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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62 DIY Projects To Transform Your Backyard

by M.E. Gray

The ultimate roundup of outdoor DIY projects to transform your yard space

Blooming flowers and fresh rain can only mean one thing: spring has definitely sprung! That means summer will be here before you know it. If getting your backyard in order is on your to-do list but you're having trouble getting started - don't fret! You don't need a total landscaping overhaul for your yard to feel refreshed and inviting. Sometimes it's just a matter of hanging up some string lights or creating a simple fire pit. We've rounded up 62 outdoor DIY projects to get you excited to be outside again as the weather warms up. From plants to playhouses, keep scrolling for more inspiration!       

What ways do you want to transform your backyard? Let us know in the comments!



62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Pallet couch
Photo: eHow & The Merry Thought

1. Pallet Couch: Doesn't this space look inviting? The good news is that it's made from free pallets and a few cushions!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Summer hammock
Photo: Design Sponge

2. Summer Hammock: Nothing says "ahhhhhhh" like a gently-swinging hammock. Get ready to relax in the fruits of your labor with this DIY.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Lawn chair transformation
Photo: Curbly

3. Colorful Chair Makeover: There are no rules to how bright colors can be outside. See how these once bland lawn chairs got their day in the sun.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: DIY porch swing
Photo: A Beautiful Mess

4. DIY Porch Swing: As Liz Lemon says, "I want to go to there!" Swinging in the spring breeze is a total DIY reality with this project from A Beautiful Mess.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Fringed hammock
Photo: The Merry Thought

5. DIY Fringed Hammock: This hammock brings boho to the backyard with the addition of fringe.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Macrame hammock chair
Photo: eHow

6. Macramé Hammock Chair: I can"knot" get over how gorgeous this hammock chair is! 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: DIY outdoor cushions
Photo: Curbly

7. DIY Outdoor Cushions: Update your existing patio furniture by stitching up some of these quick and easy DIY outdoor cushions. 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Easy outdoor bench
Photo: eHow

8. Easy Outdoor Bench: Emphasis on "easy!" Instant seating comes to life with wood beams, concrete blocks, and a bit of paint.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Modern outdoor sofa
Photo: Fix This Build That

9. Modern Outdoor Sofa: This number is so sleek I might want to bring it inside my house! The good news is it's built to withstand the elements, which means you can make your back deck super classy.



62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Simple grilling cart
Photo: Home Depot via C.R.A.F.T.

10. Simple Grilling Cart: Grillin' on the go! With a built-in drink cooler, what more could you ask for out of an outdoor DIY project?


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Outdoor bar
Photo: The Merry Thought

11. Outdoor Bar: If you're not really the grill master type, but more of a whiskey woman, why not make a drink bar for your backyard?


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Wall-mounting serving station
Photo: Live Laugh Rowe

12. Wall-Mounted Serving Station: Want to entertain but don't have space for a full outdoor kitchen? Go vertical by building this simple serving station with drop-down tabletop! 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Built-in beer cooler table
Photo: Domesticated Engineer

13. Built-in Beer Cooler Table: Woah Nelly, what is this ingenious contraption? Never get up from your chair again with this DIY.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: S'mores station centerpiece
Photo: Curbly

14. S'mores Station Centerpiece: Acting as both a lovely centerpiece and a warming station for marshmallow and chocolate, party guests are sure to be impressed by this s'mores machine (made from glass dishes!).


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Cinder block bar
Photo: Design Sponge

15. Cinder Block Bar: Combining two awesome things (plants and booze), this bar provides an easy builder's solution.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: DIY grill countertop
Photo: Our Fifth House

16. DIY Grill Countertop: Basically like having an outdoor kitchen, this brick counter space built around a grill surely makes outdoor entertaining a breeze.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Drink cooler stand
Photo: Eddie and Steph

17. Drink Cooler Stand: If you're constantly entertaining outside, or if you just enjoy having a cold beverage available whenever, this drink stand provides a classy solution to the standard cooler.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: IKEA outdoor bar cart
Photo: Runaway Chef

18. IKEA Outdoor Bar Cart: This entertaining station falls under the category of "why didn't I think of that?" 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Built-to-last concrete fire pit
Photo: Man Made DIY

19. Built-To-Last Concrete Fire Pit: With a little elbow grease, you can build your own fire pit that you can enjoy for many summers to come. 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Minimal fire pit
Photo: The Brick House

20. Minimal Fire Pit: If clean lines are more your style, explore this fire pit put together by The Brick House.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Upcycled fire pit
Photo: House & Fig

21. Upcycled Fire Pit: I don't want to pick favorites, but this outdoor DIY project is high on the list. See what unusual upcycled material this flaming beauty was made from!



62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Bug-repelling citronella candles
Photo: One Little Project

22. Bug-Repelling Citronella Candles: These outdoor lights do double-duty by providing light and shooing away unwanted pests.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Fire column
Photo: Curbly

23. Fire Column: Nothing says "class" like fire in glass. Shed a little light in your outdoor dining space with this simple DIY project.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Pendant light
Photo: Design Sponge

24. Pendant Light: This DIY might make you want to eat outside for every meal! Create a classy dining nook by hanging some proper light fixtures. 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Ping pong ball lights
Photo: Created by V

25. Ping Pong Ball Lights: Maybe the easiest outdoor DIY project on this list, these ping pong ball lights instantly add charm to any space.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: String lights hanging poles
Photo: City Farmhouse

26. String Light Hanging Poles: If you want to hang string lights outside but don't have anywhere to put them, City Farmhouse has an easy solution that also involves plants!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Portable fire pit
Photo: Design Sponge 

27. Portable Fire Pit: This flame is on the move! Which is perfect if you are an renter or apartment-dweller.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Recycled bottle tiki torch
Photo: Gerardot and Co.

28. Recycled Bottle Tiki Torch: Old wine bottles get new life as mounted tiki torches with this outdoor-friendly DIY!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Tin can lights
Photo: Die Landfrau

29. Tin Can Lights: This project is a classic, and couldn't be left off the list! If you need a quick, easy, and cheap solution for your outdoor lighting situation, grab some tin cans, tea lights, a hammer and a large nail, and get to punching!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Mason jar lamps
Photo: Orchard Girls

30. Mason Jar Lamps: Another classic, these jar lights are a simple and sweet way to brighten your backyard.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Pool noodle luminaries
Photo: Create Craft Love

31. Pool Noodle Luminaries: Even if you don't have a pool, you can set these floatable candles off in a large container of water to add ambiance to any space. 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Flower pot fire pit
Photo: The Blue Eyed Dove

32. Flower Pot Fire Pit: Who says fire pits can't be cute? Beautiful in blue, this outdoor DIY project only requires a flower pot, stones, and a little flame.



62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: DIY trellis with planter box
Photo: Deuce Cities Henhouse

33. DIY Trellis with Planter Box: Give crawling plants somewhere to go by building them a trellis. This project is also great if you're looking to fill visual space in your patio or deck area!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Hose housing station with built-in planter
Photo: DIY Candy

34. Hose Housing Station with Built-In Planter: Gardening hoses are hard to keep neat and pretty. This project solves that solution by keeping the hose hidden! Plus there are flowers involved, which is always a bonus.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Homemade flower beds
Photo: A Beautiful Mess

35. Homemade Flower Beds: Bump up your home's curbside appeal by installing these flower beds you can make on your own.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Window boxes
Photo: Deuce Cities Henhouse

36. Window Boxes: Aren't these just the sweetest? Deuce Cities Henhouse (local gal to us!) has tips on creating the perfect window boxes.


62 DIY Outdoor Projects: Vertical planter
Photo: Helpful Homemade

37. Vertical Planter: Take your plants a step up. Perfect if you're low on space but big on greenery!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Plant chandelier
Photo: A Beautiful Mess

38. Plant Chandelier: Ooh la la! Who needs lights when you can have leaves?


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Succulent letters
Photo: House & Fig

39. Succulent Letters: Say it with succulents! Create "wall art" to hang in your outdoor space.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Tapered cedar planter
Photo: Jen Woodhouse

40. Tapered Cedar Planter: Giant planters are not cheap, but with a little woodworking you can craft your own from cedar. 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Geometric cinder block planter
Photo: Little Miss Momma

41. Geometric Cinder Block Planters: Cinder blocks are at it again! With a simple paint job, you can create a modern-looking planter to house all kinds of greenery.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Wooden plant stand
Photo: Shanty 2 Chic

42. Wooden Plant Stand: If you're looking for ways to add visual height to your plant-scape, Shanty 2 Chic has the plans to build a wooden plant stand. 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Gardening table
Photo: Design Sponge

43. Gardening Table: Got a green thumb? You're going to need a place to work! Learn how to make your own gardening table, courtesy of Design Sponge



62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Colorful patio tiles
Photo: A Beautiful Mess

44. Colorful Patio Tiles: I can't get over what a simple and transformative idea this is! If you can't commit to painting your patio, try chalk for a temporarily colorful time!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Painted patio
Photo: A Beautiful Mess

45. Painted Patio: If you're looking for a way to bring bold to the backyard, this paint job takes the cake.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Stenciled concrete
Photo: Jen Woodhouse

46. Stenciled Concrete: This stencil job mimics the look of a rug with the low-maintenance factor of concrete! Try this look on for size if you're trying to create a more intimate outdoor living space. 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: DIY rug from drop cloth
Photo: DIY Network

47. DIY Rug from Drop Cloth: Personalize the patio by making a rug from a drop cloth. It'll withstand the elements, too!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Pallet walkway
Photo: Funky Junk Interiors

48. Pallet Walkway: A couple of pallet boards bridge the gap in this DIY. Totally doable, and totally cheap!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Painted outdoor rug
Photo: Curbly

49. Painted Outdoor Rug: Most outdoor rugs are "blah," but painting them is easy enough. See how with our tutorial for this modern and simple design!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Pea Gravel Patio
Photo: City Farmhouse

50. Pea Gravel Patio: Want to build your own patio? Pea gravel makes it easy to create a patio space without all the pavers. 



62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Tree swing
Photo: Momtastic

51. Tree Swing: How sweet is this swing? Even if you're grown, there's nothing quite like swaying under a tree.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Circular rope swing
Photo: Dukes and Duchesses

52. Circular Rope Swing: If you're working on your balance, try this swing on for size!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Sandbox with lid
Photo: Ana White

53. Sandbox with Lid: It's a gross reality, but if you have cats, you have to have a sandbox with a lid. Ana White has the plans for how to build one of your own.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Sandbox with seating and awning
Photo: Ana White

54. Sandbox with Seating and Awning: Keep the kiddos safe from the sun by adding an awning to your sandbox. Plus these plans come with adorable seating!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: DIY bungalow playhouse
Photo: That's My Letter

55. DIY Bungalow Play House: With chalk board panels, this playhouse can be imagined into any space. 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Play tent
Photo: Make It Love It

56. Play Tent: Can I move in? This cloth tent is also collapsible, so it's easy to move inside and out!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Hula hoop hideout
Photo: Alanna George

57. Hula Hoop Hideout: Give each kid their own special space with some fabric and a few hula hoops. 


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Recycled Tire Teeter Totter
Photo: Sugar Bee Crafts

58. Tire Teeter Totter: Alliteration aside, this teeter totter is adorable. Plus it's made from recycled materials, so it's good for the kids and the earth.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: DIY tether ball
Photo: Simply Kierste

59. DIY Tether Ball: This DIY feels like a throwback! Do you guys remember playing tether ball long into the afternoon? Turns out it's pretty easy to make one of your own for you or your offspring to enjoy!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Mini bowling lane
Photo: Handmade with Ashley

60. Mini Bowling Lane: How adorable is this?? Bowling never looked so cute, plus it's small so it doesn't take up a lot of space!


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Giant four-in-a-row
Photo: Home Depot

61. Giant Four-in-a-Row: Everything better when it's bigger. Fair warning: you may end up being house-party-central if you build one of these.


62 DIY Projects to Transform Your Backyard: Giant jenga
Photo: A Beautiful Mess

62. Giant Jenga: Last but not least, this thrilling game is the perfect addition to a summertime backyard party.




Bonus! Author Christina Pfeiffer is sharing What to plant for more drought resilient containers

By their nature, containers require more frequent watering than plantings in the ground.  Smaller containers in full sun can need watering twice a day during hot spells.  Go large when choosing new containers to save on time and water demands.

Choose a group of plants that are compatible in looks and culture.  Match up their needs for light and water first, then play with combining colors and texture.  


These perennials are my first 'go-to' s for drought tolerant containers.  They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors with blooms that benefit pollinator insects and ask for little in terms of water and fertilizer.  Most will overwinter and also combine well with other drought tolerant plants.

Herbs for garden and kitchen

Culinary and ornamental herbs are another group happy in well drained soil and sun.  Those with variegated foliage are stunning accents planted solo in a container.  Among my top favorites are:

Variegated lemon thyme
Sages that are edible and ornamental: 'Berggarten', 'Aurea', 'Purpurescens' and 'Tricolor'
Oregano 'Kent Beauty' trails beautifully out of hanging baskets and into the marinara sauce.

Perennial favorites

These garden perennials make a successful leap between garden beds and containers and back again:

Coral bells, Heuchera 'Green Spice', 'Peppermint Spice' and 'Moonlight'
Geranium x 'Johnson's Blue' and other hardy geranium
Oxalis tetraphylla 'Iron Cross'
Dusty Miller -
Sunrose, Helianthemum 'Wisley Pink' and 'St. Mary's'
Hardy fuchsia
Cape fucshia

Add these grasses and grass-likes for contrasting texture

New Zealand Flax, Phormium and  variegated  iris both offer tall, strappy, striped leaves.  
Low growing glack mondo grass has dramatic dark foliage and and small white or purple flowers.
Variegated lily turf, Liriope muscari 'Variegata', 'Silver Dragon' and 'Sunproof'  all have white edged leaves and purple blooms.

Annuals that can take the heat (and a bit of drought)

Many of the popular annuals used for seasonal color do best with regular water and fertile soil.  Be sure to keep these birds-of-a-feather together.  Here are some great annuals that don't like as much water and fertilizer and that combine well with other types of plants listed in this article:

African daisy, Osteospermum Symphony series
Sweet allysum, Lobularia maritima
Coreopsis tinctoria
Dwarf snapdragons, Chinese Lantern series




Ready to get your backyard in order? We've rounded up 62 outdoor DIY projects to help you get out in the sunshine
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Looking to freshen up your indoor space instead? Check out these 72 organization tips!

72 Organization Tips and Projects


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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?

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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 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.


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.


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. 


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.

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How To: Make the Ultimate, Reusable Fruit Fly Trap

by Chris Gardner
DIY Fruit Fly Trap
Learn how to get rid of fruit flies for good.

Ah ... summertime. The pinnacle of the produce season means amazing things for your palate: sun-ripened fruit, homegrown vegetables, and fresh herbs for days.

Unfortunately, ripe produce also invites other guests to the flavor party: fruit flies. These little monsters (drosophilidae), with their big red eyes and kneejerk-wave inspiring flight patterns, aren't terribly harmful (they have a...

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How to Create an Indoor Garden Your Cat Will Love (Because She's a Plant Lady, Too)

by M.E. Gray

How to make an indoor garden for you feline friend

I was a junior in high school when my cat, Donut, came into my life. She was a rescue from the local ASPCA, and she's been my ride-or-die ever since. Because I was young when I got her, I didn't understand all of her needs. Over the last decade of us living together, the space that Donut takes up in my home grows larger and larger - because like any other living thing, she needs more than water and shelter to thrive. She needs play. She needs nutrients. She needs a place to sharpen her talons other than the side of my armchair. And just how I want only the best for my own health and wellbeing, I want the best for hers, too. Which is why it's important that she gets her greens (or in this case, cat grass).            

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The Internet is Magic, and You Can Buy All Your Houseplants Online

by M.E. Gray

Where to Buy Houseplants Online - 10 online retailers

The internet is a beautiful thing. Anything and everything exists there, including online shops that will sell and ship houseplants to your home. It's basically an introverted millennial's dream (that's me, btw). I am fortunate enough to have a lot of nurseries and plant shops in my area, which is where most of my greens come from. I'd never considered that I could buy houseplants online, but after discovering how easy/cheap/non-confrontational it is, I have several green babies bookmarked on my computer. If you're looking for new places to find greenery, here are 10 great sources for you to buy houseplants online.           

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How to: Make Homemade, Healthy Spiced Ketchup

by Rebekah Greiman
How to: Make Homemade, Healthy Spiced Ketchup
Hello! I'm Rebekah from Potholes and Pantyhose where I share and photograph detailed tutorials of my DIY projects, recipes, photography tips and remodeling endeavors. I am in the middle of remodeling both our living and dining rooms.

My garden is in full swing and I have a plethora of Roma tomatoes that needed to be used. And, after reading the back of a ketchup bottle one day which listed the third ingredient as High Fructose Corn Syrup and the fourth as Corn Syrup, I knew just what to do.  

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