Top 5 Hardwood Flooring Options for Families With Children and Pets

May 31st, 2017

A homeowner who has young children and pets and who’s decided to install a hardwood floor has a bit of a challenge. What type of hardwood floor can bear up to the sort of messes that automatically come with having young kids and pets running around the house? Fortunately, Go Hardwood has the solution. This article will describe five of the top hardwood flooring options for a rambunctious household.

Some Tips First
Though the following woods are tough and durable, even they need some protection in a house full of pets and little ones. The wood should be sealed with a polyurethane sealant. This can be done at the factory or when the wood is installed in the home. The homeowner should put down area rugs over these floors, especially in rooms that get a lot of traffic such as the den. Spills should be cleaned up immediately, and the floor should be damp-mopped once a week if it gets heavy traffic. Damp mopping can happen less often if traffic is light. Water should never be allowed to stand even on a floor that’s been sealed.

The hardwood floor should be vacuumed weekly with the vacuum on floor setting to pick up grit that can scratch its surface. If there is a mild scratch or two, it can be camouflaged with wax sticks the same color as the floor. White spots can usually be dampened then wiped up, while darker spots may require removal with a piece of fine steel wool or the application of a poultice. Hardware or big box stores should sell cleansers made for wood with a polyurethane finish.

If the hardwood floor has taken a bit of a beating over time, it should be sanded and refinished every few years. Ideally, a professional should do this, for it’s a messy and arduous job. Solid hardwood can be finished more times than engineered hardwood, which is made up of a veneer of high quality wood over layers of plywood that have been pressure-glued together.

Now, here are the types of hardwood for a busy household:

Brazilian Oak
Also called taurai, this hardwood is sold as both solid and engineered wood. It’s native to South America, specifically the Amazon basin. It has a lustrous, golden-red color that puts people in mind of red oak and takes stains well. Brazilian oak is fairly hard, weighs about 3 pounds per square foot, has a low shrinkage rate and resists dents and dings.

Brazilian oak is easy to work with both manual and power tools.

Brazilian Tigerwood
This wood gets its name for the beautiful, tiger-like stripes in the grain. Also called koa, the heartwood is salmon colored to orange brown and has a golden luster. It’s a very hard, tough and strong wood that has low shrinkage. Because it’s so hard and dense, Brazilian tiger wood is a bit hard to work with even though it glues and holds screws well. It weighs 56 pounds per cubic foot and has a coarse-textured, interlocked grain.

Black Walnut
Available as solid or engineered wood, durable black walnut is native to America and gets its name from its heartwood, which is deep, dark brown to purple-black. It’s a tough, hard wood with medium density and is easy to work with both power and hand tools. It glues well, holds both nails and screws securely and can be polished to a bright shine.

Hickory
Hickory is a paler, straight-grained wood that dries rapidly without warping or twisting. It resists shocks and crushing well and is very strong. Though it stains and polishes well, hickory has a reputation for being a bit difficult to glue. It is best bought in solid wood planks or strips.

Golden Teak
This strong and beautiful wood is so tough that it’s frequently used as the decking for ships and for outdoor furniture. As the name implies, this type of teak is golden brown with no other markings. It is very stable, resists fire and acid and takes stains and polishes beautifully.

 

The 10 Best Songs to Accompany Your Spring Cleaning

May 31st, 2017

Spring is here and it’s time for everyone’s least favorite task: spring cleaning. There are very few who enjoy this tedious chore, but it is necessary for most. One way to make things more enjoyable, or at least bearable, is to assemble a collection of music to clean to.

The important thing is that it should have a fast beat, from beginning to end. It should also be inspirational, to help create a positive mood to push you through the more menial tasks. Music that makes you want to get out of your chair and move is the best accompaniment to this annual responsibility. Here are the ten best songs for this purpose:

  1. Really Don’t Care, Demi Lovato

On the surface, this is just another break up song. But, if you look deeper, you’ll see that it’s really a celebration of individuality and personal power. It is about being yourself, no matter what anyone else might think, but it is also about letting go of the past and putting it away. This could be great inspiration for a job like cleaning out your old junk drawers and getting rid of all the clutter that tends to collect over the years.

  1. Single Ladies, Beyoncé

Although it has been overplayed at times, it’s difficult to stay in your seat while listening to this iconic song. It’s got sass and attitude that, some days, can be just what it takes to get you moving when you really don’t want to. The attitude of the lyrics point out the dangers of letting something great get away. This may be the perfect accompaniment to a task like cleaning out closets and getting rid of old clothes, perhaps as an excuse to shop for something new.

  1. Firework, Katy Perry

This song is all about self-empowerment and celebrating the things that make everyone unique. This is exactly the kind of attitude that might be needed when tackling a chore like dusting all those places that are out of sight and easy to forget. If you’re dusting those top shelves, appliances, fan blades, or anything else you rarely see, this could be the song for the job.

  1. Just Fine, Mary J. Blije

Some days, it’s enough to just appreciate the simple pleasures in life, and this song definitely has a beat that makes you want to move. It’s not always about the big events, some things we do simply because they need to be done. Keeping a positive attitude while deep cleaning floors and carpets would be much simpler to accomplish with this upbeat song playing in the background.

  1. Bad Romance, Lady Gaga

This is a fun song about wanting things, even when we know they’re bad for us. It’s a reminder that, sometimes, it’s the bad decisions that make life interesting. What better time to listen to a song with such a catchy tune that you can’t help singing along, than when performing a noisy chore? So, throw on the headphones and sing this song at the top of your lungs while power washing your house’s exterior.

  1. Heartbeat Song, Kelly Clarkson

Sometimes, the most difficult thing to do is to pick yourself up and just move forward with your life. That is the spirit of this song. Whatever you’ve been through, life goes on and keeping a positive attitude is essential to the process. The same concept can be applied when you are, say, touching up the paint on your walls. Or, better yet, find a new color to brighten up a room or two.

  1. Umbrella, Rihanna

This song is a celebration of people supporting each other through thick and thin. It’s a reassurance that, come what may, their partner can count on them to stick it out. This might be the perfect soundtrack for a chore like putting away all of those things that always seem to be left out after being used. This song is a good reminder that, even though it feels like you’ve done this task a thousand times, it’s really not a big deal.

  1. Stronger, Kelly Clarkson

This song is really an anthem about surviving life’s land mines and coming out the other side tougher and better than you were before. It is because of the obstacles we face, not in spite of them, that we become who we are. What better inspiration than this could there be for dealing with a task like washing down windows, walls, cupboards, or drawers?

  1. Roar, Katy Perry

One of the most inspirational songs in recent years, this one makes you want to get out there and tackle the anything and shine for the world to see. When you’re up against the ropes, it’s important to keep pushing your way through until you fight your way out. Who wouldn’t want to tackle a long, boring chore (like cleaning all the curtains, upholstery, cushions or bedspreads in their house) when this anthem for personal empowerment is blasting out the speakers?

  1. Born This Way, Lady Gaga

There are a few reasons why this song deserves to top this list. It is a powerful message of self-acceptance. Everyone has things about their lives that, perhaps, they wouldn’t have chosen to take on. It’s important to embrace those things about yourself and celebrate your uniqueness, rather than be embarrassed by it. This song would be the perfect accompaniment for a household makeover, to take on a boring room and make it a reflection of your personal style.

If these songs aren’t your cup of tea, you can certainly put together your own list. The most important feature the songs should have is the ability to inspire and encourage you to get to work!

 

Jessica Kane is a writer for SoundStage Direct, the number one choice on the web for vinyl records, turntables, and more!

10 Housewarming Gift Ideas

May 31st, 2017

Whether it’s friends or family, moving into a new home can be an exciting time. Learning the tricks of a new place and filling an empty space with personalized belongings is an adventure in itself and a great chance to give loved ones a special gift. Here are the top 10 unique housewarming gifts you can prepare to show your friends and family that you care.

#1 Aerodrip Coffee Maker

A cup of coffee is a solid way to start your day. French press and typically coffee drip machines are common and nothing really special. You can spice up your friend’s mornings with an Aerodrip coffee maker. This handle little device doesn’t require power and makes for a unique coffee experience with stronger flavors and smoother taste.

#2 Herb Infuser Jars

Herbal infusers are glass jars or bottles designed so that you can submerged various herbs into oils or other liquids. These handy little jars not only look great but allow you to make all kinds of unique flavored oils and vinegar for your kitchen. Simple to use, you just put your desired herb into the central strainer and submerge the entire thing into olive oil or vinegar. After a few days, you’ll have a tasty treat you can share with all your friends.

#3 Decorative Terrarium

House decoration has stepped up a few notches from simple pictures and paintings. Decorative terrariums can be filled with sand, live plants, and even little creatures to bring a bit of nature into your home. These little glass bowls can be shaped into nearly anything and will make your house really come to life. A decorative terrarium is sure to be a unique gift not to be forgotten.

#4 Scented Decorative Candles

Candles have become increasingly popular in recent years. Decorative candles are great gifts as they can be left alone as a great visual piece or lit on special occasions. Scented versions are even better as they fill the room with pleasant scents and add to the atmosphere. Candles also work in almost any room of the house, making them the perfect housewarming gift.

#5 DIY Welcome Mat

A great way to really personalize your home is with customized welcome mats. These mats are DIY friendly, so you can really make something special. Welcome mat kits usually come with a base mat, various paints, and stencils so you can make whatever you can imagine. Nothing says “welcome” to a new home like a customized mat at your front door.

#6 Voice Activated Smart Systems

New technologies are merging homes with smart devices. Voice-activated smart systems allow you to turn on or off lights, control your thermostat, change music stations, and much more by just saying a few keywords. Many systems are designed with security in mind with cameras and locks to help protect homes. These smart systems can even make older homes feel like you’re in the future and are the perfect types of gifts regardless of age.

#7 Robotic Vacuum

At the top of the list of smart-home devices is the automatic vacuum. There are several versions that exist that can both mop and sweep your entire house. These little vacuums can be programmed to run whenever you’re not home, so you always return to a clean house. Automated vacuums make great gifts as they are very low maintenance and who doesn’t like a clean home?

#8 Customized Silverware

A beautiful home can only be accompanied by elegant dining sets. This design “Louvres” is one of the most popular styles from Europe. It is made from 18/10 stainless steel and is a perfect balance between form and function. Sets are offered ranging from 5 to 60 pieces and additional place settings are available.

The Silver Superstore also offers engraving services which can add even more personalization to your gift. You can etch on a message of love, names, or simply something to remember the occasion.

#9 Clever Key Hiders

One of the worst feelings is being locked out of your house. Moving to a new home leaves people with many new keys they may forget or misplace. Clever key hiders can be designed to look like rocks, sticks, or other mundane objects that can be secretly placed outside your house in case ever lose your key. Magnetic versions can be discretely hidden under railings and siding making them easy to access, but hard for strangers to find. Not only are these key hiders functional, but they make great gifts as they come in dozens of fun designs.

#10 His & Her Bedding Sets

Housewarming gift giving can be tricky if you’re giving a gift to couples as they may have different tastes. Customized bedding sets are a great compromise as many are designed to accommodate both male and female tastes. These bedding sets are designed with fun and unique patterns that are not only creative, but give couples a nice piece they can both appreciate.

Whether you’re buying a gift for family or friends, giving them something unique and different is a great way to show them that you care. Traditional foods and wines are fine, but surprising someone with customized decorations, unique silverware, or smart home devices are all things they can continue to use for years to come.

Kitchen Tips and Tricks from around the Globe.

July 18th, 2012

In a recent article Dutch Touch learns how to remove grease and dirt build up from kitchen cabinets. Now we share our learned secrets to YOU ALL!

  • to clean cabinets, 1st heat slightly damp sponge or a cloth in microwave for 20 – 30 sec. until it’s hot. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, spray cabinets with an all-purpose cleaner containing orange oil, then wipe off cleaner w/ hot sponge. This will make any kitchen look & smell wonderful too! I hope this helps Dutch Touch Fans :). www.dutchtouchmaids.com

Kitchen Revo Tips and Tricks.

July 18th, 2012

Dutch Touch wants to share Tips from Paul Ryan, host of

Kitchen Renovations:

  • To repair a nail or screw hole in drywall, use a screwdriver with a rounded end on the handle. Press the end of the handle into the screw hole. The pressure creates a divot. Fill the divot with spackle or drywall compound and you’ll have a nice smooth surface.
  • When planning a budget for a home improvement project, add 10 to 15 percent for surprises. You never know what you may find until you start a project.

HGTV painting tips we love.

July 18th, 2012

Dutch Touch wants to share some tips and tricks from our Favorite HGTV friends:

Here are 7 painting tips! Trying to get paint to stick to a slick surface and not to your skin?

1. To avoid getting Read the rest of this entry »

Tips and Tricks! Stop yellowing on your appliances.

July 18th, 2012

Dutch Touch Handyman has some Tips and Tricks from around the globe: Are you tired of yellowing on your white appliances. Mix 1/2 cup bleach, 1/4 cup baking soda and 4 cups of warm water. A
Apply with a sponge and let set for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Contact www.dutchtouchhandyman.com and get $5.00 0ff today. Let us know you read our blog.

We love Dutch Touch tips and tricks and help you do too :).

HOME WATER CONSERVATION: Money saving Tips

November 11th, 2010
HOME WATER CONSERVATION. Start now in Spring for a Hot Summer

Water Conservation in the Home

 Here are 25 ways to conserve water in the home and yard.

 small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.1. Check faucets and pipes for leaks

A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.

2. Don’t use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket

Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.

 
3. Check your toilets for leaks

Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.
 
4. Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks

Read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.

Inexpensive water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy for the homeowner to install.

5. Install water-saving shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators

Inexpensive water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy for the homeowner to install. Also, long, hot showers can use five to ten gallons every unneeded minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse off. “Low-flow” means it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute.

You can easily install a ShowerStart showerhead, or add a ShowerStart converter to existing showerheads, which automatically pauses a running shower once it gets warm. Also, all household faucets should be fit with aerators. This single best home water conservation method is also the cheapest!ShowerStart converter to existing showerheads, which automatically pauses a running shower once it gets warm.

To cut down on water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down.

6. Put plastic bottles or float booster in your toilet tank

To cut down on water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down. Fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on and put them in your toilet tank. Do it safely away from the operating mechanisms. You can also buy an inexpensive tank bank or float booster. This may save ten or more gallons of water per day.

Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly. If there is not enough water to get a proper flush, users will hold the lever down too long or do multiple flushes to get rid of waste. Two flushings at 1.4 gallons is worse than a single 2.0 gallon flush. A better suggestion would be to buy an adjustable toilet flapper that allow for adjustment of their per flush use. Then the user can adjust the flush rate to the minimum per flush setting that achieves a single good flush each time.

For new installations, consider buying “low flush” toilets, which use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the usual 3 to 5 gallons.

Replacing an 18 liter per flush toilet with an ultra-low volume (ULV) 6 liter flush model represents a 70% savings in water flushed and will cut indoor water use by about 30%.

It's easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You'll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.

7. Insulate your water pipes

It’s easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You’ll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.

8. Take shorter showers

One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.

There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.9. Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush

There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.

10. Rinse your razor in the sink

Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.

Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation.

11. Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for only full loads

Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Most makers of dishwashing soap recomend not pre-rinsing dishes which is a big water savings.

With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added 20 liters (5 gallons) for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers. New Energy Star rated washers use 35 – 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you’re in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.

In-sink 'garburators' require lots of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems.

12. Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units

In-sink ‘garburators’ require lots of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste.

If your have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a panful of hot water.

13. When washing dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing

If your have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a panful of hot water. Dual-swivel aerators are available to make this easier. If using a dishwasher, there is usually no need to pre-rinse the dishes.

14. Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables

Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan of clean water. Use a dual-setting aerator.

15. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge

Running tap water to cool it off for drinking water is wasteful. Store drinking water in the fridge in a safe drinking bottle.

 Water Conservation in the Yard and Garden…

16. Plant drought-resistant lawns, shrubs and plants

If you are planting a new lawn, or overseeding an existing lawn, use drought-resistant grasses such as the new “Eco-Lawn”.

Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species. Replace herbaceous perennial borders with native plants. Native plants will use less water and be more resistant to local plant diseases. Consider applying the principles of xeriscape for a low-maintenance, drought resistant yard.

Plant slopes with plants that will retain water and help reduce runoff.

Group plants according to their watering needs.

Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth. Adding 2 - 4 inches of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture.

17. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants

Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth. Adding 2 – 4 inches of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture. Press the mulch down around the dripline of each plant to form a slight depression which will prevent or minimize water runoff.

For information about different mulch materials and their best use, click here.

18. Don’t water the gutter

Position your sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden, not on paved areas. Also, avoid watering on windy days.

19. Water your lawn only when it needs it

A good way to see if your lawn needs watering is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it doesn’t need water. If it stays flat, the lawn is ready for watering. Letting the grass grow taller (to 3″) will also promote water retention in the soil.

Most lawns only need about 1″ of water each week. During dry spells, you can stop watering altogether and the lawn will go brown and dormant. Once cooler weather arrives, the morning dew and rainfall will bring the lawn back to its usual vigor. This may result in a brown summer lawn, but it saves a lot of water.

20. Deep-soak your lawn

When watering the lawn, do it long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where it will do the most good. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage shallow root systems. Put an empty tuna can on your lawn – when it’s full, you’ve watered about the right amount. Visit our natural lawn care page for more information.

21. Water during the early parts of the day; avoid watering when it’s windy

Early morning is generally better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Early watering, and late watering, also reduce water loss to evaporation. Watering early in the day is also the best defence against slugs and other garden pests. Try not to water when it’s windy – wind can blow sprinklers off target and speed evaporation.

22. Add organic matter and use efficient watering systems for shrubs, flower beds and lawns

Adding organic material to your soil will help increase its absorption and water retention. Areas which are already planted can be ‘top dressed’ with compost or organic matter.

You can greatly reduce the amount of water used for shrubs, beds and lawns by:

– the strategic placement of soaker hoses

– installing a rain barrel water catchment system

– installing a simple drip-irrigation system

Avoid over-watering plants and shrubs, as this can actually diminish plant health and cause yellowing of the leaves.

When hand watering, use a variable spray nozzle for targeted watering.

23. Don’t run the hose while washing your car

Clean the car using a pail of soapy water. Use the hose only for rinsing – this simple practice can save as much as 150 gallons when washing a car. Use a spray nozzle when rinsing for more efficient use of water. Better yet, use a waterless car washing system; there are several brands, such as EcoTouch, which are now on the market.

24. Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks

Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad since they're not as visible. But they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors.

25. Check for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings

Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad since they’re not as visible. But they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors. Check frequently to keep them drip-free. Use hose washers at spigots and hose connections to eliminate leaks.

Water conservation comes naturally when everyone in the family is aware of its importance, and parents take the time to teach children some of the simple water-saving methods around the home which can make a big difference.

Water Conservation Summary 

In 1990, 30 states in the US reported ‘water-stress’ conditions. In 2000, the number of states reporting water-stress rose to 40. In 2009, the number rose to 45. There is a worsening trend in water supply nationwide. Taking measures at home to conserve water not only saves you money, it also is of benefit to the greater community.Saving water at home does not require any significant cost outlay. Although there are water-saving appliances and water conservation systems such as rain barrels, drip irrigation and on-demand water heaters which are more expensive, the bulk of water saving methods can be achieved at little cost. For example, 75% of water used indoors is in the bathroom, and 25% of this is for the toilet. The average toilet uses 4 gallons per flush (gpf). You can invest in a ULF (ultra-low flush) toilet which will use only 2 gpf. But you can also install a simple tank bank, costing about $2, which will save .8 gpf. This saves 40% of what you would save with the ULF toilet. Using simple methods like tank banks, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators you can retrofit your home for under$50.
 
By using water-saving features you can reduce your in-home water use by 35%. This means the average household, which uses 130,000 gallons per year, coulod save 44,00 gallons of water per year. On a daily basis, the average household, using 350 gallons per day, could save 125 gallons of water per day. The average individual, currently using 70 gallons per day, could save 25 gallons of water per day.When buying low-flow aerators, be sure to read the label for the actual ‘gpm’ (gallons per minute) rating. Often, the big box retailers promote “low-flow” which are rated at 2.5 gpm, which is at the top of the low-flow spectrum. This may be needed for the kitchen sink, but we find that a 1.5 gpm aerator works fine for the bathroom sink and most water outlets, delivering the same spray force in a comfortable, soft stream. Eartheasy’s online store carries a full range of low-flow aerators and showerheads.Finally, it should be noted that installing low-flow aerators, showerheads, tank banks and other water-saving devices usually is a very simple operation which can be done by the homeowner and does not even require the use of tools. Water conservation at home is one of the easiest measures to put in place, and saving water should become part of everday family practice.

A guide to Waterwise Gardening

The following “Seven Fundamentals of Low-Water Use” should improve your chances of creating a successful landscape.
 
Soil Improvement: Adding organic matter to the soil will help to retain water and provide needed plant nutrients. The depth to which this organic matter should be cultivated into soil depends on your design. Different plant types require different depths. Appropriate Use of Turfgrass: Lawns are our largest water user. Turf requires twice as much water as established drought tolerant plants. Smaller, rounded plots of lawn on level areas are easiest to water efficiently. Local WSU Cooperative Extension agents can assist in the selection of grass species and provide information on proper maintenance.

 There are a variety of irrigation technologies to choose from: surface systems, subsurface drip systems, timed and untimed systems, and hand watering.

Efficiency in an irrigation system is attained by keeping the system well maintained and applying water only as plants need it.

Efficient Irrigation: There are a variety of irrigation technologies to choose from: surface systems, subsurface drip systems, timed and untimed systems, and hand watering. Efficiency in an irrigation system is attained by keeping the system well maintained and applying water only as plants need it. Good soil preparation and proper plant selection can alleviate the need for irrigation altogether.

Use of mulches: Mulches reduce the amount of moisture that evaporates from bare ground. Mulches also help insulate plant roots during cold periods and deter weed growth. Organic mulches include wood chips, bark, straw, grass clippings, peat moss, and coarse sand. Mulches should be spread a few inches thick around plants and on any bare ground.

 Plants that thrive in the microclimate of the site should be selected, i.e. high and low temperatures, soil types, available sunlight, humidity and natural precipitation

Selection of Low-Water Use Plants: Plants that thrive in the microclimate of the site should be selected, i.e. high and low temperatures, soil types, available sunlight, humidity and natural precipitation. Plants native to our region are “best choices”. Some plants from the Mediterranean climates also do well here. Keep in mind that some low-water use plants have specific needs such as shade or hydric soils. Not meeting these needs can cause increased watering. There are many good reference materials dealing with plant selection and low-water landscape design. A reputable garden nursery person can also be helpful.

Evaluate existing conditions and assess your needs. What are your conservation goals?Planning and Design: Evaluate existing conditions and assess your needs. What are your conservation goals? How much time can you realistically devote to a garden? Start with a notebook, collect images, visit garden nurseries and professional gardens. Remain flexible and don’t focus on details too quickly; use “bubble” diagrams. Reinforce your shape through a variety of plant layers. Plan on 3/4 of mature size when estimating plant quantities.

Even drought resistant plants require additional watering until established (usually three to six months). Appropriate Maintenance: Even drought resistant plants require additional watering until established (usually three to six months). Planting should be done semiannually, in fall and early spring, to take advantage of natural precipitation. Weeds require a great deal of water to compete with other plants. During the first growing season it is important to hand-weed to prevent damage to the soil. Correct pruning to remove dead and diseased growth and promote the plants natural shape may reduce the plant’s water demands.

Desert plant landscape is called Xeriscape. This is a great choice for San Diego County. We live in a semi-arrid desert so this is a logical choice for your home.

Dutch Touch Inc. can design, install and maintain these for you.

This blog has essential information regarding conservation of water and will definately save you money on your water bill.

For more information, please visit our website:

http://www.dutchtouchcontracting.com/


Solar Panels = A 100% WISE INVESTMENT FOR YOUR HOME

November 11th, 2010

Starting Your Smart Investment of Home Solar Panels

 Residential solar panel systems admittedly have beginning costs that are much higher than when power for everyday use originates from the local utilities or gas. This seemingly less expense brought about by the latter makes most home owners and builders decide on siding on the conventional power source.

 Still, it should be clearly explained that the solar panels for home use of today are not competitive with regards to costs and expenses. Right now, most solar power proponents not only fight for the home solar panels because of their environmental benefits, but it can likewise be an economical reason.

As years go by, conventional fuel as well as electricity is becoming more expensive; this makes solar panel systems more advantageous. And not only the solar panels for home use are cost-effective but sun-powered water heaters likewise offer great savings for the users as an effective means of solar heating. It is shown that the water heaters’ expenses and costs are at least 50 percent lower than the electric heaters.

 Besides the possible savings, there are likewise local and state financial incentives as well as tax credits which will sharply decrease the cost in the end. Solar panel systems indeed are the best alternative when comes to finding ways to replace the conventional power source. 

 Thinking about utilizing solar energy as a way of greening your life and lightening your environmental footprint? When choosing panels for your solar power system, there are a number of factors worth considering.

When choosing panels for your solar power system, there are a number of factors worth considering.

Solar panel costs

Costs vary widely depending upon the type, wattage and brand of panel. Additionally, the margins that stockists apply to their panels can differ tremendously.

You can pick up cheap panels on places like eBay, but given the size of the investment this can be risky if the merchant suddenly disappears or the sale of the panel is a sideline rather than part of the merchant’s core business focus. You’ll be spending a lot of cash, so you’ll want to ensure the person/business you’re buying from are renewable energy experts and in it for the long haul.

Calculating how many solar panels you’ll need

  This is one of the most asked questions and there’s no set answer – it’s all down to your electricity consumption, geography and other elements of your system. For example, if you have a stand alone power system as opposed to a mains grid connect, the capacity of your deep cycle batteries play a major role.

Here’s a quick and dirty formula. It’s based on watts rather than amps (amps would be more accurate) for the sake of convenience.

Jot down all the appliances you use.

Next to each, record their wattage.

Also next to each, record the numbers of hours of use.

Get a total for each and add those figures up.

Using the solar peak hours chart, gauge how many peak sun hours you get a day.

Divide the total wattage by the peak sun hours.

You’ll have a very rough guesstimate of the total wattage of panels you’ll need.

To gain a more accurate idea, some solar panel stores such as Energy Matters offer detailed solar panel calculators that will take into account issues like your geography and other elements of the system; e.g. whether you’ll have a grid connect or stand alone system and how much of your electricity you wish to generate via solar power.

Solar panels still aren’t dirt cheap, so if you’re switching to solar it’s a great time to also carefully evaluate your electricity use. The less juice you need, the fewer panels you’ll need and you’ll save a ton of cash. Don’t forget that many governments around the world also offer substantial solar panel rebates which can really help remove the financial sting from your purchase!

The cost of a solar panel is determined in part by the size (in Watts), the physical size, the brand, the durability / longevity (or warranty period) and any certifications the solar panel might have. Choosing a solar panel on price alone is not wise, as it may not fit the area you wish to install it, may not have the necessary certifications to qualify for government rebates, or may not have the warranty required for economic payback of the power produced.

Durability / Longevity / Warranty

  The durability or longevity of a solar panel is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, if the solar panel only has a 10 year warranty and it is used in a grid connect system you would expect the solar panel to produce enough power to pay for itself within 10 years.

Also, if the panel is to be used in a critical system you shouldn’t risk installing solar panels that aren’t as robust as the others. Reputable solar panels will have warranty a period of 25 years.

 Reputable solar panels will have warranty a period of 25 years.Solar Panel Size and Wattage

The size of the solar panel in Watts will directly affect the price, as solar panels are usually priced (and compared) in dollars per Watt.

Watts are related to the output of each panel; meaning a 100 Watt panel under ideal conditions will generate 100 Watts of electricity each hour and a 200 Watt panel will generate 200 Watts each hour. Therefore expect to pay double price for the 200 Watt panel, compared to the 100 Watt panel.

The output of a panel also affects the physical size of the panel, meaning the 200 Watt panel will be larger in size to the 100 Watt panel.

The type of solar cells used in its production also determines the size of the solar panel. They key issue to consider is that your system overall has enough Watts to power your appliances, and that the solar panels will physically fit in the area you wish to install them.

The size of the solar panel in Watts will directly affect the price, as solar panels are usually priced (and compared) in dollars per Watt. Solar Panel Efficiency

  There’s much debate about efficiency in solar panels, i.e. how effective the panel is in converting sunlight to electricity; but the key point to remember is that a 100 watt solar panel will produce 100 watts; regardless of its efficiency ratings.

 

Solar Cell Type

There are 3 main types of solar cells.

Mono-crystalline silicon

The most efficient and produces the smallest solar cells, and therefore the smallest panels.

Poly-crystalline (or multi-crystalline) silicon

Produces the next most efficient type of cells, but equivalent wattage panels are larger than their monocrystalline counterparts.

Amorphous (or thin-film) silicon

Uses the least amount of silicon and also produces the least efficient solar cells. This means thin film system take up more area than the other two, but it has the advantage of offering flexible panels that can be used on curved or irregular surfaces not suited to solid panels.

Solar Panel Suitability

Mono-crystalline and multi-crystalline work very well in bright cool conditions, whereas amorphous (thin-film) silicon will be more efficient at higher temperatures.

 We generally recommend monocrystalline or multi-crystalline for large unshaded roofs, and amorphous panels for roofs with partial shading.

 Regardless of the technology currently in use, a solar panel in full shade will only generate a small fraction of its rated capacity; so the “shade tolerant” features you may see advertised can be somewhat misleading.

 A solar panel is made up of photovoltaic cells, usually 36 all told, varying in size depending upon the watt/amp rating of the panel. These cells are made from two very thin silicon wafers approximately 1 mm thick; one with a positive charge and the other negatively charged. 

When exposed to the sun’s rays, electron activity is generated which is captured by a grid of very fine finger-like electrical contacts distributed across the panel. This is then channeled through the junction box on the back of the panel and emerges as DC (direct current) electricity.
Closeup of a polycrystalline cell showing the fingers of conductor material

Covering the silicon wafers is a layer of toughened glass, usually around 3mm thick. It has to be strong enough to withstand hail, extreme temperatures and a degree of flexing, but thin enough not to filter out or reflect appreciable amounts of light.

As silicon (which is made from sand) is also reflective; it requires a thin layer of anti-reflective material.

The back of the solar panel is made from aluminium and the panel is set into an aluminium frame.

Once the juice exits the panels, it travels along cabling. The size/diameter of cabling is of critical importance.

Cabling is critical

Once the juice exits the panels, it travels along cabling. The size/diameter of cabling is of critical importance. If it’s too thin for the panel’s output and distance to be covered, it’s a little like trying to pour a large volume of water through a small opening. There will be a loss of electricity as it will convert to heat along the cable to the point the cabling can burn out.

This handy DC cabling size calculator can tell you what diameter cable you’ll need for amp rating of the panel you buy and the distance there will be between the panel and the solar regulator or inverter.

Makes it all sound relatively simple doesn’t it? I’m still in awe that sun shining on silicon and a bit of wiring can generate electricity though, but each time I try to delve further into how panels work, my brain says “let’s go check out the latest Dilbert comic strip instead” 🙂

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline (Multicrystalline)

Rigid solar panels cell are usually made up of either monocrystalline or polycrystalline (aka multicrystalline) cells. Monocrystalline cells are cut from a chunk of silicon that has been grown from a single crystal. These are used in the more expensive types of solar panels and are more efficient in converting the sun’s rays to electricity.

A polycrystalline cell is cut from multifaceted silicon crystal. More surface area is required due to inherent flaws and these panels are less efficient in converting the sun’s rays. However, polycrystalline technology has closed up the performance gap in recent years.

Also, a 120 watt rated monocrystalline solar panel and a 120 watt molycrystalline panel are essentially the same thing – they crank out the amount of electricity.

The easiest way to visually identify the difference between a monocrystalline and polycrystalline panel is the polycrystalline has a shattered glass look as shown in the image above. Monocrystalline cells tend to be uniform in appearance.

Thin film solar panels

Thin film panels are created by the application of a thin layer of silicon directly onto various materials. It’s applied in such a way that flexible panels can be made. The need for less silicon will reduce manufacturing costs significantly in the time ahead.

Thin film panels are also less efficient that polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels, so a larger surface area is required. Again, peformance in thin film technology is constantly improving in the area of efficiency. Given the processes to create thin film, cheaper alternatives to silicon can also be used, such as cadmium telluride; although cadmium is frowned upon by many as it’s a heavy metal.

Sunlight isn't the same around the world. Even without cloud cover, different places on Earth receive varying levels of solar radiation.

The sun and geography

Sunlight isn’t the same around the world. Even without cloud cover, different places on Earth receive varying levels of solar radiation. When calculating the size and number of solar panels you’ll need; kilowatts-hours per square metre (kwH/m2), or more commonly known as solar “peak hours” need to be taken into account. This is the number of hours a day when the sun has maximum punch in relation to potential for electricity generation.

These peak hours are also measured against average winter sun; the time of the year when you’ll have the least sunlight. 

You can get an idea of how many peak hours of sunlight in your area by using using this solar panel calculator – the figure to look for once you type in your area is the “Solar Irradiation:” Whatever the kW/m2/d figure is, that’s your peak sun hours.

Solar panel orientation and angle

Again, this is dependent upon where you are in the world and also greatly varies with the season.

During summer, the sun sits a lot higher in the sky that during winter, so it’s best to “chase the sun” so you can to get the maximum oomph from your panels. However, this is difficult to achieve if the panels are sitting on your roof, so a happy medium is usually found. Basically, if you have the angle good enough to get you through the winter months, you’ll have no problems during the summer.

The general guidelines are:

Solar panels should face South in the Northern Hemisphere and North in the Southern Hemisphere

A solar panel’s angle should be set to the equivalent of your your latitude plus 15 degrees during winter, or minus 15 degrees in summer.

Solar panels and shade

Solar panels and shade simply don’t mix. While some panels claim to be shade tolerant, you will lose substantial charging power even if only a partial area of the panels is affected by shade. If one quarter of the panel cell area is shaded, the juice being cranked out will be virtually nil.

Solar panel care

One of the wonderful thing about solar panels is there’s no moving parts, therefore next to no maintenance! A wipe/brush down occasionally will help prevent buildup of dust and grime that can impact on effectiveness; but usually the rain will also take care of this. Other than that, a visual inspection of frame seals and wiring from the junction box is all that’s really needed.

Solar Panels are typically installed on rooftops, building tops, or stand-alone facilities. It is vital to install your solar panel so that it gets the most direct sun exposure

Solar Panel Installation Tips

Solar Panels are typically installed on rooftops, building tops, or stand-alone facilities. It is vital to install your solar panel so that it gets the most direct sun exposure. You want to make sure your solar panel is maximally effective year round. To do this, there are several web-based solar resources to help you properly set up and install your solar panels by tracking the position of the sun in the sky over the course of the year.

 Position your solar panel in direct sunlight

Solar Panels perform at optimum capacity when placed in direct sunlight. Try to position your photovoltaic array directly under the noontime sun for maximum efficiency from your photovoltaic unit.

Notice obstructions to sunlight

 Remove all items unnessary items or trim branches that may be blocking sunlight to your solar unit. Trace the path of the sun in the sky to determine if an object is casting a shadow over your solar photovoltaic panels. If this is the case, then the operating efficiency of your unit will undoubtedly suffer.

Mounting your Solar Panel

Solar Panel Mounts are used to install photovoltaic solar panels. Solar panel mounts come in three main varieties: pole mounts, roof-ground mounts, and flush mounts. Using these mounts, you can install your solar panel onto an RV, on top of or against the side of a pole, on your roof, or even install them as a free-standing unit. You can learn more about installing solar panels using mounts in our mounts section.

Water pumping with solar panels

 A good way to put solar panels to use is to install a solar-powered water pump for your well. Although windmills have traditionally been used to power such systems, a solar-powered system works just as well, and is equally friendly to the environment.

Your Well Pump

It is important to choose a quality well pump for use with your solar powered well pump system, one that makes the best use of your power and doesn’t require an inefficient, wasteful transformer. Your well drilling provider is likely to offer you the industry standard well pump, a 220 volt alternating current model. The problem with such a high-voltage pump system is that the required transformer is extremely wasteful and can be a huge strain on your inverter during startup. This can cause the power to home to dip, and the lights to dim, which can cause a full-out inverter failure unless you have a top-quality inverter. Avoid such a high voltage system if you can, and instead, opt for a 120 volt AC model, which is much more efficient and does not put nearly as much of a burden on your inverter.

The Solar Panel

Your solar panel does not have to have a very high wattage rating in order to run your solar pump, just check with your well-drilling company to determine what wattage rating you need from your solar panel. An important consideration when setting up an outdoor solar panel system for your well pump is to ensure that you purchase a mounting rack that offers plenty of clearance between the ground and your solar panel and keep in it an open area away from trees. You don’t want any large pets, floodwater, or falling branches to damage your system.

Solar Panels and Power Meters

As you purchase more and more solar panels for your home, your reliance on the city’s power grid will progressively decline until your power meter doesn’t turn at all. As you continue to buy solar panels, you wonder, what happens beyond that point?

What happens on the days when my home produces more energy from solar panels that it needs? Contact San Diego Gas & Electric or your local city-town electrical provider for that information. Contact your city and town government for tax incentives and ways that your local utility can pay you for selling your extra electricity to them.

Also, we recommend using a true sine wave inverter with your solar powered pump system. True Sine wave inverters tend to work better when motors are involved (such as those found in a water pump).

For more information, please visit our website:

http://www.dutchtouchcontracting.com/


Mailbox Installation and Postal Regulations 101

November 10th, 2010

Rain... sleet... gloom of night... no matter what the time or weather, one day your mailbox or post will require replacement.How To Repair or Replace A Damaged Mailbox Post

Rain… sleet… gloom of night… no matter what the time or weather, one day your mailbox or post will require replacement.
  

Thank you, snow plow… with an assist from the carpenter ants and termites!

The hardest part of a mailbox installation can be removing the old box or post! So I’m going to make the assumption that you wish to replace the box and the post. If I’m wrong, and you want to do just the box, I will have even less to tell you, but, if you scan down past the sweaty, smelly, earthwormy stuff, you may still pick up a few tips. I don’t exactly know where this tale is going, so follow along as best you can, and hopefully we’ll arrive at the end together!

Removing the old post… pray there’s no cement!

Sorry… I can’t make this easy! Wiggle it, pray for no cement, and pull like heck!! Then again, if you are pretty sure there is no cement, there is a strategy that can work, especially if you have a broken post with only a few inches exposed. Nail or screw a piece of 2×4 or larger lumber to the post at or within a few inches of ground level. Then, using a big pry bar or the mason’s bar, pry the post straight up, using another board, toolbox, or significant other as a fulcrum.

 Caution: don’t use a significant other as a fulcrum… if you expect your relationship to move to a higher level!!

A post set in concrete creates a whole new problem. If I found one of those foundation-like clumps of rocks and gravel mix when the digging started, my first choice was always to choose a new location for the box!

Occasionally, there just isn’t an option and the cement must be removed or moved. Yes… moved. Sometimes, it’s easier to dig the hole a little wider and muscle the ball of concrete aside. Install the new post next to it.

US Postal regulations regarding mailbox location and height

US Postal regulations regarding mailbox location and height

 
In order for the safe and efficient delivery of mail, the US Postal Service has issued regulations regarding curbside deliveries. However, the local post office has the final say in mailbox placement. The “old guidelines were:

 
Vertical height from road surface to bottom of mailbox: Between 41″ and 45″.

 
Distance from outside edge of curb or edge of road surface to front of mailbox : 6-8″

In order for the safe and efficient delivery of mail, the US Postal Service has issued regulations regarding curbside deliveries

This requirement dates back to February of 2001. However, the more recent requirements (12/9/2004) are less specific and do not refer to specifics of height and location. Instead, they require the post to be approved by the local post office and 2) accessible from the vehicle for curbside delivery such that the carrier does not have to leave his vehicle. That means that any obstruction, including parked cars, snow piles, etc. , give the carrier the option of withholding delivery until the obstruction is removed. 
 
If you are installing a post with an extending arm, figure the position based the final position of the box, not just the arm! Note that the arm will need to be much higher up if you plan to hang the box. (More on mounting the box below.)
 
If you feel your situation is unique or would like an exception to the rules, talk to your postmaster or ask your friendly postal carrier for suggestions. (This is when that little bag of Christmas cookies or envelope makes all the difference!)

Creating your own mailbox? Be careful...

Creating your own mailbox? Be careful…

If you plan on making a mailbox yourself, you should check with the postmaster or letter carrier to get approval before you spend time and money on it! A poorly designed mailbox can halt your mail delivery!

 
 

Choosing your new mailbox post – wood or “other”?

Plastic

 
There are a number of choices for mailbox posts. The most recent addition is molded plastic. Some make no pretence about being plastic, using flowing shapes, interesting colors and unique designs with integrated features such as newspaper holders. Others are made to look like painted cedar mailbox posts but for a fraction of the price and without the durability problems. As a whole, plastic mailbox posts are extremely durable and will outlast any wood or metal post.
 

Aluminum and galvanized steel

Metal posts are available in galvanized steel and aluminum. Both are durable, but the nod goes to aluminum. Because it doesn’t rust like steel, the finish stays looking good longer. However, aluminum posts tend to be more expensive.

Wood

Wood mailbox posts are the traditional choice, especially for do-it-yourselfers looking for economy. The cheapest and simplest post is a simple 4×4 or 6×6 post of any wood variety. A 3/4″ – 1″ thick pine, plywood or cedar wood base is attached to the top of the post and the mailbox is screwed onto it. The base should be sized to fit into the recess under the mailbox. On many boxes, you will need to leave some space at the door end of the base to prevent rubbing. Test the operation of the door before making the final box installation.
 
If you have more money to spend or want a more interesting look, you can buy a fancy-schmancy wood posts with a horizontal arm, complex supports and other ornamentation (or you can build one yourself). These are available in redwood, cedar and various untreated and pressure-treated woods.

Each type of wood has its advantages and disadvantages:

 

• Cedar and redwood are both very insect resistant, but are quite expensive and will eventually rot if buried. For the maximum “bang for the buck”, they require an underground preservative (see next section for details) applied right to ground level.

 
• Untreated woods such as Douglas fir and pine can be used for mailbox posts but require preservatives both above and below-grade. They have the shortest lifespan of any post, regardless of the preservative used since they have no inherent resistance to insects or rot.
 
• Pressure-treated wood has high resistance to rot and insects due to the infusion of a powerful preservative and will last longer underground than any other wood product. However, pressure-treated wood does need to be coated with a protectant above ground or may crack, twist and split rather dramatically!

 
• Masonry mailbox posts or enclosure of granite, concrete, stone and brick must conform to both local or state code as well as postal requirements. Though the postal service is silent on the post’s material, “rigid structures” at the curbside of busy roads may be considered a “safety hazard” by your state or town, so check with them before building one. (A customer of mine built a large brick mailbox enclosure on a main state road without consulting anyone. In the end, she had to pay for construction and destruction of that structure when the state ordered her to remove it. Let the builder beware!)

Pressure-treated wood has high resistance to rot and insects due to the infusion of a powerful preservative and will last longer underground than any other wood product.

Prepare your mailbox post for burial with the correct underground preservative. There was a time when this was a no-brainer. My father used to put good ol’ creosote on everything, except for my mother’s tulip bulbs. (Or did he?) It rivaled his use of Mobil red and blue paint! Anyway, it went without saying that the old timers expected the wood to rot, so they prepared for it with crosote… the only available solution.
 
Today, most wooden fence and mailbox posts are made from either pressure-treated wood or cedar. Somehow, in popular thought, cedar has been compared to pressure-treated wood for rot resistance. Nothing could be further from the truth.

CEDAR WILL ROT!!

I have replaced untreated cedar mailbox posts less than 5 years old, cedar lamp posts less than 3 years old that were totally rotten, full of ants and all sorts of other awful creepy wormy things. In my neck of the woods, a fine 6×6 cedar mailbox post costs well over $200.00 installed. Expensive ant food, if you ask me!
 
Pressure-treated mailbox posts do not rot under most circumstances. (I’ve never seen it happen in 30 years of installations.) They are more likely to die from snow plow or garbage truck injuries! However, I have heard rumors that, under some unusual conditions of extreme moisture, they may rot after many years. So if you have some underground rated preservative around, slap some on that pressure treated post. Otherwise I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it!

What type of preservative should be used underground on my post?

Good old creosote, a staple wood preservative for generations of do-it-yourselfers, has become extinct… joining the dodo bird, 30¢ cigarettes and the $1.00 gallon of gas! However, there are still quality underground preservatives available. A brand I have used for decades is Termin-8 by Jasco. Its dark-green color means you won’t mistake it for a wimpy deck sealer! Termin-8 is oil-based and can be painted after 2-7 days when thoroughly dry.
 
Another, somewhat newer product that works quite well is Woodlife Creocoat from Wolman. Unlike Termin-8, Woodlife is water-based and is not designed to be overcoated.

Since the end of your post is most vulnerable to water damage, pour some of the preservative in a small pail and set the post into it to soak as long as you can… overnight if possible. Cut off a few inches from the end of the post immediately before to soaking it for the best results. Of course, you should also coat the rest of the post right up to ground level for the best results.

DO NOT install a mailbox post in cement unless absolutely necessary!

Or a fence post, for that matter! Think about it. 160 pounds of rock-hard concrete mix, buried 18″ into the ground, in the only place the mailman can reach from his truck. Tough luck! So, using the secrets of the Pyramids, you manage to get this now useless clump of lime, gravel, and sand up to ground level. As you marvel at your improvisational skills, there is a lesson to be learned here and it doesn’t only apply to mailbox posts.

If you think that you may have to redo a job again sometime in the near future, design your repair so that the next time it will be easier… not harder! After all, do you really think a couple of hundred pounds of cement means as much to a moving vehicle (or the the carpenter ants) than it does to your poor overworked back? Hmmm?

NOTE: If you are installing one of those fancy ornamental iron posts, which generally don’t stand upright very well in soil despite what it says on the box, you can use cement… but just enough to stabilize the post, not enough to anchor the Queen Mary!

Digging the hole the easy way… but not too deep!

I was joking. There isn’t an easy way. But we’re not quitters, right? Buy or rent a post hole digger so you disturb the minimum amount of soil. The hole should be no more than 18-24″ deep. You do not have to bury the post down below the frost line! We’re talking mailbox post here, not a house’s foundation!

If you have particularly rocky soil, you may need a long mason’s bar, a rounded heavy steel bar from 4′ to 6′ long, flattened to a wedge-shape on one end. This can be used to pry out rocks and the flattened butt end can be used for tamping.On the graphic of the post hole digger (left), notice the black lines on the handles. They are improvised depth indicators… far better than dirtying up your tape measure! If you rent one and it’s not already marked, apply pieces of black electrical tape at your desired depth.

Add gravel, level the mailbox post and fill the hole in steps…

It’s recommended to put a 4-6 inches of gravel in the bottom of the hole to improve drainage and to keep water from pooling at the bottom of the post. My judgment is that it may not be a bad idea for cedar posts, but for pressure-treated wood it is optional. If you don’t have a bag of gravel handy (or prefer not to steal it from elsewhere in your yard), a bunch of small stones will do as a substitute.

To keep the mailbox post vertically level, I found a nifty little device that straps right onto the mailbox post. However, an ordinary level will do fine, too. Check the level every time you tamp down the dirt. You don’t want your mailbox to become another “leaning” tourist attraction! Don’t put the level on the top of the post… the top might not be square! Always check the level from the side.Some people screw or clamp boards to the post to hold it upright. You can also wedge a few rocks around the post in the hole for temporary support. Or just hold the new post fairly level as you begin filling, making minor corrections as you fill. (A helper wouldn’t hurt, either, if one is available to share the joy!) Filling the hole around the post should be done in steps, packing or “tamping” down the soil as you fill around the post, 6-12″ at a time. If you wait until the hole is full before packing, the post may always be loose. You can use most anything that will fit into the hole to pack the soil… a shovel handle, the but end of your masons bar, 2×4, etc. Keep checking that level!!

Installing your mail box on the post Dutch Touch contracting REO

Installing your mail box on the post


If you wish to mount your box directly atop the pole or onto the top of an extended arm, you will use method (1). If you want to hang the box beneath the extended arm, use method (2).

Whichever way you choose, don’t ever nail the mailbox to it’s support… use galvanized or stainless-steel screws. If your mailbox does not outlive your post, you want it to be easy to remove. I have found galvanized square-drive decking screws to be a great choice.

(1) Mount a board directly on the mailbox post or on the arm extending from the post


If you don’t have a board for the post, you must cut a piece of ¾” plywood or pine that will fit into the base of the mailbox. It should be a tight fit widthwise so the box doesn’t bend when you screw it on, and short enough in length so the box door doesn’t hit the board when the door opens. Position the board as you like it on the post or arm and secure it with at least 4 wood screws. I personally use #8 or #10 galvanized square drive screws, 2½” -3″ long. If you are using a post with an arm, you may want to let the board overhang the end of arm for clearance of the door.


(2) Hanging the mailbox under an arm extending from the post


You can purchase a special set of bolts designed for hanging a mailbox at most hardware or home stores. The hardware consists of an eye bolt and an screw eye, interlocked and ready to use. The eye bolt is screwed into the underside of the post arm and the bolt is attached to the top of the mailbox. It may or may not come with a rubber washer to seal the outside of the hole.


If your hardware store doesn’t carry these parts, you can either (1) use an eye bolt on the mailbox and a hook on the post arm, or (2) use an eye bolt and screw eye of the same size and bend either open to allow you to hook them together… then bend them closed. For each eye bolt, you should get two nuts, one for inside and one for outside the box, and a small rubber washer (a faucet washer will do) slightly larger than the nut, for the outside to prevent leaks.


Determine the location of the eye bolts on the box first. Some mailboxes have indentations or raised areas to indicate the suggested location for the eyebolts. Locate and drill the holes in the mailbox. Hold the box up under the arm in the position you want it, and use a pencil to transfer the location of the front-most hole you just made to the underside of the arm, being sure to center it along the width. Measure between the holes on the mailbox, and use this measurement to locate the second hole on the arm. Predrill both holes and install the screw eyes.


Put one nut on each eye bolt, and then push on the rubber washers. Bore out the centers of the washers with a drill if they are too tight for the bolts. Then put the eye bolts through the holes in the mailbox and secure them with the remaining nuts, tightening securely.

NOTE: You can use a dab of caulk instead of a rubber washer. The washer, however, will probably last longer.

mailbox numbers and other interesting facts Dutch Touch Contracting REO

Last but not least… mailbox numbers and other interesting facts


•The post office requires your street address number on the side of the box or post facing your approaching mailman. This is required even if you have your number on your home.

• If your box location is on another street (for example, if your home is on a corner), regulations require that both the house number and street name be on the box or post.

• You do not have to put your name on the mailbox unless you want to.

• Placing offensive graphics, caricatures or effigies intended to ridicule or disparage an individual or group of people is prohibited. People, huh. I guess the cats and cows haven’t started complaining yet!

• Advertising on mailboxes is also prohibited.

Again, this regulation can be waived by your local postmaster for the appropriate consideration. (Only kidding!) So it goes.

For more information, please visit our website:

http://www.dutchtouchcontracting.com/