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How to Build a Disappearing Feature

Water features bring a garden to life, adding peaceful sounds of water flowing and a pretty focal point. The sound of flowing water has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels. There are many different varieties of water features to chose from. Ponds create an oasis, teeming with fish and floating plants. Smaller scale features like waterfalls and fountains are beautiful, moving, decorations that create music with their flowing water. A disappearing water feature will add a touch of elegance and tranquility to a garden. Disappearing features are magical; you cannot see where they start and end. The basin full of water sits in the ground usually under a bed of pebbles and stones. The water flows through the the planter and spills over, splashing on the rocks, and cycled back again. It looks beautiful and is a great D.I.Y project. You’ll quickly find yourself retreating to your new fountain after a long day, letting the flowing water captivate your senses, and melt the stress away. What you’ll need: smartpond® 300-GPH Fountain Pump smartpond® 3/4-in Corrugated Tubing Tall planter (ideally this would have a textured sides and a hole in the base) Small planter (this diameter should fit snugly into the top of the taller planter) Basin (we used a cement mixing tray) Grate (we used an area wall grate) Shovel Step 1: Place the Basin The best part of disappearing water features are the mystery. All of the work occurs beneath the pebbles and inside the planter. You want to dig a hole in the ground large enough for the basin to sit in. The grate will sit in the middle of the basin with the main planter on top of it. Step 2: Add the Grate and the Pump The pump can be placed discretely in the basin. Connect the tubing and run it through the bottom of the large planter and into the smaller planter. The smaller planter should be nearly the diameter of the big planter, so the water spills over the outer edge of the large planter. Step 3: Hide the Basin You can use pebbles and rocks to cover the basin and surround the planter. You can add plants or any other decorations for extra decor. Step 4: Add Water You want to add enough water so the smaller planter at the top is filled with water and overflows onto the pebbles below, with water also filling the basin. You will need to periodically add water, especially in the summer, as it will evaporate. Pumps can be damaged if they run dry. Disappearing water features are fun and do not need to take up a lot of space. They can be a standalone feature or compliment a pond or waterfall. Water features make great DIY decorations for less than half the price it would be at a store. You can use those extra savings to splurge on beautiful planters and other decorations! The disappearing water feature will impress the neighbors and start great conversations. It’s a must for any garden!
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Dreaming of Spring

The seemingly endless months of snow and cold weather have us dreaming of spring (unless you live in Florida and put on a jacket only once or twice this season). Our fingers ache to dig into the soil, tear out weeds, and scoop out fish feed. Our poor gardening tools haven’t been touched in months. Our koi are still sluggish and don’t greet us beneath the ice. It can be a little disheartening. We still have about a month until March 20th, the official start of spring, the Spring Equinox. Until the ice melts, there isn’t too much to do but plan and prep for spring, when the gardens will be brought back to life. While it is still frosty, clean and check all of the pumps, filters, waterfalls, etc. for signs of damage such as cracks. This is the time to replace any worn parts and do any upgrades. Do you need a more powerful pump this year, maybe one with a UV clarifier? Do you want to add a waterfall? Do you still need an aerator? Spring is a great time of year to add that pond or water feature you have been dreaming about all winter long. Check out our projects page for how to build a pond, how to build a fountain, and keep checking back all year long to see what new ideas we have been dreaming up for you. The possibilities are endless. Grab a pump and a container and let your imagination run wild. As the weather warms up you can pay more attention to the plants, pruning away any leaves or stems that didn’t make it through the frost. Check to see if your plants are too crowded; now is a great time to repot. You can also start shopping for new plants. Which annuals do you want to plant this year? Buy some plants that will bloom in the summer too! Plants are a great way to add color to a yard, especially a pond. Algae love sunlight and warm weather. Adding a large plant or tree can shade some of the pond and help with algae growth. Hardier plants can be reintroduced to your pond, and once the water temperature is in the high 60s, you can add your tropical plants. Could this be the year you start a vegetable garden? Spinach, lettuce, kale, and peas are great plants to start in the spring. They are easy bloomers and do not require too much attention. If you can, get organic seeds, soil, and avoid using any pesticides. You can use pots or do a D.I.Y vegetable bed using wood or even concrete blocks. Maybe you want to help save the bees? Plants like daisies, marigolds, wild lilac, calendula, hyacinth, crocus, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, sunflower, and lavender will attract bees. Be careful not to use any harmful pesticides for them either! You can do little fun projects in the spring like adding a brick path to the pond. Is your pond comfortable? You can add chairs or a hammock so you can soak up the Vitamin D you’ve been missing or read a good book. Ladybugs and praying mantis will eat aphids and other pests. You can buy them online and release them into your garden. Kids will love this!
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5 Ways to Live Well Through Winter

Each season has it’s own beauty and allure. Winter is a great time for cuddly clothes and rich foods. People tend to spend more time indoors and out of the sun during the fall and winter months, sometimes leading to agitation and depression. While too much sunlight can be damaging, in the right amounts, it lowers blood pressure and provides necessary vitamin D. Water is an essential part of well-being and promotes relaxation and mental harmony. In the summer and spring, more time is spent outdoors and the activities are more water oriented. Winter air is typically less humid, containing less moisture than the warm summer air which is why skin gets dry and cracked. Incorporating more water into your winter lifestyle is great for healthy living and can help beat the “winter blues.” Indoor Fountain An indoor fountain is a winter must. Mild dehydration is common during the winter months as heaters make the air even drier. Humidifiers are commonly used to add water into the air. Fountains are a better option, as they are less likely to cause mold in the house. Fountains moisturize the air at a more natural rate. Fountains can be easily managed indoors using a container fountain kit, which is a great DIY project. Container fountains can be as big or small as you like, and add great ambiance to a home. There are few things more relaxing than a fountain. The splashing and running of water brings tranquility and a bit of nature into the home. Indoor Garden Gardening is a great hobby, but it’s harder to keep it going during the winter once the ponds are shut down, and the plants are pruned and ready for the drop in temperature. Small gardens can be made inside and tended to year round. Indoor bulbs can be used for plants that need more a little more sunlight. You can add a health boost by adding microgreens and herbs to your indoor garden. Herbs need sunlight and will do great on a windowsill that receives a lot. Mint, marjoram, chives, sage, and rosemary are great to grow year round. Microgreens are extremely healthy and are fairly easy to grow. You can put them on salads, or in even in a sandwich for added nutrients. Drink Water An adult should ideally drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Drinking water is even more important during the winter months, as the heaters suck the moisture from the air. While the dehydration may not always be obvious, it can affect anxiety and concentration. Skip the juice and coffee, and drink a full cup of water each morning. We go easily eight hours without water while we sleep, and often do not replenish until lunchtime! The skin is brighter and more youthful when properly hydrated. Water helps detox the body and remove toxins. If you don’t like the taste of water by itself, you can add fresh fruit like apples, lemon, lime, or even mint to add a little bit of flavor. Reusable water bottles are great to have around, as they typically hold more water and remind you to drink. Drinking a glass of water before each meal can help prevent overeating. Exercise It can be hard to get motivated to exercise. It’s even harder when the snow falls, you can’t go for a run, and the streets are too slick to drive to the gym. Sweatpants are socially acceptable, and you generally have a few months to spare before you’ll have to put on a bathing suit. There are a lot of great indoor exercises like yoga that do not require a lot of space or equipment. Yoga is great for mental clarity and peace. You can stretch the body and tone muscle by adding pilates moves. A yoga ball, exercise bands, and ankle weights can help burn more calories. You can find videos online or even use an app on your phone to guide you through the exercise. Just starting with five to ten minutes a day can help create a new routine. Paint with watercolors Creative outlets are important to be well rounded. Art opens the mind, challenging it to think in a different ways. Watercolor paint is fun and the materials are less expensive than oils or acrylic. You can sketch a design beforehand and then fill the page with bright color. Watercolor painting can be hard to make sharp lines, as the colors bleed, but is nice for abstract paintings until you get the hang of it. Compared to other styles of painting and art, watercolors require a touch of gentleness and delicacy. Each stroke is deliberate and requires a little planning. You can mix colors, letting them fade into another creating flowers and other scenes of beautifully vibrant hues. The paint often comes in a tray with a lid, so it’s easier to transport and has less clean up, making it a great indoor option. It’s easy to get caught up in life and forget to take essential “me time” and focus on general health and well being. Life requires a balance of work and play, so the mind can rest and recuperate. Water is a natural healer, especially for the mind. Winter can be a very drying season, so it’s important to incorporate as much water into your life as possible.
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DIY Bird Feeder

Birds bring a yard to life, a blend of nature and beauty with their various personalities, colors, and sounds. They also enjoy munching on bugs, worms, even spiders, and help with pollination. You can watch them for hours, allowing your mind to still, as they flit from one tree to the next, communicating with one another. They induce a state of peace and relaxation, as watching them forces you to live in the moment. It can help ease stress and make your problems seem less monumental, observing how large and intricate the world truly is, while breathing fresh air. An easy way to attract birds and the occasional squirrel into your yard and garden is by adding bird feeders. They’re easy to maintain and easily double as decor. Birdfeeders can be as easy or complex as you would like. They can be made out of almost anything. It can be more cost effective to make a DIY seed, and you can make as little or as much as you need without worrying about it staying fresh. It’s great if you can use organic bird seed. Some pesticides and insecticides can be harmful to birds. Only use unsalted nuts and no sugar added dried fruits. Birds begin nesting in the late winter or early spring and into summer. You can add yarn, fabric strips, or straw into the feeder and they will delightfully use it to make their homes. Birds have a difficult time seeing windows and can be seriously injured if they fly into one. It’s recommended that you keep your birdfeeders at least 30 feet from any windows. Easy DIY Birdseed •sunflower seeds (less mess if you used shelled) •cracked corn •millet (preferable white) •shelled peanuts •dried fruit Plastic Bottle Bird Feeder •plastic bottle •two large wooden spoons •string or a wire Take a big plastic soda bottle and cut two holes across from each other. The holes should be around the size a quarter. Place the end of the spoon through one of the holes and have it come out the other. The bill of the spool will be where the birds stand to eat the seed. Cut two more holes for the other spoon, leaving a few inches in between and allowing the spoons to cross so two birds can feed at once. A string or wire can be used to hang the bottle. If using a string, a hole may need to be cut through the neck of the bottle. Fill the bottle up with seed and watch as the wild birds feast! Hanging Orange Bird Feeder This birdfeeder has a shorter shelf life because real oranges are used, but it looks really pretty hanging from trees. It’s really simple to make, all you need are oranges and string. Cut the orange in half and scoop out the fruit. Poke matching holes on both side of the rind. Tie the yarn to each hole and leave enough string so it can hang from the tree. The orange should make a bowl to hold the birdseed. Tie it at the top, fill it with birdseed, and hang whenever you want! Tea Cup Bird Feeder •teacup with saucer •strong glue •string, chain, or a wooden post Teacups are an underutilized decoration that add a great whimsical, Alice in Wonderland, vibe. There are a few different ways you can make this birdfeeder. You can glue the teacup to the saucer at the bottom, so it is resting upright, or you can have the teacup laying on it’s handle facing upwards. Wait for the glue to dry properly. If the teacup handle is facing upwards, you can easily tie a string to it so it can hang. If it’s glued at the bottom, you can crisscross two pieces of string underneath the saucer and tie them together at the top. If you have a spare post laying around, the saucer can also be glued to the post, which looks really cool if you have more than one! Mason Jar Mason jars can be easily turned into a birdfeeder with the help of a chick feeder. This chick feeder can be ordered online or found at your local tractor and feed store. If it’s fit for a jar, you can simply screw the mason jar on, turn it upside down and have an instant bird feeder. You can add string to hang it or glue it to a post or fence. Toilet Paper Roll or Pinecone A really kid friendly bird feeder involves peanut butter and either a toilet paper roll or a pinecone. Have the kids lightly smear peanut butter over a toilet paper roll or a pinecone and then roll it in a bowl of birdseed. The seed will stick to it very well and the peanut butter is an added treat for the birds. Use string or yarn to hang them, and you’re finished. It’s really easy and doesn’t need a lot of time or preparation. Bird feeders are great fun and can me made by upcycling many everyday household items. You’ll feel like you gained a bunch of new pets as you begin recognizing frequent patrons. Birds often are migratory, so don’t be alarmed if your favorites desert you for a few months. They’ll most likely be back at the same time next year. Bird feeders help in the wintertime as food becomes more scarce as snow falls and trees become more barren. Down the road you can even add a birdbath in case your little friends get thirsty!
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