The favorite tools of HGTV's Fixer Upper co-hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines? "I'm a fan of the hand sander," Joanna says. "When a piece is painted, I like to distress it to give it more character." Chip's pick? The chain saw. "It's a powerful tool that gets the job done fast," he says.
Straw is a more utilitarian mulch typically used in vegetable gardens or strawberry patches. Straw is simply the stalks of grain plants. Ask your local straw supplier if their product is clean (doesn’t contain grain heads) and weed-free. Prevent weed seed issues by spreading three sheets of damp newspaper under straw. Some gardeners let straw bales sit a few weeks so weed or grain seeds germinate. This leads to moldy straw—plan to wear a dust mask if you have allergies. Expect to get one to two growing seasons out of straw, depending on how thickly you spread it.