Category: Features

The zen of cordwood fencing

A durable, decorative fence adds the final touch to a yard or garden. But finding a way to do so without adding substantial cost, labor, or upkeep can be a challenges. A practical solution which won’t break the bank, or your back might be as close as the nearest stack of firewood or fallen timber. Known by a variety of terms including “stacked wood,” “log end” and “cordwood,” the idea is to create a viable fence from cut natural wood or logs. Richard Flatau, an elementary school teacher with no formal construction background, decided to build a home from cordwood 37 years ago in Northern Wisconsin. Using the simplest of materials, debarked logwood and mortar, Flatau’s mortgage free dream was realized after several years of planning, building, and refining. What he learned along the way eventually became a business, Cordwood Construction Resources LLC,; Flatau has since written books, conducted workshops, and organized conferences to further grow the niche building concept. His home community of Merrill, Wis., boasts several examples: Cordwood Education Center Classroom at Merrill School Forrest, White Earth Cordwood Home, and Kinstone Cordwood Chapel. With special appeal to those on tighter budgets, young couples starting out and downsizing retirees, what Flatau affectionately refers to as “the poor man’s architecture” also draws the interest of folks seeking greener lifestyles, starting with their own habitat footprint. In 2015 he noted...

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Buried treasures: Summer blooming bulbs

We’re used to the idea that flower bulbs get planted in the fall, and all winter we get to anticipate the awesome spring color they’ll bring to the garden. Once the hyacinth, daffodil, and tulip make their long-awaited debut, it seems all too soon that they depart. But this doesn’t mean that flowering bulb season is over for the year. Fortunately, the warmed soil signals that the time is right for planting more bulbs; this time, without months of waiting to enjoy the results. Gladiolas, dahlias, begonias and several types of lily are a few of the more familiar summer blooming tubers, rhizomes and corms. While many garden reference advisors recommend planting lilies in the fall or early spring, Ginny Rosenkranz, University of Maryland Extension’s gardening guru for Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties, was preparing to plant hers in mid-April. “The Asiatic are the early ones, no fragrance, but lovely colors and more compact,” Rosenkranz says. “The Oriental lilies are very tall, very fragrant! Both can be planted anytime in the spring and will thrive without needing to be dug up for winter. “Summer bulbs that do need to be dug for winter protection include gladiolus — so many lovely colors and bicolors! Caladiums for the colorful shade plants, also Elephant ear and Taro plants.” Gladioli were favorites in gardens past. In fact, the word Gladiolus helped the...

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Thrill, Fill, and Spill: Create a front door masterpiece

The first thing that catches the eye and the last thing seen when leaving is the front door, the centerpiece of the house. There are many things that can be done to boost the curb appeal of the house, upgrading the front door is one of those things. The front door design, condition, and color are extremely important for curb appeal. Make it the gateway to the home. While the design may be set with architecture, changing the door’s design and color can make a big difference. The first step in front entryway design is security. The condition of the door is second. Is it banged up, discolored, faded or should just be replaced? Color can make a dramatic change. Select an inviting and stylish color that will both blend and accentuate the entrance. Color can help accent tones in the exterior or provide the finishing flourish to a design palette. The impact might be subtle or direct, formal or playful. Color influences emotion. A brighter hue offers energy, while a more subdued one plays up a traditional feel. A darker hue is more somber; a lighter one tends to be playful. Using a neutral hue such as brown, black, or gray will provide longevity and adaptability. Even deep reds and navy blues are classic front door colors that act as neutrals. If style or exterior changes, neutral hues will...

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They’re out there, go pick them!

When local strawberries are ripe, it’s a good thing. Besides having the freshest sweet fruit at your fingertips, it also means summer is just around the corner. After a soggy spring in 2018 led to a short picking season on the Mid-Shore, theres’ much anticipation for the start of this year’s local strawberry season. Pegged at the first or second week of May for most farms in the area, many area farms open their fields to customers to pick their own. For many, strawberry picking conjures memories of their childhoods, while others hit the berry patch to form new...

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Don’t ignore that side exterior wall

The front of the house is arranged to maximize all the qualities of the home. An attractive path sided with mulched beds and flowers. Small trees and shrubbery frame the entranceway. Move to one side of the house — the side you see the least, perhaps only when you’re zooming around it on the lawnmower and all that’s there is air conditioning unit complementing an ocean of siding, brick or wood. Oops! After making the front of the house “perfect” the sides seem to be left to their own devices. This can be changed rather easily. These ideas cover any type of blank walls-sides of houses, garages, back of houses and sheds. The side area may be long and narrow, wide open or fenced and gated. Whatever the situation, there is a solution. Many homes have a visible side yard. Don’t let an air conditioning unit get in the way. Here are some quick notes on ways to prevent any issues with foundations. Make sure water flows away from the foundation. Dampness encourages termites-unwanted little pests. Look at the wall as a blank canvas. Adding a few elements will change the entire look of the house and yard. • Consider a walkway of paving stones or slate. Surround the stones with mulch or pea gravel to add dimension. Just don’t place the stones close to the wall, leave space...

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