woodpeckers knocking on your house? there’s hope

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With woodpeckers looking for a warm place to spend the winter, now is when they’re most likely to damage homes — the yearly cost is in the millions. Our neighborhood is heavily wooded, so most of the houses have had some damage. Luckily, our trim remains intact, despite the fact that we do hear the occasional tapping. Although there are plenty of suggestions to ward off woodpeckers, from hanging pie plates or windchimes to “Scare Eye” balloons, we’re either lucky or George, the red-headed woodpecker figurine we hung up years ago, is working. (George was a gift made by a local crafter. I haven’t been able to find another, but there are many deterrents available, including a fake “attack spider.”) I also always stock a wire-mesh feeder with C&S Peanut Flavored Nuggets. Since woodpeckers are territorial (one theory behind why placing fake woodpeckers around your house might work), you won’t attract additional birds to your yard. Hopefully, you’ll just attract them away from your house and enjoy watching them, too! — Sarah L.

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want to read: wicked plants

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There are thousands of deadly plants out there, but some are particularly villainous. It’s the plants that “you don’t want to meet in a dark alley” that made it into best-selling gardening author Amy Stewart‘s latest book, Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities. According to Stewart, “wicked plants” include plants that “have been used as a murder weapon, plants that are illegal or immoral, plants that have started wars, plants that inflict pain, and plants that are badly behaved — they explode, they burst into flames, they smell terrible or destroy other plants in particularly diabolical ways.” Only those plants with back stories and body counts made the cut, and this sounds so deliciously terrifying that I must read it immediately. Let the killer algae nightmares begin! –Sarah C.

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revisit: enviro-friendly outdoor stain, one year later

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As I wrote last year, we thought the Penofin Aquafin we used on our deck railings was great — easy to apply, easy to clean up, non-flammable, and much more environmentally friendly than regular stain. After a Seattle winter, however, parts of our project weren’t holding up like we’d hoped. The stain looked pretty good on anything that was vertical, but the horizonal portions of the railings did not fare well — there was some peeling and a lot of spots that weathered as if they hadn’t been stained at all. Two weeks ago, we went ahead and ordered several more gallons to reapply. We were staining newbies last year, so what do you think — was the weathering normal, is the stain not up to par, or did we do something wrong? My theories and more photos after the jump. –Mary T. (more…)

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steal this idea: musical instruments in the garden

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I love the Miss Havisham-approved gardens displayed at this year’s Del Mar Fair in San Diego, as seen on Poetic Home’s lovely blog. Landscapers working with the theme “Music Mania” repurposed musical instruments to create dreamy back yards. Part whimsical, part spooky, the weathered piano crawling with ivy like a ghost town is my favorite. Next time I find myself at a flea market, I’ll be on the prowl for toy guitars and beyond-repair tubas. See more photos here. –Katie D.

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look! cool bamboo and rebar fence

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I couldn’t help but take some photos of this fence I noticed while on my lunchtime constitutional the other day. I’m digging the mix of urban industrial and natural textures, and it seems to be fairly simple to reproduce — just some pieces of rebar hammered into the ground and then woven with bamboo and affixed with wire. I can’t imagine that it’s the most climbable or sturdy fence, but repairs would most likely be a snap. I just may have to try this out when we get around to replacing our ugly chain link fencing. Do you love it, or are you on the fence? –Megan B.

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