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3 Steps to Prepare Your Garden and Landscape For Winter

The summer is over, clearly autumn has arrived, and winter can’t be far behind. It is time to prepare the garden and surrounding landscape for the harsh months ahead. Here are 3 simple tips to help you get started.
 
Clean Up: Before the first killing frost do one last weeding in the garden. This will prevent seed heads from dispersing and give you a head start in the spring. Remove any diseased plants or foliage to prevent diseases from spreading or even lying dormant in the ground until next spring. Do not compost diseased materials. Cut back foliage that is done blossoming and unattractive at 2 to 3 inches off the ground. Plants such as lavender, Russian sage and astilbe bring interest to the winter garden if left untrimmed. Phlox, peonies, and monarda (bee balm) should always be cut back because they are highly susceptible to disease. Plants that still look good, annuals, hostas, sedum and others can be cut back after the first killing frost. Unfortunately, raking is a must for a healthy, attractive lawn and garden. 
 
Cover Up: You might be surprised to discover that most perennials do not need to be covered up or protected. However if you are trying to grow plants or shrubs that are not hardy for your agricultural zone, or it’s a first year perennial, or it is expensive or special you might want to take extra precautions. The preferred method for protecting garden perennials is to mulch, but mulching does not mean covering up your plants. The mulch material should be placed around the base of the plant, not covering the center or crown and should not be done until after several hard frosts. The idea is to prevent the ground around the plant from unthawing and refreezing causing the plant to heave or start spring growth prematurely. Materials for mulch can include shredded leaves (run your mower over the leaves several times), processed manure, or shredded bark. It is advantageous to use something that will break down over the winter and add nutrients or amend the soil.

Tender shrubs and roses often require some protection from the harsh winter winds, temperatures and animal damage. Plastic or wire hardware cloth can be used around the shrubs to protect the bark from rodent damage. To protect from winds and temperatures shredded leaves can be put in as well. Hybrid tea roses should be protected before the temperatures drop below 25 degrees F. There are products such as The Garden Dome that offer a simple frame and secured cover for shrub and plant protection. Continue to water evergreens and newly planted shrubs as long as possible.

Collect: Walk around your garden and yard and collect the decorative elements that would take a beating; statuettes, wind chimes, gazing balls, etc. Don’t forget about  ceramic bird baths that are susceptible to freezing and cracking. Take clippings of any annuals that you want to bring indoors. Consider cleaning out your containers and storing before the weather is miserably cold. Be sure to drain and bring in hoses and if you do not have freeze proof faucets those should be drained and shut off as well.
 
A garden prepared for winter is a protected investment. A little time and energy spent now will bring a more pleasant result in the spring.

Doll House Kits for Every Budget and Skill Level

I have to admit, I am very impressed, at what the miniature dollhouse industry has to offer. They have successfully replicated the natural (full-sized) world in miniature with doll house kits that fit almost every budget and skill level. In fact, I believe that if you will take a few moments to look at what they have accomplished that you too will be impressed at what you learn.

Dollhouses are not just for little girls or women. They have grown in popularity in just about every adult demographic. By taking a closer look it is easy to understand the growing appeal.

Doll house kits are available in just about any architectural style imaginable and they are easy to customize and accessorize. In fact, if you are particularly skilled at crafts you may want to forgo a kit and purchase blueprints which enable you to customize as big as you can dream.

For beginners there are also quick-build kits that, according to the advertisements, can be built within an hour. I am not so confident in the one hour time limit if you are a beginner but one of these kits may be an excellent place for you to start if this is your first dollhouse project.

Inside your kit you will find instructions, drawings, and the pieces for assembly. Manufacturers like to use the term “easy” when describing their instructions. However, that’s not always the case. Expect that there will be a few hitches in the construction process. Most pieces are precut although some will need to be punched out. The good news is that you won’t need to do any cutting yourself unless you are building from a blueprint or making some of your own changes.

Wooden construction materials seldom come pre-sanded so there will be some light sanding involved prior to painting. Painting, by the way, is optional but a good idea for adding authenticity to your project.

Some manufacturers also give you a choice on the wood that will come with your kit. Choices include milled plywood, MDF, and smooth plywood. Prices vary based on the material you choose. Assembly then is made with nails and glue that may or may not be included with your kit.

Once you have assembled your doll house kit you can then easily expand. Additional expansion kits are also available. For example you can add a conservatory or a wing onto your existing structure.

It should be pointed out that the term “doll house kits” is used interchangeably to include both dollhouses and accessories. For example there are accessory kits for bathrooms, living rooms, kitchens, porches, libraries, and dining rooms that coordinate with your architectural style. There are even outdoor kits that add to the “curb appeal” of your project.

When selecting your doll house project you will need to determine the scale that will be used that will remain consistent with the structure, accessories, and furnishings. The normal scale is 1 inch per life-sized foot. There is also a popular ½ scale which is scaled to ½ inch per life-sized foot. Neither of these scales are compatible with Barbie-sized dolls. For that you will need a 1/6 scale to accommodate the most popular dolls for play. I frequently make mention of this fact in my articles because it is the one place that people most often make mistakes on their dollhouse purchases.

Now, there is a good chance that you will need help. If you find yourself in that predicament you will be happy to know that many local hobby stores offer advice, construction support, specialized instruction, and even classes on electrification, interior finishing, decoration, and landscaping. Another excellent source for help is to check in on one of the dollhouse forums on the web. Hobbyists are generally more than glad to share their expertise.

The sky is the limit. Your hobby can be as little or as big as you want. Thanks to a very customer friendly industry there are doll house kits to satisfy your level of interest, expertise, and even your budget.

Interior and Exterior Landscape Design Ideas

People become very confused while choosing how to decorate the interior and the exteriors. Numerous great ideas for landscaping the yards from your house are available in the internet. There must be a particular sense of tranquility experienced in a place when we try to unite the design theme flowing in between the interior and exterior. You can also design the landscape present around your house by using the following tips:

How about making the best features to stand out? You may think about what is the best of the architectural feature present in your house, and then make it stand out. You can repeat its shape or color, clear the space around it or surround it with plants or flowers that do not distract from your home’s natural art or beauty.

You may also use various colors which suit the presence. The Color often becomes one of the most obvious and important elements of both house and landscape design. If you want the landscaping to add to the visual appeal to your home, then you may also extend the beauty of the home through to your yard. For beige, gray or white homes, mix in purple or even in the soft yellow plants or flowers into the natural landscape design. The use of the bold colors like that of the reds, whites and bright yellows are of great use for the homes that already have colors that stand out. The reflection of the architecture and style is also very important. Use the architecture and style of the house for the inspiration. Colors in the orchard provides nice and attractive appearance to your house. 1 to 2 colors in the orchard can give extra look to your garden. I have observed that many professionals are using more than 2 colors. But in my viewpoint, two colors are enough to make your garden perfect.

The Victorian styles look great with boxwood hedges. You may also end up in making a traditional colonial style home decor will go fantastic with the open lawns. Cottages might go well with lush plantings and curvy paths. Contemporary homes may feature modern and most possibly geometric designs in the landscape. Also, if you want to give a wild look to your garden then use exterior stones. Exterior stones can add a little more wild look to your garden.

In the end of this article, I would like to say that always think for a natural look. This will create an excitement and a luxuries look, which no artificial plants can do that.