Author Archives: Caitlin Castelaz

5 Great Ways to Garden in Comfort

Want a great looking garden without breaking your back? Garden in comfort with these tips and tools that will keep your garden—and you—in great shape.

Growing a beautiful garden is no small feat. Not only does it take regular attention, watering, and cooperative weather, but all of that planting, pruning, weeding, and raking can take its toll on your back, knees, and hands. Is it possible to create a picture-perfect garden and stay comfortable at the same time? Here are some pointers—and ergonomic garden tools from AMES®—to help you do just that.

As any gardener can attest, gardening can be serious exercise. Staying in shape will help you garden more comfortably and effectively. Work out your arms to make short work of hauling a watering can or pushing a garden cart. If you normally suffer from lower back pain after gardening, strengthening your core muscles with abdominal exercises with help prevent future back strain.

If you’re a dutiful gardener, chances are you spend a lot of time kneeling over your garden beds. Protect your knees during your next weeding session by investing in knee pads. There are wearable options or small and portable kneeling boards available for purchase online or at your local garden center.




Staying in place while you perform gardening tasks can cause muscle strain, so move and move often. It’s easy to lose track of time in the garden, but set a timer if you need the reminder and change your position every ten minutes or so. And even when you’re not stationary, take care. When lifting a heavy pot or plant, be sure to bend from the knees to carry the weight comfortably without damaging your back.

With good quality tools, gardening becomes more comfortable and more effective. Long handled tools like the AMES 5-Tine Welded Floral Cultivator can help save your back by eliminating the need to bend and kneel. Look for hand tools that provide an ergonomic grip to keep your hand and wrist comfortable while you work. The AMES Ergo Gel Grip Hand Rake features a soft gel grip that cushions the hand, providing comfort.

Don’t let your skin suffer while you’re gardening. Protect yourself from sunburns with a high SPF sunscreen and keep bugs away with a non-toxic insect repellant. Gardening can be rough on your hands, but gardening gloves will help prevent blisters and calluses from developing. When you’re all done, you can finish up with a lotion designed especially for gardeners in order to combat dry and itchy skin.

For more on AMES’ ergonomic line of tools, check out their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Enter Bob Vila’s 2nd Annual Great Garden Give-Away today and every day through June 30th (11:59 EST) for a chance at $1,000 in weekly prizes. 

ENTER TODAY: Bob Vila’s 2nd Annual Great Garden Give-Away

Enter today and every day in June to win one of four weekly garden tool prize packages valued at $1,000 from AMES.

Whether you’re an expert gardener or just starting out, June is a great month for growing flowers, planting seasonal vegetables, and beautifying the lawn. And when you garden with the right tools, all of the cultivating, planting, and weeding you do is more effective—and ergonomic. That’s why we’re teaming up with AMES for this month’s Bob Vila’s 2nd Annual Great Garden Give-Away to give away gardening tools to four lucky winners—plus a $700 American Express gift card to purchase new plants, pavers, mulch, or anything else you’d like!


This week and every week in June (through 11:59 EST Monday, June 30th), you can enter to win $1,000 in weekly prizes—that’s an assortment of AMES garden tools, plus a $700 American Express gift card! (Entry period for WEEK ONE is from noon EST Saturday, May 31st, 2014 through 11:59 am Monday, June 9th, 2014. See Official Rules below.)

Photo: AMES

AMES, established in 1774, is the United States’ most enduring brand of non-powered garden tools. Whether you need a cart or an edger, a hose reel or shovel, AMES has a gardening solution for you. And whether you’re a vegetable gardener, a flower cultivator, or a backyard DIYer, you could win a complete gardening tool package that’s right for you—plus a $700 American Express gift card—to beautify your yard and garden.

Choose from the following packages:

  • Vegetable Gardener Essentials: AMES garden cart, hose cabinet, garden hoe, garden spade, and bow rake

  • Flower Gardener Must-Haves: AMES garden cart, hose cabinet, bulb planter, multi-purpose garden tool, hand cultivator, hand weeder, hand trowel, and floral shrub rake

  • Do-It-Yourselfer Bundle: AMES garden cart, hose cabinet, round point shovel, 26″ rake, 2-prong weeder hoe, and shrub rake

So step away from the flower bed for a few moments and enter to win the complete tool package that could make your gardening experience a whole lot more enjoyable. ENTER TODAY and every day this month (through 11:59 EST Monday, June 30th) to increase your chances of winning one of four weekly prizes valued at $1,000. For more on their full line of lawn and garden tools, visit AMES or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

The “Bob Vila’s 2nd Annual Great Garden Give-Away from Ames” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period for WEEK ONE runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) EST Saturday, May 31st, 2014 through 11:59 am Monday, June 9th, 2014. One entry per household per day on Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. See Official Rules.

Bob Vila’s 2nd Annual Great Garden Give-Away Official Rules

Bob Vila’s “2nd Annual Great Garden Give-Away from AMES” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”).

The Sweepstakes consists of four (4) separate, successive, random drawings (each a “Drawing” and collectively, the “Drawings”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on May 31, 2014 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on June 30th, 2014 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). One Drawing per week will be held during the Sweepstakes Period. The entry period for the first weekly Drawing shall begin 12:00 p.m EST on May 31st, 2014 and end at 11:59 a.m. EST on June 9, 2014. The entry period for each following Drawing shall begin 12:00 p.m. EST on each Monday during the Sweepstakes Period, starting with 12:00 p.m. EST on June 9th, 2014, and end at 11:59 a.m. EST on the following Monday (each an “Entry Period” and collectively, the “Entry Periods”). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ONLINE ENTRY ONLY AND INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED. AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM MAY BE REQUIRED.

Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes. You may enter any given Drawing one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at and submit your name and email address using the online “2nd Annual Great Garden Give-Away from Ames” submission form.

Each entry submitted in response to a Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries submitted through either method within one day will be deemed void.

If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for each Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. One (1) alternative entry per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void.

Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering any Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of each Entry Period, there will be one (1) drawing in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received for each prize available during that Entry Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing for that Entry Period. Each winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period for a Drawing determines the odds of winning for that Drawing. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment,, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.

The Winners will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winners must claim their respective prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing and/or email address (as applicable) provided by Winners during their entry to the Drawings.

The Winners will choose from the following prizes for each Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period: 1 (one) American Express gift card valuing $700, 1 (one) TC Cart valuing $100 (MSRP), 1 (one) Slat Hose Cabinet valuing $120 (MSRP), 1 (one) Garden Hoe valuing $20 (MSRP), 1 (one) Garden Spade valuing $25 (MSRP), 1 (one) Bow Rake valuing $20 (MSRP), plus shipping; 1 (one) American Express gift card valuing $700, 1 (one) TC Cart valuing $100 (MSRP), 1 (one) Slat Hose Cabinet valuing $120 (MSRP), 1 (one) Bulb Planter valuing $10 (MSRP), 1 (one) Planter’s Pal valuing $10 (MSRP), 1 (one) Ergo Gel Grip Hand Cultivator valuing $10 (MSRP), 1 (one) Ergo Gel Grip Hand Weeder valuing $10 (MSRP), 1 (one) Ergo Gel Grip hand trowel valuing $10 (MSRP), 1 (one) Floral Shrub Rake valuing $17 (MSRP), plus shipping; or 1 (one) American Express gift card valuing $700, 1 (one) TC Cart valuing $100 (MSRP), 1 (one) Slat Hose Cabinet valuing $120 (MSRP), 1 (one) Round Point Shovel valuing $20 (MSRP), 1 (one) Collector Rake valuing $20 (MSRP), 1 (one) 2-Prong Weeder Hoe valuing $17 (MSRP), 1 (one) Collector Poly-Shrub Rake valuing $15 (MSRP), plus shipping. Gift cards are subject to any and all restrictions stated thereon. Gift cards are applicable to products only and do not include installation. No transfer, substitution or cash redemption will be awarded in lieu of Prize. Limit one prize per entrant. Prizes shall be delivered within 30 days from end of the Sweepstakes Period.

An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, Winners agree to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner (or, if the Winner is a minor, the Winner’s parent or legal guardian) may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax forms to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize.

By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor and each of its respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control. The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect.
This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.

Bob Vila’s Thumbs Up Starts TODAY!

Help us choose the best DIY pipe fitting project from among the six competing in the first-ever Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition. Vote now!

Thumbs Up Contest



This month we’re launching the first ever Bob Vila’s Thumbs Up competition—and we need your help! Here at, we are always impressed with the high caliber of DIY projects that you accomplish at home. Whether novice or expert, every DIY enthusiast has a level of ingenuity that deserves recognition—so we’re doing just that. We’ve gathered six of our favorite pipe-fitting projects from around the web, and now it’s up to you to vote for your favorite.


Visit us every day through June 21st to vote for as many DIY pipe-fitting projects as you like. The winning blogger will win a $250 Lowe’s gift card so they can continue DIY-ing in style—plus they’ll be eligible to compete again in our end-of-year Bob Vila’s Thumbs Up competition.

Plumbing Pipe Vase


Pipe-fittings aren’t just for industrial functionality—they’re DIY-ready, versatile decor elements. And this month’s featured bloggers know how to make the most of this humble material. Whether fashioning a bed frame or a lamp, a candelabra or a curtain rod, a console table or a vase, these DIY bloggers make the most of this all-purpose material. Read up on each project and cast your vote for the winner of the first Bob Vila’s Thumbs Up competition.

Feeling inspired to create your own pipe-fitting project? Read the how-to for each project and make your own.

Thanks for helping us recognize the great work of DIYers like yourself. Don’t forget to check back each day to help your favorite blogger win the $250 gift card from Lowe’s and the title of the Bob Vila’s Thumbs Up winner.


Want to nominate a blogger for an upcoming Bob Vila’s Thumbs Up competition? Contact Bob Vila on Facebook or Twitter to be considered.


Enter Bob Vila’s “Get Your House Painted” Give-Away—TODAY!

Enter today and every day in May for your best chance of winning $5,000 from HYDE Tools to put toward your next paint job!

May is a great month to paint your house. For most of the country, the April rain clouds have vanished and it’s not too hot to work outdoors. But no matter when you paint, you can be sure it’s a lot of work—or a big expense, if you’re hiring someone to handle it on your behalf. That’s why we teamed up with our friends at HYDE® for this month’s “Get Your House Painted” Give-Away. This is your opportunity to win up to $5,000 towards professional house painting.


Today and every day in May (from noon EST Wednesday, April 30th through 11:59 am EST Saturday, May 31st), you can enter to win up to $5,000 from HYDE® to put towards your next paint job. See Official Rules below.

Get Your House Painted Give-Away


HYDE® makes painting easy with their extensive line of tools for both interior and exterior projects. From scrapers, multi-tools, and sanders to paint rollers and spray guns, they have just about every tool you’d need to accomplish a professional job on your own. However, if you win this month’s give-away, HYDE® will reward you with up to $5,000 toward hiring a professional to handle the tools—and the job. The prize package includes:

  • up to $5,000 towards a professional paint job (includes paint, supplies, and contractor’s fees)
  • your choice of an interior or exterior paint job
  • Photo op with HYDE® to showcase your home’s paint transformation

So start picking out paint colors and researching licensed contractors in your area, because if you win this month’s “Get Your House Painted” Give-Away, you’ll have up to $5,000 to get the job done by a pro. ENTER TODAY and every day this month (through 11:59 am EST Saturday, May 31st) to increase your chances of winning! For more on their complete line of tools, visit HYDE®.

The Bob Vila/HYDE® “Get Your House Painted” Give-Away is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, April 30th, 2014, through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Saturday, May 31st, 2014. One entry per household per day on Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. See Official Rules.

Bob Vila’s Great Gutter Give-Away Starts TODAY!

Enter today and every day in April for your best chance of winning of $5,000 in products and installation from LeafGuard Brand Gutters.

Great Gutter Give-AwayEveryone knows that the bi-annual ritual of cleaning out the gutters is an important home maintenance task.  In winter it prevents ice dams from forming and in spring, keeps the rain from settling too close to your home’s foundation.  But, what if you never had to clean your gutters again?  Well the dream can become a reality—for at least one lucky winner this month—with Bob Vila’s Great Gutter Give-Away and the chance to outfit your home with new, maintenance-free LeafGuard gutters!


Today and everyday this month (from noon EST Monday, March 31st, through 11:59 a.m. Wednesday, April 30th), you can enter to win new LeafGuard Brand Gutters and installation for your home ($5,000 value)—and say goodbye to clogged gutters forever!  See Official Rules below.

LeafGuard Gutters

Photo: LeafGuard Gutters

LeafGuard Brand by Englert is the original and only one-piece seamless gutter system that combines a leaf and debris shedding hood with a large gutter bottom. The patented design works on the scientific principle of water adhesion, allowing rainwater to travel down and around its curved hood and into the gutter, while deflecting leaves. Available in a full range of color options—and backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal—LeafGuard Gutters are designed to:

  • Prevent clogs from forming and keep rain water flowing freely
  • Eliminate the risk of leaks and water damage to your roof and foundation
  • Withstand storm winds (unlike add-on gutter hoods)
  • Complement every home’s architectural style

So, forget climbing ladders to clean the gutters, enter Bob Vila’s Great Gutter Give-Away TODAY and every day (through 11:59 a.m. Wednesday, April 30th) to increase your chances of winning.

For more on the one-piece, seamless LeafGuard Brand, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s Great Gutter Give-Away” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Monday, March 31st, 2014, through 11:59 a.m. Wednesday, April 30th, 2014. One entry per household per day on Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. See Official Rules.

Pro Tips: 5 Easy Ways to a Better Lawn

Do you want this year's lawn to be your best ever? Get the greenest, most lush grass on the block with these five mowing tips from the experts at John Deere.

Mowed Lawn

Photo: Shutterstock

A green, good-looking lawn adds serious curb appeal and can even increase a home’s value. Thanks to major improvements in mowers in recent years, maintaining your own lawn is now easier than ever. We reached out to Mike Ballou, product manager at John Deere, to give us some pointers on keeping your yard looking its best.

Not only does a sharp blade keep your mower running efficiently and reduce the amount of time you spend mowing, but it can also keep your lawn looking better. A dull blade can tug on your turf instead of gently trimming it. Take a look at your lawn next time you mow. If the ends of the grass look torn and ragged, it’s time to sharpen up.

To sharpen the blade, you can take it to a professional or go the DIY route. To do it yourself, you’ll need a grinder—but remember: safety first! Make sure your lawn mower can’t start running while you’re working on it. Try pulling the spark plug or blocking the blade to reduce your risk while you remove the blade. When you’re grinding, keep the blade’s original angle intact and aim to get the blade only as sharp as a butter knife—any sharper could damage the blade.

John Deere Mower Give-Away2. JUST A TRIM
Unless you’re building a backyard golf course, don’t cut too much from the top of your grass—one-third off the top is the rule. If you cut too low, you risk damaging the crown of the grass, the structure that keeps your grass growing strong. Another benefit of keeping it high: Taller grass grows more slowly, which means less mowing for you.




Every time you mow, vary the route you take across your lawn. Mowing repeatedly along the same route can cause wear on your lawn, making the grass grow in the same direction and eventually fall flat. Always traveling the same path takes a toll on your mower too, because making the same turns all the time can put unnecessary strain on one side of the mower. So try to take the scenic route next time. If, however, you’re working in a tight space or on a sloping hill, always opt for the safest mowing pattern.

Small yard? A walk-behind mower should be right for you. If, however, your yard is larger than half an acre, a riding mower could make your life easier; it’s also a good bet for a hilly yard. If you have landscaping, trees, or garden paths to maneuver around, you’ll need to take the mower’s turning radius into consideration. If your lawn is dense or coarse, choose a lawn mower with high horsepower.

Take care of the little things to extend the life of your mower. Grease and dirt buildup on a mower engine will make your motor run hotter, so after using the mower, wipe the area clean or spray it down with a hose. Keep the mower clear of old, dried grass clippings to prevent it from getting plugged. Change out the filter and oil regularly. To keep your mower in tip-top shape, store it properly and keep it out of the elements. Never leave gas in your mower over the winter—but come spring, if you left in some gas and the mower doesn’t start up for that first cutting, try draining the gas tank and starting fresh.

Enter Bob Vila’s $5,000 Spring Spectacular today and every day through Monday, March 31st (11:59 EST) for the chance to win a John Deere riding mower and custom garage storage. 

5 Things to Do with… Old Rakes

When your rake can rake no more, put it to practical or decorative use with one of these clever repurposing projects.

What good is a rake you can no longer use in the garden? Actually, there are countless ingenious ways to give a second life to outdoor tools that have become inadequate for their intended purpose. So before disposing of a trusty old helper that doesn’t help much these days, spend a minute looking over these repurposed rake projects from around the Web. Each suggests that with creativity you can make something useful and beautiful, even out of a rake with rusty tines or a broken handle.



Repurposed Rake Projects - Accessories


Always losing your keys? Try making this repurposed rake project—an organizing station perfect for the entryway. To make one, separate the handle and head of a bow rake. Paint the rake head in your favorite hue, then fasten it to an attractive backing that’s suitable for mounting—here, crosscut wood does the job beautifully.



Repurposed Rake Projects - Wreaths


If you own a rake old enough to be if not beautiful, then visually interesting, consider repurposing the tool as the basis for an offbeat door wreath. Ornament it throughout the year with seasonally appropriate flowers, leaves, branches, or berries. Remember to keep it lightweight, though, so it hangs easily with wire.



Repurposed Rake Projects - Picture Holders


Here’s a great repurposed rake project for anyone who loves farmhouse-style decor: Use the tines of a lawn rake to hold photographs, postcards, and other printed keepsakes you wish to display. Show off several priceless mementos on a single rake head, saving the cost of as many store-bought picture frames.



Repurposed Rake Projects - Wine Glasses


These rake heads, painted firehouse red, look so natural storing wineglasses, they almost seem as if they were destined for that very purpose. Mount yours with a combination of washers and screws; just remember that to support any considerable weight, the rake must be fastened to a wall stud.



Repurposed Rake Projects - Hanging Plant


There’s a certain poetic justice to the idea of repurposing a rake outdoors; after all, that’s where the tool was meant to be used. In this case, rather than collecting leaves on the lawn or tilling flower bed soil, the rake is staked into the ground with a couple of hanging plants suspended from its rigid tines.

ENTER TODAY to Win a John Deere Riding Mower

Mower Give-AwayIt’s almost spring—and we know most folks (particularly after this winter) couldn’t be more excited to greet the season of gardens and green lawns. That’s why we teamed up with our friends at John Deere to bring you this month’s “Bob Vila $5,000 Spring Spectacular,” and your chance to win a new riding mower and custom garage cabinetry and flooring from one of the most trusted names in the industry.




Starting today and everyday through Monday, March 31st (from noon EST Friday, February 28th, through 11:59 a.m. Monday, March 31st) you can enter to win a John Deere Z235 EZtrak riding mower (MSRP $2,499), PLUS John Deere-branded custom garage storage products—cabinets, worktables and flooring (MSRP $2,500)—to make sure that you have an organized place to stow your new mower.  See Official Rules below.

Photo: John Deere Z235 Eztrak Riding Mower

The John Deere Z235 EZtrak zero-turn radius mower combines power and smart design features that you’re sure to love.  With zero-turn radius mobility and a powerful 20 hp (14.9 kW) full-pressure engine, this is one seriously powerful machine.  Other features include:

  • 42-inch Edge™ deck  lifts and distributes clippings for a clean, even cut.
  • Adjust the cut height of the machine in a matter of seconds, without getting out of the driver’s seat.
  • 180-degree spin and 7-mph mowing speed provides infinite maneuverability and makes your job faster and more efficient.
  • 2-year/120-hour bumper-to-bumper warranty to give you peace of mind.

The new John Deere custom storage solutions will help keep your garage well-organized for your new mower. The one-of-a-kind John Deere branded garage cabinets, created by Iconic Brand Collection, are designed to deliver maximum efficiency for a small space.  Combined with custom flooring, this unique package offers the quality you’d expect from John Deere with organization, functionality and storage to fit your needs.

John Deere Garage Storage

Photo: John Deere Custom Garage Storage Rendering

So get ready to welcome spring and a picture-perfect lawn by entering the Bob Vila $5,000 Spring Spectacular! ENTER TODAY and every day through (11:59 a.m. Monday, March 31st) to increase your chances of winning.

Learn more about the John Deere residential line of mowers and equipment at their website. For more information on John Deere’s new line of home products, from garage to office and kids furniture, visit

The “Bob Vila $5,000 Spring Spectacular” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Friday, February 28th, 2014, through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Monday, March 31st, 2014. One entry per household per day on Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. See Official Rules.

5 Things to Do with… Colanders

The colander is so much more than the unsung hero of pasta night—it's positively dripping with DIY potential. Here are five inventive ways you can use a colander in the next creative project you cook up.

I love my colanders. Vintage-inspired, colorful, and enamel-coated, they work not only as strainers, but also as decorative fruit bowls or centerpieces for the breakfast table. When one colander in my set met with a tragic end in the dishwasher, it was just too hard to say goodbye. So I went looking for creative ways to repurpose colanders. Scroll down to see five favorites from among the countless clever uses for colanders that I came across. Who knew that colanders could be so versatile and so stylish?



Repurpose Colanders - Baskets


With their legs removed, colanders become offbeat yet handy storage baskets, perfect for holding miscellaneous kitchen items such as dish soap and sponges. Hang one or a series of colanders either from the ceiling or the underside of a wall-mounted shelf or cabinet. Anything you choose to keep in it remains within easy arm’s reach.



Repurpose Colanders - Planter


In this ingenious assembly, a colander-turned-planter attaches to a wire clothes hanger, which in turn connects with a chain that reaches down from the ceiling. Given colanders’ original purpose, they provide plenty of soil drainage, and that’s something a quality planting container must have, as any gardener knows.



Repurpose Colanders - Wind Chime


Malinda Dickens creates wind chimes from everyday stuff and sells them through her online store. Take a page out of her book if you’re hunting for an eye-catching, ear-tickling way to repurpose not only a colander, but any other kitchen tools you no longer use—whisks, eggbeaters, cookie cutters, or silverware.



Repurpose Colanders - Light


Here’s a project for the ambitious do-it-yourselfer: Turn a beat-up old colander into a shade for the pendant light in your country kitchen. When light streams through the holes in the colander, it produces quirky, amusing, conversation-starting effects on the walls. Alternatively, try out the same idea on a table lamp.



Repurpose Colanders - Tiered Stand


By means of a strong adhesive, combine a white-painted wooden spindle with a pair of dinged-up colanders to create a tiered stand like this one from Knick of Time Interiors. Use this beauty for storage in the laundry room or pantry, or simply bask in its decorative appeal by placing it as a centerpiece on a farmhouse table.