Greenhouse Design

Greenhouse DesignGreenhouse design is dependent on how you intend to use your greenhouse and your budget. There is a wide range of materials and equipment available to choose from, with an equally wide range of costs and uses. That being said, it’s important to educate yourself on what’s out there before you shop, so that you get what you need and stay under cost.

Greenhouse Covers
Installing the right greenhouse cover is perhaps the most important part of greenhouse construction. It determines how much light gets through, how much heat gets trapped in, and it can play a large role in determining the life span of your greenhouse. When it comes to greenhouse design, the cover is not a place where you want to pinch pennies.

  • Glass—While traditional greenhouses were covered with glass, this is one of the least efficient, heat-retaining materials, and one of the most fragile. Unless you purchase specialty reinforced glass, this is a cover you should stay away from.
  • Fiberglass—Fiberglass is an excellent choice for greenhouse construction, since it scatters light to create a virtually

Fill in Your Loose Paving

Fill in Your Loose PavingFor many homeowners, every extra dollar spent on one area of your home means another area is left neglected or unfinished. If you recognize this in your own home, you’re probably looking for cheap home improvement alternatives that still retain the beauty and quality you demand from your home projects. One of the opportunities to stretch your home improvement dollars is to consider eschewing high-end stones and bricks for loose paving in your outdoor landscaping projects. Gravel, sand, small rock and wood chips are all types of loose fill. They are just as functional as any other landscaping material and with a little creativity can be nearly as beautiful.

Loose Paving Options
Because there are so many loose fill options, you need to assess the use of the area before deciding which fill would work best. If you are installing a swing set or playground for your children, sand, wood chips and pea gravel are appropriate and have adequate shock-absorbing properties when installed at an appropriate depth. For even better shock-absorption, you might also consider rubber mulch.

Common Loose Fill Paving Problems

Common Loose Fill Paving ProblemsPaving problems are more common than most homeowners realize. If installed correctly the first time, your driveway, walkway, and patio pavers should last many, many years. But proper installation is far from a given and exposure to the brutal elements can cause problems for virtually any residential paving. Some homeowners mistakenly believe they are avoiding paving problems by choosing the convenience of loose fill, but the truth is loose fill is vulnerable to many of the exact same problems as other pavers:

Loose Fill Paving Problems

  • Washboarding resembles the bumpy surface of an old-fashioned wash board. You can often find this phenomenon on unpaved dirt roads.
  • Potholes are holes in pavement found in virtually all materials. Usually, potholes are caused by natural freeze-thaw cycles.
  • Similar to potholes, a trough is a long indentation found in pavement.
  • General erosion: All pavement will erode from climate effects and use.
  • Water pooling is often caused by an unstable subsurface sinking over time.
  • Grading/slope problems are possibly due to improper site preparation and can turn into potholes over time.

Coping with Paving Problems: Loose

Quick Facts about the Zika Virus

There were a lot of people alarmed by the news of possible outbreaks brought by the Zika virus. Some athletes even withdrew their 2016 Rio Olympics participation because of the Zika scare. We compiled some of the things you need to know about Zika virus. Whether or not you are planning to go to Brazil or to any Zika-infested area soon, at least you’re armed with the basics about this disease.

  1. What is the Zika virus?

Zika virus is mosquito-borne. It is an RNA virus that is spread by the Aedes mosquito species. This virus is related to the yellow fever, dengue viruses, and chikungunya viruses because they come from the same mosquito species. The Aedes mosquitoes are most likely active during daytime and can survive both indoor and outdoor environments. They are aggressive biters during the day but they can also bite during nighttime.

Cases of Zika virus typically occur in places with tropical climates. However, potential Zika-infected mosquitoes can also be found in places with wet lowlands with warmer temperatures.

  1. How do you get infected with Zika virus?

Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites. An individual bitten by a mosquito that has Zika will then become viremic. If they get bitten

Planters as Pleasing as What’s Inside Them

The Seattle-based furniture and interiors designer Trey Jones was inspired to create a debut collection of planters when he realized he was looking for something that didn’t yet exist. “I was searching for planters to go with a client project,” Jones says. “I couldn’t find any that worked for the space, so I started to design one.”

Made for the outdoors, Jones’s Origami planter is available in copper or weathering steel and was inspired by its materials. “They fold sheet metal like origami,” says Jones, who used the Japanese art technique to make many paper models while exploring the possibilities his planter’s form might take. The planter is thoughtfully designed: dirt resides in its pyramid-shaped cavity, with drainage at the bottom and on the side seams; the copper and steel take on a patina with time — changing with the surroundings, as Jones points out — though the copper can be polished to maintain its shine as desired.

The Frame planter, an indoor option that Jones originally designed and built for a cafe space, elevates the terra cotta pot — both literally and figuratively. “We didn’t want to

The Education of a Gardener

ON A BRIGHT SUMMER MORNING, Luciano Giubbilei can be found elbow-deep in a living mille-fleur tapestry in Sussex, southeast England. He is transplanting dahlias into a border in preparation for a burst of late-season color that will be accompanied by tall grasses, which are now diminutive but will be burgeoning by September.

This is not the kind of habitat — nor the aesthetic — with which the 44-year-old Italian garden designer is usually associated. Born in Siena and trained in England, Giubbilei’s signature look was, until recently, one of sharp lines — dignified topiary forms in clipped boxwood and hornbeam with mowed lawns, still pools and smooth limestone terracing. For the past 15 years, the gardens he created for clients in wealthy neighborhoods like Holland Park and Belgravia have been more architectural than horticultural.

His were designs that are antithetical to the place he’s experimenting in: Great Dixter, a six-acre oasis designed principally by the parents of Christopher Lloyd, whose stewardship of the garden made him a cult figure in the world of plants. Here, old hedges barely contain some of the most exuberant and exciting flora to

Inside The April Issue

The April issue is a great big dose of spring sunshine. On page 107 Elizabeth Metcalfe addresses the question of how to integrate technology into your home without compromising on style. Sofka Zinovieff shows us around her family home, Faringdon House in Oxfordshire. We take a look inside a modernised Victorian terraced house in London (page 136) and the Twickenham home of Lady Wakefield (page 142), filled with artwork she has collected over a lifetime. On page 164 our very own Gabby Deeming concocts a devastatingly pretty decorating scheme inspired by the great outdoors and on page 180 the legendary Beth Chatto gives her advice on what to plant in a border.

Try our digital edition FOR FREE

House & Garden’s most exciting project, The List, has now launched. The indispensable online directory of design professionals including interior designers, architects, landscape and garden designers is searchable by specialism and area. We are keen to champion those who are determined to continue producing their work in this country and to keep their skills and industries alive

The Young Gardeners series: Charlie Harpur

Charlie Harpur is a junior landscape designer at Tom Stuart-Smith where he spends his weeks considering everything from the broader landscape to

Find Your Way with Stepping Stones

One of the most underappreciated landscaping home improvement projects is the simple addition of stepping stones to your garden and lawn areas. Stepping stones are an easy way to add texture, contrast, and convenient pathways to your landscaping design. If you’re looking for a low cost, attractive, landscaping addition to your property, the world of stepping stones is one you ought to explore.

Stepping Stone Design
What you want to achieve with the addition of stepping stones to your property depends in a large part on the type of landscaping design you hope to accomplish. When most homeowners think stepping stones, they conjure up images of single, spread out, sandstone steps that meander through flower gardens, and around patios and decks. While that might be exactly what you’re shooting for, natural stone design is only scratching the surface of what is possible in your landscape and gardens.

Natural Stone
Since we’ve already brought it up, natural stone is a perfect solution to stepping stone pathways and designs. Sandstone, slate, and flagstone, are the most popular stones for this use, since they are easily cut, set, and fit to specific areas. They also fit well into more

Be Safe Shoveling Snow this Winter

When most people think of health risks associated with shoveling snow, they tend to think of muscle strains and back problems. While muscle strains are, indeed, a concern, for many people middle-aged and older, the greater danger is suffering a heart attack. Research has shown that shoveling snow for just ten minutes puts similar strain on your heart as running on a treadmill till you drop. It’s that strenuous. Meanwhile, exposure to the cold causes your body to constrict your blood vessels?a recipe for a heart attack. In fact, snow shoveling is commonly cited as the primary factor in elevated heart attack rates during the winter months.

As for your back, whenever possible avoiding lifting a snow-filled shovel. Instead, push the snow off your sidewalks, driveways, walkways, etc. If you must lift the snow, you should face the direction you’re lifting and avoid twisting as much as possible. If you begin to feel sore or fatigued, stop shoveling and try again later.

Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

  • Don’t shovel soon after you wake up. A slipped disc injury is much more likely to occur in the morning due to the build-up of fluid in the disc

Green Driveways, Patios, Walkways & Floors

It may come as a surprise to many homeowners, but there is plenty of room to go green with driveways, patios, walkways, and interior floors that are constructed of brick, stone, or concrete pavers. Ranging from green strategies for more livable outdoor areas to green solutions that are healthy for the environment, here’s a collection of some proven green remodeling suggestions to help ensure that your concrete paver, brick, or natural stone driveway, patio, walkway, or floor is as green as they come.

Going Green with David Johnston
HomeAdvisor understands that it can be tough for homeowners to wade through all the “green” remodeling information out there, which is why we’ve teamed up with green remodeling expert David Johnston to provide you with the best, most accurate, green remodeling advice in the business. Johnston is the founder of the green consulting firm What’s Working, Inc., the author of multiple books on green remodeling (including the Nautilus Award winner Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time), and he happens to know a thing or two about going green with driveways, patios, walkways, and floors. That said, here’s a guide to going green, drawn from the

Stone and Gravel Driveways

The driveway is a critical part of any home. It’s one of the first things guests will see, and it’s the most natural entrance onto your property. There are several options you have when it comes to driveway materials, and each has different qualities. Stone and gravel driveways may not be nearly as popular as asphalt or concrete, but they have their place and advantages as well. If you’re thinking about building a new driveway, here’s some things to note about these two materials.

Gravel Driveways
Gravel driveways can refer to crushed gravel driveways or crushed stone driveways, a higher end installation. Crushed gravel isn’t the most elegant driveway material out there, but it is the cheapest. For this reason, gravel driveways are most commonly found in rural areas, as homeowners who have extremely long driveways (rarely found in the city) and a strict home improvement budget may have few other options. Another nice trait of gravel driveways is that they can always be paved over later with a material of your choice.

Other than their low installation cost, they are also the easiest to maintain. Naturally, you don’t have to worry about driveway cracks. Gravel

Concrete Cracks

Concrete frequently cracks no matter how well the contractor has done his job. Despite concrete unmatched surface durability, it is susceptible to the damage associated with annual freeze/thaw cycles. Some concrete cracks are no problem, but other cracks can be a problem and allow moisture to come up through the concrete slab and damage the flooring and perhaps some furnishings. Identifying the potential risks of concrete cracking is most often an issue when you’re trying to sell or buy a home. Cracks in the concrete of your foundation or other slabs can unnecessarily reduce the value of your home. On the other hand, if you’re a buyer, the last thing you want to do is buy a home without realizing there’s several thousand extra dollars of work coming down the line in just a few years or even months.

Home Inspectors
For your own peace of mind, you’ll want to ensure the home is of sound structural integrity before you buy it. This situation is tailor-made for a home inspector. Contact a reputable home inspector and pay for a report about the severity of the cracks in the concrete. If he says the cracks are acceptable,

Cement or Concrete

Technically, cement is the major ingredient (along with sand, gravel, water, and other possible additives) used to make concrete mix. So when you refer to the finished product, “concrete” is the proper term, though people often say “cement” to mean the same thing. Different types of cement mixes are used to form different types of concrete, which can be used in different construction applications.

Concrete Mix for Mortar
Mortar can be made using only water, cement, and sand (the basic proportion to follow is one part water, two parts cement, and three parts sand). This concrete mix can be used successfully to create any number of brick or stone structures that, if properly constructed, will last an extremely long time. To increase the workability of this kind of concrete mix and make it more moisture resistant, you may also want to add some hydrated lime.

Cement Mix for Sidewalks
When mixing concrete for a walkway or driveway, gravel is often added to the sand, water, and cement mixture. Here, the basic concrete mix is one part cement, two parts sand, and three parts gravel. Water is the determining factor in making a good cement mix for

Portable Versatile Yurts

To the layperson, a yurt can best be described as a combination between a gazebo and a tent. To the historian, architect, or engineer, the yurt is an important architectural milestone originally designed by the Mongols for steppes housing in the severe climate of the Asian interior. A yurt is a round dwelling, held together at the eaves by a tension band. It has a cone shaped roof with a central compression ring skylight at the roof’s center. Sturdy, durable, earthquake resistant, it’s an excellent shelter against the bitter winds and freezing temperatures of the steppes, Rocky Mountains, or any other harsh climate. It’s the oldest form of prefab indigenous architecture still in use today.

Build a Yurt to Contemporary Standards
You can employ the elements of building a yurt without living like the Mongols of several centuries ago. The main advantages of yurt buildings are the openness and immense feeling of spaciousness, the circular design which promotes discussion and community, and the economical and environmentally-friendly living space. You can build a yurt in a large backyard as a great venue for entertaining or as a guest home. Yurt buildings are also an increasingly popular choice for

Misting Systems

Ever wonder what it would be like to have outdoor air conditioning? Outdoor patios and living spaces are great, but in the middle of summer, they may not be delivering a suitable relaxing atmosphere when beads of sweat are rolling down your face and skin. Some form of outdoor cooling is bound to work for your home and budget. Depending on your need and desired comfort level, you should be able to enjoy your backyard year round.

How Misting Systems Work
Misting works by forcing water through a brass and stainless steel mist nozzle producing a micro-fine mist. The water droplets that create the mist are so small, about one-half the diameter of a strand of hair, that they instantly flash evaporate. This flash evaporation can reduce the surrounding air as much as 35 degrees in just seconds. The mist is so fine that it quickly evaporates to create the cooling effect. The idea is to keep the nozzles at an appropriate distance.

For patio systems, it is ideal to mount the mist line approximately 8 to 10 feet above the ground for optimum cooling. The pressurized nozzles should be spaced approximately 24 inches apart for

Do You Need to Hire a Gardener

In these economically uncertain times, everyone is always looking for that really great deal. The ongoing hunt for the ideal gardener for landscape maintenance is no exception. The services offered by different gardeners vary greatly and the lowest price doesn’t always mean the best deal. Value and peace of mind, as well as price, are important factors to consider when selecting a gardener.

The value of a gardener is ultimately determined by the overall day-to-day appearance of the yard he maintains. When interviewing potential gardeners, ask what he will do for you each month (i.e.: mow, blow, prune, fertilize, etc.) Good communication is very important. Make sure you tell your gardener what services you expect to be done each month. Remember, it takes more time to provide full service than it does to just “mow and blow” each week, so expect to pay more for complete care.

Evaluate Your Garden

Before you meet with a gardener it’s important for you to evaluate your lawn and decide what you are looking for in a gardener. For instance, do you need just basic maintenance, lawn-mowing and pruning, for example? Or, do you need a gardener who has

Lawn Care Tips

Step-by-step instructions for do-it-yourself lawn renovation:

 Rake the area to remove leaves, sticks and other debris.

 By hand, sprinkle the area with fresh topsoil, filling in any low spots as you go.

 By hand or by using a spreader, apply seed. Make sure you choose “shade” or “sun” seed according to the conditions. Mixed “shade/sun” seeds won’t usually survive in shady areas.

 By hand or by using a spreader, apply slow-release fertilizer or a natural fertilizer.

 Some fertilizers also contain chemicals designed to kill broad leaf weeds like dandelions.

 By hand, sprinkle the area with some more fresh topsoil. This helps hold the seed in place, protect the seed from birds, and feed the seedlings.

If you want a professional to renovate the lawn:

Professionals are likely to follow a similar procedure, although with more powerful equipment. More sophisticated equipment allows them to complete the work in much less time.

They may also address:

Soil Testing

Using an on-the-spot soil analysis kit or by sending a soil sample to a local lab, they may be able to determine that the soil needs additional help. Quite

Landscape Design

There was a time when most people thought landscaping was little more than lawn mowing, weeding and planting a few flowers. In recent years, landscaping has taken on a whole new meaning. Good landscape design can add to the value of a home, dramatically increase your living space, and contribute greatly to an improved home lifestyle.

As a trade, landscaping has been divided into three main fields:

  • Lawn care companies
  • Landscape maintenance firms
  • Landscape design firms

Lawn care companies specialize in mowing, raking, edging, seeding and otherwise caring for the grassy areas.

Landscape maintenance firms are primarily concerned with periodic maintenance of shrubs and flowerbeds.

Landscape design firms that handle landscape construction and planting under the direction of a landscape designer or architect. This last group deals with everything from patios to fountains to rock gardens.

Most people have no long-term plans for their landscaping. More often than not, changes in the landscape are triggered by sales on plants at the local nursery or home center. Some of these impulse purchases die before being transplanted and plants that are successfully transplanted end up providing a final look short of expectations. While nearly every household

Don’t Replace Resurface

Concrete resurfacing is an easier and cheaper way to fix your deteriorating driveways, walkways, and slabs. It consists of fixing cracks, holes, and fissures with a repair material, then applying a full coat of polymer concrete resurfacing material over the entire surface. The end result is a brand new looking driveway or other concrete surface that will last for years to come.

Can It Perform Miracles?
That depends on what your definition of a miracle is. If your concrete problems include severe buckling, underlying soil issues, or other major problems, you’re probably going to need to tear the old concrete out and start over. If you’re talking about bringing back a brand new shine to a driveway that’s seen one too many winters, then concrete resurfacing is definitely a miracle in the making.

How About Extras?
If you’re going to resurface your driveway, walkways or another concrete surface anyway, why not go the extra mile and have some decorative work done as well? Concrete doesn’t have to be a boring, uniform gray anymore. To the contrary, ask your concrete resurfacing company about borders, textures, coloring and other improvements you can incorporate into your resurfacing

Pressure Washing Techniques For a Deep Clean

While the success of many household cleaning tasks simply depends on choosing the right cleanser for the job, there are some cases where the labor involved in removing a film or stain is just too much. Perhaps the stain is bound too tightly to the surface of what you want to clean, or the affected area is simply too large for vigorous hand scrubbing to be a viable option. If this scenario sounds familiar, your solution might require a bit more power.

Common Pressure Washing Situations
You may have seen professionals pressure washing, or maybe even done it yourself. For handling enormous cleaning tasks like buildings, walls, parking areas, heavy equipment, or even statues, a pressure washer is often the right tool for the job. Pressure washing is the preferred cleaning method for removing pollution and fuel emission residue on structures in urban areas. It is also an excellent method of removing mineral, lime, and hard water deposits. Homeowners, especially those who like to work on their own cars, will find that pressure washing is great for grease and oil stains in the garage or driveway; it can even remove graffiti!

DIY vs. Professional Pressure Washing

Concrete Cutting

It makes sense. Given that concrete is one of the most durable building materials, it is also one of the most difficult to remove. Diamond-coated saw blades need to be used to provide cleaner and safer concrete cutting. The point to note about diamond-coated blades is not that they are expensive (and they are), but they can help you understand just how dangerous concrete cutting can be. Many of us remember from school that the only thing that can cut a diamond is another diamond. Concrete cutting through walls often involves cutting through steel rebar as well. Sparks will fly. This is not your cabinet resurfacing home improvement project.

Concrete Cutting Needs
Homeowners commonly find they need to cut into existing concrete to repair a broken water pipe or sewer line that is running under a concrete patio, driveway or walkway, or to dig trenches and lay pipe under existing concrete slabs/pads to add drainage to their yard. Sometimes a homeowner might want just part of a patio or other concrete slab cut in order to alter their landscaping. It’s also not uncommon to remove a section of a concrete wall, especially in the basement, to gain