Scrap Wood Bottle Opener

July 26th, 2013

Perhaps the most useful tool ever constructed out of scrap wood and a nail. Its a very simple concept, works well and can be built by anyone. I am quite certain this is going to be a trending concept and it brings an answer to so many who have been stuck, angry and thirsty, with out a bottle opener. The images below depict the entire concept.

scrap wood bottle opener

Need I say more?

Top 10 Outdoor Room Design Ideas

July 25th, 2013

Top 10 Outdoor Room Design Ideas


One of the hottest trends in home decorating lately is the outdoor room.  An outdoor room provides an ideal location to enjoy fresh air, cool breezes, and pleasant conversation with family and friends.  Sun porches, patios, and balconies make great starting points but a hidden room tucked away in a quiet spot in the garden is a treasure, too.  Explore these top 10 outdoor room design ideas to discover ways to bring the indoors out at the place you call home.


1 — Outdoor Dining



People have enjoyed dining al fresco for ages but it’s only been recently that we started creating very well-appointed dining areas outside.  Every outdoor dining area will have table and chairs, of course, but some come with complete outdoor kitchens now, too.  An umbrella cover over the dining table keeps the sun at bay for mid-day dining and creates a cozy canopy for entertaining under the stars.  Outdoor dining’s not just about picnics anymore.


2 — Screened-In Porch



A screened-in porch is not entirely outside but it’s not entirely a part of the home’s interior, either.  This peaceful retreat combines the best of both worlds and can be as exposed to Mother Nature as desired.  Since it’s protected from the elements, feel free to decorate elaborately but do stay mindful that dampness and temperature extremes will have an effect on upholstery, linens, wood furniture, and other delicate furnishings.


3 — Rustic and Cozy Porch



No screen required for a rustic and cozy porch like this one.  Furnish an open-air porch with things that will stand up to whatever the wind blows in.  A few comfy chairs for friendly conversation and a table or two to hold a good book and a glass of wine are all that’s really needed.


4 — Garden Shed Oasis



Turn your garden shed into a peaceful oasis by extending it on one side to accommodate garden furniture and container plants.  Make sure the shed has a door to close off the work housed inside so the mind can relax and escape every care while thinking of nothing at all.


5 — Hideaway in the Woods



Escape even further with a garden retreat built into the back of the garden.  Make it a library and reading room or an artist’s studio.  Or a workshop.  Fill it with music and crank it up loud, knowing you’ve got enough privacy that volume won’t annoy others.  Install a hot tub or Jacuzzi.  The possibilities are endless for a hideaway in the woods.  Once its reason for being is determined, enclose it as much as need be or leave it open and airy.


6 — Watch the Clouds Roll By



Install a hammock in the yard somewhere, crawl in, and watch the clouds roll by.  Or the moon and the stars.  The weightlessness of a hammock makes it almost impossible to resist the temptation of a good nap, like sleeping on a cloud.  Careful, though; hammocks can be habit-forming.


7 — Terrace with a View



Turn a balcony into a lush, plant-filled terrace with garden furniture arranged to take full advantage of a breathtaking view or fiery sunset.  A balcony off the bedroom provides a tranquil way to face a new day, cup of coffee in hand as the sun rises.  Arrange garden furniture, plants, and screens for added privacy.

8 — Balcony Basics



Opulence can be a nice place to visit but some people prefer elegant simplicity for everyday living.  To relax after a long busy day without a lot of gardening or tidying up to do, a few simple pieces of comfortable garden furniture provides the ideal setting to escape life’s hustle and bustle on a quiet, private balcony.  Stick to high-quality basics of good design to create a serene setting and let the wonders of nature chase your cares away.


9 — Tea Time in the Garden



Garden enthusiasts love getting their hands dirty but they also enjoy time to sit back and survey the fruits — and flowers — of their labors.  Create a simple spot in the midst of the garden to sit back, observe the scene, and figure out what to plant next.  Tea time in the garden is a most inviting event when a few simple pieces provide a cozy, colorful place for contemplation.


10 — Pool Time



A private swimming pool of any size is a backyard delight.  Surround it with water-resistant furniture and umbrellas to block the sun.  Include tables to hold food and drink since nothing seems to work up an appetite quite like a good swim does.  Include some deck chairs for sunbathing and outdoor storage to keep towels and sunscreen handy.


An outdoor room of any style is a delight during the daytime and can be equally enjoyable after dark.  Be sure to have plenty of lighting situated where it enhances the mood and provides just enough light to keep after-dark enjoyment free of accidents.  Be sure to plant some white flowers around your outdoor room, too.  White flowers pop to life in the moonlight when more vibrantly colored blooms fade into shadow.


Author bio: Rebecca is an author and blogger from London. He often writes about outdoor entertainment and how outdoor furniture, garden benches, patio furniture & sun loungers can create the perfect environment.

Building Green Recourses: Homes Interior



About Penofin: Fact Sheet for Deck Owners

April 30th, 2013

Those who extended their paradise beyond the back door with a deck may have used ipe, tigerwood or one of the extreme hardwoods. These breeds of lumber usually don’t need anything done to them, post installation. When they age, they’ll turn a nice shade of gray. If you want them to retain the same color as when you purchased them, apply a coat of stain that closely matches the original hue and a clear sealant.

But we’ve got an even better alternative. Forget the sealant. Grab a bucket of this stuff called Penofin. It’s a stain. Match the color of the hardwood when taking this path.

The way it’s made allows Penofin to sink more deeply into the surface of the wood. This means it will allow the lumber to breathe as well as have the individual fibers lap-up the coat.


Penofin contains Brazilian Rosewood Oil. In other words, the seeds from like trees are harvested to make this flexible, strong, mildew and water resistant covering. That’s it. Just the seeds. No trees were harmed. And when applied, no gooey film remains on the surface. That is if you follow our final direction at the end of the article.

Get a gallon to coat up to 200 square feet for rough surfaces. If the wood is smooth, you’ll get around 300 square feet with the same amount. Follow directions and you’ll be able to put sanding or stripping in the rear-view mirror for the life of your deck. For heavy traffic areas, if you need to reapply, clean the area in question. Let it dry. Reapply and it will blend in with the unworn spots.

What to Expect

On a vertical plane — like a fence, Penofin will last (on average) about 4-years. On your deck, reapplication should be done every year-and-a-half. As with all outdoor products, the sun and Mother Nature set the timers.

You want to buy as close to exactly the right amount. Reason being that it’s not recommended to store it for any length of time.

A note: Since this product penetrates the surface so well, you’ll want to apply it to naked wood and not over an existing stain. That is unless you used Penofin in the first place. In that case, have at it. It’ll handle a touch-up just fine.

Like most substances you’ll use in an outdoor setting, try to pick a day when it’s between 50-to-80 degrees. This range of temperatures is really important. Anything outside that window could leave you with problems. It may not penetrate the wood as it’s supposed to. Could lead to peeling and chipping in the near future. If you can wear shorts and a t-shirt outside without breaking into a sweat, probably the right moment to slap a light coat onto the woody surfaces.

Planning a party on the patio? You can slap-on a coat the day before. In 12-hours, it’ll be ready to handle the footprints of your guests.

One last thing. You will need to wipe-down the wood after applying Penofin. Use a nap-free cloth. You want to make sure that none of the material sits on the surface. It’s doing its work under the surface.

Original Source:

What the World Does on Arbor Day

April 26th, 2013

We’re heading to Nebraska. Set your time machine to 1872, April 10th to be exact. We’re about to meet a fellow named J. Sterling Morton. On that particular day around 1-million trees were planted. Hope you packed a shovel.

That was the moment when Arbor Day was kind of invented in Nebraska City by J. Sterling. Since then the holiday’s actual date has changed. Why? Depends on the climate and the right time of the year when people plant stuff in the dirt.

Then in 1883, this guy named Birdsey Northrop of Connecticut took a trip to Japan, spreading the message. That began the true globalization of Arbor Day.

Let’s Go Forward to 2013.

Since the time of J. Sterling and Birdsey, we’ve decided to celebrate National Arbor Day on the last Friday in April. Some states differ, again based on the best tree planting times. It’s not just America that commemorates this holiday. Other countries do it too. Take a look at the a few of the other places that commemorate the custom in other parts of the world. We want to credit Wikipedia for this information:

  • Australia.
    National Schools Tree Day is held on the last Friday of July for schools and National Tree Day, the last Sunday in July throughout Australia. Many states have Arbor Day although only Victoria has Arbor Week, which was suggested by Premier Dick Hamer in the 1980s. Arbor Day has been observed in Australia since June 20th, 1889.
  • Cambodia.
    National Tree Planting Day is on June 1st. Cambodia celebrates an arbor day on every 9th of July.
  • Canada.
    In Canada, Maple Leaf Day falls on the last Wednesday in September during National Forest Week. The province of Ontario celebrates Arbor Week from the last Friday in April to the first Sunday in May.
  • China.
    In 1981, the fourth session of the Fifth National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China adopted the Resolution on the Unfolding of a Nationwide Voluntary Tree-planting Campaign (phew). This resolution established Arbor Day and stipulated that every able-bodied citizen between the ages of 11 and 60 should plant three to five trees per year or do the equivalent amount of work in seedling, cultivation, tree tending or other services. The People’s Republic of China celebrates Arbor Day on March 12, a day founded by Lin Daoyang, continue to use following the date of Arbor Day for the Republic of China.
  • Egypt.
    Tree planting day, Arbor Day, is on January 15th.
  • Germany.
    Arbor Day (“Tag des Baumes”) is on April 25th. The first celebration was in 1952.
  • India.
    Van Mahotsav is an annual pan-Indian tree planting festival, occupying a week in the month of July. During this event millions of trees take root. It was initiated in 1950 by K. M. Munshi, the then Union Minister for Agriculture and Food to create an enthusiasm in the mind of the populace for the conservation of forests and planting of trees.
  • Israel.
    The Jewish holiday Tu Bishvat, the new year for trees, is on the 15th day of the month of Shvat, which usually falls in January or February. Originally based on the date used to calculate the age of fruit trees for tithing as mandated in Leviticus 19:23–25.
  • Japan.
    Japan celebrates a similarly themed Greenery Day, held on May 4. Although it has a similar theme to Arbor Day, its roots lay in celebration of the birthday of Emperor Hirohito.
  • Netherlands.
    In 1957, the National Committee Day of Planting Trees/Foundation of National Festival of Trees (Nationale Boomplantdag/Nationale Boomfeestdag) was created. On the third Wednesday in March each year (near the spring equinox), three quarters of Dutch schoolchildren aged 10/11 along with Dutch celebrities plant trees. Some municipalities however plant the things around September 21st because of the planting season. In 2007, the 50th anniversary was celebrated with special golden jubilee-activities.
  • New Zealand.
    New Zealand’s first Arbor Day planting was in Greytown in the Wairarapa on 3 July 1890. The first official celebration took place last year in Wellington, August 2012, with the planting of pohutukawa and Norfolk pines along Thorndon Esplanade. Born in 1855, Dr Leonard Cockayne (generally recognized as the greatest botanist who has lived, worked, and died in New Zealand) worked extensively on native plants throughout New Zealand and wrote many notable botanical texts. Even as early as the 1920s he held a vision for school students of New Zealand to be involved in planting native trees and plants in their school grounds. This vision bore fruit and schools in New Zealand have long planted native trees on Arbor Day. Since 1977, New Zealand has celebrated Arbor Day on June 5, which is also World Environment Day.
  • South Africa.
    Arbor Day was celebrated from 1945 until 2000 in South Africa, when the national government extended it to National Arbor Week, which lasts from the 1st through the 7th of September. Two trees, one common and one rare, are highlighted to increase public awareness of indigenous trees, while various “greening” activities are undertaken by schools, businesses and other organizations.
  • Venezuela.
    Venezuela recognizes “Día del Arbol” on the last Sunday of May.

So, you see, we’re not alone in the recognition. That’s why Everlasting Hardwoods urges you to plug-in a couple of trees today. It’s good for the environment because most trees take in carbon dioxide — which is what humans exhale — and turn it into oxygen. Let’s hope that one day we’ll be able to extend Arbor Day to Mars. They could use some O2.

Original Source:

Got a Boat Dock – Maintenance Musts

April 23rd, 2013

For those who live on a waterway — river, lake, bay or canal — you’ve probably have built a boat dock using extremely hard wood. If you haven’t, think about it. Especially if you have a little skiff sitting on the grass or tied to a weight close to the shore.

We’ve got some tips for existing structures or a soon-to-be constructed ipe boat docks.

Try to Fit In

Before we get to what you’ll regularly need to do to keep it functional for years, this message is for those who are about to build their water-logged plank. You are borrowing a part of nature from other wildlife. By that we suggest constructing it so it doesn’t mess with the habitats of other animals. Beavers especially. We don’t have to tell you why except to remind you they have sharp teeth and love to gnaw-away at wood.

Likewise, keep it wide so it won’t interrupt the water as it splashes, naturally, along the shoreline. It prevents erosion where the water meets the land.

On the Surface

Since you’re concerned about the environment, you want to purchase some of our hardwoods that have not been treated. They don’t need to be. They hold-up their end of the bargain because of the trees they came from. There are some sealants on the market if you wish to take that path.

These are known as low-VOC (volatile organic compound) materials. No petrochemicals or oils are in the formula. No pollution. As we mentioned before, with a wood like ipe it’s not a “must do” thing you need handle. But these low-VOC solutions are clear in color and add an extra measure of water-resistance. As if you’d need it with one of the hardest woods known to humanity.

Cleaning the Boat Deck Surface

We’ve got something you can concoct in your kitchen that’s environmentally safe. Mix together a three-to-one batch of olive oil and vinegar. This will take care of any mineral salt deposits or stains. Stir regularly and pour a little at a time and with a medium bristle broom, sweep the ugly away.

What if you accidentally spill some oil on the surface? Another trip to the kitchen. Make a paste with baking soda and water. Cover the area in question, let it dry, then hose it off.

We do not recommend pressure washers unless they are set very low — like under 900 PSI.

The Actual Structure

Take a good look at the boat dock every season. Get in the water and push at the legs, heartily. Walk across the surface with a heavy foot. Check any hardware for corrosion. To avoid rusting and the like, use stainless steel bolts, nails, nuts and all the other stuff that’s keeping it together when constructing it.

Find anything that needs fixing? Fix it. Right away. It will not only prolong the life of your deck.

It will also save you a trip to the hospital.

Remember that old tune by Otis Redding, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay?” Kind of a sad song, but he’s got the right idea:

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun

I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come

Watching the ships roll in

And then I watch ‘em roll away again

It really doesn’t get any better than that!

Original Source:

Eco-Awareness and Your Fence

April 18th, 2013

It’s nice that we’ve dedicated one twenty-four hour period — April 22nd — as Earth Day. Here at Everlasting Hardwoods, we celebrate eco-mindedness 365 days a year. While our hardwoods are at the pinnacle of sustainable stuff, we know people would like to know how to keep Mother Earth in mind when it comes to cleaning the fence you got installed  years ago.

But when you do it, harsh chemicals may not only damage the beauty of your “best neighbor” policy, what about all the greenery that’s grown around the barrier? Don’t want to injure years of growth. That’s why we’re taking this occasion to give you ways to polish-up your investment without harming the great outdoors you enjoy.

Throw Out the Old

Nobody’s going to grab a bucket, some soapy water and a hard bristled brush and do it by hand. Well, maybe a few who want to go green-extreme and has a lot of time.

A few folks may already have power washers. The ones that don’t, unless you plan to use it on a regular basis, just rent one for a day or two. When you’re done with the fence, touch-up the deck, too.

You don’t need one that can blow-out a couple thousand pounds of pressure. As a matter of fact, you can do whatever you want to for between 1200-to-1600 PSI. The high-powered units will remove paint. The lower setting will do the cleaning.

Non-Toxic, Eco-friendly Cleaners

You’re taking the pressure washer approach. The next question is: Can I do it simply with water? Obviously, that’s the one which won’t hurt the planet. There is, however an additive you might consider.

Called Oxygen Bleach, this stuff is extremely green. It’s nothing like the liquid you use when you’re doing the laundry. It comes in a powder.

What makes it so friendly? It’s prepared from soda ash and hydrogen peroxide. Mixing it with plain old H2O you’re not going the damage the structure or the greenery that surrounds your wooden fence.

Take it Easy

First timers have a tendency to crank the flow as high as they can. Bad. You’re going to rip-up the surface of the wood. Imagine when your fence dries, it suddenly looks fuzzy. That’s what happens when you go with the pressure.

Another issue is the tip of the pressure washer. Getting the working-end of the nozzle too close to the wood will have the same effect — ripping the exterior fibers of the surface to shreds. Test it out yourself before you dig-into the project. Find a piece of scrap lumber or an area that’s virtually unseen and set your pressure washer to 1200, keep the nozzle about one foot away from the surface. Give it a blast. You’ll find that it’s going to remove the dirt, stains, mildew and whatever plagues your fence without ratcheting it up to full tilt.

Earth Will Forgive You

You are either going to be using one of two types of energy with a pressure washer: Gas or electricity. The greenest way to do it is to get the whole family involved. Everyone gets a bucket with Oxygen Bleach, water and a hard-bristle hand brush. That’s the extreme.

If you’re saying, that’s not going to work, balance out the synthetic energy you’ll use with a pressure washer by forgoing a Sunday drive this week. Take out the bikes or better yet, go for a nice long walk. It takes away the guilt. Gives you some exercise.

After all, Earth Day means not only respecting the world we live on. It means making sure you’re healthy enough to enjoy it after you’ve cleaned your fence. A little exercise isn’t going to hurt you. Frankly, it adds years to your life, just like the years you’ve added to your wooden fence after a good eco-friendly cleaning.

Original Source:

Sealing or Staining

April 16th, 2013

There’s one thing in the world that really doesn’t need to be seriously slapped with strange colored stain. If you have a backyard fence or deck that’s all ipe, all the time, you stain it to keep it new with something that doesn’t alter its striking tone.

You’ve got to protect your investment. But even without sealing, ipe, tigerwood, cumaru and garapa will age just like the Queen of England. The colors will turn over the years, but if it’s durability you want, you got it with these seemingly ageless products.

But, What If?

You want to keep the exotic hues that the lumber had on the first day the installation. There are a couple of approaches you can take.

  • Staining your wood with a perfect match of stain will protect it from the damage that the sun can generate on the surface.
  • Sealing the wood keeps the wolves at bay. Once again, ipe, tigerwood, cumaru and garapa are extremely resistant to water, pollen, mold and dirt that gets tracked across the surface.

It’s up to you. You really only need protection if you want to keep these interesting hardwoods floor-room fresh. Other than that, you can “set it and forget it” if you so choose.

The Weathering Process

To know what you’re protecting, let’s take a moment to talk about the weathering process. When you seal it with something clear, the natural color won’t last forever. Thanks, Mr. Sun. The ultra-violet rays will bleach-out the surface. The natural color will soon be grandfathered into a gray or silvery shade.

Clear sealing materials are not sunglasses. It seems like it’s a low maintenance solution, but ol’ Sol will take its toll with simple sealing.

That means if you want to hold onto that wonderful color, you might think about applying a coat of pigmented stain every couple of years. Stain reflects the power of the sun. Sometimes the damage from the large heating source in the sky is absorbed by the coat and not the wood. Reminder: Choose a stain that nearly perfectly matches the fresh color of the hardwood. You could even go a shade lighter. Ipe, tigerwood, cumaru and garapa can handle it.

What Kind of Stain?

The recommendation is picking a stain and sealer that’s oil-based. Look to see if micro-ground transparent oxide pigments are part of the make-up of the material. Forget anything with clay pigments. While that will work well if you use actual colored paint, you’ll end up with structure that ends-up spotty and with uneven patches of color. Really, don’t use paint on the good stuff.

With transparent oxide pigments, you’ll keep everything clear as you bounce the UV rays back from where they came.

Ever buy a pair of cheap sunglasses? What a bargain. But if you bought some eyewear that was tried-and-true, the tint will modify the way colors look. But they won’t fritz-around with the beauty or detail. Blocks the sun. Won’t make what you see fuzzy.

Going oil-based with micro-ground transparent oxide pigments, same thing. They’ll enhance what you see and not gum-up the original look of your lifetime investment.

Original Source:

Outdoor Living Maintenance

April 11th, 2013

We like to think we’re in a “set it and forget it” kind of world, as they used to say on the old TV commercial. Truth is everything needs a little maintenance now and then. That holds true for your deck, trellis, pergola, arbor and wood fence.

Without a little spring or summer sprucing up, it won’t be long before you’ll be faced with a monstrosity that will require replacement to bring back the function that it one time delivered to your outdoor living space.

Tom and Huck

Even in the classic Mark Twain novels, you remember how the boys hated to paint the white wooden fence. However, if you have a hardwood structure like ipe (EE-pay), tigerwood, garapa or cumaru, the maintenance will be significantly reduced. But as we said at the top, it’s not a “set it and forget it” proposition.

The last thing you want to do with any of these hardwoods is paint them. These are the strongest woods known to humanity. They can hold their own whether stained or simply sealed. Painting leads to chipping which leads to scraping off the coat, wasting some serious time and money.

Natural or Beyond

Already known for their exotic beauty, ipe, tigerwood, garapa or cumaru can simply be left to age gracefully. The color will change throughout the years if you take that route. You could stain these hardwoods. There are so many options and hues from which to choose. Your best bet is to retain their elegance by simply sealing the wood.

Don’t go cheap on the all-weather clear sealant. The better the brand, the less likely you’ll need to repeat the process over the years. Remember: You get what you pay for.

Staining, A Buyer’s Guide

While we do not endorse any of these brands, we can get you a leg-up on a few of the quality manufacturers of sealants and stains.

  • One product that has been introduced in the past few years is called One Time. The creators of this substance suggest that it has a lifespan of about 7-years. Be aware, it’s a touch more expensive than some of the other names on our roster.
  • The Flood Company started out during the Wild West days of 1841. You’ll get around a 5-year run on this material.
  • Every town has a store that used to employ the slogan that they cover the Earth — Sherwin Williams. An added feature of buying from these establishments are that the people who wait on you are not some kid with a summer job. The staff knows their business. Like Everlasting Hardwoods, we’re both in the same boat with experts that are both knowledgeable and well trained.
  • Sikkens stains and sealers are designed for easy, one-coat application that offers maximum protection for outdoor living areas. This transparent coating enhances the natural appearance of wood, while providing optimal protection from the elements. This product is ideal for your siding, railing, and decks, SRD coatings are available in eight tints.

Just some suggestions of the quality, high-end stuff that you might consider applying if your deck, trellis, pergola, arbor or wood fence is unfinished. Even if it comes completely protected, anywhere from 3-to-5 years, you’ll need to perform some maintenance. We hope the choices — again not recommendations — can help guide your way.

Original Source:h

Landscaping on a Budget

April 9th, 2013

We do decks. And fine outdoor furniture. But we know that while you’re relaxing on that fine, value-added addition to your home, if your backyard looks like the Gobi desert, the view from above can be fairly unappealing.

You could hire a landscaper to do the work. That is if you’ve got a couple thousand dollars that’s burning a hole in your pocket. Those who would prefer to extend the beauty of your deck and save some money — think DIY. We’d like to present you with some tips that could inspire you to get out the shovel, rakes and assorted gardening tools to give the backyard a make-over on a budget.

Getting Started

Before you head-out to the local gardening center to scoop-up a couple of wheelbarrows of plants, you need a plan. You don’t require the hands of an artist. All it takes is a sheet of paper and a pencil.

Draw an approximation of what the area looks like on the paper. Identify the areas that need sprucing up by drawing some borders. No worries, that’s why you’re using a pencil. It’s got an eraser in case you decide to modify the blueprint after you’ve started planning. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Stand on your deck with your eyes focused on the yard. Refer to the plan. Again, praise the person who invented the eraser on your pencil. Delete and relocate.
  • Start small. Do one portion at a time. You’ve already created a plan. There’s no need to complete the entire project all at once. Modularize your overall objectives.
  • Consider using some ipê to create a few raised beds to plant your flowers or veggies? Think about your lawnmower. Can you get between the structures when you cut the grass?
  • Rarely do things grow under a sprawling shade tree. As you draw up the grand scheme, take into account where the sun shines and where it doesn’t. The best solution might be to build an ipê barrier around the darkest areas and fill the space with river rocks, mulch or some material that doesn’t require ol’ Sol for growth.

Due Diligence

Perhaps you’d prefer to simply resod some parts of your backyard. Buy a soil test kit. There may be a reason why grass isn’t growing there. Do you need to adjust the soil’s acidity? Or do you have chinch bugs or some other harmful pest turning things brown? Replacing the sod or adding an ipê raised bed, if there are bad bugs in the spot, you’ll simply be reliving the nightmare over-and-over.

Once the problem is identified, either augment the soil based on its Ph value or after you’ve eliminated the small critters killing the little trouble spot, a so-called module on your plan can continue.


Prepare the areas where you plan to add accents. Buy your ipê, assemble the raised beds, fill them with some good soil. Now that your staging area is complete, it’s time to fill the enclosed space with greenery or stones or mulch. Speaking of mulch, when you’ve finished planting, spread about an inch-and-a-half of mulch on top of the soil. It’s a maintenance thing. No need to have to spend your time weeding.

Practical Considerations When Purchasing Surface Materials

Purchasing loose materials like dirt, sand, mulch and rocks poses a question: How much of what do I need to buy for my selected modules. A guide:

  • You’re usually going to buy these materials by volume, either cubic feet or yards. A ton sounds like a lot, but in reality if it’s dirt or sand it’s fairly compact stuff. Planning on filling in a couple of inches with the materials, consider this: A ton of dirt, sand, or gravel will only fill less than a cubic yard. Another way of looking at it is 27 cubic feet is a space 3-feet deep, 3-feet wide and 3-feet long.
  • Soil weight is different than sand or gravel. A cubic yard of dirt comes in at a ton. A cubic yard of gravel, river stones or sand weighs around three-thousand pounds.
  • With that in mind, a ton of 1/4- to 3/4-inch-diameter rock that’s two-inches deep will only cover about 115 square feet.
  • Pea gravel or sand, same depth, will cover 100 square feet.

Again, think big but start small. Plan ahead, modularize the projects and make sure you water whatever you put in the ground. Except stones. They never get thirsty.

After one project is done, head back up to the deck, admire your work and imagine what the next module will do to that backyard that once looked like the surface of Mars.

Must Have Deck Accessories

April 5th, 2013

That new outdoor deck needs something. It’s already been stained or sealed. The rails are perfect. Steps leading up from the yard are sturdy, strong. Yet, as you peer-out the back sliding glass doors, something seems to be missing.

As anyone in the fashion industry would tell you, the deck lacks that sense of completeness. Because of a simple flat surface, their advice would be that it’s time to accessorize. A way to make the home addition seem more than just a place to stand and survey the territory.

Some Suggestions

Since your deck is an extension of your home, you want to make it, well, homey. We’ve got a few suggestions that will spruce things up without costing you an arm-and-a-leg

  • Places to sit, relax and enjoy a meal.
    Think about outdoor furniture. Not just any old semi-weather resistant stuff. Be wise and do it right. Take a look at these suggestions:

    • Ipe (EE-pay) outdoor dining sets
    • Ipe relaxing chairs, like an outdoor chaise
    • Ipe benches for when you throw a party
    • Ipe coffee and side tables
    • Ipe chairs

All of these functional pieces of furniture, because they’re made from nearly the hardest lumber on Earth will withstand anything that falls from the skies or from an accidentally dropped glass of your favorite beverage.

  • Deck lights and LED’s for the steps.
    Whether it’s a tasteful string of colored, low-watt, efficient outdoor lights or an all weather lamp, you’ve made your outdoor paradise into a peaceful evening place. Likewise, by putting some illumination on the steps, you’ve just made a major safety improvement to your deck’s backyard entrance. For those who don’t want to go electric, think about candles that keep insects away. Or maybe a UL-approved outdoor lantern than you carry inside when it’s time to leave the Eden you’ve created on your deck.
  • A sturdy wrought iron or cedar trellis.
    These accents were made for vines and crawling plants. It’s also functional. If there’s something in your line-of-sight that’s quite an eyesore — problem solved. Think of it as a green screen shutting out rather unsightly stuff. Another advantage is that if you use the right types of plants, you’ll attract hummingbirds. While cedar is generally rot-resistant, rust-proofed iron will last without any fear of mold or mildew invading the scene.

  • A self-standing hammock.
    Who needs two carefully positioned trees to enjoy a nap on a blue sky day in a hammock? You can choose your own fabric to coordinate the mood you’ve already set with that fine ipe furniture.
  • Water features and wind chimes.
    When you want to relax and not listen to the game on the radio, wind chimes are perfect to add ambiance as you lay back and read a juicy novel. Same goes for water features. The sounds from both of these accessories are soothing. With water features, you’ll also attract butterflies and the like. Isn’t that why you built the deck to begin with — to get a little nature into your life?

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