Friday, December 26, 2014

Learn How to Install a Paver Walkway in This Video

I finally got around to editing and posting the video of my stone paver walkway project. I completed the project this past August and only found time today to finally document the work.

Hopefully this video will prove to you that you can install your own stone paver walkway, rather than hiring a contractor. I was able to install this walkway, which measures 3.5 feet in width and 25 feet in length for about $500. If you hire a contractor to install a similar size walkway expect to pay around $2K or more.

I dug down about 9 inches and installed 6 inches of 3/4 inch crushed stone and 3 inches of stone dust. I compacted the crushed stone and stone dust as I went along. Once the soil bed was prepped with material I screeded it and then placed the stone pavers. Lastly I brushed in polymeric jointing sand in-between the paver joints.

Friday, July 04, 2014

My New Canoe and Kayak Rack

Now I Can Keep My Canoe and Kayak off the Deck and Ground

 By Mark Donovan

This weekend I built a canoe and kayak rack for my lake house property. Prior to the rack I just left the kayak sitting on the deck and the canoe lying on the ground. Consequently the kayak took up precious room on the deck and the canoe was always dirty. Now they are neatly stacked and ready for use.

It cost me about $60 in material and about two hours of work. All I used was an eight foot length of 4”x6” pressure treated lumber for the side posts, a couple of 10 foot lengths of 2”x6”s, and two 10 foot long 1”x4”s, again all pressure treated. I used galvanized carriage bolts, along with nuts and washers, and a few deck screws to assemble it. The 2”x6” boards were used to form the legs and arms. The 1”x4”s were used for cross bracing to connect the two end posts together.

To ensure a rugged design I made lap joints on the 4”x6” end posts that the 2”x6” legs and arms mounted flush into.

I will be writing up a full description of the construction of my canoe and kayak rack, along with a short video, and will be posting them on So make sure to check it out. The article and video should be live on within the next week.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How to Plant Grass Seed

Key Steps for Planting Grass Seed and Ensuring a Lush Green Lawn

By Mark Donovan

The best times of the year to plant grass seed are in the spring or fall when the temperatures are mild and the likelihood of rain is higher. If you plant grass seed in the fall, however, make sure you don’t do it so late to late in the season that you run into early winter conditions. Grass seed germinates best under warm soil and mild temperatures.

Always use a quality grass seed that is appropriate for your climate area and lawn area. If, for example, the area to be grass seeded is shady part of the day then make sure to use a quality sun and shade grass seed. The National Turf Evaluation Program is a good resource for find information on quality grass seed and what grass seed is appropriate for your area.
Make sure to prepare the soil before planting grass seed. Ideally the soil should be tilled to at least a two inch depth to enable the easy penetration of grass roots and water. Also, add loam and starter fertilizer if the soil is lacking in nutrients. Moreover, make sure the soil is level and free of sticks and rocks. Grass seed will not grow well in areas where the soil has depressions or hills.

If you are re-seeding an existing lawn, first cut down the lawn with a mower to as close to the surface of the soil as possible. Then rake up the surface of the soil and grass to enable the new grass seed to be able to work into the soil and existing grass roots. Also remove any sticks or rocks on the soil surface.

With the soil prepared now you can plant the grass seed. Preferably use a lawn spreader if you have a large area. If a small area you can get away with spreading the grass seed by hand. For best results, apply liberal amounts of grass seed on the soil. Ideally there should be 16 grass seeds per square inch.

Once you spread the grass seed gently rake it into the soil, and then water it in. Plan to water the grass seed twice a day until it germinates.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Time to Start Thinking Outdoor Home Improvement Projects

With Winter Finally and Officially Behind us It's Time to Start Thinking about Outdoor Home Improvement Projects

By Mark J. Donovan

Winter is officially over. Thank God. It's been one heck of a winter. So much for having to listen to the Global Warming politicians and all of their hot air. Now that I think about it, it's probably their own hot air that's been the leading cause and concern for their fears of global warming. Being an Electrical Engineer since my college days I've always believed in James Joule's "Conservation of Energy" law and the related "Conservation of Mass" law by Antoine-Laurent. Basically they mean that the amount of energy and mass in a closed loop system, e.g. Earth, remain constant. Thus, there could be periods of time of increased heat, or cold, on the Earth depending upon various conditional changes in the Earth's closed loop system. Yes, there could be outside forces that influence the Earth, such as the Sun or a meteorite hitting the Earth, but factors such as those are certainly not man-made, no matter how much the politicians try to argue it is. Enough said on that subject though.

The main reason I started to write this blog post was that I wanted to remind people that with the warmer weather it's time to start acting on those outdoor home improvement plans you've been formulating this long, cold winter. Weather you are planning to grow a garden this year or start your lawn off on the right foot, it's time to start buying the seed and fertilizer now. It's also a good time to break out the yard tools, particularly the lawn mower and give it a tune up. If you can't do it, then send it to a shop that can. One of the most frustrating things is to go out to mow the lawn and find you can't start the lawnmower.

Outdoor home improvements are not limited to the yard. Spring is also a good time to take a look at your home's roof and house siding. Check if the asphalt shingles have been damaged during the winter months and if they are in need of replacing. Also check the house siding for damage and whether or not it is in need of a paint job. If so, start ordering paint now so when the weather gets a bit warmer you can tackle the project promptly, before the weather gets too hot.

Check your deck as well. Make sure the deck boards are not rotting and have any popped nails or fasteners. You may also need to refinish the deck, particularly with the brutal winter we just went through.

So get those outdoor home improvement plans out and start to rev your DIY engines. Spring is here and its time to go outside and get to work!