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Mainline Newspapers - Thursday, May 10, 2018

tips for a greener thumb

Four clever ways to use under-the-stair space

Horticulture enthusiasts, rejoice! It’s time to start planting the seeds of this summer’s garden. Tempted to start your own? Don’t worry: being a beginner doesn’t mean that you can’t do excellent work. Here are ten tips to help any gardening novice grow like a pro. 1. Plan it out. Before you get your hands dirty, try to envision your ideal garden as a whole. Sketch the layout of the space you have to work with and its surroundings. No matter how big or small your project may be, proper planning is the key to success. 2. Acquire tools. Digging, planting and maintaining your garden requires some basic equipment. A beginner’s toolbox should include a spade, a hoe, a rake, a trowel, a wheelbarrow, a watering can, some shears and a pair of gloves. Having the right tools makes gardening infinitely more enjoyable and helps prevent injuries. 3. Mind the lighting. Your garden or flowerbeds should ideally be located in a spot that receives lots of sunlight and little wind, but many species do well in shadier conditions. Before you settle on a variety to sow, consider its solar needs and whether or not you can fulfill them. 4. Prepare the soil. Provide your plants with the best possible soil

Maximize your living quarters by making good use of the space under your staircase.

conditions and watch them thrive! Removing rocks and pebbles, tilling the ground and adding some fertilizer goes a long way in creating a fertile space to grow. 5. Keep bloom cycles in mind. Enjoy the results of your hard work for as long as you can by including plants that flower at different times of the season in your garden. 6. Match colors. Try to match your flowers to your home’s exterior for a stunning, cohesive effect. Don’t feature too many hues, however, to avoid a cluttered look. 7. Plant in groups. Foster crosspollination and improve your garden’s vitality by planting in bunches. Avoid isolating single specimens—your plants are social creatures too!

8. Mix it up. Create a balanced look by varying the height and shape of the plants in your garden. 9. Give it space. Your adorable sprouts and tiny seeds will eventually grow into full-fledged adult plants. Consider how large they’ll be once they reach maturity and plan accordingly. Always follow the recommended planting depth for each variety as well. 10. Ask for help. Need some assistance? Don’t hesitate to seek advice from the pros at your local gardening center or nursery. Their valuable expertise could make a world of difference when it comes to achieving the landscaping of your dreams.

Think the space beneath your staircase is lost? Think again! There are 1,001 smart ways to turn it into a useful part of your home, regardless of the configuration of the space. Here are a few ideas to get you inspired. Storage space: Take advantage of the space beneath the stairs to create storage — you can never have too much storage! Between kitchen cabinets, alcoves, modular storage units, baskets, bookshelves and beyond, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to neatly tucking away items of all kinds out of sight. You could even turn each individual stair into its own practical drawer.

Exhibition space: Have enough storage? Then why not put in a glass display cabinet or some shelves to display souvenirs from your travels, family photos, artwork, or whatever else you’d like to showcase? Cozy space: A welldefined space like the one under your stairs is ideal for a home office, a reading nook, a minibar or a cloakroom (with a cubby for each family member, for example), among many other potential uses. Secret space: Hiding a powder room under the stairs is without a doubt an ingenious use of space. A secret playroom is another option that’s sure to stir up your little ones’ imagination.


Mainline Newspapers - Thursday, May 10, 2018

safety tips for grilling season

People have been cooking meals over open flames since the discovery of fire. Even today, when there are so many ways to cook a meal, many still insist there’s nothing better than the taste of food cooked on the grill. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, which tracks industry trends, points out that one-third of consumers plan to use their grill or smoker more often this year. Even though grilling is widely associated with summer, a growing number of people are embracing year-round grilling. HPBA’s CEO Jack Goldman has said, “Barbecuing is no longer just a pastime, but an integral part of the North American lifestyle.” Seven in 10 adults in the United States own a grill or smoker. With so many people firing up their grills, it’s important to recognize the importance of grilling safety. Each year an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by

eaves, overhangs, and tree branches. • Keep the grill clean. Thoroughly clean the grill prior to first use, and keep it tidy all year long. Grease or fat buildup can ignite and cause a fire. • Always attend the grill. Grill distractionfree and keep an eye on the food being cooked. Simply stepping away for a few moments can lead to a fire or accident. grilling, and close to half of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns, advises the National Fire Protection Association. Here’s how to stay safe. • Only grill outside. Propane and charcoal barbecue grills should only be used outdoors. Grills should be placed well away from the home. Keep grills away from deck railings,

• Start fires safely. Charcoal grills and gas grills may be lit using electronic starters that do not require fire. If using starter fluid, only do so on charcoal, and do not add more fluid or other flammable liquids after the fire has ignited. • Check for gas leaks. Whether the gas grill is hooked up to a propane tank or the natural gas supply of a home, ensure that the hoses or

tanks are not leaking. Apply a light soap-andwater solution to hoses to see if they bubble from leaking gas. • Keep baking soda nearby. Baking soda can control grease fires, but it’s also helpful to have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand on hand for other types of fires. • Watch children and pets. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from grilling areas. • Wait for the grill and coals to cool. Practice safety around the grill until all coals are cool and the grill is no longer hot to the touch. Only then should the grill be moved or relocated. Grilling is a passion that is enjoyed throughout much of the year. Safely cook outdoors by heeding safety guidelines.

How to banish pet odors in your home

Dogs, cats, birds, and lizards have evolved from wild animals and outdoor companions to become beloved, largely domesticated members of the family. The number of pets in homes across the country continues to grow. Over time, pet owners grow accustomed to their pets’ antics, messes and even their odors. Dealing with smells is par for the course for pet owners, and many become desensitized to certain common smells. But when company is on the way or people are thinking about selling their homes, pet odors must be addressed. Even though it will

take effort, homeowners can freshen their homes and eliminate unpleasant pet-related smells. • Find ways to ventilate. Odors can build up inside closed environments and prove overpowering. Opening windows when applicable, using exhaust fans and encouraging cross-breezes can air certain odors from the home. • Clean frequently. Cats and dogs can leave behind fur, dander, food messes, and more. Eliminating the debris that pets create can reduce odors. Sweeping, vacuuming and mop-

ping floors can help as well. Don’t forget to vacuum draperies and furniture, and consider purchasing cleaning appliances specifically designed for homes with pets. • Keep on top of accidents and litter boxes. Puppies and even adult dogs may have their share of accidents. Cats may avoid litter boxes if they are not cleaned frequently and then soil around the house. Be sure to clean up pet waste messes promptly. Baking soda and vinegar solutions are all-natural ways to clean up and can help remove urine odors more readily. Also, look for safe deodorizing cleaning products

that can be used on carpeting, flooring and upholstery. • Purchase an air purifier. Air purifiers can help remove odors and allergens from the air. They’re relatively inexpensive and can be placed in rooms that pets frequent. • Wash pet blankets and beds. Launder pet beds, cloth toys, blankets, and any other items that pets lounge on. Sweat, saliva and dander can cause these fabrics to become stinky, and, in turn, make the house smell worse. See Pet, page 6


Mainline Newspapers - Thursday, May 10, 2018

Maintenance and care This annual flower requires a minimum of six hours of sun each day and performs particularly well in hot, dry environments. The more light it gets, the more blooms it produces—and the brighter those raspberry pink blooms become. This zinnia is highly resistant to disease, but you should still take care to prevent excess moisture from forming on both the plant and its foliage. Pay attention to signs of grey mold as well.

Maintenance and care Salvia Mystic Spires Improved tolerates partial shade, but it does best in full sun. This wild perennial needs at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. Its worst enemy: excessive moisture. If you plant it in a container, it’s crucial to let the substrate fully dry out between waterings to avoid drowning the plant. Finally, prune weak roots and regrowth each time you divide the plants (every two or three years) to help maximize flowering.

Name: Double Zahara Raspberry Ripple Zinnia Scientific name: Zinnia marylandica Family: Asteraceae Colors: Pink and white Height: 40 to 50 cm (16 to 20 inches) Exposure: Sun Planting: Dry soil Blooming season: June to September

Name: Salvia Mystic Spires Improved Botanical name: Salvia longispicata x farinacea Family: Lamiaceae Color: Blue Height: 24 to 36 inches Exposure: Sun Planting: Rich, fresh, well-drained soil Blooming season: June to September

Interesting facts The bright flowers of this perennial attract pollinators. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds all flock to its abundance of fragrant, nectar-rich blooms. This hardy plant (it’s even deer-resistant!) requires little maintenance. It can be planted in containers as well as in flowerbeds.

Interesting facts This zinnia varies in color according to climate conditions. In cooler environments, its petals are pink, while heat and humidity cause more white to appear. Furthermore, this superb flower attracts bees and butterflies. It’s well suited to both flowerbeds and containers.

The fragrant flowers of Mystic Spires Improved attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

The Double Zahara Raspberry Ripple is resistant to disease and attracts butterflies

How to cHoose your fine Herbs



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If you’d like to try your hand at growing your own herbs, choose common varieties that are sure to please your palate. Three or four varieties to start should be plenty to add depth and diversity to your home-cooked meals. Make sure you do your research beforehand to know how to properly pick and grow your herbs of choice. Certain varieties grow profusely—like mint, for example— which can affect the healthy growth of more delicate herbs. To avoid making rookie mistakes, always consult a horticulturist for advice! You can find everything you need to grow your parsley, thyme, rosemary, dill and virtually any other type of herb at your local nursery or garden centre. Have fun cooking up a storm!

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Mainline Newspapers - Thursday, May 10, 2018

When it comes to stocking up on nutrient-packed produce and supporting local business, your neighborhood farmers’ market is always a smart bet. That being said, for a steady supply of fresh-picked veggies to snack on, nothing beats growing your own!

As a general rule, vegetables don’t fare well in the shade. Pick a strategic location for your garden that’s clear of trees, fences and buildings. Lots of sunlight is the key to a bountiful harvest!

• Cucumbers, turnips, radishes & green beans • Carrots, lettuce, onions & leeks • Potatoes, squash, corn & peas • Beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli & Swiss chard • Kale, spinach, tomatoes & cabbage



Mainline Newspapers - Thursday, May 10, 2018

Decorate seasonally witHout spenDing a fortune If you dream of an interior style that changes with the seasons, there are ways you can make this happen without breaking the bank. Here are some tips. Choose a neutral palette for your walls and furniture. This will allow you to choose accessories without having to worry about matching them to the overall color scheme of the space. Switching up the patterns and textures of your accessories can go a long way in creating a seasonally themed decor. If winter’s on its way, deck out your living room accordingly with some fauxfur cushions. When spring rolls around, swap them for a floral throw, which, in turn, can make way for a nauticalstyle pillow or two come summertime. Four-season accessories Chalkboards are great for personalizing your decor as the seasons change. Use them to display the lyrics of your favorite Christmas songs during the holidays or to feature your top summer

Pet Continued from page 3

• Keep pets clean. Most pets are very good at self-grooming, but can benefit from a spa treatment once in awhile. Dogs that spend ample time outdoors or frequently get wet and dirty may need routine baths. Ask a professional groomer what he or she recommends to address potent pet odors. Neutralizing pet odors takes effort, but it can make for a more pleasant-smelling home environment.

A few well-chosen accessories are all it takes to adapt your decor to the changing seasons. cocktail recipes, for example. Mason jars are also ideal for creating seasonal decor elements. Fill them with pinecones to bring some fall flair into your home and with seashells for a summery look. Finally, use aromatic candles to add an extra layer of seasonal appeal to your space. Choose scents such as cinnamon or pine for the wintertime, and replace them with floral fragrances come spring.

how to create an eye-catching gallery wall Gallery walls, also called moment walls, are one of today’s hottest home decor trends. Gallery walls enable homeowners to create visually appealing groupings of photos, frames, wall art, and much more to dress up any room in the house. Gallery walls can make a statement in the living room, add finesse to an entryway or showcase special items along a staircase. One need only do a quick internet search or browse through lifestyle magazines to see examples of gallery walls for inspiration. Anyone with a little determination can design a gallery wall.

FiNd your Muse The first step to creating a gallery wall is to choose a theme. If floral prints are your thing or you love abstract art, build your gallery around these elements. You can even use color or frame style as the coordinating factor.

Take your TiMe Some people rush into creating gallery walls, and that can be a mistake. Spend time picking out pieces and trying different combinations before you take out the hammer and hardware. The mix should be captivating and look like it was a curated collection. Some pieces can be high-end, while others may be picked up at flea markets or even be your own artwork

or photography.

experiMeNT wiTh diMeNsioNs aNd levels Gallery walls need not be restricted to flat photos on a wall. Texture and depth can be used in wall designs. Intersperse shelving, sconces, wooden letters, clocks, and more to make the gallery even more eclectic. Feel free to build the gallery around items that are in the house, such as windows or televisions. This can help electronics blend into the design.

ral” to “centered” to “reflection” designs.

creaTe a TeMplaTe Lay the gallery design on the floor and cut newspapers or other paper to the size of each piece. Use masking tape to position these guides on the wall, trying a few arrangements until you are happy with the finished product. Then replace the paper with the artwork.

haNg iTeMs wiTh precisioN Don’t skimp on technique. Use a

esTablish your Focal poiNT ruler, level and the right tools. This Pottery Barn suggests making the center of the display at eye level, roughly 66 inches off the ground. Then build the gallery out from around that focal point. There are many patterns that can be built into the gallery, from “spi-

ensures pieces are straight and in line with others.

Gone are the days when large pieces of artwork fill empty walls. Gallery designs add statements and can balance rooms in creative ways.


Mainline Newspapers - Thursday, May 10, 2018

iDeas for pool perimeter lanDscaping With the rise of the “staycation,” more and more homeowners are turning their backyards into their own private oases. The centerpiece of many such retreats is a refreshing and inviting pool. Whether above-ground or inground models, pools make for welcoming spots to enjoy warm days and nights. A new pool can quickly turn a yard into the “it” spot to spend vacations or cool off at the end hot summer days. While pools are often the focal point of a backyard, many homeowners want their pools to blend seamlessly with the rest of their yards. When transforming a backyard that includes a pool, homeowners should consider a few factors to ensure each afternoon spent poolside is as safe as it is fun.

saFeTy FirsT Although the goal may be to soften the lines of the pool and/or create sight barriers that will provide some measure of privacy for swimmers, homeowners must put safety above all else. Before any decorative touches are added, it is important to surround a pool with a slip-resistant surface and fencing (many communities require fences be erected around pools). Consult with a landscaping contractor, who should be knowledgeable about safety codes, or speak to the permit-issuing department at town hall. There should be a list of requirements to ensure pool placement as well as any surrounding touches are legal and within code.

NoNslip surFaces Concrete, brick and pavers and decking are popular materials used to surround a pool. Installers can make recommendations on materials and finishes, but one suggestion is to choose a rough finish. Pool water can make surfaces slippery. Concrete that is stamped or scarred provides extra traction than a smooth surface. The same can be said for brick patios and pavers. Avoid smooth stones or pavers with shiny surfaces, as these may only increase the risk of falls. Homeowners who have chosen wood or composite decking to surround a pool should talk to their contractor about nonslip protective coatings. Such coatings typically are acrylic-based liquids applied like a paint or sealer. Some composite decks may be crafted with texture or a built-in coating to reduce slipping. In addition, use nonstick mats on decks and patios to provide a little extra footing where people enter and exit the pool.

touches for a poolside landscape. Homeowners should keep in mind that pools are not often shaded from the sun, so plants placed around the pool will need to be sun- and drought-tolerant. Succulents, such as aloe and jade, may work, as can the perennial shrub yucca. Moderately growing grasses will offer a privacy barrier. Keep trees and flowering plants far enough away from the pool’s edge so they do not contribute to debris that falls into the pool, which can complicate maintenance. Also,

flowering plants may attract insects and other wildlife that may interfere with your enjoyment of the pool. It’s better to create a friendly environment for wildlife further away from the pool. Homeowners who need some advice planning the landscaping around their pools can rely on the expertise of landscape architects as well as employees at lawn and garden centers. Pool companies may work with landscapers and offer recommendations to people unaccustomed to working around pools.

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Mulch aNd sToNe Homeowners often prefer some combination of mulch or stone to serve as a transition between the pool, concrete or paver hardscape and the lawn. Stone may be more practical for those with inground pools because it will not easily blow onto the water surface. With an above-ground pool, mulch or stone can do the trick, serving as a barrier so that pool water does not overly drench the surrounding lawn or damage grass after exposure to pool chemicals. Mulch and stone also will provide drainage from water runoff from the pool and rain. Another advantage of having an additional barrier between the pool and lawn is that lawn clippings will not be shot into the pool when mowing. Stone and mulch can be dressed up with statues, lawn ornaments and tolerant plants.

FiNishiNg Touches Plants can provide the finishing

Poured Wall Foundations Retaining Walls, Footers, Garages and Additions Excavating


Mainline Newspapers - Thursday, May 10, 2018

Spring home 5 10 18  
Spring home 5 10 18