03 AM | 15 May

Doing Away With Outdated Home Designs


The New Year comes with new design trends that will make your house look good, but there are also some designs that you should leave out to history.

HouseLess brass, more gold

One of the most common trends back in 2014 were brass hardware of all sorts, from simple things like utensils to bigger house fixtures. IlyceGlink, an award-winning and nationally syndicated columnist says that this is because ‘homeowners are always looking for inexpensive, easy ways to increase their property’s value.’

These trends, as she notes, ‘often translate to bigger bucks when it comes time to sell a home, while others can actually drag the value down. Brass is just one of them since even though it is visually appealing; it is still inexpensive and is sorely outdated. Fortunately, it only takes a screwdriver and the knowledge of what to replace brass with to do some much needed updating.

Many experts like Petrie of Mother Hubbard’s Custom Cabinetry also note that replacing brass hardware involves ‘choosing a size that will cover the footprint of whatever it is currently installed.’, and these should be replaced with brushed or satin nickel hardware. Gold is also a fast-becoming alternative to economical materials like brass, although the popularity of silver and steel is still strong even in the New Year.

Mirrored and metallic

Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab says that accents such as metallic and mirrored furniture are ‘overdone’ and should no longer be the staple or ‘red lipstick’ of interior design. Shiny fixtures and accents should be minimized and a house’s rooms should have a mix of wood and furniture made of other materials. She also notes that ‘pops of indigo blue or deep navy will become a staple in home design this year.’, citing that the natural hues are the perfect match when set together or against warmer colors and earth tones like Marsala, which is this year’s Pantone Color of the Year.

Bringing in the old modern

The new year is not just about getting rid of old trends, many are actually making a comeback as experts from Zillow Digs points out with modern design elements from the good old 50’s and 70’s. The old couch or wall fixture that you may have seen back in those old sitcoms are surprisingly trendy and fitting when matched with more modern design elements. They caution though that these designs ‘shouldn’t take over the house’.

Keeping up with the trends is important, and many of the ‘in’ designs of 2014 are no longer applicable today while some, like retro designs from the 50’s and 70’s are making a solid comeback.

02 AM | 15 May

Garden Designer Dan Pearson Reveals Plans for London ‘Garden’ Bridge

Garden Bridge

Garden BridgeRenowned flower designer and horticulturist Dan Pearson reveals new details and images about his planned project, a ‘Garden’ Bridge spanning the Thames, all the way to the Inner Temple area to the Southbank’s cultural center due to open in 2018. Pearson plans to create a ‘magical place in the center of London’ and a natural refuge within the city.

A bold project

Pearson is planning to utilize plants that will showcase the best of London’s native landscape. He says that ‘What we are planning to do is create a garden, which is a center of horticultural excellence in the epicenter of London.’ He wants it to be accessible to all, and something that Londoners ‘can be really excited about.’

Pearson describes the transition from informally placed plants from the Southbank as reflective of the environment around it. The Southbank was once marshy area full of willow beds, and the garden emulates this; with the plants and the trees on the Southbank side being planted more informally.

As the bridge reaches the north bank, the plants and trees will become more diverse, which reflects how the northern area was full of intricate gardens of the law courts full of exotic plants and award-winning specimens. He says that plants will include many species that once thrived in central London, such as birch, primroses, honeysuckle, and willows. He notes that ‘these will be coppiced on a rotation, which will give this end of the bridge dynamism and a sense of regeneration.’ The bridge will feature five different zones – Southbank, Scarp, South Glade, North Glade, and North Bank all culminating to the arrival at the Inner Temple gardens.

Not without criticism

The Garden Bridge was conceived as early as 1998 and it has received many opponents due to the cost and scale of the project. Despite most people’s reaction being positive, Pearson’s ‘Garden’ bridge has met with criticism, with many saying that the bridge will be a ‘blot on the landscape’. The proposed bridge is actually just 300 meters away from neighboring Waterloo Bridge, which is the best area to view Saint Paul’s Cathedral at the east and the Houses of Parliament on the western side. Many are complaining that when the bridge is finally complete, people will no longer be able to see the cathedral, the view having already been compromised due to bright Blackfriar’s Bridge.

The cost of building London’s ‘tiara’ is also of note, with aprojected amount of £175 million. Although the Garden Bridge Trust says that the bridge will ‘improve the quality of live of everyone in London’, many locals believe that the project is too extravagant and ambitious. The Garden Bridge is also drawing comparison to London’s High Line, which is as impressive as the proposed project and was built at almost half the cost. Many are also wondering how such an expensive bridge can be paid off if visitors and locals are given free rein to cross the bridge at a whim. Only time will tell if this ambitious project will really blossom or simply wilt.

02 AM | 15 May

Aquaponics Turns Fish Waste to Fertilizer in Wairakei Primary School


When Wairakei Primary School closed down its pool, no one would have thought that they could make a sustainable garden out of using fish. The New Zealand school announced the official opening of their won aquaponics unit this week, which turns waste produced by farm-grown fish into fertilizer.

Sustainable gardens

Diana Fitzsimmons, the school’s enviroschool leader along with representative Amandao Jones worked together and raised $13,000 to create the unit, which is now housed where in the school’s old pool. Jones notes how supportive the community was for their project, noting that many people gave time and donated goods to help make the school’s first aquaponics a success.

AquaponicsAquaponics is a more organic and sustainable form of cultivation which involves using plants and animals such as fish within a water tank. Instead of pitting mixes, water is used and is essentially a ‘soilless’ form of gardening. Jones said that she was ‘excited that people are able to see the fish because no one really knows what aquaponics is, so it’s a little confusing and what makes it so super cool and exciting is the fish.’

The system relies only on the natural ecosystem the fish and the plants create within the water tank, with the only thing needing replacement is water that has already been absorbed by the plants or evaporated in the air. The fish’s role is to provide the nutrients that plants need via their waste, and they in turn depend on the plants for oxygen. Since the plants are in the water, herbicide is also not necessary.

The school planted the first vegetables almost five weeks ago, and some are looking ready to harvest. They note that the process is speeding up the longer the aquaponic unit runs, and they are expecting their lettuces to mature in as little as twenty-one days.

An educational process

The students will be learning more about the aquaponics unit and how it works, such as feeding and looking after the fish and caring for the crops. Fitzsimmons notes that the students will be the ones feeding the fish, as well as doing water testing to see and checking if the water is viable. Jones hopes that the success of their aquaponics unit will grow in popularity in other schools and areas that are looking to decommission their pools, which she notes as becoming ‘very common.’

Supporters of aquaponics notes that this new method is perfect for people looking to grow consistent crops without having to invest on too big of a space for planting.

01 AM | 01 Jan

Here’s Why Water Conservation is Essential in Massachusetts

Water Conservation is Massachusetts

Droughts are common in certain states in America, but in Massachusetts, they can be in another level. The severity highlights the importance of water conservation steps, including commercial landscaping services in Boston.

The Worst Droughts in History

The effects of droughts can vary. For instance, they may affect the farmlands but not the water supply. Sometimes they are only mild. The crops may wither faster than before, or the people sweat more profusely than on regular days.

Massachusetts, though, has a history of experiencing extreme droughts. Experts call the event in the 1960s as the worst in New England history.

What happened then? For 10 years, the region including Massachusetts experienced a severe dry spell. It affected both the farms and the urban areas. During this period, the government instructed water users to reduce their shower time or avoid washing their vehicles.

In Pembroke, the people could not fish herring. This is because the fish had a hard time swimming toward the freshwater. In the process, they couldn’t spawn. Instead, the residents needed to assist the fish in swimming by taking them by the barrels.

The prolonged drought destroyed some significant industries. These included farming and dairy as pastures turned brown or even burned. It curtailed the economic growth of the state due to water use restrictions.

It’s Not Over

Experts believe it may take another century before this level of severity occurs again. But it doesn’t mean droughts don’t get harsher in the state. In 2016, over 33% of Massachusetts experienced severe drought. The affected regions received 5 inches less rainfall than before. It also occurred during the growing season, which made its impact more noticeable. It might not have been the worst, but it was alarming.

In October 2017, at least 58% of the state was in moderate drought only six months after it declared itself as drought-free.

There are many strategies to reduce the effects of droughts. These can include improving irrigation, conducting a water audit, and using plants that use less water. Landscapers can provide these services. Either way, preparation is vital.