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Find Bliss in Your Backyard E

veryone enjoys a little down time. Escaping the day- to-day rush at a quiet beach house or rustic country cabin is an inviting idea, but it isn’t always possible. Restful repose can be found closer to home by transforming outdoor space into an inviting oasis. Begin your backyard makeover by adding hardscapes

such as patios and walkways. Small areas can be installed in one weekend. Do-it-yourself kits are available in home and garden centers, and many offer “How to” clinics to help you do it right. If you want to keep your new hardscape from buckling

and cracking over time, use an eco-friendly landscape fabric like new WeedBlock(R) Recycled as an underliner to prevent settling and shifting. The fabric is made from 100 percent recycled soda bottles. You can also use it in perma- nent planting beds to prevent weeds. Anchor the fabric with Bio FabricPegs(R). These corn-based stakes are also eco- friendly. (Visit or call 800-327-9462 for further information.) There are a number of simple solutions for adding a place for peaceful interludes in outdoor spaces. Tuck a park bench between two of your favorite trees. Add a bistro set to the back corner of a long driveway. Or put in a pathway that leads to an inviting hammock or set of rocking chairs sitting in a shady spot. A little creativity is all it takes to create a tiny retreat where you can soothe your soul at the end of a busy day.

If social interaction is your ideal way to unwind, consider adding an outdoor kitchen or cooking area. You can create an entertainment area to fit any budget—from a full outdoor kitchen to a small fire pit. Either way, you will have a great spot for gathering with your friends and family. If your outdoor entertaining space needs an affordable and effective shade solution, try Easy Gardener’s Sun Fabric and accessories. A 12’ × 16’ patio or deck can be shaded for less than $400 using common tools and hardware. Shaded areas around your home can also help lower energy bills. Don’t forget the final touch—functional, decorative light-

ing. You will need it for entertaining at night. Be sure the lighting you use reflects the style of the space and enhances the mood you want to create. When your outdoor hideaway is complete, you won’t

have to pack your bags and leave town the next time you need a little rest and relaxation.

The 7 Easiest Vegetables to Grow at Home


erhaps you’re wondering what vegetables are the easiest to grow if this is

your first attempt at a food-based garden. There are several to try. 1. Tomatoes: While commonly considered vegetables, tomatoes are actually fruits. But toma- toes can be an integral part of a vegetable garden. Tomatoes are high in lycopene and other anti- oxidants. There are also myriad varieties to tempt your palate. Tomatoes can be planted after the soil has thawed and there is no other chance for frost. They’ll re- quire plenty of sunlight. Fruit will be available to harvest toward the latter part of the summer. 2. Zucchini: Zucchini are an Italian squash variety that appear similar to a cucumber. They can be green or yellow in coloring. This vegetable is full of potas- sium, folate and manganese, making it a great addition to your menu. Zucchini take about a month to mature and be ready to harvest. They grow on vines and produce large flowers before bearing fruit.

3. Beets: Root vegetables like beets and radishes work well in the garden as well. The bright purple color of beets indicates they are full of many essential vitamins and minerals. Toss beets in salads or use them in the tradi- tional soup, borscht. 4. Carrots: Another subter-

A landscape fabric underliner prevents settling and shifting in hardscapes

ranean-growing veggie, car- rots require moist soil as they germinate, but as the plants mature need less water. Carrots

can be enjoyed in a number of ways and are a staple of cooking year-round. 5. Peas: Peas grow inside the pods of legumes. These plants like moist soil that drains well. Water frequently but make sure the soil doesn’t become flooded if you want peas to flourish. 6. Peppers: Peppers come in

so many varieties it’s easy to find ones that appeal to your taste in cooking. Generally peppers thrive in soil high in magnesium. Using compost and Epsom salt in the soil can help achieve the environ- ment peppers desire.

7. Lettuce: Lettuce is another staple and the basis for many salad dishes. Lettuce also tops sandwiches and can be filled and wrapped for other recipe ideas. Seeds should be planted between 8 and 16 inches apart. Water in the morning instead of at night to prevent disease from developing.

Spring k


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