Michael McDowell’s front-yard prairie garden

October 16, 2020

How can it have been 9 years since I first visited Michael McDowell’s front-yard prairie garden? Michael’s garden lives large in my memory, alight with morning sunlight and festive fall color (click for my 2011 tour), and it inspires daily via his blog Plano Prairie Garden and his Instagram.

For my birthday a couple weekends ago, I treated myself to a covid-careful Dallas/Fort Worth garden-visiting trip. Michael’s garden in Plano, a suburb of Dallas, was one I was keen to revisit. Would it hold up to my memories?

Of course it did! I mean, just look at it. Amid a sea of mown lawns, Michael’s native-plant front garden beckons like an oasis in the desert. It must also look that way to pollinators, birds, and other small creatures looking for a refueling stopover or place to take shelter. The seedlings coming up in the hellstrip, by the way, are native bluebonnets, which will put on a show next April.

I’ve already written in detail about Michael’s garden in my earlier post, so this one will be mostly eye candy. I caught the fall-blooming gayfeather (Liatris) in full flower, to my delight. Michael

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9 Ways to Kill Germs Around the House

Natalie Abraham

If all the talk of a “twindemic”—the overlap between COVID-19 and flu season—has sent you into a cleaning frenzy, you’re not alone. But it takes more than a simple paper-towel swipe of the counters and doorknobs to clean and truly disinfect.

First things first: You need a quality product — ideally one that’s overtly labeled as a disinfectant, like 3M TB Quat Disinfectant Ready-to-Use Cleaner. If you’re not sure, check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number on the label, says Carolyn Forte, Cleaning Lab Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Then, type that number into the agency’s database for specifics on what type of bacteria and viruses against which it’s effective.

Proper usage is also extremely important. It’s a common misconception that you can simply spritz and wipe. The truth: Proper disinfecting takes time. Check the product directions for how long hard, non-porous surfaces must stay wet for the most effective germ killing, says Forte. When cleaning a surface with 3M TB Quat Disinfectant Ready-to-Use Cleaner, for example, a hard non-porous surface needs to remain wet with the cleaning solution and untouched for one minute in order to kill the virus that causes

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7 Ways to Prevent Water Damage At Home

  • Replacing your gutters with a system that helps prevent clogs is one of the best ways to shield against water damage.
  • Installing a sump pump, smart water sensors, and more will also help defend your home against water.

    There’s usually more to a leaky bathtub than a puddle of water on the floor. When left untreated, even the smallest water damage can cause mold growth, water contamination, structural problems, damaged wiring, odors, stains — the list goes on and on.

    But instead of crossing your fingers and hoping your home is leakproof, take action into your own hands: The best way to avoid water damage is to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place. Not only are these ideas likely cheaper and easier than repairing water-damaged walls or floors, but they can increase the value of your home and keep all systems in working order for years to come.

    Replace your gutters


    Englert LeafGuard Gutters


    “Clogged gutters allow water to spill over the sides, which can send water flowing down to the basement where it could do serious damage,” explains Craig Gjelsten, vice president of operations at Rainbow International Restoration. But instead of climbing up on

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    7 Best Robot Mops of 2020


    Despite it being an essential task — especially in bathrooms and the kitchen — few people truly enjoy mopping a floor. Imagine if you had something that could do it for you without complaining and that didn’t require buckets of water, a dirty mop, back-breaking effort, or worse, getting down on your hands and knees? Enter the robot mop.

    Similar to their robot vacuum counterparts, few robot mops are deep cleaners, but they can add an extra level of clean to your routine and cut down on the number of times you have to do a deep cleaning session. The Good Housekeeping Institute’s Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab evaluates hundreds of products each year, including specialized floor cleaners like mops and robot vacuums. That means we know what actually works, and what doesn’t when it comes to cleaning.

    When we test any wet floor cleaning tool, we evaluate how well it picks up dried messes (like sticky jelly and coffee dribbles) that we’ve applied to test floor panels installed in our Cleaning Lab. We also look at how easy it is to use and maintain and how much or how little water it leaves behind on wood,

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    Amazon Is Having an Insane Sale on Plants For Prime Day

    If you ask us, plant parenthood isn’t a fleeting trend; it’s a lifestyle. In addition to decreasing stress, improving your sleep cycle, and purifying the air, adding some leafy greens to your decor will make your house (or rental apartment) feel more like a home.

    As bonafide plant people, we are always eager to add a new green friend to our growing collection. That’s exactly why we are so excited about all the plants on sale for Amazon Prime Day. For a limited time, Amazon is slashing the prices of some of its most popular plants: Costa Farms’ best-selling indoor plants are up to 20% off right now. Whether you’re partial to a hard-to-kill snake plant or want to take your collection to new heights with a palm tree, there’s an affordable plant for every personality.

    Plants are actually pretty expensive, especially when you consider how much you’ll spend on a stylish planter. Luckily, most of the greens on sale

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    How to Clean The Hardest to Reach Spots in Your Home

    Whether you like to tidy on a daily basis or do a once-a-week deep scrub, keeping the house clean almost always includes some head-scratching moments. Trying to dust a sky-high bookshelf without toppling it, or reaching behind the toilet without touching it, can often feel like your own little version of household Jenga.

    Stocking a few specialty tools (and regular household go-tos) will make tackling those hard-to-reach spots so much easier: An easy-to-maneuver vacuum, a swivel mop, and a microfiber feather duster are just a few to have in the closet.

    Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most typical housecleaning conundrums you’re likely to encounter—and solutions that’ll make checking them off your to-do list a breeze.

    Crown molding

    crown molding

    Beecher LaFrance

    Crown molding—a decorative finishing detail most often seen wrapping around ceilings—can be beautiful, whether it’s rendered in a clean line or features more detailed motifs.

    Cleaning it, on the other hand, can be a hassle, especially when it comes to high, hard-to-reach corners. A stick vacuum like the Roborock H6, named one of Good Housekeeping’s best stick vacuums of 2020, was made for jobs like this. It’s only three pounds, so lifting it won’t put too

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