Home & Garden

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

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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.   

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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!

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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