Tips for putting down MULCH!

It’s officially summer-time (yay!).  Which means time for… backyard livin’!  I don’t know about you but I am always very self conscious about my backyard when I have people over.  I find myself on my hands and knees 10 minutes before the guests arrive picking out weeds.  I have quite a few garden beds now, that are very tedious to maintain.  It’s frustrating, because I will weed and spend hours picking them out and then I turn around and they are all back!  This is why, I decided to put down mulch!  Mulch is a great (or so I hear) natural weed preventer.  Not to mention it’s a great way to brighten up your garden (especially if you pick a bold color like RED).   Mulch is a pretty easy job.  I did this one all by myself.  I did make some mistakes though (what else is new) so below I have some tips for first-time mulchers and amateur gardeners like myself.

218786389_fd21e4e571_oDo:
-Weed before putting down the mulch.  If you were in a situation like I was (AKA totally overgrown garden beds), it will help to use a weed killer, which will kill them and loosen up the roots.  If you go this route, spray and wait at least an hour (the longer the better) and wear gloves (REALLY- you should always wear gloves when gardening).
-Put down Preen*, which helps to PREVENT future weeds.  It’s pretty easy to use, just spread it and then water it.  Read the directions on the back for the total 411 but it’s pretty self explanatory and easy.
-Wait at least an hour before putting down the mulch.
-Re weed once you put the mulch down and get anything you might have missed.

Don’t:
-Don’t bother investing in rubber mulch.  It’s QUADRUPLE the price, and yes the color is guaranteed for longer (about 11 years longer as a matter of a fact), you still are going to have to replace it due to weather damage and erosion.  So unless you live in California or in a bubble, go with normal mulch.
-Think weeds will never grow back.  Be prepared to still have do a little bit of weeding.

Hindsight:
-Don’t mulch before a rainstorm.  I made that mistake (of course I did) and it SMELLS!
-Buy extra!  I feel like this should be my blog’s motto because I am always running out of supplies before I finish my project.  If that doesn’t show you how cheap I am — not sure what does.
Oh and in case you were wondering, here’s 1 of the flower beds after the mulch.  I picked red because , well, I like to make a statement.

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*(Disclaimer, I was not paid by Preen to promote their product.  To be completely honest, it seems like they have little to no competitors and have monopolized the weed preventing market so I am not sure if there are any other products to use  but if there are I am sure they work the same.  But as always, don’t take my word for it). 

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A little bit of paint makes everything better

One of the things I am really learning while going through this DIY journey is that, if it ain’t broke but it looks like crap, paint it!  Painting gives a nice refresh to old and worn walls, doors and furniture.  We’ve done some painting for before– so I went into this project with confience, perhaps too much confidence. Project for last Saturday: tool/garden shed door.

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As you can see, this door needed a lot of work. The paint was peeling off and the door had several small nicks in the wood.  Not to mention, it was dirty as hell.   We also decided to put in a new door knob.  My project is most likely a little more intense than a normal ‘paint job refresher.’

Here’s the tools.

1. sandpaper

2. All-purpose cleaner (I am not brand advocate here but to be honest, I just used Windex)

3. roller

4. roller tray

5. roller cover

6. paint brush (medium size)

7. paint tray cover (but really, tinfoil to line the roller tray works just as well).

8. keyed entry door knob

9. painter’s tape (which I did not use as you will see below).

STEPS:

1. First, I cleaned the door.  Sounds easy, but to be honest it took a lot of paper towels and Windex to get that bad boy clean.  Also, if you are doing an outdoor project like myself– make sure you shoo away any bugs in the surrounding area so you don’t have to worry about a fly becoming a part of your freshly painted door.

2. Next, I sanded the door down.  Just a little bit to smooth out the rough edges and to remove any peeling paint.  HINT: If you are sanding, hook up the paper to something sturdy, like a block of wood.  Will make your job much easier and the finished product will look much nicer.

3. NON-OPTIONAL STEP THAT I SKIPPED. Apply painter’s tape around the edges. If the door is similar, make sure it is applied AROUND the glass or else you will regret it… trust me. (see below)

3. Once the door is clean and smooth, paint away!   Start with the roller and cover all the big areas first.  Use the brush to fill in the gaps.

4. Let it dry

5. Apply second coat if necessary. (Which I have yet to do because I ran out of paint, as always)

6. OPTIONAL STEP: change the door knob.  If the door knob is old, it won’t go with your fresh new door. Door knobs are reasonably priced, so I suggest replacing it.  Hopefuly you can just switch out the hardware by unscrewing and placing the new one in it’s place. But if you are working on a super old door like mine, the shape of the hole may need to be widened to accommodate the bigger knob.  For this job, you will need a power drill with a borring attachment or you can use a hole saw (which is difficult to do with an existing hole so check out this advice and not mine).

(ALMOST) FINISHED PRODUCT:

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As you may or may not be able to tell, i skipped the painters tape so wound up with a lot of paint all of the window.  IF this happens to you, scrap it off with a credit card.  It is time consuming and tedious so just use painters tape.

FINISHED PRODUCT:

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HINDSIGHT:

-No matter how much of an ‘expert painter’ you are, use painters tape.  Because you will get paint someplace you didn’t want it and you will regret it.  Make sure to think about every area you might get paint.  If you are painting a door like the project above then put tape on the floor underneath the door!

-Buy extra paint… ‘just enough’ probably won’t be enough.  In this example, I was using leftover paint which happened to be enough for one coat only.  I am going have to eventually buy more paint and do another round because it can use a second coat.

Good luck painting and have fun!! Leave your experiences in the comments!