Corner Lot Backyard Privacy Advice

Hello all, I am seeking some landscaping advice / privacy ideas for my backyard! I am in North Carolina (Zone 7B) and my house sits on a corner lot so there is a lot of foot traffic and we use our backyard a lot during the summer, especially with our dogs. I'm looking for some ideas to add some privacy, whether it be trees, shrubs or other ideas. Our neighborhood has an HOA, therefore a picket fence is required and cannot change. I've included some photographs of the backyard and a diagram with some rough dimensions. I appreciate any help and advice!

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Wanting to plant trees in Denver yard, but pretty clueless about what kind.

I’d wanted to plant a pair of aspens, but I’ve heard they’re notorious for refusing to flourish where planted. I have two empty 3-foot tree circles in my yard in Denver, and I want to plant a pair of trees. The circles are irrigated via an in-ground drip system, so water won’t be an issue, but I am woefully uninformed about dendrology and don’t know which species of tree is right for the situation. Any advice on either helping planted aspens thrive or about alternative trees that are suited to the application would be greatly appreciated.

I already posted this to /r/dendrology, but this sub gets much more traffic so I’m hoping I might get more responses.

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7 Simple Ideas for Refreshing Your Bathroom

January is a month for refreshing and renewing. And that includes our wardrobes, ourselves and our homes.

A new year is a new clean slate and one of my favorite rooms to give a boost to in January is the bathroom. Think about it- bathrooms are utilitarian rooms but they are also rooms where we relax in the tub, we get ready for the day in the morning and they should be pretty and luxurious even as they do double duty.

And the best part is that it isn’t hard to freshen that space. With just a few out with the old and in with the new elements, you can give your bathroom a fresh start this year.

#1. Lush Chunky Towels

Photo by French Country Cottage

I am a huge fan of chunky, thick towels and my preference is white so that I can bleach them often. Fill a basket with a dozen new towels or  fold them on the shelves.

#2. Baskets for Storage

Photo by French Country Cottage

It seems strange since they are ‘open’ rather than tucked away- but baskets bring texture and warmth to a room- and they do double duty holding things like towels, laundry, etc and keep your room clean.

#3. Bring in a Small Table or Stool

Photo by French Country Cottage

I love small stools and tables tucked just about anywhere and the bathroom is a perfect place to use them. I love them next to a pedestal sink or over by the tub for holding towels, flowers, or even bits that you use every day. With so many styles to choose from- you can find a vintage inspired piece or a modern lucite piece at HomeGoods to fit your space and customize your look.

#4. Add an Over-Sized Mirror

Photo by French Country Cottage

Such a simple idea that change a room instantly is to add a mirror. Mirrors reflect light and send a burst of sunshine through a room. And in winter when daylight isn’t in as much abundance as the rest of the year, a mirror can do wonders for your space.

#5. Pretty Bottles & Bits

Photo by French Country Cottage

When stocking up on everyday products such as soaps and shampoos- look for your favorites in pretty packaging for double duty as a charming display. I picked up  artisan chunky soaps, sea sponges, and pretty bottles full of hand wash at HomeGoods- and they are perfect for stacking on the shelf and creating a pretty vignette.

#6. Flowers

Photo by French Country Cottage

Whether fresh or faux- bring a bit of spring to your bathroom with a simple vase full of flowers. I love the realistic faux flowers HomeGoods – and of course, love fresh and this bouquet is one that has a secret. I picked up this toothbrush holder at HomeGoods because I fell in love with the look and details it had- and it also works perfectly as a small vase for flowers.

#7. Crisp White Bathmats

Photo by French Country Cottage

Something else that is so simple- replace those bathmats. I love white again because I can bleach them easily when washing- and because they feel light and bright in the room. My favorites are the thick cotton reversible mats- and at HomeGoods- I have found long ones for the double sinks, singles for the shower and even in between for the tub areas.

So there are a few simple, easy and inexpensive ideas for giving your bathroom a fresh new look this winter.  What are your favorite ways to refresh your space in the new year?


Courtney is a paid blogger and writes the blog French Country Cottage where she shares lifestyle and design inspirations, DIY projects and the ongoing renovations of her 1940’s cottage. Connect with Courtney on her blog, French Country Cottage.


Take Care of You: 10 Self-Care Tips for the New Year

As a recipe creator (I write the blog The Toasted Pine Nut), I love the start of the new year. I love the blank slate. The fresh start. The feeling of possibilities (also how I feel every time I walk into HomeGoods). I’ve never been one to make resolutions, mainly because I’ve never been able to make them stick.

In years past I put January 1st on a pedestal and filled it with broad, sweeping, drastic life changes that kinda set me up for failure. This year I switched it up. I’m not changing my routine drastically or doing a complete overhaul of my life.

When I sat down to think about what exactly I wanted for 2018, I realized I wanted to be more intentional and mindful of doing little acts of self-care. This year, I want to do more things that make me smile; things that nourish my mind, body, and soul and make my heart happy.

Today I’m sharing ten fun, easy ways you can practice self-care to kick off your new year with a happy heart and maintain it year-round. Check ‘em out:

1) Create your own at-home spa – I LOVE when you can use ingredients in and outside the kitchen. One of my favorite things to do is mix together a simple body scrub using sugar or ground coffee as an exfoliator and it works wonders! Add a few tablespoons of avocado or coconut oil along with your favorite essential oil, and you’ll have your own small-batch body scrub. HomeGoods is an amazing spot to pick up quality and affordable products to make yourself a rejuvenating homemade body scrub.

Photo by MacKenna Waterhouse

2) Do what you love – You don’t have to make drastic New Year’s resolutions to practice self-care this year. Tap into activities and hobbies that bring you joy and carve out time each week to do them. I personally love to bake. It makes me feel happy and productive and is a great stress release. And, the stash of tasty treats in my fridge is a nice little bonus.

Photo by MacKenna Waterhouse

3) Chocolate is ALWAYS a good idea – Dark chocolate is one of my favorite sweets to indulge in. It’s packed with antioxidants so you can indulge a bit without the guilt. My pantry is always stashed with dark chocolate so I can end each day on a sweet note.

Photo by MacKenna Waterhouse

4) Nourish your body – I love making delicious recipes that are lower carb, gluten free, and made with healthy ingredients, like these peanut butter crunch bars. Nourishing our bodies with real, wholesome foods is so important to our overall wellness, both physically and mentally. But, buying pantry staples like oils and spices can get expensive. I always swing by the food section at HomeGoods to stock up on quality, organic staples without spending a ton of money! Grab the full recipe for these peanut butter crunch bars below!

Photo by Lindsay Freedman

5) Take time to smell the roses (literally) – I love to buy myself flowers! It seriously puts the biggest smile on my face! Grab a beautiful vase that you love from HomeGoods and fill it every week with a new bouquet of flowers. The fresh blooms make your house such a happy space.

Photo by MacKenna Waterhouse

6) Combating cold feet – Buy yourself those fuzzy slippers you’ve always wanted! I love to buy myself a new pair of comfy slippers for the New Year. Cold feet are the worst, and it’s great to have something warm to put your feet in first thing in the morning.

Photo by MacKenna Waterhouse

7) Take a tea or coffee break – Coffee is such an everyday treat for me. Yes, I have it right in the morning… and in the afternoon (ok, ok I really like coffee). But, I also use coffee as a treat and a reward for myself. Whether I brew a special cup to sip while I edit some videos, or take a much-needed break to sit and sip, coffee is a treat that I look forward to every day. Tea works too… if you’re more of a tea person.

Photo by MacKenna Waterhouse

Meal preparation and eating healthy doesn’t have to be a mundane task. I love exploring new recipes, and there’s something about buying yourself cute new mason jars or containers for my salads, dressings and snacks that make it feel more special. I always peruse the container assortment at HomeGoods to see what new containers I can incorporate into my weekly meal prep.

Photo by MacKenna Waterhouse

9) Make your bed a safe haven Make your bed a welcoming place you look forward to every night. HomeGoods has a variety of comfy and affordable bedding to make your bed a cozy oasis. I like to take it up a notch by spraying lavender scented sheet spray before I tuck in for the night.

Photo by MacKenna Waterhouse

10) Have an attitude of Gratitude – Beginning or ending the day with gratitude helps to re-focus your energy and set intentions. Everyday write down something you’re grateful for (big or small). I LOVE the pretty journals from HomeGoods with inspirational quotes and keep them by my bed to end each day with a grateful heart.

Photo by MacKenna Waterhouse


Prep time: 15 min   Cook time: 3 hours   Makes 36 bites


Bottom layer:

1 ½ cup natural peanut butter

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 ½ cup puffed quinoa

Middle layer:

½ cup coconut oil

1 cup natural peanut butter

¼ cup agave nectar

Couple pinches pink Himalayan sea salt


¼ cup mini dark chocolate chips

¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts


Step 1) In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, agave nectar, and puffed quinoa.

Step 2) Transfer it into a square 8×8 baking pan lined with parchment paper.

Step 3) Press it into a single layer and set aside.

Step 4) In the same bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, peanut butter, agave nectar, and sea salt.

Step 5) Transfer it into the pan and spread it out on top of the puffed quinoa layer.

Step 6) Sprinkle the top of the bars with mini chocolate chips and chopped peanuts.

Step 7) Allow to set in the fridge for 3+ hours.

Step 8) Pull the edges of the parchment paper to remove the bars from the pan.

Step 9) Place on a cutting board and cut into squares. I cut mine into 9 squares but you can make them as small or large as you want!

I hope you guys love these tips and are able to kick start 2018 with practices of self-care!

This is a paid guest post by Lindsay, the creator of The Toasted Pine Nut

Seeking advice or concepts for a small front yard

Hello, /r/landscaping! Just bought a new townhouse and my front yard needs a facelift. The front of the house used to be obscured by a large tree but it was damaged in a storm and removed by the previous owner.

The HOA is being flexible and offered me a few options. They said I could replace the tree with another tree (they recommended dwarf Japanese Maple or Crepe Myrtle) and be done with it or I could submit an alternate landscaping plan with some evergreens and other plants to provide aesthetic interest and they may approve that instead. I have a year to figure it out.

I was looking for some advice or, preferably, a concept sketch or layout to work off of. I'm not married to any of the existing plants so keeping or removing any existing plants are both options. Mid-Atlantic, zone 7a. Other approved trees are crabapple, cherry blossom trees, dogwoods, holly shrubs, and tulip magnolia; although I could probably submit anything else if I wanted.

Here are some images of the yard. The tree stump has already been removed.

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