25 Ideas for Tabletop Gardens and Terrariums

Faux Terrarium

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As the weather changes and the flowers start to wane outside, it’s a great time to focus on bringing natural beauty indoors. I’ve gathered some beautiful and unique ideas for creating your own tabletop gardens. For those with less time to water, may I suggest trying one of the succulent or cacti gardens. Regardless of the plants you use, I love the wide variety of creative containers used for these mini-environments.

Let’s get started with some beautiful tutorials for planting a tabletop garden:

1. Easy Terrarium in Minutes! [Read more...]

How to install landscape bed black edging

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Jaime here from That’s My Letter to share an easy project that will make your landscaping look clean and neat.

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We just moved into a new home with tons of landscaping, it’s full and lush and mature AND lacks definition from the grassy yard.

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With help from the folks at True Temper® I installed landscape edging using the round point shovel and black plastic edging to create that defining line between grass and plantings: [Read more...]

How to Grow an Incredible Crop of Tomatoes

How to grow Happy Tomatoes

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Last spring we completed my raised bed stack stone garden.  It served as an incredible place for me to try my hand at growing vegetables.  I planted green peppers, strawberries, onions, basil, oregano, jalapeños, and 9 tomato plants. Yup, you read that right N-I-N-E tomato plants in three different varieties.  To be fair, most of the plants looked very sad and I really thought half of them would die.  Much to my surprise they not only lived but they thrived to insane proportions and produced over 2 bushel, which is equivalent to over 100 lbs of tomatoes.  That’s a whole lot more than I expected!  I was knee deep in tomatoes and quickly taught myself how to can tomato sauce.

Last year I chose to stake the tomatoes using 5′ plastic garden stakes and garden support tape.  It worked great for a little while but when the tomatoes got to a certain size, the stakes started to bend from the weight of the plants.

This year I am doing things differently to make sure my plants get the full support they need for their growing bodies ;-).

Planting and Staking Your Tomatoes [Read more...]

How to Recover Outdoor Pillows and a Mini Patio Makeover #LowesCreator

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When Lowe’s challenged me to give an outdoor spot a mini-makeover, I knew exactly where to turn my attention.

Our small paver patio is where we sit on warm spring days to eat lunch, take a break or sip wine after dark. The winter months wreak havoc on the furniture and the pillows I neglected to bring inside.

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Cleaning the furniture was as easy as a quick sponging with a Mr. Clean magic eraser.

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Then I hosed them down and was done in less than 10 minutes. The pillows weren’t as easily cleaned. I tried to wash them, but they were still a little dingy. So, I headed to Lowe’s to look for new ones.

As I entered Lowe’s with my complimentary gift card in hand, I found myself wandering down the curtain aisle again. (Do you gravitate to this aisle too? With all those colors, patterns, and textures it’s hard for me to stay focused on my shopping list.) [Read more...]

Outdoor Planter from an Ice Bucket #LowesCreator

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Being a Lowe’s Creative Ideas blogger is one of my favorite jobs as a DIY blogger. I love walking the aisles of Lowe’s, with my provided gift card in hand, dreaming of finding mundane objects to transform into amazingly beautiful objects. For example, what do you get when you cross an ice bucket with a stove pipe connector?

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[Read more...]

Easy Potted Clover for St. Patrick’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is in one day, right? So, what am I up to? I’m getting ready to celebrate the return of spring and St. Patrick’s Day of course.

In North Carolina, the trees are starting to bud and a few have flowers. I’m super excited for the arrival of spring. In addition to the flowers, the weeds have also started to pop up. But, there is one weed that I don’t mind sticking around for a little while.

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Although clover is technically a weed, it is also is a beneficial plant for your yard. It encourages bees to visit and help pollinate your flowers. Clover also produces nitrogen which is good for your lawn. And finally, it is a low growing evergreen plant, which means more green in your lawn. [Read more...]

Fall Leaves Garden Flag with Google+ LIVE Video Tutorial

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Hi, Y’all! Did you know it’s Fall Y’all! Yup, the weather has finally turned in Raleigh, NC. To celebrate this colorful season I’ve created this beautiful garden flag using a few simple supplies from the Dollar Store. Scroll down for the full material list.

If you want to watch the tutorial in my Google+ LIVE hangout, view the video below.

We will start promptly at 10am PST (1pm EST). But, don’t fret if you miss it, you will be able to play the video at your convenience later.

(If you are viewing in your email, click HERE to view this post on my website.)

 

Joining me is the fabulous Sandra of Sawdust & Paper Scraps and Sharon from Mrs. Hine’s Class. It’s going to be a lot of fun so stick around.

[Read more...]

I’ll Be LIVE! Google+ Hangout featuring Homemade Thanksgiving

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This is going to be an exciting week!  ”A Homemade Thanksgiving” is happening!  In short, it’s a week long LIVE event filled with tips & tutorials from some of your favorite craft and décor bloggers.

Here’s the Line Up (All times are Pacific Standard Time):

Monday – November  5

12:00 pm - Five Printable Placecard Options - Kristi B  of Creative Kristi

2:00 pm - Using Natural Elements from Your Own Yard to Create Fall Displays - Barbara Garrett of The Everyday Home

 

Tuesday – November 6

11:00 am - Decorating on the Cheap - 5 Trending Hometalk Projects  - Hometalk.com  – with guest Heather Patterson (At The Picket Fence)

12:00 pm - Table Centerpieces - Aimee Lane of It’s Overflowing with guest  Emily Morgenstern (52 Mantels)

1:00 PM - Creating a Fall Mantel - Barbara Garrett of The Everyday Home

 

Wednesday – November 7

11:00 AM - Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids - Amanda Formaro of Crafts by Amanda

1:00 PM - Thanksgiving Crafts - Amber Price  of Crazy Little Projects

2:00 PM - Turkey Cookies with Your Kids - Natalie Dixon of A Turtle’s Life

4:00 PM - Embellish with Paint - Colleen Jorgensen of Just Paint It!

 

Thursday – November 8

10:00 AM – Fall Garden Flag from Dollar Store Items - Brittany Bailey of Pretty Handy Girl with guest +Sandra Powell (Sawdust & Paper Scraps)

11:00 AM - Hand Crafted Thanksgiving Home Decor - Shannon Fox of Fox Hollow Cottage with guest +Debbie Manno (Debbiedoo’s)

12:00 PM – Tips and Tricks for Hosting Your Family and Not Going Bonkers! - Nellie Bellie with guests Jessica Kielman (Mom4Real) & Jen Marrs (Four Marrs & One Venus)

1:00 PM – Creative Kids’ Thanksgiving Ideas - Amy Bell of Positively Splendid

3:00 PM - Decorating with Natural Elements - Sharon Hines of Mrs. Hines Class with guests Ann Drake (On Sutton Place), Colleen Jorgensen,(Just Paint It), & Jane Windham (Cottage at the Crossroads)

4:00 PM - Quick Thanksgiving Crafts - Angie of Country Chic Cottage& Carolina Moore of 30 Minute Crafts

 

Friday – November 9

11:00 AM – Thanksgiving Placecards - Karen Watson of The Graphics Fairy with guests +Gina Luker (Shabby Creek Cottage)

2:00 PM – Ways to Personalize Your Thanksgiving Table - Kim Demmon of Today’s Creative Blog

Are you excited? Did you happen to catch Thursday? At 10 AM PST? I’ll be sharing how to make a fall flag using materials from the dollar store with my friend, Sandra of Sawdust & Paper Scraps. We’ll be doing the live video for you to view right here on the blog!

I’m used to creating solo videos, but I wanted to get y’all involved this time. I hope you’ll drop in for my first LIVE tutorial! I’m going to show you how to make this pretty fall flag:

If you want to be ready to craft, gather these materials beforehand:

Materials:

  • Dollar Store placemat
  • Brown, orange & red thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Silk leaves
  • Glitter paint or glitter glue
  • Stencils
  • Optional: hand sew or hot glue if you don’t have a sewing machine

If you can’t drop everything and make it Thursday at 10 AM PST, you can still watch later on my YouTube channel at your convenience. (That’s the really nice thing about Google+ Hangouts On Air – they’re recorded onto YouTube for viewers to watch at any time.)

What do you think? I know I’m really excited, not just for mine, but also to see some of my favorite bloggers too! This is really a landmark event – to have a group of bloggers broadcasting like this. I hope you’ll join me and Sandra. That girl cracks me up, so be prepared to pee your pants ;-D.

House Logic Boost Your Roost Finalists

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Announcing the Finalists!

The results are in and we have six finalists in the Boost Your Roost contest! I am encouraging y’all to head over to vote for your favorite entry (one vote per day.)

Before I announce my finalist, I have to tell you that the last week of the Boost Your Roost contest was emotionally draining for me. I have never seen so many homes and families that truly needed this renovation. There were over 250 entries that were submitted to me. I cried after reading many of the submissions and I lost sleep as I worried how those who weren’t chosen would ever be able to achieve their home improvement goals. Several of the entries were too ambitious for the House Logic budget and time frame. Therefore we had to choose projects that better met these restraints.

Throughout the judging process there remained one finalist’s request that continued to seed in my mind. I pictured being able to make a difference in not just the life of one person, but a whole family’s.

May I introduce you to Allison Smith, her husband Aaron, and their adorable 5 year old son Cooper: [Read more...]

How to Patch Spots in Your Grass (The Easy Way)

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Welcome back to the Spring Olympic events. We are here in Handy Stadium which is home to numerous sporting events including: football, soccer, 25 yard dash, off-road cycling and you can’t forget father/son wrestling.

As you can see, we have yards and yards of pristinely manicured blades of grass.

Wait a cotton pickin’ minute, is that a….

[Read more...]

Creative Container Gardening – DIY Talent The Pink Hammer Blog

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Welcome back to another day of the DIY Talent Parade! Do you see that flurry of pink activity? You know what that means, it is none other than Kelly from The Pink Hammer Blog!

Kelly is the gal behind those rockin’ pink tools. With a drill in one hand and a hammer in the other, there isn’t anything she can’t do! Take this bathroom renovation for example:

She took it from dark and dingy to sea-inspired-licious! The transformation is impressive, don’t you think?!

Today Kelly is going to whip up some creative containers for planting. And, boy oh boy does she have some creative ideas!  Take it away Kelly!

[Read more...]

How to Root Plant Clippings

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I have a bush in our yard that is a pure delight to me.

It has the distinguished honor of being the first flowering plant in our landscaping after a long winter. In the winter, it has pretty dark shiny evergreen foilage. When these little white blossoms open, they produce the most heavenly lemon smell.

My angelic plant is a Daphne bush (maybe the star white variety ) and it seems to like the shaded spot it holds under the protective canopy of oaks over it. If there was ever a plant I want more of, this is it. So, I decided to try to root some clippings this year using rooting hormone. [Read more...]

Installing Your Own Sprinkler System

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Last week I shared with you how to grow a better lawn based on what I learned from my education at Pennington Seed. Part of growing a more beautiful lawn is learning how to water it properly. Did you know that the majority of homeowners overwater their lawn and plants? Typically your yard only needs 1 inch of water per week (1/2 inch waterings two times a week) If you install your own sprinkler system with a timer and a rain gauge, you can insure that your lawn and/or landscaping gets just the right amount of water.

When we lived in our old house, Pretty Handsome Guy and I received a quick tutorial on installing a sprinkler system in our yard. Our neighbor — the previous owner of our current home (Yes, it’s complicated like that.) — showed us how to piece together pvc pipes, add spray heads and set up a timer to water our lawn. Now I’m passing this information on to you.

Here is the Pretty Frugal Girl’s method for installing your own sprinkler system! [Read more...]

How to Grow a Better Lawn – Grass Seeds DO Make the Difference

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Last week I flew to Portland, OR to get an education on grass seed at Pennington Seed. I learned a lot more than I ever imagined you could learn about those little seeds. I am so grateful for the opportunity and the time that Pennington Seed took to share this information with me. I spent a whole day trying to absorb as much as I could. As you can imagine, there was so much information, I tried my best to fit it all in this post. [Read more...]

Whirlwind Weekend & Winner of Sweet Faerie Design Giveaway

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I’m back! But, I’m not quite 100% back on EST. I’m finding out that jet lag plus a time change are a toxic combination. A combo that even two cups of coffee and a nap couldn’t fix today. I seriously could lay down on that beautiful bed of grass above and sleep for a week.

Here is a quick recap of this past weekend: [Read more...]

A Little Grass Education for Me from Pennington Seed

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I’m headed out early tomorrow morning to Portland, OR.

Yup, across the great US to the West Coast. Luckily I’m not afraid of flying, but honestly I’m not good at travelling more than a few times a year. I feel like I just got back from Blissdom. But, I couldn’t turn down this opportunity. It’s for my childrens’ sake. They live in a house that has a backyard that looks like this:

We have some of that good ole’ North Carolina red clay that deprives grass of water and nutrients.

I’m in serious need of some lessons on how to grow grass and help improve my kids’ play area. Okay, truth be told, I also want to go so I can put an end to the red clay tracks that they bring inside after playing in the backyard. Selfish reason — I know, but can you blame me?!

The good folks at Pennington Seed have decided to take myself and a few other DIY bloggers under their wing to teach us about grass seed. I’ll be joining these other fine DIY blogger guys and gals:

Building Moxie, Charles & Hudson, Handy Guys Podcast, Hoosier Homemade, Man Made DIY, My Repurposed Life, Sawdust and Paper Scraps,  The Shabby Creek Cottage, and Veggie Gardening Tips

Believe me, I will be asking lots of questions about how we can have something that looks a little more like this:

Definitely leave me a comment letting me know if you have any questions for the grass guru. I’ll try to get the inside scoop for ya’. ;-)

Best of Pretty Handy Girl 2011

It’s the end of the year and I know y’all have been busy. So, I thought I’d give you the cliff notes version of Pretty Handy Girl in 2011.

Gift Bucket Liner from Goodwill Pants

How to Paint a Dandelion Wall Mural

Fork Photo and Note Holder

Spring Paper and Button Flowers

How to Paint Doors the Professional Way

 

How to Paint Like a Pro Series:

 

Build Your Own Ladder Display Shelves

Photography Secrets for Shooting Indoors

 

Toilet Repairs Series:

 

Dream Big Butterfly Window

Backlit Cut Out Bookcase

Rustic Wine Crate

How to Replace an Ugly Hollywood Strip Light

Board and Batter Tutorial

How to Make a Branch Towel Bar

Light Bulb Comparison

How to Install Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Ombré Paint Chip Lampshade

 

Cabinet Door Revamped to Chalkboard Message Board

Kitchen Cabinet Turned into Shoe Storage Bench

 

Dollar Tree Placemat Garden Flag

 

Beveled Glass Light Fixture Ornaments

DIY Matchbox Car Race Track

 

And Finally, A Whole Slew of Power Tool Tutorials:

Compound Miter Saw

Jig Saw

Finish Nailer and Compressor

Cordless Drill

Circular Saw

Table Saw

Band Saw

I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited for 2012! I hope you’ll stick around for some more DIY tutorials and empowerment!

Did you have a favorite post of mine this year that I forgot to mention? Do tell! Chosing from almost 200 posts makes for some tough decisions.

How to Make a Fire Pit in an Afternoon

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With the arrival of Autumn, I am looking forward to some fires in our fire pit and — of course — some S’mores! I made a fire pit in an afternoon last year after we had 14 trees taken down (boo hoo!) Sadly, they were dying or diseased. But, I was able to turn a negative into a positive by using some of the stumps for seating and the spot where two trees used to be as my fire circle.

If you want the details about how I built (or rather dug) the fire pit, head over to Parentables to find out. I guarantee you don’t need any special skills to create your own!

Also, just a gentle reminder that TIME IS RUNNING OUT!!! You do want to meet a DIY Hunk don’t you? Or at least win an iPad2, right?

Well, be sure to enter your trade secret at the GMC Let’s Trade Secrets contest by October 25th.

You can enter one secret per category, which would give you three chances to win! I’ve already uploaded mine in Home Décor and Home Improvement. It was relatively easy, you just need to submit some photos or a video and a description of your trade secret.

Now, go forth and seek out a DIY Hunk!

Landscaping for FREE or How to Organize a Plant Swap

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Do you want to give your landscaping a face lift? Are you tired of the builder’s grade boxwoods in your front yard, but you don’t really have the money to buy new plants. You shouldn’t have to! Get new plants, bushes, flowers, seeds, bulbs and more for FREE! Plus, I guarantee you will also get loads of horticultural advice from experts who are familiar with your soil and light conditions. Those experts and generous donors happen to live right around the corner from you!

Sound too good to be true? It’s not — and honestly — I’m not writing an infomercial here. You just need to organize a neighborhood plant swap!

I have been doing just that for the past four years. The time commitment is very small and yet the rewards are big. Since doing the plant swaps, I have filled our landscaping with lots of plants that are low maintenance because they grow in abundance in our neighborhood (most of us share the same soil and light conditions.) Plus, I’ve learned enough to avoid killing most of my plants now.

It all started about five years ago when I read an article about organizing a community plant swap. I thought the idea was genius! But, I was a little hesitant because I didn’t know much about plants, rooting, dividing and all that fancy gardening stuff. But, it turns out I didn’t need to know much. My neighbors have been more than gracious in sharing their gardening tips and knowledge with me. Every year I walk away with a slightly greener thumb.

Here are the details of how I organize our neighborhood swap every year. I host ours in October because fall is the perfect time to plant. Plants go dormant as the weather cools, so they need less water and are less likely to go into shock when transplanted. Some plant swaps are held in Spring when new shoots are easy to cut and root. And — because frankly — Spring is the time of year when everyone is coming out of hibernation they want to see flowers and plants (not snow.)

1. Set a date – mornings on a Saturday is best for most folks.

2. Scream it from the rooftops – advertise the swap in your neighborhood newsletter, online bulletin, flyers or individual invitations. Here is the message I send out in the newsletter and to our neighborhood online bulletin:

Neighborhood Plant Swap

Saturday, October 8th 10am (Rain Date TBA if needed)

Locations: your street or other communal location

Do you envy your neighbor’s landscaping? Want to bring more diversity into your yard? Looking to meet some of your neighbors?

Come join us for the Annual Neighborhood Plant Swap!

Divide those bulbs! Dig up seedlings! Root some clippings! Bring some seeds! Or just come empty-handed.

We hope to see you there!

Help some of us new gardeners by labeling plants with as much information as you can:

Name, light requirements (sun, shade, part sun, etc.), soil and water requirements and a short description (height, color, flowering, etc.)

3. Yell a little louder – continue to publicize as the date nears – send out an emails, recruit friends to come, and set out signs a few days before the swap to drum up interest.

4. Contain it – Start collecting used pots, recycled yogurt containers, plastic bags, and anything that can hold a plant that you dig up.

5. Cut it out – 2-3 weeks before the swap, take your clipping and do research online about getting them to root (Sand & Sisal has a great post about getting your clippings to root.) Some clippings only need to be set in a vase of water and put in a sunny window. Others may need you to nick the stem and dip it in rooting hormone.

6. Dig in – 1 week before the swap (or the morning of! Yup, I’m the queen of procrastination.) Dig up your plants, collect seeds, divide bulbs. Set them  in containers. Don’t forget to keep the plants watered or they may die before the swap. (Seeds and bulbs or tubers don’t need watering.)

7. Tell me more – Label your plants with as much detail as you can. At the very least, the tag should have the plant name, preferred light conditions, height.

Here is a plant tag template for your convenience. Special thanks to Karen, The Graphics Fairy for sharing this design. It is actually a blog background design, but I turned it on it’s side and cropped it.

You can make your own tags (several people just handwrite the info on a 3×5 index card.) But, the graphic designer in me had fun making these vintage french tags. (PDF download for your own personal use by clicking on the picture below.)

8. Day of the Swap – Put a big sign and some balloons at the end of your street. Set up a few folding on the street or in a driveway. I use two 8′ tables (plastic tables are best since they wipe easily and aren’t damaged by water) and one card table for coffee and donuts. Refreshments are optional (a little coffee and sugar makes any occasion a bit more fun.)

Have a few supplies on hand:

  • Rag and spray cleaner for clean up afterwards
  • Tape
  • Paper for signs
  • 3×5 cards for last minute labels
  • Sharpie marker
  • Twist ties or string
  • Baggies
  • Wagon or wheel barrel to bring home your new precious plants (assuming you walked to the swap.)

Label three areas on the table: sun, partial, shade.

When people arrive direct them to set their plants on the table according to the amount of sun they need.

Time for some browsing and mingling. Allow your neighbors plenty of time to talk, look at the plants, and ask questions. We normally wait about 20 minutes before actually swapping plants. This gives plenty of time for late stragglers to show up. AND, this is the time to gather all those expert tips and information. All you have to do is stand over a plant, point at it and ask, “Anyone know anything about this?” Naturally those expert gardeners’ ears will perk up and they will be happy to show off their knowledge. Be sure to put on your listening ears because you will get a wealth of information.

After people have had time to mingle, you can start the swap. I’ve heard several ways of doing this. Some swaps allow people to take as many things as they brought to swap. Our group is a lot more laid back, and yet we ALWAYS have plenty of leftovers. We all start by taking one plant. When everyone has one, then we go back for seconds, etc. etc. At the end we try to “sell” the leftover plants and convince each other to take them home.

Ultimately we are usually left with a dozen or more orphan plants. Therefore, after the swap, I leave the tables up for the rest of the day and send an email letting people in the neighborhood know that there are FREE plants for the taking. At the end of the day I clean up and take home any orphaned plants and try to find a spot for them.

Have you ever been to a plant swap? Do you have the desire to create your own plant swap? I’d love to hear about it.

How to Install Low-Voltage Landscape Lights

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Installing low-voltage landscape lights has been on my “Want To Do” list for years now. I even bought some lights on clearance three years ago! Now that they are installed I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. They look so inviting.

Materials:

  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Wire strippers and cutter
  • 3M Heavy Duty all-weather duct tape
  • Landscape lights (it might be wise to purchase one extra, you’ll see why later)
  • Transformer
  • Low voltage landscape wiring (I used 100 feet of 14 gauge, but check the directions for your lights)

In order to figure out what size transformer you need, you should add up all the wattage on the bulbs your lights use. This is a simple equation, for example, if your lights use 9 watt bulbs, then multiply 9 time the number of light fixtures you have. I ended up buying a 200 watt Portfolio transformer that has a photo-sensor. The transformer senses darkness and turns on the lights at dusk. I prefer this instead of a timer, especially because it will not need to be reprogrammed as the days vary in length throughout the year. The only downside is that they will come on during hurricanes, tornados and big bad dark thunderstorms. Then again, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Matchy-Matchy. How to unify two colored lights:

Well, of course once I got ready to install our lights, I realized I needed more. Because the lights I bought were on clearance, they were no longer available in the stores. So, what’s a girl to do? I got eBaying and creative!

I was able to buy similar lights from an eBay seller. The fact that they were a different color was not going to dissuade me! Not when I have a can of spray paint in my arsenal. That and a can of automotive primer was all it took to turn those brown lights black (well, Oil Rubbed Bronze to be exact.)

After the paint dried, I began laying out my lights along the front path.

I decided to stagger them for maximum illumination along the path and to avoid creating an airport runway look (aka symmetrical.) I don’t know if you believe in UFOs, but I’m not taking any chances.

Installing the transformer:

*Be sure to read all the directions that come with your transformer. The following tutorial is based on the Portfolio transformer I purchased. Your directions may vary.

You will need to locate your transformer near an outdoor GFCI outlet. Luckily I had my electrician install an outlet last year. (Yes, there are some things that I will leave to a professional. Adding new wiring is one of them.)

Measure up 18″ from the ground (or the height recommended in your directions) and use the template that came with your transformer to drill two pilot holes for the mounting screws. Insert the anchors and tap them gently into the pilot holes.

Screw the mounting screws in, leave them extended partially to accept the holes on the back of the transformer.

Split the end of your low voltage wire. Then strip a small amount off the ends using your wire cutters. Slip the wires through the holes on the transformer and tighten the screws over the wire.

Play with the amount the screws extend until the transformer fits flush against the wall. Leave the transformer unplugged.

Installing the lights:

*Be sure to read all the directions that come with your low voltage lighting. The following tutorial is based on the Malibu lights I purchased. Your directions may vary.

Dig a narrow trench along the path to the location of each light. Aim for 8 – 12″ deep, the deeper the better so you don’t accidentally chop your wire while digging or planting.

Because the wires are low voltage you won’t be harmed. However, if you accidentally cut your wire, you will have to re-install your lights all over again! NOT COOL!

Run the wire into the trench until you reach  your first light. The directions that came with the transformer explain that you want your first light to be at or further than 10′ from the transformer. You can cheat this by making your wire loop or arc to take up more length on the wire before your first light. But, make sure your light isn’t so close to the transformer that it would be read by the photo sensor (the same holds true for having your transformer too close to your house lights.) Make a loop around your light. This protects the wire from being too taut and will hopefully prevent all your lights from being uprooted should someone accidentally (or intentionally) play soccer with one them. I can’t imagine that happening in our yard!

Open the connector on your light.

Insert the wire into the connector. Then press the connector back together firmly.

Unless you have super human hand strength, you may wish to use pliers (I used my Irwin Groove Lock Pliers) to press them together. You need to insure that the metal prongs pierce through the wire insulation and make contact with the wire inside. Later, if one of your lights doesn’t work, you’ll know that it could be that the connection isn’t tight enough.

Insert the stake of your light into the ground. Don’t fully bury it yet. Trust me on this one. It’ll save you from re-enacting The Diggingest Dog should your lights fail to work properly!

Repeat for the remaining lights.  When you reach the end, you may wish to “cap” off the end of the wire with duct tape. This is not required, but I decided it was best to protect the wire from any source that might short it out.

Plug in your transformer and adjust the settings to turn your lights on. Do they work? Then clap yourself on the back! If not, you need to go back and check all those connections. Good think you listened to me and didn’t bury them, right?!

Let me tell you a little antidote about a girl, let’s call her “Whitney”, who buried all the connections, turned on the transformer and got all excited because the lights worked. Only to come back 30 minutes later to an error message on the transformer and no working lights. Needless to say, she had to dig up every single light and press all the connections tight again. Then she tested the lights only to be disappointed yet again. She was so frustrated, that she went inside and went directly to bed. The next day she spent too much time on hold with the customer service numbers for the transformer and the light manufacturer. They weren’t much help. “Yes, I read the directions. Yes, I checked the connections. Yes, yes. YES!… Okay thanks (or no thanks!)” But, she knew she was smarter than the average bear, so she systematically removed one light at a time and then turned on the transformer. Finally upon removing the last light and plugging in the transformer she found that they suddenly worked. I’m not sure why (errr, I mean she wasn’t sure why that last light caused the problem), so she decided to discard the last light.

For good measure once all the lights are working, wrap the connectors in Scotch Heavy Duty All-Weather duct tape to keep them sealed and connected. Call it overkill, but I didn’t want to end up like Whitney.

It doesn’t have to be pretty to be function. Just ask Pretty Handsome Guy, since this does remind me a LOT of that post he wrote for me.

NOW, you can bury the light stakes, check that they are level and then fill the holes with dirt and pack it down.

And that is it! This is a relatively easy install. It may require a little bit of patience if the lights don’t work at first (or second.) But, if all goes perfectly, this is a half a day project.

Landscape lighting can improve your curb appeal, and also the value of your home. They are also great for deterring thieves. But, I like them because they light up my beautiful plants. And, because, it is very relaxing sitting outside after dark in the glow of the lights with a drink in hand. What more reason could you need for installing landscape lights?

What do you think? Do you like? Is this a project you think you could attempt yourself? I bet you could.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I was not paid by Portfolio or Malibu to write this post. Those are the brands I purchased with my own money. The 3M All Weather Duct Tape was sent to me by 3M to use. As were the Irwin Groove Lock Pliers. I was not compensated in any way by them. Nor was I swayed to write positive things about their products. There, I think that covers everything.