Cool Ideas for Shade in the Summer

With the summer months come higher temperatures and, humid or not, it can be hard to enjoy spending time outdoors when the heat turns up and the sun is right overhead.  Also, if you plan on having a BBQ, a family gathering, or anything outdoors, you want to make sure that your guests have some shade to escape to when it gets too hot.  It’s times like these that a canopy from Harbor Freight Tools can be a life saver!

popup canopy

For instant shade pretty much anywhere, nothing beats the portability and convenience of a Pop-Up Canopy.  Canopies are easy to place and provide cool places to relax or to keep food during an event.  They also make setting up a yard sale or bake sale easier than ever!  And the best part is that they can be taken down just as quickly too. Then just store them away until they’re needed again.  The pop-up canopies are available in white, blue and green covers that resist moisture and fungus to stay durable and sturdy.  But, in the words of Levar Burton from Reading Rainbow, “you don’t have to take my word for it.”

“Bought this in store last year for tailgating, and have used it many, many times since. I’ve left it up in my backyard for a few weeks, and it stayed put with appropriate anchoring through some light wind and inclement weather. It folds down and fits in the storage bag, which has wheels, very easily with two people.” – TheGremlyn from San Diego, Ca

tilt canopy

Or, if you want to get fancy, check out the Quick Clamp Canopy.  If you have a picnic table up to 10 feet long, you can make a simple upgrade just by attaching this innovative canopy to it!  And as the sun moves, you can tilt the canopy to the perfect position so you’ve always got it made in the shade.   Coming in at $99.99, it’s an easy and affordable addition to your picnic table that will provide countless days of pleasant shade on those sunny days.

canopy storage bag

While you’re at it, you might want to pick up some canopy related accessories.  There are a few anchor options like the Earth Anchor Canopy Set for $18.99 or the Easy Hook Anchor Canopy Set for $19.99.  Another helpful item to consider is the Canopy Rolling Storage Bag for just $34.99.  This is especially useful for anyone using their canopy at multiple locations but is also just a great place to store your canopy when it’s not in use.  And, with three conveniently-placed wheels, you’ll save a little extra work by not having to lug the canopy all over the place.

The 10’ x 10 ft. canopies run between $69.99 and $219.99 so there’s something to fit any budget.  And for larger get togethers or events, the 10’ x 20 ft’ pop-up canopy is $299.99, and that’s for 200 square feet of coverage!  You’ll want to have lots of memories from the summer but don’t let a sunburn be one of them!  Pick up a Harbor Freight Pop-Up Canopy and keep cool and covered during any time of the year.

Building the Ultimate Greenhouse

Congratulations on purchasing your new One Stop Gardens 10’ x 12’ Greenhouse!  Growing vegetables, cultivating flowers or starting your botany experiment is now close at hand but did you know that you can get even more out of your greenhouse with some extra time, materials and patience?  I recently came across a great article that highlights a few ways to expand your greenhouse in ways that you might not otherwise think of at http://hfgh10x12.blogspot.com/2007/08/this-is-greenhouse-we-bought-link-it.html.  Let’s take a look at how you can take your greenhouse to the next level with just a few adjustments.

The greenhouse kit comes with a steel base that you would generally just place on the ground.  The author of this article explains how to add some extra stability to your greenhouse in order to resist any weather conditions you may encounter like strong winds and heavy rain.  “The popular solution is to build a wooden foundation, anchor it into the ground somehow, and mount the steel base on top,” she says.  “Everyone finds their own way to do this, but most use at least 4 x 4 sized timbers for the base.”

 

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You’ll also want to add a couple of diagonal beams at each corner before mounting the greenhouse base itself.  With your greenhouse secured to a foundation, you can keep the base square and tight for years to come.  And once you’ve got the steel base mounted to the wooden foundation, just apply some clear silicone caulk between the wood and the base to keep rain water from seeping in.  In order to maintain the integrity of you greenhouse, you’ll need to plan for all types of unforeseen weather and environmental conditions.  You can choose from a few different caulks on Harbor Freight’s website too, from Painter’s Acrylic Latex Caulk to Acrylic Latex Caulk plus Silicone.

Now you’re ready to start putting up the walls of your greenhouse.  The article has a little tip to keep your frame and posts straight during construction as well.  “As you put the corner posts up, temporarily attach the [included] diagonal braces for stability.”  You’ll have to remove them before moving on to the next step but this way you can work with a bit more peace of mind and keep the aluminum frame straight and accurate until you add the vertical wall studs.  It’s a good idea to check that the base is still square before moving on and make any necessary adjustments.  It’s much easier to make minor adjustments as you go rather than a big one later.

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Once you’ve got the greenhouse frame constructed, there are a few things you can do to upgrade it for stability in windier areas.  The article advises to add horizontal braces at the tops of the walls to prevent the side walls from pulling away from each other.  You can do the same for the front and back walls.  Just attach a solid piece of material all the way across each wall to reinforce the structure and keep the elements from potentially warping the frame.  The author explains how you can also keep the steel base from flexing:  “This can be done by bolting small plates of some type to the top and bottom lip of the base at regular intervals, or by covering the inside of the base entirely with wood that’s also attached to the top and bottom lip of the base.”

 

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It’s also easy at this point to add insulation to your frame, she continues.  “We used ¾” thick expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) insulation, cut into strips about 4 ¼” wide. We also stuffed some foam sill insulation in there first to remove as many air pockets as possible.”  You can protect that insulation and further reinforce the base by attaching boards with screws to the top and bottom lips of the base.  As the author says, “Now the base is insulated and stiffened by the attached board…and it looks a little dressier, too.”

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Well, at this point, you’ve got yourself an extra strong frame of a greenhouse and you’re ready to move on to inserting the panels.  The author of the article sealed the ends of each panel with aluminum tape to help keep dirt, condensation and bugs out.  “I bought one roll of 1 ½” wide aluminum tape (not duct tape) and cut it into thirds, so I only have a small taped rim visible on the panels.  On the bottom edge, it’s apparently good to have small holes in the tape to allow moisture to escape. You can buy special breathable tape from greenhouse supply websites for this purpose, but others have mentioned using a large pin to poke holes in the tape in each chamber on the bottom edge of each panel.”

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How about weather stripping?  Well, the author has a suggestion for that as well.  “Instead of caulk, I used 3/16” thick closed cell foam weather stripping in each panel opening. Closed cell foam is waterproof so rain can’t soak in.”  The larger gaps on the tops and bottoms of each panel are also mentioned.  “I found some packages of ¾” wide weather stripping.  I used that, cutting each strip in half with scissors, so it was 3/8” wide. It worked fine and turned out to be a soft gray color that was hardly visible under the panels after installation.”

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Okay!  So now that you’ve gotten your greenhouse constructed and ready to withstand those heavy winds, you’re ready to add even more awesomeness!  That’s right, there’s still more you can do to enhance the greenhouse to make it more attractive and convenient.  The author added long benches to each side of her greenhouse along with several peninsula-style benches.  “Each long side bench is supported by two pressure-treated 4x4s, buried 24″ deep and set in concrete.  [Then] two horizontal Douglas Fir 4×4′s were clamped to either side of the two pressure treated posts. The horizontal 4×4’s were attached by using a 12″ long 3/8″ drill bit to drill a hole through all three 4×4′s. A length of 3/8″ all-threads rod was inserted in the hole and capped on each end with a washer and nut.”  This addition will provide plenty of shelving space plus ample free space underneath for tools, equipment and supplies.

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If you want to get really fancy, the author even added a sink to her greenhouse and explains how it can be used for added benefit.  “The sink drain isn’t connected to our house plumbing. It drains into a gravel pit we dug in the floor, and the soil beneath the gravel is the coarse sand of our yard. Another option for the future would be to route the drain water through the wall of the greenhouse and outdoors to water a planting bed.”

Still want more enhancements to your bodacious greenhouse?  The author of this article really decked hers out to include some pretty cool additions to improve functionality.  She added electrical outlets with plastic covers to keep out moisture, Aluminet shade cloth screen panels to keep temperatures down and even an exhaust fan as a way to let air out.  These are obviously more advanced enhancements but the possibilities are there for those willing to put in some extra work.  And for those hoping to use their greenhouse continuously, they can be a real help, as the author states, “Without this fan I wouldn’t be able to keep plants in the greenhouse year round…our summers would be far too hot. With this fan in place, as well as some additional small fans for HAF (Horizontal Air Flow) and generous amounts of shade cloth, I’ll have a fighting chance.”

As you can see, getting your Harbor Freight greenhouse built is only the beginning of your journey and you’re limited only by your imagination!  I don’t know about you but I would love to have benches, a sink, air conditioning and weather stripping in my little home garden.  For anyone who wants to get serious about their plants and flowers without spending serious money, this is the way to do it.

Daylight Savings Solar Ideas for the Yard, Garden & Patio

 Not a big fan of Daylight Savings Time, not by a fur piece. It’s bad enough The Man wants to take away everything else from us, but a whole friggin’ hour? You ask me, it’s time to draw the line in the sand. We may have lost that hour, but we can damn well get it back– and then some!…

…with quality, affordable outdoor solar lighting products from Harbor Freight. In an earlier installment, I talked about  the always-popular Decorative 3-Piece Solar Light Set , the garden-pleasing 4-pc. Solar Light Set, the path-illuminating 10-piece Stainless Steel Solar Light Set and the motion-activated 36 LED Solar Security Light. This time I wanted to pass along a few other solar gizmos that work great to enhance your property:

Perfect for decorating your patio, deck, backyard tree trunks, balcony pillars, porch or stair railing, awning, garden fountain, boat, campsite, or as a foot light for the base of your spa or in-ground pool– the Solar Rope Light from One Stop Gardens concocts an attractive, low-cost ambience for your property! Each 22-ft. rope light includes 50 soft, long-life LED lamps, creating a warm, pleasing accent while providing practical illumination. The solar rope light fully charges with 6-8 hours of daylight and automatically turns on at dusk, providing up to 8 hours of light. It also comes with a ground spike and mounting hardware. At $9.99 per rope, it would behoove you to get a bunch of them.

For a more dramatic lighting effect, consider the easy-to-install One Stop Gardens 2-pc. Solar Spotlight Set– smart-looking, bright, and there’s no wiring involved! Each solar spotlight has 3 LED lamps and a weatherproof solar panel that charges during the day. These are great for highlighting gardens, landscaping, driveways, steps, front or back of the house, flags, fountains or other water features, and more. They can be mounted on the wall or staked into the ground and are fully adjustable for precise effect. Each 2-pack sell for a low $14.99!

Go to sleep every night draped with the image of Old Glory, proudly alit, waving as a sentry outside your home. The Solar LED Flagpole Light is ideal for lighting your flag or brightening up the exterior of your house. The light hasf 3 bright LEDs that automatically turn on when the sun sets, after charging up during the day. It’s is fully adjustable to any angle to shine the light down,providing up to 8 hours of light. Priced just right at $19.99.

And don’t forget– there are even BIGGER savings when you use the Harbor Freight 20% Off Coupon!

Harbor Freight Stamps Again!

The steel letter / number stamping sets that we sell at Harbor Freight Tools get a lot of mileage with crafters. A little while back I posted about plant markers made from spoons with the help of one of these sets. Today I found an equally crafty idea from Grey Luster Girl. She made plant tags out of soda cans, string, and a Harbor Freight Tool stamping set.

DIY Pop Can Herb Tags

check out these super crafty DIY pop can herb tags from grey luster girl!

Happy Flag Day!

We Americans love celebrating our country: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day. They’re more than just a chance to throw a barbecue, they’re an opportunity to honor those who lived and died for this nation, and a time to celebrate the privileges we have. But what is Flag Day? How did it come about, and why should we observe it?

Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the Stars & Stripes as the first American flag, which took place June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Not only was this a significant step in symbolizing the new, independent nation, it came about on the second anniversary of the birth of the Continental Army. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In observance, Americans across the country fly the flag all week–, National Flag Week– as a petition that we always remember the roots of our nation’s history.

Instead of simply posting an American flag on a bracket above the garage, why not proudly fly it on a flag pole for all in the neighborhood to see? Harbor Freight carries both a 20 ft Telescoping Flag Pole Kit (95598)– able to carry two flags…

harbor freight flag pole kit

–and a 16 ft. Telescopic Flag Pole Kit (92901).

harbor freight 16 ft flag pole kit

Both made by One Stop Gardens, they assemble and mount easily into the ground, and are made of sturdy, rust-proof aluminum.

This year, President Obama has signed a proclamation– as all our presidents have since 1949 and beyond– encouraging Americans to fly our flag proudly. We always do.