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KUSA - Few things are as aggravating to a gardener than a lawn that sneaks into flower beds. Once there, the grass roots are very difficult to extricate once they infiltrate perennial plants. While there are many types of edging materials, none has been invented that can't be outsmarted by grass.

The most effective barrier is a cliff. That's right, create a small cliff to edge your beds. Grass can't grow into air. This system is used in England, Canada, Australia and in Proctor's Garden.

Use a flat spade to cut straight down at the edge of the bed. Remove the sod and you'll end up with a cliff beyond which the grass can't grow. Grade the soil in the flower bed into a slope that ends at the cliff, not allowing any plants with eight inches or so of the great divide.

If you want a straight edge, use stake and string to make it neat. Curved edges are also possible.

The cliff usually needs to be re-cut each spring; remove eroded soil that fills it in. The edge can be trimmed with a string trimmer or old-fashioned edging shears. The best part, aside from its effectiveness, is the price--it's free.

Another garden money-saver is the craft of transforming inexpensive plastic pots with a faux finish. Orange ones can be toned down to resemble terra pots and black, green or tan plastic can be painted a terra cotta color and then finished to look more convincing.

Match an old clay pot at the paint store to find a vintage clay pot color. Buy a flat finish outdoor latex paint. It sticks to plastic quite well, although touch-ups may be needed after several years if the finish gets scratched.

To create the final finish, use rags to streak and dabble on muddy colors of brown and green that start with the initial old clay pot color. I mix various old paints stored in the basement to create dull variations, just the way on old pot has a mottled finish. Wipe off most of what you apply this way or your pot will resemble a sponge-finished wall rather than a clay pot.

Hardware stores also carry textured spray paints in stone colors that can help achieve the right effect. Use them sparingly. They can also be dabbled or streaked with a rag directly after application. In general, pull your streaks straight down for a believable look. With practice, you can turn a motley collection of plastic pots into a collection of attractive terra cotta.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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