Home & Garden

Home permaculture design course begins Sept. 18 at HRRC

Starting in September, an eight-week Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) class will teach the principles of landscape architecture and permaculture to help attendees improve the green functioning and aesthetics of their homes and yards.

Taught by a permaculturist and a garden designer, the course will meet once a week on Thursday evenings, Sept. 18 through Nov. 6, 7:30–8:45 p.m.

Instructors will cover how to: keep water on-site (reducing water bills); improve soil without chemicals; attract pollinators and other beneficial insects; incorporate permanent edible plants and native plants into the landscape; and more.

Participants will be encouraged to explore their own sites and apply what they learn to create a plan they can implement, to add beauty and value to their properties.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 10:19 AM, 08.29.2014

Learn how to safely undertake DIY home repairs on Aug. 19

Whether you'll be tackling a do-it-yourself project because you're excited about doing the work yourself, or because it's your only option, your focus will all too often be on design, material choices, and other "fun" aspects of the project. Project planning, however, should also include avoiding injury, minimizing exposure to toxic materials, and consideration of other potential dangers.

Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) invites homeowners to learn from contractor Mark Westbrooks what precautions they should take in planning repair projects. Westbrooks will present Working Safely: How Homeowners Should Protect Themselves when Doing Repairs on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 7 p.m., at HRRC’s Teaching Center, 2520 Noble Road in Cleveland Heights.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 11:05 AM, 08.11.2014

HRRC's electrical repair course for women begins in July

Some people are afraid of electricity. Past participants in Home Repair Resource Center's (HRRC) Home How-To women’s repair course, however, have found that by understanding the “mystery” of electricity, and learning how to remain safe when doing electrical work, they can be confident trying basic repairs.

Women are invited to enroll in the upcoming Electrical Repairs course module, consisting of eight workshops held on Wednesday evenings, 7–9 p.m., July 30 through Sept. 17. Participants will learn to replace switches and outlets, run wires through walls, install 3-way switches and GFCI outlets, put up ceiling fans, and more. The classes offer ample opportunity to practice using the tools and techniques required for many common electrical projects. No previous experience is required.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 7, Posted 10:01 AM, 07.01.2014

HRRC presents June 24 program on repairing 'historic' roofs

If you need to repair a roof with slate, tile, copper flashings, or other “historic” materials, you probably know that special care will be required. What should you discuss with a contractor to ensure the work will be done properly? Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) invites homeowners from all communities to attend a free presentation on Tuesday, June 24, at 7 p.m. on Repairing Historic Roofs: Slate, Tile, Copper Flashings and Other Special Materials.

Part of HRRC’s HouseMender University series, the presentation will feature representatives from Uston Roof Restoration, who will explain what homeowners should look for contracting repairs for these types of roofs.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 7, Posted 9:48 AM, 06.17.2014

Meet Vivian, the garden coach

Vivian Vail's gorgeous garden is at the corner of Somerton and Radnor roads in Cleveland Heights. It's a rambling home to luscious peonies, poppies, gladiolas, zinnias, sunflowers, sage, dahlias and many varieties of sedum. Her garden features huge rocks, sculptures and interesting objects, such as a carved wooden Don Quixote head. Perhaps you've seen her out working in her full-length signature sundresses. Watching her jump on a shovel (with dress billowing) to get down deep into the dirt is a dramatic treat.

Vail opened her gardening business (called Vivian the Garden Coach) last spring, after helping a friend start a garden and loving the experience [disclosure: I am that friend]. One of her first clients had lots of beautiful plants that she hadn't tended to in several seasons, and was overwhelmed about what needed to be done. Vail helped her prune, divide and relocate plants so that their beauty was revealed. Another person just needed a rhododendron pruned to make her garden come alive and look less ragged. According to Vail, “Sometimes you need to edit what's detracting from natural beauty.”

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 9:45 AM, 05.30.2014

HRRC offers free advice from architects on May 19

If you’re considering making changes to your home—redesigning your front entryway, remodeling your kitchen, perhaps enclosing your open back porch to gain an extra bedroom—it would probably be helpful to talk with an expert.

On Monday, May 19, Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) is sponsoring Ask an Architect consultations, for homeowners who would like free advice before embarking on a home renovation project.

The architects will meet with homeowners in individual, 25-minute consultations, and suggest ways to maximize a home’s potential, and identify possible pitfalls.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 5:58 PM, 05.15.2014

Learn how to choose replacement windows at HRRC

It can be difficult to choose replacement windows. Television ads tout various advantages—deep discounts and lifetime warrantees—but how does one sort through the hype to make an informed choice that will provide the most value for one’s investment?

Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) invites homeowners to its Choosing Replacement Windows presentation on April 22, at 7 p.m.

Britt Raburn of Lyndhurst Lumber will share advice on how to evaluate window products, and consider features such as overall quality, energy efficiency, warranty protection and ease of installation.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 5, Posted 3:30 PM, 04.17.2014

Annual Bremec fundraiser will benefit HRRC

After this very long, cold winter, yards and gardens here in the Heights will undoubtedly need some spring sprucing-up. Those in need of lawn and garden supplies—or just in search of something green—can support Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) of Cleveland Heights by shopping at Bremec on the Heights between Monday, April 21 and Sunday, May 4.

When shoppers present an HRRC voucher at the register, Bremec on the Heights Garden Center, 13410 Cedar Road, will donate a portion of those purchases to HRRC. Even those shoppers who may not yet be ready to take home plants and supplies can benefit HRRC by purchasing gift cards using a voucher during the two-week fundraising period. They can then use the gift cards at a later date.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 4, Posted 3:22 PM, 03.31.2014

The effects of frigid temperatures on garden plants

With periods of extreme cold come questions about the impact such temperatures may have on plant materials in the landscape. It is a good time to review potential damage to trees and shrubs, keeping in mind that much of the damage that may occur will not become apparent until new growth begins in the spring. By then, many of us will have forgotten the frigid temperatures that have now twice invaded the Heights, especially if it’s a mild spring, and gardeners may not relate plant damage to the extreme events of this winter.

Weather conditions this past fall played a part in how plants prepared for winter. Trees and shrubs in our area received inadequate moisture in the weeks leading up to the first hard frost. Rainfall last August and September was below normal, leaving plants much more likely to suffer cold injury.

Native plant materials in their natural habitats will better tolerate these harsh conditions, but native species planted in the urban and suburban landscapes of Cleveland Heights and University Heights, where soils and environmental factors are vastly different from their normal habitats, can experience cold injury due to stresses on the plants imposed by these exotic habitats. Most woody ornamental species used in our Heights landscapes are non-native, and even a species rated hardy to our region may not survive when exposed to extreme temperatures. Keep this in mind when assessing plant problems in the spring.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 3, Posted 11:21 AM, 02.18.2014

Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour set for Sept. 22

Late September—the end of summer and beginning of fall—is when gardens have reached peak growth and late blooms glow against background foliage. It’s a good time to savor the end of the season with an afternoon tour sampling the “Dazzling Diversity” of some of the homes and gardens in Cleveland Heights.

Dazzling Diversity is the theme of the 36th Annual Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour, sponsored by Heights Community Congress (HCC). It is sure to dazzle with spectacular interiors, unusual exteriors, and colorful gardens reflecting the unique variety in the Heights. The self-guided tour of six homes and four gardens is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 22, from noon to 6 p.m., and includes a refreshment stop at the landmark Church of the Savior on Lee Road.

Highlights of this year’s tour stops include:

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 9, Posted 1:51 PM, 08.30.2013

June 17 event explores practical steps for enhancing a home's sustainability

Often, homeowners presume that making houses more sustainable will require major lifestyle changes or expensive materials and technologies.

That is not necessarily true. On Monday, June 17, 7–8:30 p.m., Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC), the Cleveland Heights nonprofit, will host an informal conversation on practical ways to reduce energy usage around the home. The event will take place at the BottleHouse, 2050 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights.

The conversation, led by sustainability advocate Fred Cortright, will emphasize changes that are realistic, affordable and meaningful.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 7, Posted 11:24 AM, 06.11.2013

Learn to do repairs at hands-on classes

Many home repairs could be tackled on a do-it-yourself basis, if the homeowner just knew what to do. That’s where Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) comes in.

HRRC’s repair workshops teach the “how-to” of basic home repairs, with a special focus on maintaining older homes. The workshops are taught by experienced professionals and include opportunities for hands-on practice with the tools, materials, and techniques needed for the project.

Emily Hamburg and Rob Shields of South Euclid attended their first class last fall, a workshop on caulking and weatherization. Since then, they have worked to weather-strip doors, wrap pipes, and seal up gaps—tasks Hamburg describes as “lots of hammer, nail, glue, caulking stuff.” She said that the classes have helped them become “more confident in a hands-on environment, in doing basic things.”

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 7, Posted 9:57 AM, 06.10.2013

HRRC offers carpentry repair classes for women

Designed for women who want to learn how to make home repairs themselves, HRRC’s Home How-To for Women course in Carpentry Repairs will cover how to install ceramic tile, repair windows, build handrails, repair plaster and drywall, and complete other carpentry projects. The Carpentry Repairs module will include eight two-hour classes, held on Wednesday evenings from June 5 through July 31 at HRRC’s Teaching Center in Cleveland Heights.

Applications are now being accepted, and early registration is suggested. Only 18 spots are available, to encourage small-group learning. Tuition is $120 for Cleveland Heights residents and $150 for nonresidents; low-income participants are eligible for reduced rates.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 6, Posted 10:13 AM, 05.16.2013

Find out what mold contractors don’t want you to know at April 16 seminar

If you’re concerned about mold and air quality in your home, don’t respond to scare tactics. Yes, mold can be a problem, but in many cases there are simple things homeowners can do themselves to discourage mold growth.

Learn “What Mold Contractors Don’t Want You to Know” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, at the Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC), 2520 Noble Road in Cleveland Heights.

Gil Gotlieb of Airguard Restoration will discuss how to determine when mold and other contaminants pose a risk, what homeowners can do themselves to remedy the situation, and what issues should be discussed with a contractor.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 10:24 AM, 04.09.2013

Welcome spring with the Nature Center's annual plant sale

May flowers . . . and plants and herbs and vegetables . . . will color the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes parking lot during its 31st annual plant sale on Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The sale features a wide variety of hard-to-find native plants, perennials and annuals selected by a local team of experienced horticulturalists. Annuals can be purchased in flats, individually, or in convenient preplanted hanging baskets. There will also be a wide selection of vegetable plants ready for a kitchen garden, and plant assortments one can combine to create a beautiful container arrangement.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 1:15 PM, 04.30.2013

Community Supported Agriculture in the Heights

'Tis the season for fresh and abundant locally grown food! More and more Heights residents are assuring themselves an abundant supply of healthy produce from local farms by purchasing a share from one of our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) groups.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 1:13 PM, 04.30.2013

Rain barrel workshop could help reduce your sewer bill

Adding a rain barrel to your gutter system can help control surface water—and reduce your sewer bill. Home Repair Resource Center's (HRRC) upcoming workshop, Building a Rain Barrel, will provide hands-on instruction. Participants can opt to build a rain barrel during the class, or choose to observe the process only. The class will take place on Monday, April 8, 7–9 p.m., at HRRC’s Teaching Center, 2520 Noble Road in Cleveland Heights.

Reservations are required, and this class fills quickly; to reserve a spot, call 216-381-6100, x16 or e-mail rstager@hrrc.org.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 9:41 AM, 03.29.2013

Bremec on the Heights prepares for spring season

As temperatures rise and the snow disappears, Bremec on the Heights is getting ready to reopen its doors to gardeners in the Heights. 

According to Jessica Mitchell, marketing director, some "spring favorites" with Bremec’s customers are pansies, fruit trees, and annual and perennial plants. Bremec also offers organic lawn care items, such as fertilizer, soil, pest and disease control products, as well as garden décor items, such as fountains, statuary and pottery. 

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 11:16 AM, 03.28.2013

Next module scheduled in home repair course for women

The Electrical Repairs module in Home Repair Resource Center’s (HRRC) women’s repair series will begin on Sept. 5, with weekly sessions on Wednesday evenings through Oct. 24. Applications are now being accepted.

Eight two-hour classes will be offered, including Intro to Electricity; Replacing Switches & Outlets; Running a New Circuit; Practical Troubleshooting; Lighting Options; Low-Voltage Systems (Landscape Lighting/Doorbells/Phone Lines); Ceiling Fans; and Exhaust Fans.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 11:51 AM, 08.30.2012

What can you do for your lawn after this summer?

This year’s weather has been particularly hard on yards and gardens. Beyond the drought and heat, lawns have suffered from additional stresses that may cause a slow recovery this fall. By mid-August, some area lawns were beginning to green and show signs of recovery. Early signs of recovery provide a good time to observe the extent of damage and how much work is needed to get the lawn back into shape.

Areas that were brown but have begun to green again are recovering from summer dormancy. Sections that remain brown may have been damaged by drought, insects, disease or other issues. Regardless of the reason, it is time to take advantage of the cooler, moist weather and allow newly seeded areas to establish prior to fall leaf drop.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 9, Posted 10:12 AM, 09.03.2012

Heights Community Congress hosts 35th annual home and garden tour

On Sept. 23, some of the unique homes and gardens in Cleveland Heights will be open to the public for Heights Community Congress’s (HCC) 35th annual Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour.

According to Kasey Greer, HCC’s executive director, the tour “generates great publicity for Cleveland Heights and brings so many people here to look at the great hidden secrets of our community.” Greer added that the tour is a “great way for people to meet each other and engage with each other.”

In past years, tour participants have come from as far as Maine and Arizona. Nearly 1,500 tickets are sold every year. Tourists from outside the city “can't help but get a sense of what a great community Cleveland Heights is while taking the tour,” said Greer.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 9, Posted 10:43 PM, 09.10.2012

Fundraiser at Bremec on the Heights Garden Center to benefit HRRC

Never mind the April snow—if the early spring weather has you working on your outside to-do list, the Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) could benefit from your purchase of lawn and garden supplies.

For the fourth year in a row, Bremec on the Heights Garden Center will donate a portion of every purchase made between April 23 and May 6 to support HRRC—the Cleveland Heights nonprofit working to keep older homes in good repair.

Bremec on the Heights Garden Center is located at 13410 Cedar Road, just west of Taylor Road. From its selection of plants to garden decor and supplies, Bremec on the Heights is geared toward the needs of Heights gardeners and homeowners, and supplies organic alternatives for sustainable gardening, including organic fertilizer and pest control, rain barrels and compost bins.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 5, Posted 2:46 PM, 04.16.2012

Caring for wood in older homes

One of the many character-defining features of old homes is the richness and warmth of finished wood. After 100 years, the luster of the natural wood can become dulled or discolored due to layers of dirt, old wax buildup, and failure of the original varnish or glaze. 

Many owners may find the prospect of a careful cleaning and restoration of historic wood to be a daunting or impossible task, while others may mistakenly believe the only method of cleaning it is to strip it entirely and start over. The following tips from the Cleveland Restoration Society make it entirely possible to clean and restore the look of historic, finished wood.

The gentlest means of cleaning should always be undertaken first. In this case, whipping one tablespoon of gentle soap, such as Ivory liquid dish soap, in a gallon of warm water will provide ample suds. Dip an old washcloth or undershirt into the suds—not the water—and scrub the area vigorously. Towel dry to remove any excess water, and examine the area. If the finish on the wood remains cloudy, discolored, or dull, the likely culprit is built-up waxy substances or old layers of finish, and additional cleaning is necessary.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 12:09 PM, 04.04.2012

Home decorating on a budget

Spring is a great time to start tackling those home decorating projects on your to-do list, but getting started can be overwhelming. Often we just need some ideas and a little help to get us going. Here are some tips for giving your home a face-lift without breaking your budget.

Paint is the quickest and least expensive way to give a room a new look. If you’re having trouble choosing a color, tape several paint swatches up on the wall and glance at them at different times of day—and on different walls—to get an accurate idea of how the color will look. If you’re still having trouble deciding, buy a pint and paint a test wall. Painted stripes, using a wall color and one or two accent colors, are a great way to create the look of wallpaper without the cost and installation challenge.

The Heights has many inexpensive places to shop for home decorating items. Thrift stores and consignment shops are good options, and local antique stores carry some surprisingly affordable, unique items. Dollar stores sometimes have nice towels, linens, and shower curtains, and discount stores like Tuesday Morning, HomeGoods and Marshall’s have excellent closeout values. Marc’s stores have great houseware departments, though some locations have a bigger selection than others. City Buddha carries beautiful imported items. Craigslist, eBay, and Freecycle are also good sources for local furniture and decorating bargains.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 11:14 AM, 04.04.2012

Heights Heritage Home and Garden Tour planned for September

Heights Community Congress (HCC) announces its 35th Heights Heritage Home and Garden Tour. The tour brings attendees from all over Northeast Ohio and beyond, and will feature spectacular and unusual homes as well as gardens of every size and design. The theme for this year's tour is "Cleveland Heights Gems," named in honor of HCC's 40th anniversity and the 35th year of the tour.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 10:58 AM, 04.04.2012

New speaker series to explore making older homes more sustainable

The Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) is sponsoring a new monthly speaker series to help owners of older homes apply sustainability principles to home remodeling and maintenance projects.

"actical Sustainability: New Thinking for Older Homes" will kick off on Wednesday, April 11, at 7:00 p.m. at the Lee Road Library. Cleveland Heights resident and former HRRC board member Fred Cortright, whose experience includes building energy efficient homes for Habitat for Humanity, designed the free workshop series.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 11:19 AM, 03.20.2012

Local group promotes converting lawns to food production

The Food Not Lawns movement is both international and hyperlocal, dedicated to replacing lawns—or some portion of them—with edible gardens in the name of sufficiency and sustainability. Edible in this context broadly includes food for butterflies, birds and other wildlife as well as fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. The same plants often serve many functions, benefiting humans and other species alike. The nonnative grass varieties that make up most lawns feed no one, with the possible exception of the Japanese beetle larvae that thrive in their roots.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 2, Posted 4:55 PM, 01.16.2012

HRRC's repair workshops now open to all

Residents of all communities can now attend the Home Repair Resource Center’s (HRRC) home repair workshops. Previously, workshop participation had been limited to Cleveland Heights residents.

“Upcoming classes include HRRC’s popular electrical and plumbing series,” said Kathryn Lad, HRRC director. “Reservations are required, and I would encourage early registration—especially for these classes—as they can fill quickly.”

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 1, Posted 1:36 PM, 12.12.2011

Energy audit program saves money, benefits CH nonprofit

Individual homeowners and the Cleveland Heights nonprofit Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) will benefit from a new program developed by Dominion East Ohio.

Using Dominion’s Home Performance with Energy Star Program, homeowners who are Dominion residential gas customers can qualify for a “deep discount” on the cost of an energy audit, receiving a three- to four-hour energy assessment – normally a $500 value – for only $50.  In addition, if a caller mentions HRRC, the nonprofit will receive a donation of $35 from GoodCents, the company providing the audits. For HRRC to benefit, the call to schedule an audit must be made by Nov. 15 to Katie Schade at (800) 653-3445 ext. 1885.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 10, Posted 9:44 AM, 09.20.2011

Kids learn joy of gardening at Noble Road Presbyterian Church

Two summers ago, Audrey Miller of Noble Road Presbyterian Church and Tonya Butler, director of Discovery Preschool (located in the church) created a vegetable garden to involve the school-age kids attending the summer program at the preschool.

Miller recruited Karen Reinke, who does most of the gardening at the church, and Renke got Carolyn Sugiuchi and Joanne Westin to help. Later that summer, Westin called on Kathie Ellis, a fellow gardener and experienced elementary school teacher, for additional assistance. Supported by Discovery staff members, Rosemary Sanderfer, Annette Butts and Angela Outlaw, the first summer was fun and successful.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 9, Posted 1:41 PM, 08.23.2011

Heritage Home Program offers low-interest loans for home improvement

The Heritage Home Program is a joint initiative of the City of Cleveland Heights and the Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS), offering low-interest home repair and renovation loans for homeowners of properties built before 1961. Kelli Cone, a local realtor with Keller Williams, knows firsthand how beneficial the program can be.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 3, Posted 1:01 PM, 03.01.2011

Painting aluminum siding: good or bad idea?

Many Northeast Ohio homes that were built in the 60s, 70s and 80s were finished with aluminum siding. Homeowners were led to believe that the exteriors of their homes would be "maintenance free." If your home was built or re-sided during that time, you have undoubtedly realized that this is not the case. Because of exposure to the sun, most aluminum siding becomes "chalky" and faded after about 15 years. Once this happens, the original baked-on enamel coating washes off with heavy rain.

Read Full Story
Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 8:52 AM, 06.24.2010

Dig in to plant a tree

Spring and fall are great times of year to plant trees and other landscape plants. Before digging in, take time to select the right tree for the right location, to ensure your planting is successful.

Ten steps for planting a tree:

1. Transport with care: Transport your tree from the nursery by covering the canopy to avoid windburn. To avoid damaging fragile roots, keep the root ball moist if you’re not planting immediately.Do not bounce or drop the root ball.

2. Dig In: Dig your hole twice as wide as the root ball and just slightly shallower than the height of the root ball.  Scuff and roughen the sides of the planting hole. Compact the bottom of the hole so the tree won’t settle lower. 

Read Full Story
Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 2:30 PM, 04.24.2010

What does your lawn say about you?

Our yards and gardens are reflections of our personalities, lifestyles and beliefs. When I drive through different communities, both local and far away, I find it interesting to note how lawns are cared for and the role they play in people’s lives. Locally, I’ve either worked on or visited thousands of lawns over the last 20 years and I’ve seen the range from neglected pastures to manicured trophies.
Read Full Story
Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 12:57 PM, 03.24.2010

Wine 101 in the Heights

I am often asked how to educate oneelf about wine. My answer is to drink as much as you can as often as possible. Although this usually meets with a few chuckles, it is the truth. I get this question a lot, I thought I would outline a few strategies for those of us living in the Heights. 

First, pay attention. If you like a wine, jot down the name and as much information about the wine as you know. Chances are, you will like other wines that have something in common with this one, e.g. grape variety, origin, style. 

Read Full Story
Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 9:47 AM, 01.20.2010

Maximize value of yard and garden improvements

Now is a good time to look at your yard and garden and make plans for the upcoming season. Home or yard improvement projects often feel overwhelming, if you're unfamiliar with the work involved. Even avid do-it-yourselfers find occasion to call on the expertise of a professional contractor to help them through certain aspects of a challenging project.
Read Full Story
Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 4:06 PM, 01.25.2010

Simple steps to get organized in 2010

Overwhelmed by too much paper or too much stuff?  Don't know where to start to clean up your home or office?

January is National Get Organized Month, and Organizing 4 U has some simple tips on how to achieve your New Year's resolution of becoming more organized.

Read Full Story
Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 9:42 AM, 12.11.2009

Making room for wildlife in the "City of Beautiful Homes"

University Heights, the “City of Beautiful Homes,” could also be called the “City of Neatly Landscaped Lawns.” But one resident, bucking conventions, has turned her property into a certified wildlife habitat site, providing an oasis for the furry and winged residents of University Heights.

Liz (who requested that her full name be withheld to maintain her family’s privacy) and her husband are 12-year residents of Glendon Road. The heard about the National Wildlife Federation program on HGTV.  The program’s goal is to foster local wildlife. The species that find refuge in Liz’s back yard are not

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 11, Posted 2:01 PM, 11.04.2009

Heights-area lawns crave organics

Gardeners and farmers alike know that regularly adding organic matter builds healthy soil allowing plants to flourish. In the natural environment, plants die and decompose, returning nutrients and organic material to the soil. We interrupt this natural cycle in our urban landscapes because in most cases it’s necessary to clean our yards of landscape debris, piling leaves, sticks and grass clippings on the tree lawn for the city to haul away to a nearby compost facility.   

A few gardeners compost yard and kitchen waste, but rarely generate enough compost to impact more than a small garden area.  In most cases the bulk of our yard waste is composted at some facility and is returned only when we buy composted products and spread them in our landscapes. However, homeowners often do not return enough compost to replace the material that has been removed or that is necessary to sustain healthy soil.   

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 8, Posted 8:27 AM, 07.17.2009

Tips to keep your lawn healthy this summer

Will your lawn survive the summer heat? Here are some tips for growing and keeping it healthy.

Mowing tips

1) Mow the grass tall, at least 3 inches, even 3 ½. The taller the better. Longer leaf blades collect more sunlight for increased photosynthesis, which is how the plant creates food for itself. More food means more energy and stronger grass plants and healthier roots. Tall grass shades the soil, keeping it cooler, and minimizes sunlight that weed seeds need to germinate.

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 7, Posted 6:48 PM, 05.26.2009

Bug of the month: fleas

I receive many calls from people telling me they had a simple pest problem, called an exterminator, and the next thing they knew, they and their family and pets were ill from pesticide exposure. Sometimes they develop temporary flu like symptoms. Others are not so fortunate, experiencing more serious problems.
Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 7, Posted 4:17 PM, 02.06.2009

University Heights Garden Club seeks members

Full time jobs, families, hobbies and beautiful gardens. How do some people do it?

Gina Keeler of Saybrook Road, University Heights, makes it look easy. When Gina invited me to her backyard at the Saybrook Block Party, I expected to see a typical garden with pretty flowers. What I saw was a small space charmed, cajoled, sprinkled with magic dust and turned into a mini version of an estate garden. Part illusion, part choice of plants, but mostly imaginative love of flowers and gardens.

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 7, Posted 10:26 AM, 07.26.2009

Heights Garden Center has a new name!

Heights Garden Center has been a popular destination since 1995 when Cleveland Heights resident Ken Hadden worked with the city and transformed an old parking lot into a garden center. With roots that have grown deeply in our community, Heights Garden Center will thrive under the careful hand of its new owner, Bob Bremec.

Hadden said Bremec, owner of Bremec’s Greenhouses and Nursery in Chesterland for 22 years, had been asking him to sell Heights Garden Center for some time, and this year he felt that the time had come to do so.

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 1:05 PM, 04.24.2009

Murderous mulch

As a longtime landscaping professional, I am often asked "What's the best way to kill my plants?" Well, there are a lot of answers to that, but few techniques offer more paths to certain plant death than extreme mulching. Just follow these mulching tips. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t kill them right away. Your stunted and unhealthy plants may just be exerting their will to survive - but eventually they will succumb.

1) Be cheap and undiscriminating. Anything labeled “mulch” should do the trick, no matter where it comes from. Look for the least expensive mulches. Raw mulch, which has not been aged or begun to decompose is best. Raw mulch readily draws nitrogen from the soil and will do a swell job of "burning" tender plants. Fully composted and aged hard wood bark mulches, leaf humus or other organic compost materials like SweetPeet, however, will actually benefit the plants, so be careful!

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 5:45 PM, 04.22.2009

Bug of the Month: Ants

A great flood of insecticides has been unnecessarily directed at ants, which are fairly easy to discourage without using toxic pesticides.

Ants find food by licking things. To make your house, especially your kitchen, less hospitable, clean ferociously, store food in sealed containers, don't leave dirty dishes or garbage around and rinse sticky containers. Wipe counters with vinegar.

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 4:15 PM, 02.06.2009

Clothesline makes a comeback

With good humor, neighbors endured my backyard clothesline for over 20 years. I’d hook it up on laundry day and take it down when the clothes came in. A few years ago, a neighbor in a two-family house finally succumbed. She converted the line for the dog’s lead, next to her kitchen door, into a clothesline - a few items at first. As time went by, it was used more often. Now the dog is hooked to a lead by the garage, liberating the line for 100 percent laundry use.
Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 9:59 AM, 04.22.2009

Top five activities for a healthy lawn

Ah, yes, springtime – lush lawns and gorgeous gardens. Your spring cleanup is a vital first step to good lawn health. Removing all of the leaves, sticks, nuts and other debris out of the lawn will help the grass to breathe. Once you’ve raked over the yard, take the next steps to build a healthy lawn. It's the best defense against pest-related problems and it will reduce the need for pesticides.

Top five healthy lawn-building activities this spring:

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 8:47 AM, 03.27.2009

How to keep your basement dry

Spring can be one of the most damaging seasons in Northeast Ohio. Mother Nature’s melting snow and heavy rains occasionally overpower existing storm sewers, causing messy backups that are impossible for even the most committed DIY enthusiast to repair. Properties in Heights neighborhoods are especially vulnerable to water problems due to the age of homes and their sewer pipes, as well as the large trees with established roots that can break into the sewer system. Sergio DiFranco, president of Adelio’s Contracting (a local family business started by his father Adelio in 1976) offers answers to some common questions about home foundations.
Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 9:28 PM, 03.23.2009

Low interest loan program helps residents restore old homes

Elaine Price bought a 1920s Cleveland Heights double in 1993 which provided her with a home, a spare rental unit, and a lengthy "to-do" list. So last fall, she took advantage of the Cleveland Restoration Society’s Heritage Home Program and tackled several maintenance and repair issues commonplace in older homes. While she called in contractors for more specialized jobs, Elaine and her partner George also undertook many of the projects themselves.
Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 11:26 AM, 03.16.2009

Great wine values from Spain available in the Heights!

2007 Torres Sangre de Toro White Wine

From Catalunya along the Mediterranean in the extreme northeast corner of Spain, comes this refreshing white wine made from the Parellada grape.  I purchased it for $9.99 at Zagara’s on Lee Road.  The name means “son of the Bull,” a reference to the Roman God of Wine, Bacchus, and the bottle has a tiny white plastic bull attached to it.  I am not sure I get that, but the wine has lovely aromas of cantaloupe, lemons and even some crushed sea shells.  Drinking it provides a crisp bite of refreshing lemons and minerals.  This would be great as an aperitif or with seafood or rice dishes.  I think you will find it an excellent value for a wine of this pedigree. 

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 10:12 PM, 04.08.2009

Events celebrate preservation

May is Historic Preservation Month and three free events will celebrate and recognize Cleveland Heights as a special place:

Saturday, May 9, 10 a.m. to noon

“Lecture & Walking Tour of Grant W. Deming’s Forest Hill Allotment”

Led by Dr. Mark Souther, Associate Professor of History at Cleveland State University.

Meet at Superior School House, 14391 Superior Road at Euclid Heights Boulevard.

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 11:47 AM, 03.30.2009

Save time and money: Hire a reputable contractor

Spring time means home improvements and yard projects, which may mean hiring a contractor to help.  Hiring a contractor can cause fear, anxiety and increase stress.  Who can you trust to do a good job, stand behind their work and do it at a fair price?

The process of hiring a contractor for a project varies on the type and scope of work, as well as the budget.  With a deepening recession, homeowners will likely see more offers from unfamiliar individuals and companies.  Many unemployed or laid off workers have started entrepreneurial ventures with the hopes of making ends meet.  Don’t rule out these newer contractors who may be qualified for your job, but consider the risks.  Taking the time to select a reputable and professional contractor may save you time, money, emotional energy, and will dramatically increase your odds for a positive outcome. 

Three key points to consider when hiring a contractor:

 

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 3, Posted 5:04 PM, 02.18.2009

Bug of the month: Moths

My good friend Raoul found himself in an elevator stuck between two people wearing wool sweaters. He almost passed out. Why? Because the two people used an outdated and dangerous method to repel moths: they stored the sweaters in mothballs. 

You may not know that mothballs contain incredibly toxic carcinogens, such as paradichlorobenzene and naphthalene, that can damage the kidneys, liver, eyes, and nervous system. Children and adults have been poisoned just by wearing clothes treated with mothballs, and children have ingested mothballs, mistaking them for candy.

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 3, Posted 4:14 PM, 02.06.2009

Will spring bring recessionary house work? Seitz-Agin doesn't even know

On a gray, cold day at Seitz-Agin Hardware Store, it’s still too early to tell how business will be for the spring home-improvement season. It’s not the weather that’s the cause of the uncertainty; it's the economy.

“We’re still in unchartered waters,” says Bill Sheck, manager of Seitz-Agin on Lee Road.

Seitz-Agin (www.seitz-agin.com) has been through many recessions and, according to Sheck, homeowners often use an economic downturn as an opportunity to work on their homes. “Hopefully, since people are likely stuck in their homes for the next three to four years, they’ll fix up their houses themselves,” he says. “We’re here to offer advice.”

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 3, Posted 2:20 PM, 02.16.2009

Improve plant health with dormant pruning

Burrrr.... who would venture into the cold and snowy weather this time of year to work in the yard? The brave souls that don their long johns, scarves and parkas to do some dormant pruning will be rewarded with healthier landscape plants and less work in the long run. Many people fear damaging plants and avoid pruning all together, but with a little knowledge and practice, anyone can achieve positive results.

Pruning is the removal of plant parts to improve plant health. You should remove dead, diseased or damaged plant material at any time. And, there is no time like the present.

Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 2, Posted 6:59 PM, 12.23.2008

"Green" wines?

It is getting easier to find affordable green wines, and these are nice:
Read Full Story
Volume 2, Issue 1, Posted 11:57 AM, 12.17.2008

Whole Foods offers free events throughout holiday season

Whole Foods Market, proud winner of the 2008 Best of the Heights Award for “Favorite University Heights Business,” has announced a calendar of community events for December at its Cedar Center location. All of the events are free.
Read Full Story
Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 4:45 PM, 11.18.2008