Category Archives: Patio

Let The Sun Shine In..or NOT- Installing A Patio Sun Shade

Our bedroom slider (out to balcony) faces nearly due east. Which is great if you are a “get up with the sun” type, and not really a problem on work days when I get up early. But on a weekend, I need the sun to LEAVE ME ALONE until I’m ready for it. It’s not too much of a problem in Northwest Oregon where a lot of our mornings start with clouds, but the clear summer days and heat waves have been causing our bedroom to heat up significantly during the morning hours, making it at least 5 degrees warmer than the rest of the house.

So we purchased a Cooleroo outdoor sunshade:

Coolaroo Cordless Shade

Ours is 96″x96″. The balcony is actually 15 feet, but the sun only comes in right in the middle so we thought this would work.

We started by marking 96″ approximately in the middle of the laminate beam on the patio cover. Then we held up the shade with brackets attached and marked where the brackets would go. Held up brackets and drilled pilot holes for the screws, then installed brackets, leaving screws slightly loose on one side for adjustment.



You can see the brackets have a long hole for adjustment. Personally, I prefer the keyhole style holes, where you can install the screw first (with a drill) and then attach and adjust the bracket. This particular set up made it difficult to fit the drill around the mounting hardware. So as usual, we had to wing it (and use man-power, literally, my husband had to tighten screws with a hand screw driver. Hooray for burly-men!!)

We mounted the shade and then adjusted the left bracket and tightened the screws. You could check for level, but we measured 1″ from the bottom of the beam.



Here’s what it looks like from inside the room


It took us about 20 minutes to put up, including the tie downs to keep the shade from moving in the wind.


The length is adjusted by rotating a rod which hook onto a loop on the right side (so there is no inner spring involved).

I’m not sure how much wind this shade can take, even while fastened to the deck rail, but we will probably be rolling it up and tying it if there are going to be gusty winds.

But it should keep us cooler on the next hot sunny day:)

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Wherein The Porch Explodes With Blooms- Hanging Flower Baskets Arrive

Cue bees! Cue butterflies! The baskets are up!

20150712_163631 20150712_163711

Drippers are dripping! I set the timer to turn off after 30 minutes. Then I will do a trial timer run to make sure it comes on and turns off.

The nursery guy at Godfrey’s advised me to water twice a day (early morning and afternoon) and the to fertilize with liquid (such as Miracle Gro) once per week, making sure to turn drippers off for that day so the chemicals don’t leach out.

We ended up buying the baskets whole because Godfrey’s sells this size for $13.50, and they are already fabulous.

I’ll post an update in a few weeks and we’ll see how the baskets are coming along.

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I Solve My Gardening Skills Deficit With Technology- Installing a Patio Drip System

The West is in a bit of a drought this year, NW Oregon not excluded. In spite of the fact that water falls quite frequently from the sky, our warm winter has left us with no snow pack. This is working out great for me- I now have a valid excuse not to water my lawn this summer. It’s not a great lawn anyway, and now it’s quite yellow. So I decided to pep up my home’s curb appeal with with some hanging flower baskets on my porch.

PROBLEM: This has never worked out for me before; I just cannot remember to water them on a daily basis and usually end up with sad little baskets of death instead, matching sad dead lawn.

SOLUTION: A micro-drip irrigation system on a timer.

Yes. I’m a genius. I know.

So I bought this product for $11.97 at the big orange store:


It comes with everything you need set up a direct water feed for your hanging and/or patio plants.

And also these items, $26 for the timer and wayyy too much for the hose splitter (it’s a piece of crap).


I installed the hose splitter and then connected in-line: the timer, backflow preventer, micro tube adapter. Then connected the tube into the adapter. You really just shove it in and it stays in place. I then attached the tube to the siding near the hose bib with one of the included clips (nailed into siding.)


Then ran the tubing up the wall and across the porch cover.


This was the point where I started adding my barbed T-connectors. The tubing is pretty tight and takes a bit of muscle to get the barbs inserted into it. THIS IS GOOD because it means that once the tubing is on, it’s staying on.

I used a heat gun to make the tubing more pliable and me less angry about it.


Next, I measured the length of the patio cover, it’s 22 feet. I had decided on a total of five hanging baskets so 22ft/5=52 inches (and some change). I made 4 marks 52 inches apart on the beam (creating 5 zones each 52″ long), then placed marks in the middle (26″) of each length where the baskets will hang.

I connected the left end tubing into the main T from the crossing tube, it did not require it’s own T since it is on an end and simply terminates in a dripper.


At this point I went inside to connect the remaining lengths of tubing for the run and their subsequent drip tubes with T’s. From the right of the main T needed 11″ of tube to the next hanger mark, then a T (with a tube and dripper hanging from it) then two runs of 52″ of tubing (each connected by a T with a tube/dripper combo), final run for the right end was 60″ of tubing, again terminating in a dripper.


Had a beverage and measured all my lengths of tube and connected (as they would hang on beam) with T’s and drippers and used heat tool to expand tubing end.

It’s important when using the heat tool that you make sure the tool is on a lower setting (if yours has settings) and always keep it moving so nothing melts or burns (mainly your fingers).

This operations requires “hot hands”. Hot hands are useful for things like grabbing a loaf of hot bread out of the oven, or handling baked potatoes. If you don’t have HH’s submersing the tubing in warm water will also work.

Now to install the tube-assembly on the beam.

20150711_172122 tube

I started using the tube clips (with built-in brad nail), but the system only comes with 10 and I knew I was going to run out. My first substitute was a two-brad “staple” but that pinched the tubing which was going to adversely affect my water flow.

I ended up using a combination of staples fastened horizontally as a “hanger” to which I attached the tubing with a tiny zip tie


and also 7/8″ brad nails, driven at a 45 degree angle with a zip tie around tube and nail.


Of the three types of fasteners, I liked the simplicity of the naked brad nail the best. The clips that come with the system keep the tubes on the wall but don’t stop them from slipping around so I ended up using zip ties on those as well.


As a cabling technician, I have deep affection for zip ties.

Here’s how it looks from the street.


And here is the timer unit with adapter.


I ran into an issue with the backflow restrictor, it leaked no matter what I did (plumbing tape, extra O-ring, extra gasket). I looked this problem up on the Dig website troubleshooting guide and it says water leakage is normal particularly if the system of lines is higher than the valve. So I left it off for now (you can see the puddle) and I’ll either extend the hose bib over to the yard to the right or maybe research a valve that doesn’t flood my sidewalk. But the drippers work and nothing else leaks!

Now I’m ready for my baskets and will no longer be a plant murderer. When I test the timer I’ll post an update.

The whole installation took me about three hours and I did it alone. The system is expandable so I can install window boxes as well and connect a second line with a T connector.

Try it! Tell me about it!

***Update on backflow preventer**
I read reviews about this particular plastic backflow device and they are not supposed to leak until after water shuts off, and then not very much . Apparently the plastic ones are prone to cracking. A brass unit was recommended and that’s what I’m going to get.

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