How to Prep Your Lawn for Spring

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Apr 22, 2016

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Spring is here! It's the perfect time to get out and start working on your lawn. There are plenty of things you can do to make your lawn the best it can be throughout the warm weather season. Discover some steps you can take to give your lawn a healthy start this spring. Enjoy!

Check the Condition of Your Lawn

An important step in your spring lawn care routine is to check the condition of your lawn. You can do this by raking the entire area. This allows you to see any damage that was done over the winter. You may uncover several bare areas that need grass seed or holes that need to be filled in. Or you may find some clumps of leaves that were overlooked when you raked last fall.

Test the Soil for Acidity

Use a soil pH test to gauge the level of acidity in your lawn. These tests are available at home and garden stores. Unfortunately, wintertime weather can raise the level of acidity in soil. It's hard to grow healthy grass in soil that is overly acidic. Spread lime over the soil if the test shows an elevated level of acid.

Fertilizing

Spring is the time to fertilize warm-season grasses. As temperatures rise, warm-season grasses quickly absorb nutrients in the fertilizer. You want to make sure that the fertilizer is in place so your warm-season grasses can begin to flourish over the next few months.

Kill Weeds

Many people treat their lawns with weed killer during the fall. But if you know your lawn is vulnerable to a lot of weeds in the springtime, you can apply pre-emergent weed killer now. Use the weed killer sparingly so you don't mistakenly kill any healthy grass.

Seeding Bare Spots

If you found bare spots on your lawn while you were raking, you can put down some seed to spark new grass growth. It's a good idea to aerate the area at the same time so the new seed can fall down into the holes and take root. Grass starts to grow when the soil reaches a temperature of 50 degrees, so I suggest you make plans to address those bare areas in your yard as soon as possible. You want the newly planted grass to have plenty of time to grow!

Removing Dead Grass Tops

Check the oil in your lawn mower and pull it out of your garden shed! Early spring is an ideal time to give your lawn a trim to remove dead grass tops. When the dead grass tops are removed, it allows your lawn access to the sunlight it needs to grow!

Add Some Extra Interest to Your Yard

Along with caring for your lawn, you may want to add a couple of extra touches to your yard to make it more inviting. For example, you may want to set up a birdbath. This is a great way to attract a variety of birds to your lawn. Gazing globes, a tire swing, and a birdhouse are other additions that can make your yard all the more appealing.

Good luck with your springtime lawn care, and thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: getting your lawn ready for spring

Using Tree Stumps to Decorate Your Lawn

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Apr 22, 2016

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Are there any trees in your yard that you're planning to take down? If so, there are plenty of ways to make good use of the tree's stump. Don't just pull it up and get rid of it: Look at some creative ideas on how to give new life to an old tree stump.

A Planter

One idea is to transform your tree stump into a planter. A tree stump would make a great setting for a gathering of bright red geraniums, white Shasta daisies, or yellow marigolds. If you don't want to hollow out your tree stump, you could simply put several small containers of flowers on top of the stump. Using containers of different sizes adds interest to the arrangement. Make sure the surface of the stump is even so your containers don't slide off.

A Birdbath

Create an instant birdbath by putting a large shallow saucer or bowl on top of your tree stump. These types of decorative bowls and saucers are readily available at home and garden stores. Make sure the bowl is secure on top of the stump so dogs and other animals won't be able to knock it off. If you prefer, you could put bird seed in your bowl or saucer and make your tree stump into a bird feeder. I suggest buying seed that appeals to a variety of birds so you get a lot of different visitors. The birds in your neighborhood will certainly be grateful.

A Mosaic Table

Some colorful mosaic glass tiles and glue can transform the top of your tree stump into a work of art. You can find mosaic tiles as well as glue at any craft store. Take some time to plan out your mosaic design on paper before getting busy with the glue. A tree stump turned mosaic table would be a colorful addition to your patio or back porch.

The Base for a Garden Sculpture

Use an old tree stump to display a favorite piece of garden sculpture. For example, you could set up a gold or silver gazing ball on the stump to give it a more prominent place in your garden. Or place a stone frog, fairy or bunny on top of the stump and surround it with flowers or greenery to create a pleasant scene. A tree stump makes the perfect natural pedestal for practically any garden decoration.

Make a Tic-Tac-Toe Board

This is a fun option if you have kids or grandkids who love to play tic-tac-toe. All you have to do is even out the top of the stump and draw a tic-tac-toe board on it with bright white chalk. Players can put oversized plastic X's and O's on the game board, or they can use colored chalk to make their X's and O's. When they want to play a new game of tic-tac-toe, they can use a damp washcloth to wipe the board clean. Kids can enjoy a favorite game as well as some time outdoors.

Remember the best thing about reusing your tree stump is that you don't have to pay someone to dig it up and cart it away! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: decorate tree stumps

How To Prepare Your Yard for Spring

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Apr 1, 2016

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I don't know about you, but I'm already celebrating the arrival of spring. I love to hear the birds singing on especially warm, sunny mornings. There are several things you can do in early springtime to nurture a healthy, beautiful lawn. Take a look at some simple steps that can give you a lawn you can be proud of. Enjoy!

Checklist for Yard Preparation

  1. Rake the lawn. Raking your lawn removes thatch. Thatch consists of dead grass, decaying leaves, and layers of roots. A buildup of thatch on a lawn can lead to diseased grass. Raking also allows you to get a good look at your lawn to see if there is any damage.
  2. Trim your lawn to a short length. This helps to get rid of dead grass at the surface level so the roots of your lawn can get the sunlight they need to grow.
  3. Aerate your lawn. Most people aerate their lawns in the fall, but spring is also a good time to get this done. Aerating allows nutrients and air to circulate throughout a lawn. Plus, aerating helps with new root growth.
  4. Put down grass seed. When you put down grass seed early in the spring, it gives the seeds time to take root. One idea is to put down the seed right after aerating the lawn. The seeds drop into the holes made by aeration and enjoy the added protection of being underground. Pay special attention to bare areas of your lawn.
  5. Fertilize your lawn. Fertilizing should be done when the grass is really starting to grow, around the middle of April. If you put fertilizer down too early, the grass can grow too thickly and interfere with the healthy development of the roots. It's a good idea to apply a light layer of fertilizer again around Memorial Day.
  6. Water your lawn. Early spring brings plenty of rain, which can supply your lawn with an adequate amount of water. It's time to water the lawn when you start to get long stretches of dry days.
  7. Uncover plants. If you put coverings on and around your plants for the winter, you can remove them. Also, if you put mulch around your trees or plants, you can remove that, too.
  8. Examine your lawn for disease. Take several minutes to walk around your lawn looking for fungus or mold. As the winter snows melt, it can create the perfect environment for mold or fungus. If you see either of these things, it's best to call a professional lawn care company to take care of the problem.
  9. Plan your garden. Get a piece of paper and sketch out where you want to put the vegetables in your garden, or plan out how you want to organize your flower garden. You can even make little signs for different areas of your garden. Better yet, ask your kids to make some garden signs and attach them to posts that can be stuck into the dirt.

Enjoy the arrival of spring and all of the wonderful sights and sounds it has to offer. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: prepare your yard for spring

Avoiding Animal Damage to Your Pergola

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Apr 1, 2016

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I think that a pergola is a beautiful addition to practically any piece of property. It's so pleasant to sit and chat with friends beneath an ivy-covered pergola. But you may find that many animals also like to spend time around your pergola. Mice like to chew on the wood and leave their droppings behind. Squirrels and rabbits are known for digging holes and burrowing underneath pergolas as well as tearing up vegetation. But there are some simple things you can do to discourage these animals from visiting your pergola.

Remove Hiding Places

Take a few minutes to walk around your pergola and check out the area. Are there any piles of sticks in the vicinity? Piles of sticks and patches of weeds are perfect hiding places for rodents. Furthermore, an area of tall grass can be very enticing to a rabbit that wants to dig holes and search for food near your pergola. Getting rid of these types of hiding places can discourage animals from hanging around your pergola and causing damage.

Apply Peppermint Oil to the Wood

If you're looking for a natural way to deter mice, you may want to spray peppermint oil at the base of your pergola. Mice are repelled by the strong scent of this liquid. Remember to reapply the oil after heavy storms during the spring and summertime.

Keep Your Pergola Clean

Not surprisingly, mice and other rodents always seem to make an appearance when there is a new food source. If you have a party under your pergola, be sure to remove items of dropped food, fruit peels, and wrappers. I suggest setting up a big garbage can before the party begins. Rodents that find food beneath your pergola just one time are likely to make return visits to try their luck again.

Spray Hot Sauce on the Legs of the Pergola

If you see squirrels digging a lot of holes around your pergola, you may want to try bringing some hot sauce into the mix. Pouring some hot sauce at the base of the legs of your pergola can help. There is also a hot pepper wax spray you can purchase that stays put for about a month. Rabbits are also repelled by the smell and taste of hot sauce.

Plant Marigolds Around Your Pergola

Planting marigolds is another way to discourage visits from squirrels. Squirrels do not like the strong fragrance of these flowers. You could put some in hanging pots or plant them around the base of your pergola. These flowers will bring color to the area while discouraging squirrels from approaching the structure.

Offer Other Enticing Alternatives

Sometimes, putting out alternative food sources can discourage animals from visiting your pergola. For instance, you could put a squirrel feeder up at the opposite end of your yard. The squirrels may bypass your pergola for a tasty combination of seeds and nuts in a feeder. Another idea is to plant a few vegetables in a separate part of your yard to feed any rabbits that visit. Of course, the rabbits' vegetable supply would need to be far away from your family's vegetable garden.

I hope these ideas help you keep your pergola free of animal visitors. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: avoid pergola damage

Make Your Own Shed Cleaner

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Mar 14, 2016

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We all know that a garden shed is a practical structure perfect for storing small tools, flower pots, wheelbarrows, and lawnmowers along with many other types of items. But there's no reason why a shed can't look good while serving its practical purpose. Wooden sheds can be vulnerable to mold and mildew. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get rid of mildew and protect your shed. Consider some tips on how to clean your shed and keep the mildew away.

The Benefits of Using a Natural Cleaner

Using a natural cleaning solution helps you maintain the walls of your shed while being environmentally friendly. When you wash away the cleaning solution, you don't have to worry about it hurting the plants and animals living around your shed. Plus, it's likely that you already have many of the simple ingredients used to create a natural cleaning solution for your shed. This helps you to avoid spending money on expensive pre-made cleaners.

How to Clean Your Shed

The first step of cleaning your wooden shed is to rinse all of the excess dirt and dust from the walls. A high-pressure hose is excellent for removing dirt and grime that has been there for a while. Next, put on a pair of rubber gloves and use a sturdy-bristled brush to apply your homemade cleaning solution to the wood. Move your scrub brush evenly over the wood so you don't miss any spots. It may be necessary to scrub areas of stubborn mildew with a toothbrush. Check to see if there is any damaged wood or splinters. Also, take a moment to check the condition of your shed windows to see if they need your attention. After washing all of the walls, thoroughly rinse them with plain water. It's best to clean your walls on a sunny day so your shed has a chance to dry out.

Protecting the Walls of Your Shed from Mildew

If you want to protect your shed from mildew, you can put a sealant on the wood. A sealant keeps water from getting into the wood and causing mold and mildew to form. Plus, a coat of sealant can protect the shed's color from fading in the sun. Sealant can be applied with a paintbrush to all of the walls of a shed.

Clear the Area Around Your Shed

Sometimes the items stacked around your shed can lead to wall damage. For instance, a pile of logs stacked next to your shed can attract termites, carpenter ants, and other insects that can burrow into the walls of your shed. Plus, mice and other rodents can make a home in a log pile and invade your shed. Rodents can chew on the walls as well as destroy items inside your shed. Leave a foot or so between your shed and any items around it.

Cleaning the walls of your shed can help it to last longer and look its best on your property. Just a couple of hours of work on your walls can give you a shed you can be proud of. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: wood shed cleaner

Essential Updates For Your Tire Swing

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Mar 7, 2016

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Did you have a tire swing in the backyard when you were a kid? If you did, you know how fun it can be to sit on a tire as you glide back and forth beneath the branches of a sturdy old tree. Traditional tire swings are still popular today. In fact, many parents and grandparents like these swings because they give new life to an old tire. Let's look at some simple ways you can make a traditional tire swing even more fun for the little ones in your life. Enjoy!

Paint Your Tire

Who says that a tire swing has to be monochromatic? One way to spruce up your tire swing is to paint it. You can paint it in a child's favorite color or even choose a color that matches your home. Be sure to use outdoor paint so the color can withstand the rain, snow, and sunlight without losing its true color. If you want to get even more creative with colors, find a template and add a design to your tire swing. You could decorate it with a line of waddling ducks or make a galaxy of stars on your tire. Get the young ones to help you decide on a design for their backyard swing.

A Tire Swing With an Animal Theme

If you have a child or grandchild who likes horses, you may want to try making a pony tire swing. This project takes a little more time and effort, but kids can really let their imaginations run away with them as they play on this unique swing. I suggest that you let the kids decorate the pony with outdoor paint to make it all their own.

Twin Tire Swings

If you have a traditional tire swing, why not choose another sturdy branch for a second one? That way, two children can swing outside at one time and no one has to wait for a turn on the tire! I think kids would enjoy being able to talk and laugh as they swing. Be sure to hang the swings far enough apart so they can't crash into one another while the kids are having a ball.

Enhancing the Tire Swing Experience

There are simple things that can add to the fun of a tire swing in the backyard. One idea is to put a lawn sprinkler near the tire swing and turn it on so the child gets a shower every time they coast through the spraying water. This is a great option for a hot summer day. Kids can take a portable radio or CD player outside with them and play some tunes as they swing back and forth. Or kids can play a game where they put a line of beach balls on the ground near the tire swing to see how many they can kick as they swing in that direction.

But don't leave all of the fun to the kids. Try taking a turn or two on the tire swing just to see what all the fuss is about! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: tire swing

Buying A Car? Don't Forget About Your Garage

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Feb 29, 2016

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Getting a new car is an exciting event for any family. I must admit that I enjoy the smell of a new car's interior; don't you? It's nice to think about all of the fun trips and adventures you'll have on the road. But is your garage ready for a new vehicle? Parking your car in the garage can help to maintain its great condition. Look at some tips on how you can prepare your garage for the new addition to the family. Enjoy!

Making Room for a Car

Imagine pulling your car into the driveway and opening your garage door only to realize that there is not enough space for your vehicle. That would definitely take some of the fun out of bringing your car home. Maybe you have a lot of boxes and other items that are taking up too much floor space. If this is the case, put aside a few days to remove some of those items so you have adequate space for your car. Donating items to Goodwill is a great way to get rid of clothing, appliances, and other items you don't need anymore.

A Place for All of Those Car-Related Items

There are many items that go right along with owning a new car. Bottles of motor oil, cleaning fluid for the windshield, clean cloths, sponges, tire cleaner, and a small portable vacuum cleaner are just a few examples of items that are useful to a car owner. Try putting these and other car-related items into a cabinet or bin in one corner of the garage so they are easily accessible.

Check Above and Below for Potential Hazards

Take a look around your garage to make sure that it's safe for your car. For instance, if you have heavy items stored in a loft above your car, make sure that they are secure. Some people like to store bins in racks attached to the ceiling of the garage. Remove any item that could topple over onto your car. Don't forget to check the floor of your garage. Look for loose nails as well as crumbling areas of concrete. Keeping your garage floor clean and in good condition can help protect your car's tires.

Examine the Garage Door

If you have an automatic garage door, it's a smart idea to test it to make sure it's in good working order. It shouldn't fall to the floor too quickly or get stuck halfway down. A malfunctioning garage door can be hazardous to a new car as well as the people riding inside it. You may even want to change the batteries in your remote so there's little chance of getting stuck outside in the rain. A manual garage door requires the same type of examination. Be sure that it is traveling up and down in a smooth way. Plus, when the door is up, ensure that it is secure in the open position. A door should never look like it is about to slide back down on its own!

Happy driving, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: steel garage to protect your new car

Why You Need to Make Your Own House Numbers

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Feb 25, 2016

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Are you looking for an easy way to boost the curb appeal of your home? If so, try making your own house numbers using unique materials. You can explore your creative side while making it easy for visitors to spot your home from the street. Take a look at some simple ideas to try. Enjoy!

Framed House Numbers

If you're looking for a colorful way to display your house numbers, try putting them in frames. I like the idea of using a different-style frame for each number. Before buying frames, look around the house for some old frames that would be perfect for the project. Large wooden numbers are available at most hobby or craft stores. Choose some colorful paint to decorate the numbers as well as the frames. If you want a dramatic look, try painting the numbers in gold or silver. You may want to attach the frames to stakes and stick them into a large flower pot on the front porch. Or you can attach them to the wall near your front door.

LED House Numbers

LED house numbers add interest to the front of your home and help visitors to find your house at night. This project requires several steps, including cutting your house numbers out of a piece of plastic and purchasing an LED strip. But a glowing collection of house numbers can give a modern touch to the appearance of your home.

House Numbers and Artificial Grass

Adding a little green to the front of your home is easy with these DIY house numbers framed by artificial grass. If you like working with wood, you can craft your own wooden frame for your house numbers. Another option is to purchase a pre-made frame from a hardware or craft store. I suggest you purchase a mat with dark green blades of artificial grass. This dark color will serve as an attractive backdrop for your white or light-colored house numbers.

Old-Fashioned Metal Buckets to Display House Numbers

Use large metal buckets to display both your house numbers and your favorite flowers! Kids can help you with this project by painting the numbers on the buckets using a template. You can use black and white paint or go with something more colorful for your house numbers. This is a great option if you like changing your flower arrangements every few months.

House Numbers Fashioned Out of Nails

If you want house numbers with an industrial look, then this may be the option for you. You'll need to make a template for each of your house numbers to serve as a guide as you put up the nails. You can get creative with this project by using nails of different sizes and colors. Be sure to put some thought into where you want you want to place your house numbers before putting in the first nail.

I hope making your own house numbers inspires you to dress up the front of your home even more. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: house numbers

4 Warning Signs to Check For In Your Garage

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Feb 15, 2016

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One of the ways you can keep your garage in great condition is to look for potential warning signs that may indicate different types of damage. You can look for potential warning signs by walking around the inside and outside of your garage to inspect the walls. Also, you can stand back a few feet from your garage door and take a good look at the condition of the roof. Taking a few moments to look for damage can help you to discover a small problem and solve it before it turns into a bigger one.

Four Warning Signs to Check for in Your Garage

  1. Missing Shingles. Missing shingles are a sign of roof damage. A strong storm with high winds can blow shingles off a roof or at least move them out of place. Missing shingles expose your garage roof to the elements and can lead to further damage. If your garage roof is relatively new, you may want to replace the missing shingles instead of ordering a whole new roof.
  2. Pest Droppings. Droppings are a definite warning sign that you have pests in your garage. Termites and mice are just two of the pests that can cause damage to your garage walls and floor. You can tell what type of pest you have by looking at its droppings. Termite droppings look similar to coffee grounds or sand. They use their droppings, also known as frass, to build mud tunnels on a wall. Traveling through these mud tunnels gives termites protection from their predators. If you think you have mice in your garage, look for black droppings that are about a quarter of an inch in size. You may find a collection of mouse droppings inside cabinets, in drawers, or in the corners of the garage. Along with looking for droppings, check wooden shelves or cabinets for evidence of chewing. If you do have mice in your garage, your first step should be to remove any food that is out there to discourage them from staying for long.
  3. Cracks in the Gutters. Look for cracks when examining the gutters on your garage. A crack can allow water to leak out and damage an exterior wall. Another warning sign to look for is a gutter that is pulling away from the garage. This means that water is becoming trapped inside one portion of the gutter instead of flowing through it. Each spring, I like to walk all around my garage to inspect the condition of my gutters.
  4. A Garage Door That Sits Unevenly. Take a moment to inspect your closed garage door. Is it sitting evenly on the pavement? If not, that may be a warning sign that you need to replace the rubber gasket on the base of your door. This gasket keeps air from blowing into your garage and protects the bottom of the door from scraping the pavement. Another warning sign to watch out for is an automatic garage door that only goes partway down, then rolls up again. It may have something blocking its track, or its chain may need lubrication. Unless you are mechanically inclined, you may want to call a repair person to conduct a thorough inspection of your garage door.

Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: 4 warning signs to check in your garage

The 7 Garage Hacks That You Need

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Jan 29, 2016

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Do you want to organize your garage so you can find what you need when you need it? I have some hacks that can help! These are small changes that can start you on the road to creating a new system of organization in your garage. Enjoy!

The Seven Garage Hacks That You Need

  1. A Storage System Using Bungee Cords: This is a simple way to store basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, and footballs so they'll be secure yet easily accessible to family members. The bungee storage system requires four bungee cords, each measuring about 32 to 40 inches long. Attach one end of a bungee cord to a low wooden shelf or ledge in your garage. Clip the other end to a high shelf, making sure that the cord is taut. Repeat this process with the other three cords, leaving several inches of space between them. The object is to arrange the cords so the balls won't slip out of the storage space.
  2. Garbage Bag Storage With a Twist: Do you have an old paper towel rack you aren't using anymore? If so, try attaching it to a wall in your garage. But instead of putting paper towels on it, put a roll of garbage bags on the rack. Whenever you need a garbage bag, simply tear the next one off of its neat roll.
  3. Car Door Protection: If you have a habit of opening your car door too fast, only to have it bang into the garage wall, you may want to look into this next hack. First, open up your box of pool toys and find a foam pool noodle. Then, stretch it horizontally across the wall and attach it with nails. The pool noodle will protect the paint job on your car door the next time you open it too quickly inside the garage.
  4. Nail Storage With Plastic Jars: Finding a particular type of nail in a tool drawer or toolbox can be frustrating. If you want to organize your nails, screws, washers, and other small items, try putting them in clear plastic jars with lids that fit into a pegboard. That way, you can see what you have at a glance and access each jar in a matter of seconds. Of course, I suggest you use the remaining space on your pegboard for storing hammers, screwdrivers, tape, and more.
  5. Rags in a Basket: Most people have a collection of rags they use while completing various tasks in their garage. You can make a handy dispenser for them by cutting a hole in the bottom of an old plastic laundry basket. Nail the basket against the wall or hang it on a hook so you can pull the next clean rag through the hole in the bottom.
  6. Wrench Storage: If you want a creative way to organize a set of wrenches, try putting up a belt rack on one wall of your garage. You can find cheap closet belt racks at discount stores, or maybe you have one you're not using. Hang a wrench on each prong of the belt rack so you can see all of your wrenches at a glance. I like being able to choose a wrench quickly so I can focus on my latest project.
  7. Recycle a Wooden Pallet for Storage: If your brooms and rakes are falling over in one corner of your garage, try attaching an old wooden pallet to one garage wall. You can store brooms, rakes, and shovels inside it to keep them organized and ready for use!

These are just a few things you can do to make your garage a nicer place to be! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: 7 garage organization tips

 

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