Preparing Your Home and Garden for Spring

As the cool winter begins to subside, everyone is looking forward to the coming of spring. Spring means lighter and warmer days. Nevertheless, you cannot fully enjoy spring if you do not prepare your home and garden for it. Preparing your home and garden for spring means a lot of work, so it is important to evaluate the work ahead in order to accomplish them in time. Start by checking the outside of your home and check out doors and windows. It is also a good idea to check out your exterior wall as well and find out if there are cracks, holes or leaks due to the cold season.

It is necessary to review your major home ventilation, hating and air-conditioning systems. Before the climate changes, make certain that filters are replaced or cleaned and the air conditioner in good condition. Clean windows, ceiling fans and clean the fireplace. Do not forget to check the emergency systems in your home such as the smoke alarms, home alarm, carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguisher and make certain they are in good working condition. Check other areas in your home as well, like the roof, clean the gutters and remove twigs, leaves and branches on the roof.

Prepare your garden for spring since winter could definitely affect it. Winter has frozen your plants, trees, destroyed plants, flowers and left your garden in a kind of mess. The first thing you should do is to find out when winter ends officially so you can begin rehabilitating your garden. Remove twigs, dry leaves and other items that could mean obstructions on your garden. Clean the entire are with a rake and prepare your garden tools. Make sure they are sharp and ready for use. Start buying bulbs, seedlings and garden decorations.

Cultivate the soil so it will be ready for new plants to be planted. Prepare your walkways and areas adjacent to your landscaping. Make sure to replace old and cracked garden hoses and remove tree limbs and debris from the sidewalks. If there is no more snow in your area, it is a good time to begin planning your spring landscaping and lawn maintenance. Pressure wash paver and concrete areas that have turned dirty during winter and power wash brick walls, vinyl siding and the vertical surfaces in your home if necessary.

By preparing your home for the spring is rewarding today and still rewarding three months from now. Remember that your home goes through many changes due to climatic changes and as it ages. Spring preparation and maintenance is good for every homeowner. Furthermore, it is more important if you plan to sell your home soon. Homebuyers want to make certain that all home systems are well-maintained and taken cared of before they purchase. If you are unsure, consider hiring a professional home inspector. A home inspection covers your home from top to bottom. So, what are you waiting for? Prepare your home now because the warmer climate is just around the corner. Time to go outdoors and enjoy the sun.

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Feng Shui Tips – How to Create Balance Between Home and Garden

When I teach people the practical application of Feng Shui I always stress the importance of creating a balanced environment where everything works together in perfect harmony. If you have created a balanced and harmonious environment you are half way to creating one that is filled with positive Feng Shui. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot more to creating positive Feng Shui than creating balance but this should always be your starting point. And creating a balanced environment is easy if you understand the principles of yin and yang.

Yin and yang are the opposite forces that make up the universe. Yin is dark, quiet, restful, still, curved and natural whilst yang is bright, light, loud, active, angular and manmade. Yin is the time between when the sun dips it head below the horizon to when it wakens at the start of a brand new day whilst yang follows the sun as it moves through the sky between dawn and dusk. Yin is autumn and winter when plants give of their fruit before sleeping and regenerating themselves and yang is spring and summer when plants start to grow before showing their full glory. When looking at the environment in the context of your home and garden, houses being manmade structures represent yang energy. It is therefore important that gardens are kept relatively yin to bring about that sense of harmony and oneness.

To ensure your garden is predominantly yin it should be kept as natural as possible, it should be a garden which works with the environment as opposed to one which seeks to create an environment. Flowers, bushes and trees should always be kept as natural as possible and allowed to flourish without being aggressively pruned, colours should be kept predominantly muted with brightness kept to a minimum and any pathways or terraces should be kept curved and flowing. Any structures, such as raised beds, sheds or pagodas should ideally be made out of natural materials and covered with plants that are encouraged to grow over and around them. To help your home blend with the garden the sharp corners of the house should be disguised and covered with trailing plants or bushes so that the whole sense you get when you look at your home and garden is one where they look as though they belong together. The lines between where the house ends and the garden begins should be blurred and indistinct.

Sadly a lot of gardens that you see in the UK nowadays don’t seem to adhere to these principles, meaning that any Feng Shui cures or enhancements that people make have to work twice as hard to have the hoped for effects. In an attempt to create more time for ourselves we strive to create attractive gardens that are low maintenance but quite often these gardens look unnatural and take a huge amount of our personal energy to keep them looking good. Many gardens today are landscaped to include ponds, patios and pathways, there is an abundance of pots and garden ornaments and the predominant fashion seems to be for lots of shingle and concrete and large decked areas. But what they lack is greenery and balance. These gardens look like an extension of the house, attractive, modern, well cared for but ultimately artificial. With neat, sharp lines and heavy use of manmade materials such as concrete and brick gardens like the house are full of yang energy.

An environment that is predominantly yang will cause energy to move too fast in a jerky, disjointed motion. If your environment is too yang you may find yourself living life moving from one crisis to another, constantly living on the back foot and trying to find an extra hour in each day. If this describes your life, rather than immediately reaching for a Feng Shui enhancement or cure first of all assess your environment to check that your home and outside space adequately reflect the principles of yin and yang. And if your garden is full of neat lines and an abundance of concrete let nature start to take over. Creating the perfect balance between yin and yang is the first step in your journey to filling your environment with positive Feng Shui.

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Top 10 Home and Garden Books For Every Gardener and Designer

My husband and I have been gardening together for over thirty years. He has a degree in horticulture and I have a degree in library science. So, when we combine our love of books and gardening, we end up with a vast gardening resource library.

I want to share my favorites and think they will become your favorites as well. Below I’ve listed my top 10 favorite home and garden books that I believe beginners and professional designers alike should consider purchasing for your own home reference library.

Top 10 Home and Garden Books For Every Beginner and Designer

1. The Well Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques by Tracy DiSabato-Aust is a classic. Tracy is well known in the gardening world for her 20 plus years experience in maintaining gardens and in this book she tells you exactly how to prune perennials. Also, In the very first chapter, she speaks of designing a garden with its maintenance in mind. Her advice is to ask yourself “Who’s going to maintain this garden, me or a professional crew?” Great question!

2. Landscaping With Perennials by Emily Brown is another favorite of ours. Advice on garden layouts for slopes, shade, bogs, parking strips, creating cutting gardens, island beds, or a fairytale woodland garden is all here. Included are line drawings, photographs, plant lists and more. A real delight to read.

3. Gardening With Color by Mary Keen. A garden designer and consultant herself, Mary has filled this book with gorgeous full page photos. Excellent advice on designing with the six color categories for gardens including: blues, reds, greens, grays and white, and yellows makes this book another great choice for your library.

4. Armitage’s Garden Annuals: A Color Encyclopedia by Allan Armitage helps the gardener select proven specimen annuals that are interesting, important, and often overlooked. Armitage is a horticulturalist, teacher, and respected expert in his field and this plant reference guide is a perfect companion to his earlier Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hard Perennials. Attractive and easy to use with inspiring pictures.

5. Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager Handbook by Jennifer R. Bartley was published in 2006 but I’m just now finding out about it. This lovely book describes how to create a garden that is not only beautiful and well laid out, but is also productive. Who wouldn’t want a kitchen garden, or potoager, as part of their landscape? If you love growing your own fresh fruits and veggies, learn how to do it in style!

6. All New Square Foot Gardener by Mel Bartholomew is my new favorite gardening book. This method has been around for 25 years so you know it works. I was skeptical at first. How can you “grow more in less space” like he says in 4’x4′ square boxes? Pictures with detailed instruction explains how to build these raised beds for your garden or deck. Great for everyone as well as kids and wheelchair bound gardeners.

7. The Complete Compost Gardening Guide by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah Martin helps gardeners to not become compost failures. Unique, easy to implement techniques using heaps, bins, or enclosed composters make composting easier to create and tend.

8. Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques by Alan Toogood. The title says it all. Learn how to get free plants and save yourself a ton of money…maybe even start a business. Very good pictures with directions. You’ll learn a lot from this book.

9. Gardening With Grass by Michael King and Piet Oudolf shows how to use ornamental grasses to transform a ho-hum garden into a stunning garden. They even list perennials, by color and height, that grow well with particular variety of grasses. Planting grasses are highly recommended to extend your summer garden into fall.

10. The Way We Garden Now by Katherine Whiteside is a nice book if you are feeling overwhelmed by your garden. This book lets you pick-and-choose from ten easy, manageable projects like adding edibles, planting bulbs, dealing with hedges, putting up deer fencing and even container gardening. Fun and engaging to read.

Any one of the books listed above will give you a great deal of insight on how to have an awe inspiring garden that will make your garden a paradise for you and your family. That’s why the are my top 10 books on home and garden that every gardener and designer should consider having on their bookshelf.

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