How to Downsize for Tiny Living

How to Downsize to Live Tiny

In November, I shared our downsizing journey and a lot has changed since then.  We continued to scale back, removed what was left from the house, placed it in storage, then moved into the RV.  We’re enjoying simple living in our Happy Camper and we’re still at the farm.

We’ve been asked, “How does one downsize to live Tiny?”  Does it happen overnight or do you begin the process months ahead?” If you asked Robert he’d say overnight because he doesn’t place value on material things.

For me it started when I didn’t even realize it, after years of moving I was hit with the Ultimate Downsize; read here.

I was suffocating and with each move I wanted to hide.  Our things looked bigger in boxes verses sitting pretty on a counter or hidden in a cabinet.  I was tired of moving, tired of stuff and wanted relief.

What I wanted was simplicity…

Downsizing and living with less

How Do You Really Downsize?

So how do you downsize?  To be honest it begins with a decision followed by action without excuses.  Downsizing can’t be forced and sometimes life will trigger you in the right direction based on circumstances.  This could be a move, a life change, or the desire to live healthier.

Did you know sometimes living with excess can have a negative impact on your health? That alone should be motivation to downsize but for many it’s not.  There’s this theory that having more defines success but if we were being honest we know that’s not true.

When rooms are over flowing where to begin can feel over whelming.  If that’s you, let me extend a big hug and words of encouragement… You’re not alone and it’s my hope after reading this you’ll be inspired to move forward.

Even if living tiny isn’t your goal you can use the following information to improve your surroundings and live healthier.

Downsize begins with your closet

Where do you Begin?

Take a look at my new closet, this is where Robert and I share space and notice there’s even some empty hangers.

Downsizing should begin in the closet because this space is a reflection of our style, things we like and speaks volumes about what we think of our self. The closet sets the stage for what it will take to honestly downsize your entire home correctly.

I originally downsized my closet to 40 hangers and 1 stack of work clothes before moving into the RV. Now I have 20 hangers, 1 stack of work clothes and a small box of winter clothes stored under the bed; Robert follows the same arrangement but his work clothes are greater than mine.

This is what I did and it worked like a charm.

  • Give yourself 40 -50 hangers and only put clothes back that you’re currently wearing.
  • For large closets, it might be more realistic to begin with 70 hangers and slowly decrease once you gain confidence.
  • When you’re cleaning sort piles into keepers and get rid of. Remove the maybe pile – maybe never happens!!
  • Only keep what you really like and get rid of everything else.  Seriously give it away!!
  • Begin sorting with the top shelf, the floor and the hangers.  Basically, follow the closet layout as you clean out.
  • Allow yourself a week to get this done, if it takes longer then give yourself a couple more days.
  • Don’t work on it for more than 4 -5 hours in a setting and no more than 4 days a week.
  • Work without interruption and Stay focused.
  • Listen to Music during the process it’s a great motivator.

Once the closet is finished, clean out your bedroom and then it’s time to do the same thing in the bathroom. Remember begin with closets first because that’s normally where unwanted items get stashed.

Downsizing the kitchen will take some understanding

Move onto the Kitchen Downsize

This next room of importance will lead you to the kitchen.  If you thought the closet was hard brace yourself because kitchens are filled with gadgets galore and most aren’t necessary to cook an amazing meal.  Over the years I’ve found a good knife, cutting board and a hand grater are much better than any food processor.

  • Begin cleaning out the food pantry and remove food you’re never going to eat then donate it to a food bank.
  • Clean out cabinets and holy cow downsize those plastic storage containers.
  • Check the utensil drawer next because that’s another place where things multiply.
  • Clean out each area and get that kitchen back to basics.
  • Simplify your dishes, instead of a set for 12 how about a compromise for 6 or 8?  – We now use 4 plates, 2 mugs and 4 glasses.

When the kitchen is finished go through the rest of your home room by room repeating the process until you’re satisfied with the results.  Remember to always begin with those closed off spaces first.  Cabinets and closets are the keepers of stuff we don’t need.

Now if you’re really going tiny remember this:

  • Your probably going to take less than a 1/4 of your belongings with you.
  • There is never a maybe or someday pile while sorting.
  • Space is limited so get serious.
  • If you haven’t used it in a year, guess what you’re not going to.
  • Find good homes for your decorative furniture or sell it.
  • Focus on necessities, like a comfortable bed and dual-purpose furniture.
  • Think outside the box.
  • Remember less is more and you can do this!!

Was this how Robert and I downsized for our Tiny Home lifestyle?  Absolutely and I did about 85% of the removal.  It was a one step at a time process and it didn’t happen overnight.  But I’ll tell you this, the more we removed the happier I became.

  • I had fewer distractions.
  • Learned a lot about myself and grew as a person.
  • Understood that I no longer needed a new purchase to be happy.
  • Became more productive.
  • Best of all, discovered real freedom.

The Stuff in Storage

We discovered freedom in getting rid of almost everything, can you believe it?  We put what was left in storage with our son’s things and after living in the RV for a month I’m not sure we need that stuff either.  Well maybe those tools for setting up new gardens and neat outdoor spaces.

Six months ago, Robert and I thought we’d be living at our new property by now; we’re not because the house hasn’t sold.  It’s difficult to maintain the farm when you’re not here full time so it made sense remain, I’m basically a care taker now.

The good news is our downsizing efforts are done and we listed the farm in June with a realtor, view here.  I’m amazed at how content we are living with less, it feels incredible.  If a lifestyle with less is on your radar I’m telling you to go for it.

I hope these downsizing tips are helpful and remember cleaning out is a journey and a good time to uncover who you really are.  Living with less means more freedom…

How to Downsize for Tiny House Living


Easy to Make Fresh Herb Wreath

Fresh Herb Wreath

Almost a year ago a friend shared a beautiful wreath made from herbs.  I was in awe and wanted to make one last fall and then before I knew it summer was here again.  Do you have inspired project ideas that you put off?

Her blog is Hearth and Vine; Patti is very talented.  We have similar likes and I always have the best time checking in to see what she’s made, visit her blog here

I’m happy to say I didn’t let this herb wreath idea fade any longer and I finally decided to make my own.

Easy Herb Wreath

Easy Herb Wreath

Before we dive right in I wanted to say,  this is a messy craft so it might be a good idea to make outdoors.  If working indoors is your best option lay down some paper, this will make clean up a breeze.

Garden of Herbs for Wreath

Start with a Bed of Herbs

To make this wreath gather at least 4 or five different herb varieties.  I’m blessed to have an abundance in the garden and they definitely needed a good trim; I eat herbs every day but I just can’t keep up with them.

Many are beginning to flower so this was a nice bonus when it came time to put everything together.  If you’re thinking about an herb garden about now check out this post, here. 

I used a combination of the following and harvested them during an overcast afternoon.  It might be better to make this an early morning or late evening project.

  • Lemon Balm
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Rosemary

Get Ready to Make Herb Wreath

Supplies to Create Herb Wreath

Supplies can be purchased at any craft store and make sure to use paddle wire, I’ll tell you why later…  Wreath size is completely up to you, three small ones connected with ribbon would look really nice.  Just get creative and have fun with it.

  • Fresh Herbs + Clippers
  • Any size wire wreath base
  • Wire cutters
  • 26 Gauge paddle wire

Steps to Make an Herb Wreath

Cutting and Prepping the Herbs

We’re going to make small bundles with these herbs and I put together about 8 of each herb because they will dry on the base and shrink.

  • After the herbs are cut separate by type
  • Cut each stem into small lengths and remove the greens from the bottom
  • Bundle about 4 stems and wire them together

Herb Wreath Assembly

Attach Herb Bundles to the Wreath Base

Once the bundles are wired then we connect each one to the wreath base.  I couldn’t find paddle wire so I ended up purchasing wire on a roll and what a mess.  You’ll notice through my pictures the entire roll unraveled because I couldn’t find the end.

Paddle wire is much easier to use because you can hold it while you work and add strength to connect everything to the base.

My first herb placement was a pretty bunch of trailing lemon balm and that set the stage for the everything else.

Adding herbs to Make an Herb Wreath

Around the Wreath we go

One herb bunch was added after the next until we covered the entire base.  Make sure everything is really thick and full because these herbs will begin the drying process within 24 hours.

There was a point when I had to go back and fill in some areas with additional herbs; this was really easy because I just tucked them in and secured with wire.

The smell is heavenly through the entire creating process and once finished my hands couldn’t escape the scent of fresh herbs.

Natural Herb Wreath

I really liked how the chocolate mint added a little bit of purple in the mix, it just started blooming about a week ago and what an amazing sight.

After the wreath was finished I brought this fun project indoors and enjoyed it in our little space of wonderful. Stay tuned because later this week I’ll be sharing the wonderful that encourages living with less in a small space.

Make Your Own Fresh Herb Wreath



Garden Planner Inspired by Grandma

The Garden Planner Organize

My grandma always said you need three books to survive this life, a bible, cookbook and garden book.  The first two made sense and when she passed her handwritten cookbook went to the next generation.

I was a little confused on the importance of a garden book, but she was persistent and started one for me when I was around 10.  She often asked if I was writing in my book; I remember thinking….”I’m just a kid!”  It’s unfortunate but at the time I didn’t understand or appreciate the value she was sharing.

Documenting my garden journey has always been a struggle.  Several years ago, I started a new book, my intentions were good but many times I would forget, skip a season, and end up frustrated.  I found she was right, it’s difficult to remember details from one season to the next; it became clear a garden book was necessary.

So, I decided to spice up my existing book with printable pages that were inviting, practical and easy to use.  These pages got me excited about recording my efforts and if grandma were here today she would love this idea being the first to get started printing her own.

The Garden Planner


About the Garden Planner Pages

This Garden Planner welcomes the opportunity to create your own Book.  When you purchase this pack, you receive 2 introduction pages and 16 prints, beginning with two covers.  One cover is complete with images and the other is blank for your garden images.

This is the beginning of a Garden Up Green Book so make sure you include your name and take ownership.

From there the pack continues with pages ready to print, these pages are simplified and easy to use. I love this because I’m an active person and sitting drives me nuts, I incorporate my phone to calculate the numbers and insert the correct dates so I can move on with other things.

Additional Page Titles Include

  • Garden Expenses, Journal and Notes
  • Perennial, Annual and Herb Profile
  • Goals and Goal Worksheet
  • Fall and Spring Planting
  • Maintenance package – Includes 4 ways to organize and remember your efforts – I Love this section!

Printable Garden Planner

3 Ring Binder Assembly

The advantage of printing your own planner is you can print what you want as many times as you like and store these pages in a three-ring binder.  I bet you already have a binder in your desk; if you don’t Staples has a nice selection between $3 or $10.

Use a hole punch and include clear slipcovers for additional protection so you can refer to these pages each planting season. I decided to use a hole punch and when the page is finished I add it to a slip cover.



The Garden Planner Organize

This planner book is inspired by grandma constantly telling me to write things down.  So, imagine years’ worth of hand written garden notes, images from your beautiful space all safe in one place.

What could you possibly do with such a book?  Well my friend this is the best part…. Simply pass is on to the next generation of gardeners in your family, this could be your son, daughter or grandchild.  It could even be a special friend…

I have found gardening is an adventure and no matter how many years or months you’ve been active you can appreciate the learning never ends.  With this Garden Up Green book you now have a place where those years of experience can be recorded and enjoyed for generations. It’s my hope this new resource is a blessing and I can hardly wait to hear how it’s helped improve your gardening journey.

Get your Garden Planner Here – It’s affordable and after you purchase the next step is to download, print, and enjoy!

Thank you all for being a part of Garden Up Green.

 Easy To Use Garden Printables



How to Harvest Zinnia Seeds

It’s that time of year when zinnia blooms retire and new ones arrive.  If you have several plants you know it can be difficult to keep up with their activity.

Many gardeners cut off dead blooms and toss the remains into compost or burn piles.  I must admit sometimes I do this but not before I harvest seeds from expired stems.  I was taught early on to save the best blooms for seeds to use in the next spring planting.

Normally those best blooms are the first ones to appear with quality characteristics, measured by size and color.

I thought it would be fun to share how easy it is to harvest your own zinnia seeds. This little tip will keep you from purchasing new packets year after year.

Zinnia’s Going to Seed

In order to harvest zinnias, seed you must let the buds go to seed, this means you leave the flower alone and let it dry out on the stem.  Over a few days the petals will disappear and the base of the flower expands.

Since I harvest my own seeds every season I’m always on the lookout for the best blooms; sometimes I will mark them with a string so I don’t forget because once with fade it can be difficult to remember those quality flowers.

Removing Dead Blooms

Removing dead blooms may take about a week or two because the flower needs time to finish producing seeds; this will vary due to temperature and how much rainfall occurs.

Once you have several dried blooms remove them from the stem with cutters just as you would for a fresh cut flower.  When you’re done find a clean space to work for collecting seeds.

You’re going to be amazed at how many seeds one flower can produce.

Harvest the Seeds

Harvesting is fun and it can get kind of messy if the flowers still have some of their petals attached. The seeds come from the bud base and in this case, we’re looking for oval shaped seeds.  They’ll vary in color and there will be many.

All you want to do is separate and sort the seeds from each bud until you’re done. Sometimes I take a wire screen and sift through, this is faster than separating by hand.  I made a screen using small gauge wire and it works pretty good.

Wasn’t that easy?  If you think about it harvesting zinnia seeds isn’t that difficult and remember to let these seeds air dry for about 5 days before storing them in an envelope.  Make sure to label the year and variety if you remember that information.

Now you have seeds for next spring and maybe you’ll have additional seeds to share with your gardening friends.  Harvesting seeds from the garden can make great Christmas and Birthday gifts for gardening enthusiasts.

How to Harvest Zinnia Seeds


Copper Canning Lid Garden Markers

Fun DIY Copper Canning lid Garden Markers

Things have come to what feels like a screaming halt at the farm and my gardening efforts have been more about maintaining and keeping things clean between property viewings.  Just yesterday I found myself pulling weeds in the fall beds and wondering if I should be thinking about planting.

Fall gardening is my favorite growing season, so instead of going through the seed box I decided to make new garden markers. I wanted to create something that incorporated copper and was easy to make.

At first the ideas were slim until one afternoon during workshop clean up I came across chalk paint and canning lids. It seemed like a direction was established so I decided to make garden markers instead of wondering if I should plan a fall garden.

Easy to Make Garden Markers

This was an easy project and halfway through the process I realized using chalk stickers would have been a lot faster than paint.  So, if you’re wanting to duplicate and have to purchase new supplies let me recommend the stickers. In the past, I’ve used them here.

In the meantime, the only tools you’ll need is a drill + bit and wire cutters.  The rest of our supplies can be found at any craft or home improvement store and canning lids are going to be at your local farm store or Walmart.

Project Supplies

  • Canning Lids
  • Chalk Paint and Brush (Chalk label stickers)
  • Copper wire
  • Chalk or White Paint Marker

DIY Copper Garden Marker Supplies

Drill and Paint the Lids

The first thing is to drill the canning lids; this is for the copper hanger.  After this step is completed paint the top of each piece with chalkboard paint following the directions on the container.  I used three coats and found myself transplanting plants while each application was drying.

I seem to do a lot of multi task activity lately and I’m not sure that’s a good thing because I get easily distracted.  Do you multi task during projects?

Chalk Copper Garden Markers

Label and add the Copper wire

Once the lids are dry I labeled each one using a white paint pen, I couldn’t find my chalk so it seemed like a good second choice.  It dries really fast which allowed me enough time to get the wire cut for each marker.

I cut each stem around 9 inches but you can make them short or long as preferred.  Just allow enough leftover to make circular twists to hold the labels in place.

DIY Garden Markers

Attaching the Labels

The final step was to attach the painted lids to the copper from the top by sliding them in place.  They hang rather loose without falling off and those twists link everything together.

This was a really easy project and honestly the longest part was waiting for that paint to dry. So, if want to speed up this process just go for the stickers and make sure you purchase a brand that compliments outdoor weather conditions.

Make your own Garden Markers

After completing, I gather them and walked towards the garden where I passed the painted green Terra cotta pots. These pots happen to be one of my favorite projects and reminded me of a chapter in my book Startle Garden, where I talk about adding garden flair.   I stopped and decided to take my photos here.

Planting areas are a reflection of our personality and they come in all shapes and sizes.  When you incorporate a little flair, those details add interest and many times, this step is over looked or sometimes can also go too far.  I like to keep things simple by using little bits of white enamelware or by making stenciled signs but lately I’ve been thinking about copper elements.

These garden markers kind of kicked off that copper inspiration in a small way and eventually they did make it to the garden after I took pictures. That little moment prior got me thinking you could take this same project and turn these markers into positive messages.

So, “How would you do this?” It’s very simple just display positive words like, Live, Love, Peace, Joy, and Happy instead of writing plant names then place them in pots here and there.  The possibilities are endless…

I guess what we discovered today is this project could be made for new garden markers to label plants or positive garden notes; most important have fun with it!!

DIY Copper Canning Lid Garden Markers

Vertical Garden Ideas and Materials

Growing a Vertical Garden

From the beginning the farm has been a place of inspiration.  Many times, I  looked to the sky giving thanks because working the land stirred an awakening.  One idea led to another and when our garden went from an open plot to raised beds that vision incorporated growing up with vertical structures.

Getting the plants off the ground seemed to make sense and using cost effective materials was a no brainier.  I didn’t do this out of necessity from lack of space, it was more about adding interest and creating unique focal points.

The results measured my effort and when I look back it was time well spent. Through the process I discovered a clean, easy to manage garden that didn’t break the bank to establish.   Because here’s the thing, once these structures are covered with beautiful plants the framework becomes invisible.

Within this post I’ll be sharing links to previous articles so you can see how I’ve used these materials in different ways; make sure to click and perhaps find encouragement for growing vertical in your own garden.

Growing a Vertical Garden Materials

Vertical Garden Materials

After our first year of farming and a lot of fence projects later I realized leftover welded wire was a gem garden material. From the beginning, I had fun creating with what we had.  Leftovers became gold from Robert’s projects and I snagged just about everything when he wasn’t looking.

I also used wood but found over time this material is better for annuals because when the structure is plant free it’s less difficult to replace decayed wood.

Which means if you like incorporating wood then use it for annuals and stick with welded wire or rod iron for perennials.  I’m enclosing a short list of materials you may want to consider for your vertical garden.  All of these can be purchased at any home improvement store or Tractor Supply.

  • Cedar or Pine – 2 x 4’s
  • Landscaping Timbers
  • Rebar
  • Cattle Panels
  • Welded Wire fencing
  • Welded Rod Iron

Successful Blackberry bushes

Grow Vertical with Cow Panels

Cow panels are my favorite and I’ve used them a lot over the years.  Heavy duty panels support those beautiful blackberry bushes I shared a few weeks ago.  These panels come in a variety of sizes and with the right cutters they can be shaped into smaller pieces.  They’re also rather inexpensive so you can get a lot of mileage with one.

The following projects outline how I’ve used cow panels for growing pumpkins and cucumbers.  There’s really no limits to what they can handle so options like smaller melons, berry vines, beans and even luffa would also be great.

A Large Vertical Gardening Structure

Vertical with Landscaping Timbers and Welded Wire

Growing vertical continues with our first luffa field, this structure was built specifically for growing luffa sponges;we used landscaping timbers and 2 x 4’s for the framework.  I really like this space and it was absolutely beautiful when it was in full bloom.  Later when we decided to scale back our projects I envisioned planting this area with rows of blackberries.

That dream faded when our future plans involved selling the farm, which means it’s been sitting empty.  We added welded wire which is great for plants grabbing a hold and moving up.

This is a structure I’d like to revisit in the future at another property.

Another bonus is you can add irrigation by attaching with wire towards the top.  Replacing posts later would be easy because these are bold pieces making them less difficult to change out.


Vertical Garden Options

Vertical with Pine and Cedar

This tall raised bed is made from cedar and pine and includes a trellis that’s attached with screws.  This piece was made from reclaimed wood so in all honesty I don’t expect it to last for more than a couple seasons. So far after a year it looks pretty sweet.

This project replaced a brown wooden structure that I really liked; over three seasons and a mighty wind storm it gave way last summer, view here.  I used that structure for a variety of veggie annuals and really liked it because it was placed on top of an 8 x 8 raised bed, which means I was able to grow inside in addition to the vertical space.  Last year I planted beans on the frame and basil on the interior, the harvest was incredible.

Vertical Garden with Cucumbers

Vertical with Rod Iron and Rebar

I didn’t use a lot of rod iron in this garden because I have this hope to learn how to weld and make some really neat vertical structures of my own.  We purchased a couple simple examples from Lowes and this year I used one for growing cucumbers. It’s tucked between two roses I propagated last summer and they’re all doing amazing.

In the distance you can even see I used a metal door where I trail chocolate mint.  The possibilities to grow vertical are endless and the important thing is to be creative, think outside the box and stop doing what everybody else is doing.

Set the example and invent a new idea, then share it here because I’d love to see it.

 Welded wire and rebar for vertical gardening

This takes us to rebar and let me just say I would have never thought about using this element prior.  A neighbor gave us a bunch of it and my first thought was take it to the garden and that’s where it went. Before long I had it stuck in the ground and discovered it was great frame work material and closing in the gaps with welded wire worked like a charm.

I’ve done several things with it, like growing beans in the shape of a circle and last year I grew watermelons which turned out really neat.  Over the winter I decided it was the perfect place for another berry patch, these plants were propagated from the main plant and their growth is unstoppable.

If vertical gardening is an area of interest for your space discover ideas by first utilizing what you have and what will actually work for your location. Additional ideas can be found on Garden Up Green’s vertical Pinterest board here, it’s just a fun place for inspiration.

If you’ve already tried vertical gardening please feel welcome to share your ideas in the comments below, we’d love to hear what you’ve come up with.

Gardening vertical is a lot of fun; this farm garden showed me how to add interest while growing a thriving space. Just wait till you see what I’m going to do at the next property, vertical garden is moving with us!

Ideas and Material suggestions for Vertical Gardening


Tin Can Happy Sunflower Sign

Tin Can Sunflower Sign

Welcome to the first day of Summer and guess what?  It’s time for a challenge.  I’ve teamed up with some blog friends for tin can creativity, make sure to visit their clever ideas at the end of the post. Bonnie from Farmhouse 40 organized this celebration and little did she know I love metal elements.

This is a fun one where creativity was definitely required because for weeks I had no idea what I was going to make.  Then something awesome happened, a spark of inspiration surfaced as I watched some Jade sunflowers bloom, learn more here. 

It was pretty sweet to have something simple like a sunflower spark imagination.

Scrap Wood For Happy Sunflower Tin Can Sign

Tin Can Sign Supplies and Tools List

The following list outlines what I used to create this project.  Keep in mind I used scrap wood, see if you can recycle first before purchasing new wood. This piece is pretty simple, there’s several steps and waiting for painted objects to dry is necessary.

Materials can be purchased at any home improvement and craft store and I’m assuming many of these tools are handy in your own work space.

  • Drill and bits
  • Jig and Table Saw
  • 1 Six ft. Cedar Fence Board – 2 cut into 13 inches each
  • Panel Board – Seek Scrap bins for better price
  • Sand paper
  • Pencil
  • Folk Art Lemon Yellow Paint + Dark Stain
  • Stencils, Brush and White paint – Optional
  • 2 Soup cans
  • 3 ft. of copper
  • Screws

Directions for Cutting Wooden Sunflower

Cut and Sand the Wood First

Begin by cutting the backboards with a table saw first, this is a simple, three 13 inch cuts. If you want a taller background then add a fourth; the table saw helps to provide a nice straight cut but if all you have is a jig saw then make it work.  After the cuts are completed sand each board so they’re nice and smooth.  This will make stain application less difficult.

Now take a section of panel board and sketch the shape of a sunflower.  I did this freehand and you’ll notice there was some afterthought during the process. Once the sketch is completed begin cutting the pattern with a Jig saw and finish by sanding out the flaws.

Use Folk Art to Paint the Sunflower

Add Paint and Stain

Paint the front and edges of the sunflower with a bright yellow acrylic paint.  If you plan to hang this outside make sure to purchase the appropriate finish for your project.  I brushed this on the surface with one thick application and set it aside to dry.

Staining the Back boards of the sign

Since the background boards were sanded I applied the stain on the front and edges with a rag.  The wood soaked up the stain in minutes so I made sure to work fast then left the boards to dry.

At this point I went and did something else because moving on wasn’t possible until the wood was dry.

Connecting the Tin Can Happy Sign

Stenciling and Connecting the Sign

Stenciling is optional and needs be done prior to connecting the sign. You may want to use a different message, Sunflowers make me smile so I decided on the word happy. I had some individual letters and transferred “Happy” using white chalk paint.  Stencil tips can be found here.  

What word or words would you transfer on a sign like this?

Flip to Connect

Once the stencil is dry everything needs to be lined up and flipped because we’re connecting from the backside.  This means your sunflower needs to extend to all three boards. This is really simple and I would recommend drilling pilot holes first to keep the wood from splitting.

When I finished connecting everything I noticed the yellow was really bright so I toned it down and some white highlights.  These were light brush strokes that were easy to incorporate on the edge of the flower shape.

I’ll address adding the copper wire in just a minute so keep the drill handy.

Featured on

Add The Tin Cans to the Sign

Add the Tin Cans

With just two tin cans I drilled holes towards the top of each one and attached directly to the wood. Be careful and wear work gloves in case things slip.

Tin Can Happy Sunflower Sign

Adding the Copper Wire

I wanted to incorporate another metal element so I used copper wire.

  • Drill three holes, one in the top right corner and two holes on the left side.
  • There was only three feet of copper so I started threading through the top right, then went into the second hole from the back side.
  • I also incorporated some twisting before entering the third hole.

This addition was for interest only and can be implemented however you choose, just have fun with it but make sure you have a plan before diving in because copper can get wacky pretty quickly if you over bend.

Later I added a hanger on the backside and before I knew it this was ready to fill with fresh flowers.

Adding Details to tone down the yellow

To finish the project, I filled the cans with water and used Jade Sunflowers and Lemon Balm from the garden.  Other options would include any kind of fresh cut; silk or dried flowers.   I was also thinking this could be handy in a shed filled with garden tools?

But I guess the big question is this, “When you look at the finished piece does it represent smiles, sunshine, summer and a bit of happiness?”  I hope so because that’s what I was after.  Enjoy a Happy Summer Everyone and remember to check out additional Tin Can Projects below..


Farmhouse 40

To Work With My Hands

Hearth and Vine

At Home With Jemma


The Kitchen Garten

Not A Trophy Wife

Make Some Fun - The Tin Can Happy Sunflower Sign


Gardening with Taller Raised Beds

Taller Raised Beds Benefits and Safer

About 4 years ago I decided to change our garden and implement raised beds.  I’ve never regretted that decision and a couple years following I took a chance and made some tall raised planters that inspired one of my favorite projects the easy reach raised bed; you can find that here. 

There were several reasons why I wanted to garden taller and it had nothing to do with saving space because we had plenty.  The reasoning was to add dimension and creative planting spaces, this was followed by what I call gardening convenience.

I quickly noticed with taller beds there was opportunity to establish a fantastic foundation from the ground up.  Other perks included less bending over, fewer weeds, great drainage and moisture which meant less watering.

The First Tall Planters

I started with this trio made from scrap 2 x 4’s; these were pieces of wood left over from previous projects.  This fun build offered time to learn if tall raised beds would be something I might like.  It was less than a month and I was hooked, DIY instructions can be found here. 

This led me to experiment with containers and continue building because at the time there was a lot of scrap wood sitting on shelves.

Choosing Smaller Size but Taller Raised beds for planting

Additional Tall Planter ideas

I built several planters with a red theme to match our farm; they varied in size and made a nice presentation around the front of our home.   Filling these planters with dirt didn’t take long because they weren’t very large.  Natural matter in addition to soil was also included to give these planters a boost.

Rather quickly I uncovered 2 x 4 solid frames handled the soil weight much better than thin wood like fence boards.  This was kind of a lesson learned but also an easy fix.

Taller Raised bed Structure

Building Taller Planters to Last

This box was made for something entirely different but it’s a great example because there’s a combination of wood, including 2 x 4’s and cedar fence boards.  The frame is strong but the walls are not very thick so over time they will need to be replaced.  I’m recommending a few solutions to make this container longer lasting.

  • Double up the walls with those same cedar fence boards
  • Use a different piece of thicker wood
  • Enclose with galvanized steel panels

I prefer wood because it gets really hot down south and when steel heats up this can be stressful on the plants and interfere with their progression.  If you like galvanized just make sure to place in areas where they receive no more than 6 – 8 hours of sunlight during the day.

 Taller Raised bed Structure

Additional Tall Planter Options

I’ve also used weird things for taller planting like recycled burn barrels, galvanized garbage cans and galvanized tanks.  These options are going to last longer than wood but eventually they’ll rust and also need replacing, but you know what?  That’s just part of the process.

What I like about these containers they add a level of interest and the opportunity to create a space that’s unique from most traditional gardens.

The Easy Reach Raised Bed

The easy reach raised bed is probably one of my favorites.  Robert and I designed it together when I was doing workshops for Texas Home and Garden. The idea was to create a tall larger raised bed to help people garden longer.  As we age the body changes and I remember for years watching my grandma get up and down in the garden and sometimes she lost her balance falling to the ground.

She stopped gardening in her early 90’s and passed away at 96… I often think if she had raised beds like this she could have continued doing what she loved by sitting and gardening on a smaller scale.  You can’t look back and change things but you can learn from those examples by planning a gardening future that compliments doing what you love.

The Design Style

With this bed, the frame interlocks by using Landscaping timbers; it offers a safe way to garden as it’s open from the bottom, filled with soil and natural elements till you reach the top.   It’s a little pricey to install but if you add the levels in stages you can stretch the expense so it’s not overwhelming.  Learn more about this design here. 

Last year I made a similar style out of necessity using reclaimed wood that also might be of interest here.  This one won’t last as long but it’s shows you that the opportunity to grow taller is simply awesome.

So, what were the key things that really grabbed my attention about taller raised beds?

  • They centered around doing things different from everyone else/
  • Maintenance decreased like weeding and watering.
  • The most recognizable difference was how wonderful the plants were responding.

Which takes me back to the foundation and how these beds were established on the inside.  This system can also be found in my new book Startle Garden and it’s also mentioned here. 

The Beginning of a New Startle Garden

My Favorite, The Startle Garden Design

Through trial and error, I finally found the design that worked for my garden style and I introduced it this year in my book, Startle Garden. Building plans can also be found here and like the easy reach beds each level can be incorporated over time.

I love these smaller raised beds spread out in different heights.  These layouts are easy to maintain and allow amazing plant growth. The possibilities are endless and I’ll be sharing every new layout when I install these gardens at the new property, Quail Grove.

If you like these ideas and have been seeking for ways to garden with taller raised beds, I’d like to recommend the safer options I’ve shared today. Each one has been established from the ground up which means you don’t need to be concerned with raised beds on stilts that may tilt and cause harm later.

Taller raised beds are a blast and it’s my hope you add a couple to your garden and see what you think.

Choose Safe Options for Taller Raised Beds


Plant Beautiful Jade Sunflowers

Beautiful Jade Sunflowers

Gardening is such a great thing; it offers the opportunity to learn and grow new things like the beautiful Jade sunflower.  I’ve been growing sunflowers for years but this time around I wanted to focus on a specific variety.

I’ve been seeking unique qualities that include smaller blossoms, additional blooms per stem, a lemon shade of yellow, shorter stem length and a presentation that offers versatility.  All of these traits make for an amazing cut flower which is one of the reasons why I grow flowers.

Being surrounded by fresh cut flowers indoors just makes me feel alive and happy, so it’s no surprise when June arrives I’m arranging pretty vases or jars with cuttings from the garden.

Jade Sunflower Buds

They Welcome Smaller Blossoms

The appearance of smaller blossoms was the main attraction to the Jade variety. The flower blooms between 3-4 inches wide and if you can believe it, they’re pollen free. It doesn’t take them very long to go from a bud to full beauty which is wonderful to watch.

This year I took the time to recognize that development and it was amazing.

Growing huge sunflowers is also enjoyable but over the years I’ve found them to be difficult to arrange with other cut flowers.  They seem to be better by themselves or left in the garden for the birds and bees to enjoy.

Jade Sunflower with additional blooms

Additional Blooms Per Stem

The Jade sunflower offers additional blooms per stem which was another perk.  I like this because there’s an opportunity to use those cuttings for extended table decorating.

Enjoy the freedom to select single flowers spread out in small vases, or use the entire stem for a grand focal point.  Several blossoms floating in water with candles would also look nice.  Additional blooms offer endless possibilities for a nice presentation.

Jade sunflower opening up

Beautiful Shade of Yellow

This particular bloom caught my attention through its peek a boo approach, it felt like there was something it was trying to say. Or maybe it was reminding me to slow down and notice the detail of simplicity.

This is when I observed that wonderful shade of lemon yellow, shortly after that moment the Jade sunflower moved to the top of my favorite list. This color is refreshing where the thought of good things transpire.  What do you think of this color?

Jade also presents a green center that displays very delicate details; it reminded me how thankful I am to have a bright future as big as the Texas blue sky.

Stem Size of Jade Sunflowers

Shorter Stem Length and a Nice Presentation

The stems include additional perks because they’re manageable which keeps them from falling over when it gets really windy.  As you can see they kind of branch out and reach between 35 – and 48 ft.  Since I planted in tires they appear much taller and we’ve had a lot of rain recently so that lower foliage has turned yellow.

These sunflowers would also look great in smaller raised beds like I mention in Startle Garden, offering a grand presentation that provides shade for other plants nearby.

The Jade sunflower is not one to overlook and there’s still time to plant a crop in your own garden.  Seeds can be purchased at Johnny’s Selected Seeds here. It takes between 55-60 days to mature which means planting some Jade might be a great addition to your garden, who knows they may even inspire your next idea.  Do you have a favorite sunflower?

Plant the Beautiful Jade Sunflower