DIY and latest topics
DIY and latest topics
Take a good look at your deck and check for any areas that need attention. You may have rough spots, splinters, cracked boards, or boards that need replacing.
Clean -. Regardless of the condition, the first step is to give it a good cleaning with a pressure washer or a cleaning product made for wood decks.
Repair – Next, repair any damaged boards, and hammer in any popped nails, or sink screws as needed, or replace the nails with deck screws. Screws will stay in place and secure the boards longer than nails. Replace any damaged or seriously cracked boards. Check the structure under the deck for rot or other damage.
Sealer – If you have a raw wood deck, whether with cedar, redwood, or treated lumber, decide how you want to treat it. Beautiful cedar or redwood decks may need only a sealer to preserve the look and integrity of the wood. If your deck is new, you should let it thoroughly dry out for several months before applying a sealer. To test a previously sealed deck, sprinkle it with water and see if the water is absorbed or beads up. If it beads up, the sealer is working and probably doesn’t need to be reapplied.
Stain – There are several options with stain including oil-based and water based products. Oil-based stains provide the most protection, better color retention and longer life. A clear stain on nice wood provides protection against splitting, warping, cupping and cracking. Some stains have a hint of color to restore the natural wood color. Also available are semi-transparent stains that still allow the wood grain and texture to show through and provide more protection against sun and damage. Solid or opaque stains give your deck rich color while still allowing the texture to be seen. These are also good on fencing and outdoor furniture.
Restore or Resurface – Decks that are seriously weathered, worn, cracked, or splintery may need an opaque coat of color that literally provides a new surface. Deck restoring coatings are made from a long-lasting tintable acrylic base material with UV inhibitors and added solids. The solids provide texture and hold the product together. These are thicker than paint or stain and will fill cracks, knotholes and splinters. They give your deck a completely new surface and last many years longer than stains and sealers.
You may be tired of mowing and welcoming the dormant winter lawn, but if you want a healthy, green, lush lawn next year, there are some things you need to do now.
At this time of year, late summer and fall, grasses are storing up energy, moisture, and nutrients to keep them going through the dormant winter. You will want to keep on mowing until it quits growing (you won’t have grass clippings after mowing). The last mowing should leave the grass two inches high. This helps keep grass from matting down under leaves and snow.
Continue watering once or twice a week in the morning if it doesn’t rain. One inch of water is a good amount for the fall lawn. Place an empty tuna can on the lawn and water until the can is full. This will give you about an inch of water.
If your lawn seems to be too thick or compacted, it will benefit from aerating. You can use spiked “shoes” laced onto your feet to punch holes through to the ground below the roots, or rent a gas-powered, walk-behind lawn aerator which removes plugs of grass and dirt to allow more air to the roots. Follow with a thin layer of compost or sand.
If your lawn is thin or has dead spots, fall is the ideal time to overseed. Select grass seed appropriate for your area and spread thinly over the entire lawn. Water with a light mist until seeds sprout, then continue as needed. If you have dead spots, remove some of the dirt and another three-quarters of the surrounding grass. Fill in with good soil, spread seeds, lightly cover according to package directions, and protect with straw or chopped leaves. Mist frequently until seeds sprout.
Fall is the ideal time to fertilize your lawn. Grasses that do well in the north, such as bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass benefit from feeding in early September and again in October or November. They will green up earlier in the spring.
You want to avoid heavy layers of leaves sitting on your lawn over the winter because they can smother the grass. If you have only a few leaves and a mulching mower, then leaves can add nutrients to the grass as they decompose. With masses of leaves though, it is best to remove them, shred them, and add to the compost pile.
Now is the time to start thinking about building raised flower and vegetable beds for next year.
Building the beds is fairly simple and can be done in a couple of hours. The best size is either 3’X8’ or 4’X8’ or if you have the space 10-12 feet long side boards. Use 2” thick lumber. Use untreated lumber as treated can leak chemicals into the beds. Avoid walking on the beds as it compacts the soil.
How to Build the Boxes
Cut your long pieces to length. Cut the end pieces the width desired allowing extra for the two sides which will be outside the sides. Pre-drill holes and use 2-3 inch coated deck screws and put the pieces together. This is the basic box.
If you need a taller garden bed, you can build a basic box, add legs, add 2X4s inside at the base of the box to support the bottom boards that will sit on the 2X4s. Leave a small space between boards for drainage. Put supports on the corners and in the middle.
You could also build 2 or 3 boxes the same size and stack them, anchoring them with outside boards on the corners and the middle.
Filling your box is a matter of adding layers of organic material. Start with a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard on the grass or ground. Next add a layer of straw, a layer of compost, a layer of shredded paper, a layer of top soil, a layer of grass clippings, a layer of well-rotted manure and a layer of shredded leaves. Keep repeating the layers until the soil reaches the top.
Plant a Cover Crop
To keep the weeds from taking over, plant a crop of Annual Rye Grass and let it grow. In the spring, just cut back the grass and leave it on the bed for mulch. Plant your seeds or seedlings right through the grass.
Over the winter, all those layers will compost and you will have the richest soil you have ever grown in. The cover crop will deposit nitrogen and other nutrients in the soil as it decomposes.
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