Planted Chicken Coop

Finished red coop

I miss my chickens. The yard is so quiet without them around. The coop has sat lonely in the back yard for nearly a year. I decided it needed some flowers.



If you recall, we built the coop from plans that we purchased on Ebay.  You can read more details about it here. It has been a focal point in the yard ever since.

Last fall, we had problems with raccoons and birds of prey in our yard. We lost 3 chickens, and decided to give the other two away in order to keep them from being eaten.

Sometimes, being a pet owner is hard.


My sweet Alfredo and Barbie-que would approve of the new decor.

Finished red coop

The coop was planted with 3 plastic window boxes that I screwed into the top of the the roof. I filled them with Miracle Grow soil, and plants that I purchased at 75% off retail.

I am always looking for a good deal. It cost only $10.00 for the geraniums, vinca vines, marigolds, and dahlias that filled the boxes.

They will bloom until frost, as long as they are dead headed and watered regularly.

I am looking forward to getting some more hens next spring!


How to Plant Azaleas


This is a sponsored post, any opinions given are completely my own.

I was a happy camper earlier this week. I got a huge box full of beautiful Azaleas from Southern Living.  I love Azaleas, they are so colorful! We usually don’t see a lot of them here in Wisconsin.

Generally Azaleas like well drained acidic soil. There are some varieties you can get for the Northern Zones, we are a zone 5 here but I have found that many Zone 6 varieties do well if they are in a protected spot. Our neighbor has a big, beautiful Azalea bush, it was blooming not long ago and I trespassed into their yard to take this picture because it was completely breathtaking. Don’t you agree?

Autumn Sunset


The Southern Living Encore Azalea Collection is just as breathtaking. I chose two varieties for our yard, Autumn Sunset is a dwarf shrub with beautiful red blossoms about 2.5″ across. This plant will grow to be about 3 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide. It makes a good choice for landscape boarders.

The other variety I received is called Autumn Twist. This one gets bigger, 4.5 feet high and wide, with variegated pink and white blossoms.  I can’t wait for them to fill in this empty spot along the side of our house. It is very lacking in charm and color.



The first step to planting is to lay out exactly where you want your plants to go. I have a vision of making this boarder wider next year, so I planned to have the azaleas near the back of the boarder. When designing a border, it’s a good idea to lay out a garden house to visualize where you want things to go. We have a small walking path that is covered with grass, so I didn’t do this step because the walkway will be the edge of our border. Another tip, look up before you plant. Be sure your plants are not so close to the foundation of the house that the sunlight and rain are obscured behind the overhang of the house. This is a common planting mistake that can keep your plants from being successful.

After putting the plants where I wanted them to go, I dug a hole for each one with a round point tip shovel 2x wider and deeper than the root ball. Then I added some composted material, filling the hole about half way. Compost is so healthy for your plants, especially if you have clay soil like we do.

coffee grounds


Azaleas are acid loving plants. The soil has to be acidic in order for them to bloom to their fullest. There are a number of ways you can have acidic soil, most of the time you will have to add some additional material to your soil. Adding compost is one way to increase acidity, there are many others.   My other choice for acid loving plants in this case is used coffee grounds. I added about 2 Tablespoons of grounds to each of the planting holes. If your not a coffee drinker I am sure you could get a bag full of them from your local Starbucks. Alternatively, you can add chemical fertilizers but I wouldn’t use them unless you are unsuccessful with other methods.



The final step before planting is to add some organic fertilizer. I use a pellet product that I sprinkle down in the hole before planting. It helps the roots develop quickly, then I fertilize only once a year if completely necessary. Most of the time, I find that I don’t need fertilizer at all once a plant is established in my organic garden.



Finally, it’s time to plant. These plants are lush and full as I take them out of their pots. Even without their blossoms, they make for an interesting landscape.  I spread the roots out before putting them into the hole, then fill in around the root bulb with soil and more compost. finished


On the Southern Living Encore Azalea website, they recommend planting the bushes slightly above the soil if you have clay soil. Fortunately for me that’s exactly what I did. The compost that I added on top of the roots is about 6″ thick for now, I will probably add more to them as they grow and we work on extending the brick border along the side of the house.

I can’t wait to see them in bloom!

Up-Cycled Garden Fountain

Upcycled Sink Fountain


I spent the day playing in the water. That is, I spent the day making a new “old” water feature for the yard.

This old laundry sink sat in a dark corner of our basement until recently.

It wasn’t even connected to anything. I have no idea why someone would just leave it there.

It’s not like it added anything to the basement decor.

I decided it would make a great water feature.

fountain side view

Earth Day is approaching you know.

Why not recycle something?

The birds are going to love taking a bath in the water spray.

I am going to love watching them.

Sink Before

The sink was in good shape, just a bit dirty. I love the crusty old faucet, I think it adds to the charm.

I thought about painting the sink, but I like the way it blends in with the yellow siding of the house, so I decided to leave it.

I also left the crusty old pipes underneath.

Maybe some animal will decide to make that his home.

Sink during

I plugged the sink drain by covering it with one of those plastic rubber seals for kitchen sinks from the Dollar Store, and tried out the new fountain pump.


I was attracted to this particular kit because you can choose from several different styles of spray and pump set up, depending on your container.

I thought about threading the cord of the pump through the drainage hole at the bottom of the sink to hide it, but I decided not to.

It would have meant digging through the boxes in the garage for the plumbing wrench and wrestling the pipes off the bottom of the sink.

I wasn’t up to that today.

The cord doesn’t bother me that much, especially since I plan to add some tall pond plants to the fountain as the weather gets warmer.

The cord will become invisible in the end.

Fountain location

I pulled the sink around to the back porch, and leveled it with some rocks. This location was the most convenient to water and electricity.

It is an added plus, that I hope to see birds fly by my porch window to use the fountain as a bird bath.

I think it looks like it belongs here. I wonder if my neighbors will mind it?

pond maintence

After I filled the sink with water, I adjusted the spray so the water wouldn’t be flowing out of the sink, but is recycled in the sink basin.

A few rocks helped to keep the pump in place, you can see them a bit through the water in the above photo.

I also added a bit of this birdbath product to keep the algae from growing. It is necessary, or your fountain water will be green, slimmy and unpleasant.

The shinny glass ball adds some bling to the water. It also helps attract the birds, they like shinny objects.

Upcycled Sink Fountain

A few of my favorite garden treasures gave the sink some needed color.

You can adjust the height of the fountain spray with the twist of a button, or just add some rocks under the pump to give it more height.

I am not sure yet if I am going to plant the other side of the sink, fill it with water, or leave it empty.

I will keep my options open for the time being and leave it empty for now.

What fun things have you recycled lately?

Succulent Ice Cube Tray

I love getting creative with my planters, see how I transformed an old ice cube tray into a new home for my succulents! 

Dear General Electric,

I’ll bet that you never would have guess your ice cube trays would go out of fashion just like your old refrigerators. They had their day, and we loved them, but now no one really uses them anymore.Succulent Ice Cube Tray

Except me.

Only I don’t use ice, since I get enough of that during our cold Wisconsin winters.

I use my vintage General Electric Ice Cube Tray for planting succulents, I love it. The Mid-Century soft pink metallic color looks great with the colorful plants.

Succulent Ice Cube Tray


ice cube tray before

I used 7 tiny succulents for this project that were purchased at Home Depot, I also purchased cactus soil and some pebbles.


It only took me about 5 minutes to plant your little ice cube tray.

First I filled each ice cube compartment with dirt.

Then I planted my succulents. Several of them were easy to separate into smaller plants with my fingers, but I could also have used a sharp knife.

The succulents have very small roots so separating them and fitting the roots in-between the metal ice compartment slats isn’t a problem.

I left some of the compartments empty to give the larger plants room to grow a bit.

I added more dirt.

Then I added the rocks on top of the exposed soil.

A light watering finished it off.

It was not necessary to poke holes in the ice cube tray for extra drainage. I just have to be careful not to over water it.

You never know, I may actually want to make actual ice cubes some day.

Or not.

GE, I love your old “Redi-Cube” company logo.

It’s very quaint.


I think I need more of these trays.

I will be haunting rummage sales this summer to find them.

Tabletop garden

The Succulent Ice Cube Tray is now part of my ever growing spring table top garden.

Can you tell I am ready for warmer days?

What’s blooming at your house?

Thanks, GE!

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How to Plant a Marigold Border

How do you plant a marigold border?  Here’s how I did it! 

How to Plant a Marigold Border|Designers Sweet Spot|


I am deep into gardening mode! I spent the weekend working in the beds, weeding and adding compost and leftover ashes from the fireplace (they are wonderful for your soil).Marigold Border

I even had time to plant the cold weather seeds, radishes, lettuce, swiss chard, mache, spinach and peas.

I took a risk and planted my marigold border as well, I am so impatient! Hopefully we won’t get anymore snow!

Marigold Seeds

How do you plant a marigold border? First, I purchase several large boxes of bulk seed.  I found these at the local home improvement store on sale. I love the mix of colors and textures of these flowers.

We have raised garden beds, but you could just as easily plant a border in a flat area. I plant the outside with the flowers, and put the rows of veggies inside the border.

The seed boxes are designed for easy planting. Simply, open the side to expose the hole where the seeds come out. There is a bit of loose material in with the seeds to keep them from sticking to each other, it also makes it easy to just sprinkle the seeds over your planting area.

Can you see the white powder material? That’s the seed mixture. In our 10′ by 10′ garden beds, I sprinkle an area approximately 12″ wide around the edge of each bed.  The seeds can then be tapped into the soil with a rake or gently cover them with 1/8″ of soil. Our garden was very dry, it was easy to sprinkle some dust on top of the seeds. Shortly after I finished planting, the rains came.  Beautiful flowers are not far away!


That’s it! Seriously, it’s that simple. Just sprinkle them on the dirt and your done!

This is our garden last August. You can see what a beautiful pop of color the marigolds are! They are very economical to plant in bulk, I spent a total of $10.00 on seed that covered the edges of more than 5 large beds. To purchase flats of marigolds to cover this same area, it would have cost well over $100.00, and not been as thickly planted.  The time savings is huge as well. I spent 15 minutes spreading seed, it would take hours to plant each one of these flowers by hand!

I love marigolds for lots of reasons.

Rabbits don’t like them, and we have seldom had rabbit issues. I like to plant other “stinky” plants inside the border such as onions, shallots and garlic. Then I use the middle section for the plants that the rabbits love to eat, such as strawberries, beans, and lettuces. It’s not fool proof, but it does seem to discourage the bunnies from getting to all that good stuff in the middle.

The marigold blossoms are edible if you grow them organically (I don’t use any chemical fertilizers on our garden), but do not eat them if you purchase commercially produced flowers (they have too many chemicals on them to be edible).

Best of all, marigolds are hardy even in our zone 4-5 garden. One planting in spring will yield beautiful flowers by mid to late June and until frost. A little care is needed, I occasionally pluck the dead blossoms off or snip the tops of the plants off with a scissors for continual bloom.

Happy Gardening!

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How to Plant a Marigold Border|Designers Sweet Spot|