Home Improvement

06/24/2017 05:22 PM
"SELF SUSTAINING GARDENING Sustainability isn’t a commodity as much as it is a lifestyle. It has..."


Sustainability isn’t a commodity as much as it is a lifestyle. It has immediate as well as long-term rewards.

Sustainability is a movement that embraces all facets of human endeavor. “Sustainable” means to perpetuate existence as well as to provide sustenance and nourishment. Today, the word is attached to everything from forestry to ceiling tile.

Sustainability is most often associated with the environment and specifically to our landscapes and gardens. What is a sustainable garden? It is an organic garden taken a step further. Following organic gardening practices will sustain soils and plants while it nourishes and sustains your family, both physically and aesthetically. Organic gardening also points us towards other gardening practices that pursue the goal of sustainability by conserving resources.

Sustainability isn’t a commodity as much as it is a lifestyle. It has immediate as well as long-term rewards. Generally, sustainability is forward-thinking, looking ahead to secure a future for you and yours, getting things to last, making things better than you’ve found them. When one chooses to preserve and protect resources, to make as little negative impact on the earth as possible, to nurture the planet as well as those around us, one has chosen the path of sustainability.

Defining sustainability in general terms is hard enough. The 1987 United Nations Brundtland Report on sustainable development defined the movement as, “… design, construction, operations and maintenance practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainable gardening is one of the most important and effective sustainability practices that we can follow. Its practice and benefits include respecting, and improving the soils, using native plants, shrubs and trees to create beautiful landscapes, feeding one’s family fresh, organically-grown fruits, berries and vegetables and utilizing every renewable resource that nature provides, from rain water to gravel.

Look to the American Sustainable Sites Initiative, a collaborative effort of the U.S. Botanic Garden, American Society of Landscape Architects and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, to define sustainability in terms of gardening. The organization says sustainability seeks to… “protect, restore and enhance the ability of landscapes to provide ecosystem services that benefit humans and other organisms.” Substitute the word “gardening” for “landscape” — they mean much the same thing — and you have the perfect understanding of what it means to be a sustainable gardener.

Practicing sustainability is a reach for perfection, an act of protecting the environment through actions that benefit it or do it least harm. The closer we come to a goal of complete gardening sustainability, the more reward to our gardens, our families and the planet as a whole. Sustainability not only embraces organic gardening methods but conservation of resources as well. Sustainability often mimics natural process, utilizing what nature gives us with as little supplement as we can manage. When supplementing natural process is called for, it’s done with as little impact as possible; substituting beneficial insects for pesticides or drip irrigation for sprinkler watering. In short, sustainable gardening is a low maintenance, eco-friendly method of growing, harvesting and using a resource — in this case our very earth — so that the resource is minimally depleted, easily restored and not permanently damaged.

Here is a list of broad sustainable gardening principles and practices that will, together or individually, move us closer to the goal of gardening sustainability. Note that the practices are interrelated, that one influences the other; that any two practices result in benefits to a third or more. Not only will the practices here reward future generations, they’ll make our gardens healthier and produce bigger yields right now.


Composting has the most impact of any sustainable gardening practice. Composting recycles and enriches. It benefits the health of your soil and benefits your family at the same time. Composting yard and garden wastes means less material going to the landfill and more organic material for your soil. Composting can be as simple as raking leaves over your garden when you put it to winter bed or as specific as indoor food composting with a Bokashi bucket or worm bins. Whether you’re growing vegetables, lawns, flowers and shrubs or fruit trees, composting will bring about vibrant, fortifying change to your gardens while it reduces waste. Composting practices which make soils more friable also help to conserve water. The planting of green manures – cover crops like rye, oats and hairy vetch that are composted directly into soils — add nitrogen and other nutrients and also help prevent erosion during spring and fall runoff.

Note: The GEOBIN (shown at right) is made of recycled black plastic to retain heat and moisture, which speeds the composting process. Try it for growing potatoes too. Just fill with your favorite soil and plant as you go.


Water is precious. It needs to be protected for quality as well as preserved. The sustainable gardener will utilize rain barrels and collection systems to provide water not taken from the draw-down of dwindling municipal or private sources. The sustainable gardener protects water quality by not using herbicides or pesticides that might contaminate it as it percolates through the soil and heads back to the water supply. Water that drains away or ends up in a storm sewer is wasted. Sustainable gardeners control runoff with permeable soils. They use mulch and ground covers to enable soils to hold water, so it does not evaporate or drain away quickly. They design “rain gardens,” utilizing terraces, holding pools and raised beds to collect rainwater, allowing it to soak slowly back into the soil.

The goal is to use only the water nature provides, in the form of rain and runoff, achieved by harvesting it and storing it until needed. This is easier in some locations than others. Where rainwater collection is difficult or impossible, the sustainable gardener uses direct water methods — a watering can — or some form of drip or direct irrigation to cut down on evaporation loss. Sprinkling systems are wasteful (through evaporation) and most plants, excluding ferns and other humidity lovers, don’t do as well watered with sprinklers.


Nature has designed the perfect plant for your micro-climate: the one that is native to your area. Check natural areas and local garden experts for plants that thrive in your conditions. Find plants that, depending on your conditions, tolerate drought, or high rainfall and seasonal flooding. Exposed environments may need plants that tolerate high winds. When growing vegetables, you already choose plants that mature during your area’s growing season. Making sure vegetables are hardy and high-yielding inside all your area’s climatic, prevailing soil and elevation conditions means you use less soil additives and supplements, less water and less overall effort to see them succeed.


Seed saving brings you more in-tune with your plants and assures that the seed you’ll plant next season has done well this season. Start with the easiest seeds to save: peas, beans, peppers, tomatoes and work from there. Harvest flower seed taken from dried flowers. Scout fields and woodlands for harvest-able native plants and grasses. Learn to identify weeds and invasive plants to prevent accidentally importing them to your landscape. Few experiences are as gratifying as watching seed you grew, harvested and cured, sprout the following season.


When sustainable gardeners design their gardens and landscapes, they consider all resource-conserving principles to protect their soil and plants. Just as American farmers worked to end the Dust Bowl by planting shelter belts and by practicing contour farming, the sustainable gardener utilizes the same soil-protective, crop-rotating, water-conserving practices to achieve minimal impact. When building walks, walls or decks, the sustainable gardener looks for recycled, environmentally-friendly building materials; likewise when building soils. And there’s a ripple effect when you buy sustainable, organic products from businesses that support sustainable gardening. Their success — and yours — encourages more gardeners to follow the path of sustainability even as it immediately rewards the environment.

Sustainable design considers where plants are placed. Shade-loving plants are placed in the shadow of tall sun-loving plants, sun-loving plants are planted in places with the best exposure to light. Water-loving plants are grown where moisture collects, trailing plants are grown over terraces. Companion planting is an easy way to control pests and encourage growth. The more knowledge one has about plants and gardening, the better one’s landscape design.


How you care for your garden goes a long way towards the attaining sustainability. Age-old practices like cultivating between plants with a hoe not only suppresses weeds but aerates your soil. Avoid using chemical herbicides and pesticides that extract a toll on the environment and you. Instead follow organic weed and pest control methods. There’s both health and knowledge benefits to getting down on your knees and pulling weeds. Using beneficial insects to control pests not only benefits your garden, it can become a valuable lesson in natural science for your children.


These principles, taken together, encompass uncountable methods and techniques that move gardeners that much closer to sustainability. I encourage you to explore the links here and all other sources — including your local gardening experts — to increase what you know about plants, soil and resource conservation. The greatest tool you can use to pursue the goal of sustainability is knowledge. And the largest effect you can have on sustainability is to share that knowledge. That’s a big part of making gardens and landscapes sustainable: passing on what you know.




06/24/2017 10:15 AM
Cook This Page is IKEA’s brilliant cooking hack

Finally, easy to follow assembly instructions from IKEA. It’s hard to go wrong with the Cook This Page recipe parchment paper, an interactive recipe card from IKEA. Using food safe ink, the recipes are printed on parchment paper, with ingredient blanks measured to size. All you need to do is to place the ingredients on [&hellip

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06/23/2017 10:18 AM
From crib bumper pad to crib skirt

After purchasing a Himmelsk crib bumper pad for my baby’s nursery, I started to have second thoughts about it, due to safety concerns and to how unpractical the bumper is. Photo: IKEA.com However, I was in love with the little gray stars and didn’t want to take it back to the store. Also, I wanted [&hellip

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06/22/2017 10:15 AM
Outdoor sink: A perfect Summer project

I have wanted an outdoor sink for a while, but didn’t like the look of the bulky wooden frames with larger stainless steel sinks. My original plan was to try to mount a reused kitchen sink into the frame of a used grill. I wanted something light, with good sized wheels that would be pretty [&hellip

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06/21/2017 10:08 AM
Hackers Help: Want to sell rare Swivel Rocker POÄNG chair

While my submission could be a hack to someone, it’s really about a very rare IKEA Swivel Rocker POÄNG chair I bought in the early ’90s when Ikea opened their store in Emmeryville CA. I purchased the very last one and was told it was introduced in a limited run and discontinued immediately, so not [&hellip

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06/20/2017 10:38 AM
Stereo System Stand from 12 shelves

Ikea items used: 12 pieces of white EKBY ÖSTEN shelves (79cm x 19cm x 1.8cm) Photo: IKEA.com I used 12 pieces of IKEA white EKBY ÖSTEN shelves to make the pair of speakers and the center unit to house the old car stereo system and PC power supply. Step 1 I cut the EKBY shelves to [&hellip

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06/19/2017 10:19 AM
Fabulous Synth Workstation organized in an IKEA PAX wardrobe

I make experimental electronic music with modular synthesizers and other quirky instruments. This means that there is a lot of cabling and rearranging of gear involved and the place can become really messy during a jam session. So I came up with a solution to keep things tidy (looking), by hacking an IKEA PAX wardrobe. [&hellip

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06/16/2017 10:18 AM
Crib bunk bed hacked from IKEA GULLIVER cots

We have 4 kids and live in a tiny house, we have 3 bedrooms but my 3 year old daughter’s room is only 6ft x 6ft and her baby sister will be moving in with her soon. We thought of many ideas to fit 2 children in this tiny space but the only viable option [&hellip

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06/15/2017 10:06 AM
DIY dog window perch with steps

I needed something in my grandkids playroom that my small dogs could easily climb up on to sit and look out the window to the street. Came up with this idea that took zero carpentry skills and works perfectly. I just purchased two Trofast frames and the bins that fit inside, pushed them together and [&hellip

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06/14/2017 10:26 AM
Hackers Help: Alternative sliding rails for Pax sliding doors?

Photo: IKEA.com Hello hackers! I’ve bought two sets of Pax sliding doors from eBay to use as doors for a makeshift fitted wardrobe (the alcove is already there and the doors were the perfect height….).  But – I don’t have the Pax sliding rails that go with the doors, and apparently IKEA don’t sell them [&hellip

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06/12/2017 10:24 AM
A classy tall shoe cabinet to fit small entryways

I wanted to share this tall shoe cabinet hack I just finished. I fell in love with a shoe tower from Restoration Hardware that they stopped making so I decided to make something similar. I bought a SEKTION high cabinet with 2 doors and 2 ASKERSUND cover panels. I assembled them as per instructions and [&hellip

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06/23/2017 12:00 PM
Organizing suggestions found in the media
My eye is always drawn to anything I see in newspapers, magazines, and such that has anything to do with organizing, even tangentially. I just sometimes wish that the messages were a bit more nuanced. The following are a few … Continued

Post written by Jeri Dansky

06/23/2017 10:15 AM
Rid your shower of bottle clutter
You shouldn't be distracted by a multitude of containers all over the walls and/or the floor of your shower.

Post written by Matt

06/22/2017 12:00 PM
A donation resource list for harder-to-donate items
Back in May 2014 I wrote a list of places to donate furniture, fur coats, musical instruments, and more. I’ve since found additional donation alternatives that I’d like to share. These are mostly places that take harder-to-donate items. Others just … Continued

Post written by Jeri Dansky

06/21/2017 03:00 PM
Reader question: An abundance of clothing
Reader Olympia wrote us to say, I have an abundance of clothes… 3 closets full of clothes plus a room full of clothing. I recently lost a lot of weight so it was easy to get rid of the larger-sized … Continued

Post written by Jacki Hollywood Brown

06/21/2017 08:00 AM
Three organizing products in development
From time to time we see organizing products in development on crowd-funding sites. Here are three interesting ones we’d like to share with our readers. Gather desk organizer Designed by Ugmonk, Gather is a sleek, elegant organizer constructed from solid … Continued

Post written by Jacki Hollywood Brown

06/20/2017 12:00 PM
What have you learned about yourself while uncluttering?
You can learn a lot about yourself while uncluttering. What’s more, that lesson changes over time based on your circumstances, age, and stage of life. Pay attention as you organize and clean, and you’ll see a bit of who you … Continued

Post written by David Caolo

06/19/2017 12:00 PM
How good are you at letting others help you?
I’m not. Not at all, in fact. Whenever someone offers to help me with anything, my immediate reaction is, “No, I can do it!” As if I were a five year old in front of an adult who questions my … Continued

Post written by Alex Fayle

06/16/2017 12:00 PM
When is it all right to be disorganized?
Earlier this week I woke up sick. My stomach was doing acrobatics while simultaneously in a knot. I had no appetite and even the idea of sipping tea made me gag. Luckily, I never did end up in the bathroom, … Continued

Post written by Alex Fayle

06/16/2017 06:00 AM
Weekend project: Tackle the area beneath your kitchen sink
The last thing you want to do is have to waste time clearing a path for someone who is about to cost you a hundred dollars an hour to fix the plumbing beneath your sink.

Post written by Erin Doland

06/15/2017 12:00 PM
Being an organized appliance purchaser
My washing machine started leaking about a week ago, and after 30 years I had to admit it was time to buy a new one. I’m very pleased with what I now have, and that’s partly due to the process … Continued

Post written by Jeri Dansky

06/23/2017 08:00 AM
Easy Scrap Fabric Projects

Do you have a large scrap fabric pile? Do you see fabric and can’t stop buying the cute prints but feel guilty with all the piles at home? Here are some easy scrap fabric projects!  Summertime is a great time to learn to sew or teach kids to sew.  Check out these sewing practice sheets, you can practice your stitching on these printable sheets.

Projects to Make with Scrap Fabric...

The post Easy Scrap Fabric Projects appeared first on Skip To My Lou.

06/22/2017 09:40 AM
Summer Bucket List

summer bucket list

If you want to make sure you have lots of summer fun be sure  fill out a summer bucket list! This way you won’t miss a thing and you can check off each fun activity as you go. If you need some crafty ideas check out this list of summer crafts. We could have checked off “make slime” on our bucket list about two dozen times by now! Summer is...

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06/21/2017 09:33 AM
Refreshing Cucumber and Mint Mule Drink

Moscow Mule Variation

This weekend, my husband and I decided to spice up our usual Moscow Mule recipe and make a refreshing cucumber and mint mule drink.  We have come to love this cold, refreshing, copper-mugged drink, and although we were hesitant to tamper with perfection–we decided to branch out of our comfort zone!  Using ingredients from our garden we came up with this Moscow Mule variation.

Mule Drink – The Perfect Summer...

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06/20/2017 09:23 AM
5 Great Glamping Destinations in the US


This summer seems to be all about the growing trend of glamping!  Growing up in the Midwest included plenty of summers tent camping for my family.  We pitched a tent on the banks of a lake, spent the day swimming and fishing, grilling hot dogs in the evening and making s’mores over a late night campfire.   After becoming a mom, I knew I wanted to keep this great American tradition...

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06/18/2017 08:00 AM
Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas

father's day printable gift tags

These last minute Father’s Day gift ideas are easy to quickly print and put together. You still have time to make a thoughtful gift for Dad.

Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas

1. If your looking for a sweet Father’s Day treat I have you covered! Tell dad he is Mr. Good Dad with with this printable candy bar wrapper. You can put it on any candy bar.

2. If you...

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06/18/2017 08:00 AM
Made By You Monday

It’s  Monday show us what you’ve got. It is time to link up your crafty goodness! Please don’t forget to link back! — a text link at the bottom of your post, or link somewhere on your blog is okay!

By linking up to Made By You Monday. You give permission for one photo and a link to be featured in a post, and on...

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06/16/2017 08:00 AM
Fourth of July Nails

With these cute nail designs you will have the cutest Fourth of July Nails ever. Do you love to paint your nails for the holidays? Stars and stripes nails, polkadot nails, American flag nails will rock your world. The ideas are endless.  Want more nail ideas? Don’t miss these fun summer nail designs.

Fourth of July Nails

Let’s get started.

Red White and Blue Tie Dye Nails What do you think about...

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06/15/2017 01:30 AM
Crowd Pleasing Baked Spaghetti Casserole

baked spaghetti

This baked spaghetti casserole is a delicious dinner that will become one of your regular dinners. My Kim friend Kim has made it for us many times so I had to have the recipe.  A comforting casserole with plenty of melted cheese, is the perfect dish for potlucks, family gatherings, or when you want to take a friend a meal. My family loves Italian meals like crock pot lasagna. We also love...

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06/14/2017 09:24 AM
Pressure Cooker Sloppy Joes

pressure cooker sloppy joes

Pressure cooker Sloppy Joes are an easy and quick weeknight meal your kids are sure to love. A slightly sweet and tangy sauce mixes with some veggies and hamburger for a yummy sloppy joe. I like to make this meal ahead of time and freeze. I then can take it out of the freezer and put it in my Instant Pot for a no prep, no work meal.  We even...

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06/13/2017 07:46 AM
The Most Delicious Toll House Pie Ever

Since we are on a roll this week with sweet treats I had to share my Toll House Pie recipe.  I thought this easy pie recipe would be a great way to finish up the week. Just think a delicious warm gooey chocolate chip cookie in a pie! YUM. We have had the best brownie recipe, peanut butter no bake cookies,, chocolate chip cheesecake dip and now this yummy pie...

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