Holiday-Inspired Outdoor Decorating that Lasts

Dress up your front porch and yard with these holiday outdoor decorating ideas that last from the first days of fall through the New Year. They look great on a porch or just outside your door.

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Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas

Make the outside of your home as ready for the holiday season as the inside with these outdoor Christmas decorating ideas. Our holiday decorating ideas, including beautiful Christmas greenery, festive light displays, and more, are sure to get your yard Christmas-ready.

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Grow Beautiful Amaryllis

Amaryllis flowers are easy to grow from bulbs and great for adding color to your holiday decor.

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Deer-Resistant Shade Plants

Gardening in the shade where deer are plentiful can be a challenging situation. But there are plants that thrive in the shade that aren't tempting to hungry deer. Although no plant can be considered completely deer-resistant, here's a list of shade dwellers that most deer avoid. Plus, we've added some fun facts about deer that might help you understand them better.

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Shrubs with Winter Interest

A winter landscape has a beauty all its own. An unexpected plant feature -- winter blooms that perfume the air, bright berries, colorful or textured foliage or unusual bark -- add a welcome element to gardens. These winter shrubs will not disappoint.

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Tips for Moving Plants Indoors

Here's a handy guide for moving your favorite plants inside once the weather turns cold.

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Organic Lawn-Care Basics

These environmentally friendly tips will keep your lawn green and healthy.


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    • Choose the Right Grasses

      Focus on mixtures of grasses adapted to your region. A mix of grasses ensures that a disease problem won't affect every blade of turf in your lawn. And focus on your conditions: Almost all grasses prefer full sun, but a few, including fine fescues, tolerate some shade.

      Remember that sometimes, the best grass is no grass -- and using ground covers or planting beds makes the most sense.

    • Don't Cut Your Lawn Too Short

      Tall grass is usually healthier grass. It grows longer roots, which access more water and nutrients. And because it has more leaf area, tall grass is also more vigorous than closely mowed grass. The taller leaves also shade out weeds. Most grasses grow best when kept at least 2 inches tall.

      Hint: No matter what height you let your grass grow, remove no more than one-third of the grass blade in a single mowing. Removing too much at one time causes stress.

    • Keep a Sharp Lawn-Mower Blade

      A dull lawn mower blade tears grass instead of cutting it, resulting in frayed grass that's susceptible to disease. Sharpen mower blades at least once at the beginning of the season. Sharpen again during the season if your grass looks ragged after you mow.

    • Leave Clippings on Your Lawn

      Clippings left on the lawn decompose and add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil. (Plus, you don't have to rake as often.) Contrary to popular belief, clippings do not contribute to thatch buildup.

      Note: Use a mulching mower to finely mince blades, so they decompose and benefit your soil more quickly.

    • Control Thatch

      Thatch is an impenetrable mat made of grass blades, roots, and rhizomes that forms over the soil. A thick layer of thatch prevents water from reaching roots, and serves as a welcome mat for disease and insect pests. If thatch isn't severe, aeration may solve the problem. Thick thatch requires a vertical mower or mechanical dethatchers to break it up.

    • Aerate Regularly

      If your ground is hard, if it has dry spots where grass fails to grow, or if you can't poke a pencil 4-6 inches into a moist lawn, it needs aeration. Aeration improves drainage, breaks up thatch, stimulates lawn growth, and improves lawn health -- all without pesticides or fertilizers. Aerate when the lawn is actively growing (spring or fall for cool-season lawns; summer for warm-season lawns).

    • Water Sensibly

      Water your lawn when grass takes on a dull green or bluish color, when leaf blades begin to fold or roll, or when footprints remain in the grass after you've walked on it. Water deeply and infrequently: You want roots to grow deep into the soil -- healthy roots extend 6 inches deep or more. Consider weekly rainfall before setting out the sprinkler. Water based on the weather rather than your weekly planner.

    • Watch for Weeds

      The best thing about healthy, organic lawns is that they naturally defeat most weeds without help from you. If your lawn has weeds, it may indicate a different problem. Use organic products, such as corn gluten meal (CGM) when necessary.

    • Feed Your Lawn

      Use a balanced, natural fertilizer to feed your lawn. Most natural fertilizers are slow-acting, remain available over time in the soil, and rarely damage the lawn by burning grass.

      Apply fertilizer once or twice each year. Be careful not to use too much: Even natural fertilizers can damage plants when used in extreme. Always follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging. With fertilizers, less is better!

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      Top Dress with Compost

      Compost works miracles in the soil for gardens and lawns. Spread up to a quarter of an inch of compost over your entire lawn each spring or fall.

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      Next Slideshow How to Repair Your Lawn

      How to Repair Your Lawn

      Solve your lawn's problems with our step-by-step guide to lawn renovation.
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