Fixing Fences and Gates on Farms

Farms utilize fences for many reasons, but the top priority is keeping animals and livestock within the boundaries.  For that reason alone, it is important to keep fences intact and strong.  If you notice part of your fence is broken or sagging or a gate is broken, use the tips in the article from Hobby Farms below.

6 Fence And Gate Repair Tips

Sometimes the farm fence or gate needs repair. Here are six cost-effective (and easy) fixes for fences and gates on the farm.

by Heather Smith Thomas

February 18, 2009

Keeping fences and gates in good repair is an important part of maintaining a farm, whether large or small.

Good fences help keep livestock safely housed: A sagging fence or gate, broken wires, and downed or loose poles may tempt animals to make a break for it—out on a busy road or into hostile territory—possibly injuring or killing themselves in the process.

Here are a few simple and inexpensive tips to help make fence and gate repair easier.

Tightening Wire with a Hammer

When mending a wire fence—such as tightening sagging wires or splicing broken wires back together—a fence stretcher is nice, but a simple carpenter’s hammer will also do the job. To repair a fence with broken wire, you may need to add extra wire—a short piece (one to two feet long) of smooth wire—to make your splicing task easier. The additional material gives you enough wire to loop the ends of the broken section and make a “hammer roll” to pull it tight.

To start the splice, make a loop in one end of the broken wire and run an additional piece of material through the loop. Place the hammer against the wire and anchor the loose end between the hammer claw. Then roll the wire around the hammer, making as many twists as necessary to get the wire very tight.

Once the wire is taut, untwist the hammer, leaving the wire tight where it bends. Then you can go ahead and twist the remainder of the loose ends, finishing your splice. Using the hammer this way, you can pull the wire much tighter than you can by hand, making the bend in the wire tight enough to hold until you can finish it off by wrapping it around itself.

Tips for Tightening and Splicing

    1. Make a loop in one end of the wire and pull the other end through it.
    2. Anchor the loose end between the hammer’s claw.
    3. Twist the hammer so the wire wraps around it.
    4. Keep twisting until the wire is as tight as you want it.
    5. Untwist the hammer, leaving the wire still tight where it bends.
    6. Take the hammer off the wire, leaving the tight crimp to hold the wire tight.
    7. Finish the splice by wrapping the end of the wire tightly around itself.

Chicken Wire to Protect Wood Fences

If you have horses, you’ll find they like to chew on posts and poles, especially if they are confined in a small area. Horses that grow up in big pastures don’t develop the wood-chewing habit as readily, but if they are kept in small pastures or pens without enough room to roam or grass to graze, they almost always chew wood. Some horses will ruin a good fence in a short time, eating clear through posts or poles.

However, wooden fences are usually safer for horses than barbed wire, metal posts and other types of unforgiving fence material, but they must be protected from chewing or they won’t last long. Wood preservatives and foul-tasting applications used by many horse owners to protect fences will deter some chewers, but not all. Some horses will chew wood regardless of how hard you try to discourage them. In addition to being poor deterrents, some “anti-chew” remedies are toxic—old motor oil, for instance, contains lead which is highly poisonous.

One way to keep horses away from wood fencing is to use an electric wire in conjunction with the fencing—the “hot” wire is installed inside the fence line, adequately spaced, so that horses can’t reach the wood without first getting a “zap.” This works well in pastures or large pens, but is often not advisable in a small area where horses (or people) may inadvertently bump into the hot wire—or be forced into it by overly playful or aggressive animals.

A better way to protect wood fences that enclose a pen or corral is to cover the wood with small-mesh chicken wire. To do this, use tin snips to cut the chicken wire into strips sized to completely cover the exposed portions of the wood. Posts, poles or boards in a pen or paddock can be protected this way because a horse cannot, or will not chew through the chicken wire.

The chicken wire can be stapled to a post or pole at frequent intervals so there are no loose patches or sharp protrusions—just a smooth surface that the horse can’t grab hold of. It takes quite a few staples to secure the wire properly to ensure that there are no loose edges or pieces of wire sticking out that might otherwise attract curious horses. To avoid injuries, all cut edges should be carefully tucked. Use staples that are large enough to hold securely and not pull out. Wood covered with small-mesh chicken wire is not accessible for chewing, and it is not pleasant (abrasive on the teeth) so horses tend to leave it alone. To help maintain your fencing, a non-toxic wood preservative, such as log oil, can be applied to the posts and poles periodically with a brush, even after the chicken wire is installed.

Chicken wire is inexpensive and a roll will cover a lot of fence. But your installation time will be a factor. However, when you weigh these costs against replacing poles, boards and posts—or rebuilding corrals and pens—you’ll find that chicken wire is a thrifty way to prolong the life of your wooden fences.

Fixing a Sagging Gate

A wooden or metal gate can become a heavy burden to open and close if it begins to sag and drag on the ground. Gate posts should be sturdy and set deep to avoid sagging. But unless the posts are set in concrete, even well-constructed gates can drag because posts can “give” over time. In some areas, the ground is unstable and won’t hold a post well, especially for a heavy gate. For example, frost can push posts upward, making them less secure. Occasionally a simple pole panel is used as a gate in an opening that does not have a sturdy post for hanging a proper gate. Having to lift or drag the panel to open and shut can be a back-breaking chore. These problems can be solved, however, by putting a small wheel underneath the moving end of a panel or sagging gate. The wheel takes all the weight and supports a gate or panel to prevent further sagging and enables easy opening and closing.

Just about any type of small wheel will work for this purpose. On our gates we have used old wheelbarrow tires and small metal wheels—the kind you sometimes find in old junk piles or salvage from a piece of ancient farm equipment. A wheelbarrow tire can be easily adapted by bolting the uprights (or even just one of them—the piece of metal that comes down either side of the tire to hold its small axle) to a wooden or pole gate.

An old wheel or tire with any kind of long axle attached to it can also be securely wired to a metal gate by fastening the axle to the bottom rail or pipe. If you use stiff, strong wire and secure each end of the axle (close to the wheel and at the opposite end), the wheel will stay solidly in place and the weight of the gate will not alter the angle of the wheel much, if at all. You want it securely attached so the wheel or tire will stay upright, with no wobble. Then it will roll freely and easily on the ground, taking the weight of the gate without binding or catching.

Easy Fix for a Gate Latch

Metal gates are handy in pens and pastures, and some of these have latches that work with a handle that is pulled or pushed. Typically, the latch is a metal prong that inserts into a hole in an adjacent post when the gate is shut; to open this type of gate, the latch is usually pulled to release from the post. These latches work fine if the posts are solid and never move. Sometimes, however, posts can shift over time, and latches no longer reach them.

A simple way to fix this without having to reset posts or rehang gates is to securely nail two small poles or boards on both sides of the latch hole on a gate post. Then the metal latch (when shut) will insert between the two poles or boards and “catch” to hold the gate closed.

Electric Fence Gate Crossing

If you use electric fencing around horse or livestock pens and pastures, you’ll generally have an insulated handle on every gate so you can open and close without getting zapped. On frequently used gates, you may find it easier to install a tall pole on each side of the gate, so you can route the electric wire up over the gate, high enough that people, animals and large machinery will not touch the hot wire.

However, if you do use insulated gate handles, always situate the handle on the end toward the fence charger, so that the gate “wire” will have no electricity because it’s disconnected from the charger when the handle is undone and the gate is open. This way if the hot wire gets looped over the wooden or metal gate, or thrown on the ground while open, it won’t shock anyone or short out and possibly start a fire in dry grass or weeds.

If the hot wire is spanning a metal gate, the wire may become a nuisance at times if it happens to touch the metal while the gate is closed and short out the electric fence—or electrify the gate and shock anyone  who touches or tries to open it. It can be tricky to open and shut a metal gate if you forget to unhook the electric handle. Even if the electric wire and its insulated handle are a few inches away from the metal gate, the wind may sometimes cause the wire to touch the gate.

A good way to eliminate any chance of having the hot wire touch the gate is to put that segment of wire through an old garden hose. Cut the hose to match the length of the metal gate—with a couple inches to spare on each end so there’s never any danger of the wire touching the gate. The rubber or plastic hose will adequately insulate the wire where it travels along the gate, to prevent any shorts or shocks.

If the wire you use for the gate portion is somewhat stiff, it’s not difficult to gently push it through the length of hose, and then attach the electric fence handle to the end of it.

Easy-close Gate Idea

Occasionally a gate may be made of wire rather than metal or wood. Wire gates (made of netting, or six to eight strands of wire, with “stays” to keep the wire properly spaced) can sometimes become difficult to close, especially if they are tight gates that livestock can’t get through. One way to make such a gate easier to close is to put a handle on the gate post to give you more leverage for pulling it shut.

A metal handle with a wire loop attached can be securely fastened to the top of the gate post by means of a flat platform that is bolted onto the post. The handle, when open, with the wire loop attached, gives you an extra 12 to 18 inches of reach for shutting the gate, eliminating the struggle to get the end of the gate into the wire loop.

Then when the gate end (small upright post) is put into the loop, you can use the handle for leverage, pushing it up and over, which automatically tightens the gate and brings it up snug to the post. When it’s closed, and the metal handle is folded back over the top of the gate post, it can be secured with a pin in a raised metal tab to keep the handle from ever popping up or opening accidentally due to cows and horses scratching against it.

For a barnyard or pasture gate that needs to be nice and tight, yet still easy to open and close, this arrangement works very well, especially for those of us who don’t have long, strong arms for getting the gate shut.

This article first appeared in the February/March 2003 issue of Hobby Farms magazine.

Source: http://www.hobbyfarms.com/6-fence-and-gate-repair-tips/

Creating an Outdoor Living Space

Get the most out of your outdoor space this summer by transforming it.  After getting the much desired privacy by adding a fence to enclose your yard, make it even more inviting by using some of the ideas in this article.  From lighting to furniture, you can easily create an outdoor living space that is inexpensive and eco-friendly with recycled materials.

10 Ways to Update Your Outdoor Space

Jul 19th 2014 9:03AM

By Laura Gaskill

Been gazing out at your backyard, wishing you could spruce up your hangout space? You don’t need to spend a lot to make a big difference in the way your outdoor rooms look and feel; you can whip up furnishings and decor, hunt for vintage bargains and make smart choices about new purchases. Here are 10 ideas for updating your space on a dime.

1. Hang a vintage sign. One big, statement-making piece is enough to bring an outdoor room into focus. Hunt through the stalls at local flea markets or search online to find a sign that speaks to you. Spending a little more than you’re used to on this one item can actually be worth it, because it will make everything around it look instantly cooler.
2. Rig up a sawhorse table. Need a table fast? Head to the hardware store. A pair of sturdy sawhorses topped with a door slab makes a quick dining table that can be taken down and stored when not in use. Paint the sawhorses and tabletop, or simply cover the whole thing with a giant tablecloth.
3. Cover an imperfect patio with a colorful rug. Cheap and cheerful plastic outdoor rugs are perfect for covering up less-than-perfect brickwork or cracked cement.
4. Hunt down a used outdoor fireplace. These homeowners found the cool outdoor fireplace shown here for $100 on Craigslist. Keep an eye out – you might get lucky! Also try searching for used fire bowls, patio furniture and big planters. You won’t know what’s out there unless you look.
5. Make some furniture with salvaged pallets. Stacked wood pallets can make an almost-instant outdoor bench, love seat or daybed. You can buy salvaged pallets, find them on Craigslist or see if local stores have any they want to get rid of. Paint them first if you want, then top them with thick cushions and toss pillows.
6. Hang outdoor curtains. Look beyond the catalogs to find ideas for whipping up your own outdoor curtains on a budget – painter’s drop cloths, cute shower curtains and tablecloths can all work. If you don’t want to sew, purchase a grommet-making kit and pop in grommets along the top side of your fabric, then simply hang it from any curtain rod.
7. Use a coffee table and poufs in your backyard hangout. Poufs on sale can be quite a bit cheaper than dining chairs, and they make for a fun twist when entertaining. Less formal than a dining table and chairs, and more convivial than an outdoor living room, the intimate setup here encourages chatting, snacking and sipping.
8. Choose gravel instead of stone. Gravel costs far less to install than pavers or other hardscaping, and can look just as chic. For a beach-inspired twist, try spreading crushed oyster shells instead of gravel – if you live on the coast, it may be cheaper than gravel, too.
9. Make a table from tree stumps. Four solid trunk sections make a sturdy table base when trimmed to the same height. Set an old wooden door or scrap-wood slab on top, no nailing required.
10. Never underestimate the power of café lights. A strand or two of outdoor café lights (the kind with large bulbs and exposed filaments) is a can’t-miss way to bring life to an outdoor seating area. If you do not have access to outlets, hang solar-powered string lights instead.
Source: https://www.aol.com/article/2014/07/19/outdoor-space-design-cheap-easy/20933076/

Metal or Wood? What’s Better?

It’s the time of year where people begin to plan how to spruce up their outdoor spaces to enjoy in the warmer months.  A fence is a great addition to any yard for privacy, increased security (especially for pets), and curb appeal.  However, the decision can be made difficult because there are so many options of fencing materials and designs available. The two most popular materials are wood and metal.  If you can’t choose between the two, this article from DoItYourself.com might help.

Wood Fence Panels vs Metal Fence Panels

It’s time to put up that fence, but there are so many choices to choose from when it comes to wood fence panels and metal fence panels that it’s hard to make a decision. The below information explores the various pros and cons of choosing wood or metal for your fence panels.

Wood Is Most Popular

You will find that wood, even today, is the most popular choice for fence options. Most fences you come across will be made of wood.

Wood Is Easy

Wood is easy to work with. Wood is mainly worked with using only a hammer and nails. It’s also easy to find. Lumber yards and local home supply shops will carry new wood, or wood can be salvaged from old homes and projects for a different look. Different sizes, different treatments and different looks are available.

Wood Is Eco-friendly

Wood is a natural material, and is renewable. Basically if you want to get down to it, when you are working with wood, you are really working with trees.

Wood Is Not so Durable

Wood is not as durable as metal. Wood will be subject to insects, rot, and old age, making it weak.  While there are treatments ad protectants available, wood will eventually fall pray to damage.

Wood Is at Risk from Heavy Weather

Wood can be damaged by any weather if not treated right, but the best treatments cannot protect a wood fence from high winds or heavy snow.

Metal Has Options

There are different kinds of metals you can use for your fence. There is aluminum, wrought iron, and chain link. Each have their benefits, and each have their downfalls.

Metal Can Rust

Most metal materials actually will not rust. The exception is wrought iron, which is prone to rust. Rust will create structural weaknesses over time. Wrought iron must be painted regularly to protect it from rust.

The Look of Metal

Wrought iron is beautiful, very pleasing to the eye. Aluminum gives the look of wrought iron and is also pleasing to the eye, even though it doesn’t give you a wide variety of colors to choose from. Chain link, however, is not so pretty. We’ve all seen chain link and it will never win an award for any designing competition. However, there are chain links that are coated with vinyl in different colors, so it may add a little character to it.

Metal Is Strong

Most metal materials are very strong. Aluminum is the exception. Aluminum is to be seen and not touched. If you are looking for a fence that your kids can touch without worry, aluminum would not be the choice for you. Wrought iron and chain link, however, are very strong and can withstand a lot.

Some Metals Make Better DIY Projects than Others

Choosing the right material is up to you, and if actually installing your fence is something you wish to finish yourself, choosing either aluminum or chain link is the right metal material to go with. Wrought iron should have some soldering done, which makes it a little more complicated on your part.

Hopefully you are feeling more confident in choosing which material is right for you. Weigh out the above information,and just remember that the material needs to do exactly what you are looking for.

Article sourced from: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/wood-fence-panels-vs-metal-fence-panels

Electric Fencing 101

People that have pets are the most common to install electric fences on their property to keep their pet close to home without physical fences blocking their lawn.  There are advantages and disadvantages to the different kinds of electric fences.  This article from DoItYourself.com points out what you should know before taking the plunge of buying and installing an electric fence.

What to Consider Before Purchasing an Electric Fence

When you are considering purchasing an electric fence, there are two main decisions to keep in mind: what type of electric fence you want and what amperage and voltage to use. Electric fences will deliver a jolt of electricity when touched or crossed. The amperage of the electric fence determines the strength and severity of the shock that it will generate. When considering purchasing one of these electric devices, there are several things to keep in mind.

Warning: Double-check product standards and safety guidelines regarding your animal type before making your fence purchase. Remember not to use more voltage or amperage than required, as this can hurt both animals and humans. Many states, cities, and counties have laws related to maximum voltage that you should research before making your purchase.

Types of Electric Fences

There are three main categories of electric fences.

Above-ground Fence

The first type is the standard, above-ground electric fence. This type of fence will typically consist of posts and wire. Anyone that touches the wire of this fence will receive an electric shock.

Underground Fence

The second type of electrical fence is the underground fence. This type consists of electrical wire buried in a small trench surrounding the perimeter area. For this type of fence to deliver a shock, the animal must wear a receiver in a collar.

Wireless Fence

The third type is called a wireless fence, and it has a transmitter that sends a signal outward, creating a circular boundary. For this type to work, the animal must also wear a receiver in a collar.

Fence Amperage and Voltage

With all electric fences, the intended outcome is to deliver a shock to startle the animal without causing any harm. If the fence is created to keep people out, usually a warning sign on the fence is enough to stop someone from attempting to cross it.

Amps

The amperage required of your electric fence depends on what the fence is keeping in or out of your property. If the amperage is too low, the electric fence will not be effective, and if the amperage is too high, the shock could be harmful to the animal or human that is shocked.

Volts

You will typically see voltage amounts used as well as amperage. Voltage is the power of flow, while amperage is the current, or the rate of flow. Most often, these two measurements are seen together. Even though voltages are high in electric fences, current (amps) is very low and is generally intermittent or pulsed. Amps are the dangerous part of an electrical charge.

Some studies have concluded that a minimum of 2,000 volts is required to create an effective fence. The typical voltage on an electric fence when keeping cattle is 3,000 volts. This is enough voltage to deliver a startling shock.

Keeping Purpose in Mind

When considering this kind of fence, keep the reason for using it in mind. The type and size of animal intended for the fence will help determine what type of fence is best and what voltage and amperage the fence will require.

Article sourced from: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/electric-fence-and-amperage-what-to-go-with

Fixing Chain Link Fences

Chain link fences can typically withstand a lot of wear and tear.  However, with time, the material can thin out and tear apart.  If you have noticed some damage like this on your chain link fence you might be able to repair the sections without having to replace your fence completely.  Try following the guide below from DoItYourself.com.

How to Repair a Chain Link Fence

You may need to conduct repairs to a chain link fence for a number of reasons: a tree fell on it during a storm, it was cut by trespassers, or it stretched and popped out of place under the weight of a snowplow. Whatever the cause, it’s an easy repair with some tools, instructions, and a little help.

Step 1 – Find all the Damage

Inspect along both sides of the fence in places where there is obvious damage. Branch out from there to check for loose posts, gates, and top rails as well so you’re aware of everything that needs attention. Make note of these areas on a rough diagram to keep track of them all.

Step 2 – Measure and Buy new Parts you Need

Take measurements between intact fence posts to learn the standard length of fence railing for your existing fence. Then, count the posts that run throughout the damaged area to calculate the length of new fence railing you will need.

Measure the thickness of the fence railing as well so you can buy the same size you currently have in your fence, either 1 3/8-inch or 5/8-inch. If the fence posts or gate have been damaged, take one of each with you to get replacements in the correct size.

Assess if you will need new chain link, too. Some of the material will be able to be bent and refitted, but if the metal is badly bent or cut, it will need replacement. Buy all necessary parts and the hardware to attach everything.

Step 3 – Remove the Damaged Fence Rail

Start by cutting the wire ties that hold the chain link to the rail. Then, place the new fence rail on top of the old one and mark where you’re going to cut on the damaged one. Mark the other end of the new rail where it will meet a joint.

Set the new rail aside and cut the damaged one into 24-inch pieces with a hacksaw. Slide the very end off of the joint and set all these aside for later disposal.

Step 4 – Remove and Replace Damaged Posts as Needed

Remove the fence railing all the way to any damaged posts. Clip any ties that are still intact and slide the old posts out of position. Install your new ones using the same post holes.

Step 5 – Install the New Fence Railing

Remove the nearest end post cap, brace bands, and the vertical tension bands from one end of the fence. Slide the new fence railing into the rail cap slot, and along to where it’s needed. Attach the end of this fence railing to the end post rail cap, and reconnect brace and tension bands.

Step 6 – Fix the Chain Link Fabric

While you hold the closest post, ask someone to aid you in putting the undamaged chain link back over the new post. Insert a soft nylon cord through chain links to help pull. Look at an intact fence section to check that caps and bands are in the correct position before tightening the connecting bolts fastening the chain link to each post. Note that the vertical tension bar, woven through the chain link parallel to the fence post, is correctly aligned. Reconnect the horizontal tension bands to the vertical tension bar, and the vertical brace bands to the fence railing.

In the event some of your existing fencing was irreparable, it’s at this time that you will want to clip away the damaged chain link and add in new material. Make sure to wear work gloves to protect your hands from sharp wires.

For large areas of damage, it will be easiest to cut the fencing at the surrounding poles. This will ensure that the existing fencing is held securely while you’re weaving in the new material. If you have just a small hole, this will mean buying a lot of extra material, so you can clip around the damage and just have a helper hold it.

Clip and bend two vertical lengths of wire from the old fence to use in attaching the new fencing. Then, on one end, use one of these pieces to weave the ends of the two chain link sections together. On the opposite side, use the come-a-long tool to stretch the fencing tight. Cut your new material to the length you need to fill the space and use the second vertical length of metal to weave these ends together as well.

Step 7 – Maintain Your Chain Link Fence

Keep your chain link fence well maintained. Check it in spring after heavy snow and after severe storms where trees have fallen. Even if the trees fell far from your house or garage, damage to the fence at any point will reduce the stability of the entire fixture.

Article sourced from: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-repair-a-chain-link-fence

Rust on Iron Fencing

Wrought iron used to be a very popular material to use for fences.  However, as most metals do with time, it can rust.  If you have a wrought iron fence on your property and want to restore it back to its original beauty you can roll up your sleeves and follow this guide.  It will take a little elbow grease, but it is worth it to keep your fence looking great.

How to Restore a Rusty Wrought Iron Fence

A wrought iron fence is meant to last for years with proper care, but if you aren’t careful, your fence can suffer from its worst enemy: rust. Rust can severely damage wrought iron and completely ruin its appearance. Fortunately, you can restore this metal to its original look and also protect it from future damage with the right steps and tools.

Step 1 – Remove Rust and old Paint

Use a paint scraper to remove any loose or peeling paint and a wire brush to scrub away loose rust and old paint. If the rust is heavy, use a drill with a wire wheel instead. Make sure to get into tight areas and joints where rust is most likely to be found.

Follow up with a coarse-grit sandpaper over the entire fence, concentrating on the affected areas. Some deep rust may require sanding all the way down to the metal, so you may want to use a drill with a sanding wheel to save yourself some pain. When you can’t see anymore rust, go over the fence again with a medium-grit to take care of anything that remains and smooth the surface.

Finally, buff the entire fence with fine steel wool in a circular motion to smooth and prepare it for painting. Rinse with clear water to get rid of dust that remains.

Step 2 – Neutralize Rust

The key to restoring a wrought iron fence is to remove all the rust, not just the loose stuff. Any left behind will continue to spread and ruin the metal even after you refinish it. Although you may not see any, there can be some tiny particles remaining. Mix a commercial rust neutralizer per package instructions in a bucket. Dip the wire brush into it and scrub the entire fence in a circular motion.

For those who prefer not to use chemicals, you can use a solution of half lemon juice and half white vinegar to neutralize any remaining particles. Wipe down the entire fence with the solution and allow it to dry for one hour. Wash off with soapy water and let the surface dry completely.

Step 3 – Prime and Paint

Paint the entire surface of the fence with an even coat of rust-inhibiting primer for metal and allow it to dry at least four hours. Apply two fairly thick coats of rust-resistant paint over the primer using a medium-bristled paint brush. Use smooth, even strokes to cover all areas, and allow the paint to dry completely between coats.

Step 4 – Maintain

Now that the rust has been taken care of and the fence is repaired, it is important to perform regular maintenance to keep it looking great. Wash your wrought iron fence with soapy water twice a year, and oil latches and springs with mineral oil. Also use steel wool to buff any scratches or beginning signs of rust and neutralize with lemon juice and vinegar again. Touch up scratched areas with matching rust-resistant paint after neutralizing.

Source: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-restore-a-rusty-wrought-iron-fence

Privacy Outdoors

Many homes have outdoor spaces that are open and allow little privacy.  If you spend a lot of time outside and want more privacy in your yard or simply don’t want passersby to see in your house, this article will be useful to read.  There are several options for outdoor privacy.  Read about them all below and decide what works best for you.

3 Privacy Options You Can’t Afford Not to Have

By: Sandra Karnes


As the world population grows, we lose a little more of our privacy every day. Whether you live in an urban or rural area, there always seems to be a car driving by or a nosy neighbor. Here are some of the things you can do to have a private backyard retreat that doesn’t cost a lot.

Natural Privacy

Trees, shrubs and even tall plants can give you the semblance of privacy. Trees that are bushy and full, such as evergreen trees, provide the most coverage. One such variety is Blue Spruce, which stays full from the top all the way to the ground. In addition to keeping out prying eyes, they can also protect your yard from blustery winds. However, they take a while to grow and need plenty of room because their bottom branches can grow up to 20 feet in diameter.

A faster growing evergreen that can be trimmed to whatever shape you want — or left to grow on its own — is the American Arborvitae. This evergreen can grow up to 18 inches per year, making it a good choice if you want natural privacy, but can’t wait a generation for it to develop. Their final height is about 7 or 8 feet tall. To make a quick hedge, plant them 2-3 feet apart. If you buy a taller plant to start with, in one or two summers your yard could be a private haven.


An even faster growing privacy plant is ornamental grasses. The Calamgrostis is a feathery reed that grows in zones 5-8 and can reach 48 to 60 inches tall by early summer. As a perennial that won’t spread by seed, it will stay where you want it to stay. In the winter they have a beautiful golden hue like wheat. When you see new growth in the spring, cut the old growth down. This way the reeds dance with the slightest breeze, which is very relaxing to watch.

Fencing in Your Privacy

Although going the natural route is attractive, fence panels have their place and are much faster than waiting for plants to grow.

If you don’t want to cut off your whole yard and feel boxed in, just put up one or two panels on each side of your yard. You will instantly have a place to sit and enjoy your morning coffee, or to have guests over for a barbeque and still have the feeling of privacy from your neighbors.

Fence panels usually come in 6-foot widths, up to 8-feet tall. To satisfy your artistic desire, there are several designs available including dog-eared, shadowbox and stockade varieties. Wood panels start around $40 each. Don’t forget that you will also need posts, screws or carriage bolts and cement mix, which will add to the cost.

Besides wood fence panels, there are also vinyl fence panels that start around $80 per panel. Composite panels start around $140 per panel. Another alternative is chain link fencing. A 6-foot tall by 50-foot long roll of chain link starts around $220 per roll.

If you want a more attractive panel with a dash of nature intertwined, get a lattice panel and grow a perennial vine on it for the best of both worlds.

Least Expensive Privacy

One very quick way to get privacy is with a canvass gazebo. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be put up in an afternoon — they’re basically like a glorified tent that can stay up all summer, provided there are no wind storms. Some have retractable screens, while others have fully enclosed sides that can protect you from wind, rain, high temperatures and bugs. They can actually add a little charm to your backyard space.

If you don’t want to go the canvass gazebo route, how about using tarps or shade cloth for a quick and inexpensive way to provide privacy? Just run a line from your house to a post or other tall solid structure and hang the tarps or shade cloth with shower curtain hangers. This method provides privacy when you want it, but can also be opened up when you don’t want it. Tarps start around five bucks for a 9×12 piece and shade cloth around $65 for an 8×12 foot section. Shower curtain hooks vary in price by how decorative you want them. If you live in a windy area, keep in mind that you may have to anchor the bottom as well.


Source: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/3-privacy-options-you-cant-afford-not-to-have

Fence and Deck Inspections

Keeping an eye on the structure of your deck and/or fencing is important in upkeep if you want the structures to be safe and in tact for a long time.  You can always consult professionals like us to do the job, but this blog post from Pro Referral explains how to do it yourself.  It points out what to look for and how to begin.  Check it out below:

What to Expect When You’re Inspecting: Decks and Fences

Techshed Devops | May 3, 2016

As with any structure exposed to the elements, decks and fences should be inspected for rot, rust and rickety supports. Far too many homeowners never take this simple step. As a result, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors estimates that of the 45 million existing decks in North America, only 40% are completely safe.


Walk your fences and decks once a year or so to look for signs of decay or structural failure, and schedule maintenance accordingly. You can perform this inspection at any time, but I’ve found the best time of year is normally spring.

Spring is when any snows have melted off, but before new plant growth has risen up, giving an excellent view of fence and deck supports that might otherwise be obscured. Spring is also a good time to check decks for structural issues, as most decks fail during the summer, when crowds gather on them to enjoy the weather.

Decks

A deck that’s twelve inches off the ground has very different support and safety concerns than one that’s twelve feet overhead, but the basic issues to watch for are the same. You’re primarily looking for signs of rot, and any structural shortcomings.

Rot

Using a screwdriver or awl, probe the decking material. Wood decks should feel solid when tapped, and splinter when gouged. Rotten wood will easily give way to a probing, and fibers will pull loose without splintering. Keep an eye for holes or small piles of sawdust, which may indicate insect activity. Composite deck materials are resistant to rot or insect activity, but should still be looked over for signs of damage, such as warping or bowing. Damaged structural materials will need to be patched or replaced, depending on how widespread the damage is.

If you do find signs of rot, don’t stop your inspection there. Decks are designed to be able to withstand weather, and they can take getting wet. However, they are not able to be consistently wet over a long time. Look for water sources that don’t allow deck materials to dry out, such as sprinklers, improper grading, or downspouts that keep the decks wet.

On decks, proper flashing is essential to shed water off of wood surfaces and to prevent rot. If the wood surface being protected is pressure-treated, check to see if the flashing is aluminum. Aluminum corrodes when placed in contact with pressure treated wood, so flashing will degrade over time.

Deck Structure

The methodology behind deck structures varies according to the deck material, type of connection to the home, size of the deck, and local ordinances. There are enough variables in that equation that we can’t cover the entire topic in this article, but even a casual inspection can be helpful to identify trouble spots before they become major issues.

As you look over your deck, give the structure a shake. Support posts should look and feel solid. If you sense a ‘wobble’ when you shake them, or if it looks as if a footing is coming out of contact with the ground, then bring in a pro ASAP.

Look for any materials in the deck structure that aren’t designed for exterior use. For example, all fasteners on your deck should be corrosion-resistant. (If you see rust stains around fasteners, take this as a warning sign.) In addition, any wooden posts in contact with soil should be pressure-treated AND rated for ground contact.

Deck hand rails should be about 3’ high, and pass the 4” ball test—a 4” toy ball should not be able to fit between the railings. (In this test, the 4” ball is a stand-in for a toddler’s head.) Your local code requirements may have different requirements for these measurements; if so, follow their guidelines to be sure you’re in compliance.

To check the condition of the deck’s surface, spray it with water. Whether it’s painted, stained, or composite, the water should bead on the surface, rather than soaking into the material.

Lastly, a note about hot tubs. Hot tubs are a popular feature, but unfortunately, many hot tubs are added after the deck construction, and the decks they sit on are not designed to hold their weight. A gallon of water weighs just over eight pounds, so a hot tub holding a couple hundred gallons of water, plus half-dozen people, can easily top the scales at over a ton. That’s like parking a compact car on deck. If you have any doubts about whether your deck can hold that kind of weight, bring in a pro to do a thorough analysis.

Fences

Fence inspections are a little easier to conduct than deck inspections. Walk the fence line with a screwdriver or awl (I like to use a multi-tool for this), as well as a hammer and a spray bottle.

Fence Structure

Look over the fasteners to make sure they are securely seated. If you see any popped nails, now is a good time to give them a tap back into place. If the nail is still loose, try a different angle, longer nail, or different fastener location.

As you walk the fence, reach out and give it a gentle shake from time to time. If any sections feel weak, try to find out if it’s a fastener issue, or something else. Give the boards a poke with the screwdriver or awl, checking to make sure the material is firm.

Examine the fence posts during your walk, as well. Inspect the base of the posts for signs of rot or decay. The most important aspect of fence posts is that they are seated far enough in-ground to be below the frost line for your climate. Look for any posts that are starting to heave up out of the ground. If you see this happening, chances are that those posts will need to be replaced and installed properly.

Fence Surface

If you see any excessive moss or mildew growth, look for the cause. You may find a simple solution, or it may be something you can’t modify—such as a shady run along your neighbor’s home. Clean off the growth, and consider touching up any stain or paint as needed.

Speaking of stain, the best way to check whether the stain on your wood fence needs a touch-up is to spritz it with water from the spray bottle. The spray should sit on the surface in beads. If it soaks into the wood, it’s time to refresh the stain.

I’ve mostly been talking about wood fences so far, but the same techniques apply to metal or composite fencing. Any metal fencing material is designed to withstand the elements, but damage like scrapes or dings can leave them vulnerable. Rust in its early stages can be cleaned off and the fencing can be re-treated with a protective coating. If the fence has lost its structural strength, it’s time to replace the affected section.

A special note: Pool Fences are a separate creature, with concerns beyond simple physical condition. Local requirements vary widely, so you’ll have to check with your local regulatory agency in order to be sure that your pool fence meets all requirements.  Common problem areas include height, railing gaps, gate swing, and latching mechanism.

Hopefully, your decks and fences pass your inspection with flying colors. Take care of any maintenance as needed, and you can look forward to another year of enjoying your yard!


Source: https://blog.proreferral.com/expect-youre-inspecting-decks-fences/

Picket Fence Maintenance

Maintenance on any kind of fence is important if you want it to last a long time.  If you have a picket fence there are things you can do, as pointed out in the article below, that will keep it looking great and doing its job for as long as possible.  Check out the tips below for a simple DIY project.

How to Maintain Your Picket Fence

Having installed the picket fence in the home has already fulfilled the aim of giving an artistic enhancement to the overall appearance of the property. Knowing tips to maintain the picket fence is helpful so that it lasts a long time without extensive repairs being done. Below are the materials needed as well as the instructions on how to maintain your picket fence.

Step 1-Paint Maintenance

If painting is needed on the picket fence, repaint or refresh the paint originally applied to have the fence regain its vibrant color. The original color of paint must be used for the repainting. Brush thinly on the whole fence area if needed with a paint brush or just retouch at some areas only. It is best to always keep an extra can of the paint used as well as paint brushes so these materials are readily available once repainting is needed.

Step 2-Damage Check

During the regular maintenance check on the picket fence, examine thoroughly especially on the fence’s bottom areas. These are the areas that are strongly prone to damage and decay because they are in contact with the ground. If signs of decay or damage are seen, those areas must be immediately cleaned and repaired.

Step 3-Pressure Washing

A good maintenance check on picket fences is cleaning it thoroughly. A way to do this is to pressure wash the fence. With the use of a pressure washing solution that may be mixed using cleaning agents found in the home or a solution that may be bought at home improvement stores, pressure wash the fence using a hose with a hose sprayer attachment. The washing will give the picket fence a glow because it will be cleaned of any dirt or stain that developed over time.

Step 4-Sanding the Wood Picket Fence

Check picket fence for any wood blisters that have stuck out. Wood sticking out may be trimmed using any wood trimmer. A sander may be used to rub the wood to smoothen and level out the surface.

Step 5-Distance Fence from Chemical Source

Since the picket fence is installed in the yard, there are other essentials that are in consideration like the use of some type of pesticides that may be used to treat the garden. It is recommended that a considerable distance be placed between the picket fence and the grass or plant area to protect the fence from the harsh effects of the chemicals.

Step 6-Doing Regular Inspection of the Fence


It is a good practice to regularly check and inspect the picket fence so that any damage or maintenance that needs to be done will be immediately addressed. This routine will prevent further damage to the fence if it exists and it can remain relatively maintenance-free because of the regular inspection that is done.

Article sourced from: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-maintain-your-picket-fence

Automatic Gate Openers

If you choose to have an automatic gate installed on your property you have to think about entry accessories and the kind you want.  There are different types of gate openers, and with advancing technology, there are even ways to open gates with your phone.  Learn about the different gate openers in the article below and decide what would work best for you.

Electric Gate Openers: Remote vs Keypad

Electronic gate openers are a common convenience in gated households. With the help of electric technology and hydraulics an electric gate opener is a luxury thing to have. Nowadays there are various types of electronic gate openers and can also be found with solar power energy. As mentioned before at this day and age there are a lot of models and complex technologies you can choose from. Some examples of which are motion sensors, light sensor, infrared, bump sensor, remote, keypad and even using your own mobile phone to open your garage or gate. In this article we will focus on two main types of open devices, a remote and a keypad.

Remote

This is the most traditional and most common electronic gate opener device used. Obviously with the advancement of technology, remotes have come a long way and improved a lot. Still very much in use, are the push button remote controllers, that is, the battery operated type where there is only two buttons, or in some cases, even one in some cases, being the open and close button. The latter are the most common of remote electronic gate openers.

Radio Frequency or Bluetooth

One type of remote can either work on radio frequencies or on Bluetooth. Today the majority of remotes work on Bluetooth, especially if they don’t need an extensive amount of distance but require a rapid clear response.

Infrared

Another method is infrared. Infrared technology is quiet cheap to build and can last a long time. The down side of infrared technology is that you have to point the remote (which is the transmitter) directly or approximately in line with the receiver which is normally found at the bottom or at the side of the automatic gate.

Security

Today’s remote transmitters are very much secure because they have a strict algorithmic procedure of radio or Bluetooth frequency, so there shouldn’t be any fear regarding security. But that being said, it is always advisable to ask the person you bought it from to ensure peace of mind.

Keypads

An alternative way to open your electric gate or door is by making use of a keypad. When selecting a keypad controlled electronic gate opener you have to keep in mind what type of motor you have installed on your gate or garage door.

Security

A keypad is very secure because it uses a digit password, normally from 3 to 6 digits, to open the gate. It can easily be changed from time to time for more security and there is no risk of loosing your gate opener and risk end up being unable to enter your own home. The more sophisticated and expensive the equipment is, the more secure it will be since it can easily be connected to an alarm.

As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages to whatever technology you choose, but remember that you have to select the most appropriate system for your lifestyle. A keypad is ideal when you need to go out of the house but don’t want to carry a key.

Article sourced from: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/electric-gate-openers-remote-vs-keypad