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Archive for Green Renovations

January 9th, 2012

5 Tips to Green Your Landscape from Roger Cook

This Old House green landscaping

This is part two in a two part series of discussions with Roger Cook and Kevin O’Connor from This Old House. Part one focused on the host of This Old House- Kevin O’Connor. Part two focuses on green landscaping techniques from This Old House, Landscape Contractor, Roger Cook.

It’s January and recent weather has been far from the wintry weather we would expect this time of year. Given the lack of snow on the ground, it’s not that far-fetched to imagine a green, thriving lawn and the beautiful landscaping we normally see in the spring. A few more months of winter are in our forecast, but it’s never too early to start planning out your strategy for your landscaping in advance.

Roger Cook headshotI had the opportunity to chat with Roger Cook, Landscape Contractor for the Emmy Award-winning television series This Old House. Roger has served as the shows Landscape Contractor for over 20 seasons and is a wealth of information.

Gardening isn’t always synonymous with a green lifestyle. Roger was eager to share ways to create green landscaping that thrives without the use of pesticides and without wasting precious water. He emphasized that the trick is to work in harmony with nature, not against it.

Here are a few of his tricks:

Call Before You Dig

Even small, shallow excavation jobs can be a risk if you don’t know where underground lines are buried. Call your utility company to let them know you are planning to dig. They will generally send a representative out (free of charge) to verify that it’s safe to dig.

Prepare the Soil

Before you can plant, soil preparation is a must.  Soil requirements vary from region to region and a soil test will be needed to find out what it is lacking or not lacking. If the soil is properly prepared then the plants will grow and won’t need as much water and less pesticides to thrive.

Buy Native, Local and in Bulk

Using plants that are native to a region will:

  • Decrease the amount of water needed.
  • Require very little long-term maintenance if they are planted properly.

Try to buy locally grown plants. Buying local reduces the energy resources needed to get the plant or tree from the nursery to your home. Buy plants in bulk to reduce the need for excessive packaging.

Reuse and Recycle

Save yourself some money if you are thinking about changing around your landscaping-transplant existing trees, shrubs and plants to a new spot. Roger suggests reusing plants at least along the edges of the project.

Build a Raised Garden

Raised gardens have a number of benefits:

  • You can control they type of soil used by bringing in your own soil.
  • The walls of the garden act as a barrier to pests.
  • Less water will be required for the plants to thrive.
  • Raised beds will reduce the strain on your back when bending over to pull weeds or plant.
  • Raised beds heat up faster in the spring.

What are your tricks for a ‘greener’ landscape?

Thank you to Roger for taking the time to chat ‘green landscaping’ with me.

[Photo credit: Webb Chappell]

September 23rd, 2010

Healthy Home Improvements Brought to you by Healthy Child Healthy World

Photo used under Creative Commons from James Thompson

Thinking of renovating your home anytime in the near future? Check out Healthy Child Healthy World  September Blog Carnival focusing on healthy home improvements.

Healthy Child Healthy World is leading a movement that educates parents, supports protective policies, and engages communities to make responsible decisions, simple everyday choices, and well-informed lifestyle improvements to create healthy environments where children and families can flourish.

In this months Carnival you will find all kinds of eco-conscious tips for remodeling and creating a safe and healthy home, coming to you from insightful bloggers throughout the green blogosphere. The topics covered are  renovating an “old”  new home, creating a new nursery, green bedrooms for big kids, greening your home, buying a natural bed, carpeting and allergens and replacing moldy insulation.

No VOC and Low VOC Paint-A Simple and Healthy Way to Improve Your Home is my contribution to this great resource for anyone who is thinking about remodeling their living space.

Enjoy!

September Blog Carnival: Healthy Home Improvements

September 15th, 2010

No VOC and Low VOC Paint-A Simple and Healthy Way to Improve Your Home

This is part of the Healthy Child  Blog Carnival, Safe House, focusing on healthy home improvements – an effort by Healthy Child Healthy World to help inspire a movement to protect children from harmful chemicals.

As summer transitions to fall  I am hit with the cleaning, reorganizing and redecorating bug. My living space is not spotless and has not been completely renovated-but the itch to redo and renew is in the air.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Nicki Varkevisser

A fresh coat of paint is a simple way to transform a space with minimal effort. There are so many colors and brands out there to lend a hand with a quick face-lift for any room.

Most conventional paints contain high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), which emit a breathable gas when slapped on your walls. VOC’s are not your friend. Once released, down goes the air quality in your home and headaches, nausea and dizziness can occur.   Some VOC’s are greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming. Long term exposures to the fumes have been linked to a number of disorders including cancer, kidney disease and liver damage.

Good thing there are plenty of eco-friendly paint alternatives that are safe for you and the environment.  Consider choosing a low VOC or no VOC paint that is free of nasty fumes.  Even more good news: most major paint companies are now making low VOC or no VOC paints and they are usually reasonably priced (a bit higher than conventional paint).

My bedroom was recently painted using Benjamin Moore Natura zero VOC paint.  I was amazed at the lack of strong smell-there was a scent but it was very minimal. I didn’t think twice about sleeping in the room that very night.  It is pretty difficult to do that with conventional paint,  which releases those incredibly strong fumes.

I decided to ask an expert her thoughts on zero VOC paints-since my experience was limited.  Kimberly Bee, of Kimberly Bee Design, has been a professional interior designer on projects throughout the country for over 20 years.  Kimberly has personally used Benjamin Moore Natura no VOC paints in her own home and says “that it is virtually odorless and available in all of the Benjamin Moore colors; truly a significant achievement in creating eco-friendly paint that doesn’t compromise aesthetics!”

So next time you decide to paint, low VOC and zero VOC paints are the way to go.

Two companies I would use:

Benjamin Moore Natura Paint

  • Virtually odorless
  • Zero-VOC in both the base and the colorant
  • Quick dry time: 30 minutes to dry to the touch, 1-hour to re-coat
  • 100% Acrylic Latex

Mythic Paint

  • This low odor, zero toxicity paint from Mythic Paint is a non-toxic, ultra low odor paint that provides the durability and coverage you expect from a premium paint without the off-gassing VOC’s and cancer-causing toxins that emit years after drying.

Please note: there are other companies that make no VOC and low VOC paints. These happen to be the two that I am most familiar with.

PAINT BUYING TIP: Double check your paint-zero VOC paint can turn into VOC filled paint when tint/color is added.

Zero VOC paint is such a simple way to improve your living space.  Let me know if you have tried paint without VOC’s and what you found.

Sources:

Interior Paint What to Look For

An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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