<span>December 2015</span>

  • How to Kill Yard Ticks DIY Style

    The great outdoors, right outside your back door, with all those beautiful flowers, plants, features, and creature comforts. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into transforming your outdoor space into an oasis that’s the envy of everyone who visits, but now, you’re discovering ticks. Those little nuisances are more than a bother, they are dangerous.

    As practically everyone knows, ticks can carry such scourges as Lyme disease, something which causes at the very least, a rash. It can also cause joints to swell and arthritis, even muscle pain, headache, and heart problems. Those are problems which you want no part of and you’re going to do something about those pests.

    You want to take action and deal with the tiny menaces, but you worry about the method and what impact it will have on other insects, like ladybugs, which are generally a good thing to have around. You also don’t want to turn your yard into a toxic hazard, exposing little ones and four-legged family members to chemicals.

    Choosing between Treating the Yard or Yourself, Children, and Pets

    Dealing with ticks begs the question about how to go about it. The answer depends on what you are really trying to accomplish. In other words, are you out to destroy every single invader or are you just trying to keep family and pets safe? Another reality is that no matter what method you choose, there are pros and cons to each.

    If you have trees, tall grass, or open space in your yard, you could have a bunch of hungry ticks lurking there. They lie in wait for a passing deer, pet, or person. Then they drop from their perches and land on their victims. These little blood-sucking critters can feed on their hosts for 15 days. They can pass diseases, such as lyme disease, to their hosts, which can be very debilitating. —Scotts

    If you elect to treat your outdoor space, you are probably going to spend a lot of time, and money, trying to repel pests. However, there are ways to mitigate the cost and still achieve your desired results. The best option is to combine treating your yard and yourself, your children and pets.

    Ways to Kill Yard Ticks DIY Style

    There are a number of ways to get rid of ticks in your yard, which of course, include hiring a pest control service or having your current pest controller apply a special application. Here are a few things you can do on your own:

    • Keep grass and plants maintained. Where ticks find refuge and love to hunker-down is in tall grass and overgrown areas. Weeds are an ideal refuge, as are flower beds, nooks and crannies, under objects like hardscape features, and pretty much anywhere there will be access to a warm-blooded meal. In addition, keep leaves raked-up and pick-up any debris which falls during storms.
    • Keep wild and domesticated animals away from your yard. Most animals come out at night, strategically using the camouflage of darkness to hunt for prey and to prey on your garden, dig-up your yard, and wreak havoc. Your neighbors’ cats and perhaps dogs might also pay a visit sometimes. All those animals presents a prime opportunity to feast and travel from one place to another. Depending on which animals sneak into your yard, this will be a bit of a challenge, but you’ve got to keep the things that attract them off your property as much as possible.
    • Keep your pets’ treatments up-to-date. Most homeowners apply flea and tick repellent to their cats and dogs, but can occasionally forget. Create a reminder system to keep on track because if your pets bring ticks inside, that’s not going to be a good situation.
    • Keep children and adult play-things out-of-reach. If your yard has a play-set and/or a swing, and other things which are for people to enjoy, move those objects away from wooded areas if they’re nearby. Basically, the further away things are from prime tick-hiding areas, the better.
    • Keep pest repellent handy. If you’re going to be in your yard for more than a few minutes, then just grab a can of pest repellent and apply it. This is advisable when you have cookouts, drinks around the fire pit, a bit of backyard play, or any other time of enjoying your yard longer than a few minutes.

    Another thing you ought to do is treat your yard to repel rodents, especially large ones who are prime targets for ticks. You can also put-in a barrier, like gravel around the perimeter of your yard and that will help to keep the bitters out. If you use a combination of these tick trouncing tips, you’ll like be able to keep them out and be able to enjoy your yard without worry.

  • How to Build a Beautiful Brick Patio

    If you want to add a bit more function and style to your backyard, increasing the size of your living and entertaining space, you call install a beautiful brick patio. You might believe this to be a colossal job, one that requires the skilled hand of an experienced tradesman, like a mason, but it’s actually not that difficult. However, it is time consuming and will take a lot of effort to get the job done right so you don’t have to call-in a professional to rescue a botched attempt.

    You only need a few common hand tools and the stamina and determination to do it right. This doesn’t mean it will be a cinch, but it will not be so complicated that you can’t handle it on your own. Of course, it’s always nice to have at least one set of helping hands and even better if that person is good with DIY projects.

    Types of Brick Patios

    You don’t necessarily have to just lay brick after brick in a linear, stock fashion, but you certainly can choose this very classic look, if you wish. There are actually six different types of configurations you have to choose from; and, depending on how much time you have to commit, along with your level of skill at laying bricks straight and within the confines of the border, you might just opt for something a bit more visually dazzling.

    It’s a common misconception that you have to hire a skilled mason to get a flat, uniformly handsome brick patio that stays that way. All you really need are a few hand tools, knee pads, and the determination not to cut corners. In fact, it takes more skill to build a simple wood deck than to put down a handsome surface. —This Old House

    Okay, so you can have the time-tested look that is just one after another in a straight line, across and out, which you can see is called “Jack on Jack.” You can stagger the bricks in a Running Bond fashion, making it a bit more visually appealing. Another option which is also a great choice is the classic Basket Weave, which invokes a more stylish look and feel, or, you can opt for shuffling it up a bit with the Half Basket Weave. The Herringbone is a more complex style, while the Diagonal Herringbone is for the truly adventurous.

    Regardless of the style you ultimately choose, you should take the time to carefully plan ahead. Not only for your budget, but for the time it will take and the size of your new brick patio. Once it’s installed, you can line the border with gravel, mulch, colorful plants, or just use border stones.

    Steps to Build a Beautiful Brick Patio

    The first thing you need to do is to gather the tools and materials you’ll need to install your new brick patio, which are as follows:

    • Bricks
    • Landscape fabric
    • Landscape spikes
    • Stone dust
    • 2 pipes and a 2×4-inch board for a screed
    • String
    • Nails
    • Level
    • Rubber mallet
    • Sod lifter
    • Plate compactor
    • Shovels
    • Rakes
    • Push broom(s)
    • Garden hose

    When you have your tools and materials together, you can then follow these steps to lay a beautiful brick patio:

    1. Using a sod lifter, clear the grass, digging down to two inches to get the roots of grass. You can transfer the sod to another area, but you’ll have to keep it watered for it to remain healthy and to grow in its new location.
    2. Shovel and rake the area you’ve dug up to make it as level as possible. The extra dirt can also be reused in another area, like a planter.
    3. Roll out the landscape fabric to form a weed-resistant barrier and to keep any grass from growing in the future.
    4. Take the two pipes and place them parallel apart about five feet. Then, fill in between the pipes with stone dust and use the 2×4-inch board to scrape off the excess. Do this in sections until the entire rooted area is filled with stone dust.
    5. Once the area is filled with stone dust, use the plate compactor to tamp down the dust and then repeat steps 4 and 5 as necessary until there is sufficient, compacted coverage. The stone dust should be about 3 inches thick for the best base.
    6. Nail two spikes or nails on either side down the precise middle to create a true centerline to work off of when laying the bricks. Check at least twice to ensure that your center line is indeed in the exact center to have an accurate marker.
    7. Start laying the bricks from the center out, beginning at the stringed center line, in the pattern that you desire. This is where the challenge will be greatest, especially if you’re laying the bricks in Diagonal Herringbone configuration.
    8. Use the plate compactor to carefully tamp the bricks down into the stone dust.

    Once the bricks are securely in-place, spread more stone dust over the entire patio and sweep it with a broom to fill in the cracks–you might have to do this two or more times. After the cracks are filled, spray the patio with a garden hose to finish.