Old sign letters create new art – designing on a budget

Practically free art that’s really cool…

Recently I had the opportunity to give a 15 year old teen boy a bedroom makeover.  If anyone was deserving of such a makeover, it was Van.  His family is faced with a lot of challenges (his parents are legally blind and his sister has Down Syndrome).  We wanted to give him a dream room so that he had a special place to hang out with friends and enjoy alone time.  To learn more about the project visit the  McLean Makeover page on Exterior Spaces‘ web site.

My special project for his room was spelling the word, “Skate” on his wall.  Sounds simple, but let me tell you, that’s what made the room awesome.  My son’s uncle owns RBI Sign Installation & Service, so I sent him over to his uncle’s shop to look for old letters.  An hour later he sent me the picture below.  I was so excited!  The letters were perfect.  The S, k, e were old letters from a Perkins sign and the A T were from an old Weight Watchers sign.  I couldn’t wait for him to bring home the letters so I could get started.

All for the price of two cans of paint, we were able to create a unique art piece leaving all of Van’s skater friends wishing their room was as cool as his.  Words cannot describe Van’s reaction when he saw his room.  The big hug I received seconds after he saw it confirmed his love for his new room.  When I saw him the next day he told me that he couldn’t sleep the night before because he couldn’t stop staring at his new room.  It goes to show that something so simple, can go a long way.

Being involved in the community is important to Exterior Spaces.  We strive to use our talents to help others in need.   Over the years we have learned that helping someone makes us feel really good inside and puts a warm happy glow on the outside.  We strongly believe that helping someone creates a rippled affect of positive things in many peoples lives.  One thing is for sure, this makeover changed our lives.


Fall is for Planting

So the summer has been pretty rough on your grass, garden, shrubs and flowers; huh?

Well now is the time to kick revitalizing into full gear. September is a great month to get a head start on preparing things for the winter.


Head out to your local garden store because now is the time to buy things that bloom in the fall, like ornamental grasses. For a great selection of ornamental grasses, visit the Garden Supply Co in Cary, NC off of Old Apex Road. If you like them on Facebook, you’ll also received special discounts and coupons that the general public do not receive.  The staff at the Garden Supply is so friendly and helpful and the owner’s are such generous people.  On October 8th, our community outreach division will be holding a fundraising event at the Garden Supply for our first home makeover.  More details to follow shortly.  Visit the Designed to Care Web Site to learn more about our Outreach Division and how we are doing good in our community.



Green Grass Secrets…

September means its time to fertilize that fescue lawn.  Its also time for aerating and over seeding – just wait until mid to late September since the beginning of September is still pretty hot. If you live in Cary, NC, you can apply for a watering permit that allows you to water everyday for two weeks, which is vital since seeds need to stay wet to germinate and grow. Check the Town of Cary’s Website closer to the end of the month to apply for your permit.  It is also important to keep that lawnmower as high as possible during the hot summer days.  Yes, you will have to mow your lawn more often, but it sure will be healthier and greener as a result.

Get out that shovel, its time to plant…

September is also a great time for planting trees, shrubs, evergreens and annuals. And if you are really ambitious, sow sweet william, delphinium, sweet peas and snapdragon seeds now to bring color in the early spring.

Since you are already playing around in the yard, its time to rejuvenate the vegetable garden. Clear the garden of tired veggies and replace with cool season veggies like radishes, onions and asparagus crowns, which grow from November 15 – March 15.

It is also time to be thinking about the placement of bulbs since October is a great time to get them in the ground for the spring crop.  My favorite spring bulbs include tulips and daffodils, which flower from mid February to mid May.

Some Important Bulb Tips:

  • When purchasing, make sure the bulbs you choose are firm
  • Buy early so you can get first pick
  • If the bulbs have nicks or loose skins, don’t fret, this does not effect the bulbs negatively.  In fact, this condition encourages the root process.
  • Keep cool (50-65 F) until you are able to plant.  And keep away from ripening fruit since they produce ethylene

Soil Preparation:

  • Be sure to have good drainage
  • Since our soils in Wake County, NC are mostly clay, mix (up to a 50% mixture) an organic amendment such as peatmoss or compost to the clay
  • However if your soil contains mostly sand, mix and organic amendment to increase water holding capacity.
  • Soil pH should be within the 6-7 range.  You can buy a soil testing kit at your local home improvement store or you can contact your local extension office for a soil sample test.

Look for next months post to learn how to plant bulbs and when to water and fertilize.  Exterior Spaces is always available to answer your fall landscaping questions.

A Children’s Museum in Downtown Cary for Children of all ages…..



Downtown Cary Children's MuseumThat’s right, a museum in Downtown Cary, NC!  

And we aren’t talking about any old museum either.  The Downtown Cary Children’s Museum would cater to toddlers to school-aged children and focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Plans for the project are only about six months old. But if all goes as planned, we hope to have it opened in 2013.


You can help us win $25,000…

We entered our Project for the Pepsi Refresh Project.  We are excited to announce that we were randomly selected as one of 1500 applications.  What does that mean?  If we are one of the top 15 projects, we win a grant from Pepsi.

Here’s how it works…

Boost our voting power…

Pepsi Power Votes!!!


Designed to Care… Designing for a cause.

Located in Cary, NC,  Designed to Care is a community outreach division of created by Exterior Spaces and our partner Designed to Sold.  We formed Designed to Care with the intention of using our passions of interior and landscape design to give deserving families home makeovers.

Our first home makeover project has been scheduled!

We are pleased to announce that we have found a Raleigh, NC family in great need of a home makeover.

Everything from appliances, shrubs, paint, skilled labor, and much more is needed…

Visit the Designed To Care Web Site for more details.

Freshly Picked Flowers

For the love of flowers…

At Exterior Spaces we love fresh cut flowers in the office.  The beauty, color and scent really brightens our moods and makes us a little happier.  Today we headed to the garden to see what we could gather for a display, and we so very please with our bounty.  Today we were able to gather beebalm, purple coneflowers, and hydrangeas.  The pinks and purples really brighten things up and the smell of the beebalm is refreshing.

Other great fresh cut flowers… 

Daisy, Black-eyed-susan, Day Lily, Sunflower, Salvia, Butterfly bush, Daffodil, Summer phlox, Iris, babysbreath, and

Making them last…

  1. The time of day matters – cut them in the early morning or later in the day when it is cooler.
  2. Cut with a very sharp knife (not serrated)
  3. Make the cut on a slant to expose more stem surface area.
  4. Remove any leaves that will be underwater
  5. Get them in water immediately!
  6. Feed them.  If you don’t want to use plant food purchased from the store then try the recipe below:
  • Add one part lemon-lime soda (not diet) to 3 parts water.  Then to each quart of this solution, add 1/4 tsp bleach.  Thereafter, add 1/4 teaspoon bleach after each 4 days of use.

Flowers make us happy…

A behavioral study conducted by Rutgers found that flowers are a natural and healthful moderator of moods.  The study concluded that:

  1. Flowers impact happiness.  Receiving flowers invokes such nice feelings of love and happiness.  Think about the last time someone sent you flowers.  Did it make you smile from ear-ti-ear?  You probably were in a good mood for the rest of the day.  For me, flowers are instant happiness.  I love flowers, especially those picked from my garden.
  2. Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods.  Don’t you just feel better when flowers are sitting around your office or home?  I usually take the time to enjoy their fragrance or simply stare at their beauty.
  3. Flowers make intimate connections.  The last time your significant other gave you flowers you probably paid a little bit of extra attention to him or her that day, right?  🙂  Or perhaps that flowers you sent grandma for her birthday caused her to call and talk to you more because she was reminded of you every time she look at the flowers.
  4. Seniors find comfort with the presence of flowers.  Research has shown that flowers reduce depression and improve memory of seniors.  So the next time you head over to visit grandma and/or grandpa, take them some flowers….it sure will do them a lot of good.

Go out and pick some flowers!  It’ll really brighten your day.  🙂

Much love, Heather Foust
 Exterior Spaces

A picture is worth a thousand words…

This couldn’t be more true for a landscape architect trying to convey their design intentions.  Often it is hard for the untrained eye to look at a 2D/plan view drawing and really understand what the space will look and feel like when the hardscape and plantings have been installed.  That is why rendering with actual photos of the space is such a valuable tool.  Here are just a few quick renderings Exterior Spaces recently completed for a client.  Pictures are just one of many tools Exterior Spacesuses to help our clients experience their landscape dreams.

Backyard Before Design Visualization

Backyard After Design Visualization

Backyard Before Design Visualization

Backyard After Design Visualization

Before Design Visualization

After Design Visualization


Strawberry-Basil Ice Pops

Strawberry Basil Popsicles

Strawberry Basil Popsicles

Strawberry-Basil Ice Pops

Wondering what to do with the strawberries you  just brought home from the farmer’s market?  Better yet, did you grow strawberries yourself?  At Exterior Spaces we planted strawberries in a pallet and watched them grow and produce bunches of strawberries (see previous post on pallet gardening). Do you have a bunch of basil growing in your yard?  Then I’ve got a treat for you…

This recipe comes from the recipe book, “Ice pops”, by Shelly Kaldunski.  The blend of sweet strawberries with the anise flavor of basil make this a smashing combination.  Last summer when I made these I couldn’t keep them in the freezer.  I think I’ll be making some of these later today.

I use a Zoku quick pop maker.  This gadget can be purchased from Williams-Sonoma for around $50, plus some more for any additional odds and ends.  I purchased extra “sticks” to use with mine.  The Zoku is great because you can have frozen popsicles within minutes of making them.  However, making popsicles does not mean you need a fancy freezing machine, any freezing method will do.  Enjoy!

Zoku Popsicle Maker


  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut in half
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and basil.  Pour in 1/3 cup water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved and a syrup has formed.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the basil syrup into a blender or food processor, discarding the basil leaves.  Add the strawberry halves, lemon juice and salt. Process until nice and smooth.

If using conventional ice pop molds, divide the mixture among the mods.  Cover and freeze until solid, at least four hours or up to three days.  If using sticks, insert them into the molds when the pops are partially freezer, after about 1 hour, then freeze until solid, at least three more hours.

If using an instant ice pop maker (such as the Zoku), follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fill the molds and freeze the pops.

I hope you all enjoy these popsicles as much as my family does.

Happy Gardening and Much Love
From the Exterior Spaces Family!