Terrific Broth

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

Category: Landscaping (Page 2 of 3)

The Shed Revolution II – Rebuild The Walls and Our Plan for the Garden Pad

Yesterday we left off with a skeleton of the shed. Today, we are working on the new siding!


We got these pressure-treated, weather-proofing plywood from Lowe’s as new sidings. We are not looking forward to getting it completely sealed. All we need it to function is as a storage for our gardening tools and lawn mower. So plywood + some paint is perfectly sufficient.

Slav cut the plywood to size and bolted them onto the studs with screws:


It was not long before all the sides were up. The studs are not perfectly square – actually, the whole structures slops down to one corner. So there are some gaps between plywood sidings. We will cover them with trims down the road. Slav also cut some odd pieces to fill the gaps between the siding and the roof rafters.


Roxie, the daddy’s girl, was cheerleading for Slav the entire time:

Slav cut the door to size but left it unattached. It is much easier to paint when it is off the hinges.


We also want to paint the trims a different color than the siding, so Slav cut all the trims to size and left them unattached. I am the painter in the family, so the ball is totally in my court now.


This was what Slav left for me at the end of his work day. Clean, organized, every trim labeled, and all tucked under the roof. This man does construction the same way as he does cell culture inside a biosafety hood. Gotta love a man with good work ethics.


As soon as Slav finished his work, it started raining everyday for two weeks. It prevented me from painting the shed, but our lawn could use some water, so the rain was very well received. At the mean time, I did what I could do indoors – paint the door hardware for the shed.


I included door handles from our interior doors too since they all gonna go black. We replaced our stove drip pans a while ago, so I used them to pop up the door handles to make the paint job easier.

We have two black spray paint cans in hand. I had to say that the Rust Oleum one worked waaaay better than the Valspar one for this application. With Rust Oleum I got much better coverage – you really just need one coat. I had to use three coats with the Valspar to make the golden shine disappear.




The rain also gave me some time to think about the storage. Our gardening tools has grown a lot since we moved in. We used to just have a few shovels and racks, and now we have a lot more long-handled tools, a lawn mower, a wheel barrel, two short electrical saws for branches, a long saw for high branches, a hedge trimmer, and two leaf blower/vacuums. We also want to store a trash can in the shed for carbon-rich materials for future composting, such as cardboard, newspaper, and dry branches.




If we are lucky, we may be able to fit the Christmas stuff there too – they are green, right?


The shed is only 8′ x 11′, so we need to be smart on how to store all the tools. We want them to be in a single layer, meaning that you can get to any of them without removing or climbing over mountains of others.


And this is the plan I came up with:



We plan to put three shelves on the left for small tools and garden pots. and build a container at the right corner for lumber storage. The long-handle tools including shovels and racks will be hung along the back wall, so they are easy to reach and off the ground. This plan will give us enough room in the middle to park the lawnmower and wheel barrel. We should still be able to walk around them to get to all the tools.

The rain finally stopped after 15 days. It is time for paint! I got a Wagner paint sprayer a few weeks ago and cannot wait to put it into use. It supposed to make painting large surfaces a lot faster!

The Shed Revolution I – The Demo


I am so excited to show you this project we have been tackling for the last two months – our garden shed!  This is the longest project we have worked on so far, pretty much from the week we moved in. It wasn’t a lot of work, but it was not a high priority and always took the back seat when other projects went on. But we finally finished the shed last weekend and we could not be more happy with the result! In today’s post, I am gonna show you how we go from the rotten shed above, to this:








The shed was in bad shape when we moved in – all the sidings were rotten, trims started raising from the studs, and many shingles were missing on the roof. There were nothing but trash inside – used construction materials, broken electrical tools, buckets of unknown liquid, and some weird gas tanks. There were shelves running the back side of the shed, and a work bench was left behind, but they were constructed with thin plywood and started sagging in all places.



Cleaning out the shed

The first thing we did was to haul away the construction trash and cleared out everything from the shed:



We also needed to trim the trees and bushes around the shed. As you can see from the photos below, several tree branches were laying on top of the roof and definitely contributed to the missing shingles.



After trimming


Slav also trimmed off some low branches and bushes at the back of the shed, so we had enough room to push a wheel barrel around it.


After cleaning and trimming, we finally had chance to take a good look of the shed. Luckily, all framing studs and roof rafters were in good shape. The studs were bolted down to the concrete pad with galvanized bolts, and the whole framing structures were solid as a rock.



This discovery changed our initial plan, which was to take down the shed completely and rebuild. What we decided to do instead, was to get rid of all the trims and siding, basically demo the shed to the studs, and refresh the shed with new sidings, trims and the roof. We will be adding new storage in the shed to custom-fit our need. Instead using it as an over-flow storage, we would like to make it a garden shed that could get a lot more use.


Or a dog shed? Roxie seemed to enjoy the empty concrete and immediately went in for a nap. Maybe we should leave the shed as a playhouse for the dogs?

Demo the shelves, trims and siding

Now we had a game plan, Slav grabbed his pry bar and got to work:



The rotten trim and siding did not stand a chance – they came right off – sometimes with just bare hands! Removing all the nails and screws took even longer.



Soon, we had a clean frame to work with! We left the roof intact at this moment, since we have not learned roofing yet. There will be the phase II for the shed.


Slav also leveled all the ground around the concrete padding so we can set up proper drainage. There was quiet a bit of loose concrete at the back of the shed and he removed it with a much bigger pry bar.




Powerwash and seal the framing

After all the debris cleaned, the shed was ready for new sidings. But before we do, we would like to give the existing framing a good wash and a protective coat. After watching Slav power-wash our fence, I was eager to give it a try myself. So I volunteered to wash the frame clean.

The dirty frame before


After wash!


It was so much fun – I even wrote Slav’s name on the work bench:


After everything dried, Slav applied two coats of linseed oil on the framing. The studs looked so much better that we could hardly tell that they were old lumber from decades ago.


Now it is time for new siding and trims! We got pre-treated, weather-proofing plywood and trims from Lowe’s and a brand new miter saw from Harbor Freight Tools. The shed is about to look sooo good!



The “New” Old Fence

Hi friends! Last time you got to see our back yard, was back to when we did tons of clean-up work. We cut down dead trees, trimmed dead branches off the living trees, and weeded our way around the property (~9000 sqft of it!). After a few days of elbow grease, we were left with this:


Before we start planting and plant our dream garden, we have an important issue to address: the fence. Like I showed you in the site plan of the ranch, our backyard is fenced by three types of fencing – wooden fence AND chain link on the left, wooden fence at the back, and chain link fence on the right and the front. As much as we appreciate that the yard came pre-fenced, the different types of fencing makes it look choppy, especially at the back of the yard:


The picture above shows a corner of the backyard, where the old wooden fencing meets the chain link. We hope to replace the chain link fence soon, but the back fence still consists of two different colors of fencing.

It is apparent that some sections of the wooden fence were more recent than others.


The darker panels are older. They are still holding up, but just barely. Some boards are warping away from the post:


And some others are split:


One hot afternoon, Slav took his hammer to the back fence and reinforced every single board. He also replaced a few of the broken panels with some backup ones we found in the shed. The plan was to paint the lighter panels darker, hopefull to match the darker panels.

In preparation for painting, we decided to power wash the fence. Besides getting the fence clean, we hoped that power wash would lighten the darker panels a bit, so we would not need to paint everything almost black!

It was apparently very difficult to wash aged wood clean in one go. It took Slav 5 hours to wash all the back fence! He first sprayed deck and fence cleaner on the fence, a few panel a time, let it sit for 5 minutes, then pressure washed. After he finished with all the panels, he came back around and washed everything once again.


From the photo above, you can see how much lighter the darker boards got after their first wash! From right to left, the different colors of sections are: unwashed lighter panels, washed and dried darker panels, just washed darker panels, and unwashed darker panels. What a difference!


It was satisfying to see black water coming off these old boards! But some of them ended up on Slav so it was not cool at all.


May I present you – our new old fence!


Isn’t it sooooo much better? We were in such a shock that the “dark” panels were really just dirty! I am sure that they were older, so years of dirt have made them much darker. But really all of them are the same kind of panels!

This surprisingly good result (always welcome!) changed our plan of painting the fence – with the color being nearly uniform, and the wood surface looking fresh, we will be sealing them with linseed oil to offer some protection.

At the meantime, we are enjoying this:



You may still be able to tell the difference between older and newer panels, but we could not be happier to go from this:

Ranch house - 2

to this!


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