Tips to Improve Flower Arrangements

There is no doubt that a beautiful fresh flower arrangement adds beauty and elegance to the decor of a home. Knowing some unique ways to help keep the cut flowers fresh, speed up the assembly of the arrangement and enhance the appearance of the finished design will make the flower arrangement look more professional.

Ways to Retain the Freshness of Cut Flowers

  • If the flowers are being cut from the garden carry them in a heads-down position. This will ensure that heavy-headed flowers will not snap off.
  • Lay the flowers flat on a sheet of newspaper and wrap them into a bunch. Place the bunch in tepid water for up to five hours or overnight to condition them.
  • To reduce underwater decay, strip the stems of all the foliage that fall below the water line.
  • Prolong the freshness of an arrangement by spraying the flowers with tepid water morning and night.

Flowers with Woody Stems

  • Preserve or revive flowers with woody stems by softly pounding the bottom two inches of the stem prior to putting them in water.
  • Ensure woody stemmed flowers absorb enough water by paring off the bark from the bottom two inches and crosscut the stems.

Flowers with Soft Stems and Heavy Heads

  • Stems of flowers such as Gerberas can be strengthened by wrapping thin wire around the length of the stem.
  • The bent stem of a heavy-headed flower can be repaired by pushing a toothpick through the centre of the flower and into the stem.

Rapid Opening Flowers

Flowers such as Roses, Tulips and Lilies tend to open rapidly in warm weather. To avoid blooms from opening while arranging, use sticky tape to lightly keep the petals together. Remove the tape shortly before the arrangement is displayed.

Securing of Flowers and Foliage in the Container

There are various materials that can be used to secure the flowers and leaves in the container. The type of base used will be dictated to by the size and shape of the vase and the variety of the flowers used.

Flower arrangement mounted in chicken wire

The most common types of bases are:

  • Oasis- a green ‘sponge-like’ material which has to be well soaked (preferably overnight) into which flowers and foliage can be inserted. These usually come in rectangular blocks but can be easily cut into any desired shape. Using oasis has the added advantage of not having to use excessive amounts of water since the oasis itself is saturated with water.
  • Pinhoder- a small heavy base with spikes sticking up. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The stems of flowers and leaves can be secured on to the spikes.
  • Chicken wire- crumpled chicken wire is useful if the vase used for the arrangement is tall or very large. The stems of the flowers are inserted into the holes in the chicken wire.

Knowing the little tricks of the trade can help to achieve a more professional finish to the fresh flower arrangement.

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5 Simple Toilet Repairs Anybody Can Do

fix your toilet yourself

When a toilet starts acting funny there aren’t that many things that can go wrong. A little expertise and a few dollars can fix many common problems with a household toilet.

The Ways of a Toilet

Before a person can fix a toilet, it is important to know a little about how they work. In the back of the toilet there is a float that controls the water level in the tank. There is a bar on the back of the handle that connects to a plug in the bottom of the tank. When the toilet is flushed, the bar lifts the plug and lets the water out. The water slowly runs back into the toilet through the refill valve and when the floating ball levels out it stops. These mechanisms are the basis for most home toilet repair since they are ease to get to and simple to fix.

Five Simple Toilet Fixes

Most of these require that you take the lid off the toilet tank. Remember that the water in the tank is clean but may splash a little if you flush the toilet with the top off.

  • Loose Handle – Look at the back of the handle inside the tank. There should be a small screw that holds the handle on. Look over the connection before you tighten it. If there are any obvious cracks or wear spots the handle should be replaced. If the back of the handle is in good shape just tighten the screw and it should be fine.
  • Loud Flush – If the toilet sounds very loud after a flush the water pressure is likely too high. Most toilets have a water valve under the tank in the back. Turn down the pressure and it should quiet down.
  • Water in the Float Ball – The floating ball in the back of the toilet is like a hard-shelled balloon. Sitting in the cold water in the back of a toilet can cause the outer shell to break down and let in water. If this happens, the float will get too heavy and needs to be replaced.
  • Splashing or Running Water Sounds – In the back of the toilet there is a pipe that connects directly to the bowl called the overflow pipe. There should be a tube that runs down into it from the refill valve called the refill tube. If the tube comes out of the pipe, the water won’t refill the bowl properly. The water has to raise high enough in the tank to run down the overflow pipe. This running water causes the noise and is easy to fix by simply putting the tube back into the pipe.
  • Toilet Doesn’t Flush – If you push the handle and nothing happens then the chain that connects the handle to the plug at the bottom of the tank has likely come loose. Reconnect the two parts and the toilet will flush again.

Don’t be afraid to repair a toilet

Many people don’t like to deal with toilets because they think they are dirty or the won’t understand what’s wrong. In reality, toilets are pretty simple machines. With a little bit of information it is easy to fix minor problems without calling a plumber.

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Peperomia Plant

Peperomia Plant perfect for home and office

The very popular peperomia plant is a great choice to add color to any room or office. Whether you have one peperomia plant or several grouped together, this attractive plant will brighten up any room.
There are over 1,000 species of peperomias growing throughout North and South America and the Caribbean. All of them are tropical plants and considered to be semisucculents. They have thick, juicy stems and leaves that hold water in reserve. Besides being attractive plants, peperomias make a nice gift to anyone with marginal green thumbs because they’re so easy to grow. Basically, the only way to kill this plant is by overwatering it.

Basic Description of Peperomias

Peperomias are slow-growing tropical plants that are found on tropical floors or at the base of trees in a tropical forest. For this reason, they don’t like direct sun and thrive indoors in a variety of lighting. They actually thrive under fluorescent lights which makes them an ideal candidate for the office.

The attractive stiff, waxy succulent-like leaves will catch your eye and depending on the species, the leaves may be variegated, wrinkled, or white-edged. There’s one species, the Peperomia argyreia that is striped and looks like a watermelon. It’s very attractive but can be hard to find.

Most peperomias do not flower in the traditional sense. Their flowers are a long, rat-tail like stem with tiny greenish flowers on an upright spike. Once this spike dies, remove it and the plant may bloom a second time during the summer months.


Types of Peperomias

There’s 3 different types of peperomias; bushy, upright, and trailing.

Peperomias are great for indoor air cleaning
Bushy Peperomia

Bushy Peperomias: The bushy peperomias are the most popular variety. They generally grow 4-8 inches high and are very compact. They have a variety of leaf shapes and are very attractive all by themselves. The most popular is the wrinkle-leafed Peperomia caperata and I’m sure you’ve seen these in homes or garden nurseries. There’s a stunning white-edged Peperomia caperata variegata and the Peperomia argyreia, or watermelon peperomia has striped leaves that look like watermelons.



A good peperomia will brighten your office
Upright Peperomia

Upright Peperomias : These plants are usually between 5-8 inches tall and have more distinct thick stems than the bushy peperomias. The Peperomia magnoliaefolia variegata is the most popular of this group. If you have one of these and plant it with the solid green Peperomia magnoliaefolia it will make an extremely attractive dish garden. If you can find the uncommon Peperomia verticillata, or also known as the whorled peperomia, you’ll have an attractive conversational piece. This plant has a 1 ft. stem and whorls of leaves. It’s quite different and very tropical looking.



A trailing peperomia is perfect for a hanging basket in a home office
Trailing Peperomia

Trailing Peperomias : There are several varieties and they look great trailing near a kitchen or office window. The Peperomia rotundifolia is the most common with small round one-third inch leaves that are solid green and fleshy-looking. The cupid peperomia or Peperomia scandens variegata has a variegated leaf that is pointed on long 3-4 ft. stems. This plant can actually be used as an indoor climber with a trellis. It looks great on a trellis in a corner. The creeping peperomia, Peperomia prostrata has a striking green leaf that is marked with silver or cream tones. The leaves are small one-third inch ovals on long red stems. This is quite a colorful plant especially in the office.


Caring For Peperomias

Without a doubt, peperomia care is very easy. Peperomias can live in a variety of light situations from low to very bright. They do not like direct sunlight. High heat is not a problem with this plant and average home temperatures are fine. Surprisingly, they do not need high humidity or constant misting to live. They are just fine with an occasional misting during the summer months and low humidity.

As with all succulents, peperomias do not like to be repotted frequently. They are slow growers and you’ll probably repot them only once or twice in their lifetime. They live practically forever which is another reason why they’re an ideal houseplant. When you do have to repot them, peperomias prefer a peat-based soil or regular potting soil with good drainage.

The quickest way to kill these plants is by overwatering. Peperomias retain water in their leaves and stems so don’t water them until they are nearly dry. After you water them, wait an hour and empty any residual water out from the base. These plants need to be fertilized about once every 3-4 months in spring and summer and no fertilizing during the winter months.


Peperomias are a great choice for an indoor plant and are easily available at most nurseries and florists.

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How to Avoid Mold Damage to a Home

A dry climate can make it hard to grow crops and cultivate food that’s needed for life. However, it also cuts down on unwanted organisms like mold and mildew. People who live where it rains often have more trouble keeping mold out of their yards and flower beds, as well as off of their driveways, patios, and sides of their houses. Some of them even have to deal with mold remediation to get mold and mildew out of their homes.

The outdoor mold can be an annoyance and it can be unsightly, but it’s generally not dangerous. When mold moves to the inside of a home, it can be hazardous to health and it needs to be removed. The mold can come about from water damage, but it can appear through normal living in a damp climate, as well. The best thing to do is to keep mold and mildew from getting started inside the home in the first place.

Most People Assume Mold and Mildew Won’t Bother Them

People who have carpet in their homes are particularly vulnerable to mold growth in wet climates because wet shoes bring a lot of dampness to the carpet. When it comes to water damage, carpet is vulnerable. If the climate in the area is wet for a long period of time and doesn’t have much opportunity to dry out, the carpet can stay damp and mold can begin to grow.

It’s assumed by a lot of people that a good air conditioning system is enough to avoid mold damage, or that plumbing that doesn’t leak is all a person needs, but that’s untrue. Those things are certainly important, but they might not be enough.

Another area that people ignore when it comes to mold and mildew in their homes is what their pets are bringing in. A wet dog lying repeatedly on the same area of carpet or on the same cloth couch can cause mold just as easily as-if not more easily than-wet shoes or damp clothing.

Despite your best efforts to avoid mold, if you find some during a renovation, learn how to deal with it in this post

How to Look for Mold and Mildew in the Home

A musty odor is one of the main clues to mold in a house, and it’s one of the things that people who handle water damage restoration will ask about if you have to call them. Mold can grow in the padding under the carpet, behind baseboards in the drywall, and under sinks, as well as in the corners of damp rooms like bathrooms. Mold and mildew growth can also appear in the shower, and in the area under and around an indoor air conditioning unit if there are any leaks or even a lot of condensation.

If someone thinks that he has mold in his home, it’s a very good idea to look for it-but finding nothing doesn’t mean the mold isn’t there. Instead of giving the home an all-clear, the homeowner who suspects mold but doesn’t see it should call in a water damage restoration professional. Someone who’s trained to look for mold will have the skills and the equipment to find it if it’s there. Once it’s been detected, removing and treating it can begin, and mold damage can be repaired.

Keeping Mold and Mildew Out in the Future

People who have experienced mold in their home in the past want to make sure that it stays out in the future. To do that, some of them take small steps and some of them take larger, more drastic steps for cleaning mold and keeping it at bay. Small steps include using technology such as a dehumidifier to keep the air in the home drier, not allowing animals on the furniture if they’ve been outside, and removing shoes at the door so they aren’t carrying water across the carpet.

Larger steps can include changing out cloth furniture for leather, removing all carpet from the house in favor of tile or hardwoods, and updating the home to have better ventilation in areas like the kitchen and the bathroom. While these kinds of measures can be costly, they reduce the chance of mold and the dangers of it. They also help to avoid costly repairs that need to be performed if mold is found in the home and water damage restoration or mold remediation is needed.

It’s not necessary for a person to live in a sterile environment or move to the desert to get away from mold and mildew, but taking care of a home is important. It can affect the resale value, the health of the occupants, and the overall quality of life for the people in the home.

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New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

Most of our New Year’s resolutions seem to have a lot to do with our physical bodies – losing weight, getting in shape, giving up unhealthy habits and the like. But there are many resolutions that could be made about other parts of your life – maintenance of your home and garden, for instance.
Let’s face it, it’s tough keeping up with all the different tasks that must be done in order to keep your home looking its best. I know I certainly don’t get everything accomplished when I should, but I am getting better at this as the years go by.

So in the spirit of the coming new year, here’s a look at potential resolutions for keeping your house and yard in tip-top shape.

• Lose some weight … from your interiors. Look around your home and be honest: Is the clutter starting to creep in? Or has it taken up permanent residence?

The holidays are a time when items come in to the house but don’t always go out in a timely fashion. That’s why this is a perfect opportunity to start looking around and seeing what needs to go away.

It’s time to start putting away the holiday items, get the house back to normal, and above all, find places to stow your extra stuff. Boxes in the family room? Get them to where they belong. Too many items in the den? Make some decisions about what needs to be given away to family, friends, worthy causes or charities.

Cast a critical eye on the inside of your house and clear away the trash, the non-essential items, and the things that don’t enhance your life or the looks of your home. Make countertops clutter-free, bundle up the old magazines for recycling, and clean out the closets and drawers.

Check Out: Clear Your Lawn of Clutter for outside clutter clearing tips

• Get help from above … from your friendly neighborhood roofer. One thing many of us don’t do regularly is to have our roofs inspected. A roofing expert can check and advise, and let you know if there’s debris, damage or other problems up top that need to be remedied. It’s better to do this kind of preventative maintenance now than to have to deal with leaks later on in the winter. Cleaning your gutters, or having someone clean your gutters is a good idea to prevent spillovers and breakage.

• Luxuriate in a beauty treatment … for your entryway. What do people see when they first come into your home? Is your foyer or entryway warm and inviting? Or is it cluttered and dull? Walk through your front door and into your house and pretend you’re seeing it for the first time. Then note any improvements that need to be made.

Some easy ways to dress up the entryway are to clean your front door and polish the hardware, clear away any unsightly items from the porch to give easy access to your guests, cut away encroaching shrubbery, and clean the area thoroughly, with a special eye to getting rid of cobwebs.

You can then add some flowering plants in attractive pots when the weather warms up a bit, on either side of your front door. Primroses, Icelandic poppies and pansies all do well in cool temperatures.

Check Out: Cheap Tips for Accessorizing Your Home

• Look into a facelift … for your living room. When’s the last time you did anything to freshen up your décor? Start looking for little ways to dress up your living room, or whatever room you commonly entertain guests in.

Consider swapping out your sofa pillows, adding new candles or scent diffusers, changing area rugs or even switching window treatments, in order to inject some new life into the old living room.

• Stop smoking … get your chimney cleaned. If it’s been more than two years since your chimney’s been cleaned and inspected, then hesitate no longer. It is wonderful having fires in the fireplace on these cold nights, but chimneys have to be looked after so that your fire will warm the home rather than burn it up. An inspection and cleaning will ensure that there are no gaps, breaks or creosote buildup to worry about.

• Clean up your habits … with earth-friendly products. There are so many eco-responsible cleaning products on the market these days that there are few excuses for not using them. One of the oldest and best: Simple Green, biodegradable and with myriad uses, and concentrated so that a bottle will last a very long time.

In other products, look for those that use lemon juice or baking soda for whitening rather than bleach, and vinegar rather than ammonia. Also, consider making your own cleaning products from these natural items rather than buying them – you’ll save beaucoup bucks while saving the earth.

• Warm your life … with energy-efficient habits. ‘Tis the ideal season to clean or change your furnace filters for maximum heating efficiency, as well as checking for any air leaks that could be bringing chilly temperatures inside the house. Caulking and weatherstripping the gaps will help curtail much of the heat loss.

Check Out: Home Energy Conservation Tips

If you’re concerned about the heating bill, contemplate which would be a better solution, to turn up the heat or to simply put on another sweater. Sometimes just stepping into fuzzy slippers can make you feel much warmer on a frigid day.

Check Out: 10 Ways To Easily Reduce Your Home Heating Bills

Also remember to close your curtains against the cold – they’ll help prevent precious heat from escaping – but on those occasional sunny days, open up the curtains up to get every last ray of sunshine, which will heat the house naturally.

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Building the Perfect Container Garden

A container garden can create an eye catching landscaping display in your yard. Building an eye catching container gardening display is more than just placing a plant in a container, it involves creating something with depth, bursts of color, or something else to catch the eye.



Plants to Build the Perfect Container Garden

Gardeners are able to create an attention-grabbing container garden by using the thriller, filler and spiller technique. Add a variety of plants with characteristics that have towering height or wide expanse, take up empty space and scramble through neighboring plants or tumble over a pot’s rim.

One idea combines a tall ornamental grass that adds movement with a foliage plant slightly shorter but spreading, a large plant with multi-colored leaves and an annual flower. Together, Pennisetum ‘Rubrum,’ a Joseph’s coat, Alternanthera ‘Royal Tapestry,’ a coleus called Solenostemon ‘Glennis’ and colorful snapdragons will fill a container garden and last all summer.

To learn more about container gardening, check out this post

Best Decorative Grass for Container Gardening

best decorative grass for a vaseQuoted from The Garden Book for Wisconsin, author Melinda Myers said, “Fountain grass has long been used along Milwaukee city boulevards and in county parks.” That was in 1999; today Pennisetum, a warm season grass, has remained a popular summer annual that espouses tall drama with its swaying burgundy foxtails.

Used as a thriller at the back or center of the pot, Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ grows 3’ tall and 2’ wide in full sun or part shade. Limiting as a perennial, Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ is a high value, multi-seasonal annual. After the plant dies in late fall, this ornamental grass can be part of a mixed winter-interest combination by adding it to evergreen boughs, sticks of red twig dogwood and mammoth pine cones.

Pennisetum and coleus with Calibrachoa, acting as a spiller, is another idea for gardeners but who want a longer trailing plant with more flowers and different color.

Check out this post to learn more about ornamental grasses

Best Plant to Fill Out a Container

saint josephs coat for container fillerAlternanthera dentate ‘Royal Tapestry’ is a Joseph’s coat plant that fulfills its role as filler in this combination. The coppery red and burgundy purple foliage is made up of long narrow leaves. The plant is shorter than the Pennisetum, 16” – 24” tall, a good choice for in front of thriller plants or off to one side at the pot’s edge.

Joseph’s coat plants are similar to coleus because of their colorful leaves. But, Alternanthera and Amaranthus plants are more successful at tolerating full sun an entire summer season. The variety of species and cultivars gives gardeners a wide range of choices for outside and indoor gardens.



Add something colorful to the center for a thriller

Solenostemon scutellariolides ‘Glennis’ is a large coleus, in this case, used as a thriller for the center of the pot for its range of colors. The leaf color of a Solenostemon ‘Glennis’ begins at the center with gold easing into shades of rose, gradually growing redder and purple, eventually surrounded by a thin green line edging the scalloped margin. This coleus plant grows to 36” tall and 18” wide.

In the book, Coleus: Rainbow Foliage for Containers and Gardens, photos of Glennis depict the change in foliage color when exposed to varying light intensity. This coleus grows best in part shade. Solenostemon ‘Glennis’ is considered compact and maintains pleasing color, even indoors, making it a good choice for indoor gardeners or to over winter and save for next season.


Use a spiller that includes an eye catching element

snapdragonsSnapdragons are colorful fragrant annual flowers for the late spring early summer garden, when temperatures are cooler. Botanically called Antirrhinum majus, snapdragons are most familiar for their comical flower form and vertical appearance. Varieties range from as short as the 4” – 6” tall Antirrhinum Acrobat™ ‘Cherry Red’ to the popular Ribbon series or Rocket hybrids, which grow to 36” tall.

In this container garden combination, very short snapdragons or the bushy twinny snapdragon plants, calling them trailers would be a bit of an exaggeration, will gently spill over the rim when planted at the pot’s edge. Whichever Antirrhinum majus is chosen, snapdragon flowers will contribute high impact color and fragrance to the planting.

Snapdragon flowers belong in cutting gardens but will attract hummingbirds to anywhere these annuals are planted. Northern gardeners appreciate the cool tolerant annuals because they withstand the unexpected dip in temperatures in May at a time when many summer bedding plants do not, although snapdragons will shut down in mid-summer as temperatures heat up. Economical to grow, snapdragons can be depended upon to reseed and are easy to start from seed indoors.

Plant Texture in a Container Combination

At a recent public garden event, Melinda Myers spoke about blending texture by adding fine lacey or big leathery leaves to make a high impact combination in a container garden. The thriller, filler, spiller technique is useful in narrowing the many plant choices.

This makes it easier for gardeners to pick plants with attention-grabbing drama and color for the planter, while devising a well thought-out appearance. The plants can be grown in one very large pot or in several, individually planted, and then strategically positioned together.

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How to Set up a Guest Room Visitors Love

The holidays bring many joys, and often the festivities include visits from beloved friends and relatives. Make them feel at home with these simple steps for preparation and bedroom decor.

Preparing a Guest Room

In the weeks before your guest arrives, give the room a thorough cleaning. Vacuum, dust, and check for cobwebs. Portable furniture should be moved, and make sure you check under the bed! If the room is used infrequently, inspect the window treatment to make sure it is both free of dust and in good working order, so your guest can’t accidentally break shades or blinds while attempting to close them. If your schedule permits, do the top-to-bottom clean the week before the visit, otherwise you can clean well in advance and do a light dusting the day before.

How to Air Out an Unused Room

The day before, give the room a thorough airing, especially if the room is used infrequently. Shut the heat registers and the door, and open the windows wide enough to get the air moving in the room. Turn on the ceiling fan if you have one, or bring in a table top or stand fan, and place it opposite the windows. After a couple of hours, he room will be freezing but fresh!

You may be tempted to skip this step and use a room deodorizer instead, but keep in mind that more and more people have allergies, so choose one that is hypoallergenic with a mild aroma, as few things are more unpleasant than sleeping in a room with an unappealing smell. You may love the scent of geraniums, but your guest may not.

How to Prepare Your Office/Guest Room

If your guest room is also your office, spend some time clearing your desk and putting work away. Turn off the ringer on the phone, and if you’re okay with your guests checking their email on your office computer, let them know; otherwise, close the lid on the laptop or disconnect the keyboard on your desktop.

Check Out: Bedroom Makeover Ideas for People on a Budget

Contents of a Comfortable Guest Room

  • Chair – an armless chair can double as a luggage rack, a clothes holder or a place to sit to put on shoes.
  • Luggage rack – provide somewhere for your guest’s suitcase, especially if you prefer it not be placed on a desk or antique wood dresser. This can be an actual folding luggage rack, or a small table, ottoman, or piano or vanity bench.
  • Choice of pillows – provide two for each guest in a variety of types such as down, foam and fiberfill. Nothing ensures a good night’s sleep like resting your head on the same kind of pillow that’s on the bed at home!
  • Cotton sheet set including top sheet – resist the temptation to buy new polyester blend sheets for the occasion – they’re scratchy when they’re brand new and too warm for some people. Include a top sheet even if your comforter is in a duvet cover. Provide an extra blanket for those guests who get cold easily.
  • Night Stand – Your guests will appreciate a place to put their glasses, tissues, morning medications, and even denture holders in case they object to walking around a strange house without their teeth in, or are unable to make it safely to the bathroom without their glasses.
  • Reading lamp – Many people read before sleep, and a good host makes her guests welcome by providing the needs for comforting bedtime routines. Make sure the lamp is the proper height for reading in bed. If not, you can stack a short lamp on a pile of artfully arranged books to make it taller. Check the bulb beforehand.
  • Small Drying Rack – If you have a houseful of guests, some of which are sharing a bathroom, your visitors will appreciate a towel rack placed in their sleeping room. This means that their own towels will be clean and dry whenever they wish to use them.
  • Closet Space – if possible, provide your guest with hangers and a bit of space in the room’s closet, especially if their visit includes a dress-up occasion.
  • Electrical Outlet – in case your guests plan to use a small appliance in the bedroom, make sure that there’s a free outlet somewhere in view. Install an extension cord if the only outlet is behind the bed of a chest of drawers.

A good host makes guests welcome by anticipating their needs, and your happy and comfortable guests will make your holidays even more fun!

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How to Kill Crabgrass in the Spring

Each year, frustrated home and land owners seek out conventional ways to defeat stubborn weeds that detract from the beauty of a lush, green lawn. Perhaps the most common and notorious of these weeds is crabgrass, a summer annual weed that spreads quickly during an ideal warm environment. Menacing crabgrass can quickly turn a thriving green lawn into an unattractive quandary. Because no one wants to spend the summer on their hands and knees pulling unruly weeds up by the roots, it is best to vanquish them before they become obstinately embedded. Crabgrass germinates early in the Spring for many parts of the country causing the weed to grow out of control before it is ever treated. Though it may seem to be an inevitably perpetual problem, crabgrass is easily conquered with the proper tools, timing and diligence to carry out the task.

The Problem with Crabgrass

Crabgrass grows in a “crab-like” shape that branches out into many sections, choking out healthy grass and devaluing the beauty and hard work that goes into a flawless lawn. Some crabgrass can grow as high as 36 inches – though most remain under a foot tall. This summer weed can usually be found growing in areas of low grass growth or in overly dry ground. In addition to being an eye sore, some gardeners may find that it has a tendency to stifle young plants from growing to fruition.

Killing Crabgrass

There are many crabgrass killers on the market that are capable of stopping crabgrass in its tracks if they are used properly. Because crabgrass germinates early in the Spring, it is best tackled before it has a chance to set in the ground and take root. For this, use a pre-emergent herbicide that is applied when the first seedlings begin to germinate. Pre-emergent herbicides kill crabgrass by acting as barrier against newly sprouting weeds.

Check Out: Guide to Vegetation Killers to learn more about pre-emergent herbicides

There are several types of pre-emergent herbicides that include liquids, granules, organic and synthetic. Regardless of the type chosen, a pre-emergent herbicide should be applied to the ground when the temperature of the soil reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit for numerous consecutive days. It is important to avoid aerating the yard after it has been treated for crabgrass, as this could render the herbicide void.


Other ways to challenge the weed include keeping grass mowed at a length of at least two inches, pulling plants that evade the herbicide, heavily overseeding the grass, and applying fertilizer to encourage a dense lawn. If the window for pre-emergent herbicidal treatment has past, a post-emergent herbicide crabgrass killer can be applied while the crabgrass plants are very small.

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3 Perennial Flowers to Grow in a Partially Shaded Garden

Growing a flower garden in a partially-shaded location can be frustrating. Many perennial flowers will not do well unless they receive full sun. However, these perennial flowers will thrive. They are hostas, bleeding hearts and lilies of the valley.

Best Flowers to Grow in a Partially Shaded Garden

hostas grow well in the shadeHostas Grow Best in Partial Shade

Hostas are traditionally known as shade plants, but, according to an Ohio State University fact sheet called Horticulture and Crop Science, they actually do not thrive in deep shade. Hostas do best when they receive some morning sun. They will show signs of burning on the leaves if they get too much sun. Hostas will do well in a partially shaded location.

Hostas are an attractive border plant that flowers in the late summer. They are a good choice for gardeners that want an easy care, partial-shade plant that will fill in otherwise empty garden spaces. Hostas are available in many varieties, including the green and white Patriot hosta and the blue-green Krossa Regal.

Hostas are easily divided. The plants can be dug out of the garden at any time during the growing season, divided and replanted.

To learn more about Hostas, check out this post

Bleeding Hearts grow good in the shadeBleeding Hearts Add Spring Color to Shade Gardens

Bleeding hearts do well in partial-shade gardens. Their unusual blooms appear in mid-spring and last for several weeks. Bleeding hearts have green foliage and pink, white or red flowers that resemble tiny hearts.

A healthy bleeding heart is easily divided. The horticulturist at the NDSU Extension Service recommends this hearty, perennial plant be divided after it has died back for the season. Simply dig up the root, divide with a sharp spade and replant.


Check Out: How To Grow a Shade Garden with Color and Style

Sweet-Scented Lilies of the Valley

Lilies of the Valley grow in shadeAnother exceptional, well-known shade plant is the Lily of the Valley. This plant has delicate, bell-shaped flowers that are strongly scented. They bloom in the late spring and grow well in shade gardens. When the flowers have gone, the green plant remains. The on-line site called The Plant Expert states that lilies of the valley make a good ground cover for areas of the garden or yard that grow little else.

Lilies of the Valley spread easily and can be transplanted by digging up the rhizomes and planting in a new area. Transplant several to encourage quick growth.

Don’t give up on beautiful, flowering plants in the partially-shaded garden. Choose hostas, bleeding hearts and lilies of the valley to fill in areas of the yard that receive some sunlight, but not full sun.

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How to Create a Verdigris Faux Finish

Copper takes on a wonderful patina after time, turning its shiny metallic finish into an aged rough surface with years of depth and a plethora of green hues. Learn to create a faux finish verdigris effect and suddenly inexpensive everyday items are transformed into valuable heirlooms, or at least they look like heirlooms.

Steps to painting a verigris faux finish

Verdigris Faux Finish Preparation

Before beginning the verdigris faux finishing process every item will need a little preparation.

  • Cleaning – The item that will receive a verdigris faux finish needs to be cleaned thoroughly to remove any dirt or grease build up. If the object is metal a light sanding with a fine sandpaper may help paint adhere.
  • Primer – A primer isn’t always necessary but it may be if the original item is too dark or a surface that is difficult for paint to adhere to. If the object is plastic then a primer designed for plastic is necessary. Use personal discretion to determine if a primer is called for.

Painting a Verdigris Finish

The painting part is the longest and most difficult part of the verdigris process. The good news is that it doesn’t require a skilled painter, in fact the worse the paint job the better. Remember to let the paint dry thoroughly between every application.

  • Base Coat – The base coat, not including any primers used, is needs to be a metallic paint. If the look attempted is meant to be an authentic verdigris then a copper metallic paint should be used. Cover the entire item in the paint, but don’t worry about getting a perfect finish.
  • Dark Green – The next coat of paint in the verdigris decorative painting process is a dark green coat which doesn’t cover all of the metallic paint, in fact it’s applied with a sponge so make sure to leave spots where the metallic finish shows through.
  • Lighter Greens – The same green paint can be used by adding white to lighten it. Apply the lighter shade(s) in the same manner as the dark green was applied, in blobs and haphazardly. Keep diluting the green with the white paint and adding additional coats until the finish reaches the desired level, with some of the metallic bronze and dark green still peeking through.

Finishing Touches on a Verdigris Project

The verdigris faux finish is almost done now and probably looks incredible but by completing the final two steps the project will become even more durable and authentic looking.

  • Blue Coat – To add the final, finishing touch, water down a light blue-grey latex paint and dab it onto the surface or brush on a thin watery layer evenly and then dab it off gently with a soft paper towel or white rag before it gets a chance to dry.
  • Clear Finish – Finally, after the entire piece has had a chance to thoroughly dry and cure it’s time to apply at least two coats of a clear polyurethane acrylic to give it a glossy finish and to protect the verdigris paint job.

Creating a verdigris faux finish is actually a very easy task, it just requires a lot of time waiting for paint to dry. But for anyone with some free time, a little creative skill and a vision almost anything can be given a verdigris finish.

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