Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Backyard (Page 1 of 5)

Fall Backyard and Putting Finishing Touches on Our Shed

The weather has been getting colder each day, and we had the second snow last week. The mornings have been dark, wet, and cold, making it a real pain to get up. So when I woke up on Sunday to bright sunshine through the bedroom window, I was happy and felt so pumped to be outside. Roxie and Charlie must have thought the same, because they came to me at 7 AM begging to be let out! So we all (except Slav) had breakfast super early and headed out for a play.

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It was the first nice day after a while. Knowing that another cold snap was coming, we wanted to wrap up a few things in the yard. Slav raked all the leaves and mowed the lawn. It was a whole afternoon of work but our lawn looked super neat compared to our neighbor’s:

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Most of the leaves in our backyard came from this crab apple tree. It was a good timing raking the leaves since it just shed all its leaves.

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Charlie loves napping under the sun, and he always get dry leave all over in his fur. Now our boy can stay clean again!

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I begged Slav to mount a pair of vintage ski on the shed to dress it up a little.

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This was the shed without the skies. It was already nice, but I think the skies added some character and made it more “us”.

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Aside from adding the skies, I finally painted the new 2″x4″ trims and exposed rafter and subroof. It has been 6 weeks since the roof was replaced, which left a good portion of overhang with untreated 2x4s and subroof.

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I started by priming everything by hand, but soon found that it was totally a mission impossible – the plywood subroof was unfinished and rough, neither brush or roller would work.

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This little portion took me almost an hour to paint with brushes – not acceptable. I had to break out my paint sprayer.

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After finishing priming, I reloaded the sprayer with the brown paint I used for trims and birch tree stencil, did two thin coats from the bottom to cover the plywood subroof, rafters and the underside of all the trims. The side of the trims facing outside got two coats of bronze paint, which we used on the gutter, trims, and fascia of the main house.

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With the help of the paint sprayer, I was able to finish both sides of the shed in an hour and half, including the time to clean the sprayer between primer and paint.

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At this point, I decided to continue painting the back of the shed brown as well. The backside of the shed was painted green to match the color of the compost bins. However, the green exterior paint we used does not have as good coverage. The compost bins have since relocated, and the green wall by itself just looked odd.

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I continued to spray away. In less than 15 minutes, the shed painting marathon was (thank god) finally done!

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When we picked the paint colors for the shed, we had no idea that it would too get a new roof. Now it did, I am so glad that the color of the shed fits well with the roof and trims – the shed and the house now look like they are intentionally designed to echo each other, a happy coincidence I’d say.

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With the yard cleared and the shed completely finished, we kicked back and enjoyed an lovely evening outside with a big bonfire. Our DIY solar chandelier looks so spooky against the naked branches! Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Setting Up Our Compost

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Composting is now in full force at our ranch! We had composted when living in North Carolina and it was pretty easy. We mostly did the trench bury method, with a bit of help from a tumbling composter. It reduced our food waste so much and we were so hooked. As soon as we moved in our ranch, I asked Slav to keep the grass clippings for composting.

Decide the location of our compost bins

We kept our compost bins in mind while working on our shed (here, here, here, and here). Slav got rid of all the bushes around the shed and leveled the ground at the back, leaving plenty of room for wheel barrel to go around and compost bins.

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We want the compost bins to be tucked away from our views. From our back patio and most of the yard, we cannot see the back and the right side of the shed, making them ideal locations.

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You can probably tell by the way we painted the shed where the compost bins would go. Yes, they will be set up at the back of the shed. We need some covered firewood storage. The rake (part of the roof overhanging at gable end) of the shed is longer than the eaves (part of the roof overhanging the back walls). The back is also longer for us to set up multiple compost bins.

Our compost bins

We got this Rubbermaid bin from one of our many trips to Habitat for Humanity.

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This compost bin has an awesome design. It is 3′ long, 2’8″ wide and about 2′ tall on the sides. It is made with hollow plastic walls that are 2″ thick,  making the inside ~18 Cu Ft capacity. There are six plastic pieces: two on the top and four sides. It has holes all around near the bottom for drainage and ventilation, but these holes are not big enough for rodent to get inside. One side panel has a small detachable piece at the bottom to make removing the finished compost easier.

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I loved the design but unfortunately, this compost bin has been discontinued. Luckily, I spotted another one on Craigslist soon after and snapped it right away. Now I have two of them! The new one has lost its color on the top pieces, but it is still strong and fully functional.

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You can see our old window well there too. I plan to use it as a temporary storage for yard waste so I can add them in layers.

What to compost – C/N ratio is the key

As you might already know, composting needs both carbon-rich materials, such as paper and dry leaves, and nitrogen-rich materials, such as coffee ground and kitchen scrapes. The image below is an easy reference for what you can compost:

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What lots of us do not know, is how to balance the ratio of the carbon vs nitrogen. Too much nitrogen rich material leads to rotten compost piles and terrible smell, while too much carbon makes a dry and inactive pile which takes forever to break down. The right ratio is about 30:1 of carbon to nitrogen (C/N), and all the stuff we usually put in the compost bins already have an internal C/N ratio that we need to factor in. Here is a handy list for estimated C/N ratio for commonly composted items. You can see that fresh glass clippings already have a 20:1 C/N ratio, so does food scraps. Since we have mostly glass clippings and kitchen waste, my compost bins need more “brown” materials.

We have lots of cardboard boxes and egg cartons in hand. So they will be stored in the trash can we place in the shed until they are layered in the bins. This is also where the “window well” container comes in handy – we can dry fresh glass clippings before putting them into the bins to increases their C/N ratio.

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Setting up the bins

I assembled both bins and put them along the back of the shed. I made sure that the detachable piece at the bottom of each shed faces outside (the right compost bin has it on the right side and the left bin has it on the left side), so I can remove finished compost without working in between the bins.

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The window wells are pieced together in the middle for extra glass clippings:

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It is recommended to build “layers” when composting, like this:

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Our compost bins do not have a bottom and sit directly on dirt. At my first layer, I put down some cardboard boxes. They do compost, but I mainly put them there to prevent rodents from getting into the bins:

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Then I started layering in the compost bins on the left. First came dried grass clippings:

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Then a layer of food waste. Since my glass clippings was not as dry as I would like it to be, I did not add too much food waste:

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I then covered the food waste with more grass clippings and kept building my pile, until it was about 2 ft tall:

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Then watered it down:

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Putting the lid on and the left bin is set! This bin consumed all of our food waste and half glass clippings. The next step is to keep it wet and turn it a couple times a month. I am not gonna add anything new into this bin, since adding new material will make the breaking done process waaaay longer. Since I have two bins, I will add new material slowly into the right one while this one is cooking. Hopefully this one will be done by the time I fill up the right bin!

Stacking our firewood

Once the compost set up is finished, I turned my attention to the firewood piling up among the fence. Denver is sunny most of the time but still rains occasionally. We would like to protect our firewood from rain by stacking them under the gable of the shed.

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Remember the right side of the shed we reserved for these firewood?

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This is how it looks like now:

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With the shed painted and organized, the compost bins set, and the firewood stacked, my internal OCD is 100% satisfied – I now have the most organized shed, the coolest compost operation, and the prettiest firewood stash in the Highlands! Now we just need the compost to work!

The Shed Revolution Vlog – Adding Bottom Trims and Finishing the Shed

Hey you! Happy hump day! This post is about the finial product of our finished shed and I cannot help but loading this post with videos and pictures. The Shed renovation started shortly after we moved in, in the beginning of July! It feels great to finally wrap it up.

Yesterday I left you with an almost-painted shed (stenciled on three sides) and an almost-organized interior (need to hang some tools):

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With the back of our shed primed but not painted:

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We almost ran out of brown paint after stenciled the front and the two sides of the shed. So Slav suggested to paint the back with whatever exterior paint we had on hand since the back of the shed is hidden (you cannot see the back side of the shed unless you walk behind it). We happen to have some green paint, With the view from the back of the shed being our green backyard, it actually works better from this angle.

Being on the home stretch,  we were so pumped to get the shed finished. We got up super early on Saturday and got to work TOGETHER. I was very excited to finally work with Slav – we usually work in turns on any given project to take care of different stages of work.  For example, with this shed, Slav did the demo, I power-washed. Slav put up the sidings and trims, I painted. Somehow working together makes this Saturday feel special. 🙂

Here is the start of our day:

We got the same cedar wood used for other trims, as well as one 8-ft long 2×4 for hanging tools inside the shed – all explained in this video.

The trims needed to be sandwiched in between vertical trims, so I marked all of them to remember where to cut, while Slav went out for new blades for our miter saw:

As a newbie, I marked all the trims without considering the 1/8″ loss due to the use of the miter saw. Oops! Thankfully Slav double checked and I quickly remarked all the pieces.

Since this is our first time using miter saw, we started by cutting the 2×4 to warm up. Slav installed them in between the vertical studs; and I put some nails to hold up the gardening tools. It turned out nicely and really saved some floor space.

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See the finished interior (!) in this video:

The small stripe of wood next to the door will be used to hold seed packages:

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It was installed on the left side of the door, next to the white shelving unit:

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And the black unit neighbors the garden tools:

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I broke out my paint roller again and half an hour later, our shed had its bottom trim primed and installed:

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I followed with my paint brush and the last bit of brown paint on the bottom trims, and at the last minute, we decided to paint the exposed roof rafters as well. I think it made the shed look more coherent.

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This is Shed Sloniowski, in its glory:

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We painted the entire back of the shed green:

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In person the green looks a lot darker, more like the forest green and very grounded. This side of the shed is always in shade so my camera insisted on over-exposing it.

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Here you have it, our new shed! After seeing it half-way done for weeks, it felt sooo good to have a finished product. Now it is complete, we already started thinking about adding compost bins and firewood storage. This corner will soon become the most productive site of our whole yard!

 

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