I'm back to my first love these days - gardening! I love being in the garden, digging, planting, sowing and enjoying. This house will be the 6th that I've landscaped and because I always
seem to buy houses that have no landscaping, I have learned how to do it on the cheap.
Here are some of my best tips: .
#1 - Use as many free materials in your landscape as you can. Every part of the world has at least one thing in abundance that you can use for free, be it gravel, rocks or stones; wood,pallets or pine needles; dumpsters, landfill sites or Craig's List and Freecycling networks as cheap sources for repurposed items. Find out what's in your own neighbourhood or town and use it! I've used my local freecycling network to find plants and shrubs for free. I got a whole lilac hedge that way, it really works!!
#2 - Beg for plant divisions or cuttings from family, friends and neighbours. Anyone who has perennials , bulbs or tubers will have to be dividing them up every so often and will be happy to let you have the extras.
#3 - Look for local gardening clubs, they usually have plant sales once or twice a year to raise money for the club and you can get beautiful plants for much less than gardening centers sell them. Plus you know they will survive in your climate because the local gardeners have grown them.
#4 - Watch for end-of-season sales. You can pick up loads of plants at a discount from department stores that have seasonal garden centers. That's where you can pick up your trees and shrubs for less and save big!
#5 - Grow your own plants from seed. Some plants are super simple to grow, you can even just toss the seeds out in your garden at the right time and they'll grow well. Hardy geraniums,sunflowers and pansies are easy to start from seed. Poppies and cosmos are good examples of seeds you can just sow directly in the garden. Opium poppies can even be sown while there is still snow on the garden
#6 - Grow plants that self-seed or spread easily. Examples are creeping thyme, culinary thyme, Johnny Jump-ups, Ladies' Mantle, campanula, euphorbia, lamium, bugleweed, poppies and bee balm. I don't quite understand the desire for growing borderline plants in the garden. I personally don't want to drag some plant kicking and screaming into my garden, I'd much rather have ones that are happily growing and flowering and self-seeding all over.
The best part about rampant growers and self-seeders is that every year, you can dig up the extras and sell them at a yard sale to make some extra cash for the landscaping items that you can't get for free.
Hope I've been able to give you at least one tip you can use. Happy gardening!
Who says you can't get something for nothing? I just finished two raised beds made from my neighbor's old shutters and odds and ends of left over wood, then painted them with surplus deck
paint! ZERO COST!!
For quite a while, I have admired all sorts of wonderful homemade and commercial raised beds seen on Pinterest and Hometalk. Because I couldn't justify the cost of buying the lumber and didn't want to tackle disassembling pallets, raised beds did not seem to be in my future. But then, our neighbors replaced their shutters and were nice enough to give them to me when I asked. They know by now that a repurposing project is about to get underway.
You could do other configurations, but I used two shutters on each side and one-half a shutter for the ends. That used up all ten of the free shutters. Odds and ends of lumber stored in the garage rafters came down and became corner, end and middle supports. I even had enough wood screws from another project to use for this one!
See more pictures and all the details on Our Fairfield Home and Garden's latest post
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As a professional deck builder it is amazing looking back at how much things have changed & yet how many things are still the same. One of those items unfortunately revolves around
longevity... Unlike traditional wood decks made 20+ years ago where one could allow them to weather naturally, you would be lucky to get a few year's worth out of a regular wood deck if you tried that now.
In order to enjoy a typical wood deck now it is important that you seal it. No matter if you are a pro or a DIYer, there are two simple rules that I have & hope you will keep in mind no matter what the project is; prepare it properly and follow the manufacturer's directions.
Choosing a sealer:
There are 4 main choices of sealers on the market, each with their own pros & cons. If you are tossing around two or more options, choose the lower tiered item as one can always move up the list but you can't move down it. For example if you are debating between paint & a stain – while you can paint over stain, you can't stain over a painted deck.
· Paint – while many people like the look of paint, this is one of the hardest items to maintain and can easily hide water damaged areas
· Solid Color Stain – while this can look like a paint,it is a stain that gets absorbed into the wood and is easier to maintain, depending on your application some wood grain maybe still visible and it is known to wear unevenly
· Semi-Transparent Stain – For a more natural look with some color, this is the most popular choice, it generally wears more even than solid color, but doesn't protect as well
· Waterproofing or transparent coatings – this will give you the most natural look, but do not hide stains or protect as well
For more on Oil vs. Water Based & other additives: http://bit.ly/DeckSealer
Prepare it properly:
If you ask any professional painter, they will say that on average 80% of their time is spent on properly preparing the surfaces, while only 20% is actually spent applying the product. While this number maybe inflated for decks, just remember that the amount of time spent getting it ready up front, is time well spent.
· Gather all the tools, safety equipment and materials that you will need. Take time to read the directions.
· Check the weather forecasts as most products are very specific on minimum temperatures & when it can be exposed to water
· Make sure the wood is dry enough to accept the stain, sealer, or paint of your choice
· Remove everything located not only on the deck, but around it like furniture, potted plants, wind chimes, etc...
· Cover any plants near the deck to protect them from the overspray & any chemicals you may use.
· Removing any large debris by hand and sweep the deck off, paying particular attention to the area's between the deck boards.
Applying your choice of Sealants:
Do you remember the second rule above? That's right; it's as simple as reading and following the manufacturer's directions. I will give you a few tips though that may or may not be located on the can.
· Apply plastic to any area's that you do not want stain or paint to get on, because once you get started, you do not want to stop to try to clean up an oopsie
· For all stains and sealers, do one complete board at a time – if the you only do half a board or work in sections, you will end up with obvious streaks where the two area's overlap
· Do not over apply the product – in most cases it will result in a flaky or splotchy finish
· Make sure the moisture level of the wood is low enough for work to commence – you do not want to trap all the moisture inside the wood
· Stain or seal all six sides if it is at all possible unless you live by the ocean. This will help prevent moisture from getting into the wood and accelerating the degradation of the finish.
· Let it rest – most paints, stains and sealers take at least a day or more to cure
For more Preparation Tips & other Decking Options; http://bit.ly/HTRC-Decks