Useful Tip and USE WHAT? Are you ready for this one? Maybe some of you already heard about this, but some of you may not have.
I still can't believe it, Epsom Salt! Here is the funny thing it's right here on the package, with directions. Too funny! Who would have thought? See More on this at http://www.onemoretimeevents.com/2012/07/use...
As a professional deck builder it is amazing looking back at how much things have changed & yet how many things are still the same. One of those items unfortunately revolves around
longevity... Unlike traditional wood decks made 20+ years ago where one could allow them to weather naturally, you would be lucky to get a few year's worth out of a regular wood deck if you tried that now.
In order to enjoy a typical wood deck now it is important that you seal it. No matter if you are a pro or a DIYer, there are two simple rules that I have & hope you will keep in mind no matter what the project is; prepare it properly and follow the manufacturer's directions.
Choosing a sealer:
There are 4 main choices of sealers on the market, each with their own pros & cons. If you are tossing around two or more options, choose the lower tiered item as one can always move up the list but you can't move down it. For example if you are debating between paint & a stain – while you can paint over stain, you can't stain over a painted deck.
· Paint – while many people like the look of paint, this is one of the hardest items to maintain and can easily hide water damaged areas
· Solid Color Stain – while this can look like a paint,it is a stain that gets absorbed into the wood and is easier to maintain, depending on your application some wood grain maybe still visible and it is known to wear unevenly
· Semi-Transparent Stain – For a more natural look with some color, this is the most popular choice, it generally wears more even than solid color, but doesn't protect as well
· Waterproofing or transparent coatings – this will give you the most natural look, but do not hide stains or protect as well
For more on Oil vs. Water Based & other additives: http://bit.ly/DeckSealer
Prepare it properly:
If you ask any professional painter, they will say that on average 80% of their time is spent on properly preparing the surfaces, while only 20% is actually spent applying the product. While this number maybe inflated for decks, just remember that the amount of time spent getting it ready up front, is time well spent.
· Gather all the tools, safety equipment and materials that you will need. Take time to read the directions.
· Check the weather forecasts as most products are very specific on minimum temperatures & when it can be exposed to water
· Make sure the wood is dry enough to accept the stain, sealer, or paint of your choice
· Remove everything located not only on the deck, but around it like furniture, potted plants, wind chimes, etc...
· Cover any plants near the deck to protect them from the overspray & any chemicals you may use.
· Removing any large debris by hand and sweep the deck off, paying particular attention to the area's between the deck boards.
Applying your choice of Sealants:
Do you remember the second rule above? That's right; it's as simple as reading and following the manufacturer's directions. I will give you a few tips though that may or may not be located on the can.
· Apply plastic to any area's that you do not want stain or paint to get on, because once you get started, you do not want to stop to try to clean up an oopsie
· For all stains and sealers, do one complete board at a time – if the you only do half a board or work in sections, you will end up with obvious streaks where the two area's overlap
· Do not over apply the product – in most cases it will result in a flaky or splotchy finish
· Make sure the moisture level of the wood is low enough for work to commence – you do not want to trap all the moisture inside the wood
· Stain or seal all six sides if it is at all possible unless you live by the ocean. This will help prevent moisture from getting into the wood and accelerating the degradation of the finish.
· Let it rest – most paints, stains and sealers take at least a day or more to cure
For more Preparation Tips & other Decking Options; http://bit.ly/HTRC-Decks
Compost tea is the perfect way to boost your plants growth and obtain higher yields - NATURALLY. Better yet, you can make it for free using your own compost! We keep our garden productive
year after year by following a simple and organic three prong approach. We use compost (composting 101) and cover crops (planting cover crops) for building great soil structure and vitality - AND we boost plants during the growing season with a simple homemade natural liquid fertilizer on our plants called compost tea.
Compost tea or "black liquid gold" is the all organic "miracle-growing" solution to fertilizing the garden - minus the chemicals and high salt content that commercial fertilizers add to your soil. It works its magic in two ways - feeding your plants through the roots (soil zones around plants) and the leaves (foliar zones). Unlike synthetic fertilizers, it won't build up chemicals and salt levels that can slowly destroy your soil structure. Instead, adding nutrients that build it!
If you follow along with our blog, you know how important compost is in building healthy soil. We add large amounts of compost to all of our planting beds each year, as well as a good shovel full in every single planting hole. Well, that compost, made from our decomposed vegetable scraps, chicken manure, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and more - is teeming with all-natural, plant-boosting nutrients. By converting those nutrients into a liquid form - we can utilize those nutrients as an organic fertilizer to naturally boost plants growth through the growing season.
How we use it:
Compost Tea can be applied about every two weeks to your garden plants once plants and transplants have become established. By established, we simply mean that they have been in the ground 7 to 10 days and are over the initial shock of transplant.
We apply ours with a watering can or a simple garden sprayer - soaking the area around the root base and the leaves of each plant with the solution. The minerals and nutrients are then absorbed through the leaves (foliar absorption) as well as through the root zone - doubling the effect. As with watering, it is best to apply early in the day before the sun is too hot and the tea can burn the leaves of plants.
We repeat the compost tea applications every two weeks until about mid July. Why stop? Too much of a good thing can also be bad. You want plants to develop strong roots and stems - but too much and the plant will spend all of its energy creating thick foliage and not much fruit. We have found that 4 to 6 total applications seem to be the perfect mix for giving plants the boost they need for good higher yields. The best part - its 100% natural, with no fear of having to use any chemicals in your garden.
How we make it: There are many ways to make compost tea - but we have found this method to be easy, effective, and most importantly, simple!
BASIC COMPOST TEA RECIPE:
You will need a 5 Gallon Bucket, stir stick, water, and a few shovel fulls of finished compost.
Start by filling your bucket about 1/3 full of compost. Use compost from the bottom of your pile, where organic matter has decayed the most and is teeming with life.Next - fill the bucket to the within an inch or two of the top with water. It is best to use well water (we use our rain water) because there will be no chlorine or other chemicals. Chlorine can kill off many of the helpful bacteria and organisms that are alive in compost. If you only have access to city water, no worries - simply fill the bucket a few days in advance and let sit outside. The sun and air will work its magic and within a few days, almost all of the chlorine will be gone.
Stir the compost good with a stick or the end of your garden shovel. Over the course of the next 5 to 7 days, stir the bucket a few times each day. This aeration of the water and the stirring of the compost helps to release more nutrients into the water, much like dunking a tea bag releases more tea into your drink.
At the end of 5 to 7 days, simply strain the mixture through a piece of burlap, mesh screen or a strainer, and you are left with the magical liquid gold fertilizer called compost tea! Store in an air tight container to keep the "liquid gold" at it's best nutrient levels.
You can find more pictures on how we make it by going to our blog post. You can get a little more fancy in your compost tea making if you desire. It has been shown that adding a simple aquarium pump to the bucket and letting it run to percolate the mixture will increase the potency of the finished mixture, and can be completed in as little as 2 days. Others also add molasses or sugar to the mixture to increase the absorption of the water and organisms.
However, for us, the simple bucket and stirring method has certainly worked wonders for our garden. Besides, the extra few days we let ours steep in the water is worth not having to go through the trouble of setting up a pump, wires, etc. For us, keeping it simple is the key!So how about trying your own liquid gold this year and get those plants growing big and strong! If you would like to receive our DIY & Gardening Tips every Tuesday – be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column, "like" us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
proper installation of pavers. I took these photos documenting each step of the process of installing a paver walkway.
Pavers are actually quite easy to install and really only require one tool to be rented, a plate compactor. The heavy work is in excavating the area to about 6 and 1/2 inches below grade and moving the dirt. Then you build up the base with crusherun/crush&run which is a crushed stone. Build it up in 2 layers running the compactor over the area. A homeowner can use a 4 foot level and a 2x4 board to help get the crushed stone base to a proper pitch and close to even. Remember that the base should extend about 6" beyond the last paver.
The exact level surface is then done using 3/4" iron pipes. You will need at least 2 pipes. Lay the pipes across the base and check with a level to see if you have the proper grade. Use a little sand to adjust the pipes. With the pipes set, you begin shoveling the sand into the area and with a straight board, you screed (drag) the sand. You are left with a perfectly level surface of sand. As you move along, remove the pipes and fill the gaps with sand. Remember to not walk on the sand once it is screeded.
For a larger patio, we usually work in sections laying pavers as we go so that we can then work off of the already laid pavers. The chosen pattern will dictate any cutting. For a few cuts, a grinding wheel on a circular saw will suffice. For lots of cuts or cutting curves on a patio, a large gas powered cut-off saw with a grinding wheel or diamond wheel is necessary. We also use a large sliding table tile saw to custom cut some pavers.
Once the pavers are all laid, install the edging strips. Then, run the compactor over the pavers to bed the pavers in the sand. You will have a perfectly level and smooth paver patio/walk. It does not require setting each paver individually. While compacting, you will sweep regular sand or polymeric sand into the joints. If polymeric sand, follow the manufacturer instructions on sweeping, compacting, and wetting.
See the following photos for the process. As an example of how fast pavers can be installed, 3 of us installed the paver walkway seen in the photos in one day. We followed the same path of an existing paver walkway that was improperly installed. The one day included all excavation and all installation and clean-up.
Garden furniture can be very expensive and here's a simple idea on how to make free or almost free garden loungers using simple pallets.
I used 5 pallets and some wood scraps to make these two and that part was free. If you want to paint or add cushions (recommended!) that will be extra but all in all this cost me $10 for the red paint and that's it!
The basic idea of how to make these is to take two pallets of the same rectangular shape and stack them on top of each other, do the same with the second lounge chair. Then take the last pallet, divide it in half and add some wood scraps to construct two backrests that you attach to the stacked pallets with two screws. Minimal sanding and some paint and you're done.
I must warn you that the idea is simple but deconstructing the 5th pallet is pretty hard physical work but can be made easier if you have the proper tools and/or a muscular guy to help :)
Check out my blog for more photos and detailed instructions on how I went about it: