Home & Garden

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!

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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.

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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.
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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:

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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.
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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.
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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. 

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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.

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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:


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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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:
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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.
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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 4:45 PM, 11.18.2008

Prepare your yard for winter

Soon, a wintery blanket of snow and ice will cover our yards. Now is the time to run through the check-list of fall yard maintenance items before it's too late.
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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 6:01 PM, 10.25.2008

What happened to my lawn this summer?

This is the time of year that the true health of a lawn is exposed. If your lawn is a little sadder than you want it to be, fear not!  Fall is the ideal time to rejuvenate it. Heights’ yards are often saddled with shade from mature trees. However, turf grass needs at least four hours of sunlight to be healthy.  Shade also impacts available moisture, generally contributing to increased drought conditions.  In the long run, proper cultural practices will have the biggest impact on the health of your lawn. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind: 

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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 9:59 AM, 08.26.2008

Foreclosures in the Heights - League of Women Voters Heights Chapter presents the issue at June 12 meeting

Neighborhood blight, home values, lost tax revenues and city services, copper theft - the housing crisis and resulting rampant foreclosure rates affect everyone. The city of Cleveland has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. The crisis has been moving into Cleveland suburbs, affecting Cleveland Heights for a number of years and now moving into University Heights and beyond.
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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 9:53 PM, 04.28.2008

Spend less time growing a healthy, sustainable lawn

Can you be an environmentally responsible gardener even when yard work is only one of the many tasks to fit into your already busy schedule? Yes, you can. Here are some simple tips for a safer, more environmentally sound lawn.

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 1:35 PM, 04.11.2008