New Porch Railings Solve Home Dilemma

Wooden vertical balusters

Old railings on back deck limit view.

Early this spring we sat on our front porch staring at needed work and a home dilemma.

Our front porch and back deck were enclosed in traditional wood railings and balusters. About every other year the paint peeled. Scraping and repainting were tedious and time consuming chores that we didn’t want to do repeatedly. Also, each side of our home offers gorgeous views of oaks, maples, and a prairie plus the wildlife that visits our feeders and yard. From indoors, seeing through the heavy wood balusters and rails was hard.

Instead of scraping and repainting again, we paid a visit to Ogden and Adams, our neighborhood home store, and ordered an aluminum railing system for the front porch and a cable rail for the back deck. Then we ripped out the wood and installed the new porch railings ourselves.  We’re not carpenters so we watched installation videos and read the instructions that came with the materials. It took time figuring, cutting and assembling, but we were able to successfully install the railings ourselves.  And once in place we were delighted with their appearance and the amazing ability to see into the yard.  These products are carried by most major lumberyards and home stores.

Cable deck rails

After installation. Easy to see through.

The white aluminum rails and balusters should eliminate all future need to scrape and paint, but even better is the increased visibility they offer. The old balusters were 1 ½ inches across, while the aluminum ones are but 3/4ths of an inch. That may not sound like much but  the front porch has nearly 60 balusters, meaning that we now have about 40 more inches of clear unobstructed vision. Essentially the new ones offer only half the visual blockage of the old wood ones. This lets more light enter the house and more cool breeze to waft through on hot summer days.  From the road the difference is indiscernible. The impact of the cable system on the back deck is even more dramatic. The tightly stretched stainless steel cables are nearly invisible and are remarkably easy to see through. When we peer at our bird feeder our eyes focus in the distance and the nearer cables become a mere shadow.

We’re delighted with our new railings. Safe, low maintenance, attractive, and easy to see through!

BASIC BIRDFEEDNG IN A NUTSHELL

One late October afternoon we set up a few bird feeders in the back yard. Within minutes a procession of nuthatches and chickadees began feasting on sunflower seeds. It amazed us how quickly the birds were able to locate seeds. Gifted with amazing eyesight and intimate knowledge of their territory, birds watch every move humans make and seize any opportunity for free breakfast.

Setting up a backyard feeder brings colorful wildlife to brighten otherwise dreary winter days. Bird feeding is amazingly popular. Upwards of half of American households put out at least a few seeds. It is an outstanding activity to involve a child in.

Bird feeding can be amazingly simple and inexpensive or complex and costly. This blog covers just the very basics. Specific bird feeding tips and bird information will be posted often on the subscription part of the Winding Pathways Website.

Sometimes people wonder why few birds visit their feeders. Usually, it’s simply because their yard is devoid of diverse plants that support different bird species. An array of trees, shrubs and ground level plants provide birds with food and places to hide. Anyone wishing to attract a diversity of birds should landscape for them. That can be a multi-year project. In the short term putting some discarded Christmas trees or brush in monoculture yard will help attract them.

Offering several types of food in a variety of feeders also enhances success. One of the best feeders is a picnic table. Just scatter sunflower seeds on it. Cardinals, in particular, like to feed on a large flat surface and rarely visit silo type hanging feeders. We put out suet for woodpeckers, sunflower seed for a diversity of species, corn for squirrels, millet for doves, and corn for our squirrel friends. But, if we had to choose just one type of seed and feeder they would be black oil sunflower scattered on the picnic table!

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