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Pool Fun In The Sun

Eco-Friendly Rose Bushes

Irrigate With Sensors And Save

Find The Right Mower

Lawn And Garden Advice

Outdoor Living Spaces

Help To Fix Your Deck

Conserve Energy Thermostat App

 

 

Suggestions For More Fun In The Sun

(NAPSI)—You may find you can have more time and money for life’s delights when you heed these 10 hints on warm-weather fun:

1. Stay safe at poolside. Keep each child within arm’s length at all times; designate an adult as water watcher; ensure that the pool’s fence is always locked; and install both gate and pool alarms.

2. Liven up the landscape. Use shrubs for form, flowering plants for color and perennials for cheery blooms with little tending.

3. Beautify your backyard furnishings. If mildew appears on outside chairs and tables, wash the fabric and dry it in the sun. Then mix together equal parts lemon juice and salt; spread this on the stain. Dry the fabric in the sun again and rinse thoroughly.

4. Keep toys and tools neat. Two simple rules for avoiding backyard clutter: Air out wet things by storing them in big mesh bags or open-weave crates. Toss all the little bits into a clear plastic shoe organizer hung on a fence or nearby wall.

5. Exercise your right to a water workout. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 21 minutes a day of exercising in a pool can cut your risk of chronic disease. Strength, endurance and balance are all benefits of using water as the resistance. A typical water exercise session of 40 to 50 minutes can burn up to 600 calories.

6. Keep pool maintenance simple. You can have a pool that’s sparkling clear and inviting with just three simple steps. A new product called SmartPAK from BioGuard provides the three-step care system in one simple kit. It includes chlorine, shock and algicide along with easy-to-read dosage charts to ensure that busy pool owners have the items they need.

7. Enjoy your special spa time. Place flameless LED candles around the edge of the spa. Take tunes into the spa with a floating speaker that connects wirelessly to an MP3 player. Add a soothing scent to the water with single-use aromatherapy packs.

8. Protect the environment. Always keep your pool water balanced with the right combination of chemicals. Overworked filters and motors waste energy and hike utility bills.

9. Keep pets safe. Before you let a dog jump in, make sure he can get out without damaging the pool or hurting himself. Also check with the vet. Swimming in a pool should be appropriate for the breed. Monitor the water. A typical dog can be the equivalent of about 50 swimmers in the pool, meaning extra vigilance is needed to maintain the chemical balance.

10. Keep things clean. A good pool care strategy involves circulation, filtration, cleaning, testing and chemistry. A BioGuard dealer can provide computerized water testing and recommend the best care system for your pool.

Learn more at www.bioguard.com and (800) 932-5943.

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Eco-Friendly Rose Bushes

(NAPSI)—Beloved since antiquity, the sweet fragrance, bright color and showy flowers of the rose have inspired poets, painters and gardeners alike. Even the notoriously thorny stems have always been accepted as nothing more than a minor inconvenience, a small sacrifice for such beauty. In the past few decades, however, the rose’s requirements of careful pruning, frequent pesticide applications and liberal amounts of fertilizer may have dampened some gardeners’ enthusiasm for this “queen” of all flowers.

Fortunately, rose breeders sensed the growing dissatisfaction and were ready with something totally new: landscape roses. Unlike the more familiar high-maintenance types, these hardy, vigorous roses shrug off disease, don’t require pruning or deadheading and are adaptable to all types of climates and soil. Extremely easy to grow, landscape roses make showy specimen plants and combine readily with other shrubs as well. Landscape roses are available in an array of gorgeous, can’t-pick-just-one flower colors. And here’s what may be the best part: They bloom for months instead of weeks, covering the plant with color from the first early summer blossoms until a hard frost.

Landscape roses from Proven Winners come in two distinct groups, each with its own characteristics. The Oso Easy series consists of several low-growing tidy varieties, ranging in height from just 1’ up to 4’ tall. It contains the hardiest landscape roses available, with several varieties tolerating temperatures as cold as -35 degrees F. The colors range from the deliciously delicate Peachy Cream to the luscious pink of Strawberry Crush. Bolder colors are found in Paprika, with rich orange and yellow petals, Cherry Pie, a saturated bright red, and the tropical orange-pink of Mango Salsa. The series is equally at home in decorative containers, perennial gardens or foundation plantings. You can plant several together for an unusual, fast-growing ground cover.

The Oso Happy series is characterized by plants that bear clusters of small but numerous flowers. Oso Happy Petit Pink is an American Rose Society award winner and is a mass of small, pure pink, petal-packed flowers all summer long.

The newest addition to the series, Smoothie, is a thornless rose. Its unique magenta and white flowers are borne atop completely smooth stems, making it fun for flower arranging and extra safe around children and pets. You can try roses in perennial beds, mixed with other shrubs or for an unexpected informal flowering hedge.

Landscape roses should be planted where they get at least six hours of unobstructed sunlight each day. In warm places, however, a bit of afternoon shade makes flowers last longer. Because the plants are so disease resistant, they’ll never require spraying. Their growth habit is much more compact than that of traditional varieties, eliminating the need for pruning. However, a light trim in early spring along with an application of granular fertilizer encourages new growth and more flowers all summer long.

The extreme disease resistance and nearly nonstop floral display of these plants often means that the flowers have little of the classic rose fragrance. However, when paired with other fragrant plants, such as Bloomerang reblooming lilac, phlox or sweet autumn clematis, the result is a more colorful, flower-filled garden that can be the envy of the neighborhood.

For more information about landscape roses and reblooming lilac, visit www.provenwinners.com.

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Smart Ways To Save In Your Home And Garden

(NAPSI)—Some ways to save money at home are smarter than others—because they rely on “smart” appliances and devices that are programmed to conserve.

Such devices and appliances make sure energy and resources are not wasted when not needed. Two popular examples are automatic light dimmers that lower the lights when no one is home, and instant water heaters that only fire up when hot water is actually needed.

Every day, more of these appliances become available. To save money on energy, you can now purchase a smart refrigerator that knows when food is spoiled, or a programmable thermostat that heats your home only when needed.

You may also be paying for water you don’t actually need. To lower your water bill, consider water-saving toilets and showerheads and don’t forget how much water is wasted outside the home. Up to 70 percent of a household’s water waste can occur outdoors. The solution can be a smart irrigation system. Such systems include:

• Weather-based irrigation controllers that keep an eye on the weather conditions and adjust timing and watering amounts accordingly;

• Moisture sensors that detect saturation levels in the soil and tell your controller when to water or stop;

• Wireless rain sensors that shut off the sprinklers when it is raining;

• Subsurface drip irrigation systems that deliver water beneath the soil surface.

When combined with smart watering habits, these products can result in water savings of up to 70 percent.

A good example of this type of irrigation system is Rain Bird’s revolutionary Simple-to-Set (SST) Smart Controller, which combines an intuitive, user-friendly interface with the automatic self-adjusting, weather-sensing technology found in the professional- grade smart irrigation controllers.

The technology was previously available only through professional landscape contractors but is now available directly to homeowners. Designed to be installed and used by everyday consumers, the new SST Smart Controller ensures that landscapes receive the precise amount of water needed to thrive, reducing the amount of water wasted through overuse and varying weather and temperature patterns.

The controller achieves maximum water efficiency by setting zone-by-zone watering schedules tailored to the landscape’s watering needs, and adjusts them based on changing weather conditions. This self-adjusting, weather-sensing technology is housed in a rugged controller and creates daily adjustments in watering schedules so that landscapes receive the right amount of water every time.

For more information, visit www.rainbird.com.

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Tips To Help You Find The Right Mower

(NAPSI)—You don’t have to be an expert to create a beautiful yard that makes your neighbors green with envy. With a little knowledge and the right equipment for the job at hand, you can easily enjoy a healthy, green lawn.

Here are a few tips to help you choose the right mower:

1. Know Your Yard

The first step is to understand your yard-how big is it, is it flat and smooth or sloping? Will you mow around trees, till a garden or plow the driveway?

If working with less than half an acre, a walk-behind mower will do the trick. But if you’re working with larger acreage, varying terrain or a property with plenty of obstacles to trim around, you may want to choose a riding lawn mower. Some manufacturers, such as John Deere, offer automotive-style power steering to easily maneuver around trees and landscaping, and power lift to easily raise and lower implements. The Select Series X310, for example, also has plenty of attachments like front blades and aerators to get the most out of your equipment.

2. All Yards Aren’t Alike

If you need to do more than mowing, a sub-compact tractor may be for you. Not only can you mow large volumes of grass with a high-quality cut, but you have an added option of using implements like loaders and excavators to accomplish other tasks around the yard.

Ideal for five or more acres of land, the John Deere 1026R provides maximum versatility for loading, mowing, digging and landscaping.

3. Look for Proven Reliability

For a closer look at the reliability and durability of specific models, as well as a complete list of independent ratings, check Consumer Reports.

4. Think About After-Sale Support

Make sure your equipment provider offers reliable after-sale service and can guarantee quick repair if you run into any problems.

5. Keep It Safe

The operator’s manual is essential to understanding the specific safety features on your equipment and doubles as a good troubleshooting guide.

For more information on mowers and attachments, visit the website www.JohnDeere.com/homeowners.

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Help For Your Best Lawn And Yard Ever

(NAPSI)—There’s good news for homeowners who want the grass to grow greener on their side of the fence.

Throughout May, lawn, garden and equipment experts will provide free, one-on-one advice on everything from how to control pests and finally win the battle against weeds to troubleshooting a lawn mower that won’t start.

“We’ll help everyone who calls and take as long as necessary to get homeowners the answers they need,” says Trey Rogers, an internationally known expert on lawn and yard care and leader of the hotline, which is sponsored by Briggs & Stratton Corporation.

For example, if your grass is brown or dying where it should be green, he advises, there may be a simple solution.

1. Can you blame it on the dog? The nitrogen in dog urine can burn your lawn and cause a widespread brown patch problem. You can create a special gravel or mulch area and train Fido to go there.

2. Is your mower blade dull? Dull blades tear rather than cleanly cut the grass, which can weaken and damage the lawn. Have the blade sharpened once a year.

3. Did you spill fertilizer or overfeed your lawn? Too much fertilizer is a well-known grass-burning culprit. Always follow package instructions when applying fertilizer. If your spreader drops too much in one place, water that spot on the lawn generously.

4. What about too much water? If you overwater or if water pools in certain areas on your lawn, you can drown the grass roots, causing areas to die out. Survey your lawn for dips you want to avoid dousing.

5. How do I grow grass in the shade? In deep shade, put down mulch instead. In partial shade, seed the area in the spring and fall, when leaves don’t block the sunlight.

From May 1 to 31, anyone can get a free online or phone consultation with a lawn, garden or equipment expert on any problem by visiting www.YardSmarts.com or calling 1-866-YARD-TIPS (1-866-927-3847). Photo submissions are welcome if the problem is difficult to describe.

In addition, every Friday during the month of May, experts will be available for livechats to share information more broadly with homeowners. The top lawn and garden questions will be posted on the website, www.yardsmarts.com, where you can also find expert advice and information related to yard care and equipment.

The Yard Smarts Hotline is sponsored by Briggs & Stratton, the largest maker of engines for outdoor power equipment.

If getting your yard in the best shape ever isn’t enough motivation to check out the hotline, the company will give away a $300 gift certificate each week to one homeowner to purchase a new lawn mower or other needed yard care equipment.

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A New Approach To Outdoor Living Spaces

(NAPSI)—An increasing number of homeowners are discovering that the comforts of home are no longer confined to indoor space. Fresh air, places to gather and room for play outdoors are high on the list of must-have amenities. In fact, a recent survey by “Better Homes and Gardens” revealed that 68 percent of homeowners consider outdoor living areas a top priority.

When you want to make the most of an open-air living space, the possibilities can be as wide open as the great outdoors.

• Take a whole-yard approach. Incorporate outdoor activities on all four sides of your home and select fence products that give your home the best curb appeal from every angle. CertainTeed offers a streamlined color palette that lets homeowners enjoy a picket-style fence in their front yard and a privacy fence in the backyard without compromising outstanding curb appeal.

• Improve your health. According to Harvard Medical School, spending time outdoors reaps important health benefits-boosting vitamin D, reducing stress and enhancing your overall mood. Use your outdoor living area as a place to exercise, play with your dog or recruit your neighbors for a baseball game.

• Consider a staycation. With a growing number of families opting to vacation at home, look for ways to transform outdoor areas into a vacation destination. Integrate sporting activities, such as volleyball or croquet, into your backyard. Rent a projector for an outdoor movie night. Grab a tent and build a campfire.

• Design your space with the environment top of mind. Take some time to research the products that will make up outdoor living areas. For example, CertainTeed vinyl and fiber cement siding are backed by a life- cycle assessment for a comprehensive look at the environmental impact of manufacturing, transporting and installing a product.

• Enjoy more downtime. Investing in durable, long-lasting products means less maintenance and hassle down the road. For example, EverNew LT decking comes with a 25-year stain and fade warranty, so you can permanently cross painting and staining off your to-do list.

For more information or to find a contractor nearby, visit www.ctlivingspaces.com.

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Facts To Help You Fix Your Deck

(NAPSI)—It may be easier than you think to do a little fix-up work around the house, especially on that great get-away place-the deck. Decks need TLC, too—particularly if those boards are exposed and regularly face wind, rain and heat. Construction expert Joe Sainz has a few tips for homeowners who want to do their own deck maintenance correctly and safely using a single tool.

Smart Deck Repair

Even the best-protected deck boards are susceptible to twisting, rotting or cupping. And usually it’s that board in the middle of a 30-foot run that’s the issue. A pry bar or a claw hammer can be used to remove the compromised piece, but it’s easy to injure boards around it. The smart option is to do some strategic cutting.

A multi-tool, such as the Bosch Multi-X and its many cutting blades, is well suited for this job. Start by using the tool with a wood-cutting blade to remove a board section between the joists to allow access, then make a quick change to a metal-cutting blade and get between the remaining boards to cut the nail.

Once the board is removed, measure the opening, cut a new piece of treated lumber and attach with a galvanized fastener. Be sure to allow for an ⅛-inch expansion. Now that’s a repair that saves both time and money. And this process can be used on handrails, as well.

Save the Stairs

Stairs face the same heat and weather abuse that deck boards do, so they can easily become cupped, with the front of the step higher than the remaining surface. This is another job for the multi-tool. There are a couple of options for reworking your existing stair. Using the rasp accessory, work down the high spot at the front of the stair, then follow up with a sanding triangle to smooth the surface. An alternative for addressing high corners is to place a segmented cutting blade flat on the stair and then push it toward the high spot to cut away the excess; sand to smooth the surface.

For more details about these projects and additional tips, visit Bosch Power Tools and Accessories at www.bethepro.com and click on the Idea Box. You can also visit www.facebook.com/bethepro.

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Conserve Energy Even When You’re Not At Home

(NAPSI)—Cool news for anyone who has ever wanted to remotely heat up the house at night on the way home after a long day at work or cool it down on the way home from a long vacation: You may soon be able to do just that.

Thanks to a new technology breakthrough, you can now go green with a new thermostat and mobile app that lets you adjust your thermostat settings even when you’re not home. And it’s just as easy as when you’re at home because the mobile app looks just like your thermostat screen.

What’s more, you also can check your home energy use from your mobile device and adjust the programming from virtually anywhere there is Internet or cellular access. You can even text family members at home by sending messages right to the thermostat screen.

Your thermostat also can act like a digital picture frame. You can easily upload photos of your kids, pets or vacations. You can run a single photo as a screen saver or up to 100 photos as a slide show. Your thermostat will even tell you when your system needs service. And when you are home, but it’s not convenient to get up to adjust the thermostat settings, you can do it from your smartphone or tablet.

Beyond adjusting your thermostat remotely for energy savings, here are more tips for conserving energy costs when you’re on the go.

• As the days get cooler, closing your curtains or blinds at dusk will help stop heat from escaping through windows. When the days get warmer, keeping the curtains or blinds closed in the morning will help keep out hot daytime sun.

• The most common household appliances—phone chargers, televisions, computer monitors and DVD players—use valuable energy even when turned off. Unplug them when you’re not home to reduce your energy use and your monthly bill.

• Clean or replace filters on furnaces and air conditioners once a month or as recommended.

• Consider a programmable thermostat with a mobile app so you can remotely control energy consumption from anywhere by using your smartphone or tablet.

For more tips and information about this new ColorTouch connected thermostat, visit Venstar at www.venstar.com.

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