Category: Lawn & Garden


Lawn Mower Pit Stop: 5 Maintenance Musts

This summer, show your lawn mower some love, and let it reward your efforts with better performance and a longer life.

Lawn Mower Tune-Up Tips

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Your lawn mower has more in common with a race car than you might think. To stay in top working order, both require that their hardworking parts be properly maintained on a regular basis. Just as Nascar drivers pull over for pit stops midcompetition, homeowners should take time for some lawn mower maintenance at least once during the season. If neglected, your mower might not make it to summer’s end. By following these simple tune-up tips, you can go a long way toward ensuring that your mower not only continues to function at peak level, but also remains a reliable performer for many summers to come.

 

1. CLEAN SLATE

Lawn Mower Tune-Up Tips - PivotPro Isolated

Photo: thehydeway.com

First things first: Mower maintenance must include a thorough cleaning. Spray down the plainly visible portions of your mower, but also, and more important, be sure to clean the underside of the deck. This is where the most dirt and grass clippings accumulate. Traditionally, cleaning the underside of a lawn mower always begins with the hassle of tipping the machine over onto its side—no easy feat, considering average equipment size and weight. Today, it’s all a lot easier—a lot less messy too—if you employ the HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand. Named for its patented pivoting nozzle, this powerhouse cleaning tool attaches directly to your garden hose and sprays water at any angle along a radius of 135 degrees. Simply tilt up the mower, prop up its wheels, and slip the PivotPro nozzle underneath. Then, by adjusting the grip on the barrel of the PivotPro, aim the spray upward to blast crud off the mower blade and deck housing.

Has it been a while since you last cleaned your mower? If so, don’t hesitate to bring soap into the equation. Choose a mild detergent, and pour it right into the PivotPro mixing reservoir. Next, after setting your desired soap-to-water ratio, point the PivotPro and toggle the trigger to send a steady, soap-infused stream of cleansing water wherever you want it to go. For maximum cleaning power, scrub the mower at the same time as you’re spraying it down. PivotPro comes with a stiff-bristle brush that swings into action when you need it and out of the way when you don’t. For all its attachments, perhaps the best part about PivotPro is that, thanks to its 46-inch length and adjustable spray angle, you can easily get to all those hard-to-reach areas, attacking grit and grime from every side, all without having to bend, stretch, or stoop. For that reason and many more, cleaning the mower—and countless outdoor surfaces—couldn’t be easier, thanks to PivotPro.

Note: Before you begin cleaning your mower, cover up the air intake to keep it dry. Also, try to avoid spraying directly into any parts of the engine that are enclosed with steel mesh.

 

2. TOP UP 

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It would be overkill to check the oil level every time you mow the lawn, but when you’re tuning up the mower, it’s a good idea to top off the fill tube. Be careful not to add too much, though; excess oil can cause many of the same engine problems that too little oil does. If you’ve been operating the mower over rough and dusty terrain, be aware that such conditions sometimes degrade oil. Before adding any oil, therefore, it’s smart to inspect the color of the existing oil. If it’s dark, that means the oil has degraded and needs to be changed out. Different mower models drain oil in different ways; check your manual for specific instructions.

 

3. FRESH AIR

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Lawn mowers live not only on gasoline, but also on air. Therefore, it’s critical to address any clogs in the air filter. Left unchecked, a clogged air filter can kill a perfectly good engine. Fortunately, most air filters are easy to clear out. You can usually restore a paper filter to like-new condition by means of an air hose. Own a mower with a foam filter? Simply wash it under soapy water, then allow it to dry out completely. No matter what type of filter you’re dealing with, if you find that it’s damaged beyond repair, you can always purchase and install a new one. Just bring your old filter with you to the home center so you know what type to get.

 

4. PLUG IN

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In the absence of a functional spark plug, the fuel you’re adding to your lawn mower might as well be pure water. So, as a general rule of thumb, whenever you change the oil, you should also change the spark plug. To do so, remove the wire attached to the existing spark plug, then use pliers or a wrench to remove the plug by turning it counterclockwise. Once it’s free, check the threaded part of the plug for grease or oil; if you see any, something may be amiss. Be smart and take your mower to a repair shop that specializes in small engine repair. Otherwise, swap in a new plug, aiming for a snug fit but making sure not to overtighten the component.

 

5. BE SHARP

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Mower blades take a serious beating from common, often hidden, landscape hazards like loose rocks and exposed roots. Unless you go out of your way to look at it, you probably wouldn’t notice a dull blade, but you can plainly see its effects. That’s because, rather than cleanly trim, a dull blade rips and shreds grass blades. This isn’t merely a problem of aesthetics—grass cut by a dull blade can be unusually susceptible to disease and pest problems. To protect the health of your lawn, have a local service shop sharpen your blade. Alternatively, tackle the job yourself: Remove the blade, clamp it in a vise, and repeatedly run a metal file along the edge.

 

If you keep your mower in top condition this summer, you’ll be able to spend more time enjoying your weekends and less time struggling with your lawn equipment. Take good care of your mower, and you can expect the machine to reward your efforts with peak performance and a longer lifespan.

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Genius! Grow a Garden on a Curtain Rod

Want a garden, but don't have anywhere to put it? Find out how one apartment dweller made her own window oasis on the cheap!

Photo: jillm.com

“My mom once said she could only keep so many things alive at once,” writes Jill Kurtz, photographer, architect, and DIY blogger. “Thankfully, she chose her children over her plants!” When the time came to start her own garden, Jill knew she wanted to keep it simple. Limited space was a challenge, though, and so was the lack of a balcony or backyard. But the news wasn’t all bad: Her rental had 10-foot windows, so there was plenty of sunlight.

With a small budget and one very tall window to work with, Jill trekked to IKEA to make her own vertical garden. She decided on three different products: the ORE shower curtain rod, the FINTORP cutlery caddy, and stainless steel GRUNDTAL hooks. After spray-painting everything to match, she adjusted the tension rod to size and mounted it nearly 1 foot above the bottom of the window sash. Then, she repurposed the silverware caddies to hold seedlings and attached them to the rod with the hooks. The window fits four across comfortably, and she can continue to grow the garden higher by adding more rows, with the help of a stepladder and a few extra rods.

Jill planted herbs in her window garden, but you can choose whatever you like. Mount a single rod low on the frame or stack up several of them—just get started before the sun goes down!

 

FOR MORE: JILLM

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Bob Vila Radio: Separating Squirrels from Your Bird Feeder

It's never easy to separate squirrels from access to birdseed, but with a trial-and-error approach to these simple tips, you can likely find a solution that works for your yard.

What’s the best way to keep those persistent squirrels from pigging out at your bird feeder? Here’s an assortment of tactics well worth trying.

How to Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SQUIRRELS or read the text below:

First, make sure the feeder is in a location that’s good for the birds but bad for the squirrels. Squirrels can manage ten-foot horizontal leaps with no sweat, so the ideal feeder location is away from roofs, porches, trees or utility wires. Make sure to prune any trees that are within launching distance. And if you can, mount the feeder on a smooth metal pole at least ten feet high and away from any trees or structures.

No matter where you position the feeder, consider adding smooth plastic baffles both below the feeder and above it. The most effective baffles are designed to tilt and twirl if a squirrel hops aboard. You might also try enclosing the feeder in metal fencing whose mesh is large enough to allow birds in, small enough to keep furry critters out.

One more weapon in your arsenal: Mix cayenne pepper in with your birdseed. Squirrels can’t take the heat, but birds don’t seem to mind.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.


How To: Resurface a Concrete Driveway

Rather than rip up and replace your time- and traffic-worn driveway, why not renew its look, quickly and easily, with a concrete resurfacer?

How to Resurface a Concrete Driveway

Photo: quikrete.com

Durability ranks high among the many reasons to choose concrete as a driveway surfacing material. After years of exposure to the elements, however, as well as to foot and vehicle traffic, your concrete driveway may begin to look worse for all that wear. Rather than rip it all out and start from scratch, it’s far easier and much cheaper to renew the existing installation.QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer will protect against future damage and discoloration while making your old driveway look new again. If you think your concrete driveway has reached the end of the road, read on and learn how easy it can be to give it a second life.

 

MATERIALS AND TOOLS

How to Resurface a Concrete Driveway - Mix Bag

Photo: quikrete.com

-QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer
- Pressure washer
- Long-handled squeegee
- Power drill with paddle mixing blade
- 5-gallon bucket
- Measuring pail
- Hose with adjustable nozzle
- Chisel
- Hammer
- Wire brush
- Finishing broom
- 1/4″ weatherstripping
- Gloves and safety glasses

 

STEP 1

How to Resurface a Concrete Driveway - Pressure Washing Detail

Photo: quikrete.com

Before applying QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer, prepare the old concrete surface so that the renewing layer can properly adhere to it. Start by eliminating dirt, oil, and flaking concrete with a 3,500-psi pressure washer. (Note that if you don’t happen to own a pressure washer, you can always rent one at your local home center.) Once you have cleaned the driveway, inspect it for large cracks or deeply spalled areas, being sure to repair any with patching compound. Finally, hose down the driveway to the point of saturation, then use a broom to remove standing water. Doing so cools down the slab and prevents the mixing water from being drawn out of the wet concrete resurfacer you’re going to lay down. Now, pause to consider the weather: For the resurfacer to cure, temperatures must remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours, and above freezing for 24 hours. So long as you expect those conditions, it’s safe to proceed to the next step.

 

STEP 2

How to Resurface a Concrete Driveway - Mixing 5g Bucket

Photo: quikrete.com

QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer isn’t your typical concrete product; as a result, your typical mixing method may not be appropriate here. Being that hand-mixing so often leaves lumps, it’s recommend that you use a power drill that’s outfitted not with a barrel-type attachment, but with a paddle mixer. Now, with your equipment ready, go ahead and recruit a helper; you’re going to need an extra pair of hands. First, add three and a half quarts of water to a five-gallon bucket. Next, while you operate the mixing paddle within the bucket, ask your helper to slowly pour in the resurfacer. After it’s all been added, continue mixing for at least five minutes. Stop only once the mix has reached a lump-free, syrup-like consistency. If the mix seems too thick, add a bit more water; if too thin, add a bit more resurfacer. As you’re mixing, your helper can fit weatherstripping into the expansion joints of the driveway to prevent the resurfacer from filling them.

 

STEP 3

How to Resurface a Concrete Driveway - Squeegee Application

Photo: quikrete.com

In 73-degree weather, QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer remains workable for 30 minutes. In hotter weather, it hardens more quickly, but by keeping the bag in the shade and using cold mixing water, you can widen the window of workability. Resurfacing a large driveway? It may be wise to work in sections, mixing and applying resurfacer on one modestly sized area (no larger than 144 square feet) at a time. Once it’s ready, pour the resurfacer from the mixing bucket onto the driveway in strips about a foot wide. Then, with a long-handled squeegee, spread the material back and forth across the driveway, effectively scrubbing the resurfacer into the concrete. After allowing the smooth new surface to set for five minutes, you can give it a nonslip finish, if you choose, with a wide-head concrete broom. For a uniform appearance, run the broom, without stopping, across the work area, and be sure to make each broom stroke in the same direction.

 

STEP 4

How to Resurface a Concrete Driveway - Moist Cure

Photo: quikrete.com

Believe it or not, that’s all it takes to renew the look of your driveway for the life of the concrete slab. In mild weather, the resurfacer cures on its own, requiring no extra steps. If it’s very hot—above 90 degrees—QUIKRETE® recommends misting the driveway intermittently for up to 48 hours after application. Most of the time, however, you can expect the new surface to be ready for foot traffic in about six hours. And in 24 hours, you can pull your car in and park in the driveway again—that very same driveway that was tired- and worn-looking yesterday, but today, thanks to QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer, appears brand-new.

 

See how to resurface a concrete driveway in a step-by-step video, courtesy of QUIKRETE®!

For more even more details on concrete driveway resurfacing, visit QUIKRETE®!

How to Resurface a Concrete Driveway

Photo: quikrete.com

This post has been brought to you by QUIKRETE®. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Build a Paver Patio

Nothing encourages outdoor enjoyment quite as much as a patio does. If you've been coveting the idea of a sturdy, inviting paver patio for years, take heart: Even a relatively inexperienced do-it-yourselfer can achieve professional-level results. Here's how.

How to Build a Paver Patio

Photo: quikrete.com

Patio. The very word conjures up visions of lazy, relaxing afternoons spent with friends and family. For those whose homes lack this appealing outdoor feature, however, the word stirs up the unwelcome prospect of building a new patio. Homeowners assume that constructing a patio requires either a huge expense or a similarly monumental amount of hard work. The truth is that anyone can handle the installation of all but the grandest of patios, especially if you work with DIY-friendly pavers. Indeed, with proper planning, the right tools and materials, and attention to detail, you can achieve professional-level results in a short time—even within the space of a single weekend—regardless of your skill level or previous experience. To see how surprisingly easy it can be enhance your outdoor living with a long-lasting patio, scroll down for step-by-step instructions, courtesy of QUIKRETE®.

 

MATERIALS AND TOOLS

How to Build a Paver Patio - Project Materials Shot

Photo: quikrete.com

- Stakes and string
- Shovel
- Edge restraints
- Level
- Carpenter’s square
- QUIKRETE® All-Purpose Gravel
- Tamper
- QUIKRETE® Patio Paver Base Sand
- 2×4 boards
- 1×1 boards
- Hammer and nails
- Pavers or natural stones
- Rubber mallet
- QUIKRETE® PowerLoc Jointing Sand (for joint widths up to 1/2″) or
- QUIKRETE® HardScapes Polymeric Jointing Sand (for joint widths up to 2″)
- Garden hose with spray attachment
- Push broom

 

STEP 1

How to Build a Paver Patio - Stakes and String

Photo: quikrete.com

Before you can make any real progress toward building a paver patio, you must first decide where to put it. Don’t have a specific spot in mind? Think about it this way: How do you intend to use the patio? If you would like to enjoy alfresco dinners on your patio, situate it within an easy distance of your kitchen. If, on the other hand, your patio fantasies involve a suntan, then site the installation on a part of your property with a southern exposure. Once you’ve settled on a location, mark off the perimeter with stakes and surveyor’s string. Alternatively, if your plans involve an irregularly shaped patio, outline the dimensions with a bright-colored spray paint.

 

STEP 2

How to Build a Paver Patio - Excavation

Photo: quikrete.com

The next step may be the most physically taxing part of this project. Though the finished patio surface ought to sit slightly above ground level, you must excavate to create space for the substrate—that is, the gravel and sand that will provide a stable, leveling base for the paver installation. With a shovel, excavate to a depth of seven inches below grade. This depth allows for two to four inches of gravel, one to two inches of sand, and accommodation for the height of your chosen pavers.

 

STEP 3

How to Build a Paver Patio - Edge Restraints

Photo: quikrete.com

Once the project area has been excavated to the appropriate depth, proceed to install edge restraints around the site perimeter. At your local home center, choose from a selection of ready-made edge restraints in a variety of materials, including plastic, aluminum, and wood. These simple hardscaping components perform the vital role of preventing pavers from settling and shifting over time due to foot traffic and harsh weather. Additionally, because the pavers are installed level with the edge restraints, the latter serve the secondary, though critically important, duty of ensuring that the patio allows stormwater to run off its surface. So, take care to position your edge restraints on a slight incline; professionals recommend a slope of about a quarter inch for every 12 linear feet. Direct the angle away from, not toward, the house.

 

STEP 4

How to Build a Paver Patio - Adding Gravel

Photo: quikrete.com

Next, add enough QUIKRETE® All-Purpose Gravel to fill up two to four inches of the excavated project area. The amount of gravel you can add largely depends on the height of the pavers you plan to install. For instance, if you’ve excavated to a depth of seven inches, and your pavers are each four inches tall, then there’s room for only a couple of inches of gravel. That said, there’s a direct relationship between the amount of gravel under a patio and its compression strength—in other words, its ability to endure great weight, whether from a parked car or a large group of people. Where circumstances allow, depending on how exactly you intend to use the patio, it may be wise to incorporate as much gravel as the vertical space allows. After you’ve laid the gravel, pack it down by means of a tamper.

 

STEP 5

How to Build a Paver Patio - Screeding

Photo: quikrete.com

Over the tamped-down, compacted gravel, add one to two inches of QUIKRETE® Patio Paver Base Sand. Whereas the gravel provides strength to the patio, the sand contributes precision, helping the installed pavers sit level. To function properly, the sand layer must be smooth and level. A screed board—that is, a straightedge—is the most effective way to even out an expanse of sand. You can make yours from a simple two-by-four that has been cut to equal the shortest distance across the project area. After that, cut a one-by-one into two pieces, nailing one onto each end of the larger board. These “handles” lend accuracy to the screed. With a helper manning the opposite end of the screed, push the board along the surface of the sand. As you go, periodically remove the excess sand that accumulates in front of the board. Use this excess to fill where dips appear behind the screed. Several passes may be necessary before the bed becomes level.

 

STEP 6

How to Build a Paver Patio - Rubber Mallet

Photo: quikrete.com

At last, it’s time to install the pavers. Starting in a corner, work outward as you place the pavers in the sand, tapping each into position with a rubber mallet. Note that it’s important for the gap between pavers to be the same width. To keep the gaps consistent, use a piece of plywood whose thickness corresponds to your target gap width. Keep a level handy so you’re able to confirm frequently that your paver surface conforms to a drainage-promoting incline.

 

STEP 7

How to Build a Paver Patio - Joining Sand

Photo: quikrete.com

After you’ve set all the pavers, the penultimate step is to fill the joints between pavers with sand—but not just any sand. For lasting, professional-quality results, be sure to use a sand that’s been specially manufactured to bind pavers together. For narrow joints of a half inch or less, choose QUIKRETE® PowerLoc Jointing Sand. For joints up to two inches wide (or if your pavers are natural stone), opt for QUIKRETE® HardScapes Polymeric Jointing Sand. Simply pour your chosen sand directly from its packaging into the joints. Finish up by sweeping the excess sand out of the project area. As you go, look for any unfilled joints and top them up.

 

STEP 8

How to Build a Paver Patio - Misting

Photo: quikrete.com

Finally, attach a nozzle to your garden hose and gently mist the pavers, allowing water to saturate the sand-filled joints. After the initial spray down, dampen the pavers once every 60 minutes over the next three hours. Be judicious in your spraying—avoid flooding the sand onto the paver surface. As temperature and humidity are significant (and changeable) factors, it’s difficult to estimate the dry time, but over the course of several days, you’ll notice that the joints are firming up.

By the following weekend, you’ll have nothing left to do except write up the guest list for the first barbecue on your new patio!

 

Watch the project come together in a step-by-step video, courtesy of QUIKRETE®:

For even more details on the paver patio project, visit QUIKRETE®!

How to Make a Paver Patio - Job Complete

Photo: quikrete.com

This post has been brought to you by QUIKRETE®. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Clean Patio Furniture

How to Clean Patio Furniture

Photo: thehydeway.com

A fixture of backyard barbecues and poolside parties, patio furniture must withstand not only the elements, but also the everyday wear and tear that occurs even in fair weather. Given your furniture’s almost constant exposure, dirt and grime inevitably accumulate over time, but with proper preparation, you can clean patio furniture fast—and with next to no hassle. The key? Insisting on the very best tools for the task at hand. Read on to discover the easy way to care for wood, metal, and plastic outdoor furniture.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand
- Garden hose
- Vacuum with hose attachments
- Sponge
- Oil-based soap, dishwashing soap, or automatic dishwashing detergent

How to Clean Patio Furniture - Table 2

Photo: thehydeway.com

STEP 1
Cleaning patio furniture the easy way hinges on HYDE PivotPro, a triple-threat tool that’s part sprayer, part soap dispenser, and part stiff-bristle brush. Swing the brush into position, then use the 46-inch tool to scrub away all the loose dirt or debris from the furniture. Before you get going in earnest, remove any cushions, setting them aside to be handled separately.

STEP 2
Different cleaning agents are best for different patio furniture materials. No matter what type of furniture you’re dealing with, however, you can usually count on having to pull out a bucket and pour in about a quarter-cup of the appropriate cleanser with about a gallon of warm water. But with PivotPro, you can skip the bucket and let the tool dispense the correct cleanser-to-water ratio.

• For wood and natural wicker furniture, opt for a nourishing oil-based soap.

• For both colored plastic and wrought-iron furniture, choose a clear, mild dishwashing soap.

• For white plastic furniture, use automatic dishwashing detergent. Because such detergents typically contain bleach, wear rubber gloves for protection. After applying, remember to let the solution stand for 15 minutes before rinsing it off.

The PivotPro comes with a built-in 16-ounce mixing reservoir. Just add the appropriate cleaner to the reservoir and set the tool to dispense precisely two ounces of soap for every one gallon of water (which is just one of several available ratios). Now attach the PivotPro directly to your garden hose.

STEP 3
Point and shoot, using the PivotPro to spray down the furniture with a steady, rapid stream of soapy water. Be sure to address every surface—top and bottom, front and back. For best results, capitalize on the patented pivoting nozzle from which the PivotPro derives its name. Simply slide the grip on the barrel of the tool, and the spray angle adjusts along a radius of 135 degrees, enabling you to clean those hard-to-reach areas, all without bending, stretching, or stooping. If you encounter any crud that refuses to budge, swing the brush back into position and scrub while simultaneously spraying. That ought to do it!

STEP 4
Disengage the soap dispenser and rinse the furniture with clear water, taking care to remove all residue left by the cleaning agent. Finally, let your furniture air-dry outside, and it’s sure to be ready in time for a relaxing, well-deserved alfresco dinner that very evening.

How to Clean Patio Furniture - Al Fresco

Photo: fotosearch.com

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: Give Your Gas Grill a Tune-Up

For better-tasting food and longer-lasting equipment, set aside time at the start of barbecue season to give your gas grill a little tune-up.

Grilling season is back, and not a minute too soon! To avoid any unpleasant surprises on your inaugural cookout, give your grill a little TLC before you start it up.

Gas Grill Maintenance

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Listen to BOB VILA ON GAS GRILL MAINTENANCE or read the text below:

Shut off the valve on the propane tank, then carefully remove the cooking grates, gas tubing, and burner. Wash the grates and gas tubing in soapy water, then use a damp rag to wipe grime off the burner. Next, poke a toothpick into each hole in the burner to dislodge any gunk from last season. Finally, use soapy water and a stiff brush to clean the inside of the grill before reinstalling the gas tubing and burner.

Before your first cookout, fire up the grill, with the burners set on high. Let the heat burn off any grease or such that you may have missed. Doing so also provides assurance that all components of the grill are working as they should. It may be wise to keep a couple of propane tanks ready to go, as you never know when unexpected guests may show up with an appetite for one of your juicy burgers!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.


Bob Vila Radio: Best Practices for Mounting Outdoor Speakers

Outdoor speakers bring the party outdoors, but to enjoy optimal sound and to maximize product lifespan, remember these simple installation guidelines.

If you often host outdoor get-togethers and seek a better method of providing music, installing outdoor speakers is the way to go. Here are some issues to consider before tackling the job.

Photo: bethesdasystems.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON INSTALLING OUTDOOR SPEAKERS or read the text below:

First, make sure to purchase speakers expressly made for the outdoors. And know that even specialized outdoor speakers last longer if you minimize their exposure to the elements. You can do so by mounting them under an overhang or an awning. Don’t be tempted to hang your speakers to gutters or flimsy aluminum siding. It’s far better to screw them into sturdy wooden posts.

Audio experts say that for optimal sound, it’s best to mount outdoor speakers about ten feet high and ten feet apart, tilted slightly downward. Try to be precise in determining how much speaker wire you’ll need, so you don’t run any more than you have to. Excess wire takes away from the quality of sound.

A final point: Even if you have everyone on the deck dancing, don’t go overboard with the volume—that is, unless you invited all your neighbors to the party!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.


One-Step Spring Upkeep with a Multitalented Outdoor Tool

Photo: JNoonan

Here’s what the real estate agent doesn’t say: Owning a home near the ocean is rarely a day at the beach. Salt air puts vulnerable components to the test, and thanks to frequent strong winds, all manner of dust and debris gets whipped against the home’s exterior surfaces. That’s why our spring cleaning routine tends to focus as much on outdoor decking and house siding as it does on things like forgotten closet shelves and the neglected hardwood floors beneath heavy furniture.

Photo: JNoonan

Although there’s a fully exposed deck in our backyard, the covered front porch typically takes more of a beating due to its orientation toward the sea. Here, the floorboards are made of a composite material touted for its low maintenance requirements. In my experience, composite may need less upkeep than natural wood does, but it calls out for at least yearly attention, particularly in our neck of the woods.

When we clean the porch, our goal is not only to refresh its look, but also to discourage the growth of mildew, an unsightly, damaging menace that always looms threateningly in the background around here. Our usual tools for the task are a humble assortment of buckets, brushes, and garden hoses. But this year, we took things up a notch by trying out the new HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand.

PivotPro fits onto your garden hose and gives you more concentrated power from your garden hose. As with some other quality hose nozzles and wands, you’re able to obtain more pressure by forcing the water through a constricted nozzle. But PivotPro surpasses others with the patented feature for which it’s (presumably) named. By pushing or pulling a grip on the barrel of the tool, you can rotate—or pivot, if you will—the spray along a radius of 135 degrees. So without bending or stretching, you can attack grit and grime from every angle.

The PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand Kit includes a built-in scrub brush as well as a spindle brush. While the oversize scrub brush works well for flat surfaces, such as my porch floor, the spindle brush lets you clean narrow crevices where even hands can’t easily fit. I used the spindle brush on my porch rail, both along the top and up and down the balusters, and I must admit that that’s probably the most attention those unsung heroes of the porch have ever received in my career as the home’s owner.

The other feature that distinguishes PivotPro is its integral 16-ounce mixing reservoir. Here, you can pour in your chosen liquid cleanser and, at the push of a button, set the tool to spray soapy water at one of six preconfigured soap-to-water ratios. In years past, we applied deck-cleaning solution first, then followed up separately with a scrub and a rinse. Today, armed with PivotPro, we were able to do all three at once.

After adding deck cleaner to the reservoir, I set the soap-to-water ratio I wanted, then got to work spraying soapy water even as I scrubbed. The combination of a powerful spray, crud-cutting soap, and the stiff-bristle brush worked wonders to eliminate the muck that hadn’t seemed like it was going to budge. To finish, I moved the bristle brush out of the way, disengaged the soap dispenser, and rinsed with clear water. Clean!

It’s well worth noting that PivotPro accepts not only its own attachments, but a range of third-party components as well. That’s encouraging, because as much as I love my garden-watering hose attachment, it’s not perfect. This summer, I hope to hook it up to the PivotPro, a tool that, at 46 inches in length, would certainly help me reach those flower-filled baskets that I always hang but usually can’t water without a stepladder. I’m also really looking forward to using the HYDE PivotPro Boat/Auto Cleaning Water Wand, because after those last few weeks of winter, my poor station wagon would surely benefit from a bit of—no, a ton of—TLC!

For the time being, though, now that the porch is sparkling, I can’t wait to sit out in the morning with a cup of tea, reading the newspaper as the sun comes out.

Photo: JNoonan

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


One Attachment Turns Your Garden Hose into a Powerhouse Cleaning Tool

HYDE PivotPro - Siding

Photo: thehydeway.com

This time of year, we all rely on the garden hose for any number of chores around the yard. But useful though it may be, the garden hose does nothing more than extend the reach of, and give you control over, the water from your outdoor spigot. That’s why so many homeowners equip their hoses with specialty nozzles of one type or another. You’ve probably owned one in the past, and no matter its design or material composition, you may have been frustrated by its limitations. If that sounds all too familiar, take a minute to meet the HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand. When you need a hose attachment to make quick and easy work of outdoor cleaning jobs, there may be no tool on the market better suited to the task. Dirty decks, driveways, paths, siding, windows, and outdoor furniture—none are a match for PivotPro and its cleansing spray, pivoting nozzle, built-in scrubbing brush, and soap-dispensing functionality. Find out why it’s so different.

HYDE PivotPro - Product Shot

Photo: thehydeway.com

Easy and Convenient
PivotPro takes its name from its patented pivoting nozzle, a feature that saves you from having to bend, stretch, or stoop to access those hard-to-reach places (e.g., the underside of your patio table). Simply pull or push the slide grip, and the spray angle, rotating along a radius of 135 degrees, instantly adjusts to your setting. You can remain standing on your own two feet the entire time, letting the tool eliminate all the hassles you’d usually associate with seasonal maintenance.

The power and convenience of a pivoting nozzle may be most easily appreciated by way of an example. Have you ever used a regular hose nozzle to clean off the blades of your lawn mower? Like me, you probably tipped the mower onto its side, got down on your knees, and ended up soaking not only the mower, but your clothes as well. With PivotPro, you just lift the mower a few inches, position the wand, and point the nozzle upward. The tool takes it from there; you stay high and dry.

Powerful and Effective
Water and water alone doesn’t always do the trick. Sometimes, you need a bit more punch to overcome caked-on grime or lingering stains. With PivotPro, consider yourself fully equipped to easily handle even the most challenging cleanups.

Two features make PivotPro much more powerful than the average hose wand. First, there’s the built-in mixing reservoir. Here, you can add up to 16 ounces of your favorite liquid cleanser. After setting your desired soap-to-water ratio, you simply toggle the lever and boom—right away, you’re ready to spray the soapy water needed to cut through tough crud.

The other key to the potency of PivotPro is its adjustable stiff-bristle nylon brush. Swing it into place when you want it, and when you’re done with it, swing it back out of the way. Particularly when combined with the tool’s soap-dispensing spray, the brush gives you a heavy-duty, effective weapon to deploy in the fight against mold and mildew, soils and oils.

Endlessly Versatile
Depend on PivotPro to clear the gunk out of your garbage cans, wake up a tired fence, or restore your weathered garage to its pre-winter glory. Plus, with its 46-inch reach, PivotPro can even blast all the leaves and debris out of your gummed-up gutters. For a tool that’s so lightweight and compact, and takes up such little space in your toolshed, PivotPro brings scores of common upkeep projects within reach, whether you’re a veteran weekend warrior or a newbie.

Purchase HYDE PivotPro Water Wand Outdoor Cleaning Kit, $50.99

 

Of course, the house isn’t the only thing in our lives that needs TLC. Check out the other PivotPro specially designed for boats and automobiles. Like its outdoor cleaning cousin, HYDE PivotPro Boat/Auto Cleaning Water Wand gives boat and car owners a convenient, powerful, and versatile tool that makes maintenance not only hassle-free, but actually sort of fun!

Purchase HYDE PivotPro Water Wand for Boat/Auto Kit, $50.99

 

Want to see both tools in action? Watch the video!

 

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.