Roofing: Repair or Replace?

Roofing: Repair or Replace?

By: Jeanne Huber

Deciding whether to repair or replace roofing is largely an exercise in timing — you don’t want to reroof too soon and waste money, but you don’t want to wait too long either.

Eventually, all roofs wear out and need to be replaced. You don’t want to do it too soon, because you’ll waste money. But you also don’t want to wait too long, because then you’ll end up with leaks and expensive water damage. To get the timing right, you need to know how to assess the overall condition of your roof and identify early signs of roof failure.

The national average for a new asphalt shingle roof is about $21,500, according to Remodeling’s 2010-11 Cost vs. Value Report, of which you’ll recoup $12,800 at resale (59.5%). For high-end materials, such as standing-seam metal, the cost jumps to as much as $38,000.

If most of your roof is still in good shape, a spot repair makes sense. But if there are signs the roof is wearing out, or if it is more than 20 years old, replacing it may be the smarter choice.

Be Alert to Early Signs of a Roof Leak

If you check the condition of your roof at least once a year, you should be able to plan in advance for necessary repairs. Early signs of trouble include dark areas on ceilings, peeling paint on the underside of roof overhangs, damp spots alongside fireplaces, and water stains on pipes venting the water heater or furnace.

From the outside, you can assess your roof’s health by viewing it through binoculars. Warning signs include cracked caulk or rust spots on flashing; shingles that are buckling, curling, or blistering; and worn areas around chimneys, pipes, and skylights. If you find piles of grit from asphalt roof tiles in the gutters, that’s a bad sign, since the granules shield the roof from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath.

If you’re inspecting on your own and find worrisome signs, especially if the roof is old or there has been a storm with heavy wind or hail, get a professional assessment. Some roofing companies do this free; specialized roof inspectors, like those who work through theNational Roof Certification and Inspection Association, charge about $175.

When Repairs Make Sense

You can usually repair a leak in a roof that is otherwise sound. The cost might range from $10 if you just need to squirt some roofing mastic into a gap alongside chimney flashing to $1,000 to fix a leak in a roof valley. If something sudden and unforeseen, such as a wind storm, causes a leak to appear, your homeowner’s insurance will probably cover the repairs. But you’re still responsible for limiting the damage, so put out buckets and try to get a local roofer to spread a tarp while you arrange for repairs. Insurance may not cover problems that stem from a worn-out roof or lack of maintenance.

The Cost of Re-Roofing

Stripping off old roofing and starting over typically costs about $3 a square foot for basic composition shingles. You may be able to leave an existing single layer and add a second layer on top of it for about $2 a square foot. If you plan to stay in the house for only a few years, this might seem like a smart way to save. But unless you’re so pressed for cash that your only other option is to risk leaks, it’s false economy. The second layer won’t last as long—only about 15 years rather than the standard 20—and you won’t get new flashing or underlayment or the opportunity to upgrade to features that make a roof stronger. Plus, when you go to sell, your re-covered roof will look a little lumpy, and potential buyers may interpret the two layers as a sign that other home improvements were also done on the cheap.

Make Sure to Factor in Hidden Costs

When you evaluate bids, don’t just look at the total. A bare-bones estimate might include a single layer of 15-pound building paper under the roofing, while a better but more expensive bid includes 30-pound paper plus self-stick rubbery material along eaves to protect against damage from ice dams. Bids might also differ in whether they include the cost of disposing of the old roofing, on hourly rates for structural repairs, and on costs related to gutters.

Once you settle on a contractor, check to make sure the company is licensed and insured. Also discuss how the crew will minimize damage to landscaping, and who will pay for any that occurs. Schedule the roof work during dry weather, if possible, so your lawn doesn’t take as much of a beating. You’ll sleep better, too, if you’re not worrying about rain coming in when the roof is half-done.

Get the Most From a New Roof

A new roof isn’t something most families buy happily. But getting multiple benefits from it makes it easier to shell out the money. As part of a new roofing project, you can incorporate many features that make your home more environmentally friendly, some of which may qualify for a federal tax credit to offset the cost. You can also choose roofing that’s more resistant to fire or damage from wind and hail, which may qualify you for a discount of 30% or more on your homeowner’s insurance policy.

What Not to Do as a New Homeowner

What Not to Do as a New Homeowner

By: John Riha

Avoid these easy-to-prevent mistakes that could cost you big time.

We know so well the thrill of owning your own house — but don’t let the excitement cause you to overlook the basics. We’ve gathered up a half dozen classic boo-boos new homeowners often commit — and give you some insight on why each is critically important to avoid.

Related: 6 Things Everyone Should Do Before Moving in to a New House

1. Not Knowing Where the Main Water Shutoff Valve Is

Water from a burst or broken plumbing pipe can spew dozens of gallons into your home’s interior in a matter of minutes, soaking everything in sight — including drywall, flooring, and valuables. In fact, water damage is one of the most common of all household insurance claims.

Quick-twitch reaction is needed to stave off a major bummer. Before disaster hits, find your water shutoff valve, which will be located where a water main enters your house. Make sure everyone knows where it’s located and how to close the valve. A little penetrating oil on the valve stem makes sure it’ll work when you need it to.

2. Not Calling 811 Before Digging a Hole

Ah, spring! You’re so ready to dig into your new yard and plant bushes and build that fence. But don’t — not until you’ve dialed 811, the national dig-safely hotline. The hotline will contact all your local utilities who will then come to your property — often within a day — to mark the location of underground pipes, cables, and wires.

This free service keeps you safe and helps avoid costly repairs. In many states, calling 811 is the law, so you’ll also avoid fines.

3. Not Checking the Slope of Foundation Soil

The ground around your foundation should slope away from your house at least 6 inches over 10 feet. Why? To make sure that water from rain and melting snow doesn’t soak the soil around your foundation walls, building up pressure that can cause leaks and crack your foundation, leading to mega-expensive repairs.

This kind of water damage doesn’t happen overnight — it’s accumulative — so the sooner you get after it, the better (and smarter) you’ll be. While you’re at it, make sure downspouts extend at least 5 feet away from your house.

Related: How to Prevent Water Damage

4. Not Knowing the Depth of Attic Insulation

This goes hand-in-hand with not knowing where your attic access is located, so let’s start there. Find the ceiling hatch, typically a square area framed with molding in a hallway or closet ceiling. Push the hatch cover straight up. Get a ladder and check out the depth of the insulation. If you can see the tops of joists, you definitely don’t have enough.

The recommended insulation for most attics is about R-38 or 10 to 14 inches deep, depending on the type of insulation you choose. BTW, is your hatch insulated, too? Use 4-inch-thick foam board glued to the top.

Related: Attic Air Leaks: How to Find and Seal Them

5. Carelessly Drilling into Walls

Hanging shelves, closet systems, and artwork means drilling into your walls — but do you know what’s back there? Hidden inside your walls are plumbing pipes, ductwork, wires, and cables.

You can check for some stuff with a stud sensor — a $25 battery-operated tool that detects changes in density to sniff out studs, cables, and ducts.

But stud sensors aren’t foolproof. Protect yourself by drilling only 1¼ inches deep max — enough to clear drywall and plaster but not deep enough to reach most wires and pipes.

Household wiring runs horizontally from outlet to outlet about 8 inches to 2 feet from the floor, so that’s a no-drill zone. Stay clear of vertical locations above and below wall switches — wiring runs along studs to reach switches.

6. Cutting Down a Tree

The risk isn’t worth it. Even small trees can fall awkwardly, damaging your house, property, or your neighbor’s property. In some locales, you have to obtain a permit first. Cutting down a tree is an art that’s best left to a professional tree service.

Plus, trees help preserve property values and provide shade that cuts energy bills. So think twice before going all Paul Bunyan.

Open The Door To Your Dreams

Open The Door To Your Dreams

BY:  Sheryl Powell


One small step of faith can lead you to an open door of opportunities!

We all have dreams and desires for our life, the question is what are we doing to see our dreams come true?  Some have no hesitation and will immediately put a plan in action to make it happen while others are too filled with doubt or think it really can’t happen for them, it’s too far out of reach.

The good news is that no matter where you are in life, it’s not too late to dream for the first time, stir up a dead dream or dream even a new dream.   We all know that life can be full of surprises, road blocks and challenges to weaken the dream.   When that happens we have to find ways to keep the dream alive!!  So the question remains….How do you keep the dream alive?

Feed the DREAM to keep it ALIVE!

Create a Vision Board

  1.  Find pictures that represent or symbolize the experiences, feelings, and possessions you want to attract into your life, and place them in your board.
  2. If you are working on visualizing and creating changes in many areas of your life, then you may want to use more than one vision board.
  3. Keep it neat, and be selective about what you place in your vision board.
  4. Use only the words and images that best represent your purpose, your ideal future, and words that inspire positive emotions in you.
  5. Try keeping your vision board on the nightstand next to your bed or somewhere you can see it every day and spend time each morning and evening visualizing, affirming, believing, and internalizing your goals.

Vision Boards are good way to keep the dream in front of you.  Visualize it each and every day to stir up the dream and keep it alive.  It is a proven fact that when you keep your goals in front of you where you can see them on a daily basis, they are more likely to be met!

Start a Savings Account:

  1. Contact your local bank and start a savings account specifically for your “Dream”.  It could be a savings account for a down payment on a house or car, home improvements, vacation of a lifetime, etc.
  2. Put a plan of action together to make consistent payments into the account.
  3. Stay faithful and make consistent payments.

Creating a savings account specifically for your “Dream” and making deposits on a regular basis is another good way to stay focused on keeping your dream alive.  It can be big deposits, small deposits or your life savings, no matter what the amount is,  just stay consistent!  It could take a month, year or years, the main objective is to keep working toward your dream until you see it come to pass.  NEVER GIVE UP!

If owning your own home is one of your dreams that seem out of reach, maybe it’s time talk to someone to see.  Did you know that it is possible to own a home with no money down?   You may be aware that most loans require 3.5% – 20% as a down payment.   Picking the phone up to make that call could be your small step of faith that will lead you to home ownership!!   What do you have to lose?  Be brave, make that call, take that step of faith toward your dream!

Making Happy Dreams A Reality

View More: Powell, Your Happy Realtor, represents Buyers and Sellers in and around Northeast Houston including Humble, Kingwood, Atascocita, Crosby, Huffman, Porter and New Caney.

Sheryl believes in serving the community through Real Estate with the utmost integrity and dedicated service of representation. Her mission is to provide Buyers, Sellers, Investors and Renters in Houston and surrounding areas with a smooth, enjoyable and honest service that makes her clients feel valued in their individual Real Estate needs.

Good communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. You can count on Sheryl, Your Happy Realtor, to provide you with the information you need on a schedule and in a manner that suits you best.

SHERYL’S COMMITMENT TO YOU: In the least amount of time possible, Sheryl will get you the best price on a home that is perfectly suited to your needs and lifestyle, not just today, but for years to come.

THE BEST SERVICE, THE BEST RESULTS: Choosing a real estate agent who has the tools, skills and experience to make your dreams come true can be as challenging as the home buying process itself. Let Sheryl make it simple for you.

CUSTOMERS FOR LIFE: Every one of Sheryl’s clients is unique, and that is exactly how she treats him or her. Sheryl proud to say that a high percentage of Sheryl’s business comes from past clients-from people who choose her services time and again. Sheryl doesn’t measure her success by sales, but by the relationships she builds along the way.

Sheryl Powell can be reached at 281-753-0425 or by email at





Erase Ugly Scratches from Your Wood Floors

Erase Ugly Scratches from Your Wood Floors

By: Jane Hoback

Easy ways to put the luster back into your floors.

Dogs chase kids, pans drop, chairs scrape, and soon you must repair wood floors and erase scratches that make a mess of your red oak or Brazilian cherry. A professional floor refinisher will charge $1 to $4 per square foot to apply a new coat of finish. No worries. We’ve got inexpensive ways to remove wood scratches and repair deep gouges in a few easy steps.

Camouflage Scratches

Take some artistic license to hide minor scratches in wood floors by rubbing on stain-matching crayons and Sharpie pens. Wax sticks, such as Minwax Stain Markers, are great scratch busters because they include stain and urethane, which protects the floor’s finish.

Don’t be afraid to mix a couple of colors together to get a good match. And don’t sweat if the color is a little off. Real hardwoods mix several hues and tones. So long as you cover the contrasting “white” scratches, color imperfections will match perfectly.

Homemade Polish

Mix equal parts olive oil and vinegar, which work together to remove dirt, moisturize, and shine wood. Pour a little directly onto the scratch. Let the polish soak in for 24 hours, then wipe off. Repeat until the scratch disappears.

Spot-Sand Deep Scratches

It takes time to repair wood gouges: Sand, fill, sand again, stain, and seal. Here are some tips to make the job go faster.

  • Sand with fine-gauge steel wool or lightweight sandpaper.
  • Always sand with the grain.
  • Use wood filler, which takes stain better than wood putty.
  • Use a plastic putty knife to avoid more scratches.
  • Seal the area with polyurethane, or whatever product was used on the floor originally.
  • Apply the polyurethane coat with a lambs wool applicator, which avoids air bubbles in the finish.

Fix Gaps in the Floor

Old floorboards can separate over time. Fill the gaps with colored wood putty. Or, if you have some leftover planks, rip a narrow band and glue it into the gap.

Swimming Pools: Alternatives to Chlorine

Swimming Pools: Alternatives to Chlorine

By: Julie Sturgeon

Chlorine keeps swimming pools safe and clean, but there are alternatives to chlorine if you’re willing to pay the price.

Pool Chlorine Alternatives Safe Chlorine For Pools

Chlorine is popular because it handles the three main jobs in keeping a swimming pool clean: It sanitizes (kills bacteria and germs), oxidizes (controls organic debris from perspiration and body oils), and deters algae. The chemical is unpopular because it has a strong odor, reddens eyes, and causes allergic reactions in some swimmers.

There are alternatives to chlorine including bromine, ionizers, and ozonators, though with each you’ll still need to use some chlorine. A fourth alternative is PHMB, which doesn’t require the use of any chlorine. All four have drawbacks, including cost.

Chlorine is relatively cheap. How much chlorine you’ll need depends on the size of your pool, length of the swim season, amount of use, and other factors. For a 20,000-gallon pool that’s open year-round, figure you’ll spend about $600 annually.


What it is: Pool suppliers sometimes suggest bromine as a substitute for chlorine. It can be an acceptable alternative for those with allergic reactions to chlorine, although that’s not guaranteed since bromine is also in the same halogen chemical family. Aquatic specialist Alison Osinski believes 5% of the population has an allergy to chlorine.

How it works: Bromine does a fine job as a sanitizer, but it doesn’t oxidize as well as chlorine. Most homeowners rely on a hybrid version known as BCDMH tablets that are typically 66% bromine and 27% chlorine to tackle that job. Some people opt for a two-step process of combining bromine salt extracted from seawater with potassium peroxymonosulfate (a.k.a. oxygen shock) in the pool to create that same sanitizing/oxidizing power.

Pros/Cons: Bromine remains stable at high temperatures, which is why many technicians recommend it for spas more than swimming pools. It’s less irritating on mucus membranes than its chlorine cousin, although it still produces an odor. And if you use just bromine in the pool (not the BCDMH compound), it leaves the water a dull green color that foams up when you swim in it, because the oxidation process is weaker.

Cost: It’s more expensive to operate a pool with bromine. Figure you could spend up to twice as much as you would if you use chlorine only.


What it is: Ionizers rely on two dissimilar metals–often copper (an algaecide) and silver (a sanitizer)–sent charged into the water as the sanitizer. The oxidizer is missing, so you’ll need a small amount of chlorine or bromine in the water to handle this cleaning aspect.

How it works: An ionizer is a device that uses a low-voltage DC current to send these two metals into the water. The positive charge attracts bacteria, germs, and algae, and the new, larger compounds they form are carried out in the filtration system.

Pros/Cons: Like bromine, an ionizer doesn’t irritate swimmers’ eyes and noses. It can substantially reduce the amount of chlorine required. Chlorine and an ionizer work together better than chlorine alone, says Osinski.

Yet, she still considers ionizers a poor choice. For starters, you only reduce the chlorine amount significantly if just a few people use the pool on a regular basis, there are few plants and landscaping in the area, and your air isn’t heavily polluted. High dirt levels are beyond what an ionizer can fight on the sanitation side.

Also, ionizers depend on moving water, so you must run the pool pump continuously to keep the sanitizing action in place. And the increased levels of metal in the water can stain the pool and turn swimmers’ hair and fingernail beds green.

Cost: About $300 for an ionizer that handles up to 40,000 gallons of water. Homeowners may need to replace the metals in the system as often as once a swimming season, at an average cost of $129. Also factor in the energy cost of running the pool pump around the clock.


What it is: An ozonator is a machine that attaches to the filtration plumbing line. It inserts ozone gas (an active form of oxygen) into the pool to react with impurities in the water.

How it works: There are two types of ozone generators: ultraviolet light and corona discharge. In a UV light system, special low-pressure vapor lamps installed on the water return line create ozone to kill pathogens as they float by. Corona discharge generators rely on an electrical arc to create ozone inside the generator. Again, this ozone kills pathogens in the filtration system.

Pros/Cons: Ozone generators can reduce chlorine usage up to 90%, and they use the same amount of electricity as a 60-watt light bulb when the filter pump is turned on, so the added energy demand is tiny.

Aquatic consultants say ozonators combined with chlorine are extremely effective as long as you circulate the water 24/7. One caveat: Ozonators run best on dry air, so if you live in a humid climate, expect performance to decline.

Cost: A typical ozone generator starts at $600 to handle 7,000 gallons of water; $1,200 to cover 25,000 gallons. Take into account the expense of the pool pump running continuously.


What it is: There’s only one way to eliminate the use of chlorine completely: Switch your pool to the chemical compound PHMB, short for polyhexamethylene biguanide. Homeowners commonly know PHMB by the Baquacil and SoftSwim brand names.

How it works: PHMB disinfects by penetrating bacteria cell walls, causing them to burst from within. It then wraps those particles in a heavy gel, which sinks to the bottom of the pool, where the vacuum system sucks it up.

Pros/Cons: PHMB doesn’t oxidize, so you’ll need to use hydrogen peroxide for this. You’ll also need to use a separate algaecide and clean pool filters–yes, even the sand ones–every four to six weeks.

PHMB is kinder on swimmers’ skin and hair, easy on vinyl pool liners, and doesn’t require as much attention as other chemicals to keep in balance. However, because PHMB is incompatible with chlorine, you’ll need to first drain the pool.

Once you’re back up and running, make sure every bathing suit has been washed. Even traces of chlorine in suit fibers will react with PHMB. The result of the reaction: a yellowish vapor that’ll radiate from your bathing suit.

Cost: The cost for PHMB chemicals to maintain a 10,000-gallon pool for a 16-week summer season is about $725.

Should You Repair or Replace Your Septic System?

Should You Repair or Replace Your Septic System?

By: Jeanne Huber

Repair Home Septic Systems

Here’s how to figure out whether you can fix a problem septic system or if it’s going to have to be replaced.

When sewage backs up into the house or terrible odors overcome the backyard, you know something is wrong with your septic system. Depending on what’s causing the problem, you’ll face some big decisions about whether to repair or replace the equipment.

If it’s a broken pipe, patching it might cost just a few hundred dollars. But if the drainfield needs to be replaced, you could be out $2,000 to $10,000. Worst case: You need an alternative treatment system, for $15,000 or more.

First Steps in a Septic Emergency

Here’s how to handle problems when they arise.

If you find sewage in your house: Lift the lid of the septic tank and check the water level—or call a septic tank pumping company to do this for you. If the water is lower than the outlet, the pipe between the house and tank might be clogged. Call a plumber.

If the level is higher than the outlet, the problem is the tank or something beyond it. Have your tank pumped ($200 to $400), which gives you a little time to figure out what to do next and allows the pumper to see whether there’s an obvious problem, such as a clogged screen at the outlet.

If the drainfield is saturated because of flooding, however, wait to pump because emptying the tank may cause the tank to float, breaking the pipes. Take precautions as you clean up the mess in your house, so you don’t get sick.

If the drainfield stinks or is soggy: Keep people away from any standing water or soggy soil, which can be a biohazard. If you have young children or pets, you might need a temporary fence. Have your septic tank pumped, and cut back on water use. These steps should reduce the odor.

Drainfield Failures

But they aren’t long-term solutions. When a drainfield fails, it’s often because the septic tank wasn’t pumped often enough. Sludge and scum layers can grow so thick that there’s little space left for wastewater to pool while ingredients separate.

This lets grease and solids get into the drainfield and clog it, resulting in stinky water bubbling up to the surface. By the time you notice, the damage is done—and the drainfield needs replacement.

A drainfield can also fail when you haven’t done anything wrong. Over time—often 30 years or so, according to Craig Mains of the National Small Flows Clearinghouse, a non-profit that advises the septic system industry—beneficial microbes in the soil around the drainfield become so abundant that they literally clog the soil so it can’t properly absorb the water.

The only alternative if you have a plugged drainfield is to abandon it and build a new one. The good news is that once you have a replacement drainfield, you’ll never have this problem again. Eventually, the bacteria at the old site will die from lack of food, and will decompose. When the second field plugs someday, you can go back to using the first.

When to Repair the Problem

Some problems can be solved relatively easily. If there’s standing water or a sewage odor between the septic tank and the drainfield, it may be nothing more than a broken pipe, a roughly $600 repair. If you have an advanced treatment system, the maintenance company might need to adjust or replace a part.

If you have an aerobic treatment unit—one that aerates the tank to help break down the waste faster—and were away for a long period, the beneficial bacteria might have died off. You may just need to use your system frugally for a few weeks while the population rebounds.

When to Replace System Components

There’s usually no repair for a drainfield that has failed. You probably need to replace some or all of your system.

There are many ways to combine treatment and drainfield alternatives, and your decisions can have a huge impact on costs as well as on how much landscaping you need to redo and how you can use your property in the future. If you want to reserve land for a future garage, for example, you might be willing to spend more on a compact system.

Even if the drainfield is kaput, you may learn that the septic tank itself is okay. Reusing the tank can save you $1,000 or more—and keeps that part of your yard intact. But if moving the tank would solve a landscaping issue or make future pumping easier, now’s the time to do it.

Getting it Fixed

Check the websites of your local health department and state environmental agency to learn what procedures you need to follow for repairing or replacing a septic system—you may even find a list of licensed repair companies.

Call a couple and schedule visits. Or, if you have an advanced treatment system with an annual maintenance contract, call the company that’s overseeing your system already.

Paying for Septic Repairs

If you need major septic work, contact your local health department or environmental agency, which may be able to help you find affordable financing or provide tax credits for the work. Some municipalities use money received through the federal Clean Water Act to help finance septic system repairs by offering low-interest loans.

How to Tame Your Jungly Late-Summer Garden

How to Tame Your Jungly Late-Summer Garden

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Don’t suffer the ugly anymore. Here’s how to give your garden a fall makeover.

Your poor, sad garden. The spent vines, stubborn weeds, and greens gone to seed are putting a pitiful spin on your backyard retreat.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some simple tips to tidy up your garden and yard, which will also help prep them for next year.

Bury the Dead

Nothing looks sadder than leggy tomato vines, yellow zucchini leaves, and dried-up perennials that long ago displayed their last bloom. So pull and prune the dead or dying plants in your garden.

Bury spent plants in your compost pile; double-bag diseased and infested plants and place in the trash. (Empty mulch bags are great final resting places for these plants, so be sure to stockpile them in spring.)

If your tomato vines are still bearing fruit, keep staking and pruning them until the first hard frost, when they’ll likely die. And give the birds a break and leave some seed-bearing but spent blooms for them. They love sunflowers, cone flowers, berries, and black-eyed Susans.

Pull Weeds

This is the last time this season to pull weeds. Pluck them before they flower and send seeds throughout your garden that will rest in winter and sprout in spring.

If you have a mulcher, chop the weeds and throw them on your compost pile. If you want to be extra sure that weed seeds are dead, bag weeds in black plastic and place in a sunny place for a couple of months. The heat will kill the seeds. Then throw the cooked weeds on your compost pile.

Harvest Seeds

One way to cut garden expenses is to harvest and store seeds. One large sunflower, for instance, can provide seeds for hundreds of plants next spring. Here are some seed guidelines.

  • Harvest seeds from heirloom vegetables and standard plants.
  • Disease can spread through seeds, so only harvest seeds from your healthiest plants.
  • Don’t harvest seeds from hybrid plants, which often are sterile or will look nothing like the parent plant.
  • Only harvest mature seeds from dry and faded blooms and pods. Mature seeds are often cream colored or brown.
  • After seeds are dry, store them in envelopes or glass jars in a cool, dry place.

Gather Supports

Stack and cover metal tomato cages. Bundle wooden or bamboo stakes, and store in a dry place so they don’t rot over winter. And retrieve panty-hose vine ties that you can re-use next spring.

Instead of throwing out broken cages and stakes, repurpose them. Snip off remaining cage legs to use for pepper supports. Broken tomato steaks will support smaller plants if you whittle one end into a point, so it easily slips into the ground.