears.

Wait at least two weeks and as long as six weeks before mowing, which will further promote spreading. The new plugged lawn can also be fertilized just as a mature lawn.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next lawn and landscaping project. 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. We’d love to help you plan and plant the lawn of your dreams!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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Dethatch Your Lawn This Spring for Beautiful, Healthy Grass

Could your lawn use a good dethatching?

Who wouldn’t enjoy a barefoot walk through a lush, green lawn? Grass is arguably the most popular groundcover for homeowners who appreciate its excellent ground protection and desirable curb appeal. For those DIY-ers who also enjoy caring for their lawns, dethatching should definitely be on the to-do list.

Grass is a beautiful three-tiered terrarium, if you will. A root system on the bottom supports the thousands of long, green blades that grow above a tightly woven layer of leaves, stems, roots and decomposing material known as thatch. As long as the thatch layer gets no thicker than 3/4″, it contributes to lawn health by:

  • Mulching naturally to slow water loss
  • Allowing sunlight and fertilizer to feed the grass
  • Protecting the soil and grass from insects and disease
  • Decreasing compaction and improving foot tolerance
  • Insulating grass crowns from temperature swings
  • Letting grass root into the soil rather than growing into nutrient-lacking, too-thick thatch

Does Your Lawn Need Dethatching?

Dethatching rids your lawn of too much thatch and can be done with a dethatching rake or a dethatcher, a mechanical gardening tool that rolls over the grass and thins out thatch with rotary blades, tines or prongs. If a lawn has a springy feel underfoot, then often that means it has a too-thick thatch layer.

Other ways to determine if your lawn needs dethatching:

  • Measure thatch for that ¾-inch cut-off by removing a small, three-inch layer of grass and soil or just pry up a small section of turf.
  • Look at your lawn. Is soil visible between turf crowns? Can you touch the soil through the visible thatch layer? If not, it’s probably too tough and needs to be thinned.

Get to Know Your Grass

Certain grasses tend to form thicker thatch layers and do so quickly, such as St. Augustine grass, Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, Bent grass and aggressive Kentucky bluegrass varieties. Also, dethatching is best done at the height of the grass’s growing season. Since warm and cool season grasses grow most vigorously at different times during the year, know what kind of grass your lawn is before dethatching.

When to Dethatch Your Lawn

Choose a cooler day to dethatch when grass is actively growing and the soil is moist, not dry.

After dethatching, the grass usually needs 45 days to grow back fully. If your area is experiencing a drought, watering restrictions or intense heat waves, postpone dethatching until it passes.

  • Late spring to early summer – warm-season turf like Bahia grass, Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, Centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, Zoysiagrass
  • Early spring or early fall – cool-season turf such as creeping bentgrass, Fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, Rough bluegrass and Ryegrass

How To Dethatch Your Lawn

Step 1. Mow the grass to about half the usual height

Step 2. Mark irrigation heads and other objects in the lawn so that they are visible during dethatching

Step 3. Adjust the blade settings of the dethatcher so thatch is removed without disturbing the soil beneath, about ¼-inch above the ground

Step 4. Roll the dethatcher over the entire lawn to loosen the thatch from the ground

Step 5. Remove all the loosened thatch with a rake

Step 6. After dethatching, water the lawn and add fertilizers to the soil

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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9 Easy Steps to Keep Outdoor Lighting Bright

9 Outdoor Lighting Repair TipsOutdoor lighting for your home and yard is not only a practical design feature that keeps stairways, porches, patios and driveways bright during dark hours, but it adds style to your home’s exterior appearance. However, malfunctioning lights can signal neglect to neighbors and passersby, putting your property in potential danger. Luckily for homeowners, a few easy do-it-yourself steps are all you need to keep outdoor lights working correctly. So, get out the ladder and let’s begin!

Outdoor Lighting Maintenance

  1. Always turn off power
  2. Dismantle light fixture
  3. Clean out debris from around and inside with a brush, or blow it out with an air gun
  4. Wipe any grit and dirt away with a cloth or damp sponge
  5. Tighten any loose components on the inside of the fixture
  6. Replace all burnt-out bulbs; consider using energy-efficient lights
  7. Tighten screws on covers or lids
  8. Refocus light projections, if applicable
  9. Reset timers, if applicable

Troubleshooting Common Repairs

  • Survey for broken fixtures or light stakes (in the case of landscape lighting) and replace
  • Check for exposed wiring and re-tape
  • Intermittent lighting signals a connection issue; corrosion may be to blame
  • If all the lights are out, the cause could be an electrical short, a bad fuse or breaker
  • Dim bulbs indicate improper voltage

A DIY Fix for Corroded Light Fixtures

  • Trim an emery board with scissors to fit into the fixture
  • Remove the bulb
  • Lightly file the contacts in the fixture with the emery board
  • Spray the contacts with automotive ignition sealer to prevent future corrosion
  • Replace the bulb
  • Turn on power and check lighting

Leave Electrical Work to the Professionals

Diagnosing and repairing challenging problems with outdoor lights or an exterior lighting system is a challenge best left to a professional. Any electrical system – and the repairs made to them –must comply with specific electrical codes, which needs expert experience. Find a professional whose electrical experience includes exterior lighting and can resolve issues specific to outdoor systems such as voltage and corrosion.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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Clean Exterior Windows, Doors and Trim Like a Pro

3 Simple Exterior Home RepairsMake a Great First Impression. Cleaning your exterior doors and windows is a sure-fire way to get your house noticed. Add a paint job for the trim and you’re well on the way to that oh-so-desirable curb appeal, transforming a nice-looking house into a beautiful home your visitors will admire. It’s surprisingly effective to clean doors and windows with a few readily available tools.

1. Clean Exterior Windows

Use a good ladder to reach high windows, taking care to observe safety first.

Step 1: Lightly soap up a strip applicator, a handheld sponge or hog-bristle brush with a little dishwashing liquid and water, then clean dirt and grime off without scratching the glass.

Step 2: Wipe the window clean with a squeegee that’s sized appropriately for the pane. Simply pull it over the window in one direction, wiping off the squeegee blade with a lint-free rag at the end of each stroke.

Step 3: Use a damp, wrung-dry soft rag, like a chamois, to dry off corners and any place the squeegee won’t reach, without leaving streaks.

Clean Window Tip: Get rid of stubborn mineral stains without scratching the glass by gently rubbing them with fine 000 steel wool or a cleansing powder that contains oxalic acid (such as Zud or Barkeeper’s Friend).

2. Clean Exterior Doors

Clean wood, steel or fiberglass doors with these same steps:

Step 1: Mix equal parts water and vinegar, or the same dishwashing liquid you use on the windows in a spray bottle. Start by spraying the entire doorframe — top and all — then wipe the frame with a soft cloth to remove dirt, dust and fingerprints. Continue by spraying the door itself and wiping dirt and grime away with a clean cloth. Thoroughly dry the door to prevent any water damage after cleaning.

Step 2: Clean the door’s windows or a complete glass door the same way you would clean the exterior windows, using appropriately-sized tools. If you’re cleaning a sliding glass door, remember to vacuum the tracks and wipe them clean with a little multi-purpose cleaning spray and a dry cloth.

Step 3: Clean locks, handles, kick plates and other hardware by applying a brass or steel polish with a soft cloth, then wiping the hardware dry with a clean rag.

Clean Door Tip: Clean tough grease and stains without damaging the door by applying mineral spirits to a cloth or sponge, then using it to scrub away the stains on the door, wiping the surface clean with a rag.

3. Paint Exterior Trim

If your exterior trim could use a fresh coat of paint, consider using an airless paint sprayer. This tool comes with a variety of features to help you achieve a crisp, clean, painted finish, without the effort of using a roller or a brush.

Easy, Economical, Quick and Versatile. Once you clean and tape around the trim to be painted — to protect other painted surfaces — the accuracy of an airless sprayer lets you paint up to four times faster than rolling or brushing, which means you can be done with your trim job in a jiffy! And you’ll also get an even coat of paint on the trim.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next DIY dream. 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. We’d love to help you make your home be a stand-out on your block!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] 11 Lawn & Garden Tips for Spring

Spring has sprung! Lately it’s been the perfect weather for beautifying your lawn and garden, so if you haven’t already started doing so, you may want to consider putting on your gardening gloves, breaking out your mower and other lawn care equipment and getting to work! To help guide your lawn and garden efforts, the following infographic outlines 11 tips to a gorgeous outdoor space. Use it as a jumping off point, and if you have other ideas for spring lawn and garden tasks, please let us know in the comment section below. And as always, if you have questions about the tools and equipment necessary for your lawn and gardening efforts, don’t hesitate to contact us. Happy green-thumbing!

11 Lawn and Garden Tips for Spring

 

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Digital Marketing Manager at Runyon Equipment Rental. She is passionate about blogging, with a sincere desire to help answer questions and provide inspiration for creative DIY-ers and homeowners.

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3 Things to Help Pull Off Your First Outdoor Barbecue of the Season

3 Tools to Help Make Your First Outdoor BBQ of the Season a SuccessWouldn’t it be nice to enjoy a juicy steak grilled outside? You could add an assortment of yummy roasted veggies to the menu and grill up pineapple slices served with a little vanilla ice cream for desert. And maybe even invite your neighbors over for dinner too, yeah?

Well, it’s totally possible! With just three tools and equipment, you can pull off the first outdoor barbecue of the season (given you’ve already got a deck and a grill and a few neighbors you like to spend time with). So here’s what you need:

1. Pressure Washer

The first thing to do is clean the deck and all your outdoor furniture, washing away any dirt and grime that winter left behind. Not to mention, that pine or flower pollen that’s coating every surface in your backyard. Using a pressure washer makes quick work out of this traditional warm-weather chore. Chose an appropriate cleaning solution for your equipment and rinse away. Just be careful to monitor liquid pressure. The deck can handle a more powerful stream than an outdoor set of table and chairs.

You can even pressure wash the grill – give it a good cleaning after getting it out for the season. If you need a more thorough refurbishing job, check out our recent blog post, Master of the Grill: Clean and Repair Your Grill in 10 Easy Stepseverything you need to know to get your grill in top form for a season of good eats.

2. Propane

It’s time to stop by for a propane tank for the grill. We carry a variety of tank sizes, which are made of steel, engineered for lightweight strength and manufactured to Department of Transportation (DOT) specifications in facilities that have a Quality Management System certified to ISO 9002 requirements. In fact, propane is so integral to a happy grilling experience, you should consider getting a spare!

Of course, if you’re a charcoal kind of griller, then your number two would be heading to your local hardware store to pick up charcoal fuel for your grilling fire.

3. Power Tools

Once you clean up the patio and get the grill ready, you can focus more attention on making those backyard patio transformations that you’ve been dreaming about a reality. You may remember the projects we wrote about in our recent blog post, Stir Up a Little DIY Inspiration with These 3 Project Ideas. And with each of these ideas it’s rather likely you’ll need a nail gun, stapler, circular saw, drill or any number of other power tools to help you accomplish such a feat. From new landscape features to new cushions for your furniture and attractive privacy walls, our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next DIY project.

So that’s it – the three things to help you and your guests to inaugurate the grilling season. 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. We’d love to help you enjoy that steak dinner in style!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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How-to Tutorial: Stain Your Fence in 3 Simple Steps

Stain Your Fence in 3 Simple Steps

Staining and sealing a fence is a lot like staining and sealing your deck. In just three steps you can guarantee that its color and durability are maintained.

Step 1 – Prep the fence by clearing away any plants around the bottom and using a pressure washer to clean and remove tough residue.

Step 2 – Apply stain usinga hand-held paint sprayer for a consistent, uniform coat that goes on quickly. Fill the sprayer with the stain and spray it evenly from one end of the fence to the other in a steady, vertical pattern, overlapping each row.

Step 3 – For maximum protection, wait at least two days for the stain to dry. Then, seal the fence by applying sealer with a paintbrush or roller.

This is a very brief how-to, so if you would like more in-depth tips about staining outdoors, read this post about staining your deck. And as always, contact us or comment if you have additional questions!

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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Replace Your Old, Damaged Mailbox in 5 Easy Steps

Replace Your Mailbox in 5 Easy StepsHas this spring’s snow melt revealed a mailbox that’s been pummeled by plows?

Now’s the time to add a little curb appeal to your home and replace that damaged mailbox with a new version, which not only meets federal regulations, but it’s stylish too. All you need are a few hours and some basic tools to check this outdoor improvement off your spring checklist.

Before you replace an existing mailbox or install one for the first time, keep in mind these federal regulations:

  • Install the mailbox about two feet in from the edge of the street, on the right-hand side as traveled by your mail carrier
  • Place the bottom of mailbox at a height of 42 inches from the ground
  • Clearly mark your house number on the mailbox with painted digits or stickers no less than one inch in height

5 Easy Steps for Replacing Your Mailbox

Once you’ve checked for underground utilities, you’re ready for the first step.

Step 1 – Dig the mailbox posthole using a post hole digger or a shovel, making sure it’s deep enough to set the post at the correct height, allowing for about 6 inches of gravel at the bottom.

Step 2 – Add gravel and prepare quick-setting concrete mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 3 – Set the post and fill the hole with the prepared concrete mix, tamping to eliminate air pockets and sloping around the base to allow for water runoff. Or, you can fill the hole to within a few inches of the top and conceal the concrete with soil after it sets.

Step 4 – Attach the mailbox to the post after it sets with attachment brackets that come with the new mailbox. Use the old brackets or purchase them separately. Use a level to check the mailbox and adjust as needed.

Step 5 – Label the side and the front of the box with your house number using stick-on digits or stencils and paint.

While you’re at it, take another step to improve your curb appeal by co-coordinating your mailbox numbers with your house numbers. For more ideas about how to prep your home, yard and garden for warm weather, visit our how-to page. If you have any questions about this process and the tools necessary, be sure to comment below or contact us on our website.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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Create Curb Appeal with Concrete Resurfacing

Repair Your Cracked and Eroded DrivewayToday’s the day for that do-it-yourself concrete repair project you’ve been meaning to accomplish for a while now: restoring your driveway, walkway and patio. The weather’s been cooperating all week long — there’s been no rain and temperatures are ranging between 70° and 75°F — which is not only great for your mood, but perfect for your concrete, which needs to maintain a surface temp of at least 50°F before you can repair those cracks or crumbles successfully.

No jackhammer needed. Unless your concrete has extremely wide cracking and an uneven surface, there’s no need to tear it out, repair the sub base and pour new concrete. The existing concrete can be restored to look like new with a little repair and resurfacing. Smaller cracks are relatively simple to fix, if you have these tools and products on hand:

*A quick note about power trowels: available for rent, this equipment comes with accessories for working out surface imperfections and creating a satin smooth concrete finish with ease. As always, let us know what questions you have, or if you need advice on which tools will help you effectively complete a project.

Small cracks up to a half-inch wide are the simplest to repair. Use a wire brush or chisel to scrape any debris from the crack, then spray or hose clean with water. A latex concrete patch can be injected with a caulking gun or troweled into the crack, leveled and smoothed out.

Tiny cracks up to a quarter of an inch wide should be worked with a chisel to widen slightly, enough to help hold the patch material in place. Spray the crack clean with water and let dry before applying a concrete adhesive, then a concrete patch compound. Level the patch with a trowel. Once any crack is filled, cover the repair with plastic and allow it to dry slowly before moving on to resurfacing.

If you plan to resurface your concrete, mask the expansion joints. These are the dividing areas of large slabs that help control cracking. Mask them with duct tape before applying a dressing. Mix the resurfacer with a portable mixer or electric drill fitted with a mixing paddle, pour it onto the clean slab and spread it out immediately with a trowel. Remember to texture the surface with a push broom, to create slip resistance.

Time is of the essence. Experts say is takes about one hour to resurface 60 square feet of concrete. If you use a polymer-based cement resurfacer, you’ve got less than 30 minutes to apply once water is mixed in, so prepare it in batches. The treated surface can be walked on after about two hours; wait six hours before driving a car onto a driveway. After 24 hours, protect the new surface with a clear, waterborne masonry sealer.

Learn more about restoring cracked and eroded surfaces from our blog post, The 7 Step Process to Restore Your Cracked and Eroded Driveways.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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Check These 10 Indoor and Outdoor Improvements Off Your Spring Checklist

Continuing with the spring cleaning trend, this infographic provides you with tips for those pesky indoor and outdoor tasks that need checked off your to-do list. Some of these you may not think about typically, so take a look and identify which may be applicable to your home. And it’s a great idea to get a head start on these now, so by the time summer break, and consequentially summer entertaining, rolls around you’re ready to relax!

Spring Cleaning Infographic

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Digital Marketing Manager at Runyon Equipment Rental. She is passionate about blogging, with a sincere desire to help answer questions and provide inspiration for creative DIY-ers and homeowners.

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How to Clean Your Pool and Hot Tub in 5 Easy Steps

How to Clean Your Pool in 5 Easy StepsDo you remember the television character Fred the Baker and his line “Time to make the donuts”? It’s a classic commercial for regional coffee chain Dunkin’ Donuts – named one of the top five in the ’80s. Well, Fred and his trustworthy work ethic became so popular that his “Time to make the donuts” catch phrase earned a place in pop culture as the quintessential expression for the drudgery of repetitive chores. So, you’ll get it when we say, “Time to clean the pool!”

Easy Pool and Hot Tub Maintenance

Let’s make maintaining the pool or hot tub less of a chore this year. These days in fact, automatic pool cleaners are available from your local hardware store. These cleaners (whether vinyl, concrete or fiberglass) can easily remove dirt, twigs, leaves and debris from any in-ground pool or spa. They work with the existing skimmer, pump and filter, and they can save you from the drudgery of vacuuming for years to come. Or, if you prefer to do the maintenance yourself, try these easy tips for keeping your pool or hot tub perfectly crystal-clear.

1)   Trim, Skim and Vacuum

Trim back trees or bushes near your pool or hot tub that can shed pollen, blossoms or leaves onto the surface. Skim the water surface to remove floating debris and empty the skimmer basket. Vacuum slowly across the water, overlapping areas like you would when mowing a lawn. The average pool requires 30 minutes of vacuuming. Use a nylon brush (or a stainless steel brush for concrete) to brush away any algae off the sides.

2)   Drain, Scrub and Cover

Every three months, drain the hot tub of water. Then, clean thoroughly with a mild cleaner, avoiding anything that’s too abrasive, which can damage the acrylic shell. Remember to clean the hot tub cover too. Use a cleaner made for vinyl or a weak chlorine solution and let it air-dry before re-covering the hot tub.

3)   Adjust Chemistry

The correct chemistry for a pool or hot tub is critical to keeping the water clear and safe. Test the chemicals weekly. Adjust pH first if needed or “shock” the water by dissolving chlorine and/or and alkalinity increaser in a little water, then pour it in.

4)   Backwash, Clean and Add Chlorine

Every week, redirect water flow into the filter by backwashing dirty water into the filter bag or to the storm drain. If the pool has a cartridge-type filter, remove it for rinsing and reinsert. Hot tub filters are cleaned in a similar way. Next, shut the filter system off, close the skimmer valve and clean out the hair/lint catcher of a pool pump. Empty the contents of the basket in the trap and reinsert. Finally, add chlorine to the pool using a floating container, which holds chlorine sticks or a chlorinator (the tube-like tank next to the filter that slowly introduces chlorine into the pool automatically). Use the amount recommended on the packaging.

5)   Check Levels

Finally, check the water level in the pool or hot tub, refilling if necessary. In general, pool and hot tub design provides for convenient, at-home maintenance. Remember to consult the product manual when choosing chemicals and cleaning agents. With consistent care, you can change, “Time to clean the pool” to “Time to have some fun in the pool!”

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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DIY Projects: Spring Cleaning Ideas and Inspiration

In continuing with this week’s Spring Cleaning theme, I’d like to share some of my current projects to get you thinking about projects you can do around your house. Although it is a holiday weekend, maybe you’d like to knock a few things out before family gets in tomorrow or Sunday. So, take a look at some of my pictures below and get inspired!

Again the importance of organization: I’ve been cleaning out my closets and garage, which as you can see are full of shoes! I used to work at a shoe store, hence the exorbitant amount. You can also see some of the boxes and storage bins I’ve started to use though, a key to keeping things in their respective places and all together. We’re moving furniture and getting clean under the beds too. It’s been a month of sheer work, but once summer is here, it’ll be nothing but fun!

Closet and Garage Organization

Give your rooms new life: In addition to organizing, I’ve been redecorating and sprucing up some of our furniture and decor in various rooms. You can see below our bathroom. We’re having a new shower put in and I’m getting ready to paint above the toilet. There used to be a cabinet there and a while back we painted around it, but recently we removed it, so now the wall needs painted. Also, the living room furniture is brand new, bringing a modern chic vibe to the space. The bar chairs we’ve had for a long time; I bought them at a furniture store by Castleton several years ago, so they were a tad dated. To give them a fresh and updated look, I cleaned them up with a new coat of paint and reupholstered the fabric. You can go to the hardware store and get touch up kits for furniture in all colors to get the knicks out and keep it looking new. And remember, now is also the time to take things up a notch and clean ceiling fans, light fixtures and bulk heads.
Spring Decorating and Home Updates

Get your yard in order: Below are before and after pictures of a dead tree we cut down in our front yard. It once added to our curb appeal, but then it started to rot, so time to go! We cut it down with a chainsaw, easy as pie. Now is also the perfect time for planting spring flowers. Poppies can be planted safely in pots. Oh, and another thing, it’s a good time to spray around the exterior of your house so insects cannot make their way in. If you need more tips on which yard clean-up tasks should be on your checklist, read this post.

Cutting Down a Dead Tree

Hopefully this DIY project recap helped give you a few ideas for your home. If you need any advice for which tools to use for your projects, let us know! And please post your own ideas for Spring Projects in the comment section below. For more inspiration, be sure to read the post from earlier this week.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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Give Your Home a Thorough Spring Cleaning with These 4 Weekend Projects

It is that time of year again, time to unpack your warm-weather clothes and do some around-the-house Spring Cleaning. So open up your windows, let a little light in and get ready to get dusty! This year’s winter was pretty rough, with an exorbitant amount of snow, ice and slush, all inevitably tracked into your home. Not to mention all the other dirt, grime and mess that has probably built up over the past few months. Well, since sunshine re-energizes us all, channel some of that inner motivation and get to work cleaning and breathing some much-needed life back into your home this spring!

household spring cleaning1. All-Around Cleaning Spree

Begin your spring cleaning by giving your whole house a touch-up. This means cleaning your toilet, shower and sinks, sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, basically all those fun things you just love to do, eh? Then, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can go a little more in-depth and wash your windows, clean ceiling fans and light fixtures, etc. Taking the time to wipe away all the grime will literally make your home sparkle, so the result is well worth it.

2. Organizing Those Messy Closets

closet organizationNot sure about you, but sorting and organizing closets is always therapeutic for me. At least once a year it is a good idea to get rid of the old and make room for the new. With the weather finally warming up and the seasons changing, not only does that mean packing up and putting away winter sweaters, boots, scarves, etc., but even better, that means getting out your warm summer outfits! And while you’re doing a wardrobe switch-out, you might as well reorganize wayward boxes, files, and all sorts of other things that have most likely accumulated. File folders, storage crates and designated boxes really help with this I’ve found. Everything has a home as I like to say, so make a place for things and it will be much easier to find what you’re looking for later on.

carpet cleaning3. Clean Your Snow-Stained Carpets

As briefly mentioned already, winter probably did a number on your carpets, so now is a good time to think about deep cleaning them. It isn’t a difficult feat, one we’ve already outlined in a prior post. There are several heavy-duty carpet cleaners you should consider when determining which is best for your floor, and keep in mind that lighter carpets stain more easily, thus stains are more apparent, so they require greater cleaning strength. Find a full range of carpet cleaners here.

redecorate for spring4. Redecorate and Liven-Up Your Home

Spring means fresh and new, so give your home a little life by rearranging furniture, repainting select rooms, switching out decor (i.e. pillows, pictures, curtains, etc.), upgrading fixtures or changing up your style altogether. If you need a little inspiration, check out some of the posts we’ve written recently with specific DIY project how-to’s.

I’m sure there are many other Spring Cleaning projects, so tell us in the comment section below what some of yours are, we would love to hear them! And as always, let us know what questions you have, or if you need advice on which tools will help you effectively complete a project.

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Equipment Rental. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

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Tackle Spring Clean-Up in Your Yard with This Handy Checklist

spring clean-up checklistFor the gardener and do-it-yourself landscaper, springtime is nature’s way of giving you a little breathing space, a moment to reflect on how your yard creations are holding up through the tests of weather and time before the real growing season begins. Once you clear away winter’s debris, mulch or dead twigs, you can decide where to focus your efforts. Whether it be thinning out crowded areas, filling in bare spots or preparing your yard for new growth, buds and blooms. Here’s what you’ll need to start your spring clean-up and give your yard a fresh start.

Gather all the necessary tools…

If you’ve got a lot of clean-up to do, and you like trying out different kinds of equipment, consider renting a soil conditioner attachment. You can grade, soften, mix, level, rake, remove debris as well as pulverize and prepare seedbeds, remove entire lawns and weeds, all with this one tool that attaches to a Bobcat. Sweet!

Complete the spring yard clean-up checklist:

  1. Prune dead and damaged branches back to live stems and clip off wayward shoots to an intersecting branch. Summer-flowering shrubs should be pruned before the plant buds. Wait to prune spring-flowering plants until after blooms fade.
  1. Trim overgrown evergreens back, starting from the bottom of the tree trunk to eliminate dead branches and encourage an appealing tree shape.
  1. Cut back flowering perennials to a height of 4–5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2–3 inches, which encourages new growth.
  1. Thin crowded beds by digging up perennial bulbs. Instead of throwing them away, divide the extra bulbs, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them in other areas of the yard.
  1. If rose bushes are winter-damaged, cut back to 1 inch below the blackened area. Remove older woody canes on climbing rose bushes, fastening younger canes gently in place with jute twine or Velcro fasteners.
  1. Rake out fallen leaves, dead foliage and annuals, as well as spent mulch to prepare for a new layer once your planting is finished.
  1. Spread an appropriate fertilizer for existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that April showers can carry it to the roots.
  1. Inspect any drip irrigation lines and repair if necessary.
  1. Give beds a clean edge with a shovel or a weed eater.
  2. Remove damaged grass turf to prepare for spring seeding. It’s also a good time to test the soil’s pH and add an appropriate fertilizer, if needed.

And finally, feed the compost pile! Dump all debris, cuttings, foliage and last season’s mulch into your compost pile, and you’re done…at least until it’s time for spring seeding! And as always, for questions and comments please visit our website or leave a comment in the section below. Happy yard cleaning!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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2 DIY Project Ideas from a True DIY-er and Tool Expert

2 DIY Spring Projects

With the weather finally warming up and spring in the air, I’ve spent the past few weekends doing DIY projects. The first involved restaining some old furniture, and for the second I patched up all the holes and out-of-use phone outlets in my home. They both turned out really well, so I’m excited to share them with you.

1. Re-Staining Furniture

This project went so well that I’m doing 2 more pieces. For the first time in my life, I took to staining a piece of furniture that had become discolored. It had come down to change it or trash it. Since it was already finished, it just needed slightly sanded. I used a bucket of water and a washcloth to get rid of the powder and wiped it down. Then I bought stain with poly something or the other to stain and protect at the same time. I think the name was mini something in a satin finish, but you can get gloss too. The trick is to always go to a darker shade. Two coats did the trick and it looks great. I was quite pleased with myself, so I decided to do 2 more pieces, one that’s too oak gold for my taste and the other just to restore its original color. This is an easy project with a dynamic effect!

2. Patching Holes and Outlets

My husband and I had our house built, and like many people at the time we had phones installed. Now, with cell phones and satellite internet I decided to kill our landlines. It’s been over 5 years since we’ve used it, and for a time we had a picture over the box to cover the hideous plastic kitchen outlet. However, I finally decided to fix it all together, so I bought a drywall kit and mud and actually did my first patch. I had so much fun that not only did I cover the old phone outlet, but I removed every picture and nail in my home and patched every hole. I repainted them and now I’m ready to rehang the pictures, but at the right height.

These are only two DIY project ideas; there are so many others! We’d love for you to share your successful past projects in the comment section below. And as always, be sure to ask your questions about these and any other tips and tricks of the trade!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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The 4 Secrets to Beautiful Tile Accents in Your Home

The 4 Secrets to Beautiful Tile Accents in Your HomeTile is a beautiful thing. At first glance tile can seem like an expensive accent for your walls or floors. Not to mention, a time-consuming, specialized do-it-yourself job to boot. The good news: making a stylish upgrade to your kitchen or bathroom with a tile backsplash or floor makeover adds value to your home, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money or time doing it. The secret: embellish your living space with beautiful tile accents.

When it comes to tile, how do you make creative choices? Here are a few tips:

1. Create a focal point around cooking areas in the kitchen or in back of a bathroom sink.  Mix and match different tile colors, textures, metals, glass and ceramic, or use more expensive tile along with more affordable options, to create a pattern. Consider the look of the counter – intricate backsplashes look great with solid countertops. On a floor, create a tile “rug” in the center of an entryway or in front of a backroom counter.

2. Accent the entire room by wrapping it with the tile backsplash design, which can help make a small space seem larger. In the same way, wrapping a floor with a tile border can look pretty spiffy.

3. Use affordable tile in unusual ways. Place tile vertically or on a diagonal. Simply by changing the orientation of inexpensive subway or field tile, you can give it a modern look.

4. Plan your design, right on the wall or floor by prepping the surface to be tiled with a layer of white thinset. Once it’s dry, draw the design with pencil. Even easier: splurge for tile that’s sold already in pattern.

Gather your tools for the job. Here’s a list of all the tools you may need for tiling a backsplash or a floor in the kitchen or bathroom:

Follow these steps for a beautiful tile project. Regardless of the type of tile project you decide on, the following steps will start you on your way.

Step 1: Prepare the substrate. Substrate is the surface to be tiled and can be made from drywall, cement board, plywood or other type of backing. Tape, plaster or mud the substrate seams so the surface is smooth. After this work is complete, make sure the surface is free of dust, oils or residues to guarantee a strong adhesive bond.

Step 2: Plan tile design. Draw the design with pencil, directly on the prepared surface to be tiled, or snap chalk lines to be used as guidelines, measuring to determine the best location to start tiling. Allow full tiles to be places in areas that draw the most attention and hide cuts in corners and under cabinets.

Step 3: Apply mortar. Spread adhesive with the flat side of the trowel, flip the trowel over to the notched side and double back over the area to remove any excess. Cover the entire surface with a medium-thick layer of adhesive.

Step 4: Install tiles. Begin installing full tiles or tile sheets, working off of the countertop surface, or one corner of a floor and move up or out.

Step 5: Make cuts. Make cuts to fit tiles around electrical, cabinets, light fixtures, toilets or bathtubs, and then fit the tiles into the design.

As always, contact us with any questions on your tile projects, or comment below. We’re here to help!

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

Give Your Furniture a Fresh Look with a Little Paint, New Hardware and Glaze

Bedroom Dresser MakeoverOkay so we have all built our custom headboards by now right? Good! Still got the bug to make changes in your bedroom, how about freshening up your dressers and night stand? This dresser makeover pin is the perfect starting point. This DIY-er re-finished her dresser, along with a couple of night stands. Now this is a somewhat in-depth project with many steps, but seeing your like-new redone furniture will make the effort well worth it!

First things first, prep and paint your furniture.

You’ll need a drill to remove all hardware from the drawers. Then, remove the drawers as well. Grab your sander and fine grit sandpaper, ideally 220, and smooth out all the surfaces you plan on painting. You don’t want to do too much sanding, you are just trying to get a nice, smooth surface that is ready for paint. Once you’ve sanded, paint your little heart out — a couple coats of primer and then a couple coats of your color of choice.

Dress up your dresser with new hardware.

Before you put your drawers back in you’ll need to address your hardware. So if you’re replacing them, now is the time to get your drill and put your new hardware on. But why not take that old hardware and refinish it like you did your dresser? Find an old board and use your drill to fasten all your hardware to the board so that while you paint everything stays in place and gets a nice even coat of paint. While you wait for everything to dry, look back at your before pictures and compare the difference so far — pretty amazing huh?

If you’re feeling fancy, get out the glaze.

If you’re feeling fancy, now is the time to give your refinished dresser not only a new look, but a new feel! Glazing is a really great way to give a rustic flair to an otherwise plane jane piece of furniture. Grab your sander and that fine grit paper and sand away, again. Tedious maybe, but you are ensuring that you will have the best finish possible, one that will last for years to come. Now with your accent color, paint the insets of the dresser. Once you’ve done that, line the drawers up and start glazing. You will want to glaze them all at the same time in an effort to keep the glazing pattern consistent. Once it has all dried and you are happy with your new finish, seal it with a clear coat. You can spray the sealer on the faces of the dresser and paint it on all the large flat surfaces.

After all is said and done, you are going to have a beautifully re-finished dresser that changes the whole mood of your room. Enjoy your restful oasis while you can, because spring is just around the corner, and we all know that after this winter it will be hard to stay inside except to sleep! Happy refinishing!

*photo courtesy of Thrifty Inspirations
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Repurpose Yard Debris for Next Year’s Stockpile of Firewood

Stockpile Yard Debris for FirewoodThe reports are in — the last six months have been the coldest for much of the country in the last 100 years. That’s quite a statistic, extending from mid-fall in October all the way through this record-breaking winter that continues to whiteout snowfall totals, in addition to low temps.

Is there still a chance to save a little money on heating costs this year, or save up for next? Perhaps… if you have a fireplace, an insert or wood-burning stove, and a lot of fallen wood in your yard from all those winter storms.

During typical stormy weather, howling wind will knock dead tree branches to the ground, wood that could already be seasoned and used for fuel. Here’s how to tell if wood is ready to burn:

  • Dry wood is lighter in weight
  • Bark is dark or gray or missing, wood is whitish on the inside
  • Appears dry when freshly cut; cracked if already split
  • When tapped together, dry wood makes a hollow sound; wet wood makes a thud sound

Fallen limbs and tree debris can come in large pieces, so you’ll need to cut it down to size. Once you’ve gathered the stash, use a chainsaw to chop up long slender branches and medium-sized chunks to a size that fits easily into your fireplace or wood stove. If an entire tree has fallen, remove smaller branches right at the site, then use a log splitter to cut up the bigger trunk. You’ll probably work up a bit of sweat doing this kind of yard work – and make a bit of a mess, too – but nothing needs to go to waste. Rent a wood chipper and make mulch from all the little pieces. Your garden will thank you later this spring!

If the fallen debris is wet wood, cut it up anyway and stack it for use next winter. Proper seasoning takes at least a year, more if the stack is covered with a tarp, slowing moisture evaporation. The best-burning wood has been seasoned for two to three years.

Tips for Fireplace Efficiency

An open fireplace is no more than 15 percent efficient, because a huge amount of heat is lost up the chimney. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox or open the nearest window slightly and close the doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F. Here are a few more tips for increasing heating efficiency:

  1. stockpiled firewoodIf a fireplace is never used, plug and seal the chimney flue
  2. Keep fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning
  3. Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible
  4. Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room
  5. Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room
  6. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth
  7. Install a fireplace insert or a wood-burning stove
    1. Placed partly into the fireplace, using the existing chimney to vent exhaust gases
    2. Placed in front of the fireplace (self-contained, free-standing units vented into the fireplace chimney)

Although it is finally warming up, and building a fire may not be as necessary anymore, why not use your yard debris for firewood and tinder next year? Stock pile it and then you have one less thing to worry about come October. If you have additional questions, contact us here. And, any other ideas for how to use yard debris? Share your ideas in the comment section below.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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5 Ideas to Make Your Herb Garden Grow

Create Your Herb Garden

Now that the clocks have “sprung forward,” and the official start to spring is just days away, why not make plans for that outdoor herb garden you’ve always wanted? A strategically placed herb garden will not only enhance the flavor of your culinary creations, it can help to beautify your yard too. Here are a few ideas for creating an herb garden that just may cool your spring fever!

1. Start with the herbs. Kitchen herbs are also good-looking plants, lending a visual appeal to a garden bed. Experts suggest choosing plants with variegated leaves or that bloom in different colors. Thyme, oregano and mint come in variegated versions, while certain varieties of basil have deep purple leaves. For added interest, choose varieties with unusual texture, such as the velvety gray-green leaves of Berggarten sage. Remember to choose for fragrance too – the luscious lemon thyme gives off the bright scent of citrus, as do the lovely lavender flowers of rosemary. Mints not only smell and taste minty, but some carry the flavor of chocolate or pear. French tarragon tastes and smells of licorice or anise, while rosemary itself adds a woodsy pine scent.

Herbs thrive in potting soil and need good drainage, but usually don’t require as much attention as flowers or vegetables. Most cooking herbs are hardy perennials that come back every year; however, popular culinary herbs like dill, basil and cilantro are annuals. Most are available at local gardening centers, either as seeds or seedlings. Specialty herb farms may carry hard-to-find herbs, such as lemon verbena, fennel or scented geranium. Here’s a good list of herbs for a starter garden:

choose from a variety of different herbs

Other landscaping supplies you’ll need are a wheel barrow, watering can or hose, rake, shovel and fertilizer.

2. Plant close to your kitchen door. Herbs will thrive in a surprisingly small space. To make the best use of space near your kitchen door, measure an area of the ground with a measuring tool and prepare the soil. Place the plants of herbs you’re most likely to use closest to the door – say, about 20 paces away – so you can snip a few easily during a rainstorm, for instance. Add to your herb garden by planting more varieties in clay pots, which can be moved to sunny spots more easily. 

3. Create an herb border. Include culinary herbs in your landscape design by planting the edge of a sidewalk with herbs instead of flowers. Hearty herbs like rosemary and thyme can have the same effect as small shrubs. Create a geometrical bedding design in your backyard, with pathways for walking by and smelling the sweet fragrances.

4. Build raised beds for growing herbs. Just like with vegetables, fresh herbs will grow well in raised beds, too. And if you just want a small spot for growing herbs, build yourself a planter to place on a patio, porch or deck. Buy a few two by fours and other wood for a bottom from the hardware store, cut to size, nail together and you’re set. Remember to drill holes in the bottom for drainage. Others have had luck with using plastic trowels inside as a planting form. Or, you can simply use a large bag of potting soil – build the planter the right size to hold the soil bag on its side, then cut a few drain holes in one side of the bag and cut the other side open neatly with a pair of scissors, discarding the excess plastic. Plant the herbs directly into the soil, water and you’ve got herbs in due time.

5. Reap your harvest. One of the best parts of growing culinary herbs is using them! Take care cutting herbs in a landscape border, but most re-grow quickly after harvesting, so your beautiful garden can stay beautiful.

Herbs are perfect for tossing in food during the summer, but you can also dry them for the winter.  Cut and wash, rubber band the bunches together and let them dry upside down. This way each bundle retains its color. It takes them about a week to dry out, but once they are, remove the leaves from the stem and grind in a coffee grinder. Finally, put in plastic bags and write the herb name and date. I also put them in tins and give them to neighbors and friends! Write your great ideas for how to use and preserve herbs in the comment section below, or contact us for more details on how to make  your garden this spring.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bedroom Makeover: 4 Custom-Made Headboard Ideas

I think we can all agree that winter can end any time now and that it’s getting a little tiresome to stay inside all the time. Feels like you are looking at the same old stuff over and over. Instead of lamenting about the weather and boredom, get busy and do a low-budget and super fun bedroom makeover. There are so many things that you can do to change things up with just a few tools and a few hours of your time. Compiled below are a few awesome custom headboard ideas from Pinterest. Each is accomplishable, even if you don’t have a construction or craft background. Think of the challenge as a good thing. You may even learn a new skill to use over and over again!

Upholstered Headboard

This Upholstered Headboard can update and change up a room quite a bit. The creator went for the “belgrave” shape but you can choose from so many here! I personally love the “Cavendish” & “Eccleston” shapes, if I get the chance to make a headboard I will pick one of these shapes no doubt. And the beauty of this project is that you can get it done with just a few supplies: a circular saw and a jigsaw. I love that this girl is not only doing the project, but she already owns the tools mentioned. Talk about inspiring, her husband hassled her about her ability to make the headboard, and she nailed it. Not only did she nail it though, but her husband was IMPRESSED!

Tufted Headboard

This Tufted Headboard transforms a room and offers a comfortable, serene look and feel, and who doesn’t want that in a bedroom? This is a simple project that can go smoothly if you plan your work and work your plan effectively. First things first: gather all the supplies you would need. For this project you are looking for: plywood, a saw, tape measure, sharpie, carpenters pencil, drill and drill bit, spray adhesive, foam, batting, fabric, and lastly buttons. After you have gathered all your supplies you can get down to business and create your luxurious new headboard. It’s pretty amazing what can be accomplished with a little time and energy.

Headboard Shelf

What about something a little less traditional like a Headboard Shelf? Consider a functional headboard that can altar the whole tone of your boudoir without breaking the bank, or your back! You need so little to complete this project: a 1×10, 1×8, 1×6, shelf supports, wood screws, finish nails, crown molding, stain, a drill and a jigsaw. When you get all your measurements, remember to measure twice and cut once. It can be tricky to get it right at first, but it’s important you cut accurately. Once you get everything assembled and stained, get it mounted. Then, voila! You have a handy, yet attractive new addition above your bed, the perfect spot for your favorite trinkets, pictures and decor. 

Repurposed Door Headboard

A Repurposed Door Headboard will instantly add character to your bedroom. For this project you’ll need an old door, crown molding, paint, fabric, nailhead trim, glaze, a nail gun or drill and a jigsaw. This headboard creates a serious change with major attitude. The possibilities are endless with this upcycle, it just depends on how intricate you want to make it.

Have any questions about these four projects, or if you’ve built, altered, or repurposed your own, let us know in the comments below!

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets to Perfection

Paint Your Kitchen CabinetsCould your old and outdated kitchen use a little TLC? Just like adding a backsplash can liven up your space, painting your cabinets adds color and dimension, recreating your room into one you really enjoy cooking and entertaining in. And the good news, this project is incredibly affordable, especially when you choose it over replacing your cabinets all together. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to paint your kitchen cabinetry, breathing a little life back into it this spring.

Assess the project and gather supplies.

Depending on how much cabinetry you have to paint, you may need more paint and primer, and the amount of time it takes you to complete will vary. You should also consider your cabinetry’s material type, whether it be wood, laminate or metal. This can change the process concerning whether it needs sanded and what you use to paint the surface.

Also, if you want to switch out the hardware on your cabinets  after painting everything, getting it all done in one go, then you’ll need to coordinate the paint color with knob style, color, size, etc.

As a general list of supplies, you will obviously need paint, primer, paper to cover the counters and backsplash, painter’s tape, scrubbing sponge or cleaning cloth, degreaser, tack cloth, orbital sander, drill (or screwdriver) and paint applicator i.e. paint sprayer and/or paint roller. Once you have all your supplies, it is time to start prepping.

Prepare for paint.

First things first, remove all the cabinet doors, drawers and hardware. It may be a good idea to number corresponding cabinet frames and doors/drawers to be sure you put them back in the appropriate place once you’re all done. Next, set up a paint spraying station outside or on your porch, namely away from valuables in your home. Or, if you decide to paint indoors, you could lay a canvas or plastic tarp on your floor and set saw horses on top to lay your cabinet doors on, being sure this paint area is away from furniture and fixtures. We suggest going outside though.

After you’ve designated an area specifically for painting the cabinet doors and drawers, you’ll want to clean all cabinet surfaces and the doors thoroughly, removing any built-up grime or dust so that the paint can adhere well. This is the step where degreaser, a scrubbing sponge and tack cloth come in handy. Now if your cabinets are plastic laminate or metal, then obviously the next step is not applicable, but if you have wood cabinetry, as is most common, the next step is very important.

Once everything is cleaned, it is time to sand. If you are only giving the cabinets a facelift, you may not want to sand inside the cabinets, inside the drawers or on the backside of the doors, but that is up to you. All the doors will need sanded, on both sides (if you plan to paint both sides that is), and so will the front of the cabinet frames and on the front of the drawers. If there is already paint on the cabinet surface, just rough it up a tad so the new paint will adhere firmly. If there are shiny areas on the cabinets, sand these well, and if there are paint flakes in certain areas you’ll need to sand down to bare wood. The goal is to create a purely flat surface for the paint to adhere to, so keep this in mind as you go.

After sanding, vacuum up all the dust and paint chips, ridding the cabinets of any excess debris. Then you should apply an even coat of primer. This will ensure your cabinets resist stains and water, and it provides the paint a good base. As will be true for the paint, make sure one side of a door, for instance, dries before flipping it over and doing the other.

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get colorful.

For your cabinet doors you can use a paint sprayer (if you are doing so outside that is), but for the cabinetry frame you’ll obviously have to use a paint roller or brush. If you are only doing the front of your drawers use a brush, but for the whole drawer a paint sprayer works more quickly and efficiently.

First, paint your cabinet doors, only the first side, paint your drawers, then start by working inside out, painting the inside of the cabinets, if you choose to do so, and working your way out to the face frames. Then you’re able to go back outside and flip your dried doors to paint the other sides (if applicable). Working in this fashion gives you the most time, allowing the doors and drawers to dry while painting inside, thus eliminating your wait time. This said, you should wait about four hours between coats.

A few tips while painting: always apply thin coats, cover all areas, especially overlapping paint sprayer passes, try to avoid leaving brush strokes, don’t lay on paint too thickly or overwork the brush/roller, avoid creating air bubbles. You generally only need to coats of paint, so after painting the first, lightly sand again, and then lay your second.

Put on the finishing touches.

After all doors, drawers and frames are completely dry, to the touch, you can begin reassembling your cabinetry. Screw the hardware back on [this is where you install new hardware if desired], then put the drawers back in place and screw the doors back onto their respective frames (note: this where the numbering system comes into play). And then, you should be all finished, voila, a brand new kitchen to enjoy for years to come.

For more information on how to use a paint sprayer, its benefits, etc. check out this post. If you have other questions about painting your cabinets, any step in the process, specific types of materials and supplies needed, etc. be sure to contact us or comment below. And happy kitchen DIY-ing!

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Equipment Rental. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

Categories: How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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