Plants bring life to all living spaces. If you don’t have a green thumb you may have had bad luck with a plant or two. Here are some healthy, hard-to-kill, houseplants that thrive in spite of you:

Sempervivum: This succulent known as Hen & Chicks loves a sunny window, but requires little attention. They need to be watered regularly during the spring and summer, but only once a month the rest of the year.

Dracaena marginata: Commonly known as Dragon Tree, requires watering before the soil dries out completely,however, avoid the pot sitting in excess water. Ideally, this plant thrives in relatively bright light.

Sansevieria: This plant, also known as Mother-in-Law’s tongue is an indestructible houseplant. It enjoys bright light and prefers the soil to dry out before watering.

Ficus: The tree variety is also known as Rubber Plant, and the trailing variety is commonly called Creeping Fig. These plants like humidity and bright light. Water and mist regularly throughout the summer, reduce water during the winter. Ficus appreciate being move outside during the summer, be sure to avoid direct sunlight.

Chamaedorea: Known as Parlor Palm, has been used as an indoor plant successfully for years because of it tolerance of lower light levels and drier air. This palm prefers bright, filtered sunlight, with a northern exposure. Even moisture is ideal, however err on the side of slightly too dry rather than over watering.

Always check with your pediatrician and veterinarian before introducing a new plant into your home as many can be toxic.


Clutter can be categorized as a nuisance, an annoyance and simply the bane of many’s existence. It accumulates so quickly and it seems like it comes out of nowhere. Between you and your family or roommates, there are often multiple people contributing to the clutter. And it can make your rooms feel cramped and look messy. Here are a few tips for cleaning up that clutter and keeping it at bay.

Clean: Take note of the areas that attract the most clutter and determine why that type of clutter builds up in that area. Taking control of where and why clutter is piling up will only help you in the future. Once you have a handle of the type of clutter and where it’s coming from, sort through it. Throw out or recycle what can be tossed and put away anything that has a storage location. Dust and vacuum the de-cluttered area after de-cluttering.

Storage: Having the appropriate storage is essential for clearing up clutter and keeping it from piling back up. Often times clutter accumulates because there is nowhere to put things. Whether it’s hooks and shoe storage for entryways and mudrooms or drawers or bookcases for bedrooms or workspaces, storage is essential.

Process: Whether it’s clutter in your mudroom or entryway, on your dining room table, the chair in your bedroom, or on top of your desk, there must be a process for putting things away and therefore eliminating any chance of clutter. If considering an entryway with optimal storage make sure children hang up their backpacks and coats when they enter the home and store their shoes in the appropriate place. If children usually do their homework on the dining room table then make sure they understand it needs to be picked up each night. Having a small storage container nearby will make this even easier. Eliminating clutter altogether is a feat many cannot conquest, but adding a process will be sure to help.

Cleaning and eliminating clutter is the easy part, but keeping that clutter away is a much larger task to undertake. It will take time to remember to put things away or throw out unnecessary things and keep processes in place. However, you will be much happier in a clutter free, clean home. Think of all the extra space you will have to eat, sit and walk! Having a process in place for children, and anyone else for that matter, is essential for having a clutter free home.

Does water pool and puddle in your garden and is the soil is slow to drain? Soil drainage is one of a gardener’s biggest challenges.

Soil Drainage

A term used in both home gardening and landscape as well as in commercial agriculture and farming, soil drainage refers to the soil’s ability to process either water from irrigation or rainfall. Ideally, soil should absorb normal amounts of rainfall rather quickly with no standing water remaining nor leaving an excessive amount of water to run off.

If your soil meets this general description, it could be said to have good drainage. Compacted soil that exhibits problems absorbing and ingesting normal rainfall is said to have poor drainage.

Improving Soil Drainage

The reasons for poor soil drainage are varied and many. Poor drainage can be an indication of organic matter in the soil such as humus, which absorbs a large amount of water. One of the best things to do to improve your soil is to add well-aged manure on a regular basis until the organic matter content has been significantly enhanced.

Have you noticed areas in your garden that never produce significant growth? It may be an indication of poor drainage. When drainage is inadequate, rain water runs off and soil become powder dry during periods of drought. In areas like this, plants cannot survive unless provided with supplemental moisture.

Causes Of Poor Soil Drainage

In cases of poor drainage, an investigation will typically reveal a layer or layers of rock or shale a foot of more below the soil surface. Obviously, in this case, the water absorbing ability of the topsoil is limited, and plant root growth is confined to these few inches of soil. If it isn’t possible to break up the rock and remove the impediment, the only solution is to move the location of the garden.

One of the primary reasons for poor soil drainage is caused by a build-up of hardpan created by excessive applications of chemical fertilizer over an extended period. Water-soluble salts are taken into the soil by rainwater and leached into other elements such as iron, forming a compacted, impermeable layer that separates topsoil from the subsoil.

This type of layer under the topsoil is a major cause of frost heaving during the winter or of plant death in the summer when plants fail to thrive, drowning with their roots in standing water. Soil layering is another reason to avoid the application of chemical fertilizers. You will not have this problem if you establish the garden is a fresh location of the landscape that has not been treated with chemical fertilizers, and you use only organic gardening methods.

If you are stuck having to work with garden soil with hardpan layering, the only solution is to try to bust it up mechanically and incorporate age-manure into the soil to provide missing nutrients and texture.

Planting rotating cover crops of plants with deep tap roots can help to break up a hardpan layer. Known as pioneering herbaceous plants, horseradish, fennel, alfalfa, root parsley, false indigo, and Angelica produces taproots that create channels in the soil that allows moisture to penetrate.

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There is truth in the  popular saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.  A picture reveals details in a way that words cannot describe. In the real estate business, we rely on photography to showcase the best features of the homes we are seeking to sell. Without quality pictures, it will be difficult for potential clients to imagine the home as words alone would be insufficient. In a recent survey, 80% of buyers searched for homes on the internet with approximately 25% purchasing the property they found. This confirms the important role pictures play  in attracting a buyer.  Here are a few tips on taking and selecting the best pictures to advertise your home.

The best time to take pictures of the exterior of the home is in the afternoon when the sky is clear blue and the sun is shining. For interior shots, turn on the lights or use a camera with a flash. This adds the correct color balance, making the room look brighter.

Take as many shots as possible of each side of the exterior of your house as prospective buyers want to see more than just the front view. Your interior photos should include each room of the house, even the bathrooms, laundry room, and basement.  Be sure to highlight added features such as a swimming pool, patio, fire place, or gym .  Taking several pictures of each room, at different angles, will help ensure you capture the shot that best compliments each area of your home.

Getting a clear, quality  shot is very important. Stage each room in a way that compliments its size, and character.  Remove extra furniture, and clutter that might obscure the beauty of the area.  Always pay close attention to the details, critique each picture from the view point of the potential buyer.

After the photo shoot, select the best pictures and crop as needed.  Your professional real estate agent will then take the time to review the pictures with you and advise on which ones to display on the listing sheet.  Your agent will know which shots best compliment your home and will help it sell.  Always keep in mind it is the pictures of your home that will attract a buyer and inspire them to seek more details.

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