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Keeping an eye on the neighbors

   Last week, we talked about how some people have noticed a trend toward their neighbors -- especially suburbanites -- rediscovering their front porches and yards, after years of living on their back decks and patios.

  Almost everyone who responded via e-mails or posts agreed that this is a good thing.

   One reader, however, pointed out that some people go overboard, making their front yards too much like their backyards with swing sets, kiddie pools, etc.

   It's always good to hear a different voice.

  This weekend will provide another opportunity to check out other people's yards -- fronts and backs.

   Garden Walk Buffalo takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. This free, self-guided tour of more than 300 gardens has received national attention and is truly inspirational.

   For details, check out or today's Garden Notes listing in the Home & Style section of The Buffalo News.

   Garden Notes also gives information on the North Tonawanda History Museum's fourth annual Historic Gardens Tour, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

  Take notes and feel free to share your impressions.

Back to the front?

Some people enjoy the privacy of a back deck in the summertime. Others prefer a front porch, never dreaming of giving up their front row view of neighborhood happenings.

Either way, one reader has noticed that people in her Williamsville neighborhood seem to be rediscovering the fronts of their homes  --- gathering on the porch or front steps on summer evenings, giving their backyard patios or decks a rest.

Some even are creating new front yard spaces, such as stone patios, as a place to enjoy coffee on weekend mornings.

This is the topic of my "From the Home Front" column in today's Home & Style section.

Certainly, many people in WNY always have enjoyed time on their front porches, and some new builds feature them as well. In fact, a porch may be a big reason why they even bought the house in the first place --- be it in Buffalo, East Aurora, North Tonawanda or elsewhere.

But if you're seeing signs of people migrating to the front yard again --- especially in suburban areas where decks and patios have long reigned --- we would like to hear about it.

Dog days of summer

   I love our dog. His hair on my kitchen floor, not so much. Daily vacuuming has become a routine during this shedding season, which is a bit of a chore because our hard-working vacuum weighs a ton.

We also have an electric, bag-less stick vac that is lightweight enough for our 9-year-old to use. But it just doesn't seem to do the job.

Get a Swiffer!, my friends tell me. I may have to explore that option.

We also don't have much luck with those rolls of lint tape for removing pet hair from cushions. It seems so wasteful. Again, we haul out the vacuum.

I know there are all sorts of gizmos on the market designed for removing pet hair. Pet-owners talk about this stuff.

What works for you, or is the pet hair winning? In the meantime, I'm off to brush the dog. Outdoors.

Behind the screen

A sure sign of a Western New York summer is when the garage door goes up and the screen goes in. Screened-in garages remind me of my suburban childhood.

In my early teen years, I spent many summer evenings talking, laughing, playing games and watching TV in the screened-in garage at the home of my best friend. It was the coolest spot in the house.

Great memories.

Maybe you had a screened-in garage - or some other special summer place. Or maybe you have one now. Hurry and tell us about it - before summer slips away.

Battling Bishop's weed

Bishopsweed Just this week, I heard two people complain about the spread of Bishop's weed in their gardens. One I know inherited her green-and-white Bishop's weed with its whitish flowers from a previous homeowner, who apparently had planted it as ground-cover.

One of the suggestions I read on the Internet for eradicating it: First smother, then pray.

In terms of its tenacity, I think I got the point.

Sure, there are some people who like the look of Bishop's weed (also known as goutweed and other names), especially when it's entirely contained to an area.

But many want it gone. Forever.

Short of bringing in a bulldozer or moving to a new house, has anyone found a successful way to get rid of -- or at least control -- Bishop's weed?

Is it even possible? Share your experiences, please.