I love decorating outdoors for Summer because it mostly entails lots of flowers!
Here are a few vignettes and flower arrangements I pulled together this season to make the exterior of our home warm, inviting, and colorful.
I really enjoy looking at homes when I'm driving to wherever I'm going. I like to look at the exterior styles, love when I can catch a glimpse of the inside (not in a creepy way, I promise), and am always looking at outdoor decor. There are just so many ideas out there to draw inspiration from!
I'm a big fan of porches. I recently drove by a home that had colorful pennant banners hanging from the ceiling of their large, wraparound porch. It looked so adorable, I couldn't get it out of my head...
We're tight with our budget right now, so I wanted to find a cheap option to execute this idea ASAP. Without any luck finding pre-made banners at discount stores, I decided to make my own with two items I already had at home: twine and burlap.
Here are all the supplies you'll need:
I knew I had two, eight foot strands of twine to fill with pennants, so I cut quite a few to start and then started laying them out along the twine I had measured out.
Once I had all of the pennants cut, I started weaving the twine through the top of the pennants:
After I had all of the pennants on the twine, I put a dot of all-purpose glue where the twine and burlap intersected.
When the glue was applied to every pennant, I hung the banners up to dry:
And here's the final product on our front porch:
I think these turned out so cute and because they are plain burlap, they will definitely look good with my Fall decor, but will also look good during other seasons throughout the year! They would also work well indoors.
Although growing a fruit and vegetable garden has been extremely enjoyable and rewarding, one downside where we live are the critters. We have cats, birds, mice, wild turkeys, bunnies, woodchucks, bugs and deer - that I know of. They have been quite kind in leaving my plants alone for the most part, but I have had to put some measures in place to keep them away.
1. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is especially good to keep away rabbits. They can't take the heat! I sprinkle cayenne pepper on the leaves and around the base of each plant. I've been doing this for years, even when we lived in town, and it works every single time.
2. Irish Spring Soap
This type of soap is good for keeping deer away. Deer HATE the smell of Irish Spring. We have one doe that lurks around in our garden area and it seems like this is effective in keeping her away. I use about one full bar each time I reapply in my garden, which is normally every 2-3 days or after it rains. An old cheese grater that I found in my attic has worked perfectly for grating the soap around each plant.
I read that having some type of "movement" in your garden deters animals from approaching. We placed pinwheels around the perimeter of the garden. They catch the slightest breeze and are rarely still. I found the ones we are using at Dollar Tree for $1 each and they've held up very nicely through some very strong storms.
4. Wind Chimes
I love the sound of wind chimes, so there is no shortage of them at our house! We placed small wind chimes around both my fruit/vegetable garden and wildflower plot. Animals are supposed to be frightened by the sound of the chimes and birds do not like items that are reflective. I was able to find both the wind chimes and stands for the chimes from Dollar Tree, again, for $1 a piece.
Planting marigolds is a traditional gardening tip. Marigolds supposedly mask the sent of vegetables, confusing garden pests. We planted them around the entire fruit/vegetable garden. They must also be delicious, because the deer started nibbling on a couple. I fixed that by utilizing tip number two and sprinkled some Irish Spring around them, which did the trick!
6. Tomato Cages + Tin Cans
I planted two established perennials in my wildflower plot that will be good for attracting butterflies. What I didn't know is that they were also good for attracting deer! My solution was to place tomato cages around the plants, hanging tin cans from twine around the outside. I wanted the cage to block its head from the plant and for the cans to make sound to scare it away. I'm happy to report that this has worked and both plants are coming back!
I hope these tricks help you keep critters out of your garden as much as possible! If you have any good tips for keeping wildlife from eating flowers and or fruits/vegetables from your garden(s), I'd love for you to share them in the comments below!
I'm sure every gardener will agree, every "battle" with the wildlife has been worth it. Because this is what you get in the end:
And this is how big your smile gets to be:
My DIY projects lately have been structured and in workshop settings. The good thing about attending workshops for the projects I'm interested in making is that I 1) learn skills from experts who know what they're doing and 2) get exposure to tools I've never worked with before. Both are so valuable in expanding my ideas and allowing me to realize what I'm capable of making with my own two hands.
At this month's Do It Herself workshop at Home Depot we made a Vertical Succulent Garden. You can find step-by-step details here!
This was a simple project, but I still learned a lot. My brother-in-law's girlfriend, LeeAnn, came along to this workshop and we had fun putting this project together as a team!
I encourage you to watch Home Depot's official tutorial, but I'll give you a rundown of how simple this project was to make:
4. Pack with dirt (and I mean PACK it).
5. Close back with nails and piece of wood.
6. Add screw eyes to the top of the frame.
7. Add rope or chain to hang.
8. When ready to plant succulents or flowers, cut small
hole in weed barrier and insert plants.
As you can see. Pretty easy. We were able to finish this project in around an hour. LeeAnn got to take it home with her and before we left she bought the hardware she'll need to hang it (it's HEAVY) and some flowers to plant in it. It was the perfect project to kick-off spring!
My Christmas decor obsession continues! This time, I upcycled a sled from Stuff Store in Waterloo.
Here's what I used on this piece:
Here's what I started with:
It's a great, solid piece that I got for $12.00. Quite a score in my eyes.
I used my green exterior paint to cover the blue paint that was on the sled.
Once I chose the saying I wanted to use, I wrote it out on the sled in pencil. I then traced the pencil lines with my white exterior paint using a fine brush.
When I finished the lettering (which I am still learning to do with paint, so be kind!) I had my husband take a look at it. He suggested I add some imagery. After some thought, I decided to add two "happy little trees" (Bob Ross was literally playing in the background) and some star/snowflake shapes.
To top it all off, I added a strand of $5 battery powered jingle bell lights from Target for a pop of color.
Here's the final product:
I think it turned out so cute! It only took a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon to complete and cost under $20 for a piece that is just what I wanted for this corner of our porch.
My challenge to you - when you are at the store, start looking at items for their potential. Just because the item isn't exactly what you want in that moment, think about how you can make it so!
My head has been spinning with Christmas decoration ideas since we moved to our new home. For my birthday, we explored one of my favorite places - downtown Cedar Rapids. They have such a great variety of antique, thrift, and re-purposed item shops. At one shop we went to, I was inspired by their greenery arrangement in an antique wash tub. The next day, I had a pretty Christmas-themed wash tub of my own sitting outside our house!
I needed the following supplies (but didn't do a good job photographing them):
Assembly doesn't take long. I started by hooking the S-Hook to the edge of the tub and to the bow for hanging. A great place to look for holiday decor right now is at consignment/thrift shops. I got the metal bow I used from the Salvation Army for $4.00!
I headed into our yard and cut small branches from two different evergreen trees. I'm hoping this greenery lasts awhile. I've never used live greenery, so it will be a learning experience! I'm sure you can find artifical greenery at the store, but I obviously chose the route of least cost. I have the luxury (and curse) of a backyard full of greenery!
I placed my planter pot with rocks in the bottom of the wash tub, right in the center. I then took my greenery and arranged in the tub. I stuck some branches into the pot with rocks for stability. The rocks also made it easier to arrange the branches. I took other branches and placed them around the outside of the planting pot. The end result looks "wild" - which is what I wanted.
Finishing touches included a square piece of burlap, three sprigs of artificial red berries, and one branch of artificial pinecones and Cardinals.
Here are some of the other Christmas touches I've added around our home!
I searched and searched for Christmas ideas for the decorative area I have on top of the hill as you turn into our driveway. I didn't find a solution that 100% worked for/spoke to me, so I combined some of the visuals I saw into a project that was the best fit for our space.
I ended up drawing inspiration for this project from a pallet Christmas tree I saw and made one out of wood lath instead.
Here's what you'll need:
I started out by taking a piece of lath to the space I wanted to put the Christmas tree in and marking the width of how long the bottom piece should be with a pencil. Once I had the bottom piece marked, I planned to mark each piece of lath 1/1.5 inches in from the first mark (and so on) as I worked my way to the top of the tree.
I laid out my lath one piece at a time, starting with the bottom and started measuring/marking where my cuts would be. You'll need a good amount of floor space.
Once I had each piece marked, I cut the lath using a circular saw.
As I cut each piece, I made sure to stack them back in the same order.
Once I was finished with the "branches" of the tree, I used another piece of lath to create the "trunk." I sawed a point on the bottom of the trunk to help secure it in the ground when it came time.
Because lath is pretty lightweight, I chose to simply glue the branches to the trunk. I used Gorilla Glue, which is extremely strong glue. With this type of glue, it is important to get the surfaces that you are gluing together wet first. I used a damp washcloth.
Also, with Gorilla Glue you are encouraged to clamp items together or use another type of heavy pressure to press items together. I clamped the top piece and used full paint cans down the center to press down on the rest of the lath. It worked really well.
I let this project dry overnight and painted it the next morning. I used a green, matte, outdoor paint. I dressed it up a little more by adding some dots to mimic lights or ornaments with yellow, high gloss, outdoor paint.
We bought a metal stake to reinforce the tree and used 20 gauge metal wire to attach the tree to the stake. We pounded both the stake and the tree into the ground before connecting with the wire. You can also see in the photo below that the Gorilla Glue expands really nicely to ensure a good bond.
Here's the final product! I ended up adding a red bow to the top for an additional pop of color and to tie it more closely to the decor I put in the wheelbarrow.
This post will be part instructional and part me gushing over how much I have come to love rocks. We found yet another amazing treasure on The Farm: a collection of over 5,000 individually cataloged and wrapped rocks. Each one more unique and beautiful than the one before. It has been a labor of love unwrapping every rock, reading the notes contained inside the packaging, and placing them into the rock garden.
After finding these rocks, I couldn't bare to leave them wrapped up in a dark, abandoned building. Someone (the brother of the person who previously owned our home) spent his life on this collection. I wanted to showcase it. Most of the rocks are too beautiful for landscaping, they should all be put into glass boxes on display, but that's unfortunately not realistic for us to do! Using them to spruce up the exterior of the house was the next best thing I could think of.
The first step I took in creating my rock garden (after finding and being inspired by the rocks) was to clear out the space I wanted to start with. That included taking out a small retaining wall, digging out several unwanted plants, and spraying weed killer to map out the area.
I didn't lay out a weed barrier. I am not a believer in weed barriers. I'm a believer in weed killer. When weeds peek through, I spray them until they die. I'll let you make your own decision on whether you put down a barrier first or not.
Once the area was clear, I started laying in the rocks. Big rocks to the front, filling in with the smaller rocks.
I stopped part way up the slight hill because I knew I wanted to plant a bush among the rocks. I chose a Hydrangea bush and planted that in the middle of the rock garden. Now is a good time to purchase bushes and trees because it is the end of the season. I was able to purchase the bush for a little over $20.
For additional visual appeal in the area, I also added two small solar lights and a chair with a bucket of flowers on it. I was able to find the chair and the bucket in our "rusty gold" stash that came with the house. The plants were under $10 combined.
After I had all of these elements in place, I filled in the rest of the rocks! It took me several days and nights to complete this project due to the unwrapping process, but I absolutely loved how it turned out - and hope you do, too!
What you'll need:
We have two stumps at the top of our hill just off the driveway. They're too high to mow over, so the weeds tend to grow tall around them at a rapid pace. Instead of fighting them, I wanted to work with them to create a rustic country floral feature. I have ideas to add to the feature in the future, but for now, I was able to accomplish a simple yet rewarding place holder.
With the home we bought, we inherited many "rusty gold" treasures that can be re-purposed as we find spots for them. I dug the wheelbarrow I used out of one of our back buildings. Although it is missing its front wheel, it is a really solid piece. No wheel, no problem for this project. I actually preferred it that way. I placed the wheelbarrow where I wanted it and used rocks to angle it towards the road so the flowers are visible.
With $20 in my hand, I was able to buy a large bag of black gardening dirt along with three 8 inch chrysanthemum plants. Fall is just around the corner, so I thought these flowers were the best choice. I'll be able to add corn stalks and pumpkins around the feature when the time comes.