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ALEXANDRIA ECHO PRESS 225 7TH AVE. EAST • ALEXANDRIA, MN Diann Drew, Publisher • Lori Mork, Project Editor

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A brief guide to home additions Kitchen trends of 2021 Touchless design features for a germ-free home Popular window styles and where to use them Travertine flooring: is it right for your home? 5 hardwood floor finishes and what they’re best for 5 common decorating mistakes Homeowner Helpers 3 questions to ask a contractor before hiring Space-saving ideas for small bedrooms Car care professionals 4 signs you should get your brakes checked How to sanitize your car cabin

19 20 20 21 22 24 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


What’s included in a standard car tune-up Insulating a cathedral ceiling Paint, patch or remove popcorn ceilings Buying an outdoor fireplace: factors to consider 4 tips for upgrading your garage door Exterior siding: how long do various types last? Spruce up your front entrance 4 ways to make the most of a small yard Elevate your yard: how to garden with height in mind 5 benefits of hiring landscaping professionals 4 ways to liven up your backyard Spring cleaning: get your backyard ready for summer Service directory

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A brief guide to home additions Building an addition is a great way to expand your living space without moving. Here’s what you should know about this type of renovation project.

At each stage, you’ll need to rely on the expertise of the right professional to ensure your addition is functional, safe and to-code. You’ll need an architect to design it, a contractor to build it and an inspector to ensure everything is just right.

TYPES One way to add space to your home is to build another story. However, if you have the square-footage, house extensions can also be lateral. Alternatively, an extension can be added to the rear of your home. House additions can also be built on piers or a foundation. If you want to build a sunroom, carport or storage room, you’re better off building the extension on piers. However, if it’s a space that will be frequently used, you may want to put in a foundation.

COSTS Building a home extension is a major renovation and will likely come with a hefty price tag. However, you can save on expenses by carefully planning out your project and choosing materials that are modestly priced. Also, extensions built on piers are more affordable than those built on a foundation. The best way to get started on an addition is to reach out to an architect who can help you draw up the plans and get the necessary permits for the project.

STEPS Adding an extension can be broken down into three basic steps: plan, build and inspect.

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Spring Home Guide • 2021 Monthly payments bases on 20% down with 0% for 84 months. Implements, taxes, delivery charges would increase monthly payment. Subject to approval through John Deere Financial. Some restrictions apply, see dealer for details. Implement bonus and finance offers end April 30, 2021. 1 Offer ends 04/30/2021. Prices and model availability may vary by dealer. Some restrictions apply; other special rates and terms may be available, so see your dealer for details and other financing options. Available at participating dealers.



Kitchen trends of

If you plan to remodel your kitchen this year, you should know that lacquered cabinets, exaggerated modernism and large cabinet handles are passé. When it comes to kitchen designs, here’s what’s trending in 2021. OVERSIZED PANTRIES. Whether free-standing or walk-in, large pantries with showcase-like shelving and plenty of hideaway storage are a hit in kitchens of all styles. If you have the space for it, this trend is for you.

STORAGE WALLS. If there’s limited room in your kitchen, floor-to-ceiling storage rather than multiple cabinets will maximize the space to accommodate all your cooking essentials. Pro-tip: add electrical outlets inside the cabinets so you can plug in small appliances. HIDDEN RANGE HOODS. Range hoods that are integrated into cabinets or walls are increasingly popular. You


can also hide them behind tile or natural stone. However, make sure your range hood is positioned for optimal efficiency and easy to access for repair or replacement. WARM NEUTRAL TONES. Browns, beiges and grays are taking center stage in 2021. Hardware should also be warm. Choose matted gold, copper, champagne and charcoal pieces for your drawers and cabinets as well as your faucets and other fixtures. NATURAL MATERIALS. Wood, stone and other materials that evoke the natural world are the backbone of minimalist, contemporary, rustic and garden-themed kitchens. Opt for understated matte finishes and warm rather than cool tones. If there’s one trend not to ignore in 2021, it’s the rising tendency to favor locally

crafted items and regionally sourced materials. When renovating your kitchen, be sure to buy decorative items, cabinets, hardware, tile and stone from retailers and craftspeople in your community.

Touchless design features for a

germ-free home

Touchless technologies have long been featured in public spaces to limit the spread of germs. Now, these motion-activated innovations are making their way into homes. Here are a few you may want to adopt. Light switches. Illuminate your home by walking past conveniently placed sensors. Faucets and toilets. Touchless versions will help keep your bathrooms sanitary.

8 Spring Home Guide • 2021

Soap dispensers. Wash your hands without getting the dispenser dirty. Appliances. Dishwashers, refrigerators and ovens are increasingly featuring technologies that allow you to open and close them without using a handle. Garbage bins. Open and close your trash can with motion-activated technology. You can find touchless technologies at hardware and appliance stores in your area.

Popular window styles

and where to use them

Do you want to update the windows in your home? If so, here are some popular types and where they might look best. Double-hung windows feature two large sashes that slide up and down along vertical tracks. They perfectly complement rambler, farmhouse, bungalow and other modern-traditional style homes. They have many customization options and look good in almost any room. Slider windows are available in a variety of styles, materials and finishes. They open horizontally rather than vertically, which makes them ideal for spaces with horizontal features. For example, they look good over a counter or in a hallway. Since slider windows are easy to open and close, they’re also practical in hard-to-reach spaces.

Casement windows open inward or outward with a mechanical crank. They’re well suited to contemporary homes and great in rooms where you want to let in a cool breeze. Bay and bow windows extend outward from the home and are traditionally composed of a picture window flanked by one or more pairs of double-hung or casement windows. Place them anywhere that overlooks a view or in a living room, family room or bedroom that needs a focal point. The best windows for your home will depend on your budget and style. In all cases, however, it’s best to make sure they’re energy efficient (look for the Energy Star label) and installed by an experienced contractor.

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Spring Home Guide • 2021



Travertine flooring:

is it right for your home?

Travertine is a type of limestone that naturally forms in deposits near mineral springs. It comes in earthy neutral colors like beige, tan, off-white and gray and has a fibrous, marble-like appearance. As a flooring material, it’s sold in tiles by the square foot. While very durable, it does require ongoing maintenance and care. This is because travertine is a porous material, which makes it prone to staining and etching. It should be coated with a protective sealant upon installation and then again every three to five years. Travertine floors should also be regularly swept and mopped to prevent scratches and discoloration. In terms of cost, travertine is a mid-range stone that tends

5 hardwood floor finishes

and what they’re best for

Do you need to refinish your hardwood floors? If so, here’s a brief guide to five common types that are available. Water-based polyurethane is ideal for floors in need of a quick-drying, clear finish. This is a product that’s low in VOCs and ages without yellowing. However, it does little to hide scratches. Oil-based polyurethane is best for floors in high-traffic areas. It’s highly durable and easy to maintain. On the downside, it’s slow to dry, high in VOCs and yellows over time. Moisture cure urethane is well suited to floors that require a very tough finish. It resists moisture, scratches, stains and general wear. However, it has high levels of

10 Spring Home Guide • 2021

VOCs and applying it requires you to vacate your home. Wax is great anywhere you want a low-sheen finish. Unfortunately, it’s not very durable and tends to darken over time. It can scuff and scratch easily and doesn’t mix well with water. Penetrating oil sealer is ideal for subtly highlighting the natural grain of wood, especially in a historic home. This product needs to be reapplied every few years and requires a wax topcoat. You’ll find these products at your local hardware store. For top-notch results, consider hiring a professional to strip and sand your wood floors and then expertly apply the finish.

to be more affordable than marble but more expensive than granite. It’s not the cheapest type of flooring for your home, but it isn’t the most lavish either. Travertine has a timeless quality that complements both traditional and contemporary design styles. It typically comes in one of four finishes — polished, honed, tumbled or brushed — and the type you choose will impact whether your floors look glossy and refined or rustic and weathered. So, is travertine flooring right for your home? If you have an ample budget and want a floor that gives your home a sense of reserved dignity and prestige, travertine may be the right pick.


common‌ ‌ decorating‌ ‌mistakes

Is‌ ‌your‌ ‌decor‌ ‌looking‌ ‌a‌ l‌ ittle‌ ‌lackluster?‌ ‌Here‌ a‌ re‌ ‌five‌ ‌common‌ ‌decorating‌ ‌mistakes‌ ‌and‌ s‌ ome‌ ‌suggestions‌ ‌for‌ h ‌ ow‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌fix‌ ‌them.‌ ‌ ‌ NO‌ ‌FOCAL‌ P ‌ OINT‌. A‌ ‌focal‌ ‌point‌ ‌lends‌ ‌balance,‌ ‌harmony‌ ‌and‌ ‌cohesion‌ t‌ o‌ a‌ ‌ ‌space.‌ I‌ t‌ c‌ an‌ b ‌ e‌ ‌a‌ f‌ ireplace,‌ ‌a‌ ‌mirror,‌ a‌ ‌ ‌piece‌ o ‌ f‌ ‌art‌ o ‌ r‌ a‌ n‌ a‌ rchitectural‌ f‌ eature.‌ W ‌ hen‌ ‌designing‌ a‌ ‌ r‌ oom,‌ s‌ tart‌ ‌with‌ t‌ he‌ f‌ ocal‌ ‌point‌ a‌ nd‌ b ‌ uild‌ a‌ round‌ i‌ t.‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ U N D E R S I Z E D‌ ‌RUG‌. The‌ ‌size‌ o ‌ f‌ ‌a‌ ‌rug‌ s‌ hould‌ b ‌ e‌ ‌large‌ e‌ nough‌ ‌for‌ ‌all‌ t‌ he‌ f‌ urniture‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌given‌ s‌ pace.‌ A ‌ void‌ c‌ hoosing‌ ‌a‌ r‌ ug‌ ‌ that’s‌ ‌too‌ ‌small‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ a‌ rea,‌ ‌as‌ ‌this‌ ‌can‌ m ‌ ake‌ y‌ our‌ ‌design‌ l‌ ook‌ ‌disjointed.‌ ‌ ‌ EXCESSIVE‌ ‌P ILLOWS‌. Too‌ ‌many‌ ‌pillows‌ ‌can‌ ‌overwhelm‌




‌a‌ ‌space‌ ‌and‌ ‌make‌ ‌your‌ ‌couches‌ ‌and‌ ‌chairs‌ i‌ mpractical‌ ‌to‌ ‌sit‌ ‌on.‌ ‌Instead,‌ d ‌ isplay‌ ‌a‌ ‌modest‌ ‌amount‌ a‌ nd‌ ‌swap‌ ‌them‌ ‌out‌ ‌as‌ ‌the‌ ‌seasons‌ ‌change.‌


U N B A L A N C E D‌ ‌LIGHTING‌. Use‌ m ‌ ultiple‌ ‌t ypes‌ ‌of‌ l‌ ighting‌ ‌in‌ ‌every‌ ‌room.‌ ‌A‌ ‌combination‌ o ‌ f‌ ‌overhead‌ ‌lights,‌ s‌ tanding‌ l‌ amps‌ ‌and‌ ‌task‌ ‌lighting‌ w ‌ ill‌ e‌ nsure‌ y‌ ou‌ ‌have‌ t‌ he‌ r‌ ight‌ ‌ambience‌ ‌and‌ ‌ample‌ i‌ llumination‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌home.‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ UNCOMFORTABLE‌ ‌SEATING‌. Opt‌ ‌for‌ ‌dining‌ ‌room‌ ‌chairs‌ ‌and‌ ‌living‌ ‌room‌ ‌couches‌ ‌that‌ ‌are‌ ‌comfortable‌ t‌ o‌ s‌ it‌ ‌on‌ ‌rather‌ ‌than‌ ‌just‌ ‌stylish.‌ ‌Be‌ ‌sure‌ ‌to‌ t‌ ry‌ b ‌ efore‌ y‌ ou‌ ‌buy,‌ ‌as‌ ‌this‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌best‌ ‌strategy‌ ‌for‌ ‌finding‌ ‌pieces‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌comfortably‌ ‌sit‌ ‌on‌ ‌for‌ ‌hours.‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

What if you


What if you


REMEMBER,‌ ‌you‌ ‌don’t‌ ‌have‌ t‌ o‌ ‌tackle‌ ‌design‌ ‌issues‌ o‌ n‌ ‌your‌ ‌own.‌ ‌An‌ ‌interior‌ d‌ esigner‌ ‌or‌ d‌ ecorator‌ c‌ an‌ h‌ elp‌ y‌ ou‌ ‌pinpoint‌ ‌problem‌ ‌areas‌ ‌and‌ ‌come‌ ‌up‌ ‌with‌ ‌creative‌ ‌solutions.‌ ‌



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questions to ask a contractor

before hiring

To hire the right contractor for a home renovation project, you’ll need to interview several candidates. In addition to finding out if they’re licenced and insured, make sure you ask the following three questions.

Who will be my point of contact? Sometimes the person you sign the contract with isn’t the person who becomes your main point of contact during the project. To avoid miscommunications that could lead to mistakes, it’s best to have one person who you relay information to. What could cause costs to rise? Ask your contractor if there are circumstances in which the cost of your renovation might increase. After all, it’s best to be prepared.

14 Spring Home Guide • 2021

You should also be wary of contractors who hook clients with a lowball price only to nail them with extra charges later on. What type of warranty do you offer? Warranties vary from one contractor to the next, so you’ll need to ask each one what their warranty covers. Also, there’s a difference between a warranty for the work done and a warranty for materials, so find out which one is offered. Lastly, it’s a good idea to ask your potential contractor how long they’ve been in business. Hiring a local company with a longstanding reputation for excellence is a good way to ensure you end up with the best contractor for your home renovation project.

Space-saving ideas

for small bedrooms

Whether it’s a child’s room, guest room or main bedroom, small rooms can be difficult to design. Here are some ideas to maximize the available space. Store things under the bed. Buy a bed with built-in storage or simply use bins and boxes to store things underneath. If your bed is too close to the ground, use bed risers to elevate it. Alternatively, consider investing in a loft bed to free up space on the floor for a desk, sofa or play area. Opt for double-duty furniture. Look for floor lamps with shelves, ottomans with storage space and cabinets fronted by a full-length mirror. Also, consider that a desk can serve as a nightstand, and a dresser can be used as a changing table.

Hang shelves above doors. This often-ignored area is an ideal place for a shelf. Buy pretty baskets or bins to hold your things, and neatly display them in this outof-the-way spot. Use the space behind doors. Use the backs of closet and bedroom doors to hang hooks, towel bars, over-thedoor organizers or peg boards. This will make it easy to store your items. In general, designing vertically will allow you to make the most of a small bedroom. Installing shelves and cabinets close to the ceiling is particularly useful and will help you keep the space tidy.

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Spring Home Guide • 2021


4 signs

you should get your brakes checked When it comes to vehicle safety, your car’s braking system plays a crucial role. Here are four signs that you need to get your brakes professionally serviced. 1. Unusual noises. Brake pads have built-in wear indicators that produce a high-pitched squeal when the pads wear down. As soon as you hear this sound — you can’t mistake it! — you need to get your brake pads replaced. 2. Vibrations. It’s normal for your brake system and other car components to pulse and vibrate when you slam on the brakes. However, if your brakes vibrate when applied normally, this is a major red flag. In most cases, brake shudder is

caused by an unevenly worn brake rotor. 3. Pulling. If your car pulls to the left or right, it’s likely due to uneven tire pressure, incorrect wheel alignment or a problem with the brake system. If it’s the brakes, you may have a stuck caliper, collapsed brake hose or uneven brake pads. 4. Spongy pedal. If your pedal feels mushy or you have to apply extra pressure when braking, this is usually an indication that the brake fluid isn’t flowing properly. Replacing the brake fluid typically corrects this issue. Finally, note that experts recommend car owners get their brakes checked every six months.

How to sanitize your car cabin If you share your car, drive for Uber or give rides to friends and family members, sanitizing your vehicle is a must. Here’s a brief guide to eliminating viruses from your car’s interior. TAKE PRECAUTIONS When cleaning your vehicle, make sure to wear protective gloves and a mask to guard against virus transmission. BE THOROUGH Make sure to clean all hightouch surfaces. This includes the steering wheel, turn signal lever, seatbelts, cupholders, sun visors, door handles (inner and outer), armrests, radio and center console. If the weather permits, it’s also a good idea to

18 Spring Home Guide • 2021

open your windows to air out the cabin. USE THE RIGHT PRODUCTS Use a disinfectant with at least 70 percent alcohol to sanitize the hard surfaces in your vehicle. This includes the dashboard, glove compartment and stereo. For fabric and leather seats and features, opt for a gentle cleaning solution of dish soap and water. Scrub the fabric or leather well with a microfiber cloth. However, be careful not to soak fabric seats, as this can encourage mold growth in the cushions. Taking these steps will help ensure that your car is safe to ride in for you and your passengers.

What’s included in a standard car tune-up Do you want to know more about what happens when you get your car serviced? Here are some of the main tasks a mechanic performs during a tune-up.

for keeping your car running smoothly. It’s important to change these fluids at regular intervals to prevent potential breakdowns and damage to the engine.

CHANGE THE FILTERS Your vehicle is equipped with oil, fuel, air and cabin air filters. Their primary function is to prevent contaminants from damaging components in the engine or other vehicle systems. During a tune-up, your mechanic will check the various filters and replace them if needed.

SERVICE THE PARTS Your car’s ignition system is made up of a variety of electrical components that are susceptible to wear and tear. Issues with the ignition parts can result in the engine misfiring or not starting at all. During a tune-up, your mechanic will check to see whether the spark plugs, ignition wires and ignition coils are in good condition or need to be replaced.

REPLACE THE FLUIDS The fluids in your car, including the engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid and power steering fluid, are essential. In fact, they’re responsible

CHECK THE DIAGNOSTICS When an issue occurs with the engine, your vehicle’s on-board diagnostics (OBD)

system stores a repair code that can only be read by a specialized scanner. During a tune-up, your mechanic will scan the OBD system for repair codes in order to address potential engine problems.

To sum up, scheduled maintenance helps ensure that your car runs smoothly and may prevent unexpected breakdowns and the need for costly repairs.

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High ceilings, particularly cathedral and vaulted varieties, are beautiful in nearly any home. Unfortunately, they’re notorious for letting warm air escape, which can be a problem during the winter. If you have ceilings like this in your home, insulation is key. INSULATING FROM THE EXTERIOR Applying insulation from the roof is the best way to ensure a tight seal. First, spray a layer of polyurethane foam and then install a moistureproof membrane to keep it dry. Homes in cooler climates may also require rigid foam board to increase thermal performance.

INSULATING FROM THE INTERIOR Insulating your home from the inside is possible, but it won’t create an air-tight seal. The best way to do it is to apply blown-in cellulose insulation between the roof decking and the drywall ceiling. There are other ways, but these involve completely removing the ceiling. No matter how you decide to insulate your roof, it’s important to leave enough room for ventilation and be certain that moisture can’t get through. Insulating a ceiling is a complex job. To ensure it’s done right, consult a professional.

Patch, paint or remove popcorn A popcorn ceiling, also known as a stipple, stucco or acoustic ceiling, is a type of textured ceiling that has a noise-dampening effect. It was a common feature in houses 50 years ago, and many homes still have them. Here’s what you should know about renovating them. PATCH. If your popcorn ceiling is stained or cracked, you can patch it. There are special products designed for this purpose that can be purchased in either an aerosol can or a container. These products are easy to spray or paint on. PAINT. As long as the ceiling is in good shape, it can be painted. Begin by removing all dust with a soft-bristle

20 Spring Home Guide • 2021

brush. Then, apply stain-blocking ceiling primer. Once the primer is completely dry, use a thick nap roller or paint sprayer to apply the paint.

REMOVE. Removing a popcorn ceiling can be messy, dangerous and time-consuming, but it isn’t difficult. If it’s painted, you’ll need to apply a specialized stripping product. It should be rolled or brushed on and given time to soften the ceiling material, which can then be scraped away with a trowel. To simplify patching, painting or removing your popcorn ceiling, hire an experienced contractor to complete the job.


Buying an outdoor fireplace: factors to consider Do you want a fireplace for your backyard? With so many outdoor models available, you should take the time to find one that suits your needs. Here are a couple of things to think about.

THE FUEL. One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want a fireplace that uses wood or gas. While wood-burning fireplaces are easy to install and give off a pleasant aroma, they require regular maintenance. You’ll also

need somewhere to store the logs, and some municipalities have restrictions on the use of wood firepits. Contrarily, fireplaces that run on natural gas or propane are easy to maintain. Another advantage is that you can adjust the intensity of the flames with the push of a button. However, you must be able to connect it to a gas line or willing to periodically refill the tank. THE USE. Consider how you want to use your outdoor fireplace. If you want to make it a gathering place for friends and family, opt for a round model. To create a relaxing corner where you can curl up in privacy, a rectangular fireplace may be more suitable. If you plan to cook over the embers, choose a model with a grill. Finally, keep in mind your budget and space limitations when shopping for an outdoor fireplace. Consult the staff at your local hardware store for additional advice.

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for upgrading your garage door Replacing your garage door is a home renovation project with a high return on investment. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re making this upgrade. Use manufacturer websites. Choose a door design you like by perusing your options online. Many manufacturers have software on their website that lets you upload a photo of your home and try on different garage door styles. Invest in good insulation. The effectiveness of a garage door’s insulation is referred to by its R-value. The higher the number, the better the door prevents heat transfer. Garage doors insulated with polyurethane are the most efficient. Opt for the best springs. Springs are

what hold the weight of your garage door and allow it to effortlessly move up and down. Standard torsion springs are rated for about 10,000 cycles, but those rated for 20,000 cycles are only a little bit more expensive and well worth the extra cost. Buy an opener at the same time. If your opener is showing its age or you want one with the latest features, this is

the perfect time to replace it. You can save on installation costs by having your contractor put in the door and opener at the same time. Finally, make sure you hire a professional to install your garage door as this job can be complex, time-consuming and dangerous.

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Spring Home Guide • 2021


EXTERIOR SIDING: how long do various types last? Siding protects your home from the elements but inevitably takes a beating in the process. Your choice of material, however, will determine how long this part of your house endures. Vinyl typically lasts 20 to 40 years and is easy to maintain. The grade and thickness of the panels will impact their durability. If damaged, vinyl panels are easy to repair or replace. Wood siding (usually cedar) can last anywhere from 15 to 40 years. It offers unrivaled beauty but also requires much

more maintenance than other types of siding. The wood should be resealed every five years and inspected annually to stave off potential rot and pest infestations. Aluminum has a lifespan of about 30 to 50 years. However, expect the paint to peel after about 15 years. Fortunately, aluminum siding can be repainted. Though it’s possible for aluminum panels to be scratched, dented or pitted, they can usually be fixed or replaced

Fiber cement planks have a lifespan of about 25 to 40 years. Their color may eventually fade but the planks can be repainted. Fiber cement can resemble wood but is resistant to termites and rot. This type of siding requires little maintenance. Siding should always be replaced when it can no longer protect the internal structure of your home. However, it may deteriorate long before this and should be replaced once it becomes shabby, brittle or discolored.

Spruce up your front entrance Your front entrance can have a significant impact on the curb appeal of your home. Here are some tips to enhance this part of your property and make it look more inviting.

EMPHASIZE GREENERY. Frame your front door with potted plants or flower arrangements on either side of the entrance, creating symmetry and adding a pop of color. Don’t block doors or stairs and select sizes sensible for the space. To create a cohesive look, plants around your front entrance should complement the rest of the landscaping. Choose species that also grow in your front garden or line the

24 Spring Home Guide • 2021

walkway. Alternatively, opt for flowers that match your yard’s color scheme. Select pots that complement your colors. A WELCOMING WALKWAY. If you have a walkway, it’s a good idea to embellish it with a bit of vegetation. For a curved walkway, or one with a sharp turn, it’s a good idea to create a focal point where it’s most angled. This might consist of a well-tended rosebush, a small weeping tree or a vibrant flowering perennial. Check to see how your choice of plant looks at various angles, including from the street, the driveway and the front door, before you dig into the ground.

4 ways If you have a small yard, landscaping can be a challenge. Here are four tips to help you maximize your space and create an outdoor oasis.

1. Furnish wisely. Multifunctional pieces are ideal for small areas. For example, a sturdy deck box can be used as both storage and seating. Modular furniture is another option, as it can easily be rearranged and adapted to suit awkward spaces. 2. Design vertically. Growing vines up a wall, fence or trellis is a great way to add greenery to your yard without using up a lot of floor space. You can also hang planters, string fairy lights, install a tree swing and store garden tools on hooks along the fence.

to make the most of a small yard 3. Use corners. Nooks and crannies have a lot of potential, so use them wisely. Increase your seating with a wooden corner bench or take advantage of an unusual angle to highlight a decorative piece such as a sculpture, shrub or fountain. 4. Create depth. If you have a narrow yard, opt for long, thin pavers rather than square ones to draw your eye toward the back of the yard. Alternatively, create a winding path to make the space appear wider. Place plants with small, dark foliage at the rear of your garden, and choose red, orange and yellow flowers with big, bold leaves for the front.

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how to garden with height in mind If you want to cultivate a lush backyard, one important factor to consider is height. Here are some tips to help you create a garden reminiscent of a tropical paradise. Tall plants. Select exotic species with large leaves that grow upward and outward. Ficuses, monsteras, philodendrons and palm trees are all great picks, so long as they can be brought inside in the fall if needed. Climbing plants. Guide vines up walls, along fences and around other structures to expand the reach of your garden. If you want to add a splash of color, make sure to choose flowering species.

Epiphytic plants. Commonly found perched on trees in rainforests, these plants can grow without soil. To recreate this look, mount orchids, bromeliads and tillandsias to a pergola or trellis. Just make sure you’ll have time to care for these delicate plants. Potted plants. A simple way to add some height to your garden is to fill pots, baskets and hangers with greenery, and arrange them on shelves, ladders, fences, tables and other elevated hardscape. Finally, if you have the room, consider planting one or more trees. As they grow, they’re sure to take your yard to new heights!


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5 benefits

of hiring landscaping professionals Do you want to freshen up your yard or completely redesign the look of your property? If so, here are five advantages to working with a team of lawn care and landscaping professionals. Your plants and trees will thrive. While all species require sunlight to grow, some need much more of it than others. Plus, certain plants prefer direct light, while others do well in the shade. A landscaper will ensure each plant is in an ideal location to get what it needs. Your planting times will be perfect. Some species need to be planted at a specific time of the year to grow and survive the change of seasons. Leaving this work to

a professional will ensure you don’t make any mistakes. Your landscaping will be cohesive. The style of your home, the size of your property and the layout of your driveway and yard can affect the look of your landscaping. A specialist will take these elements into account before proposing a beautiful and practical design for your front and backyard. Your lawn will be expertly installed. If you want to lay sod, the ground must first be properly prepared using specialized equipment. A landscaper will have the right tools and experience to quickly and efficiently complete this task. If you already have a lawn, a professional will make sure

it stays lush, healthy and free of pests. Your hardscape will be stronger. Walkways, stairs, walls and patios can be installed using a variety of materials. A landscaper will consider factors such as the

frequency of use and weather conditions when designing every detail. If you want to boost your home’s curb appeal and wow your guests, be sure to hire a team of landscaping professionals this spring.


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Spring Home Guide • 2021



to liven up your backyard Do you want to upgrade your backyard this summer? If so, here are a few ideas that may inspire you to transform your outdoor space into a family-friendly oasis.


Install a play structure. Purchase and install a play structure for your kids to climb, swing and slide on. If you’re a skilled DIYer, you can also build your own tire or rope swing. Just make sure everything’s safe.


Put in a swimming pool. Both in-ground and above-ground pools are great for the whole family. They provide hours of fun for the kids, and adults can enjoy a refreshing dip or workout.


Build a treehouse. It doesn’t need to be big or elaborate for your kids to enjoy having their own treehouse. Just make sure it’s safe, stable and weatherproof.


Create an outdoor theater. All you need is a TV or a projector and a large sheet to have a movie night under the stars. If you have a large backyard, you can add a few speakers to improve the sound quality. You can also lay out cushions and blankets to create a cozy atmosphere. To find the materials you need for your backyard project, visit the stores in your area.

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get your backyard ready for summer As the days get longer and warmer, you may find yourself anticipating how to make the most of your outdoor living space. Here’s some advice to ensure your backyard is ready for summer. THE PATIO AND FENCE Since the patio and fence are prominent features of your outdoor living area, their appearance will set the tone for the space. Sweep away any rocks, leaves and other debris before cleaning the patio and fence with a pressure washer and specialized product. Make sure you choose the right setting so you don’t damage the surface. Depending on the material, apply a coat of varnish or paint to freshen up and protect these backyard features.

THE FURNITURE As you take each piece of furniture out of storage, check to make sure it’s in good condition. You may need to wash it to spot rust, stains or other signs of damage. In some cases, you might get another season out of your furniture by applying a new coat of paint. Additionally, worn cushions can be replaced or repaired by a professional. However, if your patio furniture has seen better days, consider starting off the season with a new setup. THE BARBECUE To make sure you’re ready for summer cookouts, clean all the stainless-steel surfaces of your barbecue. Be sure to check the condition of the grates and any other components that come in contact with food. Finally, inspect the propane tank and test each burner.

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Spring Home Guide • 2021


SERVICE DIRECTORY Spring 2021 APPLIANCES & REPAIR APPLIANCES, NEW • Villard Implement Co. Tank’s Appliance 671 Lincoln, Villard 1-888-554-3111

CAR CARE TIRES SALES & SERVICE • Cenex Car Care Center 1705 S. Broadway, Alexandria 320-763-6557 • 800-862-8936 TUNE-UPS/OIL CHANGES • Cenex Car Care Center 1705 S. Broadway, Alexandria 320-763-6557 • 800-862-8936

CLEANING CARPET & FLOOR CLEANING • Service Master Clean 203 Lake St., Alexandria 320-763-5551 COMMERCIAL & RESIDENTIAL CARPET & HARDWOOD FLOORS • Service Master Clean 203 Lake St., Alexandria 320-763-5551 COMMERCIAL & RESIDENTIAL CLEANING • Service Master Clean 203 Lake St., Alexandria 320-763-5551 DISASTER RESTORATION • Service Master Clean 203 Lake St., Alexandria 320-763-5551 FIRE & SMOKE RESTORATION • Service Master Clean 203 Lake St., Alexandria 320-763-5551 HOUSEWIDE CLEANING • Service Master Clean 203 Lake St., Alexandria 320-763-5551 MOLD REMEDIATION • Service Master Clean 203 Lake St., Alexandria 320-763-5551

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FARM EQUIPMENT SALES, SERVICE & PARTS • Villard Implement Co. and Tanks Appliance 671 Lincoln, Villard 1-888-554-3111

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PLUMBING, HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING HEATING, IN-FLOOR RADIANT • Aquarius-84 Inc. 214 - 6th Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-3636 Lic. #058116PM HOT WATER HEATING • Aquarius-84 Inc. 214 - 6th Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-3636 Lic. #058116PM

WATER SOFTENERS • Aquarius-84 Inc. 214 - 6th Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-3636 Lic. #058116PM

REAL ESTATE ABSTRACTING • Alexandria Title Co. 1804 S. Broadway, Suite 140 Alexandria 320-763-6858 REAL ESTATE CLOSINGS • Alexandria Title Co. 1804 S. Broadway, Suite 140 Alexandria 320-763-6858 TITLE INSURANCE • Alexandria Title Co. 1804 S. Broadway, Suite 140 Alexandria 320-763-6858

RUBBISH COMMERCIAL & RESIDENTIAL DISPOSAL SITE • Waste Management 800-777-8408 www.wm.com INDUSTRIAL PICK-UP • Waste Management 800-777-8408 www.wm.com RECYCLING PICK-UP • COMPOST • Waste Management 800-777-8408 www.wm.com RECYCLING SITE • Waste Management 800-777-8408 www.wm.com ROLLOFF SERVICE • Waste Management 800-777-8408 www.wm.com

PLUMBING • Aquarius-84 Inc. 214 - 6th Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-3636 Lic. #058116PM

RUBBISH REMOVAL (COMMERCIAL & RESIDENTIAL) • Waste Management 800-777-8408 www.wm.com

WATER HEATERS • Aquarius-84 Inc. 214 - 6th Ave. E., Alexandria 320-763-3636 Lic. #058116PM

RUBBISH REMOVAL (DUMPSTERS) • Waste Management 800-777-8408 www.wm.com

RUBBISH REMOVAL (DEMOLITION) • Waste Management 800-777-8408 www.wm.com

Call Today for a Free Price Quote!

Senior Discounts Available

Gutters and Awnings Gutter Helmet



Rain Or Shine - We’ve Got You Covered!

Custom-Built Features Without the Custom-Built Price!

250 off $ 100 off $



Offer Expires 6/30/21 Does not apply to other offers and promotions

25% off

•Protection from Sun, Light Showers, and Harmful UV Rays •Exceptionally Affordable •Great Model Choices •Rich Designer Color Choices in Woven Acrylic Fabric •Popular Laminated Fabric Color Choices •Simple and Easy to Use •Unsurpassed Quality •Keeps You Off the Ladder, Permanently •Keeps Leaves, Seeds & Needles Out •Installs Over New or Existing Gutters •Handles the Heaviest of Rainfalls •Lifetime Transferable Warranty •America’s Most Trusted Brand for over 40 years

Treat Your Family to the Ultimate in Comfort, Shade, and Protection...



Seamless Gutters with a Gutter Helmet Purchase or

15% off Gutter Helmet only purchase

Offer Expires 6/30/21 Does not apply to other offers and promotions


Gutter Helmet


Spring Home Guide • 2021


Call us today! 320-762-8645 2510 S Broadway St Alexandria, MN


*Offer time frame, disclaimer (Limit one discount given per multi-room system sold on residential installations.) Discount is flat at $500 per qualifying system sold in residential applications. Product must be purchased from and installed by aparticipating Diamond Contractor during promotional period of 03/2/2020 –05/29/2020. Limited to purchases in IA, IL, IN, KY,MI, MN,ND, NE, OH, SD, WI and WV.KumoCloud is aregistered trademark of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. ©2020Mitsubishi Electric Corporation.

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