Grow Roses Easy Care

How to Prune Hydrangea

Playsets: 10 Tips

Tips to Maintain Homes

Tips to Improve Homes

Deck Lighting

Controlling Insects

Fruit of the Month Club


The Easy Way To Grow Roses

(NAPSI)—There’s good news if you find growing roses a challenge. That’s because there are many new easy-care roses on the market.

Until recently, many gardeners saw roses as too frustrating or time consuming for average people. Further, the amount of fungicides and insecticides required were not ecologically or economically friendly.

Fortunately, advances in rose breeding have changed all this, making roses something any gardener can enjoy. Often called shrub or landscape roses, these are bred for resistance to the many rose problems, including black spot and other diseases.

Low-Maintenance Roses For Everyone

These landscape shrub roses were a small percentage of the rose market in the 1990s, but today are exploding in popularity. The reason? These new shrub roses don’t require spraying, harsh chemicals, pruning or lots of water. They are also tough as nails, surviving the hottest summers and harshest winters.

A Real Home Run

Home Run rose, sold by Proven Winners, is hardy and compact. It blooms and reblooms from the first blush of spring until the first frost. Plus, it’s “self-cleaning,” eliminating the need to remove the dead or spent flowers. It is also the only rose of its kind with natural immunity to both black spot and powdery mildew.

Home Run roses bloom nearly continuously with showy three-inch-wide, five-petal flowers of true “fire engine” red. It is the first to flower in spring and produce fresh flowers every day through the season. It is heat tolerant and hardy in colder temperatures, so it can thrive from Texas to Michigan.

A brand-new rose called Pink Home Run is identical in every way to Home Run rose except its showy blossoms are an intense shade of pink.

Easy Does It

The Oso Easy series from Proven Winners is known for its disease resistance. These roses also don’t require any spraying or pruning. Each rose in the series has green glossy foliage complementing the bright flower color.

Oso Easy Peachy Cream only reaches about 12 to 36 inches in height so it fits into gardens large and small. Its flower color emerges peach and transforms to cream. Oso Easy Paprika Rose starts out as a beautiful orange and fades to coral with a golden sun in the center. Measuring only 12 to 24 inches in size, it is ideal for your home’s landscaping.

Another rose, Oso Easy Fragrant Spreader, has abundant soft pink, single flowers. The plant will spread out to almost five feet across, making it ideal for covering large areas. It is perfect to cover banks and slopes. Unlike many shrub roses, it is also highly fragrant.

Another newer rose is Oso Happy Candy Oh! It features large sprays of single, candy-apple red flowers blooming from summer until frost. It has a dense, mounding habit and is great for mass plantings. As with all these roses, it is very hardy and disease resistant. And because Candy Oh! was bred in Minnesota, it can take the harshest of winters.

Enjoyment All Summer

Shrub roses are easy to grow and are low maintenance. They are also ecologically—and pocketbook—friendly because they don’t require spraying. They work for mixed borders and beds and are compact enough to plant near walkways and other tight spots.

Roses need five to six hours of direct sun each day, so make sure you don’t plant in full shade. Avoid planting your roses beneath eaves or gutters so they are not damaged by falling water. These shrub roses don’t require heavy pruning, but you can prune to your preferred shape in spring.

For more information on the newest landscape roses, visit


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How To Prune Your Hydrangea

(NAPSI)—You prize your hydrangeas for their beautiful flowers. You also want to make sure you prune them at the right time to encourage the stunning blooms every season. But do you wonder whether or when to prune them?

“The first step is to determine the variety of your hydrangea,” said Tim Wood, new product manager at Proven Winners ColorChoice. “This is fairly easy to do. If your plant produces big pink or blue flowers, it is a Hydrangea macrophylla. If its flowers are round and white—or pink in the case of the new Invincibelle Spirit—the plant is a Hydrangea arborescens. Finally, if the plant has large, conical flowers, which are often white but may also be green or pink, you own a Hydrangea paniculata.”

Bigleaf Hydrangeas

If you have Hydrangea macrophylla, also known as Bigleaf Hydrangea, Wood says you can relax. This plant requires little more than a trimming and only immediately after flowering. You should never prune it in winter or spring, because it sets flower buds the year before and if you shear it back, then you will cut off all of summer’s flowers.

Newer reblooming varieties such as the Let’s Dance series from Proven Winners ColorChoice will also bloom on the current season’s growth, but you still want to leave the plant intact through spring so you can enjoy early summer flowers.

Smooth Hydrangeas

Hydrangea arborescens, also known as Smooth Hydrangea, are beloved for their adaptable nature and reliable blooms. You should prune it back in late winter or early spring. These hydrangeas bloom on “new wood”—the current season’s growth. Pruning them back at that time encourages new growth, which produces flowers. Spring pruning will also result in a fuller, stronger plant that’s less likely to flop under the weight of its abundant summer flowers. Cutting the stems back to one or two feet will leave a good framework to support the blooms.

Today, there are two new “Annabelle” Hydrangea arborescens with stronger stems, so they won’t flop after being established. Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea is the very first pink-flowered form of “Annabelle.” Invincibelle Spirit continues to produce new pink flowers right up until frost, providing a beautiful display across several seasons in your garden, from mid-summer to fall. Incrediball Hydrangea has the biggest flowers and the strongest stems of any of the “Annabelle” hydrangeas. Incrediball produces incredibly large white blooms as big as a basketball.

Hardy Hydrangeas

Hydrangea paniculata, sometimes called Hardy Hydrangea, also blooms on new wood. You should prune it back in late winter or early spring. You can cut it back to the ground or, if you want slightly taller plants, cut it back to one to three feet. This is a great job for one of those early spring days when everything is still dormant but it’s so beautiful and warm you need to be in the garden.

A new variety of Hydrangea paniculata won’t require as much pruning to keep it smaller. The new Little Lime Hydrangea boasts the same colors and benefits of the famous “Limelight” Hydrangea though only reaching three to five feet fully grown. At one-third the size of other hardy hydrangeas, it fits well into practically any landscape. Little Lime produces bright cone-shaped lime-green flowers, later turning into pink, from mid-summer to frost.

Fortunately, even if you make a mistake and prune at the wrong time of year, these plants will forgive you. You may not have flowers for a season but, with proper timing, you’ll see them the following year. Just remember to start by correctly identifying which kind of hydrangea you have. With just a little work, you’ll get beautiful flowers from your hydrangeas year after year. For more information on the newest hydrangeas, visit

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Playsets: 10 Tips For Parents

(NAPSI)—Few things work as well as an outdoor playset to get kids out of the house and into the fresh air. There are, however, several things to keep in mind:

1. Placement. Find a spot with at least a six-foot space around the playset so kids don’t swing, jump or fall into or onto anything dangerous. Loose fill materials such as mulch, wood chips or reground plastic should be placed under the playset to cushion falls. Also, the set should be placed where parents can monitor children’s activities.

2. Lumber. Look for a naturally decay- and weather-resistant lumber, such as cedar, which is also a natural insect repellent and blends well with any backyard.

3. Assembly. Consider your options. Should the playset be hand-built? Will the lumber be hand-picked and the playset built with a kit? Or will the playset come ready to assemble-pre-cut, pre-stained and pre-drilled with all the hardware and accessories pre-packed?

4. Cost. Most playsets are built to last whatever the price, but features vary. A playset is something to be enjoyed for years, so be sure it can grow with your family.

5. Safety Railings. Safety features must be put in place during assembly. All elevated surfaces, such as platforms, need guardrails, and sit-down bars should be above the slides. Most quality sets will have an arched entrance area to protect little heads.

6. Anchoring. Make sure the entire structure is firmly anchored to avoid tipping.

7. Maintenance. Preventative maintenance helps keep kids safe and the warranty in effect. Every season, tighten any loose supports, anchors, bolts and screws and replace any missing nuts, bolts or protective caps. Following manufacturer’s directions, playsets should be periodically sealed, stained and painted to prevent deterioration.

8. Everyone Plays. Playsets should be developmentally appropriate, so consider the ages of the children who will play on it. Size depends on how many children will play on the set, as well. Consider how many swings and how many features you need for a fun and safe environment for all.

9. Warranty. You should know what type of warranty is offered and what it covers. Playsets should last a long time, so seek a warranty with long-term protection.

10. Features. Decide if you need an infant swing, a hammock or a two-person glider. Accessories like a buoy ball, rock wall, gangplank, hammock or ship’s wheel create a fun play experience. With most quality playsets, accessories can be added later. You can see some of the features available for Backyard Discovery playsets at

Taking these small steps toward a safer play area can make a big difference when it comes to long-term safety.


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Six Steps To A Well-Maintained Home

(NAPSI)—Your home is, most likely, your biggest investment. Here, from an assortment of experts, are a few hints on how to keep it in good shape:

1. Good Clean Fun: When it comes to cleaning ceramic floors, there’s no need to wax. Just sweep and mop on a regular basis and they stay clean and shiny. Mop floors with clear water or just a dash of liquid dish soap. Be sure to change the water when it gets cloudy. Too much soap or dirty water will make floors dull or sticky. Don’t use scrub pads on ceramic tile floors or you might scratch them. Professional cleaners wash most floors by hand, cleaning and drying a small area at a time. That’s the advice from Merry Maids comprehensive cleaning service, which can scale a plan—weekly, biweekly or monthly—to meet your needs and your budget.

2. Floor Facts: To maintain your carpets’ appearance, they should be professionally cleaned every six to 12 months. If, however, you’ve suffered damage from water, fire or smoke, they need help right away. The ServiceMaster Clean residential services division specialists in carpet and upholstery cleaning can help either way. In an emergency, their yellow trucks can be dispatched 24/7, 365 days a year to restore your home to pre-disaster condition.

3. When Your Yard Wants to Be a Lawn: Great lawns require great soil with the right balance of alkaline and acid. If your soil is out of balance, you can adjust the pH with lime, potassium or other micronutrients. To help your lawn grow great, a leading provider of lawn and landscape services, TruGreen, delivers customized solutions that are effective, innovative and responsible.

4. Best the Pests: Household pests are more than an embarrassing nuisance. They can carry harmful Terminix into your home. To protect your home, keep the firewood pile away from the house. Seal any cracks around windows and doors and be sure all screens are in good repair. A quarterly pest control plan from Terminix can help eradicate any pests. The program is managed by certified professionals who can also recommend modifications to prevent new infestations.

5. Deter Termites: You can also make your house less attractive to termites. Since the pests need moisture to survive, grade the soil around your foundation so it carries water away from the house. Keep gutters and downspouts in good repair. Consider a Termite Inspection and Protection Plan from Terminix. You get an annual inspection of home and property. If new termite activity is later found, the damage will be covered at no cost to you.

6. Protect Your Appliances: For example, it’s a cool idea to clean the refrigerator’s interior shelves, shell and gaskets at least every three months. Once a year, clean the coils on the back or underneath with a vacuum cleaner. You can get a home warranty from American Home Shield that can be one of the best defenses against extensive and unexpected covered repair costs, with a national contractor network made up of over 11,000 approved, independently insured home-service contractors.

More Information

You can learn more at and (866) 348-7672.

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Remodel Without Regret

(NAPSI)—After years of living with your outdated kitchen—complete with orange linoleum floors, no windows and a completely non-functional work triangle—you’ve decided to take the leap and remodel. As you work with your contractor to design the perfect kitchen, you begin to doubt the placement of your kitchen window and the size of your new cabinetry. “I’m sure it will be perfect when it’s completed,” you tell yourself. But as the project progresses, the window isn’t exactly where you want it, the cabinets are a little too big, and now there’s no room for your French door refrigerator. Meanwhile, construction continues to disrupt your life.

Remodeling disasters such as these happen far too often. Choosing the right contractor can help you avoid these situations and a contractor with the right tools can make design dreams come true. When you’re working on a project as important as your home, a clear plan can help you improve communication, save money and create an end result you’re proud of. Contractors who use professional-grade drafting and detailing software understand that planning and design come first and are essential to efficient construction. Precise digital drawings of the project provide an accurate depiction of what the final result will be, keeping you and your contractor on the same page and helping you avoid spending more time and money than you planned.

Often, renovation projects can get derailed with time-consuming changes or easily avoidable errors. For example, contractors who still use a pencil and graph paper can spend more time making edits and have greater risk for error—like a misplaced window—using drawings that may not be exactly to scale. Contractors who use professional design software, such as AutoCAD LT software, can avoid these issues by working with drawings that more accurately represent the data throughout the design project. With a robust set of drafting tools, contractors can more easily create and modify their design documents based on client needs. Hiring a contractor who uses professional drafting software helps make sure that everyone involved is speaking the same language, avoiding confusion and coordination errors among the different trades installing the plumbing, wiring and tile. Drafting and detailing software is an excellent solution to help professionals efficiently and accurately create clear, precise drawings and drive projects to completion.

You need a reliable contractor with the tools to complete a quality project in a timely and efficient manner and avoid remodel disasters. Professional drafting software helps contractors get the job done more accurately and efficiently.

To learn more, visit

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Brighten Up: Increase Outdoor Living Safety And Ambience With Deck Lighting

(NAPSI)—With the proper lighting, family and friends can enjoy good times outdoors long into the evening without being left in the dark. To make sure the fun doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down, consider these four simple suggestions to select deck lighting that creates a warm and inviting backyard:

• Go for the Glow—Choose lighting that won’t flood your deck with light but instead casts a natural and subtle glow that produces understated silhouettes. Install a dimmer switch so you can adjust the mood as the evening progresses and a timer to set lights to turn on automatically after dusk and fade away before the sun rises.

• Let Your Décor Shine—Today’s deck lighting comes in a variety of styles and should be a beautiful finishing touch that coordinates seamlessly with decking and railing. Think about the outdoor spaces where you spend the most time or the favorite elements of your home’s exterior and highlight appropriately.

Recessed lighting installs flush on deck boards to light a path or accent a design, while riser lights keep stairways safe and create festive patterns. Install rail lights on posts to illuminate the deck below and integrate post cap lights for a warm downward glow that marks the way.

• Cut Energy Costs-Long—life LED deck lighting is best for both the environment and your electricity bill. For instance, new Trex DeckLighting™ operates for up to 40,000 hours of life and uses 75 percent less energy than conventional incandescent lighting. LED options also prevent voltage drops, which means the last light in the series is just as bright as the first.

• Lighten the (Work) Load—To spend more time relaxing outdoors, select lighting that may be installed on a new or existing deck in just one weekend. Trex Deck-Lighting also significantly reduces time spent maintaining. Weatherproof, salt air resistant and offering the extra security of a seven-year warranty, it’s guaranteed to retain a “like new” appearance for years to come—while its long life ensures you won’t need to constantly replace lightbulbs.

“The best deck lighting not only helps you save money on maintenance and energy costs, but also significantly extends the amount of time you’re able to spend enjoying outdoor living spaces,” said Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing. “Choose a lighting collection that offers flexible design options, while also providing a strong return on investment and creating a more inviting outdoor living environment.”

Learn More

For more deck lighting inspiration and ideas, visit the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing at and (800) 289-8739.

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Don’t Let Insects Drive You Buggy


(NAPSI)—Controlling insects can often be easier than many homeowners realize. The key is knowing how to inspect for signs of trouble and what steps to take if there is a threat to your home. Many find that the onset of warmer weather can be an excellent time to begin their annual inspection—both indoors and out.

“Prevention is the best solution for warding off unwanted pests,” said Larry Coltharp, director of insect control research and development with Black Flag. “Spray early in the spring, reinforce protection in the summer during peak insect season, and seal homes in the fall to keep bugs from seeking shelter.”

Here are some tips on what to look for and how to keep pests under control:

• Check walls for cracks and crevices where spiders and ants can enter.

• In the kitchen, check for open containers or water leaks under the sink and other sources of food and water. It’s also a good idea to occasionally check your paper grocery bags to make sure they don’t contain any uninvited guests.

• In addition to attracting mold and mildew, cardboard storage containers can make an attractive shelter for many insects such as roaches, silverfish and scorpions. Some insects will even feed on cardboard. Check yours regularly.

• Using caulk, expanding foam or steel wool, seal up spaces around pipes and any place where electrical wiring enters the home.

• In the house, keep trash in a closed container until it goes outside.

• When it comes to choosing an insecticide, one size rarely fits all. Often, insecticides are developed to address a specific pest or type of insect. One exception may be a powerful household pest control formula that offers home protection against more than 40 different types of insects.

According to Coltharp, the advanced Home Insect Control system offers homeowners an effective and affordable solution for pest control. Said Coltharp, “Black Flag Home Insect Control features our exclusive pump spray that delivers up to 10 minutes of continuous spraying after just a few pumps. It’s unique formulation characteristics will keep the insecticide particles on the surface of treated areas to give better insect control. Homeowners can cover more area in less time and with less effort.”

For maximum protection, Coltharp recommends applying the spray around the perimeter of the house, indoors and out. In addition, he believes do-it-yourselfers will save more than $100—the average cost of using a pest control service for treatment.

To learn more, visit the website at

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Create Your Own Fruit Of The Month Club

(NAPSI)—Growing fruit trees is one of the most popular forms of edible gardening. According to the National Gardening Association, more than 12 million households grow fruit in this country. That’s about as many households as there are in the entire state of California. Better taste, saving money and better quality are the top three reasons for growing fruit trees in our backyards.

“There’s nothing better than the taste of an apple, orange or lemon that you grow in your own backyard,” said Lance Walheim, author of “Citrus” and gardening expert for Bayer Advanced™. “A tree has to be at least two or three years old to bear fruit, but once it does, you’ll be enjoying baskets of fruits for 10 to 30 years.”

How Much Fruit You’ll Get From One Tree Each Year

Orange 300 lbs.
Lemon 200 lbs.
Cherry 100 lbs.
Dwarf apple 84 lbs.

Sources: Cooperative Extension Services and growers

Helpful Tips

• Choose the right fruit. Orange, lemon, grapefruit and other kinds of citrus require mild winter weather. Apple and cherry trees will do well in colder regions of the country. Your local cooperative extension agent can suggest the best varieties for your area.

• Mini-orchard vs. container. Apple trees, as well as some varieties of plum and pear trees, require cross-pollination for fruit to grow. You’ll need to plant at least two trees in your yard. If you don’t have the room, consider dwarf varieties or growing fruit trees in containers.

• Choose a sunny spot. Most fruit trees require six to eight hours of direct sunlight and well-drained soil.

• Mulch and fertilization. You’ll need three to four inches of organic mulch to keep the weeds out, the moisture in and to protect the roots. Apply nitrogen fertilizer regularly.

• Protect against destructive pests. Aphids, whiteflies, Asian Citrus Psyllid and Citrus Leafminers are serious pests. Bayer Advanced Fruit, Citrus & Vegetable Insect Control ( kills destructive pests and prevents new infestations. Just mix in a water bucket and apply at the base of the tree. Always read and follow label directions.

• Watering. Water deeply when the top few inches of soil are dry.

• Pruning. Proper pruning promotes the quality and size of the fruit. Apple, peach and pear trees should be pruned during the dormant season to ensure bigger fruit.

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