Staying Dry With Zip-Ties!

by Katy on March 2, 2016 · 29 comments

Once upon a time my husband I use planted arborvitae in our backyard to create a sound/sight/smell barrier to the neighbor’s yard. (Abused/neglected pitbulls . . . but that’s a story for another day.) Sixteen years later and the trees are ready to brush the clouds, but their heavy branches droop over and it’s a damp endeavor to walk past them. I’ve learned that zip-ties work perfectly for holding back the branches, however, I didn’t have any. Luckily, my stepfather’s basement holds everything known to man, and he’s generous with its bounty.

Hello, zip-ties!

Zip ties

See how this branch droops to the side? It’s much more pronounced during rain, which is 75% of Portland weather. Accidentally brush against it, and you will release a monsoon of water upon your head!

droopy branch

Zip-ties work perfectly to create a chain that can be tightened to the perfect length.

Zip-tie chain

This may seem like no big deal, but that surprise drenching was an almost daily nuisance.

perfect arborvitae

Luckily, the house has switched owners and is now an apparently unpopular AirBnb, as it sits mostly empty. Those snarling and angry dogs that tried to kill us every time we set foot into our own backyard? Long gone! It’s the little things that matter, people. The little things.

Katy happy

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

pattilou March 2, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Katy, you are lucky to have an unpopular Airbnb next door. I had to use those handy zip ties to make no parking signs because the “guests”of the AirBnb house 2 doors down keep parking in my driveway. Why they can’t figure out that the driveway belongs to a house two doors away is beyond me. I actually had one college student say “Well we didn’t know where else to park”. Ahh how about on the street. We have dealt with drunks waking us at all hours of the night and fist fights that spill out onto the porch of the elderly woman next door. The gabage builds up for months on end. We have continued to call the city, the police and our city councilman. It has been a never-ending battle. Oh and did I mention that a person cleaning the property told a neighbor that she walked in and the renters were filming a porn film! Yep. Does wonders for my property values.
Long winded way of saying yeah for zip ties!!


Katy March 2, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Okay, that’s actually kind of funny. The porn part. The parking situation though? Don’t mess with a gal’s parking spot!


Su Mama March 2, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Pattilou, have you considered contacting Airbnb?


pattilou March 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Not nearly as funny as the image of me on my front porch at 3am in my flannel pj’s yelling “Don’t make me call the cops on you”!


pattilou March 2, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Su Mama, that is our next step.


dusty March 3, 2016 at 4:32 am

Hi Pattilou,

My partner and I stayed at an Airbnb in NYC in December when we went condo shopping. Worst experience ever! I won’t go into details, but Airbnb refunded our money (minus $200 to stay there one night). I reviewed the property and it never appeared on the ad, so I complained. I also contacted the NYC Fire Department because of violations my partner saw (he used to own a fire equipment company). The Fire Department called me and let me know there were numerous code violations and the bldg is on a watch list. Never heard a word from Airbnb after I notified them. I did go back and check and the apt is no longer on there so maybe they did something. I think you should contact them and see what happens. Good luck!


Katy March 3, 2016 at 10:39 am

Yikes! My mother and I stayed in an Airbnb on City Island, (Bronx) in December and it was great!


Jennifer March 2, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Zipties are a must to keep around the house. They are perfect for tying unsightly cords together neatly and so many other things. When I make my daughter hairbows, I use the tiny clear ones to secure the bow to the hair clip then cut off the ends.
Oh, and here is a good one. I had a shirt that had a gathered area sewn in the front at the cleavage. It developed a tiny hole near the gathers. I just bunched the material on the inside of the shirt pulling in until the hole wouldn’t show anymore and zip tied it. I planned to mend the shirt but I never did and my quick fix held up through many wash/dry cycles! I even noticed someone that had almost their entire car’s bumper zip tied on( I live in the south, what can I say).Don’t underestimate the power of the zip tie.


cheryl March 2, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Zip ties are very useful, we use them in our garden to secure the tomato plants to the poles so they do not just spread all over the raised beds.
I love your thumbs up picture. 🙂 I see your hair has grown back as well after your ponytail chop disaster last year. Looks much better on you. I’m not allowed to touch the scissors either, my children fired me from doing their haircuts, now my husband does theirs as well as mine. He is proficient with the hair shears and clippers. He gave both of the boys haircuts last night. Fast convenient and his handiwork saves me hundreds each year.


Jennifer March 2, 2016 at 2:05 pm

I agree, Katy, your hair is so healthy looking. White Rain commercial worthy!


Krystal March 2, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Glad to hear in the improvement in neighbors! Terrible neighbors are awful, and horrible, abusive dog owners are heartbreaking. What a relief for you!


Ruby March 2, 2016 at 4:38 pm

You just gave me the perfect idea for fixing the spot where a huge shrub grew through our fence and broke the bracket for the top rail that the chain link is attached to. Some heavy-duty clear zip ties and the sagging spot will be nicely repaired.

I have a couple of boxes like your step-dad’s basement. Just this week I brought a coat hook and an outlet cover plate to work that were among my useful junk items.


Jennifer Krabacher March 2, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Katy, I follow your blog loyally – I get your daily e-mail post and I read every post. I enjoy your blog and I’m working to be be as non-consumer advocate like you are. I believe in what you do for multiple reasons and I use your blog as a sense of support as by nature I’m a huge consumer. So in short I value what you do and I appreciate you tremendously.

But it really bothers me about what you said about the situation next door. Specifically what you said about the dogs. I am the mother of two rescued pit bulls from situations just like what you described next door and it bothers me that you had to point out that they were “pit bulls” and that they were “angry dogs that tried to kill us every time we set foot into our own backyard”. Now I am not a crazy dog lady, but as a fan of yours and a fan of rescued animals – especially pit bulls – it hurts my heart to read what you said. Because the reality is that if those dogs were “angry” and “trying to kill you” they were being abused or neglected or both. But that’s on the humans that own them, not the dogs.

I’m glad you’re no longer having to live in that situation; it’s truly sad for all parties. But I’m truly disappointed that you didn’t see that it was the humans that were the problem, and not the poor dogs who are just a product of their environment.


Katy March 2, 2016 at 5:02 pm

It was the fault of the owner, and we tried for years to get animal control or anyone to help with the situation, but they were pit bulls, and to not mention the breed is to shy away from a full and honest description.


Dayna March 3, 2016 at 1:53 pm

She did mention they were abused/neglected before she mentioned that they barked at her. She also said it was a story for another day. Knowing that there is more to the story you’re assuming a lot about how Katy feels about pit bulls. She didn’t say because they are pit bulls that they were trying to kill her. She just said that they are pit bulls.


Barbara March 2, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Cable ties is what we call them in Australia. Excellent for
bicycle repairs!


Marion March 3, 2016 at 12:59 am

Zip ties, duct tape and WD40. My toolbox.


Vickie March 3, 2016 at 7:13 am

Mine too! 🙂


Katy March 3, 2016 at 10:39 am

Love this!


Happy Mum March 3, 2016 at 6:17 am

Katy — Nice, calm, measured, clear response. The responsibility is with the humans, of course — but the breed matters. Well done.


Another Jennifer March 3, 2016 at 7:24 am

If you would have said abused, neglected, snarling angry german shepards it wouldn’t have made me feel negativity against that particular breed of dogs just simply pain for the situation they live in. Being a blogger requires you to be descriptive so we understand what you are saying. I think telling the breed in this scenario is simply painting an accurate picture of what you were trying to get across about the situation in detail not demeaning the breed. Just my opinion.


janine March 3, 2016 at 6:26 am

I will look into zip ties for a number of situations facing us this spring. Sorry about the former neighbors. We live next door to a fourplex in a college neighborhood. Most of the tenants have been good, but recently we have experienced firewood thefts as well as stuff from our small garden. We haven’t found a solution yet, but this is a small matter in contrast to some of the comments!


Becky March 3, 2016 at 11:13 am

We have to do a lot of tying up arborvitae branches after heavy, wet snowfalls here in Wisconsin. I usually use old pantyhose, they work great and have a little bit of give for the growth of the bushes. 🙂
Our arborvitae are between us and the old guy next door who likes to get drunk and obnoxious from time to time. *sigh*


Katy March 3, 2016 at 11:18 am

They are great to block neighbors. There are regulations about how high fences can go, but not so for shrubbery. (At least here in Portland.) The best part is that they functioned as a smell barrier when the dogs were an issue as their neighbor’s yard was concrete, but the dogs urinated and defected onto it and no one cleaned it up. It’s been years, but there can still be a slight odor on hot days. Sigh . . . .


Bari March 3, 2016 at 11:41 am

When I am dealing with an arborvitae that is getting out of hand (they’re tricky to trim), I often opt for cinching with bungee cord.
Granted, bungees aren’t as affordable as cable ties.
Additionally, bungees eventually disintegrate, unlike the everlasting cable ties.


Barbara Miller March 3, 2016 at 5:31 pm

I think the zip ties were a great idea. They are probably good for the trees also. We know how heavy branches can become when rain soaked and now you won’t have to worry about losing them – or getting soaked.


Amanda March 6, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Were the pit bull people the same ones who had sex on their roof?! People are so weird.


Katy March 7, 2016 at 10:26 am

Same house, different people.


Erin Brain Stead March 7, 2016 at 5:04 am

Ha! I love using zip ties on the garden and garden. Towering tomatoes have really benefited!


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