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Archives for February 8, 2013

Expanding outdoor living space adds value to your home

(BPT) – Even during a challenging economy, the outdoor living trend remains popular as homeowners seek to add lasting value and functional living space under the sky and stars. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself patio or a professionally installed outdoor kitchen, the beauty, usefulness, value and ease of maintenance in outdoor living space is limitless.

Extending living space outdoors is as old as time itself. “Creating an outdoor room is a natural extension of your indoor living space,” says landscape architect John Johnson of Burnsville, Minn. “By creating a space in the open air and adding elements like fireplaces, pergolas, water features and greenery, you get a very different feel. People want and need that connection to the outdoors.”

Adding value

Without erecting the traditional four walls and roof, outdoor living space can be easily added to large, small, twin or town homes. Enhancing an outdoor space with hardscapes adds value and can be adapted for multiple uses.

“Homeowners continue to embrace the trend of maximizing outdoor living space, whether it’s an outdoor kitchen or patio living room with a fire pit,” says Lonny Sekeres, a landscape designer with Villa Landscapes in Oakdale, Minn. “Real estate experts say that for every dollar you invest in landscaping projects, you could see up to a $2 return when you sell your home.”

Do-it-yourselfers will find easy-to-install, maintenance-free pavers and segmental retaining wall systems are budget-friendly for patios, walkways, courtyards, raised gardens, fire features and wall projects. New construction should include plans for exterior hardscapes, and remodels can benefit from the advice of design-build professionals or experts from a landscape supplies retailer, says Sekeres. 

“There are so many solutions to fit any budget and need,” says Sekeres. “Products like Willow Creek permeable pavers allow rainwater drainage if needed, and retaining walls come in colors that complement any environment.”

Al fresco living

As a natural extension of the home’s ground floor, a patio expands a family’s living and entertaining space significantly. It provides a perfect gathering spot for guests and family who will be drawn from indoor dining areas to this enticing space.

A popular trend is to expand kitchen space with outdoor grilling areas, stone fireplaces for cooking wood-fired pizza, or stone counters around a grill for food preparation. “Because the kitchen is typically the customary gathering place in the home, it’s a natural extension for family and entertaining guests,” Sekeres says.

Warming accents

A fire feature such as a fireplace, pit, table, pot or ring creates an inviting outdoor focal point as well as a functional spot for entertaining, says Sekeres. A half-circle seat wall or outdoor furniture around a fire pit or table creates a cozy nook, and adding a grill, pub set, chaise or settee can transform a patio into a lounge for gatherings well into the evening and late in the season.

A newer trend is the green or living wall, says Sekeres. Products like the VERSA-Green Plantable Retaining Wall System from VERSA-LOK lets do-it-yourselfers and professional installers alike easily add drama and beauty to retaining walls. “A living wall planted with herbs near an outdoor grill or a landscaped wall of flowers is an eye-catching, eco-friendly and unique use of retaining walls,” says Sekeres.

Adding ambiance

Pathways created with pavers, stepping stones and permeable pavers can join both back and front outdoor living spaces. “New homes and older homes make good use of the longstanding porch design,” says Sekeres. “It’s easy to create a paver walkway linking the front and back or an outdoor kitchen to a lounge area.”

Lighting installed within steps and along paths can also add a unified ambiance to a home’s hardscape. Adding decor such as pergolas, trellises and arbors covered with natural materials like bamboo or fiber screens is great solutions for privacy, shade or continuity of design.

“There’s no limit to the hundreds of ideas to enhance your yard,” says Sekeres. “Many products are easy for the do-it-yourselfer with manufacturer instructions, seminars and other resources. Talk to a landscape professional, visit a home and garden show and landscape supply stores, or search the Internet for inspiration. Take advantage of the outside to easily expand your living space.”

For more information on VERSA-LOK products, visit its website or call (800) 770-4525.

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Survey results: Use Bristol mayor George Ferguson’s millions to get rid of …

BRISTOL mayor George Ferguson should use some of his “windfall millions” to pay for ridding the city of eyesore derelict sites such as Westmoreland House in Stokes Croft and the former Grosvenor Hotel in Temple Way.

This emerged as the people’s favourite in a survey we launched on ThisisBristol after The Post revealed the mayor will have an estimated £14 million to spend on capital projects during the next six years.

  1. Westmoreland House and the Carriageworks building on Stokes Croft

    Westmoreland House and the Carriageworks building on Stokes Croft

  2. Bristol mayor George Ferguson

We suggested a number of ideas where the money could possibly be spent and underwriting compulsory purchase orders on eyesore sites was top of the wish list with 19 per cent.

This was closely followed by using some of the money to pay for a long-awaited arena in city to provide a venue for rock concerts and other large-scale events (18 per cent).

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In joint third place was building a council-run ice-rink and more affordable homes to ease the city’s housing shortage (11 per cent).

A total of 620 people took part in the survey which revealed other ideas for spending some of the money.

These included:

•— Kick-starting the city’s tram system, which was used before the Second World War;

•— Saving Filton Airfield;

•— Funding the Bristol Metro – a project to bring unused local railway lines back into use.

One suggestion was to pay for the reinstatement of 300 council jobs which have already been lost because of civic cuts.

But under the Government rules, the money cannot be used to pay for the council’s running costs – only what is regarded as “infrastructure”.

Since we ran our survey, the council has revealed a list of what is meant by this and what was agreed before Mr Ferguson took office on where the money can be spent.

This includes:

•— The first three routes of the Bus Rapid Transit system – Long Ashton park and ride to the city centre, the South Bristol Link and the North Fringe to Hengrove;

•— Existing Parks and Green Spaces identified in the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy;

•— School Schemes set out in the Schools Organisation Strategy;

•— Regeneration projects in Lockleaze and Knowle West;

•— Flood defence measures.

Mr Ferguson said: “I’m determined that we make the most of the new Community Infrastructure Levy to support future growth in the city. Rules dictate that we use it for infrastructure development, which does give us some flexibility on how we use it, although it cannot be used for new homes.

“I agree wholeheartedly with Post readers – delivering an arena for Bristol is a priority, and CIL can potentially contribute.

“Resolving eyesores like Westmoreland House / Carriageworks is again very crucial and we will use CPO powers if necessary. The rules of CIL mean we cannot use it for this purpose but we’ll find other ways.

“The council is currently seeking a developer to work with the community to develop the site – I am hoping for good news soon.”

The windfall millions are coming from a new “developers’ tax”, which has been introduced by the Government and which will gradually replace most current planning deals, known as “Section 106 agreements”.

Under the new rules, developers will have to pay a tax for new building projects which is calculated on size of development and other factors. For example, they pay less depending on the number of affordable homes which are included in a scheme.

Council officers have estimated the new tax will generate about £4 million a year by 2018.

It could be ring-fenced to spend on specific items such as a new school, highway improvements or landscaping in a nearby park.

But most of the developers’ tax will go into a citywide fund for infrastructure projects and a portion will be siphoned off to the city’s 14 neighbourhood partnerships for them to spend how they wish.

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Envirogreen’s Expert Landscape Design Services to Increase Home Resale Value

Scottsdale, AZ — (SBWIRE) — 02/07/2013 — Professional landscape designers can offer valuable insight into essential aspects such as plant growth, site requirements, plant needs and selection, etc., ensuring the space’s appearance and functionality. “Only by working with landscape design experts by their side can homeowners plan and implement original landscape design ideas that make good use of the space and increase the house’s value on the real estate market”, says CEO of Envirogreen Landscaping, a premier landscape design company from Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Most homeowners have no idea what wealth of options they have when it comes to beautifying their back yards and increasing their homes’ value at the same time. Professional landscaping services are about more than just the occasional upkeep. We use all the space’s potential to create designs that fit the owner’s preferences, needs, budget and unique ideas”, continued the representative of Envirogreen.

Clients who visit Envirogreen’s website will learn that the landscaping experts at Envirogreen do more than provide the blueprints for the exterior. Having extensive command and qualified training in several areas of landscape design, designers at Envirogreen will also assist with any vegetation related tasks, from choosing trees, shrubbery and plants to decide the plant’s location and maintenance requirements. They will also aid in choosing other landscape elements such as fences, decks, gazebos, pergolas, as well as water installations such as fountains and waterfalls. Outdoor lighting, plumbing and xeriscaping are also included in Envirogreen’s services – the complete list can be accessed by those who like Envirogreen on Facebook.

“At Envirogreen, we believe that well-designed landscapes are the simplest way to complement a home’s appearance, style and architecture, allowing the house to expose itself as a good story and reflect the owner’s personality. By taking your personal design approach outside, you can transform a balcony or a patio into another wonderful room of the house”. – Dana M., Arizona.

The complete offer of landscaping services can be accessed by clients who decide to follow Envirogreen on Twitter and stay updated to their latest news and resources. Also, those who decide to subscribe to Envirogreen on YouTube will be able to see the great transformations for themselves. To request a quote, please visit

About Envirogreen Landscaping LLC
Envirogreen is a highly recommended landscape design company in Scottsdale, Arizona, serving the Phoenix Metro area. It is their sincere goal to provide the finest ecological concepts to their clients, from a team of people who genuinely care. They strive to collectively create unique and imaginative landscape designs with their clients, all while providing the utmost professionalism in their service to clients.

Contact Information:
Envirogreen Landscaping LLC.
8711 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd. #379
Scottsdale, Arizona 85255
United States


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Annual home, landscaping show starts Friday

WATERLOO, Iowa — In the depths of winter when “every mile feels like two,” the annual Eastern Iowa Home and Landscaping Show is a sign spring can’t be far off.

The 62nd annual event opens Friday at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center and runs through Sunday. Nearly 175 exhibitors are expected to participate, displaying the latest ideas and products for home, lawn and garden. Co-sponsored by the Waterloo Exchange Club and Iowa Show Productions Inc., it is the club’s annual fundraiser.

Barb Miller of Iowa Show Productions expects between 6,000 and 8,000 people will come through the show.

“Hopefully, we’ve had the snowstorm of the winter last week, and we won’t have to worry too much about weather. People look forward to the show because it gives them a touch of spring. Some people like to browse and see what’s new. Some people come because they already have a project in mind and it allows them to talk to several different contractors in a short period of time. Others just like to come through and see what’s new,” she said.

And, she added, “People want to come out and support the Exchange Club that helps children in the community through their programs.”

Exhibits will include new home contractors, remodeling experts, home entertainment, landscaping experts and kitchen specialists. Experts will be on hand with energy saving solutions and creative options for the home. Consumers can shop for lighting, plumbing, real estate, painting, flooring, windows, doors, siding, hot tubs, fireplaces, sunrooms, grills, lawn care equipment and much more.

A number of exhibitors are collaborating on exhibits, including a furnished Styrofoam house by Darin Dietz. After a year’s absence, the American Society of Interior Designers will return with two room displays. Katie Bell will show a contemporary bathroom, and Jim Aronson will present a sitting room with Oriental-eclectic style.

“It’s exciting to have them back. The public looks forward to seeing those displays,” Miller said.

Landscaped gardens, grills and energy-saving ideas also will be featured. There will be free seminars featured daily.

Hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults and free for youth 12 and younger.

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Resources: On edible landscaping

RESOURCES On edible landscaping

Mixing edible and ornamental plants is a growing trend in landscape design. Emily Tepe discusses the concept in “The Edible Landscape: Creating a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden With Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers” (Voyageur Press, $24.99, 160 pages, paperback). Tepe, a fruit researcher and artist, combines her talents to help readers imagine gardens that are both attractive and practical. She notes that edibles add color, texture and form to a landscape, while ornamentals attract beneficial insects, provide winter interest and supply plant diversity that helps hold harmful insects and diseases in check. While the book isn’t a complete gardening guide, it does give basic information on seed-starting, light requirements and crop rotation. Tepe also provides several layouts for edible-landscape gardens and lists her favorite plants for various purposes.

Mary Beth Breckenridge

Akron Beacon Journal

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Performance Mobility will be in attendance at the 2013 Colorado Garden and …

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Denver, CO (PRWEB) February 07, 2013

The Colorado Garden Home Show is an event that Performance Mobility has participated in for the past 6 years. Garden enthusiasts flock to the yearly garden show presented by the Colorado Garden Home Show. Those who attend the nine-day event have the opportunity to view an acre of exquisitely landscaped gardens, learn the latest landscaping ideas, talk to professional home improvement and landscaping experts, attend educational seminars, landscaping demonstrations, showcase exhibits, and much more. New exhibits are introduced every year. For instance, at this year’s event, Performance Mobility representatives will be setting up a booth to offer support.

The Performance Mobility staff will be at booth 239 featuring the brand new 2013 Toyota Sienna with a fold-out ramp conversion by BraunAbility. Performance Mobility staff will be there every day so come down to the Colorado Convention Center to see these vehicles and view a new Performance Mobility brochure.

Along with a chance to meet Performance Mobility staff and see these great handicap vehicles, Money raised from the annual show has also supported projects such as school landscaping, related educational programs, community gardens, and more. Notable projects that received financial support from the Colorado Garden Home Show include the Historic Rose Garden, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, the Hudson Gardens in Littleton, Western Colorado Botanical Society’s “Weddle Native Colorado Garden” in Grand Junction, and a variety of projects at The Denver Botanic Gardens.

The Colorado Garden and Home Show continues through February 17. Stop by the Performance Mobility booth to check out a 2013 Toyota Sienna with the BraunAbility fold-out floor ramp conversion!

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Gardening Tips for February

Learn tips about perennials on March 7

I have a great educational opportunity to get you jump-started for the upcoming gardening season. It’s almost time for the Annual Central Ohio Perennial Flower School on March 7 in Springfield.

This daylong program features everything perennials, and you are guaranteed to learn at least one new tip for your garden.

Our first speaker is author, garden consultant and designer Kerry Ann Mendez. We are really fortunate to have Kerry this year, as her schedule fills up quickly. She has appeared on Home and Garden TV, hosted national webinars for Horticulture magazine and has written feature articles for Fine Gardening, Garden Gate, and Better Homes and Gardens.

Kerry will be sharing design tips from her before-and-after garden renovations as well showing spectacular perennials for sun and shade that look great in your garden spring through fall.

She is the author of “Top Ten Lists for Beautiful Shade Gardens” and “The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Top Ten Lists.” A limited number of these books will be available to purchase, and Kerry will be on hand all day to sign the books.

In addition to Kerry, a great friend of mine, Kathy Burkholder, will talk about some of the best and most reliable perennials found in these gardens. Kathy is the horticulturist of the Chadwick Arboretum on the campus of Ohio State University.

Kathy has been involved in the horticulture industry for more than 30 years. She is one of the hardest-working women I know and has tremendous hands-on experience in the gardens. She will share practical information with you.

Dr. Pablo Jourdan, associate professor at OSU and director of the Ornamental Germplasm Center, will talk about the incredible diversity in the genus Coreopsis. Pablo has been working on this genus in the past few years and has recommendations to use in your garden.

I will round off the program with a talk about perennial pests. I’ll focus on the top 10 pests in the garden and how to manage them. In addition, I will also give you an opportunity to bring your pest challenges up for discussion and help you determine a strategy (hopefully!).

The event is held in Springfield at the Courtyard by Marriott and costs $50. This includes a continental breakfast and lunch as well as a packet of handouts.

We’ll have gardening door prizes donated by our sponsors Bonnie’s Nursery, Crown Market, Knollwood Garden Center and Landscaping, MVG Meadowview Growers, and Wicklines Florist, Garden Center and Landscaping.

Class size is limited, and we typically fill up quickly and have a waiting list. The deadline is Feb. 28, but I recommend that you register soon. For more information and a registration form, go online to

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Garden tips for February

Snow business: It looks like we’ll miss most of this weekend’s projected storm, but a wintry mix can certainly do plenty of damage to our landscape. There’s not much you can do to keep municipal road chemicals from your landscaping, but you can control your personal use of salt and ice melt products. Sand and kitty litter can also give you traction and save your plants in the process.

Hands off. Ice-encased branches can be especially brittle. Allow the ice to stay put until it melts of its own accord. Prune broken branches to prevent further injury.

Snow brooms. Heavy, wet snow is another matter. Use a broom to brush snow from your evergreens to keep the boughs from breaking. Start with the low branches and work your way up.

Early birds. Emerging spring bulbs showed their cheery faces with the warmth several weeks ago. A return to frosty weather sent them back into hibernation. There’s not much to do to prevent this early emergence, other than to enjoy the show. Just know that what blooms now won’t bloom again when we have our proper spring.

Forcing spring. Instead of just dreaming of warmer weather, make it so, by taking cuttings of forsythia, witch hazel or pussy willow and bring them indoors. Look for branches with an abundance of fat buds, which are more likely holding flowers rather than the slender foliage buds. Smash the woody stems with a hammer to help them take up water, place them in a bucket of warm water in a cool, dimly lit location so the buds open slowly, then move them to where you wish to display them.

Love blooms. Woo your favorite gardener with something more than a cliche this Valentine’s Day. Go beyond the expected rose bouquet and think about colorful potted orchids or cyclamens. Or even better, order a magnificent rose bush for bountiful blooms. For the spring dreamer, gift certificates to a favorite garden center or seed catalog may be the perfect fit.

Plant prep. Planning to start your own seeds? Sanitize any flats and potting utensils you will reuse. You’ll also want to check other supplies, like your lights and heating pads, to ensure you’re prepared.

Ready to go. Let the seed packets be your guide for planting. Each will tell you how many weeks the seeds should be started before planting in the garden. Hardy crops go in before our last frost date average of May 15, tender plants after. So count back each week, arriving at your start date.

Seed sense. To do a germination test for packets of old seeds, moisten a paper towel, add a reasonable sample of seeds, fold it up, place it in a warm area and check periodically to monitor sprouting over two weeks. If you have less than 50 percent germination, it’s time to buy new seeds.


If you plan to add woody plants, fruit trees and other larger plants to your landscaping, be sure to pick up a brochure from the Lancaster County Conservation District’s 39th annual tree seedling sale. Most offerings cost about a dollar.

The order deadline is March 11 with pickup date of April 11 at the Farm and Home Center. The variety ranges from conifers like Eastern red cedar, Eastern white pine and Colorado blue spruce, to hardwoods like white oak, black cherry, sugar maple, river birch and sycamore to wildlife species like witchhazel, chokecherry, silky dogwood, winterberry, American craneberry and redbud, to ornamentals like white dogwood and arborvitae. Perennials like dianthus, daylily and Russian sage also will be available, as will groundcover like sedum and myrtle. Crimson Gold and Fuji varieties of apple trees are available, as well as Redhaven peaches, Stanley plums and Encore red raspberries. Additionally, containerized seedlings of basswood, chestnut oak, hornbeam and persimmon will be available. Bring a bucket when you pickup your trees for free compost. For more information, call 299-5361.

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Garden Tips: Study landscape and carefully choose spots for new plants

A low-maintenance landscape can be beautiful. Low maintenance means the plants require little watering, pruning or spraying, and have few pest and disease problems.

Start by studying your landscape area before planting. Check drainage and sun and shade amounts. This will help you when you start buying plants.

Ornamental plants take more care when they are planted at the wrong site. For instance, azaleas prefer well-drained soil and a mostly shady location. When planted in poorly drained soil or full sun, azaleas become stressed and require more care.

If low maintenance is your goal, you probably should not plant a rose. Roses provide season-long beauty, but require season-long attention. They need an inch of water per week. They are prone to black spot, a serious foliage disease. With the proper care, it can be treated.

Here are some tips for establishing a low-maintenance landscape:

Size: A small, well-kept landscape is better than a large one that is overgrown. Reducing size is the best way to reduce landscape maintenance.

Arrangement: Arrange plants according to their water use and soil pH For example, azaleas are acid-loving plants, so plant all acid-loving plants together. Most junipers need less water, so plant them together. Plant requirements should be on the tags.

Mulches: Use mulches around plants to minimize weeds and conserve moisture.

Fertilizer: Do not overfertilize plants.

Pruning: Put the right size plant in the right place to reduce the amount of pruning necessary. The potential height and width should be on the container.

Booker T. Leigh is the director at the Tipton County Extension office. Email your gardening questions to Include your name and the area where you live. For more gardening information, call the Tipton County Extension office at (901) 476-0231 or the Shelby County Extension office at (901) 752-1207.

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