Archive for April, 2012

Growing a Vertical Garden

Vertical garden

 

 

1

  • Start any gardening project in spring, when air temperatures rise to 60 degrees F. Vertical garden vegetables don’t need warm soil, but do require frost-free nights.

  • 2

    Choose your wall for the garden. Put the vertical garden in a spot that gets full sunshine all day, with good air circulation and protection from any drying winds.

  • 3

  • Use deep, sturdy rain gutters for the vertical garden, to give vegetables room for growth and support. Cut the rain gutters to fit on the wall you choose, and build at least three to four “stories” of gardening space. Drill holes every 10 inches in the bottom of the gutters, to ensure drainage.

  • 4

    Secure the gutters to the wall with eye hooks, screws or nails every 6 inches. Leave 2 to 3 feet of space between each layer of gutters to give the plants room to grow.

  • 5

    Mix organic compost, peat moss and potting soil in equal parts as your planting mix. This mix gives the vegetables plenty of nutrition and drainage. Fill the gutters full of your mixture, then turn starter fertilizer such as 6-24-24 or 8-32-16 into the top 4 inches of soil to provide more nutrition.

  • 6

    Plant small, compact vegetables in a vertical garden to minimize space usage and avoid stressing the structure. Plant lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, herbs, beets, peas, carrots, garlic, onions and radishes. Choose only small tomato, cucumber, bean and pepper cultivars. Also plant flowers in with vegetables to make the garden more attractive.

Cleaning your deck and home exterior

One of the toughest things about deck cleaning is figuring out which weekend to do it. You don’t want it too hot or too cold, so you should have your supplies ready for when the weather cooperates. Spring is a perfect time to clean your deck and get your backyard ready for some outdoor entertaining.

Your supplies should include:

  1. Exciting and inspirational music to keep you motivated
  2. Easy-to-prepare meals for you and your helpers
  3. Cold drinks and a shaded area with chairs for breaks
  4. Old clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
  5. Plenty of trash bags to contain debris
  6. Deck cleaning supplies

Preparing to Clean the Deck

Your first step to cleaning the deck is, of course, to remove all the big items that are on the deck. Remove patio furniture, the grill, flower pots, shoe trays and anything else that would prevent the deck surface from being completely clear.

Next, it’s time to remove any debris that has collected on the deck. Since your deck hasn’t been cleaned for some time, it’s a good idea to bring out the heavy-duty Shop Sweep® Indoor/Outdoor Shop Vac that not only vacuums up dirt, litter and other debris, but its tough nylon impeller mulches it! And you don’t have to stop with just vacuuming the deck: The Shop Sweep® Indoor/Outdoor Shop Vaccan consume pine needles, lawn clippings, saw dust, wood chips and even litter, so once you have it fired up, you can keep cleaning all around the house.

Deck Washing

Once your deck is prepared and debris-free, the next step in cleaning a deck is to wash it thoroughly. Easily attach a Deck Cleaning Brush to your water hose to quickly clean dirt, grime and bird residue from your deck floor. The Deck Cleaning Brushhas strong bristles on three sides to tackle those tough deck cleaning messes and a soft squeegee on the fourth side to remove water.

After the long winter months, you might have some moss or algae build-up that requires you to use something a little stronger than water to clean your deck. Just apply some environmentally friendly deck cleaner with a sprayer or brush, let it work for 5-10 minutes (read label on package) and then spray it away with your hose.

Now that your deck is clean and there is little left for you to track into your home, you can clean your sliding door track with an ergonomically designed Track Cleaning Brushthat is so tough it can remove dirt, mold and even soap scum from those hard-to-reach places.

Washing a House

Once you’re done cleaning your deck, why not take your cleaning to new heights and wash down the exterior of your home? Attach a 32-oz bottle of Multi-Purpose House Washto your garden hose and watch as the non-toxic wash goes to work removing dirt, bird residue, tree sap, mildew, moss and algae from your siding or wood panels.

If, after using the Multi-Purpose House Wash, you notice calcium, lime and other hard water stains or outright rust on your siding, stone, masonry or other areas, eliminate it with Rust Remover. Biodegradable and non-flammable, Rust Removerdissolves most stains and can protect bare metal for up to 12 months.

Not enough water pressure from your garden hose? Use an Electric Pressure Washer to reach all those stubborn areas of your house from top to bottom. You can usually find a compact electric pressure washer that has wheels so you can roll it along as you work, whether it’s washing away moss from your deck or oil stains from your driveway. The spray is adjustable from fine to intense, so you can use the power washer for a multitude of cleaning jobs without the risk of surface damage. Pressure washers are high powered and you should always use caution when using one.

Washing Windows

Your deck might be clean, but can you see it through your windows? What about from the second floor windows? For those high, hard-to-reach windows, use a Telescoping Washer Setthat has an adjustable aluminum pole that attaches to your hose. A soap dispenser on the pole allows you to easily add a liquid cleaner to your washing routine. The window washer set includes a 7-pattern spray nozzle, window squeegee, round soft brush, 10″ floor brush and even a brush for washing a car.

Don’t forget to clean the screens! You can either take the window screens down, scrub them and hose them off, or you can attach a Window Screen Vacuum Attachment to easily whisk the dirt away while they remain in the window frames.

Build a stone firepit

Step 1: Purchase Stone

Determine the size, shape and location of the fire pit. Take measurements (height, width and depth) to a stone yard and select the material for the project.

Palletized stone is a pallet of pre-sorted premium stone. It is more expensive but will save time because the stones are a more uniform size, shape and quality. Have the stone yard deliver the material to the project site.

Step 2: Prepare the Base

Hammer a piece of rebar directly in the center of the fire pit location. Cut a piece of string to half the length of the fire pit’s diameter. For example, if the completed fire pit is to be 5 feet wide, cut the string to 2-1/2 feet long.

Make a loop on one end of the string and slip it around the rebar. Loop the other end around a can of landscape spray paint. Mark the circumference of the circle. Excavate the area inside the paint to a depth of 6 inches.

Step 3: Mark for Footing

Cut a second piece of string the length of the first piece minus the thickness of the fire pit wall. For example, if the wall is going to be 12 inches wide, cut the string to a length of 1-1/2 feet. Attach the string to the rebar and spray paint and mark a second circle inside the first.

Step 4: Pour Footing

Prepare premixed cement according to manufacturer’s directions. Spread the cement in the area between the outside and inside circles. Leave the center area free of concrete to allow for drainage.

Continue to add cement and level it until it reaches 1-1/2 inches below grade. Tap 2-foot pieces of rebar into the wet cement until completely submerged at various points around the footer. Allow to dry.

Step 5: Lay the First Course of Fire Brick

When the first course of face stones is in place, move on to the first row of fire brick. Trowel a layer of mortar along the inside edge of the face stones and press the first fire brick into place.

Apply mortar to one end of the next brick before butting it against the first and pressing it into the mortar. Check for level. Remove excess mortar as you work. Continue working in this fashion until the first ring of fire brick has been laid.

Step 6: Complete the Fire Pit Wall

Continue building the wall of the fire pit by alternating layers of face stone and fire brick until desired height is reached. Apply a bed of mortar on top of the previous layer of stone or fire brick and then set stones and bricks.

Avoid wall weakness by staggering the joints between previous and subsequent layers of stone and brick. Fill in any gaps between the fire brick and the stone with mortar and stone scraps.

Step 7: Lay Capstones

Apply a generous layer of mortar to the top of the fire pit wall, covering both the face stone and fire brick. Begin setting capstones into the mortar, selecting flat stones that fit neatly together.

Work all the way around the top of the fire pit wall making sure that all stones are as level as possible. Fill joints between capstones with mortar, smoothing when done with a jointer. Once the mortar is almost cured, use a stiff brush to scrape off remaining bits of mortar.

Step 8: Create a Seating Area

Cut a piece of string that extends from the center of the fire pit to the outside edge of the desired seating area. Attach the string to the rebar and spray paint and mark the location on the ground. Excavate the seating area to a depth of 3 inches. Cut landscape fabric to fit and top with crushed stone.

Step 9: Complete the Project

Spray down the fire pit with water to remove any dust or dirt that might have collected on the stone. When dry, spray the interior of fire brick with black stove paint.

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