Centipede brown patch in fall?

I am a new homeowner in the southeast with a centipede grass front yard. I'm used to cool season grasses like fescue so I'm trying to learn how to take care of a warm season grass.

We have had an insane amount of rain this past month combined with pretty warm temperatures for this time of year. My centipede grass has developed what I am assuming from research is "brown patch or brown spot". From reading it seems like this is most common in early spring, but given the weather lately I think I'm experiencing it here in the fall. I've purchased a fungal spray to apply which sounds like it should work. Does anyone else have any tips or tricks for the current fix preventative measures going forward? Also, would it be best to mow the yard before or after application? Thanks!

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Help me decide between a Deere X300 or X310? (or something else entirely)

I have about an acre of fescue/rye grass in the pacific northwest. For the past year, I've been using a pretty small (~21") Honda push mower and, while I've appreciated the exercise, I don't have the time to spend 2-3 hours a week mowing/bagging/etc … I mean, just stopping every few minutes to empty that tiny bag consumes 50% of my time!

I looked at mowers earlier this fall and settled on working with a local John Deere dealership – the salesman told me to check back in November when Deere offers $300 off the larger mowers, and said he has a bit more wiggle room then.

Well, November is here, and he didn't disappoint. He's offering me an X300 w/ bagger for $3,300 or an X310 w/ bagger for $4,300. He keeps trying to push a mulch system instead of bagger, but I insist on bagger for leaves.

As I understand, the X310 is superior in the following ways: power steering, better transmission, electronic deck lift. Are those features worth an extra $1,000?

I appreciate any input you have on this. Thank you!

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Escapes: Chesapeake Getaway

A popular Eastern Shore destination, St. Michaels nestles along the Miles River on a peninsula that affords multiple water views. Located between Tilghman Island, Easton and Oxford, it’s a leisurely drive from Baltimore or Washington—or an even more leisurely sail up the Miles River.

Whether you’re sailing into the harbor, attending one of the town’s many festivals and special events or simply looking for a relaxing getaway, St. Michaels offers something for everyone. The streets of this compact, highly walkable town are lined with distinctive cottages, shops and restaurants, and there are plenty of maritime and historic sites that harken back to its early days.


Once called Shipping Creek, St. Michaels dates back to 1632. It was a noted shipbuilding center by the time of the American Revolution, and during the War of 1812, earned the affectionate moniker “the town that fooled the British” when residents learned that British barges planned an attack and hoisted lanterns to the masts of ships and treetops to trick their enemy into overshooting the town. Only one house was struck by cannon fire; known as the Cannon Ball House, it’s still a private residence. The shipbuilding industry ended here more than 150 years ago, but today St. Michaels is one of the best-known yachting centers on the East Coast and draws thousands of sailing enthusiasts annually.

Among the historic sites in St. Michaels, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum boasts an 18-acre waterfront campus, which includes Navy Point and the historic Hooper Strait Lighthouse, offering the best view in town. The museum houses the nation’s most complete collection of Chesapeake Bay artifacts, visual arts and indigenous watercraft. Exhibitions, public programs and a working boatyard illustrate the bay’s maritime history and culture, focusing on unique regional watercraft and boat-building traditions; boating and navigation; water fowl; seafood harvesting; and recreation.

Also worth a visit is the St. Michaels Museum, located on the former site of the high school. This three-building complex includes the home of 19th-century white waterman Jeremiah Sewell; the Chaney House (ca. 1850), owned by free African-American brothers; and the Teetotum Building (ca. 1860s), once a commercial structure. The buildings were moved here from other St. Michaels locations and house historic artifacts that reflect the history of life, commerce and culture in the region.

A docent-led or self-guided walking tour of historic St. Michaels will take visitors past the Cannon Ball House; the Amelia Welby House (ca. 1775); and St. Mary’s Square, home of the Mechanics Bell (installed in 1841 to measure the workday for the ships’ carpenters) as well as the remains of a cannon used during the War of 1812.


Life revolves around the water in St. Michaels. If you don’t have a boat of your own, sailing, motor and fishing charters are widely available from May to October.Festivals also abound beginning in the spring.  Enjoy the Eastern Shore Sea Glass and Coastal Arts Festival in April; WineFest at St. Michaels, also in April; and St. Michaels Running Festival in May. And coming up shortly: Fall Into St. Michaels celebrates the Eastern Shore’s fall foliage on October 24 and 25 with autumnal activities like pumpkin-carving and pie-baking contests. In addition, Oysterfest—featuring live music, boat rides, documentary films and an oyster-stew cooking contest—takes place October 31. From December 11 to 13, Christmas in St. Michaels transforms the town into a Currier & Ives Christmas card with ticketed and free events including the Tour of Homes, Holiday Gala, Breakfast with Santa and the largest holiday parade on the Eastern Shore. Visitors can get an early start on their shopping with Midnight Madness on the first Saturday in December, when shops stay open till midnight, with sales, refreshments and prize drawings.


Not surprisingly, seafood is on virtually every menu in town. The Crab Claw Restaurant, open from March through November, specializes in seafood and—you guessed it—crabs, with a spectacular harbor view. A “distinguished restaurant of North America,” 208 Talbot boasts a casual atmosphere with innovative cuisine, while Bistro St. Michaels recreates a classic Parisian bistro. Stars, at the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond, offers an eclectic menu with a stunning view of the Miles River and a delightful afternoon tea.


Chain stores haven’t hit St. Michaels yet, so it’s a perfect spot to look for unique gifts. A Wish Called Wanda sells American handcrafted designs in jewelry, art glass, pottery and home and garden décor; Ophiuroidea features coastal-inspired art, home furnishings and gifts by local artisans; Come by Chance offers gifts and items for the home; and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Store has everything bay- and boat-related.


St. Michaels makes an ideal day trip, but if possible, spend a few days and get to know this corner of the Eastern Shore. There are a number of lodging options, from vacation-home rentals through Eastern Shore Vacation Rentals (easternshorevacations.com) to resorts such as the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond (belmond.com), Harbourtowne Golf Resort & Conference Center (harbourtowne.com), St. Michaels Harbour Inn, Marina & Spa (harbourinn.com) and Five Gables Inn & Spa (fivegables.com). For more information, visit stmichaelsmd.org.

Writer Carol Sorgen is based in Baltimore.

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Prepping Your Kitchen for Holiday Meals

Can you believe that Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner? How did that happen? At my house, we’ve just finished our new kitchen makeover. It gave us the chance to re-decorate and fill all those new cabinets with dishware, pots, pans and cooking essentials, just in time to prepare for the busy holiday cooking season.

pre holiday preparation cooking essentials
Photo by Four Generations One Roof

When we decided to renovate our kitchen, we made every attempt to purge and donate whatever we didn’t use. That helped us dispose of old pots and pans (the kind where the teflon is worn off because you’ve scraped the pan so many times while cooking or cleaning). Yes, we had lots of those, and needless to say, we took the opportunity to update our supplies.

pre holiday preparation cooking essentials
Photo by Four Generations One Roof

I recently picked up a set of gorgeous stainless steel pots and pans from HomeGoods. Not only are they stylish, but they’re functional. During the holidays, we host several parties and yours truly (along with my mom and grandma) does all the cooking.

That means having the right tools for the job is really important to me, and one item that I just cannot live without is my large over-sized sauté pan.

pre holiday preparation cooking essentials
Photo by Four Generations One Roof

A large stockpot (or pasta pot) is perfect for making pasta or soup with your holiday leftovers. A large or medium-sized sauce pan is also perfect for cooking rice, beans or sauces.

pre holiday preparation cooking essentials
Photo by Four Generations One Roof

I cook all of the fish on Christmas Eve, as we celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes, and frying pans in a variety of sizes are a must. They’re perfect for searing salmon and sautéing just about anything.

pre holiday preparation cooking essentials
Photo by Four Generations One Roof

When it comes to cooking at home, crocks are something I can’t live without. We use these year-round, but they’re especially handy during the holidays. I picked these up at HomeGoods as well, and guess what, they are dishwasher, freezer, microwave and oven safe. Now that is fantastic in my book!

Why are crocks so important during the holidays? They’re perfect for making single-serve casseroles out of leftovers. Many times, I’ll layer the potatoes, squash, turkey and stuffing in a crock and top it off with gravy and shredded cheddar. Heat the mix in the microwave or oven to warm it up, and you immediately have a delicious casserole.

With the holidays approaching, remember to take stock of what you have in your cabinets and prepare your kitchen with the products you’ll need. There’s never a bad time to update your cooking essentials. Happy cooking!

What are some of the kitchen essentials you always put to use during the holiday season? Share your thoughts in the comments!

You can find more of Jessica’s projects at Four Generations One Roof, where she shares her insane multigenerational living arrangement, DIY home renovations, projects and family recipes.

Natural Harmony

A walk through a pine forest near Easton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore led two weekending Washingtonians to notice a brick rambler on the edge of a pond. “It was unexpected. I hadn’t seen the house before,” says the Venezuelan-born wife, who runs an investment company based in Arlington. “It intrigued me and I thought it might be on the market. I always wanted a house in the woods.”

At the time, the owners of the small, mid-century home had no interest in selling. But eventually they came around to the idea after deciding to move to Florida. So in 2012, the DC couple purchased the one-story structure and spent nine months transforming it into a guesthouse getaway to share with their three grown children.

“They wanted something clean, bright and modern,” says architect Salo Levinas of the DC firm Shinberg.Levinas Architectural Design, which led the renovation. “Our challenge was to retain the best features of the old house, but change the interior dramatically for today.”

The cramped rooms at the center of the house were gutted and combined to create an expansive living/dining area that opens to a kitchen with a 19-foot-long island. The original ceiling was removed, making the newly enlarged space taller and exposing the slanted planes and beams on the underside of the roof.

“The challenge was how to create the open space without adding noticeable columns,” says the owner. Levinas’s solution was to stretch tensile steel cables across the area that would support the structure while imparting the unencumbered feeling of a loft.

To maximize daylight, a light well was inserted into the roof above the kitchen. Its translucent glass enclosure softly illuminates the space through a skylight at the top. From the outside, this projection resembles a large chimney.

White surfaces unify the living/dining/kitchen space and create a backdrop to vibrant, multi-hued furnishings and artwork. Uniform finishes, such as synthetic stone countertops and laminated porcelain flooring, are repeated throughout the house to create visual flow and consistency. “We didn’t want to distract your eye with a showroom of materials,” says Levinas. “Everything is kept simple and easy.”

Next to the kitchen, the open-plan great room is organized simply, with two nearly identical seating areas flanking a dining table in the middle of the space. Each furniture grouping is arranged next to one of two gas fireplaces that anchor the rear wall, increasing the coziness factor.

Secluded at the north end of the house are three bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. Levinas expanded this part of the home with a small addition to create room for closets and one of the bathrooms. “It’s a big transformation, but we did it by making just a few moves and largely keeping to the original footprint,” he notes.

A laundry room, a powder room and another bedroom suite are  located at the front next to the garage. “Every space, even the closet and laundry, has natural light,” says Levinas, pointing to tiny skylights in the bathrooms.

Throughout the property, window openings were enlarged and updated with new glazing to fill the interiors with daylight and views of the outdoors. At night, the house is illuminated by a variety of fixtures—pendants, torchères and recessed lamps, all orchestrated by lighting designer Fernando Soler of One Lux Studio in New York.

Large glass doors in the living room slide open to an outdoor entertaining space at the rear of the house. On one side, a striking, contemporary pergola of wood and steel shelters a dining area centered on a mahogany table large enough to seat 16.

Framing this area are the home’s two existing chimneys, which were extended in height by several feet to visually punctuate the low-slung building with vertical contrast. The wooden deck that supports the entertaining area is raised, as if floating in the landscape. Similar decking extends to the front of house, where a boardwalk leads from the entrance to a dock next to the pond.

Lush vegetation surrounds the house and pond, part of the landscape designed by Eric Groft of Washington, DC-based Oehme, van Sweden. “A combination of native and water-loving ornamental plantings provides a foil for the clean lines of the house,” says Groft. “Panicum, carex, hibiscus, juncus and petasites act to absorb the wet soil conditions and provide textural and seasonal interest.”

As Levinas explains, he and Groft collaborated closely from the project’s start “to create harmony between the indoors and outdoors.” The architect related the home’s conventional exterior to its more contemporary interior by streamlining openings and rooflines and covering the brick in white paint.

“From what was an ugly house in the middle of the woods, we created something miraculous inside,” says the owner. “This is a meditative, peaceful place where you can get in touch with your soul.”

Writer Deborah K. Dietsch is based in Washington, DC. Alan Karchmer is a photographer in DC. 

Renovation Architecture: Salo Levinas, Associate AIA, project architect; Milton Shinberg, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, contributing principal, Shinberg.Levinas Architectural Design, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Tim Saulsbury Construction, Easton, Maryland. Landscape Architecture: Eric Groft, FASLA, Oehme, van Sweden, Washington, DC. Styling: Sandra Benedum.

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Bohemian Rhapsody

Time has been good to this house on the Corsica River. After beginning its life in 1914 with a mere two rooms on the ground floor and a center hall, it has bloomed into a sprawling home on 34 acres with quirks, character and river views galore.

When a retired couple from DC purchased the Centreville, Maryland, abode called Windy Hill as their weekend getaway in 2008, it had already undergone a 1960s makeover that added a new kitchen at one end and a great room at the other. In 2001, Annapolis architect Chip Bohl removed the wall between the dining room and foyer and updated the living room, kitchen and much of the upstairs for previous owners. He created the architectural features and non-traditional aesthetic that attracted the DC couple when they first saw the house. “I remember walking up to the second floor landing and looking out through a wall of windows at the river,” the wife relates. “I thought, ‘This is it; this is the house we want.’”

However, parts of it were still outdated. So the husband, a civil engineer, and wife, a landscape architect, turned to Bohl to redo the great room and design a master suite above it in the style of his previous work.

“The great room was about creating a space that would engage the view,” Bohl says. “It’s a big room, so I used beams and columns to define it.” Laser-cut glass panels replaced walls that framed the windows out to the river, “so you can see the horizon line through a variety of openings.”

The roof was raised to accommodate the master suite, which encompasses a bedroom, sitting room, bath and walk-in closet. Bohl employed a range of materials and styles. Floors in the addition and millwork in the great room are walnut, while the rest of the house is in the original pine. “I like eclecticism,” he says. “I put things together that embrace variety.”

To ensure that the architecture and interiors would flow seamlessly, the couple hired designer Joe Ireland early in the process. He had worked on their DC house and understood their priorities. He also appreciated Bohl’s eclectic sensibility, reflected in the sculptural, asymmetrical plaster fireplace in the dining room, varied window choices and extensive millwork. “The moldings on the doors and windows are Arts & Crafts, which was very modern for the era when the house was built,” Ireland explains. “Chip took his ideas from that.”

The owners were open to the designer’s vision and wanted to start from scratch in terms of furniture and accessories, so Ireland began with a clean slate. He took his cues from the house. “I was going for ‘bohemian chic,’” he says. “It’s eclectic, with a sense of humor. It’s not dull.”

Ireland and the wife selected a mix of antiques and new pieces in styles ranging from rustic to mid-century to modern. In the great room, Christian Liaigre sofas are grouped with club chairs by Jamie Drake for Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman around a custom coffee table of Ireland’s design. The traditional living room sofa by Donghia is paired with an antique Chinese coffee table, while in the dining room, an antique table and chairs from Rose Tarlow offer a rustic touch.

Throughout the house, Ireland layered fabric patterns, from Ikat to patchwork, to convey the bohemian vibe. Colorful vintage rugs, faded by time, create a comfortable, lived-in look. “I wanted it to feel like all this stuff had been here a long time,” the designer says.

Meanwhile, the wife was working with Allison Marvin, an art consultant from DC-based Sightline, to acquire art for Windy Hill, a pursuit that is near and dear to her heart. Both Bohl and Ireland kept her growing collection of abstract and photographic art and sculptures in mind during the design process; Bohl framed wall space within columns and built-ins and Ireland selected furniture and finishes with specific pieces in mind. The owners’ collection includes works by up-and-coming artists, including many from “30 Americans,” a 2015 Corcoran exhibit that showcased African American artists.

A swimming pool and patio have been relocated from the front of the house to the side, where they are accessible via the great room. A charming brick porch that runs along the back is original to the house. The wife designed the grounds herself, creating S-shaped retaining walls that showcase banks of flowers and shrubs and a rain garden that flows to the river. As a landscape architect, she is currently working with the Department of Natural Resources to create a living shoreline along this part of the waterfront.

The couple enjoys every moment in their renovated home. “We do have a fabulous view,” says the wife. “We pinch ourselves all the time.”

Photographer Angie Seckinger splits her time between Potomac, Maryland, and Spain.

Renovation Architecture: Chip Bohl,  Bohl Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Interior Design: Joe Ireland,  J.D. Ireland Interior Architecture + Design, Washington, DC. Builder: Winchester Construction, Millersville, Maryland.

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East Meets West

What sailor hasn’t dreamt of docking his boat right in front of his own house?” asks an Annapolis homeowner. She and her husband got their wish when they purchased a property that overlooks Spa Creek—just steps from the sailboat that serves as their floating home a good part of every year. When they’re in Annapolis, however, the couple settles into this 4,600-square-foot, two-bedroom “retirement home” that is just the right size for their needs.

Though these active homeowners are indeed retired—he from real estate development and she from interior design—they’re anything but retiring. When they’re not sailing through New England in the summer or down to Florida and the Bahamas in the winter, they’re enjoying their second career having fun in Annapolis.

The couple previously lived in Upstate New York, but when they officially retired 15 years ago, Annapolis and its sailing traditions beckoned. Their first home in the historic district was itself historic: a 125-year-old brick residence with a formal garden and carriage house that they restored from the ground up.

Although they now admit the house didn’t reflect their design aesthetic, they weren’t considering a move until they learned a friend had put her Spa Creek property up for sale. The wife drove by and was immediately struck by the proximity to town, uninterrupted water views and private dock. “I went home to my husband,” she recalls, “and said, ‘You should see what I just saw!’” 

Her husband did see it, and he agreed that serendipity had spoken. Unfortunately, so had the real estate market—so while they were able to purchase the property, they had to wait out the market until the timing was better to sell their historic home.

In the interim, they began the lengthy process of obtaining the permits required to build a new waterfront property in Anne Arundel County. “It was frustrating but also gave us the time to refine what we wanted,” says the husband. Indeed, their entire vision evolved significantly during that period, especially once they turned to architect Scarlett Breeding to incorporate their ideas into a coherent whole. “We looked at the house from a fresh perspective,” says Breeding, “and worked closely with the owners to develop a home that reflected their personal style.”

Ultimately, it was agreed that their new home would have a more relaxed feel than their previous one. And it would take full advantage of its expansive waterfront views from the front door on.

As a designer, the wife has always gravitated to an Asian aesthetic, but she also wanted the home to reflect its shore location. By combining a flared roofline with silvery gray exterior shingles, Breeding was able to connect both sensibilities. The addition of two forward-extending pavilions on either side of the front porch accomplishes two goals: It breaks up the square shape of the home while harkening back to Japanese design in which the elements of harmony and balance are key. Long, deep overhangs and horizontal lines also reinforce an Asian-inspired sense of peace and tranquility.

In the main living space, Breeding created an open plan that incorporates living, dining and kitchen areas. French doors open to the porch—a living space on its own with long views toward town. Moldings, casework and built-ins, fashioned by the contractor, Bayview Builders, add depth without compromising on clean lines. Breeding added other unique touches including the graceful staircase with custom-fabricated steel balusters in a pewter finish.

Upstairs, skylights bring natural light into the master bedroom, bath and dressing room, even on the gloomiest days. The Zen-like design has “a touch of glam thrown in,” says Breeding. The lower level features a colorful family room for hanging out, a guest suite and a walkout to the garden and plunge pool designed by landscape architect Robert Hruby.

The owners couldn’t be happier with the results. “This home is elegant, quiet, open and modern,” says the wife. “Everyone who comes in immediately feels comfortable.”

Breeding says the project was a “team effort” involving the architects, clients and builder. “We all wanted to create a house that would respond to how they use it,” she says.

Mission accomplished, say the homeowners. “This is such a happy home,” concludes the wife. “It fits us to a tee.”

Writer Carol Sorgen is based in Baltimore, Maryland. David Burroughs is an Annapolis photographer.

Architecture: Scarlett Breeding, Aia, Alt Breeding Schwarz Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.
Contractor: David Carlisle, Bayview Builders, Annapolis, Maryland. Landscape Architecture:
Robert Hruby, ASLA, Campion Hruby Landscape Architects, Annapolis, Maryland.

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