Sunday, May 18, 2008

Outdoor Potted Plants - Sonoran Desert

There are two clay Mexican pots that I have had for several years in my backyard here in Phoenix, AZ. One of these pots has had regular watering via an irrigation system. Because of that the clay has deteriorated. I have had better long-term results with more expensive glazed pots. This 22" Vietnamese glazed pot was $44 at Costco, which is where I have found the best deals. These are heavy pots and were not easy to move or transport from the store without help.

The plant pictured here is called Hesper Aloe. I worked on a drop cloth to make clean-up easier. First I removed the existing plant out of the old pot. Then I moved the clay pot out of the way. What remained was an impression in the soil and the rock ground cover (popular in this area). That reminded me to put some bricks or something to elevate the new pot up and away from the ground. Next I threaded the irrigation tubing through the hole in the bottom of the pot. Finally I stepped back to be sure the placement is where I want it and that the pot looked level before filling it up with dirt. I did need additional soil. The garden expert at Lowe's advised using this Kellogg Palm and Cactus mixture. According to the Kellogg Garden website, this soil is scientifically developed to provide all cacti and succulents a proper planning medium. Also it is suitable for indoor and outdoor cacti and other succulents. It is a soil replacement formulated from forest products, which helps retain the proper moisture and nutrient levels. Pumice is added for aerification and sand for drainage. For two 22" potted plants, I ended up needing 2-1/2 one sq. cu. bags, which sold for close to $5 per bag at my local Lowe's. To help fill these pots and create some drainage, I layered in broken pieces of the old clay pot, stones, as well as the soil from the previous potted plant. Otherwise I would have needed to buy quite a few bags.

And the completed new pot with freshly planted hesper aloe:

March 2009 Update:
I found these "brown ceramic footed pots" at my local JoAnn's. They are part of their Home Inspirations Ceramic Pottery Collection. This set came in the following sizes:

A) 21.3 inch diameter x 20.5 inch originally priced at $99.99;
B) 16.9 inch diameter x 16.1 inch originally priced at $69.99;
C) 12.6 inch diameter x 12.6 inch originally priced at $49.99.

I happened to get these pots during one of JoAnn's half price weekend sale so they were a great value. I wanted to raise them up off the ground a bit to be more visible, so I located these pavers at Lowe's. As you can see the irrigation system can be easily threaded between the pavers through the bottom of the pot.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bathroom Linoleum Tile Completed

This bathroom floor was completed using Lowe's Cryntel 12" x 12" Italia Stone Bianco Vinyl Tile. Model #11492; Item #81117. It was under $100 to complete. The trick is to start from the center of the room. For some reason I did not remember to do this and instead started from the edge of the tub. The result was that each 12" square tile was just a teensy bit off. A tile expert gave me the tip to caulk wherever there was a slight gap between tiles. This solved the problem. All gaps are unnoticable. Also I no longer have concerns about water getting up under the linoleum tiles. Caulk forgives a lot of errors. Next time I will remember that nothing is plumb and to ALWAYS start from the center of the room.

Cutting these linoleum tiles with a matte knife was the hardest part. I ended up making little paper templates for all the custom cuts. I simply used scrap paper and an Xacto knife. Next I placed the paper patterns on the linoleum tiles and cut with the matte knife.

While this took me a long time to complete because I did it in phases, I am glad I did it. My bathroom looks much better. Before replacing this the old roll linoleum was yellowing and had nicks in it. This is a more contemporary look and hides the dirt much better.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Preparing the Concrete Surface: Part 2

After thoroughly cleaning the concrete surface, getting rid of all the residual glue with scraping and washing, I am now ready to paint on Henry brand 336 Bond Enhancer - Self Stick Tile Primer.

I wrote about this product in my kitchen floor post from November 2007:

"After that was cleaned I prepared the floor by painting on a primer designed to help with the adhesion of the self-stick tiles. It was Henry brand 336 Bond Enhancer - Self Stick Tile Primer.It is described as "A specialized Liquid Latex Primer for preparing surfaces for self-stick tile and flooring adhesives." I found it at the nearby Lowe's. It was watery milky stuff. Not too bad to apply, though. The package recommended a roller. Since it was a small room, I just painted it on with a brush. (Make sure you have your windows open for proper ventilation.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Preparing the Concrete Surface

Today's word is "scrape." Or maybe it should be two words: "elbow grease." Woah its lots of work! Yes, I am developing new muscles (and new blisters) getting every last bit of residual glue from the roll linoleum that I have removed. I am finding that using a water-saturated rag on the area that I am trying to remove the stubborn adhesive helps quite a bit. I let it sit for a good five minutes or so to soften that glue before using my 5-in-1 scraping tool. Since there is no rush to get this floor done, I can work on it in phases. I hope to touch-up all the woodwork this weekend and finish the last of the scraping. If all goes really well I plan to lay the linoleum tiles as well!