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Tag Archive | "backyard"

Build a lasting memory with your backyard project


 

Color-treated lumber keeps your backyard project from becoming a faded memory.

Color-treated lumber keeps your backyard project from becoming a faded memory.

(BPT) – There are regular backyard projects and then there are those special backyard projects that bring families closer together, both during the construction and while enjoying the finished piece.
If you want to improve your backyard with a special project for your family this year but you’re not sure what to build, here are a few fun ideas.
* Wood raised-garden planter. If anyone in your home has a green thumb, this is a great idea. A raised planter bed keeps the soil warmer longer, which will extend the gardening season. Your plants will also enjoy better soil conditions because the soil won’t be walked on. Finally, raised beds make it easier to protect your plants from hungry woodland animals.
* Wood treehouse. One of the iconic mainstays of childhood: If you have young children at home, they will love it. Incorporate extra elements into your tree house (ladders, slides, climbing wall, etc.) for prolonged enjoyment and consider putting walls on the structure. This will allow your children to play inside longer into the year.
* Wood swing set. Build it as an attachment to the treehouse or as a standalone project. In either case, a swing set is sure to be popular. Basing the posts into the ground and building your set from quality treated lumber means it will be ready for your children – and for any full-grown kid who wants to swing away nostalgically.

The preservative used in ProWood pressure-treated lumber is safe for humans, animals and the environment.

The preservative used in ProWood pressure-treated lumber is safe for humans, animals and the environment.

* Wood sandbox. Another iconic childhood toy. Building a sandbox with higher side walls will reduce the amount of sand that spills over the side, and adding a base means this section of your yard won’t be filled with sand forever. You may also consider building a wooden cover for your child’s sandbox to hide toys from sight and from the elements.
* Picnic table. Not every project has to be designed just for the kids. A picnic table provides that at-the-park feeling right in your own backyard. Before you start your picnic table project, however, determine what style table you want (square, rectangle, hexagon, etc.) as well as the size of the table. If you have a large family or frequent guests, you may want to build a bigger table (but remember that this table will be harder to move around). If your table will only be used by a couple of people, a small, portable table is probably the better option.
When it’s time to choose a building material for your backyard project, consider pressure-treated lumber, which is both affordable and easy to use. Additionally, some brands of treated lumber give your backyard project a professional-grade look. When using treated lumber, be sure to check the end tag as it identifies the treatment type. Look for the ProWood end tag, because it’s an indicator that tells you it’s building code approved and treated for your intended use. ProWood MCA (Micronized copper azole) treated lumber has a lighter, fresher appearance compared to other current or previous treatments. MCA pressure-treated wood is the logical, safe choice – it’s completely safe for people and pets.
To learn more about ProWood MCA treated lumber and to find inspiration for your next project, visit www.ProWoodLumber.com.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off

Grow your own backyard paradise in a pot


By Melinda Myers

 

Create a backyard escape with the help of container gardens. Whether you’re looking for a visit to the desert, an English garden or tropical paradise, a few planters can help create the mood.

Reduce your workload and increase your enjoyment with a bit of planning and proper planting.

Select a container with drainage holes and one that mimics the color and feel of the location you are trying to recreate. Use troughs, stone or other containers made from neutral colors when growing succulents. The container should complement, but not overpower the simple beauty of the desert plants.

Keep things warm and natural when going for a more tropical feel. Wicker, bamboo and other natural materials work well with the lush foliage and vibrant colors of tropical plants.

Add a few terra cotta, metal and basket type containers when creating an English cottage setting. Set them on your patio, steps or in the garden to create a focal point.

Keep your plants looking good throughout the season with the proper planting mix. Look for potting mixes with good drainage and water holding abilities, like Schultz Potting Soil Plus (schultz.com). Check the label as some mixes contain enough fertilizer to last the entire season and water-retaining crystals to reduce the need to water.

Use a cactus mix that provides the perfect growing conditions for cacti and succulents. The potting mix should retain the moisture and nutrients the plants need, while providing the excellent drainage that is a must for these plants.

Plant any orchids added to your backyard tropical paradise in a potting mix designed for these plants. Use an orchid mix that has excellent drainage and aeration, yet retains the moisture and nutrients these beauties need to thrive.

Check your planters daily and water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and slightly moist. Allow cacti and succulents to go a bit drier.

Mulch the soil in tropical, herb, vegetable and annual container gardens. Spread a thin layer of shredded leaves, evergreen needles or twice shredded bark over the soil surface. Use fine pebbles for cacti and succulents that like things hot and dry.

And don’t forget about garden accents. A wattle fence and arbor of twigs and branches work well for an English garden setting, while a water feature can enhance a tropical paradise themed garden, and some southwest garden art can complete the desert scene you’re going for.

So start your vacation this year with a trip to the garden center. Invest in a few containers, the right potting mix and plants. Then plant your way to the retreat of your dreams.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

 

 

Posted in Diggin' SpringComments Off

Tips for a Bountiful Backyard Garden


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(Family Features) The benefits of having your own backyard vegetable garden are plentiful, and can include significant lifestyle impacts, such as healthier eating habits, money saving perks and more.

A Relaxing, Healthful Hobby

Looking for a hobby that allows you to contribute to the health of your family? Take up gardening. Beyond producing nutritious foods, it can help you teach your family about local agriculture, all while basking in the tranquility of the great outdoors. Though starting your own home garden can be intimidating, there are a few simple steps to get you started. Once developed, it can yield fruits and vegetables from early spring and into the fall.

1) Do Some Research

Find out what vegetables grow best in your area and when is the right time to plant and harvest. Many local university extension programs have this information readily available online. For each plant, consider the amount of water needed, how much sunlight is required and if it should be started from seed or a transplanted seedling.

SPR-Tips-for-backyard-garden22) Choose a Good Spot

Keep in mind vegetables need at least six hours of sun each day, so plant away from the shade of buildings, trees and shrubs. Planting close to your house may make you more likely to bring your harvest right into your kitchen, and will help you remember to weed and water. Including rain and irrigation, your garden needs at least one inch of water per week. Make sure you can easily access a water supply nearby. Some products, such as an Ames NeverLeak hose reel, provide convenient hose storage and can easily reach all parts of your yard. Be sure to choose a level area of your yard so when watering it will not pool in lower areas.

3) Clear the Area

Use your garden hose or a string to mark the area for proper placement of your garden. Use a sod lifter or garden spade, keeping the area level and removing as little topsoil as possible. Next, use a round point shovel, such as the True Temper True American Round-Point Shovel, to dig into the soil about 12 inches, breaking it up and removing clumps. To encourage proper drainage and escape light freezes in early spring and fall, construct a raised bed by creating a border with wood slats and filling in with soil.

4) Prepare the Soil

Use a rake to create a smooth finish and remove debris or stones on the surface. You may want to add manure, compost or soil additives to provide additional nutrients in the soil.

5) Plant Your Seeds

Determine if you will be starting your plants from seeds or transplanting small seedlings. Be sure to research how much room each plant will need and plot the layout of your garden. Dig V-shaped furrows using a warren hoe or the edge of a garden hoe. Carefully distribute the seeds in the furrows evenly and in accordance with the instructions on the seed packet. Cover the seeds and pat down gently, then water thoroughly.

Use this information for a fruitful harvest this gardening season. For more tips, visit www.AmesTrueTemper.com or www.Facebook.com/TrueTemperTools.

 

Posted in Diggin' Spring, FeaturedComments Off

Help nurture kids’ love of nature with easy, basic, backyard bird-feeding tips


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(BPT) – Parents and children enjoy spending quality time together, but it’s not always easy to find shared interests. The backyard, however, can provide the perfect place for generations to meet when parents help kids learn the delights of bird-watching and bird-feeding.

Interacting with backyard birds benefits children on many levels, including teaching them the responsibility of caring for other living things to nurturing their appreciation of nature. Fall and winter are the perfect times to introduce kids to backyard bird care; as food sources dwindle in their natural habitat, birds will frequent a backyard where feeders serve up seed and suet daily.

The wild bird experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products offer some guidance for families launching bird feeding lessons:

N-Birdfeeding2Feeder facts:

Different bird species like different types of feeders, but some styles, such as tube feeders, will attract a large variety of birds. Basic bird feeder styles include:

* Tube – Best for serving seed, tube feeders keep the contents clean and dry, providing birds with access to the food through feeding ports. They’re great all-purpose feeders and will attract the most variety of songbirds. It’s important to clean tube feeders regularly, so choose a model that’s easy to clean. Cole’s high-quality tubular feeders are made with state-of-the-art materials to prevent warping, discoloration, and they feature Quick Clean removable bases that make cleaning fast and simple. Feeder bottoms pop off with the push of a button.

* Bowl feeders – If separating seeds into different feeders gets too complicated, bowl feeders can be an all-in, easy solution. Options like Cole’s Bountiful Bowl Feeder can accommodate a variety of feed types, from seed and suet to mealworms, fruits and nuts. Bowl feeders are especially good starter feeders for children since they are easy to fill and clean.

* Suet feeders – During cold winter months, suet is an essential source of energy for birds. Suet feeders can range from a simple mesh onion bag to a wire or plastic mesh box that affixes to a tree, or post. Woodpeckers, warblers, nuthatches, titmice, jays and chickadees love suet.

Whatever styles of feeder you choose – and a mix is ideal – be sure to select feeders that are sturdy enough to withstand winter weather and unwanted visitors, like squirrels. They should be tight enough to keep seeds dry, and easy to disassemble for cleaning. Most importantly, keep them maintained and stocked – if you neglect to feed them, birds will go elsewhere.

Food fun:

In order to attract birds, it’s important to serve high-quality food. Seed blends with too much cheap seed, known as fill, won’t satisfy birds, and you’ll end up with a mound of discarded fill under feeders and few feathered friends in your backyard. Here are some basic foods birds look for in winter:

* Suet – Long gone are the days when serving suet was a messy proposition. Kids can serve suet without messing up their little hands when you choose convenient suet cakes, kibbles, nuts and pearls. Many of these suet options are mixed with other treats birds love, such as nuts, grains and berries. You can even find options with habanero pepper infused in the fat to dissuade squirrels from dining on the suet. Nutberry Suet Blend, by Cole’s, mixes human-grade cherries, apples and blueberry-flavored cranberries, preferred nuts, nutritious insect suet kibbles and whole kernel sunflower meats into an energy-packed, powerhouse feed.

* Seed – Many songbirds favor seeds, and in winter it can be difficult for birds to find seeds in nature. From black oil sunflower seeds and Niger to seed mixes, it’s important to serve a variety of high-quality seeds. Choose mixes with large proportions of sunflower seeds and avoid ones with fillers like wheat, milo and corn; birds will pick out the appealing seeds and kick out the filler. You can learn more about seed mixes at www.coleswildbird.com.

* Dried mealworms – Although the name might imply an “ick factor” that appeals to kids, serving dried mealworms is easy and mess-free. High in protein, mealworms are favored by bluebirds, flickers, woodpeckers, siskins and nuthatches. Plus you don’t have to feed them or keep them in the fridge like with live mealworms!

Introducing kids to backyard bird-feeding is an enjoyable and easy way to connect families with nature and to each other. All you’ll need is a feeder, bird feed and some time. The birds will come, kids will surely enjoy the experience, and you’ll all have some good family fun.

 

Posted in Featured, NewsComments Off

Create an outdoor sanctuary in your backyard


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(BPT) – Coming home from a long work day to a place of peace, quiet, relaxation and even harmony is a dream for many homeowners. And by creating an outdoor sanctuary in the backyard, this private place of solace will become the first destination for all members of the family when they need a break.
Backyard sanctuaries incorporate peace of mind with a spa-like atmosphere. Some do this with plant features, others with water. Here are some tips to build an outdoor sanctuary in your own backyard.
1. Create a walkway – A beautiful walkway around your backyard, through different scenic zones, can help you to clear your mind of troubled thoughts. This walkway can be a paved path, or composed of stepping stones or gravel and woodchips. Consider planting different gardens close to the walkway, inviting walkers to immerse themselves within the blooms and scents wafting from the flowers.
BLOOM-Outdoor-sanctuary22. Incorporate a seating area – This space doesn’t have to be large, but give it a sense of ambiance with an arbor made of cedar to allow plants to grow taller, or a pergola to provide shade and that wonderful natural aroma that cedar gives off. Natural materials like Western Red Cedar weather naturally, and are rot-resistant, giving homeowners a durable and long-lasting material to enjoy for years to come.
“Using Western Red Cedar for backyard sanctuary seating areas gives homeowners a variety of design options to work around,” says Mark Clement, a building expert and co-host of “My Fix It Up Life” which airs nationally on iTunes, Blog Talk Radio and myfixituplife.com. “This wood is sustainable, environmentally friendly, easy to work with, ages beautifully, and, when incorporated into an arbor or pergola design, makes a stunning visual element to the space.”
In this seating space, place a bench, outdoor patio furniture or even comfortable lawn chairs to encourage family members to stop for a rest and settle their thoughts for the day. If the family is into yoga or meditation, consider keeping mats in a nearby storage container for quick and easy access.
3. Design for both night and day – Sometimes a sanctuary space is most needed when the moon is shining brightly. Plan for this with a lighting design in the backyard. Provide illumination to pathways, the deck area, and in garden clusters to give a new sense of beauty to the plants. When designing your lighting scheme, be careful to avoid creating any scary shadows. If you notice this occurring, adjust the lighting to come from a different direction, or try using a different light. Also consider what form of light you would like. Would you prefer low watt electric lights, or candlelight, which would require a person to spend time preparing?
Once your backyard sanctuary is built, your family will have a place handy where they can escape for some peace of mind.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off

Three tips to grow a bold, beautiful backyard


BLOOM-Three-tips-bold-beautiful-backyard(NewsUSA) – Summer is here, and it’s time to start heralding warmer temperatures by beautifying the backyard. So, don the appropriate layers, grab some tools and turn your backyard into something ideal for entertaining.

Families love to spend time outdoors, especially if they have a pool, patio or deck, so take the time to administer some TLC to the lawn, pool, patio and garden. The following tips will help you get the most out of your backyard:

1. Grow some privacy. Depending on the size of your backyard, consider installing a fence, arbor, pergola, row of bushes, trees or hanging vines to shelter your property from the neighbors. This helps make gatherings more private and gives your lawn a “secret garden” feel. Plus, a fence, trellis or arbor can offer a wind-break and much-needed shade, both of which can be key for pools. Flowering vines like trumpet vines, clematis or morning glory attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

2. Get cozy outdoors. If you have unused deck space, create a family-friendly area perfect for entertaining outdoors: cook-outs, lounging, games or parties. All you need is some inexpensive patio furniture—clusters with chairs and a sofa—and small tables for surface space. To make it really cozy, add some brightly colored throw pillows and potted plants.

3. Simplify pool maintenance. Family pools tend to make the best summer parties, but all investments include maintenance. Adding a pool cover can reduce pool heating costs by 50 to 70 percent. Or if your pool has problems with cloudy water or chlorine levels, BioGuard’s new Pool Tonic removes phosphate and many other unwanted contaminants for beautiful water that is easy to maintain and enjoy. For complimentary water testing, bring a sample of your pool water to any BioGuard dealer, and receive the right prescription for your pool. Visit www.bioguard.com to find your nearest dealer.

 

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off