How to Make Your Front Yard Low-Maintenance

Not everyone has extra time to spend taking care of their front yard. While outdoor spaces are important, it’s easy to let yard upkeep fall by the wayside. Luckily there are lots of things you can do to make your yard attractive and inviting without spending hours working on it every week. Here are some of the best tips for creating and maintaining a low-maintenance front yard:

Always Research Your Plant Choices Beforehand

Grass lawns are notorious for requiring time and effort to maintain, but other plants can be just as bad. It’s easy to plant a lot of beautiful flowers and shrubs only to find that it’s a full-time job to keep them alive and looking good. The best way to avoid this is to research and plan your plant choices before you buy.

Some things to consider when looking for plants include:

  • Climate Zones – Most plants are labeled according to their respective USDA Hardiness Zones. You can use this information to make sure your choices of plants have a chance of surviving in your climate. While it’s possible to grow plants outside of your zone, it’s definitely not an effortless task. Choosing plants for your zone will keep your workload smaller.

  • Compatible Needs – It’s important to stick with plants that need similar amounts of sunlight and water. This will save you time and potential frustration over patches of your yard perishing in the heat while others thrive. For example, if you have lots of shade in your yard, group shade-loving plants together rather than mix in those requiring lots of sun.

  • Upkeep Requirements – Some plants simply require more attention than others. Many flowers need pruning and dead-heading every week during the growing season in order to stay beautiful and fresh. It might not sound like much, but that time can add up especially if you have a lot of plants to take care of.

Plant Perennials Wherever Possible

Perennials are plants that go dormant in the winter and spring back to life every year when the weather gets warmer. All perennials have slightly different growing seasons, so you can plan strategically to stagger them and always have some color in the yard. Perennials will save you a lot of time and money—you only need to buy and plant them once for years worth of foliage or blooms. Hardy perennial flowers like coneflower, geranium and chrysanthemums are excellent choices for low-maintenance color in your front yard.

Don’t Forget Mulch

Mulching your yard will keep your plants healthy and keep your work to a minimum. Mulch has several different benefits, primarily helping the soil maintain the right moisture and temperature levels. It also deters pests from preying on your plants and also keeps weeds from growing. Weed-prevention alone is a huge time-saver, but you’ll find that with proper mulch application you won’t need to water as frequently or worry about many common pests.

These are some basic guidelines to help you create and keep a low-maintenance front yard that still looks healthy and beautiful. As long as you stick to these tips and do your research you’ll be able to save time and money while having the best looking yard in the neighborhood.

Beginners Guide to Creating a Mini Hydroponics System

A mini hydroponics system serves as a fun way to grow all your favorite fruits and vegetables all throughout the year. The plants get their nutrients from flowing water instead of soil, letting you skip the dirt in favor of something a little fancier. You can then control every aspect of their nutrient intake and grow a ton of plants in a small footprint. Ready to get started? Here’s what to do.  

What You Will Need

Although it is easy enough to operate, a mini hydroponics system requires many supplies and a couple hours of setup time.

You will need:

  • 20-gallon fish tank or plastic tote

  • Submersible water pump

  • Air stone and pump

  • PVC pipe with end caps

  • Rubber tubing

  • Indoor grow lights

  • Surge protector

  • Hydroponics pots

  • Growing medium (coco chips, rocks, oasis cubes, etc.)

  • Nutrient solution

  • Seeds

Also, grab a drill with a hole saw and several large bits, so you can create spaces for your pots in the PVC pipe plus inlet and outlets for the water.  

How to Get Set Up

Once you have your supplies, you will need to follow these steps to create your mini hydroponics system.

  1. Find a place near an electrical outlet to set up your mini hydroponics system.

  2. Place the tote or fish tank in its permanent position and put the air stone on the bottom.

  3. Run tubing from the air stone to its pump and hook up the surge protector.

  4. Put the water pump in the other side and suction it to the side of the tank.

  5. Fill up the tank halfway with distilled water and mix in the nutrient solution.

  6. Cut holes in the PVC pipe to fit up to six pots along its length.

  7. Cut a smaller hole in the upper surface of the pipe near the last pot.

  8. Cut a hole along the bottom of the tube on the other side to create a drain.

  9. Place the tube from the water pump into the hole in the upper surface.

  10. Plug in the air and water pump to the surge protector.

Once you plug in the pumps, the air pump will aerate the water to give your plants oxygen as they grow. The water pump will send water through the PVC pipe, which will then flow back down into the tank through the drain hole. This system needs to run constantly to keep your plants thriving.

After completing your steps, your mini hydroponics system is ready for plants. Add the pots to the pipe, place growing medium inside and plant your seeds. Leafy greens work the best in this type of system, but you can experiment with different plants to see what you like to grow. Also, don’t forget to install your LED grow lights about 12- to 24-inches above the tank.

Upkeep of Your Garden Hydroponics System

You will need to regularly check the pipe to make sure that the roots are not clogging your pipe or drain. If so, you can trim the roots back slightly or remove that plant and put new seeds in its place.

You will also need to change the water about once every couple of months to keep the nutrient solution fresh enough for your plants. Make sure to clean the tank thoroughly when you do that to prevent mold, mildew and algae growth.

As you figure out which plants thrive in your system, you can treat yourself to fresh fruit and veggies of all kinds. Even herbs are worth trying to grow once you have a good understanding of gardening hydroponics.

How to Make Planters From a Wine Barrel

If you’re looking for a satisfying garden DIY project, try repurposing an old wine barrel. Wine barrels are made of sturdy materials and built to last even long after their original purpose has ended. This makes them excellent candidates for outdoor planters. Here we’ll go over the process and materials you’ll need to make your very own DIY wine barrel planter.

Materials

Wine barrel
Circular Saw
Pencil
Chalk line marker
Tape measure
Sand paper
Glasses or eye protection
Ear plugs
Protective gloves
Power drill & spade bit

Where to Find Wine Barrels

If you don’t already have a wine barrel sitting around, there are a few ways you can get them. First would be to look at any local thrift or second-hand stores, especially those with outdoor goods. If you have any vineyards or wineries nearby, you can contact them and inquire about helping them recycle. If all else fails you can always turn to online marketplaces to find the materials you need.

How to Build Your Planters

  1. First, turn the barrel on its side and use your tape measure to find the very middle. Once you have it, mark it with a pencil all the way around the barrel.

  2. Next, use the chalk line marker on the pencil line to mark where you’ll need to cut with the saw.

  3. Once the middle of the barrel is well-marked, carefully cut along the line using a circular saw. Make sure you and anyone helping you wear protective gear when using power tools. For extra stability, wedge the barrel between two cinder blocks or other heavy material as a brace.

  4. Once you have cut the barrel in half, use your power drill and a spade bit to cut drainage holes in the bottom of the new planters. For a planter of this size you should have at least 4 drainage holes.

  5. Carefully sand the edges of the barrel along where you cut it. This will help you avoid splinters, snags and other hazards when handling the planter.

  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the other half of the barrel.

  7. Now you’re ready to plant! Add a layer of gravel to the bottom of your barrels before your choice of potting mix, then fill with your favorite flowers, plants or herbs. For a super easy gardening hack, place your plants right into the barrel, container and all. Nestled closely together the plants will appear lush and full but be much easier to transplant or remove if you ever need to make changes.

With this project you’ll have created not one but two wooden wine barrel planters. This is an excellent way to repurpose old materials and enjoy the satisfaction of DIY crafts. Now you can enjoy these planters in your garden, patio or even indoors for years to come.

3 Tips for Protecting Your Vegetable Garden From Frost

Cold weather can be bad news for vegetable gardens, especially if unexpected. While many plants are hardy and frost-resistant, most tender vegetables cannot survive sudden freezing temperatures. Luckily, there are some measures you can take to protect your garden from an unexpected frost. Here are some tips to remember:

Water During the Day

Adjust your watering schedule to ensure you’re watering during the day. The key is to saturate the soil rather than leave extra moisture on the leaves. Damp soil can trap heat and insulate the roots of the plant, protecting them from cold. As the water evaporates, it will keep the air slightly warmer near ground level.

Cover Crops With Blankets & Sheets

Old sheets and lightweight blankets can make great DIY frost protection. Use garden stakes, hoops or other supports to create a low tent over the veggies with the sheet or blanket. This will keep them insulated and protect the tender leaves from freezing. Another great tip is to use pillowcases on your tomato cages–just make sure to remove all of the fabric in the morning so the plants can get the light they need.

Shield With Plastic Containers

Plastic is an incredibly efficient insulator. Many gardeners build vegetable greenhouses out of plastic sheets to keep the plants safe and warm in cold climates. Plastic sheeting is a convenient option because you can cut it to size; however, using plastic bins, storage boxes, garbage cans or any other plastic container works just as well. Place them upside-down over your plants to shield them from the frost. This is especially effective for seedlings and tender greens.

These are just a few ways to protect your garden from freezing temperatures. For a thriving garden any time of year, make sure to research the specific needs of each plant so you know where to focus your efforts.