7 DIY Recycled Bird Feeders

March 15, 2019 by  
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Invite your feathered friends into your garden this spring with … The post 7 DIY Recycled Bird Feeders appeared first on Earth911.com.

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7 DIY Recycled Bird Feeders

Maven Moment: The Garden in the Porch

March 13, 2019 by  
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The full snow moon in the late winter sky reminds … The post Maven Moment: The Garden in the Porch appeared first on Earth911.com.

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An urban wetland springs to life among Bogotas high rises

March 12, 2019 by  
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An open plaza in Bogota’s northeastern business district has been radically transformed from a place of pure pavement to a vibrant urban wetland . Colombian architecture firm Obraestudio completed the project in 2016 in the Santa Barbara business center to revitalize the outdoor common space shared by the Torres Unidas Building, Scotia Bank, Samsung, AR and W Hotel towers. Covering an area of over two acres, the architects injected a lush aquatic landscape into the public-facing plaza, creating a striking contrast between wild nature and the sharp geometry of the surrounding high-rises. Winner of an open national design competition sponsored by The Colombian Architects Society, the Usaquén Urban Wetland has become an iconic, privately-owned public space in northeast Bogota . The design draws inspiration from the wetlands of the Bogota Savannah, a rich, biodiverse area located in the southwestern part of the larger Andean plateau, the Altiplano Cundiboyacense. To recreate the wetland appearance, a large recycled rainwater-fed pool was carved out from the heart of the plaza and planted with native aquatic vegetation. “A natural ecosystem — half aquatic, half terrestrial — is recreated by the geometry, colors and textures of the overall design,” Obraestudio explained in a project statement. “Existing buildings and the exterior common areas are a provocative, clear contrast to the wild, free-growing landscape elements. A recycled rainwater garden over the main square creates a native urban wetland that blends harmoniously with the surrounding Andean hills backdrop and preserves the native vegetation in its natural habitat.” Related: Triangular windows bring light and drama to a stunning Bogota bakery Moreover, the parking area was replaced with a linear park that has also been lushly planted and designed to “inspire slow and meditative walks.” Pre-existing green roofs were preserved while the old elevator and stairs structures have been re-engineered so as not to visually detract from the new landscape design. + Obraestudio Via ArchDaily Photography by Daniel Segura and Andres Valbuena via Obraestudio

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An urban wetland springs to life among Bogotas high rises

Breezy caravan-inspired annex uses passive design for thermal comfort

February 28, 2019 by  
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In Melbourne, Australia, a 1960s family home has been updated with a new contemporary extension that draws inspiration from a traveling caravan. Flanked by lush greenery, the Bent Annexe is filled with natural light and designed to follow passive solar principles for energy efficiency. The modern addition was designed by Australian architectural practice BENT Architecture for an outdoor-loving family of four and their two active Dachshunds. The primary goal of the Bent Annexe was to open the relatively introverted midcentury home up to the garden and bring greater amounts of natural light and ventilation into the living spaces. To that end, the architects removed existing ancillary structures in the rear of the property to make space for the new addition . With the primary living spaces now located in the annex, the architects also took the opportunity to remodel the existing dwelling, which now houses larger bedrooms, a family bathroom, and a second living space. “The trick to making the Annexe feel like a part of the garden is creating green spaces on both sides, by separating the addition from the original home with a courtyard ,” the architects explain of their design process. “Of course, the central courtyard improves cross-flow ventilation and lets north light into the master bedroom, but with full-height windows on both sides of the living area, it also creates the illusion of one continuous space, blurring the boundary between inside and outside.” Related: A 1960s home gets a modern facelift with solar panels and rainwater collection Built to wrap around the original home beneath a continuous roofline, the extension houses open-plan living areas that overlook the landscape through full-height glazing and casement windows. A retractable shading device—a caravan-inspired canvas element—provides shade to a decked outdoor dining area that strengthens the home’s new indoor/ outdoor connection. The use of concrete floors for thermal mass and operable louver windows help passively heat and cool the space to reduce the home’s energy bills. + BENT Architecture Via ArchDaily Images © Tatjana Plitt

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Breezy caravan-inspired annex uses passive design for thermal comfort

10 easy eco-friendly home decor tips

February 28, 2019 by  
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Decorating a home is intimidating enough without taking the environment into account, but choosing eco-friendly decor will be more beneficial in the long run. Here are some simple tips and rules for green alternatives in home decorating that will help reduce your  carbon footprint and even save you some money along the way. Perks of vintage The simplest way to positively affect the environment with your home decor choices is to buy pre-used. Some people even prefer a more wear-and-tear or “distressed” look. Not to mention, vintage decor is chic and costs way less than buying new. So head over to your local thrift store, estate sales or flea markets (you can even raid your grandma’s attic for forgotten treasures). If you still can’t find anything to your taste, Ebay and other media sites are a great place to explore pretty much anything vintage. Related: 9 ways to add more houseplants to your home Choose sustainably-sourced materials Work with companies that are focused on ethical labor standards and fair trade. There are some great globally inspired home products that give back to the artisans and communities who make their pieces and are passionate about eco-friendly decor. Obviously, one of the best material for furniture is wood, but making sure that you choose a wood that doesn’t contribute to the deforestation epidemic is just as important as choosing the style of furniture itself. Make sure all wood is FSC certified and sustainably-sourced. Donate When you absolutely do need to get rid of something in your home, choose to donate it or even sell it. Even if you don’t make much money off the sale, it still means that the item transferred its value to someone else (and more importantly, didn’t end up in a dumpster or landfill ). The Goodwill is an amazing organization that gives back to the community and ReStore by Habitat for Humanity has a free pick-up program that will help local families find homes. Most donations are tax-deductible as well. Don’t assume that just because it is used or old that no one will want it. Use non-toxic materials Whether you’re painting your walls or repurposing a piece of furniture, the type of paint you choose matters. Eco-friendly paints are free of volatile organic compounds or “VOCs,” which can be harmful to both the environment and to humans. Even carpet has been known to emit high levels of VOCs and contribute to accumulations of allergens . Houseplants A well-cared-for houseplant can give renewed life to any space. There are even some houseplants such as ferns or palms that can increase oxygen and help purify your home. Houseplants are a less-expensive decoration that adds a natural, fresh accent and can combat pollutants and chemicals produced from man-made materials. Thermal alternatives Even a plain thermal lining can drastically reduce how much hot or cold air is escaping from your home. This will also save money on your electricity bill and make your home that much more comfortable for your family and guests. For eco-friendly insulation, there are alternatives to fiberglass made from sustainable materials like wool or hemp. Related: 6 places to find the best recycled building materials Repurpose It may take a little more elbow grease, but DIY-ing your old stuff into new stuff is more rewarding and satisfying than buying new every time. Repaint wooden tables to match your new decor with an artsy pattern or reupholster your old chairs to make them look brand new. If your creative side refuses to come out, hire someone else to do the job. It will still cost less money than buying new while still feeling new to you. Look out for furniture made from reclaimed and salvaged materials like aluminum and recycled wood as well. Go with timeless styles One of the biggest problems with home decor is changing trends. A type of furniture or style may be in vogue one year and out of style the next. That leaves trendy homeowners with the options of either getting rid of their decor or repurposing it in order to keep up. Investing in sturdy, timeless designs will ensure that your home decor never goes out of style and you get plenty of use out of it before it needs to be altered or donated. Use nature Go wildflower picking or gather herbs from the garden to decorate. Add natural accents like citrus to elevate a vase or candle holder for a special effect, or use cranberries or holly during the holidays. Driftwood is also a wonderful alternative for doorstops or shelving and can be DIY -ed into wall art. Sometimes the most memorable and special decorations can be found in the most unlikely places. Redecorate If your home is feeling dull and in dire need of an upgrade, sometimes just a simple change of scenery can make all the difference. Try moving furniture or shelving around, switching out photos or re-arranging artwork onto different walls. You may save yourself a lot of unnecessary effort and stress just by finding new spots for your furniture in your home . Images via Shutterstock

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10 easy eco-friendly home decor tips

Net-zero Maine house is designed to blend into the forest with age

February 28, 2019 by  
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When the owner of a beautiful natural site in Falmouth, Maine tapped Portland-based architectural studio Kaplan Thompson Architects to design his house, it was clear from the beginning that the forested surroundings would play a major role in the design. Not only did the architects use a predominately timber palette to bring the woods indoors, but the two-story home was also engineered to produce all of its own energy to reduce impact on the environment. Dubbed the Blackwood House, the net-zero dwelling is fitted with a variety of renewable energy systems and low-maintenance materials for long-term sustainability. Topped with a slanted roof, the Blackwood House takes on a shed-like appearance with a utilitarian vibe that’s strengthened by the exterior surface materials. Combined in what the architects call a “complex textile pattern”, the low-maintenance and cost-effective facade includes weathering steel, fiber cement board (Viroc), and black-stained cedar (Maibec), all of which will develop a natural patina over time. An open timber-framed carport completes the utilitarian look while keeping the design within budget. “Unlike contemporary modern spaces that are cold and sterile, this house is modern and sleek yet roughhewn,” the architects say of the two-story house. “With fine woodworking alongside the clean lines of the interior structure, raw and cooked come together in harmony. Taking into consideration the beauty of the surrounding natural forest, this design places focus on exposed materials in their most basic form. Timber beams throughout the living areas bring the woods inside and provide structure to the rooms. Hidden storage and flowing spaces combine with large, strategically placed windows to allow the forest and natural light to take center stage.” Related: Kaplan Thompson Architects Unveil Super-Efficient Harborview Townhomes in Portland, Maine Completed in 2017, the Blackwood House spans an area of 2,775 square feet yet feels even larger thanks to full-height glazing that frames views of the outdoors, while a treehouse -like feel is achieved in the second floor balcony. Careful construction and triple-glazed windows ensure that the light-filled, open-plan interior maintains comfortable indoor temperatures year-round. Photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof of the carport power the energy-efficient home. + Kaplan Thompson Architects Images by Irvin Serrano via Kaplan Thompson Architects

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Net-zero Maine house is designed to blend into the forest with age

This Garden Planner makes urban gardening easy

February 18, 2019 by  
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Gardening can seem like a daunting task. When do you plant? What should you plant in your area? How can you effectively grow produce? When you start asking the questions, it may become too overwhelming to tackle. But don’t walk away from the idea of a balcony overflowing with greenery just yet, because the team at The Green Conspiracy understands your angst. With all of these questions in mind, The Green Conspiracy has designed a journal that can guide you through the process from initial planning to harvest. Specifically targeting urban gardening with its unique challenges, the Garden Planner provides step-by-step instructions to help you monitor your progress. Related: Farmscape helps communities embrace urban farming The template allows the user to list what was planted and then chart the plant growth in order to keep a record of problems, timelines and harvests. The goal is not only to identify problems early, but also to produce a record that will provide information for successful subsequent planting seasons. Another section of the planner actually includes a planting calendar, so you can organize when seeds or plants should go into the ground. Designed similar to old-style address books, the handy tabs down the side will help you find information quickly. In the plant profile section, you can store information gathered elsewhere along with original seed packets for reference later. The tips section provides essential information and advice, specifically targeted toward gardeners growing in the city. There is also space to sketch out the design of your urban garden or even to include recipes for when the produce is ripe. With an obvious interest in sustainability, the Green Conspiracy has focused on an eco-friendly design using vegetable-based oils and renewable raw materials. As a result, the planner is 100 percent recyclable . The designers of the Garden Planner felt compelled to motivate the urban gardener , and it seems to be a hit with both seasoned and newbie green thumbs. With a new launch on Kickstarter already earning nearly 60 percent of the goal, it seems that many people share a common interest in organizing their urban gardening efforts. The Kickstarter campaign closes March 7, 2019. + The Green Conspiracy Images via The Green Conspiracy

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This Garden Planner makes urban gardening easy

How to grow 10 foods from kitchen scraps

February 12, 2019 by  
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Meal plans and grocery lists, the cycle never ends. While some of your foods may come from carefully cultivated seeds or seedlings planted in your garden , did you know that you can grow food from food? You have probably heard that romaine lettuce regenerates easily if the base is placed in water, or that basil and cilantro cuttings will turn into entire plants, but there are many, many more foods that will grow from your kitchen scraps. Here’s a highlight reel. Bon appetit! Garlic Growing your own garlic is easy as well as rewarding. Start with a healthy bulb of your favorite varietal. Separate the bulb into individual cloves. Then place each clove into the soil with the pointy end facing upward. Allow 4 to 6 inches between each clove for a bulb to form. Cloves should go into the ground in the fall, before the first frost, and will be ready to harvest in the spring. After harvest, hang dry the entire stalk. You can braid stalks together for compact storage. During the winter and summer months, you can plant cloves indoors and enjoy the garlic greens, but don’t expect bulbs to form in these conditions. Related: 6 surprising uses for garlic you probably didn’t know about Peppers Seeds from both sweet peppers (red, green, yellow and orange) and hot peppers (jalapeno, habanero) can be dried and used in the garden next season. Be sure to choose seeds from healthy, non-hybrid plants for the best chance of success. Remove the seeds from a well-matured fruit and lay them out to dry. Store dried seeds in a cool location, like your refrigerator, and be sure to label the jar. In late spring or early summer, plant your seeds in soil. Thin and replant once they grow a few inches high. Tomatoes Tomato plants often have issues with bacteria, so make sure you choose fruit from very healthy plants and allow the fruit to ripen completely before harvesting the seeds. Once ripe, scoop out the seeds along with the gel that surrounds it. Place the seeds into a jar with some water. Stir the mixture twice each day until the mixture ferments. Around day five, the seeds will sink to the bottom of the jar. When this happens, pour off the liquid, rinse the seeds and dry them spread out on paper towels or cloth. Store the same way as for peppers. Peas and beans Again, this is a situation of harvesting the seed for your next harvest , saving you the cost of purchasing new seeds or plants. Wait until peas or beans are very dry and turn brown on the plant before harvesting. You should hear the seeds rattle inside the pod. After removing the entire pod from the plant, lay it to dry for at least two weeks. At this point, you can remove the seeds or leave the entire pod intact and remove the seeds when planting season arrives. Potatoes Some argue that potatoes need to be grown from potato starts specific to the purpose. However, any backyard gardener knows that if left alone for an extra week, those potatoes in the drawer will sprout voluntarily. To grow your own potatoes, cut your sprouting potatoes into large chunks, about two inches around, and leave them to dry out for a few days. In early spring, drop the chunks into the soil for harvest in mid-summer. Barrels or large pots work well for creating layers of potatoes in a compact space. Related: How to grow an avocado tree from an avocado pit Strawberries This one takes a little patience, because strawberry seeds are very small. You may not have even realized that the little seeds on the outside of the berry can produce more plants. To harvest the seeds, use tweezers. Alternately, you can “peel” the outer layer off the strawberry. Place the peel or seeds in soil and cover lightly with more soil. Place in a sunny windowsill and water regularly until the starts emerge from the dirt and are ready for transplanting outdoors. Turmeric You may have heard how easy it is to grow your own ginger, so it’s not surprising the turmeric will grow using the same technique. As rhizomes, the large bulbs divide and regenerate well. The trick is to plant the root sideways, which may feel contrary to what you’re used to. Turmeric naturally grows best in tropical locations, so it will probably perform best indoors across most of the United States; it will be happiest at 75-80 degrees. Plant the root in soil, water frequently and allow it a few months to mature. Harvest when it begins to dry out. Pumpkins If you’ve ever thrown a pumpkin into a  compost  pile, you’ve probably seen a plant shoot out of the ground some months later. Grow your own pumpkins (on purpose) by drying a few seeds from last year’s jack-o-lantern. Create a dirt mound in your garden and plant the seeds well spaced apart, or thin the plants once they pop through the soil. Pineapples When you think pineapple, you probably envision tall, swaying palm trees and tropical breezes, but it is possible to turn one pineapple into another in the comfort of your home. Cut the top off of a healthy pineapple and prop it above a container filled with water. You want it to hover rather than float — toothpicks can help with this. Keep the water level consistent until you see roots begin to form. At this point, transplant your pineapple into potting soil. Fruit trees It does take a long-term commitment, but apple, nectarine, peach, plum, apricot, cherry and even lemon trees will grow from seed. Simply save seeds from healthy, non-hybrid fruits. Dry them thoroughly, and plant them in quality soil in an area that receives direct sunlight. For the best results, plant a few of each type of tree next to each other. Images via Manfred Richter , Vinson Tan , Efraimstochter ,  Christer Mårtensson , Arut Thongsombut , Franck Barske , Hans Braxmeier ,  Pexels and Shutterstock

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Climate change to change the color of the oceans over the next 80 years

February 12, 2019 by  
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The color of the oceans is about to undergo some major changes. As a result of ongoing climate change , scientists are predicting that the color of the oceans will slowly become bluer over the next 80 years. The color difference is directly connected to microbial phytoplankton , which absorb sunlight near the surface of the ocean. As the acidity and temperature of the oceans rise, the number of phytoplankton is expected to decrease in certain regions. Once the phytoplankton populations drop off, the surface will have a harder time reflecting sunlight, which will ultimately change its color. Related: Oceans warming 40 percent faster than previously thought According to Gizmodo , new research from Nature Communications argues that the subtropical oceans will be most affected by the color change. These regions are particularly susceptible to temperature and pH fluctuations, which will harm phytoplankton populations. Conversely, oceans in the Antarctic and Arctic could become greener, because these areas are not likely to experience significant changes in water temperature. Scientists have been using satellites to monitor the color of the oceans over the past 20 years. The images taken by the satellites are manipulated by a computer algorithm, resulting in a rough sketch of how much chlorophyll is present in the water. The only issue with this tactic is that climate change is not the only force at work here. Natural forces, like El Niño , also affect the color of the oceans. This is why scientists are exploring other methods of detection that will isolate the impacts of climate change. This includes measuring food sources for phytoplankton, looking at patterns of ocean circulation and analyzing growth rates of phytoplankton populations around the world. “Our model can now suggest what such satellites might see in the future world,” MIT scientist Stephanie Dutkiewicz explained. Experts predict that by 2100, the temperature of the oceans will have risen by at least 3 degrees Celsius. This difference in temperature is expected to change the color of around half of Earth’s oceans, though the color difference will not be detectable by human sight. Via Gizmodo Image via NOAA

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Climate change to change the color of the oceans over the next 80 years

This Australian property was redesigned with a sustainable, lush garden

February 11, 2019 by  
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The Shoreham House in Victoria, Australia was designed in the early 2000’s, but was in need of an update to the overall structure and gardens. The new architects wanted to update the home with sustainability in mind while respecting the original designers and builders. According to Tim Spicer Architects, “The renovation and addition needed a sensitive, well considered approach to create unity between the old and the new, without the obvious signature of new Architects. The design intent was to update what was already a beautiful house, yet make it feel like it had been built at the same time.” The new landscape takes full advantage of the lush surroundings, something that went slightly overlooked in the original design. It utilizes a deep water bore to provide water to the gardens, rather than using the local town water to irrigate. The 50-meter bore has the power to provide the landscape with 20,000 liters of water in a day. In addition to the sustainable garden, the architects also replaced the old halogen lighting in the house with new LED lighting, which is more energy efficient and longer-lasting. The new hot water system is solar-powered, and the windows have new Low-E coating which works to minimize the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light without losing visibility. They also installed new eco-friendly high R-value insulation and a new ducted combustion fireplace to make the structure more energy efficient overall. Related: A midcentury warehouse becomes a vibrant office for creatives Designers faced the difficult task of connecting the new guest wing to the master area without compromising privacy. As a result, they created a whole new staircase leading from the dining room and past the master staircase. The project was a challenging feat for the builders who used hand tools to blast through the bedrock under the house in order to construct the second staircase. To connect the master and newly-designed guest wings, the architects created a glazed bridge walkway, make-shifting a courtyard garden area with new meandering paths and green spaces. The house now has new large windows and glazed doors that allow for beautiful, sweeping views of the gardens from the inside. In the original house, the master area deck already had views of the ocean . With the intent of making the view more accessible to guests, the architects installed a “slow stair” between the master deck and ground floor courtyard. Via Archdaily Images via Tim Spicer Architects

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