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2 Spring Home & Garden

The Westerly Sun


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden

TABLE OF CONTENTS Preserving our planet: How to celebrate Earth Day every day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Warmer weather home updates that are easy on your wallet . . . . . . . . 13

Plant a self-sustaining garden . . 5

The benefits of pruning trees and shrubs . . . . . . . . . . 14

Kitchen work triangle . . . . . . . . 6 Expanding outdoor living space adds value to your home . . . . 7 Pros and cons of automatic irrigation systems . . . . . . . . . . 8 Not just plumbing supply . . . . . 9 Eco-conscious ways to tend to your lawn . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Cultivate an herb garden . . . . . 10 Cost-effective fencing options . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Deer-proofing a garden . . . . . . 12


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4 Spring Home & Garden

Preserving our planet: How to celebrate Earth Day every day (BPT) - Greenhouse gases are at an all-time high. Although some gases are naturally present in the atmosphere, such as water vapor, ozone, methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, human activities have created a new set of greenhouse gases (GHG) that are negatively affecting the ozone layer. GHGs are making it easier for the sun’s harmful UV rays to pass through, which has resulted in global warming. The United States is among the world’s worst offenders when it comes to GHG emissions per capita, according to the United Nations Statistics Division. In 2008, the U.S. emitted 22.22 GHG per capita, which was a 13.3 percent increase from 1990. On April 22, more than 1 billion people around the world will take part in the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day. This day is an opportunity for people everywhere to voice their concerns about the planet and to take action to protect it. So, what can individuals do to protect and preserve the earth every day, in order to prevent things like global warming?

One thing Americans can do is to support environmentally friendly mandates and legislation that are specifically targeted at large businesses and manufactures, since they tend to be the largest producers of GHG. Some companies are already striving to reduce their environmental footprint. For example, The American Trucking Association (ATA) has a sustainability initiative called “Trucks Deliver a Cleaner Tomorrow,” that focuses on reducing fuel consumption and finding innovative ways to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. The organization’s goal is to reduce fuel consumption by 86 billion gallons and carbon monoxide emissions by 900 million tons for all vehicles by 2018, according to Bill Graves, ATA’s CEO and president. Other companies like ECORE, a recycled flooring manufacturer, are producing products in an environmentally friendly way. “We are committed to operating our business and facilities in a manner that uses resources wisely,” says Arthur Dodge III, See Celebrate, page 22

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden

which they will thrive. Peas, beets and cabbage, for example, are cold-temperature vegetables, while cucumbers, squash and melons thrive in warm climates. Plant accordingly so that the vegetables will have the best chances for success. • Purchase quality seeds. Use fresh seeds, particularly ones that have been harvested


Gardening is a rewarding hobby with thousands of devotees. Backyard gardens provide beauty and aesthetic appeal to a landscape, and they can be a source of homegrown food and a natural habitat for outdoor wildlife. A self-sustaining garden can be an efficient addition to any home, but gardens require upkeep and a certain measure of dedication.


Plant a self-sustaining garden

A self-sufficient garden is a garden that sustains itself through proper planning and execution. Such gardens can almost take care of themselves so long as the soil is healthy soil, the seeds are reused and organic material is produced.


Self-sustaining gardens also represent a lifestyle where individuals are responsible for producing their own foods — thus sustaining themselves without the need to shop for produce elsewhere. When planting your own self-sustaining garden, consider the following tips.


• Start with soil. Healthy soil is essential to a thriving garden. The soil must have the right pH, correct texture and composition, and be full of nutrients. Very often the native soil in yards is not adequate to keep a garden thriving. In such instances, the soil needs to be improved. Adding compost — which can be produced in the yard as well — to the soil will enrich the soil with nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. • Maintain proper soil consistency. Soil that is the right consistency, meaning the optimum balance of sand, clay and actual soil, is another necessity for a self-sustaining garden. The ideal ratio should be 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt and 20 percent clay. Having the right balance of soil can secure root formation and promote proper drainage. • Test the pH. Certain plants need a specific pH in order to grow. A neutral pH range is typically ideal for growing vegetables. A pH tester can be purchased from a gardening center. Amend the soil accordingly to get the soil back to its correct level. • Know the growing season. Vegetables should be planted during the season in


• FERTILIZERS & SOILS • SEEDS & BULBS • ROSES • BONSAIS from your own garden the year before, to have the best chances for germination. Or buy seeds from a reputable source, like a garden center or an online retailer who specializes in vegetable seeds. • Start seedlings indoors. You may want to work with seedlings indoors so that you can monitor growth and care for them more easily. Then transplant the seedlings outside when they are stable enough for the elements. ■



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6 Spring Home & Garden

The Westerly Sun

Kitchen work triangle The kitchen is arguably the most-used room in the house during waking hours. Having a kitchen that is laid out in an efficient manner can improve productivity and make for a more enjoyable experience. Designers often stress having an effective work triangle in the kitchen. The phrase “kitchen work triangle” started with the Building Research Council (formerly the Small Homes Council) at the University of Illinois. The idea came from studies of space usage and the search for efficient kitchen designs. What the triangle essentially means is positioning three key items of the kitchen for efficiency. The stove, sink and refrigerator represent the three main points of the triangle. Having these items spaced accordingly can make work easier. Having them too close together can create a cramped, ineffective room. The placement of the triangle points alone does not make a successful layout. According to the University of Missouri Extension, the triangle space should also be measured accordingly. Put 4 to 7 feet between the refrigerator and sink, 4 to 6 feet between the sink and stove and 4 to 9 feet between the stove and refrigerator, with the ideal size resulting in a work triangle where the three sides total between 15 and 22 feet. ■

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden


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8 Spring Home & Garden

The Westerly Sun

Pros and cons of automatic irrigation systems Water is essential to keeping a lawn or garden in good health. The trouble with watering is that it can be time-consuming, especially if your idea of watering is standing outside with the hose. But thanks to irrigation systems, watering has become a lot less hands-on. An irrigation sprinkler or drip system takes much of the work out of watering a landscape. Some can also be fitted to deliver fertilizer and weed-prevention products to a lawn. But before any digging takes place, homeowners might want to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of irrigation systems.

ADVANTAGES One of the most obvious advantages is the time savings afforded by an automatic sprinkler or drip irrigation system. Once installed, many systems can be set to a timer to water at specific time intervals and on certain days of the week. This means there’s no need to worry about forgetting to water the lawn and coming back from vacation to find crisp, yellow grass. Some homeowners choose to install automatic irrigation systems rather than using a hose and portable sprinkler.

Another advantage is that irrigation systems, particularly the drip type, can be positioned so that water is

more effectively targeted where it is needed. Nozzles can be adjusted and underground drip tubes will deliver water right to the roots, rather than spraying walkways and driveways. Another advantage is that automatic irrigation systems are generally hidden from view, which means there are no unsightly hoses stretched across the lawn and no more tripping hazards. Sprinkler heads pop up to spray and then retract when the job is done. Underground drip systems do their work out of view. For families with young children and pets who share outdoor spaces, automatic systems may be a safer option.

DISADVANTAGES The primary disadvantage associated with a sprinkler system is the expense. These systems can be quite costly depending on the size of the property. Furthermore, portions of the lawn will have to be dug up to install pipework and attach it to the plumbing system of the home. This can equate to days or weeks without use of the yard. Afterwards, the landscaping See Irrigation, page 22

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden

Not just plumbing supply ... Wowing customers at WaterSpot stores includes not only smiling, courteous salespeople, but also a surprisingly diverse selection of products and customer service excellence. Ardente Supply, one of the oldest Rhode Island plumbing, heating, cooling and industrial suppliers, applies this formula to all five of its WaterSpot showrooms. Its experience so far has been vastly positive, evidenced by the fact that WaterSpot locations in Rhode Island — Providence, Westerly and Woonsocket were recently joined in 2009 by WaterSpot in Natick, MA and the brand new Boston Design Center location. This success is not pure luck. Ardente’s WaterSpot Showrooms are the destination stop serving homeowners, contractors, designers, architects and engineers. Elegantly appointed, the showrooms display thousands of European and American high-end designer brands along

with selections for more modest budgets. The success of WaterSpot is attributed to offering a vibrant, visual and tactile environment that inspires creative design ideas. Customers experience an open and spacious layout with strategic ally positioned free-flowing product displays. The selections can visually breathe while not crowding each other. The stores feature products from more than 70 leading brands. Customers can find sinks, tubs, faucets, whirlpools, saunas, vanities, shower systems, door pulls and locks, towel racks, soap dishes and lighting. Visitors are offered planning and design assistance, and customers often leave the store with a solution to meet their needs. Every customer interaction is completed with a handshake during which a showroom associate thanks customers for their business. Coupled with a distinct WaterSpot ambience, this gesture is part of the WaterSpot brand that Ardente Supply has been carefully crafting in its stores. “We don’t allow showrooms to show product brands,” relates co-owner Paul Ardente. “From the very beginning, we wanted to create a separate WaterSpot brand that has its own signature style of tastefully done showrooms, all with the same look and feel.” The commitment to keeping products in the showrooms fresh also helps to keep the WaterSpot brand alive and kicking. The Ardentes are constantly traveling and searching for new and innovative designs. All new product selec-

tions are reviewed and decisions are made about what additions to add to the product mix. New England has a large traditional market, but WaterSpot maintains a good balance of different styles, catering to a variety of tastes. Products on the showroom floor are constantly rotated and refreshed, and showroom vignettes are changed at least once a year. The Ardente brothers — Mark, Paul, Evan and Bruce — are the company’s co-owners. They represent the third generation of the Ardente family running the firm started in the early 1940s by Raymond Ardente, Sr., an Italian immigrant, as are many Westerly residents. Branching into the showroom business has been the latest successful enterprise by Ardente Suppy, which is proud of the fact that it is expanding when many competitors are consolidating. The Ardente’s inspiration to advance their business comes from learning about new product and industry trends. “We always strive to bring new ideas to the table,” says Bruce, the Ardente brother in charge of the Westerly store. The Ardentes are also a huge proponent of training. The WaterSpot staff is well-versed in the nuances of different manufacturers’ brands and products and can handle any customer request competently. Many times a WaterSpot location is used for best practice seminars or to showcase the latest trend offerings from manufacturers. Many customers are pleasantly surprised to see


the sheer number of products offered at WaterSpot.”It’s not only plumbing and bath fixtures,” says Kathleen Hobe, longtime sales consultant in Westerly. “We have one of the largest decorative lighting selections in the area, as well as hardware and accessories.” Not only that, the Westerly location serves northern Connecticut and Block Island residents also. “We make frequent deliveries to Block Island, and having lived on the island for years, I have a good idea what styles locals are looking for. We’ll even pick you up at the airport if you fly in to shop! Not many stores show that kind of attention and service.” “We don’t have a lot of drive-by traffic, so it’s definitely a destination stop,” says co-owner Bruce Ardente. “It’s very convenient to get here once people know where we are.” WaterSpot Westerly is located behind the Westerly Airport at 79A Tom Harvey Road. At the intersection of Route 1 and Airport Road, turn onto Airport Road and take a left on Tom Harvey Road. Just a short distance you’ll see the Ardente/WaterSpot sign on the left. The Ardente brothers are proud of their thriving business and of WaterSpot showrooms. They have a healthy appetite for further expansion and growth. “What we do is what everyone else does, but we do it a little better,” shares coowner Paul Ardente, “So why can’t we have WaterSpots all over the country?” ■

Eco-conscious ways to tend to your lawn Many homeowners are constantly on the lookout for ways to make their homes more environmentally friendly. Such a pursuit is both noble because it helps the environment and practical because it often saves money. While there are many eco-friendly improvements homeowners make inside their homes, it’s important to note that there are several ways for men and women to be more environmentally conscious outside of their homes as well. Lawn care can be done in a way that’s conscious of the environment, and the results can be just as appealing as if the lawn were tended to without regard for the planet. The following are just a few of the many ways homeowners can adopt more eco-friendly practices when tending to their lawns.

A push mower that does not rely on gas to work is one way homeowners can take a more eco-friendly approach to lawn care.

• Be conscientious when watering. Overwatering a lawn is pretty common, especially during the dog days of summer, when homeowners try to overcompensate for hot days with excessive watering. The growth of moss on sidewalks or the driveway is a telltale sign that you’re watering too See Lawn, page 19

10 Spring Home & Garden

The Westerly Sun

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Many people cultivate gardens both inside and outside of their homes with a focus on adding aesthetic appeal to their property. But a garden that boasts plants that are edible and pleasing to the eye is a possibility as well. Planting an herb garden is a creative way to enjoy the sights, smells and tastes of a wide variety of plants. Using fresh-harvested herbs in culinary endeavors imparts a taste that dried spices cannot match. What’s more, fresh herbs are often easy to cultivate.

when cultivating herbs. Fortunately, herbs can grow well in containers indoors, provided the soil is amenable and there is plenty of sunlight. Herbs will grow best in well-prepared soil. Make sure that it is rich in organic matter and drains well. Also, for plants like parsley, be sure to have deep pots or dig deeply in the garden to establish long taproots.

Herbs are versatile, capable of lending great flavor to foods while also playing different roles in personal health and beauty. Herbs can be grown to perfume homes and bodies. There are herbs that are also purported to help with ailments, from upset stomachs to anxiety.

Until the weather warms up, you may want to begin herb cultivation indoors and then transfer plants outside during the summer. Basil, for instance, is a tropical plant that does well in warm conditions. Therefore, it will need to be kept away from drafts and get several hours of direct sunshine a day. Place most herb planters in a south-facing window of a home to ensure they get ample sunlight and to allow the soil to dry adequately between waterings.

When planting an herb garden, you may want to pay particular attention to the types of flavors and smells you like in your home and cooking. This will help you to narrow down the types of herbs you will plant. Many would-be herb gardeners tend to start small to see what luck they have

With many herbs, leaf production will diminish on any stems that flower. It is essential to pinch off flowers that form to encourage the herb plant to continue producing leaves, which are the parts of the plant most associated with seasoning and aroma. â–

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden


Costeffective fencing options Fencing serves many purposes. Some homeowners erect a fence for privacy, while others do so to contain pets and children. Because fencing can be expensive, some homeowners look for ways to cut costs, which can be relatively easy, especially for those homeowners willing to consider various materials when erecting their fence. Traditional fences are available in materials ranging from wood to vinyl to metal. Homeowners have other options at their disposal if they prefer a more natural fence. Different shrubs, trees or grasses can be planted to create a barrier between properties or within the property. When choosing a fencing material, consider that even a less expensive material may prove more expensive in the long run if it needs significant maintenance or has to be replaced in just a few years. Therefore, the most cost-effective fencing material may not necessarily be the least expensive one at the store. Here are some materials homeowners can consider.

between homes. Spacing the pickets widely apart may cut down on the number that need to be purchased, further keeping the cost down. • Bamboo: Bamboo is a rapidly growing grass that produces a hard wood-like material that is used in many building applications. Bamboo wood can be used to build a fence, but the natural plant also can be planted to form a living fence for privacy. • Stockade fencing: A stockade fence is one of the more basic wood fencing options. Wooden slats are placed alongside one another to form an effective and affordable privacy fence. Stockade fencing can be stained or painted to preserve it. Many home improvement retailers sell panels of stockade fencing so that you can make fence installation a do-it-yourself project.

• Chainlink/chainwire: Chainlink fencing is one of the most economical types of boundary fencing. The fencing comes in a variety of diamond sizes and is fixed to galvanized pipes spaced across the perimeter of the property. Although it is some of the least expensive fencing, it does not offer much privacy on its own. But if you are looking at fencing simply as a barrier, chainlink could be the way to go.

• Vinyl fencing: Although vinyl fencing is one of the more expensive fencing materials at the outset (it costs about twice the price of a wood fence), it does pay for itself rather quickly thanks to minimal maintenance. Unlike some other materials, vinyl will not rot or discolor. You also won’t have to purchase stain, paint and expensive cleaners for a vinyl fence. That means once you make the investment, you will have years upon years of maintenance-free enjoyment.

• Picket fencing: A wooden picket fence is another inexpensive fencing material. The pickets can be purchased in various heights, and this fence may be used as garden border fencing or to mark a property line

There are many different fencing materials that can coordinate with a variety of budgets. ■

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• Found material: Repurposed wood or metal can be crafted into a rustic, one-of-akind fence. Materials can be found that are no cost, requiring only the cost of labor. Should you build it yourself, this can be next to nothing. Sometimes existing fences on another property can be disassembled and re-built on your own property for little to no cost as well.

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12 Spring Home & Garden

The Westerly Sun

Deer-proofing a garden Creating a beautiful and bountiful garden is a popular pastime for people all across the country. It is important to keep in mind that aesthetically appealing plants may be appetizing to area wildlife, including deer. Those who do not want their gardens to turn into all-you-can-eat buffets for deer, rabbits and other wild animals can take a more proactive approach to gardening.

Either way, you may encounter a deer in or around your area.

Deer are opportunists who will no doubt see your garden as a salad bar ripe with all of their favorite foods. As housing developments continue to encroach on the natural habitats of deer and other animals, these animals are becoming more visible. Deer may not be able to forage for food effectively in their smaller, natural surroundings, or they may become accustomed to the “easy pickings” they find in neighborhood yards.


When planting annuals, select among: • Alyssum • Begonias • Calendula • Celosia • Dianthus • Foxglove • Geraniums • Parsley • Poppy • Snapdragons

In terms of perennials, plant these items once, and deer could stay away: • Ageratum • Anemone • Astibe • Bearded iris • Catmint • Honeysuckle • Lantana • Monkshood • Rock rose • Rosemary • Soapwort • Wisteria

Keeping deer at bay involves some work and maintenance on the part of a homeowner. There are safe and humane methods to repelling deer, or at least blocking access to the plants worth protecting. Here are the main ways to deer-proof a garden.

Fences are one way to deter deer from entering a yard and dining on your garden. Keep in mind that deer can jump fences that are quite tall, but they have to be especially motivated to jump an eight-foot-tall fence. Still, they tend to be weary about scaling a fence when they cannot see what is on the other side. Therefore, if you are fencing out deer, choose a fence that camouflages the garden well and completely encloses the area Plant these herbs to be protected. If you do alongside flowers not want the fence to be for even more solid, consider putting stakes protection: or thorny plants within the garden so that the deer will • Chives hesitate to jump into the • Eucalyptus garden. • Garlic • Mint • Thyme • Wintergreen

Gardeners who use a combination of methods to keep deer out of their yards and gardens may have a higher success rate at deterring these animals.

SCARE THEM Deer are naturally skittish around people, but over time they can become quite complacent around human beings. Once a deer decides that something will not present a threat, the deer can adapt to its presence. Motion-activated devices may not work, nor the presence of pets. Predator urine is typically an effective way

at keeping deer at bay. Bottled coyote urine can be quite effective, although human urine may work as well. Reapplying the product weekly around the plants is a good idea.

REPEL THE DEER There are many organic or chemicallybased products on the market that deer may find offensive to the taste or smell. Hot pepper, sulfur and eggs or even the use of soapy water have been successful in cer-

CHANGE PLANTS If other food sources are available, there are some species of plants and trees that deer will avoid. Filling your garden with these plants can help you maintain a beautiful, albeit untasty, environment for deer. ■



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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden


Warmer weather home updates that are easy on your wallet (BPT) - As the weather turns warmer, most of us are experiencing cabin fever, anxious to escape to the outdoors. But has the harsh winter weather put a damper on your outdoor spaces? Don’t fret. You can easily spruce up your exteriors with a few easy and inexpensive home improvement projects. Here are a few fast fixes that will have your home looking great without taking a huge hit on your wallet.

UNPACK AND UPDATE The first step to enjoying the outdoors is to unpack storage areas and populate your patios and porches with furniture and accents that you put away for the winter season. However, often these pieces don’t fare well in storage and your once-beautiful accents may be scratched, faded or even rusty. “It’s disappointing to find once-vibrant outdoor furniture and accents looking worn and outdated — especially when you’re not ready to invest in new,” says Katherine Merkle, Krylon brand manager. “Luckily, with a bit of spray paint — especially a version that’s paint and primer in one — it’s simple to revitalize your current pieces to make them lovely and enjoyable, only for a few dollars.” Krylon’s Dual Paint + Primer spray paint is the ideal solution with a unique formulation that’s available in a wide variety of the most popular colors and finishes. It includes both the paint and primer in one can, so you can complete your projects eas-

ily and quickly in one step — with a great finish that lasts like you primed it. Plus, it works on many surfaces, including wood, metal, wicker, glass, ceramic, fabric, concrete and masonry, allowing you to update all your outdoor accents. “Whether looking to add a vibrant pop of color to dull flower pots; restoring sunfaded patio umbrellas; or restoring damaged or dull furniture surfaces, Dual has the color you need in the simple, onestep, affordable solution you desire,” says Merkle.



Cold weather can leave outdoor spaces looking dirty and gray, so the next step in your outdoor update is to start cleaning. Pressure washing is a simple way to get patios, sidewalks, windows and siding looking clean and ready for the season. It offers instant gratification as layers of dirt, dust and grime are

quickly blasted away. Don’t have a pressure washer? No worries that you need to buy one; most rental companies or home improvement centers offer reasonably priced daily rentals. Or it’s an opportunity to visit the neighbors who you haven’t seen during the cold months to borrow theirs.

With your living spaces looking grand, now it’s time to turn your attention to your lawn. With the grass still soggy and sensitive, it may not be time to begin mowing or digging — but it is a good time for prevention. Since spring is often the key growth season for many grasses, the key to having a weed-free yard is to apply weed control to your yard to prevent them before they germinate. Your local home improvement store or nursery will help you determine the type and amount that is best for your yard. This easy bit of prevention will help create healthy and luscious greenery for the warmer months to come.

GET GRILLING Once you’ve got your outdoors looking great, you’ll be ready to enjoy some outdoor entertaining. To prep your grill for See Updates, page 23


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14 Spring Home & Garden

The Westerly Sun

The benefits of pruning trees and shrubs Pruning trees and shrubs is necessary to ensure they maintain their health and vigor. Trees and shrubs should be inspected annually to determine if they need to be pruned. Mature trees typically do not need to be pruned as frequently as young trees, which need pruning to establish branch structure. Trees and shrubs that go years without pruning can become overgrown and weak. In addition to promoting tree and shrub health, pruning pays a host of other dividends. • Pruning removes dead or diseased branches. Pruning helps a tree or shrub maintain its shape and vigor by removing broken, dead or diseased branches that can be unsightly and make it more difficult for the tree or shrub to stay healthy. When broken, dead or diseased branches are removed, trees or shrubs look healthier and add aesthetic appeal to a property.

• Pruning trees and shrubs promotes growth of other plants. Trees and shrubs that go years without being pruned become overgrown, making it difficult for plants underneath or adjacent to them to grow in healthy. For example, grass beneath an overgrown tree might not get adequate sunlight, which it needs to establish strong roots so it can grow in lush and healthy. Pruning allows plants beneath the tree and shrub and even those next to the tree and shrub to grow in nicely. • Pruning can sometimes bring plants back to life. Shrubs that have gone years without being pruned can sometimes still be salvaged. In some instances, pruning such shrubs can restore natural and healthy growth. • Pruning reduces risk of accidents. Overgrown trees can interfere with power lines, increasing the risk of accidents and power outages. In addition, overgrown trees tend to

have larger, weaker limbs, which can prove hazardous and cause property damage during storms. Pruning overgrown trees reduces the risk of such accidents. • Pruning can save money. Over time, overgrown trees might require professional assistance in order to be removed or pruned from a property. Homeowners who prune their trees as needed can save themselves the cost of a potentially pricey tree service. • Pruning adds curb appeal. A property littered with overgrown trees and shrubs hurts a home’s curb appeal, giving prospective buyers the impression that homeowners might have been careless with regard to maintaining the whole house and not just the lawn. But trees and shrubs that are pruned and well-maintained can add to a home’s curb appeal, something that goes a long way toward impressing prospective buyers. â–

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden


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Spring fling must-haves (BPT) - Spring provides the perfect opportunity to host a party and show off all of the hard work you’ve put into your lawn and garden. Before your first guest arrives, make sure you have made all the preparations for your blooms to blossom, your garden to grow and your outdoor space to be pest free. There’s nothing like uninvited guests or a dull landscape to ruin a gathering of friends or family. Keep in mind these housekeeping tips for spring entertaining: • Create a beautiful floral centerpiece of freshly-picked flowers from your landscape. Include a range of colors, textures and smells. A landscape maintenance plan that provides flowering plants with a proper blend of nutrients will ward off destructive pests and guarantee a centerpiece guests will enjoy. In fact, one of the best defenses from pests is a strong, actively growing and well-maintained plant. • Protect your showcase garden. Given last year’s record-breaking heat, and the corresponding uptick in insect activity, your garden may be faced with another pest-invasion this season. Protect your growing garden from feeding and foraging pests by applying an insecticide, such as GardenTech Sevin products, which breaks down in the environment. Depending on the produce, this insecticide can be applied throughout the growing season, right up until the day before harvest.

• Prevent pesky party-crashers. To prevent pest infestations while guests enjoy themselves, apply insect bait around the perimeter of planting beds and entertainment areas. The bait serves as a protective barrier, so insects don’t come inside those areas to cause mischief. Foraging insects take the granules back to their nests and share — eliminating colonies at their source. • Green-up landscapes. Take your pale green or yellowing plants — a common symptom of iron deficiency — from plain to vibrant with a mineral supplement, such as Ironite. The “greening” supplement ensures plants receive the essential secondary and micro-nutrients they need to develop strong roots and lush, green growth. Feeding is made easy with liquid and granule formulations that have been customized for various plant types and application needs.

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• Leave a lasting-impression. Impress and indulge guests by incorporating gardenfresh ingredients (herbs, veggies and fruits) in your meal. You can even take it a step further by creating gift basket party favors stocked full of your own home-grown goodies — an idea that is sure to keep guests coming back. Cue up the invites, apply these tips and throw in a few of your own. You’re now ready for a little outdoor entertaining. For more information and additional helpful hints, check out ■

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16 Spring Home & Garden

The Westerly Sun

Easy DIY cures for common concrete problems (BPT) - Have you ever seen a house with a beautiful lawn, lush landscaping, a tasteful and well-maintained exterior — and an ugly cracked concrete driveway? Why is it that even seasoned, proficient do-it-yourselfers sometimes balk at taking care of concrete? “Concrete can be intimidating,” says Bob Schmidt, national product manager for Sakrete, which makes concrete repair products. “There’s an unfair stigma that repairing concrete is a lot of work, but it’s actually not difficult. In many cases, if you can use a caulk gun, you can repair your cracked concrete.” As with other home maintenance tasks, making your own repairs to minor concrete damage yourself can prevent problems from becoming worse — and turning into something that requires costly replacement by professionals. Here are some concrete repair tasks that you can do yourself, and helpful tips for doing the jobs right:


that appear over time can be caused by tree roots pushing under the slab or a shift in the ground under the slab. As cracks develop moisture works its way into minute fissures in the concrete which eventually leads to larger, visible cracks. This is especially severe in winter when the water turns to ice, the ice expands and the cracking process accelerates. Left unaddressed, cracks will worsen, ultimately leading to crumbling and the breakdown of the slab. Repairing small cracks can prevent them from becoming larger. For cracks between one-eighth to three-eighths of an inch wide, use a product like Sakrete’s Concrete and Mortar Repair, which comes in an easy-to-use caulk tube. Slightly larger cracks can be repaired with Sakrete Concrete Crack Filler, a one-quart pre-mixed concrete repair material in a sqeezable container. Cracks should be wide enough to accept the tip of a caulk gun. Larger cracks may require a concrete repair product similar to the one you would use to repair broken or uneven concrete.

most durable surfaces in your outdoor environment, like any other material that’s exposed to the elements and vigorous use, it can start to look worn. Pitting and cracking not only look bad, they can ultimately lead to severe breakdown of the surface. Before you pay a professional to perform the labor-intensive task of ripping up the old concrete and pouring new, consider resurfacing your worn concrete driveway, sidewalk or pathway. While resurfacing is a little more work than simply patching cracks, it’s still well within the abilities of most DIYers. Products like Sakrete’s Flo-Coat Resurfacer pour over the existing concrete and, when properly applied, create a durable, visually appealing new surface. Be sure to clean the concrete first — especially if there are oil stains — and follow the manufacturer’s directions for application to ensure the best possible results.

LEVELING UNEVEN CONCRETE Concrete slabs that have separated at the joint, leaving one higher than the other are not only unslightly, but can pose a tripping hazard. Rather than tearing up and repouring the uneven area, consider using concrete repair patching material to level the area.

Once the surface is ready, apply your crack-filling product per the manufacturer’s directions.

“Many common concrete problems can be easily and quickly addressed by the average homeowner, using the right products and a little bit of elbow grease,” Schmidt says. “Tackling concrete repairs on your own can save you time and money — and leave you with a great-looking end result, as well as the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself.” ■


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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden


How to repair unsightly bald spots in your lawn Lawn care aficionados know how a single bald spot can make an otherwise luscious lawn look worn down and poorly maintained. A bald spot can stick out like a sore thumb, while several bald spots can compromise a home’s curb appeal. Treating bald spots typically depends on what is causing the bald spot. Bugs, dryness, pet waste and damage from mowers are some of the more common causes of bald spots. The following is a breakdown of these different causes and how best to address each situation so you can restore your lawn to its natural beauty.

DRYNESS A lawn can go dry because of drought in the summertime or during the winter months when there is not much rain or snowfall. Homeowners cannot change the weather, but they can help their lawn avoid becoming the burned or yellowed turf that often See Lawn, page 23

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18 Spring Home & Garden

The Westerly Sun

Tips for creating a greener outdoor living space

(BPT) - Outdoor living spaces remain a popular home improvement, but while you’re planning your patio or prepping your planting beds do you consider the impact these improvements might have on the environment? Creating a great outdoor space can be even more satisfying when you take steps to make your project as “green” as possible. If your spring to-do list includes backyard projects such as building a patio or decorative landscaping, here are some ecofriendly ways to accomplish your goals:

CHOOSE GREENER MATERIALS Long gone are the days when it was difficult to find building materials created with sustainable manufacturing processes. Today, you can find products such as pavers and even paver base — used in patio-building — that are not only made from recycled materials, but also are 100 percent recyclable. For example, to build a greener patio, start with Brock PaverBase, which holds the coveted “Cradle to Cradle” certification that recognizes a product’s safety for people and the environment, and design for future life cycles. The overlapping panel system makes prepping the ground for patio pavers quick and easy, eliminating more of the time-consuming and

labor-intensive aspects of traditional patio-building — all while delivering a better looking, professional-quality result. You can learn more at When building products made from recycled materials aren’t available, consider ones that are naturally sustainable. Such products can also provide a unique look. Bamboo, for example, is gaining popularity as a fencing and decking material and it’s eco-friendly because it’s fast-growing and durable. Cedar is another decking and fence product that is naturally “green,” because it is naturally resistant to moisture — making it more durable. It also contains natural oils that prevent rot without the chemical treatments needed by other woods such as pine, and it can be recycled and used for other building projects.

RESPONSIBLE ACCESSORIES Energy and water consumption are also important considerations when greening your backyard environment. Opting for solar-powered pathway, deck and accent lighting — rather than traditional electric lights — is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of your outdoor living space, while saving money on See Greener, page 22

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden


Lawn, from page 9

did you know? There are thousands of species of ants all over the world. Ants live in many different climates but are notably active and most abundant in warm temperatures. Chances are, at some point during the spring and summer, you will come in contact with ants in your area. Although many ants are black and red, there are a few species of ants that are light brown and even yellowish in color. Pharaoh ants and thief ants are light-colored ants that are often mistaken

for each other. Thief ants build colonies in large numbers close to other ant colonies and then use tunneling to “steal” food. Pharaoh ants are also very small and tend to make well-hidden nests, which allow them to infest a property or home quite quickly. Because both of these types of ants can become pests, you may need to hire a professional exterminator if the ants become a nuisance. ■

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much, as is a standing pool of water on the grass. Homeowners who find it difficult to determine when their lawns have gotten enough water can purchase an intelligent irrigation control system that adapts your watering to a lawn’s needs as well as the weather.

might prove to be a headache, and that excessive watering will not be beneficial to the environment. Native plants, flowers and grasses have already adapted to your climate, and they can be provide just as much aesthetic appeal as more exotic alternatives.

• Turn back the clock on your tools. Before gas mowers became the standard, manpowered push mowers were used to cut the grass. Such mowers still exist, and they require no fuel, making them a more ecofriendly option than their gas-powered counterparts.

• Avoid pesticides whenever possible. Many homeowners treat their lawns with pesticides, which can make a lawn look beautiful. But that beauty typically comes at a steep price, impacting local wildlife and perhaps even the local water supply. When pesticides are applied to a lawn, the chemicals within may run off into your local water supply. If you can’t avoid pesticides entirely, then do your best to minimize how often you use them.

Along those same lines, leaf blowers are a far less friendly way to rake leaves in the fall or clean the yard after a long winter. While there’s no denying their effectiveness, leaf blowers need gas to operate, while a rake just requires some elbow grease and a little extra time out in the yard. • Stay local. If you need to plant new grass or you’re beginning a garden, then stick with local plants, flowers and grasses rather than more exotic options that are not native to your area. Plants, flowers and grasses that aren’t native to your region will require more maintenance and often more watering. That added maintenance

Lawn care can be conducted in a way that benefits the environment as well as your bottom line. ■

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20 Spring Home & Garden

The Westerly Sun

Can pools and lawns cohabitate peacefully? The backyard has become a go-to destination for warm weather recreation. As the “staycation” has grown in popularity, more effort has been put forth in making the backyard a place where all members of the household can enjoy themselves. That means merging interests into one space. A pool may be competing for acreage along with a decorative patch of lawn. Some homeowners wonder if lawns and pools can be successful alongside each other. Many question if chlorinated pool water poses any ill effects on the grass in the backyard. In addition to splash-out of water during fun times in the pool, water also will be tracked across the lawn from children and adults exiting the pool or will flood the grass when it is necessary to clean and “backwash” the filter. Will you be left with a dried-out patch of chlorine-burnt lawn? Probably not. Healthy chlorine levels in a pool are kept so that the pool water is generally on par with the chlorine levels contained in regular tap

water. You wouldn’t hesitate turning on the hose to water your lawn, so you shouldn’t be overly concerned about pool water splashing out of the pool, particularly if you are stringent about maintaining the proper pH levels and chlorine levels. Also, soil can withstand chlorine at high acid levels and is pretty resilient about self-correcting. Furthermore, grass blades are selective about which nutrients they absorb, so excess chlorine likely will not penetrate the grass blades. Chlorine also dissipates in the sun. Therefore, while the levels may be elevated upon just hitting the grass, over a short while the chlorine will essentially be used up and pose no additional threat to the surrounding lawn.

In most cases, pool water will not damage lawns because the chlorine level is not high enough.

and most flowering plants. It is unadvisable to water vegetable gardens with pool water because of any trace levels of other chemicals that may be found in the pool water.

Some people have actually said that watering your lawn with pool water can be an eco-friendly way of curbing water usage. Therefore, it may be safely used on lawns

Homeowners still concerned about exposing their lawns to pool water can create a buffer zone around the pool. Inground pools are traditionally bordered by concrete or patio blocks. Place stone or mulch around the perimeter of an above-ground

pool to catch any splashes and to create a barrier between the pool and the lawn. Also, direct backwashed water through a long tube and have it flow to an area away from the lawn. Pool owners who want to have vibrant grass likely don’t need to worry about chlorine damaging their lawns. In fact, the lawns may flourish with the extra watering.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden


Gardening tips for beginners Gardening is a rewarding hobby that many enthusiasts credit with helping them to peacefully escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Though gardening can be both relaxing and rewarding, it’s not as easy as it may seem, and the more time and effort a person devotes to his or her garden the more likely it is to be successful.

• Determine what you should plant. Where you live will go a long way toward determining what you should plant. While you can plant anything you can get your hands on, the United States Department of Agriculture as well as Agriculture and AgriFood Canada have determined specific plant hardiness zones that indicate which plants are most likely to thrive in given locations. Maps of these zones can be found at and By adhering to the maps, gardeners can significantly increase their chances of growing successful gardens. When in doubt about what to plant, consult a local gardening center or seek advice from a professional landscaper.

• Think location when beginning your garden. Beginners with large yards have the luxury of choosing the right location on their properties to start planting. When choosing a spot, consider how much sunlight a location gets on a daily basis and the spot’s proximity to a water supply. If planting flowers, try to avoid planting in areas with heavy foot traffic so the flowers are less likely to be stomped. If you’re planting flowers to accent walkways, then consider erecting a barrier around the flower bed to safeguard the flowers from foot traffic. • Get started before you plant. Preparing the soil a few weeks before you start planting can help the plants thrive down the

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road. Add some organic material, such as compost or fertilizer, to the soil roughly three weeks before planting. This helps the soil retain water and nutrients, which will help your garden thrive. • Time your planting. When you plant is sometimes as important as what you plant. Some climates allow for year-round planting, but many do not. When buying seeds, the packaging might suggest what time of year to plant the seeds. Adhere to these suggestions or your garden might not grow much at all. In addition, keep in mind that many seedlings need significant light throughout the day in order to grow, so choose a time of year with ample daylight. • Don’t forget to mulch. Mulch can be as 437329

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

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22 Spring Home & Garden

The Westerly Sun

Expanding, from page 7

ADDING VALUE Without erecting the traditional four walls and roof, outdoor living space can be easily added to large, small, twin or town homes. Enhancing an outdoor space with hardscapes adds value and can be adapted for multiple uses. “Homeowners continue to embrace the trend of maximizing outdoor living space, whether it’s an outdoor kitchen or patio living room with a fire pit,” says Lonny Sekeres, a landscape designer with Villa Landscapes in Oakdale, Minn. “Real estate experts say that for every dollar you invest in landscaping projects, you could see up to a $2 return when you sell your home.” Do-it-yourselfers will find easy-to-install, maintenance-free pavers and segmental retaining wall systems are budget-friendly for all kinds of outdoor projects. New construction should include plans for exterior hardscapes, and remodels can benefit from the advice of design-build professionals or experts from a landscape supplies retailer, says Sekeres.

“There are so many solutions to fit any budget and need,” says Sekeres. “Products like Willow Creek permeable pavers allow rainwater drainage if needed, and retaining walls come in colors that complement any environment.”

AL FRESCO LIVING As a natural extension of the home’s ground floor, a patio expands a family’s living and entertaining space significantly. It provides a perfect gathering spot for guests and family who will be drawn from indoor dining areas to this enticing space. A popular trend is to expand kitchen space with outdoor grilling areas, stone fireplaces for cooking wood-fired pizza, or stone counters around a grill for food preparation. “Because the kitchen is typically the customary gathering place in the home, it’s a natural extension for family and entertaining guests,” Sekeres says.

WARMING ACCENTS A fire feature such as a fireplace, pit, table,

Greener, from page 18

pot or ring creates an inviting outdoor focal point as well as a functional spot for entertaining, says Sekeres. A half-circle seat wall or outdoor furniture around a fire pit or table creates a cozy nook, and adding a grill, pub set, chaise or settee can transform a patio into a lounge for gatherings well into the evening and late in the season. A newer trend is the green or living wall, says Sekeres. Products like the VERSA-Green Plantable Retaining Wall System from VERSA-LOK lets do-it-yourselfers and professional installers alike easily add drama and beauty to retaining walls. “A living wall planted with herbs near an outdoor grill or a landscaped wall of flowers is an eye-catching, eco-friendly and unique use of retaining walls,” says Sekeres.

ADDING AMBIANCE Pathways created with pavers, stepping stones and permeable pavers can join both back and front outdoor living spaces. “New homes and older homes make good use of the longstanding porch design,” says

Sekeres. “It’s easy to create a paver walkway linking the front and back or an outdoor kitchen to a lounge area.” Lighting installed within steps and along paths can also add a unified ambiance to a home’s hardscape. Adding decor such as pergolas, trellises and arbors covered with natural materials like bamboo or fiber screens is great solutions for privacy, shade or continuity of design. “There’s no limit to the hundreds of ideas to enhance your yard,” says Sekeres. “Many products are easy for the do-it-yourselfer with manufacturer instructions, seminars and other resources. Talk to a landscape professional, visit a home and garden show and landscape supply stores, or search the Internet for inspiration. Take advantage of the outside to easily expand your living space.” ■ For more information on VERSA-LOK products, visit its website or call (800) 770-4525

Irrigation, from page 8

your utility bill. It’s easy to find a wide variety of solar lighting styles, whether you look online or at your local home improvement store. Reducing water waste is also important for the environment and your wallet. If you have a lawn sprinkler system, be sure to avoid watering during the hottest hours of the day when water will evaporate off the grass before it had time to sink into the soil. Timers on a sprinkler system can also help conserve water. You can also recycle rainwater to irrigate backyard flowerbeds. Simply set up a rain barrel to collect water.

Finally, think about the furnishings you’ll use on your patio or deck. While plastic may seem durable — and cheapest to buy — consider what will happen to the furniture once it’s no longer usable. Furnishings made from recyclable materials like wood or iron may be kinder to the environment in the long run. You can also look for furniture made from recycled products. Or, visit garage sales and give old wood or metal lawn furniture a fresh coat of paint, some new cushions — and a new life in your environmentally friendly outdoor space. ■

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Even the most efficient sprinkler systems can have their pitfalls. Wind can wreak havoc on sprinklers, directing water in the

wrong direction. Underground pests may damage water-delivery systems, resulting in water pooling or broken parts. The repairs to fix an irrigation system can be much more costly than replacing a damaged garden hose. Irrigation systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and homeowners should weigh their options before installing a new system. ■

Celebrate, from page 4

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It is best to install an irrigation system prior to the installation of sod or extensive landscaping because some of it will have to be torn up. Homeowners who already have pristine yards may be turned off by this reality.

ECORE chairman and CEO. “We have developed energy-efficient manufacturing processes that use minimal water and little or no heat, and we reuse our scrap to minimize waste.”

A honey bee must tap two million flowers to make one pound of honey.

We Pick Up

will have to be repaired.

The second thing Americans businesses can do to be more eco-friendly is to strive to implement their own green practices, such as recycling paper and using energy efficient light bulbs. The U.S. Small Business Administration has even developed a Small Business Guide to Energy Efficiency that offers tips, advice, and resources on how to help companies do this.

The third thing Americans can do to make the earth a better place is to be more conscious of their own impact on the environment. There are many simple things people can do every day in order to be conscientious consumers, according to Green America, a non-profit organization founded in 1982 to harness economic power to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Aside from buying green products and recycling, Green America offers easy, sustainable tips, such as how to make nontoxic cleaners to air drying your clothes and how to choose energy efficient appliances over conventional models. “Going green” doesn't have to be a daunting task, and simple changes can have a positive impact. To learn more about ECORE-and its mission to create solutions that are both environmentally friendly and sustainable, ■

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Home & Garden


Updates, from page 13

Lawn, from page 22 results after extended periods of dryness. Fertilizing the lawn during the spring and summer is a good first step. This helps the lawn grow in healthy and thick. Once you have fertilized, don’t cut the grass too short. When grass is cut too short, the soil struggles to retain moisture, which can eventually lead to bald spots if weather conditions are dry. During especially dry periods in the summer, watering might be necessary. You won’t have to water frequently, but be sure to water deeply so the water can reach the roots of the grass.

PET WASTE Waste from pets can cause bald spots on a yard. This might surprise some homeowners, but pet waste contains a high level of concentrated nitrogen that, when applied to a lawn, can burn the grass and cause bald spots. Urine is most likely to cause bald spots, but fecal matter can as well.

hours can significantly reduce the risk of lawn damage by diluting the nitrogen levels. Another way to address the issue is to encourage the animal to use various spots in the yard, rather than continually using the same spot. Flush each area with water immediately after the pet is finished. If the damage is already considerable, remove the damaged grass and reseed the spot.

MOWER DAMAGE Sometimes Mother Nature and man’s best friend are not the culprit with regard to bald spots on your lawn. Human error can cause bald spots, too. Dull mower blades or grass that is cut too low can cause bald spots. Fortunately, this is easily remedied.

When addressing the problem of pet waste on your lawn, make sure no one else’s pets are the cause of the problem. Neighbors out walking their dogs should be discouraged from allowing their dogs to use your lawn as a restroom. If this does not work, then erect a fence or some type of structure that makes it difficult for other people’s pets to access your lawn.

To avoid bald spots, make sure mower blades are sharpened at the beginning of each mowing season, as dull blades damage the grass, which is then forced to use valuable nutrients to treat torn grass, weakening the lawn over time. When mowing, make sure you’re not cutting too low so the soil can retain as much moisture as possible. This will necessitate more frequent mowing, but this, too, can prevent bald spots, as it ensures those parts of the grass that contain chlorophyll will not be removed.

When it’s your own pet causing the damage, address the spots where your pet relieves itself as quickly as possible. Watering the area within eight

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

another year of burgers and barbecues — make sure you start with a good cleaning. Home improvement expert, Danny Lipford, has a simple and inexpensive way to clean the cooking surface using aluminum foil and white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar cuts through grease and cooked-on food, while the foil acts as an abrasive to remove the food residue. Simply pour white vinegar in a clean spray bottle, spray the cooking surface and let it sit for a few minutes. Next, rub the cooking area with crumpled up aluminum foil. You’ll have a clean grill with items you probably have sitting in your pantry. With a few fast do-ityourself updates, your home and outdoor areas will be looking fabulous in no time — and all without a huge price tag. For more information on Krylon paint products, visit ■



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2013 Spring Home & Garden  

Published by Sun Publishing Co.

2013 Spring Home & Garden  

Published by Sun Publishing Co.