The Straight Poop on Manure – Stockton, Ca

Written by Bill Stoermer on April 15th, 2014. Posted in Blog

Manure is a by-product of the live-stock industry. Manure is organic matter used as fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Manure replenishes the soil with essential elements and adds humus to the soil.
Although there is a lot of variation among animals and feed, in general about three fourths of the nitrogen, four fifths of the phosphorus, nine tenths of the potassium, and one half of the organic matter is recovered in the voided excrement (poop). Depending upon how quickly the poop is collected, treated and bagged, only about one third to one half of the nutrient value of manure is actually realized in your garden. Nutrient value is lost to volatization (drying) and leaching (rain water/irrigation).

All manures all sold with a value for the three primary ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Manure must be considered primarily as a nitrogen fertilizer and, to a lesser extent, one of potassium. Modern manure is now treated before sale to the consumer to minimize introduction of unwanted by-products the animal may have chomped on in the barn yard. Treatment includes drying the product out to minimize water content and adding beneficial ingredients to increase its effectiveness.

Nitrogen allows plants to produce the proteins needed to build living tissue for green stems, strong roots and lots of leaves.

Phosphorus helps move energy throughout the plant.

Potassium aids plants in adapting sugars needed in growth and is especially helpful in root crops.

As a rule, chicken manure has a much higher nutrient rating than cow manure. Because it absorbs quickly, it is used primarily on “short term plants” such as your seasonals/annuals. Because cow manure takes a much longer time to absorb and break down, it is excellent on “long term plants such as trees, shrubs, and perennials.

Manure is used a rich soil amendment that can also be used as a soil conditioner or clay breaker. It is frequently used as a top dressing to help protect roots and soil from temperature damage.

Manure is suitable for all flowers, veggies, plants and trees.

Because of its generally safe nature, manure is safe to use in unlimited quantities for soil fertility, soil conditioning and breaking up clay soil ( real problem here in Stockton).

Cautions: Because of its higher nutrient content, chicken manure may burn more sensitive plants, vegetables and root crops (roses, grapes).
Up to 50% of the nutrient value of fertilizer can be lost to volatization and leaching so it is a good practice to till it into the soil on the same day as application. (If it is being used as a top dressing for root protection, there is no need to mix it in.)

In Stockton, California? Learn more about fertilizing your garden at Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Dirt – Stockton, Ca

Written by Bill Stoermer on April 15th, 2014. Posted in Blog

A soil amendment is any material added to a soil to improve its physical properties, such as water retention, permeability, water infiltration, drainage, aeration and structure. The goal is to provide a better environment for plant roots.

To do its work, an amendment must be thoroughly mixed into the soil. If it is merely buried, its effectiveness is reduced, and it will interfere with water and air movement and root growth.

Amending a soil is not the same thing as mulching, although many mulches also are used as amendments. A mulch is left on the soil surface. Its purpose is to reduce evaporation and runoff, inhibit weed growth, and create an attractive appearance. Mulches also moderate soil temperature. Organic mulches may be incorporated into the soil as amendments after they have decomposed to the point that they no longer serve their purpose. Cheap, inexpensive mulches breakdown faster, fade in the sun and are usually made from cheaper products.

Quick Facts

In clay soils, soil amendments improve the soil aggregation, increase porosity and permeability, and improve aeration, drainage, and rooting depth.

In sandy soils, soil amendments increase the water and nutrient holding capacity.

Permeability – The ability of soil for fluids to flow through.

Infiltration – the process by which water on the surface enters the soil.

Aeration – the process by which air is circulated through soil.

Organic vs. Inorganic Amendments

There are two broad categories of soil amendments: organic and inorganic. Organic amendments come from something was ALIVE. Inorganic amendments are either mined or man-made. Organic amendments include sphagnum peat, wood chips, grass clippings, straw, compost, manure, biosolids, sawdust and wood ash. Inorganic amendments include vermiculite, perlite, tire chunks, pea gravel and sand.

Organic amendments increase soil organic matter content and offer many benefits. Over time, organic matter improves soil aeration, water infiltration, and both water and nutrient holding capacity. Many organic amendments contain plant nutrients and act as organic fertilizers. Organic matter is an important source for bacteria, fungi and earthworms that live in the soil.

Wood Products

Wood products tie up nitrogen in the soil and cause nitrogen deficiency in plants. Microorganisms in the soil use nitrogen to break down the wood. Over several months to years, as microorganisms complete the rapid decomposition process, the nitrogen is released and again becomes available to plants. This hazard is greatest with sawdust, because it has a greater surface area than wood chips.

Compost wood products before using them as soil amendments or allow Ace Hardware to provide you with products already composted! Do not use uncomposted wood products or sawdust as a soil amendment; it is slow to break down, ties up nitrogen, interferes with seedbed preparation, and interferes with soil and water movement through the soil profile.


Fresh manure can harm plants due to elevated ammonia levels. To avoid this problem, use only aged or composted manure.

Human pathogens, including E coli, are another potential problem with fresh manure, especially on vegetable gardens. Aged manure refers to manure that has been piled for at least six months. Excessive ammonia will have escaped; however salt levels may be higher as the salts concentrate in the decomposing material, or may leach out with high rainfall. Weeds will still be viable.

Commercially composted manure has been through multiple active heating cycles and turned mechanically in between. Heated above 145 degrees F, it will kill pathogens and weed seeds. In composted manure, the organic matter is stabilized (through the rapid decomposition process) making it an ideal soil amendment.

In Stockton, California? Learn more at Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware.

French Drains in Stockton, California

Written by Bill Stoermer on August 23rd, 2012. Posted in Blog

In a previous article, I discussed how excessive ground water can collect around our homes in Stockton, California causing soggy messes and potentially causing structural damage. That article recommended redirecting the water away from our homes with simple applications of plastic hoses or rain gutter extensions. In some situations it is impossible to redirect the water with simple solutions and we must turn to more sophisticated measures such as a french drain system.

Contrary to popular belief, french drains have absolutely nothing to do with France or the French. Back at the start of this country, a Massachusetts farmer, named “French”, made a fortune buying unwanted and soggy bottom land, digging a series of trenches that allowed the excessive water to collect in the trenches which he in turn redirected down into creek beds. Over time, farmer French filled his trenches with broken roof tile which kept them from falling in on themselves and yet still allowed the water to drain. Eventually he covered the tile with soil, eliminating dangerous open trenches and effectively reclaiming even more acreage! With time, his system became known as “French Drains”. Henry French went on to become an attorney and Assistant US Treasury Secretary. His design was popularized in his book Farm Drainage.

A French drain is also known as a blind drain, rubble drain or rock drain. It is simply a trench covered with gravel or rock that redirects surface and ground water away from an area. The common French drain today has perforated hollow pipe along the bottom to collect the water as it seeps down into the trench. Usually, the perforated pipe is then covered with gravel to prevent dirt from clogging the system. The system is directed by sloping it in any direction you want. Even the most subtle slope allows the water to be redirected great distances. The most common application in today’s subdivisions in Stockton are to simply redirect the water away from the house and out towards the street/gutter where a simple “bubbler” will allow the water to flow off into the street gutter.

In some severe situations it may be necessary to install a collection system and a sump pump which will enable you to pump excessive water away. In the typical system I install, I use a 30 gallon polypropylene tank which I bury in the ground and install a simple sump pump inside. As the tank begins to fill, the pump is triggered by a float valve – much the same way as the ball inside a toilet tank. Pumps are able to transport water through small PVC pipe great distances and are much less trouble to install than digging trenches all over your yard!

All the parts needed for designing and installing your French Drain are available in Stockton, California at Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware.

Bill Stormer

Funding Stockton Home Remodeling Projects

Written by Stockton Hardware Store on August 9th, 2012. Posted in Blog

When considering home remodeling projects, there are all sorts of problems which might cross your mind. Possibly the most essential concern, when you do not have a large bank account though, is how you are likely to pay for these house remodeling plans that you would like to undertake. You can use a number of options available, yet this is the initial problem you should give some thought to. In the end, home remodeling projects usually takes resources; if you do not have resources then a remodeling contractor will no doubt not decide to take your job! In this case, you can always downsize your Stockton home remodeling project as a do-it-yourself project.

Tapping into Loans

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Bank loans are actually a great way to make home remodeling initiatives around your house a success! Unless you do not have a reasonable credit rating then most likely you will have the ability to easily obtain a loan through a bank or a credit union. Among the best reasons to use bank loans, though, is if you are eventually selling your home and relocate once you have finalized the home remodeling jobs. As an example, if you acquire the loan from a bank to finish your remodeling tasks, then it is relatively likely, in any other case nearly sure, that you will get all of your money back once you sell your property. Moreover, the value in which you sell the house for might go over the cost that you bought the house and the makeovers that have been carried out. If this is the scenario, then you are capable of paying the loan back to the financial institution and keep the excess as your return on investment.

Financing Your Home Remodeling Project

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Another approach to consider using a loan to fund your house remodeling plans is via a home equity loan. Except when you do not have your home paid off then you will be qualified to obtain a home equity loan easily. These financing options are acquired directly from a lender and it is quite simply asking for a small amount of funds from the house. Much like the situation in the bank, though, if you are about to move after your house remodeling jobs are carried out, you will then have the ability to easily repay the home equity loan and keep the profits.

Raising Funds in Stockton

This is one other option for you to carry out the essential remodeling jobs for your house however, you should only take advantage of this route if your property is in deep need of repair or improvements. There are numerous methods to raise funds to fund your remodeling projects though. One of the many options, and this is regularly used in Stockton, would be to ask some financial assistance from a community service organization. These local organizations have rigid standards to pass before being considered. And the assistance is doled out based on financial need. Unfortunately many of these funds have been depleted in recent times. Before applying for these funds, one should weigh the hidden costs of applying and waiting for approval.

Spending Less

This is probably the best advice of all. One sure strategy not to lose your funds in your home remodeling jobs is to basically save the funds that you require in order to complete the home renovations. By being economical each week and each month you will be near the monetary goal that you need to remodel your home.

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All of these ways are excellent solutions to pay for your home remodeling plans in Stockton, California. Of course, the amount of home remodeling tasks that should be completed as well as the time frame you have to carry them out will most likely determine the manner in which you finance your project. However, there are certainly numerous ways that can be used so that you can successfully remodel your house. Be sure to visit the helpful people at the Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware store in Stockton, California once your project is a go.

Stockton Remodel to Increase Home Value

Written by Stockton Hardware Store on June 30th, 2012. Posted in Blog

Some people decide that they will undertake the job of remodeling their homes yearly. Home remodeling is an issue which should be sorted out if you believe that it really is necessary for the home. Moreover, perhaps you are likewise planning on improving some parts of your house. If this is the case, then your house value can easily be raised. Nevertheless, have you any idea what aspects of the property can provide the most value when and if you opt to put it up for sale?

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An even more important problem is the particular places of the property that truly need remodeling. Certainly no one wants to spend their hard earned money for a large remodeling project which will just end up being a disaster. So the very first thing that should be thought about is what areas of your home need the home improvement the most. When the area that needs improvement the most would be your kitchen, then you are definitely fortunate. Recent studies have indicated and proven that the most lucrative way for you to improve the worth of your home is to have your kitchen remodeled. A number of the popular strategies individuals often take when remodeling their kitchen area is by reconstructing the pantry shelves and replacing the floor coverings.

Conversely, though, many individuals decide to take on the job of remodeling their house as they feel that they can truly raise its value by doing so. However, the recent decline of the housing industry in the Stockton, California has turned that scenario around and lots of people who currently are remodeling their houses are simply losing profits ultimately. Nevertheless,  home remodeling will certainly increase your home’s value and based on when you are planning to market it usually influences the amount of the increase. Here are some strategies, aside from the kitchen, that homeowners typically focus on to enhance their property:

Remodel the Living Room

The living room is one of the easiest and interesting places for homeowners to make improvements. The primary reason for this is that there is a lot possibility of whatever is set to be finished. Remodeling your family room will surely raise the property value if you add additional space, squeeze in a mini-bar, mantelpiece, or perhaps just redesign the floor covering and the walls.

Improve the Bathroom

Although the bathroom could be one of those areas that are often forgotten about, your home value will definitely go up if you will be remodeling this particular section of the house. Some people intend to make it wider, change out the toilet or improve the drawers to provide that special touch on the space in the bathroom.

A couple of the other ways that property owners often use to be able to complete their remodeling plans is the renovation of the cooking area, as well as resurfacing the garage floor. All of these are great projects that you can undertake with help from the people at Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware in Stockton, California. These projects are usually good investments as they will surely increase the value of your property through simple remodeling projects and light construction.

DIY Business Remodeling Secrets in Stockton

Written by Stockton Hardware Store on May 17th, 2012. Posted in Blog

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Stockton business owners have many ways to build better relations with potential customers and even current clients.

As a business owner in Stockton, California, the Fremont Plaza Ace hardware store can assist you with the products and services that you need to complete your do-it-yourself business remodeling project with ease.

Keeping in mind that your employees are the cornerstones of your business relations with customers, business owners can start a series of simple business remodeling projects that can have lasting effects.

Remodeling the exterior of your business, including the landscaping where the structure is located, can help project a better image for your business. However, when there are particular features of the building that need to be remodeled, then you may decide to focus on those areas of improvement instead of remodeling the entire structure. One common approach to remodeling a business is by actually reducing unused spaces.

There are several moments that a business owner may be convinced that he has to have the business remodeled, however it might not always be the case. For example, one area, which might need remodeling, is the waiting area in your office.

You might want to survey your customers for remodeling ideas. From survey responses you can determine areas of focus. If surveys indicate that your customers want more available seating, then you may have to be creative with the solution. For example, you could convert an unused storage closet into an expansion area for your waiting room for your business.

How about the wall surfaces?

The most popular business remodeling projects include mounting and installing flat screen televisions on the walls so people can sit back and watch when they are waiting.

Expanding the Parking Area of Your Stockton business

Adding parking spaces is a popular technique that business owners can implement on behalf of their customers. While most business owners will not take on repaving projects on their own, painting the curbs or replacing burnt out light bulbs can be completed without too much of a hassle.

While remodeling a business does not begin and end with the business premises, business owners should be certain that there is ample parking to handle the level of business, especially during busy times.

Apart from having ample parking for the business, there may likewise be a necessity to add a storage area in order to store assorted tools around the place of business. Storage sheds are an option, and many of the modern storage sheds available from Fremont Plaza Ace hardware, look great for their intended purpose. If your business, uses a lot of heavy equipment, then storage sheds are the most suitable place to have them stored.

You can also make other minor changes around the exterior of your business to improve the space and efficiency. Stockton business remodeling does not always have to take on the form a major improvement project. However some projects like adding a restroom are, more than likely, too much for a business owner to handle. But equipping the reception area for your business with secretary desks and other amenities are sure to sustain the morale of front desk staff.

Each Stockton area business owner will have to make a decision about his remodeling budget, the level of the improvements, whether improvements can performed in house or if they need to be performed by a licensed contractor or handyman. One of the biggest things to consider beyond financial budget is time horizon. How long have you allocated for the project to run from commencement to completion. Your customers and even your employees are rarely pleased about being inconvenienced as a result of a business remodeling project. This explains why your business-remodeling project should be carefully planned.

Overall, completed remodeling projects are a wonderful way for companies and businesses to not only to attract new customers, but to also communicate to existing customers an ongoing investment in the business.

There are numerous ways in remodeling a business; yet, the ones listed here are only the tip of the iceberg. Give your business-remodeling project a jump-start by contacting the friendly staff at Fremont Plaza Ace hardware.

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Remodeling Your Bathroom with Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware in Stockton, California

Written by Stockton Hardware Store on April 23rd, 2012. Posted in Blog

remodel bathroom fremont plaza ace hardware stockton californiaIf you live in Stockton, California and would like to remodel your home, you should put a lot of thought and energy into planning and coordination.

When you have decided to have your bathroom remodeled, there are actually many strategies to accomplish this. From remodeling the bathroom in the Master Bedroom to remodeling the more heavily trafficked bathroom, there are several ways to increase the value of your home when it is time to sell.

The most important thing to remember is, when your house is up for sale, be sure that you do not get in over your head with a bathroom remodeling project. To begin with, if you do not have the right plan, you might not get a return on your investment for bathroom remodel. Additionally, it may not actually be necessary to achieve overall remodeling so that you can update your bathroom.

Installing a Hot tub

Nevertheless, homeowners can do several things to ensure their remodeled bathrooms will look really good, elegant, and be ideal for marketing. The first idea is to install a Jacuzzi in your bathroom. Putting a Hot tub to your bathroom requires more planning than expected, which actually covers most of the possibilities regarding bathroom remodeling. You have to be sure there is enough space as a way to actually put in a Jacuzzi in your bathroom. A lot of people find that their bathroom is too small which forces them to increase their bathroom dimensions. Besides putting a hot tub in your bathroom, you can consider redecorating your bathroom floors. As a substitute for using regular bathroom tiles on the floor some people opt to install laminate floors.

Simple Bathroom Repair

Although installing a Jacuzzi in your home seems to be the most ideal action to take, it might indeed not be the most affordable idea. Having said that, you can find some basic tips for minor bathroom remodeling in Stockton that you can consider in order to improve the look of your bathroom. One novel idea is to install an automatic towel heater. Putting something useful such as this will of course raise the property value, however it is a thing that is not going to require additional resources maintain.

Installing extra cabinets in your bathroom is yet another small job that you could carry out, perhaps even without help. This is a good remodeling project to complete for your bathroom as it provides more storage that almost all people requires in their home, particularly in the bathroom. Tough and sturdy shelves that are basically developed just as if they are recessed into the wall surface give a lot of style, particularly if they are polished shelves created from strong materials.

A few other minor yet effective strategies to remodel the bathroom involve replacing the toilet and other bathroom amenities. If you happen to own a home in Stockton, then these are some helpful tips and small projects that you could start with the help of the experts at Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware. You can guarantee a trouble-free bathroom remodeling project by have a solid plan, consulting experts and managing your budget/expenses.

Driveway Home Improvements – Do It Yourself with Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware in Stockton, California

Written by Stockton Hardware Store on March 30th, 2012. Posted in Blog

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When you need a contractor, you should not hesitate to call one. Trying to tackle a large or complicated home improvement job with a professional contractor can quickly end in disaster and cost you more. But why spend a lot of money for a contractor to complete simple home improvement projects in Stockton, California when you can complete them yourself?

Enhance the visual appeal of your property while at the same time increase your home’s value.

With a slowly rebounding economy and many people spending more time around the home, a great number of opportunities abound for home improvement projects in Stockton, California.

You should considering taking on a do-it-yourself project.

Why not? A bit knowledge of the technical elements combined with the eye for creativity is more than enough to complete a simple home improvement project with help from Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware.

Why are homeowners considering to do-it-yourself home improvement projects?

You do not always have to rely on and pay someone to improve your house. If the job is relatively simple, then why not attempt to do it yourself?

For example, you can enhance your home’s existing concrete surfaces with acid stains, acrylic stains and epoxy paints. Learn a few, simple scoring methods and you are well on your way to having what you need to complete a visually appealing and popular home improvement project.

If you are like many homeowners in Stockton, you may be tired of looking at dreary gray concrete. At Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware, you will find some easy projects from the novice to hard core home improvement do-it-yourselfer. Whatever your skill level, you can have the confidence to provide your patio, driveway or garage floor with a refreshing new appearance in as little as 60 minutes.

Decorative concrete can cost double or even triple that of normal concrete. This is why many home owners in Stockton can not afford it to upgrade their concrete.

At Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware, you can find all the right tools and applications to safely and quickly decorate your concrete flooring surfaces. For this type of home improvement project, you can get by doing the work yourself and may only need to engage skilled tradesmen for the more delicate or detailed aspects of the project.

The skilled tradesmen will be glad for the work and while he is visiting your home, you may consider hiring him for a more involved project.

Acid based concrete stains are becoming more and more popular for coloring concrete surfaces. The acid chemically reacts with the concrete to produce a beautiful color combination that may even react to produce an appearance like that of marble. This results in a natural, elegant looking surface for your garage floor.

Water based concrete stains are an alternative to acid stains and are a lot more user friendly simply because they are less toxic. These stains do not chemically react using the concrete; they are absorbed into the surface pores and act like a dye. The big advantage of using water based stains instead of acid based stains is that water based stains are available in a wide variety of colors.

If you wish to venture beyond the basic staining of concrete, think about using some scoring techniques to create patterns on the surface.

You can make your concrete appear like a tile floor for example. You are only limited by your own imagination. An angle grinder with a four-inch grinding or cutting wheel will be the perfect tool for this. Everything you need is available at Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware.

The important thing to remember when scoring is to draw the pattern on the concrete first and make sure you are satisfied with the way it looks ahead of time, because scoring is irreversible. Plan your work and work your plan.

Epoxy paints make an excellent coating for garage floors and basement floors. Numerous commercial floors have epoxy coatings due to their durability and resistance to chemical spills. Garage floors coated with epoxy look great and are very easy to apply.

The key to most any of these projects is surface preparation.

Epoxy paints are available in a water based form making it easy to work with for the do-it-yourselfer and perfect for indoor applications. Epoxy paints cost a bit more than stains. For a 400 square foot garage, you would probably only need about $200 for all of the materials required for this project.

Well there you have it.

You do not need to spend a fortune to improve the appearance of your home. And you have the ability to do most if not all of the work yourself. With some more quick tips from Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware, you will be quickly turning boring concrete slabs into a beautiful surface, adorned with a unique design and brilliant color.

Excessive Ground Water – Solve Stormwater Runoff Problems

Written by Bill Stoermer on February 8th, 2012. Posted in Blog

One of the most common problems encountered at this time of year in Stockton, California is excessive ground water. This condition leaves our lawns and gardens a soggy mess and can even cause structural damage to our homes if left unchecked. Excessive ground water is caused by the ground becoming saturated with water and losing its ability for the water percolate down into the subsoil area.

Excessive ground water is a major problem in the central valley of California where we have a layer of clay just below the surface that is nearly water impenetrable. This layer of clay is know as Adobe Clay and can vary in thickness from a few inches to over six feet! Water percolates down through the top-soil, hits the layer of Adobe Clay and then simply collects there – unable to penetrate through the dense clay. I have seen situations where water percolates down through several feet of top soil, hits the layer of Adobe Clay and then “travels” along the top of the clay layer “looking” for a crack or simply finding a low spot in which it collects.

The most common cause of excessive ground water is poor redirection of water run-off, especially from our rain gutters and downspouts. The most common situation I encounter as a contractor in and around Stockton is rain gutter downspouts that simply empty at the bottom and allowing the water to get trapped against the footing/foundation of the home. Over time, as leaves decompose or we add soil amendments or landscape; we actually make the situation worse by trapping the water behind little hills and against the footing/foundation of our home. This causes a new problem as the foundation of the home settles in the wet soil causing structural damage to the foundation and our home. In one severe case, a landscaper had brought in yards of dirt to create mounds in the front yard of a new home. Unfortunately he trapped all the water behind these mounds and the water super saturated the ground and was actually being wicked up into the house where it caused mold problems and structural damage.

Fortunately, redirection is one of the easiest problems to fix. We simply redirect the water away from our homes! Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware has a variety of products designed for this, from the simple plastic hoses we connect to the bottom of the drain spouts, to gutter extensions that we can install that can redirect the water several feet away from our foundation. Some of the plastic hoses come coiled like a spring which uncoils as they fill with water and then recoil out of the way when empty. Rain gutter extensions are more permanent but can sometimes create a trip hazard if not installed correctly. Another solution growing in popularity with the rising awareness of ecology is to installed rain barrels to collect rain water for later use in gardening. The problem here is the limited amount of water a barrel can accommodate, usually between 30 and 50 gallons. In a heavy rain storm, a barrel can fill in only several hours. You then need to redirect the excessive water away from your barrel and your foundation. It is commonly recommended that you redirect water at least 2-3 feet away from your foundation.

In a future article, I will write about what to do in really severe cases of excessive ground water that leads to intrusion into our basements, garages and homes.

Bill Stoermer
Fremont Plaza Ace Hardware