To Prune or Not to Prune? Plant Maintenance Tips

To Prune or Not to Prune? Plant Maintenance Tips

During this part of spring landscaping season, property owners should resist the urge to prune everything in sight, because improper or unnecessary pruning can damage plants, shrubs, and trees, and end up producing the opposite results than you might be seeking.

Experts at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension believe property pruning is both a science and an art.  The science involves recognizing plan flaws and eliminating defects.  The artistic end involves removing expired plant pieces without someone knowing the plan has even been touched.

Improper pruning or pruning at the wrong time of year can result in unsightly plants, reduced flowering, or plants that are more likely to be damaged by diseases, insects or winter cold, according to the extension experts.

Lisa Tadewaldt’s blog at says avoid these common pruning mistakes:

Using dull tools.  Old or overused tools may be dull, which makes the healing process longer since branches are not cleanly cut – and it makes the job more physically challenging.  Tadewaldt’s advice – sharpen your tools or look into investing in new ones.

Not sanitizing tools.  Pruning involves performing a kind of surgery on a living thing, and if you are doing it without cleaning your tools, you may transfer soil-borne diseases from the previous plants they were used on, Tadewaldt says.

Stop over lifting.  Also called lion tailing, this involves removing all the lower branches of a tree, making it top heavy and more susceptible to branch failure.

Avoid over pruning.  Tadewaldt says you should never remove more than 25 percent of its leaf-bearing crown, even less when you are dealing with a mature tree.

In the Orlando area, the team at says when a tree is improperly pruned, it can create an eyesore, while well maintained trees can raise property values as much as 15 percent.

They discourage several practices like “topping,” “lopping,” and flush cutting – snipping a branch below the collar, flush with the supporting branch or trunk.  This practice results in uneven bark thickness, and removes trunk issues, exposing the tree to invasion by pests, disease and fungus.

9 Ways to Beautify Your Backyard

9 Ways to Beautify Your Backyard

Whether you’re considering selling your house or you want to improve the appearance of your current property, there are many ways to beautify your backyard. A well-maintained backyard can make you enjoy coming home to relax and make you proud when you have friends and family over.

Here are nine tips to help you improve and beautify your backyard:

Add a Custom Shed
If you have random lawn equipment out on your yard, it can be unflattering. When you build a shed, you have a place to store your gardening and lawn equipment.

If you already have a small storage shed for this purpose, consider adding a customized shed to your yard for entertaining purposes. Also, an outdoor bar would make a fabulous addition to a yard, where friends and family could gather and be merry.

Create a Walkway
Most people put stone walkways in the front yard but neglect to add them to their backyard landscaping. Use stone or pavers to create a walkway that’ll be inviting and give a clear path to your patio or pool. This will limit the amount of traffic going through your lawn, which could damage your grass. It will also make your yard more eye-appealing. Many people also include a walkway to their shed as well, so consider incorporating one into your plans as well!

Pergolas, Decks and Patios
Creating a definitive entertainment location can be a beautiful addition to your backyard. By adding a pergola, deck, or patio, you’re making a place that immediately attracts your guests. You can add flowers and potted plants. A grill and outdoor lighting around your pergola or patio will make for the perfect finishing touches.

Outdoor Kitchen
An outdoor kitchen is great for locations that don’t get a lot of rain and for people who like to entertain often—include a built-in grill, mini fridge, sink, etc. Anything that you would need to access inside your house, include it in your outdoor kitchen. This will eliminate much of the foot traffic through your house and give you a beautiful backyard.

Having either an above-ground or below-ground pool can be a great addition to your yard. Guests of all ages will enjoy being able to swim, and depending on how you stage it, a pool can be a real focal point to your backyard. Add a wrap around deck or have a separate porch area for the pool, and you can decide how you want your guests and pool to interact.

Paint Your Fence
If you have a fence in your yard that you don’t necessarily like the looks of, you can paint it to make your backyard look better. Depending what look you want, you can either go with one standard color, or paint a mural on the fence to make it a talking point, rather than an eye sore.

Add Outdoor Seating
If you want your guests to feel comfortable and at home, add cozy outdoor seating to your backyard. Use wooden pallets, long benches and Adirondack chairs to give people an option of where they want to sit. Also, add a wraparound tree bench or a daybed and get creative with fabrics and color schemes.

Give the Kids a Place to Play
A tree house or playset can really add a cool note to your backyard. Get creative with walkways and ladders, add lighting and tree swings. The options are unlimited.

Add Eye-Popping Landscaping
Beautiful landscaping can be a wonderful addition to your backyard. Add hydrangeas, butterfly gardens and flower borders. You can change the entire look of your yard just by adding some pretty plants.

There are so many ways that you can beautify your backyard. With these tips you can have a stunning place for guests to visit and a relaxing spot to unwind at night.

Source: Conner Flynn

5 Sneaky Ways to Organize Your Home

5 Sneaky Ways to Organize Your Home

There are days when clutter seems to grow of its own accord, and you can’t seem to keep up with it. At some point, every little cache of stuff will have to be attended to. But, say the clutter-busters at Good Housekeeping Magazine, there are lots of sneaky things you can do to make your home look neat and organized even on its worst days:

Mail, receipts and miscellaneous papers. Set up a pretty inbox—an attractive, decorated box with a lid—on your kitchen counter to hold the mail, receipts and other paperwork you intend to get to within the week. If guests turn up, just pop the lid on the box to hide the clutter.

Recipes. If you’re a recipe collector who is slow to file those gems away, buy a few self-adhesive pocketed organizers to stick onto the inside of cabinet doors. Tucking recipes (or whatever) into the organizers will help keep countertops clear. You can also stick an erasable bulletin board inside a kitchen cabinet for posting appointment reminders, phone numbers, and more.

Kitchen Tools. If you can never find the zester or potato peeler when you need them, a set of expandable drawer organizers will allow you to put things in order in a matter of minutes.

Under the Sink. As with most homeowners, you likely have a stash of boxes, bottles, cleaners and other stuff under the kitchen sink and a tangle of paper goods and beauty supplies under the bathroom sink. Maximize the space under any sink with double-decker storage racks and bins.

Playroom. Is the playroom floor always full of small toys and puzzle pieces? Throw a couple hula hoops around a few of them and challenge the kids to stow away the stuff within ‘their’ hula hoop, continuing until everything is stored away. Alternatively, buy a steamer trunk or a lidded ottoman so that you can quickly and easily hide toys and games.

Source: Barbara Pronin

Design Don’ts for a Small Kitchen

Design Don’ts for a Small Kitchen

Whether you’re living in a sprawling mansion or a one-bedroom flat, the heart of any home is always the kitchen. You can count on family and friends to gather here for meal prep, late-night fridge raids, social gatherings or any number of memorable discussions, from the light-hearted to the life-altering.

That’s why it’s so important to maximize your kitchen space for both aesthetics and function, a goal that becomes even more challenging when you’re short on space. Interior designer Anne Hepfer shares what not to do in a small kitchen with

  1. Don’t use small tile. The smaller the tile, the more grout there is to clean, so avoid using small grout tile, especially behind a stove where grease can splatter. Hepfer suggests using large tiles or stone slab behind the stove since keeping your kitchen sparkling clean is even more critical when it’s small.
  2. Don’t leave space between the cabinets and ceiling. This will create the illusion of lowering the height of the room, and also become a space that collects dust. Try cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling, or use a fascia instead.
  3. Avoid honed-stone countertops. Referring to stone that has been ground to a smooth, matte finish, this material can stain easily. Instead, opt for polished granite, marble or quartzite. Hepfer also suggests avoiding butcher block countertops, which can stain easily and be difficult to maintain.
  4. Stay away from trendy materials. Hepfer suggests staying away from materials that will quickly become dated. Instead, invest in materials that will always be in style. This goes a long way toward resale value, as well.
  5. Keep clutter under control. Small kitchens have a low tolerance for clutter, so take steps to keep your countertops clear. Find a home for appliances within cabinets, except for those you use daily, such as a toaster or coffee maker.
2019’s Hottest Home Decor

2019’s Hottest Home Decor

Comfort is trending for 2019, a consensus of home decorators agree, with more people seeking warm colors, intimate spaces, and a casual but sophisticated lifestyle.

Designers looking to pair physical coziness with emotional comfort forecast seven trending decor ideas:

Scaled down furnishings – After years of favoring large furniture and open spaces, consumers are aiming for a ‘nesting’ environment and choosing smaller pieces arranged in more intimate settings. There’s a definite return to rounded edges, especially in furniture with big, soft, rounded arms.

Wall coverings – The return to traditionalism brings with it a return to wallpaper, fabric wall coverings and murals – and expect to see plenty of rich shades of green in fabric and wallpaper patterns.

Color changes – While blues and indigos have been huge in recent years, green is the new blue for 2019 and is likely to be used in everything from upholstery patterns to kitchen furnishings.

Color ‘pops’ – Yellow is the hottest color for small accents, from ceramics to lamps to sofa pillows. There’s also a trend toward ditching beige minimalism in favor of fun colors, especially in family-friendly spaces.

Warm woods and traditional styles – Antiques and even second-hand items are having their moment again, with consumers looking for skirted tables, wooden chests and other wood pieces with a sense of history.

Indoor and outdoor fireplaces – The trend toward coziness leads to indoor fireplaces, working or not, with homey hearths as a nice spot to gather. Outdoors, fireplaces are also preserving a sense of happy summertime barbecues.

Crafts and artisanal accents – In a world of increasingly mass production, there’s a move back to crafting, and to artisanal or boutique choices in pillows, wall hangings, quilts, and other accent pieces all around the home.

4 Ways to Bring Classic Character to Your Kitchen

4 Ways to Bring Classic Character to Your Kitchen

In today’s stainless-steel world filled with clean lines, sharp angles and sleek kitchen accessories, it may seem daunting to achieve the perfect antique style for your kitchen.

While it’s true that blending looks from the past with modern-day functionality can be challenging, you don’t have to be a famous designer to create the kitchen of your dreams. These tips can help you turn back the clock and design a kitchen with timeless character.

Strike a balance. When you set out to create your new look, it’s easy to go overboard, so remember that moderation is best. Make sure you’re choosing items that showcase your individual style while keeping in mind there is a fine line between Victorian Chic and your grandmother’s cookie jar collection.

In addition to knowing what elements to look for, it’s important to consider how the components can be integrated to create a harmonious look. Consider updating antique elements with more contemporary touches to create a fresh, unexpected aesthetic. For example, pair a set of ultra-chic dining chairs with an old wooden dining table passed down through your family, or upholster a simple dining bench or window seat with Victorian-patterned fabric.

Establish a focal point. If you’re overwhelmed trying to envision how all the details will come together, many designers suggest the first step is defining the focal point for your kitchen. In many cases, that will be the appliances.

Antique appliances lend themselves to a range of styles, from Victorian to farmhouse to cabin and cottage. While it’s possible to purchase refurbished antique models, if you want your appliances to include modern features and functionality, you might consider antique-inspired appliances.

Equipped with the latest in cooking technology, these appliances have been designed to meet the culinary standards of nearly any home chef, and include a selection of customizable ranges, refrigerators, microwaves, wall ovens and matching dishwasher panels.

Add accents with purpose. Once you’ve established the centerpiece (or centerpieces) for your kitchen, you can add smaller details as you go. Visit antique stores and flea markets to look for finds such as vintage kitchen tools, antique serving platters, and cast-iron cookware.

Antiques frequently show some wear and tear, so make sure any items you are planning to purchase are in good condition. Also, remember that vintage items can be delicate. If you’re planning to put an item to use daily, ensure it’s in good working condition and will be up to the task.

Incorporate rustic elements. Rustic home decor can turn something that was once rugged into something beautiful. An example of this is reclaimed wood accents, which can be functional, attractive and eco-friendly.

Use reclaimed wood to create butcher-block countertops, cabinetry or to design a one-of-a-kind kitchen table. Pine offers the most authentic rustic design, but it can be soft and susceptible to dents. Hickory, alder, and cherry can also deliver a cozy, rustic feel. “Live edge” tables and accents, which preserve the natural edge of the wood in the design, are another way to add a rustic but current aesthetic.

When you’re ready to retrofit your kitchen into perfect past-present harmony, remember these tips, give yourself permission to take chances and get creative to whip up the kitchen of your dreams.