SpringHome Home Improvement
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How to save money on your home renovation Tips on keeping your lawn healthy and green Gardening tips, more!
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2 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
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Save money on renovation costs ............................................3 The basics of using paint and primer ....................................6 Now is a good time to check your chimney ........................7 Important tips on building a deck .........................................8 Everything you need to know about termites ...................9 Advice on cleaning and caring for carpets ..........................10 How to make your bathroom safer..........................................11 Advice on inding, stopping roof leaks ................................13 Do's and Don'ts of basement inishing ................................15 Protect your garden from hungry animals ........................20 How to repair unsightly bald spots in your lawn ............22 Tips on preventing weeds from growing in your lawn .24 The 7 easiest vegetables to grow at home .........................25 Tips on maintaining your lawn mower ...............................26 Having the rights tools for your garden ...............................27 The beneits of composting ......................................................28 How to keep pesky deer from your plants ..........................28 How to prevent injuries in your garden ...............................29 Expert advice on how to edge your lawn ............................29 How to maintain fresh-cut lowers ........................................30 The beneits of pruning trees and shrubs ...........................32 Time to start planning your vegetable garden ..............33
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Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 3
Save money, figure your renovation costs in advance When it comes to projects addressing a home's interior, homeowners know full well the bottom line plays a big role. For the unprepared homeowner tackling a first do-it-yourself project, costs can quickly escalate out of control. One way to successfully combat that is to make a budget prior to starting a project. When putting one together, consider the following guidelines:
n Consult a professional: When initially sitting down to plan a budget, chances are you'll have no idea where to
begin. Tools, materials, timeframe, etc., all contribute to how much you'll have to spend. To make your budget as realistic as possible, consult a professional about providing an estimate for the job, be it a bathroom renovation, home theater installation or refacing the kitchen cabinets. Explain the situation to the contractor and ask for an estimate that doesn't include labor but does include the cost you'll need to pay for supplies (contractors often pay less for parts because of
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existing and ongoing relationships with suppliers).The budget you receive will act as a guideline and let you know if the job you have in mind is the one you'll be able to afford financially.
n Leave some leeway: Many a job has gone unfinished at the hands of a poorly set budget. When budgets are absolute at the onset of a project, dollars are often stretched too thin to handle the inevitable surprises that pop up on a project. For example, old pipes might stall a bathroom renovation, leav-
ing the do-it-yourselfer with a less than fully functioning bathroom that will have to remain that way until more money can be saved. Plan for the surprises, as they will surely rear their ugly heads.
n Be realistic: When determining your budget, don't fool yourself. If it becomes increasingly apparent you cannot afford the job, don't go ahead with it anyway. Because many people get loans See COSTS, pg. 4
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4 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
Save money, figure your renovation costs in advance through their bank for home projects, taking on too big a loan can be a genuine albatross if it's a loan you cannot afford. Keep in mind that other unexpected problems (i.e., a leaky roof, new appliances, etc.) will arise sometime, and you don't want to stretch your dollars too thin. If the budget you've come to is simply beyond your reach, consider a less expensive project or continue saving and tackle the project down the road.
n Consider the value: While it's nice to improve your home, it's not always beneficial. In fact, most renovations fail to recoup 100 percent of a homeowner's initial investment. The bigger the project does not necessarily equal the bigger return. In their 2006 "Cost vs. Value Report," Remodeling magazine found that while costs of remodeling projects continue to climb, the recoup value of those projects at resale is declining. This is definitely
something homeowners should consider before making any improvements. If the job you're about to sink a small fortune into won't yield you nearly as much money at resale, perhaps finding a new place to live that better suits your needs would be a better approach. When making your budget, compare the money you'll spend to the money you're likely to recoup at resale and go from there.
n Include professional help in
your budget: As previously mentioned, surprises always pop up during a project. One of the more common surprises is the realization that not all jobs can be accomplished alone. When your budget is just about established, think long and hard about hiring a professional to help with the more difficult portions of the project. Hiring a professional for these parts will ensure that the job gets done right, which will save you lots of money in the long run.
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6 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
Do you know the basics about using paint and primer Painting is a job that requires preparation and the right equipment. Oftentimes homeowners are unsure about whether they need to use primer before painting or if just paint will do the trick. Although there are no firm rules, there are certain cases where one or the other will be adequate. Consider a room where the walls have been heavily stained, either by moisture infiltration, rust or another factor. Deepset stains may bleed through regular
paint, therefore a primer should be applied to help block and lock-in the stain. When a room had previously been painted in a very dark color, like red or purple, a primer can help cover the color quickly without the need for multiple applications of regular paint. There also are specialized primers that can be used in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms that often contain a lot of moisture. These primers inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on painted surfaces. Primers also
may be used on materials, such as metal or plastic, to help the colored paint stick to the surface of the item. If a room is only to be painted white or tinted slightly with color, then a primer alone can be used. Certain primers seal porous wall surfaces so they do not absorb paint, requiring more coats for coverage. Rooms that are being painted that are already white and free of stains or other surface abnormalities may be painted sufficiently with just a coat of regular
paint. If skipping primer, look for a high-quality, thick paint that boasts good coverage in one or two coats. There are new products today that offer primer and paint all in one combination. The jury is still out on the efficacy of these new items, but homeowners can experiment with these paints to see if they work for them. Keep in mind that the cost of a combination product may be more than traditional paint and primer
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Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 7
Now is a good time to check your chimney Now is the time to check your chimney after a winter full of use The fireplace may be your favorite spot to snuggle in front of and keep warm. Or you may enjoy how it looks with decorations above it in the spring. But do you ever wonder about how to maintain it? Do you have a messy fireplace and wonder whether you should clean it? If you’re new to your fireplace or it doesn’t get much use, you may not even know whether it’s clean. Do you know how to get started or why it should be cleaned? Cleaning a chimney is very important -- especially in the springtime, after a winter full of use. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to chimney and venting system safety, dirty chimneys can cause fires, possibly destroying homes and injuring or killing people. But fires aren’t the only hazard of an unkempt chimney. “The gradual accumulation of soot can seriously affect the way your chimney performs,” CSIA says. Thick layers of soot physically restrict the chimney’s flue more than thinner layers, but a little buildup can go a long way in air restriction. For a typical masonry fireplace chimney, a 1/2-inch buildup can restrict airflow by 17 percent; it’s 30 percent for an average
prefabricated chimney, according to CSIA. Another aspect of unkempt chimneys that may not come to mind for a fireplace owner is how many leaves and twigs can be found inside. CSIA warns that birds and other small animals often take up house in chimneys, and this may go unnoticed by the human residents. In order to prevent chimney fires and maintain the chimney properly so it stays fully operational, the chimney must be kept clean. There are several ways to check whether a chimney needs to be cleaned. According to the Family Education Network -- a consumer network of learning and information resources personalized to help parents, teachers and students of all ages -- if burned wood odors come from the fireplace when it’s not being used, the chimney needs to be cleaned. When a fireplace is being used, a fire that burns poorly or that produces a lot of smoke in the room indicates that a cleaning is needed. A damper, which should be situated right above the firebox, gets caked with creo-
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sote; when it’s black, your chimney needs a good cleaning. Keeping a tidy and safe chimney isn’t a small task by any means, and it’s almost impossible not to make a bit of a mess. In fact, most fireplace keepers should hire a chimney sweep. The National Chimney Sweep Guild is a great resource to investigate when searching for a chimney sweep organization; it will help you avoid scams. CSIA recommends a professional cleaning at least once a year, but more regular cleaning may be needed, depending on how often the fireplace is used. If professional help isn’t an option, though, or you’d like an idea of how to have more regular maintenance without losing too much cash, it is possible to try it on your own. To get started, you’ll need a chimney rod and stiff-bristled cleaning brushes. The Log Rack (http://TheLogRack.com) -- a one-stop source for information on outdoor and indoor stoves, fireplaces and starting a fire -- suggests always using the brush that is the same size as
the flue tiles, so you should make sure to have paper and a pen handy to take measurements. Which brush to use is also determined by how much creosote buildup there is. A little black soot requires only a wire brush; a flat-wire or double-spiral brush provides more surface contact. A vacuum cleaner with a crevice attachment is highly supported by the Family Education Network for making regular chimney cleaning easier. A ladder is also important, as it allows you to climb onto the roof. Eye protection, gloves and a dust mask are necessary. The Family Education Network recommends a respirator mask so you can avoid inhaling creosote dust and soot. It also suggests using dropcloths to cover the fireplace opening or any furniture in the area to protect it and keep the rest of the house as clean as possible. Use a strong adhesive to attach the cloth or sheet to the opening. Also, a broom is needed for sweeping up extra debris. Cleaning the chimney may require more or less scrubbing than anticipated, depending on what you find. Be cautious and find a neighbor or friend to help for safety purposes; it also will make the process go a little faster. Always be careful with where the creosote and soot end up, and stay protected. Remember to check the chimney regularly and maintain its cleanliness in order to get the most out of the coziest spot in the house.
8 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
Important things to know before building your deck Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau Housing Survey indicate that homeowners annually spend billions of dollars improving outdoor living areas. One of the most popular ways to do just that is to add a deck to a home. Decks are beneficial in many ways. Grillmasters love decks because they make the perfect place to set up a grill and a table and cook for family and friends. Those who simply love being outdoors find decks the perfect place to relax and soak up some sun or idle away the evening hours. But homeowners who want to build a deck should know a few things before that process begins.
n Permits are necessary. Unless the deck is going to be especially small, you will likely need a permit to build it. Before buying any materials or consulting any contractors, make certain you know which permits you need and how to get them. If the proper permits are not secured before the project begins, you might have to tear down the whole project and start all over again. n Decks don’t have to go on the back of the house. If the back of your house sits in the blazing sun all day, then it’s probably best to build the deck elsewhere, and that’s perfectly alright. So long as the property and permits allow,
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Expect to do some digging. If
you’re going to build your own deck, expect to do some It’s easy to serious digassume all decks ging. Local are made of building plain wood. codes will However, decks dictate how can be made out deep you of a wide variety will need to of materials, natdig for the ural or synthetic. pier footPressure treated ings, which wood is perhaps support the the most popular material for Homeowners love decks because it offers families d e c k ’ s decking because the opportunity to relax and soak up some sun - and weight. Just how deep it’s not very idle away the evening hours. you’ll dig expensive. But depends on manmade materials that are a mixture of recycled plastic your climate’s specific frost line, but it’s and wood bits or sawdust are also popu- safe to assume you’ll get a workout in lar because they require no mainte- when digging. nance. But homeowners should know that manmade materials can get hot in n The deck can have multiple levthe sun, which will require those enjoy- els. Though many people associate
Decks don’t have to be made of wood.
decks with one level, it’s possible to have a multi-level deck if you simply don’t have enough room to build a deck that will be big enough to meet all of your needs. A multi-level deck can break up those long flights of stairs while ensuring you will always have somewhere to go to escape the sun on a hot day.
n You will want to protect the deck. Decks are a costly investment, and you will want to protect that investment. If you’re building a wood deck, keep in mind the sun will beat down on the deck for most of the year. You can protect the deck by painting it. Paint provides sunscreen for the deck, stopping the sun from breaking down the material. Once you’ve finished painting, apply sealant, whether it’s oil- or water-based.
n Don’t forget fasteners. Fasteners will hide the screws for aesthetic appeal. But not all woods and fasteners are the right fit, as certain woods are only compatible with certain fasteners. Find out which fasteners make the right fit ahead of time. Because fasteners conceal the screws, they also make it possible to go barefoot on the deck. A deck makes a great addition to many homes, but homeowners should learn as much as possible about decks and what goes into building them before making any decking decisions.
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Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 9
Termites: you don't want them as your house guests 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.
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 discernible 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.
Treating termites Many people do not even know they have a termite problem until that prob-
Plants and gardens touching exterior walls of the home may provide the right environment for a termite colony. lem has escalated. Because they remain hidden most of the time, termites can be difficult to detect. Incidences of soft wood or visual recognition of swarming termites that occur in the spring can indicate that termites could be residing in a structure or nearby. There are different types of termites, and proper identification is necessary to find the correct treatment option. Unlike other pests, termites are pests whose detection and removal is best left to a professional who can recognize the
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n Don’t store firewood in contact with the ground. n Use chemically treated wood for building structures. n Disguise wood by painting it or using a shellac or varnish. Termites may not like the taste of treated wood. n Prevent hidden entry points where
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termites can go unseen. n Remove cardboard, newspaper, cotton materials and any other cellulose from the floor. n Vent kitchens and baths so that they will not trap moisture. n Fix any and all water leaks. n Don’t plant gardens or put soil directly against a home’s exterior walls. Some simple precautions and a routine inspection can prevent termites from becoming a problem.
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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 paint, and other indications. There are different ways to prevent or treat a termite infestation. To prevent termites, there are applications of termiticides that are put into the soil surrounding a home or structure. Also, removal of moisture in and around the house is key because termites need moist conditions for survival. 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 alleviate some of the scent trails termites use to travel to and from nests and food sources.
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10 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
Tips on cleaning and maintaining carpeted floors Much like paint, carpeting can quickly transform the look of a room. Carpeting can be a durable flooring material, but it will need upkeep to look its best. Carpeting that will be in high-traffic areas, such as halls and entryways, may require the most TLC. Routine vacuuming is necessary to dislodge dust and dirt particles. But at some point a more thorough cleaning may be necessary.
Vacuuming Frequent vacuuming will prolong the life of the carpet by preventing a buildup of particles inside of the carpet fiber that can eventually cause friction and sever carpet fibers. Use of a crevice tool and other attachments can enable cleaning in the corners where the carpet meets baseboards and moldings. When vacuuming larger rooms, divide the room into separate areas and tackle each area separately before moving on to another portion of the room. Take time when vacuuming carpet. Plush carpets will trap dirt more easily than a thinner or less dense carpet, so more passes of the vacuum might be necessary. Overlap strokes in a crisscross pattern to get at dirt at different angles. Pet hair and vacuumed particles of food can create odor inside of the vacuum bag. Therefore, think about adding baking soda or an odor-relieving product designed to be used when vacuuming.
Dirt and germs can Spills be tracked are one into the thing that house on homeownthe bottom ers in carof shoes. peted Eventually homes this materimay fear. al can be If not deposited addressed on carpets, quickly, which then liquid or becomes food may Addressing spills quickly can prevent stains from soiling a lodged permacarpet. inside the nently fibers. To damage a reduce the carpet. It amount of dirt tracked in, make it a is adviseable to manage a spill as soon rule to take off shoes upon entering the as it happens to reduce the liklihood house. If pets are the culprits of that it will contribute to a permanent tracked-in dirt, keep a towel by the door stain. Carefully blot up the spill until and wipe the animal’s paws before much of the offending item is removed allowing it to roam through the house. before adding any type of cleaning agent. Test the cleaning product in an Steam clean to refresh inconspicuous area prior to using it on If you don’t already own a steamthe spill to ensure it will not damage or cleaner, they can be rented for a fracdiscolor the carpet. tion of the cost of buying one. Together Work from the outside of the stain with steam, a cleaning solution is usuand move inward to keep the stain from ally part of the procedure. The steam spreading outward. Use a plush, white and cleaning product will loosen and towel to blot up any remaining moisdissolve dirt and then the dirty remains ture and spill. The towel also will help will be sucked up into a receptacle to be to fluff up the pile of the carpet. emptied. Steam cleaning is one of the easiest methods of thoroughly cleaning
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There is a misconception that area rugs are used in lieu of carpeting, but both can be used together. An area rug may be placed near an entryway to catch dirt from shoes before it is tracked elsewhere in the house. Area rugs can be used under a dining table where the frequent pulling out and pushing in of chairs may wear down carpeting.
Eliminate static Static electricity can plague people who live in homes with carpeting, especially during cool, dry weather. Placing a dryer sheet on the bottom of a dry sponge mop and then running it over the carpet can alleviate static. This will help prevent those annoying shocks or even damage to electronic equipment from static shocks. Carpeting is something that can make a statement in a home. When maintained, it can look beautiful for years to come.
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Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 11
Tips on how to prevent harmful falls in the bathroom some people. the faucet when This may lead another household to dizziness member flushes a that can result toilet or uses a in falls. large amount of Furthermore, cold water elsepeople tend to where in the rush in the house. Anti-scald bathroom as showerheads and they get ready faucets prevent for work or sudden bursts of school. hot water. Use in Rushing conjunction with around can turning down the lead to slips temperature of the and injuries hot water heater to on wet surfaceliminate burns. es. n Nonslip Installing mats: Bathroom safety features injuries often in the bathoccur when people room is a key are getting in and way to reduce out of the shower. the risk of Having a non-slip accidents. mat on the inside Many manuof the shower or facturers have tub as well as one even designed these features Anti-scald showerheads help reduce burn inju- with a grippable surface and plush so they blend ries in bathrooms. top layer on which with bathroom to step after exitdecor. ing the shower can reduce falls. Don’t When renovating bathrooms for safestep out of the shower onto a flimsy ty, consider the following options. towel that can slip out from underneath n Anti-scald features: Burns can be your feet. serious business. Few people have been spared the momentary burst of hot n Bath bench: The elderly or those water that occurs in the shower or at prone to lightheadedness in the shower
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Falls cause many injuries inside a home. Seniors are especially susceptible to harmful falls in the bathroom, where slippery tiles can prove too difficult for older men and women to navigate. A 2011 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly Roughly 234,000 Americans 640 people ages 15 and older per day are were treated in an emergency departinjured in ment for nonfatal bathroom bathroom-related injuries in 2008. related That adds up to accidents roughly 640 people per day. More than 80 percent of bathroom-related injuries were caused by slips and falls, mostly while getting in and out of the tub or shower, and about 30 percent of those injuries included cuts, scrapes and bruises. Bathrooms can be more dangerous than other rooms of the house for a variety of reasons. The bathroom is generally comprised of hard surfaces that can become slippery when 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
may want to invest in a bench or seat to put into the shower. This enables sitting while washing.
n Safety bars: It can be tempting to grab onto towel racks or faucets to get in and out of the shower, but these items cannot provide the necessary leverage to safely move in and out of the shower or bathtub. Safety bars with a brushed surface for traction are more secure. Grab bars need to be securely attached to a wood stud in the wall and not into drywall or the tub enclosure. n Raised toilet seat: A raised toilet seat reduces the amount of squatting and the distance that has to be covered to sit on the commode. Grab bars on the raised seat itself will provide added safety. n Telephone: The bathroom may seem an odd place to install a telephone, but having one nearby in the event of injury can ensure help gets to the injured party much more quickly. n Regular cleaning: Routinely ridding showers and tubs of soap scum and mildew can reduce the slippery coating that forms as a result of these substances. Also, be sure to keep clutter in the bathroom to a minimum to stop trips and falls over errant items in the area. Bathrooms can present many dangers, but certain safety tools and renovations can help reduce the risk of injury.
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12 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
Clean house Tips on how to make it shine and get it done quickly By Chandra Orr Realistically, it should take just a few hours to clean a typical family home. The key to speeding up the process? It’s all in the preparation. With the right game plan, you -- and your family -- can get the job done in a short amount of time. Follow these four steps for a shipshape home in less time: 1) Conquer Clutter First: It may seem counterintuitive to clean before you clean, but a quick sweep through the house to return stray items to their rightful places makes for quick and easy work. “Cleaning consists of two separate tasks: organizing and cleaning. Before you can really clean, you have to get the clutter under control,” says Christine Shuck, author of “Get Organized, Stay Organized.” Instead of stopping the vacuum every few minutes to put the kids’ shoes away or trying to dust around that stack of unread magazines on the coffee table, tidy up before you buckle down. Put away the clean laundry; toss the newspapers in the recycle bin; and get the toiletries back in the medicine cabinet. “It’s amazing how much clutter a few people can generate. The day before cleaning, have the kids put away their toys, gather their dirty clothes and strip their beds,” Shuck says. “Call it the preclean stage. After the clutter is under control, then the cleaning can begin.” 2) Work Systematically: Map out a cleaning route before you begin. Whether you clean room-by-room or task-by-task,
be consistent and stick to the plan. Work top to bottom, left to right, and don’t retrace your steps. To speed up the process, take all of the necessary cleaning supplies with you as you move from room to room. “You can save a lot of time when you assemble all the cleaning products and tote them around with you from room to room as you go. This way, they’re all right there when you need them. Sounds simple, but it’s a huge timesaver,” says Tess Whitehurst, author of “Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home.” Take an empty laundry basket with you, as well. Anything that needs to be returned to another room goes in the
basket. When the whole house is clean, spend an extra five minutes putting those errant items away. 3) Limit Distractions: You stop to wash the dishes, and suddenly you just spent two hours on the phone with your mom. It’s easy to let time slip away when tending to housework, so set some parameters. “An average-size house should take about two hours from top to bottom for one person to clean,” Shuck says. “It takes longer because of distractions -the computer, the kids, the phone, paperwork, the need to eat. Eliminate the distractions; focus on the task at hand and it will get done quickly.” Vow to work free of interruptions. Set a timer, and pop in your favorite CD.
Commit to cleaning nonstop for just one hour. Have the kids pitch in with the understanding that the video games, television and texting will have to wait -- and hold yourself to the same standard. Don’t stop to answer the phone. Don’t check your e-mail. Don’t make unnecessary trips back and forth between rooms. Just focus on the task at hand. 4) Do Your Daily Chores: Once you have a “clean slate,” keep it that way. “You have to keep on top of the daily mess. Every day bust some clutter and some dirt. If you have a clean field to vacuum, dust and wipe down each week, it isn’t so overwhelming,” says Marni Jameson, author of “House of Havoc: How to Make -- and Keep -- a Beautiful Home Despite Cheap Spouses, Messy Kids, and Other Difficult Roommates.” Spend 10-20 minutes each evening doing a sweep through the house. Toss out the junk mail and newspapers; tend to the dirty dishes; wipe the kitchen counters; clear off the family desk; and return the television remote control to its rightful place. Ask the kids to put their toys and backpacks away, and be sure everyone puts dirty clothes in a hamper. Designate an area for recyclables, and use it. Collect unwanted items in a central location, and donate them to the thrift shop each month. “Make sure your whole family gets on board with the plan for household order,” Jameson says. “If you’re the only one committed, it won’t work.”
Paying for a project Tips on investing in a own home improvement project By Diane Schlindwein In today’s housing market, many potential home sellers are wondering whether to update their houses before putting them on the market or to try to sell them “as is.” “As you have heard, remodeling and/ or updating your home can be a big contributor in getting you the most money in the shortest amount of time when selling your home,” says Lee McClelland, associate broker of Prudential Kansas City Realty and a mortgage loan originator. “Just remember not to put so much money into your home that you overprice it for your area/neighborhood.” Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor with Re/Max Boone Realty, says home sellers should pay special attention to the exteriors of their homes. “Curb appeal is so important. What they see outside immediately will determine whether they want to go inside,” she says. “A new steel door is one of the best things a person can do to improve curb appeal,” says Mendenhall, who is vice president of committees for the National Association of Realtors. “That kind of door is important -- and a new coat of paint if a home doesn’t have siding. You want to make sure the garage doors work. Replacing windows makes a home energy-efficient and is a good invest-
ment.” Mendenhall says exterior replacement projects typically pay off in the end. The same is true for updates to kitchens and bathrooms. “For example, the return on adding a sunroom is 48 percent, whereas the return on a minor kitchen remodel is 78 percent,” she says. Fresh paint and nice carpeting can also help sell a home. “Carpet and paint are easy things to do. Be sure to choose a color palette that people can identify with,” Mendenhall says. Historical homes will require different paint colors than modern homes. “It makes a difference where you are. Paint palettes for the coastal regions will be different from those in the Midwest.” If you are trying to sell a home that was built within the past 10 years or that is situated near a newly developed community, you will be competing to grab the attention of buyers who are looking
at brand-new homes. That’s when you need to make sure newly painted walls aren’t covered with a lot of framed artwork or family photos. “When buyers are going to be comparing an existing home with a new home, it is as if your home is being compared with a fresh canvas,” Mendenhall says. “You should know that.” If you have decided to move forward with a sizable project, be sure you know how best to pay for it, McClelland says. “If you have the savings to pay for the project, that’s great. But maybe that is not an option,” he says. “One choice is to look at the equity that you have in your home. Dividing the amount that you owe by the appraised value of the home will give you the loanto-value ratio. Having that ratio at 20 percent or higher keeps you from paying
private mortgage insurance. Any amount more than the 20 percent is what you can borrow against.” McClelland continues: “Once you know the percentage that you have to work with, you can look at taking out a home equity line of credit. This is the second loan on your property, which you will make a second monthly payment on until you sell your home to pay it back. Call your lender to get all of the details, because the requirements have changed in the past couple of years.” Another option to get the project done may be to use a home improvement center that offers same-as-cash financing, McClelland says. “You can then pay it off when you sell your house.” Mendenhall believes that homeowners who are thinking of remodeling and selling their homes should ask a Realtor for his opinion before doing a lot of updating. “Bring in a Realtor who knows the area,” she says. “Sometimes just changing a few things can increase or maintain the value of a home,” Mendenhall says. “Remember, Realtors visit hundreds of homes a year and know what people in that market are looking for.” McClelland agrees. “Whatever you decide, look at all the options and talk to the experts so that you can make the best decision in maximizing the sale of your home.”
Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 13
Money-saving tips on how to find, stop roof leaks Roof leaks can occur for a variety of reasons. They typically start out small and grow over time to be larger problems. That said, even a small roof leak can cause major damage to your home. Besides forming wet stain spots on your finished ceilings, roof leaks can cause mold and mildew growth and rot. They even can cause electrical shorts. Checking for roof leaks can be a little tricky. They are typically not found directly above the damaged ceiling area. Roof leaks tend to start higher on a roof
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and show their symptoms further down the roofline. So for example, when you see a roof leak on your ceiling near the interior edge of your exterior walls, the actual roof leak is likely higher up the roofline.
n Checking for Roof Leaks Caused by Ice Dams In the case in which the roof leak signs are exhibited near the interior edge of your exterior walls, chances are the leak is associated with cold weather
conditions -- more specifically, ice dams. Ice dams back up water behind shingles, where the water finds a path through the roof sheathing and then gets to the drywall ceiling. To find the path, the water works its way down the roof sheathing until it finds a loose nail or a seam. To prevent ice dams, plan on either shoveling off the snow along the edges of the roof after every major snowstorm or adding heating coils along the edge of the roof. You may want to con-
See ROOFS, pg. 14
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14 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
Money-saving tips on how to find, stop roof leaks there is the possibility that it is associated with a damaged ridge vent. In many cases, wind can work ridge venting loose and pop roofing nails loose. Check the ridge vent to make sure that it is fastened down properly and that the roofing nails are covered with a roofing sealer. Also note that water that penetrates into the attic and onto the ceiling can meander its way along strapping. Strapping is commonly used to fasten drywall perpendicular to ceiling joists. If you see a long wet line on your dry-
wall ceiling, it is probably because water has run along a length of strapping.
n Checking for Roof Leaks Caused by Damaged Shingles Another possibility if signs of a roof leak are exhibited more toward the center of the room is you have damaged shingles. Inspect the roof for shingles that are curling, cupping and/or cracked. Shingles that exhibit those types of appearances could very well be
the source of your roof leak and should be replaced immediately.
n Checking for Roof Leaks in Roof Valleys If your roof has valleys, make sure the shingles are not damaged in these areas. If copper or tin is used for forming the roof valleys, make sure that it is not damaged in any way and that there are no loose or exposed nails. The wrong types of nails used for installing copper flashing can also cause corro-
sion, which can lead to roof leaks.
n Checking for Roof Leaks Near Roof Flashing Areas Check roof flashing around and near vent stacks, chimneys and roof/wall lines. Make sure the flashing is not damaged or blocked in any way with leaf debris or snow and ice, which can cause water to back up and work its way underneath the flashing. If the flashing looks damaged, have it replaced immediately.
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Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 15
Tips on the dos and don'ts of basement finishing Remodeling a basement is a popular home improvement project. A finished basement makes the space more functional and, when done correctly, can add a considerable amount of living space to a home. Finishing a basement pays dividends in additional space in a home that doesn’t require the same level of investment as putting an addition on the house. Also, the groundwork for a finished room is already there, as most
basements are already set up with a poured concrete floor and some walls, usually cinder blocks. Some electrical components, plumbing and the creature comforts of drywall and a more inviting floor might be all that’s necessary to finish a basement. The process can be labor-intensive, and many people prefer to leave it to a professional contractor. Whatever finishing method is chosen, homeowners should follow the proper procedures when doing the work.
DO start with a detailed plan. Measure out the basement and mark any items that cannot be moved, such as a furnace, water heater or pipes. Create a design board that showcases the materials you plan to use on the project. Think about ways you plan to arrange furniture and consider all of the possible uses for the room. Will it be a home theater? Will someone be sleeping down there? Each scenario will require certain amenities and safety requirements.
DON’T plan to finish the entire basement. Doing so will leave you without a storage or utility area where you house holiday decorations, tools, luggage and similar items.
DO get the scoop on building codes. Knowing what the municipality allows in basement remodeling will help you to customize a plan that is functional, safe and legal. No one wants to be
See BASEMENT, pg. 17
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Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 17
Tips on the dos and don'ts of basement finishing slapped with fines for failing to follow the rules. Plus, failure to meet building codes could mean the work that has been done must be torn out and redone. It pays to follow the chain of command and secure permits while having all work inspected.
tionally small windows, or no windows at all, a basement needs ample lighting in its design scheme. This may include a combination of overhead and task lighting. Ample lighting will help the room feel like part of the house and not just a forgotten storage area.
DON’T overlook adequate lighting in your refinishing plan. A basement is
DO take into consideration moisture issues in the basement. Many
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condensation forming on walls. These situations may vary depending on the weather throughout the year. Certain materials may need to be used to mitigate water issues before finishing can take place. The installation of waterbarrier systems, drainage, sump pumps, or encapsulation products could drive up the cost of a basement renovation. It is essential to have a professional assess the basement water issues prior to starting any finishing
DON’T simply cover up potential hazards, such as mold or mildew. Have them treated instead. Otherwise, you could have a breeding ground behind drywall that could lead to unsafe conditions in the home.
DO have a radon test. Radon is a hidden killer that can cause lung cancer. Because it occurs naturally in the soil See BASEMENT, pg. 19
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Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 19
Tips on the dos and don'ts of basement finishing and water surrounding a home and is impossible to detect without a specialized test, many people are unaware of the presence of radon until it is too late. Radon may be more concentrated in the basement, where the foundation is touching the soil. Therefore, rule out radon before considering renovation of a basement area.
DON’T limit furniture choices to one type. You may need to be flexible in your furniture choices, even selecting
take certain precautionary measures, such as keeping electrical wiring up higher and using a more water-resistant flooring material, like tile or vinyl. House important electronics and items on shelves so they are not at groundlevel. Finishing a basement is a job that can add a lot of usable space to a home. Go about the project in the right way to keep within budget and have a room that is safe and functional.
modular pieces, like sectionals, because entry ways to basements may have small doorways or obstructions that make adding furniture more challenging.
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20 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
Protect your garden from hungry animals Homes full of garden beds with blooming flowers and foliage can seem warm and inviting. Planting flowers is one of the easiest ways to transform the appearance of a home with minimal effort and expense. Too often homeowners plant annuals and perennials only to find their hard work has been damaged by hungry animals, like deer, rabbits and underground pests. There are ways to keep animals away from plants --
many of which are humane and environmentally safe. Keeping furry marauders away from the garden is something individuals who live in rural or suburban areas have to consider when planting. Many communities are growing and encroaching on the natural habitats of wild animals. With some of their natural food sources diminishing, animals may decide to partake of the easy pickings that come from
residential home gardens. If you understand how these animals feed, you can take precautions to restrict access to planting beds. Rabbits tend to munch on vegetables and ornamental plants. Small in stature and not able to scale fences very easily, rabbits might be deterred by a low fence surrounding plants. Consider digging some chicken wire below the fence a few inches to discourage digging under the fence. The
fence should be 18 inches high, and you should keep the openings no more than one inch because rabbits can squeeze through small openings. In terms of gophers, moles, voles, and other burrowing animals, the key is preventing underground access. Chicken wire or another abrasive material put under the garden soil can help keep
See ANIMALS, pg. 21
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Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 21
Protect your garden from hungry animals underground animals from burrowing under and then up into the heart of the garden. Deer are another story altogether. They are tall animals capable of rising up on hind legs to stretch out and reach branches of trees and bushes. Therefore, taller fences may be needed to protect the garden. But these can sometimes be unsightly, especially in a front yard. Therefore, look for natural barriers that can keep them out. They may be deterred by thorny bushes or plants. Daisies, papaver (poppies), narcissus, rudbeckia, achillea, agastache, aster, lupine, coreop-
sis, verbascum, centaurea, and echinacea are available in many varieties and are not attractive to deer or rabbits. Here are some additional strategies that you can try.
n Create narrow pathways between raised beds. Rabbits will
feel like they are in prime locations for predators to get at them in this type of situation and may be less likely to venture in. Deer may not be able to navigate narrow paths. n Use mulch. In addition to benefitting the plants, keeping soil moist and fertilizing the areas, mulch also deters
Ants...ants....ants....ants....ants....ants There are thousands of species of ants all over the world. Ants live in many different climates but are notably active and most abundant in warm temperatures. 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 few species of ants that are light brown and even yellowish 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 wellhidden 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.
n Interplant different species of plants. Some animals don’t want to
bother picking tasty plants out among other varieties they don’t like. So mix plants with ones that animals find unpleasant.
n Use other natural deterrents.
Animals may be kept away by scents of their predators. Urine from coyote, foxes, dogs, and cats may help. You can also try human hair, cat litter and soap
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n Create an animal-friendly area elsewhere. Feed the deer and rabbits the foods they love somewhere away from your garden. They may fill up with favorites and stay away from your flowers and vegetables. n Traps may work. As a last resort, use humane traps to collect animals and release them elsewhere.
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22 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
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
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turf that often results after extended periods of dryness. Fertilizing the lawn during the spring and summer is a good first step. This helps the lawn grow in healthy and thick. Once you have fertilized, don’t cut the grass too short. When grass is cut too short, the soil struggles to retain moisture, which can eventually lead to bald spots if weather conditions are dry. During especially dry periods in the summer, watering might be necessary. You won’t have to water frequently,
but be sure to water deeply so 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 mat-
See LAWN, pg. 23
Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 23
How to repair unsightly bald spots in your lawn ter 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.
lawn damage by diluting the nitrogen levels. When it’s your Another way to address own pet causing the issue is to encourthe damage, age the animal to use address the spots various spots in the where your pet yard, rather than conrelieves itself as tinually using the same quickly as possible. spot. Flush each area Watering the area with water immediatewithin eight hours can significantly Even the cutest pet can contribute to ly after the pet is finished. If the damage is reduce the risk of bald spots on your lawn.
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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.
See LAWN, pg. 24
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24 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living To avoid bald spots, make sure mower blades Continued from page 23 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. 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.
Tips on preventing weed growth Weeds in a lawn or garden can be an unsightly and potentially unhealthy nuisance. No gardener enjoys seeing weeds spring up throughout his or her carefully planted garden, as such uninvited guests rob a well-tended garden of its aesthetic appeal. In addition, weeds can steal valuable water and nutrients from plants, prohibiting their growth as a result.
Homeowners who understand how harmful weeds can be can prevent them in a variety of ways. Where weed growth is insignificant, it might be possible to simply pull them out of the ground before they can do any substantial damage. In areas of heavy weed growth, however, a more concentrated effort must be made to prevent further weed growth once the weeds have been removed. The fol-
lowing are a few ways homeowners can prevent weeds from growing throughout their lawns.
n Be proactive. Preventing weed growth is a proactive job, so homeowners want to be proactive to keep weeds from infesting their property. Proper and routine lawn mainteSee WEEDS, pg. 25
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Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 25
Tips on preventing weed growth in your lawn nance might be all it takes. Add quality topsoil to your lawn or garden to produce a healthier surface that makes it more difficult for weeds to grow. As the season progresses, continue to maintain your lawn by mowing and watering.
n Aerate the soil at the onset of the season. Aerating your lawn at the dawn of the mowing season helps break up soil that grew compacted over the winter. Once aerated, the soil can disperse nutrients, oxygen and water more effectively, allowing healthier roots to grow and reducing the risk of weed growth as a result.
n Fertilize the lawn. Fertilizer helps grass grow in thick and dense, which leaves little to no room for the growth of weeds. While fertilizer does not necessarily guarantee that weeds won’t grow, it does go a long way toward helping a lawn grow in healthy, and a healthy lawn is often a weed’s worst enemy. Some fertilizers on the market are a combination of fertilizer and weed preventer, and such products might be ideal for homeowners who are especially concerned about weed growth. The lifespan of weed preventers varies, so keep in mind that you might need to reapply a weed pre-
When removing weeds,
it’s best to remove the weeds with their roots. Smaller weeds with shallow roots can typically be removed with a gentle pull and the roots will come right out with the weed. Larger weeds with deeper roots can be a little tougher to remove, and they might damage surround-
venter in a few months to keep getting the same results. Fertilizing is typically done twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall.
Lay down landscape fabric.
Landscape fabric is another weed prevention alternative that can prevent weed growth for several years. Before laying down landscape fabric, which is perhaps most commonly used in flower beds, remove all weeds and other vegetation you do not wish to grow. You will likely need to cut the fabric to the area you want it to cover and cut an opening for plants and flowers. The fabric is then
ing plants if you pull too hard. In such instances, dig around the stem with a small hoe to loosen the soil and then firmly pull the weed out of the ground. If that does not work, dig a little deeper and try again. When there are simply too many weeds to pull out of the ground, a garden hoe is effective for shallowrooted weeds. Where deep-rooted weeds are present, a garden hoe is less effective because it does not usu-
typically covered with mulch, which keeps the fabric in place. Landscape fabric is effective because it blocks the sun from reaching any area that it’s covering while still allowing air, water and nutrients to penetrate and reach the soil. Weeds need sun to grow, so landscape fabric can be highly effective at preventing weed growth. Weeds are an unsightly nuisance that homeowners would prefer to do without. Preventing weed growth is relatively easy, and, in many cases, your efforts can bear fruit through the entire season.
ally reach the roots. Awinged weeder, though more time-consuming than a hoe, goes deeper into the soil to pull the roots. Chemical weed-killers are another option, though they are not very eco-friendly and chemical products must be sprayed on the entire weed to kill it completely.
The 7 easiest vegetables to grow at home Rising costs at the supermarket and worries about unhealthy pesticides or preservatives on foods has led many people to start a vegetable garden at home. Growing vegetables is easier than one would think. Plus, you don’t need an expansive plot of land to grow a garden. Many popular varieties can be grown right in containers or in compact spaces. Perhaps you’re wondering what vegetables are the easiest to grow if this is your first attempt at a food-based garden. There are several to try. 1. Tomatoes: While commonly considered vegetables, tomatoes are actually fruits. But tomatoes can be an integral part of a vegetable garden. Tomatoes are high in lycopene and other antioxidants. There are also myriad varieties to tempt your palate. Tomatoes can be planted after the soil has thawed and there is no other chance for frost. They’ll require plenty of sun-
light. Fruit will be available to harvest toward the latter part of the summer.
2. Zucchini: Zucchini are an Italian squash variety that appear similar to a cucumber. They can be green or yellow in coloring. This vegetable is full of potassium, folate and manganese, making it a great addition to your menu. Zucchini take about a month to mature and be ready to harvest. They grow on vines and pro-
duce large flowers before bearing fruit. 3. Beets: Root vegetables like beets and radishes work well in the garden as well. The bright purple color of beets indicates they are full of many essential vitamins and minerals. Toss beets in salads or use them in the traditional soup, borscht.
4. Carrots: Another subterranean-growing veggie, carrots require moist soil as they germinate, but as the plants
mature need less water. Carrots can be enjoyed in a number of ways and are a staple of cooking year-round. 5. Peas: Peas grow inside the pods of legumes. These plants like moist soil that drains well. Water frequently but make sure the soil doesn’t become flooded if you want peas to flourish. 6. Peppers: Peppers come in so many varieties it’s easy to find ones that appeal to your taste in cooking. Generally peppers thrive in soil high in magnesium. Using compost and Epsom salt in the soil can help achieve the environment peppers desire. 7. Lettuce: Lettuce is another staple and the basis for many salad dishes. Lettuce also tops sandwiches and can be filled and wrapped for other recipe ideas. Seeds should be planted between 8 and 16 inches apart. Water in the morning instead of at night to prevent disease from developing.
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26 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013
Tips to make your lawn mower a 'cut above' The snow has melted, the ground is warming, and soon your lawn will be full of life. It’s time to dust off the lawn mower. The life of a lawn depends on the weather - sunlight, warmth and soil temperature, says Ron Richardson, president of the Lawn Barber in Springfield, Ill. The first step in lawn care is spring cleaning. Richardson suggests raking, blowing or picking up winter debris from the yard, if you haven’t already done so. “The initial cleanup gets rid of the waste and helps the grass stand up, making it more receptive to being mowed,” he says.
Spring cleaning applies to lawn-care equipment, too. For the lawn mower, replace the spark plug, change the oil, replace the filter and sharpen the blade, Richardson says. “A sharp blade can mean the difference between healthy and diseased turf. A sharp blade makes a clean cut. A dull blade essentially tears the grass and makes it more susceptible to damage,” says Richardson. “You should also
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scrape and clean the mower deck - ideally before and after every mow, but that’s probably not realistic for most people.” Robert Kunz, who has owned Kunz Mower Service for 26 years, would like to see customers begin their maintenance routines in late winter. The first round of warm weather brings an influx of mowers into his shop, creating a wait. “These days, most people just bring their mowers in for service instead of doing it themselves, but it depends on the person. Some people want to take off the blade and bring it in to be sharpened, but it’s harder than people think. Things aren’t as simple as they used to be. Every mower is different,” he says.
Once the equipment is working, the next steps are fertilization and weed control. “Weed problems keep us in business,” Richardson says. “Everything in the lawn is competing for the same soil. We’re trying to get grass only.” Most over-the-counter weed-control products work best under ideal situations, he says. “The most effective chemicals avail-
able are the ones in the hands of the licensed professionals. There really is a big difference between what we can use and what you can buy in the store,” Richardson says. “Professional lawncare experts can also recognize other problems and find solutions.”
Some signs of lawn trouble are weeds and bare spots, or failure to thrive, sometimes the result of grub worms. Bare spots can be seeded in the spring, as soon as the soil temperature is over 50 degrees, says Jennifer Fishburn, a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension. Richardson recommends a good starter fertilizer with an “18-24-12” blend. These numbers indicate the percentage of nutrients contained in the product.
Dandelions sprout as soon as temperatures reach 75 to 80 degrees for a week. Crab grass germinates when soil temperatures reach 55 degrees for seven to 10 consecutive days, Fishburn says. Because crab grass pre-emergent stunts the growth of all grasses - good and bad - its application has to be carefully timed with seeding. “You want to put down a crab grass pre-emergent before the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees. Late March to early April is a good time to seed, but you can’t use a crab grass pre-emergent until after the grass seed has emerged,” Richardson says. After seeding and weed control produce a healthy lawn, it’s time to mow.
Fishburn suggests mowing when the grass is 3 to 4 inches tall and removing only one-third the height of the grass at a time. If you mow to the proper height, she says to leave clippings on the lawn. “Bagging isn’t necessary because grass is 80 percent water. If you follow the one-third rule when mowing, there’s no reason to bag the clippings,” she says. “People bag because of concern with excessive thatch. That happens when you wait too long and mow too late. Then the clippings don’t decompose as well.” When you allow clippings to return to the lawn, you get about a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, Fishburn says, and that’s good for the grass. How often to mow depends on the lawn, but Charles McKeown, owner of Golf Green Lawn Care, recommends once a week during active growth. His team kept an informal tally during a season with average rainfall and found that they mowed 23 times in a season. Time of day doesn’t matter as much as lawn conditions, he says. If the weather is particularly hot and dry, the grass will be stressed; mowing can do more damage than good. Under those conditions - when the grass is dry and brown - there likely will be little, if any, growth to mow. If the grass is wet from rain, McKeown says to let it dry before mowing so it discharges smoothly and doesn’t clump.
Manchester Newspapersâ€™ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 27
Doing it right requires the right tools A basic list of the tools you should have around your home Buying yard tools sounds simple enough. It isn't. How much you know about what you need, what you should pay for what you get, how to use what you get and how to maintain that new mower, hose, shovel, rake or trowel depends on how much time you're willing to spend educating yourself about the myriad products on the shelf that are designed to keep your property well-groomed. "The Internet is a great source," contends garden tool industry veteran Jeff Koenig, marketing manager for Ames True Temper, the oldest manufacturer of non-powered lawn and garden tools in North America. "The biggest mistake people make is not educating themselves and buying by price, not the task at hand. You get what you pay for." A garden buff himself, he knows by experience that for most people, "a beautiful lawn or landscape doesn't happen by snapping your fingers." Buy the right tool for the job "and you'll be proud of the end result." What should be on your must-have list? Here are the basics: n Round point shovel: You'll be using this more than you anticipate, so don't scrimp on price. Look for one with a virgin steel blade for flexibility and a
D-shaped handle. You'll have more leverage when you dig and a better angle. Cheap shovels are made of recycled steel and have straight blades, which can be awkward to use.
You'll need a hand pruner to snip small branches and flower stems and pruning shears to lop off thicker shrub and tree branches. Test different ones before you buy. n Garden Weight, shape, spade: These safety locks and come in a varieven the size of ety of styles, your hand can from ones with determine straight edges whether the to ones that are pruner will be fork-shaped. comfortable to The latter type use without is useful to It helps to have the right tools to make your lawn fatigue setting break up com- and landscaping work easier. in. pacted soil, n Longsays the National Gardening handled hoe: Like garden spades, garAssociation. Versions with five tines are den hoes come in several shapes and best to move mulch or break up straw, sizes, the most common being a flat- and the association notes. A spade with a square-bladed goose-necked tool that straight edge can make easy work of can help you loosen and rid your garden edging flower beds and digging trenchof weeds and create rows to plant seeds. es. n Long-handled rake: Think more n Hand trowel and rake set: You than one when it comes to long-handled can buy these separately, but often garden rakes. There's the traditional they're sold as a matching set, one to dig flat-edged rugged steel version, which and the other to scratch and remove can break up clumps of soil and make weeds and loosen the soil to plant bulbs. smooth work of garden beds. The leaf
rake, which is lighter and has many tines, will make quick work of gathering all those leaves that you missed last fall. Some ergonomic versions allow you to adjust the rake head to a comfortable level. On others, you can adjust the tine tension, making it easier to rake light, dry leaves and heavy, wet ones. n Hose: Choose a thick wall hose. Such hoses tend to be more kink-resistant and provide longer service. A higher-quality hose also generally has a higher psi (pounds per square inch) rating and larger brass couplings for easy handling and a secure fit on spigots. n Lawn mower: If you have less than 1/2 acre, a walk-behind mower will do, but if you have more acreage, a riding mower or zero-turn-radius mower may be a better choice. Hills and inclines can shape your mower purchase decision, and so can the thickness and coarseness of your grass, says wellknown lawn and garden tractor and mower manufacturer John Deere. The company recommends sharpening, as well as balancing, blades at the start of every mowing season. Like mowers, all garden tools need to be kept clean. "Always clean your tools after use," Koenig advises. Hosing them off is the easiest way, he says, adding that it's also important to make a routine of filing shovel edges every spring, before the gardening season starts. Spraying steel parts of your tools with a protective coating of WD-40 also will keep those garden tools in good shape.
28 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapersâ€™ Spring Living
Discover why composting makes "black gold" Composting may be a person's first foray into an eco-friendly lifestyle. Compost is a nutrient-rich natural fertilizer that some people refer to as "black gold." It can be made from most types of lawn and garden waste as well as some discarded items from the kitchen. Many people have renewed interest in composting because they understand the environmental ramifications of over-reliance on chemical fertilizers. Ground water may become contaminated and certain fertilizers may have adverse effects on wildlife. Compost, a living organism of sorts, comprised of beneficial bacteria, insect life and nutrients for plants, is on the other side of the plant food spectrum. Because it can be generated for little to no cost, compost is not only environmentally responsible but economical as well. A home landscape can provide a wealth of material to use in a compost heap or bin. Rather than putting fallen leaves or lawn clippings to the curb or in the trash, they can be turned into beneficial material to help keep your garden self-sustained. To begin, you will first need to determine the composting method that will work for you. Compost can be generated from a pile of material placed in an outof-the-way corner of the yard or be created in a specially designed, expensive compost bin. Many homeowners fall in between these two methods with their compost systems. Most create their own bins from wood and chicken wire or even
Twigs can be mulched and included as brown material in compost. use a trash container to contain the compost. Once the container or pile location is established, it is time to start the compost recipe. In order to function optimally, compost should have an abundance of aerobic bacteria, which will compost the waste quickly. Aerobic bacteria need oxygen and a certain amount of moisture to survive. Therefore, it is important to include materials in the compost that will achieve these conditions. Composters frequently refer to "greens" and "browns" in a compost mix.
Greens are fresh leaves and grass clippings and kitchen scraps. These materials will have an abundance of moisture as well as nitrogen. Browns are older, dried out plant material and wood. The browns help create air cushions in the compost that facilitate aeration and also contain carbon. Without aeration, the compost will compact down too quickly, which could slow down the decomposition process. This may result in a foul odor. Avoid the use of bones, meat or cheese in a compost bin. This will only attract
scavengers and may rot faster than it can be decomposed by the bacteria. Also, avoid pet waste or any lawn trimmings that have been treated with pesticides. Turning the compost will help keep it aerated and will also distribute the bacteria. This can help speed along the composting process. Avoid adding weeds to juvenile compost because it may not be hot enough to kill the seeds and then you'll be stuck with weeds in the compost -- and wherever you place that compost. Moisture is essential to the compost. Each time you add new material to the compost bin, dampen it. It should be moist but not dripping. Adding a balance between greens and browns should help regulate the moisture level as well. Remember, during warmer months, the compost may dry out more, so you will need to be on top of the moisture levels. The composting process works best at temperatures between 120 and 150 F. The compost will generate its own heat as matter is broken down. However, the heat of warm months can speed up the process. Novice composters may want to begin their composting in the summer as a first attempt. Hot composting piles can be turned into soil fertilizer in as little as 8 to 10 weeks. Therefore, plan your composting start date accordingly. Soon after you may have a naturally sustainable garden that produces material enough to continually feed your existing compost pile.
How to keep your plants for being ravaged by deer Creating a beautiful and bountiful garden is a popular pastime for people all across the country. It is important to keep in mind that aesthetically appealing plants may be appetizing to area wildlife, including deer. Those who do not want their gardens to turn into allyou-can-eat buffets for deer, rabbits and other wild animals can take a more proactive approach to gardening. Deer are opportunists who will no doubt see your garden as a salad bar ripe with all of their favorite foods. As housing developments continue to encroach on the natural habitats of deer and other animals, these animals are becoming more visible. Deer may not be able to forage for food effectively in their smaller, natural surroundings, or they may become accustomed to the â€œeasy pickingsâ€? they find in neighborhood yards. Either way, you may encounter a deer in or around your area. Keeping deer at bay involves some work and maintenance on the part of a homeowner. There are safe and humane methods to repelling deer, or at least blocking access to the plants worth protecting. Here are the main ways to deerproof a garden.
Fence It Fences are one way to deter deer from entering a yard and dining on your garden. Keep in mind that deer can jump fences that are quite tall, but they have to be especially motivated to jump an eight-foot-tall fence. Still, they tend to be weary about scaling a fence when they cannot see what is on the other side. Therefore, if you are fencing out deer, choose a fence that camouflages the garden well and completely encloses the area to be protected. If you do not want the fence to be solid, consider putting stakes or thorny plants
within the garden so that the deer will hesitate to jump into the garden.
Scare Them Deer are naturally skittish around people, but over time they can become quite complacent around human beings. Once a deer decides that something will not present a threat, the deer can adapt to its presence. Motionactivated devices may not work, nor the presence of pets. Predator urine is typically an effective way at keeping deer at bay. Bottled coyote urine can be quite effective, although human urine may work as well. Reapplying the product weekly around the plants is a good idea.
Repel the Deer There are many organic or chemically-based products on the market that deer may find offensive to the taste or smell. Hot pepper, sulfur and eggs or even the use of soapy water have been successful in certain instances. The use of
blood meal or even human hair around the garden may repel the deer and keep them on a different foraging path. H o w e v e r , remember that any deer that is very hungry may ignore unpleasant tastes or smells for a quick bite.
Change Plants If other food sources are available, there are some species of plants and trees that deer will avoid. Filling your garden with these plants can help you maintain a beautiful, albeit untasty, environment for deer. When planting annuals, select among: nAlyssum n Begonias n Calendula n Celosia n Dianthus n Foxglove n Geraniums n Parsley n Poppy n Snapdragons
In terms of perennials, plant these items once, and deer could stay away: n Ageratum n Anemone n Astibe n Bearded iris n Catmint n Honeysuckle n Lantana n Monkshood n Rock rose n Rosemary n Soapwort n Wisteria Plant these herbs alongside flowers for even more protection: n Chives n Eucalyptus n Garlic n Mint n Thyme n Wintergreen Gardeners who use a combination of methods to keep deer out of their yards and gardens may have a higher success rate at deterring these animals.
Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 29
Garden injuries are a major concern There are more than 400,000 garden related injuries yearly Gardening is often described as a relaxing and beneficial hobby regardless of a person’s age. While time outdoors in the garden can prove calming and enjoyable, there is a dark side to gardening as well. Namely the injuries that may result from various activities. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency rooms in the United States treat more than 400,000 outdoor garden-tool-related injuries each year. Additionally, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand has issued warnings that caution gardeners about hand-related injuries. Doctors from the British College of Osteopathic Medicine have also warned that pruning, mowing and weeding can be dangerous -- even comparable to competitive sports. People don’t often associate a garden with danger, but this line of thinking can be dangerous in itself.
n Hand injuries Cuts and even finger amputations may result from unfamiliarity with pruning tools, such as hedge clippers or handheld pruners. The design of these
tools is so they’ll be able to cut through small to moderately sized branches, which means it would not be too difficult for a pruner to snap through a finger bone. Injuries with these tools often occur when the gardener is distracted or the tool slips during use. Pruners may also exacerbate conditions of carpal tunnel syndrome, usually caused by repetitive hand movements, such as typing or repetitious work. The ASSH says that prolonged, repetitive motions, such as weeding or pruning, can cause skin, tendon or nerve irritation. Rotate tasks every 15 minutes to give certain areas of
the body a break. The use of battery-powered and ergonomically designed hand tools can alleviate pain and may prevent some injuries. Power tools require less effort for cutting, which may reduce tool slippage or misuse.
n Bites and bruises Infection is another injury that people may not associate with gardening.
Gardeners often come in contact with many different types of organic matter when gardening. Bacteria, fungi, and insects, as well as chemical fertilizers and pesticides, may be found in soil. Failing to protect hands, especially those with a small abrasion or cut in the skin, enables these substances to potentially enter the body
and bloodstream, and infections or rashes may result. Contact with poisonous insects is another concern. Some ants have irritating bites. There are many types of spiders that can be poisonous or inflict a painful bite. Scorpions in dry climates can sting when uncovered in burrows. Wearing gloves, particularly leather ones, can offer protection against thorny objects, insect bites, chemicals, and other skin irritants found in the soil.
n Sun damage Spending time outdoors subjects a person to UV exposure each and every time. Gardening unprotected can mean a
bad case of sunburn and the potential to develop skin cancer at a later time. Whenever spending time outdoors pruning or just admiring the landscape, gardeners should apply a broad-spectr um sunscreen and wear a w i d e brimmed hat. Try to do the majority of yard work in the early morning or early evening when the sun’s rays are the least harmful.
n Additional injuries Many gardeners fail to ease back into garden activities after the winter respite. Should a gardener dive right into strenuous gardening tasks, injuries may ensue. Many hospitals see an influx of backrelated injuries, heart attacks, muscle strains, and lacerations come the first stretch of warm weather. Just like an athlete wouldn’t start the new season off right in a professional game, so shouldn’t a gardener start strenuous activities without gradually warming up to them. Gardening can be quite an enjoyable activity but not if a person is sidelined by an injury. Use caution and common sense whenever landscaping.
Expert advice on how to edge your lawn this spring Edging a lawn is a springtime rite of passage for many homeowners. When winter has come and gone, many lawns are left in need of some serious maintenance, including edging. Well-defined edges around the yard make the yard look more organized and better maintained. And edging is relatively easy, especially for those homeowners with a smaller yard. Edging can be time-consuming for those with more property, but when done properly, edging is definitely worth the effort.
n Remove debris from the areas you plan to edge. Before you even begin to
edge, be sure to remove any debris from those areas that need edging. Debris, including rocks, twigs or the kids’ toys, left lying around can be kicked up when you’re edging, potentially causing injury to you or someone standing nearby.
n Purchase safety goggles. Even if you have removed all visible debris, there still may be some items hidden in the grass. These items can be kicked up and hit you in the eye, so purchase some safety goggles and be sure to wear them whenever you’re edging. As an added precaution, keep kids and others away from any areas you’re edging so they
aren’t injured by any unseen debris that gets kicked up while you’re working.
your local lawn care or hardware store if you don’t feel like you have enough.
n Check your tools. Edging can be done by using a gas-powered edger or a string trimmer. Before you begin to edge, inspect these tools to ensure they’re capable of handling the task at hand. Inspect the blades on a gas-powered edger to make sure they haven’t dulled since their most recent use. If they are dull, sharpen them before you start to edge. When using a string trimmer, make sure you have enough string on hand to complete the project. String trimmers use a particular kind of string, so visit
Once you have given your tools the green light, it’s time to start edging. When you begin, make sure the edger is between the sidewalk or driveway and the edge of the lawn, placing the wheel of the edger on the sidewalk or driveway and then pushing and pulling the edger until you have created a clear edge. If you have never edged before, you may want to practice on smaller, more isolated areas until you become comfortable operating the edger.
n Position your edger properly.
Spring Home is a specialty publication of Manchester Newspapers.
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30 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
Advice on tackling flying pests in your yard 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.
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 w i l l 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 chemicalbased 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 screened-in room may be the way to go. expire, you can bury them in the ground This way you can enjoy the weather to naturally decompose. while the insects stay on the other side Setting traps out very early in the of the screen. In climates where threeseason will help to season swimming is trap as many emerg- Flies lay about 50 to 100 possible, some homing insects as possi- eggs at one time. The eggs eowners actually ble. You also may be create screened-in able to trap the will hatch into maggots in rooms that encomqueens of certain their entire as little as 12 hours after pass insects, like bees or pool. wasps, further reduc- being deposited. Keeping ing the number of bugs yards free from decaying Beneficial bugs you will see Insects like butthroughout the year. matter, especially around terflies and bees are unsung heroes of entertaining areas, can the the landscape, as Repellents Repellents are limit the number of flies in they are responsible for pollinating many natural or chemicalthe yard. flowers and plants. ly derived formulas Honeybees and bumthat are worn or blebees will generalplaced in proximity to people. These repellents want insects ly keep to themselves if their nests are to find them. Once found, the repellents’ not disturbed and can actually be enjoysmell or taste is deemed questionable by able to watch as they buzz from flower to the insects, who will then seek out other flower. Wasps, like yellow-jackets, can be attracted to sweet smells, so keeping sugareas to reside. Repellents will vary in efficacy and ary drinks and foods covered can keep some may need to be reapplied frequent- them at bay. Or you may want to lure ly to remain effective. However, they are them to another area of the yard with a a useful tool when you will not be stay- bit of raw meat or a can of fruit punch. Sharing outdoor living spaces with ing in one spot in the yard. flying insects can be aggravating. But there are many options at a homeownScreens If you spend ample time outdoors, er’s disposal to control such unwanted especially at dusk, then investing in a guests.
Tips on how to maintain fresh-cut flowers Fresh flowers serve many purposes. A bouquet of flowers can be a gift on a special holiday or birthday. Some people apologize with flowers, while others use flowers to convey feelings of love or appreciation. Many people like to display fresh-cut flowers in their homes because their beauty can brighten the mood indoors. Others plant rows and rows of flowers in a garden with the express purpose of cutting them and bringing them into the home. While outdoor flowers can remain beautiful and bountiful outside, once they are cut, there is a limited amount of time before they begin to wilt and wither. But there are ways to prolong the life of cut flowers to enjoy their beauty as long as possible.
n Cut correctly. Creating a large enough surface area on the stem for the uptake of water is essential. That is why florists recommend cutting the stem on a slant to expose more area to the water.
n Place flowers in water immediately. Some people advocate cutting the stems while they’re actually submerged in water. However, you will probably be fine if you simply recut the stems on flowers you brought inside and immediately put them in a vase of water. The key is not to let the tip of the stem dry out or close up with an air bubble, sap or other substances, preventing the uptake of water. Be sure to
use lukewarm water so as not to shock the blooms.
n Remove leaves. Take off the leaves of the plant that would end up underwater in the vase. Exposure to the water could cause the leaves to rot and fall off, creating algae or sludge in the vase water. It also may breed extra bacteria or attract small insects to the water. However, do not to remove the thorns from roses, as this tends to shorten their shelf life. n Choose young flowers. Mature
flowers may have peaked and begun to make room for a new round of blooms, so try to choose young buds or blooms that just opened so that you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy them longer.
n Create a viable water atmosphere. Once a fresh flower is cut and a stem is placed in water, bacteria and fungi can start to grow almost immediately. These microscopic organisms can clog the small tubes inside the stem that suck up water for nourishment. Many florists
send home a packet of water additive to alleviate some problems in the indoor environment. The packet will contain a biocide that kills bacteria and fungi. There will be an acidifier as well as sugar. The acidifier makes the water more acidic to allow better absorption of water up the stem. The sugar is a food source for the flowers. Homeowners who cut flowers from their gardens can purchase these additives or create their own variations from items around the house. It has been said a penny in the water will kill the microorganisms because copper is a fungicide. An aspirin can make the water more acidic. You can also try small amounts of bleach, lemon-lime soda or even antiseptic mouthwash.
n Keep flowers away from ... Don’t place cut flowers next to fruit, which gives off gases as it ripens, causing flowers to age faster. Also, keep the flowers away from direct sunlight and try to keep them in a cool place. n Change the water. Keep on top of water maintenance by changing it at least every 2 to 3 days to maintain good water health. Be sure to replace the additives each time you change the water. By following a few strategies you can keep fresh-cut flowers lasting longer for enjoyment.
DID YOU KNOW landscape fabrics are used to prevent weed growth while still allowing air, oxygen and water to flow to and from the soil. Landscape fabrics are a chemical-free way to prevent weed growth, endearing them to eco-friendly homeowners. Landscape fabrics, once laid, also are a far less labor-intensive method to prevent weed growth, as they can be effective for several years, during which homeowners can expect to perform little or no maintenance. In addition, many homeowners prefer landscape fabrics because they can help the soil effectively maintain moisture during dry periods, when gardens might otherwise be highly susceptible to drought. Once put down, landscape fabric can be covered with mulch to add aesthetic appeal.
Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 31
There are more than 2,700 different types of earthworms residing on the planet. Earthworms are often known to be workhorses in the garden, helping to aerate and fertilize the soil while filling it with nutrients. Earthworms recycle materials like dead leaves, decaying animals and feces so new plant seedlings can grow and have the process begin anew. Worms have been around for 120 million years -- one of the few species of insects that have stood the test of time. In just one acre of soil, there may be a million or more earthworms turning over the soil and chewing on organic matter. Without earthworms, most plants would not thrive. Earthworms have mucous covering their bodies in order to stay moist. This helps them to breathe through their skin. You may have noticed that after it rains worms appear on sidewalks and outside of their underground burrows. This is not because they are drowning underground, but because the environment is moist after it rains, making it more conducive for worms to breathe and move around to find mates. Normally the dry conditions above ground make them dry out and die. Earthworms can be remarkable creatures to watch. Contrary to popular belief, worms do have a mouth and an opposite end for waste removal that is not interchangeable.
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32 - Week of April 15, 2013 - Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living
The benefit of pruning trees and shrubs Pruning trees and shrubs is necessary to ensure they maintain their health and vigor. Trees and shrubs should be inspected annually to determine if they need to be pruned. Mature trees typically do not need to be pruned as frequently as young trees, which need pruning to establish branch structure. Trees and shrubs that
go years without pruning can become overgrown and weak. In addition to promoting tree and shrub health, pruning pays a host of other dividends.
n Pruning removes dead or diseased branches. Pruning helps a tree or shrub maintain its shape and vigor by removing broken, dead or diseased branches that
can be unsightly and make it more difficult for the tree or shrub to stay healthy. When broken, dead or diseased branches are removed, trees or shrubs look healthier and add aesthetic appeal to a property.
n Pruning trees and shrubs promotes growth of other plants. Trees and shrubs that go years without being pruned
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become overgrown, making it difficult for plants underneath or adjacent to them to grow in healthy. For example, grass beneath an overgrown tree might not get adequate sunlight, which it needs to establish strong roots so it can grow in lush and healthy. Pruning allows plants beneath the tree and shrub and even those next to the tree and shrub to grow in nicely.
n Pruning can sometimes bring plants back to life. Shrubs that have
gone years without being pruned can sometimes still be salvaged. In some instances, pruning such shrubs can restore natural and healthy growth.
n Pruning reduces risk of accidents.
Overgrown trees can interfere with power lines, increasing the risk of accidents and power outages. In addition, overgrown trees tend to have larger, weaker limbs, which can prove hazardous and cause property damage during storms. Pruning overgrown trees reduces the risk of such accidents. n Pruning can save money. Over time, overgrown trees might require professional assistance in order to be removed or pruned from a property. Homeowners who prune their trees as needed can save themselves the cost of a potentially pricey tree service. n Pruning adds curb appeal. A property littered with overgrown trees and shrubs hurts a home's curb appeal, giving prospective buyers the impression that homeowners might have been careless with regard to maintaining the whole house and not just the lawn. But trees and shrubs that are pruned and well-maintained can add to a home's curb appeal, something that goes a long way toward impressing prospective buyers.
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Manchester Newspapers’ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 33
Time to start planning your vegetable garden Spring is in the air, and we are all feeling the excitement! The soil is warming up, the mud is receding and the early spring plants are just emerging. Since the frost-free date for most vegetables is several weeks away, now is the perfect time for planning and laying out your vegetable garden. If you’ve never grown one before, here are some tips to get you started: First, consider the site. Most edible crops are sun-loving annuals, so you
tent moisture, so water access is very important. Finally, check to make sure animals won’t become a problem. You may need to change your location or install protective fencing to defend your crop from marauding critters. The best vegetables, of course, come from the best soils. The best soils are
should look for a spot with all-day sunshine. Unfortunately, the plushest lawn on your property may also be the best for a vegetable garden! If you have several sunny locations to choose from, pick the one that is close to a water source. Vegetables need regular and consis-
rich in organic matter, well-drained and fall within the pH range or 5.8-6.8. Keep in mind, even the richest soil can fail because of the wrong pH, so new tests should be conducted frequently. Tests are available at Toadflax Nursery or your local cooperative extension, and are easy to perform. Happily, all three factors (organic matter, drainage and pH) can be
See VEGETABLE, pg. 34
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Vegetable Continued from page 33 improved with manure. Manure is your garden’s best friend, but it must be wellaged for spring applications. Any manure that has been resting for two years should be safe. When in doubt, conduct a sniff-test. The more pungent manures are usually the freshest ones. If fresh manure is your only option, apply it in the fall and incorporate thoroughly for a winter’s rest before planting. Finally, the size of your vegetable patch must be carefully considered. Too
many gardens have failed because of excess ambition. When in doubt, start small. A typical family should never need more than 6 tomato plants. Since Toadflax Nursery carries over 30 varieties of tomatoes alone, this can become a difficult choice to make. You can also include flowers with your vegetable plantings. They provide beauty, attract beneficial insects, and some are even edible! We wish you the best of luck in your gardening adventures. If you have any questions, or just want to spend a relaxing day among plants, be sure to stop by Toadflax for a visit! We look forward to meeting you.
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Manchester Newspapersâ€™ Spring Living - Week of April 15, 2013 - 35
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