Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to Start a Patio Garden

It's summertime!! It is the perfect time to spruce up those areas in your home that look a little drab. One area that seems to be neglected often is the patio. There isn't much use for it other than some cute chairs! This blog is here to give you a fun option to bring your patio alive and offer you some fresh, fun flowers, plants or herbs to your everyday life!

If you have a patio, no matter how small, you have the space for a beautiful garden. Plants and flowers make a patio more beautiful and inviting, and help to create a comfortable place to relax in your leisure time or to entertain guests. If you like to grow edible plants, a patio is a convenient place to keep favorite crops on hand, such as fresh herbs or tomatoes. Gardening in a small space can be a challenge, but with certain considerations, a patio is the perfect spot for a thriving garden.

1. Decide on the purpose of the garden. Patio gardens may be strictly ornamental, or you may prefer to grow herbs, vegetables or even dwarf fruit trees on your patio. Have your intentions clear in your mind before investing in any materials and supplies.

  • 2. Measure your patio to determine how much space you have available. Make a scale diagram on graph paper, marking lines to indicate square footage available. Consider how much space you will need for other items, such as outdoor furnishings or a grill. Measure those items and fill them in on your graph where you intend to put them. 

    3. Go out to your patio for a few days at different times to evaluate how much light your patio gets. Mark your graph indicating any areas that might get full sun, partial shade, or full shade. This will help you choose the appropriate plants and arrange them where they would grow best.
  • 4. Use your graph to determine how much space is available for containers, and how they will be placed. For example, if you have a corner with approximately four square feet of space, you might choose one large four foot square wooden planter, or several smaller pots.
  • 5. Purchase an assortment of containers for your patio. If you're growing edible crops, determine the size of the containers by what would suit each plant's needs. If cost is a concern you can purchase inexpensive plastic pots. If you are more interested in visual aesthetics, choose decorative containers.
  • 6. Decide on the placement of your pots. For visual appeal, create a balanced design. Stagger the height of planters by placing some on the floor, and some on plant stands or on top of overturned pots. Utilize space above with hanging planters or wall pots. Place higher planters and pots on stands in the back, with lower or smaller planters towards the front.
  • 7. Choose your seeds or starter plants based on the space and light that is available on your patio. Don't fight nature by trying to grow a sun-loving plant like basil hidden in the shadows. Look on seed packets or plant markers for the grower's recommendations so you can select plants that will get the light they need on your patio.
  • 8. Use a light-weight growing medium for your containers. This will give them better drainage and make the containers light enough to move easily if necessary. Don't use garden or top soil for containers. An all-purpose potting soil is a good choice, though mixing potting soil with compost, peat moss or perlite is even better. Look into what types of growing medium your plants will do best in if you plan to mix your own medium.
  • 9. Place gravel, pot shards or packing peanuts into planters before adding medium and plants. This will improve drainage and soil aeration. Mulch plants in containers to help retain moisture, and to discourage certain pests.

    After all this is set up, enjoy watching your garden grow! Whether you plant flowers to brighten the space or an herb garden to spice up your meals, patio gardens cost little to start and they go a long way on visual appeal. Take a dead or empty space in your home and bring it to life!

    By: Mackenzie Wright
  • Saturday, April 13, 2013

    Spring Cleaning in 10 Minutes a Day

    It's that time of year again -- time for spring cleaning! If you're like me, this annual ritual strikes fear and dread in your heart. Does spring cleaning seem like the Mt. Everest of housekeeping tasks? A challenge only a few have undertaken successfully? Don't worry, spring cleaning doesn’t have to be scary, but it is something we should all do. It's not just about cleaning blinds and sweeping baseboards, though doing these things is great. You can also use spring cleaning as a prompt to schedule household maintenance and service checks that will prevent problems down the line. The tips below are going to help you do all of this in just 10 minutes a day. So have a read and get cleaning!

    The first step to successful spring cleaning is to find the time to take care of it and schedule it in. My suggestion is to find a four-week-stretch and block off a convenient time of day or night (before dinner, before bed) to work. If you miss a night, don’t worry, you can always make up the ten minutes the next day. The goal is to get you and your family to commit to cleaning every day for 28 days.
    While I'm sure you have a list of what you'd like to get done to prepare for spring, summer and beyond, I want to leave you with 12 tasks to consider adding to your list. Happy Housework!

    12 Spring Cleaning Tasks That Take 10 Minutes Each
    1. Wash and dry the slipcovers from your pillows, sofas and chairs. Put in the washer and dryer one day. Put back on the furniture the next day.
    2. Take 10 minutes and clean the junk drawer in your house. For many people, this drawer is in the kitchen. Toss the junk and use a silverware organizer to manage the chaos going forward.
    3. Clean the blades on the ceiling fans.
    4. Make today toy clean-up day. Put all the game pieces together in Ziploc bags, throw out broken items and donate toys your kids have outgrown.
    5. Clean out your refrigerator. Check expiration dates and toss everything that is old or will not be eaten.
    6. Clean out your medicine cabinet and toss old medications (both prescription and over-the-counter). Go to to find out how to safely dispose of these items.
    7. Clean your most cluttered countertop. For many it's the dining room table or kitchen counters. Recycle what you can and shred sensitive materials.
    8. Change the batteries in your smoke and CO2 alarms. Why wait for the annoying beeping sound?
    9. Clean your blinds. Try using fabric softener sheets (you can show your kids how to do this).
    10. Take three days to clean windows. Start with the dirtiest windows and go from there.
    11. Wash and dust the baseboards in each room. This is another task the whole family can get in on. Just remember, 10 minutes with five people is almost an hour of cleaning time.
    12. Dedicate a day to maintaining and fixing things. Oil a lock, fix a broken toilet paper holder, etc. Just make a punch-list and start checking off items.
    Sometime in the next 30 minutes block off 28 days and determine what time each day you'll use to tackle spring cleaning. After all, getting started is the hardest part.

    By: Get Buttoned Up

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    Home Prices Post Best Yearly Increase Since 2006

    U.S. single-family home prices rose in January, starting the year with the biggest annual increase in 6½ years in a fresh sign that the housing market recovery remains on track, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday. The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 1 percent month-on-month in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping expectations for 0.9 percent. Prices have been gaining since last February. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, prices rose 0.1 percent.

    Prices in the 20 cities climbed 8.1 percent year-over-year, also beating expectations for 7.9 percent. It was the biggest yearly increase since June 2006, when housing prices were on their way down as the market was starting to collapse. Average home prices were back to their autumn 2003 levels, though that still leaves them down about 30 percent from the 2006 peak.

    All of the 20 cities showed gains on a yearly basis, with New York rising for the first time in over two years. Phoenix continued the strong rebound seen last year, rising 23.2 percent from the year before. Eight cities racked up double-digit gains, including San Francisco, up 17.5 percent, and Las Vegas, up 15.3 percent.

    The dollar slightly pared losses against the euro shortly after the data, while Treasures prices held steady at lower levels. U.S. stock index futures saw little reaction and Wall Street was poised to open higher. The housing market got back on its feet last year as prices rose, inventories tightened and sales improved. Stimulus efforts from the Federal Reserve are also keeping mortgage rates at historically low levels, which has helped spur demand. That momentum carried into 2013 and data last week showed home resales hit a three-year high in February.