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Wondering How to Build a Straight Fence? Try post anchors.

Learning how to build a straight fence is much easier with post anchors.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge in building a fence is keeping it in a straight line. This is often the most time-consuming part of any project. A deck, for instance, requires a lot of measuring to get it precisely square. Fences are less forgiving of mistakes, however, and even slight errors will result in an awkwardly crooked fence.

The challenge is in anchoring the posts. To anchor a typical fence post you have to dig a hole, place the post in the hole, and then fill the hole back in while making sure that the post’s height is correct, that the post is in line with the others, that it is the correct space from the last post in the sequence, and that it is plumb—or perfectly vertical. Errors may require you to pull the post out, dig the hole again, and start over. It’s a lot of labor, and many DIYers learn to live with a crooked fence. If you use post anchors, though, learning how to build a straight fence is a lot easier, and this allows you to install your fence posts without cement.
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front porch renovation ideas

A front porch doesn’t always need a complete overhaul to give it new life. Sometimes simple front porch projects are enough to bring a new look to a home.

Not long after my friend married and bought his first home, his wife headed out of town for a cruise with her mother and sister. While they were gone, my friend planned to host a series of low-key boys nights at his house. But when we arrived with my friend at the new house, we found that the battery in his garage door opener was dead, and because he never used his front door key, the lock wouldn’t turn. And, of course, he didn’t have the key for the fence padlock with him. I ended up having to jump the fence and open up the back door so we could get in. The result of all this was that the neighbors called the police, worried about the strange man they saw running through the backyard.

My friend is not alone. There are many people who go straight from their garages into their homes day after day, and as far as they’re concerned the front door and its porch may as well not even exist. Spending time outdoors is something they do in the more spacious backyard. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. The right front porch renovation ideas can make the front porch a more attractive place to spend time. A cozy porch can add value to your home, encourage you to get to know the neighbors, and help you reclaim an underused space.

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Repurposing a pergola plan is one of the best carport design ideas.

The best carport designs provide more than just a place to park.

When I was growing up, the house next to my grandparents was a rental, and it was forever being changed and altered as tenants moved in, changed things to their liking, then moved on. It appears that the landlord was very permissive, because one tenant converted the garage into a den, only for the next to be at a loss as to where he should park his 1967 C2 Corvette Stingray.

His solution was to build a sort of lean-to next to the house. It was a ramshackle affair made of pressure-treated lumber and roofed with semi-transparent corrugated green plastic that never sealed no matter how much caulk was applied. Even at seven years old I thought it was ugly, and unfit to house such a classy vehicle. When that tenant moved out, the next renter tore “the shed” down because it leaked, meaning that it was a pretty lousy place to work on your car and a pretty lousy place to put patio furniture. If your vehicle is pretty enough to protect–or if it just gets you where you need to go–then it’s worth considering the best carport design ideas that will actually protect it.

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pergola swing ideas

A pergola with a swing can be a fun, functional addition to a yard or patio.

My aunt–the same one who recently put in a raised garden bed–has a small patio which has been sitting mostly empty for some time now. She doesn’t have room for a big structure, but her patio definitely needs something that will make it an attractive place to relax and socialize. After talking about the options with me, she’s decided to go with a pergola swing. This is a great project for her, as she’s a relative DIY beginner. After brainstorming more than a few pergola swing ideas, we came up with one that will be the perfect fit for her patio area.

Pergola swings are fun projects because they’re easy. You don’t need a permit to build one and you can do it in a weekend. However, just because no one will inspect it doesn’t mean you should skimp on safety. A sturdy pergola swing starts with a strong pergola to hold it up. With a solid structure and powerful hardware in place, the rest of the project will go smoothly regardless of what type of plan you choose.

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Your pavilion roof truss design will depend on the pitch of your roof.

Pavilion roof truss designs will vary based on the size of the pavilion and the steepness of the roof.

A long time ago, while repairing a detached garage for my mother, I had an epic argument with her about cutting replacements for the top chords of a truss that had rotted away. An experienced electrical engineer, my mother, upon hearing the word ‘slope,’ had decided that the slope-intercept form of the equation of a line would deliver all needed dimensions and angles. Words were said, I had to spend three days doing a task that should have taken three hours, and in the end, I vowed never to do handyman work on an engineer’s home—especially not an electrical engineer—and certainly never for a blood relation.

Needless to say, a mathematical formula used to determine the features of perfectly straight lines in an infinite theoretical plane doesn’t have a lot of relevance to structures that are distinctly finite, and built of wood, a material that often has to be worked into straightness as you build. Instead, the key factors to consider with pavilion roof truss designs–and trusses for any structure–are the dimensions of your structure, the geographic area where you live, and the aesthetics of how you want it to look.

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This asian inspired pergola design uses a red stain.

Red paint or stain, ornate hardware, and a privacy lattice can all help to give your pergola an Asian flair.

I have a client who is in the middle of a feng shui redesign. You might know already that feng shui is an Eastern design style used to maximize energy flow. The garden is one of the most important parts of this design philosophy, which is why my client was looking for an Asian inspired pergola design to set off her new, Eastern-style garden. I thought this was a great idea, as pergolas are easy to adapt for this type of design and there’s a wide range of options to choose from.

In an Asian design, pergolas are used to highlight water features, mark garden paths, and even to expand a home to include an outdoor living space complete with privacy screens. Often more elaborate than standard pergola designs, Eastern-type pergolas can be a bit more challenging to put together. However, with the right hardware and a good plan, it’s possible to create a beautiful, unique, and feng shui-friendly Asian pergola for your yard.

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screening in a gazebo can make it a more pleasant place to spend time

A screened-in gazebo or pavilion can offer versatility and protection from sun and insects.

I have a good friend from college who always wanted a screened-in front porch, but didn’t quite have the kind of porch that would be easy to screen in. As an alternative, I suggested a stand-alone structure that she could put in her large backyard. I pointed out that a nice, old-fashioned screened-in gazebo would improve the value of her home while giving her the screened-in space she always wanted.

Screening in a gazebo, in my opinion, adds a lot to the structure. It offers some protection from bugs and wind, while letting the light in so you can enjoy the view. This is a project that doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated–particularly if you’ve already got the gazebo and now just need to add the screens. Here are some things to keep in mind as you’re planning your approach to screening in your gazebo.

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one garden bench design idea is to add an ornamental insert into the backrest

A simple bench design can serve many purposes, and can even be tweaked to create a gardening station.

There are a lot of great accessories you can add to a yard without having to spend a lot of money. One time, I decided I had to have a rustic garden bench in my backyard–it was the perfect addition to my big bed of peonies–but all the benches I considered were a bit too pricey for my budget. But I remembered I had a lot of leftover wood and hardware from other projects that I could repurpose. In the end, I built a simple garden bench design that fit my landscape for next to nothing.

Building a garden bench yourself is a great option as it’s a beginner project that most people can finish in a day. It’s a good low stakes way to get your feet wet on building outdoor structures. On top of that, this is a design that is easily and safely adaptable. That means there’s sure to be a simple bench design that will fit your vision for your yard. In that spirit, we’ve got a few garden bench design ideas for your project.

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how to build an outdoor shower enclosure

Building an outdoor shower enclosure is a great way to keep dirt and mud where they belong–outdoors.

If you have a child, dog, and hard floors of any sort, then you probably sweep or mop every day, multiple times a day (or, you wish you could). My friend was in exactly this situation and the solution he hit on was surprisingly affordable: an outdoor shower enclosure. His version was just three walls and a door with a showerhead on a hose hooked up to an outdoor faucet. It’s perfect for hosing down canine and child alike, and since he has a pool, it’s a good way to wash the chlorine off after a dip without having to go to one of the bathrooms indoors.

My friend’s wife, on the other hand, loves the functionality of the structure but hates how it looks. My friend is an incredibly practical man, but, sadly, has the artistic sensibilities of a cinder block. If something gets the job done, its looks just sort of fade into the background for him–at least until his wife brings it to his attention often enough. He already knows how to build an outdoor shower enclosure, but what he needs to know now is how to build one that looks good.

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Gazebo Truss Brackets

Gazebo truss brackets not only need to hold up to the outdoor environment, they need to look good as well.

Recently, one of my friends invited me to a barbecue. My response was to be instantly wary. As someone who’s worked in construction for over a decade, my friends and family are always inviting me over and then sneakily asking me if I’d mind giving them a quick hand with something. But my buddy assured me he just wanted to put the new gazebo he’d just built to use. Predictably, once he’d thrown the burgers on the grill he pointed up with his spatula at one of the metal plates in the gazebo ceiling, and asked me, “Is there anything you can do about that?” It turns out that he thought those silver-colored fittings were ugly. As I talked to him about his gazebo truss brackets it became apparent that neither my friend nor his guests knew what a truss or a truss bracket was, or did. One said he’d always thought a truss had something to do with “male” support.
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