7th House on the Left

It’s HOT outside! Meaning today is the perfect day to pressure wash (or as I tend to call it, “power wash”) the outside of the house! We’ve been super anxious to get to this for months – actually, since we bought the house. Luckily, the weather is treating us well and we’ve got some time on our hands on this fine Memorial Day. With a small 1300 PSI pressure washer, a tad of vinegar (left over from our natural weed killer experiment), and elbow grease, we are (finally) on our way to a clean brick house.

We thought we would check in and share a little preview. Greg started on the front steps, stepped back to look at his handy work and we could not believe the difference! Check this out…

Isn’t that crazy?! My first words were “Hold on, I’ve got to get the camera!”. We knew the bricks were dirty and were in dire need of a good pressure wash, but it wasn’t until we did this little section that we realized how much of a difference it would make! We’ll come back later and give the rundown on what we used and how we used it (for those of you who are wanting to wash your exterior as well). Until then, I’m off to make a Sonic run for my hardworking husband that deserves a Route 44 Diet Dr. Pepper with Cherries : )

OUR “OUTDOOR ENTRY”

posted by Ashley  /  6 Comments

The carport is where we go in and out everyday. Since we have ample driveway space behind the house for parking cars, we rarely park the car in there simply because it makes things feel more open and gives us a sense of an “outdoor entry” – even though it’s far from inviting or remotely pretty…

Our “way-down-the-road plan” is to finish the carport and make it a bonus room. Until then, we want to make it as welcoming and inviting as possible without pouring a ton of money into it. In order to get started on the right track, we picked out three major improvements that will make a big impact without breaking the bank:

1. OVERHEAD. Just about everything in the carport could use some sort of facelift, but the ceiling especially needs some work. The paint, which was once white (probably back in the 70′s!) is now a sickly-looking yellow, dirty, and peeling like crazy. Then there’s the lighting – which clearly speaks for itself:

We’ve known since we bought the house that something needed to be done to the ceiling, but we knew scraping, sanding, and re-painting the ceiling was going to be a ton of work. Even though we felt like we were up for the task, a smooth, solid colored ceiling wouldn’t be that interesting and definitely wouldn’t bring any “warmth” to the space. Inspiration struck when we saw an episode of Sarah’s House on HGTV. Instead of repairing the existing carport ceiling, Sarah had it covered with raw wood paneling and painted it the same color as the trim. Genius! I couldn’t find a close-up photo of this project (I did find the whole episode online! Check it out here.) but here’s an inspiring before and after:

This idea (or a version of it) with the addition of two new light fixtures will (hopefully) totally transform the now cold and dingy carport into an inviting “outdoor entry”. As for the light fixtures, we’re thinking of replacing them with two hanging lantern lights – maybe something like one of these…

2. THE FLOOR. Oh, the floor. We sweep it regularly but after years of cars sitting on it, it’s very badly stained and cracked. Therefore, we feel the best way to solve this problem is to start from scratch. No, we’re not going to try to rip the whole thing out. We’re planning on repairing the cracks and coating the carport floor with a textured epoxy. I kinda sorta spilled a mixture of ultra dark wood stain on the floor during another small project that is currently in progress (more on that later). Yet another reason to “start from scratch”.

The epoxy will protect the floor from spills and make cleaning a lot easier. This will probably be our biggest “DIY” project to date (at least in our heads anyway), but we’re pretty sure we can do it. I guess we’ll find out soon enough! Not as soon as we would like though. While we would love to get this done over the upcoming 3-day weekend, we read that it’s best to do this when it’s under 90 degrees. Sadly, this weekend, the forecast is a rather toasty 93 degrees plus.

3. FINISHING TOUCHES. This step consists of a lot of little things, including power washing the steps and walls, bringing in a planter or two, re-painting the railings, and possibly adding doormats.

That pretty much sums up what we’ve got planned for the carport – aka: “outdoor entry” and a majority of what we’ll be up to this weekend. Do you have any outdoor projects lined up for this holiday weekend? Clue us in by leaving a comment…

Sarah’s House inspiration photos found here. Lighting inspiration from Shades of Light. Flower planter image found here.

NATURAL WEED KILLER?

posted by Greg  /  21 Comments

Spring is in full force… birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, the grass is green (and growing fast as ever) and, unfortunately, weeds are popping up left and right – particularly where the bricks meet the driveway and the carport floor meets the asphalt…

Rather than going to the hardware store to buy weed killer, we opted to do a little research in hopes of finding a natural weed killer. After a bit of Google-ing, we found the most popular “natural weed killer” of choice was none other than vinegar. Vinegar is one of our cleaning bucket staples but we hadn’t thought about the possibilities of using it outdoors, much less as a weed killer. Apparently, the acetic acid in vinegar is what dries up and ultimately kills the weeds. Since vinegar is really cheap (only a buck or two per gallon), we figured we should give it a try.

Before we went spraying the entire perimeter of the house with vinegar, we decided to test the method where the carport and driveway come together. Here’s the before:

Before we show the after photo, here’s what we did: Obviously, we went out a bought a gallon of white vinegar. Next, we took an old Round-Up container, pulled off the lid, and rinsed it out thoroughly. Once that was done, we just filled up the container, pumped it up to the proper pressure, and went to town! It was really pretty easy. An old spray bottle would work just as fine.

Now, our results…

Okay. So this isn’t too impressive. There are several things that pop into my head as to what happened here: First, maybe there wasn’t enough sunlight (apparently this is a major factor in vinegar’s effectiveness). Second, maybe we didn’t use enough. The round-up container puts out a very fine mist; maybe we would have been better off just dumping some of our gallon container on the weeds. Third, maybe our climate is too humid for it to work well? Regardless, we’re going to keep testing more combinations and see what really works. We know it should work. It’s just a matter of finding what works for our weeds.

If you are planning on trying this remedy out for yourself, here are a few things to remember:

  • The acidic acid in the vinegar is the “killing agent”. This won’t work for pesky weeds in the flower bed because it will probably kill anything the vinegar comes in contact with. Therefore, vinegar is best used as a weed killer in concrete, between pavers, etc.
  • If used in direct sunlight, you’ll see the weeds start to brown an wither within just a few minutes. Larger weeds may take a day or so to fully die.
  • Yes, vinegar is really smelly. Give it a few minutes and rest assured, the smell will go away (especially on a hot day).

How about you?… Do you have any natural garden/outdoor remedies?