Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | August 6, 2022

Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | August 6, 2022

This week, learn how to clean old wallpaper and protect a wood-framed shower window from water damage. (Sandy Knollenburg/simplyzel, Getty Images)

Hour 1

In Hour 1, hear our suggestions for matching wood posts to vinyl, cleaning old wallpaper, and more.  

Matching Wood Posts to Vinyl

Split screen of an elevated porch
Matching these wooden support posts to the vinyl posts is as easy as applying a coat of paint. (Photos by Doug May)

Doug May has a great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains on his covered back porch. But, the view of his porch isn’t as pleasing.

“The upper part has vinyl sleeves over the top of the posts. Everything’s covered and it’s nice and smooth and white. But down below, it’s just pressure-treated wood, with all the cracks and gaps,” Doug says. 

He wants the wooden support posts on the ground to match the white vinyl posts on the porch above. What’s stopping him from covering the wood posts with vinyl is the diagonal wood braces. He’s worried about the hassle of connecting the many vinyl pieces on the diagonals and sealing them.

“What I want is the smooth look and feel of the vinyl on the posts below. Is there a way to do that?” Doug asks.  

Vinyl sleeves are expensive! If you want the posts to match, try this budget-friendly option: 

First, clean the wood posts and apply a coat of primer.

Then, use auto body filler (like Bondo) to skim out the cracks. Once that dries, lightly sand the posts. 

Then, caulk the areas where the diagonal braces meet the vertical posts. 

Finally, apply two coats of acrylic latex paint.

Once you do this, no one will know one set of posts is vinyl and the other set isn’t! The acrylic paint will give it a glossy look and seal the joints. 

If you decide you want to cover the posts with vinyl, remove one post at a time, including the diagonal supports, and attach the vinyl sleeves to each piece. 

Miter cut the ends of the sleeves to fit the diagonal brace posts, and thoroughly caulk each seam so water doesn’t get in.

Don’t caulk the bottom of the diagonal brace pieces where the wood meets the post. If water were to get inside the vinyl, you want it to be able to drain out and dry. 


Old wallpaper
Original wallpaper keeps an old home’s character true to its age. (Photo by Sandy Knollenburg)

How to Clean Old Wallpaper

Sandi Knollenburg bought a 100-year-old farmhouse in Bloomington, Ill., five years ago, and she’s been renovating it little by little.

Right now, she’s working on the stairwell area. The walls that extend from the first floor to the second are covered in wallpaper from the 1960s. She loves the pattern, and the wallpaper is still in pretty good shape! All it needs is a good cleaning.  

She asks, “What’s the best way to clean and preserve the wallpaper?”

Most modern wallpapers have an acrylic or latex coating that makes them washable and, in some cases, scrubbable. Older wallpaper is just plain paper, so you don’t want to get it wet. If you do, it will peel off the wall.

Try these options to remove the dirt and dust: 

  • Wipe the wallpaper with a large, dry sponge.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner.
  • Attach a microfiber cloth to a Swiffer-type mop for hard-to-reach spots.

To remove skids and scuffs, use a gum eraser. You can buy these at an art supply store. Another option is a dry Magic Eraser. If that doesn’t work, lightly dampen it.


Hour 2

In Hour 2, learn how to prevent wood rot in a shower window, remove sediment from water, and more.


Worried about water damaging a wood-framed shower window? Protect it with tile. (simplyzel, Getty Images)

Protecting a Wood Window Frame in a Shower

A caller needs advice on tiling around a window in his shower. The wood frame sticks out slightly, so he can’t tile over it. 

“What do you do to treat that to make it so that the water is not damaging that wood and causing wood rot, and more importantly that water is not getting behind that and causing damage to the shower?” he asks.

A lot of older houses have this problem. Typically, at one point in time, the bathroom had just a tub with a window above it. Then somewhere along the way, a shower was installed. 

I’ve seen a lot of homeowners put a shower curtain over the window but rarely does that last long.

To protect the wood frame from water damage, encapsulate the window frame with the tile. 

Before you lay the tile, be sure to caulk and paint the frame. Bring the tile up to the wood and then overlap extra tile over the window frame. This will protect the frame from the water and give it a nice, pronounced look. 

If water can still hit it directly, install a waterproof window.

To completely eliminate any chance of rood rot, remove the window and replace it with a vinyl one.  


Sick of sediment in your water? It’s time for a new water filter. (pixelshot)

Sediment in Water

Pablo Sandoval in Willow Creek, Calif., is sick of sediment in his water. His home draws water from a deep well and all wastewater flows into a septic tank. 

“For most of the year, the water supply is good, but every summer we have a problem with sediment that clogs aerators at sinks and showerheads. Plus, the washing machine takes forever to fill with water. What can we do to alleviate these issues?” he asks.

Sediment problems are more frequent in the summer because water levels are usually lower. There’s less water but the same amount of sediment in the system, so it finds its way to the pump and into your house. 

You’ll need to have a well water contractor take a look at your pump. You might need a new screening. 

Also, here are two options to consider:

  • Have a water well contractor install a sand separator on your pump. This device uses centrifugal force to push dirt, sand and debris outward to the separator wall and downward in a spiral motion. The cleaned water then rises and returns back to your plumbing system. 
  • Install a sediment filter in your house. There are several different options available, but we recommend the Braukmann Reverse rinsing fine filter.

Best New Product

Chamberlain 3/4 HP LED Video Quiet Belt Drive Smart Garage Door Opener with Integrated Camera If your home’s primary entrance is in the garage, then you’ll want Chamberlain’s new garage door opener with an integrated camera. Learn More >>

Simple Solutions

This Simple Solution keeps you from constantly refilling your kitchen soap dispenser. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Improved Soap Dispenser — Kitchen-sink soap dispensers hold such a small amount of liquid soap that it requires you to constantly refill the reservoir bottle. Here’s a better option:

  • Lift off the hand pump from the dispenser, pull off the plastic fill tube, and replace it with a long flexible quarter-inch-diameter tubing.
  • Feed the opposite end of the tubing down through the hole in the sink deck and place it in a large jug of liquid soap.

Now you’ll never have to refill the dispenser; simply replace the soap jug once it’s empty. 

Watch: Soap Dispenser Filling Tip

Gutter on the corner of a house with vinyl siding
If you’re installing gutters on vinyl siding, run the drill in reverse for smooth holes. (Garrett Aitken, Getty Images)

Smooth Cut in Vinyl Siding — When using a hole saw to drill through vinyl siding, run the drill in reverse. That way, the hole saw will create a nice clean hole with no rough edges.

Once you cut through the siding, switch the drill to forward and bore through the wall sheathing.


Other Products & Links Mentioned

Further Reading


Radio Show & Podcast: Send us your question!

If you have a comment, general question about home improvement, or something we’ve featured on Today’s Homeowner, please fill in this form:

Chamberlain’s Garage Door Opener with Camera Boosts Security, Peace of Mind

Chamberlain’s Garage Door Opener with Camera Boosts Security, Peace of Mind

Chamberlain 3/4 HP LED Video Quiet Belt Drive Smart Garage Door Opener with Integrated Camera
Keep an eye on your home’s entrance with Chamberlain’s new garage door opener with integrated camera. (Image via The Home Depot)

In many homes, the garage door is the primary entrance, so keeping it secure is important. That’s why the new Chamberlain garage door opener comes with an integrated camera. 

Here’s why this Best New Product is a must for your garage. 


This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product from these links, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.


Chamberlain 3/4 HP Belt Drive Garage Door Opener with Integrated Camera myQ app
The myQ app provides instant access to what’s going on in your garage. (Image via The Home Depot)

Remote Access

Chamberlain’s new garage door opener has a built-in camera that adds streaming video, recorded events, motion detection and two-way communication.

That means you can keep tabs on what’s happening in your garage with your smartphone. The system operates through the myQapp, so you can see what’s happening and ensure your family and home are safe and secure — anytime, from anywhere.

The system also works with Amazon Key In-Garage Delivery, so your packages and groceries stay safe inside your garage, and not on your doorstep. Simply link the garage door opener in the myQ app.


Man adjusting camera on Chamberlain 3/4 HP Belt Drive Garage Door Opener with Integrated Camera
A motion-activated light adds an extra layer of security. (Image via The Home Depot)

Smart and Functional

In addition to smartphone monitoring and control, this unit boasts ultra-quiet operation thanks to its belt drive and a soft start/stop motor. 

Plus the integrated, motion-activated LED brightens high-traffic areas of the garage with 1,000 lumens of light. 


BILT instructions showing Chamberlain garage door opener
Interactive instructions from BILT make installation easy. (Screenshot of BILT instructional video)

Easy Setup

If you’ve never installed a garage door opener, relax. BILT intelligent instructions simplify installation. You can follow along with its audio, text and animated images, zoom and rotate 360 degrees and replay steps instantly.

The garage door opener has integrated Bluetooth technology, reducing setup time and making it even easier to connect to the myQ app, plus other myQ devices and smart home technology solutions.

If you’re still not sure about upgrading to a smart garage door, the Chamberlain Garage Door Opener with Integrated Camera comes with a lifetime motor and belt warranty, five-year parts warranty, and one-year accessories warranty.

Listen above to learn all about this Best New Product.

Find the Chamberlain 3/4 HP  Belt Drive Garage Door Opener with Integrated Camera at The Home Depot.


Further Reading

Ask Danny | Ep. 6: Planting Shrubs and Pruning Techniques

Ask Danny | Ep. 6: Planting Shrubs and Pruning Techniques

Lawn and landscape expert Sid Sexton is back to talk more about pruning, landscaping and shrubs.

In this week’s episode of “Ask Danny,” Sid Sexton is back to tell us how to plant shrubs and give some advice on pruning crape myrtles.

Sid is the founder of Sexton Lawn & Landscape in Daphne, Ala., and is licensed in turf and ornament spraying, landscape design, and setting of landscape plants.


Sid Sexton is the founder and president of Sexton Lawn & Landscape. (Photo courtesy Sexton Lawn & Landscape)

About Sid Sexton

As the founder of Sexton Lawn & Landscape, Sid is a down-to-earth, honest businessman with a love for lawn care, landscape design, and delivering the best products to his clients.

Starting at age 16, Sid spent his summers working for a local landscape company and the local country club and golf course in his hometown of Muskogee, Okla.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in horticulture, Sid joined the U.S. Coast Guard and was stationed in Hawaii, where he met his future wife, Jourdan.

Sid was our guest for the first episode of “The Ask Danny Podcast,” and he’s back! Listen to “Ask Danny Episode 1: Improving Your Lawn’s Health” to catch up, or read on for more information about this second interview with Sid.


Man planting shrub
When planting shrubs, the width of the hole is more important than the depth. (Minna Kantonen, Getty Images)

Planting Shrubs: Tips for Success

What are some of the steps our listeners should take when planting shrubs?   

Sid: Before you plant shrubs, follow these three steps:

  1. Have a plan. You need the right type of plant for your environment in the right location. Think about space, sunlight and water, then ask yourself these questions: Where will the plants go? Will the area have too much or too little water? Are they the right plants for the right place for the sunlight they need? 
  2. Lay out the bed. Use spray paint to outline the bed line, then rent a sod cutter to remove the turf and vegetation. 
  3. Add soil: Make sure to build the soil up. You can use top soil, bagged soil or an organic specialty blend. The main goal is to add some kind of amendment to the existing soil so your plants will have the nutrition they need. 

When digging holes for your plants, go wide. The hole should be three times the width of the container. Giving it that space to grow out is much more important than how deep the hole is. 

However, you don’t want to dig the hole too deep to where water settles around it. Plant it level to the ground or about a half inch above the soil level. You want water to drain away from the base of the plant.

Then add natural mulch, like pine straw, bark and hay. It will create a mat that will prevent weeds from growing. Weeds sprout from seeds that can be spread through the wind. If you create a thick layer of mulch, it will prevent the seeds from reaching the soil. 

Landscape fabric also does this, but personally, I don’t use it because of the climate I live in. It stays hot almost year-round in south Alabama, so landscape fabric tends to trap heat underground and damage roots. Also, it can push water to low areas and lead to root rot. 

Mulch also insulates the roots, preventing them from getting too hot and cold. And it keeps moisture in the soil from evaporating too quickly. As natural mulch breaks down, it adds organic matter to the soil.


pruning shrubs with sharp pruners in spring
Well-pruned shrubs and trees are a hallmark of a carefully tended yard or garden. (Maudib, Getty Images)

Best Time to Prune

What are some general tips about pruning? When is the best time and are there different steps for different plants?

Sid: All plants require some pruning to keep them in shape and promote healthy growth.

There’s lots of nuance in pruning but a general rule for flowering plants is you want to prune the plant after it blooms. 

Learn which technique to use when in our Basic Shrub Pruning Techniques article.


Crape myrtle branches and bloom against a blue sky
You don’t have to cut a ton of branches to encourage crape myrtle blooms. (c11yg, Getty Images)

Pruning Crape Myrtles

Many people have strong opinions on trimming and pruning crape myrtles. What’s your opinion?

Sid: A crape myrtle blooms off new growth. So, some people hack away at the branches to stimulate this new growth. But this isn’t necessary — you can still produce new growth and keep the shape of the plant with selective pruning.

Select pruning eliminates an ugly knuckle from forming and maintains full foliage. Here’s how to do it. 

First, prune cross branches — branches that are rubbing together and growing across from each other. You want the tree to grow up and out, so trim the branches that are growing toward the middle.  

Then, prune broken branches and any branch that’s smaller than your pinky.

Read our guide on How and When to Prune Crape Myrtles for more details.


Sid’s Tips

  • Make sure you have a plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 
  • If you’re not sure what to do, consult with a local expert, like a nursery or landscape architect. 
  • Do it in stages so it’s not overwhelming in time and budget. 

Further Reading


Ask a Question! (Podcast)

Ask a question and we could answer it on the “Today’s Homeowner Podcast!” We also may use it on our nationally syndicated radio broadcast or on todayshomeowner.com.

7 Simple & Affordable Curb Appeal Ideas

7 Simple & Affordable Curb Appeal Ideas

Making your house look great at the first glance doesn’t have to be a costly investment. These simple and affordable curb appeal ideas can update your home while boosting its appeal to visitors and potential buyers.


House number wall planter box
This house number wall planter adds natural texture to a brick exterior. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

1. Dress Up Your House Number

First on our list of curb appeal ideas is stylishly displaying your house number. Not only does it add curb appeal but it also clearly shows your house number for first responders and ensures packages get delivered to the right home.

This house number wall planter project is a two-for-one – you get a wall planter that also prominently displays your house number. Plus, it can be built in less than half a day.

Materials 

Here’s what you need:

  • One 6-foot-long 1×6 cedar board
  • One 6-foot-long 1×4 cedar board
  • Elevated house numbers
  • D-rings
  • Titebond II Premium Wood Glue
  • Miter or circular saw
  • Sander and sandpaper
  • Pocket hole jig and screws
  • Drill
  • Wood screws
  • 3/16-inch drill bit
  • Tape measure
  • Nail gun
  • Clamp
  • Wood sealer (optional)
  • Dirt
  • Faux plants

Instructions

Using a circular saw to cut a board
Cut boards to size with a circular saw. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 1

First, measure and cut the wood for your house number wall planter. For this project, we used cedar because of its scent, but you can use any type of wood.

Here are the cuts you’ll need:

  • Three 1x6s at 24 inches
  • Two 1x4s at 3.5 inches
  • One 1×4 at 12 inches
  • One 1×4 at 13.5 inches
Drilling pocket holes into a board
Pocket holes prevent wood screws from penetrating the panel’s front side. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 2

Choose whether you want the rough side or the smooth side of your cedar facing out, then drill pocket holes on the backs of two of your 1×6 boards. 

Applying Titebond wood glue to a board
Wood glue creates a water-tight seal between each panel board. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 3 

Apply wood glue and drill wood screws to attach the three 1×6 boards together to form the wall planter panel.

Drilling a d-ring into a board
Drill the D-rings into the back of the top board. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 4

Drill the D-ring hangers to the back of the panel.

Applying Titebond wood glue to a planter box
To keep dirt from escaping, seal the planter box with wood glue. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 5

To assemble the planter box, use the 12-inch piece for the bottom, the 13.5-inch piece for the front and the two 3.5-inch pieces as the sides. Apply wood glue and then nail them together. 

Installing planter box on house number panel
A scrap piece of wood is the perfect height to hold up the planter box place while you attach it to the panel. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 6

Use a scrap piece of wood to hold the planter box three-quarters of an inch from the bottom of the panel. Then, attach the planter box to the panel using wood screws from behind. Sand the house number planter box. If you want a glossy look, apply a wood sealer.

Install house numbers to the right of the planter box. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 7

Lay out your house numbers and mark the holes’ locations. Drill mounting holes with a 3/16-inch drill bit and attach the elevated numbers.

No green thumb? No problem! Use faux succulents instead. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 8

Hang the wall planter up on your house before adding the dirt and plants. 


Mailbox with flowers surrounding the post
Your mailbox says a lot about your home, and you. To maintain curb appeal, keep it painted well or purchase a new one that meets United States Postal Service guidelines.

2. Replace Your Mailbox

While we’re on the subject of house numbers, give some attention to your mailbox! 

Mailboxes serve a dual purpose: they collect your mail, but they also send a message about the homeowner’s attentiveness to their dwelling.

A tattered old mailbox suggests a lack of care. Don’t risk sending the wrong message: install a sparkling new mailbox.

From traditional to polished-nickel options, choose from dozens of styles and sizes. Consider whether you’ll need to enlist help for installation: a wall-mounted mailbox will only require some screws and a screwdriver, but roadside mailboxes that sit on posts might require an expert’s help.

If you have to dig a post hole for your new mailbox, call 811 before you dig to ensure that you stay clear of any utility lines.

And before you do anything, always review the US Postal Service’s mailbox requirements.

Yes, the USPS has requirements, and it enforces those requirements! For instance, roadside mailboxes must be at least 6 inches back from the curb.

If you’re installing a door slot, USPS requires that the opening be at least 1.5 by 7 inches.Find all the specifics at usps.com.

Alternatively, refresh your existing mailbox. Read “How to Paint, Stain and Repair Your Worn-Out Mailbox” for more information.


Front porch with rocking chairs, planters and a dining set
A front porch isn’t complete without comfortable chairs and potted plants. (DepositPhotos)

3. Spruce Up the Front Porch

Next on our list of curb appeal ideas is spruing up the front porch.

Here’s an easy formula to improve your front porch’s appearance: furniture, plants and wreaths.

Furniture

Front porch furniture — like gliding, lounging or rocking chairs — welcomes guests and invites them to sit, take a load off and enjoy some conversation.

You can find nice, inexpensive furniture at a thrift store to add character. Shop for something that looks good but doesn’t require refinishing.

Plants

Plants offer a nice break from your home’s hard features (such as windows, doors, roofing and siding). To add texture and soften your home’s exterior appearance, purchase plants at the home and garden center and place them in pots made for outdoor use.

Just get one or two planters — most hardware stores or gardening shops sell inexpensive faux terracotta ones — to arrange near your front entrance. Place two planters on either side of your front door or cascade multiple down the front steps.

Here’s a suggestion for a starter plant: hardy and beautiful hibiscus! These slow growers provide abundant greenery with massive (up to 10-inch) blooms.

When the weather turns colder, move the pots indoors to enjoy them through the winter months.

When you’re picking out your plants, one simple phrase should be the key to your planter or window box: “fillers, spillers and thrillers.”

  • Fillers: Leafy greens will fill the space and complete the look
  • Spillers: Flowers like Creeping Jenny flow over the container’s sides
  • Thrillers: These plants offer the “wow” factor. Pops of color will draw the visitor’s eye

To fully capture the senses, add some aromatics to emit a gentle fragrance as guests enter your home. Keep in mind that your climate will also play a role in what you should plant.

Check the online version of the Farmers’ Almanac to learn what will and won’t grow well in your area.

Wreaths

Who says door wreaths are just for winter holidays? Make any door look great with a year-round wreath. Embellish the wreath based on the current season and add or remove accessories — such as a large initial of your family’s last name — as needed.

Scan the web, shop around and purchase these items in advance and you can move them into position and dress your front porch in less than an hour!


Chelsea Lipford Wolf paints an entry door
You can paint a door on its hinges, but doors with lots of imperfections need special treatment.

4. Paint the Front Door

A new paint color is the most budget-friendly of this list of curb appeal ideas. Don’t underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. The average gallon of paint costs between $15 and $30 — a reasonable investment that packs a punch when it comes to improving the look of a home.

Options for front door colors are as endless as your imagination. However, choose one that complements the color scheme of your home’s exterior. For a monochromatic color scheme, choose darker and lighter shades within the same color. To add eye-catching contrast, pick a door color that’s on the opposite end of the color wheel as your home’s main color.

Playful pops of colors are very on trend when it comes to door updates. But classic colors and stains never go out of style. A simple coat of faux mahogany finish can give instant curb appeal and won’t cost you a boatload.

Tips

Get the most mileage out of your paint job with these tips:

1. Remove any hardware. This includes knockers, kick plates and door handles. By taking these off, you avoid getting paint on your hardware, and you can ensure that you cover the whole door with paint.

2. Clean it. Soap and water should do the job, but if there’s years’ worth of build up, use a pressure washer to power wash the grim away. 

3. Lay it flat. Taking the door off its hinges is an extra step that most likely means a two-person job, but removing the door makes it easier to apply the paint in even coats.

4. Sand it. By sanding your door before you paint, you can remove dust, debris, and old paint layers. Sanding can also help your paint stick better, giving you a cleaner, crisper fresh coat.

5. Change the locks. Now is a great time to invest in some new home security. Replace your old deadbolt and handle with a brand new set and consider installing smart locks for keyless entry.

Watch: How to Paint an Exterior Door the Right Way


Red front door with wreath
Installing a new door handle is a small change that can make a big difference. (Jason Finn, Getty Images)

5. Add New Hardware

Number five on our list of curb appeal ideas is upgrading your front door’s hardware.

It’s a simple, cost-effective and you can choose from a variety of colors and metal types, like silver, gold, satin nickel, copper, and oiled bronze.

Plus, hardware comes in many shapes and sizes, so before heading to the home center, consider the look and function you want — for instance, do you want knobs or levers? Do you want to turn, pull or push the handle to open the door? 

With all of these options, you can easily find hardware to match your personal style and enhance your home’s aesthetic on a budget.

Just consider how the new hardware will look compared with your interior doors’ hardware. You may not want, say, an oiled bronze lever on the front door if brass knobs are on two close-by interior doors. 

Or you may want to replace all your interior knobs with levers to match the front door for a consistent look throughout the home. Or at least spray the existing knobs with an oiled bronze finish to match. 

Either way, it’s your home, and it’s your decision.  


Flower bed with concrete border in front yard
Add concrete borders to give any flower bed a sense of order. (©Mariusz Blach, Adobe Stock Photos)

6. Install Concrete Borders

Lawn borders contain your mulch and define flowerbeds and pathways, giving your landscaping a finished look.

It doesn’t cost much to install concrete borders — expect to pay an estimated $2 per linear foot for materials. Out of all these curb appeal ideas, this is the most hands on, do-it-yourself project, so keep in mind the time and labor it will take.

Expect to dig a trench, build and install wood forms, pour in some gravel and then top that with concrete mix. Add just a few extra steps if you want to color the concrete mix, and give this project about three days to cure.

In a week, your flower beds will look better than ever and your front yard will have a sense of order to it — all thanks to a simple border!

Read “How to Build Concrete Borders” for more information. 


landscape lighting
Want to add ambiance to your yard? Add landscape lighting. (Alberto Sava via Canva)

7. Install Exterior Lighting

While we’re on the subject of lawns, here’s another home curb appeal idea: install exterior lighting.

Adding a few lights to your front yard allows you to literally shine a spotlight on your home’s best features. 

Landscape lights are easy to install, and solar varieties are self-sufficient, so they won’t put a strain on your energy bill. 

First, light walkways with garden lights or bollard lights, then move on to accent lighting. Use spotlights or up/down lights to highlight features like a large tree or a flag pole. 

Want to add some ambiance to your patio? Hang some string lights

Before you install landscape lighting, test the layout and determine the focal point for the brightest light. Simply tape flashlights to stakes and position them around the yard at night to see how halogen or incandescent landscape lights will look. 

You can also place luminaries – composed of a white bag with sand and a candle inside – around your yard at night to mimic the look of solar-powered landscape lighting.

For more inspiration, read “Landscape Lighting Design Tips.”


Did we miss a project? Add more curb appeal ideas in the comments below!


Further Reading

How Backyard Gardening Improves Your Mental Health

How Backyard Gardening Improves Your Mental Health

Backyard gardening can improve your mental health with minimal effort on your part.

Join landscape designer and Done-In-A-Weekend Projects host Doug Scott to learn how. 

This post is sponsored by Exmark.


Hands planting a green plant in dirt
Gardening can take your mind off of daily stresses. (happy_finch, Getty Images)

Benefits of Backyard Gardening

The positive impacts of gardening are almost endless, especially when it comes to our mental and physical health. These benefits fall into two main categories: “active” and “passive.”

Active benefits are all about getting to work and doing something in your garden, helping you clear your mind while getting your hands dirty. Gardening, and similar physical activity outside, does your body wonders.

Studies show spending more time outdoors leads to fewer long-term health problems, according to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. These benefits include improved heart health, flexibility, strength, and dexterity — all leading to better mental health.

Contrarily, backyard gardening’s passive benefits are about simply being in nature or outdoor space. It provides a positive distraction from stresses in your life.

Many studies show just being in nature has a positive impact on our stress levels and brain chemistry, according to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Backyard gardening also helps you “feel alive,” letting you take your mind off work while giving you a new sense of purpose outside of the daily grind. 


Close up of a vegetables in backyard garden
Growing your own vegetables gives you the personal satisfaction of a job well done. (Ivonne Wierink, Adobe Stock Photos)

Backyard Gardening By Your Senses

The goal of backyard gardening is to create a yard and garden that reflect how you want to live outside. Doug recommends designing your mental health garden according to your five senses.

  • Sight: The simple sight of a breathtaking array of plants, an arrangement of your favorite flowers, or interesting objects in your garden is bound to boost your mood.
  • Taste: Growing your own fruits, veggies and herbs will provide you an incredibly rewarding harvest, in more ways than one. Not only are you able to enjoy the produce you have grown for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but you get the personal satisfaction of a job well done.
  • Hearing: Creating habitats for birds and other animals will add the sounds of nature to help you relax in your garden. Also, add wind chimes and water features that’ll produce soothing, stress-relieving sounds.
  • Touch:  From the light, feathery textures of flower petals, to the rough surfaces of tree bark or bush stems, touch goes a long way in giving you a deeper sense of connection to your garden. This all ties back to a combination of active and passive benefits of backyard gardening, helping you establish a deeper sense of purpose.
  • Smell: Certain smells can bring back forgotten, happy memories. Add fragrant flowers and herbs to your garden bed, so you can literally “stop to smell the roses.”

Stone path in a flower garden
Create pathways that lead to mini-spaces for a relaxing retreat. (Elena Photo via Canva)

Tips for Designing Your Mental Health Garden

When designing a garden, create “rooms” connected by meandering paths that let you get away from it all. These rooms provide mini spaces that you can retreat to, so you can rest, unwind, and feel restored.

However, your outdoor spaces don’t always need to be quiet and sedentary. If you enjoy being outside with others, creating gathering spaces in your yard is a great idea. And, if you have an outdoor hobby like exercising, painting, or writing, you can create spaces to do just that.

You shouldn’t get ahead of yourself and start creating a ginormous garden right off the bat. Start small, simple, and stress-free, and grow your garden out from there. Pick easy-to-grow plants that require little maintenance or start a simple vegetable garden in a raised bed.  

So, start backyard gardening today — your mental health will be better off because of it.


Looking for more tips to breathe new life into your outdoor spaces? Check out Exmark’s Done-In-A-Weekend project series, featuring simple, budget-friendly DIY projects.


Further Reading