Category Archives: Home Improvement

Better Homes and Gardens

If there’s one magazine that caters to the needs and requirements of every family, it has to be Better Homes and Gardens magazine. As the name suggests, the topics relate to the overall growth of not just the four walls comprising home, but also the aesthetic appeal of your abode. With newer and fresher ideas to perk up your home and garden, Better Homes and Gardens magazine sure knows how to fire up the imagination of family-oriented people, like you.

The importance of a nicely decked up home and garden can never be undermined. After all, your home is the first creator of opinions about the people living in it. For the outsiders, your home and garden reflect your personality. And it is your duty to make your home and garden a desirable place for the visitors as well as those living in it.

And here’s where the useful tips from Better Homes and Gardens magazine come in handy. The topics are as diverse as possible. There’s hardly any aspect relating to home improvement and gardening that is not covered by this magazine. The topics range from ideas for decorating to cooking to gardening to building to rebuilding and remodeling to education to travel to healthy living to healthy recipes and money management. The how-to tips are both interesting and vital for any beautiful home. You may have the best of resources but if you don’t know how to make the best use of these resources, then having these resources is meaningless.

Primarily targeted at husband and wives who have family as their top-most priority, Better Homes and Gardens magazine is both informational and inspirational. You get to learn so many things about home improvement, gardening and healthy living in a single issue that you’d love to keep all the yearly issues with you as a ready reference.

Subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine is a simple process. But if you go the normal way, it could get heavy on your pocket. However, buying online subscription can be explored in order to avail heavy discounts. A cool 80% saving on the annual subscription of this exclusive magazine is in the offing if you go the Internet route. Considering the value-for-money proposition, such a tempting offer is too hard to resist, especially if you own a home with a garden.

Home Improvement Through Gardening

Today’s man is caught in hard mental work, family conflicts and many other disturbing issues and is in need of some relaxation. Gardening, undoubtedly, is a great thing for alleviating stress and providing mental relaxation. It is usually known as practice of growing ornamental plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables etc. Gardening can give you relaxation after the whole day’s hard work and it becomes more enjoyable when you have personal plot for this. However, with the passage of time, many new methods or systems have been introduced. Some of them are described below:

Container gardening: In this gardening, you are not bound to have a plot to garden as the containers are used for growing plants. Containers can be half barrels or plastic window boxes, earthen pots or gallon milk jugs with the tops cut off. You can choose them according to the space you have for gardening. You can put a variety of plants in the containers depending upon your choice. The only thing you must be careful about that is to know the characteristics of the container. This method of gardening is generally used on balconies, in atriums, doorway and roof tops.

Hydroponic gardening: In case of insufficiency of nutrients in the soil or you have an area with very little useful soil; hydroponic gardening methods are considered the best. The nutrients system is fed directly to the plant and the plant is able to grow efficiently without relying on the growth of nearby plants. The special advantage of this method is that it has no seasonal variation and you can use it throughout the year. We can grow plants anywhere in the house through hydroponic gardening e.g. even in cupboards or small piece of land. This method of gardening is said to be environmentally friendly as it does not cause much dirt. If you are desirous of not going to be sticky, dirty and wet during gardening or to avoid the manual labor usually associated with normal gardening, you must adopt hydroponic gardening methods. In addition to these new methods of gardening, the landscape gardening is also in vogue. Special landscape gardening equipments are easily available in market e.g. clippers, cultivators, water equipment, greenhouses and garden decorations. For the purpose of getting best efficiency of these tools some tips are stated below;

Always avoid tilling a seed on a sunny day. Rather you should prefer an overcast day with the expectation of rain. This is so, because the new plant needs plenty of water. The careful selection of new plants is very important. The best option is short and strong plants with just a few flowers. You must check the condition of the leaves because it will help you to decide whether you going to buy it or not. Flower bed also needs special care. You have to put at least one inch organic matter on the flower bed once a year for the best growth of your plants.

Home Improvement And Decorating Tips

When it comes to maintaining your home or keeping it looking good, there are little projects that you can do to the inside and outside of it to help. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money, either. Keep the six tips below in mind to help ensure that your projects for home improvement get completed the right way with minimal frustration and cost.

  1. Have hot water lines insulated. Hot water lines can be insulated by preformed foam tubes that can easily be slipped onto the pipes since the foam is slit along its length. The insulation is normally sold for 30 to 40 cents per foot and will save approximately $50 annually on the electricity bill.
  2. Buy from local suppliers. When you’re choosing your building supplies, explore domestic woods along with other local materials. This will not only help your local economy, but it will help to save rainforests and will lessen the amount of transportation required to get the product from its source to your home. This drastically lowers carbon dioxide emissions.
  3. Plan your garden for long-term growth. Though you may adore the look of a garden that hasn’t got an inch of mulch or earth showing, it is important to keep future growth in mind. Your shrubs and flowering plants will be significantly larger at maturity and they will change shape. This will take up more room and will alter the way the garden gets sun or shade. So don’t block out your plants by forgetting that they’ll fill in.
  4. Hang photos at eye level. There is no rule of thumb as to how high a picture should be hung. So, hang it at eye level so that you can look directly at it when standing up comfortably. This will help you to appreciate the pictures without having to look up or down at it, and will stop you from having to re-hang the pieces when you feel that they seem wrong from your height.
  5. Make use of the back of switch plates to recall your paint color. When you need extra paint for touch-ups or if you simply want to add a fresh coat down the road, you’ll need to bear in mind precisely what paint color you used. By putting a dab of the paint color and writing its brand and color code on the back of the switch plates within the room, you’ll always know where you have the necessary information stored, saving time and effort needed to hunt it down.
  6. Order ample paint for touch-ups in a few years. Obtain enough paint that you can save some of it in case of marks or scratches over the length of the use of that color on the walls. Keep in mind that in five-years or so, you won’t recall the name of the paint color – eggshell, beige, or buff – the brand, or whether it was semi-gloss or flat.

More People Carrying Out Home Improvements

Because of the uncertainty in the UK housing market it seems that more people are now improving their homes instead of moving. Steve Smith a director on Inter Financial Limited specialist online loans broker said “over the last 12 months we have seen a considerable increase in the number of loan applications we are receiving for the purpose of home Improvements” he went on to say “it is the second most popular reason we see only behind the number of applications we receive for debt consolidation loans”.

So what improvements are people making?

By far the most popular seems to be the building of an extension, maybe because of a new arrival and the need of another bedroom, or possibly because the kids are getting that much bigger you cannot make them share a room anymore. Whatever the reason behind this is definitely the most popular reason for applying for home improvement loan. Closely followed by having a loft conversion carried out, again this type of improvement could provide another one or two bedrooms depending on the size of the loft.

People are also taking out loans to have their windows replaced, probably as a result of the cold weather we have been having. Replacing those old draughty sash windows with some shiny new double glazed ones not only adds value to your home it can also cut down on your heating bills, and help you to recover the money you have spent on them in time. With saving money in mind as well as having new windows fitted more and more people are solar panels and small wind turbines fitted so that they can reduce their utilities outlay. Not to mention the added benefit of reducing their carbon footprint, and adding “green value” to their home.

You then have the old faithful new kitchen and new bathroom or fitted bedroom furniture. Either of these options can make a significant difference to the overall perception of your property, and also add value when you go to sell it. One of the first things anybody takes into consideration when looking to buy a new home is the state of the kitchen. In fact so much so it can be a deal killer if the kitchen is not up to scratch. This also applies to a lesser degree to the bathroom, or en-suite bathroom. A fully tiled bathroom fitted with an up to date bathroom suite can also help tip the scale in your favour when looking at selling your property.

There are also people who are taking out secured loans to build a swimming pool in their garden or have the garden landscaped. Having a beautiful garden can bring an immense amount of pleasure in the summer months when the sun is shining. What could be more relaxing than sitting in your own beautifully landscaped garden basking in the sun in your own private sanctuary? Or maybe even splashing around in your new pool on a hot summer’s day. Helping you to keep cool and contributing to your daily exercise requirements.

Organic Gardening Tips

Are you interested in creating your own organic vegetable garden? Here are some green gardening tips that will lead you in the right direction:

10 Organic Gardening Tips

  1. Test your soil:

If you are looking to have a successful outcome with an organic vegetable garden, you should first test your soil with a do-it-yourself home testing kit before you plant anything. These testing kits can be found at local garden centers and on the Internet at garden speciality stores. The kits use a number scale, 0 to 14, that helps you determine the acidity or alkalinity (also known as pH) levels of your soil. For most vegetables, an ideal number is about 6.5. If the results are too acidic (towards the low end of the scale) or too alkaline (towards the high end of the scale), your plants will not be able reap the benefits of the soil’s nutrients. Once you know the results of your soil, you will be able to adjust the soil accordingly by balancing these levels with the nutrients it is lacking.

  1. Make plans ahead of time and decide where and how you will grow your garden:

Before you begin digging up your lawn, take a look at your property and decide where you would like to plant a garden. Location is very important, as you will want to pay attention to the position of the sun throughout the day (your plants will need healthy doses of direct sunlight each day), the rockiness of the ground, the drainage quality of the soil, and the location’s relation to your main water source.

If you have high quality soil in your yard and you have determined a location, you will want to take advantage of the benefits found in it. Healthy soils have upwards of 650 million microorganisms per one gram of soil. These organisms already present, such as earthworms and other forms of soil life are essential to the life of the soil and will help your garden prosper by providing your plants with valuable nutrients and minerals.

What to do if your soil is not healthy or if you do not have space for a garden at home:

  • Build a raised bed

By making a raised bed, you will have control over the garden’s soil quality. When building your bed, use untreated wood, stones, or brick as a side border and be sure to make the border at least 16 inches high as the depth is important. The plants’ roots will need room to stretch and grow.

  • Consider container gardening

If you are a city dweller, you do not have to miss out on the benefits of growing your own produce. Plant in containers that are large enough to accommodate root growth. Be sure they also have drainage holes. If you are planting organic herbs, pots that are at least 6 inches across are ideal. Another helpful hint is to use plastic pots instead of terra cotta pots. Plastic may not be as aesthetically pleasing, but they will hold moisture longer and will not dry out as quickly as terra cotta pots.

  1. Select authentic, high quality organic vegetable seeds to use in your garden:

Organic seeds can be found at local nurseries, garden stores, home centers, online seed stores, seed catalogs, and farm supply stores. Always make sure the seed company is “certified organic” and be sure to stay away from any seeds that are “genetically engineered.” To save money, start growing the seeds indoors and transplant outdoors when ready.

  1. Make your own compost:

Compost, also known as “gardeners gold,” is a vital element in organic gardening that improves the soil structure of your garden. Compost provides a great source of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and micro/macronutrients essential for plant growth. It also aids in stabilizing soil moisture and pH which helps keep the soil cooler during the summer months.

Other benefits of organic compost:

  • Great source of food for wildlife because it attracts insects and fungi that eat decaying matter. These small animals support larger animals like songbirds
  • Suppresses plant disease
  • Assists in controlling soil erosion
  • Acts as a mild herbicide
  • Reduces need to apply commercial fertilizers
  • Reduces amount of waste sent to landfills
  • Reduces gas emissions that would result from transporting kitchen waste to a landfill

How to compost:

  • Build or buy a compost bin. These can be found at home centers, garden centers, and online.
  • Place compost material in repeated layers. To give your compost the best result, alternate layers of green matter with brown matter. An example would be alternating kitchen scraps with straw/stalks or dead leaves with grass clippings.
  • Cover compost heap for optimal results. This will avoid moisture loss and keep in heat.
  • Keep the pile moist as a wrung-out sponge.
  • Aerate and turn compost pile over frequently.
  • When ready, pile will look like fresh fine soil.

Some ideas for good compostables:

  • Kitchen waste
  • Aquarium water, plants, and algae
  • Sawdust
  • Tea leaves/coffee grounds
  • Pet rabbit or hamster droppings
  • Eggshells
  • Old spices
  • Lawn clippings (thin layer)

Make leafmould:

Leafmould is a dark brown, rich and crumbly material that is created from naturally decomposed Autumn leaves that have fallen onto the ground. It is an excellent soil conditioner and mulch, a great earthworm meal, and is easy to make.

To make leafmould:

  • Collect fallen leaves (avoid evergreen leaves) and place in a container to rot Leafmould matures best in high moisture, so the best time to collect leaves is just after rain.
  • Wait 9 months to a year for the leafmould to mature.
  1. Use water wisely:

Water conservation, harvesting, and recycling are great methods for organic gardening.

  • Recycle/harvest rain water

Not only is rainwater is a great way to hydrate your plants, but it is also an excellent way to lower your monthly water bills, reduce storm-water runoff, and prevent flooding and erosion. It is generally clean, free of containments and byproducts such as minerals, fluoride and chlorine and has a low pH which plants and soils like. Rainwater can be collected and stored using gutters, downspouts, rain barrels and/or cisterns and can be used whenever needed, even later in the season during dry weather.

  • Use a soaker hose

A soaker hose is a great and easy way to save time and money in your garden. Water seeps out of soaker hoses and delivers water directly to your plants’ roots while keeping the leaves dry, which helps prevent disease. Hand watering is time consuming and tedious, sprinklers can be wasteful due to evaporation and runoff, and drip irrigation is expensive.

  • Avoid grey water

When recycling water, avoid use of grey water (household waste water that comes from sources such as sinks, washer machines, and showers) on any plants used for consumption. Grey water may contain phosphates, nitrogen, and pathogens that can be harmful to your health.

Watering tips:

  • Water your garden when the air and soil are cool, typically in the early morning or evening hours. During these times, less water will be lost due to evaporation.
  • Water deeply but less often. Direct the water at the root systems at the base of the plant. This will encourage plants to grow deeper roots, causing them to need less watering. Shallow watering causes the roots to grow close to the surface, making them more vulnerable to drought.
  • Remember that plants and soil in containers will dry out much faster than in the ground and require frequent watering.
  • Avoid watering leaves. Excess water film on a plant makes it more susceptible to disease.
  • Shallow rooted vegetables such as beans and greens need to be watered more often with lighter applications than deep rooted plants like corn and tomatoes. These vegetables require more water but less often.
  • Use a milk jug. For a clever trick, take a 1 gallon milk jug and poke very small holes into the bottom. Bury most of the jug next to your plants when you plant your garden. If you leave it uncapped, you can place your water hose nozzle into the opening to fill. With this method, the water slowly drips into the ground and encourages deep plant roots. This self-irrigation system is great for whenever you need to travel and leave the garden unattended.
  1. Weed Control:

Weeds can be a serious threat to gardens because they remove valuable moisture, nutrients, sunlight and growing space needed by crops.

Some ways to control weeds:

  • Select high quality vegetable seeds or transplants By planting high quality seeds, the chances of them containing weed seeds or seedlings is very low.
  • Rotate your vegetable crops As crops differ in their ability to compete with weeds, rotating crops between hardy competitors and weaker plants can reduce weeds.
  • Use ground cover The use of ground cover and organic mulches such as hay, straw, glass clippings, and manure in your garden is one of the most effective ways to control weeds. Spread the ground cover 2-3 inches thick as this will block sunlight and prevent weed germination and growth.
  • Transplant seeds Transplanting seeds instead of sowing them gives plants a healthy head start in defense against weeds.

Methods of removing weeds:

  • By hand This method is most effective after a recent rain because the soil is loosened.
  • Thermal A short blast of heat directly onto the weed causes it to wilt and die. This is most effective on driveways and paths and is not always ideal for gardens.
  • Hoeing This is effective for larger patches of newly cleared ground.
  1. Make sure you have earthworms

Earthworms are essential to a successful garden. Vermicompost, the combination of organic matter and earthworms’ castings is a high-octane form of compost that provides the soil with an immediate all-purpose fertilizer loaded with nutrients and nitrogen. By tunneling through the earth, earthworms aerate the soil which improves the soil’s access to air and drainage so that water reaches the deep roots of plants more easily. They also encourage beneficial soil bacteria while discouraging disease and predators such as crop destroying insects.

Don’t have earthworms in your soil? Here is how to get them:

  • Discontinue use of any toxins in your garden.
  • Spread 2-3 inch layers of organic matter on top of the soil each year – this will attract earthworms
  • Use leafmould – this is a great earthworm meal.
  • Order earthworm eggs online. Once you receive them, scatter them onto the ground and in about 3 months they will be adults and ready to reproduce.
  1. Keep a gardening journal

By keeping track of your garden’s progress, you will be more prepared next year to tackle issues that came up this year. You will also have a place where you can jot down experiments, experiences: the good and the bad.

  1. Protect against predators and pests:

Make your garden friendly to the native wildlife in your region. This will attract and encourage natural wildlife pest controllers to your garden. Ladybugs, birds, frogs, toads, and bats all help to keep pests such as aphids, insects, and snails in check.

Other beneficial garden predators and the pests they feed on:

  • Centipedes: feed on slugs and eggs
  • Preying mantis: feed on all types of insects
  • Spiders: feed on insects and arthropods
  • Lizards: feed on insects/pests
  • Frog/toads: feed on all types
  • Ladybugs: feed on aphids

To protect against pests:

  • Plant nectar producing plants Tiny flowers on plants such as sweet alyssum will attract beneficial insects, such as predatory wasps. The alyssum’s aroma will also scent your garden all summer. Herbs like parsley, dill, and fennel will attract ladybugs which will also eat intruding insects.
  • Choose native plant species over imported varieties whenever possible Native species have better “immune systems” and will be able to fight against insects in your area better than an exotic plant will.
  • Try companion planting Companion planting is growing two or more different types of species of plant together for the benefit of one or both. For example, by pairing a flower with a vegetable plant, many adult insects will visit flowers for pollen and nectar and in return are effective natural controllers of unwanted pests on the vegetable crops.

How does companion planting work?

  • Companions help each other grow: Tall plants provide shade for shorter plants sensitive to sun.
  • Companions use garden space efficiently: Vining plants cover the ground, upright plants grow up. Two plants in one patch.
  • Companions prevent pest problems: Plants like onions repel some pests. Other plants can lure pests away from more desirable plants.
  • Companions attract beneficial insects: Every successful garden needs plants that attract the predators of pests.

Examples of good companion plants:

  • Carrots and onions: Pests attracted to carrots’ sweet smell can be confused by the pungent smell of onions.
  • Corn and beans: The beans attract beneficial insects that prey on corn pests such as leafhoppers and leaf beetles. In addition, the bean vines will climb up the corn stalks.
  • Cucumbers and nasturtiums: Nasturtiums are said to repel cucumber beetles and can create a habitat for insects such as spiders and ground beetles which help defend the garden from destructive pests.
  • Radishes and spinach: Radishes attract leafminers away from the spinach. The leafminers will damage the radish leaves, but since radishes grown underground, no damage is done to the radishes.
  • Cabbage and dill: Cabbage can help support the floppy dill plants, while the dill attracts the tiny beneficial wasps that control cabbageworms and other cabbage pests.
  • Tomatoes and cabbage: Tomatoes are repel diamondback moth larvae (caterpillars that chew large holes in cabbage leaves)
  • Cauliflower and dwarf zinnias: The nectar from the dwarf zinnias lures ladybugs that help protect cauliflower plants.
  • Collards and catnip: Planting catnip alongside collards can reduce flea-beetle damage on the collards.

Other ways to deter pests from your organic garden:

  • Create barriers and deterrents: Try hanging shiny silver objects in your garden. The reflection produced from the sun can confuse insects such as aphids which orient their flight patterns by sunlight.
  • Rotate your crops each year This will aid in keeping pest and disease problems at bay as well as correct nutritional deficiencies.
  1. Last few tips on garden and soil care:
  • Avoid compacting soil by walking on it excessively This restricts air movement and makes it hard for roots to penetrate.
  • Do not over dig This will destroy vital soil structure.
  • Cover Keeping plants covered with things like mulch helps protect soil structure.
  • Avoid overfeeding and over or under watering Let the plants performance guide you.

I hope you will be able to share the same satisfaction and gratification I experience when I build, create, and tend to my own vegetable garden. Have patience, be willing to get dirty, and be ready to smile and reap the bountiful benefits of an organically grown vegetable and herb garden.

Gardening Tips

Gardens come in different varieties like the plants you find in them. There are several gardening tips that can be used for all type of gardens.

1.Mulching protects your garden topsoil from being blown away. It also provides nutrients as it decomposes and improves the appearance of your gardens. Mulching has other benefits and is one of the most recommended gardening tips by gardeners and farmers alike.

2.Healthy plants are more disease resistant. Plants are like people, a person with a strong immune system can combat diseases. A healthy plant does the same.

3. Pests can be eradicated by cleaning the plant with a watery solution of soap. Just make sure to rinse after. This gardening tip is best heeded for fruit bearing trees or edible plants.

4. Using compost fertilizers are a great way to have healthy plants. It is also a great way to save money on expensive fertilizers. Non -organic fertilizers also tend to leave chemical residues that can accumulate in garden soils and harm not only the plants but the gardeners as well. They cause toxins to go to the water supplies. Another gardening tip recommended not just by farmers and gardeners but also by environmentalists.

5. There are several plants that are only suitable for a specified climate, a certain kind of soil or can only grow with certain plants. You have to know what plant grow in the conditions you have in your area this is for you to avoid unnecessary purchases. This is a money saving gardening tip.

6.Landscaping is a good investment which can double the value of your home. This is one gardening tip that can earn you money.

7. Growing grass on bare ground is an easy way to make your home look better and appreciate in value. This is one gardening tip that promotes earning money while growing grass legally.

8. Aside from looking great in your home, trees also provide some sort of protection from direct sunlight exposure and strong winds.

9. Vines on the walls, fences and overhead structures also would offer some protection and would also look great.

10.Flowers are beautiful, but they are also expensive. Get one that is resistant to many elements. Flowers from your local community already have developed resistance to conditions present in your area.

11.For most gardens plants, their roots go only as deep as 6 inches. Putting fertilizer deeper than that would be a waste of money. Put them shallower as they seep down when the plants are being watered.

12.Earthworms are important to plants. They till and aerate the soil for the roots to breathe. Non-organic fertilizers can kill them. This gardening tip dates back to the old days of gardening.

13. Having several kinds of insects that are beneficial to your garden would be good. These insects can be encouraged to stay by having diverse plants in your garden.

14. Spot spraying weeds with household vinegar, instead of using commercial weed-killers, can eradicate them. This is another environment friendly gardening tip.

15. Avoid putting too much mulch on tree trunks; this would encourage unwanted pests to reside on them.

16. Use plant varieties that are common to your area or have been taken from an area with similar conditions.

17. Be sure to know the plants that are poisonous. If you are intent on growing them, make sure to have the necessary cure available in your household. Take note of this gardening tip, it can save your life.

18. The best time to water plants is during mornings.

19. Before planting a new plant in your garden, you must consider its height and size when it matures. This garden tip can help you save money in the future.

20. Newly transplanted plants may require special attention during its first week. This is to reduce the stress and shock it got during transplantation.

And last but not the least of the gardening tips…

21.Plants are living entities. If you want them to grow in your garden you have to treat them as such. They need to be taken care of. They are like your pets, you look out for them. In return you get that feeling of contentment watching them thrive.

Home and Garden Television

The Home and Garden Television channel has quickly become one of the most popular cable television channels around today. The network was launched in 1994 and is currently owned by Scripps Network Interactive. Its headquarters are located in Knoxville, Tennessee. HGTV also has sister stations. They are the Weather Channel, Food Network, Fine Living, DIY Network, Great American Country and Weatherscan. HGTV airs a variety of programming tailored towards home remodeling, repair, decorating, designing, gardening and crafts.

HGTV airs such programs as “Sell This House,” “House Hunters,” Extreme Living” and “Weekend Warriors.” HGTV has over 100 different shows that are either currently airing or have aired previously dealing with the home and garden industry. Home and Garden Television has become a leading source for design, home improvement, remodeling and gardening tips for beginners and experts looking to upgrade the look and feel of their house and garden.

“House Hunters” is the highest rated television show airing on HGTV and it airs nightly at 10pm. The show’s host is Suzanne Whang. The host follows around a couple or family searching for a house to purchase. The show also includes different realtors. Each episode features three properties that the viewers are given a tour of. At the conclusion of the show the prospective buyer tells the host and the audience which of the three properties he/she decided to buy. The new owner then gives a tour of the newly bought house, explaining what renovations were made to the house prior to moving in. The show discloses where the properties are located and how much is being asked for each individual property.

One innovative show that has been airing on HGTV since 2006 has been “24 Hour Design.” “24 Hour Design” involves the renovation of a single room in a house occurring in less than one day. It usually takes around 10 hours or so to complete and the budget is set for $2,000. The host of the show, Angelo Surmelis, discusses with the owners of the home which room should be redesigned and how it should be done. In the final hour of the show the renovated room is revealed and an explanation is given as to what was done and for what reasons.

HGTV, like all other television networks around today, does air reality shows. Their most popular reality show currently airing is “Design Star.” “Design Star” involves the show’s contestants designing a room or filling empty space with unique items during each new episode. The unique items can be from a pet store, a mechanic shop or a discount store. The challenge is finding the best way to make the design look appealing to the eye even thought the items used might not be.

The Home and Garden Television Network has enough different programming for everyone’s different interests involving home and garden repair and design. With over 100 different shows to choose from, beginners and experts can benefit from watching the Home and Garden Television Network. HGTV: “Start at Home.”

Home Improvement Repair

Home improvement repair projects generally involve remodeling jobs. These remodeling jobs include both interior and exterior of a house and sometimes may include improving and repairing only  the interior or the exterior part. proper planning is essential before starting the process of repairing and improving the home . The first and foremost thing is to determine what kind of improvements you want to see in your home, which parts need serious repairs, what would be the estimated cost and so on.

For good home improvement and repair ideas, browsing books, reading related matters, and watching related television shows is always a smart thing to do. Many such television programs are aired almost every day, which demonstrate miraculous transformation of homes and gardens. Even though most of these transformations are brought about by the professionals there are many ‘do it yourself’ tips and skills too, which these shows can teach you.

The home decoration books available in the market and the online home improvement articles can also help you with loads of innovative and unique ideas to remodel your house. The internet is a rich storehouse of articles on a wide range of topics right from remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, to floor planning and insulation, then space saving, wallpaper, sanitation and so on. However, any home improvement repair involves a certain amount of expenditure and thus planning out a cost budget and then taking one step at a time would be the wisest thing to follow.

Sometimes home improvement and repair can also involve landscaping, constructing pools, beautifying yards and even fencing. You can use some tips from friends and relatives who have already done some redecoration in their homes. Besides, for professional work you can also ask them to refer a reliable remodeler to you. All these tips and ideas will only help you plan better and minimize the chances of going wrong with your home improvement.

Gardening Tips

Gardening is a popular activity, relaxing and enjoyable for all who love the outdoors and the green environment. It is important to be conversant with some basic processes that govern the plant kingdom.

A person taking up gardening must be knowledgeable about the fundamentals of how sunlight, shade, soil and water may favourably or negatively affect the plants. More importantly, he should be aware of selection of plants in relation to the garden landscape which he is planning to adorn.

“Flower Gardening Tips”

Knowing essential gardening tips will help you to not only create a beautiful garden but have healthy plants that thrive under your care. Indeed, it is a joy to see that the time and effort you put in are well deserved and have resulted in an impressive garden and beautiful landscaping.

The following gardening tips will help your garden look beautiful while allowing you to have a stress-free and enjoyable gardening experience.

Some Essential Outdoor Gardening Tips

Soil Content

The first important aspect of gardening is to know what soil you will be planting in. For clayey soil, you will need peat moss or organic compost to lighten it up. With sandy and loam too, peat moss will give the soil more density. It allows for more nutrients to grow with, thereby giving plants greater stability.

Soil Drainage

Soil drainage will give you an idea of how wet or dry the garden landscape is. This will help you select plants as per the growing environment as well as inform you of how often the plants need to be watered. Using lukewarm water rather than cold water is better for the roots. Additionally ensure that the pots have a drainage hole for excess water to seep out so as not to flood the plant.

Plant Exposure

While gardening, it is necessary to consider the degree of exposure of nature’s elements such as the wind, sun, rain, snow etc. and how they will affect the growth of the plants. Knowing the weather conditions will give you an idea of where to plant hardier plants and how to protect the more delicate ones.

Sunlight

Sunlight is critical for the healthy growth of a plant. Not only does it play an important role in photosynthesis, it tells you how often and how much water different plants will need. Plants that flourish in the shade obviously require less water; care must be taken to protect them from direct and harsh sunlight by placing them near a window or sheltering them with a screen. If you know your soil has poor drainage, select plants that grow well in a moist environment. If your garden landscape has very little shade or protection, look for plants that are hardy or build a fence to protect your plants.

Apart from light and water, plants need to be fed. Depending on what kind of plants you have, the food served will also be different – water soluble, spikes or granular. With all the nutrients, proper sunlight and water, growth of plants is inevitable which leads us to the issue of repotting. Repotting becomes essential when plants begin to blossom healthily and start outgrowing their containers.

The Secret of Beautiful Grounds and Gardens

Architecturally, today’s residence is a great deal more an element of the great outdoors than was the case in the past. Large picture windows, glass walls, glassed-in sun porches and terraces all blend to help make your garden an important part of the home. As a consequence, that view becomes that much more important. A magnificent garden, a luxuriant turf and healthy blossoming trees all add just as much to the inside of your home as your drapes or wallpaper. The time and effort you spend on your lawns and gardens will repay you in each and every way, indoors as well as out. Any time you plan your grounds you will find yourself influenced by many of the guidelines you make use of in decorating your home. Proportion, texture, color, line, harmony, function. These are terms that pertain to landscaping as well as decorating. And if you have extensive grounds you will profit from careful planning just as much as will the one who owns only a third of an acre.

Gardening books are packed with conventional blueprints for perfect gardens and grounds, but you should take time to consider not just the perfect garden itself, but the one particular plan that will be perfect for your particular family. Research your family, its needs and habits; then fashion your grounds to best satisfy its prejudices, dreams and expectations. Obviously, you may be influenced by considerations of cost and available space. Draw a plan of your property in fairly large scale, about inch to the foot. Now make an inventory of the things that the family wants, say, for example a barbecue, tool house, drying yard, rock garden, fences, playhouse, badminton court, better lounging facilities.

If you aren’t fortunate enough and have spacious grounds, you most probably won’t be able to work everything into your scheme; but with Planning it is possible to do things gradually. You are able to plan in advance so that your garden never looks bare and yet is always spacious enough for the additions you are going to make in the coming years. Some projects provide more than one function. For instance, if you want a driveway and you have young children, a blacktop that you can use for hopscotch and bicycle riding offers a double purpose, and easily justifies its cost. Or a fence that reduces a less than perfect view might also act as a windbreak as well as a handsome background for a lounging area. A retaining wall can be used as a rock garden when planted with hardy dwarf shrubs along with other rock-garden species.

Typically, most grounds are divided in three ways:
(1) The public area, the area that can be observed from the street.
(2) The service area, which consists of garage and parking facilities, delivery facilities, clothes-drying equipment, outside storage space and garbage disposal.
(3) The private area, ideally located at the rear of the house. Here is your outdoor area, available for games and lounging; a terrace or outdoor dining area; the children’s playground in addition to a garden with flowers, fruits, vegetables, walks and, perhaps, pool.

In each division there will be some things to aim for and some to avoid. Within your front, or public area, to provide an example, arrange for a minimum of care. Choose flowers and shrubs that will help you present an appealing look for the passer-by at any time without having undue maintenance on your part, in order that when you can’t find a way to give so much time as you would like to your grounds, the front of your property is still presentable.

In your service area, prepare for off-street parking for deliveries that may be made without intrusion inside the privacy of your lawn or terrace.

For your personal private area, make use of the largest part of your plot; take full advantage of established trees as well as the shade afforded by your house and garage for lounging spots. Have seating in pleasant corners and screen off the children’s play areas from the other parts of the garden.

Without a doubt, landscaping design is definitely a never-ending adventure, an activity which is as gratifying as it’s beautifying, for the creation and proper care of flowers and trees, vines and shrubs, lawns and fences, brings luxury into the home, happiness to the family, and pleasure to everyone who observes the beauty of a “well-dressed” house.

For the most eye-catching and rewarding usage of your grounds, I suggest you include in your plans almost all of the factors outlined in this article. Such essentials like a really good lawn, thriving shady trees and paths and walks are in most cases taken for granted, however often they are the most difficult to achieve, and may even absorb a significant part of your early effort and resources. At the same time, these types of project such as an outdoor living room, having its cooking and entertaining facilities, was probably overlooked in past times simply because it seemed too difficult to accomplish. However such “thought to be difficult” features will add tremendously towards your enjoyment and may even, depending on what type you choose, be achieved with relatively little effort and cost!

The use of trees.

Perhaps if any one feature could be singled out as basic to successful landscaping, it’s the existence of fine trees. The regrettable tendency of developers to cut down trees in a wholesale manner, and also the growing use of treeless fields for brand new building, has focused attention on the homeowner who must start out with nothing when it comes to trees. Architects agree that a single shade tree, even of medium height, can certainly make very great difference in the comfort and liveability of a residence. It truly is amazing to find out exactly what a tree can do for a house. A tree in leaf, for instance, can aid in reducing noises from the street. A tree tall enough to throw shade covering the rooftop can materially reduce heat in summer. Trees can help reduce the quantity of dust around a house and will shield you from winds.

But there are additionally the many esthetic considerations. Properly located, they are able to greatly alter the lines of your home. They are able to give a small house dignity; appear to decrease the ungainly height of any tall house; soften the lines of a new house and provide you with welcome contrasts in color and texture. Plan right from the start to plant new trees, which will coordinate with the colors of your house and best suit its architectural style. When you are planning for new trees bear in mind the annual cycle of the tree; how long it holds its leaves, what its colors are during blossoming, whether it is in fruit or full berry, as well as in fall, when its leaves change color.

Arrange to contrast flowering deciduous trees with evergreens; slimmer trees that owe a great deal of their virtue to the color and line of their trunks and branches; the white clump birch, for example, with trees that happen to be chiefly beautiful in mass, for instance the weeping willow or the new purple fringe. (The latter is a tree that looks similar to a cloud of smoke when in bloom.)

Should you be considering views for large grounds (and this is a useful rule even for smaller spaces) have within your design a foreground, a middle ground and also a background. A background is most naturally composed of large trees. Here you may choose to use a number of the varieties of rough and irregular growth which might not look too well close up. These trees will provide a delicate texture to what would alternatively be an unbroken and monotonous background surface.

In the foreground use flowering shrubs. Then, towards the middle ground, take advantage of the many medium-sized trees and large shrubs which can be singled out for colorful foliage or blossoming.

These suggestions apply primarily to new planting. Should you have just bought your premises and therefore are considering removing a tree that blocks a view, or is otherwise undesirable, I ask you to wait no less than a year. Tolerate the tree, observe it in its various colors throughout the season’s and carefully consider its advantages along with its disadvantages, bear in mind a tree once destroyed is not easy or quick to replace.

Apart from the ornamental features of trees, two of the most important ways in which they can improve your property are by screening and giving shade. Perhaps you are overlooking a chance to use one of the shade trees on your grounds for a pleasant gathering spot. Put down some paving, place a few deck chairs there, and come summer everyone will gravitate to this spot. Use the shade of your trees for the children’s area, and if you don’t have a tree on the south, southeast or southwest side of your house, plant one or two there. If you are using trees to screen off an unpleasant view, use evergreens, which will undoubtedly do the trick the entire year round.

In deciding what trees you would like to acquire, or preserve, consider their ability to thrive in your particular climate and soil conditions. Also, check out their rate of growth. If you have a brand new house you’ll be wanting quick-growing trees and shrubs that bloom within two or three years after transplanting. Sometimes however, much like foundation planting, a slower rate of growth is helpful. This could mean the tree isn’t going to be bothered by crowding. Also take into account the shape, color of blossoms and foliage, height and spread. Also it is advisable to steer clear of trees that spoil a lawn or terrace with seed droppings or insects. Don’t consider only the old favorites but also any of the best new Oriental and European importations, and the many colorful new hybrids as well. And do not discount the value of fruit and nut trees as ornamental trees, for many are lovely, particularly in the spring.

Have a Good Lawn

A really good lawn is a basic need for attractive and enjoyable grounds. At the time you plant a tree you choose to do so realizing that you are planting for many years, even for generations. Few realize, however, that lawns need to be planted in the same spirit. The lawns of numerous celebrated estates were planted over 100 years ago, and this type of turf, luxuriously verdant, is invariably an inspiration. Today’s lawn builder is fortunate. The battle against weeds and poor soils can certainly be won, on account of the development of the latest chemicals. And modern spreaders, mowers along with other tools will help you establish a park like lawn.

But ending up with a first-class lawn is sometimes a considerably more problematic matter than scattering seed or plucking weeds. You will want to have your soil analyzed, and after that, quite possibly, change its make-up. Perhaps you will need to drain or grade. Prior to selecting your seed formula, consider the use to which your lawn will be put. Would you like a general-purpose area or will it be a showplace within your garden where you will strive for a putting-green lawn? Apart from problem lots in suburban areas, where the living quarters outside is small and may have to be paved, the lawn is definitely the broad canvas on which you paint the picture with flowers, shrubs, trees and walks. Keep it larger than any other area, certainly two or three times the width of the respective borders and beds.

Flowers

You’ll be wanting flowers for cutting and flowers for contributing gaiety and charm within your grounds. The objective of the successful gardener is to have a succession of flowers from early spring to late fall. You can easily plan right from the start to have perennials which bloom at different seasons, (for example, iris, which has the peak of its bloom just as the peony season begins). Know accurately when the perennials bloom and then plan to fill in the gaps left by their passing with prolific and quick-growing annuals. You can arrange to have a potting bed, perhaps in your vegetable garden or perhaps in a sheltered spot behind your tool house or garage, where you could grow extra annuals in addition to those perennials that do not mind being transplanted. Then when the tulip season passes, for instance, you are able to fill in with another tall bulb, a summer-flowering one, like for example, the canna lily.

Your plan really should be made on paper, with the shape of the bed or border sketched in, along with the position of the plants indicated. Perhaps the most widespread and feasible design for the average 60 x 100-foot lot, and even the half-acre lot, is the border running the length of the rear wall of the backyard. This is usually a mixed border of summer-flowering bulbs, perennials and annuals, backed by shrubs. Other designs can be planned for the center of the lawn, for the foundation planting, for the pathways to the house and for the sides of the house. Semi-formal or formal gardens could have borders or beds created alongside of and divided by walks.

In planning your border, provide for tall screening plants that can form a background for the shorter plants. The screening plants may need staking but they should be sturdy. If you have a wide border, over 6 feet, you will need a narrow path in front of the screening plants for cultivating and tending. The center border plants are of medium height, and can be chosen for vivid color. If you are planning a wide border, relatively tall plants such as iris go here. In the foreground is your edging, composed of such neat and plainly visible flowers as: clipped green perennials, or low-growing petunia, ageratum, pansies, dwarf marigolds or sweet alyssum.

Foundation Planting

The special planting carried out close to the house is called foundation planting and is very important since it improves and enhances the proportions of your house as well as relating the house to the grounds. Evergreens are frequently used for foundation planting, not necessarily just because they can thrive within the shade of the dwelling, but because of their year-round beauty.

If you haven’t used evergreens elsewhere, though, it’s actually a mistake to suddenly make use of them at the foundation. The contrast will be too sharp; the evergreens are inclined to look forbidding. There remains lots of flowering shrubs, dwarf fruit trees, roses and cushion chrysanthemums, which may lend color to your foundation design in spring, summer and fall. Japanese redleaf barberry, floribunda roses, flowering quince and forsythia are among the bushes and plants that you can use.

Though it may be tempting to try one of each of the nursery’s evergreen specimens as part of your foundation planting, this ought to of course, be avoided. Having said that, contrast tall and low-growing types: use stiff-needled pines with feathery juniper with broadleafed laurel and rhododendron.

As part of your preliminary planning, draw to scale the relationship between your house elevation and the foundation shrubs and trees as they will look at mature height. Perhaps a few of those you have selected are going to be too tall for your specific house, obscuring your windows and making the house gloomy inside. In that case, you wouldn’t want them.

Generally speaking, since your entrance is the most important feature of your property facade, you start your planning with it in your mind, using shrubs that direct the eye toward the entrance. The planting in front of the house is usually bowl-shaped in its overall outline. This gives the appearance of a broad base to the house. Every now and then, let the wall show to the foundation. Locate the tallest shrubbery at the corners of your house.

Outdoor Living Room

These days, when building costs make large houses prohibitive, one technique to extend your house is to use your outdoor area to full advantage. And quite a few contemporary houses make many a room look larger by visually extending it directly into the lawn or garden. Tricks which include glass walls, employing the same wall material inside as for a continuing wall on the terrace, and using the same material for the ceiling inside as on the extended terrace eaves help to do this. Your living room or dining room and even your bedroom or your children’s bedrooms can flow right outdoors on to “floating” decks of wood, bricked terraces or sodded, lattice-roofed loggias.

However you do it, by making use of vine, fences, shrubbery, shade trees and flowers you are able to your terrace a wonderful place for entertaining, sun-bathing and relaxing. Having a barbecue another dimension is added, for with your personal fireplace or barbecue any terrace, lawn or garden spot will offer the blithe enchantments of dining under sun and stars.

In planning your terrace, consider installing an electric powered outlet for lighting, portable radio, electric spit for your barbecue, etc. Use vines for a lattice roof (grape vines, for example, leaf out late when shade is wanted and drop their leaves early at the outset of cool weather, giving delicious fruit as bonus). Choose a rapid-growing vine like grape, hyacinth or the gourd vine.

Relate your terrace to the remainder of your grounds with flowers and vines grown in pots, baskets and tubs. In the event the wall of the house next to your terrace seems bare or the profile of your cement or asphalt paving seems too sharp in contrast against the grass, soften the line with pots of plants. Have dwarf trees upon your terrace and blossoming shrubs in the terrace-retaining walls. Create interest with changes of level; build flower beds around trees, steps and walls.

For a terrace where everybody in the household assembles, have play space for youngsters, a sand box which, is capable of being filled with plants later on, or a little square pool for sailing small boats (this can create a sense of luxury even after the children are adults).

You need not depend upon trees alone for shade. Create a self-bracing terrace roof in an egg-crate design, utilizing the side of your house and wood, masonry or metal pillars. Corrugated plastic and reinforced glass are frequently used nowadays since they will be watertight, yet let the sunlight through.

Becoming more popular these days – particularly in hot climates – is the “parasol” roof, extending out of the walls of the property some 4 feet and even further to give pleasant shade to the vicinity. Since glare reflected on bare grounds is a source of heat, a carpet of shaded grass under the parasol roof helps to keep the property cool.

Often an outdoor living space gets twice the utilization when it is made more accessible. A window in a family room can be transformed into a French door, that makes it more natural to step right out on the terrace as opposed to walking around the property in order to reach it. A flagstone, or any other path, leading to a terrace away from the house will raise the usefulness of the terrace. Some sort of hard flooring is of prime importance, whether it be brick, crushed rock, cement, wood block, or flagstone, because it makes it easier to maneuver the furnishings around and eliminates worries over tramped-on turf. In reality, it is a wise decision to create a terrace in a spot where you are experiencing difficulty with the lawn.

Outdoor living space is a winner, too, when it is sheltered-away from street noises and traffic, from the neighbors, and from the wind. By making use of fences and walls, an unused corner of the house or the garage, can turn into a sun-trap that will extend the season for outdoor living in both spring and fall. A louvered board fence, a basket-weave fence, or the traditional brick wall, all are pleasant backgrounds for planting and good screens against wind as well as other disturbing elements.

Play Area

A play area designed to keep your young children in their own back yard, where you can keep a cautious intermittent eye on them, need not be an unattractive one. Incorporate a paved area if you can, for bicycle riding, skating, hopscotch, etc. The sandbox could be a sunken one, flush with the lawn, or it might be a raised box, an extension of a wall or fence which could be planted later. Such imaginative ideas as hollowing out and painting an old stump to be employed for a puppet theatre; obtaining an unseaworthy row-boat that could be gaily decorated for playing Robinson Crusoe; or installing a ladder for climbing the side of the tool shed or a garden wall, in order that climbing in other places may be out-of-bounds, are ideas that will keep the “gang” at your house.

Drying Yard and Service Area

Propose to have your drying yard and service area out of sight yet close enough to the house so that you will not be inconvenienced. Screen these areas with shrubbery or fences. The service area ought to include propagating beds, cold frames, a tool shed or storage locker and your compost pit if you have one. Hotbeds and cold frames need to be located in a spot where they will be shielded from north and northwest winds. Take care not to place your cold frame in a damp place except if you have first drained it thoroughly with drain tile.

A vegetable garden can certainly be a source of great enjoyment. It ought to be out of sight in a corner, or screened with shrubbery, on account of the seasons when there is nothing growing in it. But it can be a decorative addition to the garden, especially if there are grass walks and attractive flowers around walks so that they occupy a minimum of room and yet provide a sufficiently strong surface for the traffic they will likely bear, calls for careful thinking. The well-designed house and grounds include the garage near to the house and close to the street. The garage situated at the back of the property is a hangover from horse-and-buggy days when the stable needed to be remote from the house. Today when most of home owners have cars, space should be saved by using a garage path which also functions as the house path, or feeds into a short house walk. But although the driveway could be a short one, plan for off-street parking- have your driveway no less than 20 feet from the street.

Most home driveways fail under heavy service trucks and traffic because the soil beneath the driveway is wet. Adequate drainage for wet spots, therefore, is a necessity. Good driveway materials are stable, and should not get washed away by storms or shoveled up with snow. If, however, the driveway really needs to be long and does form an essential feature of your landscaping, a reliable material may need to be passed up in favor of one like gravel or crushed rock, which is able to blend better with the surroundings.

Well-designed walks with neat edgings, steps which appear to belong where they are placed, and intriguing little paths that lead you deeper into the garden, are capable of doing much to further improve your grounds. You can scarcely lay too much focus on your choice of material. Concrete paths and steps, for instance, while often exactly the required thing, can form too sharp a contrast with the surrounding turf and planting. Informal walks of wood butts (perhaps slices of telephone poles), flagstones, or tanbark may very well be a lot more suitable. Colonial houses are traditionally set off by brick; modern houses favor wood; small houses appear to make a call for flags.

Garden Pools and Fountains

Water, in virtually any form, enriches a garden and delights the senses. Modern houses are bringing garden pools directly into the patios and terraces. Ideal is water in movement, a splashing fountain or a narrow little brook running across the grounds and between flowers over clear stones. But even a spigot with a wooden bucket below it or a tub to fill with water and used for plunging cut flowers is able to bring a verdant, cool feeling into the garden. Using the sound of running water and the evaporative qualities of a fountain or pool to provide relief from the heat is a trick we have learned from the gardens of Japan, Spain and various other hot climates.

A pool in the garden highlights the positive attributes of your setting, and it should always be positioned so that its surface will be seen from a great number of points, or at a minimum from the most frequented spot in the garden. The contour and materials of the coping surrounding the pool have much to do with its appropriateness in the setting. Flagstone, brick and tile are all good depending upon the degree of formality of the pool. Sometimes the most effective option would be no visible coping. Fountains can be created with just a small source of flowing water, and the same water may be used again and again so long as you install a small motor and pump for an electric pumping system.