Lawn & Garden - Bob Vila

Category: Lawn & Garden

3 Ways to Avoid Replacing Your Concrete Sidewalk

Do those cracks mean that your sidewalk's a goner, or can you fix them up in a weekend? Take out the guesswork by reviewing these indications that your concrete walkway may need to be replaced.

3 Signs It's Time to Replace Sidewalks


Though made from one of the most durable construction materials around, even once-strong concrete sidewalks can deteriorate over time from repeated freeze-thaw cycles, ground movement, or excessive weight. If you’re tired of looking at a cracked sidewalk, but you’re unsure whether it’s best to repair or replace it, keep reading!

In most communities, there are two sidewalk classifications. Pedestrian sidewalks that run parallel to the street, sometimes called “shared-user sidewalks,” are typically on a city easement and, while the homeowner is tasked with caring for them, city ordinances determine when the sidewalks should be replaced. The other type, private sidewalks, lead from a driveway or a shared-user sidewalk to the homeowner’s front door. While these paths are usually not controlled by the city, you can use the city’s standards to determine if you need to replace your sidewalk or if you can rescue it from ruin with quality concrete patching and resurfacing materials.

3 Signs It's Time to Replace Sidewalks


1. If cracks are large and deep, or joints or edges have crumbled…
Some kinds of damage to concrete can signal a sidewalk’s demise, while others are merely eyesores. Cracks wider than ½ inch indicate a major problem with the stability of the sidewalk slab and fall firmly in the first camp. If the sidewalk is a shared-use sidewalk, you may be required to replace at least the section that contains the large crack (or cracks), but you may wish to replace the section even if the crack is on a personal sidewalk. If the subbase is not structurally sound, wide cracks can be difficult to repair and only a temporary solution.

On the other hand, smaller cracks less than ¼-inch wide can be handled without the hassle of replacing a chunk of sidewalk—though you should still take measures to repair them. Such cracks should be filled with a flexible sealant to prevent water from running through and saturating the soil below, leading to future soil-movement problems. Fortunately, that process is a cinch with a good flexible sealant like Polyurethane Concrete Crack Sealant. For the best results, check out this Quikrete video to learn how to prep cracks before filling them and how best to apply the flexible sealant. When dry, the sealant has a texture and color similar to natural concrete.

Crumbling edges and spalling (the peeling off of the concrete surface) are two other types of damage that detract from a sidewalk’s appearance but don’t necessarily require replacement. You’ll save money by repairing the damage, when possible, rather than replacing the entire sidewalk, or even a single section. That said, a half-inch or more of crumbling along the interior joints or edges of the sidewalk could indicate weak concrete, in which case you may benefit more from replacing rather than repairing the sidewalk. One or two small crumbled areas along the edges, however, possibly caused by heavy vehicles rolling over the sidewalk, could be prime candidates for repair. You can fix small sections like these, as well as spalling that’s less than ¼-inch deep and in just a few spots, using a concrete patch product, such as Quikrete’s Vinyl Concrete Patcher. Simply mix, trowel, and smooth Vinyl Patcher over the damaged areas to create a new level surface and clean edges. See it in action—and get pro tips on the correct way to use it—in this video.

2. If the extent of the damage is wide… 
No two ways about it: Concrete is going to crack. Contractors and savvy do-it-yourselfers guide where the cracks will appear by cutting control joints into freshly poured sidewalks at spots where the concrete is most likely to split. These control joints serve as weak points in the concrete, which will then be more likely to crack along them rather than in the center of a slab, where cracks would detract from the look of the entire sidewalk. Most of the time, control joints work exactly as planned, and natural cracking along these predetermined seams goes unnoticed. In some cases, however, cracking doesn’t follow the joints.

As mentioned above, narrow cracks here and there aren’t a problem. In fact, it’s much easier to address these small imperfections with a quick repair rather than rip out a slab and start fresh. On the other hand, extensive hairline cracks that run like spiderwebs throughout large areas of a sidewalk could be signs that there was something wrong with the original concrete mix. If this is the case, you should consider replacing all, or most, of the sidewalk. At the very least, monitor the cracks, and take steps to replace the walkway if they get bigger.

Superficial hairline cracks that do not increase in size over a couple of years will not compromise the integrity of a sidewalk, but they’re still eyesores. For a great weekend fix, you can cover up those cracks and restore your home’s curb appeal with a high-quality concrete resurfacing product. Applied to a clean sidewalk and then squeegeed level, Quikrete’s Concrete Resurfacer can make your entire sidewalk look brand-new for a fraction of the effort. The polymers in this masonry product form a strong bond with the existing sidewalk, so your fix, though quick, will be long-lasting. As in all household projects, good prep work is essential for good results, so check out this Quikrete video on how to apply Concrete Resurfacer.


How to Know When to Replace or Repair Sidewalks


3. If the sidewalk is extremely old…
While concrete of almost any age can remain strong and resist cracking and crumbling, older sidewalks have been subjected to the elements far longer, and all that exposure takes a toll on concrete. The older the walkway, the more likely it is that individual sections will have heaved and shifted in the wake of extreme temperature fluctuations and ground movement.

In older neighborhoods, and particularly in residential historic districts, uneven concrete slabs can create tripping hazards, making sidewalks dangerous for pedestrians. If you find that the change in surface height from one sidewalk section to the next is ½ inch or more, you should consider replacing the sidewalk. In some communities, you may be able to hire a slab-jacking contractor to level the sections, but if the sidewalk is very old (more than 50 years), you might find that investing in replacement makes more sense than continual repairs. In cases where repairing a concrete sidewalk isn’t possible and it simply has to be replaced, strengthening with rebar or using a concrete mix with fibers like Quikrete Crack Resistant Concrete will help avoid future problems. Watch how to pour a strong concrete sidewalk on


This content has been brought to you by Quikrete. Its facts and opinions are those of

Video: The Most Important Garden Tasks to Do This Fall

Fall yard maintenance is about more than just raking the leaves. These jobs should be your top priorities this season.

Whether you love fall, or dread it, there’s no arguing that autumn is here and winter is right around the corner. Before temperatures dip and the ground freezes, there are a few must-do landscaping projects that need to be done.

So what tasks should be on your to-do list this season? For starters, sow cool-weather grass seeds to allow new turf grass to take root before it goes dormant, and insulate garden beds with a layer of leaf mulch to provide protection for delicate landscaping plants.

See more of our fall garden recommendations in our video, and find even more ideas right here.

For more landscaping advice, consider reading:

The Best Things You Can Do for Your Yard This Fall

10 Low-Cost Solutions for an Ugly Lawn

18 Ways to Color Your Garden This Fall

How To: Protect Plants from Frost

Prepare for dipping temperatures now so your garden will come through the winter beautifully.

How to Protect Plants from Frost


Unexpected early fall and late spring frosts—periods when outside temperatures go below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit)—often catch home gardeners off-guard, nipping tender fruit buds, cutting short vegetable harvests, and killing houseplants that were left outdoors. When a plant is damaged by frost, leaves appear wet and limp due to ice forming within the cells, which interrupts the natural flow of water throughout the plant. Tender annuals usually die from frost exposure, and while trees and shrubs will survive, they’ll lose any buds or mature fruit.

Local weather forecasts can tip you off to frosts, but you shouldn’t depend on them entirely. Pay attention to clues like the state of the sky, keeping in mind that temperatures are more likely to dip dangerously on clear nights that lack insulating cloud cover. But why wait till the last minute to swoop in and save your plants? The best way to prevent frost damage is to gather and implement strategies in advance of a cold front. Just follow this guide for how to protect plants from frost—you and your garden will be glad you did!


Wrapping the entire branch system of small trees or shrubs with horticultural frost cloth, burlap, plastic sheeting, or even old bedsheets will keep the temperature underneath a crucial few degrees warmer than outside. Use twine or clothespins to hold the material in place.

Two flat bedsheets sewn on three sides will provide a large covering for a small fruit or ornamental tree, such as a dwarf or semi-dwarf peach or cherry tree of approximately 12 to 15 feet.  Place it lightly over the tree, covering the branches, and secure the excess around the trunk with twine. For smaller frost-susceptible species like tomato or pepper plants, set a stool or a patio chair over them drape it with a sheet.

When an extra cold night (below 30 degrees Fahrenheit) is predicted, tuck an outdoor light bulb in an approved outdoor fixture under a large wrap to produce additional heat. Position the bulb where it is sheltered from rain and cannot make contact with either the wrap or the branches to prevent the risk of fire. As a further safety measure, use an exterior extension cord with an inline ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). A 40-watt incandescent bulb will often generate sufficient heat under the wrap to protect a small tree, but skip the LEDs—they don’t produce heat.

Remove wraps the following morning as soon as temps rise above freezing, so plants can receive direct sunlight and air circulation. Keep the materials handy in case you need them again.

How to Protect Plants from Frost



You can purchase glass or plastic domes, called “cloches,” to shelter vulnerable seedlings in early spring—or DIY them by cutting the tops off opaque plastic milk jugs. Other spur-of-the-moment cloches include inverted buckets and flowerpots. Simply place cloches over young vines and shrubs, such as tomatoes and peppers, to protect plants from frost.

If the temperatures are expected to hover around the freezing mark, cover long rows of seedlings lightly with loose straw or mulch to help the soil retain heat a bit longer. This will only work for light frosts, however. If temps fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for longer than a few of hours, place cloches over the rows.

Penny-pincher tip: If you’re planning on starting a large garden, save milk jugs throughout the winter to use as cloches in spring.


Well-watered plants are stronger and more likely to withstand exposure to a touch of light frost. Water retains heat and has an insulating effect on plant cells. A thirsty plant is more likely succumb to light frost because its cells are already stressed. So saturate vegetable and annual flower beds early in the day if frosty temps are in the forecast. That will give plants plenty of time to absorb the water before the temperatures drop.

For additional protection, fill plastic jugs with water and set them beside plants. At night, cover plants and jugs with fabric or sheeting. During the day, the water in the jugs will warm up. At night, they will radiate the retained heat to the air beneath the cover to keep plants warmer.

How To: Protect Plants from Frost



In warm weather, keeping such popular tropical houseplants as jasmine, philodendron, and shefflera outdoors in protected areas like covered patios allows them to bask in light and air. Alas, just one premature frost can kill them, so don’t risk leaving them out too long! To prep plants for their winter indoors, water early in the day and mist foliage with water to remove any garden pests that have taken up residence. Then let plants dry until the evening before moving them inside.


Tender bulbs and tubers, such as calla lilies, elephant ears, and gladiolas, should be dug up before freezing temperatures arrive and stored in a cool, dry place (around 50 degrees Fahrenheit). A basement makes a good storage spot. Dig cautiously, taking care not to do damage with your shovel or trowel. Rinse bulbs and tubers with water to remove stuck-on soil, and then let them dry completely before layering them in a ventilated box filled with clean straw or peat moss.


Anti-transpirant foliage sprays, available from garden centers, help guard ornamental plants including rhododendrons, azaleas, and laurels from light frosts. These sprays impart a light coating of polymer film to the leaves, which is designed to protect plants’ leaves for up to a month by sealing in moisture. If the temps dip below 30 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a few hours, however, or if the leaves are not adequately covered by the spray, plants may still suffer frost damage.


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: Leaf Vacuums

To rid your yard of autumn leaves without picking up a rake, take a stroll through this guide to find the right machine for you.

Best Leaf Vacuum for Yards and Gardens


While turning leaves are lovely, once they start to drop, the task of clearing walkways and readying your yard for winter begins. So now’s a good time to consider adding a leaf vacuum to your gardening gear. Unlike familiar leaf blowers, which disperse organic debris, leaf vacuums suck fallen foliage through a tube and into a bag attached to the end for manual disposal. These devices, ranging anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars, are handy for tidying up small yards as well as banishing leaf buildup beneath hedges and flowerbeds. Check out some important shopping considerations here—as well as three top-rated picks—to choose the best leaf vacuum that best suits your property and purposes.

Best Leaf Vacuum for Yards and Gardens


Pick a power source.
Like lawnmowers, leaf vacuums are available in gas- and electric-powered versions; plus, there are also rechargeable battery models on the market. Gas may offer greater power and the ability to cover lots of ground in one go, but these models can run loud, emit fumes, and require you to maintain the right gas to oil ratio. While electric leaf vacuums are quieter and easier to maintain, they’re best suited to modest-sized outdoor spaces, require plugging into an electrical outlet, and often require an extension cord to allow enough room to roam. Rechargeable leaf vacuums are compact enough to be easily stored, but they cover the least amount of ground and must be recharged between uses.

Consider suction speed and power.
Check a leaf vacuum’s product descriptions for two numbers: the MPH and the CFM. MPH stands for miles per hour—in this case referring to the how quickly air is suctioned into the unit and through the tube. Most run between 110 and 180 MPH, although some may reach extremes of 250 MPH or so.

Somewhat more important than airspeed, however, is CFM, or cubic feet per minute. This tells how much air moves through the vacuum in the span of 60 seconds, indicating how powerful the unit is. While MPH gives you an idea of how quickly leaves can go through the tube, CFM tells you how much can go through at once. CFM rankings for leaf vacuums range from around 150 to 600. A less expensive unit with a CFM under 200 may be all you need to clean up an apartment balcony or a small yard, but, for larger areas, you may wish to invest in a higher-CFM unit.

Factor in the extras.
Some leaf vacuums offer bells and whistles beyond simple suction. In fact, most vacuums these days are actually leaf blowers with a vacuum function, which gives you the choice of, say, simply clearing a walkway with a blower or completely removing leaves from your patio area with a vacuum. Vacuums are best suited for smaller outdoor spaces, like those surrounding apartments and duplexes. Some models also offer a mulching option, great for repurposing those leaves into healthy plant beds.

Best Bets

After thoroughly comparing leaf vacuum reviews from consumers and publishers alike, we’ve rounded up three of the most highly rated models available today to help you find one that fits your yard and garden’s needs and your family’s budget. Check out the best leaf vacuum options below!

Best Leaf Vacuum for Yards and Gardens - Toro 51619 Ultra Blower/Vac


Toro 51619 Ultra Blower/Vac ($70)
This Toro unit topped the 2017 list of best leaf blowers and vacuums compiled by expert product reviewers at The Spruce. It offers a cool combo of speed (250 MPH) and power (410 CFM) for its budget-friendly price. Packing a triple punch with vacuuming, blowing, and mulching capabilities, it’s a multi-purpose electric model noted for its durability and ease of use. Available on Amazon.


Best Leaf Vacuum for Yards and Gardens - Husqvarna 125BVX Gas Blower With Vacuum


Husqvarna 125BVX Handheld Gas Leaf Blower with Vacuum Kit ($199)
This multi-purpose, gas-powered blower/vacuum earned more than 400 4-star reviews from satisfied Lowe’s customers. The high-powered (170 MPH, 470 CFM) model covers larger areas more quickly than many corded and battery-powered counterparts, and as one fan puts it, “It has outstanding power and the vacuum portion is amazing.” A mulching function is also available while the unit is in vacuum mode. Available at Lowe’s.


Best Leaf Vacuum for Yards and Gardens - Greenworks 24322 Cordless Blower/Vac


Greenworks 24322 Cordless Blower/Vac ($177)
The Greenworks 24322 is a convenient device thanks to an easily rechargeable battery that happens to be compatible with all Greenworks tools. Clocking in at 185 MPH with 340 CFM, what it lacks in power it makes up for with its modest size and extremely light weight—under 6 pounds. Ideal for patios and porches, this apartment-friendly tool earns praise for ease of use and reliable performance. Available on Amazon.

The Dos and Don’ts of Watering Plants

How, when, and where you water your garden and houseplants can critically impact their greenery and blooms. Read on for the best ways to ensure success.

Top Tips for Watering Plants


No matter what color your thumb, you likely already know that all plants need water to reach their full potential—after all, that basic knowledge goes back to basic middle-school science class. But what you might not know is that incorrect watering techniques can put plants at risk for disease and even kill them. Whether you want to cultivate pretty outdoor perennials or you just bought a new houseplant, heed these best and worst practices for watering plants indoors and out and you’ll reap healthy, happy specimens.


DO hydrate plants in the morning.

The most efficient time to water outdoor flowers and vegetables is before the heat of the day when the soil is cool and the water has the best chance of seeping down to the roots of the plants before evaporating. Watering plants early will ensure that they have sufficient store of moisture beneath the soil to withstand the heat of a hot summer day.

DON’T water too frequently or too little.

Especially during hot weather, it may be tempting to water just enough—and often enough—to keep the soil damp. Shallow surface watering, however, discourages deep root development. Instead, opt for a less frequent watering routine that thoroughly saturates the soil. This method encourages the roots to reach deeply for residual water, even when the surface of the soil appears dry. The standard rule of thumb is to give your flowers and vegetables the equivalent of at 1 inch of water per week (and as much as double that amount in the peak of summer).

DO water plants at soil level.

Directing water at the base of your plants delivers the hydration right where it’s needed: the roots. Consider winding a soaker hose between plants in a flower or vegetable bed to soak the soil slowly and deeply and ensure healthy growth.

Top Tips for Watering Plants


DON’T use broadcast sprinklers.

In addition to soaking the plant’s leaves, which can increase the risk of a fungal disease, broadcast sprinklers are simply inefficient. On a hot or windy day, much of the water distributed by this type of sprinkler can evaporate before it even reaches the plant and less water goes to the base of the plant.

DO water outdoor container plants at least once per day. 

Soil in container gardens and flowerpots dries out more quickly than soil in a garden plot or flower bed. The smaller the container, the more frequently you need to water. Soak the soil in containers in the morning, and, if the mercury in the thermometer climbs to 90 or above, give them another soaking in the afternoon.

DON’T forget that trees need water, too.

Newly planted trees and shrubs should be thoroughly soaked with water two or three times per week for the first month. After that period, water weekly during their first growing season. Established trees and shrubs (which are at least two years old) only need to be watered once every two weeks during the growing season when rain is scarce.

DO use a wand to water container plants.

A watering wand extends the reach of your arm, allowing you to direct water at soil level in overhead hanging plants and in short, ground-level flowerpots on the ground without having to stretch or stoop. You’ll conserve water by directing only the amount needed to the base of the plant and you’ll save your back.

DON’T water container plants with a jet-type spray nozzle.

Pressurized nozzles are great for washing off driveways and sidewalks, but the spray that they deliver can damage tender foliage and blossoms. It can also disturb the soil around the roots of a container plant. If you don’t have a watering wand, just remove the nozzle from the garden hose, hook the hose into the hanging pot or container, and let the water run out slowly.

Top Tips for Watering Plants




DO use a watering can for houseplants.

Trying to water a leafy houseplant from a drinking glass or carafe is just asking for water to spill out over the rim and onto your table or windowsill. Not only does a watering can’s long spout eliminate spills, but it also allows you to precisely direct water right at the base of the plant even if you’re watering plants that hang overhead.

DON’T water houseplants with treated softened water.

Home water softeners impart sodium into your tap water, which, over time, can negatively affect the mineral makeup of a houseplant’s soil. Depending on your plumbing, your water softener may connect only to the hot water faucets or to all the faucets in your home, both hot and cold. If it’s the latter (or you aren’t sure), stick to filling your watering can at an outdoor spigot to minimize the amount of sodium you introduce to the soil.

DO check a soil moisture gauge.

An inexpensive soil moisture gauge costs less than $20 and you can insert it directly into the soil to find out whether it’s dry, moist, or wet as many as several inches deep by the roots. Large houseplants in small pots absorb water more quickly than small plants in large pots. When you use a moisture gauge, as opposed to following a watering schedule, your plants will get the water they need, when they need it.

Top Tips for Watering Plants


DON’T put houseplants in pots without drainage holes.

Most houseplants need well-drained soil in order to grow and thrive. If water cannot drain out through the bottom of the pot, the roots are subject to sitting in water and potentially rotting. Check the bottom of each potted houseplant and repot any without drainage holes into a more appropriate container with them.

DO water less in winter and more in spring.

During the winter, the days are shorter and indoor houseplants receive less ambient light through windows. As a result, photosynthesis (the process in which a plant turns light into food) slows and the plant enters a resting phase, during which it needs less water. As spring approaches, however, longer days signal the plant to start growing, and at this time, its water needs increase. Adjust your habits for watering plants accordingly so as not to cause distress or thirst.

DON’T forget to dump the water collection tray.

When watering, excess H2O will drain into the collection tray beneath your houseplant almost immediately, but don’t pour it right away—the plant may reabsorb some of it within the next 30 minutes. After that, go ahead and dump. Allowing a plant to sit in standing water increases the risk of root rot, a potentially deadly development for the plant.

DON’T overwater.

Overwatering is one of the main causes of houseplant failure. Houseplant newbies have a tendency to water houseplants too often, thinking that’s just what they need. Overwatering, however, increases the risk of root rot and fungal disease. If you see droopy stems, wilting leaves, a whitish coating (fungus), or fungal gnats in the home—pests that thrive on consistently wet soil—it’s a good bet that you’re watering plants too much.

On the other hand, when the bottom leaves on your houseplant dry out and drop and edges of the leaves elsewhere on the plant become crisp and brown, it’s probably not getting enough water. Again, refer to the soil moisture gauge for that happy medium.


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.

Your Shed, Your Way: 5 Surprising Ways to Customize Your Backyard Building

The more you think about tailoring your shed to suit your every last whim, the more time you’ll want to spend in there when it finally becomes a reality. Make your shed just perfect for your needs, inside and out, with any of these unique touches.

5 Ways to Customize Your Shed


Why settle for a basic backyard shed when you can trick it out to be so much more? With a little imagination, you can gain inventive storage options, add distinctive architectural features, and give your shed a premium look that will make your neighbors green with envy. The key is to plan the structure to meet your needs and build it with superior materials, such as LP® Outdoor Building Solutions® engineered wood products, rather than simply picking up a plastic shell of a building and dropping it into your backyard. Then, for sure-to-please results, embark on a customization plan to make your shed truly yours. Don’t know where to begin? Read on for five smart yet sometimes overlooked possibilities.

1. Eke out extra space overhead.
A gambrel roof—a style that dates back to the barns of early Dutch settlers in the American colonies—provides lots of extra headspace, thanks to its double-sloped sides. You can leave the area open, perhaps adding a skylight or windows to bring natural light into shed that serves as an art studio, craft room, or woodshop. Or, if your goal is to max out storage, add loft boards to create the equivalent of an attic.

2. Insist on materials that are as good-looking as they are hardworking.
Say “shed,” and some folks think “shack.” Well, they haven’t seen LP Outdoor Building Solutions’ inspiration gallery! Projects built with LP SmartSide® Trim and Lap Siding take on an appearance of genuine craftsmanship, with smooth finish or cedar texture trim and striking styles for a fully custom look. Meanwhile, walls built with LP SmartSide® Panels with SmartFinish®, a durable overlay free of the knots and voids often found in plywood, enhance the inside of the shed to match its professional exterior. LP products treated with SmartGuard® also protect against rot and termites.

5 Ways to Customize Your Shed


3. Tailor the storage.
Shelves, drawers, and other storage components should specifically address the purpose of your shed. Will you need hanging racks for bikes and sports gear? Ceiling-high shelving to keep seasonal decorations out of the way? Vertical compartments for stashing long gardening tools like your rake and hoe? A wall-hung holster that puts power tools within easy reach? How about a fold-down worktable, or a bench with roll-out cabinets beneath? Ensuring that everything has a spot will free up enough floor space for you to move around.

4. Consider a cupola.
From the Italian for “small cup” and dating back to the Renaissance, a cupola is a decorative roof addition that consists of a base, louvered sides, and a cap—with or without a weather vane. Available in a variety of shapes (often square or octagonal), a cupola makes an attractive focal point, but it has functional benefits too. The vents, for instance, allow air into a shed and aid ventilation. Cupolas may also have windows to let in the extra natural light needed for working in the shed or locating stored tools.

5. Extend the shed’s footprint with a pergola.
A pergola is an open outdoor canopy that can increase the usable space on one side of your shed. A pergola can create partial shade for a seating or dining area or provide a framework for twining vines, espaliers, or other foliage. Plus, with plenty of different pergola styles to choose from, you can leave yours entirely open, erect latticework along the sides, or drape it with fabric so you can open up or enclose the space at will.

Are your creative juices flowing? Visit for more ideas, tips, and advice for designing your shed, your way.


This content has been brought to you by LP. Its facts and opinions are those of

11 Tips and Tricks for Making the Most of Your Shed

If you're thinking of putting in a practical, functional outbuilding, here's some advice that will ensure that it will meet your needs now and for years to come.

How to Make the Most of Your Shed


When you’re investing money and time in—and, for do-it-yourselfers, the energy to build!—a backyard shed, you’ll want to get things right from the start. The good news is that an outdoor structure offers a lot of potential for return on investment, and we don’t just mean when you’re ready to move out. An outdoor structure can serve as anything from a superior storage solution to a nearby getaway to a place for pursuing your passions—at least, if you make sure before you start that it will truly meet your needs. Consider the advice provided here by the LP® Outdoor Building Solutions® shed pros as you compose your list of “must-haves” and “must-dos,” and then move full speed ahead toward the perfect shed!

1. Pick the best place.
Where you put your shed is key. To decide, think about how you intend to use it, and situate it in a spot convenient for that purpose. A potting shed, for instance, should be near the garden, while a child’s playhouse should be close enough to the patio or back door for you to keep an eye on it. You’ll also want your shed in an accessible, fairly open area—if it’s hidden behind bushes, you might forget it’s there and underutilize it!

2. Think bigger.
You’re always better off growing into a shed than growing out of it. When calculating the appropriate size for your shed, consider what you’ll want to keep in it—for example, your riding mower or the family bicycles as well as other items you’ll want to use while inside, such as a table or desk. Be sure to factor yourself into the space: Will you be able to stand up, walk around, and work in it easily? For assistance, check out the LP Outdoor Building Solutions nifty size guide.

3. Build to last.
For your outdoor structure to stand up to the elements, looking and performing great for years to come, ensure that it’s built of durable materials. LP® SmartSide® Siding, for instance, is treated with the proprietary SmartGuard® process to resist fungal decay and termites.

4. Plan on pleasure.
The more comfortable you make your shed, the more time you’ll want to spend inside, so choose materials designed to increase your enjoyment. LP® ProStruct® Roof Sheathing with SilverTech® is engineered to make the interior of the shed brighter and help maintain cooler temperatures, while LP ProStruct Flooring with SmartFinish® provides a cleaner, more premium look free of knots and voids.

How to Make the Most of Your Backyard Shed


5. Make a grand entrance.
When you think about the coming’s and going’s in your shed, you’ll realize that not just any door will do! Many people find that double doors and even a ramp make it much easier to get large items in and out. Double doors are also more inviting—an asset if you’ll be using the shed for entertaining.

6. Air it out.
Windows you can open and close are a must if you intend to use the shed for a workshop, craft room, or office. You’ve got to have ventilation and light, and a nice view through the windows will make this outbuilding an even more attractive spot for work. Even if you plan to use your shed primarily for storage, you’ll find that windows will provide a breath of fresh air when you’re inside organizing or retrieving items.

7. Let there be light.
A proper light source is vital if you’ll be working inside the shed, and electricity is clearly key if you plan on plugging anything in. But if wiring your shed proves too pricey, apply a little ingenuity! Solar panels on the roof or a portable generator could supply the required juice for work lamps. Once you have a few points of light in place, the reflective surface of SilverTech® roof sheathing can help amplify the illumination.

8. Pave the way.
Creating a path to your shed is a big plus. Not only will it make it easier to go back and forth when dew or rain leaves the ground soggy, the path will serve as a cohesive connector between shed and home. Use gravel, paving stones, bricks, slabs, or some combination to achieve a path that’s formal, rustic, or modern—whatever best suits your space.

9. Deck it out.
Want to make outdoor entertaining easier and more enjoyable? A deck addition to your shed is just the ticket. Folks can mix and mingle on the platform while you use the interior as a staging area to prepare food and drinks. A deck or porch is also fun and functional on a shed-turned-playhouse—little ones can use it as an extra play area or a stage to put on shows for the grown-ups!

10. Get creative with storage.
Trick out the shed’s interior with storage that makes smart use of the small space. Consider all the vertical options, from shelves, hooks, or pegboard on the walls to a hanging shoe organizer for small tools to a magnetic strip that keeps metal items within easy reach. You needn’t spend a lot on storage either: Shelving units can be built out of wooden crates, and pallets (often available for free from local stores) can act as platforms to raise items off the floor.

11. Don’t forget the finishing touches.
Finishing the inside of your shed with drywall will help insulate the space, and painting it your favorite color will surely add distinction. But don’t stop there! Complete your backyard retreat with a little decor, and you’ll want to visit, day or night, in every season.

Inspired? Now see how durable and dependable LP products can help make your space so much better!


This content has been brought to you by LP Outdoor Building Solutions. Its facts and opinions are those of

Bob Vila Radio: 4 Top Options in Wood Fencing

On the fence about what type of wood to choose for your fence? Learn some of the pros and cons for a handful of the most popular picks.

There’s no shortage of wood fence options. Which is the right type for your property? In the end, it really comes down to the look you like, how much you’re willing to spend, and how much maintenance you’re comfortable with.

Wood Fence Types



Listen to BOB VILA ON WOOD FENCE TYPES or read below:

Cedar boasts a beautiful red hue that weathers to a silvery grey. Plus, it repels insects and resists warping and shrinking. Eventually, though, cedar falls victim to rot, so expect to replace planks here and there over the years. Apply a penetrating sealant immediately after installation and repeat each and every year.

Redwood and teak cost more—these are some of the most expensive fencing woods—but their softness and luster make them enduringly popular choices. For either wood to retain its beauty and remain viable as fencing, it needs to be re-sealed on an annual basis, just like cedar.

Pressure-treated wood costs the least, and it stands up to insects and moisture, but warping sometimes sets in soon after installation. Take care in choosing planks at the lumberyard; look for the straightest and avoid any that appear greenish or feel the slightest bit damp.

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!

Bob Vila Radio: 4 Landscaping Projects That Pay You Back

Your landscape may be demanding, but it can give back too, if you guide it.

True—maintaining your landscape isn’t necessarily cheap. Fortunately, there are plenty of clever little ways to save money along the way.

Money-Saving Landscaping Projects




1. Compost your waste That saves you from having to buy fertilizer. Composting may even save you on garbage pickup. After all, if your county charges for pickup by the bag, then everything you toss into the compost heap, not into the regular trash, indirectly goes to your bottom line.

2. Strategically plant trees Site deciduous trees on the east, west, and northwest sides of your home to foster shade and reduce the need for summertime AC. Meanwhile, on the north side, plant evergreen trees to serve as a buffer against cold winds in the winter.

3. Build a trellis Placed over sunny windows and planted with climbing, flowering vines, trellises provide dappled shade all summer, helping keep the home interior cooler than it otherwise would be. In the winter, vine foliage withers away to allow for solar heat gain.

4. Use plenty of mulch Doing so cuts down on the need for watering, which saves you both money and time. But mulch costs money, right? Not always. Check if your city gives away the mulched remains of fallen trees.  If not, create your own mulch—in a pinch, it’s as easy as running a lawn mower over a pile of leaves.

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!

Video: The Smartest Garden Hacks

Keep out pests, reduce your water usage, and grow plants without an ounce of soil. You'll find tricks to accomplish all of these gardening miracles right here.


Take one trip to your local home center and you’ll find solutions for just about any gardening problem. The convenience of these buys is undeniable—but the cost to stock up on all of the latest tools, technologies, and insecticides can be prohibitive. The secret to a great garden, as many green thumbs already know, is ingenuity—not store-bought products. Take a look at some of the best and cheapest tricks for a great garden—then check out even more zero-dollar hacks.

For more gardening advice, consider:

25 Plants for Your Easiest Garden Ever

10 Flowers That Attract Bees to Your Garden

These Popular Plants Might Actually Be Bad for Your Garden