Category Archives: Outdoors

Improving Curb Appeal Phase I: Working with what we have

One of the first things we began working on when we closed on our new house was improving it’s curb appeal. Honestly, the house wasn’t in terrible shape. It’s a colonial, so it’s lines are pretty traditional and classic. The house had been vacant for two years when we got out hands on it, so it was pretty tired looking. The gardens were over grown and the paint was fading. Although the house has decent enough curb appeal for most people, we have pretty lofty goals for where we want to take it.  As in we want our house to look like this. Because our goals are large and expensive we chopped them up into 3 phases. Phase 1 is really about working with what we already have. We don’t have a large enough budget or enough time to tackle the exterior the way we really want to, so instead we decided to work on sprucing up what was already there. We had already completed and shared the first three items on the list:

Phase 1:

  • Bring out architectural details by painting the trim white
  • Bring new life to the shutters with a more modern color

Well, I am very happy to finally announce that 3 months after closing on our house we have finished phase 1! We spent the weekend soaking up the last warmth of fall and painting the exterior trim and shutters.  Last we left off this is what the house looked like.

exterior phase 1

The house actually has some great architectural features like double bay windows and dental molding; however, they had all been painted the exact same color as the siding thereby rendering them invisible. We decided to paint all the trim a bright white to brighten up the house and bring some attention to it’s hidden details. Also, we painted all the door casings white to tie into the new pediment we had installed.

Doesn’t every guy dream of spending his entire Saturday on a 25 ft ladder painting a house? This was probably our least fun project so far. On the plus side it made a huge impact for only about $20!

Painting exterior trim

For the trim we used Ultra White by Valspar (the same color we used on the mailbox). The dark red on the shutters and front door weren’t terrible. In fact it is very popular in our neighborhood; however, it felt a little stale and countrified to us. Picking the shutter color was more difficult than I had anticipated. I wanted a really dark muted blue, but the front of our house gets so much direct sunlight that the paint looks very different on the house than on the swatch. In the end we choose Night View by Valspar which looks dark grey on the swatch but as you can see in the picture below definitely shows blue once painted and in the sun. I was really nervous about choosing the shutter color because I knew we’d be stuck with whatever we picked for years. Cody made it perfectly clear he was only painting them once.

Dark blue shutter with cream siding

Bear with me on the “after” photos here. It’s difficult to get a picture while it’s sunny out as it either casts a shadow on the house or is so bright that it washes the house out. I’ll try to get another picture as soon as we get an overcast day again.

Night View exterior paint

We are totally thrilled with the color palette we choose. The blue actually tones down the cream siding and makes it look more tan than yellow. Unfortunately, the new paint job only makes the ugly storm windows and falling apart front door even more obvious. But, baby steps….. Hopefully we’ll be replacing those soon enough and I can find something else to complain about instead. exterior with crea m trim and blue shutters

It’s hard to believe that just 3 months ago it looked like this…..

exterior before

I am hoping to tackle Phase 2 in Fall 2014 but Phase 3 is more likely in the 5 year plan.

Phase 2:

Build a Portico for the front steps

Install a new wood door

Replace all the windows

Phase 3:

Replace the roof with slate gray architectural shingles

Replace the vinyl siding with Hardy plank in a dark color.

Install new gardens

Quick mailbox makeover

Remember when I shared that lovely picture of our mailbox back when we installed the new pediment? Well, it has finally received some TLC. I’m calling this a makeover because it’s pretty dramatic, but honestly it’s more of a band-aid. The post and box need to be replaced. Eventually I’d really love to do a custom brick mailbox, maybe like this; however, the mailbox is just not at the top of our priority list right now, so it’s getting a temporary patch up instead.  Here’s a reminder of what we started with: mailbox before

And here is the back:

Mail box makeover before

With the exception of the hardware, flag, and street numbers we already had everything in the garage for this project.  We salvaged the original box but replaced the back which was completely rotted with a piece of leftover plywood. Cody added some leftover shoe molding to the top of the plywood to dress it up a bit.

mailbox makeover Next, everything got two coats of Valspar Advance white exterior paint. This was my first time using this paint and I have to say that I was impressed. It was very thick but dried quickly, and complete coverage in white with two coats is sort of a miracle. Cody made the new lid out of left over butcher block from the kitchen counters and routed the edges to give it a finished look. And here’s the final product:

mailbox facelift I wanted to stick to a traditional feel (remember our house is a colonial), so I went with black wrought iron numbers and hardware which all came from Lowe’s. We also added a classic red flag and the Shepard’s hook which came from our first house.

mailbox with flowers

The lid is pretty heavy since it’s made out of left over butcher block, so I wanted to make sure we had some pretty heavy duty hardware for it.

colonial mailbox

Sophie picked out these trailing pansies which were the perfect choice to bring a little color to the end of our driveway.

hanging pots on mailbox

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with this makeover. Partially because it was so cheap. I wasn’t really keeping track, but it was definitely under $20! Not bad for a band-aid. And because I can’t help myself here is one more before and after:

painting a mailbox white and black mailbox

I’ve been busy painting some of the trim on the exterior as well, so look for that update soon!

It ain’t all roses…Fall planting 2013

OK well it is actually mostly roses with some pansies and apple tree thrown in for good measure.  As I’d mentioned before, driving up to a house everyday that looks worn down has been grating on me for some time, but the extensive amount of renovations we have going on inside combined with the high temperatures outside had me putting the brakes on any plans until the Fall rolled around. Well here we are finally in Fall where beautiful temperatures and light breezes abound, so I got my thinking cap on and started planning the front gardens. Of coarse the weekend I finally decide to start planting the temperatures skyrocketed back to 90. Got to love good ole Virginia weather. The garden to the right of our front door already had some nice foundation bushes in it, but otherwise it was a sea of crab grass and a large sea at that. Not long after we moved in I started spraying it with Round-up so it was already good and dead by time I got around to it this weekend. It took the better part of Saturday with a combination of raking and hand pulling to get most of the weeds out.

garden before

At our first house we put a lot of large gardens in and I spent the last 5 years trying to maintain them, so my goal with this house was to create gardens that were less high maintenance. I wanted to fill in the garden with perennials that would provide year round color. I decided on knock out roses for three reasons: 1) They bloom bright red floors for 3 seasons of the year, 2) they require almost no maintenance once established, and 3) they are very popular in our neighborhood so they would help tie in our yard with the neighboring landscape.  I planted 5 knock out roses in front of the existing bushes making sure to follow the curve of the bed. I also transplanted some of the existing hostas to create a border around the bed. In the Spring I have plans to add liriope between the hostas.

curb appeal

Even though the plants are still so immature the garden looks 100% better already. You can see below that I also added a row of purple pansies (Sophie’s choice) between the roses and hostas. I’ll probably keep planting a row of annuals in this spot until the perennials mature.

hostas, knock out roses, and pansies

We also planted a new apple tree in our front yard. The left side of our house gets really nice shade but the ride side is blasted by intense sun all day (so much so that it actually melted our front door). I’ve been wanting another tree to help with shade but also to provide more balance to the yard. You may be wondering why we picked an apple tree and the short answer is: It’s a tradition. 25 years ago my dad and I planted our first apple tree at my parent’s house after moving to the states. When Cody and I bought our first house my dad bought me a new apple tree as a house warming gift. You may remember we built it a nice little garden in the middle of the yard surrounded by a rock retaining wall.

apple tree

I was really sad we couldn’t bring the tree with us, but not long after we moved into our 2nd house a check arrived in the mail from dad for a new apple tree. Since we were already talking about planting another tree in the front yard it seemed like fate. He’s not providing much shade yet, but hopefully with some babying he will soon. I have plans in the next year or so to build out a garden around him much like we did with the last tree. We choose a Gala apple because it’s mine and Sophie’s favorite variety to eat.

apple tree in front yard

The front stoop also got a little love with some new yellow mums and a fall wreath to make it seem a little more jolly. The girl’s are going pumpkin picking tomorrow and I can’t wait to line the steps with their finds.

front door fall

And here is where we are today. Looking a lot more alive than we did before the weekend. Next up is tackling the left side garden and painting all the trim. Our mailbox finally got some TLC too and it looks amazing! Look for that post later this week.

exterior fall

And here’s a reminder of where we started:

exterior before

How to make your old deck look new again

how to stain a deck

I love a wood deck. I love them more even than the composite decking; however, they do require some maintenance (well, so do composite decking for that matter). Whether you inherited an old deck or have been falling behind on the maintenance of your current one, this tutorial will show you how to easily revive your deck so that it looks new again by power washing and applying deck stain. Below is a picture of my deck before I started. You can see that it has faded to a greenish-grey and looks rather dirty. Also you can see that we replaced a couple of boards last fall that are a different color.

deck before

Step 1: Power wash

WARNING: Don’t power wash new pressure treated wood. Allow the wood to first acclimate for at least 6 months.

The first thing you need to do is clear off your deck and clean it. I recommend you use a power (or pressure) washer. You can rent one from Home Depot for around $70 or buy one from Harbor Freight for $99. We use our power washer every year, so we went ahead and bought one.  You’ll find all kinds of deck cleaners at the hardware store, but I have found that the power washer does a perfectly adequate job on its own. The only thing you really to need to know about power washing is to not allow the wood to pulp. If the wood starts to pulp you need to either lower the pressure on the machine or move the nozzle further from the wood. Otherwise, you can’t really mess this step up. As you can see from the after picture below, your deck will look pretty much like new pressure treated wood at the end of this step.

deck after

Step 2: Stain and/or seal deck

Once you have your deck nice and clean you’ll want to preserve it and enhance the wood. I use Olympic Maximum Stain and Sealant which will do both for you. You’ll also have to pick a color. Stains are sold as clear, toner, semi-transparent, or solid color. Which you pick is entirely dependent on the look you are going for. I like the look on natural wood so I choose the toner in Honey Gold which gives the wood a hint of color but still allows the grain to show through. You will also need a roller on a pole and a paint tray.

deck stain materials

Before applying the stain make sure the wood is dry and clean. Pour stain into the paint tray and apply with the roller. I like to use a foam roller. The stain will be very runny so be careful not to spill or spray. Begin working in a small area, overlapping your strokes. Be careful not to drip stain in an area you are not working. If the drip dries before you apply stain to that area it may leave a permanent mark.  The deck itself will stain pretty quickly, the rail and posts will take longer. Allow that stain to dry for 24 hours before walking on it.

Below you can see my deck before and after cleaning and staining. The deck looks new again with a nice rich color and a sealant that will protect it. I usually repeat this process every 2-4 years depending on weather conditions.

 

before and after deck stain

The lazy homeowner’s guide to a really green lawn

green grass

When we first bought our house the yard was really green. It was also all weeds. For the first couple of years we didn’t do anything to the yard except mow it. We were occupied with renovating the interior of the house, but around year 4 we finally started making our way outside, and we didn’t like what we saw. The “grass” was patchy, inconsistent, and not very comfortable to walk on. With young kids now playing in the yard we decided it was time to tackle the weeds once and for all. The only problem was we had almost an acre to deal with. Killing the weeds off and re-seeding or planting sod both seemed like a lot of work and a lot of money. Fortunately, we developed a process of over seeding and fertilizing that is so easy that even the laziest homeowner can have a yard that neighbors will envy. I have started this guide in the Fall which is the best time to seed your yard, but you can pick up with whichever season you want.

 Early Fall

In early fall (early October for us) take inventory of your yard. Check for low spots that accumulate water and fill them in with soil. Check to see if your yard has a lot of thatch. Thatch is the dead foliage that collects at the soils surface. Too much of it will prevent seed from reaching the soil, as well as block sunlight and possible smoother your new grass. If this is your first time seeding your yard you will probably need to de-thatch and aerate your yard. If you have a small yard you can de-thatch simply by using a thatching rake*. Aerating your yard helps loosen the soil and puts small holes in your yard to help seed and nutrients penetrate the soil. For small yards you can use spiked aerator shoes* or a push spike aerator*. For larger yards you can rent an aerator from Home Depot that takes care of the thatch and aerates at the same time.

*These are affiliate links. Any purchase helps support Simply Swider.

I know that all sounds like a lot of work, but it only has to be done every 3 years or so.  Once you have your soil ready, it’s time to seed. What type of seed you use will depend on where you live. Go to your local garden center and talk to an expert about what grass is best for your local. Make sure to let them know if your yard is mostly sun or shade. Once you have your seed its time to spread it. We use the Scott’s Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini Broadcast Spreader* because it’s cheap and it gets the job done even on our large yard. Follow the directions on your seed package for how to set up your spreader. The seed will  need to be watered afterwards. I usually try to seed right before I know it will rain. If there is no rain in the forecast you will need to use a sprinkler. Do not seed right before heavy rain or else your seed will wash away or pool.

spreader

Ideally, you should re-seed every fall. If you plant fescue grass it only has a life expectancy of 9 months anyways. If you mow every week you will never allow your grass to grow seed pods and re-seed itself naturally, so you will again need to over seed every fall.

Late Fall

In late Fall (November here) you will need to winterize your yard once all the leaves have finished falling off the trees. Make sure you rake up all leaves before applying. Winterizer* will help insure that your new grass will build strong roots and will help keep your grass green throw the winter.

Enjoy a small break until Spring!

Early Spring

In Early Spring (Late March) you should have nice green grass growing. Now it’s time to Weed and Feed*. The weed and feed will continue to keep your grass green while preventing weeds from sprouting. It’s important to get it down before the first weeds come up. Like the seed, the lawn will need to be lightly watered after apply the fertilizer.

Late Spring

In late Spring (or Late May) apply another round of Weed and Feed. Also, if insects are a problem in your area you may want to apply an insecticide.  I like to use Ortho Bug-B-Gone* because it kills fleas and ticks, both of which are a problem with our dogs. I like to wait at least 2 weeks between applying the fertilizer and the insecticide.

Your lawn will most likely go dormant during the hot summer months, so take a break and enjoy your nice green lawn for the summer.

*These are affiliate links. Any purchase helps support Simply Swider.

Late Summer

In late summer (early September) your grass will begin to grow again in the cooler weather and so will the weeds. Weed and Feed one last time before re-seeding in the fall.

Results

I know that seems like a lot of work, but with the exception of the initial aerating and thatching each step will only take you a couple of minutes 5 times a year. After the first year of following this plan our grass was much more consistent and stayed green all year, even without watering in the summer. By the second year our grass looked like a golf course. Our neighbor actually paid a company a lot of money to kill off all his grass and – his yard this year. He spent the whole Spring grumbling about how much better our yard looked than his!

how to get a nice lawn

So tell me, how do you keep your yard looking green and lush all year?

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The trick to creating gorgeous window boxes

window box plants

I love window boxes! I love the beautiful lush colors of the flowers hanging over their containers, so I knew the second we bought a house we needed window boxes. On our house they also helped cover what I thought to be too much brick on the front of our house as well. I had Cody build me 3 window boxes to go under each window on the front of our house, then I filled them with plants and watched them die, year after year. 6 years in fact. This year I seriously considered giving up on them all together and taking them down, but I decided to try one last thing and voila! I now have the beautiful lush window boxes I have always dreamed of. So how did I do it?

The Trick good dirt

The trick is Miracle Grow Potting Soil. I know, not much of a secret right. Here’s the thing with window boxes: They lose moisture and nutrients like it’s nobody’s business. Hence the fact that I could keep my plants alive by watering them, but I could never get them to really grow. If you are planting a new window box just go ahead and plant straight into the Miracle Grow potting soil. If you are planting in a window box that already has soil like mine follow this step:

Remove as much soil from the window box as possible and put in a bucket then mix in an equal amount of Miracle Grow soil.

making good soil

Put your mixed soil back into the window box and plant away. The reason I mix the soil is because 1) I don’t want to do away with the old soil and 2) Miracle Grow soil is expensive and this allows me to stretch a buck. I also do this for all of pots and my wheel barrow planter.

As for the  plantings themselves I picked up a great tip from Sherry over at Young House Love. Buy hanging baskets or in my case pot refills instead of individual plants. These plants tend to be more mature when you buy them so the instantly trail over the boxes instead of you having to wait weeks for them to grow. I bought two pot refills (the pink and the peach flowers) which contained 3 separate plants each. I gently separated the plants then planted them on each end of the window box. I put a sweet potato vine in the middle and flanked that with red salvia.

flowers for window box

Oh, and don’t forget to water! A lot!

Check out my other gardening tips:

green grass   wheelbarrow planter   shade plants

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DIY wheelbarrow planter

wheelbarrow planter

I started seriously considering making a wheelbarrow planter after seeing it in an This Old House magazine. I had an old wheelbarrow that had seen better days sitting on the side of my house, and I had a spot in the garden that need some color and some height, so this seemed like the perfect solution.

DIY planter

We had used this wheelbarrow at one point to mix concrete in and it now had this lovely rust covering the inside of it. That alone wouldn’t have necessitated the retirement of this tool; however,…..

old wheelbarrow

it also had a Jerry-rigged handle made out of conduit piping after Cody broke off one of the handles while mulching and……

old wheelbarrow

 

the wheel was completely flat. We decided it was probably time for a new wheelbarrow which left this one without a purpose.

flat tire

 

Luckily turning a metal wheelbarrow into a planter is as easy as drilling a whole lot of holes into the bottom of it for drainage then filling it with potting soil.

 

wheelbarrow planter DIY

You could also paint the wheelbarrow a fun color but I thought the brick red matched nicely with our house and stood out against the all green backdrop I was putting it against. I wanted the planter to look a little less industrial and a little more intentional so I decided to dress it up with a monogram. I found this image online and simply printed it onto card stock and cut it out with an utility knife.

s monogram

I dry brushed the paint on using a coarse chip brush and Craft Smart acrylic paint in Bright Yellow. I choose yellow because it picked up nicely on the yellow flowers planted in the planter.

yellow s mongram

I have to say that the planter looked nice before I added the monogram, but the monogram really made the whole thing pop especially from the street. I also love how it breaks up what used to be an entirely green corner of the yard. Oh and other than the soil and plants this whole project was free. Can’t beat that!

DIY wheelbarrow planter with stencil

The best plants for the porch

shade plants If you want a beautiful porch that will add tons of curb appeal to your home all you have to do is add plants. Most people, however make 3 crucial mistakes when it comes to potting plants on a covered porch or patio.

Mistake #1: You bought sun loving plants.

Most covered porches and patios are going to be shaded or at best partial sun. Make sure you pick plants that are shade tolerant for your porch. Flowering plants that are labeled full sun will quickly loose their flowers if placed in the shade.

Mistake #2: Your plants aren’t large enough.

When you are planting in a large garden bed you can cluster multiple plants together to get a large impact, but unless you have 20 pots on your front porch this technique isn’t going to work for you. You want your plants to  be visible from the street, yard, or house so that you can enjoy them when you are not sitting on your porch. Also, if passerbys can’t see the plants from the road then they are not boosting your curb appeal. You have limited space on a porch, so make sure to pick plants that are large and lush looking. You can see from the picture below of our porch that while there are not a lot of plants they all make a dramatic impact from the street.

Shade plants for porch

Mistake #3: You are not watering or fertilizing enough.

Pots have many benefits over gardens: no weeding, less space, can be placed on concrete. However, they do have one downfall: the suck up water and nutrients out of the soil since they can’t be replaced naturally through rain or organic decomposition. This means that your pots need to be watered and fertilized frequently. I find that once the summer heat hits my pots need to be watered everyday and since the ones on my porch do not receive rainfall that means I water them by hand.  Typically fertilizing once every 1-2 weeks is fine or you can plant in Miracle Grow soil or use a slow release fertilizer.

Below are my 3 favorite plants to use on our covered porch. All do well in the shade, look beautiful and lush, and are easy to maintain.

Hostas

hosta on front porch

Hostas are a mounding perennial that prefer shade to partial sun and produce purple flowers in late Spring. Many people don’t think to plant perennials in pots, but the major advantage of them is that with absolutely no work they come back every single Spring. In fact, Hostas require absolutely no work to maintain. One of my favorite things about Hostas is that you can split your stock. After a year or two if your plant is becoming rather large you can dig it up (preferably in the Fall) break it in two, and replant them as two separate plants. I’ve done this many times in my garden and they always come back beautiful, and well, hey who doesn’t like free plants? Hostas are planted for their foliage and will maintain their bright green leaves until winter (the flowers will die back after a couple of weeks). They come in many different varieties including variegated which you can see in my picture above.

Boston Ferns

boston fern for the porch

 

 Boston Ferns are another shade loving plant that is grown for it’s foliage. I hang 3 ferns in baskets on my porch every year, and they instantly add a vibrancy and lushness to an area that looked otherwise dead all winter. As tropical plants, ferns do well in the heat and won’t die back until the first frost.

Impatiens

New guinea impatiens

My first two picks for the best plants for the porch were both green foliage and for good reason. They are large, lush, impressive, and won’t lose their vibrancy, but sometimes a little color is called for. My favorite flower to use on my porch is impatiens. Impatiens are shade loving and come in a variety of colors. Other than deadheading, watering , and fertilizing they  do not need any extra care. They will bloom all spring and summer until the first frost hits. The variety I have planted above is called a New Guinea Impatiens and is a little more fancy than your typical run of the mill variety.

Well those are my top 3 choices for plants that do well on a covered porch. Keep in mind that I live is zone 7, so your success with some of these plants may vary depending where you live, but in general they are all pretty low maintenance. So tell me, what are you go to plants for covered areas?

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Painted pots for herbs

pinterest challenge spring 2013

It’s Pinterest Challenge Time Spring Edition over at Young House Love. If you are not familiar with the Pinterest challenge, Sherry and John challenge you to take one of the ideas you pinned on Pinterest and actually complete the project. Since it’s springtime I thought I’d finally tackle painting some pots for the deck.

Painted pots are beautiful and add a lot of color to an otherwise brown deck, but they can also be terribly expensive. I also find that finding them in the colors I want is difficult. It seems like the only option in painted pots is rustic Tuscan or Caribbean beach.  I consider our deck to be more Young Cottage with a lot of natural elements infused with bright colors. I already had some terracotta pots lining our deck stairs but as you can see from the picture below they needed some love.

how to paint terracotta pots

Now that the seating area had some nice new cushion covers it only made how shabby the steps looked even more obvious. I decided I would line both sides of the stairs with new painted pots that would coordinate with the color scheme of the furniture under the gazebo (red, yellow, orange, and green). To make them a little more interesting I also decided to number them using numerical vinyl numbers in black. Here’s a shot of what the stairs used to look like. Notice the crumbling, uncoordinated, and blah pots we had before (excuse the Lizzie photo bomb).

How to paint terracotta pots
First, I bought eight 10 in terracotta pots and eight 6 in saucers from Lowe’s.  You could certainly use plastic pots as well but I thought the terracotta pots had more heft to them. The pots were 3.97 a piece and the saucers were 1.37 ( I had a $10 off coupon which brought them down to $3.26 a pot and $1.12 a saucer). Here’s what they looked like at the start.

How to Paint a terracotta pot

I already had all the paint for this project left over from other projects. You can pretty much use any exterior paint or acrylic paint on terracotta. I painted them using a cheap chip brush. I found that the combination of the semi-gloss finish and the cheap brush actually gave the pots a nice glazed finish look. I started by painting all of the pots white. I used Olympic Exterior in Delicate White from Lowe’s ( the same paint we used on the bookcases and Sophie’s table). I left the top band unpainted because I am going to paint them a different color. Paint the bottom of the saucers first them flip them over to paint the top. It took two coats of paint and dried pretty fast.

painted pots for hern or flowers

I let the white paint dry over night before starting on the color bands.  Once I was sure the white paint had dried completely, I taped off below the band which I want to paint. I painted half of the pots with Behr Exterior Grenadine from Home Depot (same color that is on all our exterior doors as well as on our outdoor side tables) and the other half with Valspar Exterior Duramax Dandelion Wish from Lowe’s (the same color that is on our outdoor coffee table). I gave them a good two coats making sure to do at least an inch inside the pot as well. I let them dry all day before peeling off the tape. Here they are drying in the sun.

Painted pots for herbs or flowers

Once all the paint was dry I simply stuck on the black vinyl numbers making sure to alternate the colors as I wanted them to be on the steps. Here they are all done. Not only do they new pots look nice and clean (and all coordinate) but I love how they frame out the gazebo behind them with coordinating colors/ painted pots terracotta herbs

Here’s a close-up of the left side.

painted terracotta pots

And a close-up of the right side.

painted terracotta pots herbs

Here’s a close-up of one of the pots. If you look closely you can see the brush strokes in the paint which give it a glazed appearance.

painted pot

Aren’t these slate herb markers adorable? I picked them up at a farmer’s market in Vermont last summer. Too bad I didn’t buy enough of them. I’m on the prowl to find some more of them.

slate herb marker

And in case you were wondering wheat herbs we planted, here you go:

potted herbs

The chives, oregano, and thyme were left over from last year. I dug them up from the front garden and transplanted them to the pots. I really wanted some sage as well but for some unfathomable reason Lowe’s didn’t have any when I was there. If I find some I’ll have to plant it in the vegetable garden instead.

Project cost

10 in pots                   3.26 x 8= 26.08

6 in saucers               1.37×8=     8.96

Vinyl Numbers                              2.99

Paint                                                  0.00

Total                                         $38.03 or $4.75 a pot

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Vinegar Weed Killer: An all natural approach

 

vinegar weed killer

I like to think that we’re pretty “green”. At least we try to be, but let’s face it sometimes industrial products just work great. Round-up is certainly one of those products. I usually hand pull all the weeds in our gardens (environmentally friendly and a good workout), but I typically spray the weeds and grass on our paths (not environmentally or back friendly) and patio because of the difficulty in pulling them out.I have a couple of reservations about using Round-up though:

  1. It’s expensive. 1.33 gallons goes for $24.42 on Amazon.
  2. It’s toxic. I worry about the kids finding it in the garage. I worry about the kids and dogs walking through it on the paths and dragging it into the house. I worry about it contaminating the groundwater, rivers, and soil.
  3. It’s owned by Monsanto…..enough said.

So when the weeds starting popping up in the path this Spring and I was out of Round-up I decided to try a new approach: use vinegar as a weed killer.  This isn’t really a new idea. I’ve seen it floating around Pinterest for a while, but it was the first time I had tried it myself. As you can see in the above picture I bought 1 gallon of distilled white vinegar from the grocery store and poured it into an empty Method bottle (yay for reusing). Here’s what the garden path looked like before being sprayed with vinegar:

Natural vinegar weed killer

I sprayed the weeds with vinegar the same way I would have with Round-up then left them in the sun to hopefully die (gosh that sounds harsh). Here’s what the path looked like the next day:

natural vinegar weed killer

As you can see the weeds are all dead. I was actually pretty impressed with how well it worked. I had anticipated having to spray the weeds a couple of times before they really died. Here’s what I really liked about using vinegar as a weed killer:

  1. It’s cheap! You can find a gallon for under $5 at any grocery store. Amazon has one for $4.28. That makes the vinegar $14 a gallon cheaper than Round-up.
  2. It worked!
  3. I didn’t freak out when the wind blew the wrong way and I got sprayed. I also didn’t freak out when my toddler went tearing down the path barefoot right after I had sprayed it.
  4. No “hippy remorse” over potentially threatening the environment.
  5. The same gallon of vinegar can be used for laundry, cleaning toilets, cooking, and about 100 other household chores.

Well, I’m a convert. We’re going to skip the Round-up from now on and stick with vinegar (take that Monsanto!) I’m going to keep experimenting to see if it works on all types of weeds and also see if different types of vinegar work the same (I have a whole gallon of apple cider vinegar sitting around too).