Showing posts with label garden decor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garden decor. Show all posts

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Landscaping Solution for Areas Where the Grass Won't Grow

Our Front Yard Fix - My DIY Stepping Stone Solution
When You Want to Keep Your Trees but Can't Keep the Lawn

If you don't have to, don't cut down the trees.

Let me start by saying that I'm not a gardening expert. 

However, I did manage to pull off this DIY. Review the photos featured here to get a good look at the results.

Over 20 years ago we moved into our home in a new tree-less development. Other than the one tree the city provided, the yard was simply grass and a builder's walkway.

Landscaping was a must for us so we got busy planting trees and had a lovely interlocking walkway put in around the home.

My husband picked a tree he liked, a Birch Tree, and I picked a tree I liked, a Blue Spruce. We had both planted in the front yard with the birch tree surrounded by a small island featuring easy to care for Juniper. 

We put Boxwoods along the walkway, cedar trees on each side of the garage doors and a Bristol
A Close Up of Part of the
Front Yard
Ruby Weigela by the porch. On the other side of the driveway we had an English Oak Tree planted, which today, is magnificent.

For the back yard we planted about 50 cedar trees around the fence. You can see pictures of the backyard here with some gardening tips here.

In those early years, the trees were essentially our height or lower so keeping the lawn green and healthy was never an issue, until the trees became very large and as you can well imagine the little bit of exposed lawn in the front yard turned into a disaster.

One Day, I Decided that Was IT! No More

LOL I'm not exaggerating. One day about ten years ago I arrived home from work and solicited the help of my sons to do some Diy landscaping. Off we went to the local Home Depot to purchase the stepping stones you see in the photos. 

I chose bigger irregular stepping stones for most of the what was left of the lawn area, and smaller ones to go in front of the island. 

Not wanting the dirt to show between the stepping stones and not wanting to wait for planted ground cover to grow, I choose small red gardening rocks to fill in the cracks.

The only thing I forgot to do was to line the area with a protection barrier fabric to prevent the weeds from growing through the stones. But that's ok, I just dig out the weeds between the stones from time to time. It's good exercise, in fact I just did it again the other day.

A Closer Look - DIY Stepping Stone Fix
Also, to finish the look I put red cedar wood chips around the bushes and along the walkway. 

Was This a Hard DIY?

No. Since the lawn was mostly gone, there wasn't much digging to do to get the yard ready to receive the stepping stones. We poured the small red colored rock between the stones. Oh, and my sons did the heavy lifting.

Had I Ever Done This Type of Work Before?

No. I was totally inexperienced. The only advantage I may have had was that in my real estate years I had seen a great deal of property, and thus had a lot of visual assistance stored in the back of my mind.

What Tips Would You Give?

The most important aspect, at least for me, was to look carefully at the yard to roughly determine the
A Section of the Backyard Along the Fence where
the Grass doesn't Grow - These stepping stones are NOT
positioned close together on purpose!
size of the stepping stones needed and then do a bit of math to establish how many stones to buy.

It's easier to be as exact as you can than to continuously go back to the store to get additional stepping stones. However, I didn't get it right the first time either; I ended up at the store twice.

Also, install enough stepping stones. In other words, don't try to save money by spacing them too far apart so you won't need as many.

The closer together they are, the better the finished product will look. Plus, having them closer together means fewer red colored rocks.

What Did this Project Cost You?

Ok.... Remember this was done around 2008. My estimated price for the work I personally did was about $1000(ish) Canadian. Of course that doesn't include the trees or the professionally installed walkways. That money includes the stepping stones, cedar red chips, and red colored rocks. No labour costs, as of course, it was a DIY.

Don't be afraid to try this, it's a lot easier than it looks. I am not an expert and managed, so I'm sure you could as well. The photos really don't do this DIY justice :)

This is a recent photo (2018) - Stepping Stones still Holding Up Nicely, 10 Years Later






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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Vintage Lamp Bird Bath - DIY Tutorial and Review


I was visiting my muse the other day, Pinterest, when I came upon the most delightful inspiration.  Have you seen the creative bird baths that are being made from vintage lamps?  I'm pretty sure I would never have thought of this fun, and ingenious, idea on my own.  As one who loves to give cast off items new life, this was the perfect project for me.  In case you also enjoy whimsical garden features, I am sharing my DIY process to prime your pump.


First, I needed an old lamp and bird bath basin, so I took a little field trip to a couple of thrift stores.  Goodwill had exactly what I needed.  On my first shopping expedition, I found a glass serving dish that reminded me of a sunflower.  Amazingly, that is the exact vision I had for the theme of my creation.  Who knew an egg platter could be so lovely?


Next, I went on the hunt for the right lamp to complement my new bird bath dish, and to serve as its base.  Because thrift stores are always receiving new donations, I found the perfect lamp on my very next trip to the store.  The crystal, marble, and brass features, along with the size of the lamp, were just right in every way.  I couldn't wait to get home and put the finishing touches on my vintage bird bath.


Step One: Unscrew the light socket and remove it from the top of the lamp.


Step Two:  Clip the electrical cord and pull it out through the lamp base.  


Step Three:  I removed each individual section of the lamp and reassembled the pieces to better support the basin section of my bird bath.  I moved the brass leaf section to the top of the column and reversed it (turned it upside down) to serve as the support arms for my glass dish.  


Step Four:  Though I had intended to glue the platter directly to the brass arms, I found that they weren't totally level, so I riveted a circular metal candle holder to the brass piece.  I spray painted the metal silver since it would show through the bottom of the water basin.  I wanted a natural looking reflection.




Step Five:  I used E6000 glue to affix the glass dish to the candle holder.  I ran a bead of glue all along the circular rim on the bottom of the egg platter and carefully applied pressure for a minute or two after centering the dish on the metal plate.  Then, I let the glue cure for a couple of days.


Step Six:  Since I don't want my glass bird bath to tip over and shatter, I ran a metal post up into the center column where the cord used to be housed.  I purchased an inexpensive plant hanger at the dollar store.  It has stakes to anchor the base of the lamp into the ground.  I measured the height of the lamp and then cut off the hook top of the planter stake.  For extra insurance, since the winds are often incredibly strong where I live, I drilled a hole through the center of a cement patio paver and inserted the metal rod through it before installing the rod inside the lamp.  Now my bird bath is very stable and far less likely to get knocked over by the wind or wild critters.  As a bonus, it now has a level platform on which to stand.  I'll be planting flowers around the paver to make it more attractive.









Your steps may not be identical to mine, because every lamp is slightly different, but there are enough similarities to give you a sense of how to go about assembling your bird bath.  You may be able to find a lamp that already has a glass shade.  In that case, you won't need a separate glass dish.  I preferred knowing that my glass dish would not be toxic to birds and I didn't have to seal any holes that had been drilled through a lamp shade.  

I am very pleased with my unique bird bath.  It is so satisfying to take an unwanted item or two and turn them into a conversation piece.  More than that, I feel like I am showing a little love to the beautiful creatures who share my garden habitat.  It has been an especially dry season.  With the mountain creek dried up at the moment, it feels wonderful to provide a source of sustenance for the precious birds that fill my life with their sweet presence and songs.

Let me know if you decide to make your own bird bath or garden art with a vintage lamp.  I would love to see how you use your creative gifts.









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Monday, April 4, 2016

Stone Age Boulder Owls Review

What in the world is a Stone Age Boulder Owl?  Well, I'll tell you what it is. Today, I discovered an item that will delight owl lovers, gardeners, and carved stone collectors alike. Boulder Owls are one-of-a-kind garden ornaments carved from stone.  As I looked at their little faces today, I wanted to take each one home with me.  


Carved Stone Garden Ornaments


I enjoy nice garden ornaments and statues.  I don't want many. Just a few expressive, quality items. I am also quite fond of stone. Stone of all kinds. So naturally, these little carved stone owls immediately caught my eye.  The difficulty was not deciding that I wanted one, but rather, deciding which one I wanted. 

Since I was seeing them at Sun Nurseries, I could see and touch each one individually. These little owls were so simple, yet so expressive. And because they are made of natural stone, they are substantial. Even at their sizes ranging from 6" to 18" they would be solid additions to a garden.  Unlike many yard ornaments that are made from lightweight and flimsy materials.


A small portion of the Boulder Owls I saw today


Fairy and Miniature Garden Sized Owls


These owls are also offered in 2" sizes that are suitable for fairy gardens. I know precious little about these teeny gardens but have seen a few adorable examples.  These smallest boulder owls are perfectly sized for miniature gardening.  

Some reviewers report that the 2" owls are slightly less detailed. However, this makes sense to me due to their very small size.


Stone Age Creations, Ltd.


Once upon a time, there were two cousins who shared a passion for stone.  They made a few carved birdbaths and benches that were sold locally.  Since then, they quit their unrelated, full-time jobs and began earning a living doing what they love. They now manufacture and distribute their items to retailers (such as garden centers).  I had the privilege of seeing MANY of their products: benches, birdbaths, stone lanterns, garden accents, and animals. Every item was high quality and beautiful.

If you like quality stone items, you should take a peek at their photographs on the Stone Age Creations website.

Boulder Owl by Stone Age Creations

Note: When ordering online, because they are handcrafted, each one will be different. And will likely not be the owl pictured in the photo.





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Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring Forward and Spruce Up that Balcony

My springtime sunset view
Our clocks have just sprung ahead and spring becomes official in a matter of days. Whether you live in an area that is celebrating the end of blizzards and ice storms or an area that remains mild all year, the sun shinier days of spring bring on a desire to embrace the outdoors. And there is no better way to celebrate spring than to include your outdoor living space in your spring cleaning and redecorating.  Here are five inexpensive ways to spruce up your small balcony or patio areas.

If you gift yourself a comfortable and personalized place to relax, your outdoor living area will become an extension of your home.  As you can see, the experience and the views while sitting outdoors can be priceless. 


Low-Cost Outdoor Seating


Patio and balcony seating does not have to cost a small fortune. Neither does it have to be large and bulky.  You can create seating no matter how small your outdoor area.


I wish I had a slightly larger balcony so that I could DIY my own furniture.  But because my balcony is so small, and because I want to make sure to save sufficient space for plants, I tend to use an assortment of ever-changing rugs and cushions to keep my space comfy. 

The best part about using cushions is that they are easily changed to suit the season or your mood. My textiles on the balcony have changed from animal prints, to bright florals, to very earthy/neutral colors, and back again. Go ahead, spruce up your balcony with a few new cushions. 


Beautiful Bird Pillow


Indoor/Outdoor Loveseat-sized Cushion

Outdoor Flooring


I love the coziness of a rug on my balcony. Rugs add so much comfort to an outdoor area.  People are right to be concerned about the deterioration of indoor rugs that are exposed to the elements and the damage that can be done by wet carpets on balconies.

I have wooden flooring on my deck. During blowing rain, my rugs are sometimes soaked. But that does not stop me from using rugs (especially runners) to add color and comfort. I am careful to use rugs that are suitable for the outdoors. Sometimes, I use thinner indoor rugs but am sure to watch for moisture gathered under them and hang them over the rail to dry when necessary.


Indoor/Outdoor Floral Runner




Green Space: Morning Glories and Other Suitable Greenery


We know this world needs more green space. Not only for the health of our earth, but I fully believe for our own health.  No matter how small your outdoor space, you can certainly find some suitable greenery.  


My green privacy screen
Over the years - through trial and error - I have found that marigolds, morning glories, tomatoes, mint, lavender, and rosemary flourish in my third floor balcony garden.  I had some success with blueberries, believe it or not, and would have likely had better success had I remembered to have someone water my blueberry bushes during a period of time that I was away.

My favorite part of having a living balcony is my morning glory privacy screen. Each year, my morning glories twine up the railing and provide a living green screen that delights me with the increased protection from the prying eyes of neighbors and provides the visiting hummingbirds and bees with an extra snack. 



Soothing Sounds - Water Features and Wind Chimes


Two very popular items for outdoor areas are water features and wind chimes.  

I gravitate toward wind chimes. Listening to them tinkling in the wind is something that soothes me.  Small wind chimes can tinkle like tiny bits of glass and large wind chimes can sound like distant church bells on a country Sunday morning.  Bamboo chimes have a natural, "woodsy" sound. Some chimes including shining and sparkling bits that reflect prisms as they move in the breeze.  Frankly, wind chimes and the different varieties deserve their own article.

I have found a great many people who have "desktop" water features on their small balconies. What a great idea!  I am tempted to make room in my outdoor space for one of these so that I too can listen to running water while just steps outside of my livingroom.  I think the Alpine Tabletop Leaf Fountain would be a great addition to my balcony garden. 





Going to the Birds



Balconies and Bird Feeders go together like peanut butter and jelly. At least they do around my place. I love bird feeders. I have kept seed feeders on my previous balconies and enjoyed the many feathered friends who came to visit.

My current balcony is not as suited to a seed feeder. So I stick with a hummingbird feeder.  These winged miracles are so fun to watch and to listen to as they flit around.











Related Links: 

Cheap Seats: Cushions and Poufs -- Photographs that include examples of cushions and poufs being used for seating on tiny balconies. And a sample of a DIY couch made of cinder block, post, and cushions. You may feel limited by the size of your outdoor space but as some of these photos show; the sky is the limit. You can turn your small outside space into a pretty, useful, and comfortable living area.

FUNK'N Practicality with Reversible Patio Mats -- These mats are too large for my teeny balcony but I'd still love to have one. I have friends that use these mats for outdoor gatherings. They are durable, beautiful, and portable. 

Morning Glory - The Beautiful Privacy Screen -- For the past two or three years, I've grown morning glories on my balcony rail.  But this article shows a floor to ceiling green screen. And an important warning about pets and morning glory seeds.

Tuned Wind Chimes Review -- If you love wind chimes but have never heard of tuned wind chimes, this article is a must-read. The lovely sounds of good wind chimes playing music in the wind is something I enjoy very much.

First Hummingbird of 2015 -- The story of how I finally attracted hummingbirds to my balcony for two years in a row. This was after years of unsuccessful attempts. It's as easy as homemade sugar water and an inexpensive hummingbird feeder.








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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tuned Wind Chimes Review

The beautiful, melodic sound of tuned wind chimes can brighten a cloudy day.
The beautiful, melodic sound of tuned wind chimes
can brighten a cloudy day.
If you ask me, wind chimes are a necessity on any porch or in a favorite garden spot, adding beautiful melodies to the fragrant air on a lazy afternoon. Tuned wind chimes are a wonderful choice to provide the most pleasing music to the ear, and a set of tuned wind chimes is a thoughtful choice for a gift for any occasion, especially during the spring and summer. Everyone loves wind chimes!

Several years ago we lost our house to a wildfire. During the months that our new home was being constructed, I knew that one thing we must have for our new, roomy front porch was a set of wind chimes. I chose Woodstock Chimes for their quality and "Amazing Grace" chimes specifically. The tubular chimes are tuned to the opening notes of the hymn "Amazing Grace," a tune that almost everyone recognizes and a song with a message that spoke volumes to us as we recovered from our traumatic loss. The chimes really were a perfect choice. The tune, the tone, and the message won me over.

The wind chimes in the short video below aren't mine, but it's kind of fun for me to listen to this because mine sound exactly the same and I can hear them chiming outside my home office window as I type this. If you choose Amazing Grace tuned wind chimes, yours will sound the same, too, since they're all perfectly tuned exactly the same way.

Play the video to hear how the chimes sound. Can you pick out the tune?


Prefer a different tune or tone? Click here to see more Woodstock tuned wind chimes.

Another impressive tuned wind chimes company that I recently found is Amish Chimes. Their chimes, too, are high quality with absolutely beautiful tone. I'm looking forward to adding a set of Amish Chimes to our back porch. Click the link to see and hear their selection. 

Tuned wind chimes are a wonderful gift idea for just about anyone. They're a great addition to a porch, patio, or garden area and they're available in sizes ranging from very small and high-pitched to long tubes with a very deep pitch. No doubt you'll find just the right set for someone special in your life.

A Set of Tuned Wind Chimes, A Great Gift Idea for . . .

  • Easter
  • A Birthday
  • Christmas
  • Father's Day
  • Mother's Day
  • A Wedding Gift
  • A Hostess Gift
  • A Grieving Friend
  • A Housewarming Gift
  • Your Favorite Gardener
  • Yourself!

So tell me, who do you know that deserves their own set of tuned wind chimes?

Tuned Wind Chimes Links:

~Susan

Still Shopping? Don't Miss Our Review This Gift Guide!





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Friday, June 6, 2014

Garden Decor Project: Make a Mosaic Pot

handcrafted mosaic pot
Mosaic Pot by Mickie_G
A few summers ago, I made the mosaic pot you see to the left at a workshop sponsored by Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, Alabama.

Ever since I was a child, I have loved creating crafts that involved tile. I remember my mother taking me to the hobby shop every year just before our annual summer visit to my grandmother. My mom knew that if she let me pick out a craft kit, I would not get bored. More often than not, I chose a mosaic kit.

I still remember the 6" circular dish I made with prayerful hands in the middle. The kit came with enough 1/4 inch square tiles for me to play with the design if I did not want to make one just like the example on the box lid. I usually I ended up choosing a checkerboard pattern.  These mosaic craft kits filled my days with much happiness and gave my parents a vacation from entertaining me, I imagine. But enough reminiscing!

I won't go into how I made the mosaic pot shown in the images on this page, but I will share with you some things I did learn about tile covered pots:


  • Do not leave your mosaic pot outside during the winter months as the freezing temperatures will cause the pot to break and the mosaic pieces to fall off.
  • If you use broken dishes or crockery, it is best to use totally flat pieces if you use larger, broken bits.  It is easier to rub off the grout if there are no sharp points that are higher than your decorative shards. You can see in the photo below that I used some broken pieces from a plate. I should have trimmed the sharp points on the edges off. 
  • To break up dishes and crockery, put them between several sheets of newsprint before you break them up with a small hammer. 
  • If you want to preserve the pattern as it is on the dish, use duck tape on the back of the dish before you break it into pieces.
  • Try to fit the "tiles" close together as possible but still leave enough room for the grout. I think I left too much space so there is a lot of grout space. 
  • Wear a mask to mix up your dry grout and powdered mastic. This is a MUST!
  • Gloves for your hands are another must when rubbing in the grout. Surgical ones work best. 

Close up of my mosaic pot. 

mosaic craft 
I used glass globs and a broken dish. 
Can you see the buttons, too?


I am a "keeper" of useful things and a recycler of the broken and chipped, so I have a stockpile of broken dishes and pottery. However, I do not have the supplies like the grout and ceramic tile adhesive for making a mosaic piece.




Here is a video by "DIY Maven" that I discovered on YouTube that shows a very similar and easy process for making a mosaic flower pot.




There are several articles on Squidoo that might whet your appetite for making other types of mosaic crafts. Unfortunately, there are none about how to make a pot like mine. How To Mosaic: Art For Your Garden is a good introductory article to the craft of mosaics. 


If you like the idea of a "kit", I found several mosaic craft kits for children available on Amazon. Here are a few links for you: Kits for ages 14+kits for ages 8 to 13; Kits for ages 5-7 years; Kits for ages 2 to 4. Most of the kits for young children use foam pieces and no grout. That is a good thing.

Keep your hands busy, y'all!


Photos: Mickie_G - all rights reserved.





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