Home & Garden

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.
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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. 

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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.
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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.

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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

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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