Trend: Outdoor Curtains

Before & After, Outdoor Decor

Ever seen your neighbor put something in their yard and wonder what are they thinking?That is exactly how I imagine my neighbors think, but I’m really hoping they actually think wow, I would have never thought of that – I love it. Love it or hate it, outdoor curtains are a unique way to bring some color and life to your patio.

As a team member at Willard&May, I love the outdoors. My husband and I purchased a home last fall and we were excited to finally get outdoors this summer and improve our outdoor deck. When we first toured this house, we imagined our backyard would be a great space to entertain our friends and family, but also a relaxing retreat for ourselves.

Our large deck features two stories with the second story acting as shade to the lower deck. The upper deck is right off the kitchen and the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee. The lower deck is a great place to set out our grill and relax in the afternoon shade. Since the upper deck creates a cabana-like space over the lower deck, we thought it would be a great idea to try out curtains on the support posts. We thought it would add some color to the space and make it feel like an extension of our home.

To make our outdoor curtains, we purchased four curtain panels from Ikea and a few cheap curtain rods. We sprayed the fabric with water repellent spray, similar to what you’d use for camping purposes. We’d hope that by spraying them it would help them last longer and endure the summer weather elements. We then hung them with the curtain rods underneath the deck so they would be hidden from view. Next, we tied them around the posts to complete the look!

IMG_5909blog IMG_5907blog1 IMG_5906blog
IMG_5895blog IMG_6483blog

To inspire you more, check out other ways to use outdoor curtains on our Outdoor Curtain Pinterest Board and check out our outdoor decor items at Willard&May.


Gift Kits for Mother’s Day

Birds, Gardening, Gifts, Store

Don’t forget, Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12th and time is running out if you were thinking of buying your mother a gift online! Send her a gift that matches her passion – what is she passionate about, other than being your mom? :)

Does your mom love to cook? Does she love to get her hands dirty in the garden? Love to watch the flying creatures in her yard, the birds and butterflies? What about if she doesn’t have a green thumb but still loves plants? If your mom falls into any of those categories, we’ve got you and her covered! Check out the gift kits we put together with your mom in mind – and don’t forget to order by Sunday, May 5th for delivery in time for Mother’s Day!

For the Mom’s that Love to Cook…. 
Herb Growing Kit

For the Mom that Loves to Garden…
Garden Deluxe Collection Gift Kit

For the Mom that Loves to Watch the Birds…
Bird Lover Collection Gift Kit

For the Mom that loves Butterflies…
Butterfly Lover Collection Gift Kit

And for the Mom with a Brown Thumb…
Forever Terrarium Collection Gift Kit

Check out all of our Mother’s Day Gift Kits on Willard & May and show Mom how much you love her!

Spring DIY Projects

Birds, Gardening, Outdoor Decor, Pin Inspiration, Weekend DIY

We’re over a month into spring and well, for most of us, it quite frankly hasn’t felt much like spring yet. Seems like Mother Nature is perhaps a bit confused? Here in Wisconsin we’ve been plagued with the opposite of a drought – never ending rain and very non-spring like temperatures. Some of our friends further north are even getting more snow!

Whether the outside says it’s spring or not, it can still be spring inside your heart. To get thinking spring, check out these fun DIY ideas that incorporate spring ideas – and let’s hope all of these April showers do in fact bring May flowers!

Hose Wreath Tutorial by Create.Craft.Love. hose-wreath

Indoor Herb Garden DIY by DesignSponge

Butterfly Bell Jar Tutorial by The Pin Junkie
If you’re looking for a bell jar/cloche, check out the ones we have available here.

Under $5 Spring Bird Feeder by A Cowboy’s Wife

For more fun spring and DIY ideas, check out our entire DIY Pinterest board.



What’s New for Spring?

Gardening, Gifts, Store

Now that spring is making its appearance, we are sure most of you can’t wait to get your hands in the dirt or grill out for the first time. Now that daylight savings has past and we’ve all recouped from springing forward, it gives us the perfect amount of sunlight to be able to do a few things outdoors after work, before it gets too dark out.

And for us, spring also means new items for our Willard & May Outdoor Living Store! We’re excited to share with you our favorites that will inspire you to get out and garden with a potting bench, have a family fire with a chimenea, or welcome your new neighbors over with a cheerful doormat. Check out our favorites below and be sure to browse around our site for more new items!


1. Modern Bird Feeder 2. Decorative Butterfly Hook 3. Potting Table 4. Garden Chalkboard Sign 5. Spade and Pitch Fork Water Gauge 6. Vertical Planter 7. Grilling Set 8. Plant Markers 9. Rose Doormat 10. Gardening Stool & Tool Set

Plus, check out our new selection of Garden Chimeneas! This season we are featuring four different styles in which each can be taken apart and made into two pieces + each comes with a metal stand. The pieces easily fit inside each other which helps with shipping and storage. Since it can be shipped in a smaller box, we bounce our shipping costs savings back to you by discounting the price on these new varieties! Plus, if you need to store it over the winter, it will take up less space.


1. Black Ivy Chimenea 2. Copper Ribbed Chimenea 3. Green Ivy Chimenea 4. Toscano Ribbed Chimenea


Backyard Friends

Beautiful Outdoors

Sometimes the creatures that live in our backyards can be a treat or a pest. They are likely more of a pest if they unearth your tulip bulbs or dig holes throughout your yard. Unfortunately, we probably spend most of our time focusing on how to get rid of them from flooding our back yard… squirrels, skunks, and other backyard rodents. Remember the movie Over the Hedge?- totally what I’m picturing. Rather than panicking over how they’ve made a new home out of your birdhouse, or are digging through your garbage, perhaps you could take a few minutes and just watch them the next time you are out in your backyard. They are probably more entertaining than you realized.

One photographer, Nancy Rose, decided to poke some fun with her backyard squirrels. These squirrels, one she cleverly named Mr. Peanuts, would go crazy over peanuts left on her picnic table, so she decided to set up little scenes and catch them in action. You can check out her entire collection of funny squirrel photos, but here are also a few below for your enjoyment! Nancy: you are one patient and talented photographer!

Our favorite is the one where the squirrel looks as if he is grilling up some hotdogs – we’re totally looking forward to the day it’s warm enough to do that!





Have any fun photos of the animals in your backyard? Feel free to share below in the comments and maybe we’ll feature you next time!



Before & After: Finding Balance

Before & After, Curb Appeal, Garden Spaces

All that sunshine and fresh air we’ve been getting now that it’s finally warm is probably enough motivation for you to start getting in gear to transform your front yard for spring. But whether you are lacking in the motivation part or not, you can’t help admit this huge before and after really gets you thinking about what you could do with your space – especially if you’ve had all winter to ponder it.

Jan of the blog Green Thumb Blonde recently helped friends of hers transform their front yard. First in 2010 you can see they cut everything back, but then had to wait until 2012 to really get going – that gave them plenty of time to come up with a plan.

Jan first realized the main issue was the lack of balance due to the front door being so off centered. She formulated a plan of action that included a picked fence, stone walkways, and a ton of new plants, bushes and flowers. Check out the full before and after transformation on her blog. What a HUGE difference – we love it! 110% improvement on curb appeal!

MG_7918 (Photos: Jan Meissner)

Have a before and after you’d like to share? Feel free to drop us a comment below!



Green All Year – Faux Terrariums

Gardening, Gifts, Store

You’ve probably heard the phrase “luck of the Irish” – especially since St. Patrick’s Day is this weekend. Upon hearing this phrase, you’d typically think that it means that the Irish are lucky people, when in fact it’s just the opposite. If you look up the history behind that phrase and the Irish, you’ll see that it is not quite good luck they refer to, but that the Irish have particularly bad luck. Ireland faced famine, war, prejudice and had their land taken from them multiple times. However, later on in time, this phrase was also referenced to the times when the Irish came to America and found gold, therefore adding a positive connotation.

If you happen to have the bad “luck of the Irish” when it comes to gardening, you actually may be in luck after all! Keeping plants green (a.k.a. “alive”), does require some hard work. You’ve got to water them, fertilize them, keep pests away, and some of them even need to be cut back regularly. Not to mention some plants only grow in specific environments. So, if you have trouble keeping plants “green” then fake/faux plants are the way to go!

We recently launched a line of faux terrariums, cleverly named “Forever Faux Terrariums” because they will be forever green! If you’ve seen live terrariums and been envious of them, you’ll be happy to know that these Faux Terrariums look and act just like the real ones and you don’t even have to tell people they are fake!

Building a faux terrarium couldn’t be easier! Simply pick out a container. Next,  pick an artificial plant foliage option to place inside and then add a filler option such as rocks or moss. No watering, no cutting back, and no worrying required. You are also in luck because we made an easy to follow step by step How To Guide on Creating a Terrarium. Check out below all the fun options we have + save $5 this weekend only with coupon code: FOREVERGREEN5

faux-fake-artificial-terrariumsTerrarium coupon(1. Bubble Terrarium 2. Square Grass Terrarium 3. Terrarium Lid/Cover 4. Cylinder Terrarium 5. Large Bubble Terrarium 6. Cylinder Terrarium 7. European Terrarium 8. Lotus Terrarium 9. Grass Terrarium 10. Bubble Terrarium)

Not only will these Terrariums stay green forever, they’ll also add some life back into your home. Any interior designer will tell you that adding plants and greenery is crucial to good design. Place a terrarium on a bookshelf, coffee table or use it as a centerpiece for your table. It’s also a good idea to mix a few of them together. Here are just a few ideas to inspire you:

fake-terrarium-1 fake-terrarium-2 fake-terrarium-3 fake-terrarium-4 fake-terrarium-5

No more Irish luck for you and you also no longer have a valid excuse as to why you can’t “grow” a terrarium! And as the Irish say, may the road rise to meet you, which translates to may success be with you!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Attracting Birds to Your Yard // Guest Blog

Birds, Gardening

Written by Guest Blogger, Ernie


Many gardeners have a love/hate relationship with birds and other wildlife. While it can be fun to watch the little critters, sharing your flowers and produce with them can be a bit of an inconvenience. However, there are a lot of benefits to attracting birds to your garden. Below are reasons why and ways that you can do so.

Why Attract Birds?
Birds visit gardens to eat. Like humans, they need a varied diet. So if you provide a variety of plants, they won’t focus on just your berries or tomatoes. By providing a variety of flowers and seeds, you can get the benefits of avian visitors without sacrificing your food supply.

The main benefit of birds is that they get rid of bugs and weeds. A healthy stream of birds in your garden will prevent a buildup of harmful bugs, and uproot many of your weeds. This allows the native plants in your landscape to flourish.

Attracting birds also provides you with the opportunity to witness beautiful creatures in your own yard on a regular basis. Keep a camera handy so that you can try your hand at some nature photography. Maybe you’ll even start scrapbooking.

If the birds are getting into your prized plants, you can always place netting over certain parts of your garden. Just be sure to get materials that birds won’t get stuck in. Finding injured birds in your garden is not worth saving a few tomatoes.


How to Attract Birds
Making your yard bird-friendly does not mean you have to let it run wild. You can landscape in such a way that attracts both birds and humans. The main things that birds need are food, shelter, and water. Plant trees that offer shade and plenty of perching space. The more places there are to hide from predators, the more visitors you’ll get. For double duty, provide trees that grow seeds and/or berries. These foods, added to flowering bushes and berry growing shrubs will make your yard the hoppin’ hotspot for your flying friends.

You can supplement your natural attractions with bird baths, fountains, and feeders as well. Hummingbird feeders are inexpensive to maintain, as you can easily make your own sugar-water solution. If you have seed and mullet feeders, be sure to provide good mixes that don’t contain pesticides and harmful chemicals. A lot of packaged mixes have a bunch of filler that birds don’t actually prefer, so watch out for that.

A water feature can add a lot to your lawn. It brings an air of natural peacefulness to an area. Weather you install a pond, fountain, or bird bath, be sure to maintain it well. Water features can also be breeding grounds for bacteria, so keep them clean. You may need to add a heating function. Line baths with plastic so you can easily lift ice out. Night lights and small lamps can go a long way to prevent freezing.

You don’t have to stop at birds though. Putting nuts out might keep squirrels away from your feeders, but give you the benefit of their presence in your yard. Watching squirrels titter away can be fun as long as their aggression doesn’t startle other wildlife.

Reptiles and amphibians keep bugs away too, so if you have a pond, consider a ceramic toad house to keep toads cool in the summer. They’re great for eating those pesky insects and are great conversation pieces with the grandkids (“how about you go kiss that toad and see if it turns into a prince?” “EWWW!”).

If you take these steps to provide sufficient food, water, and shelter for your native birds, your garden is sure to benefit. You can start by utilizing the resources you already have- bugs and plants, and expand your efforts from there. If you have any tips for attracting birds to a garden, share them in the comments below.


Ernie Allison Ernie Allison has been a “bird nerd” since he was a kid. He loves contributing to conservation efforts and spreading awareness to issues concerning birds and nature in general. Writing for has given him the opportunity to spread awareness as well as learn about hummingbird migration patterns himself.