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Home & Garden A supplement to The Courier-Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal

April 2013 Free Spring Roof Inspections Horch Roofing will offer FREE, non-committal Roof Inspections throughout the Spring season. Find post-winter roof damage before it gets worse by calling upon the largest, most experienced roofing company in Midcoast Maine!

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Spring Home & Garden • April 25, 2013

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Publisher of The Courier-Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal • 91 Camden St., Suite 403, Rockland, ME 04841 • 207.594.4401 Graphics Department Production Manager: Christine Dunkle

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aine roofs can get beaten up pretty badly during the winter months. Now that springtime is upon us, we can look forward to a beautiful summer. Don’t let your summer be ruined by roofing problems. A roof inspection during the spring months can save a number of headaches that could occur later on due to roof damage that goes unnoticed. Ice dams, condensation, flyaway shingles, and many other factors can cause serious roof problems in the long

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Rotted wood due to condensation. run. It’s important to know what you might be in for, and what can be done to prevent roof damage from getting worse. Your roof is the most important aspect of your home. At Horch Roofing, we truly believe even the smallest damage to your roof shouldn’t go unnoticed. For this reason, Horch Roofing will offer free spring roof inspections all season long. Our experienced roofing contractors are here to help you identify postROOF, page 7

April 25, 2013 • Spring Home & Garden


Managing difficult

yard situations


any homeowners aim for a picture perfect lawn complete with rolling acres of soft, green grass. But Mother Nature may have other things in mind, providing homeowners with less-than-stellar growing conditions for their lawns, plants and other foliage. Frustration can mount when a yard is muddy, is especially shady or has soil that doesn’t seem to grow a thing. In such instances, homeowners may have to go the extra mile to get the yard they desire.

areas that can be puddling. Some homeowners find that they need to do a little more work and spend some more money to fix irrigation issues. Installing a draining system or having the property sloped to draw water away can sometimes be done by a homeowner but is often best left to a professional. You may need to dig trenches, and the property may need to be regraded to make a difference.

Irrigation issues

Sandy soil

Improper drainage or low-lying areas in a yard may contribute to a muddy mess. Soil that is inhospitable for grass also may end up causing muddy patches because the grass simply does not grow. In some cases, remedying a muddy yard is easy and inexpensive. Some homeowners find that tilling the soil and amending it with a fiber mulch helps to absorb extra water and make the conditions better for lawn seeds to sprout. This also helps to aerate compacted soil that can hinder grass growth. Adding soil fill also may help to level low-lying

Grass and other plants may not grow well with sandy or clay soil. Again, amending the soil is one way to remedy the problem. Although it will take some work at the outset, amending the soil can improve conditions and reduce how much maintenance the lawn needs. Digging down several inches and adding nutrient-rich filler soil will help create conditions that are better for growing. Those who are interested in planting vegetables could opt for raised garden beds above the challenging soil. YARD, page 15

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pen floor plans have evolved to be the floor plan of choice in new homes and current home renovations. Turn on a home renovation show, and you’re likely to see eager homeowners knocking down walls to open the kitchen to the family room. Walls have become anathema to homeowners. There are many supporters of the open floor plan, particularly those who entertain frequently or like to keep an eye on children throughout the house. Although open floor plans are touted, there are plenty of people who have never been enamored with having all of their rooms flowing into one. There also are some people who prefer a different style. For those who are not fans of the open floor plan, blame the excess of the 1980s for their inception. In homes built in the 1960s and 1970s, rooms were compartmentalized and isolated for specific activities. During the 1980s, an era of “bigger is better,” when entertaining was widely popular among homeowners, designers noticed that many homeowners preferred an open floor plan in which rooms merged into one another, creating the illusion of more space. These floor plans also enable people to be in separate rooms and still interact with one another across the space. A home’s floor plan largely depends on the preference of the homeowner. There are many advantages to having an open floor plan versus one that is

more compartmentalized. Here is a look at some of the pros and cons. Pro: Open floor plans can be safer for parents of young children. If the home opens up with the living spaces branching off from the kitchen, parents can keep an eye on children while the parents prepare dinner. It also eliminates the number of places that kids can hide and get into mischief. Con: Privacy is reduced in a home with few walls. Much in the way that an open floor plan enables children to be seen from every angle, it also enables you to be seen -- and all of your belongings as well. There’s also no place to retreat to if you need a minute to collect yourself when entertaining. You’re on display unless you retreat to the bathroom. Pro: Entertaining can be easier in a home with an open floor plan because hosts and hostesses are not separated from their guests or holed up in the kitchen the entire time. An open space enables everyone to mingle and conversations to flow. Con: Those who like to host events without showing guests all of their dirty dishes or secrets of the kitchen may dislike an open floor plan. Pro: Light can flow effectively through an open space, minimizing dark rooms and reducing the need to install more windows. Light in and OPEN, page 15

April 25, 2013 • Spring Home & Garden


Deer proofing a garden C

reating 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. 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. Either way, you may encounter a deer in or around your area. Keeping deer at bay involves some work and maintenance on the part of a homeowner. There are safe and humane methods to repelling deer, or at least blocking access to the plants worth protecting. Here are the main ways to deer-proof a garden.

Fence It Fences are one way to deter deer from entering a yard and dining on your garden. Keep in mind that deer can jump fences that are quite tall, but they have to be especially motivated to jump an eight-foot-tall fence. Still, they tend

to be weary about scaling a fence when they cannot see what is on the other side. Therefore, if you are fencing out deer, choose a fence that camouflages the garden well and completely encloses the area to be protected. If you do not want the fence to be solid, consider putting stakes or thorny plants within the garden so that the deer will hesitate to jump into the garden.

Scare Them Deer are naturally skittish around people, but over time they can become quite complacent around human beings. Once a deer decides that something will not present a threat, the deer can adapt to its presence. 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 chemically-based products on the market that deer may find offensive to the taste or smell. Hot pepper, sulfur and eggs or even the use of soapy water have been successful in certain instances. The use DEER, page 13

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Spring Home & Garden • April 25, 2013

Gardening tips for beginners G

ardening 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. Gardening can be a little daunting for beginners who have little or no experience planting flowers or vegetables. But gardening need not be so intimidating, especially for those beginners who adhere to the following tips aimed at helping novice gardeners start their gardens off on the right foot. * 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 Agri-Food 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 www. 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

Discover the ways to A

house fire can engulf and destroy a home in a matter of minutes. Even with the fast-acting response of firefighters, a home that has caught fire may be irreparably damaged by flames, soot and water. Fire is no laughing matter, and it behooves homeowners to take precautions to fireproof their homes as much as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that although death and injuries caused by residential fires have declined gradually during the past several decades, fire-related deaths continue to pose a significant health hazard. In 2010, it is estimated that someone died in a fire every 169 minutes in the United States alone. A person was injured by fire every 30 minutes, according to the National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division. The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs estimates an average of 375 people die every year from fires in Canada, mostly from smoke inhalation. Most fires are largely preventable. The following are a few fireproofing

measures for safety-conscious homeowners. • Install smoke detectors and check the batteries regularly. Smoke inhalation causes many firerelated deaths. A smoke detector should be installed outside of every bedroom and on every level of the house. Don’t install a smoke detector near a window, door or forced-air register, where drafts could interfere with the detector’s operation. Be sure to routinely check that every smoke detector is working properly. • Have a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible location. Ideally, there should be a fire extinguisher in every room of the home, but at the least keep one wherever fire is used regularly, such as a kitchen or by a fireplace. Ensure the fire extinguisher is charged and that you understand how to operate it. • Remove combustible materials from around the house. Do not allow old clothing, rags, newspapers, or cardboard boxes to accumulate around the house. Discard

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 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 yearround planting, but many do not. When buying seeds, the packaging might suggest what time of year to plant the seeds. Adhere to these suggestions BEGINNERS, page 7

fireproof a home newspapers and magazines as quickly as possible and be careful to avoid storing anything too close to heaters, furnaces or electrical equipment. • Adhere to the recommended wattage in lamps and lighting fixtures. Do not exceed the recommended bulb wattage for lights around the house. There may be overheating or shorting that can lead to fire. • Look for fireproof interior decor items. Nowadays, carpeting and furniture can be coated with fireproof chemicals. The added investment may be worth it in the long run. • Do not leave candles unattended. Many people like the look and aroma that candles provide. Candles also provide emergency illumination in the event of a power outage. Candles can be easily knocked over and start a fire. In fact, candles are one of the top causes of house fires. Never leave a candle unattended, even for a short amount of time. And certainly never go to sleep without

extinguishing a candle. • Keep the chimney clean. Inspect the chimney flue regularly and have it cleaned to prevent an abundance of residual burnt material from accumulating. This creosote can catch fire itself. • Use a fire-resistant roofing material. A roof should be made from metal, clay or asphalt tiles. Trim any overhanging branches or vegetation to reduce the amount of combustible material nearby. • Have a fire-safe wall behind wood heaters. A brick wall or another fireproof material should be used on any walls that house a wood- or gasburning appliance for added safety. • Verify electrical safety. Extension cords and power strips should be kept to a minimum, and the outlets should not be overloaded. Replace fuses properly and don’t be afraid to call a certified electrician to verify you are correctly set up. By making a few tweaks in and around the house, a homeowner can decrease the likelihood of a fire.

April 25, 2013 • Spring Home & Garden


Shopping for a fire pit P

eople have sat around an open fire outdoors for centuries. Not only does fire provide warmth and light, but also it offers a relaxing setting for conversation and socialization. The outdoor fire pit has transformed the concept of backyard entertaining. Homeowners understand how a fire pit can add value to a home and make their yard an inviting place to be on a summer evening or a chilly autumn night. Outdoor fire pits are a relatively new creation that continue to grow in popularity. Once available strictly through specialty retailers, fire pits can now be found on the shelves of many home improvement and big box stores as well as online. Fire pits can add a lot to a home’s exterior entertaining area. Some fire pit styles and materials will last longer than others. Homeowners should assess their needs and the space available before choosing a fire pit for their home. First, homeowners must decide if they want a permanent or portable fire pit. If you are ready to make an enduring change to your yard and landscape, then a permanent fire pit is the way to go. These can be made of stone or brick and are often very durable. Permanent fire pits can be incorporated into landscape designs to create a professional patio look. They’re also some of the safer types of fire pits because they cannot be knocked over and the bricks or retaining wall construction provide a barrier around the fire. Portable fire pits are freestanding units that can be moved around the yard on a whim. They also can be loaded into the car and taken to a neighbor’s house or even to the beach. Portable fire pits are less expensive than permanent models, and some homeowners prefer a trial run with a portable pit before deciding to install a

BEGINNERS, from page 6

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. ROOF, from page 2

winter damages by giving you a professional, thorough evaluation. A

permanent structure. Portable fire pits are made of metal and usually coated with a fireproof paint. Over time, exposure to the elements can cause the metal to rust or weaken, something homeowners should consider prior to purchase. Homeowners also must consider a fuel source. Wood is a common fuel source for fire pits. Wood can be inexpensive, especially when gathered from around the yard. However, a woodburning fire will constantly have to be fed with new branches. If you want to have a roaring fire but don’t want to maintain it, then a gas-fueled fire pit is better. Natural gas fire pits can run

off of a portable propane tank (think barbecue tank) or be directly connected to a home’s natural gas supply. Now you can decide on the style. Gas fire pits will give you a greater number of design options, but there are still plenty of choices with wood fire pits. From bowl-shaped pits to rectangular-shaped pits to barrel-style pits to chimineas, there are designs to fit most preferences and size constraints. Once you have chosen a fire pit, safety should prevail. Here are some tips to consider. * Keep the fire pit away from the home and objects that can burn. Maintain a safe distance from the fire

pit at all times. * The best place to have the fire pit is on hard stone, cement or tile. Portable fire pits can be placed on patio stones in the lawn. * Use a screen to keep embers and sparks from escaping during use. * Keep children a good distance away from the fire pit and always supervise when the pit is in use. * Make sure the fire is completely extinguished before going in for the night. * Do not use any accelerants to make the fire bigger or light faster. * Buy a vinyl cover to protect the fire pit from the elements when not in use.

* Don’t forget to mulch. Mulch can be as 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 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.

spring roof inspection can help you plan and budget for future work, and can help you catch potential problems before they occur.

At Horch Roofing, we are committed to providing the best possible roofing services for our customers. We look forward to offering

this deal throughout the spring! For more information or to request an inspection, call Horch Roofing at (207)-273-1111 and ask for Mike.


Spring Home & Garden • April 25, 2013

Cost-effective and eco-friendly

home improvements H

Installing high-efficiency water fixtures, including a low-flow showerhead, is an affordable and eco-friendly home improvement project.

omeowners take on projects to improve their homes for a variety of reasons. Some may do so to make a home more functional, while others may do so to improve their home’s resale value. Some homeowners take on a home improvement project to make their homes more eco-friendly. Such projects are often mistakenly assumed to be costly undertakings, but there are several cost-effective ways to make a home more eco-friendly. • Upgrade your appliances. A home improvement project does not have to require the use of a hammer and nails or the hiring of a contractor. A simple home improvement project like upgrading older appliances, including the washer and dryer, to newer, more efficient models can give a home a fresh look while reducing energy consumption. That reduction in energy consumption is a byproduct of the stricter standards placed on manufacturers who must adhere to guidelines to produce products that are more energy-efficient. For example, the Natural Resources Defense Council notes that today’s energy-efficient refrigerators will use less than half the energy of models made as



recently as 15 years ago. • Add more insulation. Adding more insulation or replacing older insulation used to be an especially laborious process. However, in many instances insulation can now be added or upgraded to a home without any major reconstruction or demolition, reducing the cost of the project considerably. Adding more insulation to a home can reduce energy consumption in the winter, when the home will feel warmer and allow you to keep the thermostat at a more reasonable number. • Install high-efficiency water fixtures. Few people think about how much water they consume over the course of a typical day, but the figures might be eye-opening to those who hope to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. According to the United States Geological Survey’s Water Science School, it’s generally accepted that the average person uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water each day. Showers seem to be especially wasteful, as older shower heads might be using as much as 5 gallons


J O H N S O N ’ S A R B O R I C U LT U R E T REE C ARE & C ONSULTING S p e c i a l i z i n g i n Pr e s e r v a t i o n Aesthetic, health, & safety pruning Planting Cabling/bracing Removals Privacy screens Fertilization/aeration Woodland improvement Vistas Shoreland zones Paths/trails Fruit trees Tree protection during construction Consultations Tree inventories & appraisals Organic insect & disease controls ◆

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April 25, 2013 • Spring Home & Garden


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Spring Home & Garden • April 25, 2013

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A field of Black Eye Susan flowers may be someone’s idea of the perfect garden.

Identifying your

garden preferences A

personal garden is only limited by the constraints of a person’s imagination. The vast array of plants and flowers available from all over the world can turn anyone’s yard into a melange of functional spaces. When designing a garden, many homeowners do not know where to begin. Much like decorating the interior of a home, how a garden landscape is executed depends on various factors.

Climate and conditions

25 Farwell Drive Rte 90, Rockland

The foremost consideration when planting a garden is the climate where the garden will be located. Planting items that are not conducive to growing in certain conditions can be counterintuitive and a waste of money and effort.

Prospective gardeners must become familiar with the hardiness zones of their region prior to making any plans. This will help you to determine which types of plants will thrive on your landscape. Once this is determined, examination of the soil and conditions on the property is also helpful. Taking this step will help identify any plant deterrents, such as poor soil quality and pH as well as any pests that may impede plant growth. If you live in a hot, sandy location, lush tropical plants may not thrive. Therefore, even if you desire a Mediterranean look, you may have to settle for something that works better with your landscape conditions. GARDEN, page 17

April 25, 2013 • Spring Home & Garden




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Spring Home & Garden • April 25, 2013

The Maine road leads

to energy-efficient geothermal technology

By Holly Haining-Zulieve


t seems that those of us, who are experience Maine at an early age, tend to migrate back here to varying degrees, some permanently. So, it’s really no surprise that after Bill Judd spent summers here as a child, when retirement came around, he looked to Maine to escape the busy beltways of Washington DC. Judd’s love for the state and in particular

Damariscotta homeowner Bill Judd with his new geothermal heating and cooling system. Judd said his Corgi, Rudy, is getting a bit long in the tooth and really appreciates the radiant heat.

Cash in on your land

the Damariscotta area, began during the sixties when he was six years old and attended Wavus in Damariscotta, now Kieve-Wavus Camps. Around this time, Judd’s parents also acquired a summer camp on Damariscotta Lake in Jefferson allowing him to spend even more time here. After earning an engineering degree at Dartmouth College, Judd was commissioned as a naval officer. During his twenty-four year military career he drove nuclear submarines, navigating 5 of the 7 seas and retired from active duty in 1993. He then launched a second career, and devoted his time and effort to teaching school in Falls Church, Virginia, from which he retired in 2008. Upon Judd’s retirement, his family JUDD, page 13

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April 25, 2013 • Spring Home & Garden JUDD, from page 12

still owned and used the Damariscotta Lake cottage in neighboring Jefferson. Since Judd visited often, he began the search for his ideal Maine home. Serendipitously, he noticed a house that he had seen a few years earlier was still for sale. Looking back at that time -- 2005, the Real Estate Market was in flux and the price on the house seemed out of balance with current fair market values. So, the Damariscotta house was tabled for that moment, but left a distinct impression. Not only was the farmhouse itself a very attractive Connelly- designed Post & Beam – but its far-reaching water frontage on the Great Salt Bay included a dock that evoked visions of boating and all things water-related that Judd loves. On the practical side, the design allowed for one floor living—another feature high on the list of criteria. Judd returned to Virginia to concentrate on selling his property, so he could make the move to Maine permanent. By the time He was seriously ready to buy in Maine, the Damariscotta property he liked so much was listed at a much better price. So, keeping in mind something his father often said about waterfront property -- “they aren’t making any more of it you know,” Judd made an offer on the house he calls home today and embarked on a mission to form the house and its mechanical systems to his own specific requirements beginning with installing high efficiency systems. Enter the Damariscotta based company, MidCoast Energy Systems. The previous owner was a customer, so they were very familiar with the house and its systems. Judd says that “Gina Philippon (MCES Sales Manager) and Judd Morgner (MCES President) were always very helpful and available to work up quotes for any new system I

was considering.” MCES immediately replaced the boiler with a much more efficient NTI propane unit. Next, with the addition of a new sunroom for solar gain, came radiant heat and a Fujistsu minisplit heat pump. Judd had experienced the comfort of that particular size heat pump at a relative’s house and found that MCES could install the very same unit for him. Then, during the 2011 Home & Garden show at the YMCA, Judd stopped by the MCES geothermal booth and talked with Judd Morgner about geothermal. They discussed at length Judd Judd’s particular situation and needs. Gina Philippon recalls the Judd installation as being “a bit tricky because his radiant system was engineered for higher than the 110 degree water that geothermal likes-but we were able to remedy that by procuring a medium temperature heat pump capable of producing 130 degree water.” To accommodate the second floor, MCES also installed a Mitsubishi ductless air- to -air unit as part of the geothermal installation, making the whole bundle eligible for tax credits. Today, the house is heated primarily by geothermal. The system drives the radiant- heat basement and radiant first floor, along with the ductless unit for the second floor. In essence, Judd Judd seems to have every heating eventuality well covered. A woodstove in the central fireplace keeps the chill off. The geothermal system handles all but sub-freezing temperatures. If it does get below 0 degrees, the NTI boiler stands ready for supplemental and domestic hot water. Judd says “I am confident that I could keep this house at 80 degrees if I wanted to in any type of weather. “ More information on geothermal heating & cooling, its benefits and tax credits, can be obtained by calling MidCoast Energy Systems at 207-563-5147.

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13 DEER, from page 5

IMPROVEMENTS, from page 8

of blood meal or even human hair around the garden may repel the deer and keep them on a different foraging path. However, remember that any deer that is very hungry may ignore unpleasant tastes or smells for a quick bite.

per minute, or 50 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower. Older fixtures that consume such massive amounts of water can be easily and affordably replaced with newer, more efficient fixtures. Today’s high-efficiency low-flow showerheads can provide a strong shower stream while reducing water consumption. Such showerheads are also less taxing on your water heater, reducing your energy consumption as a result. Homeowners can also install high-efficiency toilets that use as little as 1.3 gallons of water per flush (compared to older models that consumed as many as 5 gallons per flush). The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $18 billion annually. • Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats present another affordable way to improve a home and benefit the environment. Some of today’s programmable thermostats can record personal preferences and usage and determine the best course of action for heating and cooling your home. Temperatures can be adjusted roomby-room, and the programmable thermostat allows homeowners to control their heating and cooling while they’re out of the house, ensuring they’re not paying to heat or cool an empty house and wasting energy in doing so. Home improvement projects don’t have to be a grand undertaking, particularly when a homeowner’s goal is to make a home more eco-friendly. A few minor and affordable changes may be all it takes to improve a home and benefit the environment at the same time.

Change Plants If other food sources are available, there are some species of plants and trees that deer will avoid. Filling your garden with these plants can help you maintain a beautiful, albeit untasty, environment for deer. When planting annuals, select among: • 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 Plant these herbs alongside flowers for even more protection: • Chives • Eucalyptus • 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.

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Spring Home & Garden • April 25, 2013

Prepare a deck or patio for entertaining F

ew things are better than having a functional and beautiful outdoor space to entertain guests. Having a great outdoor space enables a person to host parties or intimate gatherings all year long. Establishing an entertaining space and maintaining that space are essential when planning another year of fun in the sun. There are many things homeowners can do to ensure their entertaining space is safe and functional. As the season approaches, include some landscaping and decorating components to your preparatory plans to make the space as comfortable and aesthetically appealing as possible. Here are a few key tips for readying your yard for entertaining possibilities. Expand on these basics to customize an area for your unique needs. • Check the area for any needed repairs. Prior to your first entertaining session, look over the deck or patio


to take note of any flaws that may present safety hazards. Are there any loose railings? Are all screws and nails flush so they do not cause tripping? Are there any cracks in concrete or


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loose patio blocks? Be sure to remedy all of the repairs needed to ensure guests will be safe. If you are unsure of any structural deficits, consult with a contractor.

• Hire a reputable contractor. If you are just laying the groundwork for a new patio or deck, it is important to get the necessary permits and then hire a person who has been properly vetted. Check qualifications and licensing before hiring a contractor and ask to view a portfolio of his or her previous work. Word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted friends and family members are good, and you can also double-check qualifications by contacting the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged or use a service such as Angie’s List to read reviews of his or her work. • Think about closing in a portion of a deck or patio. The use of a canopy, netting or even greenery to protect an entertaining space can help minimize weather-related damage to outdoor furniture. Netting will keep a good number of biting insects at bay when the weather is warm and humid. Having DECK, page 15

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April 25, 2013 • Spring Home & Garden YARD, from page 3

Shade Sometimes a yard is problematic because of the amount of sunshine it receives. Too much sunshine can scald certain grasses, while inadequate sunshine may result in bare patches where grass won’t grow. If cost is no object, removing or planting trees to establish better growing conditions could be an option. However, today there are many grass blends that are tailored toward specific sunlight scenarios. Homeowners may find that low-light blends will grow better in DECK, from page 14

a bit of concealment also means you can create a private space that isn’t easily viewed by neighbors or passersby. • Plan well-defined areas. Just as rooms serve different purposes inside of the home, outdoor areas can be separated according to usage. Establish a sitting nook where guests can gather and talk. Have a bar or serving area where refreshments are made and served. Make sure there is a shaded area for when the sun is too uncomfortable

shady areas. For those who are finding no luck with grass blends, it may just be necessary to think creatively. Plant shade-loving plants, such as ferns or ground cover, where the grass won’t take. Design the landscape so it looks intentional. Flagstone and slate placed in certain areas also may mask temperamental growing areas. There are different options for managing various situations in the yard that can make growing lawn or other plants challenging. If projects are difficult, it could be smart to call in a professional. to make sitting outside enjoyable. Similarly, have a sunny area where people can soak up a few rays or dry off after a dip in the spa or pool. Don’t forget to establish a spot for the kids to converge with scaled-down amenities. • Consider a fireplace or fire pit. For centuries man (and woman) has gathered around fire for socialization and a means to warming up. Having a backyard fireplace, pit or chiminea is a conversation-starter, a decorative focal point, and a functional tool to extend the number of seasons in which

15 OPEN, from page 4

of itself can help a home feel more spacious. Con: While light can flow easily, so can sound. Noises through the house may be amplified. A student doing homework in the dining room may be disturbed by the television blaring in the family room. Talking on the phone or even finding a quiet nook to read a book may be challenging. Pro: Open floor plans allow for more family time together in one space than a home with a more outdoor entertaining can take place. Place the fire wisely and with concern for safety. It should be out of the way of foot traffic, but central enough so that it can be a gathering point. • Invest in quality outdoor furniture. Today’s yards are extensions of a home’s interior. Guests no longer want to sit on uncomfortable metal or plastic furniture. There are many different outdoor sofas and chairs that are as stylish as they are comfortable. These pieces can be matched to the decor inside your home for a cohesive look.

compartmentalized layout. Con: People who are collectors or who have a lot of furniture or accent items may find that open floor plans do not work well with this type of design mantra. Pro: Because several rooms run into one another, color choices for walls and furnishings in a home with an open floor plan can be limited and cohesive, making choices easier. Con: On the flip side, those who want to incorporate different color schemes and eclectic styles may have difficulty deciding on where to “end” rooms or how to co-mingle furniture. • Accessorize. Consider the creature comforts of indoors and mimic that outdoors. Don’t shy away from hanging artwork on an exterior wall or using urns or pottery to decorate the space. Weather-resistant materials ensure everything from clocks to televisions can be used outdoors. Think about having an entire set of serving dishes and other entertaining items for the outdoors. When refurbishing outdoor entertaining areas, emphasize comfort, safety and functionality.





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Spring Home & Garden • April 25, 2013

Cultivate an herb garden M

any 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. 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. 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 wouldbe herb gardeners tend to start small to see what luck they have 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 wellprepared 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. 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,

Many people like to plant basil when starting herb gardens. 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.

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.

The dos and don’ts of basement finishing R

emodeling a basement is a popular home improvement project. A finished basement makes the space more functional and, when done correctly, can add a considerable amount of living space to a home. Finishing a basement pays dividends in additional space in a home that doesn’t require the same level of investment as putting an addition on the house. Also, the groundwork for a finished room is already there, as most basements are already set up with a poured concrete floor and some walls, usually cinder blocks. Some electrical components, plumbing and the creature comforts of drywall and a more inviting floor might be all that’s necessary to finish a basement. The process can be laborintensive, and many people prefer to leave it to a professional contractor. Whatever finishing method is chosen, homeowners should follow the proper procedures when doing the work. DO start with a detailed plan. Measure out the basement and mark any items that cannot be moved, such as a furnace, water heater or pipes. Create a design board that showcases the materials you plan to use on the project. Think about ways you plan to arrange

furniture and consider all of the possible uses for the room. Will it be a home theater? Will someone be sleeping down there? Each scenario will require certain amenities and safety requirements. DON’T plan to finish the entire basement. Doing so will leave you without a storage or utility area where you house holiday decorations, tools, luggage and similar items. DO get the scoop on building codes. Knowing what the municipality allows in basement remodeling will help you to customize a plan that is functional, safe and legal. No one wants to be slapped with fines for failing to follow the rules. Plus, failure to meet building codes could mean the work that has been done must be torn out and redone. It pays to follow the chain of command and secure permits while having all work inspected. DON’T overlook adequate lighting in your refinishing plan. A basement is likely one area of the house that has limited natural light pouring in. With traditionally small windows, or no windows at all, a basement needs ample lighting in its design scheme. This may include a combination of overhead and task lighting. Ample lighting will help the room feel like part of the house and not

just a forgotten storage area. DO take into consideration moisture issues in the basement. Many basements are plagued by moisture issues ranging from water seepage to condensation forming on walls. These situations may vary depending on the weather throughout the year. Certain materials may need to be used to mitigate water issues before finishing can take place. The installation of waterbarrier systems, drainage, sump pumps, or encapsulation products could drive up the cost of a basement renovation. It is essential to have a professional assess the basement water issues prior to starting any finishing work. DON’T simply cover up potential hazards, such as mold or mildew. Have them treated instead. Otherwise, you could have a breeding ground behind drywall that could lead to unsafe conditions in the home. DO have a radon test. Radon is a hidden killer that can cause lung cancer. Because it occurs naturally in the soil and water surrounding a home and is impossible to detect without a specialized test, many people are unaware of the presence of radon until it is too late. Radon may be more concentrated in the basement,

where the foundation is touching the soil. Therefore, rule out radon before considering renovation of a basement area. DON’T limit furniture choices to one type. You may need to be flexible in your furniture choices, even selecting modular pieces, like sectionals, because entryways to basements may have small doorways or obstructions that make adding furniture more challenging. DO keep the possibility of flooding in the back of your head. Homes that are near waterways or at low elevation may be at risk of flooding. Basements are especially susceptible to flood damage. Therefore, think about the practicality of finishing a basement if you are prone to flooding. If you decide to move ahead, take certain precautionary measures, such as keeping electrical wiring up higher and using a more water-resistant flooring material, like tile or vinyl. House important electronics and items on shelves so they are not at ground-level. Finishing a basement is a job that can add a lot of usable space to a home. Go about the project in the right way to keep within budget and have a room that is safe and functional.

April 25, 2013 • Spring Home & Garden


Pros and cons of automatic irrigation systems W

ater 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 handson. 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. 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 GARDEN, from page 10

Style of the home Landscaping designs often tie into the architectural style of a home. For example, an extensive Asian-inspired garden complete with koi pond and bonsai may look odd in front of a log home. Keep architecture in mind when planning a garden so the look of the home you present is cohesive and fits with the community and immediate vicinity.

Design preferences Are you a free spirit who doesn’t conform to convention with firm

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 will have to be repaired. 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. 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 waterdelivery 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. Some homeowners choose to install automatic irrigation systems rather than using a hose and portable sprinkler.

boundaries? Or are you one who likes order and things in their place? Knowing what makes you tick will help you to choose a gardening style that will be easier to maintain and also make you feel comfortable. For example, prairie-style planting or wildflower gardens are dramatic ways to create natural points of color over a large area. Most plants are allowed to grow as they may. Those who like a dreamy ethereal feel to their gardens may be inspired by cottage designs, where generously filled borders overflow into a flower and foliage paradise.

If you are more inclined to follow the rules and like an orderly landscape, a parterre, or formal planting bed, may be more your style. When carefully pruned, box hedging can show off symmetry and geometry in your space. Some people are more focused on the accents in their gardens than the plants themselves. Modern architecture pairs well with a contemporary style that blends minimalist accents and easy-to-maintain plants. Although you can change plants in your garden, investing in a garden that you will be happy with for a long

time is a costly venture. You may want to consult a landscape architect or local nursery to find the plants and trees that fit with your design and lifestyle. These experts can also instruct you in how to maintain all of your hard work and when to expect the full impact of your new landscape to take form. Homeowners can browse ideas for gardens in magazines and online, but ultimately it will be up to their personal design preferences and the climate where their home is located to determine which garden will look and grow best.


Spring Home & Garden • April 25, 2013

Converting a kid’s room into an adult space W

hen a young adult leaves the comforts of home to set out on his or her own, homeowners are left with a bedroom that just calls out to be made over. However, the experience of a child leaving the nest can be bittersweet, and some parents struggle with the decision to renovate or leave the room intact. Converting a room can be an emotional process, but there are several different ways to put a newly vacated room to good use. What to do with a room may hinge on who still lives in the house. Another child, for instance, may be interested in “upgrading” to the room if it is larger or has amenities that the previous bedroom does not offer, like a better view or a bigger closet. Some have plans for a craft space or a library. Perhaps the room would be perfect for a “man cave” or a quiet sitting area. Keep in mind that the room may hold sentimental value for the child, so converting the space is not something that should happen abruptly or without prior notice given to the former

occupant. Communication is key before the room can be permanently changed into a new room. To get started, follow these guidelines. • Start slowly. Broach the subject with the former occupant of the room to gauge his or her reaction to the idea. If

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your child is supportive, then the process may move along more quickly. If not, you may need to wait a little longer before starting the renovation. • Go through the room’s contents together. Your child may feel his or her private sanctum was violated if you simply box up belongings and ready them to be taken away. Instead, go through the room together and allow your son or daughter to pack away items of sentimental value. Other items can be donated. Consider which pieces of furniture might be kept and repurposed. • Keep some items of value. Remember, you don’t want your child to feel like his or her identity has been erased from the house. Find a way to incorporate something from the bedroom into the new design to pay homage to the person who lived and grew up in the room. Keep a square of removed wallpaper and frame it. Put some well-read childhood books on a shelf. Have a place of honor for the first soccer trophy. This way when your child returns home there will still be a piece of

the room’s former identity. • Work through your new design plan. Before removing furniture and any items, draw up a detailed renovation plan and establish a budget. If the room will become a guest room, the basics may already be there and you simply need to introduce new linens and a new paint color to transform the space. Consider keeping the room functional as a sleeping space in some way -- whether moving in a sleeper sofa or making a regular bed into a daybed -- so when your son or daughter comes to visit, he or she will have a comfortable space. • Make it sophisticated. Adult spaces differ from children’s spaces in their sophistication. Starting fresh with more streamlined furniture and bolder colors in the room will give it a grownup look. Converting a child’s former bedroom into a new and exciting living space for adults takes some planning and sensitivity. A collaborative effort between parent and child can make the process can go much more smoothly.


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Spring Home & Garden • April 25, 2013

Increase storage possibilities W

hat homeowner has not lamented that they have many more belongings than they have storage space? In some homes, particularly in older homes, closet space and other areas to store items may be lacking. Apartment dwellers often find they’re lacking in storage space as well. But savvy homeowners can find both permanent and temporary solutions to their home storage problems. One of the easiest ways to create storage space is to simply remove some belongings from the residence. Go through closets around the house and pick through the attic and/or garage to see if there are any items that can be discarded or donated. Items that are broken can be discarded, while those things that still have utility can be donated or sold. The next step is to maximize the space of your existing closets. Many closets are equipped with just a shelf and a clothing rack, greatly limiting the storage potential. Investing in a closet organization system is one way

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to transform a poorly utilized space. These systems can be purchased, often inexpensively, from a home improvement center. Compiled of modular racks and shelving, the positioning can be customized depending on the size of the closet. Oftentimes, the addition of shelving or another rack for hanging clothes can solve some storage issues. These closet systems also are ideal for renters because they can be installed with minimal damage and be removed when a lease expires. Homeowners may have to think vertically to solve storage solutions. Wall space may be abundant in a home where closets are not. Therefore, shelving and cabinets can be places to keep items neatly off the floor. A series of shelves can be installed next to a washing machine to keep laundry supplies organized. In children’s rooms, build bookcases the height of the room so children can store frequently used reading material and toys on the lower levels, and adults can put collectibles and mementos near the top. Hang hooks to

hold hats and robes. Whenever possible, look to store items on the walls where they will keep clutter off the floor. Storage can even be created in the bathroom, where the space over the toilet can be used to hang a cabinet to store hand towels and other toiletries if the space under the sink has already been claimed. Many apartment dwellers recognize the advantage of having items that serve double-duty in their living spaces. For example, a convertible sofa can be used for sitting and then turn into a bed for overnight guests. Ottomans that have a storage compartment can house anything from throw blankets to magazines. An armoire may house the television but also have a pull-out shelf that can hold a laptop computer. In the kitchen, move food items out of cabinetry and into a “pantry” you create elsewhere in the house, such as a laundry room or garage. This frees up more room for pots and pans. Cabinets that have pull-out shelving help maximize tight recesses of cabinets

Messy closets and clutter elsewhere in the home may be indicative of a storage deficit. But there are ways to easily increase storage space. and keep things organized and in sight. For those with limited cabinets, pots and pans can be hung from a pot rack suspended in the kitchen. Even when there is a small amount of storage space, individuals can find clever ways to neatly store items.


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Spring Home & Garden 2013  

A guide to refreshing your home and garden for spring.