Before starting a garden project, it's necessary to take the right safety precautions and learn how to maintain your arch or pergola for a lifetime.
More in Outdoors
Great care must be taken when working outside to protect yourself and others. Always work in a safe manner, using the right tools for the right job. Tools should be well maintained in a good condition. Familiarize yourself with rented equipment, especially power tools, and ask for a demonstration before using them yourself. Pay attention to the maintenance of your arch, pergola, or arbor to ensure your own safety and that of other people.
Safe working practice means far more than, for example, not using electrical equipment in the rain. It begins with what you wear and means applying common sense to every operation that you carry out. Make sure you keep warm and dry, and wear the correct protective clothing such as sturdy footwear, gloves when using cement, and goggles and ear protectors when using a power saw. Plan the work carefully. Do not set yourself unrealistic targets, which all too easily lead to tiredness, errors, and accidents. All arch and pergola projects are best carried out by at least two people; always ask for help when lifting heavy or awkward loads such as crossbeams, and try to avoid balancing and stretching at the top of ladders.
Knocking in a spiked post support with a driving tool avoids damaging the metal, which would give a nasty jagged edge and make it far more difficult to fit the post. A piece of wood as a buffer will work just as well.
Where possible, use a scrap of wood as a buffer between the hammer and a notched rafter when knocking it into place. It protects the rafter from splitting and splintering and prevents the hammer from leaving marks on softwood.
Plastic-coated metal does not need to be painted, but other metals should be sealed to prevent rust. Hardwoods, and some softwoods such as cedar, which has its own protective resin, require no additional treatment. Most softwoods, however, need protection when used in outdoor constructions and are normally sold having already been pressure-treated with preservative. As well as offering some extra protection, stains on treated wood give a desired color effect. Untreated lumber can be stained or painted both for protection and color. Painting can be fairly laborious, as several coats are required; staining requires only two coats. Stains are easier to apply and are available in a wide range of colors. Where possible, paint or stain, and allow the treatment to dry thoroughly before planting.
Applying stain to planed lumber, here an arbor seat, is a far quicker job than painting, requiring fewer coats. A wide range of wood tones and soft or bright colors is available.
A trellis is often pretreated with preservative. If you are applying it yourself, wear protective gloves, since some preservatives are difficult to wash off and can also cause skin irritation.
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