There is never a shortage of outdoor projects to keep you busy during this time of year. Whether it’s mowing the lawn, gardening, painting, building a deck, or replacing the gutters, chances are good that many of your weekends are spent in the great outdoors. The following pages contain information and tips on how to improve the exterior of your home this summer.
Traditional beauty without the traditional painting
Tom Sawyer would love vinyl fence! Wood is only temporary if not constantly maintained. Unless you enjoy the ritual of treating and retreating your wood fence or deck, it will eventually rot away. Paint it and it will peel.
A vinyl fence, deck and handrail are the final touches to a maintenance-free home. More homeowners are turning to vinyl siding and windows. Why not take advantage of those same benefits in your yard?
Kroy’s vinyl fence, deck and handrail products won’t rot, rust, corrode, chip or peel. They will never need scraping or painting because they are made of high-impact, weather-resistant polyvinyl chloride material. Kroy’s Homopolymer compound utilizes a high level of Titanium Dioxide pigment for long term, ultraviolet (UV) light resistance and acrylic impact modifiers for superior strength and durability. Their formulation is similar to those used in vinyl siding and windows, which have a history of providing long-term durability and structural integrity.
Compared to metal or wood, vinyl stands up to the harshest weather conditions without rotting or rusting. Hard water deposits from yard sprinklers require most conventional fences to be repainted, but stains clean easily from vinyl.
Initially, the purchase price of vinyl is slightly higher than wood, but it will save you money long term due to:
Virtually no maintenance or replacement cost
The value of property may actually increase over time because of the continually “brand new” appearance year after year and
The limited lifetime transferable warranty.
The new vinyl fence you install today will still look good as new years from now without the expensive upkeep required by other conventional fence materials. There is also no risk of injury to children or pets from slivers or splinters, and no concern of rust, corrosion or termite infestation that could destroy the investment you have in your fence.
Vinyl Deck & Fencing Inc. is located on 1563 State Street, Schenectady. For more information call 377.0374.
The landscape cosmetics of a home
There comes a time in every plant’s life when it is time to discard them and start fresh. This is especially true with foundation plantings that are more than 20-25 years old. These plants get too large to maintain and often have outgrown their original beds. Others get so thin that one can see through them. Today’s planting designs have changed from what was planted 25 years ago. So why not freshen up your home’s curb appeal and your backyard sanctuary with new and improved plant varieties? Use new design ideas and plant combinations of evergreens, trees, shrubs, perennial and annuals blended with garden art like fountains, statues, rocks or furniture. There is a wide palette to choose from for a wonderful landscape that displays your tastes and personality. And don’t forget the hardscape–patios, walks and walls and water features make great accents. These, along with your home, are the foundation and structure of great gardens. Whether you start small or go big, a new landscape can be just the facelift that your home requires this season.
Kulak’s Nursery & Landscaping is located on 1615 Route 146, Rexford. For more information call 399.2404 or visit www.kulaksnursery.com.
When you make the decision to purchase an in-ground swimming pool, you are faced with many choices. If you’re looking for a quality product that is kid proof, pet proof and virtually bullet proof, then choose a fiberglass pool. It won’t crack like a concrete pool and you never have to replace a liner, ever! The warranty on a fiberglass pool is a full 25 years, with a lifetime warranty on fiberglass swim spas. Most warranties are pro-rated based on age or limited to specific areas such as seams.
Fiberglass pools have a smooth gel coat surface that prohibits algae from bonding to it. As a result you’ll use two thirds less chemicals, save on electricity and you’ll spend more time using your pool and less time cleaning it. And all pools come with built-in steps and seating. While the pool itself is smooth, all stairs are textured non-slip surfaces.
Fiberglass swim spas give you the best of both worlds. Up to six adults can relax and enjoy the massage from the spa jets while at the same time you can exercise against swim jets for a challenging aerobic work out.
Fiberglass pools and swim spas come fully plumbed and ready to set in the ground. An average installation is one day and most people are swimming in three days.
For more information on fiberglass pools and spas call 888.505.7946 or visit www.floridanorth.com.
Create outdoor living space
By Jodi Decker
The solitude and comfort of home spells relief for today’s hectic lifestyles. A well-designed landscape acts as an extension of the home. Today, families are opting for more lavish settings–outdoor rooms that feature lush landscapes, waterfalls, a grilling and eating area with a large fireplace and outdoor furniture featuring colors and materials once fit for the family living room.
Since most of us no longer rely on the garden to supply all of our nutritional needs, we are free to dedicate more of the yard to recreational retreats. With careful planning homeowners can create user-friendly yards complete with entertainment areas, outdoor kitchens and secluded hide-a-ways.
Below are a few common questions and answers to help transform your yard into a livable space to suit any lifestyle.
Q: In designing an overall landscape plan what are the most important factors to consider?
A: First and foremost look at the traffic patterns to get a feel for the logical sequence of how your family moves throughout the yard. Movement is critical–consider driveways and essential paths before making decisions about the size of the gazebo or the location of the entertainment area. Consider necessary movement such as a path constructed of pavers to keep wet feet from the pool out of the dirt and a wide path among the vegetable and flowerbeds that will make it easier to maneuver handy tool carts and mowers around the yard. This will help generate design ideas and help establish the best place for beds, borders and focal points.
Q: How can I create a yard that is functional for my family?
A: The landscape should reflect the personalities of its occupants and accommodate the rhythm of their lifestyles. Make a list of all the things your family likes to do in the yard or garden. Do you like to entertain on the weekends? If so consider a patio with sitting walls encompassing a fire-pit equipped with kitchen amenities. An avid cook will treasure an herb garden near the kitchen and the children or grandchildren will enjoy a grass covered court for a play area or a tournament table in the shade for board games and jigsaw puzzles. Do you desire a place to retreat and relax? Consider adding a water feature with a babbling waterfall as a reading and resting oasis.
Q: How can I create privacy in my yard with neighbors nearby?
A: Private areas are a very important element in outdoor living. First, locate an area in your yard that you can use for this purpose. Architectural structures such as gazebos, pergolas, arbors, trellises, decorative screens or tall shutters can maximize outdoor solitude where neighbors reside in close proximity. For example, an arbor or pergola becomes an architectural overhead and serves as an extension of interior living space. Adding a fragrant climbing vine not only creates privacy but also shades an area to keep cool and comfortable.
Overall, dividing your space into outdoor rooms can give different areas different functions. Try to plan your design around a common area, such as a point of welcome, seating, an entertaining area or a quiet conversational spot. With a little forethought and clear ideas about how your family likes to spend their time, you can transform your yard into a usable outdoor living space.
Jodi Decker is vice president of Decker’s Landscaping & Nursery, Inc. in Pattersonville, NY. She can be reached at 887.5552 or visit http://www.thepondpeople.net.
What’s in the bag?
Deciphering the secret world of fertilizer lingo
With all the focus on health and nutrition, most of us have a pretty good idea what we should eat. However, when it comes to feeding our lawns and keeping our gardens healthy, many of us don’t know where to start. When the warm weather hits, homeowners are anxious to get started on lawn and garden projects. According to the lawn and garden experts at Home Depot, the questions people ask most often are: “What’s in the bag of fertilizer and what do those numbers mean?”
What’s in the bag? It is grainy and it smells funny, but fertilizer contains very important nutrients for your plants and soil. Every fertilizer bag has three large numbers on the front, which represent three key nutrients that your grass and plants don’t get from the soil-nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. The higher the number, the greater percentage of that nutrient in the fertilizer, according to Home Depot gardening expert Noel Howard.
Choosing the right fertilizer. Test your soil first so you know what it is lacking. Most garden centers offer a do-it-yourself soil test kit that is easy and fast. Once you have your soil test results, you can match the fertilizer with the nutrients your lawn needs. Just follow the numbers on the bag.
Slow nitrogen release rate. Your lawn needs a constant supply of nutrients to help it grow and a steady and controlled release rate is preferred, not a fast-release, says Howard. He recommends conducting a soil test at least once every three years. This way you know exactly what nutrients are already in your soil and you are not wasting time or money putting down things that won’t work.
Telltale signs your grass needs nitrogen include:
Grass is pale in color, not a healthy dark green
Grass doesn’t grow even when it rains
Yard is spotty in color with patches of deep green and pale green
Yard grows in uneven patches
Spreading the fertilizer. Now, all that stands between you and a beautiful yard of thick, dark green grass is spreading the fertilizer. Before spreading, look at the size of the fertilizer granules. If the bag contains different sized granules, make sure you mix the product well before spreading. Otherwise, you’ll have some areas getting too much of one nutrient and not enough of another, explains Howard. Spread the fertilizer evenly over your entire yard and wait. In just a few days, you should begin to notice a definite change.
Reprinted with permission from www.homedepot.com.
Easy steps to building a landscape
Unless you’re constructing the Great Wall of China, building a retaining wall is child’s play –the blocks are just heavier and more expensive than the ones you played with as a kid.
Using textured, pre-cast, lipped concrete blocks, you can construct an elegant wall that’s a snap to build since assembly is as simple as placing one block on top of another.
Be sure to calculate how many blocks you need and buy a few extras. The color of the blocks can vary from batch to batch, so if you have to go back and buy some blocks later, they may not exactly match.
Many building codes require walls higher than four feet to be designed by an engineer. As a homeowner, it’s best to keep the wall three feet or lower, as taller walls may require special reinforcement and permits. The experts with The Home Depot offer the following directions on how to build a retaining wall.
Dig the trench as deep and wide as the manufacturer recommends, making note of recommendations regarding the frost line in your area. Use a mason’s line as a guide to make sure the wall is being built straight.
Line the trench with landscape fabric. Unroll a piece of landscape fabric and lay it on the floor where you will build the simple wall. Allow enough to fold back over the trench area, plus an additional 3 inches, and cut to this length.
Lay the first course of blocks. Cover the landscape fabric with 2 to 3 inches of gravel and tamp it. Lay the first course in line with the mason’s line. If the blocks are set lip-up, leveling them and laying later courses is easier. Check for level and add or remove gravel as necessary.
Lay a second course of blocks with their lips pointing down over the back of the wall. Check again to make sure they are level and make any needed adjustments. Lay a third course of blocks the same way, leaving an exit point for drainpipe at one end of the wall.
Before starting to build corners and sidewalls, add gravel for the drainpipe behind the placed blocks. Slope the gravel 1 inch every 4 feet, checking with a 4-foot level set on a board with a 1-inch spacer under the downhill end.
Lay the drainpipe on the gravel. Run the drainpipe to the point where it can exit the ground. Backfill with gravel behind the wall until the drainpipe is covered. Tamp the gravel firmly.
Split the blocks for corners. For a 90-degree corner or the end of a straight run, you’ll need to cut blocks. Score a full block with a circular saw and a masonry blade, then split the block at the scored line by striking it with a brick chisel and 3-pound sledgehammer.
Build the corners. Place the half blocks on alternate sides of the corner so they overlap. Chisel the lip off a block if it interferes with construction, then secure the block with a bead of construction adhesive.
Alternate half and full blocks at the end of a straight run. Place the half block so the cut edge is on the outside end of the course.
Continue building the wall, adding gravel and tamping after every few courses.
A course or two below the top of the wall fold the landscape fabric back over the gravel and trim off any excess. To help secure the top course of blocks, apply construction adhesive using a caulking gun and lay the top course. Press down firmly on each block.
Backfill with soil behind and front of the wall and tamp the soil firmly.
Reprinted with permission from www.homedepot.com