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Get Your Deck Summer Ready
Hard winters (like the one we've just sent packing) are tough on decks, so before you start enjoying yours, there are some important things you need to do to get it ready.
Safety is the top priority. People have been seriously injured and even killed due to unsafe decks, therefore it's imperative that you inspect and repair yours. Look for worn-out deck boards, stair treads, balusters and handrails, as well as missing or loose connections, corrosion of fasteners, rot, and cracks; be sure to hammer any nail heads that have popped up during the winter. It's important that your posts and headers are still solid and strong, and that you've used the right fasteners to ensure that your deck can support weight safely while also adhering to current Code standards. All of these issues can put anyone enjoying the deck at serious risk of injury. You can also take preventive measures; slow mold, moss, and rot by keeping bushes and trees cut at least 12" back from your deck, and by cleaning leaves and other debris off regularly.
Harsh winters cause the seal on your deck to wear faster than usual. If you're unsure of whether it's time to reseal your deck, splash some water on your deck; if it beads, your seal is still good, but if the wood absorbs it then your deck needs to be resealed.
PressurewashdeckBefore you paint, stain or waterproof your deck, you need to clean it. If your deck is painted or stained, you also first need to strip it. These steps will greatly extend the life of your finish. There are deck washes available to suit all requirements and building materials, so use the one that is right for you and follow the directions on the package, then rinse your deck using your garden hose to ensure that you have a nice clean surface. Be careful pressure-washing your deck as the force of the water can be very damaging to wood and can significantly shorten the life of your deck. If you do use a pressure washer, use a fan-type nozzle instead of a pinpoint nozzle.
There are three options for finishing your deck: painting, staining, and waterproofing. While there are many options for outdoor paint, you will have to prepare, preserve and prime the wood first. It can be messy but does offer good protection for your wood. However, paint is not recommended for large horizontal areas of your deck which receive a lot of foot traffic or standing water as this will quickly wear-off the paint in those areas.
Staining the wood offers good protection from mold, rot and water. The darker pigmented stains offer a level of UV protection comparable to paint. Stains also allow you to see the wood's natural beauty, and are much easier to apply than paint. Though lighter stains do not have the overall longevity of paint, both dark and light stains will stand up to foot traffic and standing water much longer. Most stains contain waterproofing ingredients to seal you deck, however they do add some colour to your wood.
familyondeck If you want to completely stick to the natural wood colour or just go over an exisiting stain or paint, a waterproofer will seal your deck and protect it against the elements without altering the wood's appearance. This has an overall shorter longevity than medium and darker wood stains.
For new decks, the wood needs to cure for two to three weeks before prepping it for finishing. If the deck gets rained on, it will need roughly four weeks to dry out before you can begin. Apply your finish in thin, even layers, and apply the second coat before the first is completely dry, otherwise the wood will not fully absorb it. An ideal day for sealing your deck is warm but not scorching hot, with no rain that day or for a couple afterwards. You should avoid finishing your deck in direct sunlight also, as it dries the sealant too quickly for the wood to absorb it.
After these steps, your deck is ready to decorate and enjoy! Add some comfy lawn furniture, some potted plants, outdoor lighting, maybe a barbecue, then sit back, put your feet up and welcome the summer in style!

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - June 12, 2014


Alexandra Kelter

Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.

Green With Envy A Lawn Worth Coveting
A hard winter like the one we’ve just escaped can cause major damage to your lawn, but you can counteract that with a few relatively easy steps now. One of the most damaging things to your lawn in the winter is having people walk on it. After the first freeze of the year, grass plants go dormant, which gives them protection against the snow and cold but makes grass more vulnerable to being crushed underfoot. It’s also important in all four seasons to ensure that your lawn has adequate drainage. If standing water freezes on your grass, it will damage the delicate crowns and tissues of the plant.

Aerating your lawn helps to promote proper drainage, and is best done in the early summer. Aeration is a great way to promote a properly drained lawn. It involves perforating small holes throughout your lawn to remedy compacted soil, making it easier for the roots to absorb water and nutrients. Early summer is the best time to aerate your lawn as this is prime growing season for grass.
Nova Scotia’s soil isn’t the best for grass; it’s usually quite acidic, low in organic matter, and has naturally occurring chemicals like aluminum and manganese, which can be detrimental to growth. We fix this by liming our lawns. Lime prevents your grass roots from absorbing these harmful chemicals while also adding things your soil needs, like phosphorous and calcium. Soil microorganisms flourish when you lime, which is beneficial because they create nutrients essential to plant growth. Liming also stabilizes the soil structure, helping to prevent soil erosion. Ideally, you should lime your lawn in the fall, however if you haven’t, spring is also a good time to administer it to your grass.
It is also important to fertilize your lawn. It feeds the grass giving it nutrients it needs but will not otherwise have access to. In the past, chemical fertilizers were your only option, but they could damage the lawn and were dangerous for people and animals. The new corn gluten weed suppressant fertilizers are a much better choice. They’re non-toxic and provide a natural source of nitrogen fertilizer, which kills weed seeds without harming your lawn or soil. It’s important to apply this type of fertilizer on pre-emergent weeds so that it can kill the weed seeds before they spread. Late spring/early summer are a good time to apply fertilizer to your lawn, and you should do a second application in late summer. When it comes to liming and fertilizing your lawn, it’s important to remember that lime and nitrogen (in fertilizer) neutralize each other and change into ammonia, which plants do not like living in. To ensure your lawn gets the benefits of both lime and fertilizer, lime first then wait thirty days for your grass to absorb it before applying the fertilizer.
MowingLawn Caring for your lawn means mowing it. Once your grass is really growing, you’ll probably need to mow once every seven to ten days. In the summer, mow at your highest setting to encourage deep root growth and to provide some shade for the grass plants. It is better to mulch your grass rather than bag it, as the grass clippings will return nutrients to the soil, feeding your lawn just like fertilizer. Clippings can provide as much as one-third of your lawn’s feeding requirement! You should bag your grass clippings if you suspect lawn disease (this will prevent the fungus from spreading).
It is also important to water your lawn. In the heart of summer, giving the lawn a deep, thorough watering twice a week should be all it needs. If you overwater the grass, it’s a waste because the plant can’t absorb the water. This can also lead to standing water, which as mentioned earlier, can harm your lawn.
A lush green lawn adds major curb appeal to your home, and can play a surprising role in the re-sale value of your property. With just a few easy steps, you can keep your grass happy and healthy.

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald


Alexandra Kelter

Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.