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Tips For A Carefree Swimming Season

(NAPSI)-If you own one of the 8.6 million swimming pools in the U.S., it may be time to dive into the essentials of pool maintenance. Following a few simple steps can help ensure a more enjoyable swimming season:

• Shake it up. Pool water needs to be circulated. Constant water movements help prevent bacteria and algae from growing and ensure that the pool sanitizer cleans the whole pool.

Circulating pool water helps filters catch debris. Pools should circulate for at least eight hours a day.

• Filter it. Filters remove both visible debris and microscopic matter. Backwash your filter periodically and chemically clean it at least once every three months.

New, environmentally friendly EcoKlean from BioGuard is made of 100 percent biodegradable cellulose fiber. Used as a filtration media in DE filters or as a filter aid for sand or cartridge filters, it will improve your filtration efficiency while delivering a beautiful sparkle and luster to the water.

• Clean it. Brush and vacuum pool walls once a week to catch any debris the filter misses. Brushing is a must even if you use an automatic pool cleaner or hire a service.

For problem stains caused by metals dissolving in your water, you can use BioGuard's Erase Stain Identification Kit to identify the metal causing the stain and then remove it with a product specifically designed to treat that stain, either Erase Iron Stain Remover or Erase Copper Stain Remover.

• Test it. Test for the correct pH and sanitizer levels every week. Have a thorough water analysis performed by a trained dealer every four to six weeks.

• Maintain it. The last step in total pool maintenance is applying the right chemical product to keep pools clear and comfortable for swimmers.

Products can help balance pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness in the water. Other products maintain sanitizer levels and prevent algae, bacteria and oxidation. The right water treatment plan will both maintain pool equipment and keep the water inviting.

Pool care retailers offer products and systems that make caring for the pool a snap. Consult a pool professional for expert advice.

For more information on the effective use of pool and spa products, you can visit BioGuard at www.bioguard.com.

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Give Your Home A Fresh Look For Spring

(NAPSI)-Spring cleaning has become a ritual in homes across America. But, as families focus on decluttering closets and revitalizing their indoor spaces, many overlook simple, inexpensive outdoor projects that can give a home a real "facelift" and make it look and feel like new.

Clean the exterior. It's amazing how much better, and how much newer, a home can look after a good cleaning. And with the availability of cleaners that can be applied with pump sprayers and hose mount applicators, it's never been easier to give a house a "facelift" without power washing or costly repainting. If your house is wearing a coat of mold, mildew, dirt and grime, try a cleaner like Jomaxฎ House Cleaner and Mildew Killer. It removes the most stubborn stains without scrubbing and is safe to use near plants, grass and shrubs.

Refresh the driveway. Thanks to the evolution of new water-based technologies, restoring a driveway to its "like new" appearance is easy for even inexperienced do-it-yourselfers. EPOXY SHIELD Blacktop Coating, with its advanced acrylic formula, brings asphalt back to its original jet black color and makes it look brand new again. The low-odor formula rolls on like paint and lasts longer than traditional asphalt-based sealers to enhance the first, and last, impression your home gives visitors.

Spruce up your deck. Both wood and composite decks need to be cleaned regularly to prevent deterioration and look their best. Biodegradable deck cleaners like Wolman™ DeckBrite™ excel at removing ground-in dirt and mildew stains without whitening or damaging the surface like chlorine bleach can--and they're easy to use. Wolman has a full line of transparent, semi-transparent and opaque stains and finishes in a wide array of colors, so you can achieve any look you desire.

"Upcycle" your outdoor furniture. You'd be surprised how easy and inexpensive it is to make an old, tired patio set better with just a few cans of spray paint. Today's spray paints come in a full palette of colors so you can personalize your outdoor space while saving your old furniture from the landfill. Try "dressing" your patio furniture in a classic color like Painter's Touch Ultra Cover 2X Espresso. One can of 2X delivers twice the coverage so the paint goes further and projects get done faster.

For more project ideas and product information, visit www.rustoleum.com and www.paintideas.com.

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Inexpensive Ways To Bring Spring Into Your Home

(NAPSI)-Spring is a time of new beginnings. Flowers and plants are blooming, the sun is shining and the weather is finally getting warmer after winter's chill. So why not bring some of spring's beauty into your home? Here are some easy, affordable project ideas from the decorating experts at Rust-Oleum to help you bring spring inside:

Bring Your Flower Garden Indoors

A great way to perk up a home for spring is by decorating rooms where you spend the most time--like the living room, family room or kitchen--with flowers. By spray painting flowerpots you already own bright yellow, purple or green and grouping them into indoor "gardens," you will give them new life while bringing the great outdoors inside. Consider using Painter's Touch Ultra Cover 2X, a fast-drying spray paint that works well on wood, wicker, metal, plaster and unglazed ceramic and resists chipping and fading.

Winds Of Change

Adding color to a ceiling or oscillating fan is a great way to add a pop of color in an unexpected way. Find a good deal on a fan that complements your personality at a flea market or discount store and bring it home for a facelift. Covering the fan in just one coat of inexpensive spray paint in a fresh spring color will create a conversation piece that will last throughout the year. For this project, try using Rust-Oleum Universal spray paint. Its unique trigger spray makes it easy to use at any angle and it can be used on any surface--plastic, metal, wood and more.

Bring Patio Furniture Inside

Remember the old wicker chair and love seat you picked up at Aunt Ida's garage sale? They're not just for outside! Spray paint them with one coat of Painter's Touch Ultra Cover 2X in a bright spring color such as Aqua or Green Apple and suddenly you have new seating that is perfect for your sunroom, front porch or foyer.

Renew Flea Market Finds

Save that dingy chandelier, tarnished lamp or outdated bookcase from the trash by restoring it with Rust-Oleum. A fresh coat of spray paint is sometimes all that is needed to turn garage sale or flea market finds into treasures.

For hundreds of easy project ideas to help you decorate and transform your home, visit www.paintideas.com. Before you know it, you'll have splashes of sunshine, spring color and great conversation pieces throughout your home without spending much time or money.

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Windows That Offer Comfort And Savings

(NAPSI)-Installing high-performance windows can mean more comfort and convenience--as well as savings when it comes to energy bills and taxes.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of qualifying windows up to $1,500.

To qualify for the ARRA tax credit, which expires at the end of 2010, windows must meet certain requirements. Check with your window provider or the IRS to confirm eligibility.

To maximize energy savings, look for high-performance models labeled as Envirosealed Windows. These windows use nonmetal spacers that offer the warmest edge of glass temperature for a more comfortable home interior.

Experts say triple-pane windows with low-emissivity (low-e) glass, insulated frames and argon or krypton gas filling provide the best performance.

For more information, visit www.EnvirosealedWindows.com.

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Natural Stone: Affordable Luxury

(NAPSI)-After a year of belt tightening and just "making do," Americans are again investing in their homes--redecorating, remodeling and generally sprucing up.

The reason is simple: With mortgage money still restricted, consumers are "improving up" rather than moving up. In the past, many families would trade up to homes that offered appealing amenities like nicer kitchens or baths. This year, consumers are looking for ways to get the appealing kitchen or bath upgrade without the expense of moving.

And homeowners are finding that luxury enhancements like natural stone countertops can be very affordable. The timeless stone is unsurpassed in bringing warmth and richness to any room, immediately becoming a focal point. And, while the makers of synthetic countertops have tried to convince consumers that their manufactured products are as good as granite, natural stone remains unbeatable for enhancing the value of a home.

Consider what the experts advise. Each month, HGTV's FrontDoor.com, in partnership with DIYnetwork.com, identifies "maximum value projects" for improving different areas of the home. The partnership recently offered tips "for getting the most value out of kitchen and bath renovations." The recommendation? "To add beauty, value and buyer appeal to a kitchen, consider upgrading countertops to natural stone. Granite, marble, limestone and soapstone are popular options." The recommendation for bathroom improvement was simpler: "Upgrade to granite countertops."

Stone countertops have become more affordable as demand has increased and as new technology has made it easier to cut and polish the stone. And the selection is unparalleled--greater than any other countertop surface.

"Granite countertops are becoming all the rage," writes KitchenKool.com, an online consumer information guide that does not sell products directly and is not affiliated with any individual manufacturer. "They're almost as hard as diamond, easy to maintain, heat resistant and come in a range of over 3,000 colors to enhance the beauty and usefulness of your kitchen or bath forever."

Studies show that consumers overwhelmingly prefer natural stone over synthetic materials. And it remains the gold standard for real estate resale. Why? Because natural stone looks good forever, while some countertop materials look old and tired within a few years. And the artificial dyes in many synthetic stone counters can look dated quickly.

Plus, natural granite countertops are absolutely unique, made by Mother Nature-not in a factory that manufactures the same material over and over all day long.

There are some options that can help you get the most bang for your buck for granite countertops:

• Color-Select a more popular variety of granite and it can be more affordable. Select a more exotic and rare variety and it can cost a bit more.

• Edge Profile-More intricate profiles require more work and can increase the cost of the stone. A simpler style still looks elegant but will cost less.

• Thickness of Slab-The most popular is the 11/4-inch slab, but check on the availability of ?-inch slabs that provide the same beauty and durability but will likely cost less.

The Marble Institute of America (MIA) is the industry's nonprofit trade group. If you're looking for a supplier or fabricator of fine granite or have any other questions about natural stone countertops, the MIA's Web site is a great place to research stone and stone providers. You can find the Marble Institute Web site at www.marble-insti tute.com and you can access a directory of MIA fabricator and supplier members at www.marble-institute.com/directory.

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Quick And Easy Home Spruce-Ups

(NAPSI)-Saving time, trouble and money while enjoying a cleaner, more comfortable home may be easier to accomplish than many people realize. To make cleaning easier, consider the following tips from experts:

• Check washer and dryer drains and pipes for blockages, such as lint or even the infamous "missing sock," for optimum water and air flow. Clean the dryer's outside exhaust to shorten drying time and decrease energy use.

• Change your refrigerator water filter. Refrigeration experts recommend changing your refrigerator water filter every six months to keep the water tasting good and to help save you money. By using two water filters per year, a refrigerator system can filter the equivalent of 3,000 bottles of water, saving over $600 a year versus purchasing a leading brand of bottled water.

• Think about how to lead a "greener" lifestyle. Easy adjustments can be made at home, such as considering Energy Starฎ−qualified appliances, which use 25 to 40 percent less energy than conventional models, which can result in savings of up to $100 (or more) a year on energy bills.

• Freshen up draperies and curtains in a steam cycle in your dryer. The Maytag Bravos Dryer with Steam Enhanced Cycles can let you freshen up items you normally can't wash, such as stuffed animals or small pillows.

• Make this the season the car actually fits in the garage by installing shelves, baskets, hooks or cabinets, such as those from Gladiator GarageWorks, to stay organized and uncover valuable space.

• Remember to maintain your appliances with a regular checkup, especially with regard to washers and dishwashers, which can develop odor and residue buildup. Cleaning these appliances, no matter make or model, every 30 days with a product such as the affresh Washer Cleaning Kit or affresh Dishwasher and Disposal Cleaner and following the suggested tips in appliances' use and care guides go a long way in keeping these household workhorses operating at peak performance.

Learn More

For further information, tips and more, visit http://instituteoffabricscience.org.

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Growing Your First Rose Garden

(NAPSI)-Millions of people send roses to loved ones on special occasions. But when dinner-table talk turns to growing your own roses, one thing comes to mind--you consider running away because you've heard it's just too difficult.

"Growing roses has gotten a bad rap over the years because homeowners are basing their opinion on old information," says Bayer Advanced™ Rose Care Expert Lance Walheim, author of "Roses for Dummies." "There are new roses and products that make it easy to grow Rose Parade−quality roses in your own backyard."

Landscape roses like "Knockout" can make the front of your home stand out and add curb appeal in a competitive real estate market. Knockout roses are the best-selling roses in North America because they're beautiful and easy to grow and come in a wide variety of colors that can fit into any landscape.

Here are a few tips to help make your first rose garden a success:

Pick a sunny spot to give you the most bang for the buck: Roses should be positioned to create the "wow" factor when visitors see your home. They require 6−8 hours of sunlight a day to grow big and healthy.

The melted-box-of-crayon look is out: It's best to choose a color theme for a border, either with the same color rose or with colors that complement each other.

Mulch and water around the roots: Mulch keeps weeds out and roses moist. Water deeply around the roots once or twice a week during dry spells. Stick a finger in the soil to check for moisture. If your finger comes out dry, it's time to add water.

Save money on rose care products: Roses need to be fed and protected against destructive diseases and insects. In most cases, that means buying three different products. One money-saving option, Bayer Advanced All-in-One Rose & Flower Care, provides all three solutions in one easy-to-use product. Just measure, mix with water and pour around the plant base every six weeks. It's tested and endorsed by the American Rose Society. Always read and follow all label directions. (Product not registered on Long Island, N.Y.) For more gardening information and how-to videos, visit BayerAdvanced.com or call (877) BAYERAG.

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 Gardening Experts In Full Bloom At Public Gardens

(NAPSI)-If you would like to cultivate your knowledge of gardening, consider visiting a public garden. Public gardens at zoos, historical sites and entertainment complexes can serve as a great source of inspiration and information for gardeners.

According to the American Public Gardens Association (APGA), public gardens can show you how to create a water-wise landscape at home through the use of native and adapted plants and efficient irrigation. Visitors can learn what plants bloom at similar times and what arrangements look good together. Staff members who understand the region are available to offer advice on gardening techniques, and on-site sales can be a great source of top-quality additions to a home garden.

Here are a few types of public gardens you can visit:

• Zoos--Although the focus is on the animals, zoos also have interesting horticultural collections that show both flora and fauna in their native habitats.

• Entertainment Gardens--Golf courses, theme parks and water parks can also have beautiful horticultural displays.

• Historical Sites--Places of historic or cultural significance--such as churches, historic homes and cemeteries--often have grounds shaped to reflect the horticulture of their historical period.

• Nature Gardens--Created and designed to help visitors connect with nature, these gardens inform and educate about the botanical and ecological origins and functions of plant life and how they relate to human beings and animals.

Find A Garden

To find public gardens, visit the APGA at www.publicgardens.org. The group has partnered with Rain Bird Corporation, a leading manufacturer and provider of irrigation products, to promote the importance of gardens for environmental stewardship through National Public Gardens Day.

The event includes activities for schools, families and visitors.

For more information, you can visit www.publicgardens.org and www.rainbird.com.

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Note to Editors: May 7, 2010 is the second annual National Public Gardens Day.

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