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Spring 2013

HOME & GARDEN

A Supplement to the March 27, 2013 Belle Plaine Herald and Henderson Independent

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WEDNESDAY, march 27, 2013

2013 spring Home & Garden Edition

PAGE two

Who is Responsible for Repairs During a Home Sale?

Lynzi Kleist, manager of the Belle Plaine Country Store, is looking forward to the expansion of the store this spring.

Country Store Starting 10th Spring The Belle Plaine Country Store, which opened in the fall of 2003, is beginning its 10th spring in business and Manager Lynzi Kleist is looking forward to the long-awaited big warm up ahead. Kleist, who has worked for the Country Store for seven years, including the past five as manager, said there are a lot of plans in the works for 2013’s 10-year anniversary observance, including an expansion of its merchandise offerings in the next several months. She said she cannot yet comment

of the specific details of the expansion. The store is planning a 10-year re-grand opening later this year. “We’re looking at some big changes,” Kleist said. As for this spring, which Kleist said is the store’s busiest time of year, customers can expect the usual assortment of spring fever merchandise, ranging from “the fluffiness of baby chicks and ducks to the hardiness of steel-toe boots.” She said the chicks and ducks are scheduled to arrive on April 22. “Typically, people will buy a

few baby chicks and ducks just because their fun and cute to look at,” Kleist said. Among the more conventional spring fever offerings at the Country Store is its selection of grass seed, fertilizer and other lawn and garden supplies. This spring will mark the fourth year that the Country Store will open a greenhouse on its property, where shoppers can purchase trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and vegetables, etc. Kleist said plans are to open the greenhouse in late April. Pet supplies and food, livestock feed, men’s and women’s work clothes, tools and gifts “with a farm twist” are just some of the other offerings at the Country Store. The Country Store, which is located at 820 East Main Street, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 952-873-3244 or visit www. belleplainecountrystore.com.

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Many questions arise during the home-buying process. Buyers looking at homes that require a good deal of TLC may wonder who is responsible for the home’s repairs, particularly if such repairs are needed to secure a certificate of occupancy. Depending on the situation, there is no clear-cut answer. There is no perfect home, and things that are acceptable to the current owner may not be acceptable to the buyer who is looking to become the next owner. The home-buying process is typically a careful cooperation between buyer and seller to find a middle ground. The buyer may have to make some concessions, as will the seller. Ultimately, it is this cooperation that often determines if the sale goes through or is terminated. Before any negotiations can begin regarding repairs, it is adviseable for a buyer to have an independent inspector come out and look over the home and property. Most real estate agents will suggest this be done as a first priority -- even before a contract is entered on the home. An inspection will unveil any potential problems in a home and indicate things that the buyer may not be aware of, including items that do not meet with code or could be unsafe. An inspector also may point out problems that could cause a mortgage lender to give pause. This may mean the lender will deem problems unsafe and refuse to fund the mortgage until repairs are made. A copy of this inspection report should be sent to the home seller to review with his or her attorney and real estate agent. The buyer working with his own real estate attorney and agent can petition for certain repairs to be made. Many sellers will make such repairs to ensure the purchase goes through, or they will accept a lower purchase price to compensate for

the needed repairs, which the buyer will then make. Buyers might want to hire a good real estate attorney to write clauses into the contract to protect their

interests. This allows the buyer to forfeit the sale and walk away from the contract should an issue arise. The rules often change when buying a home that is a short sale or in foreclosure. A home that is in distress is typically in this situation because the current owners cannot afford to pay their mortgage, and thusly, are not able to afford repairs. According to Think Glink, a money-management Web site, buyers may try to negotiate repairs with the seller, but they shouldn’t assume that sellers (or lenders in the event of a bank-owned home) are responsible for the repairs. Generally speaking, most short sales and foreclosures are sold “as is”

and may even specify that repairs and requirements for the certificate of occupancy are the buyer’s responsibility. A buyer also can ask to have the home price reduced to cover the repairs. But foreclosures are often already deeply discounted. Buyers should know that, for a home that is not in foreclosure, there are some repairs that should ultimately be the responsibility of the seller. If these repairs are not made, a buyer should think strongly about walking away from the deal, according to Why6Percent.com, a real estate marketing site. Such repairs include: * lender-required repairs that could impact home safety * leaky pipes * water penetration issues, including a bad roof * unsafe decking or handrails * wet basements or crawl spaces * insecure foundations or obvious structural damage * poorly functioning sewer lines or septic system It is always adviseable for buyers to speak with a reliable real estate attorney and a trusted real estate agent to guide them through the process of buying a home. These people can help buyers navigate the important decisions that can affect the home they’ll be living in for the next several years.

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2013 spring Home & Garden Edition

WEDNESDAY, march 27, 2013

PAGE three

Did You Know? Landscape fabrics are used to prevent weed growth while still allowing air, oxygen and water to flow to and from the soil. Landscape fabrics are a chemical-free way to prevent weed growth, endearing them to eco-friendly homeowners. Landscape fabrics, once laid, also are a far less labor-intensive method to prevent weed growth, as they can be effective for several years, during which homeowners can expect to perform little or no maintenance. In addition, many homeowners prefer landscape fabrics because they can help the soil effectively maintain moisture during dry periods, when gardens might otherwise be highly

susceptible to drought. Once put down, landscape fabric can be covered with mulch to add aesthetic appeal. _______________________ Ecoscaping is a growing trend among homeowners who want to take care of their lawns and landscapes but want to do so in a way that’s environmentally friendly. Integrating both landscape architecture and spatial planning with environmental science, ecoscaping is meant to help homeowners create a sustainable and eco-friendly landscape design. It’s natural to assume that ecoscaping includes looking for ways to reduce reliance on chemical pesticides,

but there are many additional ways homeowners can embrace ecoscaping. This includes removing or refusing to plant invasive plants that are difficult to control because they are from different ecosystems and can threaten local wildlife and existing plants. Instead of choosing exotic plants that aren’t native to the area, choose native plants that are accustomed to the local climate. Another way to embrace ecoscaping is to develop a planting strategy wherein plants are planted in beneficial growing conditions that can eliminate theneed for chemical fertilizers and excessive watering.

Karen Marshall in her greenhouse in Lonsdale. She has a passion for gorgeous gardens.

Passion for Gardening, Helping People Was Her Calling Several years ago, Karen Marshall decided she’d had enough of the daily corporate grind. She traded in her business suits and the conference room for a greenhouse and the chance to work with people who share her passion for gorgeous gardens. “I was burned out on the corporate world,” Karen said. “I’ve always loved working in the garden with flowers.” With five grown sons, Karen and Frank decided to follow their passion. They opened a garden center in Lonsdale -Hillside Gift & Garden Center at 10480 80th Street W. Each spring, they attract people who share her love of beautiful flowers and gardens. Karen and Frank Marshall opened Hillside Garden Center with the belief their customers’ needs are of the utmost importance and a commitment to meeting those needs. As a result, a high percentage of their business is from repeat custom-

ers and referrals. People make the drive from Belle Plaine and the area to Montgomery to buy her flowers at Fred’s IGA in Montgomery and Lonsdale. Many of her most unique plants and vegetables are at the greenhouse in Lonsdale Hillside Gift & Garden Center opened with one greenhouse. Today, with three greenhouses, Karen and Frank grow their own products at competitive prices while still offering quality plants. Growing their own product allows them a close eye on quality of their plants.

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Hillside offers a large selection of bedding plants, specialty annuals, hanging baskets, herbs, vegetables, perennials and shrubs. They are planning more expansions in the near future. “One of my very favorites is her out-of-this-world begonia hanging baskets. They’re show-

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stoppers,” said Kelly McGuire of New Germany. Karen loves talking with visitors about patio pots, too. She will plant your pots for you or help you choose flowers that will thrive for you location. If you have an outdoor event and want some nice flowers, just bring your pots out to her and she will plant them and keep them safe inside the greenhouse until your event or you can choose from her many different patio containers. She will plant something specifically for you if you have a certain color scheme. Many people have used this service for things such as graduation parties, outdoor weddings and things of that nature. Karen also hosts events for youth groups. Girl Scouts, 4H members, preschools and elementary age children have all enjoyed a ZG124E ZG124E as as lowlow as as day at the greenhouse. Hillside ZG124E as low as Kubota’s new Kommander Kubota’s new Kommander also offers a school fund-raisKubota’s new Kommander zero-turn mower is is zero-turn mower ing program. “We have unique plants that zero-turn mower leading the charge leading the chargeisfor for typically aren’t found at the big value-packed leading the charge for and value-packed stylestyle and box stores and larger garden ZG124E as low as performance. Demo centers,” Karen said. “We don’t value-packed style and Kubota’sDemo new Kommander performance. copy plant combinations from one at your Kubota mower is Demo one your Kubota catalogs and magazines. Weperformance. de- at zero-turn dealership today. with 4-Year/300-Hour Warranty** velop our own making the one end leading the charge for at yourtoday. Kubota dealership with 4-Year/300-Hour Warranty** result very unique.” value-packed style and dealership today. with 4-Year/300-Hour Warranty** Karen’s passion for garden performance. Demo and customer service extends one at your Kubota to helping people plan out their gardens. She’ll layout varietdealership today. with 4-Year/300-Hour Warranty** ies of plants on shelves and the floor of her greenhouse to help homeowners create a garden they’ll be proud to show off to friends and neighbors. “We’ll even plant them for you,” Karen said. Kimball No. Mankato Glencoe St. Martin Karen has a lot of flower beds 320-398-3800 507-387-5515 320-864-5531 320-548-3285 and vegetable gardens and a Kimball No. Mankato Glencoe St. Martin cellar filled with canned produce from the garden. Her gar- 320-398-3800 Check out our complete line of quality Kubota products. 320-864-5531 Check out our complete of quality Kubota507-387-5515 products. dens are always open for your Kimball No. Mankato Glencoe line 320-548-3285 St. Martin Kimball No. Mankato Glencoe St. Martin inspection. 507-387-5515 320-548-3285 “We want our customers to 320-398-3800 320-398-3800 320-864-5531 507-387-5515 320-864-5531 320-548-3285 * Price quoted is based on a new ZG124E-48. Price come back year after year,” based on models in current dealership inventory and does not include set up, delivery or local taxes where Frank said. “We believe in cusCheck out our complete line ofofquality Kubota products. applicable. line Some exceptions apply. Offer expires Check out our complete quality Kubota products. tomer satisfaction and will go 12/31/2013. See dealership for details and low rate above and beyond to make you finance options. * Price quoted is based on a new ZG124E-48. Price based on models in current dealership inventory and does happy” not* include set up, delivery or local taxes where Price quoted is based on a new ZG124E-48. Price For more information, call applicable. Somein Offer expires models current and does *based Priceonquoted isexceptions based dealership on apply. a newinventory ZG124E-48. Price Hillside Gift & Garden Center not include set up,dealership delivery or for local taxes where 12/31/2013. See details andinventory low rate and does based on models in current dealership applicable. Some exceptions apply. Offer expires finance options. or visit its Web site – at www. not include set up, delivery or local taxes where 12/31/2013. See dealership for details and low rate applicable. Some exceptions apply. Offer expires hillsidegiftgardencenter.com or finance options. 12/31/2013. See dealership for details and low rate call (507) 271-8347.

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Caring for a Freshly Sodded Lawn Sod, sometimes called turf, can quickly turn a barren landscape into a rich, thick carpet of green. Homeowners hoping to revive their lawns commonly turn to sod as the quickest means to do just that. However, once the sod has been laid down, few homeowners may know how to keep it looking its best. Sod is real grass that is grown on special farms. It is generally grown locally to avoid long transport times that could dry out the product. Sod is typically sold in squares or rolls of grass that come with the roots and soil already attached. There may be some sort of thin backing material on the sod to keep the grass blades together. Many homeowners turn to sod when growing lawn from seed becomes problematic or too time-consuming. Seeds can be blown around in the wind or be eaten by birds and other animals before they have a chance to germinate.

WEDNESDAY, march 27, 2013

2013 spring Home & Garden Edition

PAGE four

Sodding a lawn is a major investment, costing as much as $1 per two-foot square. Depending on the size of your lawn, this can be a costly job even before

adding the cost of additional supplies, such as soil, fertilizer and tilling equipment. Many homeowners who install sod want to ensure their investment lasts. Here are the main ways to care for and protect sod until it is fully established. * Once the sod has been laid down, the lawn should be thoroughly soaked with water. Most experts recommend soaking it to a depth of 6 inches. * It is important to establish a watering schedule to keep the sod moist. Water the sod to a depth of one inch every other day for the first three weeks to

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enable the roots to securely establish themselves in the soil. * Water the sod every other day unless the weather has been very warm. After four weeks you can generally go up to five days without watering as long as you transition slowly. The sod will change colors if it is not getting enough water. Never let the lawn turn yellow, otherwise you may have to cut out dead spots and re-sod. * Wait two to four weeks before mowing the sod. Keep the lawn height to around two inches to ensure that it won’t scald in the sun. * After two months of established sod growth, aerate the sod to keep the soil from being too compact and to enable oxygen and nutrients to get into the soil. * Keep children and pets off of the sod while it is establishing itself. * Fertilize the lawn every 50 to 60 days, beginning in March and ending in October. * Inspect the sod for pests, which may include insects or problems like fungi or weeds. Treat accordingly with products designed to remove pests. Using sod to establish a lush lawn is a fast, albeit more expensive option to sowing seeds. After a few weeks the lawn will be thick and secure.

Spring Garden Time

Edging a Lawn Edging a lawn is a springtime rite of passage for many homeowners. When winter has come and gone, many lawns are left in need of some serious maintenance, including edging. Welldefined edges around the yard make the yard look more organized and better maintained. And edging is relatively easy, especially for those homeowners with a smaller yard. Edging can be time-consuming for those with more property, but when done properly, edging is definitely worth the effort. * Remove debris from the areas you plan to edge. Before you even begin to edge, be sure to remove any debris from those areas that need edging. Debris, including rocks, twigs or the kids’ toys, left lying around can be kicked up when you’re edging, potentially causing injury to you or someone standing nearby. * Purchase safety goggles. Even if you have removed all visible debris, there still may be some items hidden in the grass. These items can be kicked up and hit you in the eye, so purchase some safety goggles and be sure to wear them whenever you’re edging. As an added precaution, keep kids and others away from any areas you’re edging so they aren’t injured by any unseen debris that gets kicked up while you’re working. * Check your tools. Edging can be done by using a gaspowered edger or a string trimmer. Before you begin to edge, inspect these tools to ensure they’re capable of handling the task at hand. Inspect the blades on a gas-powered edger to make sure they haven’t dulled since their most recent use. If they are dull, sharpen them before you start to edge. When using a string trimmer, make sure you have enough string on hand to complete the project. String trimmers use a particular kind of string, so visit your local lawn care or hardware store if you don’t feel like you have enough. * Position your edger properly. Once you have given your tools the green light, it’s time to start edging. When you begin, make sure the edger is between the sidewalk or driveway and the edge of the lawn, placing the wheel of the edger on the sidewalk or driveway and then pushing and pulling the edger until you have created a clear edge. If you have never edged before, you may want to practice on smaller, more isolated areas until you become comfortable operating the edger.

Few things are anticipated more in spring than the arrival of new leaves on the trees and budding flowers in the garden. A landscape awash with fresh colors can brighten the spirit and make anyone want to head outdoors. There are many different plants that begin to show their colors in the spring. A number of perennials, annuals and trees begin to flower or show new sprouts come the springtime. Here are some plants that can be planted for springtime enjoyment. Annuals Looking for first signs of color? Look no further than these wonderful annuals. * Alyssum: Starting in April, this cascading bounty of tiny flowers offers a sweet aroma that attracts butterflies. * Dianthus: These vivid flowers also attract butterflies and are often a cottage garden staple. * Gypsophila: Also known as baby’s breath, t h e s e delicate flowers can serve as filler in any landscape. Pink and w h i t e varieties are available. * Impatiens: One of the bestknown plants for the garden, these annuals come in scores of colors and can generally tolerate full sun to full shade. * Larkspur: Belonging to the buttercup family, these flowers bloom in shades of white to

violet. * Pansy: These flowers are some of the earliest spring bloomers, arriving alongside spring bulbs like tulips. * Petunias: Petunias put on a show of color through the entire season, making them a popular bedding flower. Perennials These plants will come back year after year and offer spring shows. * Cherry blossom: The flowers that sprout on cherry trees are some of the first signs of spring. Their pink or white buds are often a spectacle, so much so that towns and cities hold cherry blossom festivals. * Columbine: These beautiful blooms attract butterflies and can be a nice part of a garden bed. * Jacob’s ladder: Variegated foliage that is dappled with violet-colored flowers can add a sweet smell and visual interest to the garden. * Primrose: These flowers come in a variety of shades, making t h e m v e r satile in any garden. T h e y a l s o tend to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. * Sweet violet: These fragrant flowers are edible as well as attractive. These plants can self-plant, so unless a gardener wants them to spread, they should be kept contained.

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2013 spring Home & Garden Edition

WEDNESDAY, march 27, 2013

PAGE five

Deer-proofing a Garden Creating a beautiful and bountiful garden is a popular pastime for people all across the country. It is important to keep in mind that aesthetically appealing plants may be appetizing to area wildlife, including deer. Those who do not want their gardens to turn into all-youcan-eat buffets for deer, rabbits and other wild animals can take a more proactive approach to gardening. Deer are opportunists who will no doubt see your garden as a salad bar ripe with all of their favorite foods. As housing developments continue to encroach on the natural habitats

of deer and other animals, these animals are becoming more visible. Deer may not be able to forage for food effectively in their smaller, natural surroundings, or they may become accustomed to the “easy pickings� they find in neighborhood yards. Either way, you may encounter a deer in or around your area. Keeping deer at bay involves some work and maintenance on the part of a homeowner. There are safe and humane methods to repelling deer, or at least blocking access to the plants worth protecting. Here are the main

ways to deer-proof a garden. Fence It Fences are one way to deter deer from entering a yard and dining on your garden. Keep in mind that deer can jump fences that are quite tall, but they have to be especially motivated to jump an eight-foot-tall fence. Still, they tend to be weary about scaling a fence when they cannot see what is on the other side. Therefore, if you are fencing out deer, choose a fence that camouflages the garden well and completely encloses the area to be protected. If you do not want the fence to be solid, consider putting stakes or thorny plants within the garden so that the deer will hesitate to jump into the garden. Scare Them Deer are naturally skittish around people, but over time they can become quite complacent around human beings. Once a deer decides that some-

thing will not present a threat, the deer can adapt to its presence. Motion-activated devices may not work, nor the presence of pets. Predator urine is typically an effective way at keeping deer at bay. Bottled coyote urine can be quite effective, although human urine may work as well. Reapplying the product weekly around the plants is a good idea. Repel the Deer There are many organic or chemically-based products on the market that deer may find offensive to the taste or smell. Hot pepper, sulfur and eggs or even the use of soapy water have been successful in certain instances. The use of blood meal or even human hair around the garden may repel the deer and keep them on a different foraging path. However, remember that any deer that is very hungry may ignore unpleasant tastes or

smells for a quick bite. Change Plants If other food sources are available, there are some species of plants and trees that deer will avoid. Filling your garden with these plants can help you maintain a beautiful, albeit untasty, environment for deer. When planting annuals, select among: * Alyssum * Begonias * Calendula * Celosia * Dianthus * Foxglove * Geraniums * Parsley * Poppy * Snapdragons In terms of perennials, plant these items once, and deer could stay away: * Ageratum

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* Anemone * Astibe * Bearded iris * Catmint * Honeysuckle * Lantana * Monkshood * Rock rose * Rosemary * Soapwort * Wisteria Plant these herbs alongside flowers for even more protection: * Chives * Eucalyptus * Garlic * Mint * Thyme * Wintergreen Gardeners who use a combination of methods to keep deer out of their yards and gardens may have a higher success rate at deterring these animals.

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2013 spring Home & Garden Edition

PAGE six

Shopping for a Fire Pit

People have sat around an open fire outdoors for centuries. Not only does fire provide warmth and light, but also it offers a relaxing setting for conversation and socialization. The outdoor fire pit has transformed the concept of backyard entertaining. Homeowners understand how a fire pit can add value to a home and make their yard an inviting place to be on a summer evening or a chilly autumn night. Outdoor fire pits are a relatively new creation that continue to grow in popularity. Once available strictly through specialty retailers, fire pits can now be found on the shelves of many home improvement and big box stores as well as online. Fire pits can add a lot to a home’s exterior entertaining area. Some fire pit styles and materials will last longer than others. Homeowners should assess their needs and the space available before choosing a fire pit for their home. First, homeowners must decide if they want a permanent or portable fire pit. If you are ready to make an enduring change to your yard and landscape, then a permanent fire pit is the way to go. These can be made of stone or brick and are often very durable. Permanent fire pits can be incorporated into landscape designs to create a professional patio look. They’re also some

of the safer types of fire pits because they cannot be knocked over and the bricks or retaining wall construction provide a barrier around the fire. Portable fire pits are freestanding units that can be moved around the yard on a whim. They also can be loaded into the car and taken to a neighbor’s house or even to the beach. Portable fire pits are less expensive than permanent models, and some homeowners prefer a trial run with a portable pit before deciding to install a permanent structure.

Portable fire pits are made of metal and usually coated with a fireproof paint. Over time, exposure to the elements can cause the metal to rust or weaken, something homeowners should consider prior to purchase. Homeowners also must consider a fuel source. Wood is a common fuel source for fire pits. Wood can be inexpensive, especially when gathered from around the yard. However, a wood-burning fire will constantly have to be fed with new branches. If you want to have a roaring fire but don’t want to

maintain it, then a gas-fueled fire pit is better. Natural gas fire pits can run off of a portable propane tank (think barbecue tank) or be directly connected to a home’s natural gas supply. Now you can decide on the style. Gas fire pits will give you a greater number of design options, but there are still plenty of choices with wood fire pits. From bowl-shaped pits to rectangular-shaped pits to barrelstyle pits to chimineas, there are designs to fit most preferences and size constraints. Once you have chosen a fire pit, safety should prevail. Here are some tips to consider. * Keep the fire pit away from the home and objects that can burn. Maintain a safe distance from the fire pit at all times. * The best place to have the fire pit is on hard stone, cement or tile. Portable fire pits can be placed on patio stones in the lawn. * Use a screen to keep embers and sparks from escaping during use. * Keep children a good distance away from the fire pit and always supervise when the pit is in use. * Make sure the fire is completely extinguished before going in for the night. * Do not use any accelerants to make the fire bigger or light faster. * Buy a vinyl cover to protect the fire pit from the elements when not in use.

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How to Repair Unsightly Bald Spots in your Lawn Lawn care aficionados know how a single bald spot can make an otherwise luscious lawn look worn down and poorly maintained. A bald spot can stick out like a sore thumb, while several bald spots can compromise a home’s curb appeal. Treating bald spots typically depends on what is causing the bald spot. Bugs, dryness, pet waste and damage from mowers are some of the more common causes of bald spots. The following is a breakdown of these different causes and how best to address each situation so you can restore your lawn to its natural beauty. Dryness A lawn can go dry because of drought in the summertime or during the winter months when there is not much rain or snowfall. Homeowners cannot change the weather, but they can help their lawn avoid becoming the burned or yellowed turf that often results after extended periods of dryness. Fertilizing the lawn during the spring and summer is a good first step. This helps the lawn grow in healthy and thick. Once you have fertilized, don’t cut the grass too short. When grass is cut too short, the soil struggles to retain moisture, which can eventually lead to bald spots if weather conditions are dry. During especially dry periods in the summer, watering might be necessary. You won’t have to water frequently,

but be sure to water deeply so to encourage the animal to use the water can reach the roots of various spots in the yard, rather than continually using the same the grass. spot. Flush each area with water immediately after the pet is finPet Waste ished. If the damage is already Waste from pets can cause considerable, remove the dambald spots on a yard. This might aged grass and reseed the spot. surprise some homeowners, but pet waste contains a high level of concentrated nitrogen that, Mower Damage when applied to a lawn, can Sometimes Mother Nature burn the grass and cause bald and man’s best friend are not spots. Urine is most likely to the culprit with regard to bald cause bald spots, but fecal mat- spots on your lawn. Human error can cause bald spots, too. ter can as well. When addressing the problem Dull mower blades or grass that of pet waste on your lawn, make is cut too low can cause bald sure no one else’s pets are the spots. Fortunately, this is easily cause of the problem.Neighbors remedied. out walking their dogs should To avoid bald spots, make sure be discouraged from allowing mower blades are sharpened at their dogs to use your lawn as a the beginning of each mowing restroom. If this does not work, season, as dull blades damage then erect a fence or some type the grass, which is then forced of structure that makes it dif- to use valuable nutrients to treat ficult for other people’s pets to torn grass, weakening the lawn over time. When mowing, make access your lawn. When it’s your own pet caus- sure you’re not cutting too low so the soil can retain as much moisture as poss i b l e . This will necessitate more frequent m o w ing, but this, too, can prevent bald spots, as it ensures those parts ing the damage, address the of the grass that contain chlorospots where your pet relieves phyll will not be removed. itself as quickly as possible. Bald spots can turn a pristine Watering the area within eight lawn into an eyesore. But treathours can significantly reduce ing bald spots can be easy and, the risk of lawn damage by di- when done effectively, the lawn luting the nitrogen levels. An- can be restored quickly. other way to address the issue is

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2013 spring Home & Garden Edition

WEDNESDAY, march 27, 2013

Pros and Cons of Open Floor Plans Open floor plans have evolved to be the floor plan of choice in new homes and current home renovations. Turn on a home renovation show, and you’re likely to see eager homeowners knocking down walls to open the kitchen to the family room. Walls have become anathema to homeowners. There are many supporters of the open floor plan, particularly those who entertain frequently or like to keep an eye on children throughout the house. Although open floor plans are touted, there are plenty of people who have never been enamored with having all of their rooms flowing into one. There also are some people who prefer a different style. For those who are not fans of the open floor plan, blame the excess of the 1980s for their inception. In homes built in the 1960s and 1970s, rooms were compartmentalized and isolated for specific activities. During the 1980s, an era of “bigger is better,” when entertaining was widely popular among homeowners, designers noticed that many homeowners preferred an open floor plan in which rooms merged into one another, creating the illusion of more space. These floor plans also enable people to be in separate rooms and still interact with one an-

esses are not separated from quiet nook to read a book may their guests or holed up in the be challenging. kitchen the entire time. An open Pro:Open floor plans allow for space enables everyone to min- more family time together in gle and conversations to flow. one space than a home with a Con: Those who like to host more compartmentalized layevents without showing guests out. all of their dirty dishes or se- Con: People who are colleccrets of the kitchen may dislike tors or who have a lot of furan open floor plan. niture or accent items may find Pro: Light can flow effectively that open floor plans do not through an open space, mini- work well with this type of demizing dark rooms and reduc- sign mantra. ing the need to install more Pro: Because several rooms run windows. Light in and of itself into one another, color choices can help a home feel more spa- for walls and furnishings in a cious. home with an open floor plan Con: While light can flow can be limited and cohesive, easily, so can sound. Noises making choices easier. through the house may be am- Con: On the flip side, those plified. A student doing home- who want to incorporate differwork in the dining room may be ent color schemes and eclectic disturbed by the television blar- styles may have difficulty dePro: Open floor plans can be ing in the family room. Talking ciding on where to “end” rooms safer for parents of young chil- on the phone or even finding a or how to co-mingle furniture. dren. If the home opens up with the living spaces branching off from the kitchen, parents can keep an eye on children while the parents prepare dinner. It also eliminates the number of places that kids can hide and Commercial & Residential get into mischief. • Irrigation Install & Maintenance Con:Privacy is reduced in a • Lawn & Ground Maintenance home with few walls. Much • Brick Pavers • Retaining Walls in the way that an open floor • Sodding & Seeding plan enables children to be • Shrub & Tree Plainting seen from every angle, it also • Snow Plowing & Removal enables you to be seen -- and • Bobcat Work all of your belongings as well. Pave the way to a more beautiful landscape. There’s also no place to retreat to if you need a minute to collect yourself when entertaining. You’re on display unless you Landscaping retreat to the bathroom. Bruce Siegle, Owner Pro: Entertaining can be easier Cell: 612-987-8026 • Home: 952-466-2151 in a home with an open floor plan because hosts and hostother across the space. A home’s floor plan largely depends on the preference of the homeowner. There are many advantages to having an open floor plan versus one that is more compartmentalized. Here is a look at some of the pros and cons.

PAGE seven

Riding Mowers can Make Lawn Care More Manageable Homeowners love extensive, lush, green lawns. But the elbow grease that goes into tending to the landscape is far less beloved. One task that routinely causes bouts of procrastination is mowing the lawn. But riding mowers can change the way homeowners view mowing the lawn. Traditionally, mowing the lawn has been a task largely handled by homeowners pushing walkbehind mowers. Whether these mowers were powered by gasoline, electricity or simply human power, they were the type of mower that was generally the most popular and most affordable. Individuals had different features they could consider in their mowers, including horsepower and the size of the deck. There were also mowers that could bag or mulch. Despite these features, homeowners with a particularly large back or front yard -- or both -- may have found lawn mowing to be tedious work. Those who have yards of almost an acre or more often find riding mowers to be an efficient method of mowing the lawn, and one that also does not require as much effort out in the sun.

A riding mower’s cutting deck is in front, while a lawn or gardening tractor’s cutting deck is mid-mounted, which is how they differ. Lawn tractors also may be able to accept other landscaping attachments. A riding mower is more maneuverable than a tractor, particularly for landscapes that may have trees or planting beds. Cost is the one thing that may deter some homeowners from a riding mower. While a walk-behind mower could cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars and up, riding mowers generally start at $1,000 and may be as much as $10,000, depending on the extra features, like cruise control and cup holders. However, some find that what riding mowers lack in affordability, they make up for in convenience. Plus buying a riding mower may pay for itself in savings on landscaping services over the course of one to two seasons. As with any lawn tool, it’s important to note that riding mowers are not toys and they should not be handled by children, nor should children be allowed to ride along while mowing.

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2013 spring Home & Garden Edition

PAGE eight

Go Green in your Garden Gardening can be a rewarding and relaxing hobby, one that allows gardeners to escape from the daily grind and soak up some sun. As rewarding as gardening can be, it’s even more so when gardeners ply their trade in an eco-friendly way. Gardening with the environment in mind is something many gardeners might do already without even knowing it. The following are a few ways to garden in a way that’s mutually beneficial to gardeners and the environment. * Use mulch to conserve resources and reduce reliance on fertilizers. Conserving resources is one of the best ways to help the environment, and applying mulch is a great way to conserve water. Mulch helps the soil retain water, keeping

the water from evaporating into the air, which means less watering for gardeners who want to keep their gardens looking lush and healthy.

In addition to helping conserve water, mulch can also help reduce reliance on fertilizers. That’s because mulch provides nutrients to the soil as it breaks down, providing an eco-friendly alternative for gardeners who don’t want to rely on fertilizers to deliver nutrients to their soil.

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* Plant more flowers. Planting flowers is another eco-friendly way to garden. Native flowers, in particular, can help maintain an area’s natural ecosystem, providing food and shelter for insects and other wildlife. M o r e flowers and plants around the property also means there will be significantly less grass to mow, which reduces the amount of gas necessary to mow that grass in the warmer weather and the amount of greenhouse gases the lawn mower produces. In addition, less grass means less need for fertilizers and pesticides to maintain that grass. * Choose gardening tools and products with the environment in mind. Veteran gardeners have a host of tools that help tackle every problem imaginable. But many older tools or gardening products might not be made of recycled materials. When shopping for gardening tools, whether you’re a beginner who needs everything or a veteran gardener whose tools have seen better days, choose products made from recycled materials. For example, many gardeners use mats to help reduce stress on their knees when kneeling down to garden. When buying a new mat, choose one made from recycled tires. But emphasizing recycled products shouldn’t stop at the tool shed. Mulch, for instance, can be made from recycled rubber and won’t impact the environment in a negative way. Just be sure to purchase recycled mulch that is nontoxic and does not consume natural resources. * Live and let live. Insects might be a nuisance, but they can also be a gardener’s best friend. Spraying insecticide simply because insects can be pesky is shortsighted and impractical. Certain spiders prey on other insects that can be harmful to a garden, while butterflies and bees help pollenate flowers. Earthworms are also very beneficial to a garden, helping to aerate and fertilize the soil and enabling plants to grow by removing harmful matter from the soil. Gardening is a rewarding hobby, one that is even more so when gardeners institute ecofriendly practices.

Cost-effective and Eco-friendly Home Improvements Homeowners take on projects to improve their homes for a variety of reasons. Some may do so to make a home more functional, while others may do so to improve their home’s resale value. Some homeowners take on a home improvement project to make their homes more ecofriendly. Such projects are often mistakenly assumed to be costly undertakings, but there are several cost-effective ways to make a home more ecofriendly. * Upgrade your appliances. A home improvement project does not have to require the use of a hammer and nails or the hiring of a contractor. A simple home improvement project like upgrading older appliances, including the washer and dryer, to newer, more efficient models can give a home a fresh look while reducing energy consumption. That reduction in energy consumption is a byproduct of the stricter standards placed on manufacturers who must adhere to guidelines to produce products that are more energy-efficient. For example, the Natural Resources Defense Council notes that today’s energy-efficient refrigerators will use less than half the energy of models made as recently as 15 years ago. * Add more insulation. Adding more insulation or replacing older insulation used to be an especially laborious process. However, in many instances insulation can now be added or upgraded to a home without any major reconstruction or demolition, reducing the cost of the project considerably. Adding more insulation to a home can reduce energy con-

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sumption in the winter, when the home will feel warmer and allow you to keep the thermostat at a more reasonable number. * Install high-efficiency water fixtures. Few people think about how much water they consume over the course of a typical day, but the figures might be eyeopening to those who hope to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. According to the United States Geological Survey’s Water Science School, it’s generally accepted that the average person uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water each day. Showers seem to be especially wasteful, as older

shower heads might be using as much as 5 gallons per minute, or 50 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower. Older fixtures that consume such massive amounts of water can be easily and affordably replaced with newer, more efficient fixtures. Today’s high-ef-

ficiency low-flow showerheads can provide a strong shower stream while reducing water consumption. Such showerheads are also less taxing on your water heater, reducing your energy consumption as a result. Homeowners can also install high-efficiency toilets that use as little as 1.3 gallons of water per flush (compared to older models that consumed as many as 5 gallons per flush). The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $18 billion annually. * Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats present another affordable way to improve a home and benefit the environment. Some of today’s programmable thermostats can record personal preferences and usage and determine the best course of action for heating and cooling your home. Temperatures can be adjusted room-by-room, and the programmable thermostat allows homeowners to control their heating and cooling while they’re out of the house, ensuring they’re not paying to heat or cool an empty house and wasting energy in doing so. Home improvement projects don’t have to be a grand undertaking, particularly when a homeowner’s goal is to make a home more eco-friendly. A few minor and affordable changes may be all it takes to improve a home and benefit the environment at the same time.


2013 spring Home & Garden Edition

WEDNESDAY, march 27, 2013

PAGE nine

Using Bold Paint Colors

Chad Sparks started his Belle Plaine landscaping business in 2001.

Owner of C&L Outdoor Design and Landscapes Eager to Spring Into Action Chad Sparks of Belle Plaine was sitting in his office and storage garage on March 18 in the countryside making final preparations for what he hopes will be a busy spring and summer landscaping season. Outside, a howling wind was whipping that day’s freshly-fallen snow into almost white-out conditions, creating drifts several feet high. Last year by that time, Sparks, owner of C&L Outdoor Design and Landscapes, Inc., had already completed his first job of the season and was making ready to move on to the next. It had been one of the warmest springs on record, including 80 degrees on St. Patrick’s Day. But as all landscapers in this part of the country know, real spring will arrive when it gets here – sometimes later than sooner. Sparks, 36, said he will be ready when it gets here. He has spent much of the winter bidding and doing design work for the projects he and his crew will pounce on once the snow is gone and the ground is thawed. “I like to have a minimum of

30 percent of my workload sold by mid-April so we can hit the ground running and keep going until the frost comes,” said Sparks, who is assisted by two full-time employees – Zach Trimbo and Andy Meyer, both of Henderson. During the peak of the construction season, Sparks brings on several additional workers. Sparks, who grew up in Nicollet and graduated from high school there in 1995, has lived in Belle Plaine since 2000. His wife, Angie, who is a parttime teacher aide at Chatfield Elementary School, is C&L’s office manager. They have a 7year-old son, Carsen. C&L, which Sparks founded, is a complete landscape construction company based in Belle Plaine. The business serves mostly residential (some commercial) clients throughout Belle Plaine and the southwest metro area and beyond. C&L’s main focus is on “hardscapes,” which include driveways, sidewalks, patios and retaining walls, etc. Sparks said one of the biggest projects C&L has done was a

series of about seven retaining walls for a large townhome development in Chanhassen several years ago. The cost of the work was $140,000. Although C&L has done projects as simple as a $1,200 yard face-lift, including some drain tile work, Sparks said most of the projects they do range from $12,000 to $20,000. Sparks, who has worked in landscaping since his high school years, started his own landscaping business under the name Exterior Expression in 2001. The following year, Sparks was joined in the business by Lee Theis and they changed the name to C&L Outdoor Design and Landscapes – C&L standing for Chad and Lee. In 2009, Sparks bought out Theis’ share of the business and once again became sole owner, but decided to keep the name C&L. More information about C&L Outdoor Design and Landscapes can be found at www. CLoutdoor.com, or by calling Sparks at 952-873-3265 or 612282-5464.

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Paint is one of the least expensive and most versatile means to changing the look of a room. According to the experts from “This Old House,” 60 percent of the colors of a home that visitors perceive come from the paint on the walls. Choosing a color scheme can be challenging, which is why so many people stick with neutrals like beige and white. For those who are ready to add a spark of color, there are a few guidelines to consider. Color theory is a science and there are rules of using color that are taught as early as a child’s first foray into art class. We know there are primary, secondary and complementary colors on the color wheel. Even novice home decorators can do well with color if they use the color wheel as their guideline. According to HGTV, color should flow throughout a house. Every room need not be painted the same color. However, colors should be complementary enough that they flow into one another. Don’t paint one room in child’s basic primary colors, while painting other rooms in jewel tones and pastels. Stick with one theme and carry it through the house. Once you have decided to use a bold color, first find your color inspiration. Color combinations that appear in nature are more readily

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on one sample card. When selecting a complementary shade, be sure to pick from the same tone on the card. That means if you’re choosing the darkest of color #1 from a card, you’ll want to choose the darkest from color #2. Another idea is to leave walls neutral and use bold color on design accents. For example, designers at marthastewart.com recommend painting the inside of niches, shelves or cabinets with glass doors in bright tones and the outside white to create an eye-catching space without going overboard. Put a bold color on moulding or use an appliance or a fixture in a bright color as your splash of boldness. Remember to have balance. If you will be painting an entire room in a bold color, think about having the other decor items in neutral colors. Sofas and rugs should be neutral colors, or consider toning down a vibrant color with the use of white molding or baseboards. All it may take is a little inspiration to get started on fun, inviting color schemes in the home. Furniture store Raymour & Flanigan offers a handy design tool for incorporating different colors into a space. Find ideas at www.raymourflanigan.com/Design-Center/ Color-Story.aspx.

accepted by people, so look for an item in nature, such as a seashell or a flowering plant that you can base your color choices on. Others pull inspiration from a particular design item. For instance, maybe an area rug strikes your fancy. Use colors that appear in the rug in the room. Keep in mind that using bold color doesn’t mean you have to paint every wall from ceiling to floor in that color. Rather, if you’re just starting out with bold colors, select one wall to serve as an accent wall. Use that wall as your bold canvas and paint it with your chosen hue. Some people like to experiment with a more flashy color in a smaller space. If you’re nervous about beginning in the living room or kitchen, how about trying out bold color in a smaller space, such as a powder room? A more intimate space might seem less overwhelming when painted in a bold color. Go for a deep purple or another jeweled tone. However, try to avoid greens in the bathroom, as they may reflect off of the mirror and cast a hue onto your face that makes you look unwell. Pinks and peaches will shed a rosy glow. If you will be incorporating complementary colors into the room, use the paint color swatch as your guide. Most paint manufacturers use three or four different shades

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2013 spring Home & Garden Edition

PAGE ten

Soil Solutions Maintain Healthy Soil Through the Season A lush lawn and garden is a part of many homeowners’ dream home. A lawn that emanates green and a garden that’s home to succulent vegetables is desirable to homeowners across the country. Of course, such lawns and gardens take time and effort, and a host of factors will determine if a lawn and garden is something homeowners should be proud or ashamed of. One such factor is soil health. Healthy soil helps deliver food and water to plants, allowing them to thrive and add aesthetic appeal to homes. To maintain healthy soil, homeowners should consider the following tips. * Get the soil tested. When addressing soil health, it’s best to first get the soil tested. A soil test will show which type of soil you have as well as its makeup and structure, and just how good or bad it currently is. Such tests can also reveal if the soil is missing any essential nutrients. Some soil tests can be conducted by novice green-thumbers, while others are best left to the local agricultural bureau. These tests are a good investment, as they will remove the guesswork from fertilizing. Without a soil test, many homeowners end up overdoing it when fertilizing, which can prove a costly mistake. Take a soil sample a few months before you plan to plant or landscape to give yourself enough time to apply the test’s recommendations to your lawn and garden. * Avoid wet soil. When soil is wet, don’t walk or drive over it and keep the kids out of the yard. When wet soil is walked on or driven over, the soil gets

packed down, pushing out air and making it more difficult and sometimes impossible for water to pass through the soil. That makes it hard for roots to grow. Gardeners who plan to plant this gardening season should wait for the soil to dry before planting. * Use well-drained soil. Welldrained soil will dry fast and

enable oxygen to reach the root zone, helping build stronger roots as a result. Plants with strong roots are more likely to survive severe weather. * Use compost. Compost can prove very beneficial to soil health. Organic compost is typically loaded with nutrients that, upon maturity, feed the soil and promote soil health. Biodegradable items like grass clippings, leaves and even excess food like apple cores can strengthen the compost. Even worms, which break down compost quickly and add nutrients, can be a valuable addition to organic compost. * Don’t bash bacteria. Bacteria is often seen as a formida-

ble foe, but some bacteria can actually promote healthy soil. Bacteria decompose plant matter, releasing the nutritive value into the soil, and can also break down chemical pesticides. So while bacteria is bad more often than it’s beneficial, some bacteria are quite useful, particularly when it comes to healthy soil. * Don’t be scared off by slime. Like bacteria, slime has a bad reputation. However, veteran gardeners understand that reputation isn’t warranted. Slime mold is ugly, and many new gardeners see it and instantly assume it’s bad for their garden. However, slime molds are good for the soil, helping break down dead wood and leaves. They might not add aesthetic appeal, but slime molds do serve a practical and important purpose in maintaining healthy soil. * Pests can be an ally to healthy soil. Some garden pests like mites, millipedes and centipedes are incorrectly assumed to be enemies of healthy soil. In fact, such pests can vastly improve soil health. Mites consume dead leaves and additional plant matter, enabling bacteria to more effectively release nutrients into the soil. Millipedes and centipedes are also beneficial to soil, as their droppings improve both the soil’s texture and fertility.

Ken Worm specializes in building decks and remodeling projects.

Deck, Improvement Project Bring Beauty, Value to the Home A few years back, Ken Worm received a telephone call from a homeowner in the Chaska area. The man had started a deck project and realized he’d bitten off more than he could chew. He needed help from a pro. Worm, owner of a Belle Plaine area construction company, knew he could help the man finish the job and enjoy an even better finished project than the man ever envisioned. He was

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right. After the job was done, the man told his friends about Worm’s work and how much he was enjoying his new deck. A satisfied customer telling friends are the best advertising. “I do a little advertising, but most of my business comes by referrals,” Worm said. Worm is in his 14th year as owner of Ken Worm Construction. He’s well known in the area as someone who pays attention to the details and makes sure every job is done right – or it’s not done! Worm grew up on the farm in the Chaska area. He’d spent much of his adult time working in large company warehouses and longed to be working with people building the types of home improvements people wanted for their homes.

Using the work ethic he learned on his grandfathers’ farms, Worm started his own company. He works directly with customers on their deck projects, three- and four-season porches, kitchens, bathrooms and family-room improvement projects. Over the years, Worm’s reputation for quality work has been solidified. He only works with a couple of proven, trusted subcontractors. The typical deck project takes about a week. “I’m really fussy, really picky,” he said. Worm has won awards for his design and construction of decks from a decking materials company. He’s handled jobs of all sizes, from large, expansive multi-level decks on lakeside properties to more modest designs on smaller lots. He uses maintenance-free materials A Passion for his Work from local lumber yards for “I’ve always loved the out- lasting quality, making the deck doors, love building things,” he project something that will add said. “This is the kind of work I value to the home for years to love to do.” come.

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2013 Spring Home and Garden  

A Supplement to the March 27, 2013 Belle Plaine Herald and Henderson Independent

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