In Hour 1 of the Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast, we’re offering solutions for fixing patchy grass, advice on installing a new window and more.
Rooting Out the Cause of a Patchy Lawn
Tim Kehoe is stumped by what’s causing the brown patches on his lawn.
In the 30 years that he’s lived in northern Wisconsin, he’s weeded, seeded and fertilized his lawn diligently. But, about five or six years ago, brown spots began to appear throughout his acre of lawn. And a drought last year only exacerbated the problem.
Now, he says, about 40 percent of his lawn is covered in dead spots that are an inch and a half deep. What can he do to get his green grass back?
Brown patchy spots on a lawn can appear for a number of reasons. We suspect a combination of fungal disease and dry weather conditions is the cause of his brown patches.
It’s also worth mentioning that when he’s seeded his yard in the past, Tim didn’t use the same type of grass seed throughout. So, because there are mixed types of grass, some might be more resilient to drought and diseases than others, which might be why not all of the grass is dying.
The only way to know for sure if a fungal disease is causing the brown patches is to send a soil sample to a lawn professional or a local extension office.
Once you get the results, you can treat the lawn properly and begin replenishing the grass. Your options include reseeding, transplanting sod or planting sod plugs. Go with a creeping type of grass, like Bermuda or St. Augustine, so it will spread to cover the bare spots.
For an in-depth look at lawn fungal diseases, read “How to Deal With Grass Fungal Diseases on Your Lawn.”
Tips for Replacing a Window
Mildred Smith’s husband plans to replace a window with a new vinyl one that’s the same size. However, he’s not sure how to get the old window out of the opening in the wall.
“This is his first major DIY project — and I’m hoping he doesn’t mess it up. Do you have any tips to share?” she asks.
The most important thing to do is get the correct measurements for the window. The last thing you want is to have a new window that’s too big or small for the existing hole.
Also, get some extra wood for framing adjustments. A few 2-by-4 or 1-by-4 boards will come in handy.
When taking out the old window, carefully remove all the trim so you can reuse it. If you can see where the nails are, use a nail punch to push them through the trim. Doing this helps to keep the trim from splitting.
Now’s the time to make sure the window is properly sealed and insulated. Once the new window is in place, spray in some window and door expandable foam around the perimeter. Don’t use standard expanding foam because it can expand too much and make the window bow.
If the framing allows it, pack in some extra insulation as well. Anything you can do to insulate around the window will make a big difference in your heating and cooling costs.
Next, apply a window membrane to the frame. This peel-and-stick material provides a waterproof barrier between the window and the trim.
In Hour 2, learn how to remove rust from a steel roof, keep squirrels away from bird feeders and more.
Removing Rust from a Steel Roof
A caller tells us some of the panels on his six-year-old steel roof are starting to rust. Now, he wonders what can he do to remove the rust and prevent it from returning.
Most metal roofs are set up to last 50 years, so you shouldn’t have any rust this early on. The rust could be a result of something scratching the paint and exposing the metal.
Always check with the manufacturer’s recommendation before trying to remove rust yourself. That said, most roofing manufacturers recommend oxalic acid to remove rust from metal roofs.
Here’s how to do it:
- Mix one part oxalic acid to five parts water. You can also use vinegar, hydrochloric acid, citric acid, or muriatic acid.
- Spray the solution onto the rust spots, and wipe it in with a rag using a circular motion. Don’t leave this solution on for more than five minutes.
- Rinse the solution off once the rust stain is gone.
You can also use a pre-mixed solution like Evapo-Rust Safe Rust Remover.
Once the rust is gone, prime and paint the metal roof according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to prevent it from returning.
Keeping Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders
Tired of squirrels stealing your bird food? Here are some options to stop squirrels from raiding your bird feeder, so you can get back to bird watching.
If the squirrels are climbing up a pole, mix cayenne pepper and vaseline and coat the pole. The cayenne pepper’s strong, spicy odor will discourage the squirrels. Plus, the slippery Vaseline will make it harder for the squirrels to climb the pole.
Another option for pole bird feeders is to install a baffle to prevent rodents from climbing the pole, and place feeders where rodents can’t get to them.
If you have a hanging bird feeder, place a dome over it. The squirrels can still slide down the wire, but the dome will block them from reaching the bird food.
If all else fails, offer the squirrels a decoy. Put out a second feeder with nuts or corn just for squirrels that’s easy for them to reach. By doing this, you can have the best of both worlds — watching the antics of squirrels while still being able to enjoy the birds at the same time.
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Bar-Clamp Assembly Tip — When you need an extra hand to hold a workpiece in place, reach for a couple of bar clamps.
Simply tighten one clamp onto the bottom, end of the piece, making sure the bars of the clamps face in opposite direction.
The clamps will hold the piece upright, freeing your hands to continue with the assembly.
Spade-Bit Planting Tool — Here’s a quick, easy way to plant small bulbs and seedlings.
Use an extended-length spade bit, which is 16 in. long, and a cordless drill to bore planting holes into the soil.
And if you hit a root, the spade bit will bore right through it.