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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Planting Clivias

Planting Clivias

Now that all the boards are finished it’s time to pretty up the backyard a bit, starting with adding a little bit of greenery.

When I first cleared out the gardens (way before construction of the frame for the deck) I kept all the plants I removed and put them in pots. This turned out to be a great idea as I had a lot of plants available to green up the place without having to buy any! Besides, the ones that survived in pots for a long time turned out to be the most hardy.

One of the plants that I had a lot of was clivias. They are a fairly small plant with large green leaves and pretty orange flowers. They also have berry looking seeds that add to the colour and appearance. You can find out more about them at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clivia

Before planting them I had to get the garden bed ready. As you may have noticed from my previous post, I had a half buried coppers log (treated pine log) to form the border of the pavers. I wanted to freshen this up a little so I removed the log and cast it aside here’s a picture of what it looks like (and where it ended up is a secret…)

Anyway, with that gone I decided to put a spare length of decking board as the border to hold the pavers and to hold the dirt back. You’ll see it in future photos, but here’s a close up of how it worked out. I also had a lot of containers holding dirt and used the dirt to fill in the area a bit.

A word about keeping dirt. Worms are awesome natural ways to add fertilizer and to aerate the soil, making it a fantastic start for replanted plants. To encourage worms going through the soil, I filled old pots with dirt that had various bits of natural detritus (like leaves and roots and sticks). The worms enter through the drainage holes of the pot and move through the soil eating the debris and adding fertilizer. It’s a good idea to put a layer of leaves and sticks on top of the pots to keep the moisture in and to provide extra food for the worms.

Once the bed was bordered and topped up with soil, it was time to plant the clivias. I didn’t have much room (width-wise) and wanted to make it look as full as possible. I therefore opted for a trench-style planting. Basically I dug a trench through the middle of the garden bed and then placed the clivias in the middle of the trench.

To explain the best way to plant clivias, I’ll go through step by step how to remove them from the pots. The best thing about clivias is that if you put one in a pot, it will grow other shoots which then grow into mature plants in the same pot. I ended up having sometimes 5 or 6 clivias in the one pot! So because I had left these in pots for some time, they looked pretty haggard due to leaves and sticks falling from them out of a nearby tree as well as weeds taking root in the pot.

The first step was to remove all of the unwanted stuff in the pot to clean it up a bit. The leaves and weeds can be kept aside and either used in compost or use it to make a nice leaf litter for a mulch.

Much better! Now the next step is to remove it from the pot. For this step you can’t be gentle, you’ve just got to shake the pot until the whole thing falls out. Ideally, shake it in a horizontal way so the plant comes out without damaging the leaves too much. If it’s hard to come out, tap the bottom of the pot to loosen it away from the pot.

You can see that the plants were becoming quite root bound – that is filling the pot with roots instead of dirt. The best thing you can do to prepare for replanting it to remove a lot of the roots. They will grow back quickly, though so don’t worry too much. My theory is that plants distribute energy in growth equally to their leaves and roots. If the roots are damaged or if there isn’t enough water, the plant concentrates on the roots more than the leaves. When you replant, you want the clivia to concentrate on building new roots to become more solid in the ground. Therefore, if you get rid of some of the roots, the plant will put all it’s energy into making itself more solid in it’s new environment. To do this, just grab a shovel and chop at it. Keep the excess roots and dirt and put them in a pot to let the worms do their magic. They love clivia roots, by the way.

Although this looks butchered, the root ball size here is more than enough to start the planting. I guess the root ball itself is about the size of your fist. If there are multiple plants in the one pot, just get the blade of the shovel in there and separate them at the roots. Then cut each one back to a similar sized root ball and plant them as individual plants. You can then put them straight into the trench we dug earlier and then cover them with dirt.

Just continue doing this until the trench if filled. As I said earlier, I planted them quite close together to give it a bushy look. If you plant them further apart, they will grow over time to fill up the bed. Don’t forget that once you have put them all in to give them a really good water and then stand back and admire your handy work. You can sprinkle some slow release fertilizer through the bed if you wish (like Osmocote) but in my case, the worms helped me with that for free!

 

All that’s left now is to clean up and move onto the next section of the garden (to the left in this picture), but that’s another blog post. 🙂

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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Decking [COMPLETE]

 

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Padding the bag

Padding the bag

Now that the material is cut for the inside and outside of each face of the bag, the next step is to put the padding in the middle and sew each panel up, ready for assembly. The padding I used is in the picture below, and I used two layers in each panel. The padding was fairly cheap – I think around $15, from memory.

So the first step is to cut the padding out. This doesn’t have to be too exact as the padding is very expandable and moves around a fair bit. To do this, I lay the padding down on the table – two layers – and then put the inner material on top of it to get the shape.

I then used my sharp scissors to cut around the shape.

Once that’s done, flip the whole thing over and lay the outer material for the panel on top of it to make a material, padding, padding, material sandwich.

Next I need to hold the layers in place while I sew them together. I used pins to do this and made sure the padding was right at the edge of the panel. This way, when sewn, the padding shouldn’t move around at all.

Putting the pins in at the angle shown means that you can sew over them easily and then remove them once the sewing is done. Continue doing this the whole way around the panel ready to sew. In the picture below, I use many more pins than I did for the other panels, but you only really need to put in enough pins to hold it all together. It doesn’t have to be perfect either, it’s only to hold it while it’s being sewn.

Once you have all the pins in place, it’s time to hit the sewing machine. Essentially, it’s just a matter of sewing right around the edge of the panel to hold it all together. Since I left some extra room around the poweriser when I traced the outline, I’ve chosen to sew in about the width of the foot on the sewing machine. I just used a straight stitch to hold it together as each panel will be sewn again later and that will add strength then.

Sew all the way around the panel and when you’re finished, remove the pins and cut off any threads that are hanging around. The finished product should look like this.

Once that’s done, it’s a good idea to quickly test and make sure that the poweriser still fits in there. The more testing the better, otherwise you may find a problem way too late to fix it.

Yep, we’re all good. Now to repeat another three times.

And then when that’s done, a little more testing…

Perfect! Now, I just need to make the sides of the bag and it’s almost ready to be sewn together. Stay tuned to the next exciting blog! 🙂

 

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Balcony Boards

Balcony Boards

Now that the side boards are done near the steps and the capping and frame are in place for the boards under the balcony, the only thing left to do is to put the boards up.

I had a big advantage with most of the deck in that my brother-in-law, Jake, gave me quite a lot of help. Two sets of hands are so much better than one and I do suggest if you’re doing any sort of decking that you get an extra pair.

To compensate for being able to get someone to hold the other end, I had to use clamps to hold the board instead. I found the easiest way to do this was to clamp things under the board on the frame holding them up, but not necessarily in place. This way I could put one screw in and then do the rest fairly easily. Here’s a picture of how I set up the clamps.

As you can see from the next picture, I also made sure the boards butted up against the side part to hold that whole frame in. Once in place, it is impossible for the side frame to move and everything fits together nicely. The lines of the boards don’t match up perfectly, but I found that to be more of a feature than a problem.

I just kept adding boards in exactly the same way each time until I reached the ground. The last board, in fact resting on the ground in a few places. I wasn’t too concerned about being exactly on the ground the whole way because I wanted to make sure that if some small creature got in, it could also get out.

This left a large gap in one area, but the gap was covered near the fence. This meant that I needed to do a shorter board to finish it off. Here’s the gap.

Once I put the last board on, all that is left is to put some extra dirt in the ground and plant some cliveas in front of the boards to make it look nice. Below is the finished pic before I started on the garden bit.

And with that, I packed up. Next post, the garden!

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Decking [COMPLETE]

 

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More on the poweriser bag

More on the poweriser bag

Last post I ended with the outside material cut for the poweriser bag. Next we need to do the inside material for the bag.

Because no one is actually going to see the inside very clearly, I decided to use some material that I had left lying around from other projects. It’s not bad material, it’s thick enough and does have a pattern, however some of it is not big enough for the whole size of the bag. This means I may need to cut it and sew together parts to make it big enough.

For the parts that are big enough, it’s just a matter of getting one of the outer pieces and lying it on top of the material and cutting around it. If it isn’t big enough the first step is similar. Lie the largest piece down on the table and then cover it with the outer material.

 

Then cut around the parts that are over hanging to be able to make as much of the shape as you can. Once you’ve got the first part of the shape, the next step is to find another piece that’s going to fit in the gap. When you place it on the table, over lap the old piece with the new piece as below…

 

Lay the outer material down again and cut around the edges so that the new piece also is trimmed to the right size.

Once this is done, we’re ready to sew the two pieces together to make the whole thing like one piece of material. Remove the outer material altogether and any scraps let over from cutting.

As you can see above, the next step is to put pins through the two pieces where they overlap so that we can then lift the piece of material up and take it to the sewing machine to join then together.

Once on the sewing machine, it’s just a matter of sewing along the edge of the join with a wide zig zag stitch to ensure that the two pieces are held together. Ideally, we want to over lap the stitch a little so the fabric doesn’t fray. To make sure the join is very strong, we’ll do three rows of stitching.

First row….

Then flip the material over and do exactly the same thing, but on the patterned side this time…

Then (and you can see this in the above pic as well), run the same stitch right through the middle of the two other stitches. This probably isn’t necessary, but I wanted to be sure that with the weight of the powerisers I wasn’t going to have any problems with seams coming apart.

Each join was done the same way and I was able to get all four pieces out of the left over material I had. Here’s a view of the other side of the material.

The key thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to look great, no one will see this side of the bag. Secondly, it has to be strong. And thirdly, remember that the pattern part should face out on each part you sew together.

Finally, cut off the loose cotton where you’ve sewed and then put it aside then start on the next one. Once all four pieces are done, I’ll continue on with the next steps in the next blog post.

 

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Further progress on the back deck

Further progress on the back deck

Now that the frame is set up to attach the boards to, the next step is to complete the side part on the stairs. This is difficult because I need to essentially build a triangle. But it needs to be done before the boards as the boards will hold the whole stair side framework in place.

The first step is to measure how long the next board needs to be. The bottom part of the end needs to be the right length so that when it’s cut, it reaches the right point. It’s important to ensure that the gap between each board is the same and that the board you’re measuring is the right spacing. As you can see in the photo below, I have used a couple of off cuts to enforce the gap – the width of a board.

 

The board then needs to be cut to the correct length (it can go over a little at the back) and then cut to have the right angle on the end. You can see in the above photo that I have laid a capping board on top of the frame and I got behind this and sketched a line for the cut under the capping board, directly onto the board about to be cut. This gives me the correct angle.

The next part should come with a disclaimer. I will be using the drop saw in a way that it wasn’t supposed to be used. It can be dangerous so you probably shouldn’t try this at home.

 

Because of the steepness of the angle, it’s impossible to cut it as normal. Therefore I have put the board in at right angles to the drop saw and lined up the blade with the pencil line.

 

This cut doesn’t have to be perfect, but as close as you can get it. The capping board in the end will cover any sins, but the closer the better. Each board should be cut in this fashion and then attached to the frame. The boards are attached to the frame with two screws the same as everywhere else on the deck. Once all the boards are completed, it should look like this.

 

Once all the boards are on, the capping board then needs to go on to top. I clamped it in place and then went through and drilled and counter sunk each of the holes. It is EXTREMELY important to note that I had to drill all the way through the other boards or the board will crack when the screw goes in.

 

Once the capping board is on top, the whole frame then needs to be moved into place. This mostly takes patience and effort. Once in, it’s not a bad idea to wedge something in between the frame and the wood of the support to ensure it’s in the right position before starting the boards.

 

Now that the side is done, the next step is to do the boards under the balcony.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Decking [COMPLETE]

 

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Work begins on Poweriser Bags

Work begins on Poweriser Bags

So finally work has begun on the bags that I need to carry around my powerisers (jumping stilts). The big problems are that they are heavy, awkward to carry and rattle around in the back of the car. Therefore I need something that’s strong, padded and huge. Being as though it took my months to find a place that sold the powerisers and a lot of money to buy them, the thought of finding a bag to house them in that isn’t too expensive gives me nightmares. It would be easier to make my own, I thought….

So I started as always with a plan. And, as always, that plan goes through a few iterations. My previous posts on this topic show that, but here’s the latest plan.

 

This plan is a little complex in that I want to be able to wear it like a back pack, but the first iteration will just be bags I can carry and then I’ll add straps later to make the backpack method.

The first thing that I did was buy some denim-like material for it’s strength and some padding to go in between the material. I guessed at how much I would need and then would buy more if I was short. The material and padding was under $50, but I don’t remember exactly how much.

I stored the materials for quite a while until I had some time to start the bag, so the first thing I did was got the iron out and made the material as flat as possible. This is so important because it’s much easier to cut out and sew that way.

 

Next I needed to work out roughly how much room I needed and I had to set up my “workbench”. The dining table did nicely for that.

 

Once I had everything set up and the material was ironed, I laid the material down on the table and placed one of the powerisers on top of it to trace around to get the shape I would need. I also had to keep in mind that there would need to be extra space for the sewing and also that I had to be able to slip the poweriser in fairly easily.

 

From there it was just a matter of tracing a line around to get the shape. I did this with a coloured pencil to make it easier to see… although it wasn’t that easy to see in the end. Here’s a close up of how it turned out, though.

 

You can just see the brown line. Also notice how far away from the edge of the poweriser it is. From here it was just a matter of cutting out the shape.

 

A couple of tips. Firstly, I bought a pair of scissors that I only use for cutting fabric. They’re very sharp and stay that way because I only cut fabric with them. A good pair of scissors are worth their weight in gold. Secondly, notice how I only cut two edges? Where possible, I try to use the edge of the fabric – it means less cuts and less chance of problems.

This shape then makes up one side of one bag for the poweriser. The other side of the bag will be the direct opposite, so the easiest way to measure it is to flip the piece I’ve just cut upside down on to the top of some more material and cut around that.

This gives me both sides and they will come together similar to how they look in the above picture. Then I needed to cut the material for the other bag. I used the FIRST cut out so that all the material comes from the one pattern. And of course it needs to be done twice – one like the original and one a mirror image. This will give me the outside parts of the bag – the first step.

 

 

The next step after this is to make sure that the sizes are all okay. The more you test the less chance of making mistakes. I laid the material down on the table and draped the top part across the poweriser to make sure it all fits nicely.

 

It all seems okay, so the next part is to cut out the lining to go on the inside of the bag. More on that in the next post.

 
 

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Under the balcony frame

Under the balcony frame

So the next step to finishing off the deck is to offset the wall by boarding up the section under the back balcony. I have already started doing this as you can see in my previous post on the deck.

To be able to put the boards up, I need something to attach them to, so I have put a length of timber on either side of the metal supports for the awning. I put one on either side of the middle support and then one in the inside of each of the two other supports. I measured them to be exactly from the ground to the width of one decking board below the level of the balcony floor. This meant I could cap the whole thing with a decking board.

To attach the timber to the metal supports, I decided the best way was to use ‘tech screws’ which are specifically for metal. The ones I had left over from the roof of the awning were perfect, but a little short. Therefore I drilled the hole and then drilled a much larger hole (the size of the head of the screw) about halfway into the timber. This meant it would happily go into the metal, but would still hold the timber.

I also made sure the timber was a little bit wider than the metal to make sure that there was some air around it to breathe a bit. I also used timber the same width as the decking boards, this way it would nicely even up.

The next step was to cut a decking board the exact length to fit between the supports. This would be the capping to make the whole thing look neat and to avoid anything falling down behind the boards. I sat them in place to ensure they fit properly and then screwed them down once they were in place.

So, as you can see in the above picture, the part under the stairs needed to have a gap there to hold it in place. I figured that once the cross boards were there they would hold the side part in place so no further attaching would be required.

With the rest of that part set up, it’s time to finish off the side part under the stairs…

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Decking [COMPLETE]

 

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