Posts by Shawna Coronado

Shawna Coronado

How To Install A Rain Barrel in 3 Easy Steps

55 gallon rain barrel installed

Now is the perfect time to install a rain barrel. Summer is here and some parts of the country get very hot and dry late in the season – installing a rain barrel now means you will get some water in the barrel to help you save money and save water later in the season. Benefits of rain barrels go beyond saving money and watering your garden. By having a rain barrel, you are keeping rain water out of urban sewer systems, giving water back to the water table, and helping our environment. Today we are assembling and installing the 55 gallon Rain Saver from Tierra Derco with Quattro Downspout Filter and Universal Spout (see top photo).

Rain barrels come in many shapes and sizes, but almost all rain barrels are gravity fed and have no power to push the water through a hose. If the rain barrel is installed on blocks or raised slightly on a base support, it will guarantee that the water will more easily reach your garden beds if a hose is attached. Most frequently, I use a bucket or watering can and take water from the rain barrel spigot.

To install a rain barrel you will need tools – a rain barrel, flexible downspout, and a hacksaw. If you have an aluminum downspout you will need several screws, screwdriver, and a drilling rain barrel holedrill. If you have a PVC downspout you will also need PVC cement instead of screws. If you are unskilled in assembling and drilling like I am, you will need to find a helper like my buddy Ricky Rolon (thanks for helping me assemble the rain barrel Ricky – you’re the best).

 

Connecting a Downspout To A Rain Barrel in 3 Easy Steps

1. Place the barrel near a downspout. Position exactly where it will be when complete and measure the downspout portion you will need to cut in order to put the connection or downspout filter to the downspout. If your rain barrel does not have predrilled holes for the water tap and hose attachment, drill those now and install tap (photo right).

2. Disconnect your downspout by sawing the downspout above where the top of the rain barrel rests. Be sure to save all the parts you have removed so you can reattach during the winter.

3. Assembling downspout drain for rain barrelAttach a downspout filter or a flexible elbow to the cut end of your downspout so water is redirected into the rain barrel either through the filter hose or through a screened hole on top of the rain barrel dependent upon which rain barrel variety you have (photo right). Secure with screws. Or if you have a PVC downspout, secure with PVC cement so it will not come off during a heavy downpour. Make sure the water overflow is redirected away from the house foundation.

 

Rain Barrel Success Tip

Additional care for a rain barrel includes when temperatures in your community fall below freezing you should reconnect your old downspouts and drain your rain barrel to protect it from cracking. I turn my rain barrels upside-down, but you could simply keep the rain barrel spigot open so that rain does not gather in the barrel basin.

Helping the environment and saving money while watering your plants is a win-win. Including a rain barrel in your garden is a great way to contribute to a drought tolerant landscaping plan.  Get a rain barrel and make a difference.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received a product in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing it.


Shawna Coronado

3 Top Summer Garden Gloves Reviewed

Gloves Womanswork Work Gloves

Finally it is summer and with the coming of summer, we mark the beginning of barbecue celebration season and outdoor living all over the nation. This is the perfect time to get out and clean up that garden a bit before the big garden get-together. To help you with your summer pruning, gardening, and planting I have reviewed three awesome ladies gloves that I have used myself and put through the Shawna-marator testing process with vigor and passion.

As a full time gardener and garden writer, I’m a bit of an obsessed glove collector and definitely use them in my garden to protect my fingernails from breaking and skin infections. I have dozens from all different types of companies. This season I put three completely different gloves to the test.

Gloves Gold Leaf Royal Horticultural Society Dry Touch

Gold Leaf Dry Touch Gloves

Gold Leaf Dry Touch is a tough garden glove (photo below)  made from high quality leather. This glove is fully lined and resistant to water. With all the rain I have had in the garden lately, I have found these gloves great to get in to prune rose bushes and other thorny material even if it is wet outside. Thorns do not get through the tough leather and caring for the gloves involves handwashing them and letting them air dry. A good protective glove which is built to last for years, you can purchase the gloves online at Gardeners.com for $38.95. I highly recommend this glove if you want a tough glove for wet and/or thorny conditions.

Womanswork Paisley Garden Glove With Arm Saver

Definitely the most attractive glove of the bunch, Womanswork Paisley Garden Glove (top photo) is as comfortable as it is stylish. When working in the garden I frequently get “itchy arms” from scratchy plants. The Paisley Garden Glove with Arm Saver is exactly as it describes – a great arm saver that prevents itchy arm. I find these gloves perfect for cutting back perennials and digging mid-summer. They come in several different colors, are made of cotton with a touch of lycra, and have a sun protection factor of 50, making for light work on hot days. The little wrist buckle helps keep the glove snug without being too tight around your wrist. There’s even a nifty stretch pull-cord at the end of the glove so you can tighten it if you are concerned about bugs or plants creeping up your arm into the glove. You can purchase these gloves on the Womanswork.com website for $29.50. They come in several different colors and are machine washable so these gloves make an easy-to-clean reusable garden glove.

Gloves Rostaing  Rubber Coated

Rostaing Rosier Gloves

Rostaing Rosier Gloves (photo above) are supposed to be used for roses because they have great protection against rose thorns even though they are a cotton comfort-based glove. Rubber coating on the outside of the cotton glove means you do not have to have a heavy glove on a super-hot day in the garden. However, I found they are fantastic for every imaginable project under the sun where you want to protect your hands. I used them for painting my Adirondack chairs and loved the way the gloves allowed me to grip the paint brush. Pruning, planting, and lifting containers is easy work with these gloves. They are particularly good for digging in soil because absolutely no soil or sharp splinters get up under the nail to irritate the nail bed. Find these gloves on Amazon.com for $12.67. They work great and when you are done abusing them and want them to be fresh for next time, simply throw the gloves in the clothes washer and let them air dry.

Need a gardening glove for all your summer pre-barbecue party garden clean-up efforts? All three gloves listed above are fantastic solutions to protect your hands and keep them healthy in summer.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received glove products in this post at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Shawna Coronado

3 Quick Tips To Bring Your Eye Vertical In The Garden

Shove and Rake Trellis

When walking through most suburban gardens I notice an alarming pattern; flatness. My eye is forced to stay firmly on the ground with no upward interest for the vertical. It feels like my eyeballs are in a straitjacket. No movement allowed and whatever you do, do not look up! Vertical gardening and upward placement of garden accessories allows your eye that rest and movement it needs while building more appealing interest for the garden visitor. Better yet, it enables you to save planting space and is suitable to an urban environment.

Want to learn how to build some upward interest? Below are three quick tips that will help inspire you to move-it-on-up in the garden.

Shawna Coronado's Vertical Side Garden

3 Quick Tips

Trellis Creativity – Trellis’s and vines are the easiest ways to grow your way up an unattractive wall. Have a tight budget? No problem. Try something beautifully unique like painting your old shovels and rakes and drilling them on to a fence (photo above). Plant beans, morning glories, or clematis and you have a gorgeous vertical solution.

Balcony Love – Do you have a balcony on your house? Why not attach the ground with the balcony by building upward interest? Below you see containers sitting on top of the balcony, small containers drilled into the bottom edge of the balcony, and several types of clematis climbing up the wall. Your eye is instantly lifted to new heights.

Hang It From A Tree – Trees are an active part of our garden and hanging a mass of matching garden accessories from one tree creates a focal point in the garden. In the bottom photo you see the creative idea one gardener came up with – hanging a birdhouse collection all in the same tree. Most people walking by this urban display are captivated for long minutes and stop to enjoy the uppity view.

Vertical Whimsy In The Garden Birdhouse Tree

Want to take the vertical garden idea even farther? Vertical Vegetable Gardening by Chris McLaughlinTry thinking outside the box and grow a vertical vegetable garden to help feed your family or community. A great book to reference is Vertical Vegetable Gardening by Chris McLaughlin. It teaches you how to discover the benefits of growing your fruit and vegetables up instead of out in order to save space.

Think creatively and build your own garden focused on different views and vertical opportunities which saves planting space and adds interest and whimsy to your garden plan.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received the book in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing it.


Shawna Coronado

Perennial Foliage and Glass Adds Interest In The Garden

Lady Fern and Halcyon Hosta

When I was young I loved visiting my grandmother’s shady perennial beds in central Indiana. They were filled with every leafy shape the mind could imagine, yet rarely a flower could be found. My grandmother taught me that there are other beautiful options that can bring just as much joy to your gardening heart. Both foliage and decorative glass offer colorful alternatives to the traditional blooming beds and I use them as much as I can in my own garden.

Foliage

Planning your foliage garden well means your garden can stay beautiful year round without flowers. Mixing leaf structures and plant heights adds interest. At the top you see Fern ‘lady fern’ mixed with Hosta ‘halcyon’ in my side garden at home. I love the blue of the hosta because it contrasts marvelously with the bright green of the soft, feathery-leaved ferns.

A favorite combination is to mix some coleus love into my shade vegetable containers. Lacinto Kale from Bonnie Plants and Coleus from Hort Couture’s ‘Under the Sea’ line make a fabulous color splash together. No flowers can be seen, but the foliage color is astounding and really adds to a shade patio container arrangement (see below).

Lacinto Kale with Coleus

Heuchera and Hosta

Mixing Heuchera and Hosta together can be a brilliant foliage combination. In the garden bed above you see a random bed plan of Heuchera ‘snow angel’ and Heuchera ‘beaujolais’ mixed with Hosta ‘krossa regal’, Hosta ‘gold standard’, and Hosta ‘half and half’.

wine bottle border

Glass

Bottle Tree along pathWant to keep your perennials in place while adding color and interest with glass? Bring whimsical glass accessories in to the garden beds. I have endless wine bottle paths (photo above) draped with ground cover and a fantastic bottle tree (photo right) I found at Carolee’s Herb Farm, a favorite stop whenever I am in central Indiana.

Bottle trees are a remarkably cool folk art brought from Africa and the Middle East centuries ago and were originally used to capture bad spirits. Now they capture color and light and bring a bit of joy to my suburban shade garden.

Below are two books I recommend to help you study up on filling your garden with color not found in a flower; Fine Foliage by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz is a delightful full color book which brings wonderful ideas for foliage color combinations, and Bottle trees.. and the Whimsical Art of Garden Glass by Felder Rushing is an outstanding full color celebration of creative glass-in-the-garden creations.

Bottle Trees Book and Fine Foliage Book

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Shawna Coronado

Three Unique Garden Tools Reviewed

Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator In Use

There was a little old man that lived up the street from me where I grew up in Kokomo, Indiana. I called him Mr. Grouchy Pants. All we kids were afraid of him because he would catch us playing “Army” in his back garden and chase us off his property yelling like a madman and waving this big metal rod like a weapon. I would have nightmares that I was Peter Rabbit and he was Mr. McGregor. In my dreams Mr. Grouchy Pants would trap me in his giant watering can. Years later I learned that the big metal rod was a do-all gardening tool he invented. It was just a heavy rod, yet it was so much more: a seed hole maker, a lever to dig out rocks, a clay breaker, a thin hoe, and a scary pretend weapon to chase away ornery little girls and boys. As gardeners, we soon discover that the most common tools sold are not necessarily the best tools for the jobs. Sometimes we have to make our own or go searching for an creative solution. Below are reviews of three very interesting garden tools that are unique and provide awesome solutions in the garden.

 

Cool Garden Tools Reviewed

Cobrahead Weeder and CultivatorThe Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator – One of my favorite tools ever is the Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator. Cobrahead is the strongest tempered steel blade “finger” you will ever use in the garden and truly acts as an extension of your arm. It is great for getting under a weed with a tap root and popping it out or for using it as an edger along flagstone. I never lose it because the blue handle is easy to spot in the garden and it helps in all kinds of tough jobs – like weeding cactus (top photo). Each Cobrahead is made of a recycled composite material.

 

Trake Garden Tool

Trake - Another strong tool with unique features is the Trake, named for the rakish three tined prong on one side of the tool. There is a measured narrow trowel on the other side of the handle, which is fabulous for bulb and container planting. The three tined prong is super strong, works well to weed, and creates troughs in soil for seeds or plants. Lightweight aluminum makes the tool easy to maneuver, plus it has a vinyl wrap around the handle to help you grip the tool well.

 

DeWit Shawna Trowel Scoop with Cutter ToolDeWit Potting Scoop and Cutter – This unique DeWit Potting Scoop and Cutter Potting Trowel is built in the shape of a scoop with a honed top edge for cutting out the old soil from container. It also has a more pronounced bend for holding soil without spilling and a sharp knife edge for cutting open bags of soil and compost. It’s a heavy trowel with a truly unique cutting edge which I find very handy in the garden because I do not carry a pocket knife. It also works well for pre-hung vertical gardens so you do not spill as much soil when filling wall containers. The special story about this trowel is I got to blacksmith it myself. I complained that I could not find a potting trowel that was built to not spill soil to Sietse DeWit, the President of the DeWit Tool Company. He invited me to come to his factory and blacksmith a tool with his team that would work and this cool scoop/cutter/trowel is what we came up with and it is guaranteed for a lifetime. Below is a video showing the blacksmithing process for the “Shawna Trowel”.

Caring for your garden tools is an important, but simple, part of keeping the tools in good condition for years of use. Each of these unique tools is easy to maintain – rinse after use and put away immediately. Oil wooden handles and iron to prevent aging and rust.

Better gardening starts by finding the garden tools that work best for you for your particular need. Great, long lasting, tools make gardening easier and prevent undue strain while working in the garden. Try these three interesting, unique tools in your garden to see if this garden gear might be the right fit for your special gardening situation.

According the FTC, I need to tell you that I received products in this blog post at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Shawna Coronado

3 Ways To Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Hummingbird Feeder in Shawna Coronado's front lawn

Hummingbirds are an entertaining way to enjoy nature. We all adore them and want them in our gardens, but sometimes a feeder alone does not attract our humming friends. Here are three tips to get them to come to your yard and recognize your feeder as a place to return to often.

1. Plant nectar producing flowers in your garden that attract hummers. My favorites include Salvia, Nepeta, Bee Balm, Delphinium, Hollyhock, Canna, Morning Glory, Trumpet Vine, and Lantana. In the photo to the right you see the perennial Nepeta Six Hills Giant. Hummingbird with Nepeta in Shawna Coronado's garden.

2. Use bright colors to tempt them in – especially red. In the top photo you can see the red Antique Bottle Hummingbird Feeder from Perky-Pet I have set up in my early spring garden. Set a red or brightly colored feeder out as soon as you are able in the spring in order to let the early hummingbird scouts know where their feeding locations are.

3. Keep the feeder clean. Hummingbirds love fresh nectar and do not like a dirty hummingbird feeder, so be sure to keep your feeder clean and change your nectar at least twice per week. Feeding hummingbirds is super easy. Mix 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Boil the water solution for two minutes, let cool, then fill the feeder.

Hummingbird splashing in sprinkler water

While not all feeders need to be placed in shade, I have found that a shady spot seems to be a great spot for the hummers as it keeps them cooler in the hot summer heat and prevents nectar spoilage. They love water too. Here you see an adorable hummingbird that landed on a hosta in my garden and is washing his wings in my sprinkler.

Hummingbirds are amazing to watch and a grand part of the summer garden. Lure these delightful birds in with plants and feeders then invite your friends over to watch the fun.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received a product in this post at no cost in exchange for reviewing it.