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Archive | Bloomin’ Summer

Fall care for a healthier, better looking lawn 

Melinda Myers fertilizes a lawn to help it recover from the stresses of summer. Photo by Mark Avery.

Melinda Myers fertilizes a lawn to help it recover from the stresses of summer. Photo by Mark Avery.

By Melinda Myers

As summer fades into fall, it is time to help lawns recover from summer stress and prepare for the winter ahead.

Continue to mow your lawn as long as it continues to grow. Grow cool season grasses like bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches tall. Warm season grasses like bermudagrass, carpetgrass, centipedegrass and zoysia should be grown at 1 to 2 inches tall while St. Augustine should a bit higher, 2 to 3 inches, for best results. Taller grass is better able to compete with weeds. And there is no need to cut it shorter for the health of your lawn.

Mow often, removing no more than one-third the total height. Leave these short clippings on the lawn. They will quickly break down, adding organic matter, moisture and nutrients to the soil.

And as you mow you can take care of all those fall leaves at the same time. Shred the fall leaves and allow them to remain on the lawn. As long as you can see the leaf blades through the shredded leaves your lawn will be fine. And just like the clippings, they add nutrients and organic matter to the soil.

Fertilize your lawn with a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer like Milorganite (milorganite.com). University research has shown that fall fertilization is the most beneficial practice for home lawns. Less disease problems and slower weed growth means your lawns—not the weeds and pests—benefit from the nutrients. Fall fertilization also helps lawns recover from the stresses of summer because it encourages deep roots and denser growth that can better compete with weeds and tolerate disease and insects.

Those in colder regions growing cool weather bluegrass, fescue and perennial ryegrass should fertilize around Labor Day and sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving, but before the ground freezes.

Homeowners in warmer climates growing warm season grasses like centipede, Bermuda and zoysia should fertilize around Labor Day. Apply a low-nitrogen slow-release fertilizer then and in early October if overseeding the lawn. Make sure the last fall application is at least one month prior to the average first killing frost. Fertilizing later can result in winter damage.

Weeds often gain a foothold in the lawn during the stressful summer months. A healthy lawn is the best defense. Even with proper care, weeds can bully their way into the lawn. Try digging, root and all, to remove small populations of weeds. Weeding can be a great tension reducer and physical workout.

If this isn’t possible, consider spot treating weeds or problem areas with a broadleaf weed-killer. Those looking for more organic options may want to try one of the more eco-friendly products with the active ingredient Fehedta or Hedta. Whether using traditional or environmentally-friendly products read and follow label directions carefully.  All these products are plant killers and can cause damage to other plants if not applied properly.

Fall, when the lawn is actively growing, is the best time to core aerate or dethatch northern lawns suffering from thatch build up or compacted soil. Thatch is a layer of partially decomposed dead grass plants that prevents water and nutrients from reaching the grass roots. Use a dethatching machine to remove thatch layers greater than one half an inch. Or core aerate the lawn to create openings in the thatch layer and help reduce soil compaction to encourage root growth and allow water and nutrients to infiltrate the soil.

Overseeding your lawn in the fall helps increase thickness and improves the overall health and appearance of the lawn. For best results, overseed directly after aerating.

Begin implementing some of these strategies and soon you’ll be on your way to a healthier, better looking lawn for the coming growing season.

Gardening expert Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and spokesperson for Milorganite. Myers’ website is http://www.melindamyers.com/www.melindamyers.com.

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Businesses backing away from bee-killing pesticides

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By Mary Kuhlman, Michigan News Connection

New tests found significant decreases in the use of bee-killing pesticides on “bee-friendly” plants. That’s good news for bees.

Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute took samples of plants in 13 U.S. cities, including Ann Arbor and Detroit, and compared them to samples taken in 2013 and 2014. They were looking for neonicotinoid insecticides in plants sold to gardeners and home owners.

In the previous tests, half of the plants tested positive for the toxins. This time, only 23 percent did. Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said retailers are starting to sell “bee-friendly” plants.

“Almost 70 retailers across the U.S. have made commitments to stop selling plants—and in some cases, products—that contain bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides,” Finck-Haynes said. “And so that’s what’s really shifting the entire garden industry.”

The Bee Informed Partnership at the University of Maryland said beekeepers across the U.S. lost 44 percent of their honeybee colonies between April 2015 and April 2016. Researchers blame the varroa mite, pesticides and malnutrition caused by changing land use.
Bee losses have to stop, Finck-Haynes said. But some retailers are still selling plants pre-treated with pesticides. She said she hopes consumers will put pressure on those companies.

“Over 50 percent of Americans are more likely to shop at a Lowe’s or a Home Depot because they’ve made that commitment to stop selling these bee-killing pesticides,” Finck-Haynes said. “So, this really demonstrates to Walmart, Ace and True Value that they could potentially lose their customers if they don’t make these formal commitments.”

More than 100 businesses, cities, universities, states and countries have restricted use of pesticides that are lethal to bees. According to a survey by Greenhouse Grower magazine, nearly three-quarters of growers who supply mass merchants and home-improvement chains said they will not use neonicotinoids this year.

A list of retailer’s and grower’s policies on pesticide use is available http://www.foe.org/beeaction/retailers.

Find a list of companies selling pollinator-friendly seeds and plants at this link: http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/bee-protective-pollinators-and-pesticides/what-can-you-do/pollinator-friendly-seed-directory.

Get a copy of the new study here: http://webiva-downton.s3.amazonaws.com/877/a1/5/8972/GardenersBewareFollowupReport_4.pdf

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Is your lawn and garden bird-friendly?

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(StatePoint)

Birds are more than just beautiful visitors to your lawn and garden, they are an important component of a healthy local ecosystem.

Making your property a safe haven for birds will beautify your garden and is the right thing to do. Here are a few simple steps to take to keep birds safe.

Offer Food and Shelter

Many birds will simply be using your yard as a rest stop on a long migration. Keep this in mind and fill your yard with native species of trees, shrubs and flowers to provide shelter and food.

You can supplement this nourishment with strategically located bird feeders that will prevent birds from striking your home’s windows. Ideally, bird feeders should be located within three feet of a window or more than 30 feet from a window.

Prevent Bird Strikes

Ninety-eight million birds are killed annually in the U.S. when colliding with windows, according to Western EcoSystems Technology estimates. Stem the loss of life by exploiting the keen vision of birds.

“When windows are visible to birds, they will enjoy a safer migration,” says Spencer Schock, founder of WindowAlert, a company that offers decals and UV Liquid that is visible to birds but not people.

Products from WindowAlert are proven to effectively alter the flight path of birds and prevent window strikes. An easy weekend project to complete this season is applying decals to your home’s windows and using UV Liquid to fill the gaps in order to form a visual barrier for birds. The ultraviolet reflecting coating will look like etched glass to humans, but be quite visible to birds. The coating can fade over time, so remember to periodically replace decals. More best practices can be found at windowalert.com.

Limit Other Hazards

Pet cats can prove hazardous to birds. Keep cats inside or monitor their time outdoors in order to prevent attacks.

Promote a natural food source for birds by avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers that kill off the insects that birds need to thrive.

By taking a few important measures at home, you can create a haven for migratory birds right in your own backyard.

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Tips for tackling storm-related roof damage

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(Family Features)

Having your home severely damaged by a storm can turn your world upside down. The damage could simply be cosmetic, or so extensive as to render your home uninhabitable. In either case, you need to act fast, but smart, to ensure that your home will be properly repaired.

Often, foremost among your concerns will be your roof, as it is protects the rest of your home and possessions. Start your post-storm repair process with these tips from the experts at CertainTeed Roofing.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Keep safety first. Leave emergency repairs to the professionals. A crisis that affects your home is an emotional event, but your safety is paramount. Do not attempt any emergency repairs unless you are qualified to do so.

Prepare for your insurance adjuster. Take time to do your own documentation. Take plenty of photos and notes on the damage to your home. This information will become a helpful checklist to compare against the insurance company’s findings. When it comes to the roof, check outside for things such as blown off shingles, damaged gutters and large branches that may have fallen onto your home. Also, if you can safely access your attic, examine the underside of your roof for damage or leaks.

Find the right contractor. You will want to interview at least three contractors for your roof repair. This allows you to compare prices, work styles and other factors before making your selection. Here are some key questions to ask:

Are you a credentialed installer? Most shingle manufactures have strict guidelines for installation. These assure that you get the best performance and meet the requirements for the product and/or workmanship warranty. For example, CertainTeed Roofing issues education-based credentials such as the ShingleMaster or SELECT ShingleMaster.

Do you have storm experience? Some contractors are experienced in storm restoration and trained in storm damage evaluation and repair. These are the contractors you want when dealing with an insurance claim.

Where is your business located? You will want a local contractor with an established business location who can provide at least four to five references. This way, if you need to follow up for any reason, they will be easy to reach.

Do you carry liability and worker’s comp insurance? Your contractor should be fully insured with liability and workers compensation insurance. This will protect you should any workers get hurt during the repair process.

Are you licensed with the state or municipality? The answer to this question may be no, as not all states or municipalities have licensing requirements for roofing contractors. If licensing is required, there are websites, such as the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, where you can look up a company’s status.

Check for special repair designations required by your insurance. In some instances, insurance companies require that certain materials be used in the repair of your home. In areas prone to hail storms, for example, you may be required to install shingles that are classified as impact resistant, which stand up better to hailstorms.

Find more tips to help guide your roof repair, and find qualified installers in your area, at CertainTeed.com.

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Five ways to protect your garden from the deer

Deer damage can be devastating to vegetable and flower gardens, making fencing, repellents and other tactics essential.

Deer damage can be devastating to vegetable and flower gardens, making fencing, repellents and other tactics essential.

By Melinda Myers

Don’t let your vegetable and fall flower gardens succumb to hungry deer. Even if you’re lucky enough to be deer-free now, be vigilant and prepared to prevent damage as these beautiful creatures move into your landscape to dine. Here are five tactics to help you in the battle against these hungry animals.

Fencing is the best, though not always practical, way to control deer. Install a 4- to 5-foot-high fence around small garden areas. This is usually enough to keep out deer that seem to avoid small confined spaces. The larger the area, the more likely deer will enter. Some gardeners report success surrounding their garden or landscape with strands of fishing line set at 12 inches and 36 inches above the ground.

Low voltage electric fencing or posts baited with a deer repellent are also options. Just be sure to check with your local municipality before installing this type of fencing.

Scare tactics are less effective on deer in urban environments. They are used to human scents and sounds. Many gardeners report success with motion sensor sprinklers. As the deer passes in front of the motion sensor it starts the sprinkler and sends them running. Just be sure to turn off the sprinkler when you go out to garden.

Repellents that make plants taste or smell bad to deer can also help. You will find products containing things like garlic, hot pepper oil, and predator urine. Apply them before the animals start feeding for the best results. And reapply as directed on the label. Look for products like Deer Ban (summitchemical.com) that are easy to apply, odorless and last a long time.

Include deer resistant plants whenever possible. Even though no plant is one hundred percent deer-proof, there are those the deer are less likely to eat. Include plants rated as rarely or seldom damaged by deer. And be sure to provide additional protection if you include plants known to be frequently or severely damaged.

Constantly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the methods used. Deer often change their feeding location and preferred food. And if the populations are high and the deer are hungry, they will eat just about anything. Be willing to change things up if one method is not working. Using multiple tactics will help increase your level of success.

So don’t let hungry deer stop you from gardening. Be vigilant and persistent and send them elsewhere to dine.

Gardening expert Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Summit Responsible Solutions for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ website is www.melindamyers.com.

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A Guide to saving water and your lawn

With the right watering techniques, you can save water, money and time while maintaining a healthy lawn.

With the right watering techniques, you can save water, money and time while maintaining a healthy lawn.

(StatePoint) No longer must you choose between your lawn and saving water. Experts say there are ways to save both water and money that won’t hurt your turf.

“We often see sprinklers watering sidewalks and drives, running during rain, or sending water down the drain from leaky heads,” says Josh Friell, Ph. D, senior agronomist of The Toro Company’s Center for Advanced Turf Technology. “The good news is there are simple, cost-effective actions homeowners can take to save up to 30 percent in outdoor water usage alone.”

Friell recommends these lawn-care watering tips:

First Things First

Most timed sprinklers water in the early morning, without homeowner attention. At the beginning of the season, run each zone briefly during daylight hours to see how the system is operating. Look for broken lines or damaged sprinkler heads, and inspect spray patterns to ensure water isn’t wasted.

When to Water

Experts suggest watering deeply and infrequently. This helps wet the entire root zone and encourages deeper root growth, which helps the lawn better tolerate mild to moderate drought. It is best to water in the early morning around 4 to 5 a.m., as this gives lawns time to absorb the moisture and prevents evaporation due to daytime heat.

How Much to Water

During summer, your grass should receive between 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water weekly, including natural precipitation. Water requirements vary by turf variety, local weather conditions, and site conditions such as shade. Your local university extension office can be a good source of information to assist in understanding local conditions.

The total water applied can be determined by placing a rain gauge or empty tuna cans around your yard prior to an irrigation cycle. Another option is to install a wireless soil moisture sensor, like the Toro Precision Soil Sensor, which fits almost any controller and installs in minutes. This helps eliminate guesswork by continuously monitoring soil moisture levels to prevent the system from overwatering.

Limit Water Intake

Friell says a general rule to keep in mind is that turfgrass does better when managed on the dry side rather than wet. When soil is constantly wet, grass roots are deprived of oxygen and may become more susceptible to disease.

When in Drought

Avoid lawn mowing during heat and drought. Lawns under such stress have limited ability to recover from mowing and can be damaged even more. Instead, mow after a rainfall or irrigation day. Finally, maintaining higher mowing heights will help turf tolerate the heat and drought of summer. Doing so also requires less frequent mowing, which means more time to enjoy your lawn!

Water Rebates

Many cities and water agencies across the U.S. offer water conservation and rebate programs to homeowners to encourage adoption of more efficient irrigation solutions. Find a list of the latest rebates at watersmart.toro.com/rebates/.

You can learn more about proper watering at watersmart.toro.com.

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Beets 

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By Judy Reed

Many of us here in Michigan grew up loving (or hating) beets. And usually, we only had them one of two ways—either boiled or pickled. Michigan-grown beets are available late July to late October, so now is a good time to try out some new ways to cook and eat them. You can grill or roast beets, eat them in salads, include them in smoothies, or even desserts such as brownies or cupcakes. Now that’s a versatile vegetable!

Nutrition

Beets are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, Iron and Magnesium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Folate, Potassium and Manganese. One cup of beets is 58 calories, and provides 4g of fiber, 2g of protein, 9g of sugar, and 13g of carbohydrates. The glycemic load is a 5, if you use that scale.

Storage and food safety 

The Michigan State University Extension website recommends the following for handling and storing fresh beets:

  • Avoid using large beets as they can be tough and woody.
  • Wash hands before and after handling fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Wash beets thoroughly under cool running water. Do not use soap.
  • Keep beets away from raw meats and meat juice to prevent cross contamination.
  • Before storing, trim the stem to 2 inches above the beet. Do not trim the tail.
  • Store beets in a plastic bag in the refrigerator at or below 41 °F for 7 to 10 days.
  • Beets may be frozen for up to ten months.
  • For best quality and nutritive value, preserve only what your family can consume in 12 months.

See the recipe below from about.com on how to grill beets, and another recipe that should be close to the hearts of those in Cedar Springs—Red Flannel Hash, from Eatingwell.com.

How to Grill Beets

Estimate 1 small to medium beet per person and get grilling.

Heat the grill to medium-hot (you should be able to hold your hand about an inch over the cooking grate for about 2 seconds).

Meanwhile, peel and slice the beets.

Brush the beets with olive oil or vegetable oil. Sprinkle them lightly with salt.

Place the beets on the grill. If using a gas grill, close the cover. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, turn, and continue cooking until the beets are tender and grill-marked, another 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve the beets hot, warm, or at room temperature. Drizzle them with additional olive oil for serving, if you like. This is also a great time to use any nut oils (toasted walnut oil or hazelnut oil in particular), since they so perfectly complement the earthy-yet-sweet flavor of grilled beets.

BLOOM-Beets-Red-Flannel-HashRed Flannel Hash (from eatingwell.com)

Makes: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1 cup

Active Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

2 cups diced peeled beets (1/2 inch; about 2 medium)

2 cups diced russet potatoes (1/2 inch)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup diced fennel bulb plus 1/4 cup chopped fronds for garnish

1 cup diced shallots

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Preparation

Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add beets, cover and steam for 4 minutes. Add potatoes, cover and steam until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes more.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add diced fennel and shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the steamed vegetables; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are starting to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in salt and pepper and fennel fronds, if using.

Nutrition

Per serving: 189 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 8 g total sugars; 4 g protein; 5 g fiber; 364 mg sodium; 762 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Folate (26% daily value), Vitamin C (23% dv), Potassium (22% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 2

Exchanges: 1 starch, 3 vegetable, 1 1/2 fat

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Creative ways to take your raised bed and planter gardening to new heights

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(BPT) – Generations of space-challenged gardeners have relied on raised beds and planting boxes to grow a harvest of vegetables, fruits and herbs – even in the tightest spaces. Vertical gardening gave us a whole new way to garden in tight spots, by encouraging plants to grow up, rather than spread out. Now, by marrying the two techniques, you can create a visually stunning, artistic display of gardening prowess that will keep your table full of fresh produce throughout the summer.

Building the foundation

A well-built, durable planting foundation, such as a raised bed or planting box made from Western Red Cedar, is an essential starting point. Decide where yours will go and start building. You can find free project plans online to help you build the frame for a raised bed or a planting box.

Whatever style of planter you build, it’s important to choose a quality construction material. Western Red Cedar is often the choice of savvy gardeners because it’s naturally rot resistant as well as durable and easy to work with. It needs no chemical finishes or paints to preserve or beautify it, and is harvested from sustainably managed forests. Learn more and find free project plans at Realcedar.com.

BLOOM-Creative2Simple steps onward and upward

With a good foundation in place, it’s time to consider all the ways you can turn your raised bed or planter into a vertical masterpiece.

Adding a simple trellis to your raised bed or planting box is an easy way to maximize your growing space. For example, you can plant shrub-type plants like peppers in a row in the front portion of the planter, then add a trellis in the back portion and encourage vining veggies like beans, peas and cucumbers to grow up the structure.

For larger raised beds, you can build a vineyard style pergola above the bed. A sturdy pergola made from Western Red Cedar can support a variety of substantial plants such as squash, but you don’t have to be limited to fruits and veggies that grow on vines. Affix small boxes or even burlap bags to allow for greater variety in your vertical garden.

Loftier ambitions

Is your raised bed nestled against a wall? Or perhaps your planting box perches on one side of your backyard deck. You can add a free-standing wall by building a cedar frame and stretching hex wire across the frame. Vines will readily climb the wire, but you can also attach terra cotta pots to the wire to hold herbs, small vegetables and even flowers.

In a variation on the trellis concept, you can build a framework with multiple rows of narrow cedar troughs above your raised bed or planting box; the troughs make a great growing spot for herbs. You can also create a stepped planter by building a series of boxes in graduated sizes and then stacking them atop each other widest to narrowest. Or, for a more modern look, build a contemporary ladder-style vertical garden with box-shaped removable planters.

Veteran gardeners who are also seasoned do-it-yourselfers can go all out by building a pergola. Western Red Cedar pergolas can go anywhere, take up far less ground space than a traditional garden and are wonderful vertical gardening pieces. Just plant your favorite vining fruit or vegetable at the base of each post and train the vines upward as they grow.

One out of every three American households gardens—36 million households—according to the National Gardening Association. With 9 million households in urban areas participating in gardening, it’s a great time to explore creative ways to bring vertical gardening and raised beds or planter boxes together.

 

 

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Save money and water while enjoying a beautiful garden

BLOOM-Rain-Barrel-photo-credit-Gardeners-Supply

Rain barrels are making a comeback as droughts, watering restrictions and storm water runoff are on the rise. There are now many attractive rain barrel options to choose from. Photo courtesy of Gardner’s Supply Company.

By Melinda Myers

Too much or not enough water and never when you need it seems to be a common lament of gardeners. Reduce the impact of these weather challenges while conserving water, saving money on water and sewer bills, and growing beautiful gardens with the help of rain barrels. These century old devices are making a comeback as droughts, watering restrictions and storm water runoff are on the rise.

Contact your local municipality before getting started. Some communities have regulations and guidelines for using rain barrels and many offer rebates to homeowners who install them.

Start your conversion to rain barrels one downspout at a time. You can capture as much as 623 gallons of water from 1,000 square feet of roof in a one-inch rainfall. This can be a lot to manage when first adapting to this change of habit. Taking little steps allows you to successfully match the use of rain barrels to your gardening style and schedule.

Make your own or purchase one of the many rain barrels on the market. Regardless of which vessel you choose there are some features to consider when adding a rain barrel to your landscape.

Make sure the top is covered to keep out debris and mosquitoes. Or select one with a solid lid and opening just large enough to accommodate the downspout.

Look for one with a spigot low on the barrel, so water does not stagnate at the bottom. Use the spigot to fill watering cans or attach a hose. Elevate the barrel on cinder blocks or a decorative stand for easier access and to increase water pressure.

Make sure there is an overflow outlet to direct excess water away from your home’s foundation. Or use it to link several barrels together, increasing your water collecting capacity.  A downspout diverter is another way to manage rain barrel overflows. When the rain barrels are full this device diverts the water back to the downspout where it is carried away from your home’s foundation.

And the good news is you don’t need to overlook beauty for function. You’ll find many attractive options in a variety of shapes and sizes in garden centers and online catalogs such as Gardener’s Supply (gardeners.com). Some include a recessed top for storing accessories or growing a potted plant. You’ll find ones with decorative finishes that mimic a basketweave, fine terra cotta, or wood. Those with a flat backside like the Madison rain barrel fit right next to the house, saving space.

Rain water is naturally softened and free of flouride and chlorine; great for plants. Do not use rain barrel water for drinking, cooking or your pets. Avoid concerns of contamination from roofing materials and debris by only using the water for ornamental plants.

Maintenance is easy. Check for and remove twigs and debris that may collect and block the flow of water. Clean the inside of the barrel at least once a year with an environmentally friendly detergent. Those in cold climates need to drain the rain barrel and cover the opening or turn it upside down for winter storage. Make sure to divert the water away from the house once the downspout is disconnected.

Don’t worry about mosquitoes. Covering the opening with a fine screen and using the water on a regular basis will minimize the risk. Or use the eco-friendly bacterial agent Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) that kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for pets, people and wildlife.

Now is the time to start putting rainwater to work for you and your garden. Look for convenient locations for collecting and using rainwater from the roof of your home, shed or garage. A little effort put in now will result in benefits for years to come.

Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books. Myers’ website is:  http://www.melindamyers.com/www.melindamyers.com.

 

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Simple summer home improvement: Upgrade your curb appeal

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(BPT) – Summer is a great time to complete your home improvement projects, but deciding which ones to tackle can be overwhelming. Here are a few simple curb appeal projects you can tackle this summer to welcome your family and friends into your home with style.

Start fresh with a new front door

For a dramatic refresh replace your front door. From single doors, to double-door options, to those accented with decorative glass or sidelights, it’s easy to find a door that fits your budget and your style. Once you have a panel design selected, pick a material such as wood, fiberglass or steel. Don’t forget to look for an ENERGY STAR qualified option to help keep your home comfortable.

Pick a standout color for your front door 

Nothing adds to your curb appeal like bold, vibrant color. Pick a front door color that shows your personality and makes your home different from your neighbors. From red to blue and green to orange, color can instantly refresh the front of your home. A good place to find inspiration and the perfect color is from the limited-edition Vibrancy Collection from Pella.

Sticking with your current door? A fresh coat of paint can do wonders. Pick a color that coordinates with your home’s exterior, but dare to be bold with color contrast to add eye appeal. Take a look at a Favorite Front Doors board on Pinterest for ideas.

Update your hardware

Refresh your existing front door with new hardware. New hardware can be a quick update and add beauty to the entrance to your home’s exterior design. Hardware is available in a variety of finishes including satin nickels as well as unique designs including modern and traditional. Look for inspiration at Baldwin Reserve board on Pinterest.

Replace broken or damaged items

Replace broken light fixtures, burned out bulbs, and worn out weather-stripping on exterior doors. Pitch that faded wreath, worn out mat, and dead plants, and instead, add a bright new welcome mat and eye-catching seasonal decorations.

Lay a new path

From the moment your guest step off the sidewalk, the path to your front door showcases your home. Flagstone, gravel, or pavers – any of these materials can be used to create a new, inviting walkway in a weekend or less.

Illuminate your walkway 

Make it easy for others to see the way to your front door at night. Transform and illuminate walkways with easy-to-install solar lights. Stake them in the ground positioned so solar cells get enough southern exposure for sunlight to recharge nightlights during the day.

Trim bushes, create great container gardens 

Landscaping should accent your home, not dominate it. Keep bushes below the bottom sill of your windows to improve your view. Trim or replace overgrown shrubs and trees. Keep plant material trimmed several feet away from your home to minimize damage from wind or insects. Fill decorative containers with plants that accent your home’s color scheme, front door, and landscape design.

Visit Pella on Pinterest, Houzz and Instagram for more design inspiration and Pella.com to connect with your local Pella representative for ideas on how to transform the look and comfort of your home inside and out.

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