Tips On Selecting A Stain To
Protect Your Deck
(NAPSI)-Whether it's where you sip your morning coffee, host a
family gathering or spend time relaxing, a wood deck can extend
your living space to the great outdoors and into the fresh air.
However, after the winter, getting a deck in shape for enjoying
warmer weather can be a challenge.
"It's a matter of protecting the wood, not just beautifying
it," said Carl Minchew, director of product development for
Benjamin Moore Paints. He says to look for a stain product that
can effectively guard against the two major culprits affecting
wood decks--water and UV rays.
According to Minchew, the newest stain from Benjamin Moore,
ARBORCOAT, is not only an advanced technology for preserving
wood, it is also exceptionally "green" and qualifies as an
"It just makes good sense that if you're staining your
outdoor deck or the exterior siding of your home to use a
product that's respectful of the environment," said Minchew.
What is said to distinguish this newest generation of stain
product is the use of a proprietary waterborne colorant
technology. The waterborne formulation was developed by Benjamin
Moore and has been incorporated over the past three years into
the company's low- and zero-VOC paints. Even the tints that the
company makes itself are VOC-free.
For those who prefer to have the natural color and texture of
the wood showing through, Minchew recommends Transparent, Semi
Transparent or a Protective Clear Coat. The acrylic Protective
Clear Coat can help defend against scuffs, scratches and the
punishing conditions of the outdoors.
For those wanting to completely mask the wood grain but
retain the textural qualities, there is a choice of Semi Solid
or Solid finishes. Semi Solid is available in 75 popular colors;
Solid in any of Benjamin Moore's 3,300-plus hues.
Minchew also cautions that proper preparation is the ultimate
determinant of how long the beauty of a staining job will last.
Also, remember that the natural color or grain pattern of the
wood itself can greatly influence the final color.
For the best advice on selecting an exterior stain and
preparation appropriate for the type of wood on your deck or
exterior of your home, speak to an experienced paint and
decorating store professional.
To learn more, visit
Download article content
Flowers Make Your Home Blossom
(NAPSI)-People who want to create beautiful home interiors, host
sophisticated parties and nurture loving relationships often
turn to flowers because they are an easy and versatile way to
express individual style and show love and affection.
At home, flowers make rooms feel warm and inviting. For
get-togethers, flowers show appreciation to guests and hosts.
And they help us express our feelings from a tender "I'm
thinking of you" to a romantic "I love you."
When choosing flowers for your home, interior designer Kelli
Ellis-who frequently appears on HGTV-says consider the room's
style. For a traditional style, bring in an arrangement of
flowers with full blooms, such as roses or carnations. In a room
with a more playful look, try gerbera daisies or tulips. Ellis
also recommends placing the flowers in areas that need softening
or could use a burst of color. When it comes to color, Ellis
says one of the hottest trends this year in decorating is
monochromatic arrangements-flowers of different types that are
all the same color. If you need help, Ellis suggests turning to
a florist who can recommend flowers for any budget, can design
in a vase you provide and can deliver on the same day if you
want your blossoms in a pinch.
Adding flowers enhances celebrations, says lifestyle party
expert Jeanne Benedict, who recommends looking for unexpected
ways to decorate the event with flowers, such as tying ribbons
adorned with fresh flowers around candles or placing individual
stems in a goblet. If you're invited to a get-together, thank
the host by bringing a big bouquet or a flowering plant in a fun
container. The host will be instantly happy and remember you
long after the party is over. If you're unsure of what type of
flower or plant to bring, ask your florist for suggestions.
Flowers convey almost any message, and Christine Arylo-author
of Putting Me Before We-says when giving flowers, select the
flower that reminds you of your friend's unique spirit and
include a note linking the flowers to him or her. If the flowers
are for your sweetheart, place the flowers so your loved one
will find them by surprise or have the florist deliver them when
he or she least expects it. Arylo also suggests sending flowers
that are linked to a specific memory or event. For instance, if
you met in spring, tulips or spring blooms could be just the
Ellis, Benedict and Arylo suggest getting to know your local
florists so you can rely on their knowledge and experience when
making flower choices. To learn more, visit
www.aboutflowers.com. To find a florist by city, state or
ZIP code, visit
Download article content
Flowering Shrubs: More Bang For
(NAPSI)-Whether you use shrubs as foundation plantings, for a
hedge or simply as a single specimen in your garden, you can get
double the punch when you plant a flowering variety.
are low-maintenance solutions in most yards. They fill larger
amounts of space than perennials and can form the backbone of a
garden's structure. Some easy-care flowering shrubs offer
'Henry's Garnet' sweetspire (Itea virginica 'Henry's
Garnet') is an excellent replacement for the invasive old
burning bush in your yard. Fragrant finger-length sprays of tiny
white flowers adorn the shrub in spring, giving the appearance
of a white waterfall. In autumn, brilliant red leaves make it a
traffic stopper. Perhaps best of all, it's highly adaptable to
most conditions. Reaching three to four feet tall and four to
six feet wide, 'Henry's Garnet' prefers full sun but takes
dappled shade. It likes moist soil but tolerates drought when
For an unexpected jolt of blue flowers in late summer when
you least expect them, plant Caryopteris, sometimes called blue
mist, bluebeard or blue spirea. The cobalt-blue flowers of
"First Choice" or the pure blue flowers of "Longwood Blue"
attract butterflies and hummingbirds. For a contrast between
foliage and flowers, look for "Sunshine Blue" with
yellow-chartreuse leaves and amethyst-blue flowers. Plant blue
mist in full sun or in afternoon shade. Most reach three to five
feet tall and two to four feet wide.
Old-fashioned weigelas--dependable growers with showy,
trumpet-shaped spring flowers in pink, red, white or
yellow--have gotten a makeover in recent years, offering many
choices of leaf color. Selections with burgundy, butter-yellow
and variegated green and white or green and yellow leaves can
perk up your yard even when the shrub isn't in bloom (some will
rebloom in late summer or fall). Weigelas come in a wide range
of sizes, from about a foot tall to six to eight feet, and are
For the longest-flowering shrub, consider a hydrangea.
Beautiful mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) now come in
reblooming varieties. Hydrangeas in the Forever & Ever series
bloom on both old and new wood. Choose from pink (blue in acidic
soils) or white flowers or the cute bicolor pink and white of
"Peppermint" for a color boost that begins in early summer and
lasts until frost. Even then, you can leave the dried flowers on
the shrub for winter interest. The new Summer Lace variety grows
with a flat-top lacecap form. Grow them in morning sun and
afternoon shade in well-drained, organic-rich soil. Most of
these hardy plants reach three to four feet tall.
You can locate retailers carrying these plants or get more
information online at
www.foreverhydrangea.com and on Facebook.
Download article content
Trade Your Lawn For A Ground Cover
(NAPSI)-If you're considering what to do about a hard-to-mow
patch of your garden, ground cover may have it covered. Most
ground covers require less work and fewer chemicals than a
lawn--and they never need mowing.
Ground covers do exactly
what their name implies: cover the ground with dense plant
growth, choking out weeds and lending color and texture to a
space. Even hostas and daylilies can be considered ground
Regular turfgrass does a good job if you have a very large,
sunny yard. But if you have a smaller area, a spot with shady
pockets where turfgrass struggles, a difficult slope where
mowing is difficult or another unusual situation, a ground cover
can work wonders.
Many ground covers don't like to be walked on, but a few,
such as creeping thyme or brass buttons (Leptinella squalida
"Platt's Black"), tolerate some foot traffic and look great when
planted between pavers and flagstones. Pink Chintz even sports
tiny pink flowers in early spring.
If you want color in a partially sunny to sunny area, try the
three-part Forever & Everฎ GroundCover Sedum Carpet Collection.
Golden foliage and flowers from Angelina, bronzy-red leaves and
red flowers from Red Carpet and rich green foliage and yellow
flowers from Kamschaticum sedum will light up the space.
Many sedums, including John Creech, Sedum divergens, Blue
Spruce and Ogon, serve as reliable and beautiful ground covers
whose stems can be left for months to provide winter interest.
Just clip or break off the old dry stems in early spring before
new growth starts.
Ornamental grasses, which come in various heights and shapes,
work well in sunny spaces.
In partial to full sun, try a silver-veined winter creeper
called Wolong Ghost, a type of spreading euonymus that just
needs regular water to stay looking fresh.
Vinca minor, a stalwart ground cover for shade, gets a
makeover with "Merlot." Instead of the traditional blue flowers,
you'll get burgundy flowers in spring. Or seek out "Double
Bowles" vinca minor, with a ruffle of extra petals in a lighter
shade of violet.
All these tough ground covers are available at home and
Download article content
Get To Know Spunky Ground Covers
(NAPSI)--Ground covers are some of the most versatile plants for
your yard. These problem-solving plants can provide color and
texture in even the most challenging locations. With just a
little maintenance, ground covers suppress weeds and keep soil
from eroding. You can have fun learning some of their names and
planting one that's right for you.
Wine drinkers can offer a
toast to vinca minor "Merlot." This creeping, trailing ground
cover with shiny green leaves and a burgundy flower in spring
prefers well-drained soil. It grows best in shade or at least a
spot with afternoon shade. Mature plants reach eight inches tall
and spread up to 10 feet. The only hangover you'll get is if you
let the plants trail over a rock wall or ledge.
If you're partial to calico-flowered sofas or need
something to soften the edges between pavers and flagstones, try
"Pink Chintz." It's a tiny thyme with fuzzy gray-green leaves
and itty-bitty flowers in early spring. Don't let the delicate
looks and girly name fool you; this is one tough grower that
tolerates foot traffic. It can spread in a mat up to two feet
wide. It likes full sun and needs very little water once
Military types may want to plant brass buttons. That's the
common name for "Platt's Black" leptinella squalida, an
interesting ground cover with small, fernlike, chocolate-brown
leaves with green edges. Tiny golden "brass button" flowers
cover the surface in summer. The leaves are small, growing only
two inches long and about half an inch wide. Brass buttons can
serve as a lawn substitute in full sun to part shade and can
rapidly spread if you provide enough moisture.
Fans of murder mysteries can point out the "Wolong Ghost"
euonymus creeping through their gardens. This Chinese member of
the winter creeper family gets its name from the silvery veins
running through the narrow, dark green leaves. It likes to flit
through part-shade gardens but won't scare the children away.
Reaching six to 12 inches tall and about two feet wide with
minimal care, Wolong Ghost is a good choice for a hill or an
area that's hard to reach.
Cat lovers may purr at pussytoes, the common name for
Antennaria dioica. This rugged plant performs well in hot, sunny
locations and in poor soil. The white, fuzzy foliage of a
pussytoes plant spreads eight to 12 inches wide and produces
pinkish-white flowers on stalks six to 12 inches tall, making it
great for a rock garden or to edge a flower border. Just don't
walk on it--like a real feline, it doesn't like to be stepped
These ground covers are part of a larger family of reliable
performers in the Forever and Ever GroundCover line, available
at fine home centers and independent garden centers.
Download article content
Control Weeds, Hit Yield Targets
(NAPSI)-The dramatic drop in glyphosate pricing this year may
tempt some growers to rely on increased glyphosate rates to
protect crops. But Bob Schoper, an agronomist with Winfield
Solutions, cautions against that approach, since high herbicide
application rates may not control some tough weeds and could
lead to other problems. He offers these suggestions to achieve
the best results from postemergent herbicide applications:
Boost Herbicide Performance
Follow recommended rates and maximize glyphosate performance
with a good adjuvant system. Look for adjuvants that reduce fine
spray droplets and improve herbicide uptake.
When plants lack manganese, a postemergent herbicide
application can aggravate the deficiency. The best way to
identify micronutrient levels is with a simple tissue test prior
to the herbicide application. If levels are marginal, add a
foliar micronutrient to the herbicide tank mix.
Together, glyphosate, adjuvants and micronutrients offer a
plant-health trifecta, but only when mixed properly. Always add
adjuvants, then micronutrients, then glyphosate.
Schoper urges growers to work with their agronomists to
develop integrated strategies to achieve maximum yield
potential. For more information, visit
Use tissue sampling to check manganese levels. If marginal,
foliar micronutrients can enhance the glyphosate tank mix.
Download article content
What Workers Can Learn From Athletes
(NAPSI)-To get injured workers back into the workforce and
prevent future accidents and injuries, some occupational
medicine clinics are taking their cue from the techniques used
to rehabilitate injured athletes.
Studies have shown that
workers who engage in physical activities as part of their job
may experience the same types of injuries as professional
athletes. In fact, sprains and strains are the leading cause of
injury in the workplace. The solution? As well as providing
prompt treatment, it's important to assess what caused the
damage and suggest specialized techniques to reduce further
"When injuries do occur, our work site athletic health
specialists [WAHS] use sports medicine techniques to provide
early treatment and speed healing," said Mike McCollum,
president of Concentra Health Solutions.
Concentra operates over 300 urgent care sites in 40 states
and works with employers of all sizes across the U.S. to process
claims, provide workforce-related care and get workers healthy
quickly using WAHS within their organization. WAHS are
experienced health professionals, such as certified athletic
trainers and physical therapists, who provide ergonomic
assessment of tasks, coordinate injury care services, arrange
specialist referrals and conduct safety audits.
With this type of program, companies benefit from an
experienced health care professional able to identify the root
cause of employee injuries, reduce reinjury, and increase
employee safety adherence.
This proactive approach to employee health has already paid
off in fewer workers' compensation claims, saving employer
costs, and helps to create safer workplaces, fewer injuries and
more companies with longer strings of consecutive days without
Within the first year of using WAHS, one company prevented
289 urgent care visits, saving over $900,000. The return on
investment, according to the National Athletic Trainers'
Association, is 83 percent, with a return of $3 per
For more information about Concentra's employer-focused
health care solutions, visit
WAHS provide rehabilitation guidance to reduce further
Download article content
Have A Better-Looking Lawn On A
(NAPSI)-Got a hundred bucks and a free weekend? Then you've got
what it takes to invest in some yard care improvements,
according to a top expert on lawn and yard care.
"Some of the
best improvements in your yard can be done with a few dollars
and a few hours," says Trey Rogers, Ph.D., the Briggs & Stratton
Yard Doctor. "When budgets are tight, get more creative and do
What can you do with $100 right now?
Mow the right way starting today. Don't scalp your lawn,
thinking you will have to mow less often. Instead, let it grow a
little longer, which is healthy for the lawn and saves on gas
and wear and tear on your mower. When you do mow, cut only
one-third the length of the grass blade. Cost: About $3 for a
gallon of gas, enough for a month of mowing for many homeowners.
Apply a few bags of bark mulch. Few things dress up a yard
more than mulch properly applied on flower beds and around
trees. It provides that finished look and is good for the plants
because it retains moisture in the soil. Cost: About $3 per bag.
Fertilize naturally. When you mow, leave a light layer of
grass clippings on the lawn, which will become a natural
fertilizer. Even better, a mulching mower finely minces the
grass clippings so they decompose more rapidly. Cost: $0.
Start a compost pile. This costs nothing but a little time
as opposed to purchasing bags of compost at the garden center.
It's easy. Start a pile that includes most leftovers from your
meals (excluding proteins). Cost: $0.
Take 30 minutes to maintain your mower. Change the oil,
clean or replace the spark plug, and change the filter once a
year. This simple task cuts emissions, makes your mower run
better and may save you from repair bills down the road. Tune-up
kits are available to make it easy. Cost: $10−14 for the average
Let nature water your lawn. Your lawn needs about one inch
of water a week to be green and thrive. But if water is costly
where you live, let nature handle irrigation. Cost: $0.
With the rest of your $100 bill, splurge on some flowers,
inexpensive clay pots and a bag of potting soil to dress up your
front doorway, patio or deck. Then sit back and admire what you
accomplished on a shoestring.
For more yard care tips and to learn about the Yard Smarts
Boot Camp hosted by Trey Rogers, visit
Yard Doctor is part of the Briggs & Stratton Yard Smarts
program, created to help homeowners achieve the yard they want
Download article content