A logical guide for house hunters

Marianne Cusato believes finding the right house isn't about tallying up square footage and gushing over granite countertops. It's about figuring out how you want to live.

She helps house hunters do that with her new book, "The Just Right Home: Buying, Renting, Moving — or Just Dreaming — Find Your Perfect Match!"

Cusato is a home designer touted for her work on the Katrina Cottages, compact homes originally intended for people left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. She's also passionate about matching housing to needs, not just desires.

Her book helps readers figure out all the nuts-and-bolts issues involved in a home search, from determining whether renting or owning makes better financial sense to sizing up a street. She helps them take some of the emotion out of the process by leading them to think logically about such issues as what they want in a neighborhood, how they'll use the home and how well a house functions.

She even offers tips for updating the home you're in to make it easier to stay there.

"The Just Right Home" is published by Workman and sells for $12.95 in paperback.

Q&A: Ridding ornamental grass of weeds

Q: I have regular grass growing in my numerous ornamental grass plants. Is there any way to remove the unwanted grass from these plants other than pulling it out, which is almost impossible?

A: That's a tough one, because the herbicides that will kill the invading turf grass will also kill the ornamental grass.

Greg Stack, a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension, says you might be able to paint a broad-spectrum herbicide such as Roundup onto the weedy grass if you can get to it before the ornamental grass shows any major growth in spring, and if the weed grass is taller than the clump of ornamental grass. He suggests using a foam paintbrush to apply the weed killer to the unwanted grass without letting it touch the ornamental grass.

The University of Nebraska Extension says you can also prevent new weed grass plants from growing in your ornamental grass by treating with pre-emergent herbicide in spring.

However, that will only keep weed seeds from germinating. It won't do anything for the existing weeds.

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