I love my pet chickens. I don’t always love what they do to my garden.
If you have visited here before, you may know that I’m in the habit of letting the chickens go on walkabout for a few hours in the late afternoon and early evening. This is the time of day they have finished their egg laying chores and are ready for a little bit of exercise and fresh air. Generally, I’m either outside nearby or have the windows open so that I can hear the distinctive alarm that means “Warning! Warning!”
But I can’t always keep an eye on all the hens. They amble here, run there and generally take in the whole front and back yard scampering after bugs, worms, snakes and salamanders. Rarely do they travel in one large pack. They usually amble around in twosies and threesies. Tina Turner is usually off in her own la-la land.
The fence around the potager keeps them out of trouble there. But they can play heck with the rest of the place with their determined scratching, scratching, scratching for bugs. And the Number One Rule of Chicken Foraging is: Dig up anything Robin just planted.
The last straw was when they absolutely destroyed a beautiful new Heuchera ‘Mysteria’ . It was a gorgeous burgundy and pink in full bloom. They scratched it out of existence. Baaaaad chickens!
So, for one of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas projects I decided to build some cloches to protect the newly planted. Lowe’s provided a $100 gift card and let me loose to make something under the heading of “Furniture Fun.”
Now, let me state right up front that I have exactly ZERO experience doing woodworking projects. I have no woodworking power tools except for a drill. I had no pattern to follow. I just had an idea. So, here’s what I came up with.
Don’t laugh too hard. And don’t send me links of your own gorgeous woodworking projects to make me feel even more inept. I don’t think it’s bad at all for someone who never did her own woodworking project in her life. And it works!
For the project, I used the following materials and tools:
- Strips of craft wood
- Chicken wire
- L-brackets of two different sizes—big and less big (I think those are the technical terms)
- Power stapler
- Wire cutters
- Metal joint tacks
- Hand saw
- White outdoor deck stain
- Paint brush
- Sanding pad
I cut strips of the wood and assembled them into squares. I used joint tacks to hold them together and then stapled squares of the chicken wire. I topped that assemblage with another assembled wood square. I attached the squares together using L-brackets and then painted the whole contraption—I mean cloche.
I will be making more cloches of different sizes. For the next cloche I will paint the wood strips before assembling the squares so that the naked wood isn’t showing between the sandwiched-together squares. It will also help to protect the cloche out in the rain. I think I’ll also investigate some of the classes that Lowe’s offers from time to time to see if I can get some real help learning more woodworking skills.
My first Lowe’s Creative Ideas project—a concrete planter—is here.
Check back here throughout the next few months, because there are more projects, giveaways and other bloggers’ projects to explore.
Lowe’s has some pretty cool Pinterest boards too. Go check them out.
I am a fool for heavy pots—I mean containers. Clay pots, iron pots, wooden pots, concrete pots. I like pots that won’t blow away in the wind and that make you think twice about rearranging the garden furniture.
So during this, My DIY Summer*, I vowed to begin my quest with my new-found fascination with concrete to try my hand at making some heavy pots. Thank goodness Lowe’s asked me to join their Lowe’s Creative Ideas bloggers group so I would have a deadline and a Lowe’s gift card as an incentive. You should check back here throughout the next few months, because there are more projects, giveaways and other bloggers’ projects to explore.
This rustic, but decorative, container fits right in with my garden decor. I found all the materials I didn’t already have on-hand at Lowe’s. The actual work time would, I would estimate, be about one hour. And the beauty of this project is that I now have the materials on-hand for other concrete projects. (I already have some started, so stay tuned for that.) Here’s how I did it.
Step 1. Assemble your supplies. Nearly all of these supplies can be purchased at Lowe’s. I give you the prices I paid below. My local Lowe’s gives military families a 10% discount, so bring your ID and make sure to ask.
Materials you will need include:
- - Plastic storage containers or other containers to serve as inner and outer forms. Make sure there is about 1.5″ – 3″ between all the walls so there is enough concrete for strength. If you’re super-handy, you can build forms. I kept it simple for this maiden voyage into the world of concrete. ($13.72)
- - Concrete mix (quantity depends on the size of the container) ($4.64)
- - Oil (on-hand—from the kitchen)
- - Water
- - Chicken wire or other wire to reinforce the concrete cut to fit slightly smaller than each of the sides and bottom (on-hand)
- - Wire cutters (on-hand)
- - Mixing bucket (purchased previously – on-hand)
- - Mixing tools (I used an old hoe and hand trowel)
- - Safety mask ($2.53)
- - Gloves ($6.80)
- - Corks or other material to make drainage holes (I made a sacrifice and drank some wine. But only for the corks.)
- - Decorative rocks ($6.84)
- - Plants ($11.56)
- - Potting mix (on-hand)
- - Twigs (on-hand)
- - A bit of twine, wire or string (on-hand)
Total cost for out-of-pocket materials I didn’t have on-hand: $46.09. The real beauty is that I now have some of the materials to make other concrete projects. Stay tuned on that.
Step 2. Don your fetching safety mask and gloves before you even open the bag of concrete mix. Concrete is amazingly dusty and you don’t want to inhale this stuff into your lungs. If you get it on your skin, it is very caustic. Wash immediately and rinse with vinegar. Just wear gloves, okay?
Put the concrete in one area of your mixing container and the minimum amount of water called for on the concrete mix in the other. Gradually pull the dry concrete mix into the water, mixing thoroughly and kneading it with the tool. You want to mix it very thoroughly and not have any dry mix lingering at the bottom of your container or at the edges. Add water, as needed, but do not add more water than necessary to make a soft, clay-like mix. Too much water will make your concrete project susceptible to cracking and breaking.
Step 3. Oil the inside of your outer mold and the outside of your inner mold—the places where the concrete will touch. Start with a bit of concrete on the bottom of the outer container, covering the bottom and tamping down firmly to get good coverage.
Step 4. Add your chicken wire or other reinforcing material. Oil your corks or other drainage hole materials and insert them through the concrete. Make sure you clear the space below so you don’t have a concrete layer obscuring the hole. Add more concrete to cover the reinforcing wire and secure the corks.
Step 5. Put the inner mold into place. Add the reinforcing wire on all sides and begin adding the concrete mix on both sides. Keep packing it in and packing it down thoroughly.
Step 6. Smooth out the top of the form. If you are adding decorative rocks, wedge them into the concrete mix and secure them in place. Wipe the rocks clean with a wet paper towel. Once that is done, walk away for two days.
Step 7. After two days, invert the container forms to remove your brand new planting container. Let is sit for another couple of days, spritzing it with water from time to time so it doesn’t dry out too quickly, making it more prone to cracking. Clean up the decorative rocks again with a moist cloth.
Step 8. Remove the corks and ensure your drainage holes are large and unobscured.
Step 9. Add your plants. I planted a Stars & Stripes Mandevilla vine—which seemed appropriate heading into the Memorial Day weekend—and a few petunias. The Mandeville vine will grow up to cover the tepee, with blooms all summer long.
Step 10. Create a tepee with the twigs, securing it at the top with twine, string or wire. Voila!
Lowe’s has some pretty cool Pinterest boards too. Go check them out.
*My DIY Summer was inspired by three forces: 1) A whole slew of new books about garden projects 2) The fact that my son is in college and tuition is expensive and 3) I still have expensive tastes, despite the fact that I am paying college tuition.