Eat Your Yard! How to Design an Edible Landscape

Many of us are lucky enough to have at least a small plot of land surrounding our homes. Yet we often choose to occupy that land with grass, marigold and azalea beds, wisteria, and the occasional privet or maple—plants that look nice, but don’t give us anything in the way of food or value. Edible plants are equally beautiful, and nearly any homeowner could grow a meaningful amount of food in her yard—a much more noble use of the soil. Consider replacing the typical landscape with decorative borders of herbs, rainbow chard and striking paprika peppers. Instead of the fleeting color of spring azaleas, try the year-round beauty of blueberries—or pear and plum trees, which put on a spring show of flowers, have colorful summer fruits and produce yellow fall foliage. These plants aren’t just pretty—they provide healthy food and save money and resources.

In addition to being a viable design option, an edible landscape (if maintained organically) is the most compelling landscape concept for the future.

Edible landscapes offer these incredible benefits:

Energy Savings: Food from your yard requires no shipping and little refrigeration. Plus, conventional farms use a large amount of energy to plow, plant, spray and harvest produce—planting and picking tomatoes in your front yard requires a miniscule amount by comparison.

Food Safety: You know which chemicals (if any) you use.

Water Savings: Tests show that most home gardeners use less than half the water to produce the same crop compared with large-scale agricultural production. Drip irrigation saves even more.

Money Savings: You can grow an unbelievable amount of food in a small, beautiful space. When I meticulously calculated the value of a 100-square-foot edible landscape I grew a couple of summers ago, I was amazed to find it had saved me more than $700! (Visit for exact figures for some popular crops.)

Better Nutrition: Fully ripe, just-picked, homegrown fruits and vegetables provide more vitamins and nutrients than supermarket produce, which is usually picked under-ripe and is days or weeks old when you eat it.

Designing Your Edible Landscape

Any landscape design begins with establishing the “bones” of your garden—choosing the location of the paths, patios, fences, hedges, arbors and garden beds. This is critically important in an edible garden because the beds are more apt to have plants with a wide array of textures, sizes and shapes, such as curly carrot leaves, mounding peppers and climbing beans. Edible garden beds may be filled with young seedlings or even be empty at times. That’s when paths, arbors, fences, hedges and even a birdbath are vital for keeping things attractive.

After you’ve determined the setup of the landscape, it’s time to choose the plants. Herein lies the true subtlety of the landscaper’s art. First, make a list of edibles you like most. Find out which ones grow well in your climate, and note their cultural needs. Our sister publication Mother Earth News offers a searchable list of plant recommendations and planting times, organized by region.

With your list of plants in hand, create special areas of interest. You could plant a curved line of frilly-leafed chartreuse lettuces or a row of blueberry shrubs whose blazing fall color can lead your eye down a brick path to your entry. Instead of the predictable row of lilacs along the driveway, imagine a mixed hedge of currants and gooseberries. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Edible Plant Selection

Your choice of plants is determined by local growing conditions. When choosing the plants, ask yourself: First, will this plant grow well in my region and yard? Second, does the plant produce something I want to eat? And, last, what does the plant look like (size, form, leaf texture and color)?

Size: The single biggest mistake all garden designers make—professionals and amateurs alike—is underestimating the eventual size of plants, especially in foundation plantings. Large plants can quickly cover windows or look out of scale for the space. Conversely, a fully grown plant might prove too small to serve its intended purpose. Consider the probable end height and width before making your final selections.

Form: Form (or shape) is usually a plant’s mostobvious characteristic. Many woody edible plants, such as apple and peach trees, are rounded. Another typical shape is upright, as seen in raspberries and bamboos. Some plants, such as pomegranates and highbush blueberries, are vase- or fountain-shaped, while others, including thyme and cranberries, have a matlike form. Plants such as gnarled fig trees or grapevines are considered accent plants for their striking form alone. Such forms dominate the area where they grow; give them ample space so they can be enjoyed as the focal points they deserve to be.

Texture: Texture describes the size and shape of the leaves and the spacing between them. Bold banana leaves, which can grow 6 feet long, and the dainty leaves of asparagus exemplify two texture extremes. Fine-textured plants work well in small gardens. Coarse plants, which give a bold look and substance, make a superb foil for large structures.

Color: Color is the most versatile design tool for an edible landscape. Unlike patios or arbors, adding color doesn’t require a large commitment of time, money and labor. If you don’t like the look of lots of red peppers and yellow containers, simply change the dominant colors next season.

Plants add color to the landscape in a variety of ways—multihued flowers, showy fruit or vivid seasonal foliage—but only for a relatively short period. The leaves, in every hue and intensity of green, help tie the design together, from the rich deep green of strawberry leaves to the bright light green of lettuce to the gray-green of sage. Green becomes the neutral color against which you see all the other colors in a landscape.

After choosing the basic foliage hues, add colors with trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that bloom at different times of the year. I limit myself to two or three basic colors in simultaneous bloom; other gardeners like a full palette, a riot of many colors. It’s all about individual taste.

Produce Pointers

If you’ve never grown produce before, it’s wise to invest in a classic book such as The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith or How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons. Follow these tips for prize-winning plants:

• Make sure your yard has rich, organic, well-drained, fluffy soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0; it’s critical for growing healthy vegetables. You can test your soil pH with an at-home kit, available at nurseries and garden centers. The next step is to correct the pH if necessary. For acidic soil, raise the pH by liming the soil (some call it “sweetening”) with pelletized calcitic or dolomitic limestone. For alkaline soil, add sulfur. In both cases, follow the directions that come with the test results.

• Position plants so tall ones such as corn and staked cherry tomatoes are in the northernmost part of the yard, where they won’t shade shorter plants.

• Interplant long-lived tomatoes, peppers and other such plants with fast growers such as spinach, lettuce and radishes; harvest them before the larger plants fill in.

• Provide support for sprawling plants—including most tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans and peas—to save space, prevent diseases and make vegetables more accessible for harvesting.

• Allow ample room between plants so they can grow to their full size without rubbing elbows with their neighbors. Good air circulation prevents many diseases.

• Determine the first and last frost dates for your area and plan your landscape accordingly. Planting recommendations on seed packets, in plant catalogs and in garden books are based on those dates.

Get Started!

Finding ways to grow more of our own food and reduce our homes’ resource use is a worthy goal. Start your edible landscape simply. Try replacing a few shrubs with easily grown culinary herbs and salad greens. The next step may be to add a few strawberry or rhubarb plants to your flower border. Or maybe this is the time to take out a few hundred square feet of sunny lawn in your front yard to create a decorative edible border instead.

If you’d like to try a fun, helpful garden-planning tool as you get started on your edible landscape, check out the handy Vegetable Garden Planner from Mother Earth News.

Inspiring Plant Pairings

Combining edibles and ornamentals can lead to a harmonious, productive garden. Consider these colorful combinations:

• A geometric design of orange tulips underplanted with mesclun salad mix and bordered with parsley or frilly lettuces.

Red or orange cherry tomatoes growing over an arbor planted with blue or purple morning glories

• Cucumbers climbing a trellis as a backdrop for a splash of coral gladiolus

• Gold zucchini and yellow dahlias bordered by red zinnias and purple basil

• A bed of fernlike carrots surrounded by dwarf nasturtiums

• A path bordered with dwarf red runner beans backed with giant, red-and-white-striped peppermint zinnias

• A wooden planter overflowing with strawberries and burgundy-leafed cannas

The Real Cost of Lawns

An organic lawn area can be wonderful for frolicking children, but those large, “well-maintained” areas of verdure generally are the landscaping equivalents of gas guzzlers parked in the driveway. Consider the following:

• Lawn mowing uses 300 million gallons of gas and takes about 1 billion hours annually. estimates that Americans spend $5.25 billion on petroleum-based lawn fertilizers and $700 million on lawn pesticides annually.

• According to the EPA, running the average gas-powered lawn mower for 1 hour can create the same amount of pollution as driving a car 340 miles.

• Nationwide, home landscape irrigation accounts for almost one-third of all residential water use—more than 7 billion gallons a day. Lawns gulp more than half of that.

High-Yield Tips for Beginners

Apply techniques experienced gardeners use to make their efforts more productive. To get the most food from a small garden area:

• Plant mesclun salad and stir-fry green mixes; they produce a lot in a short time.

• Choose plants that produce over a long period of time such as eggplants, chile peppers, chard and kale, which yield a large total harvest for the space they take.

• Grow indeterminate tomato varieties, which produce more fruit over a longer period than determinate varieties.

• Plant pole beans, peas and vining cucumbers, which grow vertically and for a longer season. They are more productive than bush types.

• Choose day-neutral strawberries, which bear from early summer through fall and outproduce spring-bearing types.

• Include plants that are in and out of the garden quickly—radishes, lettuce, arugula and green onions—among your other edibles.

Rosalind Creasy has been growing edibles in her northern California garden for 40 years. The expanded second edition of her landmark book, Edible Landscaping, is available at naturalhome This definitive book on designing with edible plants provides detailed advice and more than 300 inspiring photos.

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Is your landscaping terrible? Read this advice

Published Carson Arthur – February 26, 2015
landscaping design

So how do you choose what is right for your home?

I compare a property to a 3-course meal. The front yard is the appetizer. It sets the stage for the dinner and hopefully leaves your guests anticipating more. The house is definitely the meat and potatoes. It is the substance of the meal. Finally the backyard, which like the dessert course, finishes of the space.

Whether you’re having guests over for dinner or trying to impress potential buyers, people naturally start forming an opinion of your home from the moment they see it. That said, you only get one chance to make a first impression. For years, we were told that first impressions were made at the front door or at the front hallway. This is definitely not the case. Your front yard and landscaping is the very first thing people see when they come to your home and when it comes to home value, is definitely a smart investment.

How much of an investment should you make?

A first impression can increase your home’s perceived value by up to 7% according to a 2013 Century 21 study. That translates to $21,000 on the average Canadian home. This is a really important number. Basically, you now have a guideline of how much to spend on renovating the front yard.  If you stay under 7% of your home’s value when landscaping the front, experts say that you’ll probably get your entire investment back when it’s time to sell. Here’s where you should be spending your money:

  • A new front door – it’s the only one that has a higher return than cost (Remodeling Magazine, 2015).
  • Front walk ways
  • Well-designed driveways
  • Stone veneers – these top the list of must-haves for the best first impressions.

Before you start building landscaping into your budget, take a look at this video gallery for inspiration:


I love to drive through neighbourhoods and look at the landscaping and the houses. Some homeowners put a lot of detail into their front yards with shrubs, flowers, trees and even seating areas. You can tell they care for their spaces and it’s not a big leap to assume the inside of the house looks like the outside. I measure the success of a good front yard by how much I want to see the rest of the property. Other homeowners go with the standard foundation plants, an evergreen and a large lawn. While there’s nothing wrong with this default designs, there’s also nothing inspiring about these yards either. Potential buyers will even admit to driving past a home that has poor curb appeal!

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that the landscaping will sell a home. All of the components on your property need to be working together if you want to get maximum dollars…and who doesn’t want to make the most on their home when its time to sell?


Who’s ready to think about landscaping and design? It’s never too early. We have a list of landscaping contractors who will help get your landscaping plans in order before the spring weather arrives.

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Pressure Washing 101

Understand the basics of using a pressure washer on your property.

If you live in an area prone to moss or even mold, you’ve probably tried your hand at different methods of removal, including pressure washing. Although beautiful to look at, and beneficial to the environment, moss can pose a serious threat to sidewalks, roofs and driveways. It can be extremely slippery when wet and over time, can do damage to shingles and concrete. Depending upon your regional climate, you might find that removing moss from your home or property needs to be done as often as once or twice a year.

What is a pressure washer?

One of the most effective ways to remove stubborn materials like moss, bird poop or gum is using a pressure (or power) washing machine. A pressure washer pushes water out with a powerful surge of water, which acts like an abrasive. When it comes to removing moss there are chemical based cleaners, or good old fashioned scraping, but removing moss from aggregate concrete or other materials might actually be done more effectively with a pressure washer. You can purchase gas-powered or electric pressure washing machines at a store like Lowe’s, or you can rent a machine or hire a pressure washing professional. The type of machine you choose might be determined by your budget or the scope of your project. If you are regularly keeping up with moss removal, or have a small property, you might only require a light-powered machine. If you have several hours of work, stubborn moss issues, or are planning on sharing a machine between neighbors, it might be a smart idea to invest in a high-quality machine.

DIY vs. hiring a pro

Like other regular maintenance tasks, whether or not you hire a professional or do this yourself will depend on the amount of time you want to invest in doing this task as well as how much you want to invest in the equipment. Some homeowners choose to do their own pressure washing because it gives them the control to perform this task whenever they want and wherever they want. Pressure washing isn’t a highly skilled task however, it can be physically challenging. Others may choose to hire a pro because they don’t care to invest the time or money, or may not be physically able to do this task. When considering hiring a pro, you’ll want to take a general measurement of the areas to be pressure washed, as well as a general idea of the scope of the project. You might only need your driveway done or you might need a large property pressure washed.

What not to pressure wash

The force of the water can be strong enough to remove paint from exterior siding, splinter fences, remove shingles from a roof or ruin your landscaping. If it’s your first time pressure washing, you’ll want to be very cautious with any material other than stone or concrete. Some outdoor furniture can withstand pressure washing, but others could become damaged. If you aren’t sure, you can test a very small area, but use caution. It’s generally not recommended to pressure wash roofs (except for metal roofs), wood or painted surfaces.

Safety risks when pressure washing

Because water is being forced at a very high level of pressure, it’s a good idea to wear protective eye ware to prevent small rocks or pebbles from bouncing up into your face. It’s a very wet job so wearing good rain gear and boots is a good idea. If you are using a gas powered machine, use caution when operating and be aware of the carbon monoxide being produced. Some people prefer to wear protective ear plugs as well as prolonged exposure to loud noises can damage your hearing. Always read the operating manual to ensure that you are using the right type of gasoline and oil as well as properly maintaining the machine.

We were just called to help a homeowner on a local property.  With a few tricks of the trade; here are a couple of before and after shots!  Their Homeowner Association tried to write them up.

Gulf Sturgeon Before

Gulf Sturgeon After

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Places to Consider for Extra Electrical Outlets in Your New Build

This was my biggest regret when we built our home – we needed more outlets!  Please, keep reading!

Although people who opt to build their home instead of buy one already on the market work closely with an experienced builder, contractors, and designers, sometimes some details get overlooked. It’s not until long after they’ve already moved in that they realize they should have made themselves part of the discussion when it came to certain things, including places to access electrical power in the home. To avoid having to use extension cords and power bars, take the time to think through where you’d like to be able to easily access electricity in your new home. Here are some places to consider:


The National Electric Code, as modified by local government, prescribes the minimum number and general location of electrical outlets in your new home. That doesn’t mean you can’t add as many plugs as your electric service box will allow. The kitchen, home to small and large electric appliances, is a good place to start the process. Plan outlets on all sides of your island to allow for mixers, beaters, and other small electrics. Take a long look at your layout and put higher amperage plugs wherever you think you might move your refrigerator and microwave in the future. Place outlets underneath cabinets to provide soft LED lighting that costs virtually nothing to leave on all night.

Beautiful Kitchen

Living Room

It seems like everyone has at least one device that needs charging these days, so plan on putting ample electric outlets in all four corners, along with more outlets in the center of each wall. If you are hanging a flat screen TV on the wall, place a plug directly behind it to hide the cords. Consider in-floor plugs in the center of the room in case you want to have a display coffee table to show off mementos. If decorating for Christmas is a big thing in your family, consider where the tree will go and put a plug on a switch in a handy location. Take advantage of all the conveniences you can when planning your new home.

Living Room With Stone Fireplace

Family/Game Room/Bar

You’ll want plugs in multiple locations for charging stations, but also consider putting plugs toward the  in preparation for any lighted bar signs. If you have a bar, make sure there are plugs in the backsplash to run the blender as well as outlets underneath the bar for a small refrigerator and icemaker. Have a fireplace? Put some extra outlets on either side of the mantel in case you want to plug in a lighted sculpture or clock.

Lower Level Basement New Construction


Your electrician will know to use only GFI rated plugs around water, but think about the location. Have him install the plugs near where all the appliances are used. Stretching cords across a sink is not only dangerous, it’s inconvenient.


First figure out where your bed is going, then place plugs behind where the night stands will be, about two feet above the baseboard to hide the cords. Plan ahead and place these plugs on a 3-way switch, with one switch inside the door to turn the lights on, and two more on either side of the headboard where you and your partner can easily switch the lights on and off without ever leaving the comfort of your covers. Don’t forget about your walk-in closet or dressing room. Think about where you want your vanity and put an outlet there.

Master Bedroom In New Construction Home


The garage is one of the places that usually gets left out when planning electrical outlets. Along with an outlet in the center of the ceiling for the garage door opener, put multiple outlets along the wall where you plan on having a workbench. Keep outlets away from the hot water heater, but otherwise place them every 6 feet or so around the base of the garage to make using air compressors, shop vacuums, and other electric tools easier.


Keeping with the Christmas theme, plan outlets underneath your eaves so you can take full advantage of all your holiday decorations. Connect the plugs to a switch so it’s easy to turn the lights on and off, or better yet ~ connect them to a dawn to dusk sensor. You’ll also need GFI outlets closer to the ground all around your new home to allow for the use of tools and landscaping equipment. If you plan on having an outdoor kitchen at your new home, take advantage of this opportunity to run the outlets at bar height. Outdoor fountains, lighting, and pergolas also require outlets. A little planning now goes a long way to saving money later.

Home Office

Nothing is more inconvenient that having to crawl under a desk to plug and unplug computers, modems, routers, and printers. Have plugs installed slightly above desk height to make this task much easier. If you plan on mounting a small TV on the wall, this is also the time to put an outlet in the appropriate location.

Plan for the Future

Make sure your electrician provides an electric service box that has at least half a dozen empty locations for future expansion. While you’re in the planning stage for your new home, also have the electrician run empty conduit into the attic from the service box. This will make connecting future outlets a much easier process. While it’s nice to believe you’ll think of everything before you start construction, there’s always something that slips through the cracks!

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Remodeling 101: Five Questions to Ask When Choosing a Kitchen Backsplash

Okay, I admit that this is a little off-topic for my site and business, but.., I’m a woman!  I love articles like this and I’m sure that there are plenty of other people who feel the same (Joan).  Hope you enjoy the article!


Issue 7 · The New Eclecticism · February 19, 2015

Marble Hex Tile Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: Hexagonal Carrara marble tiles form a backsplash with an unfinished border. Styling by Jackie Brown for Real Living Magazine.

1. Which comes first, the countertop or the backsplash?

There’s no right answer to this question; even the experts disagree on the best approach. The key is to decide which of the two is more important to you. It may boil down to whether you have a dream material, or whether you favor functionality (countertop) or a focal point (backsplash) in your kitchen’s design.

Whichever material you choose first, there’s no arguing that the first selection will drive the second. The two materials meet at the wall line, so the general rule is they ought to coordinate or complement each other in color and texture.

Countertop First: “In my opinion, backsplashes are not the most important elements and should be selected only after other decisions are made,” says architect Elizabeth Roberts of Elizabeth Roberts Design/Ensemble Architecture. “Countertops and cabinets come first.” Not as easily switched out as backsplashes, countertops need to be hard-wearing (for use as a work surface) and are typically also the bigger investment in terms of budget, kitchen real-estate coverage, and longevity.

Backsplash First: Interior designer Alison Davin of Jute Design believes that the backsplash decision should always come first: “The backsplash is more of a focal point because of its placement,” she says. “The countertop should complement the backsplash.”

Alison Davin Jute Kitchen Terra Cotta Tile Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: Alison Davin‘s favorite combination is marble countertops in earthy/putty tones paired with terracotta backsplash tiles.

Elizabeth Roberts Warren Mews Townhouse Marble Countertop and Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: A third option is to use the same material for both the countertop and backsplash to create a unified look. Elizabeth Roberts chose veined marble for the countertop and backsplash—carried all the way up the wall—in this Brooklyn townhouse.

2. What look are you after: a statement or subtlety?

As its name suggests, a backsplash is there to protect the wall from splashes (not to mention cooking grease). But unlike the counter, it doesn’t need to accommodate hot pans, sharp knives, and food prep. So the choice is largely an aesthetic one—with many, many possibilities. Whittle down the choices by zeroing in on the effect you’re after. And keep in mind that countertops and backsplashes shouldn’t both compete for attention, only one should be statement-making.

Consider Color

Angela A'Court Kitchen Yellow Tile Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: Artist Angela A’Court introduced a bright backsplash when she renovated her kitchen. “The house is pretty much white and gray all over; I wanted a burst of color, hence the yellow Sicis Glass Mosaic Tiles,” she says. They sit between concrete countertops and stainless steel shelving. Photograph by Ty Cole. See Rehab Diaries: An Artist’s NYC Kitchen Renovation for more on the project.

Play with Pattern

Blue and White Cement Tiles Biscuit Film Works, Remodelista

Above: Contrasting patterns and textures of handmade blue-and-white Fez encaustic cement tiles (fromGranada Tile in Los Angeles) bring the backsplash to life in the Biscuit Filmworks kitchen in Los Angeles by Shubin + Donaldson (featured in the Remodelista book). The countertops are gray-veined Carrara marble. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

Toy with Texture

Textured White Backsplash Tile, Remodelista

Above: Neutral backsplashes can be dialed up with an interesting surface, as shown in this San Francisco kitchen by Medium Plenty that features white tiles with origami-like folds. Photograph byMariko Reed.

Explore Shapes

Blakes London Gray Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: A gray glass backsplash gains personality with cutout corners in a kitchen by Blakes London, a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory. It’s paired with a white solid-surface countertop and integrated sink. Photograph courtesy of Blakes London.

3. How much cleaning and maintenance can you handle?

An often overlooked issue when considering backsplashes is the day-to-day cleaning requirements of different materials. This may only be pertinent in the areas behind the stove and sink, but it’s important. Gather information about how to clean the materials you’re considering. Tiled backsplashes have grout that can collect dust and grime. Solid slabs lack dirt-gathering seams, but some natural stone materials can react poorly to grease and other cooking byproducts. And will that glimmering glass or stainless backsplash require nonstop polishing?

On Gardenista, Michelle comes clean about her backsplash maintenance issues in My Dirty Secret, or How I Learned to Live with a Marble Backsplash.

Made-a-mano-Lavastone Tile Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: Dark cabinets pair well with a backsplash of Lava Stone tiles from Danish company Made a Mano. Lava stone’s best attributes include its lack of maintenance: It doesn’t require a sealant or treatment. Read more in our Lava Stone Countertop Primer.

Research whether materials need sealing. In general glazed ceramic tiles don’t require a sealant, while natural (porous) tiles do. Sealing grout is strongly recommended.

Anstruther Kitchen Marble Countertop and Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: Worth the upkeep? London designer Harriet Anstruther‘s classically beautiful marble-and-brass London kitchen. Photograph by Henry Bourne. For more of this kitchen, see Steal This Look: A Glamorous London Kitchen from a Designer with “Shitloads of Talent.”

4. Where will the backsplash go?

A backsplash generally covers the space between the kitchen counter and the upper cabinetry. It might wrap the entire kitchen or just be a small rectangle along one wall. Consider the size of your space when making a backsplash choice. Do you have no upper cabinets and want a backsplash that reaches the ceiling? Or do you want to limit the backsplash to high-use areas, such as behind the stove, sink, and kitchen desk?

Elizabeth Roberts Beadboard Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: If there’s already a lot going on in the kitchen, the best answer may be no backsplash at all. “We decided to use painted beadboard for the backsplash since there was already so much stone, concrete, and tile in the room,” says architect Elizabeth Roberts of this Brooklyn townhouse design. See more in A Greenhouse for Living and Steal This Look: The Ultimate Chef’s Kitchen in Brooklyn. Photograph byDustin Aksland.

Amanda Pays Kitchen Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: In the LA kitchen of designer Amanda Pays and actor Corbin Bernsen, backsplash tiles are limited to the area behind the stove. The patterned concrete tiles create a focal point that complements the gray concrete countertops and white cabinetry. Photograph by Matthew Williams. Tour the Pays/Bernsen kitchen in the Remodelista book, and take a look at the adjoining laundry room .

5. What’s your budget?

Knowing what you want to spend helps whittle down the possibilities. Here are some tips to help control costs:

  • Choose classic materials that won’t go out of style. White ceramic tiles, for instance, offer a great bang for your buck in terms of cost and longevity.
  • Consider using an affordable neutral field tile or stainless sheeting for the majority of the backsplash paired with a statement tile in a smaller focal point.
  • Natural materials, such as marble, are often much more affordable as tiles rather than slabs.
  • Be flexible and look for a bargain. At tile stores and even on Craigslist, it’s often possible to find tile seconds and overstock, as well as discontinued patterns and colors at a significant savings.

Chevron White Tile Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: Affordable white ceramic field tile can be anything but boring. The tiles in this backsplash are twice as long as standard subway tiles and are installed in a herringbone pattern. For more ideas, seeWhite Tile Pattern Glossary. Photograph by Nicole Franzen.

Medium Plenty Kitchen Backsplash Heath Tiles, Remodelista

Above: A decision to use Calacatta marble (not to be confused with less pricey Carrara) for the countertops in a San Francisco kitchen by Medium Plenty required that cost savings be found elsewhere. The client found the backsplash’s Dimensional Crease tiles marked down by 75 percent at a seconds sale at Heath Ceramics. Photograph by Mariko Reed.

Ian Read Medium Plenty Heath Seconds Backsplash, Remodelista

Above: As he remodeled his own house, Ian Read, a founding partner of Medium Plenty, practiced what he preached: flexibility. “Our kitchen tiles were seconds because the color variation was more than whatHeath Ceramics typically allows for in variance and the shapes of the tile themselves were more irregular than the norm. There were also some surface pockmarks that we are more than happy to live with,” says Read. “There are different approaches to sorting the variations and you can either group like tones or randomize them. In our kitchen we went for the randomized approach.” For more tips, see Tile Intel: A Budget Remodel with Heath Seconds. Photograph by Melissa Kaseman.

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Project Curbs Pollution and Directs Rainwater Into Landscaping


A private water retailer named California American Water (Cal Am) approached theSurfrider-San Diego Chapter’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Program about helping turn a water guzzling area of a park and its runoff producing parking lot into an example of an Ocean Friendly Garden. Cal Am provides water to the Park. Patrick Pilz, Cal Am’s Field Operations Manager, is familiar with Surfrider: he is part of a team implementing a state grant-funded sustainable landscape program, and the team includes Surfrider, another non-profit, and several government agencies such as the City of San Diego. The Chapter jumped at the chance to do a project at such a high profile, public space. They had already helped successfully retrofit half-a-dozen residential landscapes in their region over the past five years.

Water had been running off parking lot to the street, down a storm drain and directly to the ocean, carrying all pollutants along with it. The nearby turf grass was continuously watered to keep it alive. The vision was to cut a curb surrounding the parking, directing rainwater runoff into approximately 2,000 square feet of turf grass that would be removed and replaced with a swale and basin plants with natives.

The public was told about the project and encouraged to participate when they attended a California Friendly Landscape Training – a class hosted by Cal Am, taught by Surfrider partner G3/Green Gardens Group, and which promotes OFG-oriented principles! The retrofit of the park was accomplished through a series of G3-ledHands-On Workshops (H.O.W.) as well as site prep by the City Park’s Department.Diane Downey (G3’s San Diego Regional Coordinator) and Jeremy Sison (G3 certified pro, and landscape architect) are both Surfrider-San Diego OFG Committee members (pictured above, left of the pole). Surfrider-San Diego Committee members also helped publicize the class and HOWs, and Cal Am created a cool all-in-one flyer for the events. Cal Am took care of H.O.W. registration and food for H.O.W. volunteers.

At the H.O.W. on Site Evaluation, participants analyzed the site’s “health” and where to apply CPR: Conservation potential, ways to improve Permeability and strategies for Retention of water onsite. They learned that a native garden needs just 20% of the water required by turf grass. Then the group calculated how much rainfall runoff was available from the adjacent parking lot based on the area of the lot and the average rainfall (10-14 inches). There was more than enough to support a native garden. G3 also led the group through doing tests for soil type and drainage, and discussed types of supplemental irrigation such as drip.

Three weeks later, a 2nd and 3rd H.O.W. were held on the same day. The first H.O.W. covered rainwater capture as well as turf removal and soil building through sheet mulching and rain capture. The afternoon’s H.O.W. covered planting and irrigation. (The City Park’s Department had removed the grass and done rough grading, including digging a shallow detention basin.) Volunteers then completed the grading, removed and remaining grass roots, then added mulch, then installed plants.

Rocks installed at the entrance to the swale slow the flow of the water, allowing it to seep into the ground, where pollutants are filtered and water is absorbed for plants to tap into during dry months. (Once the native plants are established, they will not need supplemental irrigation from the City’s water supply.) The project team learned that the water was not infiltrating well enough, so afollow-up H.O.W. will be done on February 21, 2015, focusing on drilling a dozen holes (aka augering) in the basin, back-filling with compost tea and mulch, then installing water-loving plants (juncus) in the basin and muhlenbergia rigens (deer grass) the sides …and possibly creating some side channels.

Cal Am picked up the bill for the H.O.W.s as well as compensated the City to cover the materials and site prep. Additional funding came from the project qualifying for the regional turf replacement rebate of $2/square foot. A H.O.W. attendee got so inspired that she OFG’d her home landscape (at left).

Check out this awesome video and time-lapse of the project! Chapters can post it on their website to explain OFG.
What an awesome way to help the environment!  Proudly brought to you by Curb Appeal, Concrete Landscaping Borders!  Serving Central Florida since 1998!  Call us today for your free estimate!


Let Us Clean & Seal Your Curbs!

We always encourage our clientele to seal their concrete borders to protect them from not only the elements such as mold or mildew; but also from things like fertilizer or hard-water that can leave permanent stains on concrete.  It is recommended that you clean and seal your borders approximately once each year to keep them attractive.

However, we do realize that not everyone has the time to clean and seal their borders, because – let’s face it, it can be a time consuming job!

So why worry about that?  Keeping in mind that the holidays are fast approaching, we decided to offer an additional service to our customers.

What makes this offer special is that unlike many other local curbing companies, we do not water down our sealant and we do not spray the sealant on.  We take the time to brush our sealant straight from the barrel – to your curbs – by hand.

The first picture you see have been subjected to the Florida climate for years!  Our team worked to clean the borders.



The second photo is our “After” shot.  Same border, but incredibly different!  It literally brought these concrete borders back to life!

Cleaned and Sealed!

Cleaned and Sealed!

As you can see from this picture below, we use only the best sealant.  It is commercial grade, and is a UV Super Seal, made by Lambert Industries.  This product is a non-yellowing, UV-stabilized, clear cure-and-seal product for use on new or existing concrete.  This product has a better moisture-loss performance rating as compared to what you can buy at your local hardware store.

UV Protection

UV Protection – a Clear, Non-Yellowing Protection

So what are you waiting for?

Give us a call, and we’ll come out to pressure wash and/or seal your borders at very special rate – as follows:

Sealing Curbs Only:

  • $1.00 per linear foot (minimum $75.00/job)

Pressure Washing & Sealing Curbs:

  • $2.00 per linear foot (minimum $125.00/job)

How may we help you?

Scott Bailey


St. Cloud, Florida


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