A few years ago, they old guy next door neighbor moved out. So went the TLC in the back corner of my lot. Its to the far left back against the property. Its an area about 20 feet square. We have a dying Elm tree in that area and eventually we will take that tree down. Good News is that we intend on planting more trees, just not the 75 footer type.
So The other members of the household decided it was a good time to start tearing up the old stuff in that corner. We went to Lowe’s a few weeks ago and bought some bushes, a few juniper trees and some plants. All of this will eventually get into the ground. The plan is to lay landscaping cover and we haven’t decided if we want river rock or some other cover. I am not one to do mulch. It goes bad and dingy too quickly.
So I go outside and assess the situation. Honestly, its not in that bad of a shape. The only challenge will be to remove a tree which has grown against some old fence line I put up 7+ years ago and English Ground Ivy.
Today I seen the new owner of the house. I asked him if I could take out the tree that is keeping me from taking down the old fence and putting up a new one. He said, “Yes, no problem. All of the people who come to see this house ( its up for sale) doesn’t like it.” I told him I would clean that area up a little as well take the tree out for no charge. I want my sunshine back in that back corner. Grass refuses to grow back there since there is nearly no sunlight.
There is a small walkway into this area. There used to be a hammock back there and if all goes well, there will be a new one back there. I figure we can complete this project over a few weeks. The temperature for this coming week, the last week in June 2019 is expected to be in the 90F degree range. It may be a late afternoon project at best. I am not one to push my luck in the oppressive heat.
So it being a cooler Saturday morning, I decided to get outside and start painting the left over landscaping rocks. These will be placed in an arch around the yard. My thought is, lets move the area out about 3-5 feet. It will offer the plants a little bit more room to grow and digging holes for the plants and bushes wont be a burden trying to cut up all the large roots we encounter.
Here is the idea behind the new look. The existing sidewalk, will be framed by two juniper trees that may grow to about 20 feet tall. On the left hand and right we will add a shrub and other plants. It really depends on how large these bushes will get. We’re playing it conservative for now, and may add in other plants once we get an idea how large the shrubs will get.
Even though this doesn’t look like a big project, it is. Simply removing the grass and getting holes in the ground is enough. We have about 6 inches of top soil in the yard, and underneath is gold colored clay. I told my son, that the ultimate way to do this is to break out the Roto-tiller I bought way back in 2009.Should the tiller refuse to cooperate, I imagined that I would be digging this up with a post hole digger manually. My son and I pull the tiller out. It doesn’t have any oil in it and the gas tank looks and smells like it had stabilizer still in it. We filled up the oil and the gas tank. In about 5 minutes, the tiller is running and life just got a whole lot easier.
I decided to till up a spot wider than where the bricks originally were laid down. this will aid is in tampering the ground level and be less of a pain laying down the landscaping rocks.
We started this project just after noon. With the tiller, I was able to sink the blades into the dirt and clay and till down to about a foot deep, maybe 16 inches. The smaller roots were no problem. We did encounter a few handful of roots we had to remove in order to complete the tilling. Root removal was done with a LONG coarse blade in a Saws-all. All three of us took our turn removing the roots. Some were easy, others were just plain painful.
After tilling both side, I was spent. The tiller at times was pretty hard to control. It ends up bucking worse that a wild bronco on occasion and my arms are paying for it now. A good meal, some medication and rest and I’ll be better in no time. I was willing to pay the price since the tiller cut the job time by a week or more – due to the incoming heat and my reluctance to use a post hole digger on the entire area. =)
Today I managed to till up all of the area. My son and his girlfriend ended up pulling the English Ivy up on our side of the fence line. They also also assisted by cutting out the roots that were just too big for the tiller to take care of. They cleaned up the debris and bagged it all. They planted three of the five plants and helped put everything away. Looks like I am buying dinner.
After we clean up and I ate, I snuck back outside and took a spade shovel with me. I quickly dug the two holes to the left hand side. That side was pretty much free of roots and was tilled up pretty well. They can get the plants in the ground tomorrow morning. I’ll go to Lowe’s and get the landscaping cover and a few other items. Once we make some significant progress, I will add it to this post until it is all completed.
A few weeks ago, I went out the front door, and I noticed the impending invasion of the Bermuda grass on top of the river rock that frames the front of the house. Taking a closer look over all, I noticed the picket fence was getting a bit old looking. Looks like its another DIY (do it yourself) project. Good, I like staying busy.
I decided to rip up the 20 foot section of fence and spray the area down with Round-up Extended version. In that 20 by 5 foot area, I spread out two gallons of Round-up and two days later, the battle with the Bermuda grass was won, at least on the rocks.
I wanted to come up with a way to keep the grass in general in check, and keep the fence up since it helps keep the people delivering the mail from cutting across the rocks and scattering rocks as they go for the mail box.
I knew the answer, but it would be a semi-painful event. I recently bought a John Deere E130. With that purchase came a promotional dump cart. I asked my son to assist in grabbing some landscaping rocks from the back yard, which were circling some bushes. They were originally there to help the bushes along, keeping the dirt in place as the bushes got settled in and expanded the root system.
The next day, I come home from work, and my son was outside, looked a bit spent. He had the John Deere Lawn tractor out in the front, loaded with landscaping rocks. I got out of the truck, donned some gloves and started to pile landscaping rocks off to the side. I thanked him for getting them remaining rocks, as I was using a utility cart, getting 5-8 per trip. After two trips, I knew there was a better way. That’s why I opted for the John Deere E130 and the dump cart, it was a winning combination. This WILL come in very handy on the list of DIY projects I want to complete before winter sets in.
I decided to place a few of the landscaping rocks under the old fence to see if I could make this work. My only concern was that the fence would be about 6-8 inches higher, and it would hide the clay pots from the road. Eh, it would be a small price to pay if I can keep the grass out of the rocks and give the landscaping a nice uniform look.
Whoa Nellie…. These rocks were quite dingy with dirt. I decided to give the rocks a well deserved bath. I have a extendable brush that I use to wash the truck and tralier with, so put that on a hose and turn the water on low. The scrubbing didn’t take long, but the drying would. It was hot outside, probably near 85 degrees F, and it would take a while for the landscaping bricks to dry.
OK, this looks like a winner idea. But the color is awful drab, and I wanted a bit more of a red, to accent the maroon shutters on the creme colored house. So off to Lowe’s I went and picked up two gallons of patio and cement paint. The paint was on sale, effectively 50% off each gallon, with online rebates. I chose a brick red color, and started painting a few rocks. Below is the comparison of how they looked before, and how they would look with a new thick coat of paint on the landscaping rocks.
As the paint dries upon the bricks, now comes playing with wood. The front yard has two sections I need to do. If facing the house, the right side is 12 feet wide. The area to the left is 20 feet wide. I decided to work on the 12 foot section first making sure I like the overall appearance before I pushed all in on the larger 20 foot area.
I decided to make two 6 foot sections of fence so it would look even. With the 6 foot 2×4’s cut and painted, I simply place the 24-inch picket at each end. Framing the outside, I then made sure the frame was square and level. Once that was done, the rest of the job was making sure the measurements were good. I used a 4.25 inch wood spacer between each picket and it worked out pretty good.
Geesh, I painted a lot of landscaping rocks. I realized these were about a foot long, which meant I would need many. On the 12 foot section, I would need 17 painted landscaping rocks. On the 20 foot section, I would need 25 landscaping rocks. The days were hot, which aided in painting the rocks. But my tolerance to heat isn’t the best and I took many breaks and drank plenty of water. Geesh these things looked like meatloaf, one of my favorite meals. I promised myself a massive dinner with meatloaf and smashed potatoes when this is 100% complete !
While the landscaping rocks were drying, I ripped up the front side of the 12 foot section of fence. Once 12 landscaping rocks were dry, I cleaned out a trench, pushing the river rock back in order to manipulate the rock line better.
I decided to stand up the mini picket fence upon the rock to get an idea what the finished product would look like. My son wandered outside to see what I was doing, and I got him to assist in placing the metal posts so I could make this a done deal.
Sweet ! It gave me motivation to keep going. The sun was going down, but the temperature was still hovering over 80 degrees F. I took my time and cleared out the trench where the landscaping rock had to be. I placed the landscaping rocks down squared them up pretty decent and was happy with the way it was coming along.
I went back to Lowe’s and seen 2×4’s that were ten feet long and bought 6 of those home. This way the 20 foot section only needs two sections, vice three. I decided to cut up some more pickets, paint the wood and create a 10 foot section of fence. With the sky a dusky dark, I decided to give the project a break. I deserved a shower and a night out. I went to my favorite eatery and decided on a decent cut of prime rib dinner. After that, I came home and was truly relaxed and ready for a well deserved rest.
One of the two 10 foot fence runs is done. I will do the other section early in the morning and beat the impending heat – it’s supposed to be in the 90F+ range tomorrow.
I’ll complete this post when the project itself is done – before I get the meatloaf dinner. I hope to have it done this Memorial Day weekend. I have the Red and White readily available, and the Blue comes with a touch of nature.
Today is Sunday 26 May, and the weather guessers have decided to call for a 30% chance of rain this afternoon. Some storms are popping up, so I decided to not wait until tomorrow to do what I have to do. Last night was a thunder and lightning show from about midnight to 4 am. So at 9:30 am I went out and started to work on this project. I was up a tad bit late, but I wanted to see if I could get the last 10 feet of fence created.
At 9:30 am it’s close to 85 degrees outside, and I opted for creating the fence line in the garage so I could be a tad bit cooler. In about an hour or so, I had the fence built. It took about that long to set the fence, align it and then use some support posts to secure it in place.
The view from the corner of the lot looks great. The last thing I have to do are the end caps, one on each end of the fence line and the job is complete. Lowe’s is having a sale on paint through the weekend, so I will get the boards and paint I need to complete that last section and call it done. Overall, the project wasn’t that hard, just a lot of sweat equity and patience.
For this project, I had left over 2×4’s and pickets from doing my picket fence last fall. The only extra costs were six 2x4x10 lumber and two gallons of brick red patio and concrete paint. A pretty good project, in a about a week, mainly part time, except for a Saturday and a few hours on Sunday. One more Do It Yourself Project complete.
Time for a Meatloaf and Smashed Potato reward meal !! =)
Flash Flood preparation – why its vital and how to prepare for it.
Hey Dad !!! Wake up we have water in the house !
It was 2012, it was early, about 6:30 am on a weekend. I step on the bedroom tile and there isn’t any water. I quickly put jeans on, shoes with no socks and a shirt. I step into the office and there is 2-3 inches of water heading towards the sump pump. My Daughter frantically starts picking up everything that has the potential to get wet.
This all happens within minutes. I stop, pause and realize we are without power. Its nearly dead quiet in the house. I stand at the bottom of the stairs and realize the rug in the office area is completely underwater. I help pick up what I could, and dash up the stairs and out the door and into cough drop size hail. OUCH !!! I open the truck, hit the garage door opener and….wait. no power.
I go to the back door of the garage and get it open, I grab the manual door cable and yank the Garage door open. I look down the street and think I can see fire, police and other vehicles. I don’t waste much time. I roll out the generator near the opening of the back door , enable the fuel line and start running electrical cables into the house, mindful to keep them out of the water in the finished basement.
I beat on my son’s door and yell, GET UP ! If you don’t move your car NOW, you won’t have one. We’re having a flash flood soon ! This isn’t over ! He throws on some pants, then opts for shoes. I tell him unless he wants the shoes soaked, he best go barefoot. He comes outside and is speechless. as water is half way up his tires and rising quickly. He backs the car on to the grass to the far side of my truck. It continues to pour harder than I have ever seen. Even in squalls out to sea, this storm must have dumped five or more inches of rain in 30 minutes or less.
My son is now up, groggy but walks out to the garage and after a dozen pulls the generator is online. I run down the stairs, and unplug the sump pump from the wall, and plug it into the live line coming from the generator. The sump pump starts draining the water, but its a slow painful process. I think the sump pump drain that sits on the floor in the corner of the room is clogged.
I go back out to the garage and grab the Shopvac vacuum cleaner and put that at the bottom of the stairs, after some quick thinking, the Shopvac ends up at the top of the landing and we are moving water outside the house quicker.
With 90% of the water gone, about 45 minutes to an hour after it all started, I am spent. I look at whats left on the wet rug and tell the kids to pick up everything of value and bring it to the garage.
A few other family members show up and ask if they can assist. I ask them to turn the fans on high throughout the house under generator power and find the sharpest knives in the house. Since the rug in the office is completely saturated, I decide to rip it all up in small manageable sizes. Under the rug is 1970 style tiled floor. That was a relief. I quickly told myself that tile would be the way to go in this finished basement for now on. The finished basement is about 1000 sq feet, and one half is already tiled. We managed to get all the rug up and to the street. Its pouring so hard, that if you stood still for 15 seconds, you were totally soaked. I run inside and grab my camera and quickly shoot photos of the front of the house area and the back. The streets are now a swift moving current with no course set other than the way of least resistance.
An old man comes out of his house to the left of mine. He peers down the street, puts his cane to the air and shouts, “In my 35 years here, I have never seen so much rain !”. A Firetruck approaches and is within sight. Its forced to back up since the water in the street is easily half the way or more up most wheels of the vehicles on the street. The photo below, with the picket fence, the bottom horizontal 2×4 is 14 inches off the ground. So that means the water in the street is easily 15+ inches deep.
The water is steadily climbing. The house across the street, the water is at their front door and at the bottom of the windows in the basement. That house just got renovated.
At the back center of the property is a water run off drain. There must be a lot of debris on the drain grate, because that drain is not draining at all. Its starting to creep towards the house. I go to the garage and grab a wooden 2×4 8 feet long and head to that drain, in an effort to clean a hole out big enough to cause a suction to clean out the debris. It takes a while, probably 30 minutes but, I finally hear the wooooshing of water down the storm drain. A police car comes by and asks if everything is OK. I politely tell him I am out clearing the storm drain since it is clogged. Everything is as best as it can be, but some of the houses around here have basements, and elderly people, lets hope they are fine.
The rain is starting to let up some. It goes from buckets a second to a mild rain. In about an hour and 15 minutes after it all began, its partly sunny. That was one heck of a wake-up call for weekend.
I go into the house and assess the damage. The family have most of the windows open and there is definitely a draft throughout. While everyone was here, I explained to them, this could have been a LOT worse. I quickly tell them how to prepare for this and what you can and cannot do. I was lucky in the fact the lawn has a slight slope upwards the closer to the house you get. All the other properties are almost flat and they are probably bad off, with feet of water in basements.
The wee hours of Sunday morning power is restored and sleep is disturbed as electronic items come back on line. I wander through the house and turn the AC on. I want to remove as much moisture as possible. I then remember in the garage, in the back some where is an ancient dehumidifier. I go get that, plug it in and turn it on max.
I have security cameras outside and I had to see what the heck was going on at 6 am in the morning. In the back of the house, are townhouses. They are set off to an angle . On the video, I see this…whirling dervish come down that path and its probably twenty to thirty feet wide. It travels down the corridor, hits my maple tree and its gone. About fifteen seconds later, the power goes out. My son had driven down the street after the water subsided and seen where the whirling dervish landed. Smack dab on a tree at the corner, knocking the tree down and the main power line for 3 large neighborhoods.
Overall I was lucky, I had enough “tools” and acted quickly enough to keep the damage down to a minimum. The saving grace was the rather loud awakening I got when the daughter noticed water getting into the basement – via the power outlet boxes within the concrete walls…….
This could easily have happened to anyone, anywhere. Preparing for something like this is a must. I am within a 100 year no flood zone, and we have now had TWO flash floods in the past six years. The flash flood in 2012, was by far the worse – so far. Worse than any hurricane I have been through, hands down.
2014 – Severe weather can come in many forms !
Take a look at this mid summer thunderstorm that quickly developed. Winds were easily in excess of 60 mph, probably higher. The video lasts only 3 minutes. THIS is why its important to make sure all loose objects are secured if thunderstorms or bad weather is incoming. This storm comes from many different wind angles. Have a look !
Potential Flash Flood scenario – again.
So, Ironically this weekend – June 2nd and 3rd, 2018 we are under a Flash Flood watch. We can potentially expect three to eight inches of rain, with the majority of it coming Saturday night into Sunday Morning.
Update:June 2nd, 2018, at 17:54 (5:54pm) in less than an hour we have 1.96 inches on the ground. Its now 22:37 (10:37pm) and so far in the past six hours we have had a total of 2.64 inches of rain. We will see what tomorrow holds.
This storm is spinning like a backwards pinwheel, so we will be getting a LOT of rain. Its 1830 on June 2nd, and Thunderstorms are dumping rain as I type.
Things you want to have ready in case bad weather comes your way:
Plastic gas cans filled with fresh gas. Personally, I own 6 to 8 five gallon plastic gas cans. I have four 5 gallon cans filled. I use those throughout the year for the landscaping equipment, and refill when 3 are empty or unstable weather is inbound. Remember, gas pumps require power, so its best to fill these days before pumps run out of gas, or lose power.
Gas Stabilizer. Use this in gas powered equipment when storing them away for the fall and winter months. It will save the gas lines from clogging and gas going bad. Mix it up appropriately to label specs and fill the tanks.
A generator. I have a 5000 watt Generac Centurion. I bought it from Lowes I think 5 years ago. I start this thing at least three times a year. If I need power away from the house I will occasionally pull the generator out and use it in the back yard, allowing to run for thirty minutes to hours at a time. It allows the generator to get some good run time in and it ensures there are no issues with the fuel lines or the electrical system.
A sump pump of sorts. A portable pump will do you wonders in a vast amount of situations. It can assist in the draining of flooded locations or can drain a pool or take lake water and help put out field fires if power is available. The model shown can fill a standard garden hose full and shoot it out a good 20 to 30 feet. So make sure the hose is secured before the hose is charged. Specs can be seen on the box.
Clear any storm drains and water run off areas. If you don’t do this, the water won’t be able to clear the streets or get off the property fast enough. Once water backs up, it is a pain to get it to drain. It can be dangerous to try to clear a clogged drain later, so do it before the storm hits. It can usually be done with an iron rake or a flat shovel.
Improvise where you need to. This water run off ALWAYS gets debris such as limbs and leaves on it which clogs the drain. My son and I rig up a few HEAVY cinder blocks and a metal grate to thwart /catch some of the debris before it gets to the drain grate. This has helped many times and it only takes a few minutes to do.
You should know your land and the slope. Water tends to travel a path of least resistance. It should flow away from your house and not be allowed to pond up. Use plastic tubing from your gutter drains so water is pushed out and away from the house.
You can take small steps to prepare for some bad weather. Do yourself a favor and make a list of how to do it. Should something really bad happen, especially at night, you have written instructions that you can read, or some one else can. This will allow others to understand what is important and who may be in the house with you, and safety things others may not be aware of. It also give you a checklist of things to look over and fine tune as lessons are learned. It is far better to be over prepare for something than to be hopelessly unprepared for the worse.
Know your NOAA weather channels and how to surf to their web sites. Simply go to google and type in NOAA weather and add your zip code. for example, NOAA weather 23602.
Keep abreast of changing weather and you should come out ahead of most situations.
I learned long ago that river rock will out last mulch in color and overall appearance. I had four over sized bushes growing in the front of the house. Although they looked great when they bloomed, it wasn’t quite the look I wanted for the house. So, I decided to remove them in the fall of 2017.
I removed the bushes one section at a time. I did the smaller area in the front of the house to the right first so I could move alot of the river rock from the bigger side of the house when I was done. On the right hand side of the house, I got the bushes out, took out the landscaping cover and replaced the landscaping cover. I then transferred all the river rock from the left hand side of house to the right hand side of the house with a shovel and some buckets. That was a pretty easy project to complete and I did it over the winter when days would allow me to be out and not freeze !
The project was about 70% complete before it got too cold. Lowes didnt have any river rock in the winter, so I decided to wait until spring 2018 to complete the job.
I will line the bottom of the mini picket fence with the long concrete bricks so I can keep the grass out, and keep the stones in. It will provide a good weed whacking surface to trim up the grass. The long bricks can be see in the photo stacked up, near the top center.
I did go to Lowes in the fall of 2017 to look for some nice larger clay pots. I was lucky, I managed to pull a 3 pot combination for more than 33% off. Three pots for 60 bucks and they are frost resistant. That’s a plus. There are 3 sizes. large, medium and small. The plan is to fill the larger pots with bulb style flowers. The medium size pots will have seasonal flowers and the smaller pots will be filled with herbs and/or spices.
The Large clay pot is pretty big, about 20 inches deep. I will see if I can get exact dimensions of all three clay pots and list them here.
Once these are placed out and full I will add a photo of how it looks from the front yard. This will be much easier to manage and the colors can make the house look amazing.
The river rock and clay pots are down in the smaller section. Time for some plants !
It appears all of a sudden once I had returned from Valencia, Spain trip I now have a lot of free time on my hands. In the Winter of 2017, my plan was to replace some picket fence line which is more than 6 years old. The property has fence line on the left and right side of the fence that measures over 120 feet long.
The back of the property line is about 75 feet wide. The front of the house has close to 50 feet of fence as well.
Mind you, I started this project March 26. 2018. I have completed about 75 feet of fencing in the front yard. The street side run of 125 feet will be completed when good weather returns. There is only 12 feet left to do. It’s now April 15th 2018. Its some pretty good progress considering time to purchase raw wood, paint it all with 2-3 coats of paint and then hang all this lumber. About 75% of the time, this was done solo. But two-thirds of the picket fence project is complete.
The back property line is completed. The only big job will be the remaining 120 foot run on the left hand side of the property.
I was sitting here contemplating if I should put up a 6 to 8 foot high privacy fence in the backyard area. I see alot of pro’s and cons to both. Most of the pro’s relate to privacy and security where as the cons are focused on sweat equity and replacing about 24 to 30 4×4 posts that are currently cut down to hold the current picket fence.
As I put up this picket fence, I am not cutting the boards down this time. The original board length will be used.
I will do the smart thing and start replacing the picket fence in the front of my house first. The original posts still look decent although they definately need a new coat of paint throughout. The posts have been whipped by the weed whackers and alot of the paint fom the grassline down is missing. No big deal, but it is one more small job associated with this project.
The gothic pickets come without any paint on them. So I decided to buy some Maximum paint/stain which will seal the picket. This paint/stain comes in 5 gallon buckets, it is heavy and it costs about $170 US dollars for 5 gallons, or about $34.00 a gallon. So far, I have painted (12) 2x4x96 horizontal boards, and rounghly 120 pickets. All that have been painted so far have 2 to 3 really thick coats of paint on them, and as far as I can tell, I have about 2.5 gallons of paint left. Eventually these will receive another coat of paint when a run of fence is completed. I don’t mind using as much paint as needed, especially if this fence will hold up well for another 10 years or so.
The first time I put up the picket fence, I aimed for a wide spread and shortened the pickets down. This time I am going to leave the pickets at their original length and lessen the gap between each picket. I have already started this project in the front of the house this week when the temperatures finally broke and we had two days over 60 degrees.
The idea is to figure that most 4×4 posts in the ground will be the same distance. I have a lot of the posts close to 8 feet apart, which is ideal. I then attach two douglas fir 2 inch by 4 inch lumber onto the posts so I can secure the pickets to them. From this 96 inch spacing, I subtract 3 inches from each end. I use this 90 inch area as my usable picket area. I try to adjust the spacing so the 90 inches of usable board length divided by the spacing comes out to a whole number, or close to it.
I want to try to keep pickets from appearing in front of the posts, just in case I decide to use some sort of fancy post cap to dress up the fence. I want to make sure they are seen, but for the people – mainly kids – looking to tweak or mess with the caps, the spacing should be just enough to give a hint that the cap exists.
For those thinking about changing up a fence line, you can either pay someone a lot of money to do it for you, or you can do it yourself. The choice is up to you.
I will attempt to show you the steps that I use which work for my situation. I will show the steps of what I have done and write up some comments at the bottom of the photos.
The first thing I do is measure the distance between the two posts. I measure dead center on each posts. Typically this is 96 inches. Since this is a fence re-fresh and not a total fence replacement, I am going to use the same basic height for the 2 inch by 4 inch by 96 inch douglas fir lumber. I asked a wood professional about the type of wood that can be used off the ground that if a coat of paint/stain was applied would last a decent length of time. He highly recommended the Douglas Fir 2x4x96 inches so that is what I went with.
Once the two horizontal 2×4’s were in place, I had to decide on the spacing between the pickets. The old spacing was a little over 5 inches wide. This would allow enough room for some one to put their foot in between the pickets and hop over the fence. Mind you, the old pickets were cut down by 6 inches or more, and that would have aided in people being able to jump the fence. I decided on a 3.5 inch spacing between the pickets.
With a higher picket, this will close up the gap just a bit and offer a bit more privacy. I already noticed this when I looked at the photo on the top of this page. I’ll attempt to show you the views in both measurements so you can see the benefits of each. The smaller picket spacing will also allow more of a sun block to some of the grass when the sun is rising and setting. That will be something positive in the harsh summer months here in Virginia.
With the horizontal 2×4’s up, I wanted the pickets off the ground. I purposely did not mow the grass, and it is a little higher than normal. This gives me a gauge on how high I want the picket off the ground. I simply lifted the picket off the ground when it was leaning against the horizontal 2×4 and when I was happy with the gap at the bottom, I took a tape measure. From the highest 2×4, at the top I marked this test picket. It was almost 16 inches. I decided to use this measurement. I measured from the top of the picket to the top of the highest 2×4 and then, took several other pickets and measured 16 inches top the top of the picket down 16 inches, and drew a line. This aids in hanging the inital pickets if your doing this solo.
I measured 3 inches in from the end of the horizontal 2×4 and drew a line. I did this on both ends. In a 96 inch run, this gives me 90 inches of picket area. It gives me an idea how many pickets I will need between each set of posts. The gothic pickets are 3.5 inches wide. The space between pickets in another 3.5 inches wide. This means from the center of each picket will be spaced 7 inches apart. With 90 inches to work with, I divided this by 7 and I came out with 12.85 pickets within this 90 inch area. That is extremely close to 13 pickets bewteen posts and I am OK with that. It will allow for a bit of error here and there.
Now that I have a line scored on the back of the picket I simply find the 3 inch mark and place the right side edge of a picket on that 3 inch mark. I raise the picket up until I see the 16 inch measurement line in the back of the picket and have it equal to the top of the highest horizontal 2×4. Holding this in place with one hand, I take a wood screw and twist in enough into the board to make it stay. Then, with a power drill, I secure the picket to the horizontal 2×4.
Now, I find a small level and make sure this inital picket is level as it can be. I then drive a second screw into the picket adjacent to the first screw. Per picket, I will have two screws in the top horizontal 2×4 and two screws in the bottom horizontal 2×4. This pattern will help the pickets stay in place, resist bowing and provide more stability to the fence line.
I secure two more pickets in the same way.
I go to the garage and I find a piece of scrap picket. I want to create a “spacer”. I use my saw to cut a piece of picket 3.5 inches wide. This will be used as a spacer tool in between each picket so the spacing is just right. It also eliminates the need to use a measuring tape to do this step on each picket. The spacer is a time saver, and can be held up with one hand.
I learned these tricks when I was doing the pickets for the first time. Another trick is bungie cord the level on top of the pickets. This eliminates the need to measure each picket to the same height. With the level on top of the pickets, it offers a stop point to push up the picket to the right height. With the spacer in place, I have the correct with and height and this can be accomplished with one hand. Once the picket is in the right place, I drive a screw into the picket securing the picket to the horizontal 2×4. I then level the picket and drive in a second screw at the same height. Depending on the length of the level, I can get 5 to 7 pickets done before I have to move the level and bungie cord. I use the bungie because the level WILL fall off the top of the pickets. With the level secured, the process of hanging pickets is a breeze.
In a 8 foot run, I only do two screws to the highest horizontal 2×4. Later on I will find the center of the bottom horizonal 2×4 and draw a line across all the pickets. This will allow for a uniform, more professional look. I know these pickets I have already painted, but I will be adding at least 1 more coat of paint/stain to the pickets when a section is finally done. I do this to make sure the pickets are totally covered, just in case some areas were missed or have chipped in the assembly process.
I looked at these taller pickets and I wonder, since I have a 16 inches from the top of the picket to the top of the highest horizontal 2×4, will I need to add a 2×4 that will be attached to only pickets with no post support? This WOULD keep pickets from curling. I will have to research this a little more and make a decision and go with it.
Here is the look at the street side of the house with 75 to 80% of it complete. It is looking sexy ! The extra grass WILL be removed from the sidewalk once it gets a little cooler. Its a bit hot this week (80+F) so I want to do the harder labor when its cooler, or just before dusk. I’ll update the photos when everything is complete.
Street side is nearly complete. the walk in gate is in need of replacement, and the last 10 feet of fence at the end of the run needs to be replaced. One 120 foot run is left to do. That’s on the left side of the house. Most of that is in shade, so it will be a more comfortable job in the morning and afternoon.
A new gate was built basically the same way. The old gate was close to 11.5 feet wide. The new gate is about 16 feet wide. My son and I added hardware to the gate that I hung, and it is now complete. Here are 2 photos. One street side and one within the property.