1 Dozen Ways to Make the Most of a Small Yard Outdoor spaces can increase our enjoyment of our homes. When the weather is nice, it’s like having an extra room—or wing—of the house. Make the most of yours, no matter its size. Even a small backyard can be great for gardening, entertaining, and play. The trick is to use every inch of your property and find ways for spaces to do double duty. Choose furniture that is multifunctional and small in scale. Keep your gardening flexible by growing flowers, veggies, and trees in containers. And remember that no backyard is too small to play in. Portable pieces, such as fold-up tents, let you bring the fun wherever you want it, whenever you want it. Check out these tips and tricks that will help you make the most of your small backyard all year long.
10 "Best in Class" Patio Pavers Today's patio paving stones offer the look of natural, traditional stone products, but with the added benefit of variable sizes, colors and ease of installation.
10 "Style Setting" Garden Sheds Whether you are looking to house garden tools or create a workshop or studio, here are ten stylish sheds worthy of consideration.
10 "Zero Dollar" Garden Hacks Walk into any garden center and you'll find gadgets and gizmos for nearly any outdoor malady. But did you know the remedy for many backyard problems might be shelved in the garage or hiding in your recycling bin? Whether your garden suffers from poor soil, dry and arid conditions, cold snaps, or more—there's a nearly-free fix almost anything that ails it. Read on to discover our favorite garden hacks.
10 Backyard Wood Projects for Total Beginners It’s amazingly gratifying to roll up your sleeves and build a piece of wooden furniture. Not only does doing it yourself save you money, it forges an emotional attachment to the piece—you’ll want to hold on to it for years to come. To allow even wary woodworkers-to-be to enjoy this connection to their creations, we've scouted out 10 simple projects that can ease any beginner into the rewards of woodcraft.
10 Common Garden Problems—and How to Fix Them Summer is what gardeners dream of all winter—warm weather, flourishing flowers, and a bountiful harvest that's carried straight from the veggie patch to the dinner table. But along with the sun and fun of summer comes a host of problems that can frustrate even the most steadfast gardeners. Your plants suffer from too much water . . . or too little. Even if the rabbits leave your garden alone, the Japanese beetles will surely come after it. Don’t slug it out with the garden slugs all by yourself! We've got your back. Read on to learn how to combat some of the most common summer gardening problems.
10 Compost Bins for Backyard Gardeners From cedar and willow to polyethylene, today's compost bins come in a variety of designs, shapes and sizes; each one designed to help you manage the process more efficiently. Here are ten compost bins that offer smart options for backyard composting.
10 Crazy New Ways to Bring the Garden Indoors Winter has officially arrived, which means you'll be spending more time in the warmth of your home and less enjoying the wonders of the outdoors. If long days stuck inside make you feel restless, it may be time to fill your walls, tables, and even ceilings with some greenery. Try one of these out-of-the-box indoor gardening ideas to relieve cold-weather cabin fever and add a decorative touch to any space.
10 Doable Designs for DIY Outdoor Furniture The weather is warm—it’s finally time to start making the most of your outdoor space. You can transform your yard, deck, or patio into a true extension of your home if you can create the right ambience—and furniture is key in establishing the mood. Unfortunately, outdoor furniture can cost a bundle. This year, DIY your own to save money and really customize your outdoor space. Check out these awesome DIY outdoor furniture projects that set the tone for a perfect summer oasis.
10 Easy Curb Appeal Updates Looking for a way to improve the curb appeal of your house? We've got ten easy, do-it-yourself curb appeal updates.
10 Easy-to-Grow Vegetables for Beginning Gardeners If you’ve always wanted to grow a vegetable garden, but have been too afraid to try, start by planting veggies that are almost guaranteed to succeed. Maintaining a large vegetable garden can be overwhelming for a new gardener, so start small, picking three or four crops you’d like to grow. Once you’re comfortable, add in a few more. Don’t have much space? Many vegetables, such as beans, tomatoes, basil, spinach, and salad greens, grow well in containers. Get a large planter or two, and start a garden in any spot that receives at least eight hours of sunlight a day. In fact, setting up a container garden is a wonderful way to experiment before you commit to digging up a portion of your yard. For veggies that germinate quickly, such as beans, peas, and zucchini, don’t bother with starter plants. Plant from seed directly in the soil. Save your money for tomato and pepper plants, which require much more time to reach transplant size. Whatever you grow and however you choose to do it, enjoy cultivating your first vegetable garden. By the time your harvest reaches your dinner table, you may find yourself hooked.
10 Enchanting Landscape Lighting Solutions Lighting the outside of your home is just as important as lighting the inside. And the same principles apply—you want to provide a combination of overall, task, and accent lighting. Overall lighting will illuminate general areas like driveways and entryways, enhancing safety and security. Task lighting is most important for your walkways and outdoor dining areas. Accent lighting helps bring to life great features of your home and landscape, such as architectural details and trees. You don’t need nearly as much light outdoors as indoors, but there are places that you can’t ignore, such as pathways, steps, decks, entryways, and driveways. Once you have those covered, move on to highlighting the parts of your property that deserve to shine, no matter the time of day. So, take a walk around your yard tonight and see how many of these types of lighting you can put into play.
10 Energy-Wise Ways to Lower Your Pool Maintenance Costs Whether you're building a new swimming pool or retrofitting your existing one, be proactive in pursuing the many new methods and technologies that can help you keep the pool's often substantial operating costs to a bare minimum. Take the plunge!
10 Forgiving Houseplants You Can Grow Anywhere Even if you don’t have big windows with southern exposures, you can successfully keep greenery (and keep it alive) indoors. A wide variety of plants can grow and even thrive in spots with limited sunlight. And with the abundance of benefits that come with bringing plants into your day-to-day life—including stress reduction, toxin removal, and increased moisture in the air—there's no reason not to do so. No light? No problem. These 10 easy-care houseplants are sure to brighten any corner in your home, even one a little lacking in sunshine.
10 Hydrangea Show-Stoppers Hydrangeas come in over a hundred varieties, varying in color, size, and shape of bloom as well as growth and seasonal habits. Here are ten of our top editor picks--starting with this new Everlasting Amethyst from White Flower Farm.
10 Ideas to Steal from Picture-Perfect Patios The <i>patio</i>, from the Spanish for "courtyard," is an open-air living space that creates a transition between your home and the great outdoors. Patios are wonderful places to relax, to gather, to socialize, to eat, to drink, to play... or perhaps do all of the above. In other words, your patio is what you choose to make of it, a canvas on which to paint your personal style and preferences. You can go for a bold, colorful statement or let nature take center stage—the choice is yours. <br/>
To help you narrow down your options, here are 10 alluring patios, from retro to rustic to refined.
10 Inventive Designs for a DIY Garden Fountain The soothing sound of flowing water has long been a feature of celebrated gardens around the world. Not only does a fountain add welcome beauty to an outdoor space, but it also provides a pleasing white noise, helping to screen out the sounds and cares of the larger world. To give a sense of cloistered calm to even the most modest backyard, you needn't shell out for expensive designs found in home and garden centers. Instead, here are 10 imaginative DIY fountains that will delight visitors to your outdoor space.
10 Natural Ways to Combat Summer Mosquitoes There's nothing more annoying than having your summertime fun ruined by the buzzing and biting of the season's peskiest foes—mosquitoes. Before they breed, congregate, bite, and drive you indoors, consider some natural ways to keep them at bay. Start by eliminating standing water wherever you discover it—from gutter spouts to birdbaths—and consider herbs like rosemary and thyme that are known for their insect-repellant scents. What about installing a bat house? We've included that and more in our 10 natural ways to keep you bug-free this summer.
10 No-Effort Plants for a Foolproof Landscape What homeowner wouldn't want a lush and colorful garden just outside the window? But while a garden definitely boosts your home's curb appeal, it also claims a lot of your free time. There's no such thing as a maintenance-free garden, but choosing smarter plantings does cut down on the amount of pruning and watering required. So, the next time you plant, try some of these lovely options that take care of themselves. Then get ready to enjoy your new landscaping—from the comfort of your porch swing.
10 Plants Never to Grow in Your Yard Many plants are beautiful, but not all are beneficial in a garden. Some of the most eye-catching cultivars can be invasive, poisonous, or attractive to unwelcome insects—issues you probably don't want to deal with. Check this list for 10 trees, shrubs, and other plants you should think twice about before planting on your property.
10 Plants to Grow for a Pest-Proof Yard It’s inevitable—just as you sit down to enjoy a quiet moment in the garden, the irritating buzz of an insect approaches. Your hopes of enjoying a cup of coffee in peace on the patio are quickly forgotten as you swat the offending bug away. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a pest-free garden, but there are some types of plants, especially herbs, that insects aren’t overly fond of. So, if you’re trying to keep annoying pests at bay, place a few of these plants in containers strategically arrayed around your patio and deck. Then, get ready to enjoy some bug-free time outdoors.
10 Reasons to Reconsider the Aboveground Pool Aboveground pools have never been known for high style. Still, they remain a popular and budget-friendly option for those unable—or unwilling—to shell out a fortune for a cool-off spot. These days, however, with pool manufacturers and installers offering new shapes and surround designs, aboveground pools deserve another look. With thoughtful planning and a dose of inspiration, an aboveground pool can be every bit as lovely to the eye and welcoming to swimmers as the in-ground variety. Don't believe it? Click to see proof.
10 Rooftop Gardens That Bring Gardening to New Heights Gardening is a way to connect with the earth, and this connection becomes even more striking in a rooftop garden, where the earth sits closer to the sky. Rooftop gardens allow city dwellers to embrace their valuable outdoor space and interact with nature. While some rooftop gardens are created using potted plants, others are lawn-like environments, magically transformed by their urban owners. Whether your rooftop space is large or small, it has the potential to become a lush oasis. Click through our photo gallery to pluck some ideas for designing your own garden in the sky.
10 Smart Ways to Bring Shade to Your Outdoor Space Outdoor areas don't have to be all about soaking in the sun. Sometimes it's nice to relax in a shady spot, shielded from the harsh rays. There are many ways to bring shade to an outdoor space. You can build a new freestanding structure or enhance an existing patio or pergola through the addition of a shade screen. Many such screens are made from fabric or canvas, but even materials like lattice and bamboo are popular options that cast delicately dappled light onto the outdoor living space beneath or behind. Best of all, there's no need to call in a contractor; most of these projects are simple enough for the average homeowner to complete easily and quickly, often within the space of a single weekend. So click through our gallery to see a selection of yard improvements that will have you made in the shade.
10 Steps to Paradise in Your Own Backyard Any outdoor living space, be it a compact apartment terrace or an expansive poolside patio, becomes much more inviting once it’s been outfitted with a few creature comforts. Designers Jeff Curren and Julian Calderon share outdoor room design tips to help you create a comfortable and beautiful refuge right outside your house.
10 Surprising Tips and Tricks for Dealing with Ice and Snow What do you do when the weather outside is frightful, but you still need to get out and go to work, school or shopping? Snow and ice removal is a major hassle and an unfortunate fact of life for those who live in northern climes, as well as being a big off-season business for landscapers and other contractors. But before you shell out a lot of cash for a professional snow removal service, try using some of these unconventional methods to get rid of all that cold white “stuff.”
10 Things to Do Now for a Better Garden Next Year By the time colder weather rolls in, most people are ready to call it quits in the garden. But before you hang up your trowel for the winter, there are several things you should do to ensure your garden gets off to a great start next spring.
10 Time-Tested Tricks for a Bug-Free Backyard While insects are important in the chain of life, their buzzing and biting can ruin a backyard picnic. Take note and then take aim using these 10 tips that will help you keep your yard bug-free this summer.
10 Totally Unexpected Things to Remake as Planters Houseplants aren't particularly picky about the containers they reside in—so long as their roots have enough space and water can drain properly, they're set to be happy campers. So why settle for the standard clay pot? Don’t limit yourself! Take a look around your property, and you may find one of these unexpected items to remake into your own unexpectedly creative planter.
10 of the Best Trees for Any Backyard Trees add much-needed shade, privacy, color, and value to your backyard. Check out this list of longstanding favorites that you can easily incorporate into your lawn design for stunning results.
11 Creatively Stylish Ways to Display Succulents If you don’t have a green thumb, then succulents might just be the plant for you. Succulents are a family of fleshy plants, including aloe vera and cacti, known for retaining water and standing up to harsh climates. Available in a variety of colors and textures, these hardy plants are known for their ability to thrive in unusual settings that can accommodate only small root systems, such as vertical gardens. Some species of succulents are considered “air plants,” which means they can live with little or no contact with the ground. Click through this gallery for fun ways to display succulents in your home.
11 Ideas for Better Backyard Privacy Sunshine and warm temperatures invite you and your family to spend entire days outdoors, so it's important that you be able to enjoy endless hours in your backyard without worrying about too much exposure to the sun—or curious passersby. Try one of these 11 solutions for adding privacy and shade to your backyard oasis.
12 Birdhouses We Love Bird houses come in all shapes and sizes and, in addition to adding interest to your yard or garden, they provide accommodations for fine feathered friends. Here is a selection of some ready-made and DIY kits.
12 Expert Tips for Eye-Catching Front Yard Landscaping Your front yard, regardless of its size, plays an important role in your home’s overall curb appeal. Attractive landscaping, however, requires more than just a beautiful lawn. A well-landscaped front yard should take into account the style and size of your house, how it’s sited on the property, the amount of sunlight the yard receives, and how it can best be enhanced by plantings, bushes, shrubs, and trees. Your front yard should also include hardscaping features, from walkways and driveways to raised beds, planters, and decorative containers. What are the best practices for front yard landscaping? To learn more, we reached out to Dorian Winslow, certified landscape designer and owner and president of Womanswork, an online retailer of gardening apparel and supplies. Here are her 12 tips for successful front yard landscaping.
12 Garden Sheds You Could Actually Live (or Work) In Whether you’re upgrading to a bigger building or find you no longer need your backyard shed to store lawn and garden tools, consider giving your old shed new life as a hobby room, guesthouse, or backyard retreat. With an ample budget, you can transform the space into a supplemental living area that rivals your own house, complete with electricity and luxe amenities. Yet even with a more modest budget, as some of these sheds show, you can cleverly transform an outbuilding into something beautiful and useful. If you crave more space in your house but an addition isn’t an option, a backyard shed with a few bells and whistles may provide what you need. Whether you’ll be upgrading, renovating, or starting from scratch, here are 12 outbuildings that prove that a backyard shed can be just as sweet as home.
12 Seductively Serene Screened Porches The porch has long been the perfect gathering place for summer evenings. While some folks may favor an open patio, an elevated deck, or a year-round sunroom, screened-in porches have a lot of allure—and nostalgia as well. Protected from the elements by a sturdy roof, screened porches allow both light and breezes to filter through their insect-proof barrier. A screened porch is great for seasonal dining and entertaining, or simply quietly relaxing and enjoying the view. Here's a quick look at some of our favorite serene and inviting screened porches.
12 Tiny Gardens You Can Grow on a Tabletop Terrariums are trending big-time, and it’s not hard to see why. Requiring very little work, these self-sufficient planters make a beautiful addition to any tabletop, counter, or windowsill. Almost any glass container will get you started. Add some sand or stones, soil, and plants, and you’re on your way to creating your indoor garden—and conversation starter. Gather inspiration from these 12 unique variations on the tiny indoor garden, and get growing.
12 Ways to Wake Up Your Tired Outdoor Furniture When spring is in the air and the weather starts to heat up, so does your outdoor entertaining. But after a long winter, your outdoor furniture might be looking shabby, particularly under the bright, unforgiving glare of the sun. Before you hop on the Internet to order new furniture, see if there’s something you can do to revive that patio set, picnic table, garden glider, or favorite pair of lawn chairs. If your furniture is actually falling apart, it may be time to retire it. If it's structurally sound, however, no matter what it's made of, there's probably a way to freshen it up. For example, spray paint is a panacea for wood, wicker, and metal. Most pieces can also be revived with a thorough washing, scrubbing, and sanding. If the finish is beyond saving, or if you're just sick and tired of it, you can recover it—by slipcovering or reupholstering. Or maybe all you need are the right accessories—a few throws and pillows—to bring your furniture back to life. Take a look at these smart ways to bring your old garden furniture to new glory.
13 DIY Lanterns to Illuminate Your Porch, Patio, or Garden When the weather gets warm, outdoor living heats up, and porches and patios become the place to be. As your sunny days shift to balmy nights, add some atmosphere to your garden and yard with lanterns. Whether you want to make one lantern for a dining table, or a whole string of lanterns for the deck railing, there is a DIY lantern design to suit your needs and style. Fanciful and frivolous, or simply elegant, lanterns don't require much time or money to make, and they delightfully elevate the ambience of your outdoor spaces. Take a cue from one of these great DIY lantern ideas, and bask in the glow of gleaming light this evening.
15 Plants Perfect for Hanging Baskets No matter how small your garden, there's always room for a hanging basket. Here are 10 plants that add color and interest to any porch, deck, balcony, or sunroom.
18 Ways to Color Your Garden This Fall Step away from the traditional cabbage-and-Mum routine this fall by introducing some new bloomers into your fall planting repertoire. Although the old stand-bys are hardy and give good, consistent color, these alternates choices will certainly set your pots apart from the Jones's.
5 Simple Steps to Renew Your Concrete Driveway In an alternative universe—in a world with neither vehicles nor inclement weather—your concrete driveway might never lose its pristine, freshly poured look. But in reality, driveways are put to the test by the harsh winters they're fully exposed to, and by the daily comings-and-goings they facilitate. Stains and cracks, depressions and flaking are all common problems with concrete driveways, and they only get worse with time. So take action now, not only to prevent further damage, but also to restore the appearance and dependability of your home's little highway.
6 Secrets to a Successful Container Garden When she’s not imparting advice in her role as an About.com guide, and on the days she takes off from photographing New England gardens (for a forthcoming book from Timber Press), you’re likely to find Kerry Michaels tending to the nearly 100 potted plants that surround her home in coastal Maine. “No matter how hectic life can be,” she muses, "I get such enormous pleasure from these pots!" Here, Michaels shares six secrets that can change your luck with container gardening.
6 Simple Steps to a Refreshed Deck Winters put backyard decks to the test. If yours emerged from the ravages of the season worse for wear, take heart. Today, the floorboards may be weathered and the handrails may be dingy, but tomorrow—or at least within the space of a long weekend—you can restore your deck to its former glory, and with a lot less hassle than you feared. Click through now for a step-by-step action plan.
6 Steps to a Budget-Friendly Porch Makeover If you're lucky enough to have a front porch, you may think of it mostly as a repository of muddy shoes, cobwebs, and chipped paint—a far cry from the relaxing retreat, complete with a porch swing and pitcher of lemonade, that you had imagined it would be. Luckily, there are ways to give your outdoor space a much-needed spruce up without overspending. These 6 easy steps are all you need to get started on a better, brighter—and cleaner!—front porch. (Lemonade not included.)
7 Camping Favorites Destined for Your Home If you've ever set foot in a camping goods store, you know that for any adventure into the great wide open, an appropriately vast selection of equipment exists to make your trip safer and more enjoyable. While the quality of these products varies significantly, the best camping gear has always been designed and built to meet the unforgiving demands of nature, with a focus on durability and performance. There's a lot to love about a product that just works, whether you're hiking a mountain or just relaxing in the backyard. Click through now to see 7 back-to-basics favorites that, although originally intended for the campsite, would prove equally handy at home.
7 Eye-Catching New Annuals While there’s no need to dismiss those hardworking favorites with which you fill your garden year in and year out, he...
7 Ideas to Steal from Real People’s Tiny Backyards Not everyone is lucky enough to have a sizable backyard, but here's some good news for those of us who lack square footage: Even the smallest outdoor space can be transformed into an inviting destination for entertaining and relaxing. Learn how to take advantage of every inch of your yard from those who know best—other homeowners who share your plight. Here are 7 ingenious ideas worth replicating in your own space.
7 Ingenious IKEA Hacks for Your Backyard Having a backyard is a luxury and (let's face it) also a lot of work to keep it looking like the oasis you want it to be. You could spend a ton of money on planters and seating or you can flex your creative muscles and come up with some inventive DIY solutions. We've done a little of the work for you and found amazing ways to repurpose some of IKEA's classic products into backyard staples.
7 Irresistible Outdoor Living Trends for 2015 <p>It seems that each year, summer takes its good old time to get here, and when it finally arrives there's a to-do list of home improvement projects and recreational activities at the ready—all items that have been put on hold for months. This year, challenge yourself to move updating your outdoor living space to the top of that list. </p><br/>
<p>You can treat the spaces you have for outdoor living the same way you would those inside your home. Each area—the kitchen, living room, bedroom—has a separate purpose, and are designed with that functionality in mind. Think about your outdoor spaces the same way. What do you want and need? A space to play? A space to relax? A space to entertain? Designate the best spot in your yard for each of your needs. Then, set to work designing the floor, walls and ceiling (if necessary) for each space. Grass, stone, decking, and mulch are your flooring. Hedges and fences can serve as walls. And structures like arbors, pergolas and canopies create ceilings in areas where you need protection from the elements. The choices you make in plants serve to add color and texture to each “room.”</p><br/>
<p>Making your outdoor living spaces first priority will, in turn, make every next minute you're out of the house fun for the whole family. Not sure where to start? Click through for backyard inspiration from the seven biggest trends this summer.</p>
7 Lawn Care Myths Debunked Keeping your lawn green, lush, and healthy might as well be a full-time job for many homeowners. It's a time consuming seasonal task that leaves many folks desperate for easy tips and tricks that will make for quicker and cheaper results. Beware, however, because not everything the your next door neighbor—or the Internet—advises is true. Even we've been taking in my a few of these thoroughly debunked myths before now, but we're setting the record straight once and for all.
7 Projects Perfect for a Lazy Summer Day Looking forward to a staycation, or a blissfully commitment-free Sunday? The backyard hammock or patio lounger may be calling your name. But if you want to add a sense of satisfaction to your rest and relaxation, these are some low-effort, high-impact projects to consider knocking out before calling it a day.
7 Real Reasons to Consider Fake Grass Is your lawn getting to be a real pain in the… grass? If your relaxing weekends have been supplanted by the never-ending work of mowing, fertilizing, watering, and weeding, it may be time to consider artificial turf. This isn't the Astroturf of the old days—today’s “fake” grass has come a long way. There are many options available that replicate lush natural grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, rye grass, and fescue. Artificial turf is becoming a viable and increasingly popular landscaping choice—but is it right for you? Here are just a few grass facts to help you answer that very question.
7 Remedies to Rescue a Dying Lawn The road to a beautiful lawn doesn’t have to be paved with a schedule of chemical treatments. There are several homegrown tips and techniques you can use to help your grass to grow lush and green this summer.
7 Smart Ways to Save Water in the Yard Essential for everything from bathing to eating, and from cleaning your house to maintaining your garden, clean water is one resource that is hard to go a day without. But when a drought restricts your consumption, you have to make some changes. Fortunately, you don't have to say goodbye to your dream garden just yet. Instead, try out some water-saving strategies. Click through for 7 simple ways to save water in your lawn and garden.
7 Things to Do Now for a Greener Lawn Next Year Congratulations, you've managed to keep your lawn alive through the stifling summer heat. Now in fall—with winter on the horizon—you may be tempted to rest on your laurels and relax your routine. After all, the yard will soon be covered by snow, and as the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” But the truth is that in many parts of the country, fall is a key season for lawn care. What you do at this time year largely determines the state of your grass in spring. So take these steps now to ensure a greener lawn all next year.
7 Thrifty Designs for a DIY Walkway <p>Garden paths serve both a practical and aesthetic purpose in the yard. They provide a safe and easy walkway to and from the house and garden, and give you an opportunity to visually connect your yard and home. Garden paths also help define the spaces in your outdoor landscape, and can bring overall beauty to your property. There are many options to choose from for the material and design of a garden path. From pavers, to stepping-stones, to plain mulch, there’s something for every budget. Depending on the material you choose and the topography of your yard, creating a garden path is a very attainable DIY project, even for a beginner.<p>
<p>Whether you are laying bricks or spreading gravel, there are a few general tips that will help make your DIY garden path project more successful. Lay out your path with spray paint or a garden hose before you start any work. Make sure it’s wide enough to accommodate an adult comfortably. Remember to level the area so that your materials lay properly, and so that your garden path is safe for guests and family to walk on. Hard surface materials like brick or pavers will need to slope away from your home 1/4 inch per foot to ensure proper drainage. And don’t forget to put a weed barrier under the base of your path to minimize maintenance in the future. Even if you don’t want to install lighting when you install your garden path, it’s a good idea to lay electrical conduit above the base, so you can add it later if you want to.<p>
<p>We’ve rounded up some of the best ideas for attractive and affordable DIY garden paths. Your inspiration is just a click away.<p>
7 Tips to Keep Your Mower in Working Order You know how to care for your lawn, but how about your mower? Mowers need some TLC after sitting in a cold shed or garage all winter long. Before grass-growing season gets into full swing, show your mower some love by giving it a tune-up and blade sharpening. Performing some regular maintenance on your lawn mower is a pretty simple affair, and will make lawn care easier all season long. <br/><br>
Doing the proper maintenance on each system involved in the engine of your lawn mower is half the battle. Most small gas engines have six basic systems that work together: fuel, exhaust, ignition, combustion, cooling, and lubrication. Lawn mowers also have blades that need to be maintained and sharpened, which can be done by a professional, or at home with the right tools. To cover your bases, you'll want to check all fuel lines and filters, cleaning and replacing them when necessary. Spark plugs and wiring can get dirty and loose over a season, so make sure those are in working order before your grass has its first growth spurt in the Spring. And then feed your mower right—invest in the fuel additives that will help it run most efficiently. <br/><br>
The payoff for your attentiveness to lawn mower maintenance will definitely worth the effort. Treat your mower well, and it will reward you with greater efficiency, better handling, and a fresher-looking lawn. Not sure where to start? Here, we've compiled an essential guide for keeping your mower—and your grass—growing strong all season.
7 Weirdly Effective Ways to Weed There's nothing more frustrating than seeing weeds flourish in your garden while the veggies and flowers languish. Even worse is seeing weeds pop up in those hard-to-pull areas between flagstones or within concrete expansion joints. Yet, while we hate weeds, we're just not comfortable dousing our yards with harsh, weed-killing chemicals to take care of the problem. That's where these effective and affordable options come in.
8 DIY Pick-Me-Ups for a Plain Patio <p>Outdoor spaces extend our homes and make the time we spend outside more enjoyable. No matter how small your porch or patio, a few simple ideas can turn yours into an oasis—and on a budget, too. When working with a small patio, stay focused on one or two purposes for the space. Do you want an outdoor dining area? A place to relax and unwind? Or will you use it to entertain? Limit your ideas to what’s essential.<p>
<p>Furnishing a small patio takes some forethought. Select smaller scale furniture, and avoid big backs, arms, and cushions, which will fill the space up fast. Choose multifunctional pieces where possible—like tables that double as storage, or ottomans that work as side tables.<p>
<p>Plants bring an outdoor space to life. When you don’t have a lot of real estate, use your vertical space as best you can. Dress up your small patio with hanging plants and wall gardens, and keep any floor planters minimal in scale. That idea goes for the other decor as well. Less is more in a small patio. One statement accent piece is better than many small decorative items that end up feeling like clutter.<p>
<p>Check out our favorite ideas for perking up your small patio, and make the most of your outdoor space this summer.<p>
8 New Ideas for DIY Outdoor Lighting Sure, days are longer in summer, but still not quite long enough to squeeze in all the seasonal fun. Stay out after dusk when you light the night with these 8 DIY luminaries, lamps, and lanterns.
8 No-Care Plants for Killer Curb Appeal in Every Season If you live in an area of the country with harsh winters, you may be resigned to a dead and dreary yard and garden during the cold months. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of plants that look great all season long, even in the northernmost reaches of the country. Check out our favorites, and see if you can get some of these cold-weather wonders in the ground before winter’s chill sets in.
8 Reasons to Love Azaleas From Southern roots, azaleas have grown into a countrywide favorite, prized for their beautiful blooms in so many colors.
8 Tiny Backyard Buildings for Work or Play You know that disheveled shack in the corner of the yard? It might just be one of your home’s major assets. These backyard buildings prove that an underutilized backyard shed is a work or play space simply waiting to be discovered. Get ready to shed your preconceived notions—because outbuildings are in.
8 Ways to Combat Garden Pests There's nothing that can stand in the way of your best garden ever—until the pests arrive, that is. Perhaps your harvest is being raiding by tiny aphids, cabbage-loving caterpillars, tomato worms, or even larger intruders, like deer and rabbits. But no matter which critters have besieged your garden beds, there are multiple lines of defense from which you can choose, and most of them won't involve an extra trip to the garden center to pick up nasty chemicals. Check out our 8 easy pest control solutions to combat these destructive pests.
8 Ways to Upgrade Your Backyard with Pavers Pavers are more commonly thought of as sturdy patio bases than as useful design tools for your landscapes. But these outdoor essentials are endlessly versatile, perfect for creating an interesting pattern, a clever walkway, or even a backyard game. Incorporate this functional material in your own spaces by thinking outside the patio with these fresh ideas for ways to use pavers in your backyard.
9 Backyard Games to Make and Play This Summer As temperatures warm up and we unglue ourselves from the television to head out into the yard, that hardly means we need to leave the fun inside. Before your next barbecue or party, craft a few of these classics, and let the backyard games begin!
9 Bright and Colorful Houseplants You Can't Kill There are many benefits to decorating your home with bright and colorful potted plants, the most obvious being that they bring in the beauty of the outdoors even in the dreariest of months. But tending to houseplants can be a bit of a struggle, often leading to drooping leaves or spotty blooms, despite one's best efforts. Don't be discouraged! Instead, try one of these 9 hardy varieties that can survive even the brownest of thumbs.
9 Budget-Friendly Ways to Revive Your Porch Sunny days and warmer weather signal that summer is right around the corner. What better time to freshen up your front porch? Rest assured that you can create an inviting front veranda without breaking the bank. Start with one favorite item, theme, or color, and work out from there. For example, if you love the idea of a bold front door, paint it in your favorite dramatic color and let that shade guide your choices for lighting, draperies, planters, and accessories. Or, do you have an heirloom piece of furniture or decorative accent that you love, such as a planter, rug, or lantern? Take inspiration from its shape, color, or style, and search out flea market finds or attic treasures that may be polished, painted, or upcycled into frugal, complementary front porch accessories. Complete your scheme with decorative touches like welcome signs, hanging baskets of greenery or ferns, or unusual plants in distinctive planters. Need some examples? Here are 10 inspiring front porches that prove that it’s possible to design a welcoming front veranda on a budget.
9 Creative Ways to Build a Backyard Hangout There's no reason to settle for a barren backyard when there are seating options like these to inspire you. As this collection of DIY projects demonstrates, you can take basic materials and transform them into stunning additions that are sure to make your backyard the place to be this summer.
9 DIY Ideas for a Summery Backyard The best way to truly enjoy the summer? Enhance your outdoor spaces to maximize your time in the fresh air. Any of these awesome projects will make your parties so fun guests will never want to leave.
9 Double-Duty Favorites for Tiny Outdoor Spaces Don't let a small backyard cramp your outdoor entertaining plans this season! Fitting a table, fire pit, potted garden, and more into your tiny space falls within the realm of possibility, should you invest strategically in hard-working tables and seating that do more than just their job. With these nine multifunctional pieces of outdoor furniture, you can fill out your dream deck, porch, or patio—without feeling short on space.
9 Easy-to-Make Garden Luminaries Garden luminaries are a creative way to add light and sparkle to nighttime backyard scenes. We found some of the best DIY projects to inspire you.
9 Incredibly Cool Pool Houses Waterfront property sells at a hefty premium. But don't be discouraged if you're landlocked. You can create your own home-by-the-sea environment with a pool house. Come along and dream with us.
9 Insanely Easy 1-Hour Backyard Projects Spring and summer bring longer days—but that doesn't mean it's much easier to squeeze in all the projects and repairs that you'd like to do. But when it comes to outdoor DIYs, you can accomplish more than you'd think in the span of a mere hour. We've rounded up 9 incredibly these simple outdoor projects that takes only 60 minutes to complete—and offer (at least) a full season of enjoyment!
9 Lessons Learned from Tiny Backyards It’s a basic human desire to own a little plot of land. But what if your plot is really, <i>really</i> little? With some clever planning and a few spatial and visual tricks, you can still make a very modest outdoor space into an interesting, functional, and enjoyable spot to relax and entertain alfresco. Read on for 9 strategies for living large in a tiny yard.
9 Mowing Mistakes Everyone Makes What's the difference between your lawn and the one next door? If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it could be that you're making one of these cardinal mowing mistakes. We spoke to Greg Weekes, Product Marketing Manager at John Deere, who filled us in on some of the biggest mowing mistakes to avoid. So have a look and see if any of your bad habits is costing you a better looking lawn.
9 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds There are a number of children, pet, and environmentally friendly ways to rid your garden of pesky weeds— they're much safer and less costly than using harmful chemicals.
9 Tricks for Fast and Easy Fall Yard Cleanup No one enjoys sacrificing a weekend to raking, weeding, and winterizing, but fall yard cleanup is a necessary evil. It's important to clear debris away from your yard and landscaping beds before snow falls and a deep freeze sets in. Make your end-of-season maintenance chores go faster with a few of these simple tips and tricks.
9 Ways to Extend Patio Season into Fall As temperatures drop in the fall, our outdoor activities start to dwindle, and the bustle of life moves indoors. But there are still beautiful days and evenings left to enjoy outside if only we have something to draw us out there. For example, a fire pit or spa can turn your yard into the place to be on a bracing autumn evening. Beefed-up outdoor lighting can make your property more inviting as the days grow shorter, and installing an outdoor kitchen will keep the food prep—and the party—humming away outside. And don't plow the garden under just yet! Plant fall vegetable crops and fruit trees to keep your green thumb nimble until the ground freezes. There are so many ways to prolong the season. We've gathered just a few of our favorites.
Anatomy of an Adirondack Chair Warm summer nights make me want to lounge back with a cool beverage and watch the sunset from our back deck after the...
Arbors: A Garden's Best Friend Few things can lend instant character quite as dramatically as the addition of an arbor. Vinyl, wood, and aluminum options abound, but the most striking arbors are altered to reflect the garden’s personality.
Artificial Turf: 7 Reasons to Consider the New "Grass" Alternative There's more to today's artificial turf products than just good looks. Made of polypropylene and featuring colorations and blade compositions that mimic real grass, they eliminate the need for mowing, watering and fertilizers and manufactured for lasting durability and beauty.
Axes and Hatchets Axes goes back into prehistory almost as far as the hammer. The axe, too, started out as a stone, but some clever Sto...
Blown Away: 12 Upcycled Wind Chimes You Can Make Do you want a unique set of wind chimes to add some personality to your garden, patio, balcony, or deck? You’re in luck—no need to go to an expensive home boutique to find what you’re looking for. Instead, take a look around your kitchen, garage, tool shed, or even your backyard. You'll find all sorts of items you can upcycle into a pretty and sweet-sounding set of chimes. When looking for the perfect pieces, choose items that make a pleasing sound when they hit each other. Note that heavy items will be slow to make contact unless you place the chimes in an area with high winds; delicate items made of glass or china could shatter in the same windy location. If the spot where you want to place your chimes doesn't get enough wind, hang one wide, flat piece lower than the other items—it will catch the wind and start the music! Here are 12 unique DIY wind chimes to get your creative juices flowing.
Building a Basic Deck Decks and other outdoor spaces are different from ordinary rooms. They serve as an intermezzo between home and nature...
Building a Concrete Pool Deck Textures and coatings can give you a lasting concrete pool deck to match your needs and weather challenges. Creating...
Buy or DIY: 7 Hanging Planters for the Great Indoors <p>What brings more life and texture to a wall than any piece of art? A thing of natural beauty: the hanging planter. There are oodles of design ideas incorporating plants that will prettify any room in your home. You have lots to choose from, whether you are a newbie to keeping plants, or have a bona fide green thumb. When considering a planter, just keep a few ideas and considerations in mind. </p><br/>
<p>Be sure your planter will have the proper support. Once you add soil and a plant to the structure, it could be quite heavy. Secure hangers into studs, or use anchors that are rated appropriately for the weight of your planter. Like any other potted plant, those in your hanging planters will need good drainage. This can be tricky when planters are indoors. You don’t want to damage your floors with water. Make sure you have a drip pan attached that’s big enough to accommodate draining water. Or, in the absence of a drip pan, pot your plant in a separate liner with drainage holes, and then set that into your planter. In some cases, the best idea is to take the plant down and set it in the sink or outside for its regular watering routine, hanging it back once it has drained. </p><br/>
<p>Whether you prefer flowers or philodendron, there’s a multitude of planter designs to string up and suit any budget or style. Click through to check out our favorite ideas for planters that you can buy or DIY.</p>
Design Ideas to Steal from 10 Amazing Outdoor Kitchens If cooking out is a big part of your warm weather routine, an outdoor kitchen is a great investment. The joys of eating al fresco are multiplied when you have convenient appliances within reach and a well designed outdoor dining area to enjoy delicious fare. Take a tip from these well-situated outdoor kitchens.
Don't Make These 8 Mistakes in Your Front Yard Maybe you’re a first-time homeowner who is looking to put your personal stamp on your new abode. Or you may be thinking of putting your house on the market and want to enhance the property’s curb appeal. Or perhaps you are just tired of your home's current look and want to give the place a well-deserved facelift. Whatever your reasons for considering a small or large landscape overhaul, you probably don’t want to waste your efforts on costly, time-consuming, and aggravating mistakes. Here are just a few of the common landscaping blunders that can snare even experienced homeowners.
Dreaming of Daffodils I’m a beginning gardener. I have lots of ideas but little experience. The basic landscaping package that came with ou...
Early Bloomers: 7 Spring Flowers Bringing Color NOW to a Yard Near You! Nothing heralds the coming of spring like perennial flowers. Their reliable return each season is one of the reasons gardeners love to plant bulbs; put in the ground in the fall, they will reward you with beautiful blooms during the earliest growing months. Every year, the dormant bulbs awake to send green shoots through the cold ground—even snow! Although a late frost can harm them, these early bloomers are generally of hardy stock and can grow in colder zones. If you don't already grow bulbs in your garden, a stroll through this gallery of lovely flowers might just be enough to make even the gardening-averse consider taking up a trowel.
Eating Out: 10 Essentials for Alfresco Dining With summer upon us, now is a great time to get yourself set up for celebrating a season of food and fun in your outdoor spaces. Once you've covered the basics, adding some no-fuss dinnerware, comfortable seat cushions, or special decorative accents can make your outdoor gatherings truly special. Ready to get started? Here are 10 alfresco ideas that will make you and your guests want to eat every meal outside.
Editor's Picks: 7 Tools to Wage War Against Leaves In fall, we love the crisp nip in the air, the taste of freshly picked apples, and of course the vibrant hues of the changing foliage. But our enjoyment of the latter quickly gives way to woe, as we spend hours on the weekend removing leaves from the lawn. So long as you’re armed with the right equipment, however, leaf collection doesn’t need to be a backbreaking chore. These clever pieces of gear can save you both time and effort—check them out now!
Fab Doghouses We dog owners are a strange breed. We obsess about the day-to-day comfort, happiness, and health of our pets. We own ...
Fence Styles: 10 Popular Designs to Consider With so many fence styles available today, it can be hard for homeowners to choose the one that best fits their property and needs. Fences generally fall into three categories: privacy, functional, and decorative. Whether used to define property boundaries, keep pets and children safe, or keep out unwelcome visitors (two- and four-legged), a fence can dramatically enhance your home’s curb appeal. Made of myriad materials, including wood, metal, vinyl, stone, and brick—you can be sure there is a fence style that’s right for you. And, since installing a fence is one of the most common do-it-yourself projects, you’ll find a wide variety of kits and premade panels to make assembly a snap. Here is a look at some of the most common styles of fences used today.
Fences 101 Through the ages, fences have been made from a variety of materials. Around my neighborhood, I see vinyl, cedar, meta...
Goodbye Grass: 7 Inspiring Ideas for a "No Mow" Backyard Americans love our lawns but let's face it: Creating a perfectly manicured yard is time-consuming. Just think about all the weekend hours you've spent cutting, watering, fertilizing, and weeding the grass. And even after all that hard work, it may still not be perfect. But we've got a little landscaping secret for you. Ditching the lawn doesn't mean giving up on your space. In fact, some of the most luxurious, green and well-designed yards don't have a single blade of grass. So what are you waiting for? Click through to find incredible no-mow ideas that could forever change your outlook—and your lawn.
Great Entrances: 10 Welcoming Garden Gates A thoughtfully designed gate can make an already welcoming garden even more so, and give a much-needed decorative boost come winter. Whether integrated into a fence's design, overrun by wildflowers, or a standalone element, a gate is an extension of your home's (and garden’s) personality—but that doesn’t mean it can’t make a statement all its own. We found 10 examples of gates that serve as a barrier to the outside world while still saying "come on in." Even if your gardening prowess hasn't yet produced the landscape of your dreams, these fences will still make for a scenic and inviting welcome to your home.
Growing Up: 10 Inventive DIY Vertical Gardens Spring is in the air and it’s time to get growing! Whether you’re working within the confines of an apartment balcony, a modest backyard, or an expansive ranch, a vertical garden provides new opportunities for growth. Vertical gardens use a variety of methods to grow herbs, vegetables, and flowers in a structured environment. While there are numerous commercial vertical planters on the market, it is easy to make your own by upcycling items from your garage or attic—or hunting for affordable finds at your local flea market. The key ingredient is good-quality potting soil and a planting vessel that allows for consistent drainage. If you’re wondering whether you have any household items that could be used to build a DIY vertical garden, here are 10 creative ideas to get you started.
Growing a Bamboo Garden Clumping and Running BambooBamboo is a member of the grass family, with more than 200 species available in the U. S. ...
How To: Dry Hydrangeas The end of the summer is just days away but instead of celebrating the season, the last bright blooms are starting to...
How To: Dry Your Garden Herbs If you want to keep a little bit of your summer garden with you all year long, you can do so by drying herbs and stor...
How To: Get Rid of Crabgrass If you are one of the many homeowners who labor in pursuit of the perfect lawn, then you know what a menace crabgrass...
How To: Grill Like the Pros The most satisfying summer meals usually involve a backyard and a grill. According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue...
How To: Grow Fresh Produce from Your Leftover Groceries It’s truly gratifying to grow your own food, but not everyone has the time and space for an entire vegetable garden. Fortunately, getting a start on growing your own can be as easy as a trip to the market! You can regrow food from your kitchen scraps, which means that you'll always have on hand such recipe staples as green onions, basil, bean sprouts, and fresh ginger. While you can try to use produce bought at the grocery store, much of it has been treated and cold-stored to inhibit growth and decay. As a result, your best bet for success is locally grown produce picked up at the farmers' market. Whichever route you choose, the preparation process doesn’t demand a big investment of time or money, so why not give regrowing your food a try! Click through for some of the best contenders for your kitchen-scrap garden.
How To: Grow Moss There are two main types of mosses—acrocarpous and pleurocarpous. The former grows vertically and resembles strands o...
How To: Grow Potatoes If you've never tasted homegrown potatoes, prepare to be amazed. A hundred days or so after planting—more or less, de...
How To: Hang a Hammock Laying in a hammock is the epitome of summertime relaxation. Getting the hammock set up, on the other hand, can be a ...
How To: Use a Leaf Blower Fall is full of football, hot apple cider, and pumpkin pies. And leaves. For some, lots and lots of leaves. A leaf bl...
How To: Weed Your Garden Even late into the season, the summer can seem like one prolonged fight against garden weeds. The bad news? There's n...
How and When to Plant Garlic Now is the perfect time to get garlic into the ground. The cloves get a head start on the growing season so that by l...
How to Help Your Houseplants Survive the Winter Even though your plant resides in a pot indoors, it’s still keenly aware of the seasons. With shorter days, drier air, and cooler temperatures, winter is perhaps the most challenging time a year for houseplants. The trick to helping your plant endure the harsher conditions is simply modifying your care routine. Check out these tips to keep your plant happy and alive this winter.
Instant Curb Appeal: 15 Fast Facade Fix-Ups "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression." While this phrase usually refers to people, it also applies to houses. The exterior of your home offers visitors and passersby their first hint at the people who live inside, so why not make it truly reflect your personality? A tidy, well-decorated facade and well-landscaped front yard speak volumes about your design style and maintenance habits. A few quick updates like those gathered here will get your home's facade looking its very best and ensure a great first impression!
Keep, Don't Kill: 9 Weeds to Welcome One man's weed is another man's best friend. That's certainly true for many of the weeds that are found in backyards around the country. While some gardeners labor to rid their patches of earth of any stray stem or sprout, they might do well to live and let live. At least, that's the case for a handful of weeds that boast a bevy of benefits, from attracting pollinators to repelling pests, and from fertilizing soil to filling a salad plate (although you should take care not to consume any weeds that have been treated with chemicals). Read on to discover the hidden benefits these misunderstood plants can offer.
Liven Up Your Winter Porch with 8 Cold-Loving Plants A spot of color and life on your front porch can ease the winter doldrums. So dust off your gardening gear and pot up a couple cold hardy containers. Plants in containers require different care than those in the ground. Being in a pot, there’s less soil around roots to hold moisture, so container plants require more frequent watering. Those roots are also less insulated, and receive more exposure to the cold. For best results, use plants that are cold hardy two zones colder than your own. And use containers that can withstand freezing temperatures, like wood, stone, concrete, or fiberglass. Come mid-winter, you’ll be grateful for the time spent, and will enjoy a lush view, even while sitting inside, sipping something warm.
Living Fences: 11 Boundary-Setting Solutions Natural fences constructed of shrubbery, trees, or flowering bushes are attractive and environmentally friendly havens for songbirds, butterflies, and other desirable fauna. These living fences also provide an eye-catching way to define your property’s boundaries, and they serve as effective and visually pleasing privacy screens—as the adage says, “good fences make good neighbors.” Here are 11 ideas for integrating a natural fence into your own property.
Make a Splash! 10 Stunning Backyard Ponds to Enhance Any Landscape Looking to add some personality to an underwhelming backyard? Maybe it’s time to add a water feature. Installing an outdoor pond or water hole can be a simple weekend project using a kit from your local nursery or building supply store, or it can be an elaborate landscaping job that requires professional services. Before beginning, think carefully about the purpose of your outdoor pond. A small water hole edged with a narrow perennial garden adds tranquility to a small garden area, whereas a multilevel pond with waterfalls and flowering shrubs becomes the main focus of a backyard. If you want fish in the water, you’ll need proper filtration and nutrition to create a healthy environment for them. Also consider the shape of the pond and the topography of your yard. These can affect the placement of rocks, greenery, and other features such as fountains or statues that you may want to include in the design. Not sure where to start? Take a look at these 10 outdoor ponds for inspiration—you may be able to fish out some ideas for your own yard.
Natural Swimming Pools: 10 Green and Gorgeous Designs It wouldn’t be summer without a trip to the pool—but those harsh chemicals can be a real turnoff. These days, eco-conscious and design-savvy homeowners are increasingly adopting an unorthodox means of pool filtration: plant life. Aquatic plants and naturally occurring bacteria not only filter the water, they also contribute to the landscaping. Yes, natural pools require more planning than the standard-issue variety, but you can—with a little know-how and not an overwhelming amount of trouble—build a fairly self-sufficient swimming pool (or give an earth-friendly upgrade to your existing pool). Besides being less costly to maintain, natural pools come with an additional bonus: They don't have to be shut down come winter. In fact, if temperatures drop low enough, your pool can double as an ice rink. So come take a tour of some of our favorite natural swimming pools, each more inviting than the next.
New & Notable: 10 Gadgets to Tech Out Your Garden If you want to put your best gardening foot forward this spring, it is important to take your first steps in the right direction. Decisions you make in early spring have enormous impact on the health and appearance of your garden later in the season. To help you plant smart, we've compiled a list of 10 tech gadgets that can make your thumb a little greener. These tools use the latest technology and science to help you analyze, monitor, and tend to your plants. Check out this collection of smart tech, from pollen extractors to weather forecasters, that can help make this year's garden your best ever.
New & Notable: 15 Lighting Solutions to Brighten Up Your Outdoor Decor Few activities are more relaxing than spending time outdoors with friends and family—and the fun doesn't have to stop when the sun goes down. There are plenty of fashionable outdoor lighting fixtures just perfect for a yard, garden, or patio that will hold up to adverse weather conditions without sacrificing aesthetics. Available in a variety of styles, including wall sconces, hanging pendants, and stake lights, today's outdoor fixtures also take advantage of energy-saving technologies like LED bulbs and solar power. With so many possibilities to choose from, you're sure to find the perfect light in a flash.
No Money to Burn? 9 Fire Pits You Can Afford <p>An outdoor fire pit can add character and utility to your garden landscape. It can knock the chill off a fall evening and make it downright cozy. It will cast a warm glow on any nighttime gathering. And do we even need to mention the marshmallows? Whatever you do around your outdoor fire pit, there are some basic tips that will help keep you, your guests, and your home safe and comfortable while you enjoy your evenings outdoors.<p>
<p>Make sure your fire pit is located at least 10 feet from your home or any trees, and is sitting on a level surface. A hard surface like brick or concrete is best. Never put a fire pit on your wood deck or in an enclosed porch. Keep a bucket of sand or water (or even a fire extinguisher) close at hand in case flames get out of control. Start your fires the old-fashioned way with paper and kindling, not lighter fluid. And burn dry, seasoned wood—preferably that’s been cut for at least six months. Always keep an adult nearby when children are present, and never go inside for the night until the fire is completely snuffed out.<p>
<p>Use your common sense and your outdoor fire pit can safely be the highlight of your backyard gatherings. Check out our collection of reasonably priced fire pits in a range of sizes and styles to suit almost any taste, whether aesthetic or practical.<p>
No More Mowing: 10 Grass-Free Alternatives to a Traditional Lawn Many of us have a love-hate relationship with our lawns. Although we enjoy the cool carpet of green grass to lie on and play on in summer, no one wants to spend hours every weekend mowing and trimming—not to mention battling weeds, insects, and fungus, and aerating, feeding, watering, and seeding. Turf lawns take a lot of time and money to maintain. They require the use of precious water resources to keep them alive, and the pesticides and herbicides we apply to them can damage the environment. More and more, people are turning to low-maintenance, no-mow lawn alternatives like meadows, rock gardens, and ground covers. These fresh options prove that you can have a beautiful yard without growing a single blade of grass. If that sounds right up your alley, check out these 10 no-mow alternatives to a grass lawn.
No Sweat: 7 Best BBQ Shortcuts Elevate your status from burger-flipper to grillmaster with these hacks for preparing, roasting, and minimizing cleanup at your next summertime barbecue.
On the Deck This year the deck on our summer place turns 11. The deck isn’t vast, maybe 10' x 30'—just the right size for evening...
Outdoor Lighting: 12 Products to Light Your Way Before you purchase outdoor lighting, consider the type of illumination that you are looking to create. Floodlights, wall sconces, path lights, and in-ground or recessed fixtures, all serve different needs. Determine what type of light you are hoping to create and then shop for the light-specific fixture that meets that requirement.
Outdoor Showers 101 Outdoor showers accent pool areas or backyards, providing a convenient place to clean off and a yard feature that is ...
Outdoor Wall Sconces: Lighting the Way with Style One of the easiest curb appeal updates for any home is to install stylish wall sconces. There are a wealth of styles to choose from at a variety of price points. Best of all, it's a project you can tackle on your own, should you choose to.
Pass on Grass: 7 Reasons to Landscape with Gravel Lower maintenance lawns are becoming more and more popular. Finding ways to decrease the amount of grass in the yard can reduce your reliance on watering, chemical fertilizers, and weekend mowing to keep it beautiful. Gravel and stone to the rescue! There are excellent alternatives to turf grass that you can incorporate into your landscape.
Rejuvenate Your Lawn with 7 Spring Musts Reviving your lawn after a cold winter can be a challenging task. From seeding and aerating, proper spring lawn care encompasses a range of responsibilities. In order to create a thriving, beautiful lawn, you'll need to start early. Include these 7 important tasks to your spring to-do list, and by the time summer rolls around, you'll have a lush, thick carpet of green grass.
Repairing a Retaining Wall Walls, normally thought of as interior design elements, are useful in landscaping, too. A landscaping wall can be fre...
Retaining Walls 101 Retaining walls offer aesthetic as well as practical benefits: In addition to beautifying the home, they inhibit soil...
Roses: 11 Sensational Varieties to Consider There are countless varieties of roses available today, but it pays to familiarize yourself with the specific habit, care, and hardiness of the one you choose for your yard or garden.
The 12-Inch Farm: 10 Foods You Can Grow in Containers Edible plants can be every bit as pretty as traditional ornamental plants. To get the greatest enjoyment from these ornamental edibles, pot them up in large containers and keep them close to your kitchen door or deck. One advantage of keeping your edibles nearby is that you will have a better chance of protecting them from birds and other marauders. Another advantage is that you'll get to witness the plants' beautiful development up close. On fruit-bearing plants, such as blueberries, figs, and lemons, buds unfold into flowers, flowers turn into fruit, and the fruit ripens—displaying a rainbow of colors under your watchful eye. For plants like lettuce or kale, it’s all about leafy texture. Here are some of my favorite edible plants for containers.
The Best Plants for Every Room of the House The right houseplant brings beauty and calm into a space and improves your home's air quality, but that's only the start of it. There are plenty of other good reasons to keep some greenery in every room. Houseplants offer a whole host of benefits, from promoting productivity to flavoring your next meal. Read on to find the perfect houseplant for every room in your house.
The Bungalow Porch The Bungalow style developed out of the Arts & Crafts movement. With its generous and deep front porch anchored by tapered columns, the heft and earthiness of this form truly set it apart.
The Colonial Porch Symmetrical two-story homes with porches ranging from a mere portico to a full-width wonder are the norm for the Colonial style. Let’s take a look at the other design elements that create this distinguished style, the most classical of our featured porch aesthetics.
The Farmhouse Porch The farmhouse porch provides shade and plenty of opportunity for relaxing and entertaining. It also calls to mind an idyllic, slower-paced lifestyle. See what other design elements set this porch-style apart from the rest.
The Gazebo: At Home Everywhere Nothing says “summer” quite like a gazebo. Images of languid afternoons sipping ice-cold lemonade in the sheltering s...
The Good Guys: 8 Beneficial Bugs for Your Garden Roll out the welcome mat for friendly insects that will get on your garden's good side. While some insects like aphids and grasshoppers can wreak havoc on gardens, not all insects have a destructive bent. In fact, many of these good bugs help eliminate their garden-eating cousins by snacking on them. Insects can also help your garden grow by pollinating flowers. Here are 8 great bugs that will be a pleasure to have around your garden, and suggestions for encouraging them to pay you a visit.
The Great Deck Build: Part 1 Sundays can be a dangerous day in our household due to the abundance of home improvement circulars that arrive with t...
The Importance of Deadheading As your garden flourishes over the summer and your springtime planting efforts are rewarded with beautiful bursts of ...
The Invincible Yard: 12 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping Some people love the backbreaking business of tending to lawn and garden. Then there’s the rest of us—who’d rather relax and let that little piece of heaven largely take care of itself. Ahead, easy ways to make your outdoor space the envy of the neighborhood.
The Plight of the Impatiens This year, many are struggling to find a beloved mainstay of the American garden: impatiens. Sought for the vibrant c...
The Queen Anne Porch Over-the-top decoration is the cornerstone of Queen Anne design. A gracious front porch ensures residents a shady spot on a hot day. Click through to see the details of what makes a Queen Anne and its porch stand head and crown above the rest and how to achieve this specialized style.
Top 10 Classic DIY Projects for the Outdoors It's time to embrace the warmer weather by tackling a couple of outdoor DIY home improvements. There's so much to be done, where do you start? How about right here! Browse our collection of ideas for easy outdoor projects that are perfect for a weekend—in fact, some can be completed in just a few hours. Are you thinking about an upgrade to your patio or deck? Are you itching to give your garden a new look? Well then, here's your inspiration. Who knows? If you're especially productive this weekend, someday soon you'll be able to sit in your newly spray-painted lawn chairs and admire the vegetables sprouting up in your DIY raised beds.
Ultimate Lawn Care Guide: 12 Steps to a Prize-Winning Yard <p>A green lawn is the coveted prize of every homeowner. Nothing feels better than walking through the cool grass in your bare feet during summer. Though we love our own little piece of nature, most homeowners know a beautiful lawn doesn’t necessarily come naturally. It takes effort—and knowledge. </p><br/>
<p>Learning how to plant grass seed and when to water and fertilize the lawn is a worthwhile endeavor. You may have learned how to mow a lawn when you were a kid, but you might not have mastered the balance between proper blade height and the perfect timing for mowing. (Hint: NOT when it’s scorching hot out.) Mowing the lawn becomes a breeze when you achieve zen in the art of lawn mower maintenance. Just like a car, your mower needs regular TLC. Weeds are inevitable unless you are vigilant with preventative care. Luckily, there’s no lack of options in both conventional and natural weed killers.</p><br/>
<p>Still overwhelmed? There are beautiful grass alternatives that will render your yard nearly maintenance free. But with a bit of planning, and diligent upkeep throughout the year, you can cultivate the ultimate lawn and still have time to enjoy it. Check out our top 12 list of lawn care tips that will get you the yard of your dreams.</p><br/>
Vegetables On Demand: How to Grow Edible Plants Indoors—Starting from Seeds! Don't let a lack of fertile land prevent you from getting the fresh vegetables your body needs and deserves. By following a couple of vital guidelines, you can grow a slew of delicious edible plants right in the comfort of your house or apartment. In less time than it takes to learn how to drive a tractor, you can fill your home with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and enough leafy greens to put the Garden State of New Jersey to shame. So pull on a pair of overalls, grab your straw hat, and get ready to grow vegetables indoors.
Viva La Outdoor Fireplace It’s January and, while some of the country is buried in snow, people in more moderate climates are still enjoying th...
Wage War on Weeds with 7 Unbeatable Tools No matter how much time, effort, and care you put into your lawn and garden, one thing is for certain: There will be weeds. Crabgrass, dandelions, and invasive species compete with your plants for nutrients and aren't always the prettiest addition to your garden. Luckily, there's a whole host of trusty tools to help you vanquish them from your yard. Read on for our top picks.
Window Boxes That Raise the Bar Window boxes are a great way to add curb appeal to your house, or gain more ground for creative gardening for the avid backyard do-it-yourselfer. Finding a model that is both easy to use and compliments your exterior should be the goal when shopping for your boxes.
Winter Care for Houseplants Over the winter, when your outdoor garden has little to boast about, the greenery inside your home lifts spirits and ...
Winterize Your Lawn and Garden in 7 Steps You may practically live in your yard all summer long, but once the cool weather sets in, it's time to pack it in and get busy winterizing your lawn to protect it for next year. Autumn is a crucial season for yard work. It's the best time of year to lay down new grass seed and repair any damage to your lawn that may have occurred over the summer. Tasks like weeding and pruning are important, and they're much more enjoyable in these cooler fall days than they will be in a few weeks, when you'll have to wrestle with frozen and dead foliage. The earlier you start your autumn maintenance, the more manageable your lawn will be come spring. Click through our online gallery for a step-by-step guide to winterizing your lawn.
Xeriscaping New AttitudeThe typical U. S. household can use 40 to 60 gallons a day on average just to water lawns and gardens. Ab...
Your Easiest-Ever Garden: 7 Planters That Do All the Work Worried that your thumb is a little more brown than green? A supersmart self-sufficient pot—say, one that waters itself or comes hooked up to a grow light—may be your best friend. Try implementing a few of these hands-off planters that make growing an indoor garden easy and rewarding.
Sustainable Landscaping in Florida Angela Polo and Ken Micklow shows Bob how to work with native plants, discuses fertilizers and pest control. They also discuss how to plant to protect from high winds.
Sustainable Planting for Florida Landscape Ken Micklow and Trent Culleny talk with Bob about native, storm-resistant gardening. Then Carm DiBella shows Bob an environmentally friendly termite protection system.
A Sustainable Yard and Landscape Bob does a walkthrough of the finished Punta Gorda home. He discusses sustainable gardening, water conservation and low-maintenance plants. Then he joins Leslie Chapman-Henderson from FLASH -- Federal Alliance for Safe Housing -- to review all the storm-resistant features of the house.
Roof Deck Construction Bob and Chris Vila meet with David and Jed Walentas of Two Trees Development on the top of a nearby building to get some ideas for the project building's roof deck.
Safety Railing Installation An ironworker secures the rooftop deck's safety railing to its footings. Then, Bob meets with the window installer who is putting frosted thermal glass walls on the head house (the structure surrounding the stairs that lead up from the penthouse). Bob points out that three separate building trades have worked to secure the fence: the roofers, ironworkers, and masons.
Composite Deck Installation Jim Precht from Advanced Environmental Recycling Technology (AERT) shows off a recycled deck material that uses no "first use" materials.
Discussing the Landscape Design and Living Amenities Bob talks with landscape architect David Raphael of Landworks about his approach to designing the grounds surrounding the Vermont farmhouse. General contractor Ted Riley tells Bob about some of the amenities that come along with the house.
Building the Backyard Deck Bob observes as general contractor Charlie Tomaszewski finishes up the picture framing for the mahogany deck.
Working With Unilock Tumbled Concrete Pavers Bob joins Brian Kallmeyer (from Unilock) to talk about concrete pavers. Unlike natural stone, these pavers are made in a mold, so they are easy to work with. In tight areas, there's handwork with mallets. In larger areas, it's done by machine.
Building a Porch Railing Carpenter Bob Ryley and George (from Crosswinds Enterprises) collaborate to build a porch railing for the accessible home. Looking on, Bob discusses the building codes that pertain to the rail and the materials used.
Installing the Hot Tub Bob joins contractors Ed Weller and Laez Wilent to observe the installion of a custom-made hot tub.
Tiling the Patio Bob joins contractor Ed Weller on the patio, where the crew from Agreda Brothers Tile and Marble is setting cement-based tile over sanded white thin-set mortar. Where the tile bends around the spa, the squares must be custom-cut.
Installing a Sod Lawn Bob meets with landscape architect Juan Capote to discuss the installation of a sod lawn. Juan talks about the types and grading of sod used in this project.
Constructing a Patio Lanai Bob meets with Ana Bolanos to watch the lanai built. Ana reviews the construction process and Bob joins in to help raise the walls.
Framing the Back Porch Bob reviews progress on the joist system being constructed for the new back porch. The concrete has been poured and framing has begun.
Swimming Pool Construction Larry Long (from Anthony & Sylvan Pools) explains the excavation and preliminary work of building a new pool. Reinforcing rods are used to help the concrete hold its shape, and to form the outer steps. And Larry shows off the filtering system.
Laying Redwood Decking Bob confers with carpenter Cortney Lofton, as he lays the redwood decking for the back porch.
Plastering the Swimming Pool In the final step of the pool's contruction, the basin is washed and vacuumed before plastering begins. Bob discusses the materials and the mixing ratio used in the plaster, and watches as the plaster is applied.
Discussing the Zen Garden Design Bob meets with Donald Young for a tour of the home's Zen garden. Donald discusses the plant choices and lighting requirements in a garden of this size. Slate tiles are also added to create a rock garden.
Deck Demolition Bob and carpenter Bob Ryley begin demolition work on the deck. The supporting beams are cut and the deck parts are carried away, and Bob notes the flaws found in the existing footings, a result of frost heaves.
Budget Landscaping Landscape designer Ruth Foster explains her choices for the foundation plantings and her cost-saving measures.
Landscaping for Energy Efficiency Landscape designer Ruth Foster explains her selection of plant material and flowering shrubs for the backyard and directs the planting of a Sephora Japonica shade tree.
Plant Shopping With Martha Stewart When shopping for plants at Haskell's Nursery, the homeowner gets some professional help from Martha Stewart, who transforms the greenhouse into an elegant setting for "tea for three".
Installing the Outdoor Speakers Bob talks over the installation of the outdoor speakers with Daryl Foster. The Bose speakers in question are made specifically for outdoor use-- they can stand up to the elements and still sound good.
Planting Palm Trees in the Courtyard Bob and the landscaper discuss planting five fully grown Queen Palm trees in the courtyard, partly in order to hide unsightly features of a neighbor's home.
Landscaping Plans Landscape designer Ruth Foster explains a few techniques for promoting drainage and keeping weeds under control, respectively. She also discusses the plants she has chosen for the garage property, all of which are expected to thrive in Cape Cod.
Removing Trees from the Project Site Bob joins contractor Bob Ryley and the tree removal specialist to discuss clearing the site. Special tips on chainsaw use and safety are provided.
Victorian House Landscaping Landscape designer Ruth Foster visits the project site to explain her choice of plantings for the formal courtyard garden.
Constructing the Concrete Walkway Bob and the contractor discuss the concrete walkway, with the contractor giving Bob tips on how to make concrete cure harder and have less cracks. Also discussed is the crushed, aggregate granite that will be added to the standard concrete.
Landscape Design Bob talks with landscape architect Clara Bachelor about the condition of the yard and the final landscape design.
Planting a Shrub Bob, landscape architect Clara Bachelor, and contractor Bob Marzilli review how to plant a balled and burlapped shrub.
Touring the Exterior and Entry Bob tours the exterior of the project home, focusing on the architectural detail and final landscape design. He then moves inside to review the custom stair railing in the entry area.
Reviewing the Landscape Bob meets with a landscaper to discuss the existing plantings, some of which will be removed or cut back to maximize the amount of interior light. Trees, shrubs, and a trellis are recommended to create a barrier between the yard and the road.
Building a Trellis A trellis-- the frame and lattice of which have been built in the workshop-- is installed in the front yard.
Altering Landscape Plans With Bob having decided to alter the landscape design, shrubs are transplanted and perennials are planted. Plus, sodding goes down to create a grass lawn.
Building a Free-Floating Deck Due to flood plain regulations, the deck cannot be attached to the house-- it has to be free-floating. Bob helps the contractors set up the posts and joists, and assists in laying down the tongue-and-groove pine floor material.
Plans for the Swimming Pool Bob and Pete, the foreman of the swimming pool construction crew, survey the property and review the installation plans.
Discussing the Landscaping Bob discusses landscaping with specialist Susan Hofer. Topics include sod, a gravel driveway, brickwork, fences, and perennials.
Installing an Authentic Iron Fence Bob finds an authentic iron fence for the front yard and watches as the welder installs it using the arc welding process. Next, Bob heads inside to join general contractor Ron Gan, who demonstrates how to install kitchen cabinets correctly.
Landscaping the Coach House Bob goes outside to observe a tree being planted and to see the little garden beyond the entryway landscaped.
Expanded Outdoor Living The expansive new outdoor deck brings indoor living outside. Meg Tarvin (from FrontGate) joins to describe the furnishings that create this outdoor living room, and Bob looks over the new barbecue station.
Landscape Design on a Sloping Bank A sloping bank descends from deck level to the yard. Landscape designer Ruth Foster explains her choice of plantings for this garden: It will be green, with junipers and yews for low maintenance, varying height, and good coverage. Also, Foster shows Bob the batch composter, used for making rich mulch.
Planting Bulbs and Seeding the Lawn Bob meets with landscape designer Ruth Foster, who explains the correct method of planting bulbs. For turf, Foster suggests a relaxed approach, with perennial rye and fescue planted, mown high, and over-seeded, both in the fall and at the tail end of winter.
Landscaping with Hedges, Trees, and Perennials Landscape designer Ruth Foster joins Bob to review the landscaping plan. Foster has selected a hedge and evergreens to screen the yard from street traffic and neighbors. Closer to the deck, she has created a flowering border.
Facing the Retaining Walls with Cultured Stone Retaining walls, foundation work, and curving stairways are faced with Cultured Stone from Owens Corning. These cast cement, pumice, and iron oxide products are made in molds taken from real field stones to look like regional stones, in both shape and color.
Building a Western Red Cedar Deck Bob reviews the structure for the new deck. Paul Mackie (of the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association) joins to discuss the benefits of building with western red cedar, a sustainable product. The wood is naturally stable-- it will not warp, crack, check, or chip-- and it's insect-resistant. General contractor Tim Berky is busy nailing down the decking planks.