Home & Gardens

09/12/2016 - 11:05am
A friend says that she can dig her garden soil with her bare hands! Woe is I. Even with a sharp trowel I have trouble digging my own. Although watered daily, my plants look exhausted. Any ideas? Gardeners make much about the “friability” of their soil. Your friend probably added fresh compost annually for the past 40 years. Relax. It’s true that garden soil should be about 50 percent air, but plants, like all of us, make do in less than optimal conditions. Roots have trouble... >>more
09/12/2016 - 10:15am
I would venture an educated guess that as recently as 20 to 30 years ago more than 75 percent of Capitol Hill flat and low-slope roofs were standing-seam tin roofs (or terne roofs as they are often known). I say “educated” because our family has been working on Capitol Hill roofs for nearly 100 years and I think we have seen it all! You would also have seen some copper roofs and slag roofs (also known as asphalt-and-gravel roofs). And, continuing our look-back in time, the steeply... >>more
09/12/2016 - 9:10am
Consider a standard closet make up: shoes sit piled on the floor, clothes hang from an eclectic assortment of plastic or wire hangars, one rod extends across the width of the space, a few boxes may stack on a shelf above the rod, and random old items gather in another corner pile. But your daily life and spatial sanity don’t need to suffer. With the help of a professional closet designer or by following do-it-yourself tips, anyone can build a closet space to serve both daily life and... >>more
09/09/2016 - 11:08am
If you Google “windows” these days, you find more about Microsoft software than about the character-defining features of your house. Yet soon we will be facing the drafty days of winter, and now is the perfect time to tackle the issue of replacing or repairing windows. Fortunately homeowners on Capitol Hill have a number of experienced firms to choose from, and can get more information from resources listed in theis article.  Windows: Key to Preserving the Historic Quality of... >>more
09/09/2016 - 10:12am
A potential Zika virus host, the mosquito Aedes aegypti, has over-wintered on Capitol Hill since 2011. In a wonderfully ironic instance of having your mistakes come back to bite you, the Hill is home to some of the same members of Congress who left for summer recess without appropriating additional Zika research funds. Though the virus has not appeared in the Hill mosquitoes, entomologists note that this is the only known instance of the insects over-wintering north of Alabama (https://www.... >>more
09/09/2016 - 9:10am
Many Capitol Hill homes come with galley kitchens, and while this design can be efficient it often lacks in space and aesthetics. One of the first things to consider when remodeling a galley kitchen is how to open it to adjoining rooms to make it the true hub of the home. For instance, in a recent remodel in a DC rowhouse, the 1920s galley kitchen no longer worked for the family of five. They were tired of the cramped layout and outdated cabinets and finishes. Although the wall between the... >>more
08/10/2016 - 11:07am
We are just back from a month’s vacation to find our shade garden looking quite wan. Any ideas for color and thrills this late in the season? You will be lucky to find best choices in, as you put it, “color and thrills this late in the season” among plants left in the stores. First you might revitalize the soil in your shade garden by giving it a light mulching (“top dressing”) of rich compost. Most shade-loving perennials have already had their blooming period,... >>more
08/10/2016 - 10:17am
If you’re short on garden space but love growing edibles, microgreens may be just what you’ve been looking for. Ditto if you’re a gardener who also wants instant gratification. Nothing tasting this good takes less space, less time, or less effort. Breaking the Rules Capitol Hill garden designer Gary Hallewell enjoys sitting on his Eighth Street rooftop vegetable garden at the end of a long, hot workday, watching his potted beans, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers grow. He even... >>more
08/10/2016 - 9:10am
Are you ready for a change of scenery? You don’t have to leave DC to achieve that. Stay at home, pull up a chair, pour a frosty beverage, and fan out a color paint deck. You’re in for a visual treat. Changing the exterior paint color of your home can chase away the doldrums and beautify your neighborhood. Stand out from the pack regardless of whether you are planning to sell your home or keep it. Tom Faison, realtor on the Hill, instructs his DC clients, “The first thing to... >>more