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How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Backyard

Attracting hummingbirds

Among the many popular backyard birds, none attract quite as much attention or adoration as the colorful hummingbird. From its diminutive size to its rapid, eye-catching movement, there is something about these little jewels that make them charming to watch. Adding plants and hummingbird feeders are two easy ways to attract more of these birds to your yard, regardless of where you live in the country. However, since most species migrate, there is a specific seasonal window for your area. Since you need to keep these feeders clean, knowing when to put them out and take them up will reduce the workload and maximize your bird sightings.


Hummingbird Feeder Placement Tips

Hummingbird feeder handing from a shepard's hook

For best viewing, it’s fine to place a hummingbird feeder near a window as long as you place decals on the glass to deter strikes against the reflective surface. Some feeders attach directly to a window, but placing the feeder a few feet away from a tree branch or post generally offers a better view. Try to keep the feeder out of the direct sun when possible to slow spoilage between changes. Since you’ll need to refill and clean the feeder regularly, don’t place it somewhere you need a ladder to reach. Watch out for swooping territorial birds and keep the feeders high enough that ground predators like house cats can’t reach the visitors.


How to Mix Hummingbird Food

Pre-mixed hummingbird nectar quickly becomes expensive when you change out the feeders as often as recommended. Consider making DIY nectar instead of spending dozens of dollars a month just to attract more hummingbirds. According to recommendations from sources like the Smithsonian National Zoo, all you need is plain granulated white sugar and water. The recipe is:

  • 1 part sugar
  • 4 parts warm water.

Simply mix until the sugar is all dissolved. Don’t add red dye, herbal extracts, or any colorings or additives in general. Hummingbirds don’t need them, even if they’re included in commercial products you find at the store. The healthiest mix mimics the nectar found in flowers that’s purely a combination of sugar and water. Brown sugar or sugar substitutes aren’t safe for hummingbirds either because they can affect their liver or encourage fungal infections. Stick to granulated white sugar even if you don’t personally include it in your diet.


The Risks of Forgetting to Change the Feeders

Hummingbird drinking from feeder

A dirty hummingbird feeder full of mold and spoiled nectar is more dangerous to the hummingbirds than no feeder at all. Hummingbirds can’t always tell they’re drinking bad nectar, resulting in illness that can wipe out most or all of the birds that visit your feeder. If you can’t commit to changing the nectar at least every other day, take the feeder down and only hang it for a day at a time. Sugar water is fine to store in the refrigerator in a separate container, but the feeder should only contain what you expect the birds to consume in 48 hours. Don’t fill it to the top unless you’re sure you are feeding a whole crowd. Fungal infections are very harmful to hummingbirds are hard to detect in a feeder, so clean it thoroughly between nectar changes to prevent illness issues.


Proper Cleaning Procedures

Close-up of hummingbird with beak in feeder

Bleach is necessary for sanitizing these feeders due to the high sugar content of the nectar. However, leaving too much bleach residue behind could also risk damage to the hummingbirds. Choosing an easy-to-clean design that allows for the use of a small bottle brush in each feeding tube is the best idea. The feeding ports for the birds are the hardest part to clean on most designs, yet that’s the spot that also puts them in the most direct contact with mold. Soaking the whole feeder in a 10:1 water to bleach solution should be enough to sanitize it each time you change the nectar.


What Seasons to Put up Feeders

Hummingbirds around a feeder

For the parts of the country with cold winters, most migrating hummingbirds arrive in April through June and depart by the end of August to early September. This means that you can safely put your feeders away in fall and wait until late spring to return them to the yard. In some areas, hummingbirds only visit for a month or two at the height of summer. Following the blooms of the wildflowers in your area will generally be a good guide. In warmer climates like Florida and some parts of California, hummingbirds feed year-round, and there’s no need to put your feeders away unless you want a break from cleaning them.


Feeding Hummingbirds Naturally with Flowers

Hummingbird drinking from a flower

Planting flowers and letting hummingbirds feed themselves naturally can be a little less work than trying to stay on top of feeder cleaning and filling. There are plants for every climate, growing zone, and landscaping style that attract these birds, but a small selection of highlights includes:

  • Bee balms
  • Columbines
  • Hollyhocks
  • Cardinal flowers
  • Penstemon
  • Cleomes
  • Butterfly bush
  • Flowering tobaccos.

There’s a hummingbird strategy for everyone. Just encouraging wildflower growth in your neighborhood can dramatically increase the number of birds you see without the work of directly feeding them. If you do decide to invest in feeders, put them up where they’re easy to take down for cleaning every other day.


While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.

© 2022 Do it Best


 

Spruce up Your Yard with Mulch

Home landscaping

In addition to making your flower garden more aesthetically pleasing, mulch helps your garden thrive through inhibiting weed growth, holding in moisture, and helping to keep a moderate soil temperature.

Mulch also keeps plant roots cooler through summer months and helps to prevent frost heaving, which is the ground pushing plants out of the soil as it expands due to rising and falling temperatures.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind while planning your mulch project this spring.


1. Mulch Should Be an Accent

Different colored mulches

Choose a mulch color that goes with the exterior of your home. Darker mulch can be a good contrast to brightly colored flowers.


2. Re-mulching

Re-mulching the yard

If re-mulching, be sure to remove some of the old mulch before adding new. This will help keep the landscape at a normal height, as well as make sure you are setting your garden up for the best possible growing conditions.


3. Using Landscape Fabric

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If you’re using landscape fabric, stick to fabrics that are water and air permeable. Plastic tarps do not let air and water through. They may even suffocate your plants. Landscape fabrics are created to reduce weed growth, so they are very helpful when adding mulch to a bed.


4. Proper Mulch Thickness

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It’s recommended that newly laid mulch be about one inch high, no more than two inches for perennials and annuals. Bigger plants like trees and shrubs can have three to four inches of thickness. With any type of plant, it’s important to keep mulch away from the plant base usually about one inch. This will help the plant breathe and keep pests and disease from appearing.


5. Applying Your Mulch

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Use a wheelbarrow or garden cart to transport mulch to each area of your garden. Once your mulch piles are placed throughout the garden, a shovel or trowel can be used to spread the mulch over the root area (remember- not flush against the plant!). In areas where plants are widely spread out, use a rake to spread the mulch. This will allow for an easy, even coverage.


6. What to Do with Leftover Mulch

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Heavy storms and strong winds sometimes spray mulch onto sidewalks, driveways, and well out into yards. Don’t fret! If you have any leftover mulch, it can be used midway through the growing season or whenever you find areas that are depleted.


7. Options to Combat Floating Mulch

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When laying your mulch, place thin layers of mulch watering each layer as you go to make sure your mulch is heavy and will stay in place. You can also add landscape edging to your garden with pavers, wood, brick, plastic, or stone.

Another option is trenching around your flower garden in the hopes that any washed-out mulch will be caught in the trench before going into your yard. Once in the trench, mulch can easily be raked back into place.


Now you’re ready to take these seven mulch tips and spruce up your curb appeal. Make sure you have all of the right tools before you start your project, it’ll speed up the entire process. Happy mulching!

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.

 

© 2022 Do it Best

6 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Laundry Room

Laundry Room

You spend hours washing and folding clothes in your laundry room, so it should be a place that sparks some level of joy. There are loads of opportunities to freshen it up, but before you call in the contractor and spend thousands on a renovation, consider making some of the below DIY changes.

They’re quick, affordable, and — dare we even say — fun. In just a few hours, you’ll have transformed your laundry room so much that you might even look forward to doing laundry (okay, maybe that’s still doubtful).


1. Add More Storage

Laundry Room Storage

A big problem many people have with their laundry area is that there simply isn’t enough space for things. Retrofitting your cabinets can help keep dirty clothes separated from clean clothes.

One simple way to do this is to add laundry bins inside the cabinet. You can keep clothes out of the way but still organized. Better yet, convert the façade to a pull-out drawer (similar to a trash can cabinet) that has the laundry bin attached so it’s always easy to access.
Don’t have cabinets or need even more storage? There are plenty of ways to go about this. Install over-the-door hooks where you can hang clothes to keep them from getting wrinkled. Floating shelves on the walls are a great way to store laundry detergent, fabric softener, and other essentials so they’re always in reach.


2. Decorate the Walls

Decorated Walls

If the walls in your laundry room are looking a bit lackluster, all they need is a bit of elbow grease. Try painting a color that you love or adding wallpaper to brighten things up. Paint is a great option, as you can update the colors any time you feel like the room needs to be revamped.

Wallpaper is a little more long term, so choose a design you love. If you like the look of wallpaper but don’t want to commit, you might want to look into temporary wallpaper that’s much easier to remove.


3. Place Curtains in Front of Your Washer and Dryer

Curtains

Tidy up your view and add a splash of vibrance by throwing up a curtain to conceal your washer and dryer when they’re not in use. The process is relatively simple! All you need to do is choose a curtain rod that fits your space, screw in the rod brackets on your walls, and place the curtain.

Don’t want to deal with a drill? Try a tension rod, which simply uses pressure to hold itself up rather than screws.

 

 

 


4. Create a Folding and Ironing Station

Iron Station

Once you’ve washed and dried your clothes comes the next step — folding. Rather than adding a clunky table to your laundry room, install a folding wall table instead. These are easier to use than regular folding tables because they don’t require you to build them each time.

Unlike static or permanent furniture, these barely take up any space. All you have to do is simply fold the table out from the wall (much like a murphy bed) whenever you need to use it.

If you’re feeling really creative, make this table double as your ironing board as well. Or, grab a complete wall-mounted ironing center. You’ll get double the functionality without taking up so much space.


5. Build a Drying Rack

Drying Racks

There are some types of clothing that you shouldn’t throw into the dryer. Unfortunately, drying racks take up tons of room and really can’t hold that much at once. Combat this by building a drying rack in your laundry room.

This is easiest if you have exposed joists. If that’s the case, all you need to do is take a 1-by-2-inch board and tack it across two joists with a couple of nails. When you’re ready to dry, just throw the clothes on hangers and drape them on the board.
Don’t have joists available? A collapsible drying rack might be your best bet — these fold up nice and small when not in use so you can tuck them away.


6. Brighten Things up

Bright Room

Laundry rooms have a reputation for being dim and dark places, but they don’t have to be! One way to increase the brightness of the space is to add some small tap lights under cabinets and shelves. That way, if you’re having trouble seeing, it just takes a simple flick of the wrist to brighten things.

Don’t stop there, though. Make sure your overhead lights are up to snuff as well. Skip the fluorescents and switch to energy-efficient LED bulbs.


Maximize Your Laundry Space

Organized Laundry Room

You’ll find it’s much easier to get the laundry done when everything feels organized, functional, and fun (to look at, at least). Doing laundry is already a chore, so make it as joyful and seamless as possible with some or all of the upgrades listed above.