Posts Tagged With: outdoor maintenance

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

Fall Checklist Part 2: Caring for Trees and Shrubs

Part 2. Fall Gardening To-Dos

Part two of our Fall Checklist for Winter 2014 focuses on maintenance tips for your trees and shrubs, suggestions for newly planted varieties and what to plant right now, before the snow flies.

Step 1. Water newly planted conifers and other evergreens regularly, especially if there’s little precipitation and even after it starts to snow. Young trees and shrubs need moisture to help establish their root systems.

Step 2. Clean up rotten, fallen crops and leaves from fruit trees, then prune them in late winter. You can spray them with dormant oil, which is effective in controlling and killing off certain insects and mites that could damage trees.

Step 3. Cut back rose canes to within a foot of the ground and cover them with soil.

Step 4. Rake and compost leaves, which could be an ongoing process until all the leaves fall from your trees!

Step 5. Now is the time to plant new plants such as oak, holly, beautyberry and bare-root roses.

Step 6. Mulch, mulch, mulch!

Special Step for 2014. Consider wrapping tender, thin-barked young trees, which are susceptible to winter sunscald and frost crack. Young maples, apple, crabapple, lindens and cherry trees are especially susceptible. Any tree can be wrapped with tree guards to protect from rodent damage and tender foundation shrubs can be wrapped in burlap or heavy Kraft paper found at your local garden center.

Start at the bottom of a plant near the ground, wrapping upward in a spiral, overlapping each layer so that water falls off the wrap. Wrap a tree trunk up to the lowest branches and secure with masking tape. Also, wrap the canes of tender roses in burlap, lay the wrapped canes on the ground and cover them with soil or mulch.

Before growth begins in late winter or early spring, remove the wrap to prevent moisture build-up, which can lead to disease.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with wintering your gardens. From wheelbarrows to shovels and everything in-between, 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.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Part 2. Essential Fall Tools for Your Lawn & Garden

In continuing our discussion of essential tools for the month of October – those pieces of yard equipment that help accomplish everything on your outdoor to-do list – we’re introducing five more. Whereas the previous five revolved around trees and their maintenance, the following five items have to do with your lawn and garden specifically. Continue reading for the second set of essential yard tools and why they’re important for your fall maintenance schedule.

5 Essential Tools for Your Lawn & Garden

1. Aerator

Aerating removes a patch of grass and soil from the lawn, called a plug. This method can achieve fantastic results with regard to soil compaction. In addition, aerating has several major benefits:

  • 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

2. Lawn Vac

This gas-powered device is used to help clean up leaves, as a practical alternative to painstakingly raking your leaves. Thus, it’s a huge time saver. Lawn vacuuming also helps with lawn maintenance. A high capacity leaf vacuum can do almost all the work in one pass, with additional benefits including:

  1. Ease of use: the tough, manual yard work is a lot easier on the body.
  2. Removes leaves from corners and tight spaces: eliminating the inconvenience of manually raking, gathering more leaves in less time.
  3. Creates ready-to-use mulch: leaf vacuums also have the ability to shred and bag fallen leaves, ultimately saving money.
  4. Gathers other debris in addition to leaves: rid your yard of litter, too.
  5. Relatively quiet: the noise won’t wake the neighbors.

3. Tiller

High performance tillers are perfect for breaking new ground and cultivating soft soil.  That said, tillers are particularly ideal for raising garden beds, tilling in tight spaces, tilling close to existing plants, not to mention they’re easily transported and stored. However, keep in mind that your tiller will perform best if you adjust it to match the soil conditions. To optimize your tilling, we recommend following Honda Power Equipment’s acronym ESTER:

  • Evaluate your soil conditions.  Is the ground hard, or are you working in loose soil?
  • Set the tiller according to the conditions.  Depending on your model of tiller, you can adjust the depth bar, the tine configuration, throttle, or gear selection.
  • Till the area briefly.
  • Evaluate the tiller’s performance.
  • Reset the depth bar or other controls as necessary, and continue tilling.

4. Slice Seeder

Slice seeders cut 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.

Especially 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.

5. Over-Seeder

An over-seeder’s design allows seed to be delivered directly to its curved-shaped discs. This helps place the seed directly into soil slits, allowing ultimate seed to soil contact and consequently, better germination. You can seed at a variety of rates for different grass varieties and applications. You control the seed flow rate right from the operator’s station. The flow stops automatically when you raise the reel, allowing for maximum control and precise operation.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, Featured Products, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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