The 6 best hammocks for backyards and camping

  • Hammocks are a relaxing way to rest in your backyard, at a campsite, or in the backcountry.
  • Factors in buying a hammock include tree access, outdoorsy features, and insect protection.
  • Our top pick, the Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost, lets you lay flat and only costs $40.

Hammocks have been used for literally hundreds of years, dating back to early indigenous Americans. They’re incredibly practical, lifting you off the ground to stay cool in the heat of summer and protected from insects or, in the backcountry, wildlife.

In the modern era, hammocks are often seen swinging in backyards, campsites, frat houses, and teenagers’ bedrooms. They’re prized for their comfort and for how easily they fold up for transport and storage when the R&R session is over.

Each hammock on our list shares a couple of key characteristics in that they hang from two fixed points (not always a tree) and support a person or two. However, that’s where the comparisons stop. Some hammocks are designed for comfort, others for light travel and to withstand the elements outside. Before you buy a hammok, it’s important to think through where you’ll use it, how you’ll set it up, and who might be sharing or borrowing it, which we go into in more detail at the end of this guide.

In the meantime, we’ve personally tested the majority of the hammocks on this list and can confirm – your life can only get better after a nap in any hammock on this list.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Here are our picks of the best hammocks:

The best hammock overall

wildhorn outfitters

The Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost Camping Hammock measures 11-feet long, so you can achieve an almost flat sleeping position when spread out on a diagonal. 

Pros: Long hammock for ideal sleeping comfort, easy to set up and adjust strap system, high-quality materials

Cons: Slightly bulky when packed, not made with ripstop fabric

Most hammocks feel great when you first climb in, your body feeling almost weightless as you ease yourself into a gentle curve and rock back and forth in the breeze. But when you’re ready to shift out of that initial position, you’re basically out of luck. That’s because many hammocks are only comfortably enjoyed on your back and in near-total (but blissful) stillness.

With the Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost hammock, you have the room and support you need to shift positions and move about as you search for that ideal arrangement of your body’s various parts. The 11-foot span of the Outpost allows you to stretch out fully, with room to spare for most people, and creates a nearly flat space when you lie in it diagonally — provided you’re able to secure the ends of the hammock tautly and far enough apart.

At 1 lb 10 oz, this isn’t the lightest parachute nylon hammock, but it’s still light and compact enough for use on overland treks or during climbs. The generous size and comfort of the hammock more than compensate for those few extra ounces. Speaking of ounces, the hammock is tested to support up to 1,000 pounds, though its safety rated at a maximum of 400 pounds.

Read our full review of the Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost hammock.

The best low-cost hammock

newdora hammock

The Newdora Parachute Cloth Ultralight Hammock weighs just 17 ounces, supports up to 600 pounds, and costs less than $30.

Pros: Very low cost, large weight capacity, lightweight and compact

Cons: Inferior rope included with hammock, no setup instructions

There are a lot of positive attributes worth noting about the Newdora Parachute Cloth Ultralight Hammock, but let’s get right to the point: This hammock costs less than dinner at a casual dining restaurant. It’s less than $20 (a bit more if you want the mosquito net) yet in terms of design and material quality, it’s far from cheaply made.

The Newdora Ultralight hammock is perfect for the hiker or climber who needs a place to snooze while taking a break from the adventure. It quickly sets up and is just as easy to take down and pack away, minimizing the time you spend making or breaking camp. At just over 1 pound, it doesn’t add notable gear weight, so you can bring one along even if you’ll spend the nights in a tent and sleeping bag and just want a spot to relax.

The Newdora Ultralight measures 8.75 ft long and 5.4 ft wide. Given those dimensions and its excellent weight capacity, two adults can share it for some cozy relaxation. If you’re going to sleep in this hammock, though, we recommend doing it solo. The attached stuff sack doubles as a handy pocket while the hammock is set up, giving you a spot for a headlamp, phone, snack, and so forth. Speaking of setup, that part is easy thanks to the included tree ropes and steel carabiners.

The best backyard hammock

best choice hammock

Thanks to the included stand, you can set up the Best Choice Products Cotton Double Hammock anywhere, no trees required.

Pros: Sets up anywhere, lightweight hammock and stand, all-season comfort

Cons: Not actually large enough for two adults, expensive, prone to tipping over with vigorous swinging

As the name suggests, the Best Choice Products Cotton Double Hammock is made from soft, woven cotton. You sink into the material, enjoying comfort and support ideal for an afternoon nap, a break from the yard work, or while disappearing into the pages of a great book. Add a blanket and this hammock keeps you warm and cozy in colder weather. It’s a good choice for summertime, too, as the breeze drifts over your stretched-out body.

Perhaps the best part about this hammock is that it comes with a modular steel stand. The stand can be assembled (or disassembled) in a matter of minutes and both the stand segments and the hammock tuck away into a carrying case.

That means you can set up this Best Choice Products Cotton Double Hammock in the yard, on the porch, at a campsite, at a tailgating party, or anywhere else you want — no trees, fence posts, or wall anchors required. As the stand is resin-coated to be weather resistant, you can also set it up in a permanent location.

Oh, and we also love the multiple color and pattern options. 

The best hammock for backpacking

Hummingbird Hammock

Weighing just 7 ounces, the Hummingbird Ultralight Single Hammock folds down to fit inside a pocket or bag.

Pros: Easy to set up, comfortable, durable, lightweight, compact

Cons: Pricier than similar hammocks

Several of our recommended products are ideal for backpacking but when you’re shedding as much weight as you can, the Hummingbird Ultralight Single Hammock is the best choice. It’s comparable to our overall pick in many ways but at $65, it’s pricey, which is why it didn’t nab the top spot. However, you can’t deny the lightweight and its military-grade build quality makes it very durable.

When we reviewed the hammock, our writer found it “much easier to carry than a bulky folding chair,” considering that it folds into a bag that’s smaller than the size of your palm. The size and weight are important if you’re doing a multiday backpacking trip.

Another consideration for using a hammock when backpacking: Due to the way it cradles the body, sleeping in a hammock is better for your spine than lying on rocky ground. Of course, a tent offers protection from the elements but when the opportunity allows, give a hammock a try.

Overall, the Hummingbird Ultralight Single Hammock is easy to set up. It supports a weight limit of 350 pounds, and there is an extra-long version of the hammock for taller folks (it adds 3 ounces to the overall weight) and a double version to fit two people (max weight is 300 pounds). And, the company offers a lifetime warranty. — Les Shu

Read our full review of the Hummingbird Ultralight Single Hammock.

The best hammock for camping

kammock roo double_final

Whether you want to hammock camp or just lounge at the campsite, the Kammok Roo Double packs down small for easy transport and is water-resistant, durable, easy to set up, and comfortable for two people.

Pros: Lightweight, water-resistant, packs down small, comes with lifetime warranty, fits two people comfortably

Cons: Hanging straps not included, expensive, a bit heavy for backpacking (18 oz)

Whether you want an angelic way to nap after a long, hot hike or to forgo your tent and hammock camp, you want a hammock that won’t retain heat and can stand up to the elements.

The Kammok Roo Double is slightly pricier than others on our list, but the durability and small details make it well-worth the investment.

It’s constructed with uber-strong proprietary ripstop nylon — ideal to hold up against all the wear-and-tear of many, many camping trips. The fabric is soft out of the box and treated with DWR water repellency, which means it’ll keep you cool on humid days and dry through lightly wet nights.

The Roo Double hammock is only 18 ounces, but can comfortably fit two people or one person and a dog (that ripstop nylon is also great against dog claws) with a 500-pound weight capacity. It’s also crafted with lot of thoughtful details, like fade-resistant treatment on the brightly-colored fabric and soft seams on the side so you can comfortably hang your legs off.

You can secure the hammock around basically any tree or pole with Kammok’s 10-foot Python straps, which have 20 daisy chain loops that make it easy to latch the hammock’s durable carabiners to, no matter the width of the tree. 

The only downside is the Python straps aren’t included and will cost you an extra $30. Plus, the straps and the hammock itself live in two separate bags so you have to take care to make sure you have both before you leave for your trip (I’ve made that mistake once or twice).

Note that if you want to save weight and money, Kammok also makes the Roo Single for one person (10 ounces, $70). But the Double is only $10 more, roomy to sleep in solo, and allows for versatility on future trips with friends or pets. — Rachael Schultz

The best classic rope hammock


For idling away the hours of a summer afternoon, there’s nothing like a classic woven rope hammock like the Pawleys Island Original hammock.

Pros: Classic style, large enough for two adults, weather-resistant components

Cons: Additional hardware needed for setup, rather expensive

The name of this hammock comes from Pawleys Island, South Carolina, where hammocks were first mass-produced in the United States back in the late 19th century. Not much differs between this hammock and the ones produced more than 125 years ago, too.

It features a double-woven bed made from more than 1,000 feet of braided cotton rope, solid oak spreader bars, and steel hardware. It has a few modern updates, too. The steel is zinc-plated to help it resist corrosion and the oak bars are dipped in a marine spar varnish to enhance their weather resistance.

This classic rope hammock is at its best when one or two people are lying on their backs and doing nothing at all, though reading a book and/or sipping a cocktail or glass of lemonade are also acceptable.

This style of hammock tends to be hard to get in and out of, and others might find the rope less comfortable than a solid weave or parachute fabric. But the nostalgia is real.

The open rope design is inarguably ideal for a hot day as it promotes excellent airflow. This hammock belongs strung up between two elm trees in a suburban backyard or between two palms on the beach. Mine currently resides in the yard of its third residence, the hammock having moved around Southern California and then clear across the country with me.

The best hammock for insect protection

g4free hammock

The G4Free Portable Hammock with Mosquito Net creates a safe, insect-free shelter, keeping you protected from the nuisance and the real dangers of bug bites.

Pros: Protects the user against insects, versatile design, low price point

Cons: Not comfortable enough for multi-day use, netting rips easily

Bug bites and bee stings are up near the top of the list of things that are no fun. While most insect bites are merely annoying, causing an itch or a bit of pain, mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika virus, dengue fever, malaria, and more can be serious, even deadly, issues.

Whether you’re traveling to an area known for endemic insect-borne diseases or you’re just tired of having flies buzzing around you while you try to relax, the G4Free Portable Hammock with Mosquito Net is a great solution.

The hammock itself is made from smooth, supportive parachute-style nylon and generously accommodates a single adult user. Two hoop-shaped wireframes hold the insect netting up and out of the way, creating a large interior area in which you can sit up and move about without constantly touching the mesh. The netting can also be detached and moved out of the way when not needed.

The materials used to construct the hammock, mesh, and the supporting roping are all mildew and rot-resistant, making this insect shelter hammock a great choice for use in jungles, on beaches, and in various tropical locations. Your back might protest after multiple nights of sleeping in it, though, as it does dip noticeably when in use.

What to look for when buying a hammock

Hammocks are amazing for any leisurely outdoor experience, whether in the backyard or backcountry. But what you want in one is entirely different for those two situations.

We tested models from some of the most well-respected hammock makers in the industry for all types of lounging experiences. But there are a few key things to consider before deciding which to buy:

First, who will be using the hammock? Every hammock has a weight capacity and size capacity, so consider the size of the single person, or if you’ll want to lay in it with your sweetie, regularly. 

When will you use your new hammock? This issue is a bit more nuanced than you might think. Sure, saying “I’ll probably use it on Saturday afternoons” might be the right answer, but you should also consider the season (temperature and insects can be factors in choosing) and if you will be using the hammock overnight.

Where you install the hammock — will you use it camping in the wilderness or only on the patio beside the pool? Is it going to be hung in the basement playroom or in a bedroom? Will you want to set up and take down the hammock frequently and in various locations, or leave it as a semi-permanent installation? Not only do these allow you to select the right hammock but make sure you’re getting the most out of which one you ultimately decide on. 

Finally, how will you use your hammock? Is this purely a leisure investment or if you want to get into hammock camping. The latter you can also use in your backyard, but you can’t take, say, a rope hammock to a National Park and expect to get a good night’s sleep in it. Many are designed for specific use cases and using them improperly can significantly impact the experience. 

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The 4 best garden mulches of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Mulch can help preserve soil moisture, block weeds, and enrich and improve the soil.
  • An affordable, quality mulch helps to protect natural resources and improve your home’s garden.
  • FibreDust’s CoCo Mulch is our top pick because it’s replacement-free for up to three years.

Of course, tall-blooming tulips, blossoming vegetables, and freshly-cut flowers are the stars of your garden, but mulch is the lesser-noticed necessity that makes everything come together. A good mulch will prevent weeds from sprouting, conserve moisture, and add nutrients to the soil for healthier plants.

There are nearly as many varieties of mulch as there are plants. Natural mulches include tree bark, sawdust, wood chips, chopped autumn leaves, pine straw, oyster shells, cocoa bean shells, crushed and natural stone, and even newsprint paper. Recycled rubber, plastic pellets, and plastic sheeting are used to create inorganic mulches.

We researched these four garden mulches and added some testing notes to provide options for all of your gardening needs. I’ve used my expertise growing up on a farm and tapped into the knowledge of the horticulture specialists and county agents I worked with at Clemson University Extension. You’ll find answers to frequently asked gardening questions at the end of this guide.

Here are the best garden mulches of 2021

The best garden mulch overall

coco slide

FibreDust’s CoCo Mulch is made of 100% coconut husk, is nontoxic, and won’t have to be replaced for up to three years.

Pros: Nontoxic, low maintenance, can be used on sloped surfaces, adds some color to your garden

Cons: Expands if ingested by pets

How to use: Hydrate with four gallons of water and each block will expand to two cubic feet of mulching medium

It’s no surprise that maintaining a garden is a full-time job in and of itself, and FibreDust’s CoCo Mulch makes your time trimming and watering that much easier. It’s toxic-free, coconut-based, and you won’t have to worry about replacing it for at least three years — thanks to coconut’s high lignin content.

Unlike bark mulches, the coco mulch doesn’t float and can be used on sloped surfaces.  The rust-like color will add a touch of vibrance to your garden, unlike the dull, moss-brown base that’s characteristic of most spaces. 

The best inorganic mulch border

Perma mulch

The Plow & Hearth Perma Mulch Border is easy to roll and cut for perfectly neat edges around garden beds. 

Pros: eliminates weeding, made of recycled rubber, no strong color, creates a precise look for your garden

Cons: None

How to use: Hold it up at the intersection of the grass and soil, then cut to your liking

I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of inorganic mulches. Somehow putting rubber or plastic pellets around natural vegetation just doesn’t seem right. However, the Plow & Hearth Perma Mulch Border creates a precise, neat edge to a garden bed.

The 4.5-inch wide border is made from recycled shredded rubber tires and comes in a 10-foot roll. The rubber shreds are bonded together and thick enough to prevent weeds but permeable enough to allow waterflow into the soil. 

I use it in the vegetable, annual, and perennial beds where I surround the tender plants with compost. The black rubber blends in well, helps keep the lighter compost in place, and is sturdy to combat harsh wind conditions. 

The best mulch for potted plants

Dirtco. Houseplant Mulch

To best maintain your fiddle leafs and prized philodendrons, the Dirtco. Houseplant Mulch increases moisture retention and prevents overheating during the warmer months.

Pros: Promotes moisture retention, great all year round, long-lasting, doesn’t attract insects

Cons: Small bag (2-quart size)

How to use: The amount applied to your pot depends on your plant’s size. Dirtco. notes that two quarts of mulch is adequate for several plants.

Dirtco.’s Houseplant Mulch is our top pick because it promotes moisture retention and growth for indoor and outdoor potted plants alike. Because the bark mulch reduces water evaporation, your tropical house plants will require less watering.

It’s perfect for all times of the year since it will prevent overheating in warm weather and insulate roots during the colder months. These chips — made of natural wood chips — will last longer than shavings and create an insect-free environment to protect the longevity of your plants, too.

The best mulch for freshly seeded lawns

EZ Straw mulch

Your hard work reseeding a lawn won’t be for naught if you use EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack to keep the seeds in place.

Pros: Protects freshly seeded areas, biodegradable, covers 500-square-feet, comes in a heavy-duty bag for easy storage.

Cons: May look odd in some garden spaces

How to use: First, spray the soil and lay down the seed. Then, apply the straw until it’s fully covered. Lightly spray the straw so it stays intact and activates the bonding agent.

Wind, excessive water, birds, and squirrels are all ready to snatch grass seeds out of the ground, so it’s important to protect them. The EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack will do just that and more, as one bag covers 500 square feet and facilitates the growth of fresh grass.

This mulch is a natural, biodegradable straw that has an applied bonding agent. This holds it together and creates a mat over the freshly planted seeds. I use it for both lawn repair and to protect flower and vegetable seeds that I sow directly into the soil. The straw is biodegradable and will naturally decay after the seeds sprout.

This may not be the most beautiful mulch you’ve ever seen, but it’s extremely helpful in the garden.

What else we tested

Vigoro mulch

Here are some other types of mulch, including a mulch enhancer, we considered that didn’t make the cut, though may work well for your garden:

Vigoro Rubber Mulch: While it looks like wood mulch and is more durable (lasts for years), it does not provide nutrients to the soil. The biggest downfall is that it is nearly impossible to maintain if you have falling leaves or pine needles in the fall. 

MSI Dorado Beach River Rock: It’s hard to maintain in areas where deciduous shrubs and trees shed leaves. And since rocks don’t always fit together tightly, light can still get to weed seeds and cause them to sprout. 

Butler Arts Natural Landscaping Seashells: A tropical look may not fit your decorating style and this mulch is more expensive than most other choices.

Scotts 25-Year Pro Landscape Fabric: Geotextiles aren’t so attractive in the home garden, but it’s a heavy-duty and long-lasting option when secured with landscaping staples, and worth every penny. Landscape fabric can also serve as a great base layer to protect against weeds; mulch can then be laid over top.

How to shop for mulch

slide image

The key to the successful use of mulch is knowing the best type of mulch to use, and your local county extension office can help you determine the best one for your garden site and growing zone.

Whatever type of mulch you use, be sure to use a generous amount. A thin layer of mulch may look good in the short term but, in the long term,  it won’t block the weeds or do much good to hold moisture in the soil. You need at least two to four inches of mulch to make an impact.

As you spread the mulch, remember to keep it several inches away from the stem of the plant or trunk of the tree or shrub to prevent rot from too much moisture. Plants need moisture in the roots, not next to the stem. 

Frequently asked questions

The best garden mulch

Is mulch good for the garden?

Yes. Mulching a garden helps control weeds and soil erosion, conserves moisture, protects soil and plant roots from harsh temperatures, enriches the soil, and improves the appearance of the garden.

What kind of mulch is best for gardens?

Choosing mulch is much like choosing plants for the garden. The “best one” depends on garden soil conditions, drainage, the aesthetics you desire, and how much you want to spend. Newsprint is an excellent mulch but it doesn’t look very appealing in the garden. River rocks are natural and beautiful but can be difficult to maintain under deciduous trees. 

What is the best mulch to prevent weeds?

Weeds or any unwanted plant growth are best controlled with a mulch that blocks sunlight completely. Without sunlight, most weeds won’t grow. Blocking light can be accomplished by a very thick layer (I suggest 2 to 4 inches) of any dense mulch like wood chips, sawdust, or even grass clippings.

For the best weed control, use a layer of landscaping fabric held in place with landscaping staples to completely block light from the soil. Cover the fabric with a layer of decorative mulch for a more natural appearance. If you don’t choose to use a landscaping fabric, eradicating the weeds by hoeing or using a natural or chemical weed killer before mulching will give you the best results.

What mulch is best to use around the foundation of your house?

Ideally, plantings and mulched areas should be kept at least one foot from the foundation. To help encourage good drainage to keep the ground drier and prevent washouts from downspouts, this area can be topped with natural stone or an inorganic mulch like plastic or rubber pellets.

If you’re concerned about a possible insect infestation, use only an inch or so of organic mulch nearest the foundation and inspect often for termites. There are actually two types of wood mulch that termites dislike — cedar and heartwood cypress mulch. Both are more expensive than other types of natural mulch but well-worth your peace of mind.

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The 6 best wild bird seeds and food of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Different species of birds have different preferences when it comes to seeds. If you offer the wrong type, you likely won’t have many feathered visitors. This is a frequent problem if you fill your feeders with the least expensive “Wild Bird Seed Blend” on supermarket shelves, which generally include unfavorable milo and millet seed.

We rounded up the best bird seeds preferred by certain bird species, like bluebirds, cardinals, and finches. Be sure to do some research to learn which birds native to your region so you can buy the right seed to raise your chances of spotting some beautiful new backyard visitors.

To maintain freshness, it’s important to store your bag of seeds in a dry, cool, and dark place when not offered to birds outside. Make sure to clean your bird feeders weekly, too.

Here are the best bird seeds and food of 2021

The best wild bird seed overall

bird seed

Valley Splendor contains black oil sunflower seeds, which most wild birds love, and it’s also affordable enough to keep your feeders full. 

Pros: Appeals to a large variety of birds, reasonable price, works with different types of feeders

Cons: Dropped shells make a mess, attracts squirrels

Available quantities: 2-, 5-, 10-, 20-, and 40-pound bags

Black oil sunflower seeds are smaller and have thinner shells than ones offered for human snacking. Because of this, even small birds are able to crack them open.

Fill your hopper, tube, platform, or hanging feeder with Valley Splendor Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, and you’ll soon have crowds of various birds visiting your yard. Some species you may see include chickadees, finches, titmice, jays, grosbeaks, cardinals, sparrows, and doves.

Though dropped shells can become messy and the seeds may attract squirrels, these two downsides are relatively common among bird seed.

The best wild bird seed mix

bird seed

If you want a mix that will attract a wide variety of birds, Wagner’s Greatest Variety Wild Bird Food offers an excellent medley.

Pros: Attracts a wide variety of birds

Cons: Contains some less popular types of seed, appeals to squirrels

Available quantities: 6- or 16-pound bag

With lots of black oil sunflower, along with striped sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, white millet, red millet, cracked corn, red milo, nyjer, peanut kernels, canary seed, and safflower, Wagner’s Greatest Variety Wild Bird Food is a buffet for finches, chickadees, cardinals, jays, titmice, sparrows, woodpeckers, and juncos alike.

You can fill your hopper, platform, or hanging bird feeder for the most visitors, or scatter some on a ground feeder for doves and other scavenging birds. Like our best overall pick, Wagner’s may also attract squirrels.

Wagner’s Greatest Variety Wild Bird Food Mix does contain some less-popular or frequently wasted seed, but the majority of the seeds are crowd-pleasers. 

The best no-mess wild bird seed

bird seed

Lyric Sunflower Kernels are pre-shelled so you won’t find a mess of discarded seed casings underneath your feeder. 

Pros: No shells to make a mess, little wasted seed, appeals to a wide range of birds

Cons: Attracts squirrels, can spoil easily if the seed gets wet

Available quantities: 5- or 25-pound bag

Birds tend to drop shells to the ground and kick undesired seeds out of the feeder, but Lyric’s Sunflower Kernels feed combats this issue with already-shelled seeds that will leave your backyard clean.

This bird seed only contains pure sunflower seed pieces and, because sunflower seed is so popular with so many species of birds, it’s unlikely you’ll have leftover or wasted seed.

The one caveat to these kernels is that they’ll easily spoil if they become wet, so be sure to store them in a dry place. These seeds also attract squirrels, so you may not have much wasted seed left in your feeder anyway.

Fill your hopper, tube, platform, or ground feeder with the sunflower kernels, and enjoy watching finches, titmice, sparrows, grosbeaks, buntings, chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, doves, and other favorite species gather for the feast.

Editor’s note: This item is temporarily out of stock. We will continue to update inventory.

The best wild bird seed to attract finches

bird seed

If you love small songbirds like the American goldfinch, fill your feeders with Wagner’s Nyjer Seed Premium Wild Bird Food and listen to their happy singing.

Pros: Appeals to small songbirds, little waste, won’t sprout if it falls to the ground

Cons: Spoils easily, can be messy

Available quantities: 2-, 5- 10-, 20-, or 50-pound bag

Tiny black nyjer seed — also called thistle seed — is a favorite among small songbirds, including the beautiful yellow, black, and white American goldfinch. Wagner’s Nyjer Seed Premium Wild Bird Food also attracts house finches, purple finches, redpolls, indigo buntings, and pine siskins.

Because the seed is so small, it’s generally served out of thistle feeders or sock feeders specifically designed to dispense seeds without allowing larger “bully” birds to hog all the food.

Small songbirds can easily pull the nyjer seeds out of the feeder’s small ports or mesh, but larger birds can’t get a grip or perch, so give up in frustration.

Since nyjer spoils fairly easily and can be somewhat messy, it’s best to only provide enough for birds to eat within a day or so.

The best wild bird seed to attract cardinals

bird seed

Northern cardinals will fly to your feeder full of Kaytee Safflower Seed, as it includes the breed’s much-loved seed: safflower. 

Pros: Attracts cardinals and other strong-beaked birds, squirrels generally leave it alone

Cons: Appeals to a smaller variety of birds than other seed types, messy shells drop under the feeder

Available quantity: 5-pound bag

If you live in the eastern half of the United States, you can have northern cardinals regularly visit your backyard. The bright red plumage of the male cardinal is so distinctive that you don’t need birding knowledge to recognize it. Females aren’t as brightly colored but are still beautiful with yellow-gray bodies and soft brown tails and wings.

While cardinals are happy to dine on several types of bird seed, they go crazy for safflower. That’s why filling your hopper, platform, or hanging feeder with Kaytee Safflower Seed is likely to bring them calling. Other common birds that like safflower include grosbeaks, jays, and woodpeckers.

Because safflower seeds have thick shells, many other backyard birds will pass them by. You may find discarded shells under your feeder, which is common with miniature seeds such as these. And, wonderfully enough, squirrels will typically leave safflower seed alone.

The best wild bird food to attract bluebirds

bird seed

If you want to attract bluebirds to your yard, you’ll need to skip the seed and tempt them with freeze-dried Kaytee Mealworms Wild Bird Food.

Pros: Appeals to bluebirds and other insect-eating species

Cons: None

Available quantity: 17.6-ounce bag

Bluebirds don’t eat a lot of seeds and prefer insects or other high-protein foods instead. Kaytee Mealworms Wild Bird Food appeals to eastern, western, and mountain bluebirds, as well as cardinals, robins, wrens, and woodpeckers.

Mealworms are derived from beetle larvae. Since they are freeze-dried — as opposed to alive — most people find it easy to add them to their feeders.

While the worms are an excellent food source for bluebirds all year round, they are especially appreciated during the spring nesting season, when the parent birds need extra food for their young.

These mealworms are perfect for a platform or hanging tray. Don’t pour out too much at once, as these are a supplement to the bluebirds’ diet, not a mainstay. 

Check out our other birdwatcher buying guides


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The 5 best sprinklers of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good sprinkler can save money, protect natural resources, and provide optimal gardening results.
  • We looked at durability, water distribution, ease of use, and price while testing.
  • We rounded up sprinklers best for small and large lawns alike, as well as an option for seedlings.

Every gardener, including those without a green thumb, needs the right tools and knows that plants need water to survive. That’s why it’s important to understand the watering requirements of different plants, your local climate and soil, and how to properly add supplemental water.

If you don’t have an automatic irrigation system installed, and don’t have time to water every area of your garden with a hose or watering can, you’ll need a sprinkler to help distribute water in your garden. But watering seedlings, hanging plants, and your entire yard each need a different delivery system and pressure, so we’ve provided a variety of options depending on what type of plants you’re caring for.

We tested sprinklers for durability, water distribution, ease of use, and, of course, price.

Here are the best sprinklers of 2021

The best sprinkler for large lawns

Nelson sprinkler

The Nelson RainTrain Traveling Sprinkler moves along a garden hose up to 200 feet so you don’t have to shift the sprinkler when watering large areas. 

Pros: Covers large lawns, don’t have to move the sprinkler, automatic shut-off to prevent water waste, full-circle spray pattern

Cons: Learning curve for first use, not suitable for heavily planted or highly sloped natural areas

When you need to provide water to a large, open expanse, the Nelson RainTrain Traveling Sprinkler is your best bet, as it can cover up to 13,500 square feet quickly and efficiently.

Nelson’s sprinkler comes with three speeds to adjust saturation levels: high, for faster traveling with less spray; neutral, for targeting a specific area with the sprinkler set to one place; and low, for slower traveling with more spray. 

After selecting your preferred speed, you can adjust the spray arms to cover between 15 to 55 feet in diameter. And, it works for large and small yards alike, since moving the arms downward will focus on a narrow area, while turning them upward at a 30-degree angle will maximize coverage. 

The Nelson moves along a garden hose path up to 200 feet, so you don’t have to move the full-circle sprinkler on your wide plot, and it will automatically shut off after its cycle to prevent water waste. Lawn maintenance will be even more hassle-free if you use a ⅝-inch hose because a smaller one can cause the sprinkler to go off its track. 

After several seasons of use, I am still impressed with the high-grade materials and durability. There’s a bit of a learning curve, however, to make sure the sprinkler runs at the speed you desire and to properly set up the hose path.

The best sprinkler for small lawns

melnor flow sprinkler

The Melnor XT Metal Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler with Flow Control is precise and perfect for watering small areas.

Pros: Adjustable width, range, and flow of water pattern

Cons: Must be moved frequently to cover large areas of lawn

The Melnor XT Metal Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler with Flow Control is durable, customizable, and precisely-designed for small spaces. It features controls to adjust the width, range, and flow of the watering pattern, which came in handy when I wanted to pinpoint specific areas — like a newly-planted bed — that required watering. 

You can choose from 20 different nozzles that cover up to 4,500 square feet. You can also remove the metal filter to be cleaned for efficient maintenance. The end plug even doubles as a cleaning tool for the nozzles.

I’m impressed with Melnor‘s smooth movements and its adaptability — particularly how it doesn’t shoot water too high into the air, which tends to evaporate the water before it hits the ground. Though you have to move the sprinkler from area to area, its precise power makes it one of our top picks.

The best sprinkler for flowers and vegetables

Gardena sprinkler

For newly seeded areas or tender young plants, the Gardena Spray Spike Sprinkler delivers the water they need without harming their growth.

Pros: Simple to install, delivers water in a fine mist spray, adjustable for coverage area

Cons: Hose connector may break if not handled carefully

Whether I direct-sow into the soil or start seeds indoors, the water freshly planted seeds need must be delivered gently or they will wash away or drown. That’s why I love the Gardena Spray Spike Sprinkler, which delivers moisture in a fine-mist spray that slowly soaks into the soil to protect your hard work outside.

The mist is delivered in a circular pattern that can reach a diameter of up to 10 yards and cover up to 1,000 square feet. However, by reducing the water pressure, the diameter can be adjusted to cover much smaller areas. 

Though the plastic hose connector may break if not carefully handled, its set-in-place installation makes it perfect for novice gardeners who want full blooms and ripe harvests.

The best soaker hose

Gilmour hose sprinkler

Gilmour’s Flat Soaker Hose will effectively transport much-needed water to the root systems of mature trees, shrubs, and plants.

Pros: Available in several lengths, connectable, flow rate is adjusted at the water faucet

Cons: May need landscaping staples to hold the hose in place

If you’re tired of dragging a hose and sprinkler around the yard but don’t want a built-in sprinkler system, you need the Gilmour Flat Soaker Hose. It winds underneath the mulch to gently provide the moisture plants need without losing water to evaporation, which also conserves water. 

Since the water is going directly to the root balls, there is less danger of mildew and other foliage diseases caused by excessive moisture. Weed control is also easier because there’s less surface water to sprout unwanted seeds. And, it saves time because I don’t have to reposition sprinklers.

The hose — which is lightweight and also comes in a 25′ option — has a clog-resistant fabric cover that promotes easy water flow.  The hose is easy to place and mold around the base of plants to deliver water right where you want it, and you can join additional hoses, if needed, to cover the entire area. 

Though you may need landscaping staples to hold the hose in place, its fabric cover also makes it more durable than other brands. Each late autumn, I flush it out and bring it inside for storage and it’s lasted me for more than five years.

The best budget sprinkler

Melnor XT sprinkler

If you’re working with a tight budget to complete other outdoor projects, the Melnor XT 4000 Oscillating Sprinkler will affordably water your lawn in the warmer months.

Pros: Budget-friendly, covers 4,000-square-feet, adjustable coverage settings, turbo-drive motor, built-in cleaner

Cons: Plastic components can break more easily

Melnor is a leading name in garden sprinklers, and the brand’s Melnor XT 4000 Oscillating Sprinkler lives up to its name and is budget-friendly. Covering 3,700-square feet, the oscillating sprinkler has 18 nozzles —six of which have a positive shutoff —and adjustable settings for width and range. There’s also a built-in cleaning tool to prevent debris buildup and help the water flow.

Though the plastic components can break more easily than more expensive all-metal sprinklers, the turbo-drive motor is durable enough to last you from season to season. Just be sure to move it out of direct sunlight when not in use to help prolong its life.

What to know if you’re a first-time gardener or landscaper

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If you’re looking to learn more about landscaping and the needs of your local flora, one of the best places to start is your local county extension office — and it’s free. As a farmer’s daughter, I worked with horticulture specialists and county agents at Clemson University Extension who advised me to spend some time observing these four things before sprinkling water everywhere:

  • Plant variety in the garden: Trees, shrubs, lawn grasses, annuals, and perennials all have different water needs. If you are just getting started, try to group plants with similar water needs together.
  • Climate and annual rainfall: Windy, dry climates are very different from cloudy, humid areas and require different water levels and methods of delivery to get the most moisture to the plant’s root system.
  • Soil type: Get to know your dirt. Clay soil is heavy and water is absorbed slowly so you need to water at a slow rate. Water passes through sandy soil quickly and plants need to be watered more often. Loam soil, a combination of sand, clay, and organic matter, distributes water evenly and is the easiest to manage.
  • Size and slope of the garden: Sprinkler choices will depend upon the terrain and the size of the area that needs watering.

Check out our other lawn care guides

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The 5 best lawn mowers

The 5 best electric lawn mowers

The 5 best riding lawn mowers

The 4 best garden hoses

The best garden hose nozzles

The best gardening and landscaping tools

The best gardening gloves

The best gardening shovels

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best hose hangers of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A hose hanger can help you extend the life of your hose and keep it free of knots and tangles.
  • Our top pick is the JBscoop Stainless Steel Hose Holder because of its simple, sturdy design.
  • Below, we also include hose hangers for gardeners on a budget, decorative options, and more.

A hose hanger has one job: To keep a hose organized, whatever its length. Storing a hose off the ground keeps the hose from kinking or cracking and protects the ground vegetation. Hose hangers are sometimes called hose reels. Reels have a hand crank mechanism with a rotating body that allows users to tidy up a hose quickly after watering. Hose hangers come in freestanding or wall-mounted options.

While some hoses come with cheap, flimsy plastic hangers, a solid hose hanger made of metal or durable plastic is preferable for wrangling a heavy-duty garden hose. A quality hose hanger should be able to handle the total weight of your garden hose without warping, be weather-resistant and, ideally, fit with your outdoor decor. We found hose hangers to suit different needs, including budget hangers, freestanding models, and more. 

Here are the best hose hangers

The best overall

jbscoop hose hanger
All you need are two stainless steel screws to mount this sturdy hanger.

The JBscoop Stainless Steel Hose Holder is a simple hose hanger with a heavy-duty design. 

What we like: Durable, easy-to-mount, not an eyesore

This rust-proof hose hanger is a no-frills storage solution for various hoses, including water and air hoses. The stainless steel design is built to withstand life outdoors and it can hold a half-inch diameter hose that’s up to 120 feet in length. The company also offers a money-back guarantee for those not satisfied with the wall-mounted hanger. The sleek design fits in with any modern garage or garden backdrop. 

The best on a budget

AMES Wall Mounted Poly Hanger BIG CORRECT ONE
Works for hoses ranging from 50 to 150 feet.

The ultra-inexpensive AMES Wall Mounted Poly Hanger is a basic, budget hose hanger that gets the job done.

What we like: Affordable, sturdy 

You’ve already spent a chunk of money on a quality hose for your garden, you don’t necessarily need to drop more cash on an expensive hanger. This hose hanger is a budget model with a thick plastic construction that can hold a hose that’s up to 150 feet and ⅝-inch in diameter. Thanks to its easy-to-mount design, it’s an excellent choice for gardeners seeking a low-cost hose storage solution that won’t eat into their landscaping budget. 

The best hose reel

Liberty Basics Wall Mount Hose Reel
The keyhole design makes it easy to remove a hose for the winter season.

This convenient Liberty Basics Wall Mount Hose Reel is ideal for wrangling long, heavy hoses. 

What we like: Side winding mechanism, easy to reel in a wayward hose, can easily remove hose for winter storage 

Install this hose hanger right onto your outdoor water tap and connect the included black leader hose to get started. The winding, hand crank mechanism rolls up a hose without creating kinks or knots. It can hold hoses up to 100 feet and ⅝-inch in diameter. When winter comes along, the keyhole build allows you to easily access the hose to remove it for storing indoors to protect it from freezing weather. The reel also includes wood mounting screws and anchors. Additionally, it features a durable, heavy-duty plastic construction that can handle four-season exposure. 

The best decorative hanger

 GOFORWILD Garden Hose Holder
A powder-coated finish protects the hanger from harsh weather.

A solid construction and ornate design make the GOFORWILD Garden Hose Holder an attractive addition to any outdoor space.

What we like: Attractive ornamental look, durable and practical

This decorative hose hanger is for the gardener looking to add a functional yet aesthetically-pleasing accessory to their space. The holder is made of cast aluminum and features a powder-coated finish for maximum durability. It can handle a hose of up to 125 feet and ⅝-inches in diameter. Gold accents give it an antique flair, and the arc shape of the holder prevents hose kinks and damage. Mount it anywhere there’s a solid surface, like a fence or wall. Like our previous pick, it has a keyhole mounting system that makes accessing the hose for winter storage a breeze. 

The best with added storage

DF OMER Plastic Garden Water Hose Holder
The hidden compartment reveals added storage with built-in shelves.

The hide-away design of the DF OMER Plastic Garden Water Hose Holder makes it a dual-purpose gardening accessory.

What we like: Made of thick, durable plastic, compartment perfect for garden tool storage 

This hose holder is made of weatherproof plastic and holds a hose of up to 150 feet and ⅝-inches in diameter. It comes with a generous 2-year warranty and features a built-in compartment. It’s a clever design for gardeners who have limited storage space for tools and other gardening accessories. The storage space measures 10 x 7 x 5 inches and has two shelves to keep things organized. Because it’s made of plastic, it’ll never rust. It also installs quickly, requiring only two screws and a screwdriver. 

The best freestanding

Artigarden Freestanding Garden Hose Holder
The no-bend hanger design helps hoses maintain their shape.

No wall? No problem. The Artigarden Freestanding Garden Hose Holder is a solid metal hanger that you can place right onto your lawn.

What we like: Works in situations where wall-mounting isn’t possible, incredibly durable 

The heavy-gauge metal hose hanger holds hoses up to 150 feet in length. Its three-prong base provides support and keeps it stable no matter where on your lawn you decide to put it. The triangular hanger portion also features a nozzle holder to keep your hose organized from tail to tip. It requires some assembly, but putting it together is relatively easy, and there’s no need to find a wall for mounting. Because it’s not permanently mounted to a wall, it’s an ideal choice for renters or gardeners searching for an impermanent hose hanger option. 

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