Window boxes filled with vibrant flowers are a welcome sign of spring. But when it rains, the soil in them often spatters, dirtying windows and sills. To prevent the muddy splashes, spread river stones (available at garden centers) in a layer over the tops of the flower beds. The stones will act as a barrier while keeping the soil moist for the blooming plants.
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Gutter strainers -- the wire cages that filter leaves and debris washed off the roof -- also make great orchid pots, providing the plants with excellent aeration and drainage.
Buy an inexpensive copper strainer at a hardware store. Using a pair of light pliers, bend the spindly legs of the strainer into decorative loops around the top (the loops also offer a way to hang the orchid if you like). Soak sphagnum moss (available at garden centers) in water, pack into the strainer, and then put in the orchid. Pack with more moss for a snug fit, and give it a hearty watering in the sink. Let the moss drain completely before placing the plant in a bowl.
SourceMartha Stewart Living, November 2008
After pruning trees and shrubs in the yard, save the trimmed branches to support returning perennials, such as lilies. They'll be free and plentiful, not to mention more natural looking than metal or plastic spikes. Look for branches with lots of little twigs, and stake three to five of them around each plant. As the plant grows, its foliage will gradually wind around the network of twigs.
SourceMartha Stewart Living, July 2006
If you need to create a new garden bed but prefer not to resort to chemicals, try this technique. Lay stacks of 4 to 6 sheets of newsprint side by side on the grass, overlapping edges, to mark the desired shape of the bed. Soak paper with a hose, and cover with 2 inches of mulch. You can plant directly in the prepared area, using a trowel to pierce the layers.
SourceMartha Stewart Living, March 2008
Put a kitchen shaker to work in your garden; its a great tool for dispersing horticultural-grade diatomaceous earth. This nontoxic pesticide, which has sharp edges that kill slugs and bugs without chemicals, can be difficult to spread. But a shaker lets you dust an even ring on soil around plants.
SourceMartha Stewart Living, June 2009
The freeze-and-thaw cycle that root balls face this time of year can damage plants. If your planters are too heavy to move indoors, wrap the pots in cushioned packaging material for insulation. To hide the plastic, cover with burlap (available at hardware stores and garden centers).
SourceMartha Stewart Living, November 2009
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