Happy Fourth of July! Are you hosting a pool party or backyard cookout this year? Don’t forget to add a red, white, and blue container garden to your outdoor landscape. Here are a few suggestions for red, white, and blue plants to include: red caladiums, white euphorbia diamond frost, white petunias, and (a great blue stand-in!) purple scaevola. Plus, a blue container looks really nice with the bright green foliage.
Looking for an easy way to give your yard an elegant holiday feel? Instead of going crazy with lights, inflatable figures, and some of the other holiday-landscape bling that’s so popular these days, try echoing nature.
One of my favorite holiday elements is snow…so look for ways to create the sense of snowflakes. For example, hang a few wire balls (such as the one shown here) from your trees. Or, make your own versions by cutting and painting snowflake-shape pieces of plastic from milk cartons, old CDs, or other objects.
While it’s not a new idea, you can also do a lot with branches and berries. For example, the bold color of red-twig dogwood really stands out against snow. And there are lots of trees and shrubs with beautiful berries. The fruits do double duty: They look good on their own and may also attract colorful birds.
This seems to be the year that a major shift is happening in Christmas decor. It’s the year that LED Christmas lights came of age. You see them everywhere this year — their appearance is strikingly different than incandescent lights so they’re hard to miss. Take a look down some well-lit street in your neighborhood this week and you’ll see. The jewel-like colors of LED lights are nothing at all like the old types. They’re “cooler”, more richly colored. They really jump out.
One thing I REALLY like about LED lights: They use so little power, you can string many together. (Remember how incandescent lights can only have up to 3 strands in series?) That means a lot fewer extension cords laying all over the place. It’s safer, and much less hassle to put them up. In addition, they last much longer than incandescent bulbs.
Back to the lower power consumption: That’s a good thing, of course, but have no illusions this is a money saving strategy. They will never pay for themselves. Not at this year’s prices anyway. I expect the cost to come down soon. But this year, it was a little shocking to pay $7-$8 per strand, when I’ve been used to picking up a string of lights for next to nothing.
I saw on some website that a string of icicle lights consumes around 40 watts of power. That compares to about 2.5 watts for a string of LED lights. Big difference. I figured out that replacing my five strings of icicle lights on my house with LED lights will save me — drumroll please — $3.89. That’s per month. And it cost me $50 to buy the new ones. Well, at least I’m trendy!