20 weekend projects for under $20 

How to make the most of limited time and resources

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Plant an indoor garden in old dishes

We frequently find ourselves coveting the banana trees, Christmas cacti and creeping Charlies that belong to our friends. Rather than going out and blowing a bunch of money on replica houseplants, we’ve found a free alternative: trimming pieces off he coveted plants to grow new ones. Once you secure a trimming, place it in a glass of water for a few weeks until it grows a root system. Once that happens, put some dirt in a funky dish and start your new indoor garden.

Caulk around windows and doors

A tube of latex caulk costs less than $2. It’s a good investment, considering that applying a good seal around windows and doors will protect your house from water damage, while better ensuring energy efficiency.

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news
  • Cathrine L. Walters

Transform a shower curtain into window shades

Purchasing window curtains can be pricey. A good alternative is to buy a fabric shower curtain and, with a bit of sewing, transform it into something appropriate for a living room, kitchen or bedroom. Measure window size and cut the curtain to fit. When calculating the dimensions, make sure to leave extra room so you can fold over all four edges, which will enable you to hem three of the edges to prevent future fraying, and slip a curtain rod through the top fold.

Make a river rock boot tray

If you’re sick of the puddles that snow-covered boots leave by the front door, make a river rock boot tray. To get started, purchase a serving tray that’s at least 1.5-inches deep (Target sells them for under $20). Then, harvest stones from the banks of a nearby river—stones are important, because they elevate the shoes and provide drainage, aiding moisture evaporation. Once you have the supplies, line the base of the tray with plastic wrap, which will make future cleaning easier, and apply the stones.

Make a magazine rack with plywood and upholstery fabric

A magazine rack can help a household get organized, and it only takes a piece of plywood, some upholstery fabric and a staple gun to make one. You’ll need to secure a piece of plywood that’s roughly 4 x 1 and track down upholstery fabric—JoAnne’s in Missoula sells it for $12 a yard and up. Use the material to cover the plywood and a staple gun to secure it. Cut three or four strips of fabric that are wide enough to wrap around the plywood and long enough to fold over to make pockets large enough to accommodate magazines.

Replace baseboards

Replacing beaten-up baseboards and wall trim will make a room feel cleaner. To remove the old ones, use a utility knife to cut through paint or caulking that separates the existing boards from the wall. Once that’s done, gently pull it away with a putty knife before switching over to a crow bar or hammer. New baseboards and molding can be purchased at Home ReSource for between 15 cents and 50 cents per foot and applied with finishing nails.

click to enlarge Missoula Independent news
  • Cathrine L. Walters

Mulch your trees

Trees like it when you nurture them. Among the best ways to care for a tree is to mulch it. Half a cubic yard of mulch should run in the neighborhood of $20. That’s enough for a 3-inch-thick application across 54 square feet, and enough to give your tree the nutrients it’s been craving.

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