Turning Your Garden Into A Wildlife Sanctuary

I like to do whatever I can to make my garden a friendly place for our local wildlife.  Surprisingly, this doesn’t really seem to add to my gardening workload, it just creates a slightly different kind of workload.  The reward is a healthy, vibrant garden that everyone can enjoy – even the butterflies.

So I was happy to see this post, written by a guest writer, with a few tips for making our gardens wildlife-friendly.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Turning Your Garden Into A Wildlife Sanctuary

Gardening for wildlife is a trend that is becoming increasingly popular as more people are discovering the impact that their gardens have on local wildlife.

It’s easier than you might think to transform your garden into a healthier part of your local ecosystem. Here, we’re going to look at some ways that you can support your local biodiversity.

Go Wild

If you’re not too fond of spending days out in the garden keeping it nice and neat, then one easy gardening tip you could follow is to let it get a little more untamed. Rather than planting exotic flowers that need plenty of care and attention, you could instead simply spread a pack of local mixed wildflower seeds. Aside from being easy to care for since they’re suited to your climate, they’re also great supporters of the local species of pollinators. These pollinators support all plant life, so it is crucial we all pitch in to help them.

Welcome Our Winged Guests

There are few things quite as satisfying as seeing a red-breasted robin hopping along your garden fence or waking up to songbirds in the air. However, you’re not going to find many of them near your home unless you give them a reason to stop by. Bird feeders are a great start, but birds tend to stop longer where there are safe sources of water, so you can attract them if you learn how to make a DIY bird bath. Keeping the water elevated keeps ground pests like rats from taking advantage, too.

Give Them A Place To Stop

Local flowers can attract all manner of pollinators to your garden, but not all pollinators have hives to return to. Solitary bees are a lot more common than you might think and, though they do play an important role in pollinating, they’re not as likely to come to your garden unless you have a place for them to stay. You can provide just the place they need by building your own bee hotel. These are specially made structures that can essentially give them a safe place to winter and build their nests.

 

Multi-Task With A Compost Bin

You might already be aware of just how making your own DIY compost bin can help you take better care of your plants, but did you know that they’re great for local critters as well? Part of the composting process relies on things like worms and insect larvae that eat the organic matter and leave behind compost as waste. These prey creatures then attract things like birds, hedgehogs, and frogs that will keep coming back for the food. Just make sure to position it far enough from your house so that you don’t find yourself with some new house guests.

Humans use a lot of space for their gardens. That’s space that we have taken from local ecosystems, so there are some who believe that we have a responsibility to give back in what small ways we can. If you’re of that belief, the above tips could help you.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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5 Ideas For Making Your Back Yard More Enjoyable

Hopefully some day in the not-too-distant future, we will be able to safely enjoy outdoor entertaining again in our back yards.  But in the meantime, many of us are using our back yards as safe and peaceful havens.

This post, brought to me by a guest writer, has some excellent suggestions for making our back yards more enjoyable for entertaining – and for ourselves.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

5 Ideas For Making Your Back Yard More Enjoyable

There’s no denying that most people enjoy spending time outdoors during the warmer months of the year. The summer months are excellent for hosting social events like barbecues, pool parties, and more.  

Your home’s back yard can also be an excellent place to simply relax, unwind, and enjoy some solitude from the world. But what if your back yard needs a little improvement?

Check out these inspirational ideas to get you started:

1. Gazebo

While it’s great to soak up the sun during the warmer months of the year, you’ll still wish to have some shade during the hottest days. One way to achieve that goal and simultaneously make your garden Insta-worthy is by getting a gazebo installed.

You can have a freestanding gazebo near your house or in the middle of your garden. Or, you might want a gazebo attached to one of your garden walls. Apart from providing shade from the sun, gazebos are good shelters during sudden showers on a summer’s day.

2. Swimming Pool

If you have a large garden, you might balk at the thought of having to maintain it all. What if there were a way to cut down on the amount of lawn you’d need to maintain while also providing a place to frolic and enjoy social time with your family and friends?

The solution, of course, is a swimming pool. Your new pool design can incorporate any kind of layout that meets your needs. You could even include a separate spa area.

3. Deck

Do you wish you had an area outside your back door that was level, aesthetically pleasing, and suitably sized for outdoor furniture? If the answer is yes, you should consider having a decked area installed.

A deck is typically made from treated timber and is sometimes known as “decking.” You can further beautify your deck area with recessed LED lights, some charming plants and flowers in pots, and even a pergola.

4. Hot Tub

If a swimming pool isn’t something you’d use enough, perhaps what you should instead consider is having a hot tub installed. Hot tubs allow people to relax and unwind, and some models with powerful jets (i.e., Jacuzzis) that will even massage your body as you sit in them.

Did you know that you can use hot tubs throughout the year – not just in the summer months? It might seem like a strange concept, but it can be great relaxing in a hot tub and enjoying a clear sky in winter! 

5. Playsets and Play Houses

If the kids are happy, the adults are happy. And then everyone has a good time. 

You could have a natural wood playset installed in your back yard and incorporate a treehouse. Consider what your child’s changing needs might be as the years progress – and perhaps even consider how, after your child outgrows it, you might be able to repurpose that play house into something you can use for yourself.

Playsets come in various configurations; the only things that might limit what you can do are your imagination and your budget!

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
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Tips For Deciding Whether To Move Or Remodel

I’ve finally come to the realization that no house is perfect.  Over the years, we’ve made improvements, large and small, to our home to make it fit our wishes and needs.  After all, we love our home.  Still, there are things about it that we can’t change.  So sometimes I wonder where we will be in ten years.

I’m sure just about everyone feels the same way, which is why this guest post is so intriguing.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Tips For Deciding Whether To Move Or Remodel

It’s inevitable that at some point that your home won’t suit you anymore. Maybe you need another bedroom to accommodate a growing family or a home business, or maybe you need to move closer to work or elderly parents. If you love your home, it can be hard to move. But should you move, or should you improve what you have? 

And how do you know if you need to do either of these things?  

You might need to improve your home or move if you are experiencing any of the following scenarios:

Your Home Feels Like It’s Shrinking Or Growing

You might find yourself in one of these two extremes:

Either you feel as though every cupboard is bursting at the seams and you are constantly tripping over toys and clutter; or

You feel like you have endless rooms that you never use, and you resent having to keep them clean. 

If your house feels too big, it might be time to downsize and find a smaller house for sale. If you need more room, could you convert an attic space or garage into an extra room to use as a gym or home office? Could you build an extension to extend your kitchen or build an extra bedroom? Could a garden room work as a home office? 

You Spend Your Free Time Scrolling Property Websites

Sure, there’s no harm in looking. But if you find that a quick glance at what’s out there soon turns into an hour of studying floorplans and checking what your commute would be like, then you aren’t just looking.  Maybe it’s time to book some viewings.

If you just like looking at property websites, then see what the homes you look at have in common. Is there anything you could take as inspiration for your own home? 

You Aren’t Cleaning And Tidying As Much As You Used To

You used to keep your home clean and tidy, but you’re letting things slide and finding yourself having to do last-minute tidying if you have guests coming. Maybe you have a list of DIY projects that is only getting longer because it somehow doesn’t seem important. This all could mean that you’ve fallen out of love with your home. 

Maybe you don’t want to live there anymore, or maybe you just need to make a change to help you fall back in love with your home. How can you make it easier to keep things clean? Maybe you just need a better system of organizing – or maybe you need to treat yourself to regular visits from a cleaning service.

“The Problem With My House Is . . . “

Are you always telling anyone who will listen about all the problems with your house? No house is perfect, but if your list of gripes is getting longer than the reasons you love your house, it might be time for a change. If you can’t stop telling people that your house is too far away from your work, your kitchen is too small to cook in, your home is too far away from where your friends live, or that you hate having to work at the kitchen table, then you need a change. 

Your home might have been perfect when you bought it, but maybe your needs have changed now. Whatever challenges you have with your home, ask yourself if they are fixable.  If the kitchen is too small, could you extend it – or change out your cabinets to give you more storage space? If you bought the house before you learned to drive, but you now own a car, is there room to build a garage? 

Some problems aren’t fixable.  If the problem is distance from work, friends, or family, then it might be time to sell. 

You’ve Stopped Throwing Dinner Parties

If you usually love to entertain but lately don’t feel good about having people come over, then you might have outgrown your house. Maybe you don’t feel your place is fit for entertaining anymore, or you don’t have room to fit in all your friends anymore. Maybe you find yourself eating out every night because you just don’t enjoy being at home as much as you used to. 

This isn’t a reason to move. Instead, you can make some home improvements. Redecorating the dining room could kickstart your passion for entertaining and remind you why you loved to host in the first place. 

You Are Daydreaming About Adding To Your Home

If you love your home but need something else from it, an extension can be a good solution. A side-return extension is one of the common options, where you expand your kitchen to fill the passage space at the side of your house. 

 

Whether you are in desperate need of an extension like this, or a bigger extension or loft conversion to give you a bigger kitchen, a home office, or an extra bedroom, the first step is to find out if you would be able to get construction permits.   

If you’re not able to get get the permits you need, you may need to rethink your addition – or it might be time to move to a house that better suits your needs.   

You Start Buying Things For Your Next Place

When you first moved into your house, you adored it and couldn’t stop buying things for it. Maybe it was new curtains for the living room, fluffy new towels, or endless potted plants. Maybe recently, you’ve stopped buying those kinds of things for your home. Instead, you’re still picking up all kinds of little homeware treats, like picture frames or new bedding, but never taking them out of their packaging. Instead, you’ve tucked them away, saving them for a house that you don’t have yet. 

Ask yourself why you think the things you’re buying aren’t for your current house. Buying things that don’t fit your current style could just mean that it’s time to shake up your decor, rather than move. 

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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Garden Planning and Dreaming

Happy New Year, dear readers!  Where we live, early January can be dark and dreary – which makes it an excellent time for setting plans for the year ahead – and for dreaming.

This year, I will be reworking a large planting area in our garden, and I’m excited about the possibilities.

I tend to be drawn to traditional English garden designs – especially those that balance the informal look of perennials with the structure of hardscaping, hedges, and potted topiaries.

One garden I really love is Butchart Gardens near Victoria, B.C., which my Mom and I visited a few years ago.  I took lots of photos, and recently I’ve been scrolling through them to get design ideas.

So I thought I’d take you there with me now.  Are you ready to escape reality for a while?  Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and prepare to be magically transported to spring!

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A Stroll Through A Beautiful Spring Garden

 

Butchart Gardens

Of course, Butchart Gardens is a much grander scale than the space that I am redoing, but I can still look to it for inspiration.

For its hardscaping – which provides year-round structure and interest,

Butchart Gardens

 

Butchart Gardens

 

Butchart Gardens

Its serene water features,

Butchart Gardens

 

 

Butchart Gardens

The spectacular use of color,

Tulips

 

Butchart Gardens

 

Butchart Gardens

 

Butchart Gardens

And the sheer abundance and scale of the place.

Butchart Gardens

 

Butchart Gardens

This is not a garden to hurry through, because sometimes the beauty is hiding the smallest details.

 

Blooming spring bulbs adorned the garden when we visited, but I have no doubt that, once they faded, something equally spectacular took their place.

But now it’s time to travel back to reality and talk about . . .

When Good Gardens Go Bad

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with this planting area in my back yard.  It looked harmless enough in spring and early summer.  And, being in full sun, it was well located.

garden planning

So every year I fooled myself into believing that this would be the year it would stay manageable.

But, no matter how hard I tried, by summer’s end it always looked like this,

with drifts of overly prolific plants fiercely competing for space.

Obviously, plants thrive in this area.  And, to a point, I did appreciate their exuberance (especially the Joe Pye) and the fact that the bees liked them so much. By fall and winter, the area always looked terrible, but I left it alone because the seed heads from the perennials were a natural food source for the birds.

But in gardening, there is a thin line between charm and chaos.  And this area had crossed that line.  Things were out of control, and it was bringing me despair instead of happiness.

This past fall, I finally started to do something about it.

 

Taming The Beast

This past fall, we had a feeding station set up for the birds.  So I didn’t feel bad about cutting all those gangly perennials down to the ground.

Once they were cut back, we hired a landscape crew to dig up every plant in that area except the boxwood hedge and the madrona shrub.  (You can see the madrona’s twisted red bark to the far left in the photo below.)

You can also kind of see from the photo that this area is vaguely in the shape of a heart – which I never noticed until it was cleared out.

The crew even removed and replaced the stone border to get at plant roots under the stones.  Their truck was piled high with plant roots by the time they were finished.

Then I covered the soil with leaf mulch that Chris had made by mowing over leaves with the lawnmower.  (He does this every fall, and I use the mulch in various planting beds.)

garden planning

It doesn’t take long for this leaf mulch to break down, but it will hopefully prevent soil erosion over the winter, inhibit weed growth, and add natural nutrients to the soil.

One caveat to creating your own leaf mulch is that not all leaves are beneficial to the garden.  And diseased leaves should never be used.  So it’s always good to do a little research first.

Design Goals

The planting area will sit vacant until spring.  But, so far, my goals are:

  • Make it bee-friendly and bird-friendly again – but not so crazy crowded;
  • And this time, do a better job of containing it and giving the area more structure – perhaps by extending the short boxwood hedge;
  • Plant for a succession of blooms and color from early spring into fall; and
  • Have some kind of statuary piece or large piece of garden art as a central focal point.

Right now I’m thinking of something similar to this (please disregard the house in the background, which I am not tech savvy enough to get rid of).

This is just a rough draft and isn’t even to scale for my planting area.  No doubt the plan will be tweaked many times before the project is actually completed.  I may include some ornamental herbs or vegetables.

And it’s highly unlikely that I will end up with such a fancy fountain as the centerpiece.  I may even try to salvage the decaying planter and base that is there now.

But for now, it’s fun to plan and dream.

Books On English Gardens

These books look like wonderful sources of inspiration.

      

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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An Easy DIY Lemon Cypress Wreath

Ever since I made my all-natural, fully compostable fall wreath last year, I’ve been sold on making simple hand-formed wreaths using natural ingredients from my own garden.

They are surprisingly easy to make, and recently I made a winter wreath using this technique.

A DIY Lemon Cypress Wreath

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For my wreaths, I just use trimmings from my garden – plants and vines that I am cutting back anyway.

The Foundation

I still had a few grapevines in my garden that needed pruning.  Most of the vines were a bit brittle by this point, but I found a few bendable ones.

So I simply cut the vines to length and carefully bent and wrapped them together, winding them around one another, to make a wreath form.  I tucked the ends in around the vines as I worked to make sure everything was secure.

It didn’t look perfect, but it didn’t have to.  This would just be the wreath’s foundation.

Note:  For those who don’t have grapevines or other suitable vines to work with, pre-made grapevine wreaths are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

 

The Main Attraction

We have a large lemon cypress (or goldcrest) shrub in our yard.  It started out as a little accent plant in a pot on our patio, and I originally chose it for its lovely, groomed shape, its lemony fragrance, and for its fresh, vibrant shade of green.  I always make sure to have a couple of these beauties in pots on our porch.

Fresh colors really pop against our charcoal-colored door, and this plant needed trimming anyway.  So I saved a small branch for this project.

I cut sprigs of the lemon cypress to the length I wanted and then, starting at the top of the wreath and working my way down one side, I just wedged the ends between the grapevines until they seemed secure. No wires were needed.

If a sprig failed to secure, or if it didn’t look right, I just used a different one.  When I had that side done, I started at the top of the other side and worked my way down.

The lemon cypress draped nicely and was easy to work with.  Soon I had the wreath form filled.  I gave it a few shakes to make sure everything was secure.

I was tempted to leave it just like this:  Understated and all-natural.  But it did need a little something.

 

Accent Pieces

I’ve learned from experience that natural winter berries, at least the ones that I grow in my garden, don’t look good for long.  So I did add one man-made element, which I already had on hand:  Faux berries.

The faux berries are on wired sprigs, but I just covered the wires as best I could with the cypress greenery.

I tried adding a bow and a few other decor pieces, but they just didn’t look right.  Sometimes simpler is better and, since the berries are slightly over-sized for the wreath, they make enough of an impact on their own.

 

Some of the grapevine foundation is still showing in places, and that’s okay.  Unlike a wire wreath form, the grapevines add a rustic interest.

I think the snappy green of the lemon cypress is a fun departure from traditional holiday greens.  This wreath cost me nothing to make, and making it only took about an hour of my time.

Once the season changes, I can easily remove the berry sprigs and then toss this wreath straight into the yard waste  bin.

Here I must admit two things:

One, since I’ve never used lemon cypress in a wreath before, I have no idea how long it will look good.  I will probably mist it from time to time.  My hope is that it will last at least through Christmas.

And two, our front door is in a protected area.  A wreath like this in a different, more weather-exposed environment, may not hold up as well.

More Fun With Wreaths and Lemon Cypress

It’s fun to use old wreaths in new ways.  A few years ago, before I started making wireless wreaths, I made this wreath from birch twigs.

Recently, I trimmed that wreath down to make it more compact.  I used it, along with lemon cypress cuttings and fresh berry sprigs, to create this very simple and natural look for the pillar near our back door.

 

 

Finding Lemon Cypress

Lemon cypress trees can usually be found at better nurseries and garden centers – and from various online sellers, including some on Amazon and Etsy.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

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Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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Personalize Your Home With These Brilliant Interior Tricks And Tips

Many of us are spending more time at home these days, so today I’m happy to share this guest post with some lovely tips for beautifying and personalizing our homes.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Personalize Your Home With These Brilliant Interior Tricks And Tips

When you live in a home, you want to make it feel as personal as possible. After all, it’s where you spend most of your time, especially during the present crisis. 

But what if you look at the four walls of your abode and get the sense that it is not a reflection of who you really are?  What can you do to fight back and make your property feel more like yours?

Here are some ideas to get you started. 

1.  Add A Pleasant Scent

 

There’s no denying that many of us react strongly to certain scents. When we detect a familiar fragrance, it suddenly transports us to a different place, and we feel refreshed.

That’s why we need to add pleasant fragrances to our homes. 

Your options here are almost endless. You could go for the subtle scent of potpourri, or you could fill your diffuser with essential oils. 

Whichever you choose, try to go for fragrances that remind you of home. Think about the scents that you enjoyed in your childhood.  Familiar scents might include lavender, sandalwood, or beech.  Or the scents of warming spices like cloves and nutmeg.

If you have a penchant for essential oils, you could also experiment with stronger fragrances. Peppermint, for instance, is distinct and helps you relax and unwind after a long day. 

2.   Personalize Your Furniture

Generic furniture is affordable and often high quality. But it doesn’t always feel like yours. Your home can often start resembling something out of a magazine instead of an environment that reflects your character. And that can be a little soul-destroying. 

So what can you do about it? 

One option is to start personalizing your furniture and making it your own. 

The easiest option is reupholstering. You just select a suitable fabric and then get a reupholstering service to fit it to your sofas and chairs. 

If you love DIY, then you can get creative and take things much further. And upcycling old pieces of furniture allows you to stamp your mark on them and make them feel more personal. 

3.  Soften Harsh Lines

Straight lines can make a property feel clinical and formal, but there are several ways to remedy this. One is to add more soft furnishings, like throws and cushions. Another is to disrupt some of the straight lines by hanging wall art or adding more sideboards to your rooms.

Play around with furniture placement.  If you have space, you might want to add a round rug to your living room and place furniture on it. Placing furniture pieces in the center of the room on something round can dramatically change how the room feels. 

4.  Add Heirlooms And Memorials

Don’t just put your heirlooms and memorials in a box in the attic and forget about them. Instead, leverage them to make your house feel more like home. 

Memorial and keepsake stone rocks can have a profound influence on how you feel about your house. They remind you of the connections that you have with the people in your life. And they help to stamp your mark on your interiors. Your rooms no longer look like something you would see in a magazine. Instead, they’re personal and reflect your values. 

5.  Put Colorful Plants Everywhere

Research suggests that people react positively to plants in their environment. The more of them that we have, the better we feel. 

Adding plants and color makes a home feel more inviting.  Start in the bathroom. Choose species that don’t require a considerable amount of natural light, as these will tend to thrive the most. 

Once you’ve done that, begin adding plants to your hallways and living spaces. Put them in the kitchen to brighten up the countertops and make them appear friendlier.  You could also try growing herbs in your kitchen so you can have fresh herbs readily available for cooking.

6.  Improve Your Seating Arrangements

Seating arrangements can make a room feel static, or it can make a room feel dynamic and interesting.  Think about how most people arrange their seating. More often than not, they push the furniture up against the walls, dominating the room. 

That’s not what you want. If your living room is only large enough to accommodate a single two-seater sofa, then limit yourself to that. Place it on a rug in the middle of the room and allow it to become a focal point. Don’t let your furniture dominate the size of the room. Let the room’s size determine the kind of seating you put in it. 

7.  Add Flashes Of Color

Neutral homes are good for making you feel relaxed and keeping things simple. But there is currently so much use of beige, white, and cream in interiors that using these colors can make your home feel impersonal – and just like everyone else’s.  

Fortunately, you can fight back against this by adding pops of color to your living and dining areas. 

Try painting the wall on the opposite side of your front door an accent color. If the rest of your property is neutral, try adding black. The interior will immediately feel more personal to you. There will be an edginess and sophistication about it that wasn’t there before. 

So, how will you make your home feel more personal?

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

BROWSE MY COLLECTION OF PANDEMIC STOCKING STUFFERS

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

Make Your Garden “Insta-Worthy” With These Tips

Being home a bit more than usual these days has made me want to make my home and garden as pleasant and usable as possible.  And it seems that, since many of us can’t gather or travel as we would in normal times, folks are tending to share more of their everyday home lives on social media.

So I thought that this guest post, with tips for creating an “insta-worthy” garden, would be a fun one to share.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Make Your Garden “Insta-Worthy” With These Tips

Who doesn’t want a garden that is “insta-worthy” these days? Many of us use social media platforms like instagram to share pictures and updates, and we want our photos to look good – and to convey a certain message.

But how do you create an “insta-worthy” outdoor space?  Here are a few tips for doing just that.

Give It a Good Clear Out

Just like our homes, our gardens can sometimes become cluttered. It’s either random chairs lurking about, kids’ toys, garden tools, or even items destined for the waste center but you just haven’t gotten around to taking them. But once you give your garden a big clearout, you can see what you have to work with.

If you don’t have the time or the vehicle to clear out your garden, then you could consider hiring professionals to do all the hard work for you. 

If you do have things that need to stay in your garden, like lawn mowers or garden tools, then consider investing in a shed so that they have a home. 

Whether you want to take your garden back to its former glory or start fresh with a new garden design, getting your garden in tidy condition is the first step.

Design Your Garden Space

Much like your home’s interior, your garden needs a design concept. Do you want a cottage garden look, with abundant flower beds, hanging baskets or pots on the patios? Or perhaps something more functional-looking, such as a neatened up lawn and a clear decking space? 

Don’t be discouraged if your garden space is small.  It’s amazing how much can be done with even a small space.

Whatever your garden design plan, installing a new fence or deck can serve to define the space and be a backdrop to your flower beds and garden in general. Companies like Austex Fence & Deck could help you with that.

You can even go as far as picking certain colors you want to see more of. This can be reflected in the flowers and plants you choose for your garden. Treat your garden as if it is an extension of your home and watch it flourish.

Consider Adding An Eye-Catching Feature

Garden features are the things that add focus and interest to an outdoor space.  They are also the driving force behind many “insta-worthy” moments.

You may want to think about adding a water element to your garden – which sometimes carries the added benefit of attracting wildlife.

Or you could choose to use a decked area or patio as your feature and invest in some unique garden furniture to make it look extra special – and to make it functional.

Maintain Your Garden

Finally, once everything is in place, keep your garden maintained. This means mowing your lawns and keeping them neat and tidy. 

It’s about keeping your flower beds free of weeds, pruning plants and trees when needed, and brushing patio and decked areas if leaves or debris have fallen.

Once you have everything in place, this work is much easier to keep on top of. 

And then you can begin enjoying – and sharing – your beautiful new garden space.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

BROWSE MY COLLECTION OF PANDEMIC STOCKING STUFFERS

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

Two Easy Black and White Projects

Black and white is a timeless color combination.  And because it serves as a neutral base for other colors, it works almost anywhere.

Earlier in fall, I finished a couple of small sewing projects that involved black and white fabrics.

Project 1:  An Easy DIY Dining Chair Upgrade

Affiliate links are used in this post.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

Recently we bought a beautiful antique dining table and chairs from a friend who was moving.  This craftsman-era set is in wonderful condition and had been in our friend’s family for generations.

Craftsman dining set

The set has six chairs – all of which have the original leather seats. The leather is probably over 100 years old, so the seats all have a lovely vintage patina.

Craftsman dining chair

But they don’t have much padding, and it doesn’t take long for them to become uncomfortable.

There is a way to go in underneath each chair seat and add some padding to the middle, but it would hardly be worth the work – or the risk of damaging the leather.

Topping them with cushions was the best option, but I could not find pre-made cushions that would fit these chairs.

So I decided to make my own.

 

Choosing the Fabric

We don’t have any Western decor in our home, so cowhide is not a fabric that I would normally consider.

But by accident, I happened to notice how nice an animal print fabric would look with the old leather of these chair seats.  So, rather than looking Western, I was hoping that the cowhide would enhance the rustic craftsman-era look of the chairs.

For several reasons, I wanted to use faux cowhide instead of the real thing.  The local fabric store didn’t have what I had in mind, so I ended up buying this suede velvet cow print through a vendor on Amazon.

Faux cowhide fabric

It looked authentic enough to me.  It was soft and had a nice texture, and it was easy to work with.

Choosing And Cutting The Foam

I figured if I was going to upgrade these chairs, I might as well go for maximum comfort.  So I used two-inch thick high-density foam cushion squares similar to these.

The chair seats are not a true square.  They taper in gradually towards the back.  So, I made a cardboard template and traced it onto the each foam square.

Then I cut the foam using an electric knife.

My electric knife is very old, but it’s similar to this one.

Sewing The Cushions

I sewed simple cushion covers with box corners.  I did this so that the fabric pattern would continue down the sides of the cushions without being interrupted by a seam.

So, the only visible seams are in the corners.   For the bottoms of the cushions, I used a felt fabric that I had on hand.  (Whenever I can, I like to try to use up what I already have.)

A corner and the bottom of the cushion.

Corner Straps

So that the cushions don’t slide around on the chair seats, I sewed small faux-leather straps into the two back corners of each cushion.  They wrap around the chair backs and adhere together with Velcro.

By hand, I baste stitched each cushion cover closed in the back where my stitching would not be visible.  The stitching will be easy to remove if I ever want to replace the cushion covers.

 

The Result

The chairs are much more comfortable now.

Craftsman dining chair with faux cowhide cushion

And the original leather remains intact.

There is a slight bevel around the edge of each leather chair seat, and I wanted that bevel to remain visible to show the contrast between the leather and the cowhide.

The fabric has a large pattern repeat, so each cushion is a little different.

Craftsman dining chairs with faux cowhide cushions

It’s fun to mix the rustic cowhide look with vintage linen and fine china.

And the cushions work with my new buffalo plaid tablecloth – a little gift I bought for our new table.

I became enamored  with the black and white buffalo plaid tablecloths that I saw at a home decor shop.  They were a fun look for fall and were reasonably priced – and the fabric was good quality.

None of them were the right size for the big square table, but it occurred to me that it would be less expensive to buy one anyway and alter it to fit the table than it would be to buy fabric of that quality at the fabric store.  And this way I would be getting exactly what I wanted.

And since I would be firing up my sewing machine anyway, I bought a second tablecloth for another project.

Which leads me to:

Project 2:  New Greenhouse Shades

Yes, I would be cutting up a large tablecloth and using the fabric to make shades for my greenhouse!

For several years, I’d had these cute DIY burlap shades in our greenhouse.

Sunglo Greenhouse

I loved them.  But they were in the greenhouse year round, and they were starting to show some wear.

It did not occur to me when I made the shades that I might want to wash them from time to time.  And machine washing burlap can be a tricky business.

But the tablecloth, on the other hand, was machine washable.  It was made of good quality home decor fabric that hopefully will hold up nicely in the greenhouse.

So I removed the burlap shades (which, since they were natural burlap and therefore compostable, I could put in my yard waste bin).

Then I deep cleaned the interior of our greenhouse.  I’m talking the entire interior, from the floor to the acrylic panels and everything in between.  I try to do this every year in early fall.

Sunglo greenhouse

 

Now the greenhouse was ready for the new buffalo plaid shades.

The shades were easy to make.  I just cut the tablecloth into the rectangular panels that I needed and then hemmed them.

Sunglo greenhouse

 

In the greenhouse, they are attached to a thin cable by clothespins – making it super easy for me to remove them when I want to wash them.

Sunglo greenhouse

 

These photos were taken a couple of months ago – right after my greenhouse deep clean.  Now the greenhouse is jam packed with plants that I am overwintering.

The buffalo plaid is a big change from the burlap, and in truth it took me a while to get used to the new shades. But now I love them.  And of course the plants are enjoying the filtered light that they provide.

Christmas decor is the focus now, so the tablecloths I found aren’t in the shop anymore.  But there are many options for black and white buffalo plaid tablecloths on Amazon.

To see more greenhouses like ours, check out the Sunglo Greenhouses website.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

BROWSE MY COLLECTION OF PANDEMIC STOCKING STUFFERS

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

Pandemic Stocking Stuffers

There is simply no use pretending that 2020 has been a normal year.  And while there hasn’t been much to laugh about, sometimes a little humor can be the best medicine.

So I’ve assembled a few ideas for stocking stuffers that will give loved ones a little chuckle – and remind them that we are all in this together.

All of these items are made by the small independent sellers on Etsy.  Because, at times like this, it’s important to support small businesses.

This post contains affiliate links.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

 

Our First Pandemic Ornament by SouthernXpressions

 

Holiday Face Masks by Carol Art Boutique

 

Covid Gingerbread Ornament by WindyWillowsHome
Best Quarantine Partner Ever Mug by EwaarKultureStore

 

Alexa Fast Forward to 2021 Mug by JeanandCompany85

 

Stink Stank Stunk Ornament by TrendiGoodsCo

 

Pandemic Gift Box (Mask, handcrafted soap, organic hand sanitizer) by BrownButterflyCo.

 

2020 Ornament by TwoAcreMarket

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining