[ {"id":"970ff606-535a-524a-9230-80ae14480822","type":"article","starttime":"1492938900","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-23T04:15:00-05:00","sections":[{"home-and-garden":"lifestyles/home-and-garden"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Spring is good time to divide hostas","url":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/article_970ff606-535a-524a-9230-80ae14480822.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/spring-is-good-time-to-divide-hostas/article_970ff606-535a-524a-9230-80ae14480822.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/spring-is-good-time-to-divide-hostas/article_970ff606-535a-524a-9230-80ae14480822.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Iowa State University Extension & Outreach","prologue":"Hostas are a popular\u00a0landscaping plant and\u00a0easy to grow, but certain steps in planting and dividing\u00a0must be followed\u00a0to ensure optimal performance, including watering and pest control. Here are some questions about hostas with answers from horticulturists at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Q: When is the best time to divide hostas? A: Spring. Dig up the entire clump as soon as the leaves begin to emerge. (The emerging leaves are bullet-shaped and are often referred to as points or noses.)\u00a0 Carefully divide the clump into sections with a sharp knife. Each section should have at least two or three points (leaves) and a good portion of the crown and root system. Replant immediately.\u00a0 While spring is the best time, plants can be divided anytime into\u00a0late summer. Hostas divided in late summer should be mulched with several inches of straw, pine needles or other materials in late fall. Mulching helps prevent repeated freezing and thawing of the soil during the winter months that could heave late summer divisions up out of the soil and damage or destroy them. Q: Where should hostas be planted? A: Most hosta cultivars perform best in partial to full shade. A site that receives between two to four hours of direct sun per day is partial shade, while a site that receives less than two hours of direct sun per day is full shade. Most of the yellow and gold leafed hosta cultivars develop their best leaf color in areas that receive four to five hours of direct sun.\u00a0\u00a0 Hostas prefer well-drained, fertile soils that contain high levels of organic matter. Soils that contain high levels of clay or sand can be improved by incorporating organic matter (compost, sphagnum peat moss, shredded oak leaves, etc.). In poorly drained sites, the best solution may be to construct a raised bed. Q: Do hostas need to be watered during the growing season? A: For best performance, hostas need a consistent supply of moisture. Dry conditions inhibit plant growth and may lead to scorching (browning) of leaf margins. To help conserve soil moisture, apply a 2- to 3-inch-layer of wood chips, shredded bark or other mulch around hostas. Also, water plants weekly during prolonged dry periods. Q: Should I fertilize my hostas? A: Hostas do not require heavy fertilization. A single application of an all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, in spring as growth begins to emerge is usually sufficient. Q: How do I control slugs on my hostas? A: Several strategies can be used to control slugs. Small numbers can be controlled by handpicking. Handpicking is best done at night with a flashlight as slugs are most active at night. Traps can also be used to control slugs. A trap can be a piece of wood or asphalt shingle. Place the object on the ground where slugs have been feeding. Lift up the trap after one to two days and destroy any slugs hiding beneath it. Shallow pans of beer also attract slugs. Sink the pans into the ground so the rim is even with the soil surface.\u00a0 Empty the pans at least twice a week. Pesticides (molluscicides) will likely be necessary to control large slug populations. Slug baits typically contain metaldehyde or ferric (iron) phosphate. \u00a0\u00a0","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["hosta","iowa state university","botany","agriculture","biology","gardening","plant","sphagnum","cultivar","leaf","moisture","root system"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"448216ba-ced1-5dda-9763-294ed7a38bac","description":"Hostas are a favorite landscape plant, and now is a good time to divide your clumps to make more plantings.","byline":"JEFF COOK, Quad-City Times file photo","hireswidth":1500,"hiresheight":995,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/48/448216ba-ced1-5dda-9763-294ed7a38bac/5763485997077.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1500","height":"995","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/48/448216ba-ced1-5dda-9763-294ed7a38bac/576348599605c.image.jpg?resize=1500%2C995"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"66","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/48/448216ba-ced1-5dda-9763-294ed7a38bac/57634859da3c0.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"199","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/48/448216ba-ced1-5dda-9763-294ed7a38bac/576348599605c.image.jpg?resize=300%2C199"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"679","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/48/448216ba-ced1-5dda-9763-294ed7a38bac/576348599605c.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C679"}}}],"revision":9,"commentID":"970ff606-535a-524a-9230-80ae14480822","body":"

Hostas are a popular\u00a0landscaping plant and\u00a0easy to grow, but certain steps in planting and dividing\u00a0must be followed\u00a0to ensure optimal performance, including watering and pest control.

Here are some questions about hostas with answers from horticulturists at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Q: When is the best time to divide hostas?

A: Spring. Dig up the entire clump as soon as the leaves begin to emerge. (The emerging leaves are bullet-shaped and are often referred to as points or noses.)\u00a0 Carefully divide the clump into sections with a sharp knife. Each section should have at least two or three points (leaves) and a good portion of the crown and root system. Replant immediately.\u00a0

While spring is the best time, plants can be divided anytime into\u00a0late summer. Hostas divided in late summer should be mulched with several inches of straw, pine needles or other materials in late fall. Mulching helps prevent repeated freezing and thawing of the soil during the winter months that could heave late summer divisions up out of the soil and damage or destroy them.

Q: Where should hostas be planted?

A: Most hosta cultivars perform best in partial to full shade. A site that receives between two to four hours of direct sun per day is partial shade, while a site that receives less than two hours of direct sun per day is full shade. Most of the yellow and gold leafed hosta cultivars develop their best leaf color in areas that receive four to five hours of direct sun.\u00a0\u00a0

Hostas prefer well-drained, fertile soils that contain high levels of organic matter. Soils that contain high levels of clay or sand can be improved by incorporating organic matter (compost, sphagnum peat moss, shredded oak leaves, etc.). In poorly drained sites, the best solution may be to construct a raised bed.

Q: Do hostas need to be watered during the growing season?

A: For best performance, hostas need a consistent supply of moisture. Dry conditions inhibit plant growth and may lead to scorching (browning) of leaf margins. To help conserve soil moisture, apply a 2- to 3-inch-layer of wood chips, shredded bark or other mulch around hostas. Also, water plants weekly during prolonged dry periods.

Q: Should I fertilize my hostas?

A: Hostas do not require heavy fertilization. A single application of an all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, in spring as growth begins to emerge is usually sufficient.

Q: How do I control slugs on my hostas?

A: Several strategies can be used to control slugs. Small numbers can be controlled by handpicking. Handpicking is best done at night with a flashlight as slugs are most active at night. Traps can also be used to control slugs. A trap can be a piece of wood or asphalt shingle. Place the object on the ground where slugs have been feeding.

Lift up the trap after one to two days and destroy any slugs hiding beneath it. Shallow pans of beer also attract slugs. Sink the pans into the ground so the rim is even with the soil surface.\u00a0 Empty the pans at least twice a week. Pesticides (molluscicides) will likely be necessary to control large slug populations. Slug baits typically contain metaldehyde or ferric (iron) phosphate. \u00a0
\u00a0

"}, {"id":"ccfe4e6b-a70c-549b-bc0c-daa098766417","type":"article","starttime":"1492938900","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-23T04:15:00-05:00","sections":[{"home-and-garden":"lifestyles/home-and-garden"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Cat thyme is safe treat","url":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/article_ccfe4e6b-a70c-549b-bc0c-daa098766417.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/cat-thyme-is-safe-treat/article_ccfe4e6b-a70c-549b-bc0c-daa098766417.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/cat-thyme-is-safe-treat/article_ccfe4e6b-a70c-549b-bc0c-daa098766417.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Q:\u00a0My neighbor is growing a plant he calls 'cat thyme' and insists that his cats like it better than catnip. He has planted some around the foundation of his house and says it is easy to grow. He has offered to give me some for my cat, but I\u00a0want to make sure it\u2019s not dangerous although most\u00a0everything I have read suggests it\u2019s safe!","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["medicinal plants","herbs","cat","thyme","papertrained@mchsi.com","sandeman","quad-city times","botany","catnip","plant","euphoria"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":3,"commentID":"ccfe4e6b-a70c-549b-bc0c-daa098766417","body":"

Q:\u00a0My neighbor is growing a plant he calls 'cat thyme' and insists that his cats like it better than catnip. He has planted some around the foundation of his house and says it is easy to grow. He has offered to give me some for my cat, but I\u00a0want to make sure it\u2019s not dangerous although most\u00a0everything I have read suggests it\u2019s safe!

A. Both catnip and cat thyme are safe for cats although, as with people, there can be\u00a0individual sensitivities to certain plants and foods. Both also can\u00a0cause\u00a0minor euphoria in some cats;\u00a0affected cats may roll in the plants, purr or even drool to express their satisfaction. Eating\u00a0the plant may induce sedation or a different sensation/reaction than from\u00a0what happens when a cat rubs\u00a0against it.

Cat thyme is actually not in the thyme family at all but belongs to a group of small woody plants originating in Spain. It resembles thyme but has a different requirement for planting and growing and certainly shouldn\u2019t be used in the same way as the more common herb.

Like any new food or treat,\u00a0offer only small amounts to your cat to assess his or her response and to make sure that your cat doesn\u2019t have a skin or taste sensitivity to it. While not as attractive as fresh cat thyme, dried leaves could be rubbed on scratching posts or sewn into toys.

If your cat enjoys fresh plants, you might also want to consider growing a small container of veterinarian-approved plants, including various grasses and grains such as\u00a0wheat or oats. While these plants may not induce the euphoria that catnip or cat thyme seem to initiate, they will be safe\u00a0and insecticide- and pesticide-free.

Questions? Send them to Dr. Sandeman, Home & Garden, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801. Or, email to papertrained@mchsi.com. Dr. Sandeman cannot answer letters or email personally, but questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

"}, {"id":"9c72c620-f309-5c1b-b9fa-53e392bf70f5","type":"article","starttime":"1492938900","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-23T04:15:00-05:00","sections":[{"home-and-garden":"lifestyles/home-and-garden"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Q-C PLANT SALES","url":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/article_9c72c620-f309-5c1b-b9fa-53e392bf70f5.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/q-c-plant-sales/article_9c72c620-f309-5c1b-b9fa-53e392bf70f5.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/q-c-plant-sales/article_9c72c620-f309-5c1b-b9fa-53e392bf70f5.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Here are plant sales by nonprofit groups in the Quad-Cities this week: Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 Quad-City Botanical Center, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28 and 29, 2525 4th Ave., Rock Island. Annuals with the word \"chocolate\" in their names, vegetables, heirloom tomatoes and unusual tropicals, all nurtured locally.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["nonprofit organization","quad-city botanical center","silvis garden club","tomato","botany","gardening","check","herb","annual","pepper","greenhouse"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":3,"commentID":"9c72c620-f309-5c1b-b9fa-53e392bf70f5","body":"

Here are plant sales by nonprofit groups in the Quad-Cities this week:

Friday-Saturday, April 28-29

Quad-City Botanical Center, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28 and 29, 2525 4th Ave., Rock Island.

Annuals with the word \"chocolate\" in their names, vegetables, heirloom tomatoes and unusual tropicals, all nurtured locally.

Friday-Sunday, April 28-30

Friends of Vander Veer, 1-6 p.m. Friday, April 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 29, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30, at the conservatory, 215 West Central Park Ave., Davenport.

Hundreds of plants with a wide selection of annuals, perennials, and tropicals.

The Friends of Vander Veer is a non-profit organization that supports beauty, education, and restoration at Vander Veer Botanical Park.

Today- June 1

The Silvis Garden Club has opened its greenhouse for sales from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. The greenhouse is at 651 1st Ave. N., Silvis, behind Schroder\u2019s Mortuary. Cash and checks are accepted, no credit cards.

Annuals, hanging baskets, vines, herbs, tomatoes and peppers. This includes 25 varieties of one-gallon tomato plants grown by members of the club.

"}, {"id":"121df134-641b-55c2-9238-0b5a7f14eaf9","type":"article","starttime":"1492938900","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-23T04:15:00-05:00","sections":[{"home-and-garden":"lifestyles/home-and-garden"}],"geolocation":{"latitude":"41.585995","longitude":"-90.593918"},"application":"editorial","title":"Q-C high school students build 21st home","url":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/article_121df134-641b-55c2-9238-0b5a7f14eaf9.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/q-c-high-school-students-build-st-home/article_121df134-641b-55c2-9238-0b5a7f14eaf9.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/q-c-high-school-students-build-st-home/article_121df134-641b-55c2-9238-0b5a7f14eaf9.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":3,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Alma Gaul\nagaul@qctimes.com","prologue":"A four-bedroom, ranch-style house with zero-step entries and a three-car garage built by high school students\u00a0will be among the 25 homes\u00a0in this year's Spring Preview of Homes. The home at 1236 W. 63rd St., Davenport, is the 21st home built over an 18-year period through a partnership among the Quad-City Builders and Remodelers Association, the Quad-City Area Realtor Association and area high schools.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["laundry room","cameron butler","kerry moeller","craig peckenschneider","anthony stock","quad-city area realtor association","davenport west high school","andrea figg","scott community college","quad-city builders and remodelers association","lynn figg","building industry","student","high school","ranch-style house","garage","ceiling","backsplash"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"37a866cc-d4b0-5dfc-b93c-8e20b5b7b88a","description":"A four-bedroom, ranch-style house with zero-step entries and a three-car garage built by high school students will be among the 25 homes in this year's Spring Preview of Homes. The home at 1236 W. 63rd St., Davenport, is the 21st home built over an 18-year period through a partnership among the Quad-City Builders and Remodelers Association, the Quad-City Area Realtor Association and area high schools.","byline":"Kevin E. Schmidt, QUAD-CITY TIMES","hireswidth":1919,"hiresheight":1079,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/7a/37a866cc-d4b0-5dfc-b93c-8e20b5b7b88a/58fa29b609705.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1919","height":"1079","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/7a/37a866cc-d4b0-5dfc-b93c-8e20b5b7b88a/58fa29b60873a.image.jpg?resize=1919%2C1079"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/7a/37a866cc-d4b0-5dfc-b93c-8e20b5b7b88a/58fa29b60873a.image.jpg?resize=100%2C56"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/7a/37a866cc-d4b0-5dfc-b93c-8e20b5b7b88a/58fa29b60873a.image.jpg?resize=300%2C169"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/7a/37a866cc-d4b0-5dfc-b93c-8e20b5b7b88a/58fa29b60873a.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C576"}}},{"id":"0d4d1258-cb97-5d0a-94ee-14c6cbdf281a","description":"Kyle Yocum, left, a plumber with Tappendorf Plumbing, Davenport, works with high school seniors Kerry Moeller and Cameron Butler on installing a sprayer faucet in the kitchen. This year's kitchen features white cabinets with quartz countertops.","byline":"Kevin E. Schmidt","hireswidth":1823,"hiresheight":1136,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/d4/0d4d1258-cb97-5d0a-94ee-14c6cbdf281a/58fa29b6acff2.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1823","height":"1136","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/d4/0d4d1258-cb97-5d0a-94ee-14c6cbdf281a/58fa29b6ac107.image.jpg?resize=1823%2C1136"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"62","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/d4/0d4d1258-cb97-5d0a-94ee-14c6cbdf281a/58fa29b6ac107.image.jpg?resize=100%2C62"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"187","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/d4/0d4d1258-cb97-5d0a-94ee-14c6cbdf281a/58fa29b6ac107.image.jpg?resize=300%2C187"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"638","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/d4/0d4d1258-cb97-5d0a-94ee-14c6cbdf281a/58fa29b6ac107.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C638"}}},{"id":"35ebe983-3a4b-5bff-81ee-5d0a92e7934f","description":"Working under the guidance of instructor Craig Peckenschneider and help from professional trades people, students learn everything they need to know to build a house. This view shows the great room with cathedral ceiling, fireplace, dining area with sliding glass doors to the deck and part of the kitchen. The stairs at left lead to the lower level with a rec room and\u00a0another bedroom and bath.","byline":"Kevin E. Schmidt, QUAD-CITY TIMES","hireswidth":1919,"hiresheight":1079,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/5e/35ebe983-3a4b-5bff-81ee-5d0a92e7934f/58fa29b721411.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1919","height":"1079","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/5e/35ebe983-3a4b-5bff-81ee-5d0a92e7934f/58fa29b7204ca.image.jpg?resize=1919%2C1079"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/5e/35ebe983-3a4b-5bff-81ee-5d0a92e7934f/58fa29b7204ca.image.jpg?resize=100%2C56"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/5e/35ebe983-3a4b-5bff-81ee-5d0a92e7934f/58fa29b7204ca.image.jpg?resize=300%2C169"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/5e/35ebe983-3a4b-5bff-81ee-5d0a92e7934f/58fa29b7204ca.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C576"}}}],"revision":4,"commentID":"121df134-641b-55c2-9238-0b5a7f14eaf9","body":"

A four-bedroom, ranch-style house with zero-step entries and a three-car garage built by high school students\u00a0will be among the 25 homes\u00a0in this year's Spring Preview of Homes.

The home at 1236 W. 63rd St., Davenport, is the 21st home built over an 18-year period through a partnership among the Quad-City Builders and Remodelers Association, the Quad-City Area Realtor Association and area high schools.

Working under the guidance of instructor Craig Peckenschneider and with help from professional trades people, students learn \"everything you need to know to build a house,\" Kerry Moeller, 18, of Davenport West High School said one recent day while working at\u00a0the home.

Along with\u00a0Anthony Stock, 18, also of West, and Cameron Butler, 17, of Davenport North, Moeller\u00a0was\u00a0assembling ceiling fans in preparation for a visit by an electrician to hook them up.

All three said they signed up\u00a0because they want to go into the building trades.

This year's class ended up with only five students total after some students withdrew for various reasons, including moving from the district or not having access to transportation, Lynn Figg, who directs the program for North, said. But\u00a026 are signed up for next year, indicating that interest remains strong, she said.

This year's home is set up for single-floor living \u2014 one side of the\u00a0main level includes the great room with a vaulted ceiling and\u00a0kitchen, dining and living areas. There's also a laundry room and \"mud\" area between the kitchen and the garage and stairs to the lower level where there is a finished bedroom and bathroom, rec room and much unfinished storage space.

The other side of the house contains the master suite with its own bath and walk-in closet and the two secondary bedrooms with a common bath.

All the finishes \u2014 paint, siding, light fixtures, cabinets, countertops, backsplash, hardware, mirrors, flooring and appliances \u2014 were selected by a graduate of the program, Andrea Figg.

Figg filled the same role last year when she was a senior at North, and she volunteered to do it again this year.

The kitchen cabinets are white with a tan subway tile backsplash and the countertops are quartz, incorporating many swirling shades, including white, gray, tan, black and silver.

Figg is a student at Scott Community College, transferring next year to Iowa State University, Ames, to pursue a degree in home economics.

The asking price of the home is $325,000.

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Stare at the\u00a0front of the new, two-story\u00a0house built by Robert and Kristin Schumacher\u00a0in Eldridge, and it takes awhile to absorb everything that's going on.

There's a dormer window, a round window, two roof peaks, vertical siding and horizontal siding, rough-sawn cedar pillars, a brick half-wall, galvanized metal light fixtures.

Very busy. But that's intentional.

\"The more aspects you can bring into a home the better,\" Schumacher said. \"We try to have at least four different details. You get that contrast of all the different elements that brings it to life. Those little details are what we focus on. It really pops.\"

The Schumacher house will be one of 25 open for public tours today, Wednesday and next Saturday-Sunday during the Spring Preview of Homes sponsored by the Quad-City Builders and Remodelers Association.

Step inside the house, and your the first\u00a0thought may be, \"Wow, this is different.\"

That's because\u00a0ahead and to your right is a room whose back wall is floor-to-ceiling dark gray shiplap. It draws your eyes immediately.

Shiplap is the rough-sawn,\u00a0pine paneling with one-fourth-inch gaps between the boards\u00a0popularized by Chip and Joanna Gaines on HGTV's \"Fixer Upper.\"

The\u00a0Schumachers love it and have been using it for about a year. You'll see it in seven different places throughout the house, including\u00a0the ceiling of a half bath and the\u00a0wall of a staircase landing.

The\u00a0sense that this house is a little\u00a0different\u00a0\"is the point,\" Kristin said.

The shiplap room\u00a0is\u00a0an office; the opposite wall contains a window surrounded by\u00a0floor-to-ceiling bookshelves painted in the same dark gray as the shiplap. The other walls are \"decorator white.\" This gray and white color scheme is carried out throughout the house, including gray single-panel doors.

And\u00a0carried out through the entire first level is seven-inch hickory plank flooring.

Beyond the office, the home opens\u00a0to the great room, with family, dining and kitchen areas.\u00a0

Like the exterior,\u00a0the kitchen takes time\u00a0to absorb, too.

The cabinets are gray, with simple, brushed nickel hardware, and four are finished with\u00a0glass fronts. The countertops are white quartz; the backsplash is white subway tile with charcoal grout for contrast.

Above the three-foot by five-foot island hang two industrial-looking black metal pendant lights with old-fashioned-looking light bulbs.

A signature touch is\u00a0Schumacher's use of Adorne brand electrical outlet plates that are made so the screws don't show. \"It makes a statement,\" he said.

Elsewhere in the home, outlets are placed in the baseboards,\u00a0another signature touch. \"It cleans up the sight line of the walls,\" he said.

A staircase off the living area features Craftsman-style newel posts painted gray with square\u00a0white spindles. In addition to the surprise of a window at the landing \u2014 a look reminiscent of Victorian-era\u00a0homes \u2014 there is a large, roundish sitting room area at the top of the stairs.

Emanating off this room are six doors \u2014 four lead to bedrooms, one opens to a linen closet and the sixth is for the laundry. This room\u00a0contains the round window one saw when studying the outside.

The master suite has a tray ceiling with rope lighting and a bath containing a tub, shower, vanity with two sinks and the toilet in a separate room. The white-tiled shower might be considered \"different\" too, in that it has no doors. Won't water splash all over the room?

Schumacher explains that rather than try to second-guess what a buyer might like in the way of doors and dividers, he\u00a0chose to leave it open with a \"book of options\" so that it can be finished at the time of purchase.

Beyond the bath is a walk-in closet with wire shelving.

One of the secondary bedrooms has its own bath with shower, and the two others share a \"jack and jill\" bath built between the two rooms, accessible to each.

The home's lower level is unfinished but could accommodate a rec room, bathroom (there is a rough-in for plumbing) and a fifth bedroom with what's called a \"daylight\" window in that it is full-sized.

The\u00a0home is located at 612 St. Andrews Circle, Eldridge. It is 2,600 square feet, and the\u00a0asking price\u00a0is $439,900.

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Just as virtual technology has become a common tool for anyone planning to repaint or redecorate a home, a growing array of apps can make landscaping easier too.

But know when to use them, and when it would be easier to pull out an old-fashioned pencil and a sheet of graph paper \u2014 or to seek out a professional.

\"We've seen an increase in virtual interior design services within the last two years, so it's only natural that this functionality would make its way to the exterior of the home as well,\" said Stephanie Sisco, Real Simple magazine's home editor.

A few of the more popular DIY gardening apps include Garden Designer ($9.99, from Artifact Interactive), Design your New Surroundings ($9.99, from Home Revivals), Garden Plan Pro ($9.99, from Growing Interactive), and Perennial Match ($4.99, from Harmony systems, Inc.).

\"We have seen several hundred thousand downloads,\" says Patrick Pozzuto, founder of the iScape app ($9.99, from Home Revivals LLC), aimed at both professional and home landscapers. Based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Pozzuto worked as a contractor before launching his app.

\"Arranging plants using a touch screen is way easier than using your lower back to do it,\" he says.

\"But while the pros have been using apps for a long time now, home gardeners do encounter some hiccups sometimes,\" he admits. \"They don't necessarily know what plant goes with what, and what areas it'll grow in. And some people don't have an artistic mind, and get into trouble.\"

Dave Whitinger, executive director of the National Gardening Association, based in Jacksonville, Texas, warns that while some tech-savvy gardeners quickly get the hang of landscaping apps, the learning curve is steep, and they may be impractical for most home gardeners. The association, founded in 1971, helps put out the \"Gardening for Dummies\" book series (published by For Dummies) and hosts the website garden.org.

\"The reality is that while the virtual tools are great for a minority of gardeners, many more people find them far too confusing, and they get really frustrated,\" he says.

Many home gardeners, he says, would be better off using a pencil and graph paper, with each square representing 6 inches, or whatever scale is appropriate for the particular garden.

Yet even for amateurs, he notes, the information on some online sites can mean the difference between failure and success with gardening and landscaping projects. Garden.org, for example, features a database for the entire country, searchable by zip code, to tell home gardeners what the frost dates are for their area, when to plant which vegetables and flowers, and what kinds of plants will encourage, say, certain varieties of butterflies or bees.

\"Knowledge like that is crucial to whether a person's gardening project succeeds,\" he says. \"Lettuce and spinach and tomatoes all have different dates when they should be planted for best results, and planting dates vary depending on where you live. Just because you see the plants for sale in the nursery doesn't mean it's the right time to plant.\"

And even if you haven't figured out all the features of the gardening apps, they can be a good way to show professional landscapers what you have in mind, Pozzuto says,

Richard Heller of Greener By Design, a firm in the New York area that uses 3-D software to help with both landscape design and communication with clients, says the software makes a huge difference.

\"Three-D software is still not very common, and it gives us an amazing competitive edge. It allows people to see what's not planted, so they start expanding on projects they have in mind,\" he says.

\"The software is accessible to anyone, but there's a steep learning curve involved. And you need a high-end gaming computer to use it.\"

Heller says home gardeners might want to check his company's website EZgardendesign.com which, for a small fee, allows you to create a landscaping \"design book.\" It's a good starting point, but most home gardeners would still want to work with a professional who knows plants well, he says.

And there's always graph paper and a pencil if the learning curve proves too steep.

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A four-bedroom, ranch-style house with zero-step entries and a three-car garage built by high school students\u00a0will be among the 25 homes\u00a0in this year's Spring Preview of Homes.

The home at 1236 W. 63rd St., Davenport, is the 21st home built over an 18-year period through a partnership among the Quad-City Builders and Remodelers Association, the Quad-City Area Realtor Association and area high schools.

Working under the guidance of instructor Craig Peckenschneider and with help from professional trades people, students learn \"everything you need to know to build a house,\" Kerry Moeller, 18, of Davenport West High School said one recent day while working at\u00a0the home.

During the Spring Preview sponsored by the builders and remodelers association, the public can take free\u00a0tours of the homes on\u00a0Saturday-Sunday, April 22-23,\u00a0Wednesday, April 26, and\u00a0next Saturday-Sunday, April 29-30.

Hours\u00a0are 1-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 4-8 p.m. Wednesday; and 1-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, April 29-30.

The homes are located in\u00a0Davenport, Bettendorf, LeClaire and Eldridge. Maps\u00a0with addresses will be in advertisements in the Quad-City Times on the day of the open houses.

The homes range in price from\u00a0 $263,900 to\u00a0$898,900.

The student-built home is listed at\u00a0$325,000.

This year's high school\u00a0class ended up with only five students total after some students withdrew for various reasons including moving from the district or not having access to transportation, Lynn Figg, who directs the program for Davenport North High School, said.

But\u00a026 are signed up for next year, indicating that interest remains strong, she said.

This year's home is set up for single-floor living \u2014 one side of the\u00a0main level includes the great room with a vaulted ceiling and\u00a0kitchen, dining and living areas. There's also a laundry room and \"mud\" area between the kitchen and the garage and stairs to the lower level where there is a finished bedroom and bathroom, rec room and much unfinished storage space.

The other side of the house contains the master suite with its own bath and walk-in closet and the two secondary bedrooms with a common bath.

All the finishes \u2014 paint, siding, light fixtures, cabinets, countertops, backsplash, hardware, mirrors, flooring and appliances \u2014 were selected by a graduate of the program, Andrea Figg.

Figg filled the same role last year when she was a senior at North, and she volunteered to do it again this year.

The kitchen cabinets are white with a tan subway tile backsplash and the countertops are quartz, incorporating many swirling shades, including white, gray, tan, black and silver.

Figg is a student at Scott Community College, transferring next year to Iowa State University, Ames, to pursue a degree in home economics.

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Stare at the\u00a0front of the new, two-story\u00a0house built by Robert and Kristin Schumacher\u00a0in Eldridge, and it takes awhile to absorb everything that's going on.

There's a dormer window, a round window, two roof peaks, vertical siding and horizontal siding, rough-sawn cedar pillars, a brick half-wall, galvanized metal light fixtures.

Very busy. But that's intentional.

\"The more aspects you can bring into a home the better,\" Schumacher explained. \"We try to have at least four different details. You get that contrast of all the different elements that brings it to life. Those little details are what we focus on. It really pops.\"

The Schumacher house will be one of 25 open for public tours Saturday-Sunday, April 22-23,\u00a0Wednesday, April 26, and\u00a0next Saturday-Sunday, April 29-30,\u00a0during the Spring Preview of Homes sponsored by the Quad-City Builders and Remodelers Association.

Hours of the preview are 1-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 5-7 p.m. Wednesday; and 1-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, April 29-30.

The homes are located in\u00a0Davenport, Bettendorf, LeClaire and Eldridge. Maps\u00a0with addresses will be in advertisements in the Quad-City Times on the day of the open houses.

The tours are free. The homes range in price from\u00a0 $263,900 to\u00a0$898,900.

The\u00a0Schumacher home is located at 612 St. Andrews Circle, Eldridge. It is 2,600 square-feet and the\u00a0asking price\u00a0is $439,900.

Step inside, and your the first\u00a0thought may be, \"Wow, this is different.\"

That's because\u00a0ahead and to your right is a room whose back wall is floor-to-ceiling dark gray shiplap. It draws your eyes immediately.

Shiplap is the rough-sawn,\u00a0pine paneling with one-fourth-inch gaps between the boards\u00a0popularized by Chip and Joanna Gaines on HGTV's \"Fixer Upper.\"

The\u00a0Schumachers love it and have been using it for about a year. You'll see it in seven different places throughout the house, including\u00a0the ceiling of a half bath and the\u00a0wall of a staircase landing.

The\u00a0sense that this house is a little\u00a0different\u00a0\"is the point,\" Kristin said.

The shiplap room\u00a0is\u00a0an office; the opposite wall contains a window surrounded by\u00a0floor-to-ceiling bookshelves painted in the same dark gray as the shiplap. The other walls are \"decorator white.\" This gray and white color scheme is carried out throughout the house, including gray single-panel doors.

And\u00a0carried out through the entire first level is seven-inch hickory plank flooring.

Beyond the office, the home opens\u00a0to the great room, with family, dining and kitchen areas.\u00a0

Like the exterior,\u00a0the kitchen takes time\u00a0to absorb, too.

The cabinets are gray, with simple, brushed nickel hardware, and four are finished with\u00a0glass fronts. The countertops are white quartz; the backsplash is white subway tile with charcoal grout for contrast.

Above the three-foot by five-foot island hang two industrial-looking black metal pendant lights with old-fashioned looking light bulbs.

A signature touch is\u00a0Schumacher's use of Adorne brand electrical outlet plates that are made so the screws don't show. \"It makes a statement,\" he said.

Elsewhere in the home, outlets are placed in the baseboards,\u00a0another signature touch. \"It cleans up the sight line of the walls,\" he said.

A staircase off the living area features Craftsman-style newel posts painted gray with square\u00a0white spindles. In addition to the surprise of a window at the landing \u2014 a look reminiscent of Victorian-era\u00a0homes \u2014 there is a large, roundish sitting room area at the top of the stairs.

Emanating off this room are six doors \u2014 four lead to bedrooms, one opens to a linen closet and the sixth is for the laundry. This room\u00a0contains the round window one saw when studying the outside.

The master suite has a tray ceiling with rope lighting and a bath containing a tub, shower, vanity with two sinks and the toilet in a separate room. The white-tiled shower might be considered \"different\" too, in that it has no doors. Won't water splash all over the room?

Schumacher explains that rather than try to second-guest what a buyer might like in the way of doors and dividers, he\u00a0chose to leave it open with a \"book of options\" so that it can be finished at the time of purchase.

Beyond the bath is a walk-in closet with wire shelving.

One of the secondary bedrooms has its own bath with shower and the other two share a \"jack and jill\" bath built between the two rooms, accessible to each.

The home's lower level is unfinished, but could accommodate a rec room, bathroom (there is a rough-in for plumbing) and a fifth bedroom with what's called a \"daylight\" window in that it is full sized.

"} ]