Spotlight: Garden Shed — Post Hole Digger

Fall is just a few days away, and I am not complaining about the great weather we are having. It’s finally cool enough to do things without sweating like crazy, and honestly, even though summer was hot and steamy, I still prefer milder temperatures. The one good thing about sweaty, oppressive summers is lots of beach going, and that, my friends, I do miss!

Perfect fall weather during a walk along the canal.

Perfect fall weather during a walk along the canal.

I will tell you it’s a lot more pleasant to get yard work done. Now that the summer has slowed down, I have been able to finally finish some projects I started in May!! Yes, remember when I wrote my DIY series — Bottle Trees? Well, this past weekend, I finally finished it! I got a lot of interest from my readers in regards to that post, so I would like to go through it step by step with you so you know exactly what I did.  I can definitely tell you my bottle tree would not have been possible without the help of my friend the post hole digger!

And that got me thinking about all the tools and gadgets we may have in our garage or shed that we have no idea how to use, but can be so important when maintaining our gardens. So, I am going to start off a new series of posts all dedicated to our garden sheds, and all the great, practical tools they have in them!

The Post Hole Digger = Garden Decor Central!

This is a post hole digger. I purchased this Kobalt Post Hole Digger at Lowes. They range in price from $25 and up.


I know it looks scary, and to be honest with you, I had no idea how the heck to use this thing, and really still can’t tell you exactly how to use it. But, somehow I made it work and it works SO much better than trying to dig a whole for a post with a shovel. Nightmare- and the post doesn’t even stay up!

So, I first used it by opening it fully and twisting it. By twisting it, I push the handles outward and pinch the dirt. (As demonstrated in above photo). I keep doing this over and over until I have reach the desired depth of the hole I want.

Here I am, making this happen!

Here I am, making this happen!

After I make a hole, I take the 8ft pine post I purchased and put a coat of polyurethane on it, hoping that this will allow it to prevent any rotting of the wood in the future.


My 8 ft. post is about to get cut down to 5ft. for my bottle tree.

My 8 ft. post is about to get cut down to 5ft. for my bottle tree.

I want to thank my husband for his assistance with my bottle tree. He was very patient and supportive!

Now it’s time to take the gutter spikes I purchased a LONG time ago and start drilling them into the post.




The finished product.

The finished product.

Now, for the bottles. I purchased mine at a dollar store. I also had some left over wine bottles.


And now, the finished product!


There you have it! I am especially proud of this one because I knew a little bit more of what I was doing this time around, and hopefully this one will last longer than the previous one I had.

Now, I know you are thinking I am a little dumb for making one now that the weather is turning cold and will eventually be snowy, but I can tell you that I made this specifically for Winter Interest— something nice and colorful to look at when its cold and snowy!

Oh, and if you are wondering what I did with that last 3ft of my pine post, wonder no more! I had my husband attach a bird house that my mother-in-law purchased for me on it and it’s now out back of my garage.


So, there you have it! Creating diy garden decor with the help of a few friends! Never underestimate the power of those dirty power horses in your garden shed!


Welcome, Summer! The weather in Buffalo has been absolutely beautiful! Everybody, including myself, is soaking up the sun as much as possible! I am getting a little behind on blog posts because now that summer is in full swing, our calendars are absolutely packed. That’s what happens in Western New York when summer comes– you use up every single minute of it!


Meanwhile, I have added a couple of new plants to my garden, but next week I plan on doing a little update on new plants I have purchased, and also the other stuff that’s been growing in my gardens. I have also learned a few things.

Speaking of learning a few things– after going to my parents house a few weeks ago, I saw this really neat bowl that my mother had made. I asked what it was and she said, “Hypertufa”. I said, “What?!”

Here we go. Hypertufa is a sandy/concrete like-mixture that you make with Portland cement*. It is much lighter and porous than your typical terracotta pot or just plain old concrete, so that’s what makes it so good for growing plants in. This history behind it is really interesting. Hypertufa was invented for use in alpine gardens. It can withstand temperatures that dip to -22 degrees farenheit (-30 degrees celsius).

*This is very important. This is what makes Hypertufa different from regular garden ornaments you make out of just a mixture of sand, cement mix and water. Yes, it really is confusing.

How to make Hypertufa

If you go online you will find many different recipes, but this seems to be the most used amounts that I found:

-Three parts Portland Cement                                                                                                 -Four parts Sphagnum moss                                                                                                   -Five parts Perlite                                                                                                                     -Water

You can add sand, pebbles, or other anything you think might give your hypertufa more structural integrity, or strength.

**Make sure to use gloves and mask when using the above ingredients. The cement dust can be dangerous if inhaled in large amounts. The mixture should have a cottage cheese consistency before you put it in the mold.

  • Get two plastic bowls/molds- one big and one small so that it fits in the bigger bowl.
  • Spray the big bowl with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Once you have created the mixture, place it in the bigger bowl and mold.
  • Place the smaller bowl inside the bigger bowl. Spray nonstick cooking spray on the outside of the smaller bowl before you do so. Fill in the molds appropriately, and use a mallet to try to remove any air bubbles.
  • Put your hypertufa in a plastic bag for 24-36 hours to cure.
  • Remove the plastic molds and set your hypertufa in a dry place to finish completely drying out for 2-3 weeks.

Once you get more experience with creating hypertufa, get creative. Start thinking outside the box with it.

This will be what your finished project will look like:


Photo: Colleen Dietrich

Hypertufa has endless possibilities. This is also a great Christmas gift idea. I plan on making a few of these! You can use anything! And your garden will thank you!

Make Your Own Bottle Tree

Wow! I had an extended three-day weekend, and Friday and Saturday were great!! I took my daughter to the beach on Friday, and Saturday was a playground/shopping day. I was really glad I got the bulk of my yard work done a few weeks ago, so I could enjoy an awesome beach day:

My daughter was introduced to shell and beach glass collecting!

My daughter was introduced to shell and beach glass collecting!

But since today ended up being a cold and much-needed rainy day, I started thinking about my next project– a new bottle tree. Unfortunately, the wind and rain of last fall brought my first bottle tree down with a great thud, and it was done for.

So, I am sure you are wondering, what is a bottle tree?! 

For a truncated explanation, (you can read more about the history of bottle trees here at, bottle trees originated several centuries ago in Africa, and the idea was brought to the United States during slavery. Bottle trees are very prominent in the Southern portion of the good ole’ USA. It is believed that the bottles that are hung on trees catch bad spirits. Now, they are primarily used as unique garden glass decor.

This is a picture of one of my mother's many bottle trees.

This is a picture of one of my mother’s many bottle trees.

Bottle trees can be expensive, but also very affordable to make, and that all depends on the avenue you choose to go down when it comes to just how fancy you would like it to be.

My bottle tree when it was seeing better days.

My bottle tree, seeing better days.

Now, there are several kits you can purchase online for $100 or up, but I suggest not purchasing those. I have heard from several people that most of those kits are metal bottle trees, and they tend to be very flimsy and don’t hold up very well.

So, this is what I recommend to you and myself, the second go-round:

Get a pressure treated 8ft. post from your local hardware, home store. They are about $12, but they will last longer than other non-treated posts.

-If you don’t want to spend that much, buy a cedar fence post from your local lumber or farm store. That was what I used for my first bottle tree. It cost me $4.

I purchased a bag of gutter spikes that screw into the post. Purchase any sort of spike available at your local hardware store. If you get the spikes that screw in, get yourself a power drill and insert them in your post. They will not rot like the flimsy balsa wood dowels that I purchased for my first tree. They will last for a long time.

-You can either shovel a hole for your tree or purchase a post hole digger. For the thrifty gardener, it might be more than you want to spend– about $25. If you would rather not go that way, just use the shovel. That what I use!

And… the bottles!

Use ANY bottle. You can buy colorful ones from discount stores, though I found my batch from the grocery store. Or, hit up friends and family, or save your wine bottles! I even used a colorful flower vase!

Bottle trees are meant to be creative, so go wild and have fun making one! They are a very unique addition to the garden! Stay tuned for pictures when I finally finish my second one!


Do-It-Yourself Garden Decor Introduction: Bowling Balls

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! Western New York broke heat records this past weekend– 87 and 89 degrees! That little heat wave was exactly what all of the trees and plants needed. Green is bursting everywhere!

The hills at my childhood home are just speckled with green. It is beautiful!

The hills at my childhood home are just speckled with green. It is beautiful!

Not only did I spend the day at my parent’s house, but I also did some yard work the last half of the weekend– purchasing mulch and weeding, getting my flower beds ready. I started looking in my garage for some of my garden decor that I have collected over the years, and I started thinking about what a great series of posts it would be if I devoted some time to DIY garden decor– for cheap!

We spend so much time fussing over our plants, flowers, shrubs, etc.– worrying about where we should move things, where they should be planted, that we don’t realize that there are other things we could use to boost our natural surroundings.

First of all– What is Garden Decor?

Garden decor encompasses many things that you can enhance your home landscaping with that are not plants, trees, flowers or other natural elements. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • sculptures
  • any everyday object
  • solar lights
  • birth baths, feeders

Garden Decor comes in handy:

If you are making new flower beds and all of your plants are small. If you are creating new plant beds and you have a lot space, put a garden gnome or two in. It adds some pop to a young landscape.

What can I use?

For this post, I am going to talk about bowling balls. I have to give my mother credit for this, and I am kind of addicted to them. They are a great alternative to the pricier garden globes that you can get at your local nursery. Now, you can buy garden globes, I have two. But, if you are like me, and spend $60 on a garden globe and then come home to find it smashed all over your driveway because an animal knocked it over, it really is a disappointment. So, why not visit your local thrift shop or garage sale, and pick up that old bowling ball with “Madge” etched into it? It will cost you less than $5 and there are so many pretty colors!

This purple beauty had 5 finger holes!

This purple beauty has 5 finger holes!

*You can do so many things with them! I purchased small plant stands and placed two different color bowling balls on them. They sit on my front steps.

*You also paint them. My mother made this beauty for me and this goes out in my back yard (soon):

You can find a lot of patterns that show you how to paint bowling balls.

You can find a lot of patterns that show you how to paint bowling balls.

Here is also another one from my mother’s gardens in 2013:

That's one big bumblebee among the iris'!

That’s one big bumblebee among the iris’!

I also put a bowling ball on one of my garden globe pedestals and set it out in my bigger flower bed. There are so many things you can do with bowling balls that aren’t limited to what I have discussed above. This is where creativity comes into play. Taking everyday objects and making them into beautiful pieces of art is one of the most crafty things you can do. And for CHEAP. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have anything look nice. It just takes a little elbow grease and creativity. And it means so much more to your gardens than you would ever think!