The Lure Of A Courtyard

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Courtyards have been used in residences and businesses worldwide throughout history. Along with their inviting appeal, they can also be energy efficient spaces. One study examined how the use of courtyards in the Mediterranean area also serves a functional purpose as passive energy systems. The walls, placement and size of courtyards can lend to considerably cooler temperatures in warmer weather. Courtyards are popular in many regions where the weather is accommodating to outdoor living. From Klopf Architecture, this Eichler style remodel incorporated existing gables and a centrally located garden turning the home into an open and inviting place. The new enclosed courtyard… read more

The Quest for a Chemical Free Garden

The Quest for a Chemical Free Garden

A few summers back, I tried to have a completely organic garden…and failed. Miserably. My garden was free of all pesticides and chemicals, and the only protection was fencing to keep the wildlife out. Good cultivated earth, nutrient-rich topsoil, seeds, sun and water only. It’s amazing how these simple ingredients can invite a whole slew of little things, overnight even, that will take over your entire carefully tendered space. My organic experience ended up looking like, well, a science fiction experiment. Several strange creatures swarmed my garden, and at times my entire yard. The party had started, and it lasted… read more

The Beauty Of Impermanence

The Beauty Of Impermanence

Is it possible to make the beach even more beautiful? For artist Andres Amador, it is. Amador is a sand artist who creates surreal beach murals, also known as playa paintings, which he refers to as earthscape art. Taking advantage of the low tide, Amador rakes the sand into patterns and generates geometrical forms as he engraves intricate designs into the beach shore. He also uses a rope to help make the patterns. The raking reveals the wet sand underneath and creates a notable varied toned presentation in the appearance of the sand. The patterns take over the beachfront and observers… read more

DIY Patio Umbrella Ideas And Repairs

DIY Patio Umbrella And Repairs From Salvaged Parts

Adding shade to a patio makes it an instant outdoor gathering spot on sunny days. However, patio umbrellas can be pricey. Also, some are not made for durability and can’t make it through a windstorm, leaving a lopsided umbrella with ripped fabric and a less than perfect appearance. Making your own patio umbrella can be done by using salvaged pieces from a regular umbrella, or by reusing supplies and constructing your own. If you have an old umbrella that has seen better days but the frame is still together, it may be able to be repurposed into a bigger patio sized umbrella… read more

Quick and Easy Composting

Bokashi composting

Bokashi, which means “fermented organic matter” in Japanese, is an intensive composting method that uses microbes such as yeast, bacteria, and lactic acid to break organic matter down quickly, creating compost in as little as two weeks. The active Bokashi agent is a pleasant-smelling bran-based material fermented with an effective micro-organism (EM) liquid concentrate and subsequently dried. Bokashi composting requires only a bucket and the Bokashi material.   The method enables composting not only materials that can go into regular compost systems such as  fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg, shells, and plant clippings, but also breads and other… read more

2 Concept Designs For Outdoor Organization

2 Concept Designs For Outdoor Organization

Patio furniture and landscaping can tend to get a lot of attention in outdoor decorating, especially when the weather turns nice. However, outdoor storage, though necessary, is often an overlooked area in outside design projects. The following systems are ideas that work functionality and organization into efficient, space-saving presentations. The Watercabinet designed by Francien Hazen is a sustainable home water collection kit and supply closet in one. The combination unit is meant to contain everything needed for home gardening and outdoor plants, all in one organized space. The cabinet has water collection and disbursement capabilities, and even has a side greenhouse. Used outdoors to… read more

Gardens Inside, Up and Down

Gardens Inside, Up and Down

Gardens can be cultivated in many forms, and indoor vertical gardens are an increasingly popular way to work in a fresh, green space nearly anywhere. Some restaurants and commercial businesses use large indoor garden designs to add ambiance and to improve indoor air quality, but they are also great for home interiors, adding aesthetic and air cleaning properties. A study which examined the effects of indoor plants over time at the workplace found that indoor gardens helped promote cleaner oxygen in indoor spaces and can reduce volatile organic compounds that can be found inside from paint or construction materials. Besides being visually enticing, they… read more

Edible Flower Recipes That Celebrate Sunny Days

Edible Flower Recipes That Celebrate Sunny Days

Flowers have been used in culinary applications for centuries. They can be put in nearly any food or beverage, used as garnishes and can be candied or added to sugar for a delicate, naturally sweet touch. Flowers that are truly edible must not be treated with any preservatives or pesticides, and be certain they are actually consumable and not poisonous. Edible flowers can normally be found at specialty stores, bakeries or gourmet food shops. Typically the flowers found from florists are not of a consumable nature. You can also try growing your own culinary flower garden. Cut flowers will last… read more

What If You Can’t Afford To Buy Organic?

What If You Can’t Afford To Buy Organic?

Organic produce and food items may be preferred by many, but they are also unaffordable by many, too. Often times, selecting organic means that you will pay more at the checkout. Much more. When you are buying for a household on a budget, sometimes choosing organic isn’t a choice at all. So, what are the options if organic items are out of range? It is still possible to make the most of healthy and conscious food selections while staying on a budget. To start, incorporating tips that stretch a dollar will allow grocery money to go further, which will let… read more

Beautiful Sustenance

Beautiful Sustenance

Seeds are one of nature’s many miracles that may often go unnoticed, though their importance is paramount in sustaining human life. One look into some of the issues surrounding the seed industry is called Open Sesame The Story of Seeds. This film discusses a growing seed movement, but also brings focus to the significance of food supply preservation. To start your own seed supply or to enhance a home garden, check out seed conservation tips from Native Seeds, a nonprofit organization. From pollination to storage, their instructional page will provide an idea of some of the basics of caring for seeds. Try… read more