Online advice April 10 2002

Research a project with a click of the mouse

The World Wide Web gives a whole new meaning to house and garden. While barely lifting a finger, you can figure out how to tackle a home project or find a professional to do the job. Or you can explore countless ways to transform your environment, inside and out. Even the most hapless can create a dream home or garden, or at least draft a fine plan for one.

The Internet serves as a know-it-all, agreeable handyman on call 24 hours a day, free of charge. It also provides you with a forum to commiserate and learn from others who have trod the same path. Here's a few notable sites worth checking out before you embark on your next home improvement or gardening project:

www.doityourself.com is the only place to start. Indoors, outdoors, major or minor, fun or functional, whatever the project, it's at your fingertips. Want to learn how to lay ceramic tile? Build a deck? Repair the roof? It's all here and more. And however you want to pursue the project — by reading step-by-step instructions with illustrations, participating in a forum hosted by an expert, or ordering a video, magazine or book — it's here in every format. And if you don't want to do the job yourself, you can find a list of contractors in your area and get bids online.

www.walterreeves.com Technology meets the good Georgia clay earth at this informative site. Reeves is the official guru of soil and air temperatures in all parts of Georgia, and he invites digital photographs of your problems. Plus, his site links to the minutia of information available through the University of Georgia County Extension Services, featuring pages and pages of advice and instruction, all of which is free, free, free. A sampling of the materials available on the site: Snap Bean Diseases, Shade Tree Decline, Minor Fruits and Nuts in Georgia, Care of Holiday and Gift Plants, and the 2002 Georgia Pest Control Handbook.

www.YouGrowGirl.com This site is disdainful of gardening as something that improves property value or is a pastime of the idle rich. This is for garden grrrls who like to get down and dirty. In fact, a product available through the site is a T-shirt imprinted with name "Garden Ho." Seed germination is one of the techniques for which this site is most useful. Includes garden journals from experts and various forums.

www.AvalonGarden.com The online site for the classy Hendersonville, N.C.-based store features lots of cool stuff for the garden like wrought iron patio furniture, awnings, statuary, bird feeders and lots more. If you need a picnic backpack, here's the place to go. Click and drool.

www.herbalgardens.com This is a good site not only for herbs, for which it details how to grow and use for both medicinal and culinary uses, but it also has much information about gardening in general. Includes good reference links such as "natural" spring cleaning.

Another bonus of the Internet is that it brings together those who yearn for novel approaches. There's lots of room in cyberspace for testimonials for less conventional ways of living.

www.domehomes.com If you tire of the common rectilinear, try this site. The geodesic dome home has efficiency, affordability, structural integrity and a free-span modernistic interior. These are factory-manufactured and the site invites your questions. Do-it-yourself or for hire.

www.gothic.net/~malice/ Want to grow something wicked or poisonous or flowers as black as night? The gothic gardening website of Alice Day has lots of doom and gloom, but also bloom. Theme gardens from her site include the Somber Garden, Night Garden, Witches' Garden, Gardening for Bats and Little Greenhouse of Horrors.??

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