Building an outdoor wooden structure
Do-it-yourselfers across the country are spending their free time on outdoor projects that improve the utility and value of outdoor living environments. If you are a do-it-yourselfer planning to build an outdoor wooden structure such as a playset, deck, picnic table, gazebo or fence that beautifies your yard and can be enjoyed by your family for years to come, there are some basic tips to follow.
Before beginning any outdoor building project, check local building codes. This will save you the trouble and cost of remodeling if your structure does not meet building codes.
Also, contact local utility companies to arrange for them to mark any underground water, sewer, gas, electric and telephone lines so that you do not accidentally strike one while digging a foundation for your structure.
Next, research your project. Obtain project plans that will help guide you as you build the structure. Plans are available from web sites, books, magazines, lumber associations or home improvement retailers.
It is also important to use the correct building materials and tools for the structure. With its natural beauty, superior structural properties, resistance to decay and termites, ability to be painted or stained to match any color scheme and lower cost compared to other building materials, preserved wood is the preferred choice of many builders and homeowners.
A new generation of preserved wood protected with ACQ (alkaline copper quatemary) that does not contain arsenic or chromium is now widely available throughout the country. Marketed under the Preserve brand, ACQ-preserved wood offers builders and consumers a durable building material suitable for a wide variety of applications where protection against decay and termites is required. For additional protection against weathering, Preserve Plus with built-in water repellent is also available in a variety of lumber sizes suitable for decking, hand rails and general construction applications.
Regardless of what materials are used to construct your deck or other outdoor structure, be sure the fasteners you choose are appropriate for outdoor use. Fasteners appropriate for use outdoors include hot-dipped galvanized or stainless steel fasteners. Decking screws and other fasteners are also available with protective coatings designed for long-term performance even when exposed to the weather. Seal your wooden structure with either a sealant, which prevents wood from absorbing water and delays the weathering process, or a stain, which colors and seals the wood.
Semitransparent sealants and stains work best on preserved wood. Inspect your structure once or twice a year and make repairs as soon as you spot damage. Proper maintenance will save you time and money.
Once you have completed the project, invite your family and friends over to enjoy your new outdoor environment. Properly constructed and maintained, your new outdoor project will provide years of enjoyment for you and your family.
For more information about project plans or preserved wood, visit www.treatedwood.com.
Conserve water during home projects
Home improvement time sometimes means more water usage. With the lack of precipitation this fall in the northwest, those fixing up their homes should be sure to conserve water when working on home projects.
Water efficiency plays an important role in protecting water sources and improving water quality. By using water wisely, you can save money and help protect the environment�this includes making efficient use of the water you use to keep your landscape healthy and beautiful.
Efficient water use in the landscape will lower water bills, conserve natural resources, preserve natural habitats, decrease energy use, extend the life of the nation's water resources infrastructure, and provide many more benefits.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) offers a number of tips to help save water in your
yard. A key factor to efficient landscape water use is choosing
the right timer for your irrigation system. Several important
timer features to look for are:
� Multiple, independent programs allow watering different areas of the yard on different days.
� Station run times determine how long an area will be watered. This is especially useful for watering different types of landscaping (turf versus trees) with different methods (sprinkler versus drip).
� Rain shut-off device capability permits attaching a shut-off device (purchased separately) which is used to automatically stop watering when it rains.
Recently a whole new generation of controllers has been gaining popularity. Evapotranspiration controllers, called ET controllers, automatically change watering schedules based upon past or historic climate conditions for a given region. The ET controller removes the burden of deciding the best watering schedule from the homeowner.
Other ways to save water in the landscape
� Grouping plants according to their water needs.
� Using native and low-water-use plants.
� Limiting turf areas to those needed for practical uses.
� Making sure the soil is healthy.
� Remembering to mulch.
Learn more by visiting www.epa.gov/owm/water-efficiency/index.htm.