DIY Holiday Front Yard Decorations

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Dec 7, 2016

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Say you'd like to dress up your front yard for the holiday season, but you don't want to spend a ton on decorations. I have good news! There are many DIY decorations that can give your front yard some holiday spirit without a big investment. Take a look!

Terra-Cotta Snowmen

A terra-cotta snowman is one of the simplest holiday decorations to make for the front yard. All you need are three terra-cotta pots (one small, one medium, and one large), white paint, black paint, two paintbrushes, a few small sticks from your yard, three large buttons, and craft glue. The first step of the project is to paint your terra-cotta pots white and let them dry. Next, turn the pots upside down and use the biggest pot as your snowman's base. The medium-sized pot should be set on top of the base, and the small pot will serve as your snowman's head. Using the black paint, create the eyes, nose, and mouth of your snowman. You can use the craft glue to carefully attach a line of buttons down the front of your creation. Also, using the glue, attach a stick arm to each side of the snowman. If you have an old red scarf or even a black top hat, these can be used to enhance the look of your DIY snowman! If you prefer, you can opt for a gathering of little snowmen instead.

Picket Fence Snow People

If you're fortunate enough to have a white picket fence around your front yard, you have the main element necessary for making picket fence snow people. You can use washable craft paint to make eyes, a nose, and a mouth on each picket of the fence. Black felt material is perfect for making top hats and buttons for your snow people. Red, blue, or purple felt are all good ideas if you want to make a colorful scarf for each of your creations. You can use removable glue dots to secure these items to each snow person. I suggest giving a funny name to each snowman or giving each one the name of someone in your family. Stringing white LED holiday lights along your picket fence is sure to draw extra attention to your family of snow people.

Luminaries

This is an example of an easy DIY holiday decoration that looks like it took a lot of time to create. You will need a package of white paper lunch bags, a selection of Christmas-themed stencils, a pencil, an X-ACTO knife, and a package of LED tea lights. Put a stencil of a Christmas tree, a snowflake, a snowman, or any other shape you want onto one of the white paper bags. Next, using the X-ACTO knife, cut around the stencil so it creates the shape in the side of the bag. Click the little switch on the bottom of an LED tea light, place it inside the open bag, and set the bag on the railing of your porch or on the steps leading up to your home. You may want to anchor it to the ground using some duct tape on the base of the bag. Make several of these bags with a variety of stencils and you'll have a collection of appealing luminaries in your front yard. Use LED tea lights that flicker for extra flair!

A Milk Jug Santa Claus

This is a DIY project your kids or grandchildren can help with. First, clean out an empty plastic gallon-sized milk jug. Next, cut off the top two inches of the bottle so you can place an LED tea light down inside it. Decorate the face of your milk jug Santa using felt material and cotton balls. Be sure to give him rosy red cheeks. Turn on your LED tealight, place it in the bottom of the jug, and put a Santa hat on the jug to cover the opening. You could make a milk jug Santa, a Mrs. Claus, some elves, and even a reindeer or two to occupy your front porch or yard.

Explore your creativity with your yard decorations this holiday season! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: holiday decorations

Here's How You're Using Your Shovel All Wrong

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Dec 5, 2016

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The first day of winter is on its way, and it's time to dust off your snow shovel. Maybe you purchased a new snow shovel in preparation for the winter months, or perhaps you're using the same snow shovel you've had for decades. Either way, it's important to know the right techniques when it comes to shoveling snow. Unfortunately, using a snow shovel in the wrong way can result in back strain or even serious injury. So this week, my post is all about the different types of shovels and how to use them in the proper way.

Common Snow-Shoveling Mistakes

One common shoveling mistake is overloading a shovel with snow, then throwing it off to one side. The act of lifting heavy snow and twisting the body to the side can cause back strain or injury. Another common shoveling mistake is using your lower back to lift a snow-filled shovel. You should always bend at the knees to protect your back.

The Proper Use for Different Types of Snow Shovels

Choosing the proper shovel can help you dispatch the snow on your driveway in a safe and efficient way. A square-nosed shovel is perfect for snow that has iced over. Its square shape helps to break the frozen snow away from the cement. But avoid using a square-nosed shovel for heavier snow. This shovel has a short shaft, which requires a user to bend down to retrieve the snow. Lifting heavy snow with this type of shovel may result in back strain.

A round-nosed shovel helps cut through frozen snow that has piled up. This is a handy shovel to have when a snowplow clears your street, leaving a big pile at the end of your driveway. I think an aluminum shovel looks more at home in a horse barn than shoveling snow on a driveway. But its deep scoop is useful for clearing large piles of snow, plus the material makes it rust-proof.

A wheeled snow shovel can clear light snow, pushing it to one edge of a driveway. A wheeled shovel is an ideal choice if you want to avoid putting any strain on your back. A shovel that's 18 to 22 inches wide is a good choice if you get an average amount of snowfall in your area.

More Tools for Snow Removal

A large push broom can be helpful when you want to move a light covering of snow to one side of your driveway. I own a push broom and consider it one of my most versatile tools. These brooms can be used for snow, leaves, dirt, and more!

But if you get a lot of snowfall in your area each year, you may want to skip the shovel and think about a snowblower instead. There are a variety of snowblowers capable of removing large amounts of snow in a short amount of time.

The key to avoiding injury is to choose the right shovel for the job. Remember to keep your back straight and bend at the knees when lifting a shovel. Always walk the shovel of snow over to where you want to dump it. Finally, remember to wear warm clothing that lets your skin breathe. Take care, and thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: snow removal

Spread Holiday Cheer With Your Garage Door

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Dec 1, 2016

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When you spot your neighbors hanging LED icicles on their gutters, decorating their front bushes with Christmas lights, or hanging an evergreen wreath on the front door, you know it's holiday time. I think decorating the inside as well as the outside of a house brings even more joy to this season. If you have a garage door, why not include it on your list of things to decorate? Whether you adorn it with traditional decorations or come up with some new ones, it's sure to earn the appreciation of your neighbors. Consider some of the ways you can dress up your garage door for the holidays!

Create a Wintertime Mural

You can create an appealing mural for your garage door with a few basic supplies. One idea requires a large piece of butcher paper, a bag of cotton balls, a pad of construction paper in a variety of colors, glue, scissors, and a package of removable mounting squares. Use the cotton balls and glue to create the snowmen in your scene. Black construction paper is great for making a snowman's arms, buttons, hat, and pipe. You can use the other colors of construction paper to make Santa Claus, Rudolph, Mrs. Claus, a troop of elves, and any other characters you want to include in your scene. Of course, if you don't want to spend your time gluing, you can use crayons, markers, or even watercolors to create your wintertime mural. Use the removable mounting squares to attach your butcher paper mural to the garage door. These squares won't harm the surface of your garage door when it comes time to take the mural down. I think this is a great project to work on with young kids or grandchildren.

Gift-Wrap Your Door

Putting gift wrap over the garage door is a tradition for many homeowners But, instead of using actual gift wrap, find some plastic tablecloths in a festive red or green and attach them to your door with tape. You may be able to find some plastic tablecloths with holiday characters on them at a dollar store. Be sure to raise and lower your garage door once or twice to ensure that the plastic tablecloths don't interfere with the operation of your door.

Dress Up Your Windows

If you don't want to gift-wrap your garage door, you can decorate the windows instead. One idea is to tape real wrapping paper to the inside of each window. Another idea is to think of each garage door window as a panel in a short comic strip. If you have four windows in your garage door, you could make four drawings that display the story of how Santa Claus chose Rudolph to guide his sleigh. Or you could write words of holiday greeting in each window using a temporary white window marker. The best thing about decorating your garage windows is that you can do it inside where it's warmer and dry!

Light Up Your Door

LED lights look just as attractive on a garage door as they do around a front door or the railing of a deck. You could put an arrangement of colorful lights around your garage door to highlight your mural or decorated windows. Setting up a spotlight is another idea if you want to showcase the creativity of your garage door decorations!

Give your garage door the attention it deserves as you decorate for the holidays this year. Thanks again for reading! - Alan

Topics: garage door decorating

Learn How to Clean Your Gutters Like A Pro

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

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Cleaning the gutters on your house should be high up on your fall to-do list. Clean gutters allow rain and melted snow to flow freely into the downspout and away from your home. When it comes to this important task, you have a couple of options. You can make it into a DIY project or call in the tools and talents of a professional. These tips can prove helpful in either scenario.

Tools for Cleaning Your Gutters

If you've ever climbed a ladder to peek into your gutters, you know that they can take on a lot of debris. Gutter debris can include leaves, sticks, acorns, shingle sediment, maple tree samaras (aka "helicopters"), and maybe even a stray tennis ball. To clean the gutters, you'll need a trowel, a bucket with a handle, a ladder, rubber gloves, a broom, and a garden hose. I would use a metal trowel instead of a plastic one that may not be able to handle the weight of the debris. Also, you may want to wear safety goggles if you're concerned about dust or other particles getting into your eyes.

Tips for Cleaning Your Gutters

Once you've got your cleaning supplies, find a piece of solid ground where you can set up your ladder. It's a smart idea to ask another person to steady the ladder as you work on the gutters. After climbing the ladder, set your bucket on the collapsible shelf that is part of the design of most ladders. You can use your trowel or gloved hands to scoop the debris out of your gutters. For safety, don't try to reach further than arm's length to retrieve debris. Put the leaves, sticks, and other debris into your bucket. Once you have most of your gutters clear, climb down the ladder to hook up your garden hose so you can spray water through your gutters. The water should flow freely through the downspout. If it doesn't, examine the downspout and pull out any debris you see. If some of the debris is out of your reach, use the broom handle to push it down and out the end of the spout.

Getting the Help of a Professional

If you prefer to stay off of the ladder this autumn, you may want to call professional gutter-cleaners. Professionals have equipment designed to safely handle all of the challenges of cleaning gutters. Plus, if any maintenance is necessary, a professional can take care of that, too. If some of your neighbors use a local gutter-cleaning service, I suggest you ask them their opinion of the company. They can tell you all about the services provided by the gutter-cleaners as well as give you the name of the company's owner.

What About Gutter Covers?

Installing gutter covers or screens is one way to cut down on the gutter-cleaning process. Some businesses create gutter covers with a patented design that are guaranteed to keep out all kinds of debris. Alternatively, you can go to your local home improvement store and purchase gutter screens that you can install yourself. As long as they're made of durable material and stay firmly in place, installing gutter screens can help you remove this task from your to-do list.

I have just one more tip for you. If you decide to clean your gutters yourself, wait for a day that follows several days without rain. Scooping dry leaves and debris out of your gutters is much easier than removing a soggy mess. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: clean gutters

How to Care For Your Drip System In the Fall

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Nov 17, 2016

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The above picture is an Amish made wood pergola kit from Alan's Factory Outlet which is delivered in the lower 48 states precut with all of the hardware included for an easy assembly.

Installing a drip irrigation system is a smart way to make sure the flowers, vegetables, and other plants in your garden get the water they need to flourish. This system is designed to save water as well as fertilizer by gradually giving plants the nourishment they need. If you have a drip irrigation system, you know that it's about time to winterize it so it will be ready to go next spring. Take a look at some of the steps involved in winterizing your drip irrigation system so you'll know what to put on your to-do list.

Draining the Water

The most important step in the process of winterization is to drain the water out of the system. First, turn off the main valve that supplies your irrigation system with water. Next, open the valves of your system, allowing the water to run out. Some people use an air compressor to blow out their system to get rid of all of the water. The draining method you use depends on the type of drip irrigation system you own. The backflow device, filter, valves, pipe, sprinkler, and drip hose must all be drained of water for the winter. Angling your drip hose in a downward position makes it easier for water to drain from it. Draining your drip irrigation system prevents any remaining water from freezing and causing damage to the pipes over the winter.

Check the Individual Parts of the System

Check your system's emitters, sprinklers, pipes, O-rings, washers, and tubes for damage. Not surprisingly, insects and other pests can crawl into various areas of your system, creating clogs, so checking all of those parts and cleaning them out is a key step in the winterization process. Remove the filter screen from the system, clean it, and put it into storage for the winter. You can either put it back in the springtime or replace it with a new one. In addition, there are specially made end caps that fit over the tubes and pipes of drip irrigation systems. These caps can keep dirt as well as insects from getting into your pipes.

Remove the Water Timer

Depending on the type of drip irrigation system you have, it may be a good idea to remove its water timer and store it inside for the winter. The water timer can be one of the most costly parts of a drip irrigation system. You should take out its batteries and clean it before putting it in a safe place. But don't let those batteries go to waste. I suggest you use them in a child's toy at Christmastime later this year! If you have a water timer that is made to endure the cold weather, you may simply be able to shut it off for several months.

Watering the Garden

With the arrival of the cold weather season, your garden won't need as much water as in the spring and summer months. However, if you do want to give it some water, use your garden hose to get the job done. But the rain and snow usually provide a garden with an adequate amount of water during the winter.

Taking some steps now to winterize your drip irrigation system can make it easier to get it up and running more quickly in the springtime. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: drip system in fall

Aerate Your Lawn In 5 Easy Steps

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Nov 12, 2016

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By early autumn, many people have put aside their lawn care duties until next spring. But November is the perfect time to aerate your lawn. Aerating your lawn is a relatively simple task that can pay off for you when spring rolls around again next year. Discover some facts about aeration and the specific steps involved in the process to try it out before the ground freezes.

The Facts on Aerating Your Lawn

When you aerate your lawn, you're putting holes in the soil so that water, air, and nutrients have easy access to the roots of the grass. This helps the roots to grow strong so you can enjoy a healthy lawn in the springtime. When it comes to getting this job done, you have a few options. You can push a manual aerator across your lawn or get an electric aerator that does a lot of the physical work for you. Regardless of which option you choose, early November is a great time to aerate. The soil is still warm at this time of year, which gives fertilizer and other nutrients adequate time to penetrate the grass roots and prompt healthy growth.

Five Easy Steps for Aerating a Lawn

  1. Check Your Lawn's Moisture Level. It's best to aerate your lawn when the soil is moist and soft. So take a walk around your lawn to evaluate its condition. If it needs moisture, use a hose to sprinkle water evenly over the grass. Do this for two or three days before starting the aeration process.
  2. Make an Aeration Plan. It's important to create an aeration plan so you don't skip any portion of your lawn. Use a piece of scrap paper to draw a path for the even rows you'll make across your lawn. If there's a particular area that is heavily traveled by kids, adults, and pets, go over it a second time with your aerator.
  3. Use a Rake on the Dirt Plugs. After you aerate your lawn, you'll see a collection of dirt plugs scattered throughout your yard. As these dirt plugs break down, they release valuable nutrients back into your soil. Allow the dirt plugs to dry, and then use your garden rake to break them up so they can nourish the soil. I flip my garden rake over on its back to make breaking up the dirt plugs a little bit easier.
  4. Apply Compost or Other Fertilizer to Your Lawn. Putting compost on your lawn is another way to ensure its health next spring. The fertilizer will be easily absorbed into your lawn via the holes you've made. Also, you can add an herbicide to your lawn to lessen the growth of weeds that you have to deal with in the spring.
  5. Continue to Nurture the Health of Your Lawn. It's a good idea to water your lawn after aerating it in November. This is especially important if you go through some long periods without rain in your area. Rake up any stray leaves that fall onto your lawn so your grass has plenty of access to sunlight and rain.

Remember that aerating your lawn now can help you enjoy it even more in the springtime! Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: aerate your lawn

Deter Critters By Planting These Flowers, Plants, and Herbs

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Nov 11, 2016

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Triple wide steel garage building installed close to a wood line on a concrete pad.  This Alan's Factory Outlet steel building is shown with optional vertical sides and vertical ends with a frame out on the end and two windows and a walk in door on the side. 

Is your garden a favorite meeting place of the cats in your neighborhood? Do raccoons or deer pay a visit to your yard every night to see what's new in your vegetable garden? If the answer is "yes" to either of these questions, you'll be glad to know that there are natural solutions to these problems. Certain types of plants, herbs, and flowers act as natural deterrents to cats, dogs, raccoons, deer, and other unwelcome visitors to your property. Look at some suggestions for getting these animals to stay clear of your garden.

Cats

Have you ever heard of a scaredy cat plant? A scaredy cat plant has a terrible smell that can be compared to skunk spray or animal urine and is powerful enough to discourage cats, dogs, and rabbits from approaching your garden. The smartest cats in your neighborhood who are determined to dig in your garden may try to bypass this plant and enter another way, so be sure to put your scaredy cat plants in a few different areas. Another natural deterrent for cats is rosemary. Once again, it's the fragrance of this herb that can keep cats at bay. Other cat repellents include curry plants, lavender, and pennyroyal.

Dogs

Whether they are big or little, dogs can cause a lot of damage to your garden in a short amount of time. They can dig holes, kick dirt around, and step on your young plants. An evergreen shrub known as rue has an odor that is repellent to most dogs. However, you'll likely appreciate the appearance of its delicate yellow flowers. Lemongrass and lavender both have a fragrance that is unpleasant to dogs and can cause them to stay clear of your garden. You may also consider putting some pungent chili pepper plants in your garden to keep dogs from visiting.

Deer

I enjoy seeing a group of deer standing in a nearby field or strolling through an empty lot; don't you? However, deer can make a meal out of practically anything in a flower or vegetable garden. To steer deer away from your garden, try planting some sage, dill, or oregano. If these deterrents don't work, at least you'll have some herbs for your next pot of spaghetti sauce! Also, you can plant daffodils and poppies to keep the deer away. They avoid going near these poisonous plants. Lamb's ear is another deterrent to deer due to its prickliness.

Mice and Other Rodents

The mice and other rodents around your yard may love visiting your garden to munch on flowers and vegetables. You can prevent them from coming around by planting herbs with a strong fragrance, such as lavender and mint. In addition, you can also keep mice, voles, and gophers away by planting daffodils. It's always convenient when you can plant one item that repels several types of critters.

Squirrels and Raccoons

Squirrels are notorious for digging holes in garden soil to bury nuts, fruit, and other tidbits to snack on at a future date. Planting garlic, onions, or scallions in your garden can help keep the squirrels away. These have a fragrance that squirrels can't stand. Furthermore, snowdrops have a scent that squirrels don't like. Raccoons may also sneak into your garden at night to tear up your favorite veggies, but one way to deter them is to plant some delicious squash or cucumbers. Both of these items have prickly leaves that can hurt the tender paws of a raccoon. As a note, chili pepper plants are just as unpopular with raccoons as they are with dogs.

The best thing about planting many of these natural deterrents is that they are attractive to look at and you may even be able to enjoy them on the dinner table. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: deter critters

What You Need to Know About Companion Planting

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Nov 10, 2016

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Alan's Factory Outlet steel garages can make the perfect place to store all of your garden and planting tools.

People plant their fall gardens in many ways. Some people simply make a list of fall fruits and vegetables they'd like to grow and plant them anywhere they want in the garden. Other folks follow the method of companion planting. This is an old practice that can help you make the most of your fall garden. This week, my post is all about companion planting and how it can benefit you and your family.

The Facts About Companion Planting

Companion planting sounds technical, but it's really a very simple practice. People who use companion planting put certain fruits and vegetables next to one another in their garden. Some veggies and fruits can benefit one another when they are planted in close proximity. For instance, some types of vegetables are extremely vulnerable to pests, while other vegetables have a fragrance that repels pests, so planting those two types of vegetables together makes a lot of sense. Some sturdy vegetables can provide physical support to young climbing plants. Also, some fruits and vegetables can provide shade to others that require it to grow. With a little effort, you can create a companion planting design that leaves you with a flourishing garden!

Why Should You Try Companion Planting?

One reason to try companion planting is that you can enjoy a garden that yields more flavorful vegetables and fruits. Some pairings combine to make excellent use of the nutrients in the soil. This enables each member of the pair to grow strong, healthy, and full of delicious flavor! Also, planting certain flowers can attract pollinators that increase your chances of getting a great yield from your garden. For example, bee- and butterfly-friendly zinnias are great companions for tomatoes in the springtime! Another reason to try companion planting is that it can help you avoid using pesticides and other chemicals to keep pests away from your fruits and vegetables. Some plants are natural pest-repellants.

Ideas for Fall Fruits and Vegetables to Plant Together

In order to try companion planting, you have to know what to plant. Along with the suggestions I mentioned above, you may want to try planting spinach and lettuce next to peppers. Tall peppers provide these two low-growing vegetables with the shade they need to prosper. In turn, spinach and lettuce can keep the weeds at bay, allowing the peppers to grow to their full potential.

Do you like eggplant? I just love the look and taste of eggplant, especially when it's in a dish of eggplant Parmesan. Plant your eggplant next to some thyme. Eggplant is vulnerable to pests such as cabbage worms and flea beetles, but the fragrance of thyme or tarragon can repel these and other pests, keeping them away from your eggplant. Strawberries, potatoes, and cabbage are other plants you can pair with thyme.

Leeks and carrots are another good combination to try. Leeks repel carrot flies that can do damage to these popular veggies.

Pairings to Avoid

Garlic and asparagus are not so bad on a dinner table, but I don't recommend them as a pairing for your garden. These two vegetables draw a lot of the same nutrients from the soil in order to grow to their full potential. In addition, avoid planting tomatoes and corn next to one another. These two plants are vulnerable to the same pests. Be sure to plant your beans and onions a good distance from one another, too. Onions, leeks, and scallions take nutrients that can prevent beans from growing in a healthy way.

Have a fun time trying out these companion planting ideas, and thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: companion planting

Common Homeowner Mistakes to Avoid In the Fall

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Oct 14, 2016

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Alan's Factory Outlet regular style metal carport with gravel driveway to protect your vehicle from snow, ice, hail or falling branches.

Each season has its own to-do list for homeowners. The to-do list for fall is full of tasks that help to prepare your home for the cold weather months. Homeowners tend to make some common mistakes as they go about their home maintenance in the fall. Take a look at a few of these mistakes and what to do to avoid them yourself.

Ignoring the Condition of Your Gutters

It's easy to ignore your gutters because they're located several feet above your head! But gutters that are full of leaves, sticks, pinecones, and other debris prevent the free movement of water. The water trapped in your gutters may find its way into your attic or damage your roof. Cleaning your gutters in the fall allows rain or melting snow to travel through your gutters, into the downspout, and away from your home.

Overlooking the Condition of Your Chimney

If you have a chimney, you may already be thinking about sitting in front of the fireplace, watching logs crackle and burn. You may not be thinking about the condition of your chimney, though. A chimney needs to be cleaned once a year. This is to prevent creosote from forming on the inside of a chimney, creating a blockage that can lead to a fire. Plus, a buildup of creosote doesn't allow carbon monoxide to float up out of the chimney. Instead, the carbon monoxide travels into the home, causing headaches, dizziness, or even death for the people inside. Get a professional chimney sweep to evaluate the condition of your chimney this fall.

Not Tending to Your Driveway or Walkways

Another common mistake of homeowners is overlooking cracks and holes in their driveway or walkways. Of course, these cracks are unsightly, but they can also grow worse over the winter months. When water flows into these cracks, it can freeze and cause the asphalt or cement to break even more. That's why it's a good idea to go to your local home improvement store and get the materials you need to fill in those cracks before the cold weather arrives.

Pressure-Washing Your Home

Some owners go out and rent a pressure-washer with the intention of making their home look its best throughout the fall. Unfortunately, pressure-washing can do a lot of damage to your home's exterior. By definition, a pressure-washer shoots a powerful stream of water at your home that can put holes in window screens and remove paint. Plus, if this water gets behind vinyl siding, it can cause mold growth. If you want to spruce up the exterior of your home, try getting a cleaning solution made for a home's exterior. It can be applied to walls with a garden sprayer and rinsed with a normal garden hose. You can use a broom to remove stains on your siding. If you don't feel comfortable getting up on a ladder to apply the cleaning solution, seek the help of professionals who clean the exteriors of houses.

Leaving Your Garden Hose Hooked to Your Outside Faucet

This is a simple situation to fix, but many longtime homeowners simply forget to do it. Unhooking your hose from the outside spigot, wrapping it up, and putting it in storage is an important item on the fall to-do list. I have a place in my shed where I keep my garden hose until springtime arrives. When a hose is left attached to the outside faucet over the cold weather months, any water that is left inside the hose can freeze. This not only ruins a hose, but the hose doesn't allow water to drain from the spigot. Water can freeze in there and cause a crack in the pipe that goes into your home. When the weather warms up again, you could have water leaking into your home. Spending a few minutes tending to your garden hose can save you a lot of trouble.

Finish up that to-do list and get on with enjoying all of the pleasures of the fall season. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: homeowner mistakes to avoid in fall

Outdoor Fall Decorating Ideas Using Gourds

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Oct 6, 2016

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Do you have some neighbors who have already put out an arrangement of pumpkins? Pumpkins are great, but have you ever thought of making some space in your yard for decorative gourds? There are plenty of imaginative things you can do to make good use of a dried-out gourd. Take a look at a few interesting ideas. Enjoy!

A Lantern

I especially like this idea because a gourd lantern adds to the pleasant atmosphere of a crisp fall evening. Start this project by choosing a gourd that you'd like to turn into a lantern. Second, clean the dirt off of the gourd with a soft sponge and allow it to air-dry. Next, use a pencil to draw a six-inch circle around the base of the gourd and cut off the piece with a pumpkin-carving saw. Remove the cut piece and empty the dried seeds from the gourd. Create a design for your lantern by making pencil marks on the gourd. Use an electric drill to make the holes in the sides of your gourd. Be sure that the holes are at least a quarter-inch apart so the hard surface of the gourd doesn't crack or break. A drill bit can create holes with rough edges, so use a file to neaten the holes that you've put into your gourd. Get a small LED candle, switch it on, and place the base of your gourd over it. The light will shine through the holes in your gourd!

A Birdhouse

Making a gourd birdhouse is a relatively simple project. This type of birdhouse is essentially a dried gourd with a hole drilled into it so birds can gain access. You can express your creativity with this project by choosing a gourd in a unique shape or painting it an appealing color once you've drilled the hole. If you want to attract lots of birds to your gourd house, you might want to paint it in a neutral color or leave it unpainted. Painting your birdhouse a bright color may deter birds from coming around. This is a project that you can put up every fall or spring.

A Jack-o'-Lantern

Creating a jack-o'-lantern out of a gourd is similar to carving a pumpkin. But making a jack-o'-lantern gourd requires the use of an electric drill to carve its face. Of course, as with the gourd lantern, you should use an LED-powered candle instead of a traditional candle. One of the best things about this type of jack-o'-lantern is that it lasts longer than a pumpkin, so you have more time to enjoy it!

A Gourd Chicken

When you really think about it, the shape of a gourd resembles a chicken. It is one of the most appealing outdoor decorations you can make this fall. This craft involves cleaning a smooth gourd and painting it with acrylic paint in a way that resembles a chicken. You may want to make a rough drawing ahead of time so you have a design to follow as you begin to paint. You can use clay to mold your chicken's comb, beak, and wattle. Be sure to choose two or three gourds so your DIY gourd chickens have company!

I hope you come up with some fun ideas for your fall gourds. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: outdoor fall decorating

 

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