Too Small, Too Big, Too Windy, Too Sunny, Too Shady?

Solutions to Common Landscaping Challenges

Whether you’re a glass half-empty or a glass half-full homeowner, chances are your outdoor space is not exactly what you wish it were. Landscape experts, however, know how to turn challenges into triumphs. has resources for almost every landscaping challenge out there.

In this featured garden from LandscapingNetwork, a California landscaper plants not only horizontally, but vertically as well, to expand the visual impact of the plantings.

To maximize small landscape spaces:

  • Plan for multiple focal points— in a small space, there are often no sweeping vistas, nor is there space to make one grand statement. Turn that to your advantage by planning a variety of small “surprises” in your garden, creating multiple places for the eye to stop and savor.
  • Go luxe. — Another advantage to small spaces? Not a lot of materials required, which makes it much easier to splurge on high-quality items. Tile the small patio with gorgeous marble. Place a single beautiful wrought iron bench in a nook. Line the short winding path with sea glass pebbles. In a small space, large gestures are more affordable — and they have a greater impact.

 To make the most of your shady yard:

  • The illusion of sun dappled plantings— plant perennials with natural green and yellow coloring. Landscape pros rely on this sleight of hand (or color) to make areas of the yard appear to be catching bits of sunlight.
  • Know your perennials — there are plenty of eye-catching flowers and shrubs that thrive in shady rather than sunny conditions. Use them lavishly to bring color and variety to your shaded yard.

For more tips, ideas and designs, see Expert Solutions for Solving Typical Yard and Landscape Challenges on

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Unusual Solutions to Simple Problems

6 Creative Ways to Address Common Home Challenges

From insufficient table space to insufficient shelf space, from ugly floor gouges to slamming windows, from mildly annoying to incredibly irritating, every homeowner complaint has a solution, and often more than one. Try these five ideas from Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living and House Beautiful to resolve or even anticipate issues in your home.

From Martha Stewart Living

  • Window Prop Stick— an easy DIY project to create a “stepped window prop stick” that will keep your window securely open at various heights; especially useful during the summer months.
  •  Make Your Own Outdoor Furniture — learn how to convert a cot into an outdoor daybed or create super easy bases for tiki or solar torches to light up your yard. For more ways to make your own outdoor furniture, click here.

From House Beautiful

  • Protect your floors — easier to manage and more secure than felt pads, “Plasti Dip” from the hardware stores is perfect to coat the bottom of your furniture’s legs and bases. For more creative uses for common hardware store items, click here.
  • Add surface space — whether for one night of entertaining, or for the long haul, you can never have enough occasional tables; try placing a tray on a footstool, or topping a sturdy vase with a large paver stone or tile. For more ways to transform your room with accessories, click here.

From Real Simple

  • Easy Kitchen Shelving — out of space for all your cookbooks? Looking for a spot for your summer picnic supplies? Need a shelf for your potted herb garden? With a few plank shelves from the local lumber store and a ladder, you can add shelving in less than an hour.
  • Clever Wall Shelves — bringing a new meaning to “bookshelf,” follow these steps to make your own shelves out of old hard backs.

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Kid-Friendly, Handyman Approved

3 Tips on Including Children in This Summer’s Home Improvement Projects

Summer’s here, school’s out and the kids need something to do.

As you contemplate your summer to-do list, from re-organizing the garage to finally fixing that hanging cabinet door, consider inviting your kids to help you. Few things are as satisfying as working with your child (or parent) and seeing the fruits of your labor.

Erika Riggs, from Blog, offers a few tips on how to include your children and keep them interested and safe:

  • Ask for their opinion(such as paint color or flower type) and really listen to it
  •  Stock up on kid-sized toolsthat will fit their hands
  • Create side projects— if your child is too young to actually wield a hammer, let them work with a kid hammer and some wood next to you as you tackle your project

Check out local kids’ programs for building and crafts — The Home Depot offers a series of kids’ workshops. This August, participating stores are running a workshop on “Making Pencil Box Holders.” For more information, visit The Home Depot’s Home Improver Club site.

Home Owner Net breaks down, into four steps, how you can involve your child:

  1. Design and planning — take advantage of your child’s unfettered imagination.
  2. Painting — what kid doesn’t love to paint? Put down enough protection so you don’t have to worry about making a mess.
  3. Installing — a great opportunity to show your child the answer to “why does it do that?”
  4. Building — nothing feels better than making something out of nothing. Share the joy with your child.

For more kid-friendly summer projects, visit Squidoo’s Summer Projects To Keep Your Kids From Being Bored.

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Home Improvement Small Screen Style

TV Shows Are A Great Resource for Ideas, Tips, Tricks and How-To’s


Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by too many ideas for improving your home or at a loss for what to do next, there’s a TV show to help you out.


From painting techniques to outdoor design, home improvement TV shows have it covered. Korina Rossi, the “Top 10 Guru” for lists these shows among her Top 10 Home Improvement Shows:


Holmes on Homes

What happens when a professional contractor uncovers sloppy, dangerous and even illegal home renovations? Watch Mike Holmes tear it down and Make it Right® in this gritty award-winning television series.


The Woodwright’s Shop

Using only vintage, muscle-powered tools, Roy shows how to make wonderful woodcraft while making a healthier planet and a healthier you! It’s historic, it’s green and it’s steampunk too!




Disaster DIY

A show about Do-It-Yourself-ers who have failed at their own home renovations, and are in desperate need of some on the job training. Host and contractor Bryan Baeumler arrives to save them from a reno disaster and teach them how to fix it.


For more home improvement show suggestions, see the full list here.

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Easy Seasonal Updates for Your Home

Simple Solutions for Stunning Winter to Summer Transition


The décor that makes your home cozy and warm in the winter can make it seem hot and stuffy in the summer. Spending thousands of dollars on new furniture and figuring out something to do with your current furniture is not your only option.


      the decorator’s favorite, fastest and easiest way to change the mood of a room. Transform your cozy den to an airy retreat by painting your brown walls apple green.

      If painting a whole room seems daunting, try this trick from the experts: paint the room a neutral cream or white and choose one wall – a “feature wall” that will bring spring, summer or any season indoors with color.


Slip covers

      if your couches and chairs are covered in a sturdy, comfy dark fabric, tossing a white or bright duck-cloth slip cover on top will instantly lighten and brighten your room. There are many brands of “instant” slip-covers available on shopping sites such as, and

      Depending on the piece, sometimes a plain white sheet can be imaginatively tucked and draped to serve as a slip-cover for a few months before being retired to its place in the linen closet.


For more seasonal transition decorating tips, check out these resources:

      Real Simple’s Guide to Low-Cost Home Upgrades

      House Beautiful’s Simple Summer Decorating Ideas

      CasaSugar’s Summer Decorating Ideas

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How to Grow and Maintain A Beautiful Lawn

Common Problems and Simple Solutions for a Gorgeous Green Lawn

Nothing looks as welcoming and lush in the summer as a green lawn glowing around your home. For many homeowners, achieving this verdant dream can feel like a ceaseless and thankless task. A few basic guidelines along with some tips and pointers to identify and resolve real problems can turn the burden into an achievement.

The number one problem lawn-care experts list when called upon to diagnose an ailing lawn is poor watering. According to the Home Renovation Guide, insufficient water or too much water are equally bad for your lawn. If your lawn appears bluish or grayish and walking across it leaves noticeable footprints, it’s a good bet your lawn is thirsty. Generally, lawns require about an inch of water per week (when you turn on your sprinkler, place a can or jar where it can catch the water – when an inch of water has accumulated, your lawn is sufficiently watered).

If your lawn looks yellow, it could signal that you are over-watering and your lawn is nutrient-deprived. Location, soil composition and poor drainage can all contribute to over-watering. Moisture-absorbing compost is one way to address an over-watered lawn.

According to the EPA, lawn care and landscaping account for more than 30 percent of water use in the U.S. Clean Air Gardeningoffers several tips for efficient watering, such as watering early in the morning when the lawn will have a chance to absorb the water rather than the heat of day evaporating it. Aerating your grass with special tools is another way to ensure efficient water use.

Beyond watering, however, other problems such as weeds, can afflict your lawn. According to an article on, many problems have simple solutions. Dandelions, a sign that your lawn’s roots are suffering, can be killed with spray of straight white vinegar. And a soil test will reveal what’s out of balance so you can adjust your lawn’s nutrients. Gluten spread on your lawn early in the spring will help prevent not only dandelions, but also crabgrass.

For more lawn care tips, visit American-Lawns.comand

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How Safe Is Your Garden?

Tips To Ensure Your Garden is Pet and Child Safe

As is often the case, the prettiest things are also the deadliest. If you have pets or children, it’s well worth the time to ensure that your garden or yard isn’t blossoming with any of these harmful plants:

Foxglove (also known as digitalis or Dead Man’s Bells) — as that last name implies, this flower can prove lethal if ingested. Hollyhocks are a similar, and non-toxic, alternative to foxglove.

Oleander— a frequent player in murder mysteries, this pretty flower can cause severe intestinal problems or death if ingested or breathed (so don’t throw it in the fire pit), and blistering on your skin if you touch the sap. Camellias are a fragrant evergreen shrub that you can plant instead of oleander.

Chrysanthemums— this flower may be common, but growing outside your home it can be harmful if ingested, and even fatal if enough is eaten. The Cornflower (or Bachelor’s Button) is a pretty choice to replace your Chrysanthemums safely.

For more information on identifying and replacing dangerous greenery in your garden, try these resources:

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