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When trimming bushes and trees in the yard, homeowners should be mindful that the best time to trim often depends on the type of bush, tree or shrub.

Pruning Tips for Trees and Shrubs

Add Style to Your Outdoor Spaces

Each year homeowners across America spend approximately $40-billion upgrading, enhancing and decorating their outdoor living spaces. Don't have a fortune to spend on landscaping, outdoor furnishings and backyard accessories? It's easy to add a touch of style and create the perfect outdoor living space with some paint and a little imagination. Here's a few ideas from the outdoor decorating experts at Rust-Oleum: „ Transforming the look of patios, porches and walkways can accentuate the beauty of your outdoor spaces. Does your concrete look old, dated, weathered? Now you can refresh concrete surfaces and make them look new again with Rust-Oleum Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain Kits. Add warmth with colors like Terra Cotta or Tuscan Rock. Want to give your patio a trendy look? Try deeper, neutral colors like Sandstone or Slate. The water-based Concrete Stain is easy to apply and adds durable color and dimension to concrete surfaces. „ Designer patio sets, lawn chairs and other outdoor furniture can cost thousands of dollars. Why not give your old furniture a "facelift" with spray paint like Rust-Oleum Universal? It's the first all-surface spray paint, so you can paint plastic, vinyl, metal, wood, and more without worry-

ing about it chipping or peeling. Use Espresso Brown or Real Almond to give your patio set a sophisticated, chic appearance. Want to add a burst of color to your outdoor spaces? Try vibrant colors like Crimson Red or Canary Yellow. „ Planters and garden accents are a great way to add a personal touch to your patio and garden -- but they can end up costing a pretty penny. Instead of spending a small fortune on decorative accessories, pick up some unfinished concrete pieces from your local store and spray them with a concrete stain like Rust-Oleum Concrete Stain Aerosol. Transform ordinary planters into decorative accent pieces with colors like Burnished Gold and Sienna. Give statuary a classic look with Concrete Stain Aerosol in Earth Brown and Pewter. Protect your stained pieces with Concrete Sealer Aerosol, available in two sheens: gloss and natural. These UV and chemical resistant sealers add years of durability to concrete, stone and masonry. For more inspiration and project ideas, visit There are hundreds of easy, inexpensive projects that can help you transform any outdoor or indoor living space.

Spring has sprung!

Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, everything's turning green ... and it's time to upgrade both the interior and the exterior of your home for the new season! Brad Staggs, and DIY show producer and host, and a licensed contractor, offers five easy DIY projects perfect for any home. Safe Arbor: Garden structures add depth and character to any yard. Add a charming wood arbor to a quiet corner and create a special space perfect for enjoying nature. Run a pretty rose vine up the back for a fragrant, peaceful hideout. Sweet Dog Suite: That special four-pawed family member deserves a staycation, too! Build this exquisite dog house -- complete with columns and a window -- and you'll have a furry friend for life. Watch the other dogs drool with envy, especially when they find out this cool canine campout was in the August 2008 issue of Southern Living magazine. Southern Chalet Birdhouse: One part gracious Southern architecture, two parts sass -- and

Special Feature February 2011

ers and veggies. Plant soon for an early summer harvest, then again to enjoy the bounty of fall. Funky Storage Locker: Tired of tripping on baseball bats, slipping on skateboards and stumbling on

Remove any older shoots and leave between four and eight canes while removing any that are growing inward. When cutting them down, try to cut them to right around two feet above ground, and cut close to an inch above a bud or strong shoot. „ Evergreen shrubs. Evergreen shrubs won't flower, but they can be pruned after they have produced cones or shrubs. That typically occurs between late winter and early spring, so this can be done as the weather begins to warm up as part of your early season spring cleanup. „ Evergreen trees. In general, evergreen trees do not need to be pruned. It's generally obvious when an evergreen does need to be pruned, as the tree will be noticeably larger and in obvious need of pruning. Evergreens that do need to be pruned typically need it in late spring or early summer, and they will likely not grow much after a good pruning. „ Deciduous trees. Deciduous trees are generally only pruned for shaping. For those looking to shape, mid to late winter is the ideal time to do so. „ Deciduous shrubs. Mid to late spring is often the best time to prune deciduous shrubs. That's generally after they have flowered, and it will be obvious when they are in need or pruning, as they will likely have lots of unsightly branches evident to the naked eye.

5 easy DIY projects to upgrade your home

Creating a Southern Chalet Birdhouse is one easy DIY project for homeowners looking to add some aesthetic appeal to their property.

the perfect abode for the robins of spring. Let the children help out with the custom paint job! "Cut Above" Raised Garden Bed: Nothing smells as sweet or tastes as good as home-grown flow-

Homeowners typically spend lots of time caring for their property. Be it a modest ranch house or a mansion on top of a hill, a home's outside appearance is often a point of pride for homeowners. One commonly overlooked element of an aesthetically appealing home is the role trees can play. Trees can add an element of beauty to a yard while also playing a practical role, such as shading the grass from intense summer sun and acting as great support for hanging a hammock. While trees can add appeal to a homeowner's property, they can also be an eyesore if not properly pruned. Homeowners hoping to get the most out of their trees should consider some pruning guidelines. „ Fruit trees. If the buds on a fruit tree have already started swelling, you've waited too long too prune. In general, fruit trees are best pruned in late winter or early spring. When pruning, be sure to remove all branches growing inward as well as limbs growing straight up. „ Berry bushes. Berry bushes are typically pruned in late fall or early winter, once you have finished harvesting the berries. When pruning berry bushes, keep in mind the importance of shape with respect to a berry bush's aesthetic appeal. „ Rosebushes. Rosebushes are generally best pruned in late winter, with early spring the latest possible cutoff date.

soccer balls? Corral all the trappings of your life into a retro wooden locker designed to take anything the kids can dish out. A coat of whimsical paint and some creative stencil work might even get the

kids to clean up on their own! "There is an increased focus on real outdoor living, helped, of course, by the economy," says Brad. "We seem to be turning the corner of commercialism and recentering on the home, on the things that matter, on authenticity." As with any backyard DIY project, building product selection is important. For all of the above projects, Brad chooses pressure-treated Southern Pine. "It's a no-brainer to me: pressure-treated Southern Pine is real, it's genuine and it's a beautiful product. Add to that the natural, long-lasting, sturdy and safe elements, and you just can't go wrong. If you're conscious of your carbon footprint, then wood is your product; it's one of the only naturally renewable products out there, and it takes remarkably less energy to manufacture than alternative building products. It's the real thing for real families." To download free plans for these easy DIY projects, please visit

Ask What Your Roof Can Do For You Replacing a roof is a major investment for any homeowner. When considering such a significant home improvement project, it makes sense that you will have questions. "Thoroughly researching roofing options should be a priority for any homeowner considering a new roof," says Tim Gentry, technical director of DaVinci Roofscapes(R). "Many aspects should be considered, including a product's warranty, style and durability. A homeowner should ask the question 'what will this roof do for me' before making a decision." According to Gentry, who served 20 years as a roofing installer and has been in the industry for 40 years, a roof should be carefully selected to complement a home's design and geographic weather conditions. It should also provide longsee ROOF, Page 6



The Valley News & Clarinda Herald-Journal Special Edition • February 2011

Attractive and eco-friendly way to put rainwater to work Spring showers certainly may bring flowers, but they can also bring something very valuable for many homeowners -- an easy and inexpensive way to offset your water bills and your eco footprint while keeping your landscape green. A rain barrel harvests rainwater that flows off of your roof and through your home's downspouts. The amount of water that can be collected is astounding. A 1000 square foot roof feeding a downspout can produce up to 600 gallons of collected rainwater from a one-inch rainfall. That's enough water to fill an average hot tub. Harvesting rainwater is a viable option if you're looking to save money and reduce your eco-footprint. Collected water can be used to water plants and lawns, which is a boon if you're a gardening enthusiast who often has to contend with no-water drought restrictions and the fear of a shriveled, brown landscape. In addition, collected rainwater is naturally low in sodium and chlorine, making it a healthier option for plants. Rainwater can also be used to wash your car or take care of minor clean-up tasks outside of the home. The money saved by using rainwater in lieu of municipal water for some applications can quickly add up. Who wouldn't want to find a reduced water bill in the mail, especially during these trying economic times? Many people are interested

in harvesting rainwater but think a collection barrel could be an unattractive option in their yard. Others worry about overflow and potential water damage to their home. Fiskars has developed a series of rainwater harvesting systems that offer peace of mind and aesthetic appeal for the landscape. These smart rain barrels by design feature a distinctive and decorative design with a worry-free downspout connector. The downspout connector kit allows rainwater to flow from the downspout into the barrel. Once the rain barrel is full the water is diverted automatically back down the downspout away from the home's foundation as it is meant to -- no risk of overflow. The attractively designed rain barrels rest flush up against your home in neutral colors that blend seamlessly with the landscape and most home exteriors. A handy threaded spigot located on the front of the barrels is at the perfect height to easily fill a standard watering can or connect a garden or soaker hose. Just a small investment of time and money is needed to add a rainwater harvesting system to your landscape. The reward is a reduction in your eco-footprint, healthier plants, and a savings on your utility bill over time. For more information on Fiskars Rainwater Harvesting Systems, visit Harvested rainwater collects in an attractive Tuscany model barrel. Fill up a watering can to water plants in your garden.

Keep Your Dryer Running Safe and Smooth

Nowadays, many homeowners are understandably concerned about saving money. In light of the country's economic woes, homeowners are increasingly looking for ways to save money. Though it's important to save money, it's also important to stay safe, particularly with respect to household appliances. Fortunately, there are ways homeowners can stay safe and save at the same time. Take the household dryer, for instance. The following tips can help a dryer run safely and efficiently. „ Consider metal ducts. Flexible ducts made of plastic or foil can prove very problematic, often sagging and letting lint build up, decreasing efficiency and risking safety in the process. Metal ducts can be flexible but won't sag, leading to less lint build up. What's more, a metal duct can contain a fire better than plastic or foil ducts. „ Clean all around the dryer. Lint does not only build up within the ducts or lint traps, it can also build up in the area surrounding the dryer as well. This includes behind and underneath the dryer, which can be a significant safety hazard if not cleaned regularly. „ Don't ignore the lint screen. A clean lint screen pays numerous dividends, not the least of which is making a dryer more safe. Clothes also dry faster when the lint screen is clean, meaning the dryer won't run as long and homeowners will save money. „ Wash abnormally stained clothes. Oftentimes, when working in the yard or around the house, a homeowner can spill gasoline or other flammable materials on clothing. If that happens, wash these clothes extra carefully, possibly even more than once, before placing them in the dryer.

Don’t let a spring thaw lead to a wet basement Whether your region is covered in a blanket of white snow or water from continual rainfall, you may experience basement moisture problems. New homeowners may not even be safe from the water Mother Nature delivers each year. The majority of homeowners' water seepage problems can be attributed to seasonal conditions. Rapid runoff and the frozen ground's inability to absorb the water leave only one place for the water to go -- and unfortunately, it's right through the walls. Typically, the spring and fall rainy seasons are peak times to experience water seepage. Homeowners commonly associate water problems with expensive excavation and drainage. But, a waterproofing project can be completed for around $500.00 using a high-quality masonry waterproofing paint, such as DRYLOK(R) Masonry Waterproofer by United Gilsonite Laboratories, a Scranton, Pennsylvania based manufacturer that has been helping homeowners safeguard against water seepage problems since 1957. The first thing to remember when looking for a product to stop water seepage is that you need a waterproofer, not a watersealer. There are differences between the two. Watersealers only repel water but will not stop actual water penetration. A product, such as DRYLOK(R) Masonry Waterproofer

waterproofer itself.

penetrates the surface and bonds itself to the masonry to act as an integral barrier to stop water seepage. Ordinary paint merely adheres to the surface, and oncoming water pressure can force it off. Here are the steps to take to address seepage and stop basement damage. Find the Water Source Homeowners must remember that a wet basement wall might be a symptom of a larger problem. Water may be coming from a variety of sources such as leaky downspouts or gutters, blocked drainage pipes, improper grading, or ruts that direct ground runoff toward foundations. Correcting these problems -- combined with the application of a quality waterproofing paint -- is the best way to

prevent water on masonry surfaces. Similarly, it is necessary to find out if seepage or condensation is the source behind wet walls. This can be determined by performing a simple test. Tape a one-foot square piece of aluminum foil tightly to a dried interior basement wall. You can dry a small area to test with a cloth or hair dryer. Remove the foil after several days. If the room side is wet, the problem is condensation and a dehumidifier should be used. If the wall side of the foil is wet, there is seepage. Remember that both problems can occur at the same time. Once you determine your problem, there are two main parts of any waterproofing job: Surface preparation and application of the

Surface Preparation As in any painting job, surface preparation is a critical step. Loose or broken mortar, dirt, dust and other foreign matter should always be removed before putting on a new coat of paint. Before applying the waterproofer, clean the surface thoroughly. Waterproofing paint works best when applied to a clean, bare masonry surface. It may be applied on a slightly damp surface but best results are obtained when applied over a dry surface. To determine if the wall is too wet to paint, try this simple test: Rub your fingertips over the surface you want to paint. If your fingertips are wet, do not paint the surface. Wait 48 hours and repeat the test. For best results, wait for a dry spell. Remove old paint by wirebrushing, sandblasting or another suitable means. The worst enemy for any masonry paint is efflorescence, or white, crystal-like salt deposits that prevent a waterproofer from adhering to a surface. Muriatic acid or a product like DRYLOK(R) Etch should be used to rid the surface of efflorescence. Holes should be patched with an hydraulic cement. A common area that may be overlooked as a source of water seepage is the floor/wall joint. Normally, when concrete floors cure, they shrink and pull away

from the wall, allowing a space for water to enter. That's why it's necessary to seal all gaps between floor and walls with a fast-drying cement, such as DRYLOK(R) Fast Plug. Clean the area and wash with water prior to sealing. Applying the Waterproofer Now, you're ready to apply waterproofer to your basement walls. For best results, apply the first coat with a nylon or polyester bristle brush. The second coat can be applied with a brush or masonry roller. Work the paint thoroughly into the pores of the masonry. For optimum bonding, apply to a dry surface. Follow directions for application carefully. If the area you covered is more than the recommendation on the label, you're spreading the paint too thin. Two coats are usually sufficient to stop seepage. However, if seepage is still present after several days, an additional coat may be necessary. Open windows and use a nonsparking exhaust fan to provide adequate ventilation when applying a waterproofer in closed areas. In places, where good cross-ventilation is not possible, or if you are sensitive to solvent odors, the experts at UGL recommend using a latex-based product, such as Latex Base DRYLOK(R) or DRYLOK Extreme(R). Remember to read the label of the product thoroughly for application and ventilation requirements.

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The Valley News & Clarinda Herald-Journal Special Edition • February 2011



From Bland Backyard to Beautiful Vacation Destination

Welcome spring with a real wood deck for a natural, authentic backyard oasis.

Welcome Spring with a Real Backyard . . . off in a corner. Add a garden bench and a couple of wooden chairs, plus a fire pit or chiminea, and top it off with a deep arbor covered in a climbing vine. Involve the entire family by building a simple bench and chairs, and let Mom pick out the perfect flower for the arbor. Then, sit back, toast some s'mores and enjoy the fruits of your labor!" Keep it real. Your deck and other outdoor living projects should mesh with your backyard and be a seamless partner with nature. Unless you have plastic flowers and trees in your yard, why choose fake decking? Truth is, pressure-treated wood is the best option for decks and outdoor projects. It's beautiful, strong, durable and affordable. Wood doesn't conduct heat like other decking materials can, meaning no burned feet in the heat of summer. When treated properly, wood is impervious to rot and pests. And treated wood is proven to be people- and pet-safe. Sure there's a little bit of upkeep -- no building products are truly maintenance-free. Every spring


when you clean your home and wash and wax your car for the first time, take a look at your deck and see if it needs a little cleaning or perhaps another coat of sealant. That's all it takes. Concerned about our forests? Choosing wood for any home improvement project is a very wise environmental decision. Thriving, sustainably managed forests create a healthier environment for all of us. Choosing forest products -- wood -- encourages US landowners to keep replanting trees. The forest industry plants more trees than they harvest every single year, ensuring wood will be around for generations to come. Wood is one of the only naturally renewable building products available, and the only energy it requires to manufacture it comes from the sun. You can't get much more green than that. To learn more about wood, download free do-it-yourself project plans and podcasts, check out some inspirational photos, download the Authentic Deck Guide and much more, please visit

bought has been a hammock and a hammock stand," says J.R. Pelletier, manager of m, an international leader in hammock sales. "A good hammock can feel as if you've just caught a flight straight out of your stressful daily life." Plus, a quality fabric hammock can make your yard look as pretty as a vacation postcard as well. Recent advances in allweather synthetic textiles have vastly expanded design and color options for fabric hammocks. "It used to be fabric hammocks were just drab," notes Walter R. Perkins III, CEO of The HammockSource, the world's largest manufacturer and seller of hammocks. "Owning one meant watching what little color it had fade like a flower by summer's end. But today, a quality fabric hammock can be a showstopper for your yard, for many seasons to come." Add an arc-style cypress or faux-wicker hammock stand, and your outdoor living space becomes not only a gorgeous relaxation destination, but also one that requires no checkedbaggage fees or full-body scans to get to! Your favorite patch of yard is finally the primo spot for unwinding, a personal relaxation space for letting your mind wander to all those distant getaway places you might one day like to go. But for now, you're pretty content right where you are, aren't you?


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As temperatures begin to climb, thoughts turn to the backyard: is it ready for spring? If your outdoor living space needs some serious TLC before the flowers bloom, here are some great ideas for creating a natural, authentic backyard oasis. Get decked out. The heart of any backyard is a solid wooden deck. It's the perfect spot for grilling, sharing family meals, relaxing with friends, playing with the dog, and enjoying nature. Whether you have a deck that needs a little updating or you're thinking of building a new wood deck, download the free Authentic Deck Guide at for information on upkeep, construction and building material selection. Add an outdoor room. Already have a wood deck? Great! So what's next for your yard? Brad Staggs, HGTV and DIY show host and producer, and a licensed contractor, offers a few ideas: "Think outside the box and create a lovely little outdoor living room for your family and friends. Start with a nice, quiet spot under a tree or

The best vacations lift us out of the frenzy of our lives, whisking us off to faraway places that relax and rejuvenate us. Yet a great vacation can also be a great financial strain as well -- and really, how relaxing is that? Especially since once the trip is over, there's typically little to show for all the expense beyond a few snapshots you can post on Facebook. So how do you meet the pressing need for a stressreducing change of scenery without wiping out your savings in the process? The solution may actually be simpler, and closer, than you think: Open your own back door, and begin imagining the leisure possibilities right beyond your doorstep! Instead of throwing a bunch of money at a shortterm getaway, consider investing a portion of it into transforming your back yard into a personal relaxation oasis. Don't be put off by how big a task that sounds. Start out simple, making additional changes as finances allow, and inspiration strikes. To begin with, your yard may need some degree of facelift. Hire a quality professional landscaper who can design around native plant species, for maximum benefit and minimal upkeep. Yet landscaping is really only setting the stage -you still need some kind of show-stopper to complete your yard's transformation. Pools and decks are whopping financial commitments. There is, however, a less bank-breaking path to backyard-relaxation bliss: Invest in the very symbol of relaxation itself. Invest in a hammock and hammock stand. "Repeat customers are always telling me the best mini-vacation they've ever



The Valley News & Clarinda Herald-Journal Special Edition • February 2011

20 Projects in Just 20 Minutes

Since every dollar counts these days, homeowners need sensible home improvement products that can help increase the value of their homes without breaking the bank. Synthetic millwork products are a fast, easy way to reach this goal. "Easy-to-install urethane and PVC products can enhance the interior and exterior of any home without busting a budget," says Tina Mealer with Fypon. "For a minimal product investment and even less 'sweat equity,' homeowners can gain maximum results." Fypon's top 20 "no sweat" 20minute home improvement projects include: Project 1 -- Place a crosshead over an outside window with a keystone to add curb appeal to the exterior of the home. Project 2 -- Wrap unsightly metal supports in a finished basement with PVC Column Wraps to add style to the room. Project 3 -- Use Victorian-style nips and spires to accent exterior areas, fencing and gated areas. Project 4 -- Upgrade the look of a boring kitchen island by adding decorative brackets or corbels as accent pieces. Project 5 -- Add a urethane pineapple, the international sign of hospitality, above the front entry door. Project 6 -- Dress up a porch area by adding brackets to porch posts. Project 7 -- Cover up unsightly wooden porch posts with a semi-

Adding a urethane crosshead over an outside window takes just a few minutes and adds instant curb appeal to a home.

assembled, two-piece classic style PVC Column Wrap. Project 8 -- Install carved leaf or grapevine brackets under kitchen countertops and shelves to add dimension and visual appeal to the room. Project 9 -- Add a two-piece urethane ceiling medallion around a ceiling fan or lighting fixture to "pop" some visual friendliness to the ceiling. Project 10 -- Add moistureresistant corbels to the top of cabinets to present a more finished look in the bathroom or laundry

room. Project 11 -- Create a unique window treatment by hanging a pair of brackets on either side of a window. Insert a dowel rod through the brackets and drape with fabric for a fast and easy decorative window treatment. Project 12 -- Accent interior doorways with a keystone. Project 13 -- Install a set of moisture-resistant urethane pilasters on both sides of a shower stall and a door crosshead overhead to upgrade the look of the bathroom.

Project 14 -- Create customized shelves to house knick knacks using moulding or PVC boards. Faux finish the pieces to make a collection stand out. Project 15 -- Add a one-piece fireplace mantel surround to an existing fireplace or create a faux fireplace area using these durable accent pieces. Project 16 -- Create a welcoming look over a garage or gable area by installing a urethane wreath and bow. The three-piece accent is 86" long and 38" high and makes a stunning accent on the home. Project 17 -- Flank the window opening between two rooms (like a kitchen and family room) with a pair of urethane shutters. The lightweight shutters can be stained or painted to accent the walls. Project 18 -- Top off a standard bookshelf with an impressive combination acorn pediment to add style in any room. Project 19 -- Add a scalloped moulding border to a child's room to launch into a princess or medieval theme for the room. Project 20 -- Install a set of pilasters on either side of the garage door and a long door crosshead over the top. "Each of these projects can easily be completed in just 20 minutes," says Mealer. "These are simple do-it-yourself projects that quickly and effectively upgrade your home and bring years of lasting satisfaction."

Easy ways to inspect your household appliances

With spring cleaning season upon us once again, homeowners across the country are dusting off the cobwebs of another long winter and readying their homes for the warmer season. One often overlooked aspect of spring cleaning is the inspection of household appliances. While it's common to make sure air conditioning units are ready to go before summer, other household appliances often receive no such inspection. However, homeowners can easily examine common household appliances when doing their spring cleaning, ensuring everything is running at optimal strength as the weather warms up. „ Dishwasher -- Check for water leaks around the dishwasher. If leaks are

apparent on the floor or under the sink, an air-gap might be needed. An air-gap keeps contaminated water from entering into the water supply. „ Range -- When cleaning the kitchen this spring, check the burners, broiler and oven to ensure all are operating at maximum capacity. Gas ranges might require a professional inspection, so if any problems result from an informal inspection, homeowners should consult a professional. „ Refrigerator -- Check to make sure a refrigerator and freezer are staying cool. Condensation could be indicative of a problem with the refrigerator or freezer, and be sure to check the condition of the refrigerator's door gaskets.

Organic fertilizing finds the fast track When you're facing a row of endless organic fertilizer choices in your local lawn and garden center, you may agree with Kermit the Frog's famous line, "It's not easy being green." The popularity of organic fertilizer has grown proportionally with the confusion over how and why to use them and, more than anything, what "organic" actually means. Organic simply refers to living organisms. Organic fertilizers are made from previously living organisms and their waste products. Chemical fertilizers originate from synthetic sources. Chemical-based fertilizers work quickly because plants can take up their elements immediately, similar to the way humans rapidly metabolize simple carbohydrates like sugar. Think of organic fertilizers as the complex

carbohydrates of plant diets. Organic fertilizers work slower than chemical fertilizers because their complex parts have to break down in the soil before plants can absorb their nutrients. This long, tedious process enriches soil composition and quality. This leads to healthier soil and happier plants ... and frustrated gardeners. They are patient folks, but sometimes they need quick results. To create healthy living soil, three microorganisms are necessary: bacteria, fungi and Archaea. In previous organic fertilizers, the fast-acting microorganism -- the Archaea -- has been missing. Although the microorganism occurs naturally, it has not been grown commercially until now. And the proprietary formula is available only in Jobe's Organics. It is called

BIOZOME. The specialized formula rapidly breaks down organic material into basic minerals and trace elements that plants can absorb. Mix Jobe's Organics with BIOZOME fertilizer into the soil, then water well, and the organic nutrients are ready to work their magic with the microbes in the ground. The granular fertilizers are available in 11 varieties, including All-Purpose (4-4-4), Containers & Bedding Plants (3-5-6), Vegetables (2-7-4), Roses & Flowering Shrubs (3-5-3), and Trees & Shrubs (5-5-5). For more information, visit or call 800.327.9462. Someone should tell Kermit. He may have to change his tune!

Counting Energy Pennies

41,599 pennies. That's how much the Jones family of Sugar Land, Texas saved in just one month on their energy bill once they upgraded their home's old windows, HVAC system and attic. "$415.99 is an impressive energy savings in just a month," says homeowner John Jones. "Before the home's energy-efficient renovation our energy bill was $749.70 in August of 2008. A year later the bill was just $333.71 f o r August o f 2009 - that's a drop of 55.5 percent! " We attribu t e much of these savings to the 20 ENERGY STAR(R) qualified Simonton windows that were installed in our house. The windows were constructed with Simonton's exclusive ETC glass packages and are guaranteed to qualify for the federal Energy Tax Credit." The recipients of an Energy Savings Makeover project coordinated by Houston radio show host Gary Parr, the Jones family made many energy-efficient changes to their 2,800square foot two-story home during the summer of 2009. A new tankless water heater, programmable thermostat, HVAC system, insulation and solar attic fans were added to the home, allowing their kilowatt hours to immediately drop more than 38 percent during the first month after the renovation. "If our family can experience these drastic savings with energy-efficient products then I believe it's possible for any homeowner to achieve similar results," says Jones. "Energy savings means more dollars in our pockets and a more comfortable living situation for everyone in our family. Green Transformation Dr. Anna Marie, health specialist for The Weather Channel(R) and host of the nationally-syndicated Your Life with Dr. Anna Marie television show, isn't surprised by the instant savings at the Jones home. For her Greenovation remodeling home project in Florida, she also selected energy-efficient vinyl windows and saw fast results. "The first thing we did was update all the single pane and metal frame windows and patio doors in this 1971 home," says Dr. Anna Marie. "We selected Simonton ENERGY STAR qualified vinyl windows and doors for our project because I was impressed by their durability and easy maintenance. Plus, vinyl is green in the sense that it's recyclable and serves as a great insulator."

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The Valley News & Clarinda Herald-Journal Special Edition • February 2011



Deer set to spring back into action New weather proof repellant helps solve homeowners' deer dilemmas

experienced a 100-percent improvement since we started using it. What sets this product apart is that it is weather-proof, waterproof and one application lasts the entire growing season."

As the country once again readies itself for the return of warm weather, homeowners are also preparing for a far less welcome rite of spring. While the more common signs of spring include sunny skies and green grass, for many homeowners spring has also become synonymous with missing blooms, ravaged leaves and hoof prints in the lawn. It can only mean one thing: deer. Much like spring is a time for homeowners and their families to reacquaint themselves with the great outdoors, it's also a great opportunity for deer to essentially restock their pantries from the trees, gardens and shrubs that populate homeowners' yards. However, there is now an easy and affordable cure for your deer diagnosis. All Season Weatherproof Deer Repellent (formerly Deer Fortress), a new repellent product, is making it easy to turn your yard into a deer-free zone without fences, strong odors or the other hassles typically associated with deer deterrents. Bob Lillis would know. He manages corn seed development test plots for Monsanto in Iowa, and wages constant war against deer who would willingly eat his entire corn crop. Relief came when he began using All Season. "It's by far the best product we've ever used," he says. "We have

Driving Deer Away "In recent years, there have been two basic kinds of deer repellents -- liquid sprays that are applied directly to the plants' foliage, or granules that can be spread around the base of the plant or shrub," explains Stewart Clark, director of research and development at Sweeney's, makers of All Season. "The mode-ofaction, in most cases, is either an odor or an offensive taste that repels the deer. However, there are significant issues with both of these." Since both liquid and granular applications are exposed to the elements, their effectiveness is measured, at best, in weeks. Rain can very quickly wash the repellent off of the plant's leaves or dissolve it into the ground. Throughout the course of a normal growing season, numerous applications are required and just one missed application can leave a garden open to deer invasions. In addition, liquid repellents tend to smell terrible. The odor can be so bad that, for several hours, homeowners cannot enjoy sitting outdoors. "The new All Season product is unique in the market today because it is virtually odorless to humans, weather-proof, non-toxic and one application lasts all season long," says Clark.

How it Works is Why it Works All Season uses dried blood, a scent-based repellent, to trigger an innate "danger" response in deer, which, in turn, causes a flight response. This active ingredient has been a proven, highly effective repellent for several decades. Studies have shown that, next to fenced enclosures, blood is the most effective way to repel deer. It produces no noxious smells to humans and is a safe, natural, environmentally friendly product that can be used in any garden, including vegetable gardens. However, until now, it was available only in granules and sprays, which require frequent reapplication during the growing season. The All Season repellent is packaged in a patented, weatherproof container that is specially designed to allow the scent to escape but keep rain and other elements at bay. Homeowners simply stake the containers in the ground or hang them in shrubs four to eight feet apart throughout the desired protection area. Then, just sit back, and allow the product to work. There's no messy mixing, spraying or reapplication necessary. Powerful, Economical Protection These benefits have made All Season an attractive solution for deer-dogged homeowners, landscapers and professional grounds crews across the country. Because no reapplication is needed, All Season is also an economical option, costing less over a season

than most traditional repellant options. Greg Eckart, of Saybrook, Connecticut, gives the product rave reviews. "Last year, I lost a big chunk of my day lilies and roses from deer crossing through my property. I used a spray repellent, which would mostly keep them away -as long as I continued to reapply the spray," Eckart says. "This year, the deer returned, and I decided to try All Season because I'd heard it didn't have to be reapplied. It's been eight weeks since I began using it, and since then, I haven't had to reapply it. And best

of all, I've had no deer on my property -- which says a lot, since my neighbor, who lives just 200 yards away, has deer coming through her property all the time." It is important to note that no deer repellent is 100 percent effective in every situation, cautions Clark. As natural deer habitats are squeezed by development, deer must search harder for food. Repellents create an unpleasant environment for deer, but some may still forage in yards out of sheer survival instinct. However, proper use and application of repellents can lead to an increased success rate.

Fix-Up Tips for Apartment Dwellers

Homeowners often see spring as a time to tackle improvement projects they've been planning throughout the winter. But spring isn't only a time homeowners can improve their living space. There's also a host of things apartment dwellers can do to give their place some new life. Before doing anything, apartment dwellers should consult their lease or even call their landlord. Just like a homeowner must obey zoning laws before adding on, an apartment dweller should be certain any changes he or she plans to make are within their rights. After determining what can and can't be done, apartment dwellers can begin to address some things around their apartment that might give the room a new feel. „ Give window treatments some personality. Apartment complexes often want the entire complex to appear the same. That can make altering the window treatments somewhat difficult. However, renters can double up on window treatments by hanging neutral blinds that can be viewed from outdoors while giving some personality to the windows on the inside with bold draperies and blinds. „ Consider new wallpaper. Oftentimes, landlords forbid removing wallpaper. However, wallpaper borders might be right up a renter's alley so long as the landlord allows. There are selfadhesive, removable varieties, that make it easy to change any design scheme on a whim, or remove the border before moving out of the apartment. „ Re-paint the apartment. Landlords prefer neutral tones because they tend to make it easier to rent and maintain an apartment. However, some landlords are perfectly fine with tenants re-painting the

walls so long as the walls are returned to their original colors when the tenants move out. If the landlord does not allow the walls to be re-painted, it's still possible to add some life to an otherwise bland wall. Accessories and wall hangings can make a room appear more lively. Oversized artwork that's bold and colorful can give a room more life, as can more boldly colored couches, chairs or additional furnishings. Also consider colored light bulbs or shades to create lighting that casts a hue in the room. „ Fix the floors. If carpeting has become dirty or grimy, ask the landlord to replace the carpeting, either with new carpets or attractive wood flooring. If wood flooring is installed, it's easy for apartment dwellers to lay down some colorful throw rugs to give a room a new feel, and such an addition takes very little effort. Some don't want a permanent improvement like carpeting to be made, since it requires tacking or nailing into a subfloor. It's also possible to purchase carpeting kits that interlock and are not attached to the floor. Working like puzzle pieces, these kits can even be removed and taken to your next residence. More permanent changes, such as changing kitchen tiles or other flooring alterations, should be discussed with the landlord before beginning. „ Bring some plants and flowers into the apartment. Few things can bring a room to life more than a colorful bouquet of flowers or a new plant. What's more, there typically are not floral or plant restrictions on apartments, meaning all renters can utilize flowers and plants as they attempt to bring their place to life. Adding a colorful bouquet of flowers to a living room is one way to spruce up an apartment that any landlord would approve.

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Clarinda Shenandoah 712-246-3097 | 712-542-2181



The Valley News & Clarinda Herald-Journal Special Edition • February 2011

Home Improvements to Protect Children Parents understandably consider their home a safe haven for children. But the home actually plays host to many childhood injuries over the course of a typical year. Each year, nearly 20,000 people die and 21 million medical visits result from home accidents in the United States, says the U.S. Home Safety Council. The majority of these injuries occur to children and the elderly. When improving your home this season, take steps to decrease the likelihood of accidents by targeting the areas where injuries are most likely to occur. Slamming doors and windows: Amputations to fingers as a result of slammed doors and windows are a leading emergency room injury. This painful injury is easily remedied by putting foam or plastic guards on windows and doors so they can't fully crush fingers if they are accidentally slammed. Also, high-placed latches on windows or doors that are off-limits can reduce the chance for injury. Stairs: Statistics indicate that more people end up in U.S. emergency rooms because of fall-related injuries than from any other cause. Falls down stairs are a leading cause of injury. Adequate lighting around staircases can illuminate open stairwells. Non-slip treads on stairs can help prevent falls, as can replacing carpeting on


Continued from Page 1 term comfort and safety for those who live in the home. Some of the most frequent questions Gentry receives from homeowners nationwide include the following: Q: What are the pros and cons of different roofing materials? A: Three-tab asphalt shingles are relatively easy to install, inexpensive and look good on ordinary homes. However, they can be a poor environmental choice because they go to a landfill after 20 years, they perform only moderately well, and they don't add any special design appeal to a home. Real wood shingles or shakes look good on some styles of homes and are moderately priced, however they have little or no resistance to fire or impact unless specially treated. They also attract insects, have relatively poor longterm performance and are generally considered a poor use of our natural resources. Real slate shingles also provide a good look on some styles of homes and can be considered very long-lasting when installed properly. However, they are very expensive and extremely heavy. During

Protect children from injuries at home by making some safety improvements.

stairs that is bunching or separating from the underfloor. Be sure handrails are sturdy so they can be used. A pressure-mounted gate at the top of stairs can block the stairs to prevent falls if a child is wandering around at night to visit the bathroom or

installation you can have a significant amount of waste from cracking and breaking of slate tiles. Metal roofs are perfect for some very specific home designs. They have a unique look to them, are lightweight and snow can easily slide off of them. Watch out when it rains or hails though ... these roofs are noisy on the inside of the home during storms. Synthetic roofing tiles provide a high-performance option for homeowners. The tiles come in a variety of styles, including slate and shake, are lightweight and have long-term durability. These tiles are moderately priced and a good environmental choice. While the look complements many home styles, synthetic roofing tiles are moderately priced, so they're affordable for everyone. Q: What are the life spans of different roofing materials? A: Generally, real wood will wear out the fastest, followed by three-tab asphalt shingles. You can maybe get 15-20 years out of each of these. Some metal roofs can last up to 50 years, depending on their warranty. Synthetic roofing tiles last up to 50 years and require minimal maintenance attention. Real slate also lasts many

years on a home ... some slate can last up to 100 years! Q: Why would I consider synthetic roofing materials over traditional asphalt products? A: Aesthetics and durability. Typical asphalt shingles look ordinary. Consider this: when you look at many homes, especially those with steep roofs, almost half of what you see is the roof. When selecting a roof, think about curb appeal and resale value. Synthetic tiles make an ordinary home look extraordinary. Additionally, they give you peace-of-mind because these roofing tiles will perform exceptionally well against fire, impact, wind and other weather conditions. Q: What is the synthetic roofing material made of? A: At DaVinci, we use an engineered polymer, which is impregnated with fire retardant and state-of-theart advanced UV stabilizers specifically formulated for the tough conditions tiles are exposed to in all climates throughout the year. Our roof tiles use only 100 percent pure virgin resin in order to assure consistency, and are 100 percent recyclable. Q: Do roofing tiles

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another instance. Window safety: Falls out of open windows are another startling statistic, with thousands of young children being susceptible to injury every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In

become more brittle over time? A: That depends on the kind of roofing tiles. Asphalt and real wood roofing materials do become more brittle toward the end of their life cycles. DaVinci tiles do not have that problem. The engineered polymer used in synthetic tiles changes very little over time or when subjected to extreme temperature and weather conditions. Third party independent extended life testing has shown minimal degradation of the material's performance qualities. Q: Which roofing tiles are consistent with their colors and won't fade over time? A: Most synthetic roofing tiles have their color blended completely throughout their tiles. These products won't fade over time because UV protection has been built into each tile. When exposed to continual sunlight and UV rays, many other products, such as metal and asphalt roofing, will indeed fade over time, losing their original sharpness of color. However, synthetic roofing tiles maintain their sheen regardless of external factors or age, ensuring homeowners that their roofing tiles won't devolve into an eyesore over time.

March 1991, singer Eric Clapton lost his son Conor when the 3-year-old boy fell through an open window on the 53rd floor of a New York City high rise apartment. According to DelSanto, the janitor had opened a huge panel of glass that wasn't meant to be opened when the boy, who was playing hide-and-seek, ran straight through. Window guards that cover the open window with grating or metal bars, or locks, which prevent the window from opening past a certain height, can help prevent window injuries. It's also important to keep furniture away from easily opened windows. Electrocution: Children are curious by nature, and open outlets or wires and plugs will certainly attract their attention. Consider hiding wires beneath plastic covers for this purpose. Upgrade wiring if the house is old and if there are frayed wires or faulty outlets or switches. Use outlet covers on all exposed electrical outlets. Glass: The increased use of architectural glass has led to greater instances of glassrelated injuries, such as cuts and deep lacerations. Be sure to always use shatter-proof glass. Glass tables with pointy edges should be avoided or covered until children are older. Ensure children are safe in and around the home. Make safety a priority whenever updating a home improvement to-do list.

D IY Tool Checklist A do-it-yourselfer is only as good as his or her willingness to learn. Having the right tools in your toolbox or hanging over your work bench can make repairs and installations go much more smoothly. Review this checklist and aspire to have these tools in your home-repair arsenal. Category: „Chalk line Assembly, Dismantling, „Wood or plastic ruler Attaching „Plumb bob „Claw hammer „Ball peen hammer „Nails, in a variety of sizes „Pry bar „Flat-head screwdriver „Phillips-head screwdriver „Screws, in a varieties of sizes and finishes „Open-end wrench „Box or socket wrench „Allen key „Strap wrench „Channel lock pliers „Long-nosed pliers „End-cutting nippers „Contact cement „Epoxy „Wood glue „Vice „C-clamp Category: Measuring and Leveling „Level „Tape measure „Carpenter's Square

Category: Power Tools „Circular saw „Router „Mitre saw „Reciprocating saw „Bench saw „Disk sander „Orbital sander „Shop vacuum „Nail gun „Shop filter Category: Hand Tools, etc. „Chisel „Handsaw „Nails, in a variety of sizes „Flashlight „Block sander „Variety of planes „Steel wool „Paint brushes „Paint rollers „Putty knife „Spackle tool

Looking g too upgrade yourr outdoorr area? See Linda for a Home Equity Line of Credit.

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