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Alan Bernau Jr

Recent Posts

Which Type of Fencing Material Should You Choose?

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Sep 3, 2020


Do you want to build a fence around your property? Perhaps you want more privacy or you'd like to have an extra layer of security for your home and garage. Well, before you can build a fence, you have to decide what type of fence material you want. Each type of fencing has its own advantages and disadvantages. Check out some helpful information I found on materials for fences.


Cedar, redwood, cypress, pressure-treated pine, and white oak are all types of wood used for fences. You have a lot of great choices!

Cedar is one of the best types of wood for a fence due to its natural oils. These oils are a deterrent to burrowing insects. It's also resistant to rot, which means a cedar fence is built to last!

Redwood is another solid choice for a fence. It's rot-resistant as well and not at all appealing to insects.

Along with having a lot of options regarding wood type, you can paint or stain a wooden fence to suit your color preferences.

One of the disadvantages of wood for a fence is it can take on damage from harsh weather conditions. Also, you have to dedicate time and money to keeping a wooden fence looking its best.


An advantage of aluminum for your fence is that it requires very little maintenance. This material won't rust or corrode.

One of the disadvantages of aluminum is that it's lightweight and can bend. Also, it doesn't provide a high level of security.


A fence made of steel provides you with a high level of security, and if it's galvanized and has a powder coating, it won't rust. Most steel fences are galvanized.

A big disadvantage of using steel as fencing material is that it's expensive. It also requires professionals to install it.

Wrought Iron

You may agree with me when I say that a beautifully designed wrought-iron fence can be a work of art. The attractiveness of this type of fence is one of its biggest advantages. Also, the material is durable and strong.

On the downside, wrought iron is at the top of the list of the most expensive materials for fences. Another disadvantage is that you have to sand and repaint your wrought-iron fence about every two years to keep it looking its best.


A vinyl fence can mimic the appearance of a wooden fence but needs less maintenance. Another advantage is that you can order it in the color you want so you don't have to paint or stain it.

One of the disadvantages of a vinyl fence is its vulnerability to extreme changes in temperature. These changes can cause vinyl to shift. In addition, the initial cost of a vinyl fence is higher than many other types of fences.


PVC is recycled material, so you have the advantage of owning an environmentally friendly fence. Other advantages are that it's inexpensive material and you can install the fence yourself.

A disadvantage is that it doesn't have a particularly attractive appearance. And like vinyl, this material can shift and loosen in response to extreme changes in temperature.


Are you considering concrete, brick, or stone for your fence? If so, you're choosing an attractive, traditional option. These are durable materials as well.

But one problem with using masonry materials for your fence is they are expensive. Also, this type of fence requires professional installation. It must be built with a particular type of foundation that will help it remain sturdy despite extreme temperature changes.


When it comes to fence material, chain-link is very reasonably priced. Another advantage is that you can install this type of fence yourself.

One disadvantage of a chain-link fence is that it doesn't have a lot of visual appeal: Imagine the fencing around a school playground. Also, if you're looking for a high level of security or any level of privacy, chain-link doesn't offer either one.

Try writing down the top three reasons you have for installing your new fence. This will help you decide on the most suitable material. Thanks for reading. - Alan

8 Tricks To Keep Cut Flowers Looking Fresher For Longer

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Sep 2, 2020


Do you like to walk into the kitchen to see a vase of daisies or chrysanthemums on your table? Maybe you have a favorite flower you like to cut from your garden to bring into your home. Regardless of the types of flowers you love, you'll want to keep them looking as fresh as possible in their vase. Good news! I have some simple things you can do to keep your cut flowers looking fresh for as long as possible.

  1. Use an Apple Cider Vinegar Mixture. Create a mixture using two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and two tablespoons of sugar. Pour it into your vase with the water. The apple cider vinegar kills bacteria that can make your flowers fade more quickly, while the sugar serves as food for the flowers.
  2. Trim the Stems. Before putting your flowers in a vase, trim an inch off the bottom of the stems. Be sure to cut the stems at an angle. You may want to go out to your garden shed and get the pruning shears to help you make a precise angled cut. Trimming your stems makes it easier for them to absorb the water they need to stay fresh-looking. Trimming a bit more off of the bottom of the stems each time you change the water can renew your flowers as well.
  3. Put Your Flowers in the Fridge. At the end of the day, put your vase of flowers into the refrigerator. Spending eight hours in the cool temperature of your refrigerator helps to keep your flowers looking fresh.
  4. Remove Some Leaves. Remove the leaves on your flowers that sit below the waterline in your vase. If left on, these leaves can encourage the growth of bacteria in the water that take away from the fresh look of your flowers.
  5. Leave a Penny. Put a penny in the bottom of your vase of flowers. Copper is antibacterial. This is just another way to keep bacteria from shortening the time you get to enjoy your cut flowers.
  6. Add Soda to the Vase. Add cup of clear soda to the water in your flower vase. The sugar in the soda nourishes the flowers and can actually make them smell sweeter! Using a dark soda is another option if you plan to put your flowers in a vase that isn't clear. Using just a quarter-cup in your vase leaves some soda for you to enjoy over ice!
  7. Crush an Aspirin. Take an aspirin and crush it with a spoon. Dump the crushed aspirin into the vase of water. Aspirin reduces the acidity in the water, which helps it to travel through the stems more quickly. Wilting doesn't happen as quickly when the flower stems receive adequate water.
  8. Keep the Flowers Out of Direct Sunlight. Taking care with the location of your vase can contribute to the freshness of your cut flowers. Find a place that's out of the direct sun and away from any vents releasing hot air. Heat or intense sunlight can wilt your flowers more quickly.

The best part about this list of tips is that you likely have many of these items around your house right now. Thanks for reading. - Alan

What Can Be Grown In A Fall Garden?

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Sep 1, 2020


Did you know there are advantages to planting some types of vegetables in late August? In fact, the same vegetable planted and harvested in the springtime can taste even better when planted and harvested in the fall. Let's just say that some vegetables appreciate the cold weather more than others! If you're looking to add some items to your fall garden, I've got a few ideas for you today. Enjoy!

  1. Broccoli. Plant your seeds now and you can harvest broccoli in 70 to 100 days, depending on the variety you choose. These vegetables can endure temperatures that fall into the 20s, making them a dependable item in your fall garden. Plus, broccoli becomes more flavorful as it grows in the cooler temperatures.
  2. Brussels Sprouts. Brussels sprouts can be harvested 85 days after planting. Brussels sprouts that are firm and measure one inch in diameter are ready to harvest. These veggies are not only frost resistant, but they become sweeter after a frost.
  3. Cabbage. Cabbage can be harvested as early as 80 days after planting. Some varieties of cabbage are harvested 180 days after planting seeds. Before harvesting, make sure the cabbage head is firm and its base measures from 4 to 10 inches in width. Cabbage is another frost-resistant vegetable that gets sweeter as it matures in colder weather.
  4. Carrots. You can harvest carrots from your fall garden ten to 12 weeks after planting. Carrots are a great addition to your fall garden because their roots become thick and strong in temperatures around 40 degrees. They are especially sweet when grown in the fall. I like the idea of having plenty of carrots on hand for whenever a bowl of dip is nearby!
  5. Kale. If kale is a regular addition to your salads, you'll be glad to know that this vegetable is perfect for a fall garden. Not only does it grow well in cold weather, but it can withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees. Brrr! Plus, kale is not as vulnerable to pests compared with cabbage and other leafy veggies. Harvest your kale 55 to 75 days after planting seeds.
  6. Peas. A light frost and temperatures that drop into the low 30s don't present a challenge for peas growing in your fall garden. They can be harvested from 75 to 120 days after planting seeds. Check the specific harvest time for the variety of pea seeds you purchase.
  7. Spinach. You probably know that spinach is a cold-weather vegetable. But did you know that this vegetable can endure temperatures that fall as low as 20 degrees? Spinach can be harvested 37 to 45 days after planting.
  8. Turnips. Add turnips to the list of frost-resistant vegetables that taste sweeter after maturing in cold temperatures. Wait 30 to 60 days to harvest your turnips after planting seeds.

So don't lock all of your gardening tools in your shed just yet. You've got a fall garden to tend to! Thanks for reading. - Alan

11 Interesting Facts You May Not Know About Birds

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sun, Aug 30, 2020


Have you paused lately to take notice of all the birds hanging around your yard? Birds are especially busy this time of year building nests, feeding their babies, and searching for food in the grass and trees. In this week's blog, I have some interesting facts you may not know about the birds you see every day.

1. Northern Cardinals

If you've ever seen (and heard) a Northern cardinal tapping its beak on a window of your home, it's not trying to get your attention. A male cardinal can mistake its reflection for another male bird. It's tapping furiously to try to intimidate the male bird that has invaded its territory.

2. Ducks

Ducks gather in groups to sleep on land. The ducks on the outer edges of the group sleep with one eye open so they can alert the others of approaching predators.

3. Hummingbirds

You already know that hummingbirds are some of the smallest birds on earth. But some hummingbirds are lighter than others. The Bee hummingbird weighs less than a penny while the Giant hummingbird weighs about as much as a AA battery.

4. Acorn Woodpeckers

These birds get their name from their habit of storing acorns in the holes they make in trees. With a single acorn in each hole, a tree may hold 50,000 acorns deposited by this bird.

5. Owls

If you're lucky enough to see an owl, watch how it turns its head. An owl is able to turn its head almost 360 degrees. This is helpful because an owl can't move its eyes.

6. Mockingbirds

Mockingbirds can imitate a variety of sounds around them. Some of those sounds include car alarms, squeaking doors, other bird calls and even the meowing of a cat.

7. Blue Jays

Blue jays rub ants on their feathers before eating them. Ants contain formic acid that comes out when they're rubbed on the bird's feathers. Scientists believe the ants taste better to the birds when the acid is removed.

8. House Sparrows

You may have seen a house sparrow or two rolling in a patch of dirt and creating a lot of dust in the process. Sparrows do this to remove bacteria and mites from their feathers.

9. American Robins

If you've ever watched an American robin hop across your yard, it's not just hopping in a random way. These birds have very good eyesight allowing them to spot the little movements of worms in the soil. The hops help them hone in on their prey.

10. American Goldfinches

If you happen to see an American goldfinch pulling at spider webs around the windows of your garage, it's not trying to catch a spider. These birds use delicate spider web silk to build their nests.

11. Mourning Doves

Mourning doves are a familiar sight around most bird feeders. At times, they seem to be swallowing a large supply of seed that has fallen to the ground. However, these birds are able to store seeds in their crop to swallow and digest later on. I bet you didn't know mourning doves were getting takeout from your bird feeder!

It's fun to learn a little more about the feathered fliers all around us, isn't it? It makes me appreciate them all the more. Thanks for reading. -Alan

10 Plants From The Garden That Have Amazing Health Benefits

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Aug 22, 2020


What kinds of herbs and vegetables do you plant in your garden? Maybe you find yourself planting the same ones each year. Well, why not consider planting herbs and vegetables with specific health benefits? If you're in the mood to consider some new plants for your garden, I have ten ideas that may interest you. Enjoy!

  1. Lavender: Along with adding beauty to your garden, the fragrance of lavender is calming and can help you relax before going to sleep. Cut a few sprigs from your garden, tie them together with a piece of ribbon, and hang them near your bed to enjoy their soothing scent. You can even hang some sprigs of lavender inside your garden shed so you get a whiff of lovely fragrance whenever you open the door to get your wheelbarrow.
  2. Thyme: Thyme leaves can help to relieve indigestion and even ward off colds and respiratory issues. Also, a cup of thyme tea can help relax you after a long day.
  3. Carrots: Carrots contain vitamin A that promotes good eye health, potassium for controlling blood pressure, and vitamin K for healthy bones. They are also delicious roasted or raw!
  4. Garlic: Are you a fan of garlic? Well, if the answer is yes, growing it in your garden will give you access to a delicious and nutrient-filled vegetable. Garlic can help to fight off colds and reduce blood pressure. Its antioxidants support the health of your immune system as well.
  5. Sage: Sage is an antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory. It also contains vitamin K, which contributes to the strength of your bones and promotes healthy blood circulation.
  6. Rosemary: A fragrant gathering of rosemary is a pleasant addition to any garden. This herb can help to relieve joint pain related to arthritis. It has calcium, iron, and vitamin B6 that contribute to a healthy diet. Consider making some garlic rosemary butter to spread on toast, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and more.
  7. Echinacea: Growing echinacea means you can enjoy a cup of echinacea tea any time you like. This herb is said to soothe cold symptoms, coughs, ear infections, and even bronchitis.
  8. Oregano: Having a supply of oregano on hand means you can add spice to your spaghetti sauce at a moment's notice. Oregano has antioxidants that help prevent damage to cells. Furthermore, this herb contains fiber, iron, manganese, vitamin E, and calcium for a healthy diet.
  9. Lemon Balm: Lemon balm, aka Melissa, provides your garden with a subtle fragrance of lemon. This herb can benefit your digestive system, strengthen your immune system, and provide you with a general feeling of calm. It also promotes strong, healthy cells in your body.
  10. Spinach: I imagine you've heard the term "superfoods" thrown around once or twice. Well, spinach is one of those superfoods. Its dark leaves contain vitamin A, fiber, iron, calcium, vitamin C, and magnesium. Eating spinach can lower your risk of cancer, contribute to good bone health, and provide antioxidants that can reduce blood glucose levels. This is especially valuable to someone with diabetes.

Lastly, as an added benefit, most of the herbs and vegetables on my list are easy to grow! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Repel Animals From Your Garden Using Things From Around The House

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Aug 5, 2020


Are the vegetables in your garden being stolen or chomped on by deer, squirrels, rabbits, and other animals? If so, there are some steps you can take to put a stop to this behavior. Check out 8 common household items you can use to deter animals from making a buffet out of your garden.

  1. Hot Sauce. Combine 1 ounce of hot sauce, 4 drops of dish soap and 1 cup of crushed marigold petals in a blender with two cups of water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spritz your garden plants with it once per week. This mixture has a strong odor that's very unpleasant to rabbits and deer.
  2. Milk. Do you have any extra milk in the fridge? If so, you have the main ingredient in a mixture that deters deer from raiding your garden. In a spray bottle, combine ¼ cup of milk with a few drops of dish detergent. Fill the bottle to the top with water and spray the mixture on your garden plants. The milk will go bad out in the sunlight creating an odor that deer do not appreciate.
  3. A Bowl of Seed. This idea is more of a distraction than a deterrent to animals. Put a bowl of birdseed or homemade squirrel food in an area of your yard away from your garden. The purpose of this is to give squirrels, birds, and other animals an alternative to taking your veggies.
  4. Bar Soap. Look in your bathroom cabinet for a few bars of fragrant soap. Attach a bar of soap to the top of a stake and push the stake into the dirt of your garden. It's best if the bar of soap sits at a level just above your plants. The fragrance of the soap is a deterrent to squirrels and deer.
  5. A Radio. If you don't mind music playing in your yard, put a radio near your garden, click it on and turn up the volume. This loud sound can be a deterrent to deer, squirrels, rabbits and more.
  6. A Cayenne Pepper Mix. In a spray bottle, combine 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper and a couple drops of dish detergent with 20 ounces of warm water to make a cayenne pepper mix. Put it out in the sun for the day, then spray it on the leaves of your vegetables. The pungent odor of this mixture is repellent to rabbits.
  7. An Alert Dog. Sometimes the presence of a dog around a vegetable garden can deter animals from approaching the area. A barking dog is likely to scare off deer, raccoons, and rabbits. Prop open the door of your garden shed and put a bowl of water inside, so your dog has a cool place to get out of the sun on hot days.
  8. Aluminum Pie Pans. Put some aluminum pie pans aside after using the crust in a recipe. Put four wooden stakes in the ground around your garden and hang a piece of string between them. Next, punch a small hole in the rim of each pie pan and hang them close together on the string. The noise of the pans bumping up against one another can be a deterrent to animals.

I hope one or more of these simple solutions keep the animals out of your beloved garden. Thanks for reading.


The Differences Between Annuals, Biennials, and Perennial Plants

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Jul 31, 2020


You're in a gardening/planting mood. So, you head to the local garden store for seeds to grow some colorful flowers in your yard. Some of the seeds you look at are categorized as annuals while others are biennials or perennials. So, how do you choose? The first step is to determine the differences between these three categories of flowers. This week, I'm giving you the lowdown on annuals, biennials, and perennials so you can make the best choices for your garden.


An annual is a flower with a life cycle that is completed in just one season. These flowers need to be planted from seed every spring. Some annuals are hardy and can withstand cold and light frost. A few examples of hardy annuals include pansies, calendula, sweet alyssum, and snapdragons.

Half-hardy annuals are not quite as strong. Geraniums, dianthus, gazania, and petunias are all half-hardy annuals. These plants can endure cool soil, but not frost.

Tender annuals such as begonias, zinnias, and impatiens need warm soil and warm temperatures to flourish.

If you like to change the look of your garden or landscape every spring, planting annuals can help you achieve that goal.


When you plant the seeds of a biennial you're planting a flower that takes two years to grow. After planting the seeds in the springtime, the flower starts to establish a root system and leaves appear. When winter arrives, the leaves of the biennial fall off and the plant goes into a dormant state. The following spring the biennial blooms, then dies in the fall. Some examples of biennials include hollyhocks, forget-me-nots, Canterbury Bells, and Sweet William.

A few biennials have been known to bloom the first year. Foxglove and stock are two examples.

Some people like to plant biennials that serve as perennials in their garden. For instance, say you want to plant forget-me-nots in a flower bed near your kitchen window. As the forget-me-nots develop blooms in the second stage of their life cycle, you may want to plant more forget-me-not seeds. That way, you'll always have new clusters of these flowers to replace those that are fading.


If you're looking to plant flowers that bloom year after year, then go with perennials. Black-eyed Susans, phlox, Cardinal flowers, sedum, daffodils, and daylilies are all perennials. Planting perennials makes it easy to establish a color scheme in your landscape or garden. Plus, if you have a few favorite perennial flowers, you get to enjoy them year after year. Maybe you'd like to have a beautiful collection of yellow and orange flowers around the border of your gazebo. Daffodils in yellow, orange, and other colors are perennials, so you know they'll come up every year wherever you plant them.

So, now that you know the difference between annuals, biennials, and perennials you have what you need to plan the appearance of your garden. I suggest trying all three types of flowers in your landscape. There are flowers in all of these groups that can bring fresh color and interest to your garden. Thanks for reading.-Alan

How To Help Keep Your Pets Cool In The Summer

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Jul 17, 2020


We're in the middle of summer and temperatures are soaring all over the country. I hope you're spending a lot of time in the air conditioning or maybe enjoying a bowl of ice cream or two outdoors. As the summer continues, it's important to remember that your pets are feeling the heat as well. This week, I have ten easy ways you can help your pets cool off on these hot summer days.

  1. Hose Down Your Driveway. If your dog or cat spends a lot of time running up and down your driveway, take a few minutes to spray it with your garden hose. This cools down the cement making it a little more comfortable for the sensitive paws of your dog or cat.
  2. Turn on Your Backyard Sprinkler. It's hard to find a little kid who doesn't love to run through a backyard sprinkler on a hot day. Well, the same goes for many types of dogs! So, on the next hot day, queue up the sprinkler to see if your dog wants to cool off in the spray.
  3. Freeze Bottles of Water. Put a couple small bottles of water into the freezer. After they're frozen solid, put one into your rabbit's cage or into your dog's house outdoors. Leaning against a frozen bottle helps keep pets cool.
  4. Keep Fresh Drinking Water Available. Get into the habit of checking the water bowl of your dog, cat, and other pets to be sure it's filled and clean whenever your pet needs a drink.
  5. Provide a Shady Area. Sitting in the shade can cool down your pets. So, create a comfortable area beneath a tree or put a pet bed under your carport, so your pet can relax and get out of the sun for a while.
  6. Avoid Using a Muzzle on Your Dog. If you have a dog that wears a muzzle when you go out, it's best to avoid putting it on when it's hot outside. Dogs cool themselves and regulate their temperature by panting. A muzzle can prevent a dog from panting and bring on heat exhaustion.
  7. Provide Frozen Treats. Enjoying a cherry or grape Popsicle on a hot day is one of the many pleasures of summer. Why not share a frozen treat with your dog? Making homemade frozen treats for dogs is easy and adds some nutritious fruit to your canine's diet.
  8. Brush Your Dog or Cat on a Regular Basis. Brushing your dog or cat removes matted hair. Matted hair can keep your dog or cat from cooling down on hot days.
  9. Cut Down on Exercise for Your Dog. Avoid excessive exercise with your dog on a hot day. Your dog can overheat while trying to keep up with you on a running trail. Going for short walks on really hot days is a better idea.
  10. Put a Plastic Pool in Your Backyard. You've probably seen those plastic kiddie pools for sale already this summer. If you get one for your backyard and fill it with cool water, there's a good chance your dog will want to take a dip. Or your dog may use it as a huge water bowl!

Remember to take extra care with your pets when the temperatures soar this summer. Thanks for reading.


Businesses That Started In A Garage: Microsoft

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Jul 2, 2020


Big companies that got their start in a garage; this is the topic of a series I've shared with you for several months now. When you think about it, a garage is the perfect birthplace for a business. There's plenty of space and privacy to let your innovative ideas and creativity run wild. This month, I'm taking a look at my ninth addition to the series: Microsoft! Sit back and learn how this company grew from its humble beginnings in a garage to a monster in the computer software industry.

The Early Days of Microsoft

Bill Gates and Paul Allen had been friends since they were students at Lakeside School in Seattle. In the 1970s, while working as a programmer for a company called Honeywell, Paul Allen stumbled upon an article in Popular Electronics. It was all about a microcomputer called Altair, made by the Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry System Company, aka MITS. Paul traveled to Harvard where he excitedly shared the article with Bill. They were immediately inspired to come up with a software implementation for the microcomputer's system. The implementation, called BASIC, was accepted and it was distributed as Altair BASIC. This led to the birth of Microsoft on April 4th, 1975. Allen left his job and Gates gave up college to setup headquarters in a small garage on California Street in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Microsoft was officially in the business of creating software.

Gates and Allen spent the next few years working on more software for the Altair 8800. By the end of 1978, sales numbers for Microsoft surpassed one million dollars. In 1979, the headquarters of Microsoft moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Bellevue, Washington.

A Growing Record of Success

In 1985, the first version of Microsoft's Windows came into being. This software offered a variety of graphics and gave users the option of running different programs at the same time. In addition, the software allowed users to share data between programs. Microsoft's Windows software helped to make personal computers a must-have purchase for the average household. Furthermore, the software was easy to use and helpful to people who weren't necessarily computer experts.

Since 1985, Microsoft has created nine main versions of Windows. In 1987, Bill Gates, at 31-years old, became the world's youngest billionaire. And he was just getting started!

Windows 95 Makes Its Debut

With the arrival of the late 1980s, Microsoft was the world's largest company producing software for personal computers. In the mid '90s, personal computers were a familiar sight in homes and offices throughout the country. When Windows 95 was introduced it was a big commercial success. As more people were discovering the Internet in the 1990s, Microsoft developed a web browser called Internet Explorer. I bet you've used it a time or two!

Microsoft Continues to Innovate

Today, Microsoft is a one trillion dollar company. The company has experienced consistent success throughout the years including the launch of the search engine BING in 2009 and the acquisition of Skype in 2011. In addition, Microsoft launched Xbox One in 2013 and purchased LinkedIn in 2016. This company definitely has a knack for seeing the future.

Fun Facts about Microsoft

  • The original name of the company was Micro-Soft (a combination of the words microprocessor and software)
  • Microsoft was founded in Albuquerque because that's where MITS was located
  • Microsoft has an underwater data center off the coast of Scotland

So, there you have it. If you're thinking about starting a business, remember the garage where Microsoft came into existence and where it is today. Get inspired! Thanks for reading.-Alan

8 Ways to Add Shade to Your Yard in the Summer

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Jul 1, 2020


Do you love watching birds, squirrels, butterflies, and other critters do their thing in your yard? Sitting in the sunshine for a while is great, but you need a shady place to retire to as well. If you want to throw some shade at your yard (in a good way), I have some ideas for what you can add to the scene.

  1. A Patio Umbrella: If you purchase a table for your patio, get one with an umbrella. Putting up the umbrella is an easy way to enjoy some shade while playing cards, talking, eating, etc.
  2. An Awning: Consider putting an awning over your patio. They are available in many different styles and colors to match your outdoor décor. Plus, you can easily take down or put up the awning to suit your preferences.
  3. A Carport: A carport is not just a convenient place to park your car or truck. It can provide shade when you want to sit outdoors to read, chat with family members, or listen to music. If you have a few friends over for a barbecue or picnic, set up a few folding chairs beneath your carport so guests can get some shade. If you have dogs, cats, or even farm animals that roam around your property, a carport is a great place for them to get relief from the sun, too.
  4. A Tree: Planting a tree not only provides shade, but it also adds beauty to your yard. A flowering dogwood, red maple, or weeping willow might make a nice, shade-providing addition to your yard. Be sure to check with a landscaping professional so you choose a tree that won't overwhelm your yard as it grows.
  5. A Pergola: Adding a pergola to your yard gives you a unique place to sit and enjoy the outdoors. Growing climbing plants such as wisteria, clematis, and passion flowers on your pergola provides you with natural shade. I think a pergola draped with colorful vining is perfect if you want some shade and privacy.
  6. Curtains: Putting up a row of curtains on your patio or deck is another way to beat the heat. There are portable stands available that you can set up outdoors to hang your curtains from. Though they don't block the sun from above, they can block sunlight pouring in from a particular angle during the afternoon.
  7. A Fence: Building a fence of a certain height can help you add shade to spaces in your yard. This idea takes some planning in order to get the height and location of the fence right.
  8. Hanging Plants: You may wonder how a couple of hanging plants could provide shade on a deck, porch, or patio. But if you've ever owned a Boston fern, you know they grow upward and outward! Display your Boston ferns, fuchsias, or torenias in well-thought-out locations on your patio or porch to get some shade at certain times of the day.

As you see, making a shady area in your yard can be a fun, creative project! Thanks for reading. - Alan

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