Archive for the ‘Around the House’ Category

Privacy Fences

The most obvious — and fastest — way of creating privacy is to put up a fence.

Fences help keep your neighbors from seeing into your yard. They also provide a sense of enclosure and safety, making them a perfect option if you have children: Fences keep kids in and strangers — or animals, such as dogs — out.

If you choose to build a fence to add privacy to your landscape, select a material and style that complements your home.

Here’s a hint: If you want to create a private space in your yard, look around before you build a fence. You might be able to use existing structures to create privacy. For example, tuck a small patio or deck next to your garage or home. Screening just one or two sides may be all you need.

Wooden Privacy Fence

Wooden Privacy Fence



If a fence is too stark, grow a hedge. There are shrub varieties perfect for using as hedges for every region.

For a natural look, mix it up a little and combine a variety of shrubs. Don’t be afraid to mix in a small tree or two for extra height, color, and texture. By planting species with different sizes, shapes, and colors, you can layer the plants into a beautiful mosaic.

For a more formal look, prune or shear shrubs regularly. Note: The best time to prune your hedge depends on what type of shrub you’re growing.

Here’s a hint: If you shear your shrubs, keep them looking good for years by ensuring the bottom of the shrub is wider than the top.

Hedge Privacy Fence

Hedge Privacy Fence


Top Trees & Shrubs for Hedges

Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), Zones 6-8

Columnar juniper (Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’), Zones 4-7

Columnar white pine (Pinus strobus ‘Fastigiata’), Zones 3-9

English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), Zones 6-9

Pittosporum tobira, Zones 9-10

Privet (Ligustrum vulgare), Zones 5-8

Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), Zones 8-10

Yew (Taxus x media), Zones 5-7

Top Trees and Hedges for a Privacy Fence

Top Trees and Hedges for a Privacy Fence



Berms are basically miniature hills in the landscape. They add height to plantings, which can be an effective way to create privacy. A berm is also good for highlighting smaller plants, as it can bring them to eye level.

Because of their sloping sides, berms drain better than flat beds, so they’re well-suited for rock garden plants and any species that prefer dry soil.

Plant trees and shrubs on berms to form a useful physical and sound curtain between the street and yard. Include rocks and stones to give the mound stability.

Here’s a hint: If you make a berm, a ratio of one foot of height to every four feet of width is usually suitable to keep mulch from running down the slope.

Berms as a Privacy Fence



While a pergola probably won’t block out your entire yard, it’s a great solution for adding privacy to a smaller space.

A vine-covered pergola creates a private, shady nook underneath — perfect for a secluded bench or patio. A pergola also adds year-round structure to the landscape.

You can create different levels of privacy with pergolas, too. A simple vine-covered pergola provides a little privacy; running lattice panels between the pergola columns will add even more. Hanging sheets of outdoor-friendly fabric to act as curtains will give you even more seclusion.

Pergolas as a Privacy Fence

Pergolas as a Privacy Fence


Lattice Screens

If you just have a spot or two you want to block from view (or where you want the view blocked from), try setting up a few inexpensive lattice panels and planting a small garden bed around them.

Tidy vines will give the lattice panels extra interest — and help them feel integrated into the landscape.

Lattice as a Privacy Fence

Lattice as a Privacy Fence


Top Vines

Be sure you have the right vine for the right spot. Big vines can easily crush a lattice panel, arbor, or even small pergola as they grow.

Small vines, on the other hand, may not grow large enough to adequately cover a large arbor or pergola.

Top Small Vines

Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata), Zone 10, but usually grown as an annual

Cardinal vine (Ipomoea x multifida), annual

Clematis, Zones 3-10, depending on type

Hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus), Zone 10, but usually grown as an annual

Morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor), annual

Top Large Vines

American bittersweet Celastrus scandens), Zones 3-8

Chocolate vine (Akebia quinata), Zones 5-9

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris), Zones 4-9

Hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta), Zones 3-8

Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), Zones 4-9

Wisteria, Zones 5-9

Wisteria as a Privacy Fence

Wisteria as a Privacy Fence


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Window Webs

Window Webs

Black ribbon, yarn, and a little strategic weaving are all it takes to add shadowy webs to your front windows.

Simple Spiders

Simple Spiders

Some of the easiest crafting projects are the most effective. These magnificently monstrous spiders are easily created from foam balls, black spray paint, and chenille stems.

Happily Haunting Entry

Haunting Entry

The walk to the front door takes on a pumpkin-patch look when pumpkins are stacked and displayed in towering arrangements lining the walkway.

Potted Pumpkins

Potted Pumpkins

Summer blooms may have faded, but don’t winterize the decorative planters yet. Urns and planters make a perfect base for pumpkin topiaries; embellish the towers with bits of garden moss tucked around the pumpkins.

Sensational Stacks

Sensational Stacks of Pumpkins

Use wooden dowels (in Halloween colors, of course) to securely stack pumpkins into formation. Opt for artificial pumpkins if you plan to reuse your towering masterpieces next year.

Raven Roost

Raven Halloween Roost

Kick the live birds out for a few days and transform your rustic birdbath into a perch for pumpkins. Tufts of garden moss help keep the pumpkin stable. Although we’ve chosen to paint a raven here, you could choose any number of eerie silhouettes for your outdoor display: black cat, bat, witch, or spider (to name a few).

Ghostly Garage

Ghostly Garage

Think of your  garage door as a gigantic canvas upon which you can place a multitude of Halloween images. This temporary artwork is made from removable black cloth tape in 2-inch and 3-inch widths, and black crafts-foam sheets cut into the desired spooky shapes. Simply use loops of tape to press the silhouettes into place on the garage door.

Window Spooky

Window Spooky

Cover your front windows in black paper that’s been cut with a spooky design. When the lights are on inside, the designs will show in spooky splendor.

Carved Up

Carved Up

A few days before Halloween, plan an evening of pumpkin carving. If you have a lot of pumpkins, consider leaving some uncarved to use as decorations until Thanksgiving.

Honey, Who’s that Guy on the Porch?

Guy on the porch pumpkin man

Our pumpkin-head person was created with old clothes stuffed with fiberfill (or hay). The pumpkin head should be elevated on a pole or shelf so that the creature remains upright.

Words to Scare By

Words to Scare By

Setting these cautionary pumpkins on your front steps or along a walkway ensures that only the bravest trick-or-treaters will make their way to your door. Use a battery-powered light to produce a glowing orb.

Come In and Sit a Spell

Come In and Sit a Spell

Guests will feel right at home with this friendly invitation — until they realize they’ve been bewitched! Use a spooky Halloween font like “Chiller” or “Jokerman” to stencil the words on wood-patterned paper. To decorate concrete steps, affix the phrase with double-stick removable poster tape. (NOTE: be sure to use outdoor paints for this project.)

The Witch Is In

The Witch is in

No self-respecting witch goes anywhere without her broom. Let trick-or-treaters know she’s home with a sign make from a precut wood plaque and a gold glitter paint pen. Create a ghoulish broom by adding green raffia or dried grasses to one end of a weathered stick. Cinch an old leather belt around the end and this witch’s broom is ready to take flight.

Hay, Anybody Home?

Hay Anybody Home

Bales of hay and plenty of pumpkins add just the right seasonal touch to a large front porch. Vary the pumpkin colors, sizes, and shapes to add interest, and don’t forget to include a few pots of colorful mums.

Scary Fun Details

Scary Halloween Details

Add a scary ghost cutout to nearly any fall wreath to turn it into a spooky Halloween decoration. A family of white ghosts perch on painted black twigs, while over the door a pair of blackbirds wait for unsuspecting trick-or-treaters.

Ghostly Halloween Greeters

Ghostly Halloween Greeters

This cheerful ghost family will greet trick-or-treaters at your door.

Colorful Halloween Wreath

Colorful Halloween Wreath

A grapevine wreath accented with spray-painted glass balls and a spying crow guards the front door. Traditional Halloween colors — black and orange with a touch of gold — would work just as well.

Pumpkin Rug

Pumpkin Rug

Transform a jute rug into a seasonally appropriate doormat by transferring freehand-drawn shapes from newsprint templates to create stencils and then applying interior-exterior spray paint, which won’t fade.

Enter If You Dare

Scary Entrance-Enter if you Dare

A grapevine wreath with spray-painted glass balls and a spying crow guards the front door. Traditional Halloween colors — black and orange — would work just as well.

Cemetery Markers

Cemetary Markers

Though you could create wood or foam grave markers, these pumpkin versions are infinitely more creative. Create a design on a computer, then print out and enlarge as needed before carving into a fresh or faux pumpkin.

Kid-Friendly Vignette

Kid Friendly Vignette

Perfect for a children’s party, these non-frightening pumpkins stack up to create a fanciful look with masks, hats, ears, and a cape.

Bucket Luminarias

Bucket Luminaries

Illuminate your Halloween path with these rustic tin pails that will spook and delight all trick-or-treaters.

Eerie Luminarias

Eerie Luminaries

Light the path to your haunted mansion with these clever milk jug luminarias.

Haunted House Ghosts

Hanuted Ghosts House Greeters

Silky fabric ghosts hung at different heights with fishing line wave eerily in the breeze, and a scattering of white pumpkins lines the porch steps.

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I promised you another segment of an English/Cottage Garden. I hope you enjoy these great ideas!

Go Informal

Go Informal

Cottage gardens don’t look designed. In fact, they’re usually exuberant, free-flowering, and sometimes even unrestrained. To get the informal look, avoid planting in straight lines or defined patterns. Let plants cascade over paths and weave through each other. It adds to their charm. And grow self-seeding plants that pop up in unexpected places.

Grow Old-Fashioned Flowers

Grow Old Fashioned Flowers

Cottage gardens aren’t about new varieties. They’re usually filled with the same traditional favorites your grandmother would have grown. Some popular examples include peony, cosmos, foxglove, snapdragon, pansy, bachelor’s button, columbine, bleeding heart, and hollyhock.

Select Homey Furniture

Select Homey Furniture

Make your cottage garden into an outdoor living space by adding comfy furniture. Avoid anything contemporary. Instead look for Adirondack, wicker, or painted metal shellback chairs. The furniture doesn’t have to match: Part of the charm is how informal it is. An eclectic mix fits right in.

Look for Soft, Romantic Plants

Look for Soft Romantic Plants

Most cottage gardens have a romantic feel. Part of that feel comes from the flowers. Look for blooms in soft pastel shades. Also look for plants packed with petals, such as peonies and old roses. As an added bonus, many of these varieties are also wonderfully fragrant.

Look for Materials with Character

Look for Materials with Character

Cottage gardens often include structures made from natural or well-worn materials. Weathered wood fences, arbors, and gates are right at home among a collection of cottage plants.

Using Curving Pathways

Using Curving Pathways

Create soft meandering pathways instead of those that follow a straight, structured line. Many paving materials work in cottage gardens, including wood chips, stone, old bricks, and flagstone.

Choose Vintage Accessories

Choose Vintage Accessories

Accessorize your cottage garden with antique or vintage items. You’re more likely to find garage-sale bargains than high-ticket purchases in a cottage garden. An old, dented watering can or a gate with peeling paint can work nicely.

Employ the Unexpected

Employ the Unexpected

Don’t be afraid to find creative uses for old items. For example, an old chicken feeder might become a fun planter, or a rusty trowel could be a great gate handle.

Fit in a White-Picket Fence

Fit in a Picket Fence

Though not every cottage garden has a white-picket fence, the two do seem to go hand-in-hand. You don’t have to use the fence to create a boundary. A short section simply could hold up favorite floppy perennials.

Do What You Love

Do What You Love

While all these elements are commonly found in a cottage garden, the biggest rule is that you create a look you love. Don’t get caught up in trying to follow “the rules.” Plant what you like and how you like it for a delightful cottage garden to suit you.

Better Homes & Gardens

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I’ve always dreamed of having an English or Cottage garden. I love living in the country and now I have the opportune time and space to make that dream come true. No matter what your yard space you can add the charm and beauty of a Cottage Garden with a selection of beautiful flowers. I went snooping around on the internet to see what the possibilities were and I wanted to share with you what I found. Next Saturday I will share more ideas on making this romantic garden a reality.

The 18 Best Plants for a Cottage Garden



This tough perennial produces spikes of white or blue blooms in early and midsummer. Like most cottage garden plants, the flowers are great for cutting.

Name: Campanula percisifolia

Growing conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

Height: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-8, depending on variety



Easy to grow and beautiful, columbine blooms in spring and early summer. The colorful blooms are loved by hummingbirds and gardeners alike.

Name: Aquilegia varieties

Growing conditions: Part shade and well-drained soil

Height: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-9, depending on variety


Coral Bells

In spring and early summer, coralbells produce sprays of pink, red, or white flowers. These flowers are a top choice of hummingbirds.

Name: Heuchera varieties

Growing conditions: Part shade and well-drained soil

Height: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 4-8



Daisies offer a simplistic beauty that works well in any cottage garden. Their bright white blooms with sunny yellow centers are perfect for beds and borders, as well as vases.

Name: Leucanthemum varieties

Growing conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Height: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Dame’s Rocket

Dames Rocket

A beautiful, old-fashioned annual, dame’s rocket produces phlox-like clusters of lavender or white flowers in late spring. The flowers are delightfully fragrant.

Name: Hesperis matronalis

Growing conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

Height: To 4 feet tall

Zones: 4-9, depending on variety



Producing stately spires in shades of purple, blue, pink, and white, delphiniums are about as regal as garden flowers come. Unfortunately, taller types need staking to protect them from wind but they’re well worth this bit of extra work.

Name: Delphinium varieties

Growing conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

Height: 1-6 feet tall, depending on variety

Zones: 3-7, depending on variety



Filling cottage gardens with their sweet scents, dianthus varieties also offer pretty blooms in shades of pink, red, and white.

Name: Dianthus varieties

Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Height: To 2 feet tall

Zones: 3-10, depending on variety



This woodland biennial reliably produces beautiful upright spikes of bell-shape flowers in shades of purple, pink, and white. Note: While most common foxgloves are biennial, they often self seed and appear each year in the garden.

Name: Digitalis varieties

Growing conditions: Partial sun and moist, well-drained soil

Height: 2-6 feet tall, depending on variety

Zones: 3-8, depending on variety



Among the tallest of perennials, hollyhocks bear flower spikes up to 8 feet tall. They bloom in a wide range of shades — from nearly black to red, purple, yellow, and white.

Name: Alcea rosea

Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

Height: 4-8 feet tall, depending on variety

Zones: 3-9



A shrub of incomparable beauty, hydrangeas produce large clusters of pink, blue, or white flowers in early summer. They’re great for cutting, if you can bear to take them out of your garden.

Name: Hydrangea macrophylla

Growing conditions: Partial sun and moist, well-drained soil

Height: To 6 feet tall

Zones: 6-9



Iris offer stunning blooms (many are wonderfully fragrant) that come in a rainbow of colors and sizes. Our favorites are the Siberian types with their grassy leaves and graceful flowers.

Name: Iris varieties

Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Height: 3 feet tall

Zones: 4-9



A beautifully ornamental herb, lavender bears fragrant foliage and flowers. The blooms typically appear in shades of violet and white and are wonderful for drying and using in sachets and other craft projects.

Name: Lavandula varieties

Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Height: 1-2 feet tall

Zones: 5-8, depending on variety

Lady’s Mantle

Lady’s Mantle

This great perennial offers sprays of chartreuse blooms perfect for cutting. The foliage is wonderful, too, especially when it catches early morning dewdrops.

Name: Alchemilla mollis

Growing conditions: Part shade and well-drained soil

Height: 1-2 feet tall

Zones: 4-7



With their petal-packed blooms, peonies are some of the most romantic plants. They not only look great, but they bear a wonderful fragrance. And they’re virtually pest free and quite drought tolerant.

Name: Paeonia varieties

Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Height: To 5 feet tall, depending on variety

Zones: 3-8, depending on variety

Perennial Geranium

Perennial Geranium

There are a wealth of geraniums perfect for cottage gardens. ‘Johnson’s Blue’ is among the most common; it offers beautiful blue-purple flowers in early summer.

Name: Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’

Growing conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

Height: To 18 inches tall

Zones: 4-8



One of the most brilliant plants of the late-summer garden, phlox produces stunning clusters of white, pink, lavender, and red blooms that bear a delightful fragrance.

Name: Phlox paniculata

Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Height: To 4 feet, depending on variety

Zones: 3-8

Sweet William

Sweet William

Another biennial that typically self-seeds, sweet William produces beautiful clusters of fragrant blooms in early summer. They’re great for cutting, and they attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Name: Dianthus barbatus

Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Height: To 2 feet tall

Zones: 3-9, depending on variety



With their edible and fragrant blooms, violets are among the most charming flowers for the cottage garden. These cool-weather lovers start in spring and often bloom again in fall.

Name: Viola varieties

Growing conditions: Partial to full shade and well-drained soil

Height: To 1 foot tall

Zones: 4-8, depending on variety

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Ahh, the look and feel of flowers. Fresh flowers and live plants always add a nice touch to any room, and autumn is the perfect time to bring some of the outdoors inside. Try these creative ideas for displaying flowers and plants throughout the house.Tin Can Planters and Vases

Recycle tin cans by using them as pots and vases. Place a potted plant inside the tin can top, pot and all, or re-pot the plant into the tin. If re-potting, add a layer of small rocks in the bottom allow for drainage. To display fresh-cut flowers, place a narrow glass jar inside the tin, fill it with water and then place a few flower stems in the jar.

Wineglass Vase

Make a creative statement by displaying a single blooming stem in a patterned wineglass. Fill the glass with glass pebbles and then insert one dramatic bloom. For flowers with smaller stems, use a raffia ribbon, bear grass or other ornamental grasses to tie the flowers together so they stand  in the center. Position one of these creative vases at each place setting for dinner party guests.

Demitasse Cup Vase

Enhancing a table setting by placing a single stem of a Gerbera Daisy in Italian espresso or demitasse cups. Use gold or silver markers to write the name of the dinner party guest on the cup.

Toothbrush Holder Vase

Enclosed toothbrush holders are perfect for arranging small flower displays. Add water to the cup half of the holder, replace the top, and slip flower stems through the toothbrush holes.

Crate and Carry-All Planters

Old toolboxes, milk bottle carriers and other interesting carry-alls are suitable containers for small potted plants. Mix a variety of plants or plant colors in each partition of the container for a dazzling springtime display.

Old Jar, Jug and Bottle Vases

Old jars, jugs and bottles make very interesting vases, even if they’re rusty.

Old Shoe Planter

Fill an old shoe with dirt and add a small plant to serve as a decoration on a table or simply as a conversation piece. To protect the shoe, wrap the plant in some floral or aluminum foil, or pot the plant in small container before placing it inside the shoe.

Indoor Bulbs

Grow springtime bulb flowers, such as paper white narcissus, inside. These bulbs are easy to force into bloom and do not need to be planted in soil. Place the bulbs on a thin layer of small rocks or pebbles in a low bowl such as a casserole dish. Position a few extra rocks around the bulbs to keep them in place, and fill the container with water just up to the rock line. Keep the water up to the rock line, adding more water as needed, and the bulbs will bloom within a few weeks. To keep the tall blooms upright, tie the stems together or plant the bulbs in a few rocks, at the bottom of a tall cylinder vase or spaghetti canister. The cylinder will keep the blooms upright.  Source – HGTV

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Summer is a wonderful time to spend outdoors, whether relaxing, entertaining, or just having fun in your garden.

The hot summer months can be a challenge when you’re trying to keep your garden looking it’s best. When your gardens are lacking in color, visit display gardens to see what perennials are in bloom.

Plant some in your beds to add immediate color and to ensure blooms at the same time next year. By continuing to add flowering plants as the season goes on, you will eventually have a garden full of color — all season long!

Here are a few pictures from our friends at Cider Hills, Gardens and Gallery.

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Enjoy a Little Romance

It’s tough to get more romantic than a white arbor, picket fence, and climbing roses. The combination is perfect for just about any informal landscape — especially if you have a cottage-garden style.

Build a Boundary

A simple wire gate decorated with roses creates a pretty entrance — and offers a clear barrier — without obstructing the view. The entrance still feels welcoming, despite the bigger gate and arbor behind.

Say It with Flowers

What could be more inviting than a flower-filled entrance to your landscape? Here, climbing roses, verbena, and foxgloves create a charming entrance that just begs you walk through.

Create a Focal Point

It’s natural to look inside a gate — especially if it’s partially closed. Take advantage of that and use your gate to frame a spectacular view.

Play with Color

An ordinary wooden arbor can blend into your landscape. Make it shine by installing a simple gate underneath and painting it a playful color. Create even more impact by repeating that color through your yard.

Go Rustic

Take advantage of old tree limbs to create a charming, rustic entrance to your garden. Here, the rough wood is a perfect partner for the irregularly shaped flagstone walk.

Design with Shapes

A simple grid pattern really comes alive when repeated in the fence, gate, and front door of a house. The grid pattern is accented by a rounded shape in the gate and gentle curve pattern built into the sidewalk (reflected by the giant container behind it).

Be Whimsical

This charming gate adds a touch of whimsy to the garden because it’s embellished with old gardening tools. It’s a great way to deal with old tools you don’t want to throw away or have to store in the garage.

Choose a Style

This Asian-inspired gate and basic pergola lend a decidedly Eastern feel to this patio. Take advantage of structures in your landscape to help enhance — or create — a stylistic theme.

Go Antiquing

Give an old gate new life in your garden. Old pieces from salvage-supply stores, antique shops, or garage sales have loads of character — and may offer great bargains to boot.

Work with Your Landscape

This simple wrought-iron gate looks right at home among a bed of flowering perennials and a flagstone path. The simplicity is effective: A larger gate might distract from the natural feel of the garden.

Add Color with Vines

While a white picket fence and arbor are beautiful, they can be stark by themselves. Dress them up with colorful blooms. Here, an orange climbing rose creates a dramatic focal point.

After discovering these beautiful designs for the garden I talked to my husband about creating different focal points throughout our property.

We have ten acres of beautiful trees, pasture and yard and I thought it would be a fun idea to create different themes in each focal point. He thought it was a great idea.

He’s an artist and I love to decorate so we will have tons of fun. I will post different pictures as we finish each project. I hope you enjoy these garden gates as much as I did. Have fun, April

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