Almost every home has drainage problems at one time or another. And new home sites may take some time to study how to best drain excessive water in the best way possible.
Runoff from higher ground, driveways, roofs and neighbors’ property all have to be thought out to avoid problems in the future.
The obvious place to start is surface grades. Figuring out how water should funnel down inclines into existing ditches for instance can make all the difference when dealing with a wet spring like we’ve had here.
One of the easiest ways to channel runoff is through a field of stone. You prevent erosion and drain away excessive water without unsightly plastic drains or pipes. Dry stone creek beds always look great running through a low area and can be landscaped with wildflowers or plants suitable to our climate. When these runoff drains are needed they are in place and make short work of all but the largest amount of excessive water.
Surface grade funnels water into a stone gutter that guides the water down the incline. Rocks are set on top of the soil without mortar, but they effectively halt any erosion that might ordinarily take place. They slow the speed of the water as it runs off and provide a more durable surface than bare soil. Interplanting with wildflowers along the edges, softens the rock.
Using stone in your environment is always a welcome substitute to plastic drains. Stone adds a permanence and enhances landscapes as it does in nature. Studying examples of stone gutters may inspire you to brilliance.
Cleaning a spice grinder
Freshly ground seeds of cumin, coriander and fennel don’t just spice up your cooking they also cling to the grinder. For a quick cleanup, run soft, fresh white bread through the grinder to pick up lingering spices and absorb the oil they leave behind.
Planning a wall of pictures
How do you plan a display of framed pictures without leaving a wall of unsightly nail holes? The foolproof method is to use low-tack drafting tape to hang templates of the pictures so you can move them around until you find pleasing arrangement.
First trace the picture frames on kraft paper and cut out the templates. Pull the hanging wire on the back of each frame taut, and measure from the top of the wire’s arc to the top of the frame. On the matching template, measure in from the top edge this same distance to mark where the picture hook will meet the wire. Lay the picture hook itself on the template so that the bottom of the hook is on the mark; make another mark where the nail hole will go. Use drafting tape to hang the template on the wall.
When you are satisfied with the placement of each template, hammer the nails through the picture hooks into the wall, right over the marks in the kraft paper. Rip the paper off, leaving the nails and hooks in place, and hang your perfectly arranged pictures.
Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is a master gardener.