Today’s Homeowner Radio Show | May 28, 2022

Wandering tree roots can cause problems when lawnmowing and a steep threshold like this is an accident waiting to happen. Photo credit: Siriporn Pintunun/Getty Images (left) and photo by Thomas Boyd (right)

In this week’s radio show, we’re giving advice on how to eliminate a tripping hazard, deal with mason bees and tackle tree root problems.


Removing a Too-Tall Concrete Threshold

This tall concrete threshold, or stem wall, is a serious tripping hazard. (Photo by Thomas Boyd)

The attached garage in Thomas Boyd’s Diamond Bar, Calif., home was built with a stem wall, which may have been good enough for the home’s builder to call the job complete, but it’s not good for Boyd and his guests.

That’s because the threshold at the door is too tall. To enter, a person has to step up and over the almost 6-inch threshold. 

Now, Boyd wants to know the best way to remove this tripping hazard.

I’ve seen situations like this made a lot better by building a ramp. It’s easier than you may think — just pour concrete on the outside of the stem wall for a 4 or 5-foot ramp.

Of course, that won’t help if the home’s interior steps back down.

In that case, you can cut out the stem wall. I would remove the door and the frame. Then use a side grinder to cut on each side to extend the jamb down. Then, score the bottom of the stem wall to make it easier to hammer out. 

Finally, take a sledgehammer to break off the stem wall at the slab. As long as there isn’t any rebar going through that, it should be easy to remove.

If you use the same door, there’ll be about a 6-inch void on the top of the door frame.

To fill that space, put decorative crown molding on top of the door, both inside and out. This will make it look intentional.

Or, you could order a custom door, but that will be a pricier option.

Skip to [21:25] for the full segment on the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show.


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Interested in building a shed? We're giving away Joe Truini's book, "Building Sheds." Three lucky winners (one each week) will be randomly selected to receive this step-by-step guide. Just enter your information here to be eligible!

Congratulations to Preston Simmons, winner of last week's giveaway. Be sure to enter again this week for your chance to win!
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Dealing With Mason Bees

Nesting mason bees can cause homeowners problems, but they shouldn’t be eliminated altogether. (Antony Cooper/Getty Images)

A caller says mason bees are eating the brick mortar of her home and nesting inside. She wants to know how to evict them once and for all. 

First of all, the mason bees aren’t actually eating the mortar. They’re nesting inside cracks and crevices that are already in the mortar. 

They’re called mason bees because they’re cavity-nesting bees. They’ll make their homes in any little hole, crevice, crack, or tunnel.

For the bees to be nesting inside her brick mortar, the cracks were already there in the first place. The long-term solution will be to fill any spots in the mortar that are open.

Don’t use any pesticides to try to eliminate them. These bees are beneficial to your garden because they are pollinators. 

Mason bees look like honey bees but they don’t produce honey. And unlike honey bees, they don’t live in colonies.

Having a mason bee house close by will distract them from nesting in your home. (Mason Vranish/Getty Images)

To keep the bees from nesting in your brick mortar, you can build a bamboo mason bee house. Glue pieces of bamboo together in a frame and hang them in a tree next to your home.

Skip to [44:05] for the full segment on the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show.


Tackling Tree Root Problems the Right Way

Exposed tree roots can cause crooked pavers and damage your lawnmower. (Siriporn Pintunun/Getty Images)

Tree roots are interrupting one homeowner’s mowing routine and pushing their pavers out of place.

Here’s what she needs to do.

If the grade of your property allows, put a couple of inches of soil on top of the roots and plant some grass seed so you can mow over it.

If the roots are protruding too high for grass to grow over them, plant some groundcover plants or spread mulch around them. That way, you won’t need to worry about mowing that area.

For the roots near the pavers, call an arborist before you cut them. Some trees can tolerate their roots being cut, but doing so can kill others. 

If the roots can be cut, pull up the pavers, cut the root out, then backfill it and replace the pavers.

Skip to [1:07:04] for the full segment on the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show.

Also on this episode:


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