Archives for the month of: August, 2011

Recycled tires offer an alternative to wood mulch

You might think the only way to recycle old tires is to fasten a rope or chain to them and hang them from a tree. In fact, there is an entire industry devoted to breaking down and re-using tires in a variety of products.

Ironically, one of the most popular uses for recycled tires is as an alternative to traditional, organic mulch. Liberty Tire Recycling, responsible for recycling approximately one third of America’s discarded tires — turning 130 million tires a year into 1.5 billion pounds of rubber to be used for “innovative, eco-friendly products.”

Rubber mulch from discarded tires has several advantages over traditional mulch:

  • Longer lasting— regular organic mulch generally needs to be refreshed and/or replaced once a year or more.
  • More cost-effective— although per cubic foot more expensive, because rubber mulch lasts so much longer (some products claim to last more than a decade), it works out to be easier on the wallet.
  • Less labor-intensive— rather than re-mulching and over-mulching every season or every year, rubber mulch requires much less maintenance.
  • More green— store-bought mulch is made from trees cut down just for that purpose; using rubber mulch not only keeps tons of scrap tires out of landfills, it also conserves the environment by offering an alternative to tree-based mulch.

For more information on rubber mulch, try these resources:


3 Ideas for Updating Your Garage Floor

For many homeowners, the garage is not just for cars anymore. Garages are being repurposed to function as workshops, dens, home offices, supplemental storage space and more.

For most any purpose, however, the original garage floor is most likely not going to suffice.

Check out these three options for transforming you ordinary garage floor.

  • Epoxy Coating — One of the most popular choices is an epoxy finish. It is a relatively easy do-it-yourself project, requiring only a dry, clean surface with no cracks. Just like paint, you can roll the epoxy finish onto the floor. has more information on epoxy finishes, preparation (also see this article from the Washington Post) and installation.
  • Interlocking Garage Mats — Even easier to install than epoxy covering, interlocking plastic mats are placed on top of your current floor — cracks and unevenness are not an issue. Depending on the mats you select, these can provide fatigue cushioning, as well as insulation from cold concrete in winter temperatures. For more, visit
  • Concrete Stain or Dye— While upgrading the look of an existing concrete floor with stain or dye is not a project for the average handyman (though offers these instructions), the results can be stunning. Staining generally allows for a more narrow color choice than dying your concrete floor. has more information.

Whether you are looking to make your floor less slippery, more comfortable, easier to clean, or simply more attractive, any of these garage flooring solutions will make a noticeable difference in your garage.

Photo from Garage Floor Covering.

Solutions to Common Landscaping Challenges

Whether you’re a glass half-empty or a glass half-full homeowner, chances are your outdoor space is not exactly what you wish it were. Landscape experts, however, know how to turn challenges into triumphs. has resources for almost every landscaping challenge out there.

In this featured garden from LandscapingNetwork, a California landscaper plants not only horizontally, but vertically as well, to expand the visual impact of the plantings.

To maximize small landscape spaces:

  • Plan for multiple focal points— in a small space, there are often no sweeping vistas, nor is there space to make one grand statement. Turn that to your advantage by planning a variety of small “surprises” in your garden, creating multiple places for the eye to stop and savor.
  • Go luxe. — Another advantage to small spaces? Not a lot of materials required, which makes it much easier to splurge on high-quality items. Tile the small patio with gorgeous marble. Place a single beautiful wrought iron bench in a nook. Line the short winding path with sea glass pebbles. In a small space, large gestures are more affordable — and they have a greater impact.

 To make the most of your shady yard:

  • The illusion of sun dappled plantings— plant perennials with natural green and yellow coloring. Landscape pros rely on this sleight of hand (or color) to make areas of the yard appear to be catching bits of sunlight.
  • Know your perennials — there are plenty of eye-catching flowers and shrubs that thrive in shady rather than sunny conditions. Use them lavishly to bring color and variety to your shaded yard.

For more tips, ideas and designs, see Expert Solutions for Solving Typical Yard and Landscape Challenges on

6 Creative Ways to Address Common Home Challenges

From insufficient table space to insufficient shelf space, from ugly floor gouges to slamming windows, from mildly annoying to incredibly irritating, every homeowner complaint has a solution, and often more than one. Try these five ideas from Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living and House Beautiful to resolve or even anticipate issues in your home.

From Martha Stewart Living

  • Window Prop Stick— an easy DIY project to create a “stepped window prop stick” that will keep your window securely open at various heights; especially useful during the summer months.
  •  Make Your Own Outdoor Furniture — learn how to convert a cot into an outdoor daybed or create super easy bases for tiki or solar torches to light up your yard. For more ways to make your own outdoor furniture, click here.

From House Beautiful

  • Protect your floors — easier to manage and more secure than felt pads, “Plasti Dip” from the hardware stores is perfect to coat the bottom of your furniture’s legs and bases. For more creative uses for common hardware store items, click here.
  • Add surface space — whether for one night of entertaining, or for the long haul, you can never have enough occasional tables; try placing a tray on a footstool, or topping a sturdy vase with a large paver stone or tile. For more ways to transform your room with accessories, click here.

From Real Simple

  • Easy Kitchen Shelving — out of space for all your cookbooks? Looking for a spot for your summer picnic supplies? Need a shelf for your potted herb garden? With a few plank shelves from the local lumber store and a ladder, you can add shelving in less than an hour.
  • Clever Wall Shelves — bringing a new meaning to “bookshelf,” follow these steps to make your own shelves out of old hard backs.

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