Keep Those Green Fingers Healthy With Gardening Safety Tips

Nothing can ruin a day of gardening faster than a trip to the ER – which happened to me once when I had a minor run-in with a hedge trimmer.  I’ll spare you the details, but I will say that I am very happy to share this guest post since it addresses an important topic:  Safety in the garden.

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

Keep Those Green Fingers Healthy With Gardening Safety Tips

As relaxing and slow-paced a hobby as gardening can be, it might be difficult to imagine it as anything other than the safest pastime out there. However, there are health and safety risks to just about anything if you do it often enough, and gardening is no exception.

Here, we’re going to look at a few tips to make sure that you stay healthy and safe when you’re out there trying to create a gorgeous-looking garden.

The Right PPE is Priority Number One

The vast majority of accidents in the garden involve your hands and your fingers. They typically involve accidents such as injuring your hands with your own tools or accidentally getting irritants on your hand (such as moss killer.) For that reason, you must always ensure that you’re wearing good gardening gloves, as you can see at this site. Good leather gloves also protect against insect bites.

If you’re clipping, mowing, or trimming in the garden, then it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re wearing safety goggles as well. These can protect you from the risk of gardening debris flying into your face and injuring your eye.  If you’re using a loud power tool, such as a leaf blower, noise-blocking earmuffs are also a good idea.  (Just be aware of your surroundings when you’re wearing them since you won’t be able to hear things like approaching cars.)

Visibility is a Key Concern

When you’re gardening with tools, you need to make sure that you’re able to see what you’re doing so you don’t end up clipping your fingers. For that reason, it’s best to garden during the day when it’s visible out. However, if you are taking care of chores in the evening, or just have a dark garden, you should use lighting to brighten it up.

Similarly, you should visit this website to make sure you have a spare pair of glasses on you at all times. If your visibility is compromised, not only can you hurt yourself with tools, but you can end up more vulnerable to the slip, trip, and fall hazards in your landscaping like patios and decking steps.

Mind the Sun

Just as not having enough natural light can be a health risk due to the effects on visibility, you should also be wary of spending too much time in the sun. If your garden gets plenty of access to the light, then you should try to garden in a long-sleeved shirt while using a broad hat to stop the sun from getting directly into your eyes.

 

Otherwise, make sure that you’re choosing an effective sunscreen, picking one that offers at least 30 SPF and guarantees protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Many sunscreens only protect against one or the other, but both kinds of rays can cause damage to your skin, including a very real risk of skin cancer. Don’t take that risk with your skin.

Take Care of Your Joints

It’s important not to push yourself too hard out there, but you might not know what damage you’re doing to your body until you’re done for the day, only to find a burning pain in your knees or your back. Gardening often involves spending a lot of time in a single position, working away. If you’re kneeling down or bending down, however, you can injure your back and joints. Be sure to do some stretches between tasks, as seen here, and try to find a way to work with better posture. For instance, instead of hunching down on your knees, you can make sure you’re kneeling at the right height with a gardening stool that offers some support.

Be Ready to Deal With Any Emergencies

Even though you might assume that gardening is relatively safe, especially with the tips above in mind, you should always be ready to deal with any injuries if and when they happen. As such, it’s a good idea to keep a first aid kit nearby, such as in the shed, so you can quickly clean, treat, and dress any wounds as and when they happen.

Try to let someone know that you’re going out to the garden so that they can check in on you throughout the day. Keep a phone nearby. Take frequent breaks when gardening, and make sure that you have water on hand – both to keep you hydrated and to wash any wounds or contact with irritants ASAP.

Hopefully, the tips above will help you stay safe and allow you to garden without worrying about any aches, pains, or injuries along the way.  But if you do hurt yourself, but sure to act on it quickly, as the bacteria you deal with when gardening can make injuries just a little riskier than usual.

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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Two Projects With One Pumpkin

I recently bought a few pumpkins for our front porch.  One of them was this white pumpkin.

white pumpkin

I wanted to use it to create a succulent planter.  But then I noticed that part of it had a funny little “grumpy face” look that I wanted to do something with.

So I figured out a way to do both.

 

A Pumpkin Succulent Planter

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Pumpkin succulent planters are fun and easy to make.

And I had garden succulents that needed dividing anyway.  This pretty plant, which I believe might be an Echeveria ‘Imbricata,” bloomed so nicely over the summer.

Echeveria 'Imbricata'

But now this “hen” plant was being crowded in the pot by the smaller “chicks” she had since produced.  So I just clipped away the smaller plants, making sure to also take as much stem as possible.

Some of the stems even had little roots on them.

And then I carefully pulled off any dead leaves.

Echeveria 'Imbricata'
Dead leaves have been removed from the cutting on the left.

I had cut the top off of the pumpkin, hollowed it out to about a one-inch thickness, and poked a few drain holes in the bottom.

I filled the pumpkin with moist potting soil, and then I simply poked the succulents into the soil.

It was a lot like creating a floral arrangement.  I used a different variety, a longer-stemmed succulent cutting, in the middle to add some height.

Pumpkin succulent planter

 

Pumpkin succulent planter

The pumpkin probably won’t last long.  They never do.  But once the pumpkin is past its prime, I will re-pot each succulent cutting into individual 4-inch pots and, since they are not winter-hardy in my climate, put them in my greenhouse to overwinter.  Once in soil, they take root pretty easily.

I do this every year with these succulents anyway, but this year they just made a pit stop along the way to this pumpkin planter.

 

A Grumpy Face

The grumpy face that I mentioned having seen in the pumpkin was actually on the top – the part that I cut off when I made the planter.  The stem was the nose.  So, instead of discarding the pumpkin top, I just propped it vertically and gave it a little makeup.

Pumpkin halloween projects

 

And hair.

Live Spanish moss

For the hair, I used my live Spanish moss.  It had spent the summer hanging from branches on the front porch.  I bring the moss indoors in winter, but it should be okay on the covered porch for now.  I secured the moss to Grumpy Lady by tying it in the bow and then using a safety pin to attach the bow to Grumpy Lady.

I put plastic wrap on the back of the pumpkin top in hopes that it will stay fresh longer.

So, Grumpy Lady now sits in a pot in the corner of the porch waiting to be noticed.

And she’s not happy about it!

Resources:

I really enjoy my live Spanish moss.  It requires a little care, but it is so fun to use in floral projects like this one.   Live Spanish moss can be found at better nurseries and also on Amazon.

To see plants similar to my hen-and-chicks-type succulent, check out these beauties on Etsy.

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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A June Bug Update And A DIY Space Saving Garbage System

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about our tiny vintage Airstream trailer – a 1966 Caravel that we call “the June Bug.”

Vintage Airstream

In these times when travel is difficult, I appreciate the June Bug more than ever.  This past summer was filled with small and safe local camping trips.

It has been fun to rediscover some of the beautiful places that are closer to home – places we often overlook because we could see them any time.  And so we rarely do.

Vintage Airstream

The June Bug is a work in progress, and traveling closer to home has given us a chance to fine tune some of the small-space systems so necessary in such a tiny trailer.

In addition to some mechanical upgrades, we’ve recently replaced the stovetop with a full trailer oven that Chris found on eBay.  Even a small microwave took up too much counterspace and now, with the full oven, we don’t need one.

We also installed a larger sink and a more practical kitchen faucet.  Now it’s so much easier to wash dishes and pans.  We made a few other minor aesthetic changes to the kitchen.

And I made fun ladybug curtains that let in a little more light than the old curtains did (although I also think a Scandinavian-inspired fabric would look great in here).

Airstream interior
June Bug interior

So, this tiny kitchen is just a little nicer and less cluttered than it was before.

Before.

 

After.

 

We’d always struggled with the fact that there is no room on the floor or under the sink for garbage and recycle bins.  We tried different locations but, no matter where we put the garbage bins or bags, they always seemed to get in the way.

Recently, I came up with a simple and cost-free solution that seems to be working.

I have to warn you, though, that it’s kind of a silly project.  I thought twice about even sharing it, but here goes:

A Lightweight Vertical Garbage System

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

Any garbage system for the June Bug needed to be lightweight (because we tow the trailer) and shatterproof.  It also needed to be compact and, most of all, take up no floor space whatsoever.

So I decided to make something that I could hang from a coat hook in front of one of the June Bug’s two narrow coat closets.

A fun challenge and, to make it even more fun, I challenged myself to use only items that I already had on hand.

Starting With Baskets

In storage, I found these two hand baskets.  I’d had the baskets for years.  For a previous project, I’d removed one handle from each basket.

I would tether them together vertically and use the larger basket for recycle and the smaller basket for garbage.

But the baskets didn’t match, and that bugged me.

Making Them Match

I wanted to paint both of them white, but I also really loved the natural look of the larger basket. Then I realized that I could have the best of both worlds.

I just carefully measured and masked the larger basket so I count paint only the lower portion white.

Masking off the basket for painting.

I wanted to use spray paint, but it was too windy outside.  So I used DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paint in Warm White, which I had on hand, with a small foam roller followed by a small paintbrush for anything the roller had missed.

I’ve never liked the look of the second, smaller basket, so I painted that entire basket with the same paint.

I should have primed it first, or perhaps used chalk paint instead, because I was fighting a bit of bleed-through with the red color.

Of course the handles on the baskets didn’t match, so I removed them.  I found an old belt that I never wear.  It would work well for creating a handle on the top basket and tethers for attaching the lower basket.

 

Adding Tags

It would be easy to get confused about which basket would be for recycle and which would be for garbage.  So I decided to label them using some chalkboard paper tags (similar to these) that I had stashed with my gift wrap.

Using the same warm white paint, I just stenciled a “G” (for garbage) on one tag and an “R” (for recycle) on the other.  (I used a stencil similar to this one.)

To make the tags a little sturdier, I coated each tag several times, front and back, with Mod Podge.  The paper tags wanted to curl up a little when I applied the Mod Podge, but I just carefully straightened them before they dried.

Then I attached the tags to the baskets using vintage buttons.

The Result

Here is the new “recycle” bin.

And hanging from it is the new “garbage” bin.

 

In the trailer, our new garbage system hangs in front of a narrow coat closet that is located between the accordion door to the bathroom and the shower curtain.

It is in such a small space that it was difficult to get a good photo.  I almost had to climb into the bathroom sink to get this one.

But in this tiny corner, the garbage system is tucked completely out of our way – yet it’s still arm’s length from the kitchen (although, honestly, just about everywhere in the trailer is arm’s length from the kitchen).

It’s not taking up any floor space.  I also like that it is cuter than a plastic hanging garbage system – although I must say that this one on Amazon looks like a very practical alternative.

We can still access the closet with the garbage system hanging here although, if we really need to rummage around in the closet, we just move the baskets to the coat closet on the opposite side.

But, in a tiny trailer where the sofa converts to a bed and the dining table folds away, being flexible is what it’s all about.

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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Transforming Your Garden to Sow the Seeds of Self-Sustainability

We love feeding the birds in our garden and creating a healthy environment for them to thrive.  I suspect that what we give to them, they give back to us in ways that we don’t yet fully understand.

So I was very happy to see this guest post with tips for creating a self-sustaining garden – especially since one of the tips involves being mindful of local wildlife.

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

Transforming Your Garden to Sow the Seeds of Self-Sustainability

Many people are embracing the concept of self-sustainability because it saves money, it saves the Earth’s resources, and it just feels good to be more self-reliant.  Your garden can be the gateway to becoming a self-sustaining household, but where do you begin? 

 Here are four little ways that can make a big impact.

1.  Get A Rainwater Tank

Harvesting rainwater is an ages-old concept.  By installing a rainwater collection system, you will be able to save on water during the summer. If you live in an area that’s prone to rising temperatures, you can easily get a medium to large size rainwater tank such as the R22700 Litre/5000 Gallon Upright Rainwater Tank to collect rainwater. A rainwater tank is a simple investment that saves money on water bills – and it’s the very definition of sustainability.

2.  Make Your Own Compost

Instead of putting your yard waste out for the garbage collector, put it to work in your garden. Having a compost bin is a fantastic way to create your own rich (and cost-free) soil amendment.  You can transform vegetables, garden clippings, wool, cotton, and even paper and cardboard, into a nutritious soil topping for your planting beds.

3.  Grow Your Own Herbs and Vegetables

Of course, if you want to be self-sustaining, you’ve got to grow your own herbs and vegetables. You may not need a greenhouse to get started. Most herbs, and some vegetables, can be grown in either beds or containers. Fresh herbs make meals more interesting, and growing vegetables can help you become self-sufficient in endless ways. You can pickle and freeze vegetables. 

Fruit and berries can be rewarding to grow as well.  If you’re able to grow raspberries, for instance, you can make raspberry jam. 

It’s best to start small and be realistic about the amount of time you are able to devote to growing herbs and vegetables.

4.  Think About Local Wildlife

Whether you realize it or not, your garden has its own little ecosystem – and all sorts of creatures are relying on it. You can help wildlife by providing fresh water in bowls or birdbaths – and by making your own bird feeders.  Shrubs and trees can give birds a place to nest.  Wait until nesting season is over before pruning trees and shrubs that birds might be nesting in. 

You can also help bees by planting the right flowers. People don’t always think about how they can help bees, but it’s amazing to learn just what they do for us in ways that we don’t consider until we start to focus on our gardens. 

Becoming self-sustaining helps you to get an understanding of wildlife and what you can do to help maintain the planet in your own little way. The perfect starting point is, quite literally, in your own back yard.

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
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
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The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

Dressing Up A Plain Door

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we participated in the Fall 2019 One Room Challenge – during which Chris and I remodeled my dressing room.  (More on that at the end of this post.)

Part of the remodel involved rebuilding a small door and giving it some much-needed character.  That was a fun project, but things were moving along so quickly during the One Room Challenge that I never had a chance to talk about it in detail.

So I’m sharing it with you today.

The Door Rebuild

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

The dressing room has a sloped ceiling that follows the roof line of the house.  As a result, the east wall of the room is very short.  There is a door on that wall that measures just over five feet tall and leads to an unfinished attic space.

It is a hollow-core door that is not original to our circa 1927 house.  The two-inch moldings surrounding the door, and the brushed-brass doorknob, were likely installed around the same time as the door – maybe in the 1950s or 60s.

No doubt it was difficult to find such a small door, and whoever installed it made no attempt to match it with the original single-panel doors in the house (example below).

One of the home’s original single-panel doors.

But, with our remodel underway, we were finally going to change that.

 

Making Space For Period-Appropriate Molding

The door’s only redeeming feature was the beveled mirror.  We carefully removed it and stashed it somewhere safe.  Then Chris pried off the cheap two-inch molding that framed the door.

The molding he would install in its place would be four inches wide. So, Chris used his Ryobi multi tool to cut back the baseboard on either side of the door by two inches to accommodate that wider molding.

The door with its surrounding molding removed and baseboard moldings cut back a couple of inches on either side.

 

Installing Reclaimed 1920s Molding

We actually had the right molding on hand – and it was original to the house!  It had been removed from another room we’d remodeled, and Chris had been saving it for just this type of occasion.

Now the molding around the door would match the other moldings in the house.  It was in slightly rough shape, but we could fix that later by sanding and spackling.

A Molding/Doorknob Conundrum

So as I mentioned earlier, the other doors in the house are the single-panel doors that are very common in 1920s houses.  We decided the easiest way to make this door look like the others would be to install molding around the perimeter of the door itself to give it the appearance of a single-panel door.

Adding molding to the door would mean that the location of the doorknob would have to change.  So, Chris created a wooden plug for the existing doorknob hole.  This plug would be concealed later by spackling and paint.

Now the molding could be installed around the perimeter of the door.

Sand, Spackle, Prime, and Paint

With all the molding installed, it was finally time for me to sand, spackle, prime, and paint the door and moldings.  I used Benjamin Moore’s Simply White.

Once this was done, it was time to add some pretty little details.

 

A Vintage Doorknob

All the original doors in the house have either glass or antique brass knobs.  We had some 1920s vintage door hardware on hand, but most of it was too large and out of scale for this petite door.

Luckily, we’ve collected a pretty good stash of old house parts over the years and, rummaging through it, we found these elegant little beauties.

 

Their small and narrow profiles would fit the door.  But there was no lock mechanism to go with them.  And even if there had been, it may not have worked with the door.

But Chris made do.  He installed the faceplate and the knob. For a door latch, he installed a ball catch – much like you would find on old cabinet doors.

A vintage doorknob and faceplate with a ball catch as a door latch.

So, when I open the door, I don’t actually turn the knob.  I just pull.  And to latch it closed again, I just push.  It’s very simple but it works – and it looks pretty.

Nicer Hinges

We also replaced the flimsy hinges on the door with vintage hinges we had on hand which, besides being very well made, are identical to the hinges on the home’s original doors.

 

Re-Installing The Mirror

Then it was just a matter of re-installing the beveled mirror.

The Result

The door is exactly what I wanted in this room:  1920s elegance, feminine but classic, and in a soft vintagey white.

Our efforts to keep things in scale for this small door paid off.  Looking at this photo, you wouldn’t immediately notice that the door is only about five feet tall.

But there is one small drawback:  The molding we installed on the door itself does not sit flush with the molding that frames the door opening.  So, the door appears to protrude a tiny bit, as you can see from the photo below.

But the overall look is such an improvement that I feel it’s a small price to pay.

To recap, here is the before,

Before

 

And the after.

After

This was a fun little project that made a big impact.

 

 

The door now looks like it’s been with the house all along.

More On Our Dressing Room Remodel

For this remodel, we challenged ourselves to work on a very tight budget – and to keep the carbon footprint small by using repurposed items that we either had on hand or found at salvage shops.  Since we were trying for a very specific look, we really had to get creative.  The challenges we set for ourselves made the project fun!

If you want to see more of this remodel, check out my posts below.

Resources

An ever-changing and vast inventory of vintage door hardware and vintage hinges can be found on Etsy.

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
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

 

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How To Turn Your Garden Into An Outdoor Oasis

This summer, the garden has been our go-to safe place for visiting with family and friends – and it has become a quiet oasis from the cares of the world.  I’m sure that many people are appreciating their gardens now more than ever, so today I’m pleased to share this guest post with helpful hints on transforming your garden into an enjoyable outdoor space.

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

How To Turn Your Garden Into An Outdoor Oasis

There’s nothing like spending an afternoon in the garden when the sun is shining and the birds are singing. If you’re looking to make the most of your outdoor space, and you need a little help or inspiration to turn your garden into a tranquil oasis, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some tips and tricks to create your own slice of paradise. 

Clearing Up And Basic Maintenance

Before you can start reaping the rewards of a stunning, serene garden, it’s essential to tackle the jobs we tend to put off. If you leave your garden for days or weeks without tending to flower beds or clearing away debris, it can quickly become messy and unkempt. Try to keep on top of tasks like getting rid of leaves and weeding, as this will save you time and effort in the long-run. If you’re starting out on a new and improved garden project, the first step is to arm yourself with a trowel, a rake and some trash bags and clear up. Once you’ve tidied up your garden, it will be a lot easier to keep it looking smart, and you’ll also be able to visualize ideas and design concepts. 

Getting Rid of Unwanted Visitors

Nothing spoils a restful day in the garden like unwanted visitors in the form of garden pests. They can be a problem for homeowners and keen gardeners, and it’s always wise to take action swiftly if you do spot signs of an infestation, or you’re worried that you might have attracted hungry passers-by. Look for signs both inside and outside of the property, and seek advice if you’re worried about bees, wasps, flies, rats, mice, cockroaches or mosquitoes. Pest experts like Mosquito Authority can provide treatments to combat existing problems, as well as offering advice to help you prevent issues in the future. Once your garden is pest-free, you can enjoy the peace and quiet with no unexpected interruptions. 

Seating And Chill-Out Zones

Whether you enjoy a glass of wine at the end of a busy day at work, or you try to spend as much time in the outdoors as possible, it’s always beneficial to have a comfortable spot to take in the views and unwind. There are myriad seating options to choose from for your garden, and you can buy products based on your style and taste, your budget and the amount of space you have available. If you have an entertaining area, or you have a patio or a deck, you could browse sofa sets or invest in a table and chairs. If you’re after something a little more casual or informal, you can create a chill-out zone with beanbags, oversized floor cushions, blankets, throws and lanterns.

You could also use benches and picnic tables to channel a rustic vibe, scatter sun loungers around a pool for a resort-style aesthetic or hang hammocks between trees for an exotic feel. If you have children or grandchildren, it’s a good idea to section off parts of the garden so that you have spaces for fun and games as well as adult-friendly zones where you can embrace the serenity. 

Plants And Flowers

Plants and flowers can have an incredible impact on the aesthetic of your garden, but they also play an instrumental role in promoting calm and helping you to feel relaxed. Some scents and aromas are known to soothe, while others can make you feel more positive and energized. Choose scents that you love and think about how you want to feel when you’re sitting out in the garden or kicking back in your hammock or swing seat after a busy day. Lavender and chamomile have a calming influence, peppermint can help to lower stress levels and yarrow can ease anxiety. 

Water Features

Water features can provide a stunning focal point in any garden, but they’re also renowned for their calming impact. The sound of running water tends to make us feel more relaxed, and it can be satisfying to sit or lie in the garden listening to water splashing or trickling.

There are all kinds of options available, and you don’t need to have a huge garden to install a water feature. You can choose anything from ponds and waterfalls to classic, decorative fountains and ultra-modern wall-mounted or freestanding water features. You can make a statement in a compact yard, a family-friendly space or a sprawling country garden. 

Lighting

Outdoor lighting enables us to spend evenings outside and enjoy al fresco dining, but it also creates a lovely, romantic, relaxing atmosphere. Depending on the style of your garden, you can use up-lighters, wall lights, string lights, lanterns and sunken lightning for decking and walkways to illuminate the space and create a cozy, intimate feel. 

Privacy

If you don’t live in a rural area, you might have concerns about your neighbors or passers-by being able to see into your garden. If you would like your outdoor space to be more private, there are solutions. You can look into installing fencing or planting trees, or you could put screens up to create private areas where you can sit back and soak up the tranquility. Bamboo and reed screens are very popular, as they are inexpensive, they have a lovely, natural aesthetic, and they are versatile. If you have a hot tub, or you’d like to be able to sunbathe without worrying about anyone else seeing you, it’s worth looking at gazebos and awnings.

Do you long to enjoy blissfully peaceful afternoons or evenings in the garden? If so, it is possible to turn your yard into an outdoor oasis. Start by clearing up and tidying and getting rid of pests. Once these jobs are completed, you can focus on enhancing the beauty of your garden and creating a relaxing, soothing atmosphere. Search for plants and flowers that have a calming effect, set aside comfortable, cozy areas to sit or lie down, use water features to create a focal point and aid relaxation, opt for soft, romantic lighting and use screens, trees, bushes and fencing to add privacy.

 

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
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

A DIY All-Natural, Guilt-Free Fall Wreath

Fall is just around the corner, and if you have a garden you know what that means:  Fall garden cleanup!   But why not make it fun?  Today I’m sharing an amazingly simple wreath that I made last year using garden clippings that would otherwise have gone into the compost bin.

The wreath didn’t cost anything to make.  I also didn’t need to use wires, cages, or any other man-made materials so, once the season was over, the entire wreath could be composted.

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

Creating The Wreath

I’d been meaning to get rid of an overly-ambitious grape plant that I’d placed along a fence.  The fence was not enough structure for the rambling beast to climb on, so I needed to prune the beast back several times every summer.

But then I saw some beautiful DIY grapevine wreaths on Instagram.  Since I had plenty of grapevines, I decided to try making my own.

And it was so simple.

 

Start With Green Vines

I used freshly cut vines that were still green and pliable.

After removing the larger leaves from the vines, I started by wrapping two vines around each other.

And then carefully forming them into the shape of the wreath.  I just kind of wove the ends around each other and tucked them in to secure them.

Then I wrapped in more vines, one by one, making sure to wrap them around any loose ends that needed to be secured so that the wreath wouldn’t unravel.  To make sure they didn’t snap, I tried not to force the vines or wrap them too tightly.

They were fun to work with.  The tendrils gave the wreath a lot of personality.

 

 

I made two of these basic wreath forms and gave one to a friend.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

I put the second one in my greenhouse for a few days until it dried.

What if I didn’t have grapevines to work with?  I’ve been meaning to experiment with other safe, non-toxic green, flexible vines and twigs.  This year I’m going to try making a wreath with the long branches of my butterfly bush – while they are still green and pliable of course.

Add Accent Foliage

The wreath form had dried to a mellow brown color and was very solid.

By then it was time to prune my hydrangeas, so I cut several hydrangea flowers on long green stems and wound those stems through the gravevine wreath – again using no wires.

The photo below shows the back of the wreath, and you can see the green hydrangea stems winding through the wreath.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

I shook the wreath a few times to make sure everything was secure.

I hung the wreath on the door, and the hydrangeas gradually dried on their own.  I’m not sure if every variety of hydrangea would dry so nicely, but I was lucky with this one.

 

The Result

The wreath looked nice and fresh for weeks.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

 

DIY Grapevine wreaths

Turns out that stupid grape plant has value after all.  So it gets to stay.

 

A Holiday Wreath

I could have simply tossed the wreath into the compost bin once the season changed.  But it was still pretty solid.  I was feeling too lazy to create a holiday wreath from scratch, so I just removed the hydrangeas and re-decorated it for Christmas.

For the holiday version, I used Deodar cedar twigs that I’d found on a walk. The long, flexible twigs worked well to wind around the grapevines.

DIY holiday wreaths

 

But I cheated this time and added wired pine cone springs (which helped secure the cedar sprigs) and a few other man-made materials that I already had on hand.

Not the best Christmas wreath I’ve ever made, but I went with it anyway.

DIY holiday wreaths

You can’t really see the grapevines, but they are under there!

Wreaths are so fun and easy to make.  If you love experimenting with them, check out some of my other wreaths – like my hoppy harvest wreath, my foraged wreath, and the wreath that the storm blew in.

 

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

 

 

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

 

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Exploring

 

 

 

 

 

5 Tips Every New Gardener Should Know

I’ve been gardening for over 30 years, and one thing is certain:  You never stop learning.  Sometimes, when speaking with a novice gardener, I realize that I actually know quite a bit about gardening.  I just learned it so gradually that I never really noticed.

Back when I got my first garden, I didn’t even know what the word “mulching” meant.  But we all have to start somewhere.  So today, I’m happy to share this fun guest post with a few helpful tips for new gardeners.

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

5 Tips  Every New Gardener Should Know

Gardening is a great hobby. It is tons of fun, you get to play in the dirt, it is therapeutic and you get the satisfaction of watching the things you plant grow. No wonder people everywhere are getting into the gardening spirit. Maybe you are ready to try your hand at gardening, but you don’t know where to begin. If you believe you do not have a green enough thumb to successfully start gardening, here are some tips for beginners.

1.  Start Small

If you are new to gardening, it can be tempting to grow every kind of plant you can imagine. Resist the urge to do this. For example, if you are focusing on growing vegetables, make sure that you are not overwhelming yourself or creating waste. Plant only what you will eat. Start small with a few varieties and go from there. After a while, you will feel more confident, and you can start adding new varieties to your garden. 

2.  Pick The Right Mulch

Mulching is a great way to keep your plants protected from weeds. You may not have to use a battery-powered weed trimmer to keep the weeds away. Mulching also helps to save water. Picking the right mulch for your plant depends on the plant itself. If you planted seeds, avoid applying too thick a layer of mulch because that can cause difficulty for your seedlings when they are trying to sprout. You should also keep your mulch one inch away from plant stems and trunks to avoid having them rot.

3.  Give Your Plants The Right Amount Of Light

Different plants require different levels of sunlight. You do not want to give your plant too much sunlight if it enjoys partial or full shade. At the same time, you do not want to give it too little light because it could seriously stunt the plant’s growth. Keep in mind what kind of plant you have when deciding on where to put it in your garden. Certain species of plants only do well in very particular living conditions and environments.

4.  Avoid Overcrowding Your Seedlings

If your seedlings are planted too closely together, they will constantly be competing for nutrients. This is why spacing out your seeds is crucial to the health of your vegetable garden. This practice is called thinning. You must imagine how big your plants will be once they mature and space them out accordingly. Thin your plants out when they are only a few inches tall. 

5.  Water Regularly

Watering is as crucial as sunlight to the health of your garden. You want to be sure that you are watering your garden on a schedule. Each plant requires a different amount of water. If you water too little, your plants will wilt. If you water too much, you could cause root rot in your plants.

Make sure that, when you are watering, you water deeply. Normally, the best time of day to water is early in the morning, when the water is more likely to soak in the soil instead of evaporating in the mid-day heat.

Above all, remember to go easy on yourself.  Don’t expect immediate success.  And, should you get frustrated, just remember that the best tool a gardener can have is patience.

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

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Exploring

A DIY Old-World Concrete Garden Trough

I love anything that has an “old-world” look, and I’ve always admired the ancient-looking concrete water troughs that I’ve seen around Europe.  Many of them have been converted into garden art or planters that grace the gardens and town squares of quaint villages.

But, around here, concrete troughs usually have three significant disadvantages:  They are hard to find, they’re expensive, and they are very heavy.

So today, I’m sharing how I recently made my very own “old-world,” lightweight(ish) concrete trough.

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Starting With A Styrofoam Box

This project is not my brainchild.  I found the method years ago in a magazine – most likely Better Homes and Gardens or Martha Stewart Living.

What I loved about it was that these concrete-wrapped Styrofoam planters were lighter than similar planters made entirely out of concrete.  And it seemed like a great way to repurpose a Styrofoam container.

Back when I first came across the magazine article, I tried the method using a small rectangular Styrofoam box.  After many years, that smaller concrete planter is still holding up very well (although it’s actually too small to be of any practical use and has been relegated to the no-man’s-land behind the garage).

For this recent project, though, I used a much larger Styrofoam shipping box that had been taking up space in our basement for some time.  I’d been saving it because, measuring at 32″ X 13″ X 10″, it was just the right size to serve as the inner core for a small concrete trough.

But it was significantly larger than any of the examples I remembered seeing in the magazine article.

Would the method from the magazine work on such a large piece of Styrofoam?  I was going to find out.

The first step was to clean my Styrofoam container and pull off the strips of tape stuck to it.

Making Drain Holes

Since this cement trough would be used as a planter, I needed to put a couple of drain holes in the bottom.

Wrapping the Styrofoam Box With Wire Mesh

The next part was the hardest and most unpleasant part:  Wrapping the Styrofoam box with wire mesh.

I used galvanized, 23-gauge wire mesh (also known as hardware cloth) with 1/4 inch squares, similar to this product.

Galvanized wire mesh

Wearing heavy work gloves and long sleeves, I cut it to the sizes I needed with tin snips,

And then formed it as tightly as I could against the box, at times pounding it lightly into place with a rubber mallet,

And sometimes using a little wire to loop through and hold two adjoining sections together.

I did my best to make sure that any sharp edges were pointing inward.  I covered the entire box with wire mesh, lining the inside walls with it as well.

This all took a lot of time and, despite all my precautions, the wire did bite me a few times.

 

Covering The Wire Mesh With Concrete

I don’t remember exactly which concrete mix the magazine article recommended.  I chose to use Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix.  It’s actually meant to be used as a base for laying pavers or patching steps and walkways.  What I like about is that, when mixed with water, it has a smooth consistency.  It is for projects that will be under two inches (but not less than a half-inch) thick.  (For projects under one inch thick, it’s recommended to replace some of the mixing water with Quikrete Concrete Acrylic Fortifier.)

Wearing gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask, I just mixed small batches by hand (more on that below).

I wanted the trough to have a bit of an old-world patina, so I stirred a few drops of the Charcoal Quikrete Liquid Cement Color into the water that I used to mix the concrete.

The mixture looked darker when it was moist.

I applied it to the Styrofoam box with a trowel, making sure to press it firmly through the wire mesh and then cover the mesh completely.  I smoothed it as much as I could with the trowel.

Then I used a small whisk broom to level the concrete.

I followed that up by smoothing the concrete with a large drywall knife (because it’s what I had on hand), and it worked well.

But I was not going for perfection.  I wanted it to look a little rustic and handmade.

So why did I need to work in small batches?  Because the topping mix that I used can only successfully be applied to horizontal surfaces.  So, I could only do two “sides” at a time:  Whichever two sides were sitting horizontally.  And then that needed to sit in place and dry before I could reposition the trough to work on two more sides.

Needless to say, this project took me a few days to complete although, once I had my stride, it was only about a half hour of active time each day.  I covered the entire box, inside and out, with concrete.

At times, the project got messy and seemed to be spiraling out of control.

The bottom of the trough after cement was applied.

I was wondering if it would even hold up.

But it all worked out in the end.

 

The Result – And A Problem Solved

This new “old-world” trough helped me get a handle on the long-neglected herb container garden behind my greenhouse.

Before: The chaos of my old herb garden.

Many of the herbs had outgrown their containers or weren’t getting sufficient water.  I moved the larger herbs out of pots and planted them elsewhere in the garden. Then I cleaned up with area a little, and my husband Chris and I leveled a new spot for the trough.

And then Chris moved the trough into the area we’d prepared.  He was able to pick up and carry the trough to its new location by himself.  Had it been a solid concrete trough, there is no way he could have done that.

Once in place, we found we still needed to do a little work to the area.  I was able to tip the trough on its end to get it out of the way and then muscle it back into place by myself.

It’s not super lightweight, but it is lighter than it looks.

 

DIY concrete garden trough

My cement work is not perfect, and the color isn’t completely consistent.  But, to me, these quirks give it a bit of character.  I am hoping that it develops even more of an old-world patina over time.

DIY concrete garden trough
After: A little order in the herb garden.

 

DIY Concrete garden trough

 

Different herbs need different soil conditions and moisture.  The herbs I chose for the trough all do well in rich, moist soil.

DIY concrete garden trough

From left to right, the herbs I planted are:  Chives, tarragon, cilantro, Thai basil, and Italian parsley.

How long will this trough hold up?  Only time will tell.  I will count myself lucky if it lasts as long as the first, much smaller piece that I made using this technique.

The good news is that (although I would not advise trying this) just yesterday Chris briefly stood on the rim of the trough to reach something on the top of the greenhouse.

And the trough held up!

 

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
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays