Lawn & Garden

Cold Frames Are Affordable Greenhouse Alternatives

If you’re antsy to start your plants early in the spring, but frosts keep falling into April and May, then it makes sense to get a greenhouse. The problem is that even cheapy greenhouses tend to be costly, and the nice ones run thousands of dollars. If you’re growing your own vegetables to save money, you may not be willing to spend that kind of money right now.

Cold frames are alternative. They’re kind of like plant-sized mini greenhouses.

While you won’t be able to grow trees or big bushes in something like this, a cold frame can be perfect for starting your plants early so they can get a head start when they’re transferred into the garden later.

While it’s certainly possible to make a cold frame from scratch (I’ve heard of people using old storm windows and scrap wood), you can make things easy by picking up a spacious one like this double cold frame from Planet Natural.

It gives you 12 sq. ft. of growing space and comes with four hinged vents and four stakes for anchoring to the ground. It’s 1′ (front) to 1.4′ (middle) high, so it should offer plenty of room for starting plants.

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Cat & Dog Planters for Your Garden

Whether you’re a full-fledged gardener with a big vegetable patch and landscaped backyard sanctuary, or you’re just interested in growing a few flowers in pots on the balcony, these whimsical planters could be fun (especially if you’re a pet lover).

These metal pots with legs and heads come in various breeds of cats and dogs.

Glamour the Cat Planter stands 22 inches high and holds a 6″ wide grower’s pot.

Gertruda the Weiner Dog Planter is 14.5 inches high and 19 inches long with a slightly bigger pot.

The planters are made from powder-coated steel that is supposed to last for “years of enjoyment.” Left untreated, the material will lose its patina over time, but you can make the pots retain their original finish by applying a clear glaze.

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Make Your Own Concrete Garden Markers

If you enjoy vegetable gardening, but you can’t always remember what you planted where, markers are a must. Sure you can just stick the empty seed bag on a post at the end of the row, but if you want something a little more sophisticated and permanent (and that won’t blow away on a windy day), you might dig this garden marker kit.

“With this kit you can create your own unique concrete marker stones for you garden or home. Mix up some concrete, pour it into the form, and use the press in letters to create word-bearing marker stones.”

It sounds like something the kids may enjoy too.

The kit comes with:

  • 42 3/4″ press-in uppercase letters, numbers, and punctuation mark
  • 4 plastic forms, 1.5″ deep, 2″ high and ranging in length from 4″ to 14
  • 1 form for making concrete stands to hold the marker stones
  • 2 pounds of lightweight concrete
  • Concrete tint to color your markers
  • Trowel

Pick it up for $20 from Bracken Garden & Landscape Center.

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Raised Garden Pond Makes Attractive Landscaping Feature

If you’ve thought about installing a garden pond, you may have envisioned a log of back-breaking digging to put a hole in the backyard. A water feature need not be quite so dirt-intensive though. An alternative to hollowing out a giant hole in the ground is installing a raised garden pond.

These work the same way as in-ground ponds (they can be any size you want, you can have fish, vegetation, etc.), but they’re elevated so they can be installed on the ground or patio anywhere you’ve got room.

Benefits of raised ponds are that they can be safer, since toddlers won’t accidentally fall in, and they can make a great focal point anywhere in the yard. Also maintenance can be easier when all the parts are above the ground.

Pond liners keep the water from escaping, so just about any material (from wood, to blocks, to concrete, and more) can be used for walling in the pond. This article from Water Gardener Magazine offers a good overview of how to plan and build a raised garden pond.

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Bamboo Deer Chaser Adds Decorative Water Feature to Garden

If you enjoy Asian landscaping accents, then you might consider adding a “deer chaser” to your garden.

These traditional contraptions make a soft clunk each time the water cycles through.

In theory, this noise is supposed to be a bit of a pest control device, scaring away any deer who are thinking of munching on your lettuce rows.  In reality, a fence is probably more practical, but these bamboo deer chasers can be attractive garden accents.

The device works by having water enter through a bamboo spout and pour into another hollow bamboo rod. When the hollow rod has filled with water, the weight of the water tips the section of bamboo downward, spilling it into a basin. Once empty, it returns to an upright position, striking a stone with a “clunk.”  A submersible pump cycles the water back up to the top so the process begins a new.

This model is from Bamboo Accents.

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Pivoting Watering Wand Makes It Easy to Water Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets can be a great way to container garden when space is limited (if you don’t have a lot of room on your deck or balcony, you can plant twice as much by using the air above your head), but watering them can be a chore. If you’re not tall, you probably can’t peer up over the lip to see what you’re doing, and just sticking the garden hose over the top to gush water out isn’t the gentlest way to nourish your plants.

Instead you might try this pivoting watering wand.

The gardening gadget attaches to your hose to extend your reach by over 30 inches and moderate the flow of water into your hanging baskets. The trigger-grip handle lets you regulate pressure, and the head itself can be adjusted to different spray patterns (from “shower” to “soaker”).

The head of the wand pivots 180 degrees, so you can easily get at plants from any angle.

$17 at the Gardeners’ Supply Company:

Pivoting Watering Wand

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$3,000 Complete Raised Bed Gardening Kit

Way back in ye olden days, folks just tilled up a hunk of their yard in order to plant a vegetable garden. Today it’s all about raised beds, vertical gardening, square foot gardening, and other tactics that can be used in small spaces (we don’t have all that acreage everyone had in ye olden days). These methods can be efficient, but you sure can spend a fortune if you want to get fancy.

This 8′ x 12′ raised bed gardening kit runs just shy of $3,000.

To be fair, it does come with a pretty complete setup. Here are some of the features:

  • A 6′ trellis for growing your tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and other climbing vegetables.
  • 3′ high rabbit-proof fence to go around the whole thing and keep the varmints from munching your greens (keeps your dogs from getting in and trampling your beds too).
  • Galvanized wire mesh to “gopher proof” the beds on the bottoms.
  • An automatic irrigation system that “waters the garden for you.”
  • Heart-grade redwood construction that’s supposed to stand up to the weather for many years.
  • Free composter

A pretty hefty investment, but considering the price hikes for food lately, maybe it’s worth going full-blown into the vegetable gardening scene. (And if anyone wants to send me one of these kits, I’ll be happy to review them on the site!)

From EarthEasyShop

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Rapid Reel Hose Holder Keeps Hoses Tidy

Mounting your garden hose on the wall keeps it easily accessible and neat and tidy at the same time–at least it’s supposed to be tidy. If you’ve just got a simple bracket on the wall, winding up the hose into neat little circles can be trying (and don’t even ask the kids to do it).

The Rapid Reel Hose Holder aims to make the “tidy” aspect a little easier to achieve.

It features sturdy all-steel construction, so it should last a lot longer than the cheapy hose reels out there, and the connector pieces are solid brass. It cranks in your hose quickly, so you don’t have to wind (and unkink) by hand.

You can get free-standing and wall-mounted versions of the hose reel. If you go with the wall ones, then you can get parallel or perpendicular holders. Lots of options for that neat and tidy hose storage.

The Rapid Reel comes with a 10-year warranty.

Rapid Reel Garden Hose Parallel Wall Reel

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Handmade Amish Bird House Planters

Some folks like to plant certain flowers and bushes to attract birds to their yard. You could make an area doubly attractive to winged wildlife by providing a little house for them to take shelter in. These bird houses come with planters on either side so you can provide everything in one spot (just add a little bird bath next to one of these, and you’ll have a complete avian habitat).

Handcrafted by Amish craftsmen, the birdhouse planters are available in western red cedar or pressure treated pine wood.

And whether you get any birds or not, the cute little planters are a fun alternative to a bunch of pots just sitting on the patio.

You can find this and other decorative wooden planters at Amish Built Lawn Decor.

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Terra Cotta Face Pots Add Personality to the Garden

It’s in our nature to anthromorphize things, granting human characteristics to non-human creatures and objects, so why not make it easy to add a bit of personality to your plants?

You might remember the tree faces we looked at a couple of years ago. Well, this is along the same lines.

These terra cotta planters come with faces on the front. Once you’ve got your shrubs growing, the greenery will look like hair sprouting atop the pot’s “head.”

You can get the terra cotta face pots with different expressions, such as (from left to right in the picture) “cheerful,” “old man,” and “surprised.” I’ll leave it to you to decide which type of hair (which type of plant) you should grow to suit the various expressions.

From the Kinsman Company.

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