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SFGs and a DIY Patio

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SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  jplee3 on 6/27/2014, 3:27 pm

Hey guys,

Just wanted to get some advice on my two 4x4s and a DIY patio project I've been brainstorming. I have a pretty small yard (200sq ft or so) and have a couple 4x4s setup apart from one another. They've been doing well but it's hard tending to them because I don't like going into the yard much (we have a flea and probable rodent problem - there's wood decking that I bet rodents are hiding/nesting under and drawing fleas to). On top of that, I had ripped out the entire yard before and it's now all just dirt/mud with weeds growing outside of the boxes. In short, it's a big mess. I initially ripped everything out because I wanted to put down pavers for a patio but just got super lazy and didn't do it.

Now I'm thinking I should get back to it. I'll have to tear down the 4x4 SFGs and clear everything out but I think it'll be better.

My question is, if I'm going to lay pavers down everywhere, how should I consider doing my SFGs after? Should I just simply set them up on top of the pavers? Perhaps invest some time and build an SFG on legs? Currently I have mine setup right on top of the dirt with a weed barrier under. Should I just start laying pavers *around* the existing SFGs and go from there? I'm also not sure about my SFG setup - I was thinking about putting the SFGs next to each other or adjoining them to make a long 4x8 but that would be pretty big. I may also end up replacing/reinforcing the SFGs with cinder block walls instead. Anyway, since there's not much space out there, I'm a little hesitant not knowing what to do.

Any ideas?

I'll try to see if I can get some pictures up too.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  sanderson on 6/27/2014, 3:37 pm

Before you do anything, take care of the flea problem. What a Face  What animal(s) is/are supporting the fleas? I would get a professional pest control to evaluate the situation and take care of the fleas and rodents. Laying pavers won't solve that problem.

Photos would be great to help you with your patio/garden.  Very Happy 
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  jplee3 on 6/27/2014, 3:56 pm

@sanderson wrote:Before you do anything, take care of the flea problem.  What a Face  What animal(s) is/are supporting the fleas?  I would get a professional pest control to evaluate the situation and take care of the fleas and rodents.  Laying pavers won't solve that problem.

Photos would be great to help you with your patio/garden.  Very Happy 

Thanks! I really don't know what's drawing the fleas in. Maybe possums? Or perhaps cats chasing the rats? I found a couple of dead rats in the yard before. And then when the AC guy came to flush out the compressor, he found a pretty good-sized rat's nest in there and a decomposed rat. I'm thinking there's potentially some kind of rodent living under the wood deck (the deck is the HOA's responsibility so I can't just rip it up either).

I contacted an exterminator and he said probably the most he could do is spray down the yard but made no guarantee that they wouldn't come back. It's puzzling because I really have no idea what else would be attracting the fleas back there. I have heard that flea eggs can remain dormant for a while and only hatch when 'activated' by heat or something. I'm wondering if that's what I'm experiencing. I notice, if I find fleas on me, when I squeeze them they're soft and die easily. Anyway, I figure if I can at least clean up the yard a bit more, it might make it a less attractive place for fleas to nest and hide around. I haven't seen any cats or large animals back in the yard. So maybe it's something nocturnal - we definitely have possums in the area.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  jplee3 on 6/27/2014, 4:09 pm

I think it possibly could be roof rats. I know those things carry fleas. We have a vector control department so I think I may have them come out and check it out.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  lyndeeloo on 6/27/2014, 4:18 pm

Hi jplee3
Just a couple thoughts from my experiences..... pavers are great, that said here are some things to keep in mind. 
They can get expensive fast it always takes more pavers than you think. 
They get hot and hold the heat. So choose a light color. Right now it is 100 degrees on our paver patio because there is no shade and I'm in New England. 
Doing it yourself can be a really big job. Research it...a lot. If you don't do it right it won't be level and you end up tripping on the pavers. If you don't pitch it away from the house properly water runs towards the house and causes problems. If you don't prepare the area properly beforehand you end up with lots of weeds coming up between the pavers. I wouldn't spend the money to paver under the sfg, maybe some small gravel under them for drainage instead of it draining onto the patio.
 I don't know what your skill set is, you may be a builder and know all of this already. 
Just sharing my experience.  I DIYed the first time and regretted it. Called in a pro the second time around. Not trying to be a Debby downer...I love my patio and wouldn't trade it. But these were things I did not learn until after the fact. Also my sfg is all adjoining and it's a pain to get at everything. Someday I will break them apart. 
And I agree with sanderson, address the pest problem first. 
P.S. I love my patio!
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  jplee3 on 6/27/2014, 4:25 pm

@lyndeeloo wrote:Hi jplee3
Just a couple thoughts from my experiences..... pavers are great, that said here are some things to keep in mind. 
They can get expensive fast it always takes more pavers than you think. 
They get hot and hold the heat. So choose a light color. Right now it is 100 degrees on our paver patio because there is no shade and I'm in New England. 
Doing it yourself can be a really big job. Research it...a lot. If you don't do it right it won't be level and you end up tripping on the pavers. If you don't pitch it away from the house properly water runs towards the house and causes problems. If you don't prepare the area properly beforehand you end up with lots of weeds coming up between the pavers. I wouldn't spend the money to paver under the sfg, maybe some small gravel under them for drainage instead of it draining onto the patio.
 I don't know what your skill set is, you may be a builder and know all of this already. 
Just sharing my experience.  I DIYed the first time and regretted it. Called in a pro the second time around. Not trying to be a Debby downer...I love my patio and wouldn't trade it. But these were things I did not learn until after the fact. Also my sfg is all adjoining and it's a pain to get at everything. Someday I will break them apart. 
And I agree with sanderson, address the pest problem first. 
P.S. I love my patio!

Great ideas - thanks! Funny thing is, I actually contacted a landscape contractor/developer for a quote and he was like "you should just do it yourself - it should be real easy" and something along those lines. LOL, I think he just didn't want to take on a small and low-end/low-payout job. 

After considering how much trouble it would be, I think you're right in that I should just probably hire someone. The other consideration is that my yard has no gate (it's part of a condo unit that doesn't have that access). So getting all the materials into the yard would be such a huge task and pain.

I'm just wondering how much this will all cost to have someone come out and do it. Also, I don't even know how I should go about laying it out and designing it. My wife and I are so horrible and designing things and doing stuff like this. I guess we could hire someone to do that part too but I don't know. I just don't want to end up spending an arm and leg for such a small space.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  boffer on 6/27/2014, 4:36 pm

Laying pavers properly is 90% perspiration and 10% knowledge.  Acquiring the  knowledge for a DIY beginner is easy to do on the internet these days.

I don't envy the access issue for anybody who does the work.  It could very well jack up the price for a professional installation.

I bet if you look around on the net, you'll be able to find some easy to use websites where you can play around with designing ideas for your area's dimensions.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  jplee3 on 6/27/2014, 4:45 pm

@boffer wrote:Laying pavers properly is 90% perspiration and 10% knowledge.  Acquiring the  knowledge for a DIY beginner is easy to do on the internet these days.

I don't envy the access issue for anybody who does the work.  It could very well jack up the price for a professional installation.

I bet if you look around on the net, you'll be able to find some easy to use websites where you can play around with designing ideas for your area's dimensions.

Definitely, I drafted up a mock-up with Google Sketch-up but it never came to fruition. I'm really bad with those sketch-up/CAD programs anyway.

I figure the access issue will make things expensive for sure. Although, when I've had other unrelated work in the backyard done, contractors usually toss stuff over the wall since it's facing the street haha. Not sure if they'd be able to do that as effectively with pavers, sand, and gravel though Smile

I just cringe at the idea of DIYing it and having to carry 50+ pavers and X lbs of sand and gravel through the house, all while trying not to drop any of it or get the carpets dirty at my wife's demise...
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  has55 on 6/27/2014, 4:47 pm

Diatomaceous earth will send fleas out that day the their heavenly resting place. several years ago had an infestation in the house from our girls dog in her room. They where dead in about a  hour .
suggest go to feed store and asked for the rat poison the farmer use. It aggressive. 
When i first moved here 30 yrs ago, i had a rat infestation approx 50 or more rats, not mice in my old worn out, about to fall shed. I would come out at night with my flashlight and shine it toward the shed and it would reflect off their eyes which appeared red and eerie. they would look at me and i would look at them. It was a standoff, till I moved toward them and they would scurried off in all directions except the house( Praise God. My wife would have a fit.)
the feed store gave me something that look like alfalfa pellet , but had the coumadin in it. the same stuff we use for stoke in humans. The rats would bleed internally and leave to search out for water because of dehydration. I kept putting it out for about a week till they stop eating it. 
I keep some down in the shed because they can eat thru wood and find a way in. sometimes it eaten, then I repeat the process, which is usually a day or two.
basically, I'm stopping them before they come into the house which would be late fall when it's become cold. again-my wife would have a fit. you know, the elephant and the mouse scene in cartoons.
.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  jplee3 on 6/27/2014, 4:56 pm

@has55 wrote:Diatomaceous earth will send fleas out that day the their heavenly resting place. several years ago had an infestation in the house from our girls dog in her room. They where dead in about a  hour .
suggest go to feed store and asked for the rat poison the farmer use. It aggressive. 
When i first moved here 30 yrs ago, i had a rat infestation approx 50 or more rats, not mice in my old worn out, about to fall shed. I would come out at night with my flashlight and shine it toward the shed and it would reflect off their eyes which appeared red and eerie. they would look at me and i would look at them. It was a standoff, till I moved toward them and they would scurried off in all directions except the house( Praise God. My wife would have a fit.)
the feed store gave me something that look like alfalfa pellet , but had the coumadin in it. the same stuff we use for stoke in humans. The rats would bleed internally and leave to search out for water because of dehydration. I kept putting it out for about a week till they stop eating it. 
I keep some down in the shed because they can eat thru wood and find a way in. sometimes it eaten, then I repeat the process, which is usually a day or two.
basically, I'm stopping them before they come into the house which would be late fall when it's become cold. again-my wife would have a fit. you know, the elephant and the mouse scene in cartoons.
.


I don't think DE works very well outside or in the yard (especially if/when it gets wet, because it's rendered useless at that point pretty much). I actually tried DE already as well, in addition to nematodes. The fleas are still around though, so I'm thinking something else is attracting them (of which the current evidence points back to roof rats). One time at night I heard some scratching from behind the wall in my bedroom (where the deck and yard are connected). I have no doubt that it was roof rats grabbing insulation and probably dragging it to whatever nest(s) they built. I can only imagine what is living under the decks right now. I really wish the condo builder/developer would have thought all this out before deciding to go with decks for every bottom unit condo. I bet you a lot of my neighbors are having similar issues....
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A Couple of Ideas

Post  rabbithutch on 6/27/2014, 5:03 pm

First the fleas:  Fleas - especially fleas from rodents - can carry some awful diseases including hanta virus.  If you cannot get permission from the HOA to tear out the deck to address the problem, go to your local sanitary commission for an order.  It would be helpful to catch a few fleas for identification by an entomologist, too.  Lay out a white handkerchief and when they hop aboard, carefully fold it up and put it in a sealed container and take it to be inspected.  Your health is too important to take any chances on this.

As far as the building materials are concerned, tell us what sort of fence you have.  If it is one of the typical vertical board picket fences, the horizontal rails can be easily removed from the posts and reinstalled.  That would give you access to the yard.  Again, if the HOA gives you a problem, seek help from your city or county jurisdiction.

HTH
 
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  jplee3 on 6/27/2014, 5:09 pm

@rabbithutch wrote:First the fleas:  Fleas - especially fleas from rodents - can carry some awful diseases including hanta virus.  If you cannot get permission from the HOA to tear out the deck to address the problem, go to your local sanitary commission for an order.  It would be helpful to catch a few fleas for identification by an entomologist, too.  Lay out a white handkerchief and when they hop aboard, carefully fold it up and put it in a sealed container and take it to be inspected.  Your health is too important to take any chances on this.

As far as the building materials are concerned, tell us what sort of fence you have.  If it is one of the typical vertical board picket fences, the horizontal rails can be easily removed from the posts and reinstalled.  That would give you access to the yard.  Again, if the HOA gives you a problem, seek help from your city or county jurisdiction.

HTH
 

Thanks for the tip! Never thought of going to the county. I am having the local vector control department come out to inspect for rodents/rats and I'll make sure they focus in on the deck area. Ugh I need to clean it up out there this weekend. It's such a mess. 
Anyway, the yard walls are all stucco/plastered and are hard-set in place. No way to really remove them. One other concern I had was an escape route - isn't that kind of weird that a yard wall has no gate at all in the case that there's a fire or major disaster? There'd be no way to get out other than hopping the wall.

I found some older pictures of the yard btw (keep in mind, it looks NOTHING like this now - it's pretty much barren with dirt/mud, weeds, and the SFGs): https://plus.google.com/photos/103318432177109151049/albums/5724746913588554225?authkey=CI_n39GKgaK8cg
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  plantoid on 6/27/2014, 6:23 pm

@jplee3 wrote:I think it possibly could be roof rats. I know those things carry fleas. We have a vector control department so I think I may have them come out and check it out.
From a poster I was looking at in the local veterinary surgeons place a month or so ago .

Flea eggs are viable for seven or more years . They will be in cracks in the floor to wall joins especially in an area where a dog or cat has slept or if the carpet is old they will be deeply entrenched  in the  make up of it.

Flea eggs hatch in massive numbers when temp and humidity are at certain levels usually mid summer time and when the central heating goes back on .


 Here in the UK for flea infestations we tend to do DIY removal by using a long term aerosol dispensed  residual flea killer called Nuvan Top.  You not only spray it on the pets and carpets ( after giving the carpets a thorough vacuuming ) you also do all the cracks in floors , by doors and along walls follow the instructions to the letter.

If you have pets ...
 Giving the pets a tea tree oil based shampoo is also said to help knock back the flea problem  
You should  also worm all your pets on the same day and do the follow up treatments on the same day with a combined worm and flea egg killer.  For as they lick themselves clean they  ingest flea & worm eggs & worm segments from their fur and butts and they just happen to start hatching as they come out the other end a day or so later as their bodies are perfect incubators for the  flea eggs etc.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  yolos on 6/27/2014, 6:43 pm

Yuck Plantoid.  What about just putting some mulch down (pine bark nuggets).  Except maybe that might be a place for insects to hide.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  jplee3 on 6/27/2014, 6:46 pm

@yolos wrote:Yuck Plantoid.  What about just putting some mulch down (pine bark nuggets).  Except maybe that might be a place for insects to hide.

I think cedar mulch might be a good one. Except, it seems really hard to find in my area (Southern California). I've looked before at Lowes and Home Depot and they don't have it.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  Marc Iverson on 6/27/2014, 8:15 pm

Fleas in So. Cal can be brought in from the beach, either from, say, a handbag or from a dog (or your neighbor with his dog). One possible way to get 'em, anyway. And visitors can bring them in too. I know I've found the occasional flea in my socks at work that I brought in from home.

I had good success with 20 Mule Team Borax (any borax will do). Sprinkle it in the carpet and it very effectively dries up any eggs it comes in contact with. Thing is, eggs can be laid any and every day, and take about a week to hatch, so you may need to reapply frequently over the course of a few weeks. Luckily it's quite cheap. And it doesn't harm carpets. Takes a while to work, but I have gotten rid of fleas this way.

Unfortunately, they can survive in the yard, too, so you can always track them right back in. They are great at hiding in socks. When I had bad infestations, I never failed to carefully check my socks and pants.

Some swear by vacuuming daily, and putting a moth ball or two in the vacuum bag/canister. The moth ball kills them.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  jplee3 on 6/30/2014, 12:25 pm

I spoke with the vector control inspector earlier and he mentioned it's highly unlikely that it's rats. Instead, he suggested either one of three things: racoons, possums, or feral cats. I have definitely seen a possum in the yard at one point, so that's a good possibility. The first time I knew there were fleas out there was when I brought a small dog out there that we were dog-sitting for. I inspected her after bringing her in and found two. I'm pretty sure these weren't from the beach - we've had this problem at least for the past few years. I figured they would have been gone by now but something seems to be bringing them in. Does Mule Team Borax work outside as well? I figure it may provide some temporary relief, but if whatever is attracting them continues making visits to my yard (e.g. a raccoon or possum), I don't think the root cause of the issue will really be resolved. After vacuuming this week, I did find at least one flea while emptying the canister. Interestingly, I'm sure I've tracked fleas back into the house but it doesn't seem like the population of them has really exploded or anything. I'll usually get bitten after going outside, and I'm sure the fleas jump off once inside, but I have no idea where they go after that. I don't notice getting bitten if I just stay inside, and I would expect to see a lot more fleas after vacuuming as well but that's just not the case.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  Marc Iverson on 6/30/2014, 7:59 pm

Borax will work anywhere, but for really bad flea infestations outside, every or almost every time you or, say, your dog or cat go out, you'll definitely be bringing more fleas right back in.

A lot of people swear by vacuuming daily, which I'm sure helps, but it's not enough. And every time you do it, you should sprinkle out some more borax to make up for what got sucked up.

There's a lot to be said for vigilance, too. Check your socks and pants religiously every time you come back inside.

But no matter how you slice it, getting rid of them is tough and chancy and takes constant attention.
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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  sanderson on 7/1/2014, 2:01 am

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Re: SFGs and a DIY Patio

Post  SouthernBoy on 12/25/2014, 8:20 pm

I have two cats and a dog.  No rats or other rodents dare come into the yard for long.  We've had the yard sprayed once in 10 years but we give the dogs and cats flea, tick and heartworm treatment once a month.  The squirrels still come into the yard but they run up the trees much faster than the cats who have gotten fat and lazy.  Kinda like one of their owners! Cool
Once the fleas are entrenched getting rid of them might take a couple of treatments, first for the live ones and second one about a week later for remaining eggs.
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