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How to Transplant a Rose Bush

Like pruning, transplanting roses is a task best done in late winter or early spring. You’ll want to be able to dig down in the earth without the fuss of frozen ground, but before the rose bush breaks its dormancy and begins to put forth new growth. Once actively growing, the roses are much more sensitive to such a radical thing as being dug up. Another reason transplanting rose bushes are done at this time is that before transplanting, you must prune the bush and it’s much more convenient to do this at a time when pruning would need to be done anyway.

Before you do any digging, prepare the new site. This means digging a hole about 18 inches wide and 15 inches deep, and having a big pile of rich compost on hand to mix in with the dug soil for when you fill the hole.

Make sure the bush to be transplanted has been well watered – ideally, you will want to water every day for a week. Dress intelligently for the project – wear a long-sleeved shirt and well-fitting gloves to protect yourself from thorns. Have on hand a quality pair of pruners, some loppers, a pruning saw, and a spade.

As with spring pruning, first remove the dead growth, diseased or overgrown canes, suckers, and crowded canes. You’ll end with five or six healthy canes. If possible, chose canes so that you are left with five or six that radiate outward from an open center (picture a human hand held out, palm up with fingers and thumb pointing up as well). Shorten the remaining canes to a level that is one or two feet above ground level (cut the thinner canes shorter and the thicker canes longer). Try to make your cuts at an angle just above an outfacing bud (a small “eye” which will be the source of future growth).

Tip! The receiving hole for the new location of the rose plant should be filled with very organically rich soil.

Now you’re ready to transplant your rose bush. Dig a trench around the perimeter of the bush about 9 inches out. Slice any resistant roots cleanly with your pruners. Then continue to dig down about 15 inches or so, until you can comfortably slip your spade underneath the root ball. Lift the bush out of the ground, being careful to lose as little soil as possible. If you’ve got far to go, a wheelbarrow or container to set the plant it would be a good idea.

Before you set the bush into its new home, create a little mound of your mixed soil to rest the root ball on top off. The object here is to make sure your rose bush will be sitting at the same soil level it was originally – not lower down (making the bush shorter and burying good cane) or higher up (exposing tender root or graft). Make sure to spread out the roots as much as possible. Fill the hole about halfway with mixed soil, then flood with water. As soon as the water drains, fill the hole completely with soil and add a soil “ring” around the base (like a castle wall). Flood the area again – the soil ring will keep the water in the area of your freshly dug soil. Once that has drained, add a little more mixed soil to bring the ground level and compost on top of that.

Tip! Make sure there is enough moisture for the new rose plant to absorb.

Keep your transplanted roses well watered, mulched, and fertilized until they have recovered from the shock of moving. Done carefully (and especially when dormant), roses are hardy bushes that will withstand a little rough treatment and will soon thrive in their new location.

Transplanting Roses During the Summer


Sometimes gardeners find themselves having to transplant a plant such as a rose bush in the heat of the summer. Rose bushes don’t manage summer uprooting and transplants at all well, and more often than not will die in the process. There are however a few ways to “cheat” Mother Nature and have a successful summer transplant.

Tips For a Rose Bush Successful Transplant

When plants are uprooted for a transplant during very warm to hot temperatures, the feeder roots go into shock. While shocking the rocks can’t be avoided, there are some ways to lessen the severity:

  • Transplant the rose bush into a pot instead of directly into the ground.
  • Work early in the morning while the temperatures are cool.
  • Transplant the rose bush as quickly as possible. The longer the roots are out of the ground, the higher the odds of killing the plant.
  • Keep the roots well watered.
  • Mulch the area around the trunk to reduce water evaporation.
  • Prune back the bulk of the rose bush by 50%. This will force growth into the roots.
  • Keep the pot stored in a cool, shady place. A garage or beneath a shade tree are good locations.
  • Keep the soil moist and regularly watered.

Transplanting Roses Directly Into a Pot

If you must move a rose bush during the summer months, the above tips and these instructions will help increase the odds of a successful transplant.

  • Partially fill the flower pot with a potting mix that has been prepared according to instructions.
  • Prune back to rose bush down to the stalks, leaving about 18 inches of cane.
  • Dig up the rose bush, bringing up as much soil as possible with the roots.
  • Gently tap away from the soil from the outermost roots; just enough so that the roots fit into the planting pot. Water. Cover with additional potting mix, just enough to cover the crown. Water again. Cover the soil with mulch.
  • Place the container in a cool, shady part of the yard that only receives morning sunlight. Keep the potting mix moistened to prevent the rose bush from drying out.
  • The rose bush should remain in the pot until the late fall. Once the roots have recovered and the outside temperatures have cooled down considerably, it’s safe to transfer the rose bush out of its pot and into the ground.

Dried Lavender Ideas & How to Dry Lavender

Lavender may be viewed as an outdated flower, but there’s nothing outdated about the soothing effect the fragrance of lavender provides. The purple flower is easy to grow in home gardens for summer beauty and fragrance and just as easy to dry and make sachets for fragrance year-round.

How to Dry Lavender

The fragrance is at it’s peak just before the purple flowers reach full bloom, that is when you’ll want to cut them for drying. Snip individual flower stalks right at the point where the leaves and stalk meet.

Lay the stalks out in bunches of six (any more than six and the flowers won’t dry well) and gather together at the cut stem end. Secure the bunch tightly by wrapping a rubber band around the ends of the stems.

Hang them in a warm, dry area away from direct sunlight. The flowers will be dry and ready for use in one to three weeks, depending on the humidity of the hanging location.

Dried lavender flowers can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container and used at a later date. Dried lavender retains it’s scent for up to one year.

How to Make Dried Lavender No-Sew Sachets


Start this no-sew craft project by removing the dried lavender from stems. Place one bunch (still held together with the rubber band) in a small pillowcase and lay the case on a hard, flat surface. Use a rolling pin and roll over the pillowcase a few times to separate the dried flowers from their stems. Remove stripped stems from a pillowcase, add another bunch of dried lavender and repeat until all flowers have been harvested.

Cut 4 inch by 4 inch fabric squares, two for every sachet you wish to make. Lay one fabric square on a flat surface, pattern side up. Apply a thin line of fabric glue to three outer edges of the square. Place a second fabric square on top of the first one, pattern side down (pattern sides together) and press firmly. Allow glue to dry.

Turn the fabric pouch right side out and fill with lavender flowers from the pillow case. Turn the raw edges of the open fabric end under and glue end closed. Glue a ribbon bow on the lavender sachet if desired. Your dried lavender no-sew sachet is now ready to use in drawers, closets’ or any other place fragrance is desired. My secret use is to place a lavender sachet in the back seat of my vehicle to help keep grandkids (and me) calm while traveling.

Decorative Fun with Dried Lavender

Lots of fun and decorative projects can be done with dried lavender. Dried lavender is not only pretty, but it gives off a soothing scent. The smell of lavender has long been used to ease tension and relieve depression.

Dried lavender doesn’t have to be purchased; it can be created at home. The traditional method for drying flowers is to secure the stems of freshly cut blooms and hang them upside down in a cool, dark area.

If you don’t have time to wait, this process can be speeded up by placing pans of flowers in a 200 degree (Fahrenheit) oven for several hours. Warning, this may change the color.

If you’re crammed for time, you can use the microwave. Most craft store sell desiccant, a material that can help dry flowers in the microwave. However, cheap cat litter, paper towels, paper bags, or towels can also be used. You will have to do some experimenting on how long the lavender needs to “cook” as the wattage and settings of a microwave varies.

Now that you have your dried lavender, it’s time to have some fun with it. Lavender is pretty enough to be displayed on its own. If you want something a little bit nicer, you can try one of these projects. Both projects can be completed in less than fifteen minutes.

Ribboned Wands


Ribboned wands of lavender can be used as place-setting decoration, handed out as favors, placed in a jar or basket, or be hung in closets and bathrooms. For this project, you need dried lavender stalks with flower heads. Plan on using about 20 for each wand you create. However, you can create larger wands if you desire. You will also need floral wire and ribbon.

Arrange about twenty stems of dried lavender in your hand until they are in a nice bouquet. Then, wrap floral wire tightly around the stems. Cover the wire by weaving ribbon around the stems. Tie the ribbon in a bow at the base of the stems.

Holiday Lavender Holders

Holiday lavender holders look great when hung from the fireplace or used as place-setting decoration. They are quick and easy to make. Use ribbon to form a hanger by attaching each end to one side of the doily with glue. Tie and attach two small bows to disguise where the ribbon is glued to the doily.

Next, position the gold tissue paper inside the doily. Be sure to tuck the edges down inside the holder. Use an additional ribbon to attach a large bow to the front of the hanger. Secure the bow in place with hot glue. Fill the holder with lavender and cedar and you’re done.

Coleus Plant: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Coleus

The coleus plant is one of the best plants to grow indoors or outdoors because of its beautiful and vibrant look. The coleus plant is available in many bright shades that can completely transform the way your home looks. You can even choose a coleus plant color according to the wall paint in a room.


Apart from being available in a single color, it is also available in varieties that have multi-colored shades on the leaves. There can be a mixture of pink and green or purple and pink. This choice can be made depending on your likes and dislikes. The different color combinations of the leaves can be seen to help you in your decision before you will actually buy them.

One can find different types of coleus plants for sale at a nearby nursery or gardening center. A cutting or seeds have to be obtained in order to grow at home. This plant is suitable for potting both in the garden as well as indoors in a pot. However, while planting the seeds, one should take care that there is a space of at least two inches between two seeds so as to allow room for the plant to grow unhindered. One can either grow the coleus plant as a standalone plant or in clusters in an area of the garden.

The clusters can consist of coleus plants of different hues so as to make the garden bright and cheerful looking. The coleus plant or painted nettle plant is beautiful and can become the focal point of the garden or any indoor area. If one is looking for a specific color, one can ask a gardening expert to develop this and then bring the seeds produced by such a plant home.

Species of Interest

The species of coleus most commonly grown as a houseplant is the flame nettle or painted leaves (Coleus blumei). There are several forms and hybrids of coleus from which to choose. You might be interested in collecting some of the following:
‘Brilliancy’: crimson-red leaves with golden-yellow edges.
‘Golden Bedder’: lemon-yellow leaves, which turn a deeper golden color in bright light.
‘Pink Rainbow’: copper-red leaves with green bands and bright red veins.
‘Sunset’: pale-green leaves with a pink patch in the center.

How to Grow Coleus – Planting, Growing and Propagation


The coleus plant needs a certain amount of care to be able to grow properly. The right amount of sunlight and adequate watering is required so as to ensure that it does not become unhealthy or that it will not die. At least six hours of uninterrupted sunlight is required for the coleus plant to be able to grow. Daily watering is also required for its development. Plants that receive the maximum sunlight showcase the most vibrant colors in their leaves as they grow. A certain amount of taming and pruning is also required. This can be done on a frequent basis to ensure the orderly growth of the leaves. The flowers that grow on the plant can simply be cut off to maintain a uniform look of the leaves.

Start With Seeds Or Plants

Coleus seeds can be started indoors six weeks before the last predicted frost date by placing the seeds in a container of potting soil, or the seeds can be sown directly into outdoor flower beds or containers in spring when all danger of frost has passed. Coleus plants can be planted directly into the soil of a flower bed when the soil has warmed up in the spring and frost danger is past.

Planting Location

Coleus prefer fertile, well-drained soil. Read the plant label to determine if the type of coleus purchased grow best in sun, shade or partial shade and chose the planting location accordingly.

Coleus Care

Most gardeners don’t want coleus to bloom unless it’s for seed production. The bloom is rather insignificant and causes the plant to look leggy. To prevent the leggy bloom and force new side growth, pinch the flower spikes off as soon as they appear. Pinch off any unwanted new growth as needed to keep it looking tidy.

If seeds from the coleus are desired for re-planting the following year, allow the coleus to bloom and dry on the plant, then harvest the seeds and store until next season. Hummingbirds are attracted to coleus’ flowers, so a few permitted blooms late in the season will garner seeds and hummingbird sightings.

How To Propagate Coleus

Favorite or heirloom coleus are easy to propagate and grow throughout the winter as indoor houseplants. To propagate, cut off a 3-5 inch section from a non-flowering stem. Remove the lower leaves of the stem and place it in the cutting in a small container of good quality potting soil or perlite. Place the container with the coleus cutting in a warm, bright, indoor location out of direct sunlight and keep planting medium moist. The cutting will develop roots in four weeks and can be transplanted into a larger container for over-wintering as a houseplant. The propagated coleus can be grown year-round as a houseplant, or the new propagation can be planted outdoors next spring.

Coleus Tidbits

Coleus is a member of the mint family. All varieties are rapid growers that will fill in borders or flower bed gaps quickly. The leaf shape and architecture are almost too numerous to list include round, elongated, small, large or lobed leaves that end in ruffles, scallops, furled, fringed or serrated edges and add to the versatility. There are literally hundreds of varieties with a multitude of leaf colors to choose from.

How to Grow Coleus from Cuttings


With so many varieties of Coleus available on the market today, you could spend a fortune trying to increase your collection. Instead of going out and buying each variety, you can grow your own from stem cuttings. There are two ways to root Coleus cuttings. You can either grow them using soil or grow them in using just water.

To Grow Coleus from cuttings you will needs the following items:

  • Access to your favorite coleus plants
  • Shears
  • Small pots with good drainage
  • Water
  • Potting mix

When growing Coleus from cuttings, the first thing you need to do is prepare your growing medium. Filling each container with soil, water thoroughly. Allow all the excess water to drain out and water again to insure that all the soil has been moistened.

Next begin by taking cuttings from the Coleus plant. Choose stems that have new growth, appear to be healthy and free of diseases or illness. You can either choose to cut a whole stem or to just take tip cuttings. Either way, insure that your cuttings are 3-4 inches with at least 1 set of leave on the top of each cuttings.

Next, gently push each cuttings into the soil. You will want to be gently to insure that you don’t break the stems which will prevent them from rooting. Leave at least 1 inch in between each cutting. Depending on the size of your pots, you should be able to put 4-6 cuttings in each pot. Larger pots will be able to hold much more.

Once your cuttings are planted water them well. Allow them to drain and then place in a greenhouse, near a window or in a partly-shaded area.

With in a 1-2 weeks you should be able to see new growth and can assume that your Coleus are rooting. If you are not sure use your finger to move the dirt from around one cuttings. Gently pull the tip above the surface to check for roots. Be very careful as not to disturb the roots on other cuttings. If roots have formed you can now transplant the Coleus cuttings into larger pots.

Growing Coleus Using Water

To grow Coleus from cuttings using the water method simply take cuttings as mentioned above. Fill small cups, bottles, or other non-draining containers with perlite and fill with water. Perlite is not required but does help the process by holding up the cuttings so that they aren’t leaning or sitting on the bottom. Maintain freshwater in the containers and within 1-2 weeks you will have new cuttings. Simply pull the cuttings out from time to time or when changing the water to see the progress of your new roots.

How to Grow a Coleus Plant Indoors


Many home gardeners decide to grow a coleus plant in their house plant garden. The coleus plant is one of the most ideal plants for growing indoors, and truthfully, even the blackest thumbs in the gardening world should be able to grow a successful coleus plant indoors with minimal difficulty. In order to grow successfully indoors as a potted plant you will need to offer it five things: appropriate soil, appropriate light, food, and water and adequate pinching.

As with many other types of plants, the key to growing successful coleus begins with picking the appropriate potting soil. Picking the wrong type of potting soil is akin to providing a shoddy foundation for your house and expecting it to stand. Just as a house with a bad foundation will crumble, so too will a plant with a lousy potting mix. It is particularly susceptible to root rot, and a heavy soil will soak up too much water, leaving the plant’s roots drenched with too much water. This will ultimately kill the plant. Thus, while coleus has fairly easy standards for potting soil, in comparison to many other types of plants, but whatever you pick must be a light mixture that drains easily.

The second major aspect that a successful coleus needs in order to grow are plenty of light. If you do not live in an area that provides ample natural light, this is not only okay but might actually be better for your plant in the long run. Many growers report better, healthier, and larger plants from artificial lights rather than natural ones. But even if the plant does not get natural sunlight, it is important to grow the coleus in temperatures that range from seventy to eighty-five degrees.

The third and fourth steps to a healthy plant are water and fertilizer. Ideally, the soil of the coleus is moist, but not wet enough to become soggy, in order to help forestall any instance of root rot. Along with water, a diluted mixture of fertilizer should be added to the plant’s soil.

A fifth and final step to growing healthy coleus plants is to make sure any budding flowers are pinched off to prevent allowing to go to seed.

With plenty of food, sunshine, pruning, adequate potting soil, and cautious watering, a coleus plant can make an ideal novice entry into an indoor garden.

How to Grow a Coleus Plant Outdoors


The coleus plant, in all of its breathtaking splendor, is typically grown indoors. There are many reasons for this. The primary reason is that it requires a definite temperature in order to grow and can be easily killed if the temperatures dip too low. The easiest way to control what temperature your plant is growing in is by growing the plant indoors. A second reason the coleus is grown indoors more often than not is because the coleus is actually very easy to grow indoors. In fact, it’s one of the easiest plants you can pick as a starter plant. Despite these two factors, many coleus fanatics have begun opting to grow the coleus outdoors as well. While a bit more tricky than growing a coleus indoors, growing the plant outdoors should not be that big of a challenge.

The most essential aspect that must be kept in mind when growing the plant outdoors is that a coleus should only be planted ourtdoors once the temperature outside has reached a consistent temperature of at least fifty degrees Farenheit. Lower temperatures will kill off your plant immediately.

Another consideration is that the plant must have plenty of light. Getting the right amount of light to an outdoors coleus plant can be tricky because while they need and soak up plenty of bright, full sun, they contrarily grow quite well with a minimal amount of shade. Shade is not one hundred percent necessary for an outdoor coleus plant to thrive, and if you are in doubt about the shading for your plant, it is better to err on the side of caution of too little shade and more sun. However, coleus plants grown with adequate bright sun and minimal shade typically experience thicker foliage that is, by and large, brighter.

A third concern for your coleus plant is the soil, which must be light enough to allow the roots room to breathe. Ideally, the soil used to grow the coleus would be neutral or marginally alkaline. Fertilizers can help adjust native soils to meet this standard. Each coleus plant you seed must have at least twelve inches apart in order to help them grow.

Moisture retention is a considerable issue, also. Adequate water will keep the soil wet on top, and mulching will help if you live in a particularly dry area.

By making just a few simple changes to the typical coleus care, you can transform a highly regarded indoor plant into a gorgeous outdoor decoration as well.

Coleus Alternatives: Six Proven Annuals to Use in Place of Coleus


Coleus is widely grown as an annual for its dependable leaf color throughout its life cycle. Coming in mixtures of purples, pinks, oranges, green, lime green, and white, coleus is a staple for areas of partial to full shade. But what about when Coleus cannot be grown, or when gardeners want to change things up? Let’s look at six plants that can be grown in place of coleus.

1. Rex Begonias

Rex begonias provide similar color and size as coleus. They come in shades and mixtures of green, red, pink, purple, and silver. Although more limited in color than coleus, they make up for it with a variety of different leaf textures, shapes, and patterns. Plants grow about 12-18 inches tall and wide and grow best in shaded areas with rich, moist, but well-drained soil. They cannot stand wet conditions, too much fertilizer, or sun. Rex begonias have become popular recently, and new varieties are always being introduced.

2. Caladiums

Caladiums can be grown as a shade-loving annual. Plants range in size and can grow over two feet in height. Leaves are heart-shaped and come in mixtures of green, red, pink, purple, white, and silver. There is a lot of variation in the pattern of color and in shades of the colors, which more than makes up for Caladium having less of a color range than coleus and less diversity of leaf texture and shape than rex begonias. Because all parts of the caladium plant are poisonous, they should not be grown if children or pets are likely to try eating the plants.

3. Hypoestes Phyllostachys

Hypoestes Phyllostachys or polka-dot plant grows well in shade and has leaves that are speckled or mottled with white, pink, purple, or red over green. Polka-dot plant grows a foot tall and wide, and does well in partial shade and hot temperatures. Plants can be pinched to keep bushy or allowed to grow freely. It comes in many shades of pink and complements other annuals.

4. Ornamental Sweet Potato

Ornamental sweet potato comes in purple and lime green and grows in sun or part shade. The purple comes in cut leaves and heart-shaped leaves. Sweet potato provides a different habit as it is a vine, and the lime green plants contrast well with other leaves. Plants in partial shade will exhibit a greener shade as opposed to being more yellow in the sun.

5. Iresine

Iresine or bloodleaf grows much like coleus and comes in shades of red, green, and pink, but mostly red. It grows about two to three feet high and grows in sun or shade. The more sun, the better the color is drawn out. Iresine can tolerate wet conditions and does not like drying out.

6. Strobilanthus Dyerianus

Strobilanthus dyerianus or Persian shield grows about two feet wide and tall, with large purple and green leaves. It resembles coleus in color, but the plants do not vary much in color and shape. However, the Persian shield is an addition to the shade garden that adds diversity and variety to the annual color.

These six annuals provide good color variation and are viable alternatives to coleus. Having a variety of annuals allows the garden to stay productive as different plants have different requirements and so the soil does not deplete or harbor disease as easily. These annuals will provide variety to the garden and balance or replace coleus well.

How to Set Fence Posts in Concrete

Learning how to set fence posts is the first step in building a sturdy fence that will stand for many years. While there are many ways of setting fence posts, this tutorial explains how to set them in concrete. This is one of the easiest methods for homeowners that want to construct a permanent fence.

Step 1: Use string and stakes to delineate the perimeters of the fence. Along the strings, mark the location of every intended fence post. Now is also the time to decide how to address obstacles like trees or terrain changes.

Step 2: Dig holes the location of each stake that are 24-36 inches deep, depending on the height of the fence. The holes should be roughly 8-12 inches in diameter.

TIP: Use a auger or fence post digger to dig the holes. You can also have a company come and dig the holes for you using a tractor attachment or other tool.

Step 3: Add a couple of inches of gravel to the bottom of the hole to encourage drainage.

Step 4: Set the pole in the hole, cutting it as necessary to have the correct height above ground. Mix enough concrete to set two or three posts in holes.

TIP: Don’t mix too much concrete at once: it will start to cure very quickly and is easiest to work with in small batches.

Step 5: Use a carpenter’s level to make sure the post is plumb once it has been cut to it’s final size and is sitting in the hole. Use 2×4’s to steady the fence post as necessary to avoid unnecessary movement.

Step 6: Fill the hole around the fence post with the concrete. Check one last time to make sure that the post is plumb. Angle the surface of the concrete so it encourages water to drain away from the fence post. This will prevent water damage in the future.

Step 7: Move on to the next hole using the same techniques to set the post.

Step 8: After the first fence post’s concrete has set for a few hours, remove the supports. Continue removing supports until all the posts are standing on their own.

How to Dry Wet Plywood

Wet plywood can easily mold, rot, or warp if the situation is not addressed promptly. Often plywood is damaged when left out in an unexpected rainstorm, although a plumbing leak in your home can also damage already installed plywood. Whatever your situation, use these methods to stop as much lasting damage as possible.

Step 1: Make sure any leak or other problem is addressed before you attempt to dry the plywood. If the plywood is mobile and was simply left outside by mistake, bring it to a well ventilated area, such as a garage to dry out.

Step 2: Wipe away as much of the moisture as possible from the wet plywood with a dry cloth. Change rags often to prevent spreading water to dry areas of the plywood.

Step 3: Lift loose plywood and lean it against some sturdy chairs or other items that can support the weight of the wood. Standing up the plywood will allow it to dry more quickly than a stack of plywood on the floor.

Step 4: No matter where the wet plywood is located, turn on a few fans to get the air within the room circulating and aid in the evaporative process. If you live in a particularly dry climate, this may be all you have to do to prevent your wet plywood from experiencing more damage.

Step 5: Turn on a space heater to keep the room warm, which will also aid in the drying process. Keep in mind, however, that wet plywood should be kept away from extremely high temperatures, which er can cause the grain of the wood to raise. Of course, if the plywood will be covered, this may not be a concern.

Step 6: Keep at least the fans going for several days until the plywood is completely dry. For plywood that is actually part of your house, it may take several weeks for the plywood to dry: make sure to keep the air circulating and dry to prevent mold and mildew problems at a later date.

How to Repoint Brick

Repointing brick walls gives you an opportunity to remove crumbling mortar and prevent water damage by making necessary repairs on the wall. While repointing the exterior of a historical home should best be left to the professionals, repointing freestanding brick fences or other walls is a good project for a careful homeowner. Keep in mind that this project requires the use of a chisel, so be sure you are comfortable with this tool before starting the project.

Before beginning, keep in mind that different mortars are appropriate for different types of brick walls. Historical brick is softer than modern brick, and will react poorly with modern mortar. Adding modern mortar to the wall could cause cracking. Instead, use a traditional mixture of lime and sand to create a mortar that will not damage the brick wall.

Step 1: Remove the crumbling mortar between the bricks with a flat head screwdriver or chisel. Only remove the mortar that is not firmly attached to the brick: do not attempt to chip away the mortar at this point.

Step 2: Remove any cracked areas of mortar using a cold chisel and hammer. Make sure in any areas you want to repair that at least an inch of mortar is removed from all sides of the brick.

Step 3: Clean each mortar joint with a wire brush. This will ensure that any debris is removed from in between the bricks and bits of crumbling mortar you may have missed are promptly removed.

Step 4: Mix the mortar you intend to use for repointing the brick. Pay particular attention to the ratio of water to mortar mix: too much water can cause the mortar to crumble over time.

Step 5: Fill a mortar bag with your mixed mortar.

TIP: A mortar bag looks like the bags used to hold frosting for cake decorating. Most home improvement centers carry this tool.

Step 6: Pipe mortar into the cleaned joints between the brick wall using the mortar bag. Fill the joint completely before continuing to the next section.

Step 7: Use a small trowel to shape the mortar joints so they match the original joints in the wall. Try to avoid getting any mortar on the face of the brick: wipe any mortar from the face of the brick with a sponge immediately to prevent staining.

How to Tell When Your Well is Going to Run Dry

If you live in a rural or semi-rural area, you may rely on a well for your water needs. While most wells will provide the necessary water for your home without problems, years of drought or man-made changes in the water table can cause your well to run dry.

If you experience a persistent problem with any one of these indicators, or experience more than one problem at once, you should immediately get someone to test your well. A water recovery test will determine the condition of your well and a professional should be able to tell you if you can pump out your existing well or if a new well will have to be dug.

Spitting and Sputtering

A good indication that your well may be running dry is spitting or sputtering at the faucet. This could indicate that the well pump is having difficulty pulling enough water from the well. Instead of a steady stream of water, the water mixes with air in the line as the pump attempts to pull water from above the water line. When you turn on the tap, spitting and sputtering occur, indicating a lack of water in your well.


Well water should taste clean and without smell. Any alteration in the smell or taste of your water is a good indication that something has gone wrong with your well. The lack of water in your well causes impurities within the well itself to become more concentrated. As your well begins to run dry, it causes an unpleasant taste.

The moment you notice a funny taste to your water, switch to bottled water for your drinking and cooking needs. Contact your local university’s cooperative extension: they should offer water testing services or referrals to make sure that something has not infected the well. If the water is free of contaminates, your next step should be checking the water depth in your well.

Cloudy Appearance

The cloudy appearance of the water coming out of your faucet is a good sign that something is the matter with your well. As the water available in your well is reduced, sediment can mix with the remaining water, causing a cloudy appearance to the water. The water may also taste muddy.

How to Replace a Metal Door Threshold

Metal door thresholds can accumulate dents and dings over time. If your aluminum metal door threshold looks a bit worn, you can replace it in about a half hour. Metal door thresholds are also an easy fix for homeowners who do not have a door threshold, or are concerned about installing a wood threshold in areas where the wood is likely to rot.

Step 1: Remove and discard the existing threshold. For metal thresholds, you should locate and remove any screws fixing the threshold into place. For wood thresholds, you can simply remove the threshold with a pry bar.

Step 2: Clean the surfaces surrounding the door as well as the footprint of the previous door threshold using an all-purpose cleaner or wood soap, depending on your flooring materials. Allow the area to dry thoroughly, or dry it with a rag before proceeding.

Step 3: Determine the necessary length of the door threshold to fill the width of the door using a measuring tape.

Step 4: Cut the metal threshold using a hack saw to fit the door threshold. Use a metal file to remove any sharp edges from the cut edge of the door threshold.

Step 5: Place the metal door threshold into the door frame. Use the screws sold with the door threshold to fix the metal door threshold into the flooring below.

TIP: If the new screw holes align perfectly with the old screw holes, you may find that the holes may be too large, preventing a tight fit. To fix this problem, fill the old screw holes with toothpicks and wood glue and allow the holes to dry. Saw off the toothpicks so they are flush with the surrounding floor. Then proceed to screw the threshold into place.

Step 6: Caulk both sides of the door threshold where it meets the floor. This will further reduce the chance of any drafts coming from the door threshold. Use white or clear silicone caulk as appropriate for your own particular flooring.

TIP: Now that your door threshold has been replaced, check the rest of the door. Add and replace weatherstripping as needed, and paint or seal the door if the finish is damaged.

How to Remove a Cast Iron Clean Out Plug

Cast iron clean out plugs are found in older homes to aid in removing clogs and other obstructions in the plumbing system. However, if your plumbing system is in good repair, you may find that you rarely have to remove it. Over time the cast iron plug may rust, making it very difficult to remove. In this case, there are a few things you can try to make the job a bit easier. Once you’ve got the plug out once, make a note to unscrew the plug twice a year. This will help prevent any problems with the cast-iron cleanout plug sticking in the future.

Step 1: Coat the seam between the plug and the rest of the plumbing with a penetrating lubricant such as WD-40. Allow 30 minutes to elapse before proceeding to the next step to allow the lubricant to work its way into the seam.

Step 2: If you see any visible rust along the plug and the plumbing, scrub it away using a wire brush. Reapply penetrating lubricant if you have to do any scrubbing and wait 30 minutes. If you don’t see any rust, skip this step and proceed.

Step 3: Use an adjustable pipe wrench to firmly grasp the peg at the end of the cast iron clean out plug.

Step 4: Give the pipe wrench a good pull, trying to turn it counterclockwise. If you can’t turn it with your bare hands, use a mallet to hit the end of the adjustable wrench and therefore turning the clean out plug.

TIP: If a couple of hits don’t yield any movement, reapply the penetrating lubricant and wait 30 minutes before attempting to try again.

Step 5: Once the wrench has begun to turn, continue turning it until you have completely removed the clean out plug. After the plug has been removed, conduct any plumbing repairs.

Step 6: Clean the threads of both the cast iron plug and the pipe it screws into with the wire brush. Coat the threads of the cast iron plug with penetrating lubricant. Screw the plug into place, giving it a couple of turns with the adjustable pipe wrench to ensure it is secure.

How to Fix a Burn on a Laminate Kitchen Counter

Laminate kitchen counters are easy to burn or scorch with a hot pan. To avoid damaging your kitchen countertop, you should always use a trivet. However, if an accident does occur, you can try a few different methods to fix the burn on a laminate kitchen counter.

Step 1: Create a paste with baking soda and water. Use steel wool to work the paste into the burned area, and lift the stain.

TIP: If a baking soda paste will not lift the stain on the counter, try using Ajax or Comet and water to create a paste to attempt to lift the stain.

Step 2: Use a sponge and water to remove the paste after you have finished scrubbing. Dry the area with a rag.

Step 3: Buff the kitchen with carnuaba wax to provide a small layer of protection and restore shine to the area.

TIP: If your laminate counter has reduced shine all over, you can buff the entire surface with carnuaba wax.

Sometimes you won’t be able to buff the burn spot away. The pan could have burned through the layer of laminate, making a serious mark that will not be able to be fixed by removing the burn marks.

Step 1: Fill the depression in the kitchen counter top left by the burn with two part epoxy and a metal putty knife. Clean the knife immediately after use. Allow the epoxy to harden for the full time recommended by the manufacturer before continuing.

TIP: Only mix enough two part epoxy for the job, paying particular attention to the required proportions. Once mixed two part epoxy must be used within 20 minutes: a chemical reaction, not outside air, is responsible for epoxy hardening.

Step 2: Sand the area with a fine grit sandpaper to remove any rough patches. Use a tack cloth or soft cloth to remove any dust that was a result of the sanding.

Step 3: Apply laminate sealant to the surface of the epoxy patch and the surrounding kitchen counter to blend the sealant.

TIP: If your kitchen counter appears to be a bit worn, clean the rest of the kitchen counter thoroughly, then apply laminate sealant to the entire surface. The sealant should restore the shine to the entire kitchen countertop surface.