#MyOSHProject: A Backyard Oasis in An Afternoon

Been longing for a quiet backyard getaway? Creating a customized escape in your backyard is easier than it sounds. All it takes is a few hours and a trip to your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware store.

What you’ll need:

Quikrete® All-Purpose Gravel

Quikrete All-Purpose Gravel

Laredo Stepping Stones
(In 3 shapes and 2 colors – Cream and Tan)

Laredo Stepping Stones

6-Pack Ground Cover Plants

plants

Gardena 3-Piece Bistro Set

Bistroset

Decorative Outdoor Pillows

Pillows

Ready to get Started?

  1. Find a level area in your yard or garden. Don’t have a level area? Talk to an expert at your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware store about the tools and tips you’ll need to create one.
  2. Lay down the gravel
  3. Place stepping stones approximately 4-in from each other. Be as creative as you like in laying out a pattern
  4. Plant groundcover 4 to 6-in from each other to allow room for growth
  5. Add a bistro set (or garden bench), toss on some pillows, grab a book, and enjoy!

Find a store near you or shop online.

5 Beautiful, Easy-to-Grow Evergreen Plants

Polygala x dalmaisiana (Sweet Pea Shrub)

Team Osh Guest Blogger Paul Lee Cannon…

“I like to think of the front and back yards of my Oakland home as one big test garden. My partner and I have lived there since 2003 and I’ve pretty much been gardening like a madman ever since. Like most home gardeners, I’ve killed my fair share of plants over the years (even lantana!), but thankfully my gardening successes have outgrown its failures. I attribute the bulk of this success to smart plant choices: opting for those that can still look beautiful despite challenging growing conditions like poor soil, inconsistent light or irrigation, and heavy foot traffic. Heaven knows, my garden has all of those.

Here are five tough-as-nails plants I’ve enjoyed growing not only for their beauty but because they can, in the words of my first horticulture teacher, “thrive on neglect.” Once established, each requires little if any water and maybe an occasional trim. Yep, they’re that easy, plus you can find them at most nurseries, including the Orchard nursery. So go ahead, give one or several a try. Happy gardening!

Salvia clevelandii (California Blue Sage)
Salvia clevelandii (California Blue Sage)

Salvia clevelandii (California Blue Sage)

Come summertime, up pop pretty pale-purple/blue spikes of whorled blooms above soft grayish-green foliage with a sweet, musky scent. This mounding, upright evergreen shrub can quickly grow 3-5 feet tall and 5-8 feet wide. I keep mine in check by pruning half of it back after the blooms have come and gone, and it always seems to spring back more vigorous than before. Plant in a spot that gets full sun and where the soil drains well. That way it’ll become the envy of neighbors and hummingbirds alike. For deer, not so much.

Polygala x dalmaisiana (Sweet Pea Shrub)
Polygala x dalmaisiana (Sweet Pea Shrub)

Polygala x dalmaisiana (Sweet Pea Shrub)

Talk about a nonstop flower plant show! This fast-growing evergreen shrub goes gangbusters with magenta-colored, sweet pea-ish blooms from spring through fall. Give it full sun or part shade with little to no irrigation once established, and it’ll grow 3-5 feet tall, 4-6 feet wide. I noticed this past fall that it reseeds easily so I transplanted several seedlings to fill gaps in the garden, and so far so gorgeous! Sweet pea shrub is also a fabulous low-hedge alternative for boxwood, and performs wonderfully in pots. I actually noticed one growing in a concrete urn in Lisa Vanderpump’s garden while watching “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

Teucrium chamaedrys (Wall Germander)
Teucrium chamaedrys (Wall Germander)

Teucrium chamaedrys (Wall Germander)

A tidy, ground-hugging evergreen shrub, wall germander is grown mainly for the small, glossy, dark-green foliage. But boy do the bees go gaga for the whorls of loosely spiked pinkish-purple blooms in summer. Give it full sun, well-drained soil, and average amounts of water, although it can tolerate less optimal conditions. I grow some in part shade that I barely water and they’re just fine. I am particularly impressed by the one on our parking strip that’s endured countless clobberings from our truck’s passenger door. This toughie’s a moderate to fast grower, reaching 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide. If it gets unruly, simply shear it back to the ground and in a few weeks it will reemerge more vibrant than ever.

Lobelia laxiflora (Mexican Lobelia)
Lobelia laxiflora (Mexican Lobelia)

Lobelia laxiflora (Mexican Lobelia)

This easy, shrubby groundcover plant has a fast, spreading habit that makes it ideal for covering large areas. The blooms are slender little trumpet-shaped wonders (perfectly engineered for hummingbird beaks!) in shades of red and pale orange and cover the plant pretty much all year long in our mild climates. Skinny, tapered leaves lend attractive texture and lushness. Topping out at about 2 feet tall with a 5-foot spread, it typically requires only occasional water once established. I’ve had one in my front yard for at least 10 years now and rarely water it, which keeps it well behaved because it tends to ramble too much if the soil is moist. In sun or shade, it’s content either way.

Bulbine frutescens (Stalked Bulbine)
Bulbine frutescens (Stalked Bulbine)

Bulbine frutescens (Stalked Bulbine)

Let’s start with this evergreen groundcover plant’s good looks. The matte-green leaves are linear and fleshy, like chives. It’s a fast grower with a height and spread of 1-2 feet. Bulbine has an upright, clumping habit and spreads by underground stems (rhizomes). From spring through fall, reed-thin stalks rise above the foliage and culminate in spikes of fuzzy, star-shaped, lemon-yellow flowers which attract butterflies. Once established, bulbine tolerates drought and can live on little water but looks and flowers better with occasional irrigation during very dry or hot conditions. Share the love – thin plantings by dividing the clumps and giving them out at your next plant swap. A single cutting from my neighbor more than 10 years ago is now a glorious specimen that keeps on giving.”

#MyOSHProject: Make a Container Fountain in 7 Easy Steps

Potted container fountain.

Few things are more soothing than the sound of falling water. You can create your own fountain from almost any kind of outdoor-ready container. All you need is a few hours out of an afternoon, and a trip to your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware store.

What you’ll need:

Outdoor Ceramic Pottery

Outdoor Ceramic Pottery

Pond Boss® LIT Container Fountain Kit

Other items to consider:

Pond Boss® Pond and Stone Sealant, Safety Goggles, Original Mud® Gloves, 40-ft 16/3 Indoor/Outdoor Extension Cord, Western Hawk™ 12-Volt Drill Kit, Mission Concrete Products Cobble Top Paver, Pebble Rock or Water Plants

Instructions:

TIP: Clay pots will need to be water sealed. Spray the inside with 2 to 3 coats of the sealant. Be sure to let dry between coats.

  1. Select a spot. For convenience, choose a spot that has easy access to an electrical outlet for the pump. If the perfect place isn’t close to an outlet, don’t forget an extension cord.
  2. Pick a pot. The sky’s the limit here. Just make sure that it’s wide and deep enough to accommodate the pump.
  3.   Drill a hole in the bottom on the planter using the 1.24-in drill bit. This is for the pump cord.
  4. Place the pump inside the planter, running the cord through the freshly drilled hole.
  5. Use the rubber stopper on the cord to plug the hole.
  6. Fill your planter with water until the pump is fully submerged. The Pond Boss® is great because it lets you choose from several spray options.
  7. Plug in the pump and your serene scene is complete.

Pro Tips: Wear safety goggles while operating any electrical tool and place a paving stone under the planter to elevate it and allow the cord to move freely.

Now you’re ready to make your container fountain even more personal with decorative stones and water plants. Ask any Nursery associate for advice.

#Projectosh Nuts About Jewelry? Create Jewelry with Everyday Hardware

Sometimes hardware is just hardware. But in crafty hands it can become a necklace, bracelet, or any bolty-y bling you can think of. With more fasteners than you can imagine plus all the materials you’ll need in our store, you’ll have enough wearable hardware for any occasion.

Check out the styles we created here or explore our metallic treasure and let your imagination shine.

Hardware Chevron Necklace

ChevronNecklace

What You’ll Need:

  • 8-10 corner braces (Zinc and Plated Brass)
  • 32.5-ft twisted mason line.

Instructions:

  1. Stack desired amount of corner braces together. Thread a 4-ft line through both holes so that you’re left with an even length on each side.
  2. Tie a double knot at the top of the stack on each side so that the corner braces stay together snugly. Make sure at least a foot and a half of line remains on both sides.
  3. Tie the ends together in a secure knot (Make no more than two knots for optimal comfort). Cut off any excess length.

Hardware Hexnut Bracelet

Hexnut Bracelet

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 strands cut into 1-yd pieces
  • 18 small brass hex nuts

Instructions:

  1. Gather the 3 strands of twine and tie a knot at the top, leaving about 2 inches of slack. Start braiding. Begin braiding in the nuts around 1-in down.
  2. Before you bring the far left strand over the middle one, slip on a nut, push it against the base of the braid, and cross over.
  3. Before bringing far right strand over middle one, slip on another nut, push it against base of braid and cross over. Remember to hold thumb against base of braid to keep nuts in place. Repeat step 2.
  4. Repeat the steps, by threading the rest of the nuts to the outer pieces of twine before they are crossed over. Thread, cross, thread, cross. Finish the bracelet with another inch of braided twine and a knot.

Tip: Add some extra bling with a quick coat of gold spray paint.

Before braiding, place nuts on an old newspaper and coat once with spray can. Let nuts dry, flip them over, and repeat.

The Ultimate Guide to Light Bulbs – The Only One You Will Need

Collection of LED Lightbulbs

We only really think about light bulbs when it’s time to replace them. Then there’s a jumble of letters and numbers and bases to consider, and what the heck is a lumen anyway?

To answer all your most pressing questions about light bulbs, we’ve put together this handy guide. By the end, you’ll be able to tell the difference between BR and PAR, and why you should be more concerned with lumens than watts. Let’s start with bulb types.

Energy Source

There are four basic bulb types: LED, CFL, halogen, and incandescent.

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)

LED Bulb
LEDs are essentially tiny semi-conductors that convert electricity into light. The chips are often housed in a protective dome that is sometimes coated to help produce a higher quality white light.

LEDs emit what’s known as cold light, which produces light without wasting energy on creating heat. They can be powered by batteries or even the sun, depending on the fixture.

They are resistant to vibration and shock and light up with no delays or flickers, regardless of how hot or cold the ambient temperature is.

As LED technology improves, each new generation of bulbs uses less and less energy to produce the same brightness. Plus, each bulb tends to last around 35,000-50,000 hours.

They come with a variety of bases and shapes, so they can be used in most common household fixtures.

bases

You can even convert some fluorescent fixtures to LED with specially designed LED linear tubes. These “plug and play” tubes fit into existing fixtures without having to rewire or replace the ballast. Added bonus: they don’t contain mercury and won’t shatter since they’re not typically made of glass.

If you need a traditional A-shaped bulb, there are two models to be aware of: multi-directional and omni-directional bulbs.

Multi-directional models tend to have a large heat sink at the base of the bulb and emit directional light only. They’re great for pendants and sconces, but not so great for table or floor lamps.

Omni-directional bulbs emit light in all directions without casting unwanted shadows.

Since LEDs don’t have a filament, they don’t burn out like incandescent bulbs. Their lifespan is measured by lumen depreciation, or the decrease in brightness over time.

In fact, if you look on the packaging, you’ll often see a number called “L70” – that’s the point at which the LED produces 70% of its original brightness. When you see a lifespan of 50,000 hours, it really refers to the number of hours it takes for the LED to hit L70.

CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights)

Desk lamp using a CFL bulb.

CFL bulbs contain a ballast that drives an electric current through a tube. That tube contains the element argon and a special coating. As the argon is electrified, it generates invisible UV light that reacts with the coating to produce visible light.

If you’ve ever had a CFL in your home, you may have noticed that it can take a few minutes for them to reach full brightness.

They initially need more energy to light up, and that kickoff process can take up to 3 minutes. After the initial electrical push, the ballast regulates the electricity flow, making the CFL up to 70% more efficient than a traditional incandescent.

Some CFLs include decorative covers like a globe or reflector. Because of their unique shapes, these bulbs tend to start up a little more slowly than bare spiral CFLs.

CFL bulbs have an estimated lifespan of 7,500-20,000 hours. However, they can burn out earlier when used in short bursts. That’s why you’ll often see fluorescent tubes used in office buildings, where they’ll be on for extended stretches. Constantly turning them on and off can decrease lifespan significantly.

Keep in mind that most CFLs and fluorescent tubes aren’t made for outdoor use. They are prone to failure in colder temperatures.

CFL bulbs are available in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and can be used in nearly any fixture that uses an incandescent. Unfortunately, not all CFLs are dimmable. You’ll have to check the packaging to see which ones to use when you’re creating mood lighting.

Once upon a time, CFLs were only available in that bright bluish light you typically see in hospitals. These days they come in several color options, including ones that mimic the warm yellow tones of incandescent bulbs.

Remember that all fluorescents, including CFLs, contain small amounts of mercury. If one shatters, let the room air out for 10-20 minutes, and then carefully sweep up the debris into a sealed container. Avoid vacuuming, as that can kick chemicals up into the air.

Your best bet is to take tubes, CFLs, and broken fluorescent bulbs to a recycling center so they can be properly disposed of. Your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware store recycles these bulbs – simply take them to the customer service desk.

Halogen

halogen-bulb

Halogen bulbs are really just incandescent bulbs that have a little halogen gas trapped inside with the filament. Like incandescents, halogens emit light because the electricity heats the tungsten filament until it is white hot, at which point it emits light.

The main difference is the halogen – it helps recycle burned-up tungsten gas, making the bulb use electricity in a slightly more efficient manner.

Halogen bulbs are not considered hazardous in the same way that CFLs are.
They use up to 25-30% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and have an estimated lifespan of 3,000-4,000 hours.

They are fully dimmable, just like incandescents. And unlike CFLs, they brighten instantly. Halogens are great for reading and task lighting, as the bright light can help reduce eye strain.

They’re also fantastic for display lighting – the white light, when focused on a point, makes colors appear more vibrant and helps highlight artwork, photos, and architectural details.

Halogen lights can also be used outdoors, and make great addition to floodlight and security light fixtures.

Incandescent

Patio stringed incandescent bulbs.
When you picture a light bulb, you’re most likely thinking of a traditional incandescent. A tungsten filament is enclosed in glass. Electricity heats the filament until it glows, and you have light.

Unfortunately, the bulb has to create a lot of heat in order to produce light, which is why it is a much less efficient energy user than halogens, CFLs, and LEDs.

Contrary to popular belief, incandescent bulbs are not illegal. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA, 2007) doesn’t directly ban incandescents – it simply sets guidelines for them to become more efficient. Only bulbs that do not meet current standards will ultimately go out of production.

In terms of up-front costs, these bulbs are generally the most cost effective. However, they use the most energy out of all 4 of the basic bulbs, which costs more in the long run.

Brightness

If you’ve had incandescent bulbs for any period of time, you may be used to looking for bulbs based on watts. With more efficient options on the market, you should really be looking for lumens.

Watts are the measurement of power a light bulb uses. 40 watts means that bulb is drawing 40 watts of continuous power to stay on.

Lumens are the measurement of a light bulb’s brightness. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light.

Because many new bulbs are designed to save energy, the result is reduced wattage with higher lumens. That means if you’re relying on these wattage (rather than lumens), you could end up buying a bulb that is too dim or too bright for your home.

Most CFL and LED bulbs are marketed as replacements for incandescent bulbs of specific wattages, i.e. a 40-watt replacement LED bulb that really uses about 8 watts. Just remember – lumens are a much more accurate predictor of brightness.

If you’re switching from incandescent to CFL or LED, here’s what to look for in lumens:
Lumen Chart

How much light do you really need? Different rooms require different amounts, depending on what you typically do in that room.

Most rooms use a combination of ambient (overhead/wall-mounted) and task (spotlight/desk and table lamps) lighting. Here are our recommendations:

Lumens to room chart.

Color Temperature

Ever notice how some spaces feel warm and others feel cold, regardless of the thermostat settings?

You’re probably experiencing the effect of color temperature, which can subtly influence your body and brain.

Color temperature has nothing to do with the actual warmth or coolness of the air, however. It’s a measure of the color that a light bulb produces, ranging from yellow to bluish.

Studies have shown that late night exposure to blue light can increase your body temperature and spur sleeplessness, while reddish hues have less effect on your natural circadian rhythm.

Yellow light (also known as warm light) is on the lower end of the scale, white light is in the middle, and bluish light (also referred to as cool light) is at the high end.

Color Temperature Chart

Light color temperature can be strategically used to your advantage in different rooms.

For a warm, cozy feel in your bedroom or living room, choose soft white or warm white.

For high-energy rooms like kitchens and garage workshops, go for bright white or cool white.

To really see a difference in color tones or take on detailed projects in bathrooms, kitchens, or basements, use a daylight bulb.

That leads us to Color Rendering Index (CRI), which measures how accurately a bulb shows colors on a scale from 1 to 100.

Think of it this way: if you’re in a dimly lit room, it’s really hard to tell which color is which because there is a lot of shadow. It’s the same with a room lit in a particular color – under reddish light, a green object may appear to be brownish or even black.

CRI scores are really only helpful for daylight, white, or natural lights. Anything rated over 80 will work well enough for your home. Generally speaking though, the higher the CRI, the more clearly a bulb will show different hues, from your accent wall to your favorite piece of wall art.

Bulb Bases/Styles

Bulbs come in a large variety of shapes, and those shapes are responsible for the letters and numbers you see on the bulb and its packaging. The letter abbreviations tell you what shape the bulb is classified as, while the number typically refers to the size.

Below is a chart containing abbreviations for different bulb shapes:

LABEL WHAT IT STANDS FOR WHERE IT IS USED
Arbitrary Lamps, hallway lights, and sconce fixtures
Blunt Chandeliers and fixtures where the bulb is visible
Bulged reflector Flood lights or recessed cans
Bulged tube Table lamps
Cone shape Small appliances and indicator lamps
Circline Table lamps
Flame tip Chandeliers and fixtures where the bulb is visible
Globe shape Bare light vanity bar
Mirrored reflector Track and display
Pear Streetcar and locomotive headlights
Parabolic reflector Outdoor lighting. Comes in short (S) or long (L) neck.
Reflector Gimbal track rings, recessed cans, and weatherproof ourdoor spot or flood fixtures
Straight Signs and decorative
Tube Bankers’ lamps, podium lights, and fluorescent tube replacements

Once you know what kind of shape of bulb you need, the final piece of the puzzle is finding the right base. There are two main types: screw bases and pin bases.

Screw bases are the most common. Because the original incandescent is credited as Edison’s invention, bulbs with this kind of base are often referred to as Edison bulbs.

In halogens and incandescents, the screw base contains two contact wires joining the filament to the base, which connects electrical voltage to the light bulb.

The contact wires are soldered to the base metal at two different points so that electrical current can continuously flow through the wires to produce light.

More often than not, you’ll be looking for a medium base (standard bulb) or a candelabra base (smaller, typically found in chandeliers and night lights).

Pin bases are commonly found on MR16s, fluorescent tubes, and plug-in CFLs. They feature two or four pins that connect the light bulb to the electricity source. Some plug in, and some twist to lock into place. Electrical current then flows into the light bulb to energize the filament or ballast and generate light.

And there you have it. If there is anything else you want to know about light bulbs, just stop by your neighborhood Orchard and ask one of our team members.