Container Gardening

Most people think of container gardening as that thing you do when you live in a small place with limited outdoor possibilities. Let us reassure you that it’s for everyone, everywhere. Check out these great ways to embrace container gardening to beautify all of your outdoor spaces be they small or large!

Get Grassy

Grasses and filler plants are perfect for adding greenery in just the right spaces without having to have the upkeep and maintenance of traditional hedges. You’re allowed an incredible amount of versatility that will allow you to regularly change up your look whenever you want. If you love changing your look with the seasons you can add in some annuals or if you want to kick back relax you might want to go with some perennials.

Petal to the Metal

There’s something absolutely fantastic about pairing beautiful delicate blooms with the hardness of metal. Grab that old metal wash bucket and get to gardening! Flowers are perfect for containers. They’re a fantastic vessel for annuals and you really can’t go wrong. Above all, planting flowers in containers are one of the best ways to put the perfect pop of color in spaces that don’t otherwise allow for planting.


Succulents make for perfect container plants. If you forget to water them for a bit, they won’t mind. If you get hit with a massive rainstorm they’ll be fine. It’s hard to do away with a succulent. There’s so many amazing varieties and many multiply rather quickly so you can start with a few and within a few years have a container full! Many you can actually cut and propagate into other containers. Succulent container gardens are perfect for people on the go that may not be able to dedicate themselves to routine watering and maintenance but really want to bring some beauty to their outdoor spaces.

Veg Out

Did you know that you can grow several vegetables and lettuces in containers? Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and all sorts of fruits and vegetables will thrive in containers. Make sure that you’re putting your mini gardens in locations where they’ll get proper light. Southern and Western facing locations should work fine. Make sure your edibles have proper drainage and good soil.


Herbs love containers! You can’t go wrong with a container herb garden. Plant multiples in big containers or individuals ones in small pots. There’s no limits to how to incorporate these gems into your outdoor spaces!

Get Inventive

There’s just no end to how inventive you can get with container gardens. Check out this absolutely amazing example of container gardening without limits! Are you a fan of container gardening? How have you worked it into your outdoor spaces? Post your pics on our Facebook page and tell us about your experiences with container gardening in the comments below!

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Focusing on the Dream, not the Price

By Lorraine Hart, Ideal Consulting Services

Most people who have done a remodeling project and have not been totally satisfied with the result or the experience have something in common. They focused on the wrong thing. Unfortunately when the focus has been the price rather than the dream, the project just doesn’t measure up.


Patio Cover built by Ashworth Design & Remodeling
Photo courtesy of Ashworth Design & Remodeling


In preparing for your remodeling project, I suggest that you focus on creating your dream for your home, rather than focusing on price negotiations. Keep in mind that this renovation, whether small or large is something that you may be living with for years to come. You certainly don’t want to have any regrets or wish that you had done it differently. The small amount that you save now may not be worth it in the long run. By communicating with your prospective remodeler, together you will be able to make your dream a reality.

To establish a good working relationship with your contractor, honesty is needed on all sides. It is best to share not only your needs and wants for your renovation, but your restrictions as well. Unfortunately I often hear about the broken relationships caused by lack of information from the beginning. In order for a professional to create a sound, realistic plan for your project, it is important that they have some idea of your budget. I know that many of you will resist this, however I want to point out that it is next to impossible for anyone to create a project plan and proposal unless they have some idea of your financial limitations.


Remodeled Master Bedroom Suite by Remodelers of Houston
Photo Courtesy of Remodelers of Houston

It doesn’t have to be the exact amount of money you can afford, but you need to give some parameters to the remodeling professional. This will guide them in developing the project and selecting materials. A professional remodeler will be able to give you various ranges and you can choose the range that will be most comfortable for you. Otherwise the prospective contractor is hampered in determining which way to go. If the project is too low-end you will be disappointed because it doesn’t have all those things which you want included. On the other hand if it is too high-end you stand the chance of falling in love with something that is just not affordable. In either case you both lose.


Remodeled Bathroom by Craftsmanship by John
Photo courtesy of Craftsmanship by John

Another area to address is that of free estimates. We all see ads for free estimates, but most of us don’t know what that means. What it should mean is that the potential contractor will meet with you to get an idea of what home improvements you are interested in. Once the scope of the project is loosely defined, the contractor can give some ball park ranges. A free estimate does not mean that the contractor will create a design, or do a design analysis and feasibility study. That is beyond the scope of a free estimate. Professionals deserve to be compensated for designs or anything that requires significant analysis.

By selecting a contractor that will do a professional analysis up front, you will ultimately save time, money and aggravation. By getting all the questions answered up front there will be fewer surprises and fewer change orders.

By focusing on creating your dream rather than just negotiating price, both you and your remodeler will win.


Remodeled Kitchen by Stuckey Builders
Photo courtesy of Stuckey Builders

LorraineHart Lorraine Hart is the president and senior consultant for Ideal Consulting. Ideal has been providing business consulting, coaching, and training of small businesses in the construction industry since 1992. Lorraine has been writing and managing content for numerous organizations for over 25 years. She is a national member of NARI and contributor to its national blog. She is also a regular contributor to Remodeling Today and the coordinator and editor of the weekly home articles for the Houston Chronicle. On top of all that, Lorraine is also a member of the GHBA, the Remodelers Council, Custom Builders Council, and the Bay Area Builders.

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Homestead Series – Choosing Guard Animals

By Carole West of GardenUp green

Choosing guard animals is one of the most important purchases for the homestead. There are several options, some you may haven’t even considered. I’m going to share which animals work to protect based on instinct and training. Let’s dive in and see which ones may meet the needs of your land.


Guard Dogs

Guard dogs are the common option homesteaders seek for protecting their livestock. Two of the most popular breeds are the Great Pyrenees, which are a white fluffy dog and the Anatolian Shepherd, pictured below.

This Anatolian is my neighbor’s dog; they use a male and female to protect a large herd of goats on a 20 acre homestead. These two dogs work as a team on a mission and they know their purpose.

It’s always a good idea to have two working dogs especially with large acreage because it allows one to rest while the other is on guard duty.

The Great Pyrenees works the same, these two breeds would live outdoors year round with their livestock, I wouldn’t recommend them as house dogs unless they approach retirement age.


The Pyrenees and Anatolian

The Pyrenees and Anatolian are very comfortable with goats and sheep; on occasion I’ve seen grown Pyrenees in the fields with younger cows.

Dogs are unique in that some have that natural instinct to protect. Others need additional training that begins from the time they’re a pup.

If you’re looking at using dogs to protect your livestock, it’s recommend beginning with a pup and purchase from a farm breeder. These dogs have normally been born right in the barn with livestock nearby and they’ve had bonding play time with that livestock.

This bonding will help them transition to their new homestead with the purpose to protect.

What about Mutts

On our homestead we use two dogs, they’re lovely mutts that protect our home and land with every bit of energy they have and they take it very serious; they’re not the focus for protecting our farm animals. However if the opportunity approached they would do it.

Our dogs have a great life, they’re more like family farm dogs which means they come and go all hours of the day and night, a dog door would be a great idea if you choose this option.

When you implement dogs on your homestead remember to consider the expense of food and care. Most dogs including the breeds I’ve mentioned have a 12 – 14 year life span so if you’re on a budget the expense these animals require could become a burden if you’re not prepared.

Let’s consider the other available options.

Male Llamas

Sometimes Llamas get a bad rap and I get asked quite often, “Don’t they spit?” Where this can be true for some, we have not experienced any spitting llamas.

In the early days my husband raised Dexter cows; it was a neat experience. Before they arrived we purchased our first male llama.

After the farm was fenced the llama arrived two weeks prior to our cows. We wanted him to explore the pasture land and get a feel for the perimeter he would be protecting. One llama is sufficient for protecting a small herd of cows.

Male llamas are fun and have a corky personality but you cannot use them for guarding sheep or goats unless they’re gelded.

Llamas for Sheep and Goats

We use a female llama to protect our Jacob sheep; she has a small flock of seven ewes that keeps her content. She’s always on alert for predators; this includes everything from coyotes to squirrels.


When a threat is in the area the llama sends out a sound to alert the animals she protects. The sheep will group together as she runs toward the predator ready to kick. They can injure and sometime even kill coyotes and dogs.

If you plan to have a guard llama and dogs remember never to put them in the pasture together after dark or when the sun goes down. Our dogs are only allowed in the pasture during the day when we’re outside.

Caring for these animals includes sheering once a year, free choice minerals, clean water, pasture grazing and hay. Llamas are great foragers and they love to trim the trees. Shelters are not necessary but they won’t turn them down either. If you’re seeking to purchase a llama I highly recommend, North Texas Llamas. Jimmy is extremely helpful, knowledgeable and every llama we’ve owned came from him. Sometimes with the females you even get a bonus llama later on.

Emus Guard

Emus are not commonly thought of as guard animals. We acquired our first emu through a rescue; we quickly discovered the benefit of having one roam our pasture so we recently added a couple more.

Emus are fantastic at chasing off all types of predators especially sky birds like, hawks and vultures.

There are different display signal an emu will perform when they see a nearby threat. These signals let you know that something negative is in the area.

* Fast pace running

* Loud hissing

* A display of jumping in conjunction with running

* Standing tall

* Shrinking down


These birds are relatively easy to care for, however they do sleep at night so you couldn’t depend on them for night watch. Using them in conjunction with a llama would be a better option.

Emus add a little interest to the homestead; you can also raise them for meat and oil.

Emu’s will need shelter when temperatures reach below 30 degrees and their diet consists of foraging for bugs, pasture grass, and daily feed. Water is also an important part of their diet. To learn more about emus visit my blog.

Guarding Donkeys

I’m not a big fan of donkeys unless they’re a foal; they look like a stuffed animal at that age.

To many times donkeys grow up with an attitude making them difficult to navigate around the homestead. They tend to bite and kick which is something I prefer to avoid.

They do have some advantages; donkeys can be housed to protect almost any farm animal. The most important thing to remember is you only need one. If you add more than one donkey in a pasture they will create their own herd and fail to protect your livestock.

A donkey requires access to a shelter, pasture grazing and hay. Regular hoof trimming and worming is also necessary which can get expensive.


Summing Up the Options

With all of these options it’s best to first think about what kind of farm animals you plan to raise, this will help you decide what type of guard animal will work best. Never jump into a purchase without doing additional research, I can’t say that enough. Read it’s so important to learn more!

With all animals there is a level of commitment and it’s your responsibility to care for that animal the best way possible. We all make mistakes but doing your research first and planning things out will save you time in the long run and your animals will be happier.

Remember this, the guard animal is just like your fence, it’s protecting your investment.

Homestead Series
Homestead Series – Land Discovery
Homestead Series – Fence Out Predators

garden-up-greenCarole West is the founder and writer of GardenUp Green. She’s been gardening since she was a small child, learning from her Italian grandmother. Carole shares her all natural gardening techniques and projects on GardenUp Green so that readers can learn, discover, and be inspired. Carole has been putting together patio gardens and backyard escapes and has even ventured into small scale farming. Her greatest reward comes from her family. Their love and understanding has helped her build an amazing and creative life! Check out GardenUp Green on Facebook, Hometalk, and Pinterest.

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What to Expect at the 37th Annual Texas Home & Garden Show Dallas

The Texas Home & Garden Show in Dallas is the one event where you can visit with hundreds of companies for indoor and outdoor solutions all under one roof. Shop a complete selection of pool and hot tubs, contractors and remodelers, outdoor living & more at the Texas Home and Garden Show Dallas. Meet face-to-face with experts in the NARI Pavilion and at the Dallas County Master Gardeners’ Stage. Make sure you attend our FREE hands-on, interactive workshops! And bring the kids to the FREE KidsZone featuring inflatables and more!

March 4-6th at Dallas Market Hall you’ll find inspiration and ideas for your next big project and the experts you need to get the job done!


Meet The Experts

This show is the best place to meet with your local contractors and home improvement specialists. Learn about everything you need to know about your next home improvement adventure from the experts at the NARI Dallas Pavilion. Get a chance to meet several remodeling contractors like Dimensional Contracting, Red Oaks Contracting and Statewide Remodeling. And build your dream home with UBUILDIT.

Dream House

Turn your home into the house of your dreams and the envy of your friends and neighbors! Don’t worry about drought or deluge with a forever green yard with EasyTurf North Texas. And build a patio and outdoor living space you won’t ever want to leave with Equinox Louvered Roofs, Ideal Outdoor Living, Whiz-Q, and Gulf Coast Palapas.


Sleep Soundly

Is it time to replace your old mattress? The Dallas show is the best place to shop for your new bed. Whatever type of mattress you’re looking for it’ll be easy to find all in one place. With companies like Mattress Firm, Sleep Number, Mattress One, Mattress HQ, and American Sleep Therapy you can test out innerspring, Tempur-Pedic, Sleep Number, or hybrid mattresses. Sleep soundly knowing you’re getting an incredible show deal without all the aggravation of visiting multiple mattress stores!

NARI Pavilion

Bring your floor plans and/or remodeling questions to the NARI pavilion and receive complimentary consulting from their panel of experts. NARI will also have a several home remodeling experts on hand giving talks on all manner of products and services to improve your home and quality of life.


Dallas County Master Gardeners

Dallas County Master Gardeners provide free gardening advice to area residents. The Master Gardeners welcome the opportunity to help you find the solution to your gardening problems. They will be featured at the Dallas show and will be providing seminars throughout the weekend.


The Texas Home and Garden Show is excited to offer several workshops this Spring! Workshops are free to attendees but spaces are limited. Participants can build their own tool box to take home or learn the essentials of homesteading and what it takes to get started. Workshops are available on Saturday and Sunday. Seating is limited and is first-come, first-served.


Michael Graves

Don’t miss the chance to learn tips and techniques from Michael Graves. From Venetian plaster to faux brick and marble you can learn how to incorporate these gorgeous looks in your home all on your own or bring in a true expert to give your home beautiful finishing touches.


Once again we have something for everyone at our shows, even the kids! Don’t miss the KidsZone where your little ones can play on the inflatables and work out all that energy and explore with the Master Gardeners as budding junior gardeners. With the KidsZone you can bring the little ones along knowing there’s plenty to keep them entertained.


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Let The Sun Shine In!

By Dan Marshall of Innovative Skylights & Attics

You can add enjoyment and lasting value to your home with natural, efficient sunlight. Skylights and sun tunnels will not only improve your view, but can also provide fresh air and ventilation where needed.


Sun tunnels provide light in this remodeled kitchen.
Photo courtesy of Innovative Skylights & Attics

Skylights come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are several options to consider when choosing a skylight. Fixed skylights which cannot be opened (non-venting) are perhaps best suited for a cathedral ceiling or a dark space where venting is not needed. Manual venting skylights should be reachable and are best for spaces where ventilation is desired. However, manual venting skylights can be accidently left open and rain can get in. Newer models of skylights are solar powered. These skylights have the advantage of not needing to be hardwired and have rain sensors which automatically detect rain and self-close.

In addition to being an architectural boost, skylights can help lower your energy bill. Properly placed, homes can stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.


Photo courtesy of Innovative Skylights & Attics

Sun tunnels are 60% more energy efficient than traditional skylights. Sun tunnels provide more options than traditional skylights. They can be installed in areas that are not suitable for traditional skylights such as bathrooms, closets, hallways and offices since they require less space and can fit around various obstructions. We have even brought them into a first floor room in a two floor home! Now that’s an option you can’t get with traditional skylights! Sun tunnels can be installed with a light kit so that they function as the primary light fixture of a room, providing natural sunlight during the day and electrical lighting at night. The lights can be connected to a fan as well. If you happen to crave a little darkness, shades are available to block light for both skylights and sun tunnels.


Photo courtesy of Innovative Skylights & Attics

It is important to determine the position of your skylights or sun tunnels to maximize natural light and energy efficiency. If you live in a windstorm area we recommend IMPACT skylights and sun tunnels which have been tested and are compliant with the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI).

When planning your new home or the remodel of your current one, take some time to consider skylights and sun tunnels as a beautiful enhancement that also provides comfort to you and your family while conserving the energy we all share.

This article was provided by a member of the Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association. The Remodelers Council is dedicated to promoting professionalism and public awareness of the remodeling profession through education, certification and service to the Houston community. For information on this article, please contact Lorraine Hart at To join the council or to find a professional remodeler in your area, please visit


Photo courtesy of Innovative Skylights & Attics

GHBA_RCThe Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association is an organization of remodelers and industry professionals. The Remodelers Council is dedicated to promoting professionalism and public awareness of the remodeling profession through education, certification and service to the Houston community. For information on this article, please contact Lorraine Hart at To join the council or to find a professional remodeler in your area, please visit the GHBA website.

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