Friday, February 24, 2012

Garage Makeover Tips

Having a cramped garage can feel like the walls are coming in on you. Getting it organized may seem like an insurmountable task, but you can do it yourself using these simple tips and tricks.

1) Clear out the dust. Choose a nice day and drag everything out into the driveway. Clean out dirt, webs, trash and sawdust. This may be one of the only times that your garage is completely empty. This can also be a great time to paint if you haven’t in a while. Get everything that is trash and get rid of it.

2) Organize your stuff. Consider getting rid of things that you don’t use. Sometimes neighbors and friends will trade with you, or you can sell things off in a garage sale. Anything that is left can be used as a charitable donation. Separate items into logical piles. This way, you can see what you have and what kind of storage you will need.

3) If you think you have too much, don’t worry. Your garage is not the living room, so utilize space that you don’t normally consider. We’re talking about the ceiling here. Large brackets can hold heavy items like boats, bikes, Christmas decorations and more. The ceiling is often overlooked as a storage option, so open your mind to creative ideas.

4) Purchase or build the shelves, cabinets, tool walls and lockers that you will need. It is a good idea to draw a picture of what you imagine the garage will look like and take measurements before you shop. Pile sports equipment, suitcases, garden equipment and tools into the measured space to be sure they will fit. Leave empty space for unanticipated storage if possible.

5) Install cabinets and shelves. The next step is to protect your items from dust and dirt if possible. Certain items can be stored in clear plastic containers instead of just sitting on a shelf. Make sure that you clearly label containers or shelves where things go. This will help you stay organized once you get organized.

6) A general rule of thumb is to try to keep the floor empty. This may not be totally possible, especially if you have to store your lawnmower, table saw or other large items in the garage. But, trying hard to have everything hung, stored away or placed on a shelf will help your garage stay clutter free.

7) Last, you should treat yourself to new gadgets and tools that get you excited about keeping the garage clean. Planning the new items that you want to buy can motivate you to have a garage sale and trade in old tools and garden equipment for new toys. An automatic cord reel for your extension cord, new air compressor, monster power shop vac and diamond plate counter tops are probably in order here. 

About the Author: Stacy Pessoney is an award winning author and writer of web content for many different web sites. She is well versed in many different areas, including gardening, hose reel, lawn care and landscaping.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Garage Organization Ideas

Getting the garage in order can be a difficult task. Use these tips to get it cleaned out and to keep it from getting so cluttered again.

Clean out old junk. The garage often becomes a place where things go when they do not have a place in the house. But, if you pull out some things, you may realize that you are hanging on to more things than you will ever use. Make some charitable donations or have a garage sale to get rid of the excess.

Organize your belongings into categorized piles. You will often find that you have similar items spread over the entire garage. Make sure that you group things like Christmas decorations, sporting equipment, painting supplies, wood working tools and cleaning items into different areas. You can really narrow down your groupings, because you are going to make a special place for everything.

One rule in getting the garage organized is to keep the floor as clear as possible. You need room to work or park your car. So, you will really need to utilize the walls and possibly even the ceiling for storage space. Clean the floor and make an inventory list of what you own. Make notes as to which items will store in which type of containers, shelves or cabinets.

Some things, like Christmas decorations, should be put into clear or red and green containers so that you know they are for Christmas just by glancing. Make sure that your containers seal to protect them from moisture, pests and dust. Some things may need to be locked away so that they are not stolen or so that children do not have access to them. A locking cabinet is a good idea to have in any garage. Another option is to build large wooden shelves and then add big hinged doors to the front where you can place a lock. Not only will your items be protected from dust and the elements, but the space will look very neat and tidy.

Cabinets are wonderful for keeping things out of sight. You can by pre-fabricated ones that are fairly inexpensive and easy to install. Do not buy deep cabinets unless you specifically have larger items to store in them, or things get pushed to the back where they are difficult to find.

Utilize large hooks, yard tool organizers and loft hangers for items like bikes, rakes and cardboard boxes. Storing flattened boxes on the ceiling keeps bugs out, frees up space and looks nice. Sports equipment organizers hold bats, balls, duffel bags, helmets, cleats and more in one easy area. You may even decide to place a chair or bench next to it so that the family will remember to take equipment from this area and put it back as soon as they are done.

Keep your garage organized by making rules about where things go and following them yourself. Make it easy by labeling or providing obvious areas for things to go. Use a hose reel for storing extra garden hose, a cord reel for extension cords, and tool organizers for tools instead of a tool box. You can use bike, skateboard, ski and boat hooks for recreational equipment. When everything has a place, the clutter will be reduced and it will be much easier to keep organized. 

About the Author: Stacy Pessoney is an award winning author and writer of web content for many different web sites. She is well versed in many different areas, including gardening, hose reel, lawn care and landscaping.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stain a Garage Floor: DIY

Staining is a popular way to bring your garage floor to life. You can hire professionals to come in and stamp the concrete to give the floor a unique pattern, like marble, stepping stone or even hardwood design, or you can do it yourself. Choose a stain color that you like and a strong, heavy sealant. You can turn your old dirty garage floor into a beautiful, shiny, professional looking work area.

First, test the floor for sealant. When you pour water on it, it will soak in if there is no sealant. If there is a sealant, your water will bead up and it will not soak in. If there is sealant present, you will have to get an industrial sealant remover and remove the sealant before you can stain it.

Day 1: If there is no sealant or if the sealant is removed, you are ready to clean. After sweeping and vacuuming the floor, you will need to degrease it. Use a strong degreaser and follow the directions on the container. Rinse the floor really well before moving on to the next step and then let the floor dry.

The next thing is to use an etching cleaner to open the concrete pores so that it will evenly accept the stain. Etching cleaner will also help to remove stubborn stains that the degreaser didn’t get. Keep the floor wet as you scrub. Wear gloves, long sleeves and goggles to protect yourself from the etching solution. Mix etching solution with water. Use one part etching solution to three parts water. Pour onto damp concrete and coat the floor. Use a stiff bristle brush or broom to scrub the floor evenly for about 10 minutes, making sure that no areas dry while you work. Rinse with a lot of water. Let the floor dry completely before applying the stain. This generally takes about 24 hours.

Day 2: You are ready to apply the first coat. You will need to dilute one gallon of stain with one pint of water. Go around the edges and corners of the room with a nylon/polyester bristled paintbrush, applying stain. Work the stain in evenly as you go so that you get a fairly uniform effect. Apply the rest of the first coat with a roller, working it in as you go.

Use full strength, non-diluted stain for the second coat if you want one. Wait a minimum of two and a half hours after you finish the first coat before you decide. You may have to wait a little longer if you live in a humid area, up to four hours. Do not apply the second coat if it is raining outside. After you are done staining, let the floor dry for 24 hours and do not step on the floor while it is drying.

Your garage will be stunningly clean and ready to organize. To complete the look, get rid of old junk. Use new containers for storage and invest a little in some garage organization products. Yard work organizers, tool organizers, ceiling loft hangers, bike hooks, cord reel and storage bins can help your garage look nice, neat and organized. You can do it yourself, without hiring a professional.

About the Author: Stacy Pessoney is an award winning author and writer of web content for many different web sites. She is well versed in many different areas, including gardening, hose reel, lawn care and landscaping.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Create a Man Cave

Are you one of those men that hungers for a cool garage that defines who you are and still performs all of the functions that you need it to? You are not alone. The garage has gone from a place to store your junk, to a place that distinctively sets you apart from all others. This is the place where you can revel in your individuality, capability and flaunt your manliness, free from the oppressive throw pillows and decorative vases of the house’s interior. Yes, the garage is your domain and you want to make it look better than your friends’ by showing off the manly tools and gadgets that you’ve collected.

The first thing you have to do to make your garage look great is coat the floor. There are vinyl coatings, peel and stick tiles, polyurethatne coatings, epoxy finishes, acrylic latex paints, the list goes on and on. You can even stain patterns on the concrete to make it look like hardwood floors. With any garage floor finish, preparation is key. If you read about peeling, bubbling, tires sticking, things like that, they are most likely because of a lack of floor prep. Treat your garage floor like it is priceless. Don’t rush or skip any steps that will prepare it for the type of coating that you choose.
Next comes storage. You definitely don’t want any attention taken away from your tools or anything that brings you pride. Having adequate and proper storage for the rest of the family’s stuff is a priority. Cabinets are handy for hiding away unsightly Christmas decorations, out of season clothing and other eye-sores that will only detract from your garage’s swagger. Installing a long countertop workbench with big, deep cabinets underneath should give your family enough room to store their stuff. With a little special lighting, all of the attention will be on your adequate work space, not your family’s inability to keep their things out of your garage.

You may need additional cabinets to house the tools that you don’t want to show off. Here you can also store paint supplies, putty, glues, nails, and other things that don’t go with your décor. Keep things in individual bins that are categorized so that you can find something when you need it.

Additions like bike and boat racks, sports equipment organization stations, stereo with surround sound, ceiling fans, TV’s, a man fridge and lounging areas can make your garage the best your friends have ever seen. Make sure that you display your manliest possessions for all to see and envy. A mitre saw, chain saw, nail gun, air compressor, automatic extension cord reel, and other manly objects of envy should get the job done.
About the Author: Stacy Pessoney is an award winning author and writer of web content for many different web sites. She is well versed in many different areas, including gardening, hose reel, lawn care and landscaping.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Efficient Garage

RoboReel Cord Reel
Utilize space that you didn’t know you had using these tips and tricks of organization specialists. Most people let the garage get out of control from time to time. It’s easy when you are in constant need of storing everything from the baby furniture to the lawn mower. Get your garage to a point where it is easily manageable and easy to maintain.

First clean everything out. Choose an organization system that meets your needs. You can get shelves, but they usually end up being a catch-all for things that don’t have a specific place to be stored. You can arrange everything outside of the garage in categories to help you decide which system would be best for you.

If you have a lot of tools, you may need a peg board or slat wall system to keep things visible. Get a label printer to label where each thing goes if you want to make sure that everything goes back where it belongs after use. This also encourages people to return things that they borrow because they know that you have a labeled place where that hammer goes and you are not likely to forget that they have it. If you want to use a tool box, get one with a lot of shallow drawers. Piling and stacking screwdrivers, wrenches and sockets just creates an unorganized mess in no time.

Station out your garage like an office. If you walk into a well organized office you will see stations for everything. All paper and supplies will be together in one place. Everyone knows to go to the supply closet when they need something. They know where to go for lunch, copies, reference books, etc. Set up your garage like this and you won’t be relying on hundreds of sub-categories to keep things neat and clean. Too many people spend a lot of time separating nuts and bolts, and then fail to put them with other items that will be needed for projects.

Tools should be at a tool station. Power tools can make up another section of the garage. Yard equipment should be hung on special hooks near the lawn mower. Fertilizers and other chemicals need to go in a locking cabinet or storage chest. Yard shoes and other things that can get strewn about should have a special place to go as well. Create a sports equipment station. Large baskets that are sectioned off for bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs and balls are very helpful. Bikes can be hung from the ceiling or on special wall mounts. If you have kayaks or canoes, buy boat racks or slide them into a ceiling storage unit to keep them out of the way.

Stationing off everything will make it easy to find when the time comes. Whether you need a deck screw or a paint roller, you’ll know exactly where it should be. Other efficiencies like a small air compressor, automatic extension cord reel, and a shop vacuum should be kept handy as well. Once the garage is set up in this fashion, you’ll reap the benefits for a long time to come.
About the Author: Stacy Pessoney is an award winning author and writer of web content for many different web sites. She is well versed in many different areas, including gardening, hose reel, lawn care and landscaping.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Potatoes and More Potatoes

Growing potatoes used to be a necessity. Today it is enjoyable. Not only are potatoes high in vitamins but they also come in a large variety of sizes, types and colors. Yes colors. Potatoes aren't just the brown variety we see in the stores. Potatoes come in reds, blues, and yellows as well.

So how does one grow potatoes? First there is picking the type of potato you want to grow. What will you be using your potatoes for - baking or boiling, cooking or salads.

Baking potatoes are the more starchy potatoes. They have a dry, mealy texture to them but turn light and fluffy when cooked. When looking for baking potatoes, varieties to look for include: Russet Burbank, Russet Arcadia, Norgold Russet, Goldrush, Norkotah, Long White (or White Rose or California Long White), and Idaho.

Boiling potatoes are a little waxier. These potatoes come in a variety of shapes; have a thin, smooth skin and an almost waxy flesh. They are relatively high in moisture and sugar, but low in starch. Potato varieties to look for in this category are: Round White, Round Red, Yellow Potato, Red Potato, Salad Potato, La Soda, Red La Rouge, Red Pontiac, Red Nordland, Red Bliss, Yellow Finnish, Ruby Crescent, and Australian Crescent.

There is also an All Purpose potato. Potato varieties in this category include: Yukon Gold, Peruvian Blue, Superior, Kennebec, and Katahdin. These potatoes are moister than baking potatoes and will hold together in boiling water. They are particularly well suited for roasting, pan-frying, and using in soups, stews, and gratins. They can be baked, mashed, and fried, but will not produce the same results as the bakers.

If you just want to grow unique and unusual varieties of potatoes, there are a handful of these as well. The latest potato from Hungary is called the 'Sarpo Mira' and 'Sarpo Axona'.

Want a blue potato? How about the "True Blue"? These potatoes are oblong, smooth and dark purple with scattered tan skin. They have a distinctive color and flavor. Their color changes from dark-violet to medium blue after cooking.

Now for planting your potatoes. Potatoes need to be put in the ground in early spring or as soon as the ground can be worked. This doesn't mean the potato will grow right away; the soil has to reach 45 degrees F. Potatoes can tolerate a light frost, but you should provide some frost-protection for the plants when they are young. This can be a loose covering of straw, or a temporary plastic tent.

Before planting, take your potato and slice it into seeds. Each seed should be approximately 1 1/2-2inches square, and must contain at least 1 or 2 "eyes" or buds. Smaller potatoes may be planted whole. In the next day or so, your seed will form a thick callous over the cuts, which will help to prevent it from rotting once planted.

Potatoes are traditionally grown in rows every 15 inches apart with the rows spaced 2 1/2 to 3 ft. apart. You can grow potatoes in mounds. Each 3-4 foot diameter mound can support 6 to 8 potato plants.

The soil you plant in should be loosened up, this helps the plants establish more quickly. Now place the potato seeds into the trench (cut side down) and then cover them with 3-4 inches of soil. Depending on the soil temperature, the sprouts will begin to emerge in about 2 weeks. At this time add another 3-4 inches of soil.

Your crop of potatoes will form between the seed piece and the surface of the soil. This means that when the stems are about 8 inches high, you will need to add more soil to bring the level half way up the stem of the plant. Another hilling will be needed 2-3 weeks later, at which time you again add soil half way up the stem of the plant. After these initial hillings, it is only necessary to add an inch or two of soil to the hill each week or so, to ensure there is enough soil above the forming potatoes that they don't push out of the hill and get exposed to light.

If you are limited in space, you can use old tires. Pick a spot where you can stack your tires, loosen the surface of the soil just enough to allow for drainage, and set your largest tire in place. Fill the inside of the tire casing loosely with good topsoil, and then set 3-4 potato seeds into the soil. Add enough soil to the tire "hole" to bring it to the same level as the soil inside the tire.

When the new plants are eight inches tall, add another tire and soil to the stack, as in the first level. Repeat the process for your third, and if desired, fourth tires. As you add tires and soil to the stack, the 8" of the plant stalk is covered with soil.

The tires act as an insulator and heat "sink" for your potatoes. This added warmth will cause the lateral roots (where the new potatoes form) to multiply more rapidly, thereby giving you more potatoes.

You may begin to harvest your potatoes 2 to 3-weeks after the plants have finished flowering. The potatoes you dig up may be babies, that is small potatoes. To harvest these potatoes, gently loosen the soil, reach under the plant, and remove the largest tubers, leaving the smaller ones to continue growing.

Potatoes are an easy vegetable to grow, they also store well and can sustain your family's nutritional needs. But on top of all this, they are just fun because of all their varieties.

About the Author: Pamela Ravenwood is a freelance writer, journalist, and writing coach who lives in the desert. In addition to spending her days writing, she also loves to tend to her organic garden where she grows as much of her own food as possible. In this, she counts on her cord reel to keep her hoses from drying out from the desert heat.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Growing Vegetables Indoors

Summer is ending and our gardens are wilting. The season of fresh vegetables just goes by too fast. It is time to grind up those stalks and cover the garden with hay for composting. But does this really mean that we are done eating fresh vegetables until next June? Not really! You can grow vegetables indoors using these tips.

There are two ways to start your indoor vegetable garden. One, you can transfer your existing plants from outdoor to indoor pots. Two, you can sprout seeds and plant them. Some plants, like tomato plants, normally need to be staked. But, if you hang a planter for your tomatoes, you don’t necessarily have to stake them. The stalks can simply hang down like vines.

Choose large pots that drain really well. Place rocks in the bottom of each container, then potting soil or top soil mixed with plenty of compost. If your summer garden did well outside, you can use the soil from there to fill your pots. Although, sometimes this soil is depleted of nutrients and should be replenished with compost.

All of your indoor vegetables need to have plenty of sunlight and heat. If possible, put them near a heater vent. They must get as much sunlight as possible, so all plants need to be near a window. You might even consider placing planters in buckets attached to an accordion divider so that all of them have equal sun. You can even move the whole apparatus from one window in the morning to another full sun window in the afternoon. Putting your accordion divider on casters will make the move easier on your back. The vertical garden also eliminates the need to bend over to tend to and harvest vegetables.

Another back saving tip is to roll your vertical garden outside to water. If it’s not too cold, you can roll it out onto the deck or patio and spray it down with the water hose. Use an automatic hose reelto help your back even more.

As the days get shorter, you will have to use a UV lamp to give your vegetables enough light to grow. If you notice your plants doing poorly, increase the amount of heat and/or sun that they are getting every day. Make sure that you are not overwatering, and that you are pruning off any dead or dying sections that may be stealing nutrients from your healthy vegetables.

Having an indoor vegetable garden can be a challenge and can take up a lot of space. But, if you tend to it carefully, you could be rewarded with fresh vegetables year round.

About the Author: Stacy Pessoney is an award winning author and writer of web content for many different web sites. She is well versed in many different areas, including gardening, hose reel, lawn care and landscaping.
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