Christine Metros Natale's Blog
Hanging baskets add personal enjoyment as well as curb appeal to any home. If you're the creative type, you may prefer to make your own rather than purchase ready-made hanging baskets from home and garden retailers. However, DIY hanging baskets sometimes fail to thrive. The following tips and tricks help ensure that your baskets look and perform their best from spring through fall.
Choose Plants According to Sun/Shade Requirements
Sun-loving plants such as petunias languish and eventually fail to even bloom if placed in areas that don't meet their sun requirements, while shade-lovers such as impatiens and fuchsia may literally burn up if they're exposed to hours of hot sun on a regular basis.
If the sun requirements aren't listed on the tag that comes with the plant, check online or in your favorite encyclopedia-style gardening book and make sure that you select appropriate locations for your baskets. Also, keep in mind that varieties that thrive in shaded locations often do quite well in morning sun
Choose Plants That Bloom All Season
Most annual plants bloom from spring or early summer until frost, so stick with them rather than using perennials for your hanging baskets. You'll have to replace them every spring, but that helps keep things interesting and fun.
Pick Off Spent Blooms
When flowers go to seed, that sends a signal to the plant that it's time to start slowing down on the blooming process and focus its energy on seed production. Picking off spent blooms, or deadheading, helps fools the plant into continuing to produce flowers. Some annual varieties, such as Wave petunias, have been bred to keep producing even after individual blossoms go to seed, so these make good choices for busy homeowners who may not have time to pay meticulous attention to their hanging baskets.
Use Potting Soil Designed to Retain Water
Plants growing in hanging baskets require more watering than their counterparts growing in cultivated flower beds because their roots can't reach down deep to access water sources. Using a potting soil designed to retain water helps hedge their bets against drying out before you can get a chance to water them.
Use Potting Soil With a Slow-Release Fertilizer
Fertilizing hanging baskets with traditional products is tricky — if you apply too much, you run the risk of damaging or even killing the plants, and if you use too little, the fertilizer won't provide the desired benefits. Using potting soil that's infused with a slow-release fertilizer circumvents both of these problems.
Making your own hanging baskets not only saves you a bit of money at the home and garden center, it also helps you avoid the mass-produced look of the majority of ready-made hanging baskets.
9 Pratt, Billerica, MA 01821
Have you ever gone outside after a patch of cold weather to find long icicles hanging from your roof's edge? These spears of ice are usually caused by an ice dam forming along your eaves or roof's edge and can be dangerous when they melt and go flying to the ground.
What is an ice dam?
An ice dam is a rim of ice that accumulates when snow melts on your roof and cools enough to turn to ice before it falls to the ground. The result is a heavy buildup of ice that can tear down your gutters and drain pipes as well as cause those huge (and dangerous) icicles. It can even cause water to back up and enter your home. Ice dams are usually the result of heat escaping from the top of your house due to poor insulation. Chimneys and exhaust vents on your roof can also contribute to causing ice dams.
Dealing with ice dams
To keep ice dams in check, it's important to keep the snow from building up on your roof. You can do this with a roof rake or a roof broom without having to climb up on the icy roof. For a long-term fix, it's also a good idea to inspect your roof's edge and the inside of your attic each fall and seal up any cracks or gaps where heated air can escape. In addition, you want to keep as much heated air in your living space as possible for energy efficiency as well as preventing ice dams. That means making sure that your ceiling is secure and insulated and that no air is passing between the two spaces.
If, despite your best efforts, you still have ice dams appearing at your roof's edge, it's best to call in the professionals. Walking around on an icy roof can be hazardous and is better left to those with special training and experience.
82 E St., Lowell, MA 01851
Nothing completes an open floor plan better than open shelving. Open shelves present everything for the world to see. They transform what may be a cluttered, dark, hidden space into one that becomes a place of not only function but of style.
Open shelving complements the Minimalist, Industrial or Scandinavian Modern styles. But depending on how you arrange on those shelves, it can also work with those who love something more cozy like Rural or French Country.
On the other hand, open shelving isn't for everyone. Some prefer the convenience and privacy of tucking items away behind closed doors. They feel less need to continually ensure everything looks beautiful on those shelves. And if you live in an arid climate, doors protect dishes, cans and boxes of pasta from the dust that tends to settle.
Doors vs. shelving? That's the question you'll need to ask yourself before making a change. But if you're ready to transform your cabinets to open shelving, here's how it's done.
Clear Your Cabinets
Get everything out of the way. That includes removing those doors, which should simply require a screwdriver. Already, you'll begin to see your open shelves taking shape.
Fill Any Holes
You won't need them since you're not replacing the doors. Fill any holes with wood filler. If these look uneven, hand sand them. But paint will cover up most of the imperfection.
Remove Center Braces
A cabinet with more than one door will likely have a piece of wood where the two doors come together. You don't need it. Remove it with a saw and hammer.
If you find any nails or staples left behind, you may need to pry them. But sometimes you'll find they've been driven in too far. If there's nothing that the claws of a hammer can grasp, force the nail back through the wood. It should only take some careful whacks to the sharp side with your hammer.
Paint Your Shelves
You choose the color. But why stick with one? Open shelves are the perfect opportunity to add contrast. Try painting the inside a dark color like navy, black, dark gray or red. Then paint the outside a complementing light color, pale gray or white.
Whatever you do, don't forget to seal the paint with a polyacrylic. It reduces the risk of water damage and strengthens the paint so that it's less likely to chip or fade.
Let It Dry & Organize
Don't place anything on the shelves for at least 48 hours. But once that timer dings, you're ready to assemble. If you have more dishes than you can presentably place on the shelves, ask yourself if you need them. Less is more on open shelving.
We hope you enjoy your new open shelving. To learn more about home maintenance and design, follow our blog.