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Spring Home and Gardens | Thursday, April 3 and Sunday, April 6, 2014
9 ways to improve curb appeal Homeowners who want their homes to make strong first impressions must prioritize curb appeal. Homes with strong curb appeal sell well and can impart a welcoming feel to all visitors. Improving curb appeal need not be expensive, and the following are a handful of ways to improve the appearance of your home. 1. Install a bold-looking door in a vibrant color or one with a custom design. This helps the home stand out from other properties in the neighborhood. 2. Edge the driveway to create a distinct border between the driveway and the lawn or other landscaping features. This helps homes appear neat and well kept. 3. Use outdoor lighting to make a home more inviting. Outdoor lighting also makes properties safer to traverse at night.
4. Clean a home’s exterior to remove mildew or discolorations from the siding, driveway, patio and other outdoor elements. 5. Improve landscapes with fresh plants and seasonal color. Homeowners without the time to plant can consider container gardens, which don’t take much time to assemble but still add appeal to a home’s exterior. 6. Prune planting beds and add new mulch to restore color. 7. Add shutters and accent trim to a home’s exterior to improve on the beauty of the house. 8. Install new fencing or give a fresh coat of paint or stain to an existing fence. 9. Replace concrete paths with tile or stone walkways to make entryways more impressive and Start with the entry way for your curb appeal makeover. inviting. (MNS)
Tis the season for making changes in and around the home. The arrival of warmer weather renews homeowners’ vigor for various home improvement projects, and many have grand plans for interior and exterior renovations as they prep their living spaces for comfort, beauty and entertaining opportunities. While there are many worthy projects to pursue, adding outdoor lighting to a home can help increase its value and make the home safer and more attractive in the evening hours. According to the American Lighting Association, with a few updates to outside lighting, families can make even better use of their homes at night. Adding outdoor lighting is easier and less expensive than many homeowners may know, allowing them to transform an existing patio, deck or pool area into an enjoyable nighttime retreat. Pool parties, dinners on the patio or barbecues with neighbors become even more memorable when outdoor lighting is added or improved. But homeowners who want to install or upgrade their outdoor lighting should consider the following tips, courtesy of ALA. • Improve navigation. Lighting is typically layered into a room or outdoor space in three ways: overhead, task and ambient. Even
outdoors, where there are no typical boundaries and borders, those three layers are necessary. Outdoor overhead lighting should improve visibility on steps, paths and walking surfaces, especially where there’s a bend or an intersection. Task lighting can be used around cooking or gardening areas. Ambient light will cast a comforting glow around any outdoor space. • Enhance security. To improve visibility and security, combine a motion detector with a sconce to illuminate dark corners or entryways. Be sure to aim lights away from the door to improve visibility. Lanterns on either side of the door can give a home a warm, welcoming appearance and improve the safety of entryways. • Create outdoor rooms. Outdoor lighting at the borders of a space is a great way to create barriers, both vertically and horizontally. Lights in a tree create something akin to a chandelier hung in the middle of the sky, and even accent lights in the general area of the edge of a patio, deck or porch will shine across the space and provide enough of a comfort level for people to understand where things are. • Reduce glare. Outdoor lighting that casts a glare can be blinding, as can light that’s too bright. Lighting along paths should be cast downward, with fixtures that are hooded.
If there is a custom tile or specific design that you really like that is not within your budget for the entire kitchen or bathroom, think about using it as an accent instead. Rely on less expensive tiles for much of the room, then sprinkle in the accent tiles for the style you want. The finished project will look high-end, but you will likely have stayed within your budget. You also can save money by shopping at a reuse center or one that sells remnants and leftover materials from larger jobs. For example, it’s possible to find a piece of marble or granite that would fit perfectly as a countertop in a bathroom. (MNS)
Lighting sets the stage for outdoor fun
A variety of lighting options will create layers, allowing you to add or subtract as necessary. Exterior-safe dimmers also can provide flexible control over the level of light, as can movable fixtures added to a patio or porch. • Add decorative elements. Just as arbors, pergolas, patios and other outdoor elements help to enhance the style of an outdoor space, so, too, can lighting contribute to a welldesigned landscape. Lighting should play up decorative features of a yard and add the ambience that homeowners desire. Step lights make passage safe while also highlighting
molding or trim details. An outdoor chandelier can make for a wonderful accent during dinnertime on the deck or under a pergola. Patio lights provide atmosphere as well as illumination for cooking outside. • Enhance views from
inside. Outdoor lighting can make the view from inside pleasant and enjoyable. Use a variety of lights, including spotlights on trees, lights dotted along pathways and accent lights on unique landscape features, to create an
idyllic landscape visible from inside the home. Outdoor lighting enhances functionality of yards and landscapes while making such areas safer for homeowners and their guests once the sun has gone down. (Metro News Service)
Spring Home & Gardens Thursday, April 3 and Sunday, April 6, 2014
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Spring Home and Gardens | Thursday, April 3 and Sunday, April 6, 2014
Fast facts about grass A lush, green lawn is coveted by many current and would-be homeowners. Not only can a beautiful landscape make a home feel more welcoming, but it also increases the resale value of a property. Frequent watering, proper fertilization, pest management, and mowing are all essential components of lawn maintenance. But there is more to those beautiful blades of grass than just aesthetic appeal. The following are some interesting facts about grass that even the most devoted lawn enthusiasts might be surprised to learn. • Grass is defined as any plant of
the family Gramineae, a group of vascular plants that grow across the globe. • There are as many as 10,000 varieties of grass in the world. These range from grass to rice to wheat to bamboo. • Many grasses are annual or perennial herbs with fibrous roots and rhizomes. • Grass can withstand many different climates and has been discovered at the North Pole and at the equator. • Twenty percent of Earth’s vegetation is comprised of grass.
*G rasses have been transformed into paper and home decor items. Bamboo, which is a type of grass, is frequently used for flooring because it is durable and sustainable. • Grass is mostly comprised of water, which makes up about 80 percent of grass and 90 percent of grass clippings. • A typical lawn will have about six grass plants per square inch. Some lawns may have millions of grass plants. • The average lawn releases enough oxygen to sustain four families of four. (MNS)
Helpful home improvement glossary terms Understanding the terminology used in the home improvement and construction industries can help homeowners be better informed and involved in projects around their homes. The following are some common industry terms. Aggregate: Crushed rock used in many asphalt applications. Ampacity: The amount of current a wire can safely carry. Asbestos: A fibrous
material that was once used widely in building materials but is linked to cancers of the lung and lung cavity. Backfill: Soil or gravel used to fill in against a foundation. Beam: Horizontal framing member designed to carry a load from joists or a roof. Butt joint: Lumber pieces joined at the ends. Casement window: A window with hinges
on one of the vertical sides making it swing open like a door. Caulking: Flexible material used to seal a gap between two surfaces. Code: Rules set forth by a government institution to determine fair and safe trade practices. Curing: A process that brings paint or masonry materials to their final, durable form. Drywall: A wall finish made from gypsum
plaster encased in a thin cardboard. Estimate: The anticipated cost of materials and labor for a project. Fixed price contract: A contract with a set price for the work. Flashing: Sheet metal or roll roofing pieces fit to the joint of any roof intersection or projection. Footing: Widened ground base of a foundation to support foundations or piers. Framing: The struc-
tural wooden elements of most homes. GFI: A ground fault current interrupter, which is an electrical device used to prevent injury from contact with electrical appliances. Jamb: The exposed upright part on each side of a window frame or door frame. Level: A tool to check for level or plumb surfaces. Permit: A legal authorization to begin a
work project. Pitch: The slope of incline on a roof. Rebar: Steel rods that are imbedded in concrete for stability. Shim: A tapered piece of wood used to level and secure a structure. Stud: Vertical parts of framing placed 16 or 24 inches apart. Watt: A measure of the electrical requirement of an appliance. (MNS)
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Spring Home and Gardens | Thursday, April 3 and Sunday, April 6, 2014
How to create a rainwater harvesting system Rainwater collection is a way to conserve water that can be adopted by both private homeowners and businesses. Harvesting water during peak times of precipitation ensures water will be on hand during drought or when water restrictions are implemented. Making use of rainwater reduces reliance on underground wells or municipal water systems. Harvesting rainwater also can help prevent flooding and soil erosion. The average homeowner can collect thousands of gallons of rainwater each year. To learn just how much water can be harvested, as well as how many natural resources can be produced from that rain, visit www.savethe-rain.com, where men and women can calculate their rain collection potential by geographic location and average rainfall. Afterward, homeowners may be inclined to establish their own rainwater harvesting
Rather than have rainwater flow out of downspouts to the ground, homeowners can collect that rainwater in barrels to use it as a sustainable source of water. systems. Here is how to get started. • Determine your roofing material. Potable water can be harvested from homes with sheet metal or slate roofing. Clay or adobe tiles also may be acceptable. Asphalt, wood shingles and
tar roofs may leach toxic chemicals into the water, making it unsafe for drinking. This rainwater may only be collected to use for irrigation methods or washing cars and outdoor items. • Check gutter materials. Some gutters are
made with lead soldering components. A commercial lead swab test can help you determine if there is lead present in your gutters. At a later time you can choose to replace the gutters if you desire a potable supply of water.
• Invest in a collection tank or barrel. A number of manufacturers offer prefabricated rain collection systems complete with collection barrels. Otherwise, you can use your own barrel or tank to house the collected water. Ensure it is large enough to handle the volume of water collected. • Purchase and install leaf guards. If your home is surrounded by many trees, you probably accumulate leaf and tree debris in your home gutters and downspouts. Leaf guards will help keep the gutters clear and increase water flow through the water collection system. • Create a water collection area. A portion of the gutter system should be removed so that it connects to the collection barrel or tank. As the rain falls, it will run down the roof and into the gutters before it streams into the downspouts. The downspout connected to the tank will deposit
the water directly inside. Filters can be installed to help block the flow of debris. • Outfit the tank for overflow and water usage. A spigot and hose connection makes it easy to use the collected water for outdoor purposes. Many rainwater collection systems are designed with an overflow safeguard that will prevent the water from backing up through the system. It will divert the rainwater back out of the downspout when the barrel or tank is full. A rainwater collection system harnesses a natural source of water to be used for gardens and other outdoor purposes. This water doesn’t contain chlorine or other additives, making it relatively clean and safe to use. Homeowners should check to see if a permit is necessary to install a rainwater collection system and then begin gathering water for various uses. (MNS)
How to inspect for roof damage
Experiment with different deterrents to keep cats out of garden beds.
How to keep cats out of your garden beds Cats make for wonderful pets, especially those that are content with life indoors, where they can spend hours lounging on a windowsill watching the world go by. But some cats spend a significant amount of time outdoors, where they forage for food and take refuge in and around a neighborhood. Frequently, outdoor cats will return to the same place over and over again. If that place is your flower bed, you may grow aggravated by your uninvited guest. Once a cat has found a place to call its own, it can be difficult to persuade the animal to move. Cats can be attracted to planting beds because the soil is soft underfoot and may seem like the ideal environment to turn into an outdoor litter box. However, over time cat urine and feces can leave behind an offensive odor and damage plants. Other cats also may be attracted to the garden, creating territory “wars” or even more odor and activity. But homeowners can employ a variety of techniques to keep felines from digging in the garden. • Keep leftover citrus peels. Orange, lemon See CATS on page 7
Many homeowners do not think twice about their roofs. But when leaks develop, roof repairs and the subsequent costs of such work shed light on how important it is for homeowners to pay closer attention to the roofs over their heads. Though certain roof issues, like shingles lost to inclement weather, are unforeseeable, many problems can be avoided with routine roof inspection. Checking roof conditions twice a year can help homeowners avoid potentially costly repair work or even more expensive roof replacement projects. Spring is a good time to inspect roofs, which are often at the mercy of harsh conditions throughout the winter. Heavy snow, ice and biting winds can do significant damage, making spring the perfect time to assess if any such damage occurred and address any issues. • Start the inspection in the interior of the home. Before breaking out the ladder and climbing up to the roof, inspect the home’s interior, pinpointing potential problems that may indicate roof damage. Check for stains on the ceiling which may indicate leaks that need to be addressed. Homeowners with attics should enter their attics and look for
signs of water damage, making note of any damp or wet insulation. This will let you know if water has been entering the attic all winter. Pay attention to the location of any wet spots or stains so you can match them up to the exterior of the roof later on. Musty smells also may be indicative of moisture problems, even if there are no visible leaks. • Inspect the roof outside. Grab a set of binoculars and inspect the exterior of the roof. Look at the roof flashing, including around the chimney and other areas of protruding pipes and vents. If the flashing is warped or damaged, moisture might be settling underneath. Sealant
around dormers or skylights can also degrade, resulting in leaks. Check for spalling on masonry, such as the mortar of chimneys. Porous areas will allow water to infiltrate. • Go directly on the roof and check. Work with a partner and carefully climb on the roof while someone holds the ladder below. Walk on the perimeter of the roof, looking for peeling or warped shingles, missing shingles, holes or scrapes. If the roof is compromised in any way, it will need to be repaired. The problem will only grow more significant and repairs more expensive if damage is ignored. Sometimes a repair can be as simple
as patching a leak with a new shingle and roofing cement. Popped nails can be pounded down and any curled shingles can be nailed or cemented back into place. • Consult a roofing expert. If you are unsure if your roof has made it through the winter unscathed and would like a second opinion or if you find there is considerable damage, contact a roofing contractor. This person will offer a professional assessment of what can be repaired or if the roof should be replaced. If your roof is metal or features clay tiles, you may not have the expertise to make repairs yourself and will need to hire a professional. • Check the gutters, too. While you are up on the roof, inspect the gutters and downspouts as well. Cracked or damage gutters will cause water to leak down the side of the home, potentially damaging the foundation. Clear any debris or leftover leaves from the gutters to ensure the rain can wash through unobstructed. A post-winter roof inspection can protect homeowners and their families from the elements and reduce the likelihood of potentially costly repairs down the road. (MNS)
Spring Home and Gardens | Thursday, April 3 and Sunday, April 6, 2014
Spring storage organizing tips The temperatures are warming and springs to do lists are growing. We spend the frigid winter months huddled under blankets and neglect putting tools, shovels and holiday décor back where they belong. Finding motivation to begin a storage clean out and figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. Whether you’re tackling a garage, basement or storage shed this spring, here are tips to make the most of your organizing time.
Small tasks equal big results It’s easy to talk yourself out of starting an organizing project if you think you don’t have time to finish it. Rather than generalizing a large project on your spring cleaning to do list, break the job down into smaller, more manageable tasks. “Hang Up Shovels and Rakes,” or “Schedule Donation Pick Up for Outgrown Toys” sound like tasks that can be completed quickly and easily as opposed to thinking you have to dedicate an entire day. Complete a few smaller tasks when you have time and use this task list as part of your overall organizing vision for the space. Crossing individual tasks off your list is a great motivator to keep working toward your overall goal.
thing comes out. Touching everything is essential to determining what you will keep and how much space you need to store it. Sort it into general categories like “GardenChristy Lingo ing” and “Camping” to help determine how much space you need to store items or if you need it at all.
Ask for help
As the saying goes “many hands make light work.” Schedule a specific day and time for your clean out. Recruit family and friends, perhaps with a bribe of pizza or barbeque, to help. Write out a plan of action using your task list before your help arrives so you can make the most of their time. If you can’t find a whole crew, even one extra set of hands can be helpful. And if you can’t find volunteers, hire a professional organizer. Visit the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers at www.napo-ohio.com for a list of professional organizers in your area.
Many times when you can’t find something you need, you purchase another. And another. And next thing you know there are four bike pumps but only two bicycles. To create a realistic storage inventory, take everything out. Yes, that’s right. Every-
Christy Lingo is a professional organizer and owner of Simple Solutions Design in Columbus, Ohio.
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Spring Home and Gardens | Thursday, April 3 and Sunday, April 6, 2014
Add some fresh color to kitchen cabinets Many homeowners dream of giving their kitchens a fullscale remodel. Though such a project can give a kitchen an entirely new look, that look does not come cheap. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2013 “Cost vs. Value Report,” homeowners can expect to spend more than $53,000 on a major kitchen remodel and recoup just below 70 percent of that cost at resale. So while the idea of a full-scale kitchen remodel might be a dream project, the cost of such an undertaking is beyond many homeowners’ budgets. But homeowners who cannot afford a full remodel can still give their kitchens a new Freshly painted cabinets can give a kitchen an entirely new and fresh look and can do so for relalook at a fraction of the cost of a full-scale kitchen remodel. tively little money. Painting kitchen cabinets a new color unique and more detailed. If should first paint a spot or two or simply giving fading cabiyour cabinets are ornate, then with a sample paint, being nets a fresh coat of paint can factor this extra time into your careful to choose a spot that’s instantly add life to a kitchen, schedule. concealed. If the paint bonds giving the room an entirely • Remove the doors and well to the plastic laminate, different feel without breakhardware. When painting then you can go forward and ing the bank. The following buy enough paint to redo all of cabinets, it’s best to essentially are a few tips for homeowners disassemble them, removing planning to paint their kitchen the cabinets. If the paint does the doors, handles, knobs, not take, consult a profescabinets. latches, and any additional sional to find a paint that’s •Assess your existing cabihardware. When removing likely to be a better fit. Expect nets. Some cabinet materials, hardware, be sure to set them including wood and metal, can this process to be one of trial aside in clearly marked plastic and error. be repainted without much bags so it’s easier to reassem• Plan for ornate cabinets of a fuss. But other materials, ble the cabinets once the fresh to take a little longer. Painting including plastic laminate, are coat of paint has dried. projects will go faster when not so amenable to repaintAs doors are removed, cabinets have flat fronts, but ing, and will likely require number each door and its they can take considerably specialty paints. Homeowners corresponding location, much longer when cabinets are with plastic laminate cabinets
like products that require assembly are numbered at the factory. This makes it easier to reassemble and ensures the cabinets and their hinges will align properly once you have finished painting. • Don’t paint dirty surfaces. Cabinet surfaces have likely collected their share of dirt, grease and grime over the years, so you want to clean these surfaces thoroughly before painting. Once surfaces have been cleaned, rinse them off and give them ample time to dry. • Sand the surfaces. Once the surfaces have been cleaned and are completely dry, it’s time to start sanding them. Lightly sand the doors using a wood sanding block, working to create a firm base to which fresh paint can easily adhere. Areas that are most exposed to wear and tear may require some extra elbow grease, and some areas may be especially flaky. When old paint is flaking off, this means the previous finish did not adhere very well to the surface, which is not necessarily uncommon in kitchens, where moisture and grease residue can make it harder for paint to adhere to the surface. In such instances, sand the flaky areas to the bare wood before spot-priming with a primer or
sealer designed for areas with heavy staining. After all of the sanding is complete, vacuum the surfaces to ensure there is no leftover sanding dust before painting. • Apply primer-sealer. Primer-sealer ensures the fresh paint will bond well to the surfaces, preventing conditions like flaking in the future. • Paint the cabinets. After the primer-sealer has been applied, it’s time to paint the cabinets. Begin with the inside edges and openings of the face frames, followed by the outer cabinet sides and then the front of the frames. Then move on to the cabinet doors and any drawer fronts you might be painting as well. Cabinets with more elaborate designs require closer attention to detail than flat cabinets. When painting, opt for thin coats, which dry more quickly and also create fewer visible brushstrokes. When applying multiple coats, allow the paint ample time to dry between coats. Four hours between coats is a good rule of thumb, and lightly resand all surfaces before applying the second and final coat of paint. • Reassemble the cabinets. Once the final coat of paint has fully dried, carefully reassemble your cabinets and then enjoy the fresh and inexpensive new look that your freshly painted cabinets have created. (MNS)
Pros and cons to air duct cleaning Many homeowners consider having the ductwork in their homes cleaned. Mailers often tout the benefits of this service and warn of the potential hazards that could be lurking inside uncleaned vents and ducts. But whether or not air ducts need to be cleaned remains open for debate. A quick review of air duct cleaning can help homeowners make a more informed decision. What is duct cleaning? Before looking into the advantages and disadvantages to duct cleaning, it is advantageous to examine the process involved when cleaning air ducts. There are two ways to have the ducts cleaned in a home:rotary vacuum brushing or high pressure air washing. Vacuum brushing utilizes a spinning brush to scrub dust and debris off the air vents and a vacuum to capture whatever is dislodged. High pressure air washing uses pressurized air blown through the air ducts. A truckmounted industrial vacuum is attached to the furnace, and all of the air register vents in the home are covered. Once all the air ducts have been blown clear, another air wand is fed into the end of the hot and cold air supply lines. Dust and debris is then drawn backward into the vacuum.
Duct cleaning may alleviate allergies in the home.
Pros One of the more obvious advantages of air duct cleaning is improved health and hygiene in the home. Those prone to allergies may find that routine cleaning helps ameliorate the problems of sneezing and watery eyes. Duct cleaning can remove allergens and dust. The Environmental Protection Agency says air duct cleaning is handy if there is a noticeable accumulation of dust and debris in ducts or if particles are actually released into the home from supply registers. If ducts are infested with rodents or insects, cleaning will make indoor air much safer. Mold is another factor to consider when determining
if ducts need to be cleaned. Mold spores floating in the air can lead to illness. Professional cleaning may be the only way to remove mold and mildew from the system. Homeowners who have fireplaces may find the air becomes dirtier faster. That’s because of the residue put into the air from burning wood and other fuel. This residue not only builds up inside of the chimney in the form of creosote, but also can form a sticky, sooty layer inside of ductwork. Cleaning the ducts can remove this soot. Cons The EPA advises that no research has definitively shown that duct cleaning prevents
health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. What’s more, dirty air that enters the home from outdoors or indoor activities, such as smoking or cleaning, can actually cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. There also is no evidence that cleaning ducts and components of the heating/cooling system will make the furnace or air conditioner work any more efficiently. Air duct cleaning is an expensive undertaking. On average the cost of such a service can range from $400 to $1,000, depending on the extent of the cleaning and the size of
the home. Cleaning the ducts also can be dirty and time-consuming. Cleaning may spread contaminants that were lodged inside of the vents throughout the air more readily. Some cleaning services will advise the use of chemical biocides to treat the interior of vents. These are designed to kill microbiological contaminants. The EPAwarns chemical biocides have yet to be fully researched, and homeowners should be fully informed before deciding to permit the use of biocides or chemical treatments in air ducts. Homeowners should never attempt to clean air ducts themselves. If the decision is made to have the cleaning done, it should only be on an as-needed basis and completed by a reputable cleaning service. (MNS)
Spring Home and Gardens | Thursday, April 3 and Sunday, April 6, 2014
These animals may help your garden Planning and maintaining a garden requires a lot of effort, which can result in an aesthetically pleasing addition to the landscape. But that hard work can also fall victim to nature when local wildlife find a garden too mouth-watering to resist. In an effort to rid a garden of unwanted pests, gardeners may unwittingly scare away animals and insects that might just protect the garden from more ill-intentioned animals. Not every creature that scurries is out to get prized petunias or to devour tomatoes. In fact, many can prove beneficial to gardens. Bats Bats have a bad reputation, as people unnecessarily fear bats because they believe them to be carriers of disease. But many bats feed off of insects or fruits and will not harm a human. The average brown bat can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour, so it’s easy to see why bats are good to have around. Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance but also harbor potentially dangerous diseases. Bats also may eat certain rodents, which can cut down on the number of animals burrowing in a yard.
Frogs Frogs and toads will prey on insects and make the local insect population more manageable. Toads eat mainly slugs, who feed on the leaves and fruits of many plants. Frogs and toads are attracted to water, so including a pond or another water feature in the garden will provide them with a habitat they like. Birds While it is true that some birds can damage crops, many birds are content to feed on insects attracted to the garden, which helps to keep insect numbers in check. Chickadees, for example, will dine on aphid eggs, while larger birds may prey on mice or other rodents or simply scare them out of the garden. Jays and mockingbirds are known to be feisty and can even deter dogs and cats from a yard. Hummingbirds will sip on the nectar of flowers and help pollinate plants.
and shape to invade the burrows of pest animals. Butterflies and bees Butterflies and bees are responsible for pollinating the vast majority of plants. Avoid using pesticides that may diminish butterfly or bee populations. A beehive right next to a garden may not be practical, but don’t make attempts to destroy it. Consult with a professional beekeeper to see what can be done to move the beehive without destroying it. (MNS)
Snakes Snakes in a garden can be disconcerting to some people, but snakes are ideal predators who feed on insects and rodents several times their size. Snakes are the right size
CATS Continued from page 4 and lime peels scattered around the garden may be offensive to cats, who will likely opt to go elsewhere rather than ignore the odor. Over time, the peels can be removed or allowed to break down into a natural fertilizer. • Employ technology to surprise or startle the cats. Motion detectors that trigger lights or a sprinkler system can startle cats and keep them away from your garden. • Make the garden uncomfortable to cats. Many cats do not like the feeling hard materials under their paws. Therefore, you can bury any number of items in the soil to deter padded feet. Some gardeners prefer to use chicken wire or rolled mesh around plants before covering the soil with mulch. The cats step on the dirt and feel the metal underneath, then move on. Branches, brambles, spiky holly leaves, or even rocks may keep cats from finding the garden bed hospitable.
• Employ natural scented deterrents. Some say that cats will be repelled by human hair. Visit a salon and ask for hair clippings to distribute throughout the garden. Urine from predators, like coyotes, may scare cats off, as well. Some cats may not like the smell of marigolds, which can be planted alongside other flowers in an attempt to keep cats at bay. • Erect barriers around the garden. Barriers can keep cats out of gardens. Erect a fence of lattice or metal to make it more difficult for cats to get inside the garden. • Make other areas of your property more attractive to cats. Homeowners who don’t mind the presence of cats on their property but want them out of the garden can take the unusual step of making another area on the property more cat-friendly. Plant catnip far away from the garden, giving cats a place to hang out without putting your garden in jeopardy. (MNS)
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Spring Home and Gardens | Thursday, April 3 and Sunday, April 6, 2014
Steps to take before erecting a fence Fences serve many purposes on a property and can even add visual appeal and value to a home. A fence can effectively delineate property borders, serve as a safety barrier and keep pets and children from wandering into the street. According to Zillow, an online real estate database, erecting a fence on a property in an area where fences are common usually increases the value of the home, putting it in line with similar properties nearby.
However, this may only be the case if the fence is installed professionally and matches other fences throughout the neighborhood. Homeowners planning to install a fence should first secure a copy of their property surveys. A survey of the property is often conducted upon purchasing a home and/ or when the land and home is being assessed. If you do not have a survey, you can hire a professional to conduct one. The survey will be
handy because it clearly marks property lines. Depending on the local regulations, fences may need to be installed a certain number of inches or feet within the property line. Your municipality and building code office will be able to guide you further as to what is legal. Reputable fencing companies that work in the community should also have a good understanding of fencing regulations. A permit is typically needed to install a fence.
Either your contractor or you will need to apply for the permit before construction can begin. It is best to follow the law so that the fence can be installed in a manner that is consistent with local regulations and will not be subject to potentially costly removal. As a courtesy, speak with your neighbors about your fencing plans. The fence will separate your properties from one another, and your neighbors may have certain feelings about what they
want to look at. Even if a neighbor is not sharing the cost, it is a good idea to discuss fencing with your neighbors in an effort to reduce the likelihood of conflict down the road. Fences have been points of contention between neighbors, and you don’t want a previously amicable relationship to turn sour. In some instances, neighbors will be excited about the prospect of a fence and may want to share the cost. Fencing contractors may offer
discounts for multihome installations, so it pays to inquire with the neighbors for that reason alone. Homes with pools may need fences as a safety precaution. Be sure they fit the protocol. They may need self-latching/locking gates to prevent entry to the yard. A fence can be a good investment, but homeowners must take the appropriate legal measures and consider their neighbors before erecting any fences. (MNS)
How to rid your yard of pesky pests Early spring might not be warm enough to start planting, but it is a great time to inspect a yard for any property damage or problems, including pests. Small animals can compromise lawn and garden projects. For example, vegetable gardens are prime targets for such pests, while trees and shrubbery offer cozy abodes and camouflage from other predators. Homeowners can grow frustrated by the damage such critters can do to their properties. But identifying the offenders early on can minimize that damage.
Groundhogs Groundhogs are one of 14 species of marmots and are the largest members of the squirrel family. They frequent the areas where woodlands meet open spaces, like streams, roads or fields. Groundhogs feed on grass, plants, fruit and tree bark. They also will feast on home gardens during the summer and fall seasons. Groundhogs are most active during the warm months, when they forage and feast to build up large reserves for winter hibernation. Humane methods of
keeping groundhogs at bay include making the area inhospitable. Groundhogs can climb trees and fencing, but they’re less likely to get into plants if there is a fence around them. Dogs can be preventive as well, as some dogs will chase groundhogs off of the property. The scent of urine can also scare groundhogs off. Using traps to capture and then relocate groundhogs is another option. Moles Moles are cylindrical mammals that are
most comfortable living a subterranean lifestyle. Moles have strong forelimbs with forepaws that have an extra thumb and multiple joints. These help them to burrow underground effectively and hollow out subterranean chambers. The diet of moles is primarily earthworms and small invertebrates found in the soil. The runs they create beneath the surface of the soil are used to trap prey and store it in “larders” for later. Moles are not harmful to lawns and gardens, but they can compromise the
aesthetic appeal of lawns and gardens. That is why homeowners often want to prevent moles from making homes on their property. While there are traps and poisons avail-
Spring HOME & GARDENS
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able, one of the easiest ways to prevent mole infestation is to remove their sources of food. Homeowners can cut back on watering property and get rid of grubs and other insects. Also, consider installing a mole barrier of aluminum sheeting or hardware cloth by burying these materials between two and three feet deep along the perimeter of a lawn or garden. Cats are natural enemies of moles, so sprinkling cat litter around mole runs may dissuade moles from visiting the area. (MNS)