Saturday, May 17, 2008

Prairie and flowering trees

I went out to our property today with our family friend/prairie restoration consultant. She asked me what our vision was and I said, "prairie." I think she was looking for more but I didn't know there were many options. I guess this is kind of like building a house, you don't know how complicated it can be until you start. Anyway, it was useful. She told me about soil, we talked about what parts would be prairie and how they would differ, different planting options, erosion, grasses versus forbes varieties and % mixes, and it was an enlightening tour of invasives/plants that should not be there. On the way out I said "well, at least we don't have garlic mustard like at my mom's house" and then we walked around the corner and there was a huge new patch of it. Curses that stuff is evil! I was kind of glad Joe was on his bike tour as I think he might have been a little too excited about the burning discussions.

I think we need to think more about what we want to do with the property in the long run and then sit down with our prairie and landscape advisers together and map it out.

On another note, I went to the Madison Arboretum with my Mom this weekend and we saw the flowering tree section. Everything was in bloom: lilacs, magnolias, and tons of different flowering crab apples. It was almost an olfactory and visual overload. If you live in Madison and have the chance to see this during the blooming season you should really make the trip. I am taking the kids and my cousin back tomorrow before all the flowers are gone. Anyway, it would be nice to create a similar but smaller flowering oasis somewhere close to our new house.

More later about the actual house. We are still waiting on the bids. We missed the deadline to apply for the driveway installation in July so we won't be starting until at least August. Probably just as well since we haven't picked our builder and are likely going to have to work on cost reduction.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Brief countertop, siding, and builder update.

Briefly, we went to a couple kitchen places today. We found samples of the Vertrazzo and like the bistro with the patina (dark rather than white cement). No one had a full counter of any of them out as they said it is too new. They all seemed to think it would be very expensive and exceed marble or granite as a comparison. They said Paperstone was much more reasonable but of course not quite as cool.

We met with one of the builders today and they suggested we look into LP Smartside instead of composite cement siding. It is a engineered wood product with a 50 year warranty. It is supposedly as green and durable as cement but easier to install and thus perhaps a little cheaper. We are reserving judgement right now.

I think that is it... I am too tired to remember much else. Good night!

Saturday, May 3, 2008


What is a green countertop? Recycled? Low off gassing and no glue? Low impact? Natural material? Turns out depends on who you ask but ideally all of these. Try clicking on the link above. It has a useful discussion of the options and their relative costs. I have only looked at a few different things but I like the looks of the Vetrazzo "bistro green." Or maybe Paperstone? Opinions are welcome and more ideas to come.