How to Create a Smart Home: DIY Home Energy Efficiency Tips

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free. This post contains affiliate links.
home energy efficiency tips

One bill I hate to see every month is our electric bill. Not only can the amount fluctuate from month to month but I feel as if now that I’m working from home I am the sole cause of the increases to our bill. But after doing my research I feel confident in applying these home energy efficiency tips in our home to help lower our electric bill.

And this couldn’t be a better time to start thinking about energy efficiency in our homes. Especially since our cost of electricity is expected to rise greatly come Winter.

If you’re concerned about high electric bills and want to do something to make your home more energy efficient (as well as save on your monthly bill!) consider making a few simple DIY changes around the home to help conserve your electrical usage.

home energy efficiency tips weather stripping

Home Energy Efficiency Tips

1. Close up the air gaps!

Talk a walk around your house and inspect the outer perimeter of your home to find where air can get in. Using weather stripping around doors and windows, eliminate air from getting in and out.

2. Replace your light bulbs

By replacing your light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs you can save up to 75% in lighting cost. An added bonus? They last longer too!

home energy efficiency tips cfl bulbs

3. Look at your HVAC system

Your HVAC system consists of the heating/cooling equipment, the thermostat, the pipes, the filters, and the duct work found in a central forced air system. Inspect your HVAC system to make sure it’s been properly maintained. If you aren’t sure when the last time it was checked is consider contacting a certified HVAC contractor to do an inspection.

If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat I suggest picking up a Home Nest Smart Thermostat. This is the new 3rd generation version, which is thinner, sleeker in design, and allows for a bigger, crisper display than the prior 2nd generation version.

Not only can you set where the temperature should stay throughout the day and night but you can save money by having your system run only when you want it to. We like to keep our air off until it reaches 78 in the house in the summer. We normally keep the house between 75 and 78 degrees when we’re home. And the heater doesn’t kick on until it’s 65 degrees in the house. But usually the temperature is between 65-70 depending on who’s home. With the Nest there is no need to set preferences – within a week, the Nest learning thermostat starts programming itself. It learns your habits and adjusts automatically, regulating your home’s temperature based on your schedule – which can save you energy and money.


Programmable Nest Thermometer

When used with the new Netgear exclusive router (on store shelves 11/4) you’ll be able to increase or decrease the temperature whenever you need to, even if you’re upstairs! This is a brand new router that was exclusively developed between Netgear, an industry leader in the networking world, and Best Buy, to help provide consumers with an easy, all-in-one solution to support their home’s connected devices.

Best Buy makes it easy with this new high performance Wi-Fi router, which includes a Wi-Fi extender and Geek Squad Set Up and Support via phone & web, for one full year. The Geek Squad service via phone & web allows customers to call or get help 24/7 whenever they want, vs. the need to schedule an appointment. Plus they’re always so friendly and helpful when you do connect with them!

home energy efficiency tips filtertone alarm

4. Check your appliances

Appliances make up about 17% of the average home’s energy usage. Refrigerators, clothes washers and dryers are at the top of that list. Make sure that your fridge temperature is set between 38-40 degrees F and your freezer is set to 0 degrees F. Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature.

If you have appliances older than 10 years you should consider investing in a newer, more energy efficient model.

5. Test your hot water

Heating water for bathing, washing clothes, and dishes accounts for as much as 15-30% of your household energy use. And the temperature setting of the hot water heater determines the energy used to heat your water. Make sure to check your hot water temperature with a digital thermometer. The temperature should be between 120 and 130 degrees F.

Don’t forget the insulation! Hot water heaters also need to be insulated. If the shell of the heater feels warm to the touch then it should be wrapped in an insulating blanket.

If your hot water heater is 15 years old it might be time to replace it. Look for replacement tanks that have an energy factor of over .62 for gas and .93 for electric. Gas-heated tankless water heaters save about 320% on your yearly energy usage.

home energy efficiency tips digital thermometer

6. Turn off your lights and computer

By simply turning off your lights when not in use, or installing timers to turn them off for you, you can save a lot on your utility bill!

Consider solar lights for the outside of your home or in your garden. Not only will they not be using electricity but you can still feel safe knowing the lights are on outside. We love our solar powered motion censored light out in our front and back yards.

Take a walk around the house and make note of the equipment that is plugged in but not being used. Consider unplugging these devices or investing in a smart strip. Smart strips are easy and convenient to use and will shut off the power to devices that are plugged into it but not in use. You can reduce your energy output by 21$ with just one smart strip installed!

home energy efficiency tips smart strip

Incentives from your local utility, plus federal tax credits and other options, can save you thousands of dollars on your Energy Upgrade. It takes a little bit of research and some work but you, too, can reap the rewards of having an energy efficient home and feel good about saving money and conserving energy.

If you decide to do a whole house energy upgrade it’s best to start with a professional home audit. Your local utility company can provide you with a list of auditors and may even cover all or some of the cost!

How do you save on your utility bill?

How to Build a Vertical Garden Using Pallets

 This post contains affiliate links. 

How to Build a Vertical Garden Using Pallets

Ever wonder what else you can do with pallets? I mean besides the thousands of other ideas you find all over the interwebs? Well, my husband and I figured out how to build a vertical garden using pallets. And they’re quite fun!

Now, I want to tell you right now that we’ve had some interesting finds when building these. The first? It’s really difficult to get dirt to stay IN the pallets once you start watering them. Especially if you don’t use a soaker hose line and just spray them with the garden hose.

My son had fun with the muddy clumps that came with that! But once the dirt is settled into the pallets it’s actually quite a good way to grow fun things and makes an awesome display for your yard.

build a vertical garden using pallets - before

This above was the side of our house in the front yard before we put the pallets in. I hated how empty and plain the space was and wanted to use the vertical garden to spruce it up and bring life to this part of the yard.

I don’t think my husband quite understood exactly what I was envisioning in my head but with some team work, a few dirty looks and rolling eyes, and some muddy kids, we got it done.

Oh… and if you’re having trouble finding pallets because everyone and their mom is grabbing them up to make things like this, go to Home Depot or whatever other hardware stores you have around and ask for their sod pallets. They’re more flimsy/rickety (hence the support added) but are perfect for this type of project!

Here’s how!

build a vertical garden using pallets - pallets

How to Build a Vertical Garden Using Pallets

Supplies:

Wood

  • wooden pallet
  • 2×2 doug fir
  • 2×4 doug fir
  • 1×8 cedar fence board
  • 2 4×4 cedar posts

Materials

What you do:

build a vertical garden using pallets - drilling on support beams1. Measure length of pallet and cut 2x2s to that length. These will give extra support to the pallet.

build a vertical garden using pallets - staple black garden cloth

2. Staple weed block fabric to the back of the pallet, pulling taut to make sure it’s stretched all the way across. Layer if needed to cover the full back.

build a vertical garden using pallets - add support panels

3. Measure the width of the pallet from 2×2 to 2×2 and cut 1×8 fence boards to that length. Screw in place over the weed block fabric.

build a vertical garden using pallets - dig post holes and level post

4. Measure the distance you need your posts to be installed on the ground and dig holes for posts. Cut posts to size depending on how far above the ground you want the pallets to be. Make sure to bury them about 1-2′ in the ground to provide a sturdy base.

5. Set posts in the ground by covering with dirt and using a level to determine if you need to move or shift the posts. Measure the back dimensions of the pallet to determine exactly how far apart the posts should be. This will vary with every pallet.

build a vertical garden using pallets - attaching pallet to posts

6. Measure where you want the bottom of hte pallet to be and mark off that height on each post with a pencil. Then cut the 2×4 to the width between the posts. This board will act as a frame for the pallet to sit on. Screw the 2×4 into position directly underneath the line you’ve drawn.

7. Lift pallet into place on the frame and screw to secure.

build a vertical garden using pallets - fill with dirtHow pretty are they??

Next up is the hard part… this is where we had the most trouble… trying to pack in the soil to make sure it stayed in place and didn’t spill all out.

Now you’re probably asking why we didn’t start our pallet garden on the ground and then lift it into place once the plants were established. Well.. you *could* do that but just think of how heavy those pallet gardens would be. Crazy heavy! So we did it this way.

build a vertical garden using pallets - dirt in pallet

8. Using the cardboard stapled to the front of the pallet, fill the pallet with mulchy garden soil. Pack down each layer as you go to make sure it’s secure. There will be some dirt that falls out, simply fill it back again or leave it as is to settle more and fill later.

9. Plant with whatever seeds you think will grow best! We stick to lettuce in one planter and herbs in another with a few strawberries at the bottom. It’s pretty fun to step out and grab herbs whenever I need them!

build a vertical garden using pallets - planting from startersAnother problem we ran into was using starter plants we purchased instead of seeds. While in theory this would work great, when you put a plant that’s been growing vertically in a horizontal planter into a vertical planter and ask it to grow horizontally it looks like this above… droopy.

It’s also quite messy and hard to get the starter plants IN the planter and you spill a TON of dirt everywhere. Our solution? Seeds… start from seed and install an irrigation system with a soaker hose. You can find everything you need for the soaker hose in the irrigation aisle at your local hardware store.

build a vertical garden buckets for run offIf you’re going to use an irrigation system with your garden, know that there will be water that drips down constantly. In order to conserve that water to use on our other plants and in our raised garden beds, we simply put buckets underneath to catch the excess water.

You know what else we found? Bees LOVE to come and drink the water that pools on the last rung of the pallet because they love mineral rich water. That means you’re helping the bees with your vertical garden too! Here’s a close up of a bee drinking. This is a regular sighting.

build a vertical garden using pallets - plant from seed

While it’s been a crazy process, I absolutely love how the vertical gardens make the side of our house look. I consider them more of a decorative piece in our front yard but love that we also get the benefits of growing our own herbs and lettuce.

And since our pallets are in the shade for most of the day, we had to choose plants that would work well in these conditions. I’m sure there are other things one could grow if their vertical garden were directly in full sunlight.

build a vertical garden using pallets - planted

What would you plant in a vertical garden?

Updating Our Home: How To Decide On Flooring

Today we’re sharing how we decided on the flooring for our home. With help from Mohawk Flooring, this sponsored post features tips on what to consider when making flooring decisions.

Updating Our Home How To Decide On Flooring

As the little miss gets closer and closer to crawling, one thing is on our minds: flooring. When we moved into our new home a year ago we knew we wanted to change things up and update the existing flooring but we wanted to wait a bit to get a feel for exactly what we wanted. Now that we’ve lived in the home for a while we know exactly what we want and are saving up to create the home of our dreams, flooring and all.

We’ve gone to check out flooring quite a few times and have finally decided on what we’ll be doing. Since we have to do this in stages, we’ll focus on the downstairs first.My big change will be to take out the carpet in the living and family rooms as well as the hallway to the bedrooms. Then I want to update the carpeting in the downstairs bedrooms, the stairs, and the upstairs rooms to SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet. After our experience with our SmartStrand bound carpets, we know that this product is perfect for our family. Luckily, Mohawk is having a sale!

Updating Our Home How To Decide On Flooring - consider pets and children

How To Decide On Flooring

  1. What Room Are You Updating? – Consider the room the flooring will be in and what you’re using it for. Also consider who will be walking on it. Since we have a dog and small kids, that factors into our decision making. In high traffic areas like our hallways and living/family rooms, we need something that’s durable and easy to clean. In the bedrooms we prefer to have the soft, plush feel of carpet to step on when we wake up. 
  2. What Type Of Flooring Is Best? – Now that you’ve decided what type of flooring you want in your room (carpet, hardwood, etc) you can now narrow down what’s best for that room. Just like the factors you took into consideration when choosing what would go best in the room, you’ll also consider those same things when deciding the specific flooring you get. Also consider the warrenty on the flooring you choose as well as the expected life of the flooring so you know when you’ll need to replace it. 
  3. What Other Colors Are In The Room? – Once you have the type of flooring picked out, now it’s the fun part! Deciding on color/pattern. The biggest deciding factor for me with color is looking at the color palette of the room it’s going in and determining what color would look best. But don’t just go by a small sample square. Most flooring stores will have someone come out with a few large samples so you can see what the color will look like better than those small squares. 

Updating Our Home How To Decide On Flooring - consider colorscape of the room

You can follow Mohawk on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ for more flooring inspiration.

Where will you install your new flooring if you win?

DIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art

This shop featuring a DIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art tutorial has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ProjectAmazing #CollectiveBias

DIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art

A few weeks ago we were perusing IKEA in search of… honestly I completely forget what. But I’m sure it was something we needed. While we were there we also found a nice duvet, a rug for right by our sliding glass door, and a set of 3 geometric canvases that my son desperately wanted. Turns out the canvases were on clearance so all we had to do was figure out what we wanted to do with them.

My son didn’t want to paint over them. He loved the triangles and the colors. So we had to think of some way to incorporate the triangles into our idea. I went with him into his room and looked at what we already had going on. Some large canvas pieces from Pottery Barn Kids (clearance, of course) with a rocket on one and a t-rex on the other, his 1 year cake smash photo, and the cross stitch his great aunt made him with his birth date and stats on it.

Then I looked down and saw what he had on the floor. Dinos spread out everywhere…

DIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art - dinosaur toys

And the idea popped in my head! Those triangles were going to turn into volcanoes and a few extra dinos from the dinosaur box would add to the scenery. But how to attach everything together? Do I cut open the dinos? Use glue?

I really didn’t want to make a mess everywhere. Especially since the kids wanted to help out. So I kept it simple. I grabbed some Command™ picture hanging strips and Command™ Clear Hooks as well as some Scotch® Permanent Double Sided Tape to adhere the dinos onto the canvas.

The Command™ picture hanging strips would be the perfect way to layer the canvases on top of one another to create a 3-D effect. Plus, if we ever wanted to display the 3 canvases seperate, there’s no worry about ruining the canvas underneath.

Here’s how I did the rest:  

DIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art - supplies needed

DIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art

What you’ll need:

  • 3 square canvases with sawtooth mounting
  • a handful of small dinos and greenery
  • paint or paint markers
  • green puffy paint
  • Scotch® Permanent Double Sided Tape
  • Command™ picture hanging strips
  • Command™ saw tooth picture hangers

DIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art - painting canvasesDIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art - paint grass

What you do:

  1. On the canvas, paint out the scenery you want for your dinos. As I mentioned before, we turned our triangles into volcanoes by adding tops to each volcano and some lava spurting out with an orange paint pen. I outlined one of the triangles I painted in with puffy paint to make it stand out.
  2. Once the mountain scenery is dry, add grass by using the puffy paint. You could also use regular green paint to do this but since everything else is 3-D I think the puffy paint gives it a nice touch.
  3. After the grass is dry, figure out where you want to mount the dinos. Then add pieces of the Scotch® Permanent Double Sided Tape to each dino and mount onto the canvas. 
  4. Next up, grab 4 sets of Command™ picture hanging strips (8 strips total) and put each set together. You’ll hear them connect together with a satisfying click. Once each set has been clicked together, remove the backing on one side and add two to the left edge of one canvas (the one you want to be on the right hand side), and add the other two to the right edge of one of the other canvases (the one you wnt to be on the left side). 
  5. Now remove the backing from all 4 sets and set the third canvas on top of the other two overlapping the edges by the width of the Command™ picture hanging strips.
  6. Using the Command™ saw tooth picture hangers, mount the canvases to the wall where you’d like to hang them. 

Tada! Now you have fantastic 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art to display for all to see. 

DIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art - command stripsDIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art - add tapeDIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art - attach dinos to canvas

Command™ Brand provides damage-free hanging solutions for a wide variety of uses for your craft projects. Their products hold on strongly, remove cleanly. That way I don’t worry about damage to my walls, holes left in random places, or a mess left in it’s place. Find more inspiration for amazing summer project ideas here.

Now shoppers no longer have to search Walmart for these 3M products, as they are now available in the crafting aisle. Both Scotch® Brand and Command™ products are available in this aisle at Walmart. I found mine near the adhesives!

Command and Scotch products at Walmart

DIY 3-D Dinosaur Wall Art - simple and easy to make

Where do you find inspiration when crafting?

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium

This past Tuesday was my 8 year wedding anniversary. So much has happened in the past 8 years and I couldn’t be more in love with my husband or more excited about the years to come. Our family has expanded, we’ve moved to a great home in the perfect area of town, we’ve become involved in our community and have expanded our friendships. Life is good.

In celebration of our anniversary I wanted to make something for my husband. I remember him seeing a succulent terrarium at a restaurant or a business somewhere and mentioning that he’d like one for his desk. I had filed it away in my head as a project to make for his birthday or another special occasion. So when this anniversary snuck up on me, I thought that a homemade gift would be perfect.

After visiting City Farmers Nursery with the kids one day to pick up some chicken feed, I saw that they sold all of the components to make your own succulent terrarium. And the options were perfect for creating my own vision and design. Plus? This gift cost less than $20 AND took less than 15 minutes to put together. I’d call that an awesome win! And my husband? He LOVED it. It’s already on his desk at work.

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium - 3 simple things

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium

What you’ll need:

What you do:

1. Place a layer of rocks/sand/dirt of choice in terrarium.

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium - add rocks

2. Plan out where you want your succulent plugs to go. Try and look at the height of each succulent when mapping out your design. Have fun with mixing different types of succulents together.

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium - place succulents in terrarium

3. Add additional rocks around the succulents and include any trinkets you may wish to include as decoration in your terrarium. Sea shells, star fish, pottery pieces, signs, etc. are all great ways to spruce up your succulent terrarium.

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium - perfect for your desk or patioHow To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium - an easy and quick gift idea

Where will you put your new succulent terrarium? What will you add to it?

5 Ways To Help Children Get Their Bedroom Organized

5 Ways To Help Children Get Their Bedroom Organized

Is your child’s bedroom an unorganized mess every time you walk in? Well, if your children are old enough, it may be time to help them learn how to organize their bedroom.

Last year I shared how we get the kids involved in cleaning. And organizing isn’t that much different. Once your kids have mastered cleaning their rooms, learning how to organize will make keeping their rooms clean much easier.

Check out these five ways in which you can help your children get their bedroom structured and under control.

Kids Cleaning Tips - finding easy tasks

5 Ways To Help Children Get Their Bedroom Organized

#1. Bins & Baskets

In my opinion, you can never have too many bins or baskets in a room. As long as there is a place to store these bins and baskets, you are good to go. These contraptions can be stored under beds, in closets, and even on dressers. You can label each bin and basket, so your child knows exactly where everything goes.

#2. Get Rid of Excess

I believe that children learn how to part with things, if their parents teach them well. You can help your child get their bedroom a little more organized by helping them to learn to part with toys that they’re no longer using. Teach your children to always be in the process of getting rid of items that are no longer needed.

#3. Hands & Knees

You may never truly see what your child sees unless you are on your hands and knees. Don’t be afraid to get a child’s eye view of their bedroom this way. You may understand why their room is dirty or unorganized, if you see it from their point of view. Plus, this will help you come up with ideas to help them get a little more organized. Maybe their shelves are too high for them to reach or their drawers are hard to open. If we expect our kids to be a little more organized, then we have to make it a little easier for them.

#4. Always Involve the Child

Making your child leave, while you clean their room teaches them nothing. You must always involve your child in the organizational process, if you want them to learn how to get their bedroom organized. Although this process might take a lot longer, you’re teaching your child a lot during the organizational process. Plus, they are going to appreciate your hard work a lot more if they see what you’ve put into it.

#5. Organize from Top to Bottom

What does this mean? Well, to keep things organized in your child’s bedroom the organizational layout needs to make a little more sense. All toys and things they need to reach should be on the bottom and other items (they don’t need) should be higher up. For example—if you still pick out your child’s clothing, then hanging them up on the highest rack is okay. You can also place items that are not as frequently used on the top shelves, to help eliminate clutter and the temptation to drag out unneeded items.

Organizing your child’s bedroom doesn’t need to be a complete nightmare. Just remember to keep up with the clutter and to always keep things simple. The more items you have in your child’s room, then the harder it will be to organize it.

15 Patriotic Decor Ideas

 

Patriotic Decor Ideas for Summer

Memorial Day is approaching. This holiday is usually the day most consider the unofficial start of Summer. And for us that means decorating for the Summer holidays to not only remember our troops but to remember our country and show our patriotic pride.

I love changing up my mantel and home decor depending on the holiday or season and Summer is the perfect season to decorate with American flags and red, white, and blue decor.

Here are a few patriotic decor ideas to spruce up your home for the summer holidays!

1. Painted Burlap Patriotic Place Settings | Source: A Night Owl

2. Patriotic Wand Centerpiece | Source: The Country Chic Cottage

3. Patriotic Hanging | Source: DIY Beautify

4. Patriotic Paper Flowers Tutorial | Source: View From the Fridge

5. Quickie Memorial Day Garland | Source: Happiness is Homemade

6. Patriotic Mason Jars | Source: Yesterday on Tuesday

7. Patriotic Upcycled Can Flower Pots | Source: Club Chica Circle

8. Pledge Printable | Source: Seven Thirty Three

9. Patriotic Initial Wreath | Source: We Three Smiths

10. Rustic Americana Scrap Fabric Banner | Source: Catch My Party

11. Easy Red, White and Blue Party Decor | Source: She Wears Many Hats

12. Pringles Can Firecrackers | Source: I Gotta Create

13. Patriotic Luminaries | Source: My Blessed Life

14. Vintage-Inspired Patriotic Printables | Source: Live Laugh Rowe

15. Patriotic Clothespin Wreath Tutorial | Source: Everything Etsy

Upcycled Container Gardens: Housing Your Herbs

Upcycled Container Gardens Housing Your Herbs

Around this house, we try to repurpose and upcycle as many things as we can. If it can’t be composted or turned into something else, we try to donate. So very rarely do we end up with things that go in the trash. This makes for a great assortment of containers to be used in the garden.

When we picked up our chicks I knew we’d need a little home for them until they were big enough to go straight into our coop. At 3 weeks old they’d need to stay warm indoors so I picked up a metal bucket at our local hardware store.

Since I knew I would only be using the bucket for a short period of time I already had it earmarked for a project I’d wanted to do for quite a while… a stand alone herb garden!

Growing Chicks
I’m not sure if you know this but chicks, like children, grow like weeds! Seriously.

I turned around for a second and these cute little baby chicks are almost chickens at 2 months! But we still have 4 more months until they’re actually laying eggs (so I’m told).

Upcycled Container Gardens - growing seedlings

With so many things growing in our raised beds (like the broccoli that’s sprouting from our DIY K-Cup Seed Starters) we didn’t have any more room for the herbs I love to have on hand for cooking.

So it just made sense to have a container garden on the patio. What’s a better green work of art than a container garden?

Our next step will be to build a stacked container garden to house the strawberries we’ll be planting soon! How awesome does that sound? It’s as simple as taking this idea and stacking a few smaller containers on top of one another. Then planting in each tier.

Upcycled Container Gardens - cleaning out the container

 

Because our tub housed the chicks, I wanted to make sure that I cleaned the container very well before putting the soil and plants inside.

While some might question why I would clean out the container first – don’t people buy chicken manure? – the chicken poo that may be on the container hasn’t been composted yet. And I don’t want any bacteria that may have been left in the container to contaminate my plants.

But more on composting chicken poo later! Lets get to this herb garden. First up – the chalkboard label.

Upcycled Container Gardens - DIY Chalkboard Label

 Upcycled Container Garden Chalkboard Label

What you’ll need:

  • 2 paper towels (can also use newspaper)
  • painters tape
  • chalkboard spray paint
  • metal container

What You Do:

1. Wipe down the area you wish to put the chalkboard paint on with an all purpose cleaner. Then rinse the container out with water and let dry.

2. Grab two paper towels and cut each in half (4 half sheets). Then cut one half sheet in half again. You’ll have 3 half sheets and 2 quarter sheets.

3. Using the painter’s tape and the paper towel pieces, create a square or rectangle space to spray paint the chalk onto.

4. Put extra paper towels under the container to protect the table underneath from paint.

5. Using the chalkboard spray paint, spray on two coats of chalkboard paint onto the container. Wait about 20 minutes in between each coat to allow them to dry.

6. Remove the paper towels and tape to reveal your chalkboard label. Write on it with chalk and display for all to see!

Upcycled Container Gardens - variety of herbs

Tips for Planting Herbs in a Container Garden

  1. Use good soil – find a soil that’s good for growing vegetables or use a good blend of soil and compost
  2. Depending on where you’re putting your container garden, consider the height each herb/plant gets and plant taller herbs in the back
  3. Plant what you know you already use now in the kitchen
  4. Make sure you are also giving your herbs vegetable food (found at any garden center)
  5. Place the container garden in a spot that will receive direct sunlight and make sure to water!

Upcycled Container Gardens with Chalkboard Label

What’s your favorite way to upcycle old containers?

Adding Desert Plants to Your Garden

Adding Desert Plants to Your Garden

Desert plants include a huge variety that include succulents and cacti, but also include plants like yucca and agave, which most gardeners are not as familiar with. All of these desert plants are beautiful, sculptural and cold hardy, making them able to be added to your garden.

You might have noticed that a lot of desert plants have flowers, and while you are not familiar with their care, it is relatively easy to find out more and add a little boldness to the garden.

If you have never thought about adding desert plants to your garden, but are looking for something a little different and unique, try these low maintenance, drought resistant options. The perfect way to stay water wise in So Cal!

Gardens to Consider

Most people think that cactus and other desert plants only belong in the desert or where it is very hot, but the truth is these plants can grow in areas where the temperature rises and drops with the time of day. Some desert plants are hardy from zone 4 to 9, which includes most of the continental US. We mainly see them in the desert because of the face that they are able to survive the harsh conditions, can grow in very poor soil and are drought resistant, so where everything else has died, they survive.

Providing for Desert Plants

While they can survive in harsh conditions and poor soil, cactus actually love growing in rich soil and flourish when they have had some water. The water has to be well drained for their roots to survive, but as long as they are given plenty of space to grow out, watered regularly, planted in organically rich soil where the sun shines, the only thing you need to consider is the specific hardiness zone for each plant type. Some types of desert plants do well in landscape that is similar to where you would find them in their native area, so do not be afraid to add them to hilly areas, slopes or rock gardens.

Desert Plants to Try

Cactus and aloe plants are relatively easy to find at a local nursery, sold as indoor or tabletop plants. Look for plants that are not miniature or dwarf versions to add to your garden for their height or shape, you want something that will gain attention. Agave plants are another option, and great for first timers. They grow very large in size, and they do so very quickly when they are grow in good soil with a steady supply of water. Add these to rock beds or gentle, sloping ground.

Yucca plants are also easier to find in nurseries, and are one of the only yuccas that a lot of northern gardeners are familiar with. These plants resemble yucca when they first begin to grow, but then let out huge flowering spike that is very dramatic and beautiful. Finally, sotols are another desert variety that looks great in any garden. They are like the ornamental grasses of the desert, with their spiky foliage and frilly edges. Use them to add drama to the front of the garden bed.

Adding Desert Plants to Your Garden xeriscaping

How are you lessening your water bill in the garden?

Recycle Reduce Reuse with K-Cup Seed Starters

We’ve come up with a clever solution to a problem we had: K-Cup seed starters! Take those used k-cups and turn them into something useful. 

K-Cup Seed Starters - recycling in the garden

Over the years we’ve become more and more conscious of our environment and the impact we have on it. We cloth diaper, grow our own veggies, compost, and make an overall effort to reduce waste and excess.

Since we’ve upgraded from our Keurig Vue to the Keurig 2.0, the one thing I hate is that I can’t recycle the k-cups I use every day. And since I’m a big coffee drinker, I don’t have any way to reuse the k-cups. Until now! I’ve started getting creative with my k-cups and have come up with a list to reuse them in a useful way.

First up is in the garden. Now our garden has always been my pride and joy. I consider it a work of art that is ever changing. And since we just started up our new garden at the new house, I needed an excuse to show it off.

Green Work of Art in the Garden

How pretty are those little starter plants? Well, they started in our k-cups from seed! Truly a green work of art.

That’s right. K-cups are the perfect way to start seeds for the garden. Not only are they plentiful around here, but they have a built in drainage hole that doesn’t need to be added. How cool is that?

Here’s how you use them!

K-Cup Seed Starters Tutorial

K-Cup Seed Starters

What you’ll need: 

  • k-cup
  • seeds
  • trowel
  • soil (any good vegetable planting soil)
  • water

K-Cup Seed Starters - what you need

What you do: 

1. Remove the foil from the top of the k-cup.

2. Discard the coffee grounds to be used later in the garden or your compost bin.

3. Remove the filter from the k-cup and discard the plastic filter – you can compost the k-cup paper filter if you’d like.

4. Fill with soil about 3/4 of the way up.

5. Add 2-3 seeds and top with more dirt until filled.

6. Water daily and watch sprout!

Once your seedlings are big enough to transfer just pull out gently and move to a bigger pot or straight in your garden bed!

For a full in-depth tutorial, check out our video:

 

K-Cup Seed Starters - broccoli

How do you recycle, reduce, and reuse around your home?



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