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Holly Bushes

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We have some beautiful holly bushes, which are basically small trees now, surrounding my property. We've lived here for five years, and have trimmed them where we can reach them but nothing overly aggressive in respect to height and width.

My brother is a landscaper and he gave me some free advice years ago, which I thought that I would pass on.

The advice he has given me about trimming is this: "Take your time. Five years is a long time for us but a short time for a tree."

I hated this advice but it's spot on.

When we moved into our house there were some lilac bushes in the front of the house that the previous owners has shaped into trees. This would have been nice, but well, the trees had been neglected and there were some dead spots.

We had wanted to remove all of the dead spots and bring the trees down to a more manageable height but my brother encouraged me to take my time. As it turned out some of the dead spots were only dormant and over the last few years we've gently shaped it into something a bit more treelike.

Had I been as aggressive as I initially wanted it would've taken ~10 years for the tree to recover.

As for holly bushes, they are extremly hardy.

They will grow back faster than new plants even if you cut them all the way down because of the root system. If we really wanted to make them smaller we would get the latter and hedge trimmer out. But we'll save that for when they are too big. Since, there is not much of an alternative to aggressive cutting.

Do Landscapers Use Better Fertilizer

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I guess I am really lucky. My brother is a landscaper so I get a lot of my knowledge for free. The stuff that I end up paying for is when I make a mistake.

Then it costs me.

But for today's question the answer is no. You are paying for their experience, their guarantee, and the cost of not doing it yourself.

Let's start off with:

  1. consider getting your supplies from Lesco/John deere. It is what most professionals will use if there is one in the area.
  2. part of what you get with a lawn service is their guarantee, most will come out and retreat weeds till the problem is corrected and you are satisfied. It may take a few calls.
  3. most everything is negotiable. Most lawncare services are competing for business. Price a couple out. I had it to the point where the lawn service cost was about what I was paying for Lesco products... Then it just comes down to preference.

While there are pesticides that you need to be licensed to apply, they are called "Restricted use pesticide" or you may hear them called RUP. They're generally much stronger than what you can buy or will ever need. And if you did need them you would want somebody who knows what they are doing to actually apply them.

By all means, learn what you are doing. Even with the over the counter products you can buy you are exposing yourself to potentially health harming subtances!

My brother just suggested that I use the Scott's 4 step annual program. I was going try out the 4 step annual program at my local Home Depot, it is much like the one from Menards.

Where it also comes down to, is for costs. Application equipment (proper, not a cheap-o spreader) and Herbicides is where the consumer loses.

But when I look out and see our yard there is the sense of pride and accomplishment. I don't mind the extra cost and the effort. Plus if I make a mess my big brother will always be willing to put it right.

The Good, the Bad, and the Quilter

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I love to make things and for a couple of years now I have been hooked on quilting. It is easier than it sounds. And my journey started when my mother bought me a quilt set when we were expecting out first child.

I used kits for the first couple of projects and I will say, I've had both good experiences an bad experiences.

One thing I've learned over the years is that if the kit uses a pattern from a designer I don't recognize, I always ask to see the pattern first, and I ask if the place I'm buying the kit from has actually made a sample. There have been times when the patterns have had mistakes, and the shop didn't catch it because they never made the quilt themselves. This goes double for fabric company free patterns.

But for designers I already know, or from shops that I know have made a sample and have included any corrections in with the kit, I actually love doing kits.

There are times when I don't want to spend days picking out fabrics for a quilt, and just want to get one done. There are also times when I just simply love the fabric combinations that the designer or shop employees have chosen, and want that exact quilt with no changes.

A lot of people don't like doing kits because they want their quilt to be completely unique. That's not something that matters to me. As long as I like the quilt, I don't care if 200 other people made it, too. Yet, even if I use a kit, sometimes I vary it up a bit.

When you have doubts about a kit, or the instructions, be sure and read all the comments about the kit. Here is where online can really help.

Google the kit name, look at comments and what other people have noted about the kit or pattern.

Slso you should note if the Kit has a "level" notation: beginner, intermediate, etc. Some quilts look complicated for a reason, and some look complicated, and are not.

If you are absolutely brand new then I wouldn't pick a kit as your first project. My mother didn't know that, and my first attempt didn't turn out that great. The directions are quite short and assume you already know the basics.

Looking At Quilting Software

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That's right EQ7, I am looking at you! I like that EQ7 includes a lot of common blocks just with the program itself. Like a couple thousand?

It looks like you have to pay for the digital fabric collections, which some quilting software programs give you sample for free.

ANother plus for me is the learning curve. I don't feel like the learning curve is that high with EQ though I have heard it is going to take me a couple of days.

I'm getting excited, because this would be a huge upgrade for me.

I'll keep you posted on what I decide!

Edit: I opted for EQ7!

The Scraps

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I feel that one of the biggest expenses when it comes to quilting is buying the fabric. And this feels silly to me since a lot of what quilting is about is using old fabric.

Now I am looking for people that sell left over fabric scrap regularly. You know, somebody that destashes their stockpile. Friends have suggested I look at Facebook as there's a lot of buy/sell sites. Right now I have been using etsy and ebay. I buy leftovers and pretty regularly on etsy and ebay, and I look for vintage in particular but the price has started to go up over the years. I also buy unfinished quilt tops because it's fun to puzzle out completing them.

If you have any suggestions let me know.

Barton Heights

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I've never lived there, but I can hardly imagine a worse place in Richmond to buy a house. Still, I've seen a lot of positive change in the last few years.

A friend of ours who moved here from out of state loved the look of the homes. And they have had a so-so experience there.

When you watch the news it appears like day-to-day living is quiet. The feel of the neighborhood can change dramatically from one block to the next, so I would recommend that your brother get to know the locational nuances of the neighborhood before signing a contract.

Some blocks are as nice as any in Battery Park, but others can be intimidating.

Chances are, at some point after he moves in someone will knock on his door with a story about a broken down car or furnace in an attempt to fleece him for a few bucks. On rare occasions, he may even hear gunshots.

I think because of that and proximity to downtown, it will turn around like some parts of Northside are right now.

But not for another 20 years.