25 Jan 2015

Garden walkway and planter

My client's wife had a slip on a wet sloping bank below a retaining wall and wanted a more secure way to access the lower part of their garden and the garden box at the far end of the property...  At the same time they wanted the structure to include some new planter boxes for veges. The spaces between the retaining posts presented a great solution to this request...

The photo story depicts the stages of construction and then the final decorated result. After water blasting it, I spray painted the  the old retaining wall and the new walkway with an oil stain to tie in the old and the new. This will also help the wood shed water and prevent algal growth, thus giving the walkway a safer finish. 



8 Nov 2014

Strawberry space saver planter

Well,  its Spring again, and time to put in a new crop of strawberries ( or rejuvenate your old crop from last year)
The problem is, some homes just don't have the right aspect, space, or even a garden, to plant any food crops. So when faced with this dilemma I opted to make something to suit my client's tight space using common everyday materials. You will need:

3m 100mm PVC drainage pipe
50mm hole saw
Power drill
10mm drill bit
6 stainless steel 60mm wood screw
3 pipe brackets
2 pipe ends
Strawberry mix
12 Strawberry plants

I began by fitting an end cap to one end of the pipe. Do not glue it in place as you will want to replace the mix at the end of the season. The easiest way to fill the pipe is to get the pipe in a vertical position and then just pour the mix into the open end and let gravity do the work! I used my truck roof to do this. Be careful as the filled pipe will be heavy, so get some help to lower it back to a horizontal position.

Once full, I fitted the pipe to the fence using the fence rail to fix into. Space the pipe clips evenly across the entire length of the pipe to evenly distribute the weight, and get some help to hold the pipe in place as you close the brackets over the pipe.

Next, mark the spaces for the plants about 150mm to 180mm apart,  and using the hole saw and power drill, make the holes for the plants along the top edge of the pipe. Now make some drainage holes about 500mm apart on the underside of the pipe at the lowest point possible.

Using a garden knife or scraper, empty out some of the mix to allow space to insert the plant, and plant out the entire pipe. Done!

 Helpful Hints
To get a great crop you will need to buy some strawberry food and feed about every 2-3 weeks   while they are fruiting. Position the planter in full,  all day sun. Attach some shelf brackets above the planter, fix some gardening wire along the perimeter and drape some bird proof netting to prevent  theft! Leave the strawberries to sweeten on the plant before harvesting...red does not always mean sweet! Buy a moisture meter to test when the plants will need water, and keep them just moist, not wet.

3 May 2014

Steel spouting repair

Hi again! This April's post is an all too common maintenance issue in wet countries... Steel spouting is stronger than plastic but can rust out after time or in areas close to the sea because of salt deposited on the roof. Its easier than you think to do the repairs! Even the corners are quite straight forward, here's how to do it ...
As you can see the bottom of this gutter has rusted out a long time ago, this can be damaging to the foundations and create a slippery surface below. To begin the repair you will need a piece of the same sized trough about 400mm longer than the piece you expect to replace. Begin by cutting out the old piece. On the new section of trough, begin by marking out the box end of the trough using a permanent marker.

Be sure to use a square to mark the cut lines to get the box symmetrical and square to the trough or it will look untidy, even of its a watertight seal. Here are the cut lines for a typical box end.

Once you have marked the cuts use a tin snip to cut out the profile.
Tip! Shade in the areas to remove as its easy to get confused and cut  the reverse and end up with a disaster!

This is how the final end panel should look. Make the folds using a pair of flat plumbing pliers and a hammer to flatten out the corners if needed.

Drill the holes for the rivets in the floor and end panel.

Apply a bead of silicone sealant between the two surfaces to be joined.

Do the same with the joint at the side and end panels and rivet together.
Wipe up any excess silicone that squeezes out of the joints.

Your end should look like this!

Install the new section of trough making sure you overlap the old with the new by at least 150 mm, and applying several continuous beads of silicone between the two surfaces and rivet together with two sets of rivets about 100mm apart.

Thats the job done! It should not take more than about 45 to 60 minuteds to complete this simple repair.

29 Mar 2014

Simple roof flashing repair

Old roof, lead flashing and leaks are going to happen...its just a matter of time! But don't despair, you can easily repair! Its quick and relatively cheap to do yourself, so why not DIY? Let me show you how...

Here is everything you will need! I use a sealant which has a fibreglass component incorporated in it.

TIP buy disposable brushes from the $2 shop

Step 1

Remove all old and previous repair materials. Lift up the flashing to reveal the roof metal underneath. 

TIP You may need to put something under the corners to hold it up while working on it. In this case it was a lead flashing so it stayed bent up.

Step 2

Using a wire brush remove any loose rust as far as you can reach. Clean this loose rust up straight away as it can start new rust on the roof or in your gutter.

TIP I used a leaf blower to clean up the roof and gutters after this step.

Step 3

Paint the rust with a rust inhibitor such as Penetrol. using one that dries quickly is better as it allows a better fix if its sealed as soon as possible, and stops a rain shower from possibly interrupting or compromising the process. 

TIP Read the instructions when buying the product not on the roof!

Step 4

Using the same brush, apply narrow band of sealant to the perimeter of the rusted roof iron on the inside of the flashing. Make this a thicker rather than wider bead, as when you press the flashing back into place, it will spread under and out from under the flashing. This is important !

Step 5

Replace the flashing to its original position, and press down to allow the sealant to bulge out from under the edge of your flashing. 

TIP Fix the flashing down using either weights or short stainless steel tech screws to pull the flashing and roof together all around the perimeter of the treated area.
In this case the lead was gently tapped into shape to form closely to the roof profile...

Step 6

Apply a bead of sealant to the roof and top of the flashing while the sealant is still wet underneath to form one complete seal around the entire flashing.

 TIP It pays to seal the entire flashing and not just one area when doing this repair, as there will invariably be another weak area just waiting to leak!
Make sure that you work the sealant into the gaps ad crevices all around the edges so that water cannot form pools especially on the upper edge

This repair should be done on a fine warm day, well after the dew has evaporated and no rain is forecast for the best results. 
Remember to be safe on a roof... NEVER work on a wet roof, ALWAYS tie onto a safely line, and walk where the roof fixings indicate support from below to avoid denting the roof iron.

3 Dec 2013

Grooming a tree

I LOVE climbing things...Trees, buildings, mountains! This is a job I did this week for a regular client who has a tree in his yard that needed thinning out. Problem is this tree is full of thorns! I used a ladder to get a safety line into the crown of the tree,  then got into the tree using a hand saw to clean the centre. Later I used a pole chainsaw to reach the outer branches from inside the tree. Then I chipped all the cut wood into bags and removed it from the site. I did not want to spoil the look of the tree just thin it out some...Before and after shows the thinner tree but the same character.

As part of the shared skills deal I have with a friend Dave, he designed the signage for my truck and I helped him with a couple of problem trees at his place. Here is the link to his blog where you can see me in removing a difficult dead tree...
...Dave is a great artist and graphic designer and an intrepid gardener too, check out his blog its a quality read!

Converting a storeroom

This client just bought a home and wanted to turn an old unused store room into a second study. The room has no windows or natural light and has several service pipes on one concrete wall. There was no insulation and being under the house was cold, not condusive to hours of study! It needed lining and something had to be done to hide the pipes on the wall and cover up the ceiling beams. I gave him a few ideas on how to finish it off and we reused an cabinet he had removed from his bedroom which I adapted to fit on the ledge and cover the pipes. Neat!

finished pics to come soon!

Crushed stone walkway

My client was putting her home up for sale but felt that the paved area outside one of the bedrooms was looking unfinished and wanted a pathway and surround added to finish it off.
This took me a day, but there was the small matter of getting a cubic meter of stones to the site...

I used a weed mat cloth to prevent the grass growing through the stones later ( In New Zealand everything grows like mad!) as I had no time to spray the grass with a weed killer. The ground was sloping so the path needed to be quite deep to het a decent flat finish, so this path used up 1. 5 tons of stone!  It was 13 m long.