Gardening – Decorative and Functional Art

This is my favorite time of the year. The weather is lovely with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 50s. The flowers are planted, my garden is growing and every day I enjoy being outside working on various projects.

In a couple months, my window box and planters will be blooming and full of color. In the meantime, I have to wait for the flowers to grow and bloom. So, I decided to add some glass art to my window box. A glass butterfly, a couple of glass leaves and glass flowers add some nice color. Once the plants fill in, the window box should look even better.

For these art pieces, the glass was cut from pieces in my scrap buckets, contour fused and then slumped into a ceramic mold. On the back, a two inch piece of 1/4″ copper pipe was attached to each piece and a metal rod inserted to support the art in the window box.

In addition to planting flowers and vegetables, I have also been patching areas of the grass. Up until a few years ago, I had a rain barrel under the downspout in the back of our house to collect the rain water. Unfortunately, this rain barrel cracked after many years of use. Without the rain barrel, during a rain storm, the flow of water can be very strong and the surrounding ground is eroded and the grass does not grow well.

To try to improve this area of the lawn, I thought about purchasing another rain barrel. Unfortunately, they are rather expensive and larger than I would prefer. Instead, I decided to try to make my own. After drawing out some ideas I put together the necessary supplies, an old Rubbermaid tote, some PVC connectors, a shutoff coupling and two rubber washers.

A one inch hole was drilled in the side of the tote and the edges of the cutout smoothed with a metal file. A 1″ washer was placed over the end of a 1/2″ Slip x 3/4″ FHT PVC hose fitting and pressed into the hole that had been drilled in the side of the tote. To hold the fitting in place, another 1″ washer was placed over the end on the inside of the tote another coupling was placed over the PVC fitting.

To collect the water from the downspout, a hole was cut in the lid of the tote.

A diverter was attached to the downspout and the length adjusted to fit into the tote lid. A brass shut-off coupling was screwed into the outside of the fitting to be able to open and close the opening. The tote was placed on several brick pavers to raise the tote high enough to access the shutoff valve. The water collected will be used for watering the plants in my back yard.

Of course, I had to add some decorative art to this functional item. Using my Cameo cutter and some permanent vinyl, I added a couple cats (that match the metal cats on my raised bed gardens) and some grass. While I am unsure whether these vinyl decorations will last, they do add some whimsy to my project. And, hopefully the grass will grow better in this area of the yard.

Another gardening project was to update the watering system in my raised beds. Last year, I used soakers hoses to keep my garden watered. This year when I connected the soaker hoses, I discovered that the hoses (advertised as “leak proof”) had cracked in several location.

To replace them, I wanted something that may last longer. Using two 10 feet pieces of 1/2″ PVC, several couplers, a couple caps and a couple hose fittings, I made new waterlines. A PVC to hose fitting was attached to each water outflow on a timer. The PVC was cut and connected with couplers to create a waterline to each raised bed.

For each of the raised beds, 1/8″ holes were drilled every 2 inches along both sides of the length of a 90″ piece of pipe with a cap at the end of the tube.

This new watering system works great. It does come apart into sections that can be stored indoors in the winter and will hopefully last more than one year.

Happy Planting Everyone!

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