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Spring Home & Garden



Spring Home & Garden • ©KPC Media Group Inc.

March 10, 2019

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Jeff Jones Michele Trowbridge Cindy Miller Jenny Ernsberger Tracy Smith Machele Waid Sarah Buttgen Spring Home & Garden is a special supplement to The News Sun, The Star and The Herald Republican, which are publications of KPC Media Group Inc. ©2019 All rights reserved

Spring Home & Garden



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Spring Home & Garden • ©KPC Media Group Inc.

March 10, 2019

Tidying up

Professional organizers share their tips BY MEGAN KNOWLES

Those who love Netflix’s “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” can have that same experience in their own homes with some tips — and maybe some help — from local professional organizers. People generally need help tidying up after they’ve gone through a life transition, such as moving, a new baby, children leaving the home or the loss of a family member. For some people, getting organized can be overwhelming — they’re not sure where to begin or how to finish once they’ve started. Fortunately, professional organizers have shared some of their tips.

Decide where to begin

There are two ways to approach where to begin cleaning, said Emily Fitzgerald, certified professional organizer and owner of Fort Wayne-based OLS Organizing. For some, starting with an easier place allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment and can encourage them to keep going. For others, picking a more difficult space that will have the biggest impact can help reduce their stress enough to keep going.

Get mentally ready

Prepare to tackle a home organizing project by first setting time aside for it, said Lauren Bower, professional organizer and owner of Bowerbird Organizing based in Whitley County. She also advises to practice self care before beginning and throughout the process. “Drink your favorite drink, get yourself ready to do it,” Bower said. “Taking care of yourself while you’re making these decisions (is important).”

Set a timer

Fitzgerald likes the Pomodoro Technique, where a person starts with a list of items he or she wants to complete. The person then sets a timer for 25-30 minutes, works during that time, then takes a five-minute break. This process is repeated three more times, then a 30-minute break is taken and the process is repeated. Even deciding to organize for 20 minutes can be helpful, she said. “A lot of time just getting started is the hardest part,” Fitzgerald said.

Don’t shop just yet

“Usually, once you’ve pared your things down you can usually find things just around the house to store things,” Bower said. In addition, sometimes people don’t realize

the dimensions of the storage items they need until the end of the process, so it makes sense to wait to see what they actually need to store before they spend money on storage solutions, Fitzgerald said.

Decide what to keep

Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of can be overwhelming for some people. “Professional organizers have a whole toolkit they can use to help you get to the basics of what you want, who you are and learning how to make some of those decisions,” Bower said. “Everyone can do it; it just takes some practice.” Both Fitzgerald and Bower emphasized that they never force clients to give up something that is important to them. However, they do ask clients to be honest about their priorities, passions and why they’re keeping items. One way Fitzgerald helps people reduce unneeded items is the Pareto Principle, which is the idea that we “use 20 percent of the things in our lives 80 percent of the time.” “For the average person who just wants a simpler existence in their own space, just observing your habits and practices at home (can help),” Fitzgerald said. “When you start going through things one by one and really looking at them you realize what you have that you’re really not using.” Areas where this is especially useful include the kitchen, where unused gadgets can take up space, or with clothing, where garments people have outgrown or don’t wear may linger. Another way to help discern what is being used and what isn’t is to have a dedicated space to put items that are rarely used and might be donated, such as a box with a lid, Fitzgerald said. If no one misses the item for a few months then it’s OK to get rid of it. For those who have a difficult time getting rid of items, “having a person or place where you can give things or donate things can be really impactful,” she said.


Simple household containers can help organize an otherwise chaotic drawer.

Know that there is an end in sight

Though organizing a space can take several hours over the course of a couple weeks, Bower said clients are usually surprised how quickly the process goes. “The level of relief you get after such a short (period of time) — it could have been bothering them for years and years and then we get it done in a matter of weeks or a couple of days working together,” she said. “It doesn’t take forever, there is an end in sight, it does happen, and it happens a lot quicker than most people realize.”


Knowing what to keep and what to get rid of can help make a previously unorganized drawer more tidy.

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Spring Home & Garden


Create more closet space without major renovations BY METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION Closet space is at a premium in many homes and apartments. Closets vary depending on the size of the home, but many tend to be a minimum of 24 inches deep so they can store garments without the clothes brushing against the walls. Bedroom and hallway closets can be four feet in length or more. Walk-in closets are the largest options, but such spaces tend to only be available in modern homes or custombuilt properties. It is not always practical or possible to undergo renovations to create more closet space. Apart from moving to a new residence, homeowners or renters often must evaluate the space they have and make some more efficient choices in how they utilize available areas.

Clear out clutter

The first step to more closet space is to eliminate unused items. Clothing that no longer fits or items that can be stored elsewhere should be removed from the closet. Donate as much as possible.

Upgrade hangers and rods

Replace existing hangers with slimmer,

more uniform alternatives that more easily fit into your closet. In addition, remove empty hangers, which are likely just taking up space. Consider dual closet rods if space will allow them. Hang the second rod below an area reserved for shorter clothing to achieve a two-tiered design. Grouping short items together also can free up valuable floor space.

Stack taller

Many closets are as tall as the ceilings of the rooms where they’re located. However, the upper area may go unused if it is not easy to reach. Install shelving above the closet rod with small swing-out style cabinet doors to offer access. In such areas, store seasonal items that you won’t need to reach for each day. Keep a step stool close by for easy accessibility. In small rooms, homeowners may want to find another way to utilize vertical space. A loft bed, which raises the bed up to a level where it might be on the top bunk of a bunk bed, will free up plenty of storage space beneath the bed. This can be turned into a floor closet.

Create storage for small items

Bookends, bins, boxes and drawers can be used to contain items that don’t easily conform to closets. These may be purses, scarves, ties and more. Don’t overlook the


Homeowners or renters often must evaluate the closet space they have and make some more efficient choices in how they utilize available areas.

possibilities of hanging items on the wall inside the closet or on the back of closet doors.

When finishing closet makeovers, be sure to install lighting inside the closet so items are more visible.


Spring Home & Garden • ©KPC Media Group Inc.

March 10, 2019

Vertical gardening becoming BY EMELINE RODENAS

Vertical gardening has been all the rage in the past few years, especially for people who lack the square footage or those unable to physically bend down to tend to plants. For those who don’t want to miss out on the fun of gardening, consider these methods this spring:

Windowbox gardening


This windowbox planting includes coleus, supertunias and nemesia-lemon. Windowbox planting is a nice alternative for the elderly as well as those unable to garden on the ground.

Winbowbox gardening can be as time-intensive as you make it. Windowboxes are becoming more popular in senior centers and public areas as they are easier to maintain and easy to put together. For an instant effect, consider buying grown plants and planting them in a windowbox. They come in all sizes and depths, but keep in mind that certain plants need to be planted deeper than others. While buying grown plants and putting them into a windowbox is the fastest method, it can also be one of

the most expensive ways to do it, so if possible consider growing plants from seeds. There are two factors to keep in mind when placing windowboxes: the amount of sunlight plants will receive and how much wind/weather the plants will be exposed to. Fragile flowers won’t appreciate being tossed around by the wind or during a heavy thunderstorm, so consider some hardier options. Herbs are excellent candidates for windowboxes and also add an aromatherapeutic aspect to the garden. Many supermarkets sell herbs already started in pots; a few herbs grouped together in a windowbox can make not only an attractive planter but a practical one. Herbs such as basil, lavender, cilantro, chives and others are good options for herb windowboxes. The Old Farmers Almanac recommends planting petunias, geraniums, zinnias, nasturtiums and

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Spring Home & Garden


new popular alternative begonias in windowboxes. Other space can be filled in with plants such as ivy, euonymus, heather or vinca, which cascade over the edge. According to the Almanac, window boxes tend look their best if they’re crowded with plants. Experienced gardeners can also train vines to climb around window frames for a unique look. Sun-loving windowbox flowers include artemesiam, dusty miller, marigold, miniature rose, ornamental pepper, rose-scented geranium and salvia. Strawberries can create a distinct look as they trail down a windowbox too. Shade-loving windowbox flowers include astilbe, cardinal flower, coleus, English daisy, fern (maidenhair, tassel, Boston, asparagus), hosta, impatiens, lemon balm and more.

Raised beds/planters

Just like windowboxes, the world of raised beds has grown. EarthEasy, which specializes in all things garden and greenhouse, describes raised garden beds/boxes as “great for growing small plots of veggies and flowers.” Other benefits include keeping pathway weeds out, preventing soil compaction, providing good drainage and serving as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails. In many regions such as northeast Indiana, gardeners are able to plant earlier in the season because soil is warmer and better-drained when it is above ground level. Pam DeCamp, owner of DeCamp Gardens in Noble County, uses raised beds in her gardens. She finds they have certain benefits that other methods do not. “Raised beds are easier on your back, you don’t have to bend over. You can also weed them a lot easier. There’s a disadvantage, they take a lot more water than just planting regularly in the ground, but you can plant just about anything in the ground as you can in a bed,” DeCamp said. The raised beds in her gardens are 4 feet by 8 feet and 3-4 feet high. The optimal size for a raised bed, DeCamp said, is 4 feet by 4 feet. For people who choose to go with wood, DeCamp recommends untreated wood, especially if you want to grow organic. If that’s not an issue, buying treated wood is always an option. While wooden raised beds are a classic, other options have become available. DeCamp


Vertical gardening can help a gardener make the most of their space. This Garden Tower 2 purchased in spring 2018 by Life Editor Emeline Rodenas has the added option of composting as well as many spaces to plants flowers and vegetables. Worms are added to the column in the center, along with vegetable scraps, and break down the material, which then falls into the drawer below and can be used as fertilizer. This rotating tower on wheels allows for easy movement as well as equal exposure to sunlight.

recommends trying to do raised beds in cattle feeders, water tanks and other containers such as pallets. For people unsure about how to build one, instructions can be found online or complete raised bed kits of all sizes can be ordered through catalogues such as Garden Supply. If neither raised beds or windoyboxes appeal to you, consider hanging baskets or bags. Hanging baskets can feature a variety of flowers and colors as well and provide a nice cascading look. Considering growing flowers or even strawberries in a hanging container. Some nurseries even offer tomato plants


Shown is one of many raised bed at DeCamp Gardens in Noble County. Raised beds are one method of vertical planting that can lessen back pain and help keep weeding down.

in bags that can be hung on hooks for a growing season and reused. One thing to keep in mind, when using hanging bags or baskets, is to

water more frequently. Hanging baskets dry out faster and thus need to be watered more often, sometimes even twice a day.


Spring Home & Garden • ©KPC Media Group Inc.

March 10, 2019

Emerging deck trends BY METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION Custom-built decks can expand usable outdoor entertaining spaces. Certain deck trends have emerged as industry experts’ top picks for the upcoming remodeling and renovation season. • Established perimeters: “Picture framing” is not a new trend, but one that has taken greater hold in recent years. The term refers to aesthetically appealing designs that conceal the ends of deck boards for a clean finish. Some designs feature contrasting material colors on the ends for even more impact. This helps create refined perimeters for a polished look. • Roof-top decking: Urban areas also can benefit from decking to create usable outdoor spaces. In fact, many new condominium and townhouse communities are incorporating roof-top decks into their designs, particularly in communities with water views or other impressive vistas. HGTV experts suggest roof-top decks feature light-colored materials and fixtures to help keep the area cool even in direct sunlight. • Distressed hardwood: Builder and Developer, a management resource for professional homebuilders, says that the trend for using distressed hardwoods at home has migrated outside. Some decking manufacturers

have recently introduced low-maintenance composite deck boards that mimic the look and feel of distressed, rustic hardwood flooring. This weathered appearance gives the look of age without the upkeep of real aged wood. • Wooden walkways: Decking can be the more traditional design people envision with a patio table or outdoor furniture. But it also can consist of wooden walkways or a low-lying patio to accentuate the yard. • Mixed materials: Homeowners may be inspired by commercial eateries, breweries and urban markets in their exterior design choices. Decks featuring composite materials and aluminum railings blend sophistication, urban appeal and comfort. • Personal touches: Homeowners can customize their decks with personal touches. It’s not unheard of to wrap columns in stone or glass tiles for more impact. A vast array of decking colors now enables fun interpretations for outdoor areas. • Fire pit conversation area: Many decks can incorporate water or fire elements for visual appeal. Gas-fueled fire elements can expand the functionality of decks beyond the warm seasons, or make enjoying them practical on nights when the temperature plummets.


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Spring Home & Garden


Choosing indoor lighting BY STAFF REPORTS Choosing indoor lighting can be tricky. Sometimes, it is difficult to imagine how a lighting fixture will work in a space when you see it in a showroom, surrounded by dozens of other lights. Trinity Kitchen, Bath and Lighting of New Haven’s website offers some helpful tips to consider when choosing lighting fixtures. The company’s website breaks indoor lighting down into three categories: ambient, task and accent lighting. Ambient, or ceiling lighting, is used to brighten a room overall, according to the website, and is most often achieved through a central light mounted on the ceiling. Task lighting illuminates a space for specific activities, such as cooking, applying makeup, reading, etc., according to the website. As a rule of thumb, there should be task lighting for whatever a person does in a space, according to an article on Real Simple’s website. “Accent lighting can enhance the visual

interest of a room by drawing the eye to a particular area” architectural feature or piece of art, the Trinity website states. Lighting can also come from wall-mounted sconces, below cabinets or around stairs for added benefits, according to an article from Lighting fixtures can serve a decorative function as well. The types of light bulbs used can also have an important effect on lighting, according to the Trinity website. However, there are other things to consider when lighting a room besides the lights themselves. Ceiling height is an important factor, according to the Forbes article. “As a rule of thumb, the bottom of a light should hang about 12 to 20 inches below a standard 8-foot ceiling. For each additional foot of ceiling height, add 3 inches,” the article states. Height should also be considered when putting lights over a surface, like a table. The article recommends leaving 28 to 34 inches between the base of the light and the surface of the countertop or table.

Many factors go into selecting the right lighting for a space.




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March 10, 2019

Get ready: Early spring landscaping tips BY METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION Draw inspiration from those budding crocuses and daffodils pushing through the last remnants of snow and employ these tips to prepare for the upcoming gardening season. • One of the first steps is to apply a preemergent weed killer to get a head start knocking out weeds that can plague the lawn during the growing season. Killing weeds at the roots early on can mean far fewer hassles in spring and summer, and may prevent new generations of weeds from cropping up each year. • While it may be tempting to take a prematurely warm day as a sign that spring is in full force and purchase a bunch of annuals, it’s better to know the last of the possible frost dates (check “The Farmer’s Almanac”); otherwise, you may waste time and money planting flowers or vegetables only to have them zapped by another frosty day. • Amend the soil so that it is the right consistency — just crumbling when lifting it. Soil that is too muddy after spring thaw can harden, making it difficult for plants to flourish later on. Speak with representatives

at a local lawn and garden center about which types of amendments you can add to the soil in your particular area to enrich it. • Lawn and garden experts at The Home Depot suggest filling in bare patches of lawn now by mixing a few shovelfuls of soil with grass seed. Then apply this patch to the bare areas, water and continue to care for the area until the spot fills in. • Spend a day in the garage or shed tending to the lawn mower and other gardening equipment. Clean all tools and ensure that everything works, repairing parts as needed. • Give outdoor entertaining spaces a good scrubbing, clearing away dirt and grime that may have accumulated over the winter. Use a leaf blower to blow away any leftover leaves. • Check if the front porch, railings or decking need painting and/or staining. Tackle these projects when the weather is cooler so everything will be ready for those peak spring days. • Think about any annuals you might want to plant in the landscape this year that will complement any existing shrubbery or perennials. Come up with a


Draw inspiration from those budding crocuses and daffodils pushing through the last remnants of snow and employ these tips to prepare for the upcoming gardening season.

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March 10, 2019

Spring Home & Garden


Diseases exist for almost all plants BY ASHLEE HOOS

Diseases of some form exist for nearly all horticultural or agricultural plants. Plant disease symptoms are physical characteristics expressed by plants in response to some form of plant pest. Symptoms often help diagnose a plant problem. Though many plant diseases won’t kill the host, they can change its appearance or cause other problems for the plant. Crystal VanPelt, extension educator with the Purdue Extension Service in Angola, said she is commonly asked about certain tree diseases, especially tar spot, apple scab, lichens, rhizosphaera needle cast and oak anthracnose. Tar spot, according to the Purdue Extension, is a fungal disease that makes tar-like spots appear on the leaves of maple trees. It is seldom detrimental to the overall health of the tree, though premature defoliation may occur. Management of the fungi is best done by raking and destroying fallen leaves, as the fungi overwinters on the fallen leaves.


Apple scab, according to Extension Plant Pathologist Paul C. Packnold, is the most common and damaging disease of Indiana apple trees. Flowering crabapple trees are not exempt from this disease either, with trees severely infected seeing fruits reduced to being distorted and blemished. Proper planting of resistant varieties and employing cultural or chemical control can prevent apple scab, according to Packnold’s article. Lichens are a combination of fungi and algae living symbiotically on tree trunks. According to an article VanPelt suggested from the University of Maryland Extension Service, lichens are considered an indicator of good air quality and do not cause decline in trees, so no control is necessary. “Pretty much every blue spruce I see has needle loss at the bottom, which is a telltale sign of needle cast disease,” VanPelt said. This disease develops because of prolonged needle wetness. The pathogen enters susceptible needles through the stomata and can overwinter in the diseased needles. Spores are dispersed by wind and rainwater and can linger


for weeks until environmental conditions become right for invasion. Symptoms can take 12 months or longer to show up on a tree, according to an article VanPelt provided from the University of Massachusetts. Damage from oak anthracnose often only causes minor damage to landscape oaks, according to an article from the University of Massachusetts. Prolonged wet weather early in the growing season, however, can cause severe damage, especially to trees in the white oak grouping. This infection typically begins in the lower canopy and progresses upward. Symptoms first look like water-soaked, blighted leaf margins or as blotches. Over time, leaves can become distorted and shriveled and may shed prematurely. Resistance to a threat, VanPelt said, depends on the pest or fungi threatening the plant in question. “While genetic resistance is the first line of defense, proper planting techniques, plant placement and the environment can play large roles in warding off disease,” she said.

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Lichens are living organisms, composed of fungus and algae, living together on tree bark. More lichens may be on declining trees, but do not themselves cause the decline.

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March 10, 2019

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