Category: Lawn & Garden

Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for a DIY Hanging Planter

Perfect for indoor or outdoor use, these DIY hanging planters will help you hold on to your summer greenery and transition it smoothly into winter.


‘Tis the season for winterizing your garden, a task that gives you the opportunity to bring your most beloved plants indoors. What better way to display these seasonal visitors than on a perch in your direct line of vision? (And one that takes hardly any counter space, at that.) Get inspired by these five DIY hanging planters that make it a cinch to showcase your favorite greenery and protect it from the chilly weather ahead.


DIY Hanging Planters


Although glass terrariums are a sleek, functional way to showcase prized greenery, the price of a store-bought glass design can be steep. Take a cue from A Beautiful Mess and make your own budget-friendly version instead—from none other than a clear plastic fishbowl (or two or three, depending on how many plants you’d like to display). Turn each transparent bowl on its side for easy watering, but enjoy an unobstructed view of your buds from nearly any seat in your living space.



DIY Hanging Planters


Raise not one, not two, but four terra-cotta pots off the floor using this vertical planter from I Heart Naptime. The best part? Scrap wood and rope are all you’ll need to build it—and likely already on hand! Although the rustic display looks great with succulents, you could also build your own hanging herb garden with each seasoning—from basil to rosemary—displayed at a different height.



DIY Hanging Planters


This faceted teardrop planter from Vintage Revivals elevates your greenery, both in height and in elegance. And because it requires so little in the way of supplies, the finished project is a steal, costing only about $15 to assemble. You’ll need round brass tubing, floral wire, and a mini tubing cutter before you can get to work. Then, all that’s left to do is channel those geometry skills. With a bit of patience, you’ll be able to string this DIY hanging planter together in a few hours.



DIY Hanging Planters


Instead of sending empty coffee creamer containers to the recycling bin, use them to fashion this hanging planter, as demonstrated by Hello Glow. Creamer containers are typically plastic, so use scissors (or an X-Acto knife) to carefully remove the tops and fill the majority of the containers with potting soil and greenery to turn the canisters into a tall planter. Holes poked in its sides for threaded twine make it ready to hang! A fresh coat of colorful paint is optional, but it really dresses up the planter.



DIY Hanging Planter


Do you have a few extra needlepoint supplies lying around? If so, follow this tutorial from Northstory for a different sort of craft: creating a lovely DIY hanging planter. All this one-of-a-kind design requires is an embroidery hoop and a ceramic bowl. Glue the two materials together and let them bond overnight; the next day, you can hang your upcycled creation from a length of rope, and admire your gorgeous greenery as it sways in the breeze.

All You Need to Know About Soil Types

Is your soil chalky, sandy, or silty? Is it acid or alkaline? Before you put in a flower garden, add some trees, or plant your vegetables, figure out what type of soil you're dealing with and how best to amend it to have the healthiest, most flourishing plants ever.

Soil Types


Every gardener wants to grow the best-tasting tomatoes, the brightest zinnias, and the healthiest shrubs, but no one type of soil will guarantee success for each of those types of plants. Soil type—which is a classification determined by texture and relative proportions of sand, silt, and clay—will define the dirt’s ability to retain nutrients and moisture and therefore what it’s suitable to grow. Sure, you can always guess at the properties of your soil, but in order to aid your soil in producing its best crop, take a soil sample to your local extension agency and have it tested. For a minimal fee, you can find out the soil type (or types, because there are varying degrees), its pH level, and how it can be improved. Read on for the most common soil types, how they affect your landscaping projects, and how to better yours using the right products.


Your soil’s pH value is a measurement of its acid-forming capacity. The pH scale numbers from 1.0 to 14.0. Values below 7.0 indicate soil in the acidic range, and the lower the number, the greater the soil’s acid-forming ability. Values higher than 7.0 are in the alkaline range, and the higher the number, the greater the soil’s alkalinity. Soil pH that falls within the slightly acidic range, between 6.0 and 7.0, is considered optimal for most plants and flowers. Amend soils that are too acidic with the application of products that contain lime or wood ash. To reduce alkalinity, apply a product that contains aluminum sulfate, urea, or elemental sulfur.


Soil Types - Clay Soil is Good for Wisteria


BEST FOR: Woody, moisture-loving perennials

Clay soil particulates are so tiny that they pack tightly together, locking in moisture and nutrients, but restricting oxygen and drainage. Till clay soil only when it’s bone dry to prevent creating rock-hard clods. Amend clay soil by adding a thick, three- to four-inch layer of mulch (dry leaves or bagged wood chips) in the fall, and then allow it to remain on top of the soil all winter long, waiting until spring to till it under. Work additional organic matter into the soil in spring before planting to reduce compaction and promote drainage.

Most types of soil, including clay, which tends to be slightly alkaline, will benefit from the addition of organic matter. Organic matter is often vegetal, meaning it comes from plants or trees, and includes substances such as dried leaves, straw, wood chips, and even cardboard; animal-related organic matter—manure from cows, goats, chickens, and llamas—contains a wide variety of micro- and macronutrients for soil-amending wherever you are growing (or plan to grow) plants. Fresh manure can burn any existing tender plants and kill seedlings, so aim to apply a layer of fresh manure in late fall and allow it to winter over before tilling it under in spring for the best results.

Woody perennials, such as wisteria, tend to do well in non-amended clay soil. Because clay is high in nutrients, with frequent amending to increase drainage and airflow, you can even expand its growing ability to accommodate a variety of vegetables, shrubs, and flowering plants.


Soil Types - Sandy Soil is Good for Crepe Myrtle Trees


BEST FOR: Drought-tolerant plants

Made of up ground rock particles, sandy soil neither holds the amount of moisture nor retains the vital nutrients needed to grow many types of vegetables and flowering plants. Homeowners with sandy soil should mix in organic matter every spring and fall to expand its growing ability. The added organic matter acts like a sponge to suck up moisture and retain it, making it available to plant roots for a longer period.

Depending on the type of rock particles and other matter your soil contains, its pH level could be in the acidic or slightly alkaline range. If your soil is sandy and you don’t intend to amend it, limit your garden landscape to plants that thrive even when their roots dry out between waterings. California poppies, crape myrtle, cleome, gazania, yarrow, and cosmos all do well in sandy soil with regular watering.


Soil Types - Silty Soil is Good for Weeping Willows


BEST FOR: Moisture-loving plants

If you live in an area that was once a riverbed, chances are good that you have silty soil. More fertile than sandy soil, silt particles are very fine and soft, making this soil type a top choice for growing lush vines and flowers that thrive in moist soil. Its pH level can vary from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. The downside to silty soil is its tendency to compact, which reduces drainage and restricts oxygen from reaching plant roots. To reduce compaction problems, add a few inches of compost or composted manure and work it into the top six inches of soil before planting in the spring. Apply additional compost around plants during the growing season, and spread a layer of dried leaves or other mulch over the soil bed in late fall, leaving it to winter over.

The best plants for non-amended silty soil are those that tolerate “wet feet” (i.e., a mostly damp root system), including all types of willow trees, dogwood trees, many iris varieties, peonies, roses, and many types of vines. With just a little amending to improve drainage, silty soil is excellent for vegetable gardening.


Soil Types - Loamy Soil is Good for Flowering Perennials


BEST FOR: All plant types

In a gardener’s mind, if there’s any near-perfect soil type, it’s loam. Loamy soil is a balanced blend of clay, sand, and silt. It drains well and it’s high in nutrients. Homeowners with naturally loamy soil can grow virtually any type of plant. Depending on the pH level, which can vary, you may need to add either an acid or alkaline fertilizer if you intend to grow acid-loving plants, such as blueberries, or alkaline-loving ones, such as wisteria. A light application, about one inch thick, of dry leaves or mulch is usually all that’s needed to keep loamy soil healthy. Spread the leaves or mulch on top in the fall and allow it to naturally decompose over the winter. Till it under in spring before planting.

Vegetables, annual and perennial flowers, and most types of shrubs thrive in loamy soil.


Soil Types - Chalky Soil is Good for Lilies


BEST FOR: Alkaline-loving plants

Chalky soils register an average of 7.5 on the pH scale, making them best suited for bulbs, tubers, and flowering shrubs that thrive in alkaline soil. Chalky soil, which is commonly found in areas with heavy limestone formations, dries out rapidly in hot weather, making frequent watering a must. If you want to grow a wider variety of plants, you’ll have to amend the soil by adding organic matter, such as composted manure or peat, and tilling it into the top eight inches of soil. When wet, chalky soil clumps, making it difficult to work with, so wait until it’s dry to work in organic matter.

Alkaline-tolerant plants, such as lilies and lilacs, can thrive chalky soil, but even with amending, it’s difficult to grow acid-loving plants, such as blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, or heathers.

Bob Vila Radio: Stop Deer in Their Tracks

These garden grazers can eat over six pounds of food a day. Unfortunately, all that snacking and trampling through the yard can damage fruit trees, vegetables, and flowers. Here's what you need to know to find a deer deterrent that really works!

You might enjoy their pastoral presence, but there’s no doubt that deer wreak havoc on garden vegetables, plants, and trees.  Here are some ways to keep them from snacking on your lawn and garden.


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First, deer love fruit trees, ivy, and high-protein crops like peas and beans, so remove those from your garden if you can. Consider planting prickly bushes to create a barrier around the perimeter of your yard. If you’re really determined, you can always install an opaque fence—but remember that most deer can scale a six foot barrier in seconds. To be effective, it should be at least eight feet tall. Another option is to install a lower fence topped with chicken wire and tilted away from your yard at a 45 degree angle.

For a less hands-on solution, try motion-sensor lights or an automated sprinkler system to startle the sneaky intruders. It might sound strange, but chili spray, bits of human hair, or repellents containing wolf or coyote urine can also do the trick.  Most of all, experiment with new methods if the problem persists. Every person, like every deer, is different—so what doesn’t work for one may be the perfect deterrent for another.

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!

DIY Lite: Build a Backyard Hammock Stand from Scratch

Build this outdoor hammock stand in an afternoon—just in time to take a nice long nap in the sun!

DIY Hammock Stand

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Wish that you had a relaxing moment in a camping hammock in your own backyard, but have nowhere to hang it? Rather than wait years for two trees to grow large enough to anchor it, solve this problem before the end of summer by building a DIY hammock stand. Made from a few planks of lumber, this hammock stand is lightweight enough to pull toward any shady corner—even follow the shade throughout the afternoon—yet sturdy enough so that any grown adult can enjoy nap time once again.


DIY Hammock Stand - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

- 2×4 lumber (7 8-foot-long pieces)
- Set square
- Power saw or handsaw
- Sandpaper
- Wood clamps
- Power drill
- 6-inch hex bolts with nuts (12)
- Washers (24)
- Wood glue
- 3-½-inch screws (6)
- 4-inch metal brackets (4)
- 2-inch screws (24)
- Wood stain (preferably for exterior use)
- Varnish (optional)
- Paintbrush
- Hitch rings with plate (2)
- 3/8″ spring link (2)



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

The first thing to do is cut all the lumber to the dimensions needed for the project. To make what we’ll continue to refer to as the “base” of the DIY hammock stand, you will need two 8-foot-long 2×4s.

Lay them so that the 3-½-inch sides (remember, a 2×4 isn’t exactly 2 inches by 4 inches) rest flat on the floor. Then, use a set square to help you make mirroring 30-degree angle cuts at each end of the boards. You’ll pencil lines from the top left and top right corners of each plank at a 30-degree angle in toward the center, then cut. Sand down your lumber, paying particular attention to the sawn ends.

Note: You’ll make several cuts at 30- and 60-degree angles during this project. If you don’t own a fancy power saw, you can use a set square and a hand saw instead.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Next, cut two 2×4s in half to make four “lateral posts,” each with one flat and one angled end. To make these cuts without any wood scraps, measure and mark the exact center of each length of lumber—at 4 feet in, and then 1-3/4 inches down. Lay your set square over the center dot so that you can draw a line at a 30-degree angle directly through your mark. Draw a line at a 30-degree angle, and cut. Sand down your cut pieces.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now, you’ll create “slant timbers” to connect the base and lateral posts for extra support (see the diagram in Step 4). Take one of the couple remaining 2×4s, measure to find its center (again: at 4 feet in, and then 1-3/4 inches down). Draw a line at a 60-degree angle through the center, and cut following the line. You’ll have two pieces of wood of the same length, each with one end at 60-degree angle.

Cut the straight end of each piece at a 60-degree angle, too, but one that is a mirror image. Sand down all of the pieces.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Cut four 15-inch pieces from another of the remaining 2×4s. Leave two pieces with 90-degree cuts on either end; you’ll use those to join the top part of the lateral posts. The other two should each have one end flat and the other cut at a 30-degree angle (so that the cuts mirror each other); those two will strengthen where the base meets the lateral posts. Sand them completely.

On a flat surface, start laying out the planks according to the diagram above to build the DIY hammock stand:

• Start with the one base lumber (its longer side should face up) and a lateral post on each side, touching but not overlapping.
• Then lay a slant timber diagonally to connect the lateral post and base; where the slant timber’s end overlaps the base should be about 20 inches in from the base’s end.
• Finally, position the four 15-inch cuts: two (without angles) on top of the lateral posts and two (with angles) overlapping where the base and the lateral post meet.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now, start to actually assemble the structure with bolts, beginning at one end. (You’ll see we started on the right side.)

Hold the pieces of the in-progress hammock stand with clamps as you and drill pilot holes through both layers of both wood. You’ll want to drill as straight as possible to easily pass the bolts through afterward. Drill two holes through the top of the stacked 15-inch pieces and lateral posts, one hole through each end of the slant timbers, and two holes through each of the 15-inch cuts joining the base and the lateral post.

Repeat on the other side, so that you end up with 12 holes total.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Now, lay out your remaining cuts—the second base wood and the two unused lateral posts—as you did in Step 4, just without any 15-inch pieces.

As the drill bit is not long enough to drill through three layers of 2×4s to join both sides of the DIY hammock stand, you need to precisely mark the holes you’ve just completed onto your remaining materials. Lay the already bored base and slant timbers over top of them, and use your drill to mark the holes’ locations. Remove the wood you’ve already drilled in Step 5, and complete the holes where you’ve marked. Again, remember to drill as straight as possible.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Thread a 6-inch hex bolt with washer through each hole in the first half of the structure that you created in Steps 4 and 5, assembling any overlapping layers as previously explained. Apply a little wood glue between each piece of lumber.

Finish by laying the second base and the two lateral post on top. Cap each bolt with a washer and a nut, in that order, then tighten.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Wait until the glue dries before flipping the structure vertically. Then, add two feet to steady the DIY hammock stand. You’ll cut your last 2×4 in half to make them.

At the center of one of the 4-foot-long pieces, cut a notch into the 3-1⁄2-inch-wide side of the 2×4 that measures 1-inch deep and 4-1⁄2 inches wide (about as wide as your hammock stand measures after assembly) using a wood chisel and hammer.

Repeat to make a second foot for the opposite end of your hammock stand, then sand both pieces.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

On the first foot, line the notch with wood glue, then turn 2×4 so that its 3-1⁄2-inch side remains flat to the ground and slide it up to fit the notch snugly around the bottom of the hammock stand. Drill pilot holes for three 3-1⁄2-inch screws. Then, affix metal brackets (using four 2-inch screws apiece) to connect the foot to the lateral post on each side of the stand.

Repeat with the second foot.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Almost done! This is what your DIY hammock stand should look like at this point.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 11

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Apply a coat of exterior wood stain in the color of your choice to protect the wood from the moisture it’ll encounter outdoors, working the stain in the direction of the grain with your brush. If you choose an oil-based stain, use a natural-bristle brush; for latex stains, use a synthetic-bristle brush. Then, leave the wood to dry for the amount of time suggested on the stain’s package (likely 24 hours).

If you don’t have a specially formulated exterior wood stain to help weatherproof your backyard project, you can choose any standard wood stain followed by at least two coats of varnish instead.



DIY Hammock Stand - Step 12

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Finally, to hang the hammock, fasten a hitch ring with four 2-inch screws into the top of each end (over where the lateral posts sandwich a 15-inch-long plank). Then use a 3/8″ spring link—one that specifies a working load limit of at least a couple hundred pounds—at either end to hook the hammock to the hitch ring. Last, but not least, climb on in and enjoy the view from your new DIY hammock stand.


DIY Hammock Stand - Completed Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Hammock Stand - Detail Shot

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Hammock Stand - Lounging in a New Hammock

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Hammock Stand - View from the New Hammock

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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



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.

Bob Vila Radio: Outdoor Speakers Hit a High Note

Taking your music to go has never been easier—or more affordable. But with so many new models on the market, whittling down the list can feel a little intimidating. For a party-ready backyard, look for a few of these helpful features before you buy.

Audio speakers designed for the outdoors? They’ve been around for years—but recent innovations in weather-resistant components and wireless technology have created a host of new options for taking your music wherever you want.



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If you live near the water, there’s no longer any need to worry about corrosion caused by damp, salty air. Pick up a model with marine-grade hardware and aluminum grills, and your speakers will withstand wet or snowy weather for years.

Some versions double as docking stations for portable music devices. Many connect wirelessly to smartphones, tablets, or laptops, so you won’t have to wrestle with wires and staple guns during installation.

And if you don’t love the look of a regular sound system, you can try “rock speakers” instead. They’re designed and manufactured to look like the real thing, so they won’t look out of place by a tree or in your deck-side garden. Once you’re done, you’ll have the Beatles to go along with your begonias!

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!

So, You Want to… Build a Floating Deck

Add an elevated platform to your outdoor area with the know-how you’ll find here.

How to Build a Floating Deck


Summer isn’t summer unless you’re soaking up the sun, grilling, and chilling in your own backyard. Yet a traditional deck isn’t always feasible or permitted by local authorities, so for many homeowners, a “floating” deck—a raised wooden platform that sits a few inches off the ground—is the perfect solution. A floating deck isn’t all that difficult to build for the DIYer with basic carpenter hand and power tools and a working knowledge of standard deck construction. Ahead, all the information you’ll need before purchasing materials for the project—or opting to hire a pro.

There’s not a big cost differential in materials for either a traditional or a floating deck; the main difference lies in their structural support systems.

A traditional deck has posts cemented below ground level, making the deck a permanent structure and subject to local building codes.

Floating decks, on the other hand, sit low to the ground and actually appear to float on two or more sides, depending on the joist system design. They rely on a structural base that’s not permanently fixed in the ground, classifying them in most communities as personal property instead of real estate. Because it’s not attached to the ground or an existing structure, local building authorities do not require a building permit. If your neighborhood has a homeowner’s association, however, you will need to get permission before proceeding. All of that said, don’t let the term fool you: You can’t take a floating deck with you if you choose to move—they’re not portable.


How to Build a Floating Deck


A well-constructed floating deck adds style and comfort to a backyard, but it has a few possible downsides:

• Because floating decks sit low to the ground, there is an increased likelihood of weeds growing up between the decking planks.
• A floating deck can become a hazard in serious storms, as high winds can potentially toss it off its base.
• If the ground beneath a floating deck settles, the deck could tilt or sag, requiring it to be rebuilt.

If you decide that a floating deck is for you, keep in mind that your finished product will only be as good as its structurally sound base. While you can build one on concrete pavers or over an existing level patio, perhaps the soundest way to support a floating deck is with pre-made concrete deck blocks that have notched tops designed to hold either 4×4 posts (on end) or 2×6, 2×8, or 2×10 lumber (on edge). Deck blocks must sit on a stable surface, typically comprised of compacted sand a few inches deep, and their tops must be perfectly level. Using a laser level will ensure accuracy. Basic models start in the $200 range, so if you don’t want to spring for one, rent one for about $40 per day.


How to Build a Floating Deck in the Backyard


Once the base is in place, you’ll apply standard deck construction techniques. You’ll set support beams on the deck blocks, and then install deck joists on top, perpendicular to the beams.

Lumber dimensions you choose depend on the intended size of the deck and joist span. If you’re unsure how to size your lumber, take a drawing of your deck to the engineering department of your local lumberyard (not a do-it-yourself center) for help choosing the correct dimensions.

The “floating” aspect is created when joists extend far enough past the blocks to obscure the blocks. This, combined with the deck’s close proximity to the ground, gives the illusion of a hovering platform. Usually, this floating effect occurs on the two sides of the deck where the joists end. On the sides parallel to the joists, the support blocks beneath will be visible. A deck that floats on all sides requires advanced framing skills that involve installing cross-joists and notching rim joists to support them. If you’re not experienced in this type of framing, call a reputable contractor or deck builder.

Should you decide to build a deck more than 8 inches above the ground, don’t forget to include a stair or two in the plans for stepping on and off safely and easily.


How to Build a Floating Deck - with Steps


Once you’ve invested your money, time, and effort into updating your backyard with this installation, keep the brand-new floating deck looking great for years to come with some easy (and essential) maintenance. Immediately after construction, application of a penetrating sealer, or a sealer/stain combo, will repel moisture and prolong the deck’s lifespan. Beyond that, simply remember to sweep the deck frequently to remove fallen leaves and debris, and spray it down with plain water to rinse off occasional spilled food or bird droppings. A thorough cleaning at least once a year with a good deck-cleaning solution and scrub brush—followed by more sealer—should take care of the rest for your backyard retreat.


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.

Genius! Double Your Grilling Space Without Spending a Dime

Why slave away over the grill for your next summer barbecue? This space-saving homemade warming rack can half your grilling time—and is doubly fun to build!



From searing a steak to piecing together the perfect kebabs, manning the grill is a juggling act. For BBQ-ers without a built-in top rack for buns, melting cheese, and cooking veggies, a simple Labor Day cookout requires precise timing, coordination, and creative use of limited space. Even if you’re blessed with a two-tiered grill, hosting a family get-together or a tailgating party usually calls for even more cooking room. Whatever you’re working with, the problem is the same: Put side dishes on too soon, and you might not have space for the main entrée—but, wait until the entrée is fully cooked to add the sides, and you’ll have to serve cold burgers and dogs to hungry guests.

For those in the same BBQ bind over the holiday weekend, Joshua Bousel of Serious Eats devised a DIY grill add-on that warms finished food and doubled his cooking space. The grilling gastronome’s rack rose from humble beginnings: two rinsed tin cans, to be exact. With both ends cut off and the labels removed, Bousel stood the two containers upright on his charcoal BBQ. He then rested another circular grate (an oven rack or a stove burner will work, too) right over the cans.

Removed from the blazing heat of the flames below, the second level serves as a standalone warming rack for finished food.  Or, covered with foil, the top tier works as a a slow cooker by evenly roasting potatoes, corn, and other seasonal veggies without burning them. Best of all, this free BBQ booster leaves plenty of room on the bottom for more food. With all of the extra space, you’ll be able to throw everything on at once, essentially cutting cooking time in half and getting you back to the party sooner.

FOR MORE: Serious Eats




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.

How To: Get Rid of Clover

Try some of these simple DIY solutions to eradicate this common lawn invader.

How to Get Rid of Clovers


Stubborn weeds are the bane of a beautiful lawn. Yet, although it’s pretty stubborn, clover (aka Trifolium repens) is actually beneficial. It brings nitrogen into the soil and encourages grass growth when it decomposes. In fact, some grass blends even include micro-clover as a welcome addition to a lawn. Still, many homeowners simply don’t appreciate all those small white flowers interrupting their field of green. Mowing it over is only a temporary fix: Clover grows back, fast. So, if you’re adamant about keeping this herbaceous three-leaved intruder off your landscape, you’re in luck! Read on for easy remedies that can get rid of clover for good.

Knock it out with nitrogen. Generally speaking, a well-fertilized lawn keeps all weeds at bay, but ensuring proper nitrogen levels will give you an extra edge against clover. It’s a lack of nitrogen that allows clover to thrive, so try a nitrogen-rich weed-and-feed formula. Organic fertilizers might do the trick if you have a small amount of clover, but if your lawn is becoming overrun, choose a standard fertilizer that is not slow release.

Remove it manually. Don’t give clover a chance to spread. Get rid of small clumps as soon as you notice them by gently loosening the soil around the base with a spade or your fingers, then plucking the clover up. Be sure you get all of the root.

How to Get Rid of Clovers


Cook it. A natural way to thwart clover is to deprive it of sunlight and oxygen. Place plastic sheeting (a garbage bag will do) on top of clover, securing the corners so it won’t blow away. This ought to kill the weed in a few weeks, but use this method only on large clover patches; otherwise, surrounding grass will probably experience collateral damage.

Douse it. Here’s a natural remedy many gardeners find effective: Mix vinegar with a small amount of dish soap, put the mixture in a spray bottle, and spot treat clover clumps. Just take care to avoid surrounding plants.

Kill it with corn gluten. Corn gluten meal, available at garden centers and nurseries, can inhibit clover growth with no ill effects on nearby plants. It releases organic dipeptides into the soil, which dry out seeds and make it more difficult for them to sprout. Spread about 20 pounds of corn gluten meal per 1,000 square feet of lawn, water well, and allow to dry naturally.

Hit back with herbicide. If you’ve got to pull out the big guns to get rid of clover, broadleaf herbicides can do the job. These products generally contain the chemicals 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, Mecoprop, and Dicamba, which disrupt normal growth patterns and cause the weeds to twist, the leaves to cup, and the stems to crack. While these herbicides don’t harm surrounding grass, they can hurt some garden plants and insects, so it’s wise to spot treat directly on clover rather than apply freely.

Buyer’s Guide: Power Hedge Trimmers

Find the right tool to tame your shrubs and keep your landscape looking sharp.

Best Power Hedge Trimmers


The shape and tidiness of your shrubs is a crucial component of curb appeal. Whether you’ve got a densely landscaped plot with all manner of hedges and trees or a simple series of bushes lining the perimeter, regular upkeep is critical. Luckily, with today’s power trimmers it’s easy to groom that growth like a pro, saving you the cost of hiring a gardener. We’ve got the lowdown on the different types of tools and the most highly recommended models to help you pick the best hedge trimmer for your property’s needs.

Find your type. You’ve got two options: gas and electric. The one you choose will be based on how much power and portability you’re after.

• Gas-powered hedge trimmers. These tough tools, which generally require both oil and gas to run properly, tend to work harder than their electric counterparts. The downside to more power is weight: Gas hedge trimmers may be more than 10 pounds, making it a challenge to reach up and around tall shrubbery.

• Electric-powered hedge trimmers. While they don’t provide quite as much oomph as gas-juiced models, electric trimmers are usually lighter, making them easier to wield at chest height or higher. Lower-priced corded models offer uninterrupted use but less mobility because they’re plugged into an outlet—a problem for larger yards. Battery-powered trimmers mean total freedom of movement, though you must recharge or replace batteries regularly.

Choose a cut above the rest. Another factor to consider is how big of a branch the trimmer can tackle. Most slice through branches up to ½-inch thick, while more powerful models can usually handle up to an inch in diameter. Check the size of the gap between the blade’s teeth; the greater the gap, the higher the cutting capacity. A majority of trimmers have a gap between ⅜ to ¾ of an inch to manage common hedges cleanly.



So what really makes the cut? Here’s what reviewers—everyone from the experts who tested selections out in their laboratories to the consumers who have added these power landscaping tools to their collections—said about today’s top models.


Stihl  HSA 66 Hedge Trimmer


HSA 66 Stihl Lithium-Ion Hedge Trimmer ($220)
“This machine is a brute,” declared the no-nonsense team at Popular Mechanics, which ranked it best overall in a recent challenge. “It cuts with a vengeance, and it’s got incredible longevity. You’ll get tired before this trimmer will.” That may be due to its weight, since the HSA 66 clocks in at a decidedly hefty 8.7 pounds with an AP 100 battery—or 10.4 pounds, if you purchase the model with an AP 300 battery. With the extra weight comes as much muscle as a gas-powered trimmer: A 20-inch dual-sided blade cleanly cuts through shrubbery at 3,000 strokes per minute, and the 36-volt lithium-ion battery allows the machine to work with no added fuel costs, power cords, or exhaust emissions. Thanks to an energy-efficient design, the Stihl HSA 66 has an impressive run time, never slowing down until you completely deplete the power. The hedge trimmer retails for around $220, depending on the dealer. Note that the battery and charger are sold separately. Available at authorized Stihl dealers.


Echo SHC 225S Hedge Trimmer


Echo SHC 225S Gas Hedge Trimmer ($359)
Earning high marks from Home Depot shoppers, this ruthless gas-powered trimmer boasts a 20-inch shaft and double-sided, double-reciprocating razor-edge blades. The high-capacity 21.2 cc power boost vortex engine can easily conquer large hedge growth, with a maximum cut diameter of 0.5 inches. This trimmer also boasts a 1-inch blade length and fuel tank capacity of 14.9 oz. Features like hand grips and vibration control create added comfort, which almost makes up for the trimmer’s heavy weight of 13.7 pounds. Available at The Home Depot.


Black & Decker Hedge Trimmer


Black & Decker TR117 Corded Electric Hedge Trimmer ($35)
For a reliable budget option, consider this runaway favorite of Lowe’s customers, which earned an almost-perfect 4.5-star average from more than one hundred users. The corded electric trimmer spans 17 inches in length and tackles branches up to ⅝ inches thick. Its 3.2 amp motor stands up to moderate jobs, with the help of a rust-resistant and dual-action stainless steel blade that remains sharp for an extended length of time. Additional features include a lock-off switch (so you don’t need to worry about accidentally starting the engine) and cord retention. The trimmer’s light weight of 4.3 pounds makes it a breeze to pilot around bushes, and the compact design gives off minimal vibration. Priced under $50, this trimmer is both cost-effective and efficient. Available at Lowe’s.


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.

Weekend Projects: 6 Designs for DIY Garden Furniture

Why shell out serious cash on outdoor garden items when you can make them yourself? Check out these six DIY furniture ideas to create a one-of-a-kind space surrounding your plant beds.

With the right furniture, you can turn your garden into an outdoor reprieve for rest and relaxation. But, unfortunately, the weather-proof options don’t always come cheap. That’s why we pulled together six DIY garden furniture designs—building your own outdoor furnishings allows for total customization without emptying your wallet. Whether you’re looking for a place to put your feet up after hours of labor or a table to keep you organized while you get your hands dirty, there’s sure to be a handmade option that will meet your gardening needs.



DIY Rope Ottoman


You don’t need a store-bought ottoman to add functionality to your patio. Try making your own by following this clever project from Style Me Pretty—all you need is a spare tire, two types of rope (nylon and sisal), and a hot glue gun. Start by wrapping the nylon rope around the sides of the tire, then hot gluing the sisal rope in a circular pattern on top. You can paint the whole thing with a light coat of sealer so that it survives during rainstorms.



DIY Potting Bench


Gardening is a lot easier when you have a dedicated set-up that’s just for re-potting blooms. This two-shelf table from Refresh ReStyle can be constructed to store your trowels and pots beneath the area where you’ll work. When you’ve wrapped up construction, give the table a rustic look with a stain of your choice. The entire project will take the length of an afternoon—and just $15 out of pocket. Not bad!



DIY Patio Chair


To build a backyard chair that’s both comfy and sturdy following this design idea from the How To Specialist, you’ll want to invest in heavy-duty lumber and plywood. The key to this construction is making exact measurements upfront, then doubling up in terms of fasteners: Use both a waterproof glue and a power drill to attach each carefully cut 2×4 together. An exterior wood stain would ensure that your hard work doesn’t succumb to water damage. Then, repeat the process to make a pair for your yard.



DIY Outdoor Bench


When it comes to garden furniture, the flexibility provided by a bench that seats anywhere from one to three people is always best. This original design from incorporates a variety of lumber in different sizes—2×2s, 1×2s, 1×3s, and 1×5s—to build an interesting striped design right into a sturdy frame, each width of slat highlighted in a different finish for emphasis. Thanks to two protective coats of varnish, the result is a weathered-looking bench that can be kept outdoors year-round.



DIY Sofa Bench


A robust selection of leftover wood and screws are all it takes to assemble this one-of-a-kind outdoor seating option. Building a solid frame that doesn’t sag or get warped over time requires plenty of center supports, but Funky Junk Interiors‘ step-by-step makes this DIY garden furniture look doable. Also, a pro tip from the handy blogger who dreamed up the design: Find the mattress first before diving into the woodworking, since the soon-to-be seat cushion will dictate the size of the furniture’s frame.



DIY Bistro Table


Rather than searching for the perfect “table for two” to match your garden aesthetic, follow this tutorial from The Shabby Creek Cottage and make your own—to the tune of $15. The only lumber you’ll need to pick up is a handful of humble 2×4s, which the DIY blogger then advises cutting with a power saw into the variety of pieces that make up this garden classic. Sanded down and assembled with a power drill, the wooden bistro table only needs a fresh coat of paint to provide a pop of color in your backyard hangout.