Build a Dog Run for Your Favorite Friend

What we humans won’t do for our dogs! We’ve all heard of the extremes, but a basic dog kennel is a sensible way to create a safe outdoor area for pets to roam and rest. We’re talking about a chain-link structure best situated in a location in the yard that’s dry, level and shaded from the sun, and that’s sold as a kit so it’s relatively easy to build. The modular kits – in different configurations and sizes – are a system of frames, mesh panels, a gate and roof panel. The unit is secured with tie-down stakes and anchors hammered into the ground. While some kits are made of mesh panels that fit together, others require stretching the mesh fabric on the frames.

A fence contractor will charge $480 to install a 6-by-12-foot gated kennel that’s 6 feet high, This includes the labor and material. You can buy a kennel kit of similar size for $318 and install it and pocket a 33 percent saving. You’ll find kennel kits sold online and at home and lawn centers and at fence companies. In many communities, an outdoor structure requires a building permit, so check with your local building department to see if one is needed. The depth depends on the frost line (how deep the ground freezes) is your area. There may be other restrictions about the height of the kennel, which often falls under the category of a fence project.

Working with chainlink mesh fencing can be rough on your hands. Wear heavy workgloves for protection.

Here’s instructions from True Value How to Build a Dog Run.

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Safe Footing in the Dark

Path Lighting

Outdoor living isn’t confined to daytime anymore because you can use the high power of low voltage lighting to extend the use of your yard into the evening. While low voltage lighting began as security lighting, it has evolved into an attractive enhancement that complements the exterior of a home.

A low voltage system is made of a transformer, low voltage cable and fixtures. The transformer plugs into an outdoor receptacle and reduces standard line voltage into safe-to-handle low voltage used by the lights. The cable runs from the transformer into the yard and can be easily concealed beneath mulch or planting material. The cables connect a series of fixtures together throughout the landscape. Each fixture has a lead cable, which passes through a fitting that you install in a stake with a screwdriver.

Your yard is your stage so consider all the possibilities. Start with a rough sketch with dimensions of your yard and pinpoint where you’d like to add lighting. Give family members a flashlight and experiment by walking around your yard at dusk and then later in the evening when it’s completely dark. Look for ways to enhance the landscape by adding a light in the garden beds to highlight a showy shrubbery or tree, or showcase an architectural feature of your house. As you walk around your yard consider where light is needed for safety and deter intruders. Take the weather and seasonal changes into account, too. Don’t install lighting where a snow shovel might damage it or where heavy rain falls.

Don’t overdo it – too much outdoor lighting is not a good thing. You’re not trying to replicate daylight, the goal is to create a subtle effect. When in doubt, use less rather than more fixtures. For example, a walkway can look like a runway with too many even spaced fixtures, instead place them staggered or randomly.

Once you’ve decided the location of light fixtures and how many are needed, bring out a long garden hose to simulate the cable. Lay out the run of the cable route working it away from the transformer to see how much you’ll need.

Bring your sketch and notes when you shop for low voltage fixtures, which you’ll find at home and lawn centers and hardware stores. The systems and fixtures, also called lanterns, are sold individually and as kits. A typical low voltage landscape lighting kit, available for about $100, includes 6-8 fixtures, low-voltage cable and a transformer. The fixtures are made of plastic, aluminum or metal and come in a variety of styles and finishes. There are also surface-mount systems designed for installing on a deck.

You’ll also find solar-powered lights that rely on sunlight to operate, which you simply place in the ground and motion-activated units that turn on automatically when someone walks near your home, and turns off when they leave the area. Choose a style that compliments your home and one that has components sold separately so you have flexibility in your lighting design in the future.

Here’s more information Cost of Outdoor Lighting Fixtures.

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Lay a Stone Path in Your Garden

If you need a walkway through your garden or yard, a stepping stone path can be a practical solution as well as a compliment to the landscape. You can lay it out as a straight walkway or as a winding path that meanders around trees and flowerbeds. Use a base material like gravel or sand to secure the stones and help drain rainwater. For ideas and inspiration, pick up a copy of “Patio and Stone, a Sunset Design Guide.” It’s a new book about creating outdoor living spaces and it includes landscape design software.

Home and lawn centers sell a variety of stone, and they usually will deliver the material as well. This is money well spent unless you have a heavy vehicle and the strength and stamina to move the stone yourself. If you pay for delivery, have the stone stacked near the path so you don’t have to move it.

A landscape contractor will charge $1,437 to lay a 3-foot wide, 40-foot long stone path. This includes labor and material. You can buy the material, including stone, sand and landscape cloth, for $635 and do it yourself, saving 55 percent.

You will need a wheelbarrow, shovel, rake, carpenter’s level, push broom and some string and sticks to lay out the path. Dig out the sod or soil so it’s about 4-inches deep and level. Then lay landscape fabric and sand to provide a weed-free base for the stones. As you lay them, position the stones so they fit together nicely and spread sand between them.

When you’re planning a stone path, don’t think you have to limit the design to one kind of stone. Add some interest by designing a path with large stones in the center that’s edged on both sides with smaller stones of a different shade and shape.

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11 Items for Your Home in August


If you’re like us you may be headed out on vacation, but before you go, take a look at this rundown of 11 items. You’ll see they include mostly  inspecting and cleaning jobs, which don’t require a lot of time but they are important things to keep your house orderly and its systems working.  If you can tackle them before you leave you’ll feel good when you return knowing your house and everything in it are working.


**Replace air conditioner filter
**Inspect for open joints around windows and caulk
**Inspect for gaps around doors and thresholds and weatherstrip
**Vacuum coils of refrigerator condenser
**Turn mattresses and upholstered furniture cushions
**Sharpen blades of garbage disposer with ice cubes and refreshen with lemon
**Clean pet area and accessories
**Make calls to have furnace tune up and heating ducts cleaned
**Flush whirlpool pump to remove bacteria and mineral build-up
**Sharpen lawn mower blade

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Homeowner Checklist of 11 Simple Chores for July

Diy362aThe beginning of July always starts with a bang and fireworks and often involve vacation time with family and friends. The tasks listed here are more about inspection and maintenance so they’re not time consuming. But these chores are important so put them on your to do list for the month and follow up on any repairs that need to be completed.

* Replace air conditioner filter
* Look for and cure mildew and moisture problems
* Replace loose caulk and grout around bathtubs, showers and sinks
* Label shut-off valves at sinks and toilets
* Inspect and clean track of sliding patio and closet doors and lubricate rollers
* Inspect air conditioner condenser for a free flow of air
* Inspect fence and posts and remove vegetation
* Examine drainage field of septic system for soil firmness
* Inspect water softener system for level of brine
* Clean out and organize shed or outbuilding
* Maintain lawn and garden beds by watering, mowing and weeding

Visit us at to find 400 home and garden improvement job costs analyzed so you can compare doing it yourself with hiring a contractor.

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Fly Old Glory with a Flagpole in Your Yard

To see Old Glory waving in the wind always brings a sense of pride. If you’re considering adding a flagpole to your yard, a good choice is a telescoping pole with aluminum sections that slide up and down and snap in place.

A contractor will charge $960 to install a 25-foot pole in concrete, which includes the labor and material. You can buy a flagpole kit for $550 and install it yourself. The kit includes a 25-foot pole with installation sleeve and gold ball top, a 3-foot-by-5-foot flag and swivel rings and harness that allows the flag to fly freely. Another cost is $25 for concrete mix and gravel for its foundation.

To install a pole, dig a round hole approximately 28-inches deep by 12-inches round, and place 6-inches of small gravel for drainage in the bottom of the hole. Insert the bolt in the sleeve and fill in the area around it with concrete. Use a carpenter’s level to make sure it is level.

When choosing a flag pole you should know about the wind in your area. Really. The wind load or expected wind at an elevation of 30-feet above the ground is used to determine the appropriate size of a flag pole. Don’t worry you won’t have to figure it out because flag and flag pole retailers use a reference map – it’s the same one for highway and transportation signs.

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Be prepared, plan and stay informed with Basic Disaster Supplies

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, knows more than a thing or two disasters. Take the time to look at their list of basic disaster supplies to have on hand when there’s a threat of major weather damage where you live. And have a discussion about where family members and your pets can meet if they are forced to leave their homes. And don’t forget that cell phones (chargers included) play a major part in keeping everyone informed.

FEMA Basic Disaster Supplies Kit 

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

*Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
*Food, at least a three-day supply
*Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
*Flashlight and extra batteries
*First aid kit
*Whistle to signal for help
*Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
*Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
*Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
*Manual can opener for food
*Local maps
*Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Once you have gathered the supplies for a basic emergency kit, you may want to consider adding the following items:

*Prescription medications and glasses
*Infant formula and diapers
*Pet food and extra water for your pet
*Cash or traveler’s checks and change
*Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
*Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
*Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt

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