10 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Gardening

You might not believe it, but you were born with a green thumb. It may have gone untended for a while, but it's there waiting for you to nudge it awake. Put away your theory of being a plant killer, that anything dies under your care. Forget those nagging thoughts of where your garden will live or when you'll find the time, it's there somewhere. It doesn't have to cost a fortune and you'll get more than you give. So, here are 10 tips for conquering your fear of gardening:

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Gardening Tips for Renters

Want to bring more green to your house or apartment? Using a few easy, inexpensive techniques, <a href="http://www.thehorticult.com/">The Horticult</a> shows how you can garden like you own the place -- without risking your security deposit. You don't have to own your home to create a garden that reflects your personal style. Grow your favorite plants and create an inspired landscape -- or patio, interior, or balcony -- using these fun, low-commitment methods. (Although you might want to check with your landlord about the larger projects!) And if you move, you can take it all with you. These 10 tips for renters will give your garden a new lease on life.

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Summer Checklist

Summer is a gardener¿s busiest season. If you¿re short on time or not sure what to do, follow this easy summer gardening checklist to keep your lawn and garden in great shape all season long.

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Drought-Tolerant Grasses

Drought! The word itself strikes fear into the hearts of gardeners everywhere. Scarce water resources, especially in hard hit areas such as California and Texas, are making it almost impossible to maintain traditional style lawns. That's why many people are replacing their lawns with groundcovers and native plants. But for those who want a lush green lawn, here are some less-thirsty options.

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How to Improve Garden Soil

Many homeowners inherit bad garden soil ¿ but you don¿t have to live with it! Learn how to get the best garden soil possible through amendments, composting, and more.

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Top Shade Perennials

Shade plants are perfect for those tough spots in your yard. Learn about the best shade-loving perennials, including flowering shade perennials, partial shade perennials, and full-shade perennials.

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Landscape Ideas

Landscape ideas provide inspiration, and studies show that upgrading your landscape will add value to your home. Here are some great landscape ideas to improve your home's outward appeal.

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Popular in Gardening

One Window Box, Three Ways

With one simple box, you can add three great finishes.

Tools Needed

Each of our three variations can be built with a collection of common tools:

  • Circular or table saw
  • Power drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Countersink bit
  • #2 Phillips drive bit
  • Hammer
  • A small square
  • Measuring tape
  • Miter box for making 45-degree cuts
  • Nail set (for Picket Fence box)

Materials List

  • Redwood, cedar, or other rot-resistant lumber (see Note below)
  • 3/4-inch square stock of rot-resistant wood for inside braces
  • Decorative trim and/or molding
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Water-resistant glue or construction adhesive
  • Exterior caulk
  • Sixteen or more 1-1/4-inch deck screws
  • Sixteen or more 2-1/2-inch deck screws
  • 4d finishing nails for attaching 1x2
  • 1-inch brads
  • Oil-base primer
  • Exterior latex or oil-base paint in choice of color(s)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint thinner
  • Metal braces
  • Exterior surfacing compound

For wooden brackets

Twenty-four 2-inch deck screws

2x2 or 1x1 lumber

For Pickets

1 1/2x1/4-inch redwood lattice or flats

Additional 1-inch brads

Optional

Metal braces

Note: Pressure-treated wood is probably not a good choice for this project because of its tendency to warp. Also, if you're using cedar, it measures differently from other lumbers, so instead of using a standard 1x2 for the trim on the top of the box, you'll need to rip a 1x3 to 1 1/2 inches wide.

Begin building the boxes by creating the basic box shown below.

Sizing the box

You can make your starter box almost any size. If you will be using insert trays, be sure the dimensions are large enough to accommodate the tray completely.

In general, 1x10 lumber works well for most boxes. Follow the diagram shown. The inside corner blocks are cut from 3/4-inch square stock.

Assemble the box with glue and deck screws. Then drill a dozen or so holes in the bottom for drainage.

The Picket Fence

For this variation (shown in the photo on the first page), cut pieces of lattice as shown in the drawing. Glue and nail to the front and sides of the box. Finish with primer and paint.

Decorative Box

This decorative box is painted to suit your style or mood. Look for ideas in a craft shop, or freelance your own design.

To build it, add 1x2 trim to the basic box, then prime and paint with any decorative motif. Use exterior latex or oil-based paint. Or, use acrylic artists paint and seal with one or two coats of an interior/exterior clear polyurethane.

The Cape Cod

You can't beat the simplicity of this painted box and its bracket supports. Choose a color that complements the setting in which the box will be used.

To build it, add trim and cove molding as shown in the diagram below. Build the brackets with 2x2 material. Use a miter box to cut the 45-degree angles, then glue and screw the brackets together. Finish by filling nail holes, sanding the box, and priming and painting it inside and out with exterior paint. See "Putting It Up" (below) for details on hanging your box.

Putting It Up

To hang your window box, use heavy-duty metal braces or brackets. Or for the Cape Cod model, use the wooden brackets. Be sure any supports are secured securely to studs in the wall (look for a row of nails in the siding for a clue about stud location). Also add a few screws through the back of the box into the studs.

If you have bevel siding, fill in the gaps between the back of the box and the siding with shims, as shown here.

Attaching the box to a brick or stucco wall requires a different approach. Check with your home center for ideas and materials best suited to your situation.

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