Posts Tagged With: Do it yourself

A Message to the Beginner of Herb Gardening

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

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

Some do’s and don’ts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From aerators and lawn mowers to wheelbarrows and tillers , our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Looking for additional information on gardening? Check out our infographic on growing vegetables for more helpful tips. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Light It Up – Add a DIY Bonfire to Your Backyard

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

Let There Be Fire!

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

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

Watch Out for Flying Embersbonfire snacks

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

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

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

Easy to Build, Easy to Enjoy

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

Steps for Building a Fire Pit:

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

Fire Bowls – Keep it Moving

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

Relax with a Blazing Fire

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

Expert Advice

From shovels and wheelbarrows to tampers and concrete mixers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Want more information on how to build your own fire pit? Check out our previous blog “How to Make a Concrete Fire Pit or Fire Bowl in 5 Easy Steps” for more helpful tips. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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

Refinishing – How to Breathe New Life into an Old Deck

Is your deck looking a little shabby? Is it in need of a makeover? Battling the elements can take a toll on your decking which is why regular maintenance is a must. Refinishing is an easy DIY project that will help extend the life of your outdoor space. After a good scrubbing and a fresh coat of stain, your deck will look like new.

Go Beyond Clean with a Pressure Washer

Remember, you aren’t just cleaning your deck but prepping it for a new coat of stain and protectant. You need to remove as much dirt, grime and old stains as possible. A pressure washer
with a fan nozzle works great for this. Use caution when trying to remove tough stains, the force of the water can gouge wood if focused in one spot too long. So keep it moving!

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5 Tips for Cleaning Your Deck:

  • Cover your plants with plastic – This will help prevent chemicals from getting on them. Rinse the foliage off afterwards as an added measure.
  • Pressure wash – Use a cleanser that is specially formulated to clean decking materials. This keeps the wood from drying out. The most commonly used cleaners have TSP (Trisodium phosphate) in them but may be too harsh to use around plants.
  • Apply some elbow grease – Instead of trying to get tough stains up with the pressure washer, use a scrub brush.
  • Clean between boards – Use an old broom or brush to loosen debris from cracks and crevices.
  • Scrub railings and overhangs – All decking surfaces should be cleaned and refinished to protect them too.

Look for Needed Repairs

Now that you’ve finished washing the deck, allow it to dry for 24 hours. Use this time to inspect and replace any damaged boards. Look for popped nail heads and hammer them back in place.

Once your deck is completely dry, you can sand down rough spots and get ready for the stain.

There are four basic types of stain finishes:

  •  Clear – No tint or color but serves as a protectant for the wood.
  • Tinted – Wood colored tints allow for a uniform, natural appearance.
  • Semi-transparent – Gives some color but still allows for wood grain to show through.
  • Solid colors – Opaque paints hide the wood grain and provide ample color.

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Protect Your Deck from the Elements

Some new exterior paints/ stains can actually fill in small cracks and splits. Due to the thickness of these products, you will need a larger amount to cover your deck but multiple coats won’t be necessary. You can also find stains that contain skid resistant materials (like fine grit/sand) for added safety and still remain comfortable on bare feet.

Advice on applying stain to a deck:

  • Use a roller for larger areas – Paint brushes are great for railings and recesses.
  • Keep your color uniform – For a large area, mix all of your stain together to keep it consistent. Color may vary slightly from can to can.
  • Paint sprayers can clog – Read the label on the product you are using. Some stains are too thick for sprayers.
  • Avoid overlap marks – Work on a few deck boards at a time and paint lengthwise.
  • Let dry at least 24 hours – Test the surface before putting furniture back out. If it is tacky to the touch, give it more time to dry.

Give Your Deck a Makeover

If you’ve been thinking you need a new deck but can’t afford it, try refinishing first. A perfectly good entertainment space may be hidden beneath all that dirt and grime. All it needs is a little do-it-yourself TLC. Let’s face it, we can all use a little makeover from time to time.

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Expert Advice

From pressure washers and paint sprayers to sanders and nail guns, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Looking for additional information on maintaining your deck? Check out our previous blog “Seal and Stain Your Deck in 3 Easy Steps” for more helpful tips. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, DIY Projects, Featured Products, How-To's, Renovate, Restore and Renovate | 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.

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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

[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!

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Categories: How-To's, Infographics | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bring New Life to Your Garden with a Chandelier Bird feeder

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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

Give Old Chairs New Life with Fresh Paint & Upholstery

How to Reupholster ChairsWhile cleaning out the attic (a New Year’s resolution, perhaps?) you come across a pair of your grandmother’s old chairs. You realize that with a fresh coat of paint and new fabric, you can breathe life back into them – and they would be perfect for your home. Congratulations, you have just found your next DIY project!

Good Bones Are Good Bones

Furniture left languishing in attics and storage closets just needs a little TLC to bring out its beautiful essence, not to mention, to make it functional once more. Repurposing well-made old chairs with new paint and upholstery is an easy, inexpensive weekend project. Let’s get started.

To repaint a wood chair, you will need the following:

  • Drop cloth – to keep your floors drip free
  • Tack cloths – to wipe off dust and debris (paper towels/rags leave lint!)
  • Mineral spirits or dish soap – the wood needs a good cleaning
  • Sandpaper – 120 and 220 grit
  • Sanding block – to work in those hard to reach areas
  • Orbital sander – makes easy work of large areas
  • Paint – buy one that can take frequent cleanings
  • Foam roller and brush – these will give you a smoother finish
  • Water based polyurethane – protects your paint and make clean ups easier
  • Wood blocks – to position chair off floor

Tips for Successfully Painting Wood Chairs 

  1. Prep work is key – Start by removing the seat cover. Inspect the chair’s paint condition, if it is chipped or cracked, strip it off to give the paint a smooth surface to stick to. Use a chemical stripper to bubble up the old paint and a putty knife to remove it. A heat gun can also help remove old paint. Be careful not to scrape too hard or you can damage the wood.
  1. Give wood a good cleaning – Clean the surface of the chair using dish soap or mineral spirits to remove any dirt or grease. Why? Contaminants cause paint not to adhere to the wood. Fill cracks and gouges with wood filler, which comes in a variety of color tints so they blend in. Let filler dry 24 hours before painting.
  1. When painting, go with the grain – Use 120 grit sandpaper to smooth off excess filler and to rough up the wood surface. Place the chair on the wood blocks to get it up off floor. Apply your first coat of paint, working from the top down. Paint with the grain of the wood. Allow it to dry, then use the 220 grit fine sandpaper to smooth any remaining rough spots or paint drips. Wipe the chair down completely to remove dust or debris before applying a second coat.
  1. Seal and protect with polyurethane – Seal the chair’s paint with polyurethane. Apply slowly and carefully, using a mini foam roller, to avoid forming air bubbles in the coating. If using a paint sprayer, hold it at least 8-12 inches away from the wood surface. Aim for multiple thin layers instead of doing one or two thick layers. When finished allow 72 hours for the chair to dry completely before using.

7 Steps for Reupholstering

  1. What you’ll need – cotton material for a liner and fabric for the cover.
  2. Remove old material and inspect the foam cushion. This may need to be replaced if too old.
  3. Iron out creases in both the new liner and fabric.
  4. Put the seat frame on the liner and trace 3 inches from the edge. Cut along this line.
  5. Cover the frame and cushion with the liner. Attach on the bottom at the center of each side, pulling the material tightly as you go. Work your way around, going from center to corner on each side. Fold excess material on corners, avoiding creases on the cushion top. Think hospital corners and use that staple gun!
  6. Once the liner is in place, repeat the same procedure with your fabric. If your material contains a pattern, place it the way you want it to be seen on top first, then flip it over to mark your lines. Pull the material tightly. Remember, staples can be removed and fabric re-adjusted.
  7. Once complete, you can attach the cushion back onto the chair frame.

Granny Would Be So Proud!

Now, your chair looks like a million bucks but you know the truth. Over a weekend you have managed to repurpose clutter from your attic into a serviceable piece of furniture. Feel free to take a load off and sit on your new designer chair. Granny would be SO proud!

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and drills to heat guns and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your home DIY project. Looking for more ideas on how to freshen up old furniture? Check out our previous blog. 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, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easy Advice for Installing Storm Windows = Big Energy Savings This Winter

How to Install Storm WindowsWorried about winter heating bills? Or just wishing your home wasn’t so drafty? We’ve already covered the perfect DIY solution #1: installing storm doors. What’s the perfect DIY solution #2? Installing storm windows. They alone can save you between 12 and 33 percent on your heating costs and are much cheaper than replacement windows. Plus, installing storm windows is easy, with our expert how-to advice.

Make Your Choice – Interior or Exterior Storm Windows

Determine what type of storm windows you’d like – interior or exterior. Exterior models come with solid windows and screens in frames that attach directly to an existing window. Interior storm windows are usually seasonal products that you install every winter. They snap or clip into your interior windowsill but do not have adjustable glass panes or screens.

Exterior storm windows are the most common. Frames are made from wood, aluminum or vinyl and offer extra protection to your existing windows. They help them last longer and require less maintenance to the paint and caulk. Most have low emissivity glass (Low-E), which keeps thermal heat in during the winter and infrared heat out during the summer.

Installation is a simple DIY home project that you can tackle in a weekend (depending on the number of windows you have). To start, you will need the following:

Measure, Measure, Measure

Take a series of measurements of the inside of your existing window, at the bottom, top and middle of the frame. Why? The window frame may not be straight. Use the smallest measurement to order your storm windows. Measure the height of the frame from the outside of your window.

Consider ordering your windows with some of the following features:

  • Multiple positioning stops so you can raise or lower the panes to where you want.
  • Quality weather stripping to help stop heating/cooling loss.
  • Pre-drilled holes for quicker installation.
  • Easy-to-clean removable half pane glass and screens to make spring cleaning easier.

Drill Weep Holes then Paint

Storm windows come with weep holes installed at the bottom. Drill matching holes in the bottom exterior windowsill. This will allow condensation to escape. Next, scrap and paint the exterior frame before installing the new window.

Seal Your Storm Windows

Manufacturers recommend applying Butyl caulk, a rubber-based sealant that is good for outdoor installations like siding and gutters. It is a little uncooperative to work with, but it seals better than a silicone caulk. Apply it to the back of the storm window before installing to the exterior frame.

An Extra Set of Hands Comes in – Handy

You may need an extra set of hands to help hold the storm window while you mount it. First center the window then screw it in at top. Close the bottom sash and then screw the sides to the exterior frame. There will be an adjustable expander at the bottom of your storm windows. Tap it down tight against the windowsill and you are done.

Look for Condensation and Fix Air Leaks

Be sure to check your storm windows for condensation during the next cold snap. Leaks from your interior windows can cause moisture build up. This is no problem since the storm window has weep holes, but you may want to follow up with new weather stripping on your interior sill to plug possible air leaks.

Take a Bite Out of Your Next Power Bill

Cutting down on heating bills is always a challenge. Improving your home’s insulation, plugging air leaks and installing storm windows will go a long way to take a bite out of that next bill. Next time the cold wind blows and you sit warm inside, remember to thank your storm windows. Everyone likes a nice pat on the back from time to time.

Expert Advice

From ladders and drills to caulking saws, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to tackle your next DIY project. For more helpful tips on how to keep things warm at your house check out our blog, 3 Easy Economical Ways to Winterize Your Home. 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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Summer Garden Update #2 – Garden Boxes Add Pizzazz to Planting

Add Pizzazz to Your Garden with A DIY PlanterIf you want to change it up a little in your garden this season, why not try adding some garden boxes? These easy-to-build containers are perfect for adding a splash of color to a boring corner of the yard or growing some delicious vegetables for your table. They can make your gardening chores easier, too. Who doesn’t love that idea?

Big on Benefits

The benefits of garden boxes are vast. They are ideal for small spaces and great if your soil is rocky or of poor quality. They also take less effort to maintain because plants placed close together tend to shade and cool the ground around them. This means less watering, less weeding and less mulching. Vegetable gardens planted in raised beds tend to produce higher yields due to better drainage and deep rooting.

Boxes vs. Planters

There is a difference between garden boxes (beds) and garden planters. Generally garden boxes are raised boxes that are open on the bottom to allow plants contact with the soil in your yard. Garden planters are also raised boxes but they are closed on the bottom with either slats or landscaping fabric to keep the dirt inside contained. Whichever you choose to go with, there will be some basic construction involved. Here is what you will need for a rectangular garden box:

  • (4) 2×6 cut to 8 feet
  • (4) 2×6 cut to 4 feet
  • (1) bundle of 18-24” wooden stakes
  • Galvanized nails or screws
  • A level, a small sledge hammer and a drill

Make Your Bed – Then Plant in it

What kind of material do you use to build your garden bed? Generally they are made from lumber. However, look around your yard for materials you may be able to repurpose, such as:

  • Untreated lumber like pine or cedar
  • Concrete blocks – the pH level in your soil may be affected by concrete, but you can correct with fertilizer
  • Bricks
  • Recycled wooden pallets

Avoid pressure treated lumber, which can contain chemicals that leach into the soil. Pass on repurposing railroad ties, too – these are treated with creosote, which is toxic.

A Bed with Easy Access

Select a level section of your yard to place the bed. Make sure the area has adequate sunlight, access to a water source and is free of tree roots. The width of your box should be no wider than four feet to allow for easy access to the bed without having to step into it. The length is not as important. Most beds are usually 4×8 feet or 4×12 feet in size. The depth of the box needs to be no less than six inches, with 12 inches being ideal.

Keep it Level

Construct the frame of your bed by attaching the sides and ends together with galvanized nails or screws. Once you have the frame constructed, drive stakes in the ground inside the corners at one end of your box. Leave about four to six inches of the stakes above ground. Attach the frame to the stakes. Don’t worry about whether the frame is sitting completely on the ground or not. The important thing to remember is to keep the box level when attaching it to the stakes.

Almost Finished

Once you have leveled one end of the box, go to the opposite end and repeat the process. When your box is level, drive a couple of stakes into the ground along the inside of each side. Attach your frame to the stakes. Finish up by adding the sides for the second layer and securing them to the stakes.

Prepare the Soil

Now that your garden box is complete, prepare the bed. You need to break up the ground inside the box. One tip is to remove the top layer of soil (about the depth of your shovel blade) and till up the soil beneath. Add back the soil you have removed and mix it in. Add compost and additional top soil to build up the bed.

Making Your Gardening Easy

When your soil is ready, it is time to add your plants. Whether you are planting flowers or vegetables, an overall planting design will help. Place your tallest plants in the center with trellises and work your way outward. Garden boxes make gardening easy. So think inside the box for a change. You’ll be glad you did.

Expert Advice

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

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Outdoor Refreshers – How to Install a Sprinkler System

How to Install a Permanent Sprinkler System

Dragging garden hoses around the yard and setting up sprinklers is one summertime chore no needs to sweat over. Keep the lawn, flowers, trees and shrubs looking their best by installing a dedicated sprinkler system in your yard.

Do Your Homework

If you’re an intermediate do-it-yourselfer, installing a sprinkler system yourself will take several days, yet the extra planning and set-up on the front end of the project will be worth it as the growing season progresses. Before heading to the hardware store, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need a building permit to install a permanent sprinkler system?
  • Do I know where the underground utility lines are located in my yard? If not, what’s the number for your utility company?
  • Are any local watering restrictions or ordinances in effect?
  • Do your state/ local regulations require a licensed professional to help with part of the installation? Some require professional electricians and plumbers to handle the technical stuff.

Once your homework is done, focus on the details of your sprinkler project. First, set an overall budget that includes the use of professional service people to connect the timer box or tap into the main water line of the house. Also, if you are adding a system to an existing lawn, then factor in what it will cost to fix the damage that trenching may leave across the grass, such as additional sod, grass seed, fertilizer, etc.

Use a Sprinkler Template

Many sprinkler manufacturers can create a customized design for your landscape. They offer templates for you to map all of the features in your yard like shrubs and flower beds, areas of sun and shade, and hardscapes like retaining walls. From this, they will help you design a sprinkler plan with the correct number of zones and suggest the materials needed to install your system. This service may cost a nominal fee but it is worth it to have the details worked out so you don’t have to.

Turn on the Waterworks in 13 Steps (It’s Lucky, We Tell You!)

  1. Mark the location of all the trenches and sprinklers with stakes or plastic flags.
  2. With a gas powered trenching machine, dig trenches 4-12 inches deep according to your plan. The manufacturer will have taken into consideration the area you live and how deep the water lines need to be to keep them from freezing.
  3. Turn off water to house at meter.
  4. Cut into the main water line. This may be where you want to hire a professional plumber to make sure that the work is done properly and your water pressure is maintained. They can also install a backflow prevention device.
  5. Dig a trench from the main water line to the valve box location. At the end dig a hold about 18 inches deep and 2-3 feet long. Line hole with 2 inches of gravel and set the valve box into it. The box lid should be flush with the grass.
  6. Next glue together the manifold and attach the zone valves. Set manifold in box.
  7. Dig a shallow trench from valve box to the location you want for the timer. Lay the 24 volt underground wire in the trench and connect it to the wires leading from each valve.
  8. Place pipes in trenches leading from the valve box. Whenever a pipe branches off you will need to splice a tee fitting to the main pipe and attach a short length of flexible pipe.
  9. Using 90 degree PVC elbow joints join pipes in trenches to the valve box. Turn on the water and flush the pipes to eliminate dirt in line and avoid clogs. Turn water back off.
  10. Install pop up sprinkler heads to each of the flexible pipes.
  11. After mounting the timer box where you want it, attach the 24 volt wires from the zone valves to the timer. You may want to hire an electrician to run power to the timer box.
  12. Set timer and run tests on the system to see where sprinkler heads need to be adjusted. Check lines to make sure there are no leaks that can cost you money down the road.
  13. Fill in trenches with soil and repair the lawn with sod or seed.

Take Time for the Timer

You may want to save money doing the job yourself, but that’s no reason to skimp on the quality of the parts you use. Sprinkler heads take a beating from day to day use and getting mowed over. Putting money into quality sprinkler heads will cut down on you having to go back and forth to the hardware store. Also, research the features you want on your timer. You may want one that allows you to test the system without having to disrupt your programmed schedule. You may also want features like rain sensors or frost sensors so the system doesn’t run during those times.

Homework, folks, will help you avoid any headaches and get you the sprinklers you want. Now sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor and forget all about those stupid garden hoses – except, of course, if you like watering your prize roses by hand. Then by all means, find a great water hose at Runyon!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From landscaping tools to a trencher, 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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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #2 – Building a Backyard Playset

How to Build a PlaysetWhen you think back on your childhood, you may recall playing on a rusty old metal swing set with hard plastic seats. Remember how the whole thing threatened to flip over if you swung too high? The backyard play sets of today are a far cry from those rickety contraptions. Now kids have their choice of towers and forts in addition to swings and slides. What about a rock climbing wall?! We have the technology. The choices are endless … and the cost can run in the thousands of dollars. So what’s a parent to do? Here are a few things to consider in your quest to build a better playset.

Shop Smart

Before you start shopping stores or the internet for a playset to assemble, consider this:

  • Know your audience – What’s the age of the child you are building the playset for? What interests a toddler is less engaging for a 10-year-old. Look for a playset that can be reconfigured as your child grows up. Some sets will have features that can be removed and replaced with more age appropriate ones using very little additional construction.
  • It’s going to be how big? – Determine the size of the area where you want to put the playset. It will help to narrow down the choices in design plans. Consider placing the structure off to one side of the yard rather than in the middle. That gives the kids an open space where they can play football and other games. Besides, you don’t want to step out you back door and onto the jungle gym.
  • Avoid any trips to the ER – Know the weight limit of the playset you select. If you expect a neighborhood of kids to be on it at one time then spend the money for the highest rated play set. Accidents will happen so cushion their falls with a protective surface like bark or rubberized mulch. Spread it in a dense layer and extend it around all sides of the structure. Make sure all platforms and ramps have guard rails.
  • Can I mortgage that playset? – Focus on the quality of the building materials and the inclusive safeguards more than the elaborate play features. A playset made from good hard wood like cedar or redwood is the preferred choice of most professional playset builders. Sure, you will have to clean and paint it, but if properly maintained, a set built out of this kind of wood could last 7-10 years. Pressure treated lumber is less expensive but it has been created using chemicals that you don’t want to expose your children to. Manufacturers say the toxicity levels are low but ultimately it is your call as a parent on whether the risk is worth it.
  • Stick with the classics – Forget all the fancy construction plans. Swings and slides will always be in fashion. Elaborate features like rock climbing walls or trapezes only add to the cost of the project. Remember these are the same kids that happily played with your pots and pans just a few years ago. That swinging pirate ship may fall out of fashion with them in a heartbeat, and if isn’t not easy to remove, you’re stuck with it marooned in your backyard.

A Family Project

No one knows your kids the way you do. Select the type playset that will make them want to put down the smart phone, remote or other device and run out to play on it. Make building it a family project. Even young children can hand you a hammer or help spread mulch. It is all about creating memories of childhood days spent playing with friends on a backyard playset – one they’ll remember was built just for them by you. Priceless.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your backyard projects. From circular saws and nailers/staplers to pressure washers and mulch, 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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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #1 – Building a Better Chicken Coop

How to Build a Chicken Coop

More and more people want to raise chickens. This trend isn’t just in rural areas but in urban ones, too. Folks want to get back to a more organic way of living and eating. If you are a would-be chicken farmer, then it’s time to get your ducks (or dare we say chickens) in a row. Your first big task is to build a chicken coop.

The Scoop on Coops

You need to ask yourself a few key questions upfront to help you refine your game plan:

  • How many chickens do you want to keep? This will determine the size of your coop. A flock of at least three hens would need a 4×8 foot screened-in run as well as a 4×4 foot critter-proofed coop where hens can lay eggs.
  • Do you know where you’ll build or place your coop? You need to place it in an area where it will have adequate shade during the hot summer months and ample sunlight during the cold winter months. Near a tree that drops its leaves in fall is perfect.
  • Do you want to build a coop from scratch or do you want to repurpose an existing building? Recycling an existing structure will save you money but it will still need to be altered to meet the needs of the flock. If you build one from scratch, you may want to purchase detailed chicken coop design plans that will take you through the project step by step. There are plenty of “free” plans out there; just remember – you get what you pay for!

Now that you have determined the size, placement and construction design of your coop, you are ready to begin. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Raise it up – Make sure the floors of the nesting area are raised to help keep chicken feet dry during rainy weather. Galoshes are not an option for these “kids.”
  • Let there be light – Egg production is affected by the amount of light the flock is exposed to. This is why production is down during winter months. To counter this, install a light inside the coop. Use a warm light source and not a blue/white one.
  • Feather that nest – Give the flock warm places to nest. One idea is to use a plastic storage bin with the lid on it. Cut a hole in one end for the chicken to enter through and a second hole on the back so you can reach in for the eggs. Be sure to line the inside of the bin with hay for warmth. The plastic bin makes it easy to pull the nest out, clean it and return it back to the coop.
  • Keep the critters out – Raccoons and other predators are smart so protect your flock with metal latches that cannot be easily opened. Be sure to lock your coop up at night to keep them safe.
  • Free to roam (sort of) – Yes, you want chickens to have ample room to roam but you can’t watch over them all the time. Building a screened in run will keep them safe and provide you with peace of mind.
  • Can we vent? – Good air circulation is essential to keeping your flock in robust health. Place screened in gaps between the walls and the roof to allow heat to escape and air to enter without causing drafts.
  • You have to use the coop, too – Sure, the ladies are a little on the short side, but unless you want to crawl on your hands and knees to retrieve their eggs, you might want to consider your comfort in the design of the building. You will be entering it frequently to feed, water and clean.
  • Let’s decorate this hen house – You will be looking at this chicken coop for a long time so you might as well make it look nice. Consider painting the outside or adding hanging plants. Let your imagination run wild.

Once you are finished with your incredible chicken coop sit back and relax. Bask in the knowledge that your chickens are happy and living in a condo creation that you built. Just ignore the ugly stares you may be attracting are from your dog! (Note to self – next project: new dog house).

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY yard projects. From circular saws to nailers and staplers, 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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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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6 More Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard

6 Landscaping Ideas for a Fabulous Fall YardGive your garden a “boost” by planting in the fall. This is the second of three articles on tips to freshen up your landscape for fall, adding color, texture and panache!

1. Plant Wildflower Seed

Do you know that planting in the fall results in earlier wildflower blooms? Just like fall-seeded lawns, fall-planted wildflower seed has a chance to establish in the ground during the winter, ready to burst into bloom about two weeks earlier than spring-planted seed.

2. Grow Multi-Season Plants

Pagoda dogwood, ninebark, viburnum, fothergilla, reblooming hydrangeas and other plants that show flowers in the spring, berries in the summer, color in the fall and have unique bare branches in the winter keep your landscape ever-changes with each season.

3. Appeal to the Senses

Using a water feature in your garden can appeal to your sense of sound by filtering out street noise, enhancing your sense of sight by reflecting brilliantly colored trees for double the impact, or engaging your sense of touch with cooling trickles or smooth icicles.

4. Choose the Unusual

Include at least one unusual plant in your garden landscape, one with edible fruits or unusual-shaped leaves, wild-looking blooms or imaginative shape. It will keep guests guessing — or amused.

5. Keep it Natural

Create planting beds with plants that grow at different heights in a number of complementary colors, for a design that feels natural.

6. Consider Context & Texture

Bring attention to a unique tree by planting it among several of a different sort, allowing it to shine and adding texture to the landscape. For added interest in the fall and winter, include ornamental grasses, planted near other plants with a delicate look, such as silvery sea holly flowers and golden bluestar foliage.

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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2 Fall Lawn Maintenance Tasks: Aerating/Plugging and Slice Seeding

Aerate & Slice Seed Your LawnYou have a beautiful, healthy lawn and you work hard to keep it that way — mowing, watering and fertilizing as part of a regular maintenance schedule. But lately, you notice that your lawn looks a little lack-luster. It was established back when your home was new, and it’s been a good number of years since then. Perhaps the homebuilder used sod, and now the soil is layered, which disrupts natural water drainage and leads to poor root development. Plus, your kids and pets are running around on it all the time, compacting the soil underneath the grass roots, and now it dries out quickly or feels sort of spongy. This indicates your lawn may have too much thatch that’s inhibiting the proper health of your beautiful lawn.

For all these reasons, aerating your lawn can help keep it beautiful. The best time for aeration is during the growing season in early fall, so grass can heal or fill in any open areas before it goes dormant in winter.

Aeration Accomplishes Several Important Things

  • Aerating perforates the soil with small holes, helping to alleviate soil compaction
  • Aerating helps air and water to penetrate lawn thatch or built-up organic debris so it doesn’t starve the roots
  • Aerating breaks up soil layering, allowing water to reach the roots
  • Aerating allows vital nutrients to reach the soil beneath the grass
  • Aerating helps the roots grow deeply, producing a stronger, more vigorous lawn

If you aerate your lawn and fertilize it at the same time, it can help the lawn breathe more easily. To learn more about this combination, read our blog post, Mark an Item Off Your Fall Checklist – Aerating and Fertilizing.

Types of Aerating Tools

Spike Aerator: pokes holes through the grass, thatch and roots and into the ground with a solid tine, or fork. This method is the least effective for soil compaction.

Aerator/Plugger: removes a patch of grass and soil from the lawn, called a plug. This method can achieve fantastic results with regard to soil compaction.

Slice Seeder: cuts vertically through existing grass and thatch, into the soil, dropping seed in the rows cut behind. Slice seeding makes 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. To learn more, read our blog post, Improve Your Existing Turf with Slice Seeding.

Tips for Aerating Your Yard

  • Aerate when the soil is moist, such as after a rain shower or a deep watering of the lawn
  • Run the aerator over the most compacted areas of your lawn several times, to make sure the compacted soil is completely treated
  • Dry excavated soil plugs and break them up, giving your lawn a uniform appearance
  • Research shows that aeration will not affect crabgrass control or weed prevention measures
  • After aerating, make sure to continue basic lawn care practices such as mowing, watering and proper fertilizing

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you make aeration part of your yearly lawn care regime. From aerator/pluggers to slice seeders to fertilizer, 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. Plus, your beautiful lawn will thank you for helping it breathe again!

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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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[DIY Project] How to Convert An Old Record Player Into A Coffee Bar

How to Turn a Record Player Into a Coffee BarRepurposing furniture is one of the most satisfying and self-accomplished thing an avid DIY-er can do, myself included. My husband and I were thrilled at the prospect of making a personalized coffee bar for our new apartment, perfect to house all our tea and coffee essentials. Coming from a fairly handy family, it just so happens that my dad had the perfect piece of furniture…an old record player with loads of character. With a little help from him [and all his power tools] we turned this dated record player into a fun and functional coffee bar.

First things first, we assembled our tools and materials….

Tools & Materials:

Then we got to work transforming our soon-to-be coffee bar. You can see what it looked like before (let’s just say my dad had other plans for it before I got ahold of it…hence the green spray paint). Then, see the painted and waxed pieces ready for assembly. [Note: a few key steps are left out of the gallery, but read about them in the steps below].

The Steps:

  1. Clear and Spray Paint the Hardware: use your screwdriver and pliers to remove hardware, such as handles, hinges, etc. All the removed hardware was then spray painted with glossy black paint.
  2. Flush Cut the Wood: for removing wood pieces precisely and accurately, use a vibrating saw. For this piece of furniture, the bottom piece where the lid lifts up was removed (see the lid picture above). In addition, the back of the cabinet was removed and a new panel was installed (see how in next step).
  3. Cut and Mount Louwon Board: a new back for the cabinet was installed, made from Louwon. In order to get a precise piece, a paper template was placed and a handheld power jigsaw (or band saw) made the exact cuts. Then the board was put in place and attached with an air nailer. [Note: for this coffee bar there is actually a secret compartment in the bottom right compartment, so that back part was carefully cut out and a new bottom was installed to make a shelf for more storage].
  4. Paint the Doors, Frames and Coffee Bar: the lattice frames, two doors (from the top lid and front right), as well as the coffee bar itself, were painted thoroughly with Annie Sloan paint and then sealed with Annie Sloan wax. This paint is easy to apply and only takes one well-covered coat. The beauty of it is the shabby-chic look it portrays.
  5. Reupholster and Mount Door Inserts: the old door inserts were removed, as were the old fabric panels by unscrewing from the lattice frames. While the lattice frames were painted and drying (as seen in the picture above), new leather panels were measured and mounted to the insert boards with contact cement. After the leather panels dried and the lattice frames also dried, the panels were screwed back into the frames.
  6. Reattach the Doors and Frames: the doors and frames were reattached to the coffee bar with their respective hardware. Then voila! The completed coffee bar!

A Word From Me (the author):

Although your next DIY project probably won’t entail turning a record player into a coffee bar, there are many ideas out there for repurposing old furniture into functional and stylish pieces for your home. Check out Pinterest for a little inspiration! That said, some of the tools and applications from this project can definitely be used for yours. Simply let us know what tools you are looking for, because we do daily rentals out the wahzoo! And please comment below if you have any great ideas for DIY upcycles or your own projects to share.

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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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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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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.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's, Infographics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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Utilize 3 Easy Steps for a Glorious Garden This Spring

Soil. Fertilize. Mulch.Soil. Fertilize. Mulch. Repeat.

Soil. Fertilize. Mulch. Repeat.

It’s the gardener’s mantra, and sometime during the growing season you’re probably adding “Harvest,” and “Enjoy” to the chant as well. As long as you follow this mantra and do your due diligence in preparing your garden for plants, grass, flowers or shrubs, it really will look glorious. So, get out your wheelbarrow and shovel, and get to work.

1. Prepare the Soil

Before you start digging into your garden patch or lawn, make sure the soil is dry enough to work without causing damage. Turning over or tilling wet soil can actually cause it to clump, becoming brick hard after it dries out. Form a ball of soil with your hands, then see if you can break the ball apart easily. If you can, the soil is dry enough to work.

Here are a few more tips:

  • Test the soil pH every three to four years. Use lime to raise pH and iron sulfate or elemental sulfur to lower it, according to recommendations.
  • Improve poor, compacted soils by adding a six-to-eight-inch layer of rich organic compost.
  • If the soil is especially poor, consider building raised beds and filling them with a mixture of good topsoil and leaf compost, for growing vegetables, herbs and flowers.
  • Avoid erosion by protecting bare soil with cover crops, ground-covers, turf or mulch.

2. Fertilize

Most plants used in landscaping get adequate nutrition from a soil that’s rich in organic matter. Garden beds that get yearly applications of at least one inch of compost are also nutritionally sound. Overusing fertilizers can cause weak growth, more pests and water pollution. Make sure to sweep granular fertilizers away from paved surfaces to prevent them from washing into storm drains and waterways.

Plants that typically benefit the most from fertilizer are flower-producing annuals, fruit trees and vegetables. Apply a soluble fertilizer to the root system or to foliage. Fruit trees are usually fertilized in the spring; however, landscape trees, mature shade trees, fescue and bluegrass turf are best fertilized in the fall.

Cow, horse, sheep, pig, goat and poultry manure makes a nutrient-rich, moisture-retaining fertilizer for your plants. In the spring, use cow and horse manure in flower or vegetable beds and on acid-loving plants such as blueberries, azaleas, mountain laurel and rhododendrons. Chicken manure is good for vegetables and potato crops.

3. Mulch

Mulch is a gardener’s secret weapon, protecting plants and soil in a number of ways:

  • Conserves soil water
  • Suppress weeds
  • Moderates soil temperatures
  • Reduces soil erosion and crusting
  • Increases water absorption into the soil
  • Improves soil structure through aeration, moisture control and less cultivation

To properly insulate the soil, apply mulch evenly at a uniform depth of about two inches. If weeds are a problem in your garden, consider treating the area with a pre-emergent herbicide before mulching.

Ideal mulch is one that is free of weeds, insects and disease, adding organic matter to the soil. It’s also readily available, economical, easy-to-apply and remove, yet stays in place. Summer mulches applied in mid-spring, once the soil is warm enough for roots to grow, are made to warm the soil, reduce weeds and retain moisture. Whereas, winter mulches applied in late fall, before the ground has frozen, protect the soil and plants from winter weather.

Gardeners should choose the right mulch for each garden location:

  • For vegetable gardens or fruit plantings, use black plastic, landscape fabric and straw
  • For shrub beds or around trees, use wood chips, bark chunks and pine needles
  • For annual or perennial beds, use attractive bark granules, wood shavings, sawdust, cocoa shells and buckwheat hulls
  • For rock gardens, use crushed stone, fine gravel or volcanic rock

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!

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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.

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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!

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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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