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Euonymus in the Landscape

There are probably more than 60 different forms of Euonymus, but only a few of these have become popular as landscape plants. This single genus of plants represents vine, ground covers, shrubs and small trees. Although the tree types are not common for landscape use, one of them, the Wahoo, “Euonymus atropurpurea,” is often found as a small native tree in wooded areas. While the trees are not particularly noticeable in summer, in fall they have attractive color and clusters of deep pink to orange berries which become evident after the leaves have fallen.

A shrubby euonymus that is very popular for landscape use is the winged euonymus, or burning bush. The compact form is most useful and produces dense growth not only making it a good specimen, but also suitable for unclipped hedges or screens. This excellent plant has brilliant pink to red fall color, is cold hardy and is essentially pest free. The desire for evergreen plants in landscaping is what has made evergreen varieties and species of euonymus popular. Euonymus have been found to be one of our hardiest broad-leaved evergreens, although during severe winters in some climates the plants turn brown or may be partially killed back. When this happens, only the deadwood needs to be cut out, and the plants need to be pruned enough to reshape the plants. Because they leaf out fairly early in the spring, do not prune out any winter-killed wood until new growth appears so that live wood can easily be seen.

Among the evergreen euonymus is a creeping type often used as a ground cover, known as the purple-leaf winter creeper. There is also a climbing type commonly known as evergreen bittersweet. The most used, however, are the shrubby types. Some of the best adapted varieties included Manhattan, Pauli, Sarcoxie and Jewel, although many other varieties have been introduced and may be available in some localities. An objection to the evergreen euonymus is that its leaves may turn brown during the winter but not drop off. While this often happens, especially when plants are in exposed locations, the leaves are normally green until Christmas but drop and are covered by fresh green growth in late March.

The amount of browning is usually relative to the severity of the winter. In mild winters, this may not occur at all. The evergreen euonymus may be attacked by several plant problems. One is euonymus scale, and the other a disease called crown gall. Euonymus scale is an insect pest which may be found on the twigs and undersides of the leaves. The scales are small, grey to white and can be very destructive. The upper sides of the leaves often become yellowish as the sales on the undersides damage them.

Heavily infested branches should be cut out and burned. An approved insecticide spray should be applied in late spring and repeated several times during the summer. Be sure to cover the twigs and undersides of the leaves quite well. Crown gall causes swelling of the twigs, usually near the base of the plant. When these galls are seen, plants should be removed and destroyed. Euonymus should not be planted back into the same area.

The Pitfalls of Remodeling Your Own Bathroom

My wife Rachel and I live in a home built in the early 1900s. It has a character and warmth that no other “new home” can match. We have watched more than our share of the cable shows where the “Ordinary Joe” gets a house, and fixes it up all by himself. Oh, and they make it look like ANYONE can do it.

Our house only has one bathroom, and my wife had wanted to redo it since we moved in. To describe it fully, it had a grey carpet, from the floor to about 5 feet up was an undetermined tile that was painted green, and then from there to the 9 foot ceiling was flowered wallpaper that looked atrocious. The trim around the door and the shower was a color of blue that I guess could be found within the flowers on the wallpaper. Due to the age of the house, the plaster in a few places was bulging for unknown reasons, but was held in place thanks to the lovely wallpaper.

Rachel finally decided one day she had enough of our bathroom, and it was time to pull the trigger and get the job started. She investigated everything we wanted to do, and how we could do it all ourselves. The primary goals we hoped to achieve were as follows: get rid of that carpet that contained God-knows-how-many bodily fluids from God-knows-how-many people. The plaster was coming down and being replaced with drywall and then textured and painted. All the trim around the door and shower was getting tossed and replaced with fresh woodwork that did not have gobs of dripped and dried paint on it. The old bathroom vanity was history, as was the sink on top of it. The mirrored cabinet above the sink was also being upgraded. The big project was going to be the floor. Rachel decided it was going to be a good durable tile that could withstand the traffic and trauma a bathroom floor can take. The best part was she was going to do it herself-mortar, grout, and tile placement.

The only things we were not replacing was the tub/shower stall as it was implanted in the house, and fortunately was newer and fit into our design scheme, and the toilet. That was replaced a year or two prior due to this author’s inability to remove a rusty bolted toilet seat without cracking the porcelain. You can now fully imagine what sort of brilliance we are dealing with here.

Weeks of planning, measuring, and finally buying the products we think we will need to start and complete our bathroom remodel. Estimated timeframe turnaround: 5 days tops.

Day 1 we wake up and are ready to rock. First task: Plaster tear down. I was looking forward to putting a hammer into the wall repeatedly again and again. Needless to say, the demolition went well. We brought down all the plaster and tile on the walls clear down to the lathe. We then shoveled the remains into bags and I transported them outside for later landfill disposal. After cleaning up our mess, we felt like we’d made major progress. Additionally, Rachel changed out and slightly moved the light switches and outlets to where we wanted them. As it was our only bathroom, we had to put it “back together” in some formation so the toilet and shower were at least usable. Our son who was at daycare needed to be picked up soon, so we actually cleaned up the bathroom, vacuumed the carpet, and returned it to its usable state.

Day 2 arrived and we thought we’d put up some drywall just to say we did. We put up some pieces up close to the ceiling, and were feeling good about our progress. Then it was time to tear out the vanity and sink. I made sure the water lines were shut of and disconnected, and unfastened everything from the wall. What we saw when we pulled everything out left us speechless. There was an immense hole in the floor where the water lines and drain pipes went. We could see fully right down into our basement. What it looked like was at one time there may have been a tub in that spot, as there were spots on the wall over the hole similar to a water spout, and hot/cold water knobs. We decided then and there that minor patching would need to be done prior to putting in the new vanity.

Then we decided to hit the rest of the floor. First, we had to remove the toilet from the sewer line, and get it out of the way. Then we pulled up the carpet, and uncovered more surprises. The area in which the toilet sat on was a bunch of water damaged and rotting floor boards. The rest of the floor had a layer of old and yellowed linoleum tile, some form of tar paper, and then the hardwood oak floors we knew to be underneath it all. For some reason, the wood was painted an odd shade of blue. It became clear that previous owners of our home had all had different ideas on how to decorate that bathroom. Pulling up the rug also showed that many areas of the floor were shimmed, or propped up with boards to level the floor. The entire floor of the bathroom had a hump in it.

We decided that we needed to repair the wood floor under the toilet. We went to the lumber yard and obtained some good planking we could put in that would rest on the floor joists, and become a good solid sub-floor. The problem was making it fit neatly around the flange of the toilet main, and into and around corners of the bathroom without doing a sloppy job. This part took hours longer than we had intended.

My own Dad who can be somewhat handyman stopped by to see how we were doing. He entered the bathroom to find me sitting over a hole in the floor, and exposed toilet flange, and me sweating like a madman and trying to cut out the necessary pattern in the plank to make it fit. My Dad surmised that if he hung around much longer, he was going to get sucked in to help. He uttered the words “Well, looks like you have quite a project going on here. You’ll figure it out. See you later.” And he left.

Finally after hours of cutting, sweating, and swearing, we got the sub-floor back in place. However it was time to pick up our son from daycare again, so we needed to replace the toilet as it is our only one. We quickly did that and declared the floor good for the day. We decided we needed to hang as much dry wall as we could so we could get to work on the floor itself the next day and prepare it for tiling. When we ended that night, we were both exhausted and sick of looking at this disaster we had created.

Day 3, we decided we needed a day off.

Day 4, we attacked the floor and tried to determine what we needed to do to level the floor. We went to the local Menard’s, and saw various epoxy materials that could be used to poured onto the floor to help level it out. However we decided that would be too costly and time consuming. Rachel then had a genius idea. We bought boxes of the cheapest 1X1 foot vinyl tile we could find. We decided to use those to create a level floor by finding the areas that were sagging, and shoring them up with the vinyl tile. In many places, the stacks of tile were 10-15 high. We then measured the plywood we were using for the underlayment, cut it and placed into the bathroom. It was perfect. We cut a hole for the toilet main and were in business. I fastened the plywood down with about 50 3-inch screws and we were set. We brought in the backer-board that the tile would sit on, caulked it, and laid that down. By this time, it again was time to get our son and end our day. However we needed to let the backer-board dry properly so it stayed bonded to the floor. So we waited a few hours to yet again re-install the toilet.

Then things began to take more of a precedent than the bathroom project. We had taken vacation days from work to start the job, but now had to go back to our real day jobs. Some nights we worked on it, but a lot of nights we didn’t. We needed to mud the drywall, and sand it before we could do much more. Due to various activities in the family, the time to do this stuff became minimal. Or if we had the time, we just couldn’t face doing it. It was not like we didn’t have a constant daily reminder either. Our bathroom had no sink or mirror. So any hand washing had to take place in the kitchen. All of Rachel’s make-up and hair styling had to be done in front of a little mirror and desk light in our dining room. Sometimes one of us would get a wild hair, and tackle a minor part of the bigger project.

Finally, 5 or 6 months later we found ourselves with completed drywall, and it had been textured and painted in the color we wanted. The room was finally coming together. One weekend we decided the time was right to tile the floor. We had to be creative with it, because the tile had to stand for over 24 hours so the mortar and grout would set properly. This meant no toilet or shower for at least a whole day. Thankfully my parents lived not very far away, so any necessary bathroom needs were a short drive away. Rachel took to the floor, and did an amazing job. My only responsibility here was running the wet saw we purchased to cut the tile pieces where it was needed. I enjoyed that part.

A good day later, we entered the bathroom, and decided it was time to put the toilet back in. It was getting close to being done. As we were getting ready to set it down, we realized we had brought the level of the floor up about 1 ½ inches from what it previously was. The toilet was no longer going to be sitting on the main, and we had to figure out a way to bring the main up. A trip to Menard’s again, and we found a series of spacers we could put between everything. When all fastened together, and topped with the wax ring between the spacers and the toilet, we were in business.

We had a toilet, we had walls, and we had floors. The last major obstacle was putting the vanity, sink and mirror cabinet. Thankfully, there were no major issues with that. It was amazing. We had a sink in our bathroom again for the first time in about 6 months.

Eventually over the next 3 or 4 months, we installed the wood trim around the door and shower, and added a new shower faucet to match the one we installed in the sink. So after almost a whole year, we more or less finished our bathroom. The job we thought we could plow through in 5 days, turned into a nightmare that lasted an eternity.

We also learned a few things about ourselves in doing the project. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish almost anything. AND we learned that nothing in our house is ever an easy fix.

Make a Color Swatch: Remodeling or Decorating Tip

Remodeling or redecorating can be very stressful and you must spend much of your time making decisions about the redecorating and the colors you want to use. Before you start any redecorating project you need to decide what color or colors you want to use in your redecorating project. The color you use is very important and to make everything in your redecorating project match you need to have a color plan.

To make your life easier during the decorating process you can make a color swatch of the color or colors you plan to use and take the color swatch everywhere you go.

First decide what color or colors you want to use. Experiment with some crayons to see what color you like best. Then when you decide what colors you are going to use on your decorating project make a swatch of the color or colors. Your swatch can be very small so that it can fit in your wallet and you can have it with you where ever you go.

When you look for paint you will have your color swatch and picking out paint or wallpaper will be much easier. Take your color swatch to the furniture store and you will be able to pick out furniture with your color swatch. Pick out furniture that matches the colors you want by taking out your color swatch and comparing it to the colors that the furniture comes in.

It will be easier to pick out the flooring you want with a color swatch. You can pick out carpeting and vinyl flooring with a color swatch that matches the furniture you have already picked out.

Pick out curtains or draperies with your color swatch. A color swatch can make decorating much easier to get the colors in the room to match each other.

Make a couple color swatches of the same color in case you need to share the color with someone else or if you misplace your color swatch you will have another color swatch to work with.

A color swatch can make decorating easier and you won’t have as much guess work when you are decorating your rooms. The color swatch does not have to be big it can be tiny so that you can carry the color swatch in your wallet. You can have more then one color on the swatch and it will make picking colors for your decorating easier.

If you are looking for a tile contractor in Phoenix, AZ – Please call AZ granite & Remodeling Today at (602) 759-9000.

Bathroom Remodeling Contractors in Indianapolis

In these tough economic times, most people are reluctant to dive into the purchase of a new home, so many who want upgraded abodes are turning to remodeling their existing homes as a more affordable alternative. Bathroom renovation, in particular, is a popular choice because bathrooms tend to age quickly due to style changes and traffic volume. In addition to freshening up your living space, updating the powder room tends to return the most value if and when you do decide to sell your home. With all of the positives, though, remodeling a bathroom is not for the faint of heart, so hiring a qualified contractor can help a lot. Here are some of the best contractors in the Indianapolis area to help with your bathroom remodeling efforts.

Lindsey Remodeling and Home Improvements 
Lindsey remodeling is a full-service remodeling agency, but they are especially strong in bathroom renovations. They handle all aspects of bathroom remodeling, from drawing up the initial plans, to the nitty-gritty of plumbing and electrical work, to adding the finishing cosmetic touches. Lindsey’s web site offers remodeling tips and an online consultation form, and you can also contact them at 317-341-5876.

My Home In Indy Home Remodeling 
My Home In Indy Home Remodeling specializes in upscale makeovers of kitchens and bathrooms, and one look at the portfolio on their web site tells you that their work is elegant and that attention to detail is a priority. My Home In Indy handles all types of bathroom remodels from simple cosmetic changes to wholesale gut-and-build operations, and they also support green remodeling practices. They can be reached via their web site or at 317-339-6096.

Indy Renovation 
With over 40 years of experience, Indy Renovation provides the Indianapolis area with a dedicated, full-service contractor committed to helping you achieve your goals in a reasonable time frame without breaking the bank. They provide full-service bathroom remodeling support, and can even help you with your bathroom addition project. Indy Renovation also offers free estimates and design services to help you make your contractor decision, and they can be reached through their web site or at 317-412-9160.

Always compare multiple contractors when making your remodeling decision, taking into account things like prices, references, and portfolios of finished projects. Most of these professionals provide free estimates and can show you photos of other jobs that they’ve done. Happy hunting, and good luck with your bathroom project.

QUARTZ COUNTERTOPS – Many people are savvy enough to understand that so-called “quartz” countertops are somehow different from other natural stone countertops. They may even vaguely understand that quartz countertops are actually a form of engineered stone, made from ground-up particles of stone.

How to Price Your House Cleaning Services?

Starting a housekeeping company is one of the easiest businesses you can start. With little or no money at all you can build your cleaning route very quickly and begin earning a salary of between $15 and $35 per hour.

For most people entering this industry, finding clients and knowing how to clean a home is the easy part; however, when it comes to offering a potential client a flat rate price for services, many new cleaners are at a loss. Bidding and estimating a weekly or biweekly service rate is a mystery for those who may be just getting started in the residential cleaning industry.

Hopefully, this article will take the magic out of estimating a price for your clients. Once you have gone out and performed a few estimates using the following information, you will wonder why bidding was ever a source of anxiety for you in the first place: now bidding and estimating will be the easiest part of operating your new company.

First, you will need to establish what the hourly rate will be for you in your particular part of the United States. You will not be charging your clients by the hour; however, you will be using an hourly rate to determine what flat rate to charge your customers. Don’t worry about how much money your competitors are charging-it doesn’t matter! You set your rates, and don’t allow your local market to set them for you. To establish your hourly rate, go to (this is the United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics website) and scroll down to “Metropolitan Area Wage Data”. Look for the link that says “For 375 Metropolitan Statistical areas (MSAs)” and click on it. Now find your state and click on your area. Scroll down to Occupational Code No. 37-0000, “Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations” and click on it. Scroll down to Occupational Code No. 37-2012 “Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners” and look for the box to the right under Mean Hourly. Take the Mean Hourly Wage for your area and multiply that by 2. This will be your base hourly rate.

Now that you have your base hourly rate it is time to determine how many hours it will take you to clean any particular home you may be bidding on. This bidding method is easy to implement and accurate for 95% of all homes in the United States. You will need to assign a time value for each cleaning task as follows:


Room: 10-15 minutes

Entry, Hall, Stairwell: 5-10 minutes

Furniture: 5 minutes per piece


Room: 5-10 minutes


Full Bath: 15-20 minutes

½ Bath: (no shower or tub): 10 minutes

Shower tile: 10-30 minutes

Jacuzzi & relaxation style tubs: add 10 minutes


Kitchen: 20 minutes

Stove-top: 15-20 minutes

Oven-hood: 20-60 minutes

Hard Floors

Room: (sweep) 5-10 minutes (mop) 5-10 minutes

Bathrooms: (sweep) 5 minutes (mop) 5 minutes

Kitchens: (sweep) 10-20 minutes (mop) 10-15 minutes

Entries: (sweep) 5-10 minutes (mop) 5 minutes

Halls: (sweep) 5-10 minutes (mop) 5-10 minutes

Stairs: (sweep) 5-10 minutes (mop) 5-10 minutes

Bed making: 15 minutes each

Interior Oven: 120 minutes each

Fireplace: 60 minutes

Interior Refrigerator: 120 minutes each

Furniture Polishing: 15-20 minutes each

Semi-commercial Stove-top: add 5 minutes

During the estimate ask your client to take you on a walk-through of all the areas in her home that she would like serviced. When you enter an area quickly write down what kind of room it is (living room, bathroom, bedroom etc.) and note the type of flooring that is in the room (hard or carpeted). Ask the client what she would like done as you go from room to room. When you have completed the tour, return to your car and begin assigning a time value based on the information you collected from the potential client. Note: do not add any dusting times for Entries, Hallways or Stairwells. Also, wiping down items in the clients home is included in the dusting time value.

You should have all the areas and specifications written down in an organized fashion.


Living Room (wood floor)

Dining Area (wood floor)

Bathroom (vinyl floor, tub/shower)

Hallway (carpeted)

Bedroom (carpeted)

Kitchen (tile floor)

Now go back through the list and ask yourself what needs to be done in each area. The living room with hard wood floors should be dusted, wiped, swept and mopped. You will assign a 5 for the dusting/wiping and a 10 (5 for sweeping and 5 for mopping) for the floors, totaling 15 for the area. If an area is unusually large, then you may want to consider assigning the higher-range time value to it. The dining area will be calculated in the same way as the living room. The bathroom is a full bath with a value of 15 plus the shower (if applicable) with a value of 10 and the floor (vinyl) with a value of 10 also (5 for the sweeping and 5 for the mopping), totaling 35. Hallways, entries and stairwells are assigned time values for the floor surfaces only. In the case of our example, it is carpeted, with a time value of 5. The bedroom is 5 for the dusting and 10 for the vacuuming. The Kitchen is 20 plus 15 for the stove-top and 20 for the floors (again, 10 for the sweeping and 10 for the mopping). The grand total for our sample house is 140.

Take your total and divide it by 60; this gives us the decimal 2.33. Multiply this number by your base hourly rate, we will use $19.66 as an example. The amount comes to $45.8078. You will always round up to the nearest part of $5, even if it is only one penny over (example: $45.01). So your total for this client’s home would be $50 per service visit. You should always multiply your client’s rate by 1.5 for the first cleaning (1.5 X $50 = $75). It will always take you longer to clean the customer’s home the first time. This will be your price for weekly and biweekly clients. You could offer a discount for weekly clients; however, I would personally not. If you have a client who requests a one-time-per-month cleaning, a rate of 1.5 times the biweekly rate should be assessed.

This method of bidding works for any home, large or small. You may be shocked with the rates you will come up with, but don’t ever think your price is too high. Look your potential client in the eyes and confidently assert your rate every time. You will likely close 1 out of every 2 estimates you perform.

Once you have built your cleaning route into a fulltime business you may want to start raising your base hourly rate for any new clients you acquire. You can raise your current client’s rates or replace them with your new, higher paying clients (one at a time). Continue this client recycling method until you begin to notice that you are no longer able to acquire any new clients. Now you will know what the absolute top cleaning rate is for your area. At this level you should be earning between $25 and $35 per hour depending on your area.

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