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Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal/Intercom

April 14, 2012

• Building • Remodeling • Gardening • Landscaping

Spring Home

Page 2 | April 14, 2012

Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Things to consider when budgeting home improvement projects Home improvement projects have become de rigueur for today’s homeowners. Be it a kitchen remodel or the ever popular man cave project, home improvement projects remain a goal for many homeowners. As enticing as a home improvement project might be, no project can be successful until a budget has been established. The right budget will keep homeowners from going deep into debt when improving their homes, ensuring that, upon the project’s completion, they can fully enjoy their revamped castles without the specter of significant debt hanging ominously over their heads. Before beginning a home improvement project, homeowners can take the following things into consideration. • Personal finances: It sounds simple, but homeowners must examine their finances before starting a home improvement project. Just because a bank will loan out money for a project doesn’t mean the project is affordable. Homeowners should compare their monthly expenses with their incomes, and then determine what’s left that might be able to go toward a project. Monthly expenses include everything from groceries to mortgage payments. When the comparison between monthly expenses and monthly income has been made, homeowners can get a grasp of just what they can and cannot afford. • Credit score: Many homeowners finance home improvement projects with loans from the bank. Particularly in

the current economy when banks are being forced to tighten lending requirements, securing such loans isn’t easy. Homeowners with significant credit card debt should eliminate such debt before beginning a project. Doing so serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, eliminating outstanding debt will free up more money to allocate toward the project. Eliminating debt will also make loan applicants more attractive to prospective creditors, increasing their chances of securing a loan and a lower interest rate. • The project’s priority: Budgeting a home improvement project also involves being honest as to just how necessary the project is. For example, a man cave might be a dream project, but should it be a priority over other things around the house? If wear and tear is taking its toll on the roof, for instance, the money going toward the man cave should probably be allocated to replacing the roof instead. If a project is low on the priority list but high on the want list, re-examine those projects higher up on the priority list to determine if they are more deserving of immediate attention and funds than vanity projects. • Overrun costs: Not every home improvement project will come in at or under budget. Many, in fact, go over budget due to a host of factors. Homeowners should not be caught off guard when a project goes over budget. Instead, plan for the project to go over budget and expect such frustration. Allocate extra money in the original budget for

Before beginning a home improvement projects, homeowners should construct a budget to ensure the project is a success.

overrun costs. This will reduce stress and frustration, and if the project comes in under budget, then there’s extra money when the project is completed.

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Replacing a roof is a costly venture few homeowners look forward to. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2010-11 “Cost vs. Value” report, the national average cost of a roof replacement is nearly $22,000, a costly endeavor considering the tenuous nature of the economy. What’s more, homeowners who choose more upscale roofing materials can expect to spend almost $40,000 on their roofs. Such costs make it no small wonder that many homeowners fear the dreaded diagnosis that their home needs a new roof. While there’s little homeowners can do to reduce the cost of a roof replacement, there are warning signs homeowners can look for that might indicate a roof replacement is on the horizon. Recognition of these signs can help homeowners be more financially prepared should the day come when the roof needs to be replaced. 1. The presence of algae If the roof has lots of dark streaks and stains clinging to it, that is likely algae, which can grow on the roof for quite awhile. Algae does not necessarily do any damage to a roof, but it does do some damage to a home’s physical appearance, as algae on the roof is not very pleasing to the eye. Algae is most often found on the roofs of homes located in climates that have warm, humid summers. If algae is a problem on your roof, spray washing with a mixture of water and bleach can effectively remove it. 2. Buckling shingles Like algae, buckling shingles are another unsightly problem on a roof. But buckling shingles are more than just an eyesore, they actually might indicate significant problems. When shingles buckle, that’s typically because hot air from the attic is forcing the shingles away from the home. Buckling shingles also indicate that the roof is poorly ventilated, which can take years off the roof’s life expectancy while driving up home cooling costs along the way. 3. Granule loss Granule loss is typically a byproduct of normal shingle wear and tear that results from inclement weather, such as hail. Older roofs might experience granule loss, but granule loss can also occur on a new roof if a defective roofing product was used. Any granule loss, even if slight, should be addressed, as the side effects of granule loss include a weakened roof and leaking. If granule loss is not addressed, the consequences could be severe the next time a storm occurs.

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Spring HOME April 14, 2012 | Page 3

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HOME PURCHASES & REFINANCES 4. Mold Unlike the warning signs already discussed, mold is not visible on the outside of the home. Instead, homeowners should look in the attic of a home to see if there is any mold growth. If there is, the roof is likely leaking, and the health risks of mold growth in a home are substantial. Mold is not necessarily easy to detect, so a professional inspection might be in order if mold growth is suspected. If a professional determines mold is, in fact, present, then the mold will need to be removed and all options, including a roof replacement, must be considered to keep mold from coming back. 5. Roof rot Perhaps the most discouraging sign a homeowner can see on his or her roof is roof rot. Roof rot appears when a roof is in considerable decay and, if not addressed, its consequences can stretch far beyond the roof, damaging other parts of the home thanks in large part to water getting through the roof. If roof rot is either not noticed or just ignored, it won’t take long for water to get through the roof and blaze a destructive path through the rest of the home. Homeowners might fear a full roof replacement because of the cost associated with such a project. But if ignored, problems with a roof could eventually prove far more costly than the price of replacing the roof.

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Ask us about long-term fixed rate mortgages. We service these loans so you’ll receive the best in customer service! Investment Property Financing Visit one-on-one with a loan officer on your next real estate Dreaming of purchasing hunting land, a lake cabin or purchase. Fill out an application and get pre-approved. rental property? Stop in and talk with us about how Contact us at the location nearest you. we can make this investment fit your budget. Home Equity Line of Credit Use the equity in your home for debt consolidation, college tuition, a dream vacation, or home Home equity of Credit Community Pride •Line Community effort improvements. No closing costs if $25,000 or less. Success is not measured by what one has, Use the equity in your home butmany by what one has done. for purposes; home Together, we havedebt accomplished much since improvements, consolidation, June 17, 2010. Wadena State Bank is proud college tuition, vehicle purchases or to befamily a part ofsummer the rebuilding of the Bluffton, your vacation. Quick application process 24 hour Deer Creek and Wadenawith communities. Deer Creek • Erik Osberg • (218) 462-2155 Deer Creek • Vernice Greiman • (218) 462-2155 pre-approval. Interestandmay be tax The long-term success stability of all • (218) 631-5263 Wadena • Jeannie Carlisle deductible. Stop in andnumber visit with us three communities is our one goal. Wadena •• Allen Allen Gundberg Gundberg •• (218) about how you might use a Home Wadena (218) 631-5264 631-5264 Neighbors helping neighbors… Equity loan for your benefit. that’s Wadena State Bank.

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Spring Home

Page 4 | April 14, 2012

Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Research necessary to find the right roof for a home A roof is the primary defense a home has against the elements. It provides protection against wind, rain and snow, as well as shields the interior from the blazing heat. A compromised roof cannot do its job properly. There are many different roofing materials available these days -each of which carries with it a certain length of usefulness. Most roofs can last anywhere from 25 to 40 years, depending on the material composition. Homeowners may know it’s time to replace a roof without even venturing out on the roof. Ceiling leaks or discoloration can indicate it’s time to replace a roof. Check for sagging ceiling material on the top floors of the home if there is no attic. Wet or darkened wood or rusty nails in the attic could be signs. Rafters may channel leaks away from their original source, so it’s best to do a thorough check anytime wetness or discoloration is evident anywhere in the home. Once the decision to install Shingles are just one of many types of roofing materials. a new roof is made, homeowners must decide between the different roofing materials. it offers is why this roof is one of the most Research is necessary to find a roof that will popular. However, even though shingles are be the right price and meet the homeowner’s available in many different colors, homeneeds. Here are common roofing materials. owners seeking something unique may want • Asphalt shingles: This is the type of to select a different roofing option. roof most homeowners first think of when • Architectural shingle: Similar to an envisioning a roofing project. The three- asphalt shingle, the architectural shingle is tab asphalt shingle is the most commonly made to be thicker and the layers are stagused roofing material. The economic value gered to give the roof a more architectural

look. These shingles are only slightly more expensive than asphalt shingles, which still makes them a good value. • Wood shakes and shingles: Instead of asphalt, wood makes an ideal roofing material that’s also pleasing to the eye. Over time wood will weather to different shades, which can help the home blend in with the environment. Wood shakes can be expensive to install, and will require periodic cleaning to remove mildew or moss, and may need reoiling for preservation. There are also “fake” wood shingles that are made of composite materials that may offer the look of wood without the maintenance. • Slate: This hard, stone material is very strong and sheds snow and ice very well, which is why it was often used on homes in the Northeast. However, the weight of slate, which requires a more substantial roof structure, and the cost make it less popular among today’s homeowners. • Metal: This material is an ideal choice for industrial applications or on agricultural or country homes where snow is frequent. A metal roof can range from relatively in-


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expensive galvanized steel to lofty copper that is pricey. A properly installed metal roof could last 50 years, which makes it a good value. • Ceramic: Ceramic tile roofs may be among the most expensive due to the craftsmanship and the installation required for these heavy tiles, but their life expectancy is 60 to 80 years. Chances are you’ll only have to do this type of installation once in a lifetime. Many people are drawn to ceramic roofs because of their beauty. They are commonly found on Mediterranean-style homes in warm climates. Most tiles are waterproofed and hard-fired so they won’t absorb moisture, also making them safe to use in northern climates. In general, a roofing job is not a do-ityourself undertaking. It will require an experienced and licensed contractor. A trusted roofing contractor can be found by exploring listings on the National Roofing Contractor Association Web site at Verify contractors prior to hire through organizations like the Better Business Bureau or on Angie’s List.

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Spring HOME

Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal

April 14, 2012 | Page 5

Safety first when building backyard playground for kids Few things are as enjoyable for parents and grandparents as watching their children and grandchildren play. As cherished as such playtime can be, it can quickly turn into a memory adults and children alike would prefer to forget if an injury occurs. Playground accidents vary in severity. Some produce just a scrape or a scratch, while more drastic accidents can lead to broken bones or even death. And where those accidents occur might come as a surprise to parents. Ten years ago, a study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission discovered more deaths occurred on backyard playground equipment than on public playgrounds. A 2009 study from the CPSC found that 40 deaths were associated with playground equipment between 2001 to 2008, the majority of which were the result of hangings or asphyxiations. Naturally, parents aware of such statistics are concerned, particularly those who want to erect a playground for their children on their own property. When building a home playground for children, parents should consider the following factors.

Location, location, location!

A home playground’s location is very important. When deciding where to put a playground, consider its accessibility. Is the playground easily reached should an accident occur? Can children be seen playing from a nearby window? Should an accident occur, is the playground within earshot of the home? Kids often play on a home playground while their parents are inside, so be sure to locate the playground close enough to the home where you can see and hear your kids from the house, and in a spot that’s easy to get to should an accident occur.


Though most parents would love to build their children a home playground that rivals the nearby amusement park, some equipment has historically proven to be more dangerous than others. A 2009 report from the CPSC indicated that climbers were associated with 23 percent of all playground injuries while swings were associated with 22 percent. When installing equipment, be sure everything is installed in strict adherence to the manufacturer’s instructions.


According to the CPSC, 67 percent of playground accidents between 2001 and 2008 involved falls or equipment failure. Most kids are going to fall once or twice when playing on the playground. Parents can plan for such falls and minimize their child’s injury risk by installing impact-absorbing surfaces beneath the playground. Such surfaces are the standard at many public playgrounds and can make the difference between a simple fall or one that results in broken bones or a trip to the emergency room.


Kids often like to play rough, and as a result playgrounds commonly take quite a beating. Even if equipment was sturdy at installation and was installed to the letter of the manufacturer’s instructions, parents should routinely inspect equipment to ensure it’s holding up to the wear and tear of children. Ask kids to let you know immediately if anything feels loose or isn’t working properly. Parents must consider a host of safety facFor more information, visit the Consumer tors when building a backyard playground for Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc. children. gov.

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Page 6 | April 14, 2012

Spring Home

Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Sky Dance Plant Swap set April 28 at Green Island Rachelle Klemme

Horticulture enthusiasts and bird watchers around the region will have an opportunity for education and experiencing nature at the Sky Dance Plant Swap and Sky Dance Cafe to be held Saturday, April 28 at Green Island in Wadena. Sculptor Kent Scheer said he hopes people around the region – not only the Wadena area – will be drawn to the event, which is organized with the help of the Sustainable Farming Association of Central Minnesota and the Wadena Garden Club. “The plant swap is going to be an opportunity for people from the general region to bring in plants and plant materials to trade with other avid gardeners and sustainable farmers,” Scheer said. Cuttings, seedlings, seeds, plant divisions, potted plants, houseplants, books, tools and fertilizers are among the items which can be traded. He said it would be the first event of its scale in this area. Scheer said the idea for the plant swap came from Barter Fest in Hewitt, and the upcoming event at Green Island has a similar concept. The event will happen rain or shine. Scheer said it if it is rainy or drizzly, it will be good for the plants, so they “can’t complain.” There will be spaces for people to bring their own tables, buckets, chairs and items for the swap. The whole plant swap goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At 11 a.m., there will be an apples and northern fruits roundtable discussion. The Sky Dance Plant Swap is part of the Sustainable Farming Association’s 100 Orchards Project, and at 1 p.m., there will be a half-hour introduction workshop on this project. At 1:30 p.m., author Paula Westmoreland will read and sign copies of her book “This Perennial Land.” The book concerns agriculture in the Blue Earth watershed of southern Minnesota. At 2:30 p.m., Linda Meschke will run a workshop on productive conservation, third crops, multi-functional landscapes and Rural Advantage. Scheer said people interested in participating in the plant swap should contact Green Island so they can make a master list of all the items people intend to have available, and to reserve a space for trading. The daytime event is free partly through

Kent Scheer stands by a sign announcing the plant swap at Green Island April 28.

the support of the Sustainable Farming Association. Evening will bring an opportunity for up to see the American woodcock perform its aerial courtship dance on the Green Island grounds. “They’re both happening on the same day, but that’s a little bit more of a birder’s event,” Scheer said. At 7:15 p.m., the Sky Dance Cafe presentation will start with a presentation by M State instructor Christian Breczinski on this bird’s natural history, environmental needs

and population status. Wine, cheese and desserts will be served. A little before 8 p.m., the group will move to where the birds are expected to do their sky dance. “We have several different woodcocks, and they routinely do their display, or their sky dance, about ten minutes before dark,” Scheer said. He said it is a rare opportunity because it is easy and handicap accessible to get to the display grounds – typically one would have to wade through shrubs and brush and get

Photo by Rachelle Klemme

one’s feet wet to see something like this. Space for the birding event is limited to 20 people, and some spots have already been taken, so people interested should make reservations. Suggested donation to defray food and costs for this evening event is $10. To sign up for a free space at the daytime Plant Swap and/or a spot at the evening Sky Dance Cafe, contact Scheer or Vicki Chepulis at (218) 631-3084 or

Spring HOME

April tasks for your garden This year we have expeThe damp soil makes it rienced an unusual March much easier to pull weed spring. We have been out in seedling. Do not compost our gardens wanting to do our weeds; they will come back spring maintenance, but wonto haunt you because you dering if it is too early. And will be giving them the yes, in central Minnesota it is best growing medium ever. best to wait into April to start Unless the old foliage you our garden clean-up. With the removed shows signs of cooler temperatures this past disease or seed heads it can week, we realize that there will go into the compost pile. be several nights that are going There should always be two to be cold and we don’t want compost piles. Start a new our plants exposed to the harsh compost pile for this season. Kyle Schulz temperatures. Some April Last year’s compost pile Master Gardener things to do: should be turned and most • Garden clean-up: First of it should be ready for you get rid of any remains of annual plants or to use in your garden this year. flowers that are littering your garden. If you • Dividing and transplanting: Spring is didn’t prune back your perennials last fall, the ideal time to transplant. You can dig that now is the time to do this. (I like to leave the perennial up to transplant as soon as you beclean-up until spring because the old foliage gin to see the crown sprouting. If you check dies down and covers the crown of the plant your perennials this should be happening and helps to protect it from the freezing tem- about now. In the cool soil temperatures, the peratures of winter.) It is fine to leave this old plants do not grow quickly, however when foliage in place until you see the new growth you divide a plant, the roots especially like starting. It serves as protection on those cold these cool temperatures and can get a good nights. However, when the new growth be- start. This is the time of the year when perengins it usually becomes entangled with last nials really want to grow. year’s foliage if it is not removed. • Mulching and edging: Mulch does • Evergreen and semi-evergreen pe- wonderful things for your garden: it conrennials: These are plants like coral bells, serves water, keeps the soil cool for the roots bearded iris, wintergreen, bergenia and of the plant, decomposes so it continually boxwoods. They are plants that never really feeds the soil, and smothers weeds. Mulchgo dormant, and stay green. However in the ing is one of the last things you do for spring spring they need some trimming up from the clean-up, so wait until the end of April. The wear and tear of winter, and also to encour- soil should warm up before you start to reage new growth to begin. plenish the old mulch. As the plants begin • Fertilizing and spreading compost: to grow pull back the mulch about 4 inches This is a good time to spread a little 10-10- from around the base of each plant so the 10 fertilizer in a circle 6 to 10 inches around plant has room to expand and grow. Keep the crown of each perennial plant. Never put the mulch close so if you need to; the plant fertilizer directly on the crown of the plant can be covered if the temperature drops. This as it may burn it. When it rains the fertilizer is the time you can edge around beds to rewill slowly work its way down into the roots define the garden from the lawn and in the of the plant. Also you can take compost and process get rid of grasses and weeds that are spread around the base of each plant and trying to invade your garden. This defining gently work it into the top couple inches of line and mulch really serves to set off your soil. Compost is like gardeners’ gold! garden and make each individual plant stand • Ornamental grasses: Ornamental out. grasses have real value for winter interest, • Dream: Think about what you want but it is important to get them cut down as your garden to look like, what needs to soon as the season warms up so that the new change, or be removed and if there is somegrowth can begin. Since we live in Zone 3, thing new you want to try. Often when you many of the ornamental grasses do not sur- get out there you get many new ideas. Enjoy! vive our winter (however this winter may be an exception it was not a regular zone 3 Kyle Schulz is a Wadena County Master winter). Gardener from Sebeka, and the regular gar• Weeding and compost: Early spring dening columnist for the Wadena Pioneer and after rain is the best time to pull weeds. Journal.

April 14, 2012 | Page 7

Butterflies are a spring spectacle Few harbingers of spring are more spectacular to look at than the variety of butterflies that take to the skies after they emerge from chrysalis. Although it is widely known that butterflies and moths go through a metamorphosis to turn into their finished forms, many are unaware just how many steps it takes for a butterfly to be ready to fly. 1. A butterfly begins its life as an egg, which a female butterfly lays on a particular plant that the species of butterfly prefers to eat. This is called a host plant. Butterflies are very particular about the type of plant that they eat. Certain species will only eat one type of plant or closely related varieties. 2. When a butterfly hatches from the egg, it is called a larva, or a first instar caterpillar. The insect is very small and does nothing but eat from the host plant. 3. Caterpillars are voracious eaters, and they grow very quickly. The trouble is that their skin cannot grow. A new, larger skin must be formed. To do this the caterpillar must molt its old skin so that the new, larger skin can emerge. As it eats, a caterpillar will go through a few stages depending on the species. It may become a second, third, fourth, and fifth instar caterpillar. 4. A caterpillar that has molted several times may look very different from its initial larval form. It will be much larger and may have different colors and features. 5. During the final molt, the discarded skin will become part of the chrysalis that will house the caterpillar as it pupates. The caterpillar spins a silk girdle that attaches it to a particular location, either on a tree branch or a plant stem. 6. Contrary to popular belief, butterflies are not formed in cocoons. Their pupa is called a chrysalis. Only some varieties of moths transform inside of a cocoon. In the chrysalis, the caterpillar is undergoing a rapid transforma-

Butterflies undergo an amazing transformation into the delicate, winged creature that graces spring days.

tion. The chewing mouthparts are turning into the sucking mouthparts of a butterfly. Wings and antennae are also forming. The pupa stage is not merely a hibernation for the caterpillar. It is a time of very active growth. 7. About 10 to 14 days later the butterfly will emerge from the chrysalis. Upon doing so the wings will be wet and small. The butterfly then pumps fluids through the wings to expand them. It also needs to get used to flying. A recently hatched butterfly is very vulnerable until its wings are ready and dry. 8. An adult butterfly eats nectar and reproduces to begin the life cycle anew. Relatively speaking, a butterfly has a short life span. Some species live only a few days. Others may live up to a year. This can make viewing a spectacularly hued butterfly in a spring garden even more poignant for the observer. More than 700 species of butterflies are found in North America. In order to attract them to the backyard, homeowners can plant wildlife that nurtures all stages of the metamorphosis. Adult butterflies looking for nectar will seek out plants in the sunlight; rarely do they feed in the shade. Plants should have red, yellow, orange, pink, or purple blossoms. Flat-topped or clustered flowers are preferred, as are short flower tubes that enable the butterfly’s proboscis to fit in easily.

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Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Spring Home

Page 8 | April 14, 2012

Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Roof can determine proper colors for home (MS) — Show me the color! That’s become one of the most common requests for homeowners in today’s marketplace as people look to add more colorful features to their homes as part of remodeling and new construction projects. “A well-chosen color scheme for a home’s exterior can bring out architectural details, downplay flaws and enhance the overall look of the home,” says Kate Smith, president of Sensational Color. “I always recommend starting from the top down when considering the colors for a home. Start with the roof, work down to the siding, then consider the windows, entry door and trim.” When offering color consultations on home exteriors, Smith begins with the roof. “Depending on the style of a home, as much as 40 percent or more of the visual you get when looking at a house is the roof,” says Smith, a color consultant for DaVinci Roofscapes. “The more roof that is shown, the more important it is to allow the roof color to help define the home’s style. “I’m a great fan of color blends for roofs, which you can easily find in polymer roofing products. When you select blends with different shades of a color or two in it, the entire roof seems to merge and unify the home exterior. This softens the roof visually and provides you with more long-term options for accent colors to ‘pull out’ from the roofing blend color.” After determining a roof color, Smith will then look at the siding of the home to determine how the texture plays into the overall home’s appeal. Fixed features like stone, brick and stucco need to be considered, along with paint colors for some exteriors. Moving to the windows, Smith believes a growing trend for homeowners is to select energy-efficient vinyl framed windows with color exteriors to complement the overall look of a home’s exterior. “There are product lines from Simonton Windows for both replacement and new construction windows and patio doors that offer unique color options such as Brick, Pine,

Chocolate, Bronze, Cream and Driftwood,” says Smith. “These frame colors, when matched with trim pieces such as crossheads, shutters and mouldings, create stunning accents. I’ve seen that urethane pieces from Fypon accept paint colors extremely well and can help to make the windows and doors more focal features of the home.” Both garage and entry doors are also primary products that beg for color on a home’s exterior. According to Smith, having a door that is painted in a bright, warm color can focus attention on the welcoming aspect of a home. “Generally, if a garage door is clearly visible from the street, it’s best to blend its color to the siding and trim,” says Smith. “When the garage is in line with the front door or behind the home, you can potentially add more color. But, keep in mind that you want the main entry door to ‘pop’ more than the garage, so reserve your key color push for that area of the home.” One of the easiest ways to add color to the front door is to select an entryway especially designed for painting. The Classic-Craft Canvas Collection from Therma-Tru features smooth, paintable surfaces on fiberglass doors with embossment details so that homeowners can select the paint color they wish to accent their energy-efficient entryway. “Color fascinates all of us, but some people are afraid to make a mistake by using the wrong colors,” says Smith. “If you have a Colonial-style home with a blend of grays on a roof and white or cream siding, you can easily make the house details pop out with red window frames and a red front door. Or, you can have an Arts-and-Crafts style house with an Aberdeen blend of five neutral colors on the roof that flows down to a rustic wood siding. Deep green accents around the windows, trim and entry door would perfectly accent that type of home.” Visit for more insights into exterior colors for the home and to download the free “How to Pick the Perfect Colors for Your Home’s Exterior” guide.

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Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Spring HOME

47 things you can compost

Conquering those sidewalk cracks Most homeowners can identify with the dilemma of a cracked sidewalk. In addition to being a safety hazard, a cracked sidewalk can also be an eyesore. Whether strolling to the backyard garden or walking to your home’s entryway, a cracked sidewalk can catch your eyes for all the wrong reasons. Fortunately, repairing a cracked sidewalk isn’t very difficult. • Enlarge the crack. The first thing to do when repairing cracks that are bigger than a hairline crack is to enlarge the crack. Use a chisel and hammer to enlarge the crack along its entire length. • Undercut the crack. When repairing a crack, you want to undercut the crack. Undercutting means you will be making the crack wider at the bottom than at the top. When it’s time to lay new concrete, undercutting will help create a stronger bond between the new concrete and the old. • Remove loose material. Once the crack has been undercut, remove any loose material, then brush the cleaned area with a wire brush to be sure no residual materials are still there. • Apply a concrete adhesive. A concrete adhesive isn’t a necessity, but it will help the new concrete hold when the time comes to lay it down. Once the adhesive has been brushed into the undercut area, allow it to dry until it has a

April 14, 2012 | Page 9

slightly sticky feel. Homeowners who prefer not to use a concrete adhesive should moisten the area that needs repairing with water. Just moisten the area, as you don’t want any standing water on the area that needs to be repaired with new concrete. • Apply the concrete as directed. When using a pre-mixed concrete patch, all you will likely need to add is water. For larger cracks, some homeowners prefer to mix their own patch. When mixing your own patch, you will likely need to add sand and/or gravel. Follow the cement manufacturer’s instructions if mixing your own patch. • Tightly tamp the patch into the undercut area. All areas should be completely filled. • Smooth the repaired area down. As the mixture starts to set, use a trowel or wooden float to smooth down the repaired area. • Allow the repaired area to dry. Give the repaired area a couple of hours to dry. After roughly two hours, cover the repaired area with boards or plastic sheeting. • Keep the area covered. The repaired area should be kept covered for roughly five days. During this period, wet the repaired area once a day. This allows the concrete to cure.

Garden compost can be a garden’s best friend. Compost promotes soil health and enables plants grow to their best ability. Many home gardeners prefer to make their own compost. It is easily achieved with items that normally would be discarded, including many items that ardent gardeners may be unaware of. Common Compost Materials Items like eggshells, banana peels, apple cores, paper, leaves, and coffee grounds are often included in a home compost pile. These items break down by natural bacteria and produce a rich fertilizer for plants. Lesser-Known Compost Materials There are many things that can be turned into compost. Here’s a list of com-

mon items that can be turned into compost and avoid the landfill. 1. pet hair 2. paper napkins 3. lint 4. pine needles 5. matches 6. chicken manure 7. old herbs 8. sawdust 9. weeds 10. hair clippings 11. tea bags 12. paper towels 13. bird cage cleanings 14. stale bread 15. leather 16. old pasta 17. pea vines 18. grapefruit rinds 19. newspaper 20. tissues 21. cotton swabs with paper sticks 22. dried out bouquets 23. potato chips 24. yogurt

25. shrimp shells 26. toenail clippings 27. pie crust 28. toothpicks (wood) 29. tossed salad 30. old beer 31. feathers 32. fish bones 33. envelopes 34. cardboard 35. pencil shavings 36. grocery receipts 37. dead insects 38. wool socks 39. pickles 40. dust bunnies 41. toast 42. chocolate cookies 43. oatmeal 44. tofu 45. spoiled wine 46. straw 47. nut shells

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Page 10 | April 14, 2012

Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Annuals can provide fresh colors for spring landscape Few things are anticipated more in spring than the arrival of new leaves on the trees and budding flowers in the garden. A landscape awash with fresh colors can brighten the spirit and make anyone want to head outdoors. There are many different plants that begin to show their colors in the spring. A number of perennials, annuals and trees begin to flower or show new sprouts come the springtime. Here are some plants that can be planted for springtime enjoyment.


Looking for first signs of color? Look no further than these wonderful annuals. • Alyssum: Starting in April, this cascading bounty of tiny flowers offers a sweet aroma that attracts butterflies. • Dianthus: These vivid flowers also attract butterflies and are often a cottage garden staple. • Gypsophila: Also known as baby’s breath, these delicate flowers can serve as filler in any landscape. Pink and white varieties are available. • Impatiens: One of the best-known plants for the garden, these annuals come in scores of colors and can generally tolerate full sun to full shade. • Larkspur: Belonging to the buttercup family, these flowers bloom in shades of white to violet.

• Pansy: These flowers are some of the earliest spring bloomers, arriving alongside spring bulbs like tulips. • Petunias: Petunias put on a show of color through the entire season, making them a popular bedding flower.


These plants will come back year after year and offer spring shows. • Cherry blossom: The flowers that sprout on cherry trees are some of the first signs of spring. Their pink or white buds are often a spectacle, so much so that towns and cities hold cherry blossom festivals. • Columbine: These beautiful blooms attract butterflies and can be a nice part of a garden bed. • Jacob’s ladder: Variegated foliage that is dappled with violet-colored flowers can add a sweet smell and visual interest to the garden. • Primrose: These flowers come in a variety of shades, making them versatile in any garden. They also tend to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. • Sweet violet: These fragrant flowers are edible as well as attractive. These plants can self-plant, so unless a garMokept delscontained. dener wants them to spread, they should be XUV 825i

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Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Spring HOME

April 14, 2012 | Page 11

Ways of maintaining healthy lawn, garden soil abound ever, veteran gardeners understand that reputation isn’t warranted. Slime mold is ugly, and many new gardeners see it and instantly assume it’s bad for their garden. However, slime molds are good for the soil, helping break down dead wood and leaves. They might not add aesthetic appeal, but slime molds do serve a practical and important purpose in maintaining healthy soil. • Pests can be an ally to healthy soil.

The 7 easiest vegetables to grow at home

Gardeners can take several steps to maintain soil health.

the root zone, helping build stronger roots as a result. Plants with strong roots are more likely to survive severe weather. • Use compost. Compost can prove very beneficial to soil health. Organic compost is typically loaded with nutrients that, upon maturity, feed the soil and promote soil health. Biodegradable items like grass clippings, leaves and even excess food like apple cores can strengthen the compost. Even worms, which break down compost quickly and add nutrients, can be a valuable addition to organic compost. • Don’t bash bacteria. Bacteria is often seen as a formidable foe, but some bacteria can actually promote healthy soil. Bacteria decompose plant matter, releasing the nutritive value into the soil, and can also break down chemical pesticides. So while bacteria is bad more often than it’s beneficial, some bacteria are quite useful, particularly when it comes to healthy soil. • Don’t be scared off by slime. Like bacteria, slime has a bad reputation. How-

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Some garden pests like mites, millipedes and centipedes are incorrectly assumed to be enemies of healthy soil. In fact, such pests can vastly improve soil health. Mites consume dead leaves and additional plant matter, enabling bacteria to more effectively release nutrients into the soil. Millipedes and centipedes are also beneficial to soil, as their droppings improve both the soil’s texture and fertility.

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Rising costs at the supermarket and worries about unhealthy pesticides or preservatives on foods has led many people to start a vegetable garden at home. Growing vegetables is easier than one would think. Plus, you don’t need an expansive plot of land to grow a garden. Many popular varieties can be grown right in containers or in compact spaces. Perhaps you’re wondering what vegetables are the easiest to grow if this is your first attempt at a food-based garden. There are several to try. 1. Tomatoes: While commonly considered vegetables, tomatoes are actually fruits. But tomatoes can be an integral part of a vegetable garden. Tomatoes are high in lycopene and other antioxidants. There are also myriad varieties to tempt your palate. Tomatoes can be planted after the soil has thawed and there is no other chance for frost. They’ll require plenty of sunlight. Fruit will be available to harvest toward the latter part of the summer. 2. Zucchini: Zucchini are an Italian squash variety that appear similar to a cucumber. They can be green or yellow in coloring. This vegetable is full of potassium, folate and manganese, making it a great addition to your menu. Zucchini take about a month to mature and be ready to harvest. They grow on vines and produce large flow-

ers before bearing fruit. 3. Beets: Root vegetables like beets and radishes work well in the garden as well. The bright purple color of beets indicates they are full of many essential vitamins and minerals. Toss beets in salads or use them in the traditional soup, borscht. 4. Carrots: Another subterranean-growing veggie, carrots require moist soil as they germinate, but as the plants mature need less water. Carrots can be enjoyed in a number of ways and are a staple of cooking year-round. 5. Peas: Peas grow inside the pods of legumes. These plants like moist soil that drains well. Water frequently but make sure the soil doesn’t become flooded if you want peas to flourish. 6. Peppers: Peppers come in so many varieties it’s easy to find ones that appeal to your taste in cooking. Generally peppers thrive in soil high in magnesium. Using compost and Epsom salt in the soil can help achieve the environment peppers desire. 7. Lettuce: Lettuce is another staple and the basis for many salad dishes. Lettuce also tops sandwiches and can be filled and wrapped for other recipe ideas. Seeds should be planted between 8 and 16 inches apart. Water in the morning instead of at night to prevent disease from developing.

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A lush lawn and garden is a part of many homeowners’ dream home. A lawn that emanates green and a garden that’s home to succulent vegetables is desirable to homeowners across the country. Of course, such lawns and gardens take time and effort, and a host of factors will determine if a lawn and garden is something homeowners should be proud or ashamed of. One such factor is soil health. Healthy soil helps deliver food and water to plants, allowing them to thrive and add aesthetic appeal to homes. To maintain healthy soil, homeowners should consider the following tips. • Get the soil tested. When addressing soil health, it’s best to first get the soil tested. A soil test will show which type of soil you have as well as its makeup and structure, and just how good or bad it currently is. Such tests can also reveal if the soil is missing any essential nutrients. Some soil tests can be conducted by novice greenthumbers, while others are best left to the local agricultural bureau. These tests are a good investment, as they will remove the guesswork from fertilizing. Without a soil test, many homeowners end up overdoing it when fertilizing, which can prove a costly mistake. Take a soil sample a few months before you plan to plant or landscape to give yourself enough time to apply the test’s recommendations to your lawn and garden. • Avoid wet soil. When soil is wet, don’t walk or drive over it and keep the kids out of the yard. When wet soil is walked on or driven over, the soil gets packed down, pushing out air and making it more difficult and sometimes impossible for water to pass through the soil. That makes it hard for roots to grow. Gardeners who plan to plant this gardening season should wait for the soil to dry before planting. • Use well-drained soil. Well-drained soil will dry fast and enable oxygen to reach

Page 12 | April 14, 2012

Spring Home

Supplement to the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Maps reveal new plant hardiness zones in United Sates

Gardeners rely on a number of factors when decid13 (60-70 degrees F). Each zone is a 10-degree Fahrenheit ing on what to plant in their gardens and around their band, further divided into A and B 5-degree Fahrenheit property. One of the most important things to take into zones. consideration is the climate. A hardiness zone describes a geographically defined Since 1960, the go-to source for climate and relation area in which a specific category of plant life is capable to agriculture has been the U.S. Department of Agriculof growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including ture’s (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone map. In 1967, Agits ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the riculture Canada developed their own map that took into zone. Summer temperatures are not factored into the mix. consideration Canadian plant survival data and a wider Therefore, areas with similar winter patterns and average range of climatic variables. The maps remained constant lows may be in the same zone despite having drastically until now. different highs. Hardiness zones may not take into conIn January 2012, the USDA released an updated zone sideration snow cover, either. Snow helps insulate the map. The map is now more precise and reflects microclisoil and hibernating plants. Therefore hardiness zones mates, heat islands, prevailing wind, elevation, and generare more like guidelines instead of foolproof methods of ally better data. It breaks down the country into 13 unique determining viable plants. zones from the previous 11. Individuals who once resided Although a poster-sized version of this map will not be in a particular zone may find that they are now moved into available for purchase from USDA, as in the past, anyone another zone. This updated map has taken into considermay download the map free of charge from the Internet ation climate changes that have occurred between 1976 onto their personal computer and print copies of the map and 2005. You now may be able to try plants that you may Hardiness zone maps courtesy of the USDA as needed. have been skeptical about in the past. When shopping for plants, most will display a hardiThe new map now offers a Geographic Information ness zone right on the container to help you determine included to ensure the map is readily accessible to those who System, orGIS, -based, interactive format and is specifiwhether this particular plant will be acceptable outdoors in cally designed to be Internet-friendly. The map website also lack broadband Internet access. your zone. To learn more about hardiness zones, visit www. The new version of the map includes 13 zones, with the or incorporates a “find your zone by ZIP code� function. Static images of national, regional and state maps have also been addition for the first time of zones 12 (50-60 degrees F) and

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