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home & garden

A S U P P L E M E NT TO T H E N E W TOW N B E E • A P R I L 14 , 2 01 7

2 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

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home & garden - 3

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee


OVERHEAD DOOR COMPANY OF BROOKFIELD 549 Federal Road Brookfield Federal Road •••Brookfield 549 Federal Road Brookfield 549 549 Federal Road • Brookfield 549 Federal Road • Brookfield Open: Mon.-Fri. 8-5,Sat. Sat. 8-12 Open: Mon.-Fri. 8-5, 8-12 Open: Mon.-Fri. 8-12 Open: Mon.-Fri. 8-5, 8-5, Sat. Sat. 8-12

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Sale prices are forare installed purchases only. only.Sale prices Sale prices are forDoor installed purchases only. only. Overhead Door Company Ofinstalled Brookfield Overhead Company Of Brookfield Sale prices are for installed purchases only. are for installed purchases only. Sale prices for purchases Sale prices are for installed purchases Sale prices are for installed purchases only • Expires 6/30/17 Expires 4/30/17. Expires 4/30/17. Expires 4/30/17. Expires 4/30/17. BUNDLE an Electric Garage Door Operator with your New Door BUNDLE an Electric BUNDLE an Electric BUNDLE an Electric purchase &Door receive an an Electric BUNDLE Garage Operator each Garage Door Operator Garage Door Operator additional $25 off per Garage Door Operator with your New Door with your Newwith Door Courtyard or your New Door motor purchase & receive an with New an Door purchase & receive anyour purchase & receive Carriage additional $25 off per additional $25Brookfield off per purchase & receive Overhead Door Company Of Brookfield Overhead Door Company Of additional $25 off per House only. Sale prices are for installed purchases Sale prices are for installed purchases motor motor an only. additional $25 off motor Expires 4/30/17. Expires 4/30/17. Collection per motor Overhead Door Company Of Brookfield Overhead Door Company Of Brookfield

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4 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

Union Blue Construction Carpentry & Remodeling

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XT2 LAWN TRACTORS Available only at your locally owned Cub Cadet dealer, the XT2 Enduro SeriesTM delivers high levels of performance, power, comfort and convenience. • Deluxe Hydrostatic Transmission allows for smooth and simple operations. There’s no shifting; just push a pedal and go. • Corrosion defense system with e-coat for best-in-class protection. • Incredibly responsive handling comes from new, optimized steering system for exact control and maneuverability

Natural Tips To Beat Seasonal Respiratory Health Challenges (StatePoint) — Spring and summer can be particularly difficult times of year for those with respiratory health challenges, when simple activities like gardening, walking the dog, and reading a book on the patio can cause itching, wheezing, sneezing, and trouble breathing. “It is all about improving one’s immune function in response to environmental factors, which can mean the difference between perpetual discomfort and a happy, vital spring and summer,� says Kelly Heim, PhD, senior director of Scientific Affairs at Pure Encapsulations, a manufacturer of dietary supplements. Whether you are looking to make your garden the envy of the neighborhood, or you simply want to stay active and comfortable while enjoying the outdoors, consider the following treatments and tips. Something Sweet. Honey is not just delicious; it can be therapeutic, potentially helping to alleviate seasonal symptoms. However, it is important to select honey produced in your local area for this strategy to work. You should also know that this immunotherapeutic approach will not protect against all the causes of respiratory health challenges. Dietary Supplements. Nutritional intake can have a large impact on the way you feel in spring. Consider a dietary supplement designed to support both innate and adaptive immune response. For example, Pure Encapsulations Aller-Essentials with EpiCor contains a blend of nutrients and herbal extracts designed to promote

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â&#x20AC;˘â&#x20AC;˘50", 42", or mowing â&#x20AC;˘â&#x20AC;˘ 46" heavy-duty deck delivers â&#x20AC;˘â&#x20AC;˘ 46" fabricated DECK TRACTOR â&#x20AC;˘ 42",GARDEN or50", 54"TRACTOR stamped mowing decks decks â&#x20AC;˘ 46" LAWN heavy-duty mowingmowing deck â&#x20AC;˘ 46" heavy-duty fabricated mowingmowing deck deck 42", 50", or54" 54" stamped stamped mowing decks heavy-duty mowing deck delivers 46" heavy-duty heavy-duty fabricated mowing deck available positions â&#x20AC;˘46" Spring-assisted deckdelivers lift lever with (with lifetime deck shell fabricated mowing decks 48", 54" mowing decks Cub Cadet delivers Cub Cadet Cutâ&#x201E;˘ 54" fabricated mowing decks the Cubthe Cadet Cutâ&#x201E;˘Â Cutâ&#x201E;˘Â  delivers the limited Cubthe Cadet Cutâ&#x201E;˘ warranty) or 48", 54" fabricated fabricated mowing decks the CubSignature Cadet Signature Signature Cutâ&#x201E;˘Â  delivers the CubSignature Cadet Signature Signature Cutâ&#x201E;˘ or 48",or â&#x20AC;˘ 42", 50", or 54" stamped mowing decks â&#x20AC;˘â&#x20AC;˘ 46" mowing deck delivers â&#x20AC;˘ 46" heavy-duty fabricated mowing available separately (with limited deck shell 12AT:heavy-duty available positions Spring-assisted deck lift lever with 12 Spring-assisted deck lift lever available separately   STARTING   STARTING AT:(withâ&#x20AC;˘limited   STARTING AT: separately lifetimelifetime deck shell available separately (with limited lifetime deck shellwithdeckavailable â&#x20AC;˘ Spring-assisted deck lift lever with 12 â&#x20AC;˘ the Spring-assisted deck lift lever with 12 48", 54" fabricated mowing decks Cub Cadet Signature Cutâ&#x201E;˘Â  $2,499.99 *warrant)+ delivers the Cub Cadet Signature Cutâ&#x201E;˘ warrant)+ â&#x20AC;˘â&#x20AC;˘ or Electric deck with positions positions $ * $ 1,999.99 4,299.99 * â&#x20AC;˘available Front Bumper warrant)+ â&#x20AC;˘ Electric deck lift withlift 6 height positions available positions Electric deck lift with 6 height positions available positions 12 available â&#x20AC;˘ Electric deck lift6 height with available separately limited positions lifetime deck shellwith 12 â&#x20AC;˘ Spring-assisted deck lift lever with 12 â&#x20AC;˘â&#x20AC;˘ (with Spring-assisted lift lever â&#x20AC;˘ Spring-assisted deck liftdeck lever 12with 12 Spring-assisted deck liftwith lever â&#x20AC;˘ Arm Rest â&#x20AC;˘ warrant)+ Limited Supplies 6 deck height positions â&#x20AC;˘ Electric lift with 6 height positions available positions available positions available positions available positions â&#x20AC;˘ Spring-assisted deck lift lever with 12 â&#x20AC;˘ Electronic Power Steering available positions STARTING AT: AT:   STARTING  STARTING AT:   STARTING AT:






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Newtown Power Equipment Inc Newtown Power Equipment Newtown Power Equipment Inc. Inc. Newtown Power Equipment Inc. 151 Mt. Pleasant Road 151 Mt. Rd. Newtown Power Inc. 151 Mt. Rd. Equipment 151Pleasant Mt. Pleasant Pleasant Rd. Newtown, CT 06470 151 Mt.CT Pleasant Rd. Newtown, 06470 Newtown, 06470 Newtown, CTCT 06470

(1)FINANCING AVAILABLE TO QUALIFIED BUYERS. NOT ALL BUYERS QUALIFY. MINIMUM PURCHASE PRICE REQUIREMENT APPLIES. SEE STORE OR CUBCADET.COM FOR IMPORTANT DETAILS. MINIMUM MONTHLY PAYMENTS REQUIRED. TRANSACTION FINANCE CHARGES MAY APPLY. SEE YOUR CUB CADET RETAILER FOR DETAILS OR GO TO CUBCADET.COM FOR FULL DISCLOSURE. FINANCING SUBJECT TO TD BANK, N.A. APPROVAL. PROGRAMS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. *Product Price â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Actual retail prices are set by dealer and may vary. Taxes, freight, setup and handling charges may be additional and may vary. Models subject to limited availability. **See your local dealer for limited warranty details and information. Certain restrictions apply. â&#x20AC; as rated by engine manufacturer Specifications and programs are subject to change without notice. Images may not reflect dealer inventory and/or unit specifications. Š 2014 Cub Cadet 2013_3PV_Q

Newtown, CT 06470 (1)FINANCING AVAILABLE TO QUALIFIED BUYERS. NOT ALL BUYERS QUALIFY. MINIMUM PURCHASE PRICE REQUIREMENT APPLIES. SEE STORE OR CUBCADET.COM FOR IMPORTANT DETAILS. MINIMUM MONTHLY PAYMENTS (1)FINANCING AVAILABLE TO QUALIFIED NOT ALLMAY BUYERS QUALIFY. MINIMUM PURCHASE PRICE SEE STORE OR FOR FINANCING IMPORTANT DETAILS.TO MINIMUM MONTHLY PAYMENTS (1)FINANCING AVAILABLE TOBUYERS. QUALIFIED BUYERS. NOT ALL BUYERS QUALIFY. MINIMUM PURCHASE PRICEORREQUIREMENT APPLIES. SEE STORE OR CUBCADET.COM FORSUBJECT IMPORTANT DETAILS. MINIMUM MONTHLY PAYMENTS REQUIRED. TRANSACTION FINANCE CHARGES APPLY. SEE YOUR CUB CADET RETAILER FORREQUIREMENT DETAILS GOAPPLIES. TO CUBCADET.COM FORCUBCADET.COM FULL DISCLOSURE. TD BANK, N.A. APPROVAL. PROGRAMS REQUIRED. TRANSACTION FINANCE CHARGES MAY APPLY. *Product SEE YOUR CUB CADET RETAILER FOR DETAILS GO TOand CUBCADET.COM FORfreight, FULL DISCLOSURE. FINANCING SUBJECT TOSUBJECT TD BANK,TON.A. PROGRAMS REQUIRED. FINANCE CHARGES MAY APPLY. SEEâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; YOUR CUB CADET RETAILER DETAILS ORmay GOvary. TO CUBCADET.COM FOR FULL DISCLOSURE. FINANCING TD APPROVAL. BANK, N.A.Models APPROVAL. PROGRAMS SUBJECT TOTRANSACTION CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. Price Actual retail prices are setFOR byORdealer Taxes, setup and handling charges may be additional and may vary. subject to limited SUBJECT TO(1)FINANCING CHANGE TO WITHOUT NOTICE. *Product â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Actual retail prices areinformation. set by dealer vary. Taxes, freight, setup andSEE handling charges maycharges be additional mayand vary. Models subject to limited SUBJECT CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. *Product â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Actual retail prices are setand by may dealer and may vary. Taxes, and handling may beand additional and may vary. subject to limited AVAILABLE TO QUALIFIED BUYERS. NOT ALLPrice BUYERS QUALIFY. MINIMUM PURCHASE PRICE REQUIREMENT APPLIES. STORE OR CUBCADET.COM FOR IMPORTANT DETAILS. MINIMUM MONTHLY PAYMENTS availability. **See your local dealer forPrice limited warranty details and Certain restrictions apply. â&#x20AC; asfreight, rated bysetup engine manufacturer Specifications programs areModels subject to change availability.REQUIRED. **See your local dealer for limited warranty details and information. Certain restrictions apply. â&#x20AC; as rated by engine manufacturer Specifications and programs are subject to change availability. **See your local dealer for limited warranty details and information. Certain restrictions apply. â&#x20AC; as rated by engine manufacturer Specifications and programs are subject to change TRANSACTION FINANCE CHARGES MAY APPLY. SEE YOUR CUB CADET RETAILER FOR DETAILS OR GO TO CUBCADET.COM FOR FULL DISCLOSURE. FINANCING SUBJECT TO TD BANK, N.A. APPROVAL. PROGRAMS without notice. Images may not reflect dealer inventory and/or unit specifications. Š 2014 Cub Cadet 2013_3PV_Q without notice. Images mayImages not reflect inventory unitPrice specifications. Š 2014 2013_3PV_Q without notice. maydealer notNOTICE. reflect dealerand/or inventory and/or specifications. 2014 2013_3PV_Q SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT *Product â&#x20AC;&#x201D; unit Actual retail prices are Cub setŠ byCadet dealerCub andCadet may vary. Taxes, freight, setup and handling charges may be additional and may vary. Models subject to limited availability. **See your local dealer for limited warranty details and information. Certain restrictions apply. â&#x20AC; as rated by engine manufacturer Specifications and programs are subject to change without notice. Images may not reflect dealer inventory and/or unit specifications. Š 2014 Cub Cadet 2013_3PV_Q

healthy immune function in response to environmental factors. Research suggests that it enhances natural killer cell activation, B cell and T cell function, and salivary IgA levels; and that the quercetin, hesperidin and vitamin C in the supplement provide additional support for stabilizing mast cells that can release histamines and exacerbate respiratory issues. More information can be found at Practical Considerations. While building up immune response is crucial in the battle against respiratory problems, you can make your home a healthy oasis from with a few practical considerations. Create a makeshift mudroom or landing zone in your foyer. Remove shoes and outer layers when you get home, and ask your guests to do the same upon arrival. Keep your bedroom particularly protected from the outdoors; for example, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t toss the same jeans and clothing that have been on a picnic blanket on your bedspread. Wash your hair in the evening before going to sleep, particularly after a day in the garden, and remember to change and launder your pillows and linens regularly. Ask a Doctor. When it comes to health, there is no one-size-fits all solution. Talk with your health care provider, who can help pinpoint the exact source of your suffering, in order to determine the best treatment options for you. With a few lifestyle changes, you can look forward to a season of breathing easy.

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April 14, 2017 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Newtown Bee

home & garden - 5

6 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

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A Simple Spring Cleaning Checklist (StatePoint) — It’s the time of year to roll up your sleeves and do some spring cleaning. Experts point out that it’s helpful to streamline the tools you use to do the job and the tasks you seek to accomplish. “An all-purpose cleaner and a tough degreasing agent can be used in so many areas of the home,” says Jeff Devlin, a licensed contractor who has appeared on several home improvement television shows. Devlin’s first tip: look to reduce the number of products in your cleaning arsenal. “Along with highquality sprays and cloths, I use one allpurpose cleaner that also contains degreasing ingredients.” Devlin, along with Mean Green and its line of heavy-duty, all-purpose cleaners, offer these different strategies for critical areas of your home. *Stove and range hoods: While you should be cleaning these areas regularly after food preparation, take this opportunity to conduct a more thorough cleaning. Spray cleaner directly on the mess and let sit for up to two minutes. Wipe clean with a sponge or cloth. Then rinse thoroughly with clean water. *Sinks and countertops: Sinks and countertops can be a trap for food, grease, grime, and soap scum. Generously spray nonporous surfaces with your cleaner then rinse with clean water. *Stove exhaust filter: The grease buildup that collects on the stove’s exhaust filter can be a tough nut to crack. In a sink basin, mix 8 ounces of a concentrated multisurface cleaner and 1 gallon of hot water and submerge the filter. Place the filter in a sink or dishpan and pour in concentrated cleaner to cover. Allow the filter to soak for 30 minutes. Drain the dishpan and rinse thoroughly 1961 1961 1961

with hot water. *Floors: Give your floors a mopping. Mix 4 ounces of cleaning solution with 1 gallon of warm water. Apply with mop or sponge. *Garbage cans and diaper pails: Bags often leak nastiness into the bottom of the garbage can, which can easily be missed when quickly replacing the bag. Turn your cleanser’s nozzle to spray and generously cover the can. Wipe or brush any areas that have any residue. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. *Showers, tubs, and tile: Use your cleaning agent at full strength and generously spray surfaces directly. Allow it to penetrate the soap scum for up to two minutes. Do not allow to dry. Wipe away with a coarse sponge or cloth. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. *Toilets: Let’s face it. This isn’t anyone’s favorite job but it has to be done. Turn that nozzle to spray and generously spray the outside of the toilet. Wipe clean with a paper towel, then give a quick rinse. *Patio: For patios, outdoor furniture, concrete, vinyl fences, and siding, use the same cleaner outdoors: simply spray, then wipe clean with a cloth or sponge and rinse surfaces with clean water. While you’re at it, consider removing grease and grime from tools, engine parts, tires, sports gear, and lawn equipment. For efficiency, consider cleaning solutions that don’t require precleaning, such as Mean Green Super Strength Cleaner & Degreaser, the strongest all-purpose cleaner available. More tips for getting your spring to-dos completed can be found at “Make spring cleaning simple and effective by using smart strategies on every surface of your home,” said Devlin.

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home & garden - 7

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

Hardwood Lumber Distributor / Supplier

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8 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

from window boxes to rolling meadows —

There Is Room To Plant For Pollinators

design — Ms Eddison said small plants in a large space “don’t look like anything.” For her, working with a slope in the yard helped to plan a perennial garden. For a big landscape, Ms Eddison recommended shrubs. “You just kind of go with the flow,” she said. She also said for those less experienced with gardening it is always important to assess light conditions. The afternoon sun is much hotter than the morning sun, so Ms Eddison said to remember “it’s the heat of the sun” not always the number of hours of sun that matters. In fields, Ms Eddison said black-eyed Susans look great when planted next to grasses, “and those you can use in swaths.” At Shakespeare’s Garden in Brookfield, grower and Newtown resident Gary Ober said pesticides are not relied on. Instead, the garden center plants flowers to attract pollinators and beneficial insects— like ladybugs to eat aphids, a plant lice. The beneficial insects help pollinate the plants and act as a tool in place of pesticides, he said. For those looking to plant for pollinators, Mr Ober said to reduce their use of pesticides, especially neonicotinoid insecticides. Mr Ober said Merit is a popular neonicotinoid product that causes harm to pollinators. Not using pesticides requires more diligence and scouting, but Mr Ober said it is worth it.


From beginning to experienced gardeners, opportunities abound to help sustain and grow local pollinator populations. Several Newtown gardeners and pollinator supporters recently offered Home & Garden readers advice for planting in small, medium, or large spaces. “One-third of the food we eat depends on pollination, including half of our diet of fats and oils,” according to authors Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto in their book The Life in Your Garden, Gardening for Biodiversity. “Of the 1,300 plants grown around the world for human needs — including food, beverages, medicines, spices, and fabrics — 75 percent are pollinated by animals. The vast majority of these pollinators are insects, including more than 25,000 species of bees as well as moths, flies, wasps, beetles, and butterflies.” Mary Gaudet-Wilson of the Newtown-based Protect Our Pollinators group says protecting pollinators is so important because, “Our food depends on pollinator services.” Farms and the connected farming economy also depend on pollination, Ms Gaudet-Wilson said. Without pollinators the number of plants will diminish and the soil will be effected. Ms Gaudet-Wilson also shared that the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New haven has released a study that indicates two of the 14 species of local bumble bees have already been lost. “Connecticut lost 57 percent of our honeybees in 2015,” said Ms Gaudet-Wilson, adding that the number of wild bees is also lower but harder to track. She added, “We also know monarch butterflies have declined drastically.” In a presentation she created for the Protect Our Pollinators group, Ms Gaudet-Wilson shares a graph showing the decline of the bee population from roughly 5 million in 1947 to 2.5 million in 2014. The first way to help pollinators, she shared, is to “eliminate and reduce pesticide use.” Planting For Nectar People can also help by planting sources of nectar, and by “giving them a nesting habitat.” Some bees, she said, need a place of open sand, like a space in the yard that is not growing grass. It is also important to not clear everything in the fall as some bees use dead plants for nesting over the winter. Ms Gaudet-Wilson said she has already presented on the issue locally to receptive audiences. Fellow Protect Our Pollinators member, Garden Club of Newtown member, Conservation Commission member, and Master Gardener Holly Kocet also plans to offer a “Planting For Pollinators” presentation locally this summer. Announcements about Protect Our Pollinators events are made on the group’s website — and on its “Protect Our Pollinators” Facebook page. According to a slide from Ms Kocet’s presentation, pollinators include domesticated European honeybees, native bees, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, and hummingbirds. Birds can act as pollinators too. The National Audubon Society announced on Thursday, March 30, a new guide on its website,, titled How to Make Your Yard Bird-Friendly, and it includes links to native plants and gardening tips. Newtown resident Sydney Eddison — an award-winning author of books on gardening and two books of poetry — said when speaking about pollination, it really is “all about sex. The male pollen grains have to get stuck on or encounter the female pistil.” Many things can act as a pollinator, she said, while lovingly patting her Jack Russell terrier, Phoebe, including dogs or other animals that stroll through a garden picking

A sphinx moth on a verbena plant.

A bee on a flowering quince in a local Newtown garden. —Nicole Christensen photo up pollen and distributing it. “If you have lots of flowers in your garden you are doing all these pollinators a big favor,” said Ms Eddison, adding that she frequently sees bees in action in her home garden. Many of her plants, she said, attract pollinators, from bees to hummingbirds. For those new to planting, Ms Eddison said there are many helpful gardening catalogs that offer help when deciding which annuals or perennials to choose for a space. She is particularly fond of the Annie’s Annuals & Perennials,, which she said is based out of California but offers detailed information about each plant. Catalogs, she said, almost always identify plants that attract pollinators. She also likes the catalog Spring Hill Nurseries, Flowers offering a platform to land on — like the perennial black-eyed Susan — can give bees and butterflies a pollen boost. Just shaking the plant upon landing, Ms Eddison said, can rain pollen down upon on the pollinator. “Some plants are particularly seductive to pollinators,” said Ms Eddison, adding later that “all kinds” of milkweed is “dynamite” for pollinators, particularly for the monarch butterfly. Almost all plants that attract birds and butterflies like the sun, Ms Eddison said, and by providing lots of flowering plants, a gardener will see lots of pollinators. For those with only small spaces to plant pollinator gardens, Ms Eddison said, “You can grow anything in a container,” including shrubs for a few years until they grow too big. Planting In Containers Ms Eddison, who published Gardens to Go, Creating and Designing a Container Garden in 2005 with photographer Steve Silk, describes in detail all aspects of planting in containers in the book. She noted her evening primrose plant is frequently visited by moths at night, and it is “very easy to grow.” When deciding where to plant in a large space — like her own yard, which she said from the start was a lot of land to

—Bee file photo

Pesticide Free A sign hung in each greenhouse at Shakespeare’s Garden reads, “The plants we grow are free of harmful pesticides. As you walk through the greenhouses, you will see banker plants which offer habitat and food to our beneficial insects or as we like to call them ‘the good guys.’” Mr Ober said plants sold at Shakespeare’s Garden are pesticide-free. Shakespeare’s Garden growers also emphasize the importance of using local plants wherever possible, Mr Ober said adding that native plants “can be very colorful.” With concern growing for the monarch butterfly population, Mr Ober and others stressed the importance of planting butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, which is a type of milkweed. Butterfly weed is a “very good source of food” for the monarch butterflies. “It’s really pretty too,” said Mr Ober, adding that butterfly weed was named as the Perineal Plant of the Year for 2017 by the Perineal Plant Association. When designing an area for a pollinator garden, Mr Ober also advised to remember shrubs and trees, a linden tree or a hawthorn tree. If able, when landscaping, Mr Ober said verbena, summersweet, or spirea. “Investigate the shrubs that attract pollinators,” Mr Ober said. For those with an apartment or condominium with a small outdoor area, Mr Ober said container gardens offer a way to plant for pollinators. Fuscia, lantana, million bells, and butterfly bush — which Mr Ober said will bloom with some help from pinching off the old blooms — can all be good in containers. Mr Ober and others also said it is important to offer blooming plants throughout the growing season — from May to September — for pollinators. Annuals, he said, tend to bloom most of the season and a gardener can piece together a food supply to cover the entire summer. “The idea is to try to cover as many of the months as possible,” said Mr Ober, adding that he would be happy if everyone planted butterfly weed and butterfly bush. For containers or deck gardens, Mr Ober said drainage and a fresh soil mix are important. He also recommended choosing plants that will enjoy the site they are being placed on. Most containers are best for annuals, he said, and some dwarf blueberries and butterfly bush can be grown in containers.

Luscious Bananarama plants, which grower and Newtown resident Gary Ober said attracts pollinators, were starting to grow at Shakespeare’s Garden in mid-March. —Bee Photo, Hallabeck

home & garden - 9

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

A monarch caterpillar is found on a local leaf.

—Bee file photo

A monarch butterfly lands on a verbena plant.

For medium-sized garden areas — typically a targeted area of a property like a perimeter or a spot near a patio — Mr Ober suggested drawing the area and considering bloom times of the plants. A combination of annuals and perennials are good for medium spaces, and that is where gardeners can choose to install plants for pollinators. Mr Ober suggested adding shrubbery in the mix. He also said speaking with someone who does design work can be beneficial. For a large area of a yard, Mr Ober recommended using trees as a way to break up the space with vertical elements, native shrubs, and plants like verbena and spirea in the foreground. He said to keep the deer in mind and said turning a portion of land into a meadow by buying seed mixes and an assortment of annuals that will bloom most of the season. Planting plants that do well against weeds — like swamp milkweed — will also help, according to Mr Ober.

the summer. She also suggested planting herbs between vegetables in a garden, like basil to deter “bad bugs.” Japanese beetles do not like garlic, and catnip deters flea beetles, which she said has been bad the last few years. She also warned that catnip can spread. For those planting in containers, Ms Christensen recommended herbs or herbs mixed in with flowers. She likes to mix catnip with basil, thyme, sage, and chives. She also likes geraniums. For medium gardens, Ms Christensen recommended planting vegetables like squash and peas. She also said to keep light in mind when choosing what to plant in a medium garden. For medium to large spaces, Ms Christensen said a gardener should plot out what they want in the area. “Envision what you want to do and make sure you have the right light and soil,” she said.

Ask For Help If first-time gardeners start to become confused with which plants to choose or how to grow them, Mr Ober said to go to a nursery and ask any questions. Resident and Master Gardener Nicole Christensen also said master gardener volunteers are ready to help answer gardening questions out of the University of Connecticut (UConn) Master Gardener Program Fairfield County Extension Center in Bethel on Stony Hill Road. Residents can call 203-2073261 with questions. “That’s what the program is for, to help gardeners,” she said. For those just starting to garden and inspecting their lawn for options, Ms Christensen also said it is important to have their soil tested for any kind of in-ground flower or vegetable bed. “It’s a good idea to do it once a season, and [it] can easily and inexpensively be done through UConn,” Ms Christensen said, adding the forms are available at the Bethel center. In her own home garden, Ms Christensen said she sees many butterflies and bugs. Not all bugs, she quickly added, are bad; spraying to stop bugs can also kill all of the good bugs. Ms Christensen also advised planting something that will bloom from the start to the end of the blooming season. She has a flowering quince, which she said is in the apple family, that has many bees and butterflies around it in her yard. Catmint, cone flowers, and foxglove also attract pollinators, she said. She also sees hummingbirds around her bee balm in

Two bees on local Monarda plants. —Bee Photo, Crevier

—Bee file photo

Brighten Things Up When she first started gardening, Ms Christensen said she “started simple and just added each year.” She would go to gardening stores and find what she liked. In her garden, Ms Christensen said she plants for color, and that tends to attract pollinators. In Ms Kocet’s Planting For Pollinators presentation for Protect Our Pollinators, she also notes that bees are attracted to bright white, yellow, blue, and ultraviolet-colored plants. Butterflies, she said recently, like purple and lavender flowers, and hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers. Diversity of plants and continues blooming plants are important, she said. Ms Kocet said it is also important to plant “groups” of the same plant, so bees, “don’t have to travel as much to find what they need. Caterpillars also need to be taken care of to nurture butterflies. Butterfly caterpillars need a nest plant, specifically milkweed for monarch butterflies. For novice gardeners, Ms Kocet recommended starting out with a window box garden and patio pots. “In a garden bed, starting small is best,” Ms Kocet said in an e-mail. “Choosing just three different flowers and planting them in groups of the same flower, three feet of one kind of flower if room permits. Seed planting outdoors when the ground is workable is easiest. Seed packages give good directions. Or purchasing small plants in flats or pots, available at any garden shop. Annuals are a good start. Most like sun, are colorful, and long-blooming”. Perennials are more expensive than annuals, but she said they return each year. “Purchasing plants from a nursery with knowledgeable staff is preferable to those big-box stores that offer little help and sometimes don’t take care of the plants they sell,” Ms Kocet said. “You know the adage, ‘You get what you pay for.’ Plants displayed on blacktop is never a good idea. Also, plants that are native to this area (native plants) are more tolerant of soil conditions, require less water once established, less fertilization and need less care overall.” Protect Our Pollinators also offers a list of important native plants to plant for pollinators. Some native perennials are Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), blackeyed Susan (Reudbeckia hirta), butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), and New England aster (Symphyotrichum n.a.) A full list of plants is available on the group’s website



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10 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017



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Helpful Hints For A Clean And Clutter-Free Home (StatePoint) — Papers piling up? Toys taking over? If your home is more cluttered than clean, you are not alone — 85 percent of homeowners say that organization and storage is the most desired feature in a home, according to Simply getting rid of clutter alone can eliminate 40 percent of housework in the average home, according to the National Soap and Detergent Association. With a few helpful hints your home can get organized… and stay that way. Conquer a Clutter-free Kitchen — With a wealth of gadgets, it is no wonder the kitchen is a clutter culprit. To start your cleanse, remove everything from drawers and cupboards. If you have not used an item in the last month (unless it is a holiday necessity) — purge it! Next up, clean and line drawer and shelf surfaces with a quality shelf liner, such as Easy Liner brand shelf liners by Duck brand. Not only will it protect them from dirt and grime, but it also offers a good gauge: if you cannot see the shelf liner, it is time to purge again! Get a New Spin on the Laundry Room — Sometimes the laundry room needs a bit of cleaning itself. Detergents and other build-up can cause washing machine odors. Run white vinegar through a cycle to sanitize it with ease. Next, improve efficiency and reduce fire hazards by thoroughly cleaning lint from dryer vents — both inside and out. Finally, use labeled baskets to ensure everything has its place. And, since the laundry room is often a catch-all location, label one as a “put away” basket and be sure to empty it daily, putting its contents back in their proper places. Control Bathroom Chaos — From towels to toiletries, bathrooms hold a lot of “stuff,” which can make organizing feel like

a losing battle. Create a decluttering schedule. Since many toiletries, such as toothbrushes and makeup, should be replaced quarterly, this is the perfect time to purge. Empty drawers and linen cabinets and toss out items that are old or are not being used. Shelf liner can once again be a useful addition before putting items back, since products like Easy Liner brand products with Clorox antimicrobial protection can add an extra level of clean by helping prevent the growth of odor-causing mold and mildew on the liner. Plus, you can toss it in the wash for easy cleaning. Gear-Up Garage Organization — From toys to tools to seasonal gear, the garage has it all. Unfortunately, 25 percent of two-car garages are so cluttered that there is not room to park a car, reports the US Department of Energy. Annually, remove everything and categorize items into “keep,” “sell/donate,” and “trash” piles. Next, designate sections of the garage for “work” (hardware and gardening tools) and “play” (toys, bikes, and balls). Create vertical storage by adding hooks and floorto-ceiling shelves. Finally, label bins, boxes, and shelves to encourage everyone to maintain the new-found organization. Purr-fectly Clean Pets — Humans are not the only ones accumulating clutter or making messes. In fact, discovered that the average number of pet toys in a home was 34! Start each season by tossing out tattered pet toys and thoroughly disinfecting the keepers — along with leashes, boxes, and bedding. To keep areas neat and clean, place nonadhesive shelf liner under food and water bowls to keep them in place and spills contained. A piece under the litter box can also reduce litter scatter across floors and the grip surface helps pull litter from dirty paws.

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home & garden - 11

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

Smart Kitchen Upgrade Ideas To Help You Save Time

StatePoint — Most home cooks want the flexibility of preparing complicated meals with ease and convenience. Even those with a deft culinary hand, however, may be limited by their tools, space, and appliances. Smartly outfitting your kitchen can help you jump meal preparation hurdles, particularly if you are someone who is inclined to prepare multicourse meals. Consider spacesaving appliances with versatile functionality that can do more than one job at a time. Just as you can multitask, so should your kitchen appliances. Experts point out that it all boils down to the capabilities of your oven range. When pressed for time, you may have compromised on cooking times or temperature, leaving dishes to suffer through over- or undercooking. Home chefs with this problem should consider upgrading to a double oven range, which would allow you to cook multiple dishes at separate temperatures. Consider the flexibility of being able to bake cookies in convection mode at 350 degrees while simultaneously broiling chicken, all in one unit. If you do plan to make this upgrade, consider your needs and options. For example, if

an electric connection is the only option for cooking, consider Verona’s 36-inch fully electric double oven range, which offers cooking performance one might not expect from a fully electric range. Also available in dual fuel and all gas options, the Verona double oven ranges are fully equipped with two easily programmed multifunction ovens and provide multiple cooking modes, including baking, defrosting, and broiling. When form is just as important as function, consider ILVE’s larger double oven range options in 40-, 48-, and 60-inch sizes. All sizes feature two multifunction ovens and added multitasking tools such as a rotisserie and warming drawer. Cooktop options such as a French top and removable griddle give even more flexibility to ambitious home cooks. With a dual oven range, you may find that a separate built-in oven becomes unnecessary, freeing up valuable cabinet space and valuable dollars for other useful chef’s tools and supplies. Additionally, upgrading your most important appliances can help you work smarter, not harder. Love cooking? Give yourself the tools that allow you to get more done.

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12 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

Signs Of Spring Coaxing Local Gardeners Out From Winter Lairs

By Kendra Bobowick Spring slid in amid snow, wind, and rain this year. Preceding it was a warm stretch in late February, waking cold blooded amphibians up from their muddy slumber days before cold weather returned, refreezing the ground and vernal pools. Crocuses poked up, spreading their brief colorful faces, only for snow to cover them again. Some local gardeners have been taking note of the region’s seasonal moodiness, and how it affects the plants, shrubs, and trees that populate local properties. Town and Country Garden Club of Newtown Program Chair Judy Beer said the late wintry cold snaps “could harm things. This year it seems like forsythia should be farther along, but I look out the window and see the daffodils.” This year her andromeda is doing well, “but last February the buds fell off.” This year posed another threat to tender growth. “We had a lot of damage with the wind; we had a 100-year-old hemlock come down.” Despite uncooperative weather, Ms Beer said, “People should be looking for the early bulbs coming up.” If residents don’t go outside and check the ground, “you won’t see them, but if you’re interested in seeing the early spring,” she said her crocuses came up, even after snow buried them. The tiny flowers had survived. “They’re hardy,” she said. They’re also sneaky. “They pop up in other places where I don’t recall planting them.” Although the winter has not been “terri-

ful area and we want to enjoy all this.” Garden Club of Newtown civic chair Holly Kocet offered her thoughts on spring after a late March stroll through her backyard and gardens. “I believe that spring is a bit behind this year,” she said. “Perhaps it gives us a chance to cleanup our gardens, to cut back the perennials whose seed heads provided food for birds over winter.”

Crocuses on one Main Street front lawn often are some of the first hints of spring. —Bee Photos, Bobowick

Small daffodils bloomed in late March along Church Hill Road. At the same time, remnants of snow remained.

bly cold or snowy,” it has proved “dark and gloomy,” she said. Already coming to life are the hellebores “and of course the chipmunks are out,” and the “LBBs” — little brown birds. “Sparrows are all around and I hear the song sparrows, they’re beautiful,” Ms Beer said. “Birds are in their mating mode and behaving differently. You hear them early in the morning either beckoning or establishing territories, and the sparrows like bushy areas, they sit there and sing and say, ‘my territory.’”

said. “I have arugula and mesclun coming up indoors — it’s time to start outdoors or in containers, and companion plants like onions and nasturtiums and flowers.” Horticulture Club of Newtown President Joan Cominski has also been waiting for the weather to warm. “I was excited last week and saw a robin, but I wondered what it was going to eat.” She said robins eat “14 feet of worm a day,” and when the ground has been under snow, “they eat berries too.” Like Ms Beer, Ms Cominski is also aware that cold in the early spring can harm the season’s blooms. “We need to be aware that if we get another freeze we could lose the buds, and the flowering trees — hydrangea, apple — that’s why we had none last year.” A warm February may also have prompted many birds to start returning north. She said, “A friend was near high meadow [in Fairfield Hills] and she saw bluebirds and robins by late March. Bluebirds are early. There is a lot of feed for them in the grasses in the meadow.” She maintains a fountain in her yard “and can’t wait to see birds and squirrels flitting” in or near it. “I fill it every day and in the morning it’s empty.” Could a fox or some other wildlife be drinking from it at night? “One morning I saw doves sitting backwards with their tales over the water, I think they were feeling the warmth.” But the winter lingers. Ms Cominski spent March 28 dispersing “a huge pile of snow” at the end of her driveway. Looking ahead to April, she said, “Things are budding and we want them to stay budding and last year there were no apples, and no hydrangea” due to a late cold snap. She hopes this year’s blooms remain. “We have such a beauti-

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Snowdrops Are Blooming She has found springlike evidence, however, in the crocus and snowdrops that have been in bloom for a few weeks, she said, “having waited patiently for the snow to recede.” Daffodils are showing flower buds, and many shrubs and trees like rhododendron and dogwood have “noticeably swollen buds, promising a good show later this spring.” She noticed that spicebush, cranberry viburnum, and lilac buds “seem ready to pop open at any time.” A Pierus Japonica “already has some bell-shaped blooms. Other evidence of life are sedum plants poking up through the ground; also with chives and daylily.” Looking at the wildlife, she said, “Male goldfinches are getting their bright yellow color and birds seem to be calling back and forth to each other now. It is a reminder to me to put out my alpaca fur balls for birds to use as nesting material.” These can be purchased at Wild Birds Unlimited in Brookfield, she said. Ms Kocet also suggested that cat fur and short pieces of yarn are also good nesting materials and can be placed in suet cages making it easy for birds to take. She advises keeping cats away from the birds, which are “extremely vulnerable during spring mating and nesting.” Ms Kocet’s friend and resident Dottie Evans, “a very knowledgeable birder, reminds me that it’s also time to clean out your birdhouses,” to remove mites left behind by mice. Hummingbirds also will be returning by mid-April. She prefers making her own nectar: “Just mix quartercup granulated sugar and 1 cup clear fresh water, heat until sugar is dissolved, cool, then fill the feeder and watch for the hummingbirds to return.” Refrigerated nectar can be stored for up to two weeks. She added, “The male hummingbird usually arrives first. Watch for him with his ruby throat.” Keep the bird feeders clean, she said, “especially hummingbird nectar feeders, which is so critical to bird health.” Many flowers attract hummingbirds. Favorites include Monarda, cardinal flower, and Salvia.


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home & garden - 13

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

From Clogs To Backups — 3 Simple DIY Plumbing Fixes StatePoint — If the idea of doing it yourself where plumbing is concerned sounds intimidating, fear not. There are many simple fixes to common plumbing problems that just about anyone can take care of without professional assistance. More importantly, performing these simple maintenance tasks as they are needed can prevent larger problems from occurring. Not sure where to start? Try these quick plumbing tips from Jeff Devlin, a licensed contractor who has appeared on several TV home improvement shows. *Hair clogs: If you are accustomed to calling the plumber or snaking the drain when your tub is clogged, consider a simpler solution. Hair clog removers, available at your local hardware store or supercenter, are formulated with specific ingredients that work to dissolve hair and clear a drain on contact. For example, Roto-Rooter Hair Clog Remover works up to five times faster than other brands because it has 25 percent more hair dissolving ingredients. You can also help slow down the forming of new clogs by ensuring all of your drains have strainers to catch hairs and other debris. *Kitchen clogs: Grease, soap, and food can get trapped in kitchen sinks — it happens in every home sooner or later. The easiest way to clear these tough clogs is to use a solution designed specifically to cut through grease and food and open up a drain. Use 16 ounces of a solution like Roto-Rooter’s Gel Clog Remover and wait about 10 minutes before flushing with water. While a great clog remover can do wonders, you should try to dispose of larger amounts of grease in the garbage. Keep this in mind next time you are deep frying dinner. *Septic backups: If you have a septic system, know that anything poured down any drain in your home will end up in the tank. So it is very important to keep that system healthy. A septic system is not unlike the human digestive system — it contains bacteria and enzymes which help to eliminate waste. Sometimes, however, the good bacteria and enzymes get destroyed by the things that get dumped into drains. Just as you can add a probiotic to your personal digestive system to keep things in balance, in a septic system you can maintain balance by adding a septic treatment to your toilet. To avoid costly and messy backups, do this quick task once a month. “Performing simple routine maintenance can save you time, money, and a headache down the line,” says Devlin.

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14 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

Local Contractors Tell Tales Of Three Renovations

By John Voket Whether it is a homeowner looking to rehab their place, a commercial client with designs on giving their organization an impressive new space, or discovering the ultimate fixerupper of their own to reface, three local contractors recently reached out to Home & Garden to talk about unique renovation projects that have been keeping them very busy over the past few months. For Jeff Shantar of Shantar Construction Company, the client who called on him to open up and modernize a prior home to office conversion on Church Hill Road was Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy organization that sprung up in the wake of the December 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Mike Alpert, owner of Titan Craftsmen Renovations & Remodeling, and CertaPro Painters began his relationship with a Danbury area homeowner by taking on a single project. And as he gained the trust with his companies’ quality workmanship and commitment to delivering what was promised — on time and in budget — that client kept on adding more and more work. Then there was the deteriorating historic home on Mt Pleasant Road that has become the new home and passion project for Tom Saint, who had to call on all the experience he has gained over decades of working on other people’s homes to achieve the near total facelift the property is experiencing today. Mr Alpert’s client is a professional musician who lives with his wife in a medium-sized colonial near the Danbury/New York border. As he and his master carpenter Bob Clark continued to build trust, they kept getting called back for new projects — the largest of which

Newtown resident Jeff Shantar of Shantar Construction Company prides himself on being an onsite project manager who makes every effort to employ fellow Newtown contractors and subs for many of his projects. —Home & Garden Photo, Voket

Newtown resident Mike Alpert, owner of Titan Craftsmen Renovations & Remodeling and CertaPro Painters, stands below an addition his companies recently completed as part of a nearly entire home rehab project for a residential client in Danbury. —Home & Garden Photo, Voket

was adding a bedroom in an area that was formerly attic space over a two-car garage. “We tore the top of the garage completely off, and rebuilt it into a new bedroom with dormers,” Mr Clark pointed out during a recent exterior tour of the property. With that project complete, much to the satisfaction of the residents, Titan and CertaPro workers were invited to replace all the exterior siding. “This siding is very exclusive because it has two layers of insulation instead of the normal single layer,” Mr Alpert said. This was going to provide for much greater energy efficiency in the home, which is solely heated by electricity. Having worked as a draftsman for an architect firm for more than a decade, when the client’s very first request came in to rebuild a master bathroom in the dwelling, Mr Clark was ready to oblige. “It was originally a pretty small bathroom adjacent to an unused bedroom,” Mr Clark explained. “So what we did was design it much larger, and we pushed it into part of the adjacent bedroom space.” The new master bath now has all the appropriate amenities like a whirlpool tub, zeroentry shower stall, double vanities, matching sinks, all new cabinetry, and a ceiling bumpup to the original rafters, which really opened up the space. Then came enlarging the front door. “The front door was much smaller, so we removed it, replaced it with a steel door, added insulated, double pane sidelights, and replaced the 1970s-era framing with contemporary fluted columns, keystones, and head work all with an exterior polyurethane material instead of wood, which is

much more durable,” Mr Clark said. “We also redid their roof, removed all their skylights, replaced the gutters, leaders, and retrimmed all the windows,” Mr Alpert said. Then it was time to expand and renovate the kitchen, which required a structural bumpout in the rear of the home that is supported by added support beams and cement structural footings.” Then it was time to renovate the basement, adding new wiring, recessed lighting in a new drop ceiling, and completely renovated the additional bathroom and added a basement kitchenette. That created an opportunity to relocate the laundry appliances to the second floor. Mr Alpert said operating the two businesses in tandem helps provide clients like this one a much more comprehensive level of service. As his CertaPro crews completed painting work, he often found those clients seeking additional contracting services, so he decided to establish the remodeling and renovation business, which now reciprocates by feeding occasional jobs to his painting franchise. Having built up his CertaPro reputation in local markets, Mr Alpert continued to acquire more franchise territories and now services more than 50 western Connecticut communities from the Massachusetts border southward to Long Island Sound. To learn more about Titan Craftsmen Renovations & Remodeling, call 203-240-5274 or visit For information on CertaPro Painters, visit or call 203-244-9505. Strictly Commercial Among the handful of former residential

Mike Alpert, owner of Titan Craftsmen Renovations & Remodeling, and CertaPro Painters, right, and his master carpenter Bob Clark examine the exterior bump out that was created to enhance a kitchen renovation for a residential client in Danbury. The company has been engaged in multiple projects at the home, from roofing, windows, a new widened front door, and basement conversion, to the creation of an entire new room above an attached garage, and an expansion of a master bathroom on the second floor. —Home & Garden Photo, Voket BEFORE PHOTO

This before and after image of a formerly abandoned farmhouse on Mt Pleasant Road only hints at the scope of renovations that Newtown painter and contractor Tom Saint of Tom Saint Painting & Remodeling and Hillary Smith had to accomplish over nearly a year to turn the 18th Century structure into a rustic, yet modern home. —photos courtesy of Tom Saint

home & garden - 15

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

Newtown painter and contractor Tom Saint of Tom Saint Painting & Remodeling and Hillary Smith stand in the newly installed kitchen of a historic farmhouse on Mt Pleasant Road that the couple is in the final stages of renovating. —Home & Garden Photo, Voket

Extensive renovations to this former home to office conversion on Church Hill Road were completed by Jeff Shantar of Shantar Construction Company for the Sandy Hook Promise advocacy nonprofit. The work involved removal of multiple walls and the installation of steel support to enhance the open floor plan. —Home & Garden Photos, Voket

This contemporary kitchen was installed by Jeff Shantar of Shantar Construction Company in a residential to office conversion at the new headquarters of Sandy Hook Promise on Church Hill Road. —Home & Garden Photo, Voket homes on upper Church Hill Road that were converted for commercial use over the past 20 years is the new headquarters of Sandy Hook Promise. Formerly housed in upper floor leased space at a recently built commercial complex literally across the street, the nonprofit’s principles were looking for as much of an open floor plan design as possible in their permanent new office home. Mr Shantar, a lifelong Newtown resident, delivered a renovation that met all expectations and then some. “They hired me as the general contractor to oversee all the subs and bring in a job that met the specs of all their plans,” Mr Shantar said. “The major part of the project involved the installation of a lot of structural steel because we took a ton of load bearing walls out.” Luckily, by the time Sandy Hook Promise acquired the building, only about 20 percent of the interior contained what Mr Shantar called residential features. “It had already been under use as office space. The front porch was enclosed and made into offices about 15 years ago, the original useless kitchen had no plumbing, and there was just a single bathroom,” he said. “But we still gutted and renovated the whole space.” The final space configuration offers visitors a nearly front-to-back and welcoming common area with a large glass conference room, a work area with custom countertops and storage cabinets running along more open space extending to a new bathroom and fully functioning kitchen in the rear. Other defined office spaces on the first and second floor are also opened up with glass walls and sparse but functional furnishings. The second floor also includes a small conference room and an expanded water closet that now has a stall shower. Most of the house was also rewired for electricity and all the necessary IT infrastructure the client required, a high

Newtown painter and contractor Tom Saint of Tom Saint Painting & Remodeling said this second floor staircase is an example of the challenging design features of an 18th Century farmhouse he and Hillary Smith are in the final stages of renovating on Mt Pleasant Road. —Home & Garden Photo, Voket efficiency furnace was installed, and state-ofthe-art security and LED lighting was included. Over the years, Mr Shantar says he has completed jobs from small deck and room renovations, to building spec homes from the ground up and selling them, so he was well equipped to tackle the Sandy Hook Promise project. “We try to keep as much of the work as possible in-house,” he said. “I am an on-thejob contractor, and I try to always hire local people.” As he begins wrapping up his work on Church Hill Road, Mr Shantar is moving on to another local client who is renovating a 1,000-square-foot unfinished basement into fully-equipped living space. Reach Shantar Construction Co. at 475529-1455, or visit Home Saint Home For years, Newtown painter and contractor Tom Saint and his girlfriend Hillary Smith drove by the stately historic home at 30 Mt Pleasant Road. And like many others, they often wondered what was happening with the long-vacant and slowly deteriorating residence. “I think most everyone in Newtown that was looking to buy a house looked at this

one,” he said. So after failing to sell to dozens of prospects who visited over the years, the property reverted to bank-owned and Mr Saint decided he would buy it himself. That turn of events positioned him for the greatest renovation challenge of his career. “You know I’ve done everything I had to do in this house for other people,” he said. “But I’ve never done one single project that required this much work on one location.” After 11 months of gutting and rebuilding from top to bottom, and from inside to out, Mr Saint and Ms Smith recently moved in. The original house on the lot was constructed in 1784, with a renovation in the 1920s, which included an addition. “And since we got it, every square inch has been lovingly restored or renovated,” he added. “The floors, the ceilings, the roof, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, 50 new windows, a new kitchen, and new bathrooms. It’s all been dealt with, and we’re still in the scope of market value after all is said and done. According to Ms Smith, the kitchen was the biggest challenge. Pointing to what will be finished as a breakfast nook off a palatial new kitchen, Ms Smith notes, “That used to be the whole kitchen.” “It was a galley,” Mr Saint added.

Another major component involved the master bedroom, which was originally a somewhat stifling low ceiling space on the second floor. To help air the room out a bit, Mr Saint removed all the ceiling and wall plaster, and bumped out the surfacing to reveal the original wood beams. “Once you got into a room, you had to take it down to nothing and start over,” he said, pointing to a gradual slight drop from one end of the dining room to the other. “And as you can see, there is no single straight line anywhere.” Another intriguing area of the house is the third floor living space, which will serve as a bedroom and studio for Mr Saint’s daughter. It is accessed by a tight winding staircase that looks like it could have come from a Tim Burton film. From an infrastructure standpoint, he said tweaking the electrical and HVAC systems to all come together and work as needed was the most challenging aspect of the renovation. Besides cleaning up and repairing the exterior, the couple also decided to take the long stretch of wire that extended from a pole on Mt Pleasant Road across the front yard to the house, and bury it. The property is also served by a city water and sewer line. Finally, a full house generator will be installed to keep the place up and running in the event of a power failure. While the restoration was meticulous, challenging, and expensive, with more than 90 percent of the work behind them, Mr Saint and Ms Smith can start to relax and enjoy their newfound home. “I think the best thing was that we started out with a vision for what the house could be,” Ms Smith said, “and it has fulfilled that vision and we’re both perfectly happy with the way it came out.” To reach Tom Saint Painting & Remodeling, call 203-362-9972 or visit

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The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

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home & garden - 17

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

Tell Your Own Lightbulb ‘Story Behind The Switch’

WORCESTER, MASS. — is conducting a “The Story Behind The Switch” contest in celebration of Earth Day, April 22. launched the contest to invite LED buyers to share their stories about what inspired them to convert to more energy-efficient LED lighting and to help encourage other lighting buyers to make the switch to LED lighting in celebration of Earth Day The contest is open for entries until April 30. Visit app/1074352142592566/ to enter. Upload a picture or video of your LED project and provide a short description of what led you to convert to LEDs. Share your entry with friends and colleagues so they can vote on your story and help you win $1,000. The LED story that generates the most votes by midnight April 30 will win $1,000 in a drawing held on May 1. In addition, the first 100 entries to submit their LED story will receive a free T-shirt and headlamp. The contest provides a great opportunity for LED buyers to share their stories about what inspired them to transition to more energy efficient lighting. LED Lighting is 80 to 90 percent more energy efficient than traditional lighting and conventional light bulbs (i.e. Metal Halide, CFL, Linear Fluorescent, or Halogen). This means that roughly 80 percent of the electrical energy is converted to light rather than being lost as heat with traditional lighting. Upgrading to LED lighting means your HVAC costs can be reduced as a result of lower heat emissions with LED lighting. This can deliver up to 80% savings on your utility bill. Energy savings is only part of the benefits from LED lighting. Other benefits include: *Longer life and less maintenance — LEDs have an outstanding operational life time expectation of sometimes up to 100,000 hours. The long life span of LEDs

means that you will spend far less on maintenance and replacement costs over the extended life of the bulbs. *Color Rendering — LED lighting offers a superior color rendering index (CRI), which ensures that objects are seen in their true, natural beauty so you can see the colors of your artwork, or better merchandise your products. *No toxic material — LED lights are free of toxic chemicals. Most conventional fluorescent lighting contain a multitude of materials like mercury that are dangerous for the environment. *LED lights contain no toxic materials and are 100 percent recyclable, and will help you to reduce your carbon footprint. *Durability — LEDs are extremely durable and built with sturdy components that are highly rugged and can withstand even the roughest conditions. LEDs make great outdoor lighting systems for exposure to weather, wind, rain or even external vandalism, traffic related public exposure, and construction or manufacturing sites. *Zero UV emissions — LED Lighting generates little infrared light and close to no UV emissions, which is good for illumination of UV sensitive objects or materials *Design versatility — LEDs have tremendous design flexibility and can be combined in any shape to produce highly efficient illumination. Individual LEDs can be dimmed, resulting in control of light, color and distribution. Well-designed LED illumination systems can achieve lighting effects, not only for the eye but also for the mood and the mind. *“Instant on” reliability — LEDs can be turned on instantly and brighten up immediately when powered on, which has great advantages for infrastructure projects such as traffic and signal lights. To learn more about LED lighting visit

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home & garden - 19

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

Updated Manual Published For Home Improvement Contractors

HARTFORD — In early March, Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) released an updated Home Improvement & New Home Construction in Connecticut manual for home improvement contractors. Since home improvement-related issues generate the most complaints to the agency, working to make sure businesses and professionals have what they need to be successful contractors is a priority for the DCP. Agency leaders know that most business people are good stewards of today’s market, and want to do a good job for the consumers who hire them — which means knowing the rules. As laws, regulations, and the markets change, the DCP is updated the materials available to keep contractors up-to-date. “Here at DCP we’re working hard to streamline regulations to make sure

Connecticut remains a place with a business-friendly climate,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris. “We know that consumers are most successful in the marketplace when regulators and businesses have a meaningful partnership. That’s why we’re continuing our efforts to communicate with professional organizations, and consistently updating educational materials.” The updated version of Home Improvement & New Home Construction in Connecticut is available at dcp/pdf/publications/homeimprovementandnewhomeconstructioninconnecticut.pdf. Contractors with questions or concerns can contact the DCP’s Trade Practices Division via e-mail at or by calling 860-713-6180.

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For years, color psychologists have understood that different hues impact our moods in various ways. Are you putting this information to use in your home’s interior? If you are looking to upgrade your interior color scheme, consider incorporating these 2017 color trends: Pantone Chooses Kale What has become a household name due to its superfood status is now one of Pantone’s top color selections for 2017. How to use it: Kale’s deep, earthy green is a bold shade that may be best added in small doses. Start subtly with a piece of art in the family area or statement pillows in the living room. Sherwin Williams Promotes Poised Taupe A trendy neutral that is a mix of warm and cool, this brownish hue is the perfect alternative to gray. Plus, it is ideal for adding a dash of cozy to any space. How to use it: You can dress an entire room in poised taupe wallpaper, use it to add a sense of harmony to your guest room linens or paint built-in cabinetry this new hue for a modern, homey touch. Benjamin Moore Selects Shadow This purple-adjacent tone, a combination of amethyst and soft lilac gray, is both elegant and versatile with a touch of mystery. It also responds well to a variety of complementary colors and design themes. How to use it: For a dramatic effect, let this color create a calming, sophisticated vibe in the bedroom. Or try using it to make a visual focal point, such as in a bookcase, or by mixing the color with pops of pattern. Whether you choose to put a couple of these color picks into play on a large or small scale, you are sure to elevate the mood in your home.

State Gets Top Grade For Lead Pipe Disclosure Policies For Homebuyers HARTFORD — The state Departments of Consumer Protection (DCP) and Public Health (DPH) announced that Connecticut has received a grade of A- in a new report issued by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) grading all 50 states on lead pipe disclosure policies. Connecticut was one of only three states to receive the highest grade awarded, while 20 states received a D or F. The report evaluated each state’s lead pipe disclosure policy and its ability to help homebuyers make informed decisions about lead service lines prior to purchasing a home. Lead service lines (LSLs) are lead pipes that carry water from the street to homes and other buildings and are the largest source of lead in drinking water. Connecticut, Delaware, and New York were the only three states that require mandatory disclosure of lead pipes to homebuyers. “Our homes are often the most valuable purchase we make in our lifetime. They can be the most expensive, in need of the most upkeep and repair, a place where we raise our families, make memories, and one of the most emotionally valuable,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris, “We’re proud of the work we’ve done in Connecticut to make sure families know

what they’re purchasing when they commit to buying their home. Connecticut has paved the way for the rest of the country when it comes to protecting public health and safety, and we look forward to continuing our work with businesses and homeowners to improve even more.” “The safety of Connecticut’s drinking water has long been a priority for the state and the Department of Public Health, and we are proud that our efforts have been recognized by the Environmental Defense Fund,” said DPH Commissioner Raul Pino, MD, MPH. “Even at low levels, lead can cause lifelong developmental damage in infants and children who are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure. Homebuyers should have all the facts regarding lead pipes before they purchase a home so that they can make the best, most informed decision for the health and wellbeing of their family.” Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of corrosion of materials containing lead in the water distribution system and plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome plated faucets, and in some cases, pipes made out of lead. Lead levels can be reduced by replacing fixtures and piping that may be contributing lead to the water.


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20 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

Creating The Backyard Of Your Dreams By Alissa Silber Any yard can benefit from adding outdoor structures. Whether you are looking to spruce up a garden or create a space to entertain guests, there are myriad options that can be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The biggest challenge for homeowners may be deciding which pieces will look and serve them best, whether they are considering trellises, pergolas, arbors, pavilions, gazebos — even something as ambitious as a pool house or “She Shed” to create the backyard of their dreams. The first step is getting to know the differences among these structures, as well as how they tend to be used as a landscaping feature. Trellises A trellis is one of the more affordable and compact features that can enhance a yard. It is essentially a frame of light wood or metal that can support climbing plants such as ivy and clematis (a colorful plant popular among gardeners), or fruit-bearing plants such as an espalier apple tree or grape vines. Many times trellises are installed in gardens or near irrigation systems, so the construction materials should be able to withstand the elements as well as being sturdy enough to remain upright to help the vegetation grow and thrive. Keitha Salemme, store manager of Agway in Bethel, stocks a variety of trellises catering to customer’s style preferences, which include wrought iron with ornate embellishments, more natural cedar options, and low-maintenance plastics. “With a plastic composite there’s no paint-factor to it,” Ms Salemme said. “They’re light weight, they won’t chip or peel, they won’t splinter. That’s definitely a plus. They may require a little bit of power washing from time to time.” Depending on the plant life they are supporting or the space that is available, Ms Salemme has trellises ranging from two feet to more than six feet tall in rectangle and fan shapes. Some may even choose to skip growing greenery, instead using their new trellis as a customized statement piece. Eugene Reelick of Hollandia Nursery in Bethel says that in addition to trellises being freestanding, they can also be added on to an arbor or even attached to the side of a house. “You can take a wall at your home that is very bland to spruce it up a little bit,” said Mr Reelick. Pergolas Right now, pergolas are becoming one of the most popular decorative features for yards. Pergolas are outdoor structures, created by vertical posts or pillars that hold an overhead arrangement of crossbeams, often featuring integrated sturdy latticework.

Pictured is a vinyl, octagon gazebo available at The Barn Yard & Great Country Garages, 84 Stony Hill Road in Bethel. The gazebo has composite floors and asphalt shingles. —Bee Photo, Silber “It is a true accent piece,” Mr Reelick said. “With vines growing on the structures, it’s breathtaking.” A pergola can support plants similar to a trellis, but they are usually large enough to be used as a canopy for outdoor living space, generally in a garden or by a pool. “It is deep seating for relaxing… people can dine underneath, they can cook underneath, they can sit underneath,” said Mr Reelick. Since the roof on a pergola is predominantly open, plants will usually be used to create the majority of shade. Some people also opt to invest in a canvas draw shade to block out the sun. Arbors An easy way to spruce up a yard is to set up an arbor. Arbors are also an ideal foundation for climbing plants that can grow on it much like a trellis or a pergola, however, that is far from the only way to make the most of these structures. Mr Reelick noted, “It could be part of a fence or stone wall, and it could be a standalone, but it really needs some type of support around it.” When used as a standalone piece, an arbor with a bench underneath it can make any garden a relaxing destination. “It can be a place where you can go to sit in the shade,” Mr Reelick said. If an arbor is added to the design of a fence or stone wall, there are also options for embellishing

Pergolas can be a great addition to a backyard’s seating area, as seen with this wood frame pergola attached to the side of a home in Massachusetts. —photo courtesy of The Barn Yard / Great Country Garages

it to fit the desired look for the yard. Mr Reelick explained, “Sometimes the gates are solid so you can’t see through them... other times [arbors] are oval or moon shaped.” If having more privacy is the goal of the fence, choosing an arbor with a gate would be ideal. On the other hand, if looking to make the arbor more of a creative focal point, an open arbor can be an invitation to have a guest see what is up ahead. The type of materials that comprise the arbor will also dictate the impression the structure makes. At Hollandia, Mr Reelick has various metal options like wrought iron arbors that are handcrafted in Vermont, as well as different styles of wood — redwood, cedar, and pressure-treated lumber. “Pressure-treated arbors will last a lot longer; they’re not as ornate as some of the others, but they are very attractive and durable,” Mr Reelick added. “We also have PVC [plastic], which really brings the garden out, it brings it to life. It doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.” Arbors can be a background accent to let the colorful and lush plant life shine, or it can be a bold customized piece. Pavilions Many people have enjoyed the shelter of a pavilion at public places like parks, but pavilions are also perfectly at home in residential backyards.

A pavilion is great option for those who enjoy outdoor living and have the space for a large yard structure. It can be a standalone piece or attached to another building. They can be used for shading an area poolside, creating an area for outdoor dining, or even as a carport for additional parking. No matter where it is located, it is easily the focal point for any yard, bringing elements of both function and beauty. Depending on the budget and space, pavilions can come in wide spectrum of prices and sizes. The Barn Yard & Great Country Garages regional sales manager Mark Kaufman says there are different materials that can be used to create a pavilion. “Typically, you are going to have either a vinyl or a wood,” he explained, adding that vinyl tends to have a clean, sleek look that can blend in with any style of home. “You can do just a pressure-treated wood, which would be the least expensive way to go,” Mr Kaufman added. “Or you can go with a timber frame.” The timber frame, he says, is a higherend option that can be stained an earthy tone. It also has authentic mortise and tenon joinery, meaning it is held together by oak pegs with no nails in the frame. A popular pavilion look that Mr Kaufman is seeing people request lately is their Alpine Pavilion because of its metal strapping on the wood. In addition to the metal being a functional reinforcing feature for the design, Mr Kaufman said, “It adds some texture to the look.” Since a pavilion’s job is to prevent the elements like rain from hindering outdoor activities, the roof style’s durability is an important feature. “When it comes to the pavilion, people will either do the metal roofing or the architectural asphalt shingles,” Mr Kaufman said. To complete the look, many people often choose to put in flooring beneath the pavilion, such as pavers or flagstone. Gazebo A gazebo is a pavilionlike structure that can be a quaint spot for outdoor relaxing or entertaining. Its charming look can make for an elegant gathering place for those looking to enjoy their backyard. Mr Kaufman explained, “Typically, the gazebo is going to have sides with the railings halfway and the rest is open. Usually the section that is opened is screened.” Having a screen can be a welcomed feature for those that want to avoid the annoyance of persistent mosquitoes or flies is the warmer months. Mr Kaufman said they are often located poolside or in a raised area of the yard as more of a prominent statement piece. A gazebo can be a rectangle, oval, or octagon

Pool houses offer a variety of functions that allow everyone to enjoy outdoor living. Pictured is a pool house with a cupola at The Barn Yard & Great Country Garages in Bethel. —Bee Photo, Silber

home & garden - 21

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

With A Choice Of Outdoor Structures shape depending on the buyer’s preference, and inside, there can be room for seating and tables. The body of a gazebo can be vinyl or wood, which can be painted. As for the roof, the options include a bell top pointed roof or even a double roof. “Most go with an asphalt shingle; some people will choose to do natural wood shakes on the room or cedar shakes,” said Mr Kaufman. Of course, a weathervane is always an aesthetically pleasing and functional optional finishing touch that ties the whole look of the piece together, he added.

Pool Houses Looking for the function and aesthetics of a shed and a gazebo? A pool house is the perfect combination of the two structures in one. A pool house can have a walled-off indoor area, as well as a screened porch or open sitting area attached to it. “Very often you’ll see these by pools,” Mr Kaufman said. “You can have a changing area, the room doubles as an outdoor kitchen, and you have the screened-in area if you’re sitting out in the evening and won’t be bothered with bugs.” A pool house can be integrated into the fencing around the pool and even be customized to complement the look of the main house with the paint color, windows, and door frame. To continue to achieve a move homey look, the interior walls can be painted, pine plank flooring can be put in, and electricity can be installed. Whether it is a basic design or an elaborate construction, Mr Kaufman says their pool house sizes vary from as small as an 8-by-12-foot structure to a 16-by-20-foot structure. Some can be designed to even feature a second level. Contrary to popular belief, without a pool there can still be a pool house. Its overall design features can remain the same, but it can be converted to create a customized office or a She Shed — the latest trend for those looking to establish a place of their own (it is the woman’s version of a Man Cave). No matter what the function for a backyard structure is, big or small, there is a way to make the design dream become a reality no matter what your budget.

Arbors are similar to trellises and pergolas in that they are great structures to help vining plants grow. Hollandia Nursery, 103 Old Hawleyville Road in Bethel, has arbors like this open wood example. —Bee Photo, Silber

Pavilions located poolside create a sheltered spot for outdoor dining and relaxation. Pictured is a 22-by-22-foot timber frame pavilion in Glastonbury. —photo courtesy of The Barn Yard / Great Country Garages

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The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

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StatePoint — Nearly 50 percent of fresh fruits and 20 percent of fresh vegetables in the US are imported, according to This means that your food traveled long distances to get to your plate. To better enjoy fruits and vegetables, many families are now growing their own at home. Want to know exactly where your food is coming from and have the freshest possible flavors within arm’s reach? Bring “farm-to-table” dining into your everyday life by creating your own garden. Follow these tips to grow and harvest fruits, veggies, and herbs at peak ripeness to enjoy in simple, healthful meals. Room to Grow When starting a garden, it is important to have a plan. Find a spacious area with plenty of sunlight to help plants take root and flourish — whether that is in your backyard or a nearby community garden. For cooler climates, raised garden beds are highly recommended. These allow fruits and vegetables the space needed to expand their roots and hold in water. For hot, arid climates, create an in-ground garden, as it holds in moisture better, requiring less irrigation. Selecting what to grow is your next challenge. Herb gardens are perfect for those with limited experience or limited space. Herbs like basil, cilantro, and chives are easy to maintain. Most herbs can withstand changing climates, meaning you can cook with fresh herbs yearround, adding them to nearly any meal to increase depths of flavor and allow you to “play” with your food.

Farm with Flavor Having access to a variety of fresh produce lets you expand your menu at home while keeping it healthy. Many items found in simple salads, like carrots, tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, and other leafy greens are considered “beginner crops.” Certain berries are also easy to cultivate. If you have ever tasted a ripe, just-picked strawberry or a fresh, juicy tomato, you will know that it is worth the effort to grow these items yourself! Mix it Up Having a high-quality blender, like the Vitamix A3500, can make transforming your harvest into vibrant meals easy. Vitamix machines can be used to chop, purée, or juice any ingredients that may come from your budding garden. Put new spins on old family recipes. Next time your kids ask for spaghetti and meatballs, try Spaghetti with Roasted Vegetable Sauce. Made with fresh, garden ingredients, including Roma tomatoes, carrots and fresh basil leaves, this robust sauce will become a staple in your weekly meal rotation. You might even want to try it on top of spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles to take advantage of more nutritious, fresh-grown produce. Try something new and create Sweet Potato Soup with Seared Tomatillos using fresh jalapenos, poblanos, and tomatillos from your garden. Or dress up a less-than-exciting salad with a brightly flavored Strawberry Vinaigrette, using fresh strawberries and herbs. Growing greens (plus reds, yellows, oranges, purples, and blues) gives you peace of mind in knowing exactly where your meals come from, and the pride of nurturing something wholesome.

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home & garden - 23

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

Enjoy Your Great Outdoors More With A Deck Or Patio

A new deck or patio can be the perfect gathering place, adding a new dimension to your yard and creating space that you did not even know you had. According to the National Association of Home Builders (, a well-planned outdoor living space can become a home owner’s backyard getaway, but the wrong deck or patio can end up as unused dead space. Keep the following in mind and you will find yourself enjoying the sunshine from your outdoor retreat in no time.

Patio Or Deck? When deciding on whether you would like your new outdoor haven to be a patio or deck, first do some research. Some areas have building codes or terrains that dictate one or the other. What kind of budget are you looking at? Decks can be a more affordable option than patios, but concrete, while more expensive, tends to be the sturdiest material with the lowest maintenance needs. Several factors can determine whether a deck or patio is best for you: *How much weight does your space need to hold? If you are considering a huge hot tub or spa, a patio might support its weight better. *What about climate? Will the surface become too hot to walk on during summer’s peak? *Does rain or snow create runoff problems on a flat patio surface? If you have a rough backyard terrain, a raised deck may end up your best choice instead of expensive excavation for patios. Likewise, if you dislike dirt or have pets, consider a raised deck. Remnants from sand and stone patios easily find their ways into clean houses. A raised deck also may work as a better option for low-lying yards that tend to become soggy when it rains. Choosing The Design Once you have determined whether a deck

or patio is best for your home, the possibilities are endless. For homeowners on a budget, Tim Taylor, owner of Landscape Creations in Johnson City, Tenn., suggests a sand and stone or brick patio. Stone, brick, and concrete pavers are available in a range of styles and colors and are durable. Remember that site preparation is important for drainage, grade, and proper placement, and can be a lot of work for the DIYer. Weeds also can pose more of a problem with patios. When in doubt, leave it to a professional with the experience, not to mention equipment, you need. “Flagstone and concrete patios also are popular among home owners,” Mr Taylor said. “Remember to allow for expansion, however, to prevent cracking.” Cracking in concrete is inevitable, but it can be minimized with the proper installation. Materials Matter Most decks are made of wood, ranging from pressure-treated pine and fir to more durable — and pricey — woods such as red cedar, redwoods, and tropical hardwoods. No matter what the type, wood decks require maintenance and even then, with less expensive woods, swelling and warping will still occur over time. To reduce the amount of maintenance required, consider composite and vinyl decking. These materials are less susceptible to swelling and also are more resistant to insects. The cost, however, can be significantly higher, particularly if coordinating railing and balustrade systems. Concrete decks, while much more expensive than wood or composite, are the most durable and require only the occasional pressure wash and periodic resealing. And no longer just drab gray, concrete is now available in a nearly limitless variety of styles, colors and patterns. To learn more about remodeling your home, visit for additional resources.


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24 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

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home & garden - 25

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

A view of the kitchen in the house that Fine Homebuilding magazine uses to display the concepts of high energy efficiency, both in design and construction. —photo courtesy of Taunton Press

Rob Yagid, the editorial director of Fine Homebuilding magazine.

A rear view of the East Greenwich, R.I., house. Students from a state technical high school built the structure. —photo courtesy of Taunton Press

Energy-Efficient House Serves As Teaching Tool To Help ‘Keep Craft Alive’ By Andrew Gorosko A recently built all-electric house in East Greenwich, R.I., is being used by Newtown’s Taunton Press publication Fine Homebuilding magazine as a “teaching tool,” demonstrating the principles of renewable energy for designers and builders. As part of the magazine’s campaign to “Keep Craft Alive,” students who attend Warwick Area Career & Technical Center — a State of Rhode Island technical high school — built the house for a private contractor, said Rob Yagid, the editorial director of Fine Homebuilding. Since 2007, Mr Yagid has worked for The Taunton Press, which publishes Fine Homebuilding. The single-family contemporary farmhouse will have a photovoltaic array of solar panels installed on the roof atop its living quarters and attached garage to produce electricity. The structure’s sophisticated design and construction are keyed to reducing the home’s heating and cooling loads in order to accommodate a “right-sized” mechanical system, according to the magazine. People in the home building industry toured the house on March 31. For the tour, some home features were deliberately left unfinished to allow participants to see design features that are not visible in a finished home, such as framing details and exterior assembly components, according to the magazine. Mr Yagid said the project provided “a great educational experience” for students who had an opportunity to build a home that eventually will be sold or rented. “A house is a complete system,” Mr

Yagid said, adding that the structure’s design elements are integrated, with the goal of high energy efficiency. The house is designed based on the principles of “zero net energy” or ZNE, he said. As a result, the building’s electric bill will not be eliminated, but would be significantly lower than typical domestic electric bills. A basic goal of ZNE design is to limit the amount of greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere, in seeking to curb global warming. Broadly, ZNE design seeks to have the total amount of energy used at a site roughly equal the amount of renewable energy that is created at the site. ‘Keep Craft Alive’ According to Mr Yagid, “A disparity between the employment demands of a growing housing industry and the shortage of trained, qualified labor — the socalled skills gap — is rocking home building to its core... There is home building work to be done in this country and not enough trained builders and remodelers to do it.” Consequently, the magazine started the Keep Craft Alive project to help close that skills gap, he said. In that project Fine Homebuilding is partnering with more than 20 manufacturers in the home construction industry promoting skills training and education as well as funding student scholarships in the building trades. Mr Yagid said construction of the East Greenwich home has been well documented, both in the print version of the magazine and at The print magazine has published about

40 pages of content on the project, along with more than 120 digital articles. Also, more than a dozen videos have been produced since the project commenced, he said. The house demonstrates the latest technology in domestic energy efficiency and displays the best practices in terms of its construction, Mr Yagid said. Air-source heat pumps will be used. The foundation’s design, the type of windows installed, even the thermal insulation all promote optimal energy efficiency. Mr Yagid explained that 1,800 square

feet of the house has a finished interior. The structure has three bedrooms and two and one-half baths. There is the potential to finish another 700 square feet of interior space, including the basement and the space above the garage, he said. The structure has a simple, modern appearance and provides luxury-grade living quarters in a relatively compact space, he said. Mr Yagid comes from a long line of tradesmen. A Quinnipiac University graduate, he has a background in journalism and home construction.

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26 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017


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home & garden - 27

April 14, 2017 — The Newtown Bee

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28 - home & garden

The Newtown Bee — April 14, 2017

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Home & Garden Spring 2017  

Home & Garden Spring 2017

Home & Garden Spring 2017  

Home & Garden Spring 2017