Bamboo Sticks and Burlap: The Great Garden Cover- Up

Happy November! I know that Buffalo has been loving the first week of the month so far– we hit 73 degrees (23 degrees celsius) on Wednesday this past week! Lots of lunch time walks this week just because you never know what the weather will be like in a couple of weeks (November 17 last year it started snowing and 7 feet of snow and 3 days later, it looked like a scene out of the apocalypse).

That being said, I needed to “wrap-up” (pun intended) my gardening to-do list this weekend. Even though the 7 day outlook looks decent, you just can’t trust it this far into fall. So, away I went to get some work done. I detailed my winter preparation in a post last year, but I thought I would go through it a little more this year.

The cover-up begins!

The cover-up begins!

This year, I was a little more savvy than last, so I purchased more appropriate tools to get the job done right (hopefully).

The three things you will need are:

  1. Bamboo Sticks – this is something I didn’t get last year, and this will help out with my japanese maples and my pencil hollies for the added support with the burlap. I do not recommend these for bigger trees and shrubs– you can purchase separate bigger and stronger support stakes for the bigger jobs.
Bamboo sticks are a cheap way to help with your garden winterizing.

Bamboo sticks are a cheap way to help with your garden winterizing.

2. Burlap – another cheap garden cover that works really well. I remember watching TV last year when a garden expert was pretty much dissing burlap and saying how ugly it was, and to use a more expensive and appealing covering. Who really cares? If it does the job and protects your plants, then go for it. It’s very affordable and I really like using burlap for decorating too.

The smell of burlap takes me back to my childhood-- it smells exactly like baling twine!

The smell of burlap takes me back to my childhood– it smells exactly like baling twine!

3. Chicken wire — this will always come in handy, and you can use it when burlap really isn’t an option, especially around trees.

And again, another affordable, more durable covering for your bigger trees and plants

And again, another affordable, more durable covering for your bigger trees and plants.

I then went to work. I covered my pencil holly with burlap. I used one of my bamboo sticks as support.


I then took some burlap and wrapped it around the pencil holly, but first I punched a hole in the burlap to give it a more snug hold around the holly.

I poked a hole in the burlap the first time as I wrapped the holly and then I did it again at the end.

I poked a hole in the burlap the first time as I wrapped the holly and then I did it again at the end.

For added security and to keep the burlap wrapped tight? I pulled a MacGuyver and I snipped off small pieces of the chicken wire and “pinned” them in several places on the burlap. Now, you can buy several different fasteners and stakes in the store, but I have found that you can use the metal hooks for Christmas ornaments (I buy several packs of these each season– they are so versatile around the house), or if you can find anything or don’t have anything, you can snip off small pieces of chicken wire that work just as good!

MacGuyver would be so proud. When in a pinch, just snip some chicken wire!

MacGuyver would be so proud. When in a pinch, just snip some chicken wire!

Oila! It’s complete! I have three very securely covered pencil hollies!


A special thanks goes out to my knee pad — it’s my savior!


Now, it’s time to wrap my badly eaten Japanese Maple. Because it is small, I am using bamboo sticks with chicken wire. It might be also a good idea to use stronger support stakes. I might pick one or two up for added support.


Chicken wire can be difficult to work with, but it’s not impossible. It bends very easily.


And that is how it’s done! I take the bamboo sticks and “string” it through the chicken wire for support. This should be good for my little japanese maple. I am so upset the deer have shredded it.

After the covering is done, it’s time to rake up some leaves, pick up old sunflower heads and cut down my hostas.

Garden rubbish at its best!

Garden rubbish at its best!

I don’t pick up all the leaves–particularly in my flower beds. They are a great winter mulch for them.

So, that was my weekend– lots of work done and now it’s time to start thinking about decorating my urns for the holidays.

**I want to apologize that I never did a post on Fall Decor in my urns. The thing is, the weather has been so warm that the Creeping Jenny and Spikes I have in them are still flourishing, and I didn’t have the heart to rip them out. But, some Christmas decor will be coming for sure! 

So, please have a great week, and best of luck on your winter garden preparation!

“Exercise” Your Green Thumb!

Disclaimer: This blog post is extremely general advice when it comes to exercising. I am not a doctor or fitness expert, but these are the exercises I have been advised to do over the years and think they are universal enough for everyone to try them. Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Warm weather is right around the corner!

Warm weather is right around the corner!

Yet another birthday has passed for me. I celebrated my 35th birthday yesterday. Unfortunately sinus problems have been plaguing me since Thursday, so unfortunately all of my plans were put on hold. Still not feeling so hot, I didn’t get much of a chance to finish up another post I wanted to do today, but that’s ok. I thought this topic was rather appropriate and relevant for the buildup to breaking ground that first day of the new growing season!

Yes, as I laid in bed most of the day, I could hear winter’s grip loosening all around me– icicles dripping, streets are clear/slushy, and it’s a balmy 28 degrees! One thing we don’t think about often enough when we are anxious to get our hands back into the dirt is getting ourselves in shape for all the digging, shoveling, pruning and hauling that we will be doing. And now could not be a more perfect time! Spring is just 18 days away, and even though its hard for most people, exercise is important for everyone to do in order to avoid serious injuries in the garden.Take it from me, I know first hand what its like to have a major injury take you down in just one unnatural bend of the back, and be down for a month, at least.

So, here are some exercises you can do now that will get you limber for the garden this year!

Stretching – I have been an exerciser for over 15 years. I have done everything from running to Tae Bo (remember that?). Now that I am, uh-hum, 35, I have had to change the way I exercise in order to compliment my aging body. And one of the ways I have changed is by taking stretching seriously.

The best stretches to avoid low back injuries include:

  • bird dog- get on all fours and stretch your left arm out and your right leg out. Bring them in close to your body and stretch again. For starters, do 5-8 on each side.
  • lay on your back and bring your left leg up to your body and “hug” it – hold these poses for 30 seconds and switch to the other side. Do 5 reps per side.
  • bicycle crunches – put your hands behind your head and bring your left elbow up to your right knee. Do 10 reps on each side, and work your way up to 20 reps per side.

Walking— is low impact and effective. If you are new to exercising, just walking around the block and gradually making your way up to a mile and more can give you significant health benefits. But make sure you are walking at an uncomfortable pace– a pace where it is hard to talk. You need to push yourself in order to get benefits from any exercise.

Strength Training — lifting light weights is so important to building and maintain strength when gardening. You can purchase a pair of 3-5 pound weights and it can do wonders for your health. The more you lift weights now, the easier it will be to carry bags of mulch later! You can find many weight training programs in health magazines, as well as online.

Core Training— they don’t call your core your “powerhouse” for nothing. My weak core is the reason for my lower back muscles getting pulled three times in a year. Core training is the most important exercising you can do for preparing for the gardening season. Ask your doctor for a few good ones, but the one I like the best is the plank.

A few extra tips:

  • Protect Your Knees — use a knee pad and practice safe lifting to avoid hurting your back and knees!
  • Never put more weight in your wheelbarrow than you can handle. Use your arms to push your wheel barrow instead of your just putting your back all into it!
  • Lift with your knees and your weight even distributed when lifting.

Doing these things now will help you get around your garden much easier later on!