Popular Mechanics instructs on how to use safely (and legally) put a home rain barrel to good use. 

The New York Times details the path destruction that man's best friend can potentially leave behind after a romp in the garden. Explains the article: "If gardening is a battle — against drought, bug, weed, blight — the dog is a kind of bumbling fifth column, a saboteur who likes to roll on the grass and have his tummy rubbed." 

Re-Nest reveals "5 Low-Cost Green Upgrades You Haven't Thought of." So what are they, you ask? Install low-flow fixtures, replace window sashes, insulate plumbing fixtures, replace hardware, and install storm windows/doors. 

The Washington Post talks size in a great article discussing the relationship between sustainable homes and square footage. 

ReadyMade constructs a nifty planter out of repurposed electrical outlet and switch plate covers. That's the finished product pictured below. 

The Seattle Times pays a visit to a tiny (182 square feet) but super-efficient basement apartment belonging to Steve Sauer, a man who knows a thing or two about confined spaces — he's an airplane interiors engineer for Boeing. 

Natural Home considers the unique eco-challenges faced by homeowners Ernie and Sandy Rodriguez, residents of the resort town of Avalon on California's Catalina Island. 

The Daily Green lists "12 Things You've Never Thought To Do With Oatmeal." Like ... neutralizing odors, soothing irritated skin, and incorporating it into arts and crafts projects with the kids. 

The San Francisco Chronicle escapes the rat race with a look at the radical homemaker trend, a grassroots movement spearheaded by Shannon Hayes, a Cornell-educated author who lives on an upstate New York farm where "subsistence farming, food preservation, barter and frugal living are a matter of course."

Jetson Green shares a preview of the i-house 2.0 from a Clayton Homes. This redux of the "popular modern, green prefab with an approachable price tag" will boast "an enhanced front entry, warm and natural exterior materials, and more interior space to accommodate families."

Image: ReadyMade/Scott Little

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Playing catch up: It's How To day
In this week's Playing catch up link-fest we learn how to ... get the most out of a rain barrel, perform low-cost home upgrades, use oatmeal for non-edible purp