Practical Ways to Bring Enjoyment to a Small Backyard

Outdoor spaces can increase our enjoyment of our homes. When the weather is nice, it’s like having an extra room or wing of the house. Make the most of yours, no matter its small size. Even a small backyard can be great for gardening, entertaining, and play. The trick is to use every inch of your property and find ways for spaces to do double duty. Choose furniture that is multifunctional and small in scale. Keep your gardening flexible by growing flowers, veggies, and trees in containers. And remember that no backyard is too small to play in. Portable pieces, such as fold-up tents, let you bring the fun wherever you want it, whenever you want it.

Step Up and Out

Create levels in a small yard to define spaces, making these areas seem like multiple outdoor rooms. Mix materials like decking using shipping pallets, stonework, and even grass to give each space its own special feel.

Garden in Containers

Even if you don’t have much soil to dig in, you can get your gardening on in containers. Plant veggies, flowers, and even trees. Mix shapes and colors, or work within a visual theme. One great advantage of container gardening is its flexibility. You can easily move plants around your yard, create different spaces, and completely change your mind from season to season if you like.

Use Natural Elements for Privacy

If your lot is small, try not to hem it in with privacy fencing. It will just feel smaller. Use your property lines as an opportunity to grow more plants with a living fence of hedges or trees. This strategy will allow your yard to merge visually with your neighbor’s property, and you’ll have something lush to look at while you relax.

Create a Focal Point

Make a statement in a small backyard by creating a strong focal point with a fountain or sculpture. The piece will anchor your design and give the eye a place to gravitate in a space that could otherwise feel cluttered.

Minimize Furniture

Keep furniture small scale and unobtrusive, and your small backyard will feel a lot bigger. Benches without backs and slim-profile metal chairs make excellent choices. These seats almost blend into the landscape when there’s no one around to occupy them.

Use Every Inch, Even the Side Yard

If your backyard wraps around to a side yard, don’t let that small piece of real estate go to waste. Instead of parking the recycling cans there, find a way to make it a private dining spot, place of contemplation, or nursery for special plants. It may become your favorite garden nook.

Comments Off

Be Careful with Harmful Chemicals Lurking in Your Home

In early 2013 the World Health Organization and the UN Environment Programme applied a term to a class of chemicals eventually termed as “endocrine disruptors.” A growing body of research is linking these potent chemicals, which interfere with the endocrine system that regulates your hormones, to global rates of chronic disease and infertility.

Now the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Keep a Breast Foundation are sounding alarm bells about the health threat of these chemicals. Of the roughly 80,000 chemicals used in everyday goods, 1,300 are considered endocrine disruptors, also called hormone disruptors.

Atrazine

Most of the research on atrazine’s hormone-mimicking effects has been conducted in fish and frogs. Like a freaky science-fiction plot, the chemical causes male fish and frogs to turn into females. Research into humans, however, has shown that the pesticide increases the activity of genes that cause infertility. Atrazine is the second most widely used herbicide in the United States, behind glyphosate, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and 86 percent of it is applied to corn.

Flame Retardants

These toxic, ubiquitous chemicals are most known for their impact on the thyroid and on female infertility. Because thyroid hormones also have an impact on your brain, one class of flame retardants, known as PBDEs, is thought to affect the IQ levels in children, which is why many chemicals in this class have been banned or are being gradually phased out. However, the replacements being used are just as toxic and exhibit the same biological activity as organophosphate pesticides. Furniture, carpet padding, and even baby nursing pillows contain them. Assume that anything in your home, office, and car that contains polyurethane foam also contains flame retardants. Other major exposure sources include electronics like TVs, computers, cellphones, and video game consoles. Dust and vacuum frequently; it’s nearly impossible to avoid flame retardants, given their widespread use, so cleaning is your best defense. Flame retardants bind to dust.

Lead

Despite the long list of health problems already associated with lead, researchers are uncovering still more, including the fact that lead interferes with the hormones that regulate your stress levels. Lead-based paint remains the general public’s largest source of exposure to this toxic metal. But it also winds up in drinking water from old pipes and even new brass or chrome faucet filters. Get a lead-removing water filter and eat a healthy diet. Research has shown that people who eat a healthy diet absorb less lead. But if you are renovating an older home, it’s imperative that you call a lead-remediation professional.

Comments Off

Proper Do’s and Don’ts of Table Decorations

No matter the occasion be it a simple dinner, a wedding a function or a birthday, a great way to add to the festivities is to decorate the table. In fact you may have found yourselves at weddings or parties where guests were assigned to a table with a specific theme or set of decorations. This can be a great idea and if you’re thinking of using it at your next get together.

Do Make Sure to Set the Table According to Your Theme

The key to a beautiful set of table decorations is a good plan, this way you can make sure you have a budget, have a set theme and a list of items that can be used. First of all you should decide on a theme as this will make sure that everything matches up and you don’t end up with a mess as your centrepiece. Having a set list for each table will ensure that the decorating is unique to each table or perfectly repeated throughout the room with no parts missing.

Don’t Overdress the Table

Remember when decorating that less can be more, simplistic designs and singular centrepieces are more likely to be aesthetically pleasing, especially as it’s the ceremony or other guests you want everyone to be focused on. It’s also good to remember that most of the tables are going to be in use so you don’t want to overdress them and cause a dilemma for your guests when they don’t have enough room for drinking glasses, and side plates.

Do Try Your Hand at Arrangements

If you find yourself working on a budget then you may find it interesting to search around online for inspiration and then buy or hire with the pieces to recreate the look. You’re sure to find something to match your style and price range. You may even find yourself having a lot of fun trying out different styles to see which will match your party.

Don’t Go Over Budget

With so many different styles and items that you can use in your decorating it can be easy to spend a lot of money on your decorating. Just remember to form a budget, write down a list and shop around so that you get the best deals available. Just because your budget is limited doesn’t mean that your decorations will be lacking; you may be surprised at how low a price your beautiful table decorations can be made, bought, or hired for.

Comments Off