Decor: Central Ohio Home & Garden Show

Jackie Mantey, Columbus Alive

This year's Central Ohio Home & Garden Show at the Ohio State Fairgrounds features 366 home improvement exhibitors and eight days of presentations, lectures and celebrity guests. The magnitude of the show can be overwhelming for anyone, let alone visitors who are new to the game of homeownership. Here's a plan of attack for newbies.

Be specific. Make a list of exactly what you want to accomplish on your visit. If you are looking for a roofer, visit the show's online directory of exhibitor listings and locate where all the booths of roofing companies will be stationed. Knock out early the exhibitors you need to visit so you have time to peruse for fun after you've taken care of business.

Bring a calendar. Exhibitors can schedule in-home visits on the spot. Many offer discounts for attendees who schedule a service at the show, and having competitors in one building makes it easy to compare and contrast services.

Bring a buddy. It's always good to have a second opinion when buying big-ticket items. But you know this; you just bought a house.

Pick the days you attend wisely. Weekdays are less crowded (note: the show's closed on Monday). Certain days have special competitions and presentations, so scout out if there's one you'd really like to attend before deciding when to go. Marc Bartolomeo, host of DIY Network's "Kitchen Impossible," is presenting projects for kitchens at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, and is being billed as a great resource for first-time homeowners. Daily admission is $12 for adults, and parking is $5.

Don't miss the gardens. Be inspired by 11 landscaped gardens designed around this year's bicentennial theme.

Ohio Expo Center

Feb. 25-March 4

717 E. 17th Ave., Ohio State Fairground