Get a load of this transformation! See Millie’s Remodel and her exterior front reveal. Plus, I’m sharing tips to help you keep your home protected from termites when landscaping.

Millie’s Remodel Update: Exterior Front Reveal

This update of the Millie’s Remodel project is sponsored by Corteva, the makers of Sentricon. I’m grateful to have Sentricon on board as a Millie’s Remodel sponsor!

Although I still have a lot to catch you up on inside the Millie’s Remodel house, the exterior siding, brick, and front door has been painted. I chose a pretty bright blue for the front door. It’s Loyal Blue from Sherwin Williams.

I built the shutters using leftover tongue and groove planks from the porch overhangs. I promise to share a tutorial for you in the near future.

And I added a modern address plaque beside the door. Also, a DIY I’ll share a tutorial for later.

Although the shutters have been hung and the house numbers look amazing, I feel like something is missing. The house feels a bit naked from the waist down if you catch my drift. It needs some landscaping!

Unfortunately, I’m a little over budget on all the renovations at Millie’s Remodel, so I need to save some money on the landscaping. I decided to plant a few bushes out front and call it done.

Budget Landscaping for a Mid-Century Modern House:

With my budget being under $200, I was able to put in some foundation plantings and one feature plant to give Millie a more finished look outside.

I planted three Fatsio Japonica bushes (the wider bushes with bigger leaves).

Between the Japonicas, I planted two Golden Ticket privet bushes. They should fill in a little over time, but for now, they certainly help ground the house.

For the feature item, I chose a pretty yellow Amber Gold arborvitae for the small bed between the front door and the driveway. I like the color and the tall skinny look of this tree. When full-grown it may be up to 5′ wide and 10′ tall. But, hopefully, it won’t reach full width and can stay a little narrower. I’ll have to keep an eye on it and trim the sides if it starts to get too big.

Luckily, I had a pile of wood chips in the backyard where I had to take out a large rotted tree that was hanging over the house. I was able to use the chips as fresh mulch around the plantings.

Although it’s hard to tell, in the above photo, I kept a barrier of bare earth (and no wood chips) against the foundation of the house. Why? Let me take a moment to talk about how to landscape while keeping your house protected from termites.

Landscaping While Keeping Your Home Termite Free:

I know we live in an area that is overpopulated with termites, so I’m very careful about protecting my homes from conditions that could lead to a termite infestation. Most plants need moisture to stay alive, but unfortunately, termites love wet mushy wood because it’s easier to chew and more tempting! For that reason, it’s important to pay attention to moisture around your home’s foundation. All the tips below will help you reduce the likelihood that termites will find your home tasty.

  • When spreading mulch around plantings, keep it away from the house. Leave at least a one-foot perimeter along the foundation clear of mulch and other organic matter
  • Plant bushes so as to maintain a three-foot clearance from your home (be sure to look at the mature height and width information on new plantings)
  • Never pile firewood, lumber, mulch, soil, or other “termite-friendly” matter against your house
  • Don’t use wood timbers or lumber to create garden beds against your house
  • Install gutters and use downspouts to move water away from the foundation
  • Always make sure your land is graded with a slope away from your house
  • Keep gutters clear of debris to prevent them from overflowing.
  • Contract with a good termite treatment company (you can read how I chose Sentricon in this post.)
  • Keep up with scheduled inspections with your termite company.

My local termite company that installed the Sentricon system came back two weeks ago to check on the system to see if there was any termite activity and inspect the bait stations to see if they needed to be replaced. My technician was able to find most of the bait stations from the map he created during installation.

But, if the stations were buried, he could use the detector to find them.

You can learn more about the Sentricon system and how it’s installed by watching my previous video:

We saw some minor evidence that they had found the stations. This is good because it means they are feeding off the bait stations and taking it back to the colony.

Unfortunately, the memory card in my camera was corrupt, or I’d show you the bait station after almost a year. Luckily, Sarah has an excellent photo of her Sentricon bait station after being in the ground for almost a year.

A Look Back at Millie’s Front Exterior Transformation:

Together, I think the landscaping (although only 6 plants and some mulch) and painting made a big difference. We should look back to when I first bought the house. Remember how she looked? The greenery you see was all weeds!

Then, after painting, she looks great, but still needs some architectural pizzazz.

Finally, the shutters and painted front door made a big difference, but she was a tad naked around her base.

Now she has some beautiful modern greenery out front.

Did I do okay on my minimal budget?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Corteva, the makers of Sentricon. I was provided complimentary termite protection for a year and was compensated for my time and efforts to promote Sentricon. I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own. I am particular about the brands I represent and will always let you know when you are reading a sponsored post.

Pathways around your home can be functional (protecting grass, your feet, or creating a smooth surface to walk on.) Paths can be whimsical, natural, utilitarian or decorative. Here are 9 Lasting Alternatives to Concrete Walkways.

Alternatives to Concrete Walkways

Spring is around the corner and that means more time spent outside. If you’re looking to improve your landscaped pathways, you’ll want to check out these lasting alternatives to concrete walkways. Many are DIY-friendly and can be accomplished in a weekend.

Concrete is the most commonly chosen material for a front sidewalk. It is quick and simple to install. Plus, cement can last for a long time barring any damage from frost heaving and improper installation. Paths to the front door are usually straight forward and easy to navigate. (Imagine if your movers had to navigate a bumpy or uneven path into your home.) But, concrete cement isn’t the only option available to homeowners. Feel free to do something a little different from the Joneses. Here are a few of the many options for creating lasting pathways in your landscaping (not just the front entryway.)

 

Exposed Aggregate

A slightly more decorative pathway than your traditional cement sidewalk. This path has smooth pebbles that are embedded in the concrete and exposed (after hosing off) on the top layer for a durable and texturally appealing walkway. Exposed aggregate should last as long as a concrete and sometimes longer if an epoxy resin method is used.

 

Concrete Pavers

The Europeans have many beautiful romantic cobblestone streets. But, walking on them could be a little like balancing on a tightrope. Modern advances have developed pavers that look like cobblestones but are a lot less likely to cause you to roll your ankle. Pavers are available in a wide variety of shapes, styles, and colors. There are even concrete pavers that look like bricks. Because they are manufactured, concrete pavers are uniform in size making them easy to install. Another advantage of using pavers is if damaged, a section can be removed and re-installed.

 

Brick

A long pathway of bricks harkens back to colonial times. Believe it or not, bricks are produced in a variety of colors and textures. If you like the old antique look, buy some tumbled bricks that have rounded corners. Even more fun than picking the style is picking a pattern. Brick patterns are almost infinite. Herringbone, running bond, basket weave, and jack on jack are just some of the patterns you can create with bricks. Similar to the concrete pavers, damage can be fixed fairly easily.

 

Natural Stone

Bluestone, Cantera, Flagstone, Granite, Limestone, Marble, Porphyry, Sandstone, Slate and Travertine are all stone slabs that can be used for stone pavers. These flat slabs of rock make them ideal for wider pathways and patios. The beauty of using stone is that no two are identical because they are all-natural from the earth.

 

Crushed Stone

Crushed stone, decomposed granite, and a hybrid of crushed stone and polymer are inexpensive alternatives to an expansive pathway. Typically found in bridal paths, this material is a good choice for controlling dust and mud.

 

Photo Source

Permeable Pavers

Honeycomb and grid-like pavers are often seen where water runoff is discouraged. Grass, moss, or small gravel can be inserted between the pavers for more color. The large holes in this path allow water to permeate back into the earth. They are very environmentally friendly and graphically pleasing to the eye.

 

Boardwalk Decking

This type of pathway is usually built over wet, soggy, or sandy expanses. Most often seen in coastal or modern architecture, this material can last for years if pressure-treated lumber or composite decking material is chosen. Real wood will require staining or sealing to keep the wood from rotting.

 

Stepping Stones

Bring yourself back to your childhood with a fun stepping stone path. This pathway is a fun and quirky trail to walk on. There are a multitude of materials that can be used for stepping stones. Any large stones and/or pavers can be set on the ground and then surrounded by pea gravel, mulch, grass or left natural. But don’t limit yourself to stones in this application. Hardwood tree stumps can also stand in for stepping stones. The tree stumps will deteriorate over time, but you can slow the process by sealing them with an exterior varnish and/or allow proper drainage around them.

 

Stamped or Stained Concrete

We’ve come full circle back to concrete. There are so many ways to jazz up a regular concrete path. Consider stamped and/or stained concrete to add some color and to fool the eye. Stamped patterns are numerous with styles that look like bricks, slate, cobblestone and even cracked earth!  For more personalized options, choose any color combination to stain your concrete.

As you can see, you can create a variety of looks for the paths in your yard. Many are DIY-friendly and some may require professional installation. What were your favorites? Do you have ideas for lasting alternatives to a concrete walkway?

landscaping-101

Landscaping 101 – Tools & Planting

When we bought our first home 13 years ago, we were lured by the idea of having at least half an acre of land. Little did we know that it would involve LOTS and LOTS of yard work. Over the years we’ve learned several tips and tricks to creating beautiful landscaping that will last for decades. If you’re a new homeowner (or still trying to find your green thumb), here’s the Landscaping 101 course to help you hit the ground running. I’ll be sharing which yard tools are essential, how to pick the right plants, how to plant them, and how to add color to your landscaping. Pull up a stump and lets dig in!

Assess Landscaping Needs:

Do you have a variety of color in your landscaping? Unfortunately a soccer ball, flag and garden ornament don’t really count. Attractive landscaping will have a variety of colors, textures and tones to create variety and interest.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

The great news is that you can remedy this situation in an afternoon (or less time depending on how much planting you need to do.)

Take a good hard look at your existing landscaping. What’s working for you and what is…ummm…dying. It’s okay to give up on shrubs and plants that are dying. If you just can’t stand the thought of killing them, transplant sickly plants in a less visible spot to give them a second chance. But, don’t leave them in your front beds where they aren’t adding any curb appeal.

As an alternative, if a sad looking plant previously thrived in that location but it took a hit from frost (or a well-played soccer ball). You can try to save it by trimming the plant back to green stalks or near the ground. That’s exactly what I did to this Confederate Jasmine. I pruned it back to see if it would come back.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

I also planted a new one right next to the old one for instant color and fragrance. That way the old one can take its time growing back while no one notices its stubbiness.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Make a list of the holes you have in your landscape. Note the sun and soil conditions there. Take your list with you when you go plant shopping.

How to Choose Appropriate Plants for your Landscape:

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Be sure to shop for your flowering plants at a local reputable plant nursery. Picking up plants at the grocery store or other big box store will result in less than the hardiest plants. Nurseries take care to stock plants that thrive well in your climate. They are also more healthy and disease-free. Finally, the staff at the nursery is more knowledgeable and can help you choose plants that will do well in your garden. The grocery store cashier probably can’t help you with that!

If possible, shop for flowering plants at the time that you want them to bloom in your yard! A successful flower bed will have staggered blooms throughout the Spring – Fall. If you fill your flower bed over time, you’ll be sure to have blooms that appear at different times as opposed to picking all your beautiful blooming plants in one shopping trip. But, if you’re more of the once and done type, ask the nursery staff for a variety of plants that will stagger their blooms.

Sun and Shade Requirements:

Choose plants that will thrive in the existing conditions in your yard. It’s a great idea to map your landscape area and note the sun and shade areas on an hourly basis. Select plants based on those shade/sun requirements.

  • Full sun = At least 6 hours of direct sun
  • Partial Sun = 3-6 hours of sun per day. The plant must receive direct light for at least 3 hours.
  • Partial Shade = 3-6 hours of sun per day. The plant must receive shade to help cool the plant later in the afternoon.
  • Shade = Less than 3 hours of sun per day. But, the plant should receive some additional dappled sun throughout the day. No sun equals no life.

Also pay attention to your soil and drainage. A well drained soil will dry several hours after watering. Damp soil will stay moist and wet for at least a day after watering.

*A good tip is to save your plant tags and receipts. Most reputable nurseries will have a warranty on the plants they sell. Ask them for more information.

How to Choose Yard Tools:

Landscaping 101: Tools, Planting, and Adding Color to your Landscaping | Pretty Handy Girl
Disclosure: True Temper sent me these landscaping tools to try out. I was not told what to say about their tools.

A good starter set of landscaping tools are:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

  • Round Point Shovel – used for digging and transferring plants
  • Bow Rake – used for leveling and loosening soil, spreading mulch, and ground cover
  • Garden Spade Shovel – used for digging trenches, transplanting and edging beds
  • Wheelbarrow  – your best friend when it comes to hauling yard material
  • Garden Trowel  – A small trowel for planting, transplanting, digging up bulbs, moving dirt, potting, and much more!
  • Cultivator  – used for loosening and breaking up tough soil, removing rocks, weeding and aerating
  • Warren Hoe  – used for creating and planting rows of seeds and harvesting underground vegetables
  • Leaf Rake  – if you have deciduous trees, you NEED a leaf rake to remove fallen leaves
  • Pruning Shears  – a sharp pair of pruning shears are used for pruning, cutting blooms and dead limbs from bushes and plants
  • Garden gloves – a good pair of garden gloves will protect your hands from thorns, scratches and dreaded poison ivy (or poison oak.)

If you’re new to landscaping, I’m going to give you some good advice about buying tools. As I recommend with power tools, don’t cheap out when buying landscaping tools. If you buy quality garden and landscape tools, they should last you a lifetime. If you go for the less expensive tools, you’ll likely spend more in the long run when you have to replace a broken or worn out tool.

For example, we have a True Temper shovel that has lasted us for over 10 years now. We’ve put that baby to good use digging in the rocky and clay filled NC soil. Some of the other tools we bought didn’t make it that long. Either the handles snapped or the tines on a rake bent over continued use. Buying two of the same tool means it would have been smarter and more economical to purchase quality from the start. (Live and learn.)

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Good tools should be ergonomic, comfortable and made with quality materials that won’t break or bend over time. Look for strong defect-free handles. True Temper tools are high quality and Made in the USA. They’ve been making agricultural tools for over 200 years! My favorite feature of these True Temper tools are the 10″ cushion grip handles. They are easy to hold and are good shock absorbers.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Plant Shrubs and Flowers that will Thrive:

Assess the health of your plants. Remove any diseased or dying plants. You don’t want them infecting your new greenery. Use a round point shovel to dig a circle around the root ball.  Use your foot to step on the top of the shovel to get further depth and force to cut roots. When the plant is free, remove it and toss it or transplant it to a new location.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Dig a hole at least two times the size of the new plant’s root ball. And several inches deeper.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Break up rocky and hard soil with either a Warren hoe or cultivator (or both!) The cultivator works great at getting all the big rocks out of the way.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Fill the bottom of the hole with good organic compost. This stuff is black gold! A good compost pile will be full of worms working to turn your kitchen scraps into super nutrient rich soil for your plants. I’ll have to write a separate post on how I compost. If you don’t have access to organic compost, purchase a bag of good gardening soil to use. Mix the compost and dirt with the cultivator or hoe. The soil should have good drainage and no large chunks.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

To free your plant from it’s pot, make a fist and pound around the outside of the pot. Gently tip the pot upside down while supporting your plant by its trunk. Gently lay the plant on its side.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Use the hand trowel to slice into the rootball. This is especially important if your plant is root bound. You need to encourage the plant to expand and grow new roots out into the earth.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Set the plant upright in the hole you dug.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Fill around the root ball and cover the top of the root ball slightly with more soil/compost mixture.

Step around the base of your plant to eliminate air holes. It’s important to get good soil contact with the roots of the plant.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Water your newly planted flowers and plants daily for two weeks or more. Then taper off the watering to help them extend their roots on their own.

Mulch:

Adding mulch around your plants in the beds adds more than an attractive look. It keeps moisture in the soil and controls weeds. To weigh your options on which type of mulch you want to use, you’ll probably find this Mulch Selection Guidelines List helpful.

Landscaping 101: Tools, Planting, and Adding Color to your Landscaping | Pretty Handy Girl

Save your back and energy by filling a wheelbarrow with mulch and bring it to your beds. Make sure the front wheel has plenty of air. Or learn how to replace a wheelbarrow tire that never goes flat!

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Spread the mulch 2 – 3″ deep around your plants with a bow rake. Anything less than 2″ won’t  control weeds and retain moisture as well.

Container Gardening:

Potted plants help you “fake it until you make it!” A few potted plants with annual flowers in them is a great way to add pops of color exactly where you want them. They’ll draw attention to their color and blooms and detract from any landscape beds that are between blooms.

When they stop blooming you can pop in another container of flowers. Container gardening is the perfect activity for fickle gardeners because you can constantly change the look with new colors and plants. Learn all the basics for growing your own container gardens here.

Annuals are great for instant color, but once they are gone they won’t grow back next year. If you prefer to avoid yearly planting,  buy perennials to plant in your pots. They will re-bloom year after year.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

For a more portable arrangements, fill small lightweight pots or containers on wheels. (I had fun turning this old Radio Flyer wagon into a portable planter. Now I can wheel the wagon anywhere I want to add more color.)

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Added Color to the Landscape:

Remember that “artificial colored” landscaping before?

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Within an afternoon it got a makeover worthy of an HGTV curb appeal segment.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Before the sad little gardenia was barely thriving.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Presto! Instant color and blooms from a newly planted pink hydrangea.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

New rose bushes bring some fragrance and color to the previously color-lacking front bed. I had no idea that there were yellow knockout roses, but as soon as I saw them I grabbed them. If you don’t know about knock out roses, they are much hardier and disease resistant than their ancestors! Win!

Landscaping 101: Tools, Planting, and Adding Color to your Landscaping | Pretty Handy Girl

A few foxglove plants adds some height and visual interest to the flower bed.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Much better! In a week those irises around the flag and the big rose bush in the middle will be brimming with color.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Our front landscaping beds are my new happy place!

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

We get compliments from anyone who comes to our house (which is primarily the UPS and FedEx driver lately. Thanks guys!)

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Do tell me, do you have any landscaping tips or secrets to share? Or maybe you have a favorite plant in your yard. Please tell me more!

PHGFancySign

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

I should probably re-name this post How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Semi-Privacy Fence. But, honestly it’s only semi-private because the lots in downtown Raleigh are so close together and the next door neighbor’s driveway is against the privacy fence. All they have to do is lean against the fence and peek through to eliminate the “privacy” function. But, if we’re going to be honest here, their six foot picket privacy fence has cracks in it where the picket wood has shrunk. And, yes, you can see through their privacy fence too. But, in a suburban neighborhood, this fence would block the view from the road or a distance.

When I was considering fencing options for the Saving Etta project, I wanted to create a beautiful fence that was attractive to look at but also gives some privacy and security.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

Why I chose to use a window pane lattice fence:

  1. I love the look. It’s a mixture of cottage and modern. And it’s perfect for a modern farmhouse style house.
  2. The new owners can train a flowering vine to grow up the lattice and create more privacy.
  3. It’s neighborly being able to see and talk to your neighbors next door. It fosters community!

As we drew closer to the holidays, I knew I had to push the accelerator on all the remaining projects at the Saving Etta project. Therefore, I did not build this fence, I hired a fence contractor to build it. But, I did design the fence and shared my design idea with the contractor. I took some inspiration from my Pergola with Trellis Screens.

Build a Pergola with Trellis to Screen Your Trash Cans | Pretty Handy Girl

The following tutorial is a basic construction guide for How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate. I didn’t oversee the construction, so I’m going to make some suggested fasteners, but ultimately you should gauge the strength of your fasteners especially when building the gate. If your gate is wider, you may need an additional cross or diagonal brace.

Tools & Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Before we get started, I want to express a huge thank you to Wood It’s Real for being a Saving Etta sponsor. As you might remember, they sponsored the side porch and the front flat sawn balluster project. And now, I have the honor of sharing yet another Wood It’s Real Sponsored project. Let’s learn How to Build Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate using beautiful Southern Yellow Pine.

Wood It's Real Website

This build will take at least two days. Digging the post holes, setting the posts, and pouring the concrete for the posts can be completed on day one. But, you’ll want to wait overnight for the concrete to set up before building the fence panels. For more information on setting fence posts, you might find this tutorial by Quikrete helpful.

Before building your fence, be sure to research your local building codes; know if you have to meet any setback limits, and find out if you have any restrictive covenants for your neighborhood.

Building a Window Pane Lattice Fence:

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

To create the tall privacy fence, we used one 4′ x 8′ lattice sheet vertically between the posts. Therefore, our posts were set four feet apart. After your 6×6 fence posts are set in the ground, you can start building your lattice fence sections between the posts.

set fence posts

Instructions:

Measure and cut two 2×6 pieces of pressure treated lumber to fit between the top and bottom of the posts. Level and secure to the 6×6 posts using exterior grade wood screws.

secure-2x4 horizontal lumber

Center your 4×8 lattice panel in the center of the 6×6 posts. Cut 2×2 lumber to create a frame to support the lattice.

add 2x2 frame to secure lattice

Secure the 2×2 frame to the inside of the 6×6 posts and the 2×6 horizontal lumber. You can use wood screws or 2″ finish nails to secure the 2×2 frame. Add another 2×2 frame to the other side of your lattice.

secured-lattice fence section

Add post caps to the top of your fence to protect the posts from rot (and to make your fence look pretty.)

add post caps

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

Repeat the steps above to create as many window pane lattice fence sections as you desire.

completed window pane lattice privacy fence

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate
Depending on the angle of sight, you can see some shapes through the fence. This is the view from the bathroom window. I’ll be sharing how I added complete privacy to this window in a later blog post.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

From the bedroom you can barely see the neighbor’s car through the fence.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Gate:

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

To match the window pane lattice fence, I challenged my fence contractor to build matching lattice gates at the end of the driveway. I wanted the opening to be wide enough to drive a car through (should they want to park in the back of the house or get a delivery of mulch or other landscaping materials.)

Instructions:

Measure and cut your 2×4 pressure treated lumber. For a 4′ x 8′ gate, cut the vertical pieces exactly 8′ in length. The top and bottom pieces should be cut 41″ long. Secure the frame with pocket hole screws in the corners of the frame. (Click here to learn how to use a pocket hole jig.)

build 2x4 frame for gate

Lay the 4×8 lattice panel on top of the 2×4 frame. Tack the lattice in place using 1 ½” finish nails.

add lattice panel to 2x4 frame

Measure and cut your 1×4 lumber using the same measurements as the 2×4’s.

cut 1x4 frame to size

Secure the 1×4 boards to the lattice and the 2×4’s using 2 ½” exterior wood screws. (The lattice will be sandwiched in the middle and the screws should extend through the 1×4’s and the lattice and into the 2×4 frame.)

sandwich lattice between 1x4 and 2x4 frames

Your gate construction is complete. Add hinges and gate hardware and secure to a 6×6 post.

add gate hinges

These gates are rock solid and shouldn’t sag over time. The lattice keeps the gate square.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

For a decorative touch, we added two 2×6 pieces of lumber across the two gate posts to create a pergola. The new owners can put a potted vine next to each post and allow the vines to grow up and over the pergola.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

A metal drop rod is secured to the left side gate for stability and to keep both gates from swinging in when latching.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

The window pane lattice provides plenty of privacy from the road. But, it also allows the homeowners a view to see if anyone is coming up the driveway.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

What do you think? Do you like the window pane lattice fence and gates? Would you leave it natural or stain it?

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

Disclosure: This post is a sponsored post for Wood It’s Real. It was written as part of their sponsorship of the Saving Etta project. I was not told what to write. All words and opinions are my own. I am very particular about the brands I work with, and only partner with companies that provide quality materials and/or services.

Saving Etta: Front Yard TransformationSaving Etta: Front Yard Transformation & Tips for Saving Money on Landscaping

I hope you enjoyed the backyard transformation I shared on Monday. Like the backyard, the front has taken on quite the transformation of its own. One of the first things I knew I wanted to do at the Saving Etta house was to preserve the cottage charm curb appeal (especially around the front porch.) Sadly her charm had dwindled like the color of her faded yellow aluminum siding. The iron railings (that didn’t appear to be original) were barely attached to the porch columns. It was an easy choice to send them to the scrap metal yard.

1900 triple A frame house

While removing the rotting porch floor boards, we realized we couldn’t save the porch framing. And in true “opening a can of worms” fashion, when exposing the porch ceiling rafters, we found the porch roof wasn’t flashed and it wasn’t tied into the house very securely. It was a sad day when I realized the entire porch had to be removed. Unfortunately, the demolition crew had finished months ago, so I had to try to get back on their schedule.

Front Yard Transformation

After the front porch was removed, new sheathing and house wrap was applied. Then my framers built the porch back to the same size. Before the siding and roofing materials were installed, the porch roof and band were flashed properly to prevent any water from seeping behind and causing rot or mold issues.

front porch before landscaping

See that scraggly bush next to the stairs? I fought my subcontractors who wanted to cut it down. The framers in particular complained about it being in the way. Little did they know, that scraggly bush had a secret. In the spring it would look like this:

Bridal Veil Spirea original to house

The white flowering bush is a Bridal Wreath Spirea with cascading white flowers once a year. Saving the spirea was part of my plan to save money on landscaping. I tried to reserve funds for landscaping, but surprises kept cropping up which cut into my landscape budget. Consequently, I put my thrifty thinking cap on and came up with a few strategies to make the most impact for the least amount of money.

7 Strategies for Low Budget Landscaping:

    1. Do as much labor yourself – As you saw in the backyard landscaping update, my family and I planned an entire yard work day. We cut back the weeds, trimmed bushes, hauled away brush, and mowed the lawn. This saved me the cost of paying someone else to do the work.
    2. Use plants you already have – As I mentioned above, I fought to save as many plants in the yard as possible. But, I’m also fortunate to have a healthy landscaped yard at home after years of hosting Free Plant Swaps in our neighborhood. Two of our bushes that have really thrived, are a pair of evergreen bushes by the front door. I’m not sure what type of bushes they are, but they might be in the juniper family. Regardless, they grew too big for the front of the house.overgrown bushes by front of my housePretty Handsome Guy and I dug them out—keeping the root ball intact—and loaded them into my truck. Then they were planted in front of the house.spruce trees loaded into back of truckThe bushes are much better suited in front of a raised porch. Best of all, they were free.blue spruce in front yard
    3. Shop the discount section – Lucky for me, it was late fall when we got started on the landscaping. My local Lowe’s Home Improvement had a large selection of half off plants to choose from. I chose these evergreen abelia shrubs that have pretty red growth on the tips in the cold weather and will have flowers in the warm season. Always look for discounted plants in your local nursery. But, steer clear of dried out and stressed looking plants. If they appear healthy go ahead and purchase them.new foundation bushes
    4. Shop end of season flowers – Flowering perennials that have faded blooms are usually discounted as soon as the blooms start to die. But, if you’re lucky you might be able to cash in on a post-holiday sale. After Thanksgiving I stumbled upon a huge clearance of mums. Each pot was marked down to $1! Even big mum planters that were $30 a week ago were $1. I bought several mums and planted them throughout the yard to add some color. After the blooms finish, they can be cut back to encourage new growth. They’ll produce beautiful blooms again next year.
      back deck and back of house view after landscaping
    5. Put money where it gets the most visibility – To get maximum visual impact in your yard, you’re going to have to spend some money. But chose to spend money on the show stoppers like a larger tree, a pergola (or make your own pergola or trellis), or spend on hardscapes like patios or walkways. On the side of the house, I chose to put a little more money toward the side entrance since this is the homeowner’s main entrance.before patio and landscapingThe landscapers installed a beautiful paver patio that will last decades and control mud and dirt from entering the house.side view with paver patio
    6. Talk to your landscaper to see if they have extra materials or plants – Ask your landscaper if they have leftover materials or plants they would be willing to give you for a reduced price. When discussing my needs and budget with my landscaper, she told me if I was willing to be flexible she might have some leftovers she could use. Ultimately she installed an array of plants and the side entrance pavers at a discount, which gave me more bang for my buck.landscaper crew adding mulch and plantingsWith four men and some big equipment, the landscapers were able to whip the front yard into shape quickly. The front yard was leveled and fresh dirt and grass seed was laid down. Finally, they planted a small tree where the old tree had been.Ugly Tree in front of Etta
    7. Be patient – Save money by purchasing younger plants, trees, and bushes. Purchasing mature greenery can cost a lot more for those who want instant gratification. If you can wait a few years, the younger plants will get bigger. Same holds true for those scraggly clearance plants. They may have some broken branches or spent flowers, but if you cut them back they will grow back beautifully with time. You can also save money by planting grass seed instead of sod. If you can wait a few weeks, you’ll be rewarded with grass sprouts and more money leftover in your pocket. Better yet, if you continue to sow seed next season (fall or spring), you’ll fill in any empty patches.
      grass growing on front hill at Saving Etta house

Saving Etta: Front Yard Transformation

Ready to see the front yard transformation? For fun, let’s take a look back on where this whole journey started!

Ugly Tree in front of Etta

June 2017 – I purchased the property.

 

Front Yard Transformation

February 2018Demolition was completed by removing the poorly built additions in the back and removing all the siding and rotten framing.

Front Yard Transformation

May 2018 – New foundation, framing, and sheathing are completed.

 

dirt yard around house under construction

July 2018 – It’s finally looking like a house again. Siding, windows, roofing, and the new front porch are added.

 

no landscaping, saving etta house under construction

September 2018 – Side porch steps are completed. Gutters and the rain chains are added.

 

rain chain

(This is where I bought the rain chains (affiliate link). They were the most affordable rain chains I could find, and I like how they look. The rain chains get plenty of compliments!

Front Yard Transformation

October 2018 – The front porch railings and ceiling are completed. My favorite addition are the flat sawn railings.

 

after landscaping side yard

November 2018 – The house is completely finished and listed for sale. The first weekend we had it on the market we received multiple offers!

 

beautiful 1900 triple a construction house near downtown raleigh

I can’t believe the house is finally complete. It took 18 months of hard work and patience while waiting for permits, subcontractors, and while I took a two week vacation with my family.

saving etta front view seeded and straw

In the end it was all worth it and I love that Etta has regained her cottage charm.

saving etta beautiful restored 1900 house near downtown Raleigh

I can officially say Etta has been saved. Maintaining the same lines as the original 1900 house was very important to me. Wherever possible, I kept the original materials. When we had to replace old with new, I made decisions based on what looked closest to the original. I also tried to reuse materials whenever possible, like the old siding which found a new life on the side porch ceiling.

Stay tuned for more Saving Etta updates! There’s been a lot of work going on inside and I can’t wait to show you.

Front Yard Transformation

Make an inexpensive (but beautiful) Fall Leaves Garden Flag using a Dollar Store Placemat! Pull out your sewing machine (or skip the stitching and use your iron and some hem tape instead.) You can have a gorgeous fall garden flag in an hour or less. Plus, this is the perfect activity to do with the kids before school starts.

Sure, we’re in the thick of a heat wave here in Raleigh, NC. But luckily fall is around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about fall decorating! I like to create a beautiful garden flag for each season using a few simple supplies from the Dollar Store. Ready to make one? Great, let’s get to it.

Materials:

*Optional: hand sew or use hem tape if you don’t have a sewing machine

Instructions:

1. Fold over the top of your placemat 2 inches. Stitch across the edge. (I used a decorative stitch, but a straight stitch is fine too.)

2. Create a stencil using a Silhouette, other craft cutter, or use pre-cut letter stencils. Adhere the stencil to the placemat. (Place centers of letters if needed.)

3. Squeeze out a small amount of fabric paint onto a paper plate.

4.  Pounce or use a stencil brush to dab paint over the stencil. For more colorful letters, use yellow on one side and orange on the other. Let the colors overlap in the middle.

5. Remove stencil. Allow the fabric paint to dry.

6. Arrange and pin silk leaves onto garden flag.

7. Stitch leaves onto the flag along the “veins”.

8. Trim the excess threads off the flag.

9. Lay flag out on a flat surface.

10. Paint on glittery curly trails to simulate the path of a falling leaf.

When the flag is dry, thread it onto a garden flag stand and place it by your entryway. At the end of the season, store the flag flat to keep it looking fresh for many years to come.

If you liked this tutorial you may like my other garden flag tutorials:

Summer

 

Winter

 

Valentine’s Day

I hope you enjoy this fall season and experience beautiful fall weather soon!

How to Compost - Secret Gardening Formula | Pretty Handy Girl

Do you compost? Oh my gosh, if you don’t, why not?!!! It is easy, it’s great for the environment and it will result in amazing nutrient rich soil that surpasses anything you can buy from a store! Some of the additional benefits are that you will reduce the amount of trash you produce and keep things out of the landfill.

Keep reading to learn How to Compost and create your own magnificent garden soil!

Now, I totally understand if you are living in the big city in an apartment and really don’t have space for compost let alone potted plants (but if you do want to compost, read more about worm composting in a container.) However, f you have a yard, you really should be composting! It’s easy, it takes very little time, and my little wiggly BFFs (aka worms) do all the work for you.

How to Compost - Secret Gardening Formula | Pretty Handy Girl

That’s right, they eat up all your kitchen and yard waste and turn it into beautiful black soil. How do they do it? If I tell you, you have to promise that you won’t get grossed out. They poop it out. LOL. Yup, compost is decomposition and worm castings (a nicer word for worm poop.) Please don’t run away, find out how easy it is to create this magnificent garden soil.

Here’s the basics for how to compost and get top quality soil for your garden and landscaping for FREE!

How to Compost – Magnificent Garden Soil Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

  • Spading ForkHow to Compost
  • Sealed bucket or container to store kitchen scraps:

Attractive Compost Pails I wouldn't mind having in my kitchen!

Blue and White Floral CrockSea Blue Compost CrockGreen Stoneware Crock
 Copper Compost Bin  |  OXO Flip Lid Compost Container  |  Red Ceramic Crock
Green Metal Pail  | Bamboo Compost Pail  | Sprout Compost Container

 

What can be composted?

How to Compost - Secret Gardening Formula | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Kitchen scraps
    • raw fruits
    • vegetables
    • egg shells
  • Coffee grounds and the filter
  • Newspapers, non-glossy cardboard, paper towels
  • Leaves (brown for carbon and green for nitrogen rich)
  • Grass clippings
  • Plant & flower clippings
  • Yard waste

What can’t be composted?

  • Meats
  • Dairy products
  • Processed foods
  • Plastic
  • Man made substances
  • Metals

Okay, you get the picture. Only raw fruits and veggies (and egg shells), okay?

Location:

Your pile doesn’t have to be anything special. A simple a hole in the ground is fine. Find a partially shaded spot in your yard. A shady spot is ideal so the pile doesn’t get dried out in the hot sun. If you’ve had a dry spell for a while, go ahead and water the pile. If you have pets, put a little fencing around it to keep them from getting into the compost. (Eating decomposing food can make them sick.) Don’t worry too much about wild animals (unless you have a serious pest problem.) Animals will come sniffing around and may dig a scrap or two out of the pile, but they rarely take up residence in your yard. However, if you are concerned about pests, go ahead and purchase a closed bin for your yard.  Otherwise, save your money, a fancy tumbler or bin aren’t necessary for the compost to produce.

How to Compost:

Keep your compost bucket in your kitchen. (We keep our pail under the sink, but if you have a pretty container you can leave it on the countertop.)

How to Compost - Magnificent Garden Soil| Pretty Handy Girl

After cutting veggies or fruit, toss the scraps in the bucket. Coffee grounds can get thrown in, filter and all! Egg shells are also great for your compost.

When the bucket is full, take your scraps outside to the compost pile. Clear a hole in your pile, dump the scraps and cover them over with dirt or soil (this will prevent attracting too much wildlife to your pile.)

How to Compost - Secret Gardening Formula | Pretty Handy Girl

Occasionally throw in some torn up strips of newspaper to add some “carbon” source to the pile. The key to a healthy compost is to have a good mixture of green (nitrogen rich) vs. brown (carbon rich) materials. Don’t overload on grass clippings or yard waste.

How to Compost - Secret Gardening Formula | Pretty Handy Girl

Flip some fresh soil on top of the scraps and walk away! That’s it. What about my BFFs, the worms? If you start the pile, they will come. Trust me, they’ll find your pile. If you’re super antsy, you could buy some red wigglers from a fishing bait place, but honestly why bother? Soon you’ll have big fat overfed worms happily working for you for free. Go back in 2-3 weeks and check on the progress of your magnificent garden soil.

How to Compost - Secret Gardening Formula | Pretty Handy Girl

I usually grab my magnificent soil from the bottom when I need it. But, you can split your pile in two. Use one side to add scraps to and let the other side “marinade” to perfection. Then switch sides. Frankly my little worm army works pretty fast. Within a month they have produced enough compost to fill some potted plants and more. I rarely buy soil anymore unless I need a huge amount.

What about composting in the winter? If you aren’t under a dumping of snow, your pile can still work in the winter. In fact, you’ll be surprised to see the warm steam rising from the pile when you dig into the center.

Compost Tea:

Now that you have a rockin’ compost pile you may want to learn how to make a compost tea to further nourish your plants and help them be healthier and heartier! I haven’t tried it yet, but you better believe I’ll be brewing some compost tea this year.

Share this article with your friends and do something environmentally friendly! Pin this graphic to refer to later:

How to Compost - Magnificent Garden Soil| Pretty Handy Girl

Now that you have compost to use, learn how to create a rot resistant planter bed:

How to Build a Rot-Resistant Raised Planter Bed | Pretty Handy Girl

And maybe you want to dip your toes in the Square Foot Gardening craze!

PHGFancySign

Backyard Landscaping Plans | Pretty Handy Girl

I know many of you come to my blog for exciting and inspiring ideas. I love showing you beautiful spaces and makeovers. Sadly, today I have to show you the ugly side of our house. Our backyard is quite a sight. It’s been on our “want to do” list for years. The landscape timbers that were previously a pathway have deteriorated more and more until the spikes that hold them in place are exposed and all the pea gravel has spilled out. We are in need of some major backyard landscape plans.

Backyard Landscaping Plans | Pretty Handy Girl

You can’t tell from this picture, but by the end of summer this pathway (if you can even call it a pathway) is a mini forest of weeds. It’s been an eyesore for so long. It’s best to avert your eyes.

There are more rotted steps leading down to the backyard. It’s a disgrace back there.

Backyard Landscaping Plans | Pretty Handy Girl

Beside the house there was a similar pathway, but the landscape timbers have long since rotted and disappeared. I usually add a few bags of pea gravel every year to give us a mud-free path to walk on when taking out the trash. This has been a band-aid solution, but not a permanent solution.

Backyard Landscaping Plans | Pretty Handy Girl

I am wincing at these photos because it shows how bad our yard really is. (The uncoiled hose adds to the “I could care less.” look.) It’s a wonder our neighbors haven’t notified the homeowner’s association about the situation.

Backyard Landscaping Plans | Pretty Handy Girl

This explains why we only invite close friends over for s’mores and hot dogs at our fire pit. We feel safe knowing they probably wouldn’t sue us if someone tripped on that uneven fire pit circle.

Backyard Landscaping Plans | Pretty Handy Girl

Plus, our friends are usually more forgiving when we tell them to tread carefully over the rocks and roots leading up to the fire pit.

Backyard Landscaping Plans | Pretty Handy Girl

The other side of the fence was previously a dumping ground for all the sticks and limbs that fall in our yard. A few years ago we had to take out two big trees. That gave us one thing our yard truly lacked: a big sunny spot!

Backyard Landscaping Plans | Pretty Handy Girl

The thought of being able to finally have a place to grow fresh vegetables has me giddy and excited to get started soon! You can see some of the ideas I have for this garden space on my Landscaping Pinterest Board. Read more

Lowe's Spring Makeover Reveal Tour | Pretty Handy Girl

Have you been following all the Lowe’s Spring Makeovers? There were 10 in all, and each one is truly a miraculous transformation. If you remember, there were 10 bloggers who were sent to 10 different areas that were hardest hit by this past winter. We all combed through hundreds of applications to select 10 homeowners who deserved a fantastic makeover. There were challenges; there were lots of Lowe’s heroes who stepped up to help with those challenges; and there were lots of happy tears in the end. You’ll definitely enjoy reading each story and seeing the reveal!

If you’re ready to start the tour, grab a cold drink and head this way—>>> Read more

DIY Firepit and Seating | Pretty Handy Girl

Firepits are very popular right now. You can purchase a simple firepit at your local home improvement store, or put in a little sweat equity and create a DIY Firepit with Seating.

When we had several hardwood trees taken down in our yard, I asked the tree guy to cut some of the base pieces of the tree trunk into 18″ segments to use as stumps to sit on.

Then I set about creating a DIY firepit and seating in our back yard.

Materials:

  • Shovel
  • String
  • Stake
  • Stick
  • Rocks or fire ring
  • Sand
  • Bag of drainage gravel
  • Slate, stepping stones or pea gravel
  • Mulch or crushed stone
  • Stumps or seating
  • Wood to burn

Instructions:

Begin by locating a level location to build your fire pit. Take note of any overhanging branches and trim them away from the firepit area. Hammer the stake into the center of your firepit area. Attach string and make a loop in the string at 6 feet. Insert a stick into the loop and walk around pulling the string taut while dragging the stick in the earth to mark a 12 foot diameter circle. Create another loop at 4 feet and repeat marking an inner circle. Finally, create a loop at 1 foot and drag the stick to mark the firepit ring area.

DIY Firepit and Seating | Pretty Handy Girl

Dig a hole in the 2 foot firepit ring area. Remove any roots from the dirt. Dig about 12″ down. Fill the bottom of the hole with gravel. Add a layer of sand on top of the gravel. Line the 2′ firepit area with a fire ring or rocks (or both).

DIY Firepit and Seating | Pretty Handy Girl

Pour sand around the 8 foot diameter circle and set your stepping stones or pea gravel in this area. Read more