Ask TOH | Garden, Shed, Stains
On this episode of ASK This Old House
Inspiring Rooftop and Small Garden Spaces
Landscape designer Jenn Nawada learns about rooftop and small space gardens.
For many rooftop gardens, including the rooftop farm Jenn visited, a structural engineer should be consulted and the extra weight of the garden should be factored in to the building’s design. One way to help with weight is using expanded or “puffed” shale in the soil mix. It is lightweight and not crumbly like vermiculite and also keeps the soil mix grounded from the wind.
After touring the farm, Jenn looked at options for smaller space gardens with gardener Jessie Banhazl.
First, Jenn and Jessie discussed a raised bed made of untreated, rot resistant 2x10 lumber like fir, cedar, or redwood, which can be found at a home center or lumber yard.
Another raised bed option is to use an agricultural trough made of corrugated steel, which can be found at a farm supply store. Jessie drilled holes in the bottom of the tub for drainage using a 1/2-inch drill bit and a drill/driver. She then added landscaping fabric at the bottom to cover the holes, and then covered the fabric with packing peanuts to fill the bottom third of the container, lessening the weight. Jessie even recommended adding casters to the bottom of the trough to allow for a mobile garden.
In really small spaces, Jessie recommended milk crates as 1x1 potting containers, lined them with prefabricated landscaping fabric.
Milk crates can be found at most big box stores and are modular so they can be stacked or lined up to customize garden size.
The prefabricated liner is a square foot fabric planter grow bag, which can be ordered online.
How to Treat Stains on Plaster and Dry Wall
Tom explains the best practices to remove stains from plaster and dry wall.
Where to find it?
Ceiling stains are often caused by water leaks, which can lead to mold. Before treating the stain, kill any mold with a 50/50 mix of bleach and water. It can be put in a spray bottle or a sponge can be used. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when applying the bleach/water mix and avoid drips, especially onto carpet or other flooring.
In this example, Tom suggested using the Kilz Upshot oil-based primer to cover and seal the stain.
As an alternative, Tom also suggested using shellac-based primer Zinsser to and seal the stain which is manufactured by Rustoleum.
Once the primer has dried, Tom recommended an acrylic or water-based paint to top coat.
Bleach, spray bottles, sponges, rubber gloves, oil-based or shellac-based primers, and acrylic and water-based paint can all be found at home centers or paint supply stores.
How to Run Underground Power to a Shed
Scott helps a homeowner power his shed by running electricity underground from his house.
Scott connected the shed to the home’s main electrical panel with a subpanel, which allows him to run individual circuits at the shed.
To run the wiring underground, Scott used 1 1/2-inch PVC conduit. It comes in lengths of 10 feet.
When covering areas of conduit which did not reach code-depth, Scott used a fast-setting concrete manufactured by Quikrete.
The mixer used for the concrete can be rented by the day at home centers.
All conduit, regardless of depth, was covered in sand and caution tape.
To run wire from the house to the shed, Scott used 6-gauge UF (underground feeder) electrical wire in conduit. He also added additional ground protection with an underground copper ground rod.
For individual circuits inside the shed, Scott used 14-2 gauge NM electrical cable which he ran through standard electrical boxes.
For the lighting inside the shed, Scott used two, 4-foot Flush Mount Ceiling White LED Wraparound manufactured by Lithonia.
For the lighting outside the shed, Scott used a White LED Bullet Flood 2x12W with Adjustable Dual Heads manufactured by RAB Lighting.
To add additional protection to the subpanel in the shed, Scott used a panel-based surge protector.
All of the supplies for this project including wires, conduit, concrete, breakers and electrical panels can be found at home centers or electrical supply stores.