RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

A Step-by-Step Guide to Green-Building a Deck

March 28, 2016 1:48 am

(BPT)—There are plenty of ways to go green at home—but one of the most impactful methods is outside: green-building a deck.

Whether you plan to install new or refurbish an existing structure, utilizing sustainable materials (and conducting eco-friendly maintenance after the fact) can green your deck, ensuring long-term enjoyment for the members of your household.

To begin green-building your deck, consider your board options. Generally, there are two types of boarding: wood and composite. Wood is a renewable resource; more trees can grow to replace the ones harvested for boards, and when your deck's usable life ends, you can recycle the wood it was made of.

However, pressure-treated lumber is not recyclable. While the preservatives it's treated with make it last longer than many types of untreated wood, it's less eco-friendly in the long run because it must be disposed of, instead of reused. If you prefer a wood deck, look for naturally weather- and pest-resistant wood varieties, like California red wood, western red cedar or ipe.

Composite boards are green, as well, in that many are made from recycled materials, such as reused plastic and reclaimed or recycled wood. Composites tend to last longer than wood, and require no special treatment like staining or sealing. Their longevity can make them a greener choice—but they can't be recycled.

Wood and composites are also commonly used for railings, but they may not be the most environmentally-friendly option, given the railings’ greater exposure to the elements. Stainless steel cable railing is 100 percent recyclable, and can offer un-obscured views.

If you choose to construct your deck of composites—and add a stainless steel railing—it will require little maintenance. Stainless steel is inherently weather-resistant.

If you opt to build your deck with wood, some types will require regular sealing and staining. Rot- and pest-resistant woods may not need to be sealed, but will weather to a silver-gray color unless you stain them every year.

Bear in mind many stains contain a blend of agents meant to inhibit the growth of fungus or deter pest infestations, and may also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Look for stains and sealers that rely on natural ingredients, such as hemp oil, beeswax, carnauba wax and water.

Source: The Cable Connection

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Crafting Shelter for Birds, Spaces for Spring Singers – Pt. 2

March 28, 2016 1:48 am

In Part 1 of this series, we chirped about how easy it is to create better places and spaces for songbirds. In this segment, we'll zero in on getting more birds to flock to your yard.

According to the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology (, "birdscaping” your yard with native vegetation is an excellent way to attract more birds. Birdscaping involves growing plants with birds in mind. Growing a variety of native plants that provide food, shelter, and potential nest sites will attract the greatest diversity of bird species.

Some plants to consider include perennials, such as black-eyed Susans; annuals, such as sunflowers for their seeds; tubular-shaped nectar-producing flowers for hummingbirds; small trees and fruiting shrubs, such as crab apple, dogwoods, viburnums and service berries; and conifers, such as pines and spruces that provide cover, seeds and nesting sites.

Be careful about possibly harming your songbird families, the Cornell lab advises. A number of bird diseases affect wild birds, and some could potentially be spread when birds congregate at feeders.

Birds can also become ill from leftover bits of seeds and seed hulls that grow molds and bacteria.

To maintain a healthy feeding garden:

• Clean your feeders every two weeks—many feeders are dishwasher-safe.

• If your feeders are not dishwasher-safe, wash them thoroughly in soapy water, then soak or rinse in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.

• Dry your feeders before refilling so that the food remains dry.

• Be sure to clean hummingbird feeders at least once a week.

• Rake the ground below your feeders to limit accumulation of waste.

To encourage more “audible” activity, the Cornell lab recommends providing adequate cover for songbirds in your yard, such as dense shrubs or piles of brush, where they can escape from predators.

Published with permission from RISMedia.