Photo by Shelby Bell via Flickr

So you’ve decided to turn that unfinished backyard into an urban oasis come spring. But how do you know which plants will thrive in our climate and put on a big show in a small city space?

Brownstoner asked three local garden professionals — James Stephenson of Artist Garden, Katherine Aul of Staghorn, and Jacob Hawvermale of Urban Roots — which plants are best for Brooklyn gardens.

Here are the top nine shrubs, trees and perennials these pros prefer. They will add color, texture and interest all year long.


If you don’t have much experience with cork flooring, you might have the wrong idea about what it looks like. No one is suggesting you cover your floor with an Office Max bulletin board. And it certainly won’t resemble your sister-in-law’s DIY wine cork art.

Cork flooring can look like your typical solid wood floor. But is it the right choice for your home? Read on for the surprising pros and cons of cork.


Moving is stressful enough without arriving at your new home to discover your favorite lamp or antique tea set is smashed to pieces. How were you supposed to know your improvised wrapping job of newspaper and scotch tape wasn’t going to work?

Photo by Tracey Adams via Flickr

The good news is that a little care can protect even the most fragile items during the roughest move. We asked Mark of Movers Not Shakers! to give us some practical packing advice.

What is the proper way to pack a fragile item so that it doesn’t break during a move?

After a fragile item has been wrapped, no matter how well or poorly, it then needs to be transported, and that’s what you’re really wrapping for, the movement that occurs in the truck. Whether that driver is dodging potholes or not seeing them, the violent jolts inside a truck box traveling through NYC are inevitable.

The proper way to pack a fragile item so that it doesn’t break is to allow that object to move, very slightly, in a highly protected environment. So how do you do it?


Whether you’re more concerned with saving money or with saving the world, there are many reasons to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Even in a historic Brooklyn townhouse, with its drafty old windows and pre-war fixtures, there are dozens of things you can do to keep your bills low and your carbon footprint small.

Photo of rooftop solar cells by Brooklyn Solar Works

We asked four of our Brownstoner Services professionals for their top tips on how to make your home more energy-efficient. Some of them are huge structural changes to keep in mind during new construction or renovation, some you could accomplish in an hour over the weekend.

Tip from Lonnie Coplen, ARC Advanced Energy Panels

Insulate your windows.

Historic windows are great candidates for our window insulation, because the replacement costs themselves can be so high. AEP’s product has a higher air sealing and insulating rating than most replacement windows, and they will dramatically reduce noise transmission while improving comfort and eliminating condensation on existing glazing. We like to call AEP window insulation our “climate warriors” because they are such a powerful solution to heat loss at windows at a fraction of the cost of window replacements.