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Daylily Winners

Flowering Shrubs

Central Air And Heat Pumps

Keep Grass Greener

Exterior Insulation

Automated Irrigation System

Cut Energy Bills 10 tips

Sustainable Insulation

 

 

“One Of A Kind” Daylily Program Celebrates 25 Years

(NAPSI)—All-American Daylilies celebrates 25 years of scientifically proven superior performance testing nationwide. This daylily test program is unlike any other in the nation; perhaps in the world. Based on a scientific methodology that evaluates daylilies on 52 characteristics, this program began in 1987 in response to the need to “sift” through more than 40,000 different varieties to create a benchmark for daylilies and identify the best varieties.

The All-American Daylily winners that have emerged from this rigorous testing have established quite a track record for themselves. Not only have the very best cultivars been identified, but their availability across the U.S. has allowed home gardeners everywhere to validate these varieties in their own garden. Since the first winner, “Black-Eyed Stella,” was announced in 1994, 18 additional varieties have qualified for the coveted award and been distributed to garden centers nationwide in the official “blue pot.”

More than a million All-Americans have found their way into home gardens in virtually every state across the country. It appears that All-American daylilies have become a household name among serious daylily gardeners. “Black-Eyed Stella” and “Bitsy” are known for near continuous blooming and superior landscape performance, whereas “Dream Soufflé” and “Lavender Vista”™ scored highest in bloom beauty and overall performance. The test program verified anecdotal information that most daylilies naturally fall into two distinct categories: Landscape (performance) and Exhibition (beauty). On rare occasions, a variety will qualify as a winner in both categories, such as “Summer Valentine” and “Leebea Orange Crush.”

Typically, most daylilies perform well in only two USDA hardiness zones. However, All-American winner varieties must perform in the top 15 percent of daylilies across at least five USDA zones. As daylily breeding has increased through the years, there has been a plethora of awesomely beautiful blooms come onto the scene. This has brought the potential for greater bloom beauty into the program, but also the challenge of identifying those that also meet the performance requirements.

“Lady Elizabeth,” the most recent winner, is a prime example of this. For decades, near-white to white daylilies have been considered weak novelties best grown by collectors, but this new plant has defied these stereotypes by delivering dependable performance and a hearty display of beautiful, diamond-dusted white blooms throughout the growing season. It is stunning either en masse or as a focal accent plant.

Regardless of your desired garden application, there is an All-American best suited for that use. They are the perfect perennial for borders, mass plantings, balcony and patio containers, ground covers or focal accents. Try a stunning double border of “Frankly Scarlet” (4” sun-fast red) or “Red Volunteer” (6−7” red) behind “Black-Eyed Stella” (gold with red eye). For maximum, long-term color, you can plant a mass of “Buttered Popcorn,” which has been called a large-bloomed Stella de Oro, due to its constant blooming. Daylilies are perfect for those with a creative mind. The possibilities for use are endless. Perhaps the best idea of all is to create an All-American Daylily garden and collect them all! Gardeners have been reaping the rewards of 25 years of unmatched daylily testing and there is so much more to come!

For more information, visit www.AllAmericanDaylilies.com or find them on Facebook at All-American Daylilies.

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Flowering Shrubs In Containers Can Bring Easy Elegance To A Garden

(NAPSI)—Many believe container gardening is the new way to grow: It’s a fun, easy way to add color and bold seasonal interest to any size garden. Planting flowers and tropical plants in containers every year can become costly, but it’s easy to minimize the expense by mixing in some shrubs.

Every garden can benefit from the more permanent, year-round beauty of flowering shrubs in containers. It’s easy and rewarding to do, as long as the gardener follows a few simple guidelines.

It Starts With Location

Choosing a location for a potted shrub is the first step, as this will dictate what you can grow. Locations with easy access to water and out of the path of high winds are best, and some sun is imperative for shrubs. Roses, butterfly bush and lilac need at least six hours of uninterrupted sunlight daily; hydrangeas, azaleas and weigela will benefit from some shade during the hottest part of the day, especially in warm climates.

Choose Carefully

Your local garden center is the best place to shop for plants. To help narrow your choices, consider how tall you’d like your shrub to be and what you’d like it to contribute to your garden. Low-growing shrubs, such as OSO Easy roses and Lo & Behold butterfly bushes, offer vivid color at eye level, while taller shrubs like Fine Line buckthorn and Black Lace elderberry add dramatic height and create privacy.

To make sure your new shrub will survive the winter in your area, choose a variety that tolerates temperatures at least one zone colder than the zone you live in (visit provenwinners.com to find your hardiness zone).

The container you choose must be large enough to accommodate your shrub. Look for sturdy pots that are at least 18” across and 16” tall to allow enough room for the plant to grow; larger is preferable. The container must have several open drainage holes in the bottom. Since your potted shrub will remain outdoors year-round, look for frostproof or weatherproof containers if you live in a cold climate.

Potting Tips

Fill your container with potting soil. Do not use garden soil or top soil, which may hinder drainage. Avoid putting anything in the bottom of the pot to take up space, as the weight of soil creates stability and the shrub’s roots will need the room.

Fill the pot to within 2” of the top, tamping soil down gently to prevent settling later. Make a well in the center of the pot to accommodate the new plant. Remove the shrub from its pot (rap on its sides to dislodge it), gently untangle any visible root, and place it in the hole.

Add or remove a bit of soil until the plant sits at the same level in the new pot as it was in its original container. Rotate the plant a few times to make sure that its best side faces outward. To finish, gently push the soil around the root-ball, eliminating air pockets and making sure the entire root mass is surrounded. Water immediately and thoroughly.

Water Is Key

Water is the most important factor in caring for your potted shrub. The soil may dry out quickly, especially during periods of hot weather.

Check it frequently and water when necessary, ideally in the mornings. Winter won’t be a problem if you’ve selected a hardy plant and weatherproof container, but the plant may need a drink during winter warm spells when the potting soil is not frozen. Come spring, apply a granular fertilizer formulated for woody plants and incorporate it into the top few inches of soil.

The shrub will thrive for several seasons in its pot; you’ll know it’s time to transplant into the ground when growth becomes less vigorous and it becomes difficult to keep it well watered.

For a complete selection of colorful hardy shrubs and tips on care and container design, visit www.provenwinners.com.

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Enjoy More Comfort At Less Cost

(NAPSI)—Heating and cooling is the single biggest energy user in a home and accounts for about 40 percent of all the energy consumed by homeowners—but high heating and cooling bills don’t have to get you hot under the collar if you follow a few simple steps to ensure that your equipment operates as efficiently as possible.

What You Can Do

• Clear away leaves, grass, weeds, plants and other debris that block airflow through an outdoor condensing unit—the large metal box in your yard next to the house. Anything that collects on the unit’s fins will block airflow and reduce its efficiency. Grass clippings thrown by the lawn mower are particularly common offenders.

• Occasionally clean the outdoor condensing unit by lightly spraying it with a water hose but do not use a pressure washer.

• Make sure air vents inside your home are not obstructed by furniture.

Get Professional Help

According to the experts at the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), it’s also a good idea to hire a professional to service your air conditioner. A well-trained technician can safely find and fix problems in the system. Look for a technician who is certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE). You can find a NATE-certified technician online at www.natex.org.

Learn More

For further information about heating and cooling or to search for AHRI-certified products, visit www.ahrinet.org or call (703) 524-8800.

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Keep Your Grounds Looking Presidential

(NAPSI)—Homeowners don’t need to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to have a presidential-looking lawn this year.

What You Can Do

Abiding by some simple rules can help homeowners maintain an environmentally sound yard they can be proud of.

• Take care of the grass. Lawns play a critical role in reducing soil erosion, maintaining soil permeability and conserving water.

• Choose flowers and plants that suit the climate. The correct plant types make care and maintenance easier and more cost efficient.

• Frequent and proper pruning helps produce better blooms, maintains plants’ desired size and can help rejuvenate older plants and shrubs.

• Enrich the soil with compost. Materials such as coffee grounds, yard clippings, wood chips and leaves help rejuvenate the soil by adding rich nutrients.

• Plant a tree. A great way to further beautify a green space, it also provides such benefits as cooling shade and filtered air.

What Others Are Doing

That’s the advice from Cindy Code, Project EverGreen executive director, who recently got a firsthand look at the White House’s iconic South Lawn when the organization was recognized by first lady Michelle Obama.

“The South Lawn at the White House is one of our country’s most famous green spaces,” Code said. “So many of our country’s key events take place on this lawn. Homeowners, too, can easily create an enjoyable, healthy lawn at their property without a lot of work.”

Project EverGreen is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the country’s green spaces—including lawns, parks, golf courses and sports fields—for future generations.

Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops program was recently honored by the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. The initiative honored 20 communities and organizations that assisted military families.

The program pairs families of currently deployed military personnel with lawn and landscape contractors and volunteers who provide landscaping and lawn care services, free. The recognition is part of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative.

“We were indeed honored to receive this recognition not only for our program but also for all the professionals and volunteers who have donated their time and services to this project,” Code said. “It is a way to provide a true benefit to military families while also promoting the healthy benefits of a well-maintained green space.”

Learn More

For further information, visit www.projectevergreen.com.

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Improving A Home’s Value And Curb Appeal

(NAPSI)—Selling a house in today’s market can be a challenge. The solution may be to think outside the box—or, in this case, outside the structure.

In the past, a little paint and some minor renovations might have done the trick, but with so many homes for sale, homeowners are finding interesting new ways to boost curb appeal and buyer interest.

While steps such as cleaning up and investing in some landscapes can still deliver results, more homeowners are attracting buyer interest with a system of exterior insulation known as “Outsulation®.”

Exterior insulation has been shown to lower energy bills and raise buyer interest. Susan Malone of Warwick, Rhode Island, used Outsulation by Dryvit to replace the drab clapboard on her home with a new stonelike exterior complete with architectural flourishes and decorative window accents. The makeover raised her appraisal value and attracted new buyers.

“The transformation of my home has been nothing short of amazing-both from the standpoint of how much more beautiful it is and the effect the renovation had on increasing the value of my home. I have been able to save so much money on my energy bills,” said Malone. She used Outsulation by Dryvit, which lets you create an entirely new image. It can be adhesively or mechanically fastened over a building code−approved water-resistive barrier to plywood or OSB substrate.

The system offers the look of any traditional finish, including brick, limestone, stucco and stone, plus three-dimensional details like arches, window borders, decorative columns and dramatic doorways.

Besides improving the way it looks, such exterior insulation makes a home more energy efficient. It reduced air leakage in Malone’s home by 19 percent—the equivalent of closing up a hole in the wall that would be the size of a soccer ball, or of leaving your front door open for 25 minutes every day.

The Outsulation system reduced Malone’s energy bills by 35 percent and helped dampen noise.

“My dogs used to wake me up barking at just about any noise they would hear, including the airplanes constantly coming and going over the house,” said Malone, who lives in a fly zone. “But since the renovation, the dogs don’t hear all the sounds they used to, so we are all getting a lot more sleep.”

For more information, call (800) 556-7752; in Canada, call (800) 263-3308; or visit www.dryvithomes.com.

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Lawn And Garden Watering Tips

(NAPSI)—Scorching-hot weather can drain even the most water-smart landscape. Here are a few tips to help make the most of the water applied to your lawn and garden while protecting your landscape from the harsh heat:

Let it Soak

The greatest waste of water comes from applying too much, too often—much of the water is never absorbed. Instead of watering for one long session, water a few times for shorter periods and take 15-minute breaks in between each session. This will allow water to soak in, while minimizing runoff. Also, check to see if water is penetrating six to eight inches beneath the surface of the soil. If not, then another cycle may be needed to encourage root growth.

Watch the Clock

Water in the morning when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool and less conducive to evaporation.

Consider Dripping

When it comes to watering individual trees, flowerbeds, potted containers or other non-grassy areas, consider applying water directly to the roots using low-volume drip irrigation. This will reduce water waste through evaporation or runoff, and will prevent unwanted weeds from growing.

Mulch it Good

A great way to conserve water and help plants stay healthy is to spread mulch in shrub beds, tree rings and flower gardens. Mulch is a protective covering that is placed around the base of plants, preventing evaporation and weed growth. Mulching helps drainage, encourages root development and cools the soil—reducing water use during hot summer months.

Get Automated

Using an automated irrigation system is one of the best ways to keep your lawn and landscape beautiful and healthy, while minimizing water waste. Automatic underground sprinkler systems distribute water evenly, preventing overwatering and ensuring that the watering is done at the right time.

If you still use a hose to water, then consider using an automated garden hose timer to transform it into an automatic water-saving tool. For example, Rain Bird’s Electronic Garden Hose Sprinkler Timer is a low-cost, battery-powered timer that attaches directly to the outdoor faucet and allows you to schedule watering automatically.

More watering tips are available from Rain Bird at www.rainbird.com.

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Ten Tips To Cut Home Energy Bills

(NAPSI)—The secret to reducing your monthly energy bills is following the latest tips to cut down on your household’s everyday consumption, according to the Department of Energy.

1. Use the latest lightbulbs. Lighting-related costs add up to about 10 percent of your electric bill. Reduce your lighting usage by up to 75 percent by using the latest lighting technologies, including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diode (LED) lightbulbs.

2. Keep the wattage low. Make sure that your lightbulbs aren’t a higher wattage than the listed wattage for sockets.

3. Hit the pool. Use 75 percent less wattage than incandescent pool lights with white Pentair IntelliBrite LEDs, and save up to $1,500 a year by switching from a single-speed pump to an IntelliFlo variable-speed pump, part of the Eco Select family (www.pentairpool.com/calculators).

4. Install ceiling fans. You’ll be able to raise the thermostat for your air conditioner about 4 degrees without compromising relief from the heat.

5. Find and plug all air leaks. Save 5 to 30 percent on energy costs by caulking or weather stripping gaps where air flows: window frames, doors, baseboards, electrical outlets, mounted air conditioners, attic doors, fireplace dampers, pipes, wires, mail slots. If you can rattle or see daylight around a door or window, it’s likely leaking air.

6. Turn the water heater down. The energy used to heat your water accounts for up to 25 percent of your energy usage. Turn down the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees.

7. Set up a programmable thermostat. Cooling and heating systems account for about 56 percent of your energy use. Set your thermostat for the morning, day, evening, overnight and vacation to control costs.

8. Replace your old cooling and heating equipment. Installing a high-efficiency air conditioner can help reduce related energy costs 20 to 50 percent. And if your forced-air furnace is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it.

9. Remember your filters. Change the filters on your forced-air furnace and air-conditioning unit about every month or two and have professionals check them annually.

10. Explore your insulation. Seal any gaps around attic openings for pipes, ductwork and chimneys with expanding foam caulk or other permanent sealant. And make sure there’s a vapor barrier such as a plastic sheet or specialized paint beneath insulation, including the attic door.

(Sources: Department of Energy; ENERGY STAR; Pentair Aquatic Systems)

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How Green Is Your Insulation?

(NAPSI)—Many homeowners are looking to boost their energy efficiency and reduce bills by adding insulation. Not all insulation, however, is created equal.

What Makes Insulation Sustainable?

A sustainable insulation not only performs well but is manufactured responsibly. It will reduce your overall carbon footprint with efficient manufacturing and shipping, such as reducing water and energy use at the plant and using special packaging to transport more product in fewer loads. It has limited environmental effect over its life span and has very low or no emissions of volatile organic compounds-an important component of a healthy home. It should also consist of renewable and recycled content, which puts materials to good use instead of being landfilled. Most importantly, insulation should contribute to a cozy, efficient home.

You can reduce your impact on the environment by choosing products such as CertainTeed’s Sustainable Insulation. This fiberglass insulation saves 12 times the energy the first year as the energy used to produce it and will continue to save energy for the lifetime of a home. With its GREENGUARD Children & Schools certification, this highly efficient insulation helps assure families of healthier indoor air quality.

To learn more about creating a sustainable, energy-efficient home and to find a nearby insulation contractor, visit www.certainteed.com/insulation.

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