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A Special Supplement to the Daily Home


Home & Garden

2 — THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Improve look, value of your home By DAVID ATCHISON

Thomas said it is important that the home has updated light fixtures, and a fresh coat of paint on the inside walls. “Anything damaged needs to be replaced,” she said. “People don’t want to buy damaged goods.” Bain said every situation is different when it comes to home value. Many people will “flip” a lower priced home so they don’t mind doing a little work to spruce it up so the value of the home is improved. “But you wouldn’t want to walk into a $300,000 home and have to spend money for updates,” Bain added. She said if a homeowner has the money and wants to increase the value of their home, they should focus their attention on updates to the kitchen and bathrooms. Bain said updates to those two rooms can really help increase the value and marketability of a home. “The better condition of the house when you put it on the market, the more money you are going to get for it,” Bain said.

Home staff writer

There are a few things people can do to help improve the look and value of their home, especially if they are trying to sell. “It’s all about curb appeal,” said Karen Bain, a Realtor with Fields and Gossett Realty in Pell City. “Spring is just around the corner. Plant some fresh flowers in the front yard. It doesn’t take a lot of money, just a little bit of effort.” She said a little yard work around a home can go a long way. “You want your home to be inviting,” she said. “They (buyers) have to want to come inside.” Sharon Thomas, owner of Remax Home Town Properties in Pell City, agreed, saying that first impressions or curb appeal is essential to help increase the value or marketability of a home. “If the house has vinyl siding, wash it,” she said. Bain said a nice looking landscape yard will help put prospective buyers inside the home for a look, also a fresh coat of paint. “They have to want to come in,” she said. Bain said the condition

Landscaping or sprucing up the front yard can improve the look and value of a home.

of the outside roof and heating and air and heating units are a big consideration if you are putting your house on the market. “People always ask how old the roof and air condition units are,” she said. Bain said these are big

ticket items that can drive the value of a home up or down, depending on age. Both Realtors said it is important to “de-clutter” around the outside and inside of the house. “Give it a fresh appearance,” Thomas said. “Clean

or replace the carpet.” Bain said prospective buyers want to walk into a clean house. “They don’t like to see clutter,” she said. “They want to walk inside the home and envision it as their own.”

Thomas said the home needs to be welcoming, inviting to those who walk inside. “I’ve even recommended someone change out the kitchen cabinet knobs to Contact David Atchison give it a fresh, new look,” at datchison@dailyhome. she said. com.

Designing a laundry room When purchasing a home, buyers often look at the kitchen space and how many bedrooms there are, while largely ignoring other rooms, including the laundry room. Oftentimes, the washer and dryer are relegated to a dark corner of the basement or garage, and homeowners simply accept their laundry lot. More and more manufacturers now produce washers and dryers that are both functional and aesthetically appealing. As a result, homeowners and renters need not feel they have to hide laundry rooms like they did in the past. Having the laundry nearby the family action — and paying attention to laundry room design — can make the work of keeping clothes tidy that much easier. Many designers would agree that you need not sacrifice style for function in a laundry room. As with any other area of the house, impart design elements into the room and make it a room in which you want to spend time. • First and foremost, select appliances that offer the features you need and want. Also, find appliances that fit the space you have. Front-loading appliances have become the latest must-have, but some units may be too big or

expensive for your space. Those with a limited area for laundry can invest in a stackable set, in which the washer and dryer are combined into one vertical unit. For those who want to add a pop of color, select among the variety of colored washers and dryers that are turning up in store showrooms. You’re no longer limited to white, black and beige. • Consider cabinetry in your laundry space. Cabinets and drawers are not just for the kitchen. They can hide cleaning products, detergent, dryer sheets and so much more. Fill drawers with stainremoval sticks and items to mend clothes that may be missing a button or have a small hole that needs tending. • A laundry area also can be much more than just a place to wash and fold clothes. Many people like to turn this spot into a multipurpose zone. By including some shelving and a refrigerator in the laundry room, you can create a food-storage pantry. A large countertop normally used to fold clothes can also double as a gift-wrapping station. Think about merging a laundry room with a craft room where sewing or scrapbooking can take place.

AWNINGS

• Remember to leave room for the soiled clothing. Raising hamper bins off of the floor to be suspended from a rod above the washer frees up valuable floor space. Otherwise, keep the hamper behind a curtain or tucked into a cabinet to ensure the laundry room always looks neat, even when you haven’t yet gotten to the newest pile of dirty clothes. • Don’t be afraid of adding color and artwork to the laundry space. In fact, embrace it. Here’s an out-of-the-way area of the home where you can explore your creativity and have a little fun. Try an eye-opening color, such as apple green or bright yellow to add a sunny disposition to the room. • You don’t have to spend a fortune on a laundry room re-do. Shop in salvage stores or antique shops for custom pieces

Put some consideration into how you design your laundry room.

to add character to the space. You can probably find cabinetry or shelving for a fraction of the cost of new items, and these older items may add more character to the space. • Save space by installing a counter just above the dryer so you will have

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a place to fold and stack clothing. • The bulk of dirty clothes will be generated in the bedrooms and bathroom of the house. But who wants to carry clothes down to a laundry area on a lower level? See if you

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Home & Garden

THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013 — 3

Brian Schoenhals/The Daily Home

Top photo: The showroom at Davis Carpets in Talladega features a sample flooring style for a dining room area. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. In photo at right are Tommy Davis, left, and Terry Davis of Davis Carpets in Talladega. Davis Carpets opened in 1968.

Options for flooring are abundant BY SHANE DUNAWAY

Home staff writer

Having trouble deciding what flooring works best for your newly remodeled den, family room or kitchen? With many options available to consumers today, making a choice might seem as challenging as selecting an afternoon snack from a vending machine. Sure, each choice fulfills its purpose, but in the end, it’s simply a matter of personal taste. Tommy Davis, owner of Davis Carpets in Talladega,

said the majority of his customers purchase vinyl or laminate flooring for their homes. “Laminate is cheaper and easier to maintain,” Davis said. “And it’s tough, too. The flooring is threeeighths inches thick and made from pressed core board coated in laminate.” Davis Carpets, open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., sells laminate flooring from $1.99$5 per square foot, slightly cheaper than the $2.50-$5 per square foot rate for vinyl and a bargain compared to the $3.99-$10 per square foot price of hardwood flooring.

“Hardwood flooring is care and cost of the 10 not very popular in this most popular flooring region,” Davis said. “Every options at http://www. now and then we get an order in for hardwood floors, but it’s not a common occurrence.” For those who prefer that warm, fuzzy feeling beneath their feet at night, Davis Carpets also offers carpet for $6.99-$30 per square yard. “We have the best selection of flooring materials in our area,” Davis said. Before committing to a flooring option, homeowners can review the World Floor Covering Association’s detailed breakdown of pros, cons,

wfca.org/Pages/flooringcomparison.aspx.

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Creating a kitchen work triangle The kitchen is arguably the most-used room in the house during waking hours. Having a kitchen that is laid out in an efficient manner can improve productivity and make for a more enjoyable experience. Designers often stress having an effective work triangle in the kitchen. The phrase “kitchen work triangle” started with the Building Research Council (formerly the Small Homes Council) at the University of Illinois. The idea came from studies of space usage and the search for efficient kitchen designs. What the triangle essentially means is positioning three key items of the kitchen for efficiency. The stove, sink and refrigerator represent the three main points of the triangle. Having these items spaced accordingly can make work easier. Having them too close together can cre-

ate a cramped, ineffective room. The placement of the triangle points alone does not make a successful layout. According to the University of Missouri Extension, the triangle space should also be measured accordingly. Put 4 to 7 feet between the refrigerator and sink, 4 to 6 feet between the sink and stove and 4 to 9 feet between the stove and refrigerator, with the ideal size resulting in a work triangle where the three sides total between 15 and 22 feet.

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The quick-step flooring display at Davis Carpets in Talladega provides samples for customers to view while considering flooring options.

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Home & Garden

4 — THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Indoor plants provide year round décor By EMILY ADAMS Home staff writer

Plants may thrive outdoors in the spring and summer, but there are plenty of indoor varieties to add color and character to a home year round. Laura Price, gardening department manager at Home Depot in Sylacauga, said houseplants come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Some require a lot of care, while others can survive with minimum water and sunlight. “Plants are like us,” Price said. “They need food, water and sunlight, and that’s basically all you need to know to be successful at growing them.” Some of the more popular houseplants that are smaller in size include African violets, which bloom in colors ranging from white to bright to dark, bromeliads and begonias. A few of the larger inside plants that are best sellers are palms, peace lilies, rubber plants, birds of paradise, and motherin-law tongues — all of which are virtually impossible to kill, Price said. “They say if your peace lily needs water, everything needs water,” she

said. “What I like about it is it’ll fall over and look dead, but you can water it and an hour later, its perked right back up, so these are all simple to care for.” While indoor plants are relatively easy, it is important to pay attention to the information that comes with a plant to provide its ideal care, Price said. “The good thing about all of our plants (at Home Depot) is they all have a tag in them that will tell you everything you need to know about this particular plant,” she said, “and you can go to our Home Depot Garden Club and find out where they came from, how to grow, what kind of water and light it needs, everything.” NASA studies have shown that having 10-15 indoor plants results in cleaner air, reduced noise and increased energy. Also, indoor plants are a great way to get children involved because most plants like to be misted, an easy activity for younger gardeners, Price said. And, of course, foliage is a quick and easy way to add color and life to a dead space in the home. “You can dress up a bland corner really easily

Emily Adams/The Daily Home

The African violet is ideal for countertops or desks and comes in a variety of bright or darker colors.

with a nice plant,” Price said. “I’ve got plants sitting everywhere in my house, but even with how easy they are they all need some attention. You’ve got to love them and take care of them. You can’t just sit it in a corner and expect it to look good.” Some common mistakes to avoid with these plants are watering too often, not fertilizing and repotting into a pot that it too large. “Mother-in-law tongues, for example, don’t need much water at all, and that’s where a lot

of people mess up is overwatering,” Price said. “I usually stick my finger in the soil about an inch and if it’s moist, don’t water it. You can also pick the pot up and feel its weight. If it has enough water, it will feel heavy. If it seems light, then it probably needs water.”

See Plants, Page 5

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Laura Price, gardening department manager at Home Depot in Sylacauga, waters some palm plants at their store. Price suggests feeling the soil about an inch deep or picking the pot up to check if a plant needs water. Dry or light plants probably need some love.

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A good rule of thumb for watering is to continue adding water until it begins to seep out the bottom of the pot. Using a proper soil and fertilizer is also important for every type of plant, Price said. “It doesn’t really matter what brand of fertilizer you use, as long as the plant has food,” she said. “But you do want

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Home & Garden

THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013 — 5

Emily Adams/The Daily Home

It is important to read the tag inserted in the soil to learn vital information about how to care for the plant. Some stores, like Home Depot, even offer online Gardening Clubs for more detailed information on plant varieties.

Plants From Page 4

to always use a good quality potting mix and not topsoil if you’re dealing with potted plants. The mix helps with drainage and other things that will prolong the life of your plant.” Indoor plants generally require indirect sunlight as well, but can be moved outside as long as they remain covered. “These plants will burn in direct sunlight,” Price said. “You can take them outside when the weather warms up, but they still need to be under a cover. Sit them by a tree or under an awning. If you do sit them outside, you can expect to water them more because

the heat will dry them out quicker than in the house, but they really thrive outside in the shade.” Overall, Price said there is no houseplant that is better than any other. “A lot of people ask, ‘what’s the best house plant?’” she said. “It’s the one you like, the one you can’t do without. There is no best; you just have to be willing to take care of the one you like.” For more gardening help from Home Depot, the Sylacauga location is hosting a Garden Party on April 13, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with vendors, giveaways and master gardeners. Price said experts will be on hand to offer advice to the public.

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home & garden

6 — THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to clean those dirty windows Dirty windows are unsightly, and they can prevent beneficial sunlight from entering a home. Cleaning windows need not be done every week, but it shouldn’t be overlooked completely, either. While it certainly may be a chore to clean windows, there are ways to make the task much more tolerable. Curb appeal can be very important when selling a home. Even a home with a perfectly manicured lawn and the newest roofing and siding can seem unappealing if the windows are dirty. Keeping windows clean requires a good deal of work. For the acrophobics, cleaning second-story windows can test the nerves. Having the right tools on hand and a strategy in place will make the job easier to manage. Cleaning windows Cleaning windows won’t necessarily be easy, but the following ninestep process can make the task less difficult and timeconsuming. 1. Choose a day when it is overcast so you will not be blinded by the sun while cleaning. This also helps prevent streaking. Begin by gathering what you’ll need to get the task done. Having everything at the ready will enable you to move from one window to the next. Here are the basic supplies you will need: • cleaning solution • cloth, newspaper or squeegee

• towel • spray bottle • extension pole to reach high windows • vacuum • ladder or step stool • garden hose 2. Take down and clean drapery or blinds when cleaning the windows. Remove the curtains so you will have an unobstructed surface with which to work. 3. Start with the interior side of the windows, as they are easier to access. Place a towel on the sill to catch any drops so the sill or the floor will stay dry. 4. Spray a lint-free cloth or the window directly with the cleaning solution. The edges and corners of the window tend to accumulate the most grime, so begin by cleaning those areas first. Once they are clean and you will not exchange dirt to the center of the window, work on the middle. Wipe the windows in a horizontal direction to help alleviate dripping. 5. To create a streak-free surface, some people prefer to use a squeegee to drag out any pockets of moisture for more even drying. Be sure to wipe the rubber strip of the squeegee after each pass on the window. You may choose to buff out any other streaks with newspaper. 6. Vacuum the window sill and frame afterward to catch any dust and debris. 7. Repeat the process for all interior windows. 8. Move outdoors and start off by spraying the window with a garden hose

How to treat a termite problem Termites are houseguests few homeowners want to experience. With their reputation for voracity and the damage they can inflict on a home, termites are something most people want to avoid at all costs. If termites are already a problem or something homeowners simply want to prevent, there are effective ways to banish these unwelcome guests or keep them from ever entering a home.

to loosen any of the accumulated grime. Use your cleaning solution to dissolve the rest of the dirt. You may want to let it sit on the window if there is stubborn grime. Repeat the cleaning process used indoors for each window. 9. If exterior secondfloor windows are hard to reach, consider using a ladder and extension pole to extend your reach. Upper

windows will not be scrutinized as closely as lower windows, so you may have a greater margin for error. If the windows are simply too high up, rely on a professional window cleaner to get the job done rather than risk falls or other injuries. Mix your own cleaning solution It may take trial and error to find a solution that

works. Here is one recipe you may want to start with. 1 cup white vinegar 11/2 cups rubbing alcohol 2 drops of dish soap Pour into a clean and empty spray bottle. Remember: Never mix bleach and ammonia together to create a cleaning solution, as toxic fumes will result.

What is a termite? Termites are small social insects that have the capability to destroy wood. Sometimes they are mistaken for ants, but the two insects are quite different. Termites are actually close relatives to the cockroach. Many termites appear as white or light-colored and may seem translucent. Winged termites are darker in color. Termites have a grub-shaped body but, unlike ants, no discernable hourglass-shaped waist. Also, their antennae are straight and look beaded, like a string of pearls, while ants have elbowed antennae. Another way to differentiate ants from termites is that termite eyes are very small or nonexistent, while ants’ eyes are clearly visible. Termites live in a nest or colony in large numbers. Their primary food source is plant fiber, known as cellulose. Most termites are rarely seen unless they are swarming or if their nest or a portion of wood has been opened revealing the insects inside.

adults can put collectibles that have a storage comTreating termites and mementos near the partment can house anyMany people do not top. Hang hooks to hold thing from throw blankets hats and robes. Whenever See Storage, Page 7 See Termites, Page7 possible, look to store items on the walls where they will keep clutter off the floor. Storage can even be created in the bathroom, where the space over the toilet can be used to hang Apartments I, II & III a cabinet to store hand towels and other toiletries if the space under the sink has already been claimed. Many apartment dwellers recognize the advantage of having items that serve double-duty in their living spaces. For example, a convertible sofa can be used for sitting and then turn into a bed for overnight guests. Ottomans Where communities are built, apartments

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Homeowners may have to think vertically to solve storage solutions. Wall space may be abundant in a home where closets are not. Therefore, shelving

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One of the easiest ways to create storage space is to simply remove some belongings from the residence. Go through closets around the house and pick through the attic and/or garage to see if there are any items that can be discarded or donated. Items that are broken can be discarded, while those things that still have utility can be donated or sold. The next step is to maximize the space of

your existing closets. Many closets are equipped with just a shelf and a clothing rack, greatly limiting the storage potential. Investing in a closet organization system is one way to transform a poorly utilized space. These systems can be purchased, often inexpensively, from a home improvement center. Compiled of modular racks and shelving, the positioning can be customized depending on the size of the closet. Oftentimes, the addition of shelving or another rack for hanging clothes can solve some storage issues. These closet systems also are ideal for renters because they can be installed with minimal damage and be removed when a lease expires.

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home & garden

THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013 — 7

Termites

Safety measures can help reduce bathroom injuries

From Page 6

even know they have a termite problem until that problem has escalated. Because they remain hidden most of the time, terFalls cause many inju- per day. More than 80 permites can be difficult to ries inside a home. Seniors cent of bathroom-related detect. Incidences of soft are especially susceptible to injuries were caused by wood or visual recognition harmful falls in the bath- slips and falls, mostly while of swarming termites that room, where slippery tiles getting in and out of the occur in the spring can can prove too difficult for tub or shower, and about indicate that termites could older men and women to 30 percent of those injuries be residing in a structure navigate. included cuts, scrapes and or nearby. There are difA 2011 study from bruises. ferent types of termites, the Centers for Disease and proper identification Bathrooms can be more Control and Prevention dangerous than other is necessary to find the corfound that nearly 234,000 rooms of the house for rect treatment option. Americans ages 15 and a variety of reasons. The Unlike other pests, older were treated in an bathroom is generally comtermites are pests whose emergency department for prised of hard surfaces that detection and removal nonfatal bathroom-related can become slippery when is best left to a profesinjuries in 2008. That adds sional who can recognize up to roughly 640 people See Bathroom, Page 8 the subtle signs. He or she will identify certain signs of an infestation, such as mud-looking material on wooden surfaces, discarded wings from a swarm, piles of sawdust, termite tubes running outdoors from the soil to a home, buckling Tommy & Terry Davis, •Carpet •Vinyl •Tile paint, and other indicaowners •Hardwood and tions. There are different ways Laminates to prevent or treat a termite •Residential and infestation. To prevent termites, there are applications Commercial of termiticides that are put •Sales and Installation into the soil surrounding a home or structure. Also, 59400 AL Hwy. 77 S. removal of moisture in Talladega and around the house is key because termites need Plants and gardens touching exterior walls of the home may provide moist conditions for sur- the right environment for a termite colony. vival. Poisoning of nests is also a treatment option. If termites already have infiltrated a home, fumigation may be necessary to remedy that problem. However, fumigation is not always effective at killing eggs and all of the termites. Most exterminators will use a combination of treatments to rid a home of termites. If extreme wood damage has occurred, portions of the structure may have to be removed and rebuilt. This also may help allevi200 count, pop-up dispenser, ate some of the scent trails washable. #19365 3.5 lb., kills queen & colony termites use to travel to and from nests and food in 24 hours. #70867 sources. SPECIAL BUY! Other termite 9 Reg. $4.9 prevention tips There are other tactics to prevent a termite problem. • Don’t store firewood in Rich organic material planting soil for contact with the ground. flowers, fruits and vegetables. 1 cu. ft. • Use chemically treated Feeds up to 6 months. #7269467 wood for building struc42 gallon, 55 gallon tures. #6038574, #6093082 • Disguise wood by painting it or using a shellac or varnish. Termites may not like the taste of UR .99 YO treated wood. Reg. $14 CHOICE • Prevent hidden entry points where termites can go unseen. • Remove cardboard, Rust free lopper, newspaper, cotton materihedge saw & pruner. als and any other cellulose 2 gallon, from the floor. #7215650 #7215031 • Vent kitchens and baths so that they will not .99 Reg. $15 trap moisture. • Fix any and all water .99 leaks. Reg. $25 22” Spring Brace • Don’t plant gardens or put soil directly against a Rake or 24” Poly home’s exterior walls. Rake. #74978, Some simple precau#72877 tions and a routine inspection can prevent termites from becoming a problem.

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Storage From Page 6

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Home & Garden

8 — THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bathroom

Go green in your garden

From Page 7

wet or exposed to high humidity. A bathroom may become hotter than other rooms because of the steam that accompanies a hot shower. Heat may dilate peripheral veins and lower blood pressure in some people. This may lead to dizziness that can result in falls. Furthermore, people tend to rush in the bathroom as they get ready for work or school. Rushing around can lead to slips and injuries on wet surfaces. Installing safety features in the bathroom is a key way to reduce the risk of accidents. Many manufacturers have even designed these features so they blend with bathroom decor. When renovating bathrooms for safety, consider the following options. • Anti-scald features: Burns can be serious business. Few people have been spared the momentary burst of hot water that occurs in the shower or at the faucet when another household member flushes a toilet or uses a large amount of cold water elsewhere in the house. Antiscald showerheads and faucets prevent sudden bursts of hot water. Use in conjunction with turning down the temperature of the hot water heater to eliminate burns. • Nonslip mats: Bathroom injuries often occur when people are getting in and out of the shower. Having a non-slip mat on the inside of the shower or tub as well as one with a grippable surface and plush top layer on which to step after exiting the shower can reduce falls. Don’t step out of the shower onto a flimsy towel that can slip out from underneath your feet. • Bath bench: The elderly or those prone to lightheadedness in the shower may want to invest in a bench or seat to put into the shower. This enables

Gardening can be a lawn mower produces. In rewarding and relaxing addition, less grass means hobby, one that allows gar- less need for fertilizers and deners to escape from the pesticides to maintain that daily grind and soak up grass. some sun. As rewarding as • Choose gardening gardening can be, it’s even tools and products with more so when gardeners the environment in mind. ply their trade in an eco- Veteran gardeners have friendly way. a host of tools that help Gardening with the tackle every problem imagenvironment in mind is inable. But many older something many garden- tools or gardening proders might do already with- ucts might not be made of out even knowing it. The recycled materials. When following are a few ways shopping for gardening to garden in a way that’s tools, whether you’re a mutually beneficial to gar- beginner who needs everydeners and the environ- thing or a veteran gardener ment. whose tools have seen bet• Use mulch to con- ter days, choose products serve resources and reduce made from recycled matereliance on fertilizers. rials. For example, many Conserving resources is gardeners use mats to help one of the best ways to reduce stress on their knees help the environment, when kneeling down to and applying mulch is garden. When buying a a great way to conserve new mat, choose one made water. Mulch helps the soil from recycled tires. retain water, keeping the water from evaporating But emphasizing recyinto the air, which means cled products shouldn’t less watering for gardeners stop at the tool shed. who want to keep their Mulch, for instance, can gardens looking lush and be made from recycled healthy. rubber and won’t impact In addition to help- the environment in a neging conserve water, mulch ative way. Just be sure to can also help reduce reli- purchase recycled mulch ance on fertilizers. That’s that is nontoxic and does because mulch provides not consume natural nutrients to the soil as it resources. breaks down, providing Anti-scald showerheads help reduce burn injuries in bathrooms. an eco-friendly alternative • Live and let live. for gardeners who don’t Insects might be a nuisitting while washing. • Raised toilet seat: A • Regular cleaning: want to rely on fertiliz- sance, but they can also • Safety bars: It can raised toilet seat reduces Routinely ridding showers ers to deliver nutrients to be a gardener’s best friend. be tempting to grab onto the amount of squatting and tubs of soap scum and their soil. Spraying insecticide simtowel racks or faucets to and the distance that has mildew can reduce the slipply because insects can be get in and out of the show- to be covered to sit on the pery coating that forms as • Plant more flowers. pesky is shortsighted and er, but these items can- commode. Grab bars on a result of these substances. Planting flowers is another impractical. Certain spinot provide the necessary the raised seat itself will Also, be sure to keep clut- eco-friendly way to garden. ders prey on other insects leverage to safely move in provide added safety. ter in the bathroom to a Native flowers, in particu- that can be harmful to and out of the shower or • Telephone: The bath- minimum to stop trips and lar, can help maintain an a garden, while butterflies bathtub. Safety bars with room may seem an odd falls over errant items in area’s natural ecosystem, and bees help pollenate a brushed surface for trac- place to install a telephone, the area. providing food and shel- flowers. Earthworms are tion are more secure. Grab but having one nearby in Bathrooms can present ter for insects and other also very beneficial to a bars need to be securely the event of injury can many dangers, but certain garden, helping to aerate attached to a wood stud in ensure help gets to the safety tools and renova- wildlife. More flowers and plants and fertilize the soil and the wall and not into dry- injured party much more tions can help reduce the around the property also enabling plants to grow by wall or the tub enclosure. quickly. risk of injury. means there will be signifi- removing harmful matter cantly less grass to mow, from the soil. which reduces the amount Gardening is a rewardof gas necessary to mow ing hobby, one that is even that grass in the warmer more so when gardeners since it can linger for up removed. That’s not as weather and the amount institute eco-friendly practo three years after the cat routine now as it was in of greenhouse gases the tices. is gone. the past. But having those “If you have a sick removed places less stress child in the house, I don’t on the respiratory system, recommend accepting and there was less obesity any cloth furniture from because kids were playing Dr. Thomas A. that onto outdoor aller- someone with a cat,” he outside more. And when gies, like pollen, trees and said. Cat dander can also they grew up, significantly Douyard, D.M.D. grass, it can really tax the linger in sheet rock. fewer of them developed immune system.” sleep apnea, which is a The last point he men- major problem now. I’m Dust mites are another tioned is still a topic of not sure if this is relevant major issue for those with some debate, he said. to the story, but I do think 33044 Hwy. 280 indoor allergies. “As dust “It used to be, when smaller necks and smaller Childersburg mites age, their bodies lit- children were 4 or 5 years waistlines would be better erally start to fall apart, old, as their parents were for everyone.” their legs and antennae preparing them for school, Friendly Staff will start to fall off. They’re if they had had persistent Affordable Prices very small and difficult to ear problems, they would Contact Chris Norwood see as it is, and obviously just go ahead and have at cnorwood@dailyhome. the parts are even smaller. the tonsils and adenoids com. And those parts can waft (In Most Cases) up into the air and still cause problems.” Custom Blinds • Shutters

Simple steps to avoid indoor allergies Doctor says air fresheners, candles, incense and pets make allergies worse By CHRIS NORWOOD

Home staff writer

The Deep South has a reputation for being tough on those with allergies and, according to Dr. Charles Bretnall, that reputation is well deserved. But there are some simple steps that you can take to avoid some indoor allergies for relatively little cost. First off, he said, there are certain things to avoid that you might not normally think of. “Glade plug-ins and air fresheners can actually make things worse,” he said. “Fabreeze can irritate the bronchials, and Carpet Fresh can get stirred up into the air when the heating or air conditioning comes on or when someone opens and closes a door. Candles and incense can cause problems, too, and, of course, I think most people are familiar with the dangers of cigarette smoke. Pets can be an issue for some people, too.” Removing and eliminating these items can help, and won’t cost anything.

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“You can use a bonded cleaning company on carpets that will use safe chemical treatments, but really hardwood floors just make better sense. All you’ve got to do is run a wet mop over it.” There are safe cleaners for covers, although Bretnall said he did not know the brand names. Hypoallergenic covers are also available, and are effective. Standing air purifiers are effective for families with pet allergies that do not want to part with their pets. These are fairly inexpensive. He does not recommend sharing a bedroom with your pets. Cat dander, in particular, can be a problem,

311139

In damp areas, mold can be a major problem, Bretnall said. “There’s an ultraviolet light that you can get for about $80 at Lowe’s or Home Depot. You put it in the air return system and it can help control mold spores. It’s very inexpensive, and ideal for families with children that have asthma or chronic ear infections. We’ve had lots of rain this year, and when you add

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THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013 — 9

Tom Calfee is a ‘Master Gardener’ By JUNE WINTERS

to be.

Home staff writer

Mike pushed down all of the underbrush that had flourished over the past few years, and he also laid a few trees to rest that had grown so big around the edges of the garden plot.

There’s a new man in our family! His name is Tom Calfee and he is from Coosa County. I call him Mr. Calfee because I respect the great knowledge he has for raising gardens.

Soon, as if by magic, perfect rows appeared in the beautiful, fertile soil, and before we knew it, peas and corn and okra and tomatoes were standing where the old briars used to stand.

I met Mr. Calfee when he answered an ad I placed looking for someone to cultivate some land I had here beside my home. In years past, that land was my husband Red’s pride and joy and he raised a bounty of food in the area every year. After Red died, the land slowly became neglected. At first it was just a desolate piece of property with bare ground. But it didn’t take long for the briars and brambles to take over, and as the years passed the weeds grew thick and heavy. After this happened, the rats and other varmints moved in, finding it a perfect haven, making them close enough to start to attempt to invade all the nearby homes.

turnips we want, and it always seems the more you pick, the more there is to pick. My special friend took the land I had that was simply wasting away and made it into a jewel for all of us to enjoy. By the way, his nephew Mike calls the garden “Uncle Tom Calfee’s playground”

Little patches of watermelons and cantaloupes surrounded the garden, and we all picked and enjoyed to our heart’s content.

Gardening is just one of Mr. Calfee’s talents. He travels the state over every year, making ribbon cane and sorghum syrup the old fashioned way with mules and water-fed wheels. You can find him at many arts and crafts festivals demonstrating the art.

In the wintertime, Mr. Calfee sees that we have all of the turnip greens, collards and big white

He’s a Master Gardener in my book and also those of my family and close friends.

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I longed to see the space filled with beautiful plants and one day, two years ago, I placed the ad, looking for someone who wanted to grow a garden. Tom Calfee answered the ad. Bob Crisp/The Daily Home It was “friendship at first sight” for me, and Gardening is just one of Tom Calfee’s talents. He also makes ribbon Mr. Calfee loved the area. cane and sorghum syrup the old-fashioned way. That’s the way it all startfect partner for the task. who is a contractor and ment it takes to make a ed. Mr. Calfee had the per- He has a nephew, Mike, had all the special equip- garden just what it ought

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Home & Garden

10 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; THE DAILYâ&#x20AC;&#x2C6;HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Maintain healthy soil throughout the season A lush lawn and garden is a part of many homeownersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; dream home. A lawn that emanates green and a garden thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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. â&#x20AC;˘ Get the soil tested. When addressing soil health, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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 testâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recommendations to your lawn and garden. â&#x20AC;˘ Avoid wet soil. When soil is wet, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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. â&#x20AC;˘ Use well-drained soil. Well-drained 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. â&#x20AC;˘ 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. â&#x20AC;˘ Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t bash bacteria. Bacteria is often seen as a formidable 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 itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beneficial, some bacteria are quite useful, particularly when it comes

to healthy soil. â&#x20AC;˘ Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be scared off by slime. Like bacteria, slime has a bad reputation. However, veteran gardeners understand that reputation isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t warranted. Slime mold is ugly, and many new gardeners see it and instantly assume itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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. â&#x20AC;˘ 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 soilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s texture and ferGardeners can take several steps to maintain tility. soil health.

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â&#x20AC;˘ Clean up: Clear your patch by removing grass, rocks, or other debris. â&#x20AC;˘ Till the soil: Add at least 6 centimetres of new vegetable garden soil to provide nutrients, improve drainage, and to promote strong root growth. â&#x20AC;˘ Plant at the right time: Early season vegetables include broccoli, carrots, lettuce, peas, and spinach. By early June, you can plant the warmweather vegetables like corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

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Home & Garden

12 — THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gardening tips are available online By KENNY FARMER Special Projects editor

While there are many online resources available to gardeners, Alabama Cooperative Extension System agents Charles Pinkston and Danielle Carroll recommend the state’s Extension Office website for accurate information regarding gardening in our area. Both Pinkston and Carroll agree that other gardening websites will not have dates, times and soil information that apply to gardening in the state of Alabama. Both Pinkston and Carroll say that for information relevant to the soil and harvest dates in our state, the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service website, www.aces.edu, provides a wealth of information. The website for the Extension System allows its readers access to numerous publications written by Extension Office agents. These publications cover numerous topics, including tips on backyard tomato production, basics of fall vegetable gardening, basics of vegetable crop irrigation and how to control mammals and birds. Both agents agree that one publication in particular, “The Alabama Vegetable Gardener,” is an especially valuable tool, especially for those looking to start their own garden for the first time. Carroll said “The Gardener” is a “great publication” because “it has

Brian Schoenhals The Daily Home

everything” one needs to start their own garden. “It provides step by step instructions,” she said. Carroll said “The Gardener” recommends the variety of vegetable that works best, how to prepare the ground and when to plant. “The Gardener” gives tips on what type of site would best accommodate a garden, when to plant, how much fertilizer to use, how to control pests and when to harvest. It also covers such topics as soil management, cultivation, irrigation and disease control. “The Gardener” pro-

vides information on how to properly grow tomatoes, the most popular vegetable crop in the state. The publication offers advice on what types of mulch, soils and varieties work best when planting tomatoes. “The Gardener’s” section on tomatoes also covers trellising and staking; pruning and weed control; and the use of insecticides and fungicides. “The Gardener” also lists detailed information on many other vegetables, such as beans, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, okra, onions, squash, sweet potatoes and watermelons.

Information is provided on when to plant, what method of planting to use, how deep to plant seeds, proper spacing, how to cultivate, how long it should take for the plant to mature and when to cultivate. A “garden problem guide” is contained within “The Gardener” publication. The problem guide is an easy to use chart that first identifies a symptom, followed by possible causes and possible cures. For example one problem identified is “cracked tomatoes.” A possible cause of cracked tomatoes is a drought followed by heavy

ing insecticides. Excessive use of insecticides will not result in better insect control and can actually cause outbreaks of pests that are not normally a problem. There is also a section within the publication that describes when to harvest your own groceries. To ensure high quality, nutritious vegetables from the garden, and to prevent waste, harvesting at the right stage is essential. Vegetable Illustrations show characteristics of the plant at the time when they should be harvested.

For accurate information on gardening in our area, visit the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service webAnother informative site, www. publication on the website aces.edu. is the Alabama Gardener’s Calendar. Carroll describes it as a “month by month checklist” of what needs to be done in the garden, including pruning and fertilizing. While “The Alabama Vegetable Gardener” and the Alabama Gardener’s rain or watering. A possible Calendar provide detailed cure for this problem is to information on how to “keep plants mulched and start a garden, more inwatered.” depth publications can be In addition to the gar- found on the website of den problem guide, “The the Alabama Cooperative Gardener” also contains a Extension Service, either key to nutrient-deficiency by searching for keywords symptoms. Nutrients, the or by choosing from a list deficiency symptoms and of topics and sub-topics. where they are likely to More detailed publicaoccur are identified. tions include “Basics of Fall Vegetable Garden,” Vegetable garden insects “Basics of Vegetable Crop are identified in “The Irrigation,” “Container Gardener” and ways to Gardening” and “Control effectively and safely deal of Mammals and Birds in with them are described. the Vegetable Garden.” The publication lists the times and the procedures Contact Kenny Farmer at that work best when apply- kfarmer@dailyhome.com.

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Gardening tips for beginners bugs and preventing weed growth. And many gardeners find mulch adds visual appeal their garden, and does so in a very inexpensive way. • Clean your tools. Beginners rarely recognize the importance of cleaning gardening tools before putting them away. At the end of each gardening session, clean your tools thoroughly, as soil left on your garden tools can play host to potentially harmful microbes that might kill your plants. Gardening can be a labor-intensive yet gratifying hobby. By sticking to a few simple rules, beginners can develop a thriving garden to reward all of that hard work.

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infections might be able to destroy an exotic plant, but a native plant has grown resistant to such problems and likely has the ability to fight such infestations on its own. An exotic plant might require costly pesticides and considerable attention from homeowners to survive such problems. Though homeowners might find exotic plants help their home stand out, it’s important that homeowners recognize the environmental benefits of choosing local plants before making any decisions.

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their properties to start planting. When choosing a spot, consider how much sunlight a location gets on a daily basis and the spot’s proximity to a water supply. If planting flowers, try to avoid planting in areas with heavy foot traffic so the flowers are less likely to be stomped. If you’re planting flowers to accent walkways, then consider erecting a barrier around the flower bed to safeguard the flowers from foot traffic. • Get started before you plant. Preparing the soil a few weeks before you start planting can help the plants thrive down the road. Add some organic material, such as compost or fertilizer, to the soil roughly three weeks before planting. This helps the soil retain water and nutrients, which will help your garden thrive. • Time your planting. When you plant is sometimes as important as what you plant. Some climates allow for year-round planting, but many do not. When buying seeds, the packaging might suggest what time of year to plant the seeds. Adhere to these suggestions or your garden might not grow much at all. In addition, keep in mind that many seedlings need significant light throughout the day in order to grow, so choose a time of year with ample daylight. • Don’t forget to mulch. Mulch can be as aesthetically appealing as it is effective. Mulch retains soil, helping roots to grow stronger, while deterring

to be visually stunning, but they might also see a good deal of work to maintain those plants. Many exotic plants require significant work on a homeowner’s part to survive, while native plants have already adapted to the local climate and will require much less care. This is often attractive to current and future homeowners alike. • Native plants might be a better investment. A native plant has evolved over the years to survive in its given area. Local insect populations and fungal

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Gardening is a rewarding hobby that many enthusiasts credit with helping them to peacefully escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Though gardening can be both relaxing and rewarding, it’s not as easy as it may seem, and the more time and effort a person devotes to his or her garden the more likely it is to be successful. Gardening can be a little daunting for beginners who have little or no experience planting flowers or vegetables. But gardening need not be so intimidating, especially for those beginners who adhere to the following tips aimed at helping novice gardeners start their gardens off on the right foot. • Determine what you should plant. Where you live will go a long way toward determining what you should plant. While you can plant anything you can get your hands on, the United States Department of Agriculture as well as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada have determined specific plant hardiness zones that indicate which plants are most likely to thrive in given locations. Maps of these zones can be found at www.usda.gov and www.agr.gc.ca. By adhering to the maps, gardeners can significantly increase their chances of growing successful gardens. When in doubt about what to plant, consult a local gardening center or seek advice from a professional landscaper. • Think location when beginning your garden. Beginners with large yards have the luxury of choosing the right location on

One of the best ways to improve a home’s resale value is to address the landscape. Increasing curb appeal can be done in many ways, but a well-pruned lawn and garden gives buyers the impression the sellers took the time to maintain the home and property. Unfortunately, many homeowners choose exotic plants when addressing their landscape. Though these plants can be appealing and make a property stand out, if the plants are not native to the region, they could be doing more harm than good. Instead of upgrading your property with exotic plants, consider the following benefits of choosing native plants before addressing your landscape. • Native plants benefit local wildlife. The native plants and the native wildlife spent years and years evolving together, with each doing their part to ensure the other’s survival. But as development continued, local wildlife suffered because of lost food sources. The local wildlife needs local, native plants to survive, so choosing these plants instead of exotic plants can help ensure the survival of wildlife that helps keep the ecosystem in check. • Native plants require less work. Some prospective home buyers might find a yard filled with exotic plants


Home & garden

THE DAILYâ&#x20AC;&#x2C6;HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 13

There are a variety of herbs that grow well in Alabama. Popular herbs include parsley and fennel, which also attract butterflies, dill, oregano, thyme, mint, chives, cilantro for making fresh salsa, and many more.

Fresh best for herbs ... so grow them at home By ELSIE HODNETT Home staff writer

For chefs who believe in â&#x20AC;&#x153;fresher is better,â&#x20AC;? a home herb garden may be just the thing. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you can raise your own herbs, the flavor is just better,â&#x20AC;? said Becky Fairchilds with Hazelwoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Greenhouses and Nursery Inc. in Pell

City. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They say fresh is best for herbs.â&#x20AC;? Fairchilds said Hazelwoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sells a variety of herb plants. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We sell a lot of basil,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The parsley and fennel are popular, and those also attract butterflies.â&#x20AC;? Fairchilds said other popular herbs include oregano, thyme and

chives. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A lot of people want dill to make pickles with,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And many want cilantro for fresh salsa.â&#x20AC;? Fairchilds said stevia, a natural sweetener, is also in demand. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Some people grow herbs in inside window boxes,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Herbs that will work inside include thyme, chives,

some varieties of basil, parsley, chamomile, and mint, both peppermint and spearmint.â&#x20AC;? Fairchilds said it is harder to grow herbs when the days are shorter. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They need a lot of direct sunlight,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They are outside full sun-loving plants.â&#x20AC;? Fairchilds said you can grow herbs in a variety of

container shapes or directly in the ground. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Just donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t overcrowd the herbs, or they will become leggy instead of filling out,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It will also make them harder to water.â&#x20AC;? Fairchilds said herbs should be kept moist, but not over-watered. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It all depends on the plant,â&#x20AC;? she said.

Fairchilds said all herbs can grow outside, which is best for them. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Just because you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a garden doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mean you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have fresh herbs,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You can use container gardening for herbs just like you can for vegetables.â&#x20AC;? Fairchilds said you can See Herbs, Page 14

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14 — THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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

From Page 13

be creative with your container gardening, depending on how much space you have and how much you want to grow. “You can put the containers up higher on benches or sawhorses so the plants are waist-high for weeding and maintenance, or you can hang them from balcony edges if you live in apartments,”

she said. “It depends on your housing situation. If you have a sunroom — it’s perfect for growing herbs, just like a minigreenhouse with plenty of light and warmth.” Fairchilds said she recommends planting herbs outdoors around midApril, or after the last frost. “The timing depends on the weather pattern of the year,” she said.

Ants most abundant in warm weather

There are thousands of species of ants all over the world. Ants live in many Fairchilds said different climates but are Hazelwood’s also sells notably active and most mixed herb gardens from abundant in warm temtime to time. peratures. “The mixed herb gardens can be specially made to order, so you can include only the herbs you want in it,” she said. “It makes a good gift for the chefs in your family”

Chances are, at some point during the spring and summer, you will come in contact with ants in your area.

Although many ants are black and red, there are a Contact Elsie Hodnett at few species of ants that are ehodnett@dailyhome.com. light brown and even yel-

Tackle flying pests in the yard

Prevention Different varieties of insects begin their lives as eggs that may hatch into nymphs or worm-like creatures known as larvae. Oftentimes, these eggs are deposited in water or in damp areas. Mosquito larvae, for example, thrive in stagnant water before they turn into winged, biting insects. Keeping outdoor areas free of standing water and ensuring proper drainage are two ways to reduce the population of certain bugs in the yard.

Welcoming animals, such as birds and bats that feed on a trove of insects, to the yard can naturally keep insect numbers down. Flies lay about 50 to 100 eggs at one time. The eggs will hatch into maggots in as little as 12 hours after being deposited. Keeping yards free from decaying matter, especially around entertaining areas, can limit the number of flies in the yard. Traps There are a variety of different traps on the market geared toward different insect life. Most use some sort of attractant, whether a scent or light to lure the insects to the trap. Then the bugs fall inside and cannot get out. Although there are some chemical-based traps or bug “zappers,” there are other more natural traps and more humane options, too. Setting traps away from patios and living spaces will lure the insects to the traps and keep them away from you. Once the trapped insects expire, you can bury them in the ground to naturally decompose. Setting traps out very early in the season will help to trap as many emerging insects as possible. You also may be able to trap the queens of certain insects, like bees or wasps, further reducing the number of bugs you will see throughout the year. Repellents Repellents are natural or chemically derived formulas that are worn or placed in proximity to people. These repellents want insects to find them.

Beneficial bugs Once found, the repellents’ Insects like butterflies smell or taste is deemed questionable by the insects, and bees are the unsung who will then seek out heroes of the landscape, as they are responsible for other areas to reside. pollinating many flowers Repellents will vary in and plants. Honeybees and efficacy and some may bumblebees will generally need to be reapplied fre- keep to themselves if their quently to remain effective. nests are not disturbed and However, they are a useful can actually be enjoyable tool when you will not be to watch as they buzz from staying in one spot in the flower to flower. Wasps, like yellow-jackets, can be yard. attracted to sweet smells, so keeping sugary drinks Screens If you spend ample and foods covered can time outdoors, especially keep them at bay. Or you at dusk, then investing in may want to lure them to a screened-in room may another area of the yard be the way to go. This way with a bit of raw meat or a you can enjoy the weather can of fruit punch. while the insects stay on the Sharing outdoor living other side of the screen. In climates where three-sea- spaces with flying insects son swimming is possible, can be aggravating. But some homeowners actually there are many options at create screened-in rooms a homeowner’s disposal that encompass their entire to control such unwanted guests. pool.

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lowish in color. Pharaoh ants and thief ants are light-colored ants that are often mistaken for each other. Thief ants build colonies in large numbers close to other ant colonies and then use tunneling to “steal” food.

Pharaoh ants are also very small and tend to make well-hidden nests, which allow them to infest a property or home quite quickly. Because both of these types of ants can become pests, you may need to hire a professional exterminator if the ants become a nuisance. Owner-Kim Yates

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The warmer months provide ample opportunities for outdoor entertaining or simply enjoying time spent in the yard as a family. But moments in the fresh air and sunshine can be negatively affected by the presence of flying, buzzing or biting bugs. When the weather warms, insects that may have been dormant during the winter begin to exit their dens and reproduce in earnest. Many insects overwinter as eggs and larvae, and multitudes break their dormancy at the same time as host plants. Beetles, flies, gnats, bees, mosquitoes, termites, butterflies, moths, and many other bugs can be seen in abundance in the spring. While there are people who enjoy bugs’ presence as true harbingers of the new season, others who are less enamored with flying insects, especially when they make time outdoors into an exercise in discomfort. Homeowners concerned about the presence of flying insects in their yard can take various steps to manage sharing outdoor spaces with insect life.

Bald spots can turn a pristine lawn into an eyesore. But treating bald spots can be easy and, when done effectively, the lawn can be restored quickly.

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Herbs

than continually using the same spot. Flush each area with water immediately after the pet is finished. If the damage is already considerable, remove the damaged grass and reseed the spot. Mower Damage Sometimes Mother Nature and man’s best friend are not the culprit with regard to bald spots on your lawn. Human error can cause bald spots, too. Dull mower blades or grass that is cut too low can cause bald spots. Fortunately, this is easily remedied. To avoid bald spots, make sure mower blades are sharpened at the beginning of each mowing season, as dull blades damage the grass, which is then forced to use valuable nutrients to treat torn grass, weakening the lawn over time. When mowing, make sure you’re not cutting too low so the soil can retain as much moisture as possible. This will necessitate more frequent mowing, but this, too, can prevent bald spots, as it ensures those parts of the grass that contain chlorophyll will not be removed.

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A home herb garden can make a good gift for the chefs in your family.

dry periods in the summer, watering might be necessary. You won’t have to water frequently, but be sure to water deeply so the water can reach the roots of the grass. Pet Waste Waste from pets can cause bald spots on a yard. This might surprise some homeowners, but pet waste contains a high level of concentrated nitrogen that, when applied to a lawn, can burn the grass and cause bald spots. Urine is most likely to cause bald spots, but fecal matter can as well. When addressing the problem of pet waste on your lawn, make sure no one else’s pets are the cause of the problem. Neighbors out walking their dogs should be discouraged from allowing their dogs to use your lawn as a restroom. If this does not work, then erect a fence or some type of structure that makes it difficult for other people’s pets to access your lawn. When it’s your own pet causing the damage, address the spots where your pet relieves itself as quickly as possible. Watering the area within eight hours can significantly reduce the risk of lawn damage by diluting the nitrogen levels. Another way to address the issue is to encourage the animal to use various spots in the yard, rather

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Home & garden

THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013 — 15

Identifying your garden preferences A personal garden is only limited by the constraints of a person’s imagination. The vast array of plants and flowers available from all over the world can turn anyone’s yard into a mélange of functional spaces. When designing a garden, many homeowners do not know where to begin. Much like decorating the interior of a home, how a garden landscape is executed depends on various factors. Climate and conditions The foremost consideration when planting a garden is the climate where the garden will be located. Planting items that are not conducive to growing in certain conditions can be counterintuitive and a waste of money and effort. Prospective gardeners must become familiar with the hardiness zones of their region prior to making any plans. This will help you to determine which types of plants will thrive on your landscape. Once this is determined, examination of the soil and conditions on the property is also helpful. Taking this step will help identify any plant deterrents, such as poor soil quality and pH as well as any pests that may impede plant growth. If you live in a hot, sandy location, lush tropical plants may not thrive. Therefore, even if you desire a Mediterranean look, you may have to settle for something that works better with your landscape conditions. Style of the home Landscaping designs often tie into the architectural style of a home. For example, an extensive Asian-inspired garden complete with koi pond and bonsai may look odd in front of a log home. Keep architecture in mind

Things you didn’t think to compost Garden compost can be a garden’s best friend. Compost promotes soil health and enables plants grow to their best ability. Many home gardeners prefer to make their own compost. It is easily achieved with items that normally would be discarded, including many items that ardent gardeners may be unaware of.

when planning a garden so the look of the home you present is cohesive and fits with the community and immediate vicinity. Design preferences Are you a free spirit who doesn’t conform to convention with firm boundaries? Or are you one who likes order and things in their place? Knowing what makes you tick will help you to choose a gardening style that will be easier to maintain and also make you feel comfortable. For example, prairie-style planting or wildflower gardens are dramatic ways to create natural points of color over a large area. Most plants are allowed to grow as they may. Those who like a dreamy ethereal feel to their gardens may be inspired by cottage designs, where generously filled borders overflow into a flower and foliage paradise. If you are more inclined to follow the rules and like an orderly landscape, a parterre, or formal planting bed, may be more your style. When carefully pruned, box hedging can show off symmetry and geometry in your space. Some people are more focused on the accents in their gardens than the plants themselves. Modern architecture pairs well with a contemporary style that blends minimalist accents and easy-to-maintain plants. Although you can change plants in your garden, investing in a garden that you will be happy with for a long time is a costly venture. You may want to consult a landscape architect or local nursery to find the plants and trees that fit with your design and lifestyle. These experts can also instruct you in how to maintain all of your hard work and when to expect the full impact of your new

Common Compost Materials Items like eggshells, banana peels, apple cores, paper, leaves, and coffee grounds are often included in a home compost pile. These items break down by natural bacteria and produce a rich fertilizer for plants. Lesser-Known Compost Materials There are many things that can be turned into compost. Here’s a list of common items that can be turned into compost and avoid the landfill. 1. pet hair 2. paper napkins 3. lint 4. pine needles 5. matches 6. chicken manure 7. old herbs 8. sawdust 9. weeds 10. hair clippings 11. tea bags 12. paper towels 13. bird cage cleanings 14. stale bread 15. leather 16. old pasta 17. pea vines 18. grapefruit rinds 19. newspaper 20. tissues A field of Black Eye Susan flowers may be someone’s idea of the perfect garden.

landscape to take form. Homeowners can browse ideas for gardens in magazines and online, but ultimately it will be up to their personal design preferences and the climate where their home is located to determine which garden will look and grow best.

Succulents for low-maintenance

Succulent plants can be a boon to a homeowner without the time or resources to maintain plants. Succulents get their name from their primary function, which is drawing up and storing water. Succulents are able to thrive in arid conditions, and there are more than 300 different types, including some exotic species. The advantages to planting succulents are many. Because they store water in their stems, roots and leaves, this reduces the number of times an owner must water them. Succulents can go several days between waterings. Succulents, like cacti, that have few if any leaves, are perhaps best at managing water because they lose little to evaporation through the foliage. Succulents are particularly good to have in areas prone to arid temperatures or where water restrictions are often in place. They can be environmentally friendly because of their ability to conserve water. Succulents treat water as a precious resource, and their entire makeup is designed to minimize consumption

of water. Because they thrive in sunlight, succulents can be the ideal plants to put in extremely sunny and hot locations. They will not wither and dry out due to

extreme heat. For particularly dry areas of landscape or where soil is subpar, consider the placement of different varieties of succulents to create a varied and eye-catching display.

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Home & Garden

16 — THE DAILY HOME, Talladega and St. Clair counties, Ala., Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Find a home in your garden for butterflies Home staff writer

Butterflies fluttering in flower gardens this spring do not have to be visitors. With proper planning they can find a home in your garden and provide season long enjoyment. These delicate creatures not only adorn the garden with their beauty and pollinate flowers and fruit trees, but can bring enjoyment and relaxation. “I enjoy butterflies,” Joy Carlton said. Carlton, a Sylacauga resident, is a member of the Town and Country Garden Club. She said she and most garden club members enjoy the butterflies for their beauty. In 2009, DeSoto Cavern Family Fun Park added a butterfly house as an added attraction, especially for young couples and older adults. “Most of our attractions are for kids,” park president Tim Lacey said. “We wanted to have something young to senior couples would be interested in doing.” Lacey studied horticulture at Mississippi State University and his background became handy when planning the butterfly house. Lacey designed an array of flowers, shrubs and trees, a gentle creek emptying into a pool that provides a natural habitat for butterflies and a serene attraction for the butterfly enthusiast or those simply fascinated by the butterfly. Lacey said he often visits the butterfly house seeking relief from the stress of the

day. For some, butterfly gardening has become an enjoyable hobby, but as Lacey suggested, creating a butterfly garden requires careful planning. Simply planting flowers is not enough. According to butterflywebsite.com, the first step to planning a butterfly garden is knowing what butterflies are indigenous to the Southeast. The Butterfly Website lists at least 36 species of butterflies found in Talladega County. While Lacey said the Monarch is perhaps the most popular, the list includes a variety of Swallowtails, Sulphurs and Hairstreaks. Knowing what type of butterfly you want to attract is important for selecting the proper host and nectar plants. Host plants are important to keep butterflies from fluttering from yard to yard. Butterflies lay their eggs on the host plants, which later become food for the caterpillars. The Black Swallowtail requires planting parsley, dill, or fennel, while the Monarch needs one host plant, milkweed. The willow, poplar and fruit trees serve as hosts for the Viceroy, while the black cherry, birch, poplar and willow are hosts for the Tiger Swallowtail. The host plant must be matched with the nectar plant to ensure the butterfly will remain in the garden. The Monarch requires Dogbane or Buddleia, the Black Swallowtail Aster requires buddleia, Joe Pye Weed or Alfalfa, and the Viceroy Thistle requires

Beggar-tick, Goldenrod or Milkweed. “The butterfly website” provides a complete list matching species of butterflies with their hosts and nectar plants. Butterfly gardens should be planted in a location where there is 5 to 6 hours of daily sunshine but sheltered from the wind so butterflies don’t have to fight to remain on the plants. Placing a few stones for the butterflies to rest on is also important. Butterflies need water and there are several ways to provide it. Keeping a mud puddle in a sunny location or a bucket with sand with enough water to keep the sand moist are alternatives. Lacey has had the opportunity to observe the butterflies cycle of life. He said the park receives 100 pupa each week and places them in a special cabinet to allow them to develop. The mature butterfly emerges from the pupa and goes through a process of drying out and pumping fluid from its abdomen to its wings. When ready to fly, the adult butterfly has only 2 to 3 weeks to mate and lay their eggs on host plants. From the egg, the tiny worm begins to eat the leaves of the host plant. Lacey said he has seen many caterpillars that strip their host plants of leaves within 24 to 48 hours. “I tell people they are like teenage boys,” he said. “All they are good for is eating.” Lacey said there are other ways to attract butterflies when flowering

The Monarch butterfly is one of many butterflies that can be found in the Butterfly House or one of several butterfly gardens in DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park.

plants become unavailable. A sponge soaked in Gator Aid or water, or rotting bananas or apples on a plate under a plant not only attracts butterflies but provides them with a sense of security. With proper planning you don’t have to be a garden club member or a horticulturist to enjoy butterflies from late spring until the fall. Knowing your butterflies and plants can attract a variety of butterflies that will adorn you garden with a variety of colors.

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Home & Garden 2013