Curbly Original
Glue Gun Shootout: What's the Best Glue Gun on the Market? We Find Out.

by DIY Maven
Glue Gun Review
Photo: JoAnn Moser

 

Sure, your glue gun melts glue sticks, but does it drip glue all over the place when sitting on its "kickstand"? Does it seem to spontaneously tip over when sitting on said kickstand? Does it take forever to reach maximum heat? 

If your glue gun does any or all of these things, it might be time to break up with it and find a new model. After hours and hours of testing 6 models—4 corded and 2 cordless—of wildly varying prices, we've pinned down our favorites. Let's introduce our contenders (and our recommendations): 

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Curbly Original
What's the Best Bottle Cutter on the Market? We Find Out

by DIY Maven
We review the top five glass bottle cutters to find out which is best.
Photo: DIY Maven

Four years ago, I threw out the question: "What is the best bottle cutter on the market?" A lot of readers weighed in. Some gave recommendations for their favorite glass bottle cutter, others just wanted a definitive answer, which is what I wanted. Finally, FINALLY, we decided to get to the bottom of the bottle cutter question and have a product shoot out between four popular models. Our competition has not been without a little drama, as one of the bottle cutter makers has, apparently, gone out of business since the inception of this review. That being the Bindu Studio's Bottle Cutter. We've decided to leave the Bindu in the review just in case some of you stumble upon one secondhand. That being said, it's time to introduce each of our competitors (and their final grades):

 

Long story short: Ephrem's Bottle Cutter Kit received the highest grade, but Creator's Bottle Cutter also worked well. The reviews below should help you choose the cutter which will work best for your needs.  Watch below to see Ephrem's Bottle Cutter in action:

Table of Contents 

Diamond Tech Craft G2 Glass Bottle Cutter

First to go under the magnifying glass is the Diamond Tech Craft G2 Bottle Cutter, or G2 for short. For such a simple contraption, its assembly was not very intuitive. I would describe it as 'fussy.' By far, it took the longest to assemble of all of our competitors.

Besides the individual pieces, the G2 came with a 'clinker' to insert inside bottles to help their separation by 'tapping' them. This is not something I'd recommend, even with a tapper on hand! It also came with 2 pieces of emery cloth and one cutting head. 

G2 Bottle Cutter review
Photo: DIY Maven

Eventually, the assembly was finished:

Photo: DIY Maven

Setting it up to score was easier than I thought it was going to be. All it took was a few adjustments of the upper arm and lower arm to get the device perpendicular to the bottle, which is imperative to get a proper score.

Photo: DIY Maven

 

The setup resulted in a very nice looking, even cut:

Photo: DIY Maven

I used the hot then cold water bath means of separation, which the instructions for the G2 recommends, and it was a huge fail.

Photo: DIY Maven

 

I tried a second time and achieved another nice cut:

Photo: DIY Maven

But it resulted in another bad break:

Photo: DIY Maven

Would the 3rd time, with a different type of bottle, be the charm? 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Nope. In this case multiple hot/cold baths didn't separate the bottle, so I tried the candle flame/cold water method. Still no separation.

Photo: DIY Maven

Okay, if the 4th attempt didn't work, I was going to give up. As it turned out, I got a perfect cut with hot/cold water separation:

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Because of the design of the G2, bottles with wide mouths require their lids to be intact. That's because you have to punch a hole in the lid to slip the top of the cutter into. I gave that a try with a frappuccino bottle, with bad results. This is because it's very difficult to punch a smooth hole into the exact center of a metal lid. Not doing so means a wavy score line:

Photo: DIY Maven

And then, after all that jockeying with top of the cutter and trying to keep it stable, this happened (I glued it back together and forged ahead):

Photo: DIY Maven

Now, the G2's instructions say that it can cut a bottle on its rounded edges, so I thought I'd give it a try.  This is where all those fussy adjustments came in handy. First, I tried it on the neck:

Photo: DIY Maven

I got a nice cut, but the separation was a huge failure:

Photo: DIY Maven

That last one was a thick champagne bottle, so I thought I'd try something thinner. In this case, a Bloody Mary Mix bottle:

Photo: DIY Maven

Again, I got a nice cut, and a nearly successful separation. At this point, it was time to move on to our next competitor. 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

 

Read It!: Bottle Art: Reduce Reuse Recycle 

Check out Bottle Art: Dazzling Craft Projects from Upcycled Glass for great bottle cutting project ideas!

 

  Amazon - $9

The Bindu Glass Bottle Cutter

The Bindu. It came with a LOT of parts to assemble and although it was a bit time consuming, it went together easily: 

Bindu bottle cutter review
Photo: DIY Maven

What impressed me about it was its solid construction. Steel threaded rod, wing nuts, and hex nuts; 1/8 aluminum brackets; rubber feet, and nylon (or possibly UHMW) rollers all added up to a hefty unit. Also, the cutting head on the Bindu has 6 (!) numbered cutting wheels, so you can keep track of which ones you've used when the old one gets dull. 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Setting up the Bindu for scoring was a no-brainer. Just adjust the bracket with the cutting wheel to the length at which you want to cut your bottle and away you go. 

Photo: DIY Maven

My first attempt resulted in a nice cut:

Photo: DIY Maven

Separation with candle/cold water, as suggested by Bindu's instructions, wasn't a total failure, but it wasn't good either.

Photo: DIY Maven

My second attempt was pure perfection (below). As for cutting on a slant like the G2, Bindu's instructions imply that it may be done if you shim the cutting wheel/turret with washers. The idea is to adjust the angle of the cutting wheel to match the slope of the bottle. Not only does it sound tricky, it sounds like another post! Which is why we're going to quit while we're ahead with the Bindu and go on to our next contender. 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Don't forget:

CRL Professional Glass Cutter Oil is an ideal lubricant for making clean cuts. 

 

Ephrem's Bottle Cutter 

 Check latest price on Amazon 

Honestly, when I took this little thing out the box, I wasn't terribly impressed. Formed sheet metal and no-wing nuts? Harrumph. Although it DID have 3 cutting wheels, which was nice. Also in the box were a candle, some emory cloth, and a small bottle of sanding compound. (Interesting.) Two of the nylon (or possibly UHMW) guide rollers and shoulder bolts were not attached to the unit. Since there were no assembly instructions, they could have been overlooked before shipment or perhaps they came apart in shipping.

Ephrems (not Ephrams) bottle cutter review
Photo: DIY Maven

No matter, as it was quite obvious where they went. 

 

The set up for Ephrem's was pretty easy. It was just a matter of loosening the bracket and adjusting for length. Again, since there was no wing-nut, I needed a pair of pliers and a screw driver to adjust the bracket. (Also note that the adjustment length isn't that long, so there are limitations of which to be aware. But for most applications, it should be fine.) Now, for my first attempt, and, yes, I used one of the G2 fails:

Photo: DIY Maven

Like its predecessors, I got a nice, even cut:

Photo: DIY Maven

And, will wonders never cease, I achieved perfection on the first try with candle/cold water separation as Ephrem's suggested! So why success on the first attempt??  I think it might have to do with the squatty nature of the Ephrem's. The fact that it's made out of compact, formed sheet metal and there are no wing-nuts to make room for, it can sit close to the ground which means it has really good stability. As far as cutting on a slant? The maker offers an adapter on their website for $6 to make such cuts. 

Photo: DIY Maven

But maybe that first cut was a fluke....

Photo: DIY Maven

Nope. And look at the size of that bottle! (Champagne, anyone?)

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Then, just for fun, I decided to try to salvage the frappuccino bottle fail from last time using Ephrem's. Again, perfection!

Photo: DIY Maven

 

The Creator's Bottle Cutter

 Buy now on Amazon 

Opening its box was a joy. NO assembly! As for my first impressions of the unit itself, it was obvious that a lot of thought had gone into its design and construction. This is what a 100 dollar bottle cutter gets you: injected molded ends with honeycomb for rigidity, 1/4" steel shafting, rubber-coated steel ball bearings, an aluminum backbone with integrated ruler, and very 'grippy' silicone feet. Oh, and a mark on the top of the backstop so you can gauge when your bottle has made a 360 degree rotation. (Very thoughtful.) It also comes with 2 rubber rings, which you'll see later, to direct hot and cold water for hot and cold water separation. 

Creators bottle cutter review
Photo: DIY Maven

A shot of the integrated ruler:

Photo: DIY Maven

Included is also a nylon (or possibly UHMW) and foam pad to protect your palm. Basically, you're supposed to put the pad, nylon side down, on the bottle, and place your palm on the foam. This makes the bottle slip easily as you hold it in place.  

Photo: DIY Maven

Another thing to note is that the Creator's cutter itself is spring loaded, so it is pushing up on the bottle as you rotate it--you don't push down, more like just hold it in place. This feels a little weird at first, but only after using other bottle cutters. If you're new to bottle cutting, it wouldn't be an issue. 

Photo: DIY Maven

Now let's get down to business. Here is my first attempt:

Photo: DIY Maven

I tried making two different scores at two different lengths on the bottle picture above, but the lines went all wonky. I think it was the nylon pad that did it. Yes, it makes the bottle slip easily as you hold the bottle in place, but it also means the bottle might slip away from the backstop. If that happens, you won't get an even cut. I didn't even attempt a separation with that bottle, so I tried another, this time nixing the nylon pad thing. That score was much better. 

Photo: DIY Maven

Creator's suggest either flame/cold water OR hot/cold water baths. I tried the former and it looked like it separated nicely, but.... 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

after I cleaned the bottle, it revealed an iffy separation: 

Photo: DIY Maven

For my fourth attempt at scoring I decided to USE the pad again (not pictured) now that I got the slip-factor under control (you have to rotate and keep pressure on the backstop simultaneously):

Photo: DIY Maven

This time I used the hot/cold water method and the two rubber rings that I mentioned earlier to guide the hot/cold water along the score line.

Photo: DIY Maven

Perfection:

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Nice to have:

This replacement cutter wheel for the Creator's Bottle Cutter is good to have just in case. 

 

The Kinkajou Bottle Cutter

After the folks behind the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter read my roundup, they offered to send out one of their bottle cutters for me to add to the review. I'm going to nut shell it, so here goes...

The unit itself is bigger and heavier than expected (not necessarily a bad thing). It came with sanding paper, a 'glass finishing tool' (to pry off jagged edges left on after separation, which I'd never do, because if you get an even cut, you should never be left with jagged edges), stretchy separation rings, and a bunch of stickers (!)

Kinkajou bottle cutter review
Photo: DIY Maven

Using the Kinkajou isn't all that difficult, just slip it over a round bottle, adjust the two outside screws to fit it around the bottle, then engage their accompanying levers. To score, engage the cutting wheel lever and spin the bottle until you have a score line around the entire bottle. Sounds easy, right? It is...IF YOU WATCH THE HOW-TO VIDEOS ON THE KINKAJOU WEBSITE. Otherwise, you'll make one wonky cut after another. Even then, you need to finesse this thing. The problem is you can't apply any torque whatsoever with your hands. Doing so will result in a bunch of uneven cuts. Like this one:

Photo: DIY Maven

Once you get the hang of it though, it's fairly easy to get an even score line. 

Photo: DIY Maven

However, if you plan to cut even a slightly square bottle or jar, like the one below, forget about it. The cutter gets hung up on the angles and won't spin. 

Photo: DIY Maven

Hung up on the edges:

Photo: DIY Maven

There are things I do like about the Kinkajou. Its construction allows for easy visibility of the cutting wheel, which is great. I also like the pliability of the separation rings, which are much stretchier and therefore easier to use than those that accompany The Creator's. But.....that's about it, I'm afraid. I just can't get over the torque issue. It's too unpredictable for me. And then there's the whole 'not even slightly square bottle or jar' thing. For more predictable cuts and for versatility in bottle shapes, I'd go for the Ephrem's for a bit less in price. Grade-wise, I'd give the Kinkajou a B, and that's for round bottles only. GRADE UPDATE: Murray commented how the Kinkajou won't score a level line on a slightly slanted bottle either, so for that reason, I'm going to lower my grade to a C. 

The product review unit was provided by Kinkajou. All opinions are mine.  

 

Conclusions

G2 ($16-$25)

Grade: D

Buy Now

Works but it might be an exercise in futility trying to maintain consistency. Again, the makers say you can cut on a slant, but that proved to be easier said than done. And as for wide-mouth jars? SUPER tricky. Unlike the other cutters in our competition, it does have gravity going for it, which means the bottom of the bottle doesn't creep up like it can on a horizontal bed. For an occasional, straight-forward WINE bottle score, it'll do the job. Although frustrating, it did, eventually, make a nice score. Ultimately, I could see the price making up for the frustration to the user. I'm giving the G2 a wobbly C- for wine bottles only. (And because that part fell off.) For wider-mouth bottles and jars, I'll give it a D, only because there's probably a way to get a successful score if you have a lot of time and patience.  

 

The Bindu (Originally $50)

Grade: PASS

A respectable, well-made bottle cutter that does the job nicely. Because the makers have disappeared and have, possibly, gone out of business, the cutter will only be found secondhand, which may mean a discount from its original $50 price tag. If so, I'd buy it. As for a grade, I'd give it a B if the company were still in business. Because they're not, it might be best to do the pass/fail route. In this case: PASS.  

 

Ephrem's ($28-$42)

Grade: A+

Buy Now

A serious contender for both price and performance. Besides those 3 cutting wheels, you get the other thoughtful adders like the emory cloth, sanding compound, and candle. Okay, you can't score a bottle on a slant with it, but they do offer that $6 adder that I mentioned earlier. And, yes, there is a limit to the lengths of cuts, but they also offer a $4.50 extender to deal with that. So, for about 10 more bucks, you'd have everything you could need, assuming the slant adapter works as well as the entire unit does. For the bottle cutter hobbyist, I'm giving this little guy a solid, and surprising, A+. (The + is because of the perfect cuts right out of the box.)

 

The Creator's (Around $100)

Grade: A

Buy Now

Once you get the hang of it, I feel it will be the most consistent in cutting lengths of all the products in this shootout. The integrated ruler on the back will get precise measurements for your cut lengths, and is a necessity if you plan to cut RINGS. Downsides of the unit are 1. it only comes with one cutting wheel and 2. it doesn't cut on a slant. The wheels are replaceable, of course, but for the slant--there isn't an adder for that. However, Creator's offers a bottle 'neck cutter' for $50 that looks rather enticing. Ultimately, I'd suggest the Creator's for for those of you who intend to start a cottage industry involving bottle-cutting. For a grade, Creator's gets an A.

 

Want to know the best way to cut glass bottles? We've got the answer!
Pin this!

 

FINAL NOTE:

None of the retailers of these bottle cutters supplied products for this review. It was entirely funded by Curbly. As for the opinions of the products, those are mine and mine alone. If anyone has any further questions about the individual products reviewed, I'll do my best to answer them for you. Just ask in the comments below. 

 

 

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Curbly Original
How To: Make a Concrete Mason Jar Lid

by DIY Maven
Concrete Mason Jar Lid Feature Image
Photo: by JoAnn Moser via MASON JAR NATION, courtesy of Cool Springs Press

Once again, I'm super psyched to be able to share the second of two projects from my recently released book, MASON JAR NATION (Cool Springs Press, 2016)! (For the first project, click here.) Like the hanging air plant planter, this project can also be found in the "Crafts" section of the book. UN-like the last how-to, this one ranks easy on the easy to hard scale...

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Curbly Original
What's the Best Garden Planner? We Find Out!

by DIY Maven
Garden Planners Comparison - Which one is best?

Memorial Day is in sight and, here in the Midwest, that means the start of gardening season. To turn your brown thumb green – or your greener thumb greener – we've assembled 4 popular garden/landscape planners and put them through their paces. The victims today are Small Blue Printer, Plan Garden, Mother Earth News Garden Planner, and Better Homes and Gardens Garden Planner. Are the free versions as good as the paid-for route? Maybe, maybe not. Read on to find out, or skip to the end to see how we graded them.

 

Small Blue Printer:

First up is Small Blue Printer (SBP), which is available as a one-time download for $35. They offer a 15-day trial period for this version, which lets you design, print, and save your plans. They ALSO offer a free online trial version (more about that in a second). Download of the trial version does not require credit card information, which is great. (Note, when you've downloaded SBP, it is identified as a garden planner.) 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

SBP is a simple drag and drop designer. Just pick from a selection of objects and plop them into your design. There’s also a ‘Tools’ function for drawing custom sizes and shapes of pools, pavings, and garden beds and such, each with choices of fill. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

To change the fill of your object, simply choose a new one from the properties window on the right of the screen. This window also lets you edit stuff too, including the size of the object in question. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

SBP offers tons of objects to populate your garden/landscaping, including trees, plants, flowers, shrubs, furniture, and even people and cars. 

 

A small sample of what you can choose:

Photo: DIY Maven

Speaking of landscaping, SBP is great for it, but if your intention is to plan a vegetable garden, get ready to be frustrated. First, SBP doesn’t allow for clicking and dragging, so you have to resize each vegetable and flower in the properties window. Resizing a pool or a couple trees is one thing, but when you’re talking about two dozen corn icons, it’s a pain. Also irritating is that non-alphabetized objects and plants—veggies ARE alphabetized but flowers aren’t, so if flowers are your thing, prepare to do some hunting. 

 

 

Photo: DIY Maven
 

 

 

But, let us get back to that resizing thing. When I tried to make my corn plants more realistic in size, they started to truncate in weird ways. Same with the runner beans. That means I could only fit four “corns” into the corn space in my garden, which I drew to be an ample 15' x 30'. Now this might not seem like a big deal, but SBP has a print function that tabulates how many of each plant you need to populate your garden based upon the total number of icons you pasted into the garden, NOT based upon suggested spacing for the plant. So, for me, four corns, four runner beans, five potatoes … you get the idea.

Photo: DIY Maven
 

 

Another irksome thing are the plant labels. They don’t resize with the picture of the plant, so they dwarf your plants or hide them entirely. Of course, you can turn the labeling off, but that seems counterproductive to the task at hand. (Note the herbs section of the garden in the image before last.)

 

As far as printing out your design, the SBP downloadable trial version allows it, but it does include a significant watermark. And, again, that print out of supplies and such is based on icon totals only. You can, however, save plans to your hard drive – yes, even with the trial version. 

Print of SBP garden design, missing some detail on the right:

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Printing and saving is where the free on-line trial version falters a bit (and even excels too). You can print your designs, but you can't save them. You also don't get the parts list when you print your free on-line trial version design, BUT it doesn't print with that huge watermark. Upgrading to the paid version or even the downloadable free trial takes care of the first two issues, and they both allow for exportation of your designs as images as both jpeg and png. 

 

 

Plan Garden:

 

Next up on our list is Plan Garden (PG). At $20 a year or $36 for 2 years (and a 45 day trial), it is the least expensive garden planner with the longest trial period. Again, they require no credit card information to sign up. 

 

Unlike SBP, PG is geared exclusively toward vegetable garden planing. This time, we are asked to enter our  zip code for recommended plants, which are alphabetized. Because PG is veg-centric, it does not have structures from which to choose. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

That being said, there are no identified flower icons to choose from, but you can name them in the plant information window on the right.

Anonymous flowers in the Vegetable Selector:

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

 

The plant selector (aka Vegetable Selector) and Plant Information boxes:

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Like SBP, you have to resize one vegetable at a time, BUT PG does let you choose to make rows or areas of particular plants, so you only have to resize once with a handy slider in the plant information window. Labels, on the other hand, do not resize with the icon, so they must be resized individually. Labels also DO NOT follow the icons, so you’ll have to move them separately. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Other handy things about that plant information window: you can keep track of how many plants you planted and when, if you started them indoors, how much you expect to harvest, and how much you actually DO harvest. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

PG also offers a Daily Log function, which is basically a gardening journal, that lets you note when you compost, fertilize, work in your greenhouse, whatever, which you can export to Excel/Numbers. 

 

Caption

 

As far as the printing of the actual garden design, PG does a nice, albeit utilitarian job. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Mother Earth News Garden Planner

Third on our list is Mother Earth News Garden Planner (MEN for short). You can snag this for $25 a year or $40 for 2 years (and a 30 day free trial). This is only available as an online version and requires Adobe Flash version 9+. Again, we don’t have to give our credit card details to play with the trial version. This time, we are emailed an activation code to get started, but that’s no biggie.

 

Like PG, MEN asks for a zip code but not just to recommend plants for my part of the world, but to keep track of frost dates.

 

To start your garden design, simply choose the size of your garden, in this case another ample 15’ x 30’, and start planning. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

MEN is kind of like the best of SBP and PG when it comes to vegetable garden planning. Not only do they have flowers and vegetables, they have structures galore to choose from, including things like fences, trellises, beehives, and even chicken coops. With such a selection, we could be planning entire farming operations. (Kidding, sort of.) They also have an Irrigation selection which includes everything to do with water, like ponds, pumps, and tubes. 

Just a small sample of things you can choose to put into your garden:

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

To keep everything straight, MEN uses a layers function, which are split into 5 categories including Structures (like those chicken coops I mentioned), Plants, Text, Irrigation, and Layout (paths and raised beds and the like). That way you can focus on one aspect of your garden at a time and not get too overwhelmed. 

The Structures layer:

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

When populating your veg garden, MEN really does most of the work. Simply click the plant (in alphabetical order) you want from the database at the top of the page, plop it into your garden, and drag it to the space you want to occupy. So, for instance, if you want 3 rows of corn, simply left click and drag to size. Changing your mind later couldn’t be easier, as another pick and drag magically changes your 6 potato plants to 9 or 12 or 3. 

Changing the corn section:

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

When you left click on the selection just made (corn in this case), another widow pops up that lets you choose a variety (of corn in this case). It also reveals notes concerning your crop and the position of the corn you sowed. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Not sure how to grow all the stuff with which you populated your veg garden? Not to worry, the icons on the MEN database includes a little “i” next to them. Simply click it and up pops everything you need to know to grow one/many of them, including soil requirements, position, feeding, spacing ... everything. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

As far as summaries and printing goes, MEN will produce a Parts List (accessible via a tab at the top of the page) for the hard stuff, like how many feet of fencing you need to enclose your garden.

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

MEN also has a kinda magical Plant List that tells you HOW MANY PLANTS YOU ACTUALLY NEED to fill the space as you indicated on your plan. That’s because MEN knows what spacing requirements each plant requires. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

 

Included on the Plant List is also a color coded chart that tells you when each plant should be sown indoors (if that’s your plan) or outdoors, and tells you when it should be harvested. 

As far as printing out your plan, MEN does it perfectly. It's big, colorful, labeled, and readable

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

 

BHG

Finally, we’re going to explore Better Homes and Garden’s Garden Planner (BHG). It’s FREE! But, wait. You have to become a member of BHG to gain access to it. But, wait. You don’t get access to all its features with the free version, which is really just a trial version. Oh, and it’ll cost you $9.99 for six months to access the all its features if you decide you want them. (They don't tell you any of this until AFTER you sign up.) But, wait. There’s an even more comprehensive version called GardenPuzzle that’s a pay-once desktop version that costs $19 for one license (meaning one user), or $29 for 2 users, or $39 for 3 to 4 users, or $49 for 5 to 10 users. Does it feel like they want you to buy something?

 

But, be that as it may, let’s get back to the free version. BHG supplies the backgrounds; it’ll cost you that $9.99 to upload a background/photo of your own, which, again, they don’t tell you before you sign up for the free version. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Backgrounds are architect heavy, so right away you can tell this is a planner that is NOT suited for vegetable gardens. And, although they do have a ‘raised beds’ choice, there is no way to fill them. So, yeah, not for planning a garden. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Of all the planners on our list, BHG is the easiest to maneuver, but that’s because it doesn't allow for much customization. Basically, you pick your background, select your structures (like those raised garden beds, or sheds, benches, pots, etc., which you pick and plop), choose your surfaces (lawn, mulch, brick, etc. which you pick and draw), and plants, (trees, bushes, vines, etc., which you pick and plop). 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

BHG operates on depth of field, so when you plop your items, they’ll be bigger in the foreground than in the background of your plan.

Photo: DIY Maven


They’re easily adjustable, though, with a rudimentary + or - that appears in a popup when you click on the object in the plan that you want to resize. Also in that window, we get another little ‘i’ for information regarding the object. Click it and another window will pop up with access to ‘more.’ Click that and you’ll be shunted to BHG’s Plant Encyclopedia. 

 

We need to mention the two small icons on the right of the plan page. One is called ‘Plan View’ and it gives you an aerial view of the plan you just made sans structure. The view is so small it is rendered useless. The other icon doesn’t have a name, but if you click it, you can apply paint effects to your plan. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Various paint effects:

 

Photo: DIY Maven


Why apply paint effects to your plan? I have no idea, but it is kinda fun. 

Finally, BHG does allow you to save your garden plan and print it, which it does nicely. 

 

Photo: DIY Maven

 

Now the Grades!

 

Small Blue Printer - B+

It’s packed with objects in which to fill your dream garden. It’s NOT for vegetable garden planning whatsoever. But if you’ve got dreams of a creating a beautiful yard, this might be the planner for you. And, because it’s a one time download, it is cost effective. Keep in mind, however, there is no 3D depth of field option here, so you’ll have to use your imagination when considering elevations and such, because when it comes to general yard landscaping an elevation view can be very important. In all, I’ll give Small Blue Printer a solid B+ for general landscape planning (it would have gotten an A if it had an elevation view), but for vegetable garden planning, I’m afraid it gets a D. HOWEVER, as a free on-line garden planner, it gets an A.

 

Plan Garden - C

No frills, but super easy to navigate. Of the subscription services, this is the cheapest and, at 45 days, it has the longest trial period. If not going up against Mother Earth News Garden Planner, I’d give it a B, but because it IS going up against MEN, I'll give it a C. 

 

Mother Earth News Garden Planner - A

It should come as no surprise to those who've read this entire post that this planner is our best performer. For vegetable garden planning, it’s unparalleled. Yes, at $25 a year, it’s the most expensive of the subscription services, but I could see the price being made up for in crop loss and all around aggravation-savings. It’s packed with objects and plants to populate your garden, as well as information that would turn any brown thumb green. No, there isn’t an elevation feature, but with vegetable gardens, flat is good—unless we’re talking elevated beds, which are still flat. So, even without that feature, I give MEN an A versus SBP which came in with a B+ because of the importance of the elevation feature when it comes to general yard landscaping. 

 

Better Homes and Gardens Garden’s Garden Planner - B for fun (D for practicality)

Again, this was a run-through for the FREE version from BHG. I can’t comment on the GardenPuzzle version. That said, I see this version as being good for brainstorming but not for serious landscape planning. So, for fun, I’ll give it a B, but for practicality, it gets a D. 

And there you have it, my review of 4 popular garden planners. Now go forth and plant, my children.

FINAL NOTE:

None of the people/creators of these garden planners supplied products for this review. As for the opinions of the products, those are mine and mine alone. If anyone has any further questions about the individual products reviewed, I'll do my best to answer them for you. Just ask in the comments below. 

 

Want more product reviews? Check out our Best Bottle Cutter Review!

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