Curbly Original
IKEA Hack! Turn a Shower Curtain into an Outdoor Rug

by Holly Wade

IKEA Hack! Turn a Shower Curtain into an Outdoor Rug

Have you ever struggled to find the perfect pattern for something? Then you see it...but it's the wrong product? That happened to me when I was searching for an outdoor rug, so actually decided I used an IKEA shower curtain to recover an outdoor rug, making a simple statement rug that was exactly what I wanted! Because shower curtains are already waterproof, you can makeover any rug with the pattern from a simple shower curtain. 

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Curbly Original
How to: Make a DIY Modern Planter Box for Under $40

by Lidy Dipert

DIY Modern Flower Box

It's that time of year again! The season to start thinking about our outdoor gardens and spaces! When we first moved into our home three years ago, the outdoor living space was...decent. But it wasn't quite our taste, and that made it a bit challenging to get over what we inherited and visualize an outdoor space that was meaningful to us.

But this year, we decided to take our first baby steps towards a more modern and clean outdoor space...

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How To Keep Your Garden Watered While You're On Vacation

by Rachel Jacks

Tips for how to keep your garden watered while you're on summer vacation

In my part of the world, the hot, sunny summer growing season does not overlap much with the rainy season. It can go weeks without a drop of rain in the summer, which makes watering my vegetable garden daily a necessity. But summer is also vacation time, so if you don’t have a sprinkler system, how do you keep everything from dying while you’re gone? Don’t worry, there are a variety of DIY solutions to this problem.      

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Summer Living: How to Throw an Amazing Backyard Movie Night

by Rachel Jacks

There's something uniquely romantic about watching a movie outdoors. While drive-in theaters are uncommon these days, you can still experience a movie under the stars by setting up your own outdoor movie theater for a backyard movie night.

We've put together a list of everything you need for an amazing backyard movie night, from the best outdoor projector to the ultimate movie snacks. Once you have everything you need for your outdoor movie night, you'll be all set to make it a regular summer tradition. 

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Summer Living: How to Throw an Amazing Backyard Movie Night

by Rachel Jacks

There's something uniquely romantic about watching a movie outdoors. While drive-in theaters are uncommon these days, you can still experience a movie under the stars by setting up your own outdoor movie theater for a backyard movie night.

We've put together a list of everything you need for an amazing backyard movie night, from the best outdoor projector to the ultimate movie snacks. Once you have everything you need for your outdoor movie night, you'll be all set to make it a regular summer tradition. 

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How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard with Hummingbird Food

by Rachel Jacks
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard with Hummingbird Food
Photo: Andrea Reiman

Hummingbirds are good for your garden ecosystem, and very entertaining little creatures. It's easy to fall in love with these tiny, charismatic birds that whiz around with little concern for us (unless you're getting too close to their food sources--then they'll give you a talking-to, and maybe even try to chase you off). A visiting friend who saw them for the first time in person on my front porch said he felt like he was in an animated Disney movie. If you're ready to attract them to your own yard, you just need to bribe them with hummingbird food, and maybe a few other amenities. Read on to learn how.         

 

Why should you attract hummingbirds to your garden?

Hummingbirds are beautiful and entertaining. The iridescent feathers of ruby-throated hummingbirds are particularly lovely. If you haven't had the joy of encountering them in person, you might not know how much personality they have. They're curious, fearless creatures who quickly realize that us slow humans don't pose much of a direct threat. I've had them fly up and hover quite close to me, presumably studying me for food possibilities.

Photo: Bill Williams 

The physical engineering required for these natural marvels to fly forwards and backwards, flapping their wings 70 times per second, is amazing. They need to eat every 10-15 minutes to keep that kind of exertion. You would need to drink more than a can of soda per minute to keep up. 

Aside from their entertainment value, hummingbirds are pollinators, insect predators, and help disperse seeds. That means that they're good for your garden, and perform important roles in a healthy ecosystem. Unfortunately their habitat is increasingly being destroyed by humans through development and climate change. Making your yard welcoming to hummingbirds is one way to help make up for that.

Photo: Bill Williams

How do you make hummingbird food?

Hummingbird food is so incredibly easy to make that a child can do it (in fact, I did make it as a kid). Here's the very simple hummingbird food recipe:

Put 1/4 cup white sugar for every 1 cup of water in a pan (in other words, 1 part white sugar and 4 parts water ). Bring the water to a boil, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Cover, and let cool.

Photo: Nathan Anderson 

Is sugar water healthy for hummingbirds?

According to the Audobon Society, the best hummingbird food is their natural diet of nectar from native plants. But sugar water very closely mimics the chemical makeup of flower nectar. So it's fine as a supplement to their natural diet. As long as you don't use anything other than refined white sugar water to feed hummingbirds, and keep their feeder clean, it's not unhealthy for them. 

Does hummingbird food need to be dyed red?

Red dye is definitely not recommended for hummingbird food. It is unnecessary, and may even be harmful. 

What else can hummingbirds eat (besides nectar)?

According to Bird Watcher's Digest, in addition to nectar and homemade hummingbird food, hummingbirds also eat insects, tree sap, fruit juice, and pollen. When feeding them yourself, you'll want to stick to the sugar water recipe above, supplemented with their favorite flowers. If you're feeling particularly generous, you can put overripe fruit near the feeders to attract fruit flies for them to snack on. 

Photo: Andrea Reiman

Top flowers to attract hummingbirds

The best flowers to attract hummingbirds are natives that grow in your area, especially those with red, pink, or orange flowers in a tubular shape. A variety of flowers with different blooming schedules are preferable, so there's always something producing nectar. The Audobon Society has a very useful native plant database that allows you to search by your zip code, then filter by the type of bird you want to attract. 

Here are some examples of flowers that attract hummingbirds: Bee balm, sages, daylilies, lupines, foxgloves, hollyhocks, petunias, flowering quinces, lantana, manzanita, mimosa, morning glory, trumpet honeysuckle, yucca, scarlet runner bean, and columbine.

Best hummingbird feeders

The best hummingbird feeders are ones that are easy to keep clean and filled. Hummingbirds are very territorial, so multiple feeders spread throughout your yard, each with fewer feeding ports, are preferable to one big one. I've had various feeders over the years, and the one below is by far my favorite because of how easy it is to disassemble and thoroughly clean. Hummingbirds seem to like it, and it's much more attractive to me than the popular plastic red ones.

This hummingbird feeder is available here.

If ants are a problem (they love the sugar water, too), you can buy various types of ant moats or guards to keep them from getting to the feeder. You can also do what I did before they were widely available, and make your own

How to clean feeders

Once you've gone to the trouble of making your yard welcoming to hummingbirds, the last thing you'll want to do is cause them harm. So you need to keep their feeders clean, mold-free, and filled with fresh food. The hotter the weather, the more often you'll need to clean them, but a weekly cleaning is usually fine. Keeping them in the shade can help prevent the sugar from fermenting and turning cloudy as quickly.

There are several ways to clean hummingbird feeders. The simplest is to soak them in one part white vinegar to four parts water. Use a bottle brush to scrub the feeder, or add grains of rice and shake vigorously. If your feeder has developed mold, soak the feeder in a solution of solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water for one hour to thoroughly sterilize. With any of these methods, be sure to rinse thoroughly with water before refilling.
Photo: joel herzog

What else can you do to attract hummingbirds?

Besides making them hummingbird food, there are several additional things that you can do to make your yard welcoming to hummingbirds.

Provide nesting material: Leave spider webs and fluffy plant material alone so that hummingbirds can use them to build their nests. I still treasure the time I saw one collecting cat fur from the top of a fence that my cat often climbed over. Hopefully some baby birds were quite snug in their hummingbird nest of soft cat belly fur. 

Ditch garden chemicals: Spiders and insects are an important part of a hummingbird's diet, especially when they're nestlings. Pesticides can make insects more difficult to find, and potentially travel up the food chain. Systemic herbicides can wind up in nectar that the birds eat. 

Provide water: Hummingbirds like to bathe frequently, and especially like sprinklers and misters. Attach a mister head to your hose, or go all out and install a DIY patio misting system to cool off the whole household.

Catch their eyes: Tie bright orange or red plastic surveyor's tape around bushes, trees, or railings so that it blows in the wind. When birds fly down for a closer look at the bright colors, hopefully they'll discover your hummingbird habitat. 

Provide perches: Hummingbirds like to perch on branches of trees and shrubs to rest, spot insects to grab, and survey their territory. Trees are also the best place for them to locate a hummingbird nest. 

Keep the blooms coming: Remove dead flowers from flowering plants, which encourages them to bloom again. This one is definitely a win-win, because who doesn't want more flowers?

Share this on Pinterest!

 

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How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard with Hummingbird Food

by Rachel Jacks
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard with Hummingbird Food
Photo: Andrea Reiman

Hummingbirds are good for your garden ecosystem, and very entertaining little creatures. It's easy to fall in love with these tiny, charismatic birds that whiz around with little concern for us (unless you're getting too close to their food sources--then they'll give you a talking-to, and maybe even try to chase you off). A visiting friend who saw them for the first time in person on my front porch said he felt like he was in an animated Disney movie. If you're ready to attract them to your own yard, you just need to bribe them with hummingbird food, and maybe a few other amenities. Read on to learn how.         

 

Why should you attract hummingbirds to your garden?

Hummingbirds are beautiful and entertaining. The iridescent feathers of ruby-throated hummingbirds are particularly lovely. If you haven't had the joy of encountering them in person, you might not know how much personality they have. They're curious, fearless creatures who quickly realize that us slow humans don't pose much of a direct threat. I've had them fly up and hover quite close to me, presumably studying me for food possibilities.

Photo: Bill Williams 

The physical engineering required for these natural marvels to fly forwards and backwards, flapping their wings 70 times per second, is amazing. They need to eat every 10-15 minutes to keep that kind of exertion. You would need to drink more than a can of soda per minute to keep up. 

Aside from their entertainment value, hummingbirds are pollinators, insect predators, and help disperse seeds. That means that they're good for your garden, and perform important roles in a healthy ecosystem. Unfortunately their habitat is increasingly being destroyed by humans through development and climate change. Making your yard welcoming to hummingbirds is one way to help make up for that.

Photo: Bill Williams

How do you make hummingbird food?

Hummingbird food is so incredibly easy to make that a child can do it (in fact, I did make it as a kid). Here's the very simple hummingbird food recipe:

Put 1/4 cup white sugar for every 1 cup of water in a pan (in other words, 1 part white sugar and 4 parts water ). Bring the water to a boil, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Cover, and let cool.

Photo: Nathan Anderson 

Is sugar water healthy for hummingbirds?

According to the Audobon Society, the best hummingbird food is their natural diet of nectar from native plants. But sugar water very closely mimics the chemical makeup of flower nectar. So it's fine as a supplement to their natural diet. As long as you don't use anything other than refined white sugar water to feed hummingbirds, and keep their feeder clean, it's not unhealthy for them. 

Does hummingbird food need to be dyed red?

Red dye is definitely not recommended for hummingbird food. It is unnecessary, and may even be harmful. 

What else can hummingbirds eat (besides nectar)?

According to Bird Watcher's Digest, in addition to nectar and homemade hummingbird food, hummingbirds also eat insects, tree sap, fruit juice, and pollen. When feeding them yourself, you'll want to stick to the sugar water recipe above, supplemented with their favorite flowers. If you're feeling particularly generous, you can put overripe fruit near the feeders to attract fruit flies for them to snack on. 

Photo: Andrea Reiman

Top flowers to attract hummingbirds

The best flowers to attract hummingbirds are natives that grow in your area, especially those with red, pink, or orange flowers in a tubular shape. A variety of flowers with different blooming schedules are preferable, so there's always something producing nectar. The Audobon Society has a very useful native plant database that allows you to search by your zip code, then filter by the type of bird you want to attract. 

Here are some examples of flowers that attract hummingbirds: Bee balm, sages, daylilies, lupines, foxgloves, hollyhocks, petunias, flowering quinces, lantana, manzanita, mimosa, morning glory, trumpet honeysuckle, yucca, scarlet runner bean, and columbine.

Best hummingbird feeders

The best hummingbird feeders are ones that are easy to keep clean and filled. Hummingbirds are very territorial, so multiple feeders spread throughout your yard, each with fewer feeding ports, are preferable to one big one. I've had various feeders over the years, and the one below is by far my favorite because of how easy it is to disassemble and thoroughly clean. Hummingbirds seem to like it, and it's much more attractive to me than the popular plastic red ones.

This hummingbird feeder is available here.

If ants are a problem (they love the sugar water, too), you can buy various types of ant moats or guards to keep them from getting to the feeder. You can also do what I did before they were widely available, and make your own

How to clean feeders

Once you've gone to the trouble of making your yard welcoming to hummingbirds, the last thing you'll want to do is cause them harm. So you need to keep their feeders clean, mold-free, and filled with fresh food. The hotter the weather, the more often you'll need to clean them, but a weekly cleaning is usually fine. Keeping them in the shade can help prevent the sugar from fermenting and turning cloudy as quickly.

There are several ways to clean hummingbird feeders. The simplest is to soak them in one part white vinegar to four parts water. Use a bottle brush to scrub the feeder, or add grains of rice and shake vigorously. If your feeder has developed mold, soak the feeder in a solution of solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water for one hour to thoroughly sterilize. With any of these methods, be sure to rinse thoroughly with water before refilling.
Photo: joel herzog

What else can you do to attract hummingbirds?

Besides making them hummingbird food, there are several additional things that you can do to make your yard welcoming to hummingbirds.

Provide nesting material: Leave spider webs and fluffy plant material alone so that hummingbirds can use them to build their nests. I still treasure the time I saw one collecting cat fur from the top of a fence that my cat often climbed over. Hopefully some baby birds were quite snug in their hummingbird nest of soft cat belly fur. 

Ditch garden chemicals: Spiders and insects are an important part of a hummingbird's diet, especially when they're nestlings. Pesticides can make insects more difficult to find, and potentially travel up the food chain. Systemic herbicides can wind up in nectar that the birds eat. 

Provide water: Hummingbirds like to bathe frequently, and especially like sprinklers and misters. Attach a mister head to your hose, or go all out and install a DIY patio misting system to cool off the whole household.

Catch their eyes: Tie bright orange or red plastic surveyor's tape around bushes, trees, or railings so that it blows in the wind. When birds fly down for a closer look at the bright colors, hopefully they'll discover your hummingbird habitat. 

Provide perches: Hummingbirds like to perch on branches of trees and shrubs to rest, spot insects to grab, and survey their territory. Trees are also the best place for them to locate a hummingbird nest. 

Keep the blooms coming: Remove dead flowers from flowering plants, which encourages them to bloom again. This one is definitely a win-win, because who doesn't want more flowers?

Share this on Pinterest!

 

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What Should You Do This Month? Throw a Backyard Solstice Party to Celebrate the Start of Summer

by Rachel Jacks

Backyard Solstice Party

While many Americans think that summer starts on Memorial Day, it officially begins on summer solstice, usually June 21 in the Northern hemisphere. The longest day of the year seems like the ideal excuse for a party, so here are some ideas for a backyard celebration of midsummer. And if you don't get around to throwing a summer solstice party, there's no expiration date on these outdoor party ideas!                

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59 DIY Landscaping Ideas and Tips to Improve Your Outdoor Space

by M.E. Gray
The Curbly House 2017 | DIY landscaping ideas
The Curbly House 2017

Being a homeowner is a big responsibility, and while there's plenty to take care of inside you home, don't forget about the outside, either. If you've ever looked into the cost of hiring a professional landscaper, you know they're not cheap. Fortunately, there are a slew of inexpensive and affordable DIY landscaping ideas at your disposal, so long as you're willing to get your hands a little dirty. From the front yard to the back, barbeque pits to bistro lights, here are 59 ways you can affordably improve your outdoor space.             

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Dull No More: How To Clean and Sharpen Your Garden Tools

by Rachel Jacks
How to clean and sharpen garden tools

Photo: Rachel Jacks

Spring and summer is growing season, but that also means it's time to trim your yard. Trees, bushes, and shrubs need to be kept in shape, and to do that, it really helps to have sharp tools. It's faster and easier to cut with a sharp blade, plus it's better for the plant. In just a few minutes, you can actually sharpen garden tools yourself.        

Yard work is hard enough without trying to do it with dull tools that don't work how they're supposed to. If it has been a long time since you've used newly-sharpened tools, you'll probably be surprised at how much better they work. You can use this same method and file to sharpen everything from a mower blade, to shovels and hoes, to shears and pruners. Ready to give it a try? Here's what you need to know about how to sharpen garden tools.

Materials

Materials needed for this project

Materials you'll need to clean and sharpen your garden tools. Photo: Rachel Jacks

 

A bastard-cut mill file works for sharpening many different yard tools. Although it isn't on their website, the 10" version of this 12" file was about $7 in my local Home Depot, and considering that tool sharpening usually costs at least $5 per item, it will quickly pay for itself. In case you're curious (I was!), "bastard" is a term for the coarseness of the file, and "mill" refers to the way the teeth of the file are arranged.

Step

Remove rust from the blade with steel wool or fine sandpaper.

Remove rust from the blade with steel wool or fine sandpaper. Photo: Rachel Jacks

Use the steel wool pad or a wire brush to clean and remove rust from the blade. Skip this step, and you risk damaging your file. If you have a lot of rust (guilty-as-charged), you may want to switch to 300-grit sandpaper. 

Safety first! Wear heavy-duty work gloves and safety goggles.

Step

Sharpen the edge with the file.

Sharpen the edge with the file. Photo: Rachel Jacks

Holding the blade in a vise, match the bevel with the file, and push it across the blade to reveal shiny new metal. (You may find it easier to hold the shears in your hand rather than a vice when the blades are this small.) This type of file only cuts when you push, not when you pull. After working your way to the end of the blade with a few strokes of the file, check the edge. You want a uniform, shiny edge of fresh metal, so adjust your angle if necessary. On garden shears like these, only one set of the blades has a beveled cutting edge. 

Step

Oil your blade to lubricate it and protect it from rust.

Lubricate the blades. Photo: Rachel Jacks

After you're done sharpening the blade, run the sandpaper or steel wool over the back side of the blade to remove burrs and stray bits of metal. Spray WD-40 or other lubricant on the tool, then wipe off excess. 

To keep your garden tools clean, sharp, and rust-free, always wipe them dry after you're done using them, and regularly oil them as shown above. 

Now go forth and sharpen all of your tools, and maybe use them to cut yourself a nice bouquet when you're done. 

How to clean and sharpen garden tools for your summer gardening

Photo: Rachel Jacks

Clipping with sharpened garden tools

Photo: Rachel Jacks

How to clean and sharpen garden tools

Photo: Rachel Jacks

 

Are you ready to make the most of your yard? Here are 59 DIY Landscaping Ideas and Tips to Improve Your Outdoor Space.

Continue Reading

Dull No More: How To Clean and Sharpen Your Garden Tools

by Rachel Jacks
How to clean and sharpen garden tools

Photo: Rachel Jacks

Spring and summer is growing season, but that also means it's time to trim your yard. Trees, bushes, and shrubs need to be kept in shape, and to do that, it really helps to have sharp tools. It's faster and easier to cut with a sharp blade, plus it's better for the plant. In just a few minutes, you can actually sharpen garden tools yourself.        

Yard work is hard enough without trying to do it with dull tools that don't work how they're supposed to. If it has been a long time since you've used newly-sharpened tools, you'll probably be surprised at how much better they work. You can use this same method and file to sharpen everything from a mower blade, to shovels and hoes, to shears and pruners. Ready to give it a try? Here's what you need to know about how to sharpen garden tools.

Materials

Materials needed for this project

Materials you'll need to clean and sharpen your garden tools. Photo: Rachel Jacks

 

A bastard-cut mill file works for sharpening many different yard tools. Although it isn't on their website, the 10" version of this 12" file was about $7 in my local Home Depot, and considering that tool sharpening usually costs at least $5 per item, it will quickly pay for itself. In case you're curious (I was!), "bastard" is a term for the coarseness of the file, and "mill" refers to the way the teeth of the file are arranged.

Step

Remove rust from the blade with steel wool or fine sandpaper.

Remove rust from the blade with steel wool or fine sandpaper. Photo: Rachel Jacks

Use the steel wool pad or a wire brush to clean and remove rust from the blade. Skip this step, and you risk damaging your file. If you have a lot of rust (guilty-as-charged), you may want to switch to 300-grit sandpaper. 

Safety first! Wear heavy-duty work gloves and safety goggles.

Step

Sharpen the edge with the file.

Sharpen the edge with the file. Photo: Rachel Jacks

Holding the blade in a vise, match the bevel with the file, and push it across the blade to reveal shiny new metal. (You may find it easier to hold the shears in your hand rather than a vice when the blades are this small.) This type of file only cuts when you push, not when you pull. After working your way to the end of the blade with a few strokes of the file, check the edge. You want a uniform, shiny edge of fresh metal, so adjust your angle if necessary. On garden shears like these, only one set of the blades has a beveled cutting edge. 

Step

Oil your blade to lubricate it and protect it from rust.

Lubricate the blades. Photo: Rachel Jacks

After you're done sharpening the blade, run the sandpaper or steel wool over the back side of the blade to remove burrs and stray bits of metal. Spray WD-40 or other lubricant on the tool, then wipe off excess. 

To keep your garden tools clean, sharp, and rust-free, always wipe them dry after you're done using them, and regularly oil them as shown above. 

Now go forth and sharpen all of your tools, and maybe use them to cut yourself a nice bouquet when you're done. 

How to clean and sharpen garden tools for your summer gardening

Photo: Rachel Jacks

Clipping with sharpened garden tools

Photo: Rachel Jacks

How to clean and sharpen garden tools

Photo: Rachel Jacks

 

Are you ready to make the most of your yard? Here are 59 DIY Landscaping Ideas and Tips to Improve Your Outdoor Space.

Continue Reading

Curbly Original
No Campfire? No Problem! Make a Portable S'mores Fire Pot

by Holly Wade

No Campfire? No Problem! Make a Portable S'mores Fire Pot

I grew up as a Girl Scout and did my fair share of camping, and the s'mores were always my favorite part. Even as an adult, I would toast s'mores on my gas stove, but sadly my current home has an electric stove, leaving me without a makeshift campire to make s'mores. Rather than letting that stop me, I made this portable s'mores fire pot with Sterno ethanol gel canisters and a planter pot! 

 This is an incredibly easy project to whip up...

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