Category: Lawn & Garden

5 Things to Do with… Artificial Turf

Today's synthetics are a far cry from your father's artificial turf. New products more closely resemble the real thing and can be incorporated into some authentically creative DIY projects. Check out just a few.

When artificial turf came onto the scene in the mid-1960s, it offered several advantages over natural grass lawns, ease of maintenance first and foremost. Over the years, advancements in the design and manufacture of artificial turf have made it much more realistic, both in looks and texture. That improvement has not gone unnoticed, inspiring creative types to test out the material in a variety of DIY projects in and around the home. Scroll down to see five of our favorites!



Artificial Turf DIY - Wall


Here’s an artificial turf DIY project that blurs the boundary between a home office and the leafy yard beyond its window. Unlike wallpaper, fake grass doesn’t call for the use of adhesives; you can nail or staple the green stuff directly over drywall or plaster, creating a distinctive look that can last just as long as you want it, whether a single day or multiple years.



Artificial Turf DIY - Table Runner


For a spring-season dinner party in the dining room or a casual backyard get-together, why not repurpose artificial turf as a table runner that’s bound to be a conversation starter among guests? Using a utility knife, you should have little trouble cutting the product into a strip of the appropriate length and width for your table.



Artificial Turf DIY - Stools


Introduce a summer theme to your man cave or customize the stools at your backyard bar with seat covers just like these, made from two pieces of artificial turf cleverly joined by means of a heavy-duty sewing machine. Come on, could there be a better way to settle in for an evening daiquiri, mai tai, or piña colada?



Artificial Turf DIY - Pillows


Quirky and delightful for any sitting area, whether inside the home or on a deck, porch, or patio, these artificial turf DIY throw pillows are as eye-catching as they are easy to make. Simply cut a large sheet of turf into a pair of equal-size squares, place padding between the two pieces, then finish by sewing the edges closed.



Artificial Turf DIY - Floor


When used as a floor covering, artificial turf behaves similarly to traditional carpeting, at least in the sense that both are relatively hassle-free to maintain with a vacuum. But whereas wall-to-wall carpeting isn’t a surface you would typically paint, artificial turf all but cries out for stripes of white to approximate yard lines.

Bob Vila Radio: Indoor Herb Gardens

There are no fresher herbs than those you've grown at home. Besides decorating the windowsill, indoor herb gardens enable you to keep flavorful herbs on hand year-round.

Fresh herbs add flavor, fragrance, and sophistication to your cooking—and they can’t get much fresher than those you have grown yourself. A good way to keep fresh herbs on hand, whatever the season, is to maintain an indoor herb garden.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON INDOOR HERB GARDENS or read the text below:

Indoor Herb Gardens


There are many advantages to growing herbs indoors. For one, your crop is always nearby—no need to go foraging outside—and you’ll have herbs available year-round. You won’t need to weed, and you’ll have fewer pests to worry about.

On the minus side, however, herbs grown indoors tend to be less lush and flavorful than their outdoor counterparts. And as indoor space tends to be limited, you need to plant selectively.

The right location and soil are crucial to success. Herbs need lots of sunlight—as much as six to eight hours each day—to thrive. If you don’t have appropriate south- or southeast-facing windows, consider grow lights.

For best results, use a soil-less potting mix and water carefully whenever the medium is dry to the touch. Either plant each type of herb in a separate container or group together herbs that have similar watering needs.

Harvest frequently to encourage growth and discourage blooming (but more lightly than you would an outdoor plant). And bon appétit!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

Bob Vila Radio: Why Have a Raised Garden Bed?

For those with poor soil, limited green space, or physical limitations, raised garden beds offer a number of persuasive benefits.

Growing plants in raised beds is a tradition that goes back at least hundreds of years. Here are five reasons why a raised garden bed might be a good idea for you today.

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Raised Garden Bed


First, a raised bed is a solution to poorly drained soil. It’s tough to get good results from a garden when the soil is heavy clay or wet and marshy. A raised bed allows you to control the moisture in the soil.

Second, if your soil is thick with roots from nearby plants or trees or is plagued with weeds, a raised bed lets you rise above it all. Your plants will grow stronger if they’re not competing with roots and weeds.

Third, raised beds are great in gardens with limited space, since the rich, concentrated environment produces higher yields than in-ground garden plots.

Fourth, if your lawn (or your neighbor’s) has been chemically treated, planting your herbs or tomatoes in organic soil in a raised bed can help keep them away from insecticides and pesticides.

Finally, a raised bed is a good idea for gardeners with bad backs or other physical limitations, since it can bring the garden space closer to you, so you don’t have to bend so much to reach it.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

Planning Guide: Driveways

Whether you want a driveway that is simple and functional or eye-catching and elegant, you need to consider a number of factors and options to achieve the best results.

Building a Driveway


Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway? That’s just one of life’s little mysteries, but there’s no mystery involved in creating a beautiful and practical driveway—just some thoughtful planning. Your driveway makes a big first impression, whether you realize it or not. Its size, shape, and surface material are certainly important considerations. So too are other aesthetic and practical issues, such as the architectural style of your house, the amount of space you have, how many vehicles you need to accommodate, and even the part of the country where you reside. Use this driveway planning guide to help you determine the best driveway for you and your home.

Slope and Width 
Although you’ll be constrained by the natural topography of your property, there’s definitely a desirable “sweet spot” for the slope of a driveway, neither too flat nor too steep. If it’s too flat, drainage may become an issue, and if it’s too steep, the surface becomes slippery and dangerous. As a general rule, a driveway should be less than a 15% grade, which means that it should not rise more than 15 feet over a distance of 100 feet. If your driveway is completely flat, however, be sure to build up the middle so water runs off the sides and doesn’t pool. Also, you’ll need to direct the runoff to an appropriate place. If your driveway is very steep and long, you may have to add curves or switchbacks to reduce the slope.

Another general rule is that your driveway should be around 10 to 12 feet wide, and a few feet wider at the curves. If you have space, it’s always a good idea to provide a larger area at the top for turning around or for additional parking when needed. A 12’x18’ space or larger is ideal for this.

Straight, Curved, or Circular?
This decision is partly aesthetic and partly functional. In general, a curved driveway will add more character and depth than a straight driveway, but if you have limited space or a very short distance from the street to your garage, then straight will have to do. You can add character to a straight driveway using interesting borders, stamped concrete, color variations, or intricate patterns. Long, straight driveways can also be very attractive if they are lined with trees and frame the property as you approach.

Building a Driveway - Pavers


Sometimes a curved driveway may actually function better, not just look better. This may be the case if there are obstructions in the direct path to the garage, such as trees or other landscaping features, or if your access point from the street doesn’t line up with the garage or parking area. If you do decide on a curved driveway, the curves should be gradual and sweeping, never tight and cramped.

Circular driveways offer the benefit of not having to back out; if you live on a busy street, this may be an important consideration. Keep in mind, however, that if you don’t have a garage and you have more than one vehicle using the driveway, then only the first car in has the luxury of not backing out. A variation, the teardrop driveway, is similar in that it splits off into two paths, but it has only one access point from the street. Either way, a circular drive will take up quite a bit of real estate in your front yard, so this isn’t the best choice for everyone.

Curb Appeal
The main purpose of your driveway is utilitarian, but there’s no denying the impact it has on your home’s curb appeal. When you’re planning your driveway, consider how it will look and how it will tie in to the rest of your property. To get ideas, take notice of other driveways in your neighborhood and think about what you like and don’t like about them. You can still create a unique design, but there’s nothing wrong with surveying what’s already been done and borrowing a few ideas. Consider adding plants, lighting, or a front gate if you really want to boost your curb appeal.

There are quite a few choices when it comes to the material for your driveway. The most common options are gravel, asphalt, cement, and pavers. Within each category there are plenty of variations as well. Your budget will dictate the material to some degree—we have listed them from least to most expensive—but other practical and aesthetic considerations will come into play too. Just a few of these are the slope of your lot, the style of your home, and the severity of the weather in your neck of the woods. Here’s a quick rundown of each material’s pros and cons.

Building a Driveway - Gravel


Gravel  This is the most affordable option, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is inferior. If installed correctly with properly compacted subgrade, durable block edging, and a shallow surface layer of pea gravel, you can create a driveway that will stand the test of time without requiring an unreasonable amount of maintenance or loss of aesthetic appeal.

A well-designed and properly built gravel driveway is especially attractive for certain styles of home. Plus, gravel has the added benefits of providing quick water drainage and never cracking or splitting. To add character to a gravel driveway, use decorative edging to contain the gravel, and pick a gravel color that will complement your home and yard.

Keep in mind that weeds and grass can grow through gravel fairly easily if landscape fabric or some other underlayment is not installed. Also, if your driveway is too sloped, gravel may not be ideal because it will slide down. And if you live in a colder climate, plowing snow from a gravel driveway can be a hassle.

Asphalt and Cement Asphalt and cement are both very durable and popular choices for driveways. Asphalt is typically cheaper, although the price has recently risen along with the cost of oil, so the savings here are not what they used to be. Both materials are versatile. They can be colored, stamped, engraved, stained, or grooved to add interesting aesthetic dimensions. Over time, however, they can also crack and split, and collect stains from oil and tires. Also, because these materials are not permeable, the driveway must be designed with water drainage issues in mind and properly sealed. But overall, they are both solid choices.

Building a Driveway - Pavers 2


Pavers Considered the most sophisticated option, pavers are also the most expensive. They’re also endlessly versatile when it comes to shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Pavers are very durable and they tend to have good drainage properties, because water can escape through the gaps. Unlike asphalt and concrete, pavers don’t generally crack or split, and small areas are easy to replace if problems ever do occur. Permeable interlocking pavers have become very popular lately. These are engineered with uniform gaps and installed on a granular base rock to allow very efficient water runoff. They have a clean look and are available in different shapes, sizes, and tones.

This planning guide should get you well on your way to designing a driveway that adds curb appeal, functions properly, and suits your particular needs and style. Our last bit of advice is to think long term; you don’t want to revisit this project in the future. Resist cutting corners to save a little time or money. Remember, nothing is more expensive or time-consuming than doing the job right the second time.

How To: Grow Moss

Moss has many uses in the garden. A scattering on a stone wall lends a romantic patina, while cultivated tufts can create a velvety green ground cover. Here's how to establish and maintain this eco-friendly, versatile plant in your own garden.

How to Grow Moss


There are two main types of mosses—acrocarpous and pleurocarpous. The former grows vertically and resembles strands of hair, while the latter is characterized by a close-cropped horizontal growth habit. Gardeners have been cultivating both types for centuries, particularly in Japan, for a host of reasons: Not only does moss excel as a ground cover, but it also lends a sense of maturity to the landscape, helping a planted environment look less manicured and more natural.

How to Grow Moss on Soil
Planning to grow moss on a bed of soil? I recommend transplanting from elsewhere in your garden or a neighbor’s property. The goal is to relocate a patch of moss that’s been growing in circumstances similar to those in the spot where it will be planted. Transplanting requires no special removal techniques. Once you’ve identified the moss you want to transplant, simply use an old knife or garden spade to free up the amount of moss you’d like to—or have permission to—take.

Back on your home turf, prepare the ground with a rake. Next, dampen the soil and lay the moss on top. Once the moss is in place, press down on it firmly, pinning it down with enough rocks to ensure that the moss maintains a high level of contact with the surface of the soil. Over the next few weeks, be sure to keep the moss consistently moist. This is critical. You’ll know the moss has successfully established itself only when you can give it a light tug without shifting the material.

How to Grow Moss - Rocks


How to Grow Moss on Rocks, Bricks, or Pots
To grow moss on objects in your garden, such as dry stones on a retaining wall or a collection of clay pots, you need to take a different, slightly trickier approach. First, combine plain yogurt or buttermilk (two cups) and chopped moss (one and a half cups) in a bucket. Mix until the concoction becomes easily spreadable; add water if it’s too thick, additional moss if it’s too thin. Now spread the mixture wherever you would like the moss to grow. Over the next few weeks, make sure to keep the burgeoning moss moist. Within six weeks, so long as it’s been properly cared for, the moss should begin to grow rather vigorously.

How to Care for Moss
Moss likes moisture and acidic (pH 5.0 to 6.0) soil. It also likes shade. There’s no getting around it: Because moss draws nutrients via filaments, not through a root system, it dries out very quickly in the sunshine. Bear in mind that weeds can steal the moisture that moss needs, so in order to grow moss successfully, you must be a vigilant and ruthless weed killer. Finally, come fall, remember that moss cannot survive under a blanket of dead leaves. Rake—and rake often!



Weekend Projects: 5 Simple Ways to Set Up a Compost Bin

Composting is a win-win enterprise: You cut down on waste and also help keep your garden healthy and growing. Set up one of these easy, do-it-yourself compost bins, and in time you'll have nutrient-rich, home-grown compost.

Compost: It’s what eventually becomes of all decomposing organic material. Essentially, it’s dirt—but it’s not just any dirt. No, this stuff is super rich in the nutrients that are beneficial to plant growth. Gardeners like to call it “black gold.” And while some people pay good money for cubic yards of such high-quality soil, others choose to make it themselves. They do so by composting kitchen waste and yard debris like grass clippings, dead leaves, and small twigs.

Related: Compost Bins—10 Smart Options

You, too, can make your own compost. In fact, if there’s an out-of-the-way spot on your property, you could simply heap compostables into a big, messy pile. But in more compact backyards, homeowners often rely on a compost bin, either store-bought or homemade. If you’d rather not spend money on a premade product—or if you’re looking for a good reason to get outdoors this spring and summer—you can complete a DIY compost bin in a matter of hours, using only a few materials that are easy to find.



DIY Compost Bin - Chicken Wire


Built of recycled deck boards and simple chicken wire, this DIY compost bin features three compartments to accommodate compost at different stages of decomposition. The chicken wire allows air to circulate among the piles, and the slatted front provides easy access for inspection or removal of compost.



DIY Compost Bin - Tumbler


A DIY compost tumbler offers one great advantage over other designs. Can you guess what that is? You’re right: The tumbler makes easy work of turning the pile. (If you’ve composted before, you know how that can become a chore.) The project pictured centers on a rain barrel that’s been ingeniously repurposed for the task.



DIY Compost Bin - Cinder Blocks


Are raccoons and other critters likely to cause problems? Not to worry. You can build a fortress-like DIY compost bin with square cinder blocks. It’s a flexible system: If you need a bigger bin, simply add on a row of blocks; if there’s too little air, change the orientation of a few blocks so their hollow centers face out.



DIY Compost Bin - Shipping Pallets


Plywood shipping pallets lend themselves very well to the construction of a DIY compost bin. Here, one side of the bin has been outfitted with hinges to provide easy access. Burlap planter pockets added along the top perimeter help the bin blend into the surrounding garden.



DIY Compost Bin - Worms


Composting takes time. To speed up the process, consider hosting a worm bin in your backyard. You can DIY one cheaply and easily with a plastic recycling container. What the worms produce inside is politely called “castings”—you might think it’s pretty gross, but your plants are going to love, love, love it.

Bob Vila Radio: Starting Vegetables from Seeds Indoors

In some climates—the chillier ones—this is the time of year to start vegetable seeds indoors so that once the weather warms, you're ready with strong seedlings to put in the ground.

Now that spring is here, many people’s thoughts turn to gardening, and to the joys of leafy salads and delicate spring vegetables. Depending on where you live, it’s probably too early to sow most vegetable seeds outdoors, but now may be just the right time to start seeds indoors.

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Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors


There are plenty of good reasons to grow vegetables from seed. For one, starting seeds can be cheaper than purchasing seedlings. Another big benefit is choice: If you start from seed, you aren’t limited to the varieties stocked by your local garden store. Particularly now, with increased interest in heirloom and organic varieties, there’s a huge world of seeds to choose from online.

Another plus—starting from seed lets you get a jump on the growing season. If you’re conscientious, by the time the threat of frost has passed, you’ll have strong young seedlings ready to thrive outdoors in the ground.

Finally, starting seeds indoors gives you more control over your plants’ early environment and may increase your chances of success. Keep in mind, however, that some plants do better when they’re direct-seeded—in other words, sown directly into the ground. Always read instructions on the seed package, so you’ll know which approach works best, as well as the plant’s germination period and the best time to transplant the seedling.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

5 Home Maintenance Tips for Spring

Now that spring has arrived, here's a look at some basic exterior maintenance projects you should undertake now to get your home into shape for the summer months ahead.

Prepping Spring Garden


Nothing renews that feeling of pride of ownership more than attending to annual home maintenance tasks (especially once they are completed and behind you). Now that spring has arrived, it’s time to investigate the condition of your home’s exterior, including everything from the roof, gutters, siding, and foundation, to the lawn, shrubs, trees, and garden. The chore isn’t so bad, and with a plan—and the right tools—you can make short work of many of these common tasks:

Inspecting — Spring is a good time to see what damage winter storms, snow, and ice may have done to the exterior of your home  Take this time to inspect the roof; you can do it easily and safely from the ground with a pair of binoculars. Look for loose, curled, or missing shingles and any bent or damaged flashing around chimneys, skylights, or points where the roof makes contact with the house. Note where repairs are in order and make sure to get them done. Next, clean out your gutters and downspouts. With those spring showers on the way, you definitely want to make sure your gutters are clear of debris so that they function properly. Also use this time to inspect your home’s foundation and chimney; repair any cracks or crumbles. Small fixes now could save you money and headaches later.

Pruning — Your trees and bushes will look and grow a lot better if you remove dead, damaged, or overhanging branches. The main thing to remember here is to cut the entire branch off at the branch collar, which is the point where the branch connects to the trunk or another branch. Don’t leave little half branches or big stubs. You’ll get the best results using a handsaw or hand pruner, and it’s well worth investing in an extendable pruning saw with clippers if you have some branches that are just out of reach. Be sure to wear safety glasses and a hard hat if you are cutting branches directly overhead.

Hyde Pivot Jet Pro

Photo: Hyde PivotJet Pro

Cleaning — There’s certainly no shortage of things to clean outside when the spring season hits. The HYDE PivotJet Pro can help with almost any cleaning task and lets you get the job done with ease. It connects to your garden hose so there is no bulky or noisy engine to cart around or electric cord to wrestle. Its powerful spray provides superior cleaning without the risk of damage associated with pressure washers. Use it to clean siding, windows, foundations, decks, gutters, patio furniture, grills, driveways, pool areas, fences, mowers, and more. The HYDE PivotJet Pro consists of a spray wand with a pivot nozzle head that gets into hard-to-reach spots, and a built-in liquid cleaner reservoir that can be adjusted or turned completely off as needed. It’s much easier to use than a pressure washer, and much more affordable as well.

Touch-up PaintingExterior paint takes a beating throughout the year, so touching up those areas of your house, fence, or shed where paint is starting to fail is a good way to avoid long-term damage and make everything look new and fresh. This isn’t a task you want to revisit every year, so it is crucial to follow the proper steps for prepping, priming, and repainting.

Garden Prepping — If you enjoy growing a vegetable or flower garden, then you have some prep work to do before it’s ready for seed or seedlings. Removing weeds and leaves, tilling or turning the soil, testing the soil, and adding the appropriate fertilizers are just a few tasks that you can start doing now. You might want to consider adding a motorized tiller to your arsenal of tools if you plan on keeping a good-size garden every year. If you get a jump on prepping your garden early in the season, you will have more time later to enjoy the fun part—watching your garden grow!

This post has been brought to you by HYDE®. Its facts and opinions are those of


Bob Vila Radio: First Day of Spring

Gardeners, rejoice! It's the first day of spring. But before getting your hands dirty, take the time to make sure your garden is ready for planting. Here's how.

Today is March 20, the vernal equinox, better known as the first day of spring. For most of us around the country, this is a day that couldn’t come soon enough. After this tough winter, gardeners are especially joyful today.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING or read the text below:

First Day of Spring


Of course, just because the calendar says it’s spring, that doesn’t mean you can dash out and start planting. Some areas still have snow on the ground or temperatures that dip below freezing at night. And even if you feel spring in the air, the danger of frost may not be past, so consult a garden zone map to see when your zone is considered safe from freezing.

March is also mud season in lots of places, with melted snow and spring rains combining to make a squishy mess of lawns and gardens. Don’t try to start gardening too soon—it’s a waste of time to do anything until the soil dries out a bit. Cold, muddy soil is simply not hospitable to seeds.

If you’re eager to plant and want to check your soil, stick a shovel or pitchfork down into it six inches or so. When you pull it out, check to see if muddy soil sticks to it. If it does, it’s not time yet. Wait until a shovel comes out cleanly before you start to plant.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

Homemade Fertilizer Makes the Grass Always Greener

While it doesn't guarantee a lush, green lawn, applying your own homemade fertilizer is an inexpensive, satisfying step in the right direction.

Homemade Fertilizer for Lawns - Grass


Spring is near, and for many that means coaxing the lawn back into shape. Growing grass can be frustrating and rewarding in equal measure. There’s no fail-safe method of success, unfortunately, but if you are struggling to revive a patchy area, applying fertilizer may be your best best. Of course, you can buy fertilizer at your local garden supply store, but you can also take matters into your own hands. Dirt cheap to concoct, homemade fertilizer involves a short list of ingredients that you likely have on hand already. This homemade fertilizer has proven effective for countless homeowners, and it can work for you too.

- 1 can or bottle of beer
- 1 cup of of household ammonia
- 1 cup of baby shampoo (nonantibacterial variety)


Homemade Fertilizer for Lawns - Beer


Start by assembling all three ingredients, each one of which brings an important benefit to the table. Beer delivers nutrients not only to the grass itself, but also to the bacteria in the soil that prime the lawn for growth. Meanwhile, ammonia supplies a powerful infusion of nitrogen—something plants can’t live without. Finally, shampoo makes the ground more absorptive. Because soil bacteria are so important to lawn health, nonantibacterial shampoo is a must.



Homemade Fertilizer for Lawns - Mix


Pour the ingredients into a container large enough to accommodate them. On account of the ammonia, do this either outdoors or in a room with ample ventilation. Next, add the mixture to a hose-end sprayer (an inexpensive accessory) or to a lawn sprinkler outfitted with a fertilizer compartment.



Homemade Fertilizer for Lawns - Spray


Begin spraying the homemade fertilizer, taking care not to let the nozzle linger too long in one place. Given its high level of potency, the fertilizer should be applied as evenly as possible across all parts of the lawn you are treating. Mix a larger batch if you wish to fertilize all of an unusually large lawn.



Homemade Fertilizer for Lawns - Repeat


Apply the homemade fertilizer every two weeks or until you are satisfied with the progress your lawn has made. Beware of fertilizing too much or too often, as an excess can inhibit rather than promote grass growth. Meanwhile, keep close tabs on the pH of your soil; it should ideally be in the 6.0 to 6.5 pH range.

Have you used a homemade fertilizer with success? Share your own tried-and-true recipe in the comments below!