Category: Lawn & Garden

How To: Make Weed Killer

No need to break your back pulling up ugly unwanted plants. Just try these safe, simple, and all-natural solutions!

How to Make Weed Killer - to Clean Up Between Paver Cracks


You work hard at horticulture, so the last thing you want is gnarly weeds littering your lawn or popping up smack dab in the middle of your prized petunias. Weeds can even sneak into your driveway or sidewalk, becoming a tripping hazard as well as an eyesore. But there’s no need to spend your summer on hands and knees, yanking them out, or to resort to pricey chemical killers whose toxins can damage your property. Instead, follow any of these four easy, effective methods for making weed killer and attack those irksome interlopers ASAP. Just take care to not to douse nearby plants, because these equal-opportunity herbicides won’t discriminate between weeds and your landscaped lovelies.

- Vinegar (white or cider)
- Dish soap
- Table salt
- Spray bottle
- Corn gluten meal
- Rubbing alcohol

How to Make Weed Killer - DIY Spray


Thrifty Triple Threat
They look harmless enough sitting on your kitchen counter, but vinegar, dish soap, and salt make a tenacious trifecta against weeds. Combine equals parts of these ingredients and pour into a spray bottle. Spritz your homemade weed killer unsparingly onto the stems and leaves of the undesirables in flower or vegetable beds during high sun, low wind conditions. (Avoid getting it on cement, which salt can discolor or even erode.) The dish soap will disintegrate the cuticle of the plant, allowing the salt and acetic acid in the vinegar to desiccate and destroy weeds.

Corn Meal Killer
Scattered over weed seeds, as opposed to mature weeds, corn gluten meal acts as a natural, non-toxic pre-emergent that can prevent germination. For optimal results, begin by tilling the soil in an established flower or vegetable bed to unearth weed seeds. Then, sprinkle the mighty maize directly over the seeds during a dry weather period. Steer clear of plots with recently sown flower or vegetable seeds as the corn gluten meal can stunt their growth along with the weed seeds.

Very Hot Stuff
Put the kettle on and boil some water, then take it outside (or fill a flask). Gently pour over the crown of pesky plants to scorch them in matter of days. Aim carefully, because the hot liquid can also burn surrounding plants—or your toes. While one application may be sufficient for weeds with short root structures, perennials with long taproots may require two to three applications before reaching their permanent demise.

Reliable Rubout
Dilute two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol in a bowl with four cups of water. Transfer the solution to a spray bottle and liberally coat the leaves of weeds in flower or vegetable plots, preferably on a sunny day. As the alcohol dries, it will wither the leaves and eventually kill uninvited vegetation.


Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.

Buyer’s Guide: Lawn Edgers

With a wide array of precisely-calibrated edgers available to keep your yard manicured and under control, it’s easier than ever to maintain your curb appeal. Here, our buyer’s guide walks you through the basics and helps you find the lawn tool that’s best for you.

Best Lawn Edger


Whether your yard is large or small, minimally landscaped or filled with flower beds, one of the easiest ways to keep it looking sharp is to invest in a quality lawn edger to tame unruly edges. Much like framing a picture enhances your home’s artwork, maintaining an evenly trimmed perimeter elevates the overall appearance of your lawn. Its crisp edges signify a well-tended property—particularly when you pay close attention to growth along the edges of your driveway, sidewalk, garden beds, and walking paths. Simplify your search for the best lawn edger by identifying your property’s needs using the shopping guide below and starting with the roundup of the most highly recommended and well-reviewed models around.

Start (with) your engines. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of lawn edgers: those with electric engines, and those that run on gas.

• An electric-powered edger—often the more budget-friendly option and top choice for homeowners with a small outdoor space—will either run off of a battery or plug in to an electrical outlet via a lengthy cord. Though it only boasts 18 or so volts of power, a battery-operated model allows you to trim anywhere, no matter the distance to the nearest outlet. Alternatively, a corded model’s trade-off is more power (usually 10 to 12 amps) for slightly less mobility (or, at minimum, the use of an extension cord for larger jobs).
• A gas-powered edger, available in a two- or four-cycle format, is more powerful and therefore better suited for larger yards. While two-cycle engines are more common, they require you to stock and refuel using both gas and oil—far less environmentally conscious than four-cycle engines, which run clean but cost and weigh more.

Wheels up. While lightweight manual edgers move on nothing more than the guidance you give them, the weight of an engine typically requires three or four wheels to cover your grounds without strain. In all wheeled models, the rear wheels are responsible for moving the entire unit along, while a guide wheel keeps the blade aligned with the task at hand. Some gas-powered edgers offer the addition of a fourth wheel (a “curb wheel”) to help stabilize the edger when you’re using it at a slight drop-off, such as the line where your lawn meets the street. If you opt for an electric model or will not be maneuvering too many curbs, a three-wheeled edger might be all you need.

Choose the right cutting edge. A straight, no-frills blade can handle simple yards just fine, but an edger that offers multiple position and angle settings might be worth the investment if you’ve got a lot of flower beds and specialty features on your property. The following are three main types of edger blades:

• Flat rectangular blades with plain edges are most common among lawn edgers, suitable for basic edging jobs where the lawn is flush and level with the nearest hard surface (like a driveway or sidewalk).
Flat rectangular blades with scoop-cut edges carefully handle the perimeter of more delicate landscaping features like flower beds, which might otherwise be disturbed by the debris in a rough cutting. These blades are also ideal to employ when the lawn and hard surfaces are uneven.
• Star-shaped blades aptly cut lawns that end at a wall or sturdy fence.

If you have only a few needs to address, you could get by with purchasing the desired replacement blade(s) of your choice for the edger and swapping them in as necessary—while easy enough, this transition does add some time to the yard work.



Best Lawn Edger - Ariens Walk-Behind Gas Edger


Ariens 986103 136 cc Edger ($464)
The staff of Popular Mechanics gave this four-cycle, gas-powered edger its highest ranking for its power, durability, and controlled handling, which was virtually free of any vibration or shaking as it cut. Clocking in at a solid 85 pounds, it’s certainly not lightweight, but its reviewers insist that’s part of why it gets the job done so well. What’s more, its seven—yes, seven—angle settings and four depth settings allow you to customize the cut for almost any challenge your yard poses. Available on Amazon.


Best Lawn Edger - Worx WG160 12-Inch 20-Volt Cordless Edger available at The Home Depot


Worx WG160 12-Inch 20-Volt Cordless Grass Trimmer/Edger ($99)
Earning a strong 4.5-star rating from Home Depot customers, this battery-powered trimmer/edger combo offers two utilities in one without the noise, expense, and environmental detriment of gas and with more mobility than its corded counterparts. With a telescopic shaft that tilts 90 degrees in hard-to-reach places, its versatility is rare in the under-$100 category. Running on a 20-volt lithium battery, the 7-pound model is lightweight and easy to use. Available at The Home Depot.


Best Lawn Edger - Black + Decker LE750 Edge Hog from Amazon


Black + Decker LE750 Edge Hog ($84)
By far the most popular lawn edger with Amazon buyers is this three-wheeled electric “little engine that could” from Black + Decker. Sold at an agreeable price point and ranked 4.5 out of 5 stars by more than 1,200 customers, the corded electric model packs an 11-amp punch, built-in cord retention for hassle-free storage, tool-free assembly, and even assist handles for both righties and lefties alike. Available on Amazon.

With just a bit of elbow grease and the right edger to spruce things up, you can enjoy a perfect perimeter around a lawn where the grass is always greener—or, at least, the edges are always cleaner.

Cool Tools: A Triple-Threat to Help Your Garden Thrive

The newest multitalented water wand from HYDE delivers a trifecta of weeding, feeding, and watering capabilities that will help your lawn and garden survive the summer.

Hyde PivotPro Lawn and Garden Wand - Watering and Fertilizing Around House


Summer teases us with warm breezes and long days just perfect for relaxation and repose. But for many homeowners, too many so-called “lazy” summer days are spent performing the backbreaking work necessary to maintain or beautify the yard. When you’re not straining to spread weed killer on the grass or direct water into awkwardly positioned planters, you’re hunched over scrubbing the patio furniture or cleaning the sidewalk. If you’re ready to take a vacation from all this strenuous summer activity, look no further than the HYDE PivotPro Garden Wand Kit for your salvation. Whether you’re tasked with weeding, feeding, or watering the garden, or just tidying up around your property, this must-have multi-tool—complete with a pivoting three-setting spray nozzle and a weed-feed additive dispenser—can eliminate the stress and fatigue of getting your lawn and garden in tip-top condition.

Effortlessly and Efficiently Weed Out Unwanted Greens
Unsightly weeds can be hard to reach and even harder to tame when they grow in hilly terrain or in awkward nooks and crannies of the lawn. Add to this the difficulty of pushing a weighty walk-behind spreader up and down those same slopes, and it’s easy to see how applying weed killer could seriously strain your arms, legs, or back. If, however, you swap out the standard spreader for the lightweight HYDE PivotPro Garden Water Wand, which attaches to an unrolled hose, you can weed the lawn at your own pace and in a comfortable, upright position.

To make the most of this smaller and smarter garden helper’s weeding capabilities, start by connecting the PivotPro to your garden hose. Then, simply pour the liquid weed-control concentrate of your choice into the tool’s 16-ounce weed-and-feed additive dispenser. Set the liquid ratio dial to the concentrate-to-water ratio recommended by the product’s manufacturer, and toggle the mix control switch to the “on” position. Water from the garden hose will dilute the concentrate as you work your way down an overgrown sidewalk or along the edge of the garden, gently sliding the handle to adjust the spray angle. Thanks to the wand’s 135-degree pivoting nozzle, you’ll have easy access to tight corners and narrow corridors, and even around irregularly shaped bushes.

Hyde PivotPro Lawn and Garden Wand - Watering Hanging Baskets


Nourish Your Turf
When you’re finished weeding, there’s no need to switch out tools before you tackle your next seasonal to-do. Because you can remove, wash, and refill the detachable dispenser with any additive, you can put the PivotPro Garden Water Wand—the same one that you just used for spreading weed killer—to work fertilizing your lawn. The tool’s versatility means that you can save time, money, and storage space.

After you’ve thoroughly cleaned out the weed-killing concentrate from the dispenser, refill it with fertilizer concentrate. Here again, you have full control (and flexibility) when it comes to the feed-to-water ratio your plants require. The wand’s automatic liquid ratio adjustment mechanism ensures optimal fertilizer spread with no measuring, calculations, or manual premixing required on your part, so you can transform your nutrient-starved grass into a luxurious lawn in a fraction of the time it used to take.

Water More Than Just Grass
While the PivotPro Garden Water Wand delivers a quick one-two punch of weed killer and fertilizer to a lackluster lawn, it can just as easily be used to rinse or clean countless items throughout your yard. Toggle the mix control switch on the wand to the “off” position, so its nozzle will spray only plain water. The jet, fan, and shower modes of the three-setting spray nozzle—as well as the wand’s 46-inch reach—offer remarkable flexibility: You can direct a gentle mist over the rim of a hanging planter, then maneuver down to ground level to hose off dingy tools, shoes, or garden furniture with a powerful jet of water. Better yet, fill the dispenser with soapy water to turn the PivotPro into an all-purpose cleaning tool for all seasons! Wherever you put it to use, the PivotPro Garden Water Wand can help you attain greener pastures on your own home turf.

Purchase HYDE PivotPro Garden Water Wand, $39.99.

Watch the video below to see the HYDE PivotPro Garden Water Wand in action!


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

DIY Lite: Easy Tiki Torches for a Bug-Free Backyard

Light up your backyard without attracting any bugs to the party when you build this trendy design for a DIY tiki torch.

DIY Tiki Torch with Citronella Candle

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Nothing spoils an outdoor gathering like unwanted guests, namely the buzzy ones. Enjoy summer nights free from the mosquitoes by staking a few tiki torches around your backyard party. Filled with citronella oil or citronella tiki torch fuel, they’ll keep bugs at bay while you and any invited guests play. This particular pro-quality setup—with likeness to the ever trendy industrial wire pendant lights—actually boils down to six easy steps and a handful of creative materials. Follow the easy tutorial below to make one DIY tiki torch, and repeat until your yard is fully illuminated past sunset!


DIY Tiki Torch - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

- Mason jar
- Hammer
- Nail
- Fruit picker basket
- Cutting pliers
- Copper spray paint
- 3⁄4-inch copper pipe (5 feet)
- 3⁄4-inch copper pressure slip coupling
- Cotton swab
- Rubbing alcohol
- Adjustable stainless steel pipe or hose clamp
- Screwdriver
- Tiki torch wick or 100 percent cotton rope
- Citronella oil or Tiki fuel



DIY Tiki Torch - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

The actual citronella candle and flame for your DIY tiki torch will be housed in a sealed 8- to 12-ounce glass mason jar. To convert the canning staple, you’ll need to first perforate the lid so that you can thread the torch wick through it. Place the lid on a piece of scrap wood, then position a nail at its center and tap with the hammer until it pierces through the metal into the wood. Pull out the nail using the hammer’s claw; the resulting hole needs to be a tight fit so that the tiki torch wick stays in place.

Set the punctured lid and jar aside until you fill it up in the final step.



DIY Tiki Torch - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To create the wire cage support in this DIY tiki torch, we started with the unique wire design of a fruit picker basket. Intended for pulling ripe fruits from tree branches, this orchard tool possesses a diameter just wide enough to hold a 12-ounce jam jar—our soon-to-be citronella candle. Look for one without an extension or telescoping pole for less than $10, either online at Amazon or in the garden center of your big-box home improvement store.

Peel out the soft cushion (meant to keep each piece of fruit free of bruises while picking), and use cutting pliers snip the metal ends that look like rake tines where they connect with the top arched wire. After you make your cuts, your basket’s trimmed side should still be higher than the other, but sleeker without claws—and so begins the transition into a more industrial candle holder.



DIY Tiki Torch - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Spray paint the fruit picker basket and the mason jar lid. Apply several coats (remembering to allow adequate dry time between each) to cover both pieces completely with the copper paint.



DIY Tiki Torch - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Take the 5-foot length of 3⁄4-inch copper pipe and slide a matching 3⁄4-inch copper pressure coupling over the top end; this addition will add extra thickness to the pipe so that you can snugly slide the fruit picker basket over top.

Pro tip: If you need to remove a red sticker from either of your copper pipe pieces, simply wet it with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol for a clean and easy peel.



DIY Tiki Torch - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Slide the narrow end of the fruit picker basket (the part that would typically attach to a telescoping pole) over the end of the copper pipe and the pressure coupling. Unscrew to open up a stainless steel pipe or hose clamp, wrap it around the base of the basket, and tighten the screw once more in order to hold the clamp (and basket) in place.



DIY Tiki Torch - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Fill the mason jar a quarter to a third of the way with tiki fuel or citronella oil. Thread the wick—either a specific tiki torch wick or 100 percent cotton, but not nylon, which melts—through the lid so that 2 inches stick out the top and several inches hang beneath. Twist the lid onto the jar to seal it, and let the wick soak for about 10 minutes before lighting the candle.

While that’s working, go ahead and plant your new torch (or torches, if you’ve built a few according to these instructions) in the backyard. Ensure that the pipe is sufficiently stable by driving it into the ground before you place the candle in shiny copper cage. Then light the candle at the start of the evening, and refuel whenever supply looks low for outdoor festivities minus any unwanted guests!


DIY Tiki Torch - Outdoor Lighting

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.

Bob Vila Radio: Keeping Backyard Mosquitos at Bay

Get those biting bugs to buzz off by identifying and eliminating any mosquito breeding grounds and hiding spots that may exist on your property.

With Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses on the rise, it’s a good idea to take a close look at the mosquito control measures you use on your property.



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Listen to BOB VILA ON MOSQUITO CONTROL or read the text below:

Mosquitoes multiply in standing water, so double-check your yard for any spots you might have missed. Make sure flower pots and plant saucers are empty. Bird baths, water bowls for pets, and kiddie pools should be all emptied and refilled regularly so that any eggs laid there don’t have a chance to turn into biting bugs.

If you have water that can’t be drained, like a fish pond, don’t worry. Hardware stores carry specialized chemicals to add to the water that will bump off mosquitos without harming your fish. Also, because mosquitos love to live it up in damp leaves and other organic material, don’t forget to keep a rake handy—and to use it often!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

How To: Custom-Build The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

Earn your stripes as a DIY and grill master when you build this outdoor kitchen equipped with a concrete countertop, built-in cutting board, and extra storage—all you could possibly need for your next backyard BBQ.

DIY Outdoor Kitchen - How to Build a Grill Cart

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Whether you’re accustomed to hosting the big barbecue or simply enjoy the occasional family dinner from the grill, you’re likely familiar with the inadequate storage and prep space around a  standard outdoor cook station. Rather than spending thousand of dollars on the latest all-inclusive grill station, build yourself a custom unit that’s comparable to your indoor kitchen. This DIY design incorporates any portable grill into an outdoor kitchen station that also features concrete countertop, built-in cutting board, and lower shelf—all mounted on wheels to move about easily.


DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

- Portable grill
- 6mm plywood
- 2×2­ lumber (64 feet)
- Handsaw
- Wood glue
- 2-1⁄2-inch nails (18)
- Hammer
- Pencil
- Cutting board
- Rebar (143 inches)
- Wire
- Concrete (33 pounds)
- Plastic bucket
- Trowel
- 1×6­ lumber (16 feet)
- Garden cart wheels (2)
- Wrench
- Drill
- 2-1⁄2-inch screws (44)
- 2-inch metal brackets (8)
- 3⁄4-inch screws (16)
- Wood stain
- Varnish
- Brush
- All-purpose glue
- Palm sander


DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Start this project by making the concrete counter so that, in the few days it takes to cure, you can turn your attention to the wooden base.

Our grill was 13 by 20 inches, so we planned the total countertop to be 20 by 44 inches. But the best part of any DIY project is that you can adapt the design to meet your own needs! Keep in mind: You need at least 3 inches of concrete all around the grill. If yours is no larger than 14 inches by 24 inches, you can follow along with this tutorial and simply adjust the inset to accommodate the grill. Otherwise, here’s the basic formula we used to determine dimensions for the countertop and, therefore, the outdoor kitchen cart:

Your grill’s length + 3 inches to the left + a 18-inch wide prep surface = Your cart’s width
Your grill’s width + 3-inch lip around front + 3-inch lip around the back = Your cart’s depth

For the rest of the tutorial, we’ll stick to actual dimensions used.

Since most of the countertop will be concrete, you’ll need to build a mold with interior dimensions that match what your plan. Cut your 2×2 lumber so that you two 44-inch pieces (the same length as the cart) and two 23-inch pieces (3 inches longer than your cart’s width). Arrange them on 6mm plywood—FYI, this will be the top of your concrete counter when you undo the mold—so that the two longer pieces are parallel and a shorter piece connects them at each end to make a box. These will be the walls to your mold.

Apply wood glue wherever your 2×2 pieces meet one another, and reinforce the corners by hammering one 2-1⁄2-inch nail through each end of the 23-inch cuts. Then glue the open rectangle to the center of your plywood and secure with nails, one at the end of each 2×2 piece.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Next, build a rectangular frame from 2×2 the size of your grill to hold its place in the left side of the concrete mold. Since ours is 13 inches by 20 inches, we cut two 13-inch-long pieces and two 17-inch-long pieces (which, when added to the two 1-1⁄2-inch-thick 2×2 sides, make up the 20-inch sides).

Measure in 3-1⁄2 inches from the left wall and draw a line all the way down using pencil, then do the same for each long side. Glue one 13-inch length inside the first penciled line you drew. Next, position the two 17-inch pieces parallel inside their pencil lines so that each have one end touching the 2×2 already in place; glue these to the 2×2 and the plywood. Finally, glue the second 13-inch length to the open ends of the frame and plywood.

We’re also integrating a wooden cutting board on the open side. Since the plywood will be removed to reveal the top of your counter, you cannot affix the cutting board to it with nails. Instead, place your cutting board in place first where you’d like it to set. We also fastened extra scrap wood behind it using nails to steady the addition as the concrete cured.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Next, prep a rebar frame along the perimeter of your countertop’s features to help strengthen the concrete; otherwise, you risk breaking the concrete when taking the counter out of the mold. Cut and lay two 43-inch pieces on the edge lengthwise, and cut three more 19-inch pieces to lay perpendicularly as seen above.

Two important things to know: First, the rebar needs to be totally connected wherever it intersects with another piece, so wrap wire at each intersection. Second, the rebars should not laid directly on the bottom. To prevent it from sinking to the bottom of your mold (and potentially peeking through the top of your counter), form W shapes with the wire behind the rebar at each intersection to help raise the structure from the plywood panel, then lay it into place halfway through your concrete pour.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Once you’re sure all of the wood glue has dried, you can start to prep the concrete. Fill a plastic bucket with dry concrete and mix with water using a trowel or a large kitchen spoon, carefully following the package’s instructions. Rather than make the entire package at once, work with several small batches at the time. The more concrete, the harder it is to mix—and the heavier it is to pour.

Pour each batch evenly across the entire mold, as if in layers. When you’ve filled the mold halfway, lay your rebar frame. Then cover and continue until your mold is completely filled.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Tap lightly along the edges of the mold with a hammer. This releases trapped air bubbles and ensures that the concrete is homogeneous. Let cure for a few days, or as long as the packaging’s instructions require. When ready, you’ll un-box a 1-1⁄2-inch-thick concrete counter.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Next up: The wooden base for your DIY outdoor kitchen. Cut four 30-inch lengths from the remaining 2×2 lumber to make its legs, and drill holes and screw garden cart wheels to the bottom of two. Washers and any other hardware included with your wheel will twist onto the opposite side of the leg to keep each from falling off.

Now, the four legs need to be exactly the same length in order to keep your grill cart level at all times. Since the wheels add a couple of inches to the two legs depending on the size you picked up, you’ll want to cut a some from the non-wheeled ends to compensate. Line bottoms of your four legs (wood and wheels) to determine how much needs sawed off, pencil your marks, and cut.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Space the two legs (one simple leg and one with a wheel) 41 inches apart and glue their tops so that you can adhere a 44-inch 2×2 across them. Reinforce with two 2-1⁄2-inch screws through the top at each end.

Next, measure 20 inches down and connect the legs with a 41-inch 2×2. Again, glue and screw into place (two screws at each end).



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Repeat Step 7 to build the second side of your cart’s frame. In order for both wheels to be on the outside of the cart, build this second side as a mirror image of the first (see above).



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Flip the two sides so that the wheels are in the air and on the outsides of the legs. Connect their top corners (the ones now resting on the ground) with 17-inch cuts of 2×2. Glue each into place, then use 3⁄4-inch screws to reinforce each corner with a 2-inch metal bracket—you want to make certain that the structure is strong enough to support its concrete countertop.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Glue two more 17-inch cuts of 2×2, this time 20-3⁄4 inches below the top ones. This time, drill two 2-1⁄2-inch screws through each leg into the new additions.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 11

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Stand the cart upright so that you can attach a bottom shelf made from the 1×6 lumber.

Cut the lumber into 40-inch pieces and fit them to lay over the 17-inch 2×2 support at either end of the grill cart. We purposefully installed the side 2×2 supports so that they were 3⁄4 inches below the 2×2s along the front and the back, so that when you lay the 1×6, it will be even with those 40-inch supports already in place. If there’s a little gap, evenly these three new slats to make it less obvious. Attach first with glue, and then screw down through the top, two into each end of every slat.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 12

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Brush on one to two coats of stain, depending on the color you want to achieve. Be sure to allow the structure to dry completely after each coat. Once the stain dries, apply at least two coats of acrylic varnish.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 13

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now, you’re ready to assemble the two parts of this build.

First, check that the concrete top is dry. To undo the wooden mold and reveal your concrete creation, remove the nails one by one and pull.

Next, cover the top of the cart with all-purpose glue and place the concrete counter on top. Ask for some help before you lift: Its weight requires at least two people to carry the counter and flip it right side up onto the wooden base. Wait for the glue to dry before you continue.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 14

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Sand the edges and the wooden cutting board, if needed. Then use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe away all of the dust from sanding.



DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Step 15

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

The hole in the concrete should be exactly the dimensions of your grill, meaning that if you place your portable grill in right now it would drop through to the lower shelf. To prevent any damage to your grill, screw four 2-inch brackets (one in each corner) into the concrete as well as the wood frame immediately beneath; their open bottoms will hold the grill in place.

Pro tip: When you switch from drilling holes in the wood to boring concrete, change to a masonry bit and then work slowly.

Fit the grill into place in the top of your DIY outdoor kitchen, and get ready to turn up the heat! A job well done deserves a burger made to the same specifications.

DIY Outdoor Kitchen - Completed Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.

So You Want to… Hang a Porch Swing

Before you can relax on the ultimate piece of folksy outdoor furniture, you’d better read up on the basics.

How to Hang a Porch Swing


A porch swing symbolizes one thing: leisure. That’s why it became such a popular fixture in the mid-19th century and why it retains its appeal today. There are various ways to enjoy its simple charm—whether curling up with a good book or exercising your legs while chatting with loved ones—but first you’ve got to pick the perfect place, confirm its structural integrity, and familiarize yourself with installation. Ahead, your porch swing primer!

How to Hang a Porch Swing - Classic Porch Furniture


Choose a size and a spot. A porch swing can be a single-occupant hanging chair, or it can be wide enough to hold several people. A 4-foot swing comfortably sits two adults, but swings also come in 6- and 8-foot lengths. Decide how many people might typically pile on at the same time, allowing 2 feet per person.

As to placement, find a spot below a sturdy beam or joist that allows an arc—the distance the swing travels back and forth—of no less than 4 feet. An ideal place would have 3 to 4 feet of empty space fore and aft of the swing and at least 14 inches of clearance on each side. The swing should hang at least 17 inches from the floor so the average occupant’s feet can touch the floor.

Also consider the view. If you wish to admire your front yard and easily wave to neighbors, position the swing to face forward; if you prefer a more private space for reading, contemplation and intimate conversation, consider aligning the swing sideways.

Consider structure and safety. The beam or joist that supports the swing’s hardware—and the fasteners themselves—must be sturdy enough to bear at least 500 pounds. Never install swing supports in something as flimsy as plywood or bead board. A single 2×6 load-bearing joist or beam can support a two-person swing, but a 2×8 is even stronger.

A porch swing hanger kit comes with the proper hardware; if gathering the hardware yourself, however, make sure it’s made of galvanized or stainless steel to withstand the elements. If you use a rope instead of a chain, it should be marine-grade braided nylon or polyester.

Get familiar with installation. Porch swings hang from either two-chain and four-chain suspension systems. The former design has one chain on each side that branches into two separate chains that attach to the front and back of the armrest. Others use four separate chains; the fasteners on each side support two separate chains—one that connects to the front of the swing and one that connects to the back or bottom.

You also have a choice of fasteners. Porch swing hangers made specifically for this purpose include a base, hook, and comfort spring. Or you can use eye bolts or S-hooks that have 4- to 6-inch shafts. Install the fasteners 2 to 4 inches wider than the swing’s length at each end to prevent the chains from rubbing against the swing and to better distribute weight. When installing the fasteners, drill a pilot hole that’s slightly smaller than the hardware so you have a snug, secure fit.

No porch? No problem! You can also be a swinger if your porch’s beams or joists are inadequate. Simply hang a porch swing from a stand-alone frame or turn to that trusty oak or other hardwood tree with a thick, strong, healthy limb. Loop each chain around the limb and secure it with a large, weather-resistant bolt. To protect the branch from wear, wrap a rubber hose around the chain where it loops around the branch.

Inspect your swing at least once a year. Check the seat for splinters or loose parts and repair. Also replace any fasteners that seem rusty or worn. But right now, kick back and relax!

The Dos and Don’ts of Swimming Pool Maintenance

For a safe and healthy summer in your own backyard oasis, take these steps before you take the plunge.

Swimming Pool Maintenance


Nothing says summer like a refreshing swim in the backyard pool. But your swimming pool does need care—and doses of the proper chemicals—to ensure safe, delightful dips. It’s important to address all the additives that make their way into the water every time someone submerges, not to mention the problems of plant life that blows in. The key is to establish a regular maintenance routine that limits the time you spend prepping the pool so you can spend more time enjoying it. Last one in is a rotten egg!

Swimming Pool Maintenance - Backyard Pool



When uncovering your swimming pool after a season of non-use, be prepared to spend some extra time up front, clearing away any debris that may have built up over the winter. First, get the bigger branches and leaves out with a pool net. Next, run the filter to get things circulating again before you begin to chemically treat the water. A typical 1 HP pool pump moves about 3,000 gallons of water per hour, so be sure to run it long enough for one full cycle to take place. (And if you’re not sure how many gallons of water your swimming pool holds, multiply its number of cubic feet by 7.5.)



Everyone likes to be laidback in the summer, but properly balancing your swimming pool’s levels is one piece of maintenance that’s essential to keeping swimmers’ skin and eyes from getting irritated. So it’s crucial to follow your pool kit’s instructions to the letter each time you treat your water. Striking a proper balance of pH, overall alkalinity, and calcium also keeps metals from corroding and plaster from degrading over time and prevents the formation of scale, which makes water cloudy, stains surfaces, and can even clog your filter if left unchecked.



While there are chlorine alternatives on the market, none are as effective or inexpensive as the real thing when it comes to killing bacteria to keep us safe. The chemical works by destroying enzymes, structures, and processes of potentially nasty microorganisms. But you do have options when it comes to how you chlorinate. Do a little research to decide if you’d prefer tabs or liquid, and whether you want an all-in- one option that includes algaecide or you’d rather handle the green gunk separately.



Most pool specialists recommend “shocking”—essentially, applying three to five times the normal amount of chlorine—at least twice a month, and many would prescribe weekly shocks for swimming pools that see a lot of use. Shock product comes in either granular or liquid form from your swimming pool supply store. For liquid, use 3.5 quarts for every 10,000 gallons of water; for granular, use one pound for every 10,000 gallons. The great thing is, some shock products work so quickly, they render a pool swimmable again in as few as 15 minutes. Pool pro tip: Even if you use bromine instead of chlorine on a day-to- day basis, you’ll still need to shock with chlorine. For best results, wait until the sun goes down so that UV rays won’t interfere with the process.



Microscopic plant life can make its way into your pool and quickly bloom to the point of making swimmers avoid the water entirely. The goal in using an algaecide is to kill all existing algae and prevent anything from returning. It’s particularly useful in windy and rainy climates, since these conditions foster algae growth by sweeping those pesky spores straight into your pool. Generally speaking, a weekly or biweekly algaecide treatment should keep those blooms at bay.



To keep a pool sparkling clean, steer clear of common missteps that would undo your copious maintenance efforts. Direct the garden hose away from the pool when banishing poolside dirt—otherwise, you’re just creating more work for yourself (and your filter). And since rainwater welcomes algae infestation, cover the pool when you’re in for a spate of storms.



Here’s a rule of thumb every pool owner should live by: Always add chemicals to water, and never add water to chemicals. It’s a dictate of chemistry 101 that keeps you from accidentally causing an explosion when attempting to rinse out your old pool chemical containers. Be sure to dispose of them properly instead of putting your safety at risk.

Swimming Pool Maintenance - Pool House


All in all, it does take a bit of work to keep a pool in shape, but it’s well worth it—whether you’re up for a game of Marco Polo or just want to lie on a float!

The Dos and Don’ts of Setting a Fence Post

A well-constructed fence can protect privacy, define your property, and enhance curb appeal. But before you decide to put one up yourself, learn how to set your fence posts properly to ensure that your posts—and your entire fence—will enjoy a long, sturdy life.

Setting Fence Posts


It’s a bona fide do-it-yourself classic: Every summer without fail, legions of homeowners grab their toolbox and head outdoors to erect a wood fence. Putting up a fence is a substantial, satisfying project, and particularly if you’re relying on a kit, an eminently doable one. And if you’re fortunate enough to have level terrain to work with, there’s really just one tricky step—setting the posts. As they say, a fence is only as strong as its posts. If they fail, the rest of the fence will follow suit, so it’s crucial to devote special care to setting them properly. Anything less, and you run the risk of having to set the fence posts all over again in only a few years’ time. The good news? Setting a fence post doesn’t require uncommon skills or expensive tools, and doing it right doesn’t really take much longer than doing it the slapdash way. Whether your goal is privacy, a better-defined property line, or simply a beautiful addition to your yard, a fence can fit the bill. But to ensure pleasing, long-lasting results, you’ll need to keep a few select considerations in mind and avoid a handful of potential pitfalls. Read on for the full details.

DO Select the Right Type of Wood
Remember that different types of wood offer drastically different levels of long-term fence-post performance. Pressure-treated wood, which boasts both durability and affordability, ranks high among the top choices. Also commonly used—and considerably more expensive (although prices vary by region)—are beautiful, naturally resistant species like cedar, cypress, and redwood. All contain resins that forestall the harmful effects of pests and moisture. Other species, including spruce, oak, and pine, may be used with confidence only if treated beforehand with a brush-on preservative (look for copper naphthenate on the list of ingredients). Generally speaking, it’s wise to opt for darker, denser heartwood over younger, lighter-colored sapwood, because heartwood harbors better defenses, particularly against wood-boring insects. Finally, no matter what wood you select, be sure that you’re buying lumber labeled as suitable for in-ground applications.


Setting Fence Posts - Fence Post Detail


DON’T Make Postholes Too Small
Building codes and ordinances in your area may stipulate a legal depth and diameter for fence-post holes. If not, conventional rules of thumb offer a reliable guide. Typically, in part to ensure that posts lodge below the frost line, experts call for a hole deep enough to submerge the bottom third of the post below ground. For a six-foot-tall post, therefore, you would dig a hole two feet deep. The ideal diameter, meanwhile, should measure three times the width of the post. So, for a standard 4×4, the ideal hole would span twelve inches across. It’s important to note that fence-post holes must be flat-walled and barrel-shaped, maintaining a consistent diameter from top to bottom. If you use a regular shovel, you’ll end up with a cone-shaped hole. Instead, make quicker and easier work of the task by opting for a posthole digger (available for rent at your local home center). Otherwise, use a clamshell digger, which will be slower going but equally effective, particularly if you’re working with rocky soil.


DO Employ a Base Gravel Layer
If a fence post fails without any sign of a pest infestation, it’s likely that the failure was caused by moisture that rotted the wood over time. To help slow such deterioration, add pea gravel or crushed stone to the bottom of the posthole. Once you have added gravel to a depth of three inches or so, use a piece of scrap lumber to tamp down the layer. Next, pour an additional three inches of gravel into the hole, tamping down a second time. This simple measure goes a long way toward helping rainwater drain freely into the subsoil. It works so well, in fact, that in mild climates, builders sometimes elect to set fence posts with gravel alone. While that approach makes sense in certain situations, for a lasting installation, experts are more likely to specify a combination of gravel (for drainage) and concrete (for much-needed stability). One type of concrete works particularly well in such applications—rapid-setting concrete like category favorite CTS Rapid Set Concrete Mix.


DON’T Ready the Wrong Amount
True to its name, rapid-setting concrete doesn’t delay. In fact, CTS Rapid Set Concrete Mix sets in only 15 minutes. That being the case, it’s only practical to plan your approach. First, consider the size of the posthole in relation to the concrete yield. A standard 60-pound bag of CTS Rapid Set Concrete Mix yields approximately 0.5 cubic feet, so depending on the volume of your hole, you may need to prepare multiple bags at once. Just be careful not to mix more concrete than you can put in place in 15 minutes, before it begins hardening. After you determine how much concrete to prepare, proceed to combine the mix with water, adhering to the precise ratio printed on the package. Continue mixing for two or three minutes until you’ve achieved a smooth, lump-free consistency. At this point, with the post set in place, you can begin filling the posthole with concrete. Pack the concrete to a level slightly above the surrounding soil. Here, to prevent pooling, trowel the concrete so that it slopes away from the post. Double-check that the post hasn’t fallen out of level, then let the concrete harden.


DO Apply Caulk to Each Fence Post
After only an hour, CTS Rapid Set Concrete Mix will have hardened completely. You might consider the job done, but to further safeguard the fence post against rot, there’s one more important detail to address. Begin by inspecting the area where the post juts out of the hole. Do you notice a seam? Left as is, this seam could invite water to become trapped in any slivers of space between the wood and the concrete. Over time this moisture could lead to rot—but this scenario isn’t inevitable. After all, there’s a simple means of sealing the opening—caulk. Be proactive: Once the concrete has hardened, go ahead and apply exterior acrylic latex caulk directly to the seam, all the way around the post. (Alternatively, you can use any silicone caulk that adheres to concrete.) Be forewarned that the accumulated effect of freeze-thaw cycles may cause the seam to widen, so you’ll probably need to recaulk every now and then.


DON’T Neglect to Do Due Diligence
Be responsible. Before getting underway with your project, consult with municipal officials to confirm that your planned fence doesn’t deviate from any specifications of relevant building codes or ordinances. Some localities enforce strict regulations. Also, as you would for any project that involves digging deep down in the dirt, dial 811 (or visit Do this about a week before you plan to start the work, so the utility company will be able to come and mark the approximate location of any lines that run under your property before you begin digging. Make no mistake: Digging can be downright dangerous if you don’t know what lies a foot or two below the ground. As long as you give a wide berth to any buried lines, you should be perfectly safe. As for the posts themselves, a little regular scrutiny and maintenance will help ensure a long life for your fence. Inspect your posts at least once a year, ideally in spring or fall, and reapply paint or stain as necessary to protect the wood and keep your fence looking its best.

Setting Fence Posts - Rapid Set Concrete Mix


This article has been brought to you by CTS Cement | Rapid Set. Its facts and opinions are those of

How To: Get Rid of Caterpillars

Try these easy DIY pest solutions to rid plants of pesky caterpillars and take back control of your garden greens.

How to Get Rid of Caterpillars in the Garden


A love of gardening often goes hand in hand with a hatred toward the pests that pervade the fruits of your labor, both figurative and literal. While backyard gardens attract some “pests” that are actually beneficial to the ecosystem, they also appeal to a number of creepy crawlers that are detrimental to the plants, including caterpillars. It’s these small critters’ big appetites that leave frustrated homeowners looking for their demise. Luckily, these tried and true, all-natural methods can help homeowners regain control of their lush landscape once more.

- Bucket
- Liquid dish soap
- Rubber or gardening gloves
- Broom handle
- Bacillus thuringiensis
- Molasses
- Garlic
- Vegetable oil
- Birdhouse

How to Get Rid of Caterpillars


Hand-Pick Your Least Favorites
When it comes to caterpillar removal, the fastest way to address the problem is by hand—that is, by gloved hand. Fill a bucket about halfway with hot water and a couple of tablespoons of mild dish soap, pull on a pair of rubber or canvas gardening gloves, and head out to your garden to do a different kind of picking. This time, you’ll want to lift caterpillars from the leaves—checking all of the undersides, where caterpillars are known to hide—and drop them one by one into the bucket to drown. The protective hand gear will ensure that you aren’t stung by the spines on some varieties of caterpillar as you handle them, like the saddleback. While this method is the most proactive, it also may require repetition to remove the entire population.

Empty the Nest
A more aggressive way to attack the problem—literally—is to destroy the caterpillars’ nest. You’ll often find these silk-spun homes hanging from tree limbs. Simply punch your implement of choice (either a long sharpened stick or broom handle work well) into the nest itself, then spin and scrape along its interior to remove all of its inhabitants. Afterward, dispose of the nest and its contents in a bucket of warm, soapy water to drown still-living caterpillars.

For the best chance of success, attack the camp early in the morning or late at night to guarantee that the majority of the caterpillars will be in the nest. While immediately effective, this method may also require a few rounds should any remaining caterpillars rebuild their home.

Poison the Hungry Caterpillars’ Food
Homeowners who aren’t interested in hunting and handling these pests can opt to administer the hands-off—and hand-down most effective—extermination solution, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This naturally occurring soil bacteria kills caterpillars in a matter of days by destroying the lining of their stomachs. Simply dust its powder or mist its liquid form directly onto your garden plants and wait for the caterpillars to get hungry. Better yet, apply without any worry about negative side effects: Bt is completely safe for the plants, their pollinators, pets, and humans. The bacteria is only toxic to caterpillars, as well as some moths and worms who’d like to munch on your greens. Stock up at any local garden shop, and reapply after a week or two if your infestation still exists, as your first application would have broken down in direct sunlight and rainfall.

If you’re not ready to shell out for caterpillar control, you can mix up a home remedy to get the job done. For plants, a regular spray of a molasses solution (1 tablespoon molasses, 1 teaspoon dish soap, and a liter of warm water) or a garlic solution (three crushed cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon dish soap, and a liter of water) will deter insects from munching.