Improving the Great Outdoors
By: Danny Lipford
Before tackling a project in your yard, be sure to plan carefully. According to landscape designer Nicholas Walker, it’s important to work with your existing site and local conditions when designing a landscape. Also, consider where you would like privacy and shade in your yard before adding shrubs and trees.
Laying a Concrete Path
A winding path can turn really improve the look of your backyard. By using one of several patterns of Walkmaker® concrete forms from Quikrete, you can make distinctive concrete path with the look and feel of brick or stone.
To pour a concrete path using the Walkmaker form:
- Layout the location of the walkway and remove any existing grass. Walkmaker forms are two-foot wide, so the width of the path will be in two-foot wide increments.
- A layer of compactable gravel can be added to the to provide a smooth, level foundation for the walkway before pouring the concrete.
- To color the concrete, mix Quikrete colorant with the water before adding it to the concrete mix (we used “buff” colorant). For consistent color throughout the path, make up enough of the water/colorant mixture complete the project.
- Add the mixture to the dry concrete and blend together to form a stiff, moldable consistency.
- Place the Walkmaker on the path, and fill the form with concrete.
- Use a trowel to pack the concrete in the form, then screed it off level with the top of the form with a board.
- If desired, use a brush or broom to give the wet concrete a nonslip, textured finish.
- Remove the form and smooth any rough edges of the concrete with a damp trowel.
- Position the form in the next location, and repeat the process until the entire walk has been poured.
- After the concrete has set, add a dry polymer modified sand mix like Quikrete PowerLoc™ Jointing Sand to the joints, using a broom to sweep it into the cracks.
- Wet down the jointing sand to harden it, using a spray attachment on a garden hose
- Allow the jointing sand to set before using the walk.
Lawn Mowing Tips
When choosing a lawn mower for your yard, it’s important to consider:
- Lawn size: Walk behind mowers are great for 1/2 acre lawns or less. For larger lawns, consider a lawn tractor, such as the four-wheel-steer John Deere X304 which can make tight turns.
- Yard layout: Trees, gardens, or other obstructions.
- Lot terrain: The slope and smoothness of your lot.
Pouring a Concrete Curb
A concrete curb can act as a border to separate planting beds from your lawn.
Here’s how to go about building forms and pouring concrete curbing:
- Layout the location for the curb.
- Remove any existing grass and level the soil.
- Compact the soil using a hand tamp.
- Install inner and outer 1/4″ thick hardboard forms screwed to stakes and separated by 5” long blocks of wood.
- If desired, add colorant to the water for the concrete.
- Mix up the concrete, and shovel it into the form, using a trowel to smooth it level with the top of the form.
- Once the concrete begins to firm up, round off the front lip with an edging tool.
- Indent the concrete every three feet using a scoring tool to control cracking.
- After the concrete has hardened, carefully remove the form boards and stakes.
Installing a Garden Arbor
For a crowning touch on our backyard project, a vinyl arbor kit, such as those from Walpole Woodworkers, can be assembled and installed over the garden path.
To anchor an arbor in place:
- Assemble the vinyl arbor kit.
- Layout the location of the holes that will be used to anchor the arbor.
- Dig holes with a posthole digger for the arbor foundation.
- Cut Quikrete Quik-Tube® forms to length, and position them in the holes so the tops are level with the surface of the ground.
- Insert 4” x 4” treated posts in the hollow vinyl arbor legs and screw them in place.
- Mix concrete and fill the tubes about 2/3 full.
- Set arbor posts in the wet concrete and level the arbor.
- Fill the space around the posts with concrete, and allow it to set.
Large Landscaping Projects
For large landscaping or building projects, you might want to consider a utility tractor like those from John Deere. Dozens of utility tractor attachments are available including a backhoe, loader, box blade, front end loader, forklift, and mower.
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Using Heat to Remove Stickers
While solvents like mineral spirits can be used to remove stickers and labels, heat can often do the job with less mess. Use a heat gun or hair blower to apply heat to the surface, then slowly peel the sticker off. While this works great for removing labels on metal, it may not be appropriate for other surfaces including plastic. (Watch This Video)
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Neverkink Garden Hose
The Neverkink garden hose from Teknor Apex use NTS Reflex Mesh® technology to make it self-straightening and guaranteed not to kink or tangle. Another feature is Micro-Shield® anti-microbial protection that prevents mold or mildew. Neverkink garden hoses are available at The Home Depot in 50’, 75’, and 100’ lengths. (Watch This Video)
Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Solar Clothes Dryer
From fans for your attic to landscape lighting, more and more products for your home work by harnessing the power of the sun. One solar energy saving invention that’s been around for hundreds of years is the solar clothes dryer, better know as a clothesline. Drying your clothes outside not only saves energy, but the UV rays in sunlight sanitize laundry and give a fresh smell. (Watch This Video)