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Did you know that houseplants do double duty? They not only add beauty to indoor spaces but also clean our indoor air and remove nasty toxins from carpets, paint, household cleaners, printers and even furniture.

"Besides what they give back in aesthetics, one of the greatest things houseplants do is provide much needed humidity in the winter months and freshen the air year round," says Justin Hancock, editor of Better Homes and Gardens online (BHG.com).

Plant hunter and expert, Mike Rimland, says that houseplants help clean indoor toxins commonly found in homes, apartments and offices. "What houseplants you choose and where they're placed are important considerations to maximize air filtering benefits."

Rimland suggests houseplants like peace lilies for bathrooms and Sanseveria and Golden Pothos for your entryway and living spaces. "They're easy to grow and can help remove volatile organic compounds found in cleaners, carpets and furniture like benzene, formaldehyde, acetone and xylene."

For happy plants, Rimland recommends you assess your rooms for optimal lighting conditions and care requirements, follow the plant care guidelines on the tags and choose plants that fit your lifestyle.

Want to create a quick and easy upscale look or a serene retreat? Nothing beats orchids, arranged in simple or elaborate containers, for high impact drama and Zen-like simplicity.

"As a great 'everyman' plant, orchids can't be beat," says Hancock. "Mini orchids are easy to grow and perfect for a centerpiece or a thing of beauty and tranquility alone on a windowsill."

Green-up your space with living walls.
If you have limited space or want a visually dramatic, high impact design for a room, living walls are the ticket.

Not only can they improve air quality, but they are quite a conversation piece, adding instant "wow factor" to any room.

Rimland says that living green walls are a great way to maximize the benefits of houseplants to purify and beautify spaces. "Whether you buy one of the new kits available or have a professional install your living wall, your rooms will spring to life with living art you create."

Looking for fun and easy houseplants that are practically a no-brainer?
Water-retaining, light-loving, easy-care succulents and cacti are virtually indestructible and come in many colors, shapes and varieties. So mix them up in containers for a visual feast that draws the eye and soothes the soul.

"Succulents are great-looking, low maintenance plants that make it easy for everyone to bring the outdoors inside," adds Hancock.

For more ways to spruce up your home with the hottest houseplants and tips on decorating with a splash of sophisticated and refreshing greenery, visit www.growingstylemag.com

Go Green with Eco-friendly Outdoor Living Spaces

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Warmer weather means days spent in the backyard with barbecues, pool parties and neighborhood gatherings. This year, create a more satisfying and sustainable outdoor living space that you'll feel extra good about by going "green." With some expert advice, it's easier than you think.

Here are four easy tips from the experts at Trex to help homeowners transform the backyard into an eco-friendly escape.

Reduce, reuse, recycle
Gone are the days when it was difficult to find eco-friendly products constructed with sustainable manufacturing processes. Today, it's easy being green, especially when it comes to outdoor living. Among the "greenest" products available for the home is composite decking. Case in point, in the past nine years, Trex - the world's largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking - has salvaged more than 2.9 billion pounds of plastic and wood scrap, keeping these materials from landfills and transforming them into beautiful, high-performance and sustainable outdoor living products made of more than 95 percent recycled materials.

Minimize maintenance
Maintaining a wood deck can be a chore with all that scrubbing, bleaching and staining - not to mention the work and harsh chemicals required to repair or replace weathered, splintered or deteriorated boards. Wood-alternative decking and railing is low maintenance and designed to withstand wear and tear from weather, outdoor furniture and foot traffic. High-performance composite decking offers superior durability and long-lasting good looks. Its exclusive composite formula brings together the best qualities of wood and plastic to create a superior alternative to wood, resulting in decks that require only a periodic cleaning with soap and water to stay looking and performing "like new" for years without sanding, staining or painting.

"High-performance composite decking allows homeowners to create the dream outdoor living space they've always wanted while being mindful of the environment," says Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex. "We are extremely proud to offer a product that is as easy on the earth as it is to maintain."

Illuminate efficiency
Deck and landscape lighting are ideal for adding ambiance and safety to any outdoor space. For maximum energy efficiency, forego conventional lighting systems that use incandescent bulbs - which waste energy by producing heat as well as light - for more energy-efficient LED fixtures. For instance, fixtures featuring Cree LED components use 70 percent less energy than traditional incandescent lighting and deliver up to 40,000 hours of light, so homeowners can enjoy their outdoor spaces long after the sun goes down.

Finish with eco-friendly furnishings
Refresh your deck with sustainable and stylish all-weather outdoor furniture. Look for pieces made from durable composites or recycled steels. These materials are weather-resistant, ultra-durable and long-lasting. Composite furniture also is extremely eco-friendly made primarily from recycled polyethylene sourced from discarded plastics such as milk jugs. Like composite decking, composite furniture doesn't require painting, staining or waterproofing to keep it looking like new for years to come.

For more information on the latest in "green" outdoor living products, visit www.trex.com.

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Photo of Tom Smith Team Real Estate
Tom Smith Team
Coastal Properties Group International
423 Mandalay Ave., #102
Clearwater Beach FL 33767
(727) 776-3375