How to DIY a Pergola and Save Thousands!

A pergola is a great addition to any yard, but it can be expensive to have one built. But if you do it yourself, then you can save thousands of dollars, as long as you know how to do it. The follow guide was brought to us by our friends at Popular Mechanics. Enjoy!

First, you want to place the posts and tightly secure the anchors into the ground so that the pergola is strong and sturdy. There are a few different ways to do this (and different materials you can try out), but the anchor is vital in order to have a safe pergola. Once the anchors are secure, place the support beams in them and attach securely.

After the posts are in, it’s time to attach the safety beams. These keep the posts securely in place and prevent them from toppling over in high winds or other inclement weather or sudden movement. Make sure the support beams are even and flush with one another so that the pergola is straight all the way through.

Next are the crossbeams for added support and a nice aesthetic appeal. If you’re handy with a saw, and want a nice look, curve the ends so that you don’t just have a straight piece of wood sticking out.  Attach the other trim and braces around your pergola for maximum security and appeal.

Now it’s time to fit the slats into the top of the pergola to get that rustic and charming look that you’re probably going for. Make sure the slats are screw tightly to the frame in order to prevent them from falling out or breaking off.

Lastly, you can cap the posts to give the pergola a more finished look. This isn’t necessary, but I like it because it makes it look more elegant and professional. Go ahead and paint or decorate the pergola however you want. You’re all finished!

9 Gardening Mistakes You are Probably Making

I’ll be honest, before I started gardening, I didn’t know that not all soil is created equal. Planting in rich, moist soil is so much different than planting in rocky and grainy soil. So, before you plant, know your soil. You can do an intense soil test, if you want, to really see how viable that plot of land is.

5 Homemade Products to Use in Your Garden

Seed tape is really nice, and now there’s no need to go out and buy some. You can make your own! Use a roll of (biodegradable) toilet paper as DIY seed tape. Simply place the seeds on the paper, fix them in there, and then roll up. You just have to throw them out on the garden when you’re ready.

7 Surprising Ways to Use Coffee Grounds in Your Garden

I love composting, but sometimes it can be hard to balance all the nutrients that need to go in there. However, coffee grounds are great for the compost pile because they can give it that extra boost of nitrogen needed to best take care of your plants.

Coffee grounds are also great supplements to soil because it enhances some of the features to make it even better. For example, coffee grounds in the soil can improve drainage and water retention as well as aerate the soil to make it more hospitable towards plants.

Acid-lover plants (like azaleas) will also love having coffee grounds mixed into their soil. The coffee grounds will lower the soil’s pH level, and your acid-lover plants will love YOU for that!

Some pests, such as slugs, snails, and ants, can be repelled using coffee grounds. The caffeine in them repel and even kill some of those critters, which is great news for you! Sprinkle the coffee grounds around your plants or just on the border of your garden to help protect them.

Mulch is another great reason to add coffee grounds to your garden. The density of the coffee grounds help insulate the ground, which keeps the roots of your plants warm and toasty. Their favorite!

If you have a worm bin, then throw those leftover coffee grounds into it! Worms love it, and they’ll be extra productive for your use in the garden.

Make coffee ground “tea” by soaking some coffee grounds in a bucket of water for a while. Once the water turns an amber color, drain the leftover grounds out and put the liquid in a spray bottle. Spray that onto your plants, and it’ll provide them with extra nutrients to help grow!

8 Gardening Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you’re a beginning gardener or an experienced green thumb, this mistake is a common way. Starting out too big can make you fizzle out really quickly. It may be tantalizing to see the magazine pictures full of lush and gorgeous gardens, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Honestly evaluate your own skill and time, and then plan accordingly.

That’s the next big thing: make sure to map out your garden. You don’t know how many people email me for gardening help, and when I ask about their garden plan, they say they didn’t have one. This is so important, people! Take some time in the fall or winter to sketch out what you want to grow and where you want to put it. This will seriously save you so much time and headache down the road.

I have a funny story to tell you about when I first got into gardening. I had decided I wanted to improve my green thumb, and so I went to the local nursery and bought a BUNCH of seeds. So many seeds. I went to go plant them in my garden aaaand…I ran out of space about three packets in. Yeah, I had way too many seeds for my garden. So buy your seed packets one at a time or at least don’t go out and buy dozens of them. Plan your purchases smartly.

Gardening is more than just going out to your backyard in the summer and planting some seeds. No, if you want a good garden, you need to prepare the soil much earlier than the summer months. As soon as you can go out in the spring (without breaking your tools in the ground or getting stuck in mud), start preparing the soil. Once you’ve planted your seeds, it’s too late. They’re stuck with the soil they have, even if it’s poor quality.

When it comes to your garden, remember location, location, location. You could have all the experience in the world, but if you have a poor garden location then your plants will not grow well. Look at what you plan on planting and make sure they get the sun or shade they need. Something else to consider is soil drainage, accessibility to animals, etc. You want to choose a location that will keep your plants strong and healthy.

Watering is probably one of the most important parts of gardening. And if you’re not committed to it, then your garden will most likely fail (or at least not reach its potential). First, always read the watering instructions for your plants. Next, stay consistent. If you water whenever you feel like it, you’re going to get subpar fruits and veggies.

Spacing is also really important for a strong and happy garden. There’s really no such thing as TOO much space to harm a plant, but you can definitely put them too close. Follow the instructions on the seed packet so that your plants can have all the space they need.

When I first started gardening, I figured pruning and trimming wasn’t necessary. To some extent, it isn’t (you can still get fruits and veggies without it), but your yield will be a LOT better if you prune and trim. This allows the plants to conserve energy, and it helps prevent rot and other diseases. Take the time to prune and trim your plants as necessary so that your garden can be healthy.

8 Genius Yet Simple Tomato Growing Tips

This may seem counterintuitive, but you may want to plant three or four varieties of tomatoes, especially if this is your first year planting them. By growing a few different varieties in the same year, you can determine which is best. The local climate, soil type, and garden location will all affect your tomatoes, and you may find that one variety grows much better than the others. After that, you can focus on that one variety, if you want.

The best location for tomatoes to grow is in direct sunlight with shelter from the wind. The sun will give the tomatoes all the energy and nutrients they need to grow, and the protection from the sun will allow them to grow without their root and vine system being compromised.

Speaking of root systems, plant your tomato seeds four inches deep. This promotes a strong and healthy root system. If you live in a really hot climate, you may want to plant them six inches deep in order to access moister soil.

You may also consider composting your soil. I highly suggest this since the compost will provide more nutrients for the tomatoes to absorb. This may not be necessary, but it can definitely help if your tomatoes seem to be struggling to grow.

Once the tomatoes have grown and are beginning to sprout flowers and other runners, pinch and prune them. The flowers may be pretty, but they’re taking away energy that could be used to grow better tomatoes. Also, the runners and growths in the joins of the stem take away energy too. By pruning and pinching them off, you help the plant conserve energy.

For those with limited ground space, use cages, trellises, or stakes for vertical growth. This is actually a great idea even if you have a large garden. Vertical growth makes it easier to harvest when the time comes, plus it can also help prevent infestation and fungal growth.

When your tomatoes get to about 3 feet in height, remove the leaves from the bottom foot of the stem. These are the oldest leaves on the plant, and they’re the ones most likely to grow rot and fungus. By removing them, you’re saving yourself possible work in the future. It’s just a nice precautionary measure to grow the healthiest tomato plants possible.

Remember to water your tomato plant regularly. Now, this is always important, but irregular and infrequent watering can actually do more damage to tomatoes than good. Poor watering habits can lead to the tomatoes drying out or even growing rot, neither of which are good. Most experts say your tomato plant should get at least 1 inch of water a week.

6 Foolproof Ways to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Before you get butterflies in your garden, you need to attract and foster caterpillars. The best way to do that is by providing them with foliage that they like to eat. For example, plant milkweed to attract caterpillars that will eventually turn into monarch butterflies.

This may seem a bit obvious, but don’t use chemically harsh insecticides on your garden. I know you want to treat for bad insects, but the insecticides can accidentally kill butterflies too. Instead, try a less harmful but still potent organic or natural insecticide.

Create a puddling area in your garden that will bring butterflies to your yard. A puddling area is pretty much a safe place the butterflies can go to get water and necessary minerals. What you do is put some sand or gravel in a shallow container and then add water. The butterflies will be attracted to it and come to your garden!

I also suggest leaving out pieces of fruit that the butterflies can feast on. You can spread them all around your garden or put them in one small area near the plants you want the butterflies to pollinate. The sugary syrups from the fruit attract the butterflies to your garden.

Talk to your local nursery and figure out what local plants you can grow to bring native butterflies. This is good on multiple levels. It encourages local growth and butterfly development, it makes gardening easier (since the plants are used to the climate), and it keeps gardening in the local sphere. This is like buying from the farmer’s market, but for your garden.

Make sure the plants you want pollinated are in full sun. Butterflies like to pollinate in the sun, so if your plants are in the sun, then they’re more likely to be pollinated. If you have potted plants, consider moving them in order to maximize on the sun.

12 Amazing Pathways for Your Yard and Garden

Don’t spend any money and make this pathway out of an old garden pallet. You can use the slabs of wood for the steps to create a boardwalk in your yard. Paint and coat the wood if you want them to last longer or look a different color.

This log slices pathway is incredibly gorgeous. I love the texture it creates while also adding color and depth to the yard. For a rustic look, this is definitely the path to choose.

Flagstone is a common pathway for your yard. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Flagstone looks great in nearly any backyard, and the options are limitless.

Brick is one of my favorite types of pathways. You can choose any design you like, and it will always look classy. These brick paths remind me of simpler times. The color contrasts with the grass and greenery for a dazzling effect.

Lay in some diamond-shaped stones to add a unique touch to your yard. They work well for getting around without being your bland and boring pathway. The diamond-shape really gives the yard some personality.

This moss-and-stone pathway is just so fun. It reminds me of those old cottages you see in Ireland and Scotland. It provides a sense of privacy and intimacy that the other pathways just can’t offer.

Make your own mosaic pathway for a really fun DIY project. You can even get your kids involved, if you wanted. The mosaic can be as simple or complex as you’d like; it’s your choice!

Don’t underestimate the simple elegance of a gravel pathway with raised edge. The border is necessary because it prevents the gravel from spreading out, but it also gives the path a really crisp and clean look. Choose colors that complement each other well.

Stepping stones are a classic approach to your garden pathway. There are lots of options and ideas, even DIY ones, so your possibilities are endless. Combine them with soft grass to get a pathway everyone will love using.

I think this inverse path is such a genius idea! It just is so cute and quaint. You have the grass be the pathway and then the stones and other features be the sight to see. Isn’t that fun?

Go for a more modern feel with this pebbles and rectangular stepping stones idea. This is especially good in hot climate areas where grass is too hard to grow and maintain. You can do it anywhere you want, though.

If you have a hill in your yard or a slope that needs a pathway, try this. It’s a simple and rustic idea that gets the job done. These wooden stairs combine with the stone/rock steps to create a beautiful scene in your yard.

10 Homemade and Effective Garden Remedies

Liquid dish soap is probably one of the most common ingredients I’ve seen for homemade garden remedies. Here’s the best recipe I’ve found so far. Mix 1 tablespoon of the soap into one gallon of water. Spray the plants with this mixture, including their undersides. This mixture helps repel insects and pests.

Add some nutrients to your garden by mixing in egg shells or banana peels. Whichever you do, make sure to cut them up so that they can be absorbed more easily into the ground. The egg shells help with calcium and the banana peels help with potassium.

To get your pepper plants to hold their fruit for longer, try this remedy. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt into a spray bottle of warm water. Shake well and apply conservatively to your pepper plants once they start to form flowers. Do this as long as the plant is fruiting.

Kill ants with a simple remedy that isn’t harmful to your family. Mix ¼ cup of sugar with ¼ cup of borax. Make sure to mix well. Sprinkle the concoction around the anthill. The ants will bring it back to their home thinking it’s sugar, and the borax will kill them.

Garlic is a great ingredient to use in any homemade insect repellent. The smell is so strong and potent that many bugs can’t stand it (although I love it). Blend up two whole bulbs of garlic and mix it into a quart of water. Let the mixture soak overnight then strain it into a quart jar, mix in 1 teaspoon of dish soap, and enough water to fill the jar. You can also add ½ cup vegetable oil too. When ready to use, mix 1 cup of the mixture with a quart of water and spray liberally on your plants to repel bugs.

A quick remedy that can be made for your garden is with baking soda. All you need to do is mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 gallon of water and a teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Spray this on plants suffering from powdery mildew or other fungal infections.

Another way to deal with fungal infections is to use milk. Mix 1 quart of milk with 1 quart of water. Spray the mixture onto the plant. Do this once a week for three weeks, and the fungus should go away.

Snails and slugs are the bane of every gardener’s existence. They are so annoying and destroy everything. Fill a shallow saucer with stale beer and place it in the garden. That’s all you need to do. The slugs and snails will be attracted to the beer, but they’ll drown in it.

Vinegar is a great way to kill unwanted weeds in your yard and garden. Spray undiluted white vinegar onto the weeds at least daily, making sure not to get it on any of the plants you want alive. Repeat this until the weed dies.

Are deer, rabbits, and other critters eating up your garden? Try this homemade remedy. Mix together 3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of Tabasco sauce, and 2 quarts of warm water. That’s a spicy sauce! Spray it around the border of your garden and those pests will avoid your garden like the plague!