Archive for the ‘Curb Appeal and Gardens’ Category

Easy DIY Blinds

for Your

Front Porch

These roll up blinds make your south or west facing porch a lot more comfortable to sit on on hot summer afternoons. They add shade to the front wall of your house too, which helps reduce the heat inside your home and your (scary) air conditioning electric bill!!

Here is what you need:

  1. enough polyester fabric or outdoor decor fabric to make your blinds (cotton will fade and rot) (yarn died is better than printed on one side only)
  2. 1/2″ thick dowel for the top and bottom pockets
  3. two eye hooks
  4. 4 m length of 1″ to 1-1/2″w twill tape for the top ties
  5. 4 m length of 1/2″ twill tape for the bottom ties
  6. two cup hooks to put in the top  dowel to hook the blind to the eye hooks in the upper framing of the porch.

It is pretty simple to make these blinds, cut the fabric to fit the space. Hem the side seams. Make a pocket top and bottom (with ties sewn in). Slip a 1/2″ dowel in each pocket. Add 2 cup hooks to the top dowel. Screw two eye hooks in the top of the porch frame to correspond with the cup hooks and hang. Roll the blind by hand and tie it to whatever height you want with the twill tape ties. When you lower it, tie the bottom of it to the porch railing with the twill ties sewn into the bottom seam, so that it does not blow all over the place in a breeze. Note: do not leave them down in a strong wind as you could ruin them. They are fine otherwise and will last for many years, especially if you have used polyester fabric which will not rot or fade and does not rip easily either.

Here are some more detailed instructions for the less confident DIYer!

To establish how much fabric, first decide how long you want them. The ones in the picture just go to just over the top railing. You could have them full length if you wish. Measure from the top to where you want them to end and add 13 cm (5″) — which is 6.5 cm (2-1/2 “) each to the top and bottom to make the pockets to hold the dowels.

Width. — This depends on your porch and how far apart the posts are. You do not want the blinds to be any wider than 6′ because that is the widest the dowels come in and also, the wider they are, they become really awkward to handle. Also, most fabric is 54″ wide, although you can find extra wide fabric. If your blinds are going to be any wider than 50”, you will have to buy two lengths of fabric for the blind and have  french seams in the blind (seams that are finished on both sides)  or hunt for extra wide drapery fabric. The fabric shown in the picture was double wide drapery fabric and so there was no problem with the width.Measure how wide it needs to be and then add 8 cm (3 “), that is 4cm or 1-1/2 inches for each side seam.


Lay out the fabric on the floor and cut it to the desired length. Then measure how wide it needs to be and add the extra amount for the seam. Cut it out. Sew up the side seams with a full double fold over so it won’t fray in the wind. (Fold it 3/4″ and then fold it again) Press the seam in place before sewing, then sew. Now the sides are made.  Measure and be sure that the width is right before your final sewing of the second side seam.

Top pocket:

Fold down the top edge   .6cm (1/2″) press, then fold 3.7cm (1-1/2”) press. The next step is optional. Measure in along the second fold (which will be the top edge of your blind) about 30cm (1 ft) and make a small button hole on the fold. This is to make a place to screw in the eye hook to be screwed into the dowel which will be placed in this pocket for your top support. . Another way would be to place a small grommet  there to make a hole for the eye hook. You can screw the eye hook right through the fabric if you don’t want to struggle with making a hole in the pocket, but you are risking creating a ‘pull’ in the fabric, if the screw catches a thread awkwardly.

After making the holes, fold the pocket down. Cut 2 m of the wide twill tape and fold in half. Place the fold inside the seam if the upper pocket, a little bit farther in than the hole for the hook is. Do this at either end. Stitch the fold down. Now you have the upper dowel pocket and the ties for the blind made,

To make the bottom dowel pocket, you do it exactly the same as the top pocket, minus the holes for hooks. The other difference is that you substitute the narrow twill tape for the wide twill tape to make the bottom ties.

Now hang your blind.

Roll it up by hand and tie it in place with the wide twill tape (flip one of the two parts of each tie over the top of the blind) Tuck the bottom ties in while you are rolling. You can let it part way down and retie the wide ties if there is no wind or let it all the way down for shade or privacy.



Read Full Post »

Ready Made Planter

& Hanging Basket Fixes

In all the Garden Centres these days, there are plenty of beautiful, well started hanging baskets and planters. They look gorgeous, big and full often with a large variety of plants in them. So you spend a lot of money and buy a bunch of them only to have them start dying off after a few weeks. What can you do to prevent this?

#1 When you buy those gorgeous baskets and planters, they are already pot bound. In other words, they have outgrown their pot. There is no room for them to put out any more roots and they require endless and copious watering to keep them alive. Often even that doesn’t do the trick. The fix for this is to re-pot them. I do it as soon as I buy them. Purchase bigger (empty) hanging pots and planters that you can use year after year. In the spring, I buy the 10″ hanging baskets, stuffed with plants and as soon as I get them home, I re-pot them into 12″ hanging baskets that I purchased years ago, that co-ordinate with all my other pots. My planters are 14″ or 16″ planters and I re-pot the 12″ or 14″ ready made planters or even 10″ hanging baskets in these bigger (and matching) planters. They now have room to grow and thrive and if you put ordinary (new) bagged garden soil in the bottom and around the edges instead of potting soil, they hold the water better and don’t dry out nearly as quickly.

#2 Be careful choosing your the contents of your pots and planters. Some plants tolerate lots of hot, blazing sun and most don’t. Mixed pots often have plants that need lots of sun and plants that can’t stand much sun mixed up together, which is a real problem because half of the plants die by mid July.  If your pots will be out in the blazing sun, choose baskets or planters that have highly sun and drought tolerant plants in them. Geraniums and Begonias and Petunias will tolerate far more than Impatiens (even so-called Sun Impatiens) and many other plants. I find that most of the extremely pretty plants that are in the mixed planters do not survive past mid summer, so I stick to the tried and true plants that I have learned do well without constant attention.

#3 The drainage of your pots makes a big difference. Hanging pots usually have the right amount of drainage, a reasonable amount, but not too much. The ready made planters are a different story. They usually have far too many large holes in the bottom and the water literally goes straight through them. They dry out in hours and need watering twice a day when it is hot, and every day no matter what. When you buy your new permanent pots to re-pot your ready made planters, make sure they have just a couple of small holes. If the holes are too big or numerous, I cover them up. I take a large plastic margarine tub lid and drill a few 1/4″ holes in it and then place it rim down over the holes that are in the pot already. You can cover this with gravel or just put the dirt straight in. This way the plants will drain, but not quickly. After a big rainstorm, the plants will not drown, because they do have drainage,  but they also can be watered only every other day or even less, even in very hot, dry spells!

There is nothing like a bunch of planters and some hanging baskets to give your house that ‘well dressed’ look. But don’t give up if they tend to die on you, instead, follow the above suggestions and you will have big, gorgeous. colourful accents all summer long!

  • Note: You can re-pot anytime during the summer. If your hanging baskets are not doing well, go out and buy a pot that is one size bigger and re-pot your drooping hanging basket. It now has more root room, more room for water and will perk right up, unless it is just too far gone to save. Oh, and don’t forget that a jug full of water soluble flower fertilizer every few weeks, really helps them grow and thrive!

Read Full Post »