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Archive | Spring Spruce Up

Create a garden anywhere with straw bales

Photo by: Melinda Myers, LLC
 Create a planting bed for seeds by covering the straw bale with a one to two-inch layer of planting mix.

Photo by: Melinda Myers, LLC

Create a planting bed for seeds by covering the straw bale with a one to two-inch layer of planting mix.

By Melinda Myers

Add productive garden space and raise your planting bed with straw bale gardening. This technique allows gardeners to create raised bed gardens on a patio, lawn or any area with poor compacted soil. Straw bale gardening has been around for centuries, but thanks to Joel Karsten’s book “Straw Bale Gardens” it has gained new popularity.

All that is needed are a few straw bales, fertilizer, a bit of compost and time to condition, plant and water the garden.

Be sure to purchase straw bales made from alfalfa, wheat, oats, rye or other cereal grain that have less weed seeds than hay. Start a few weeks before the designated planting date.

Place the bales in their permanent location with the cut sides up and twine parallel to the ground. Once you start the condition process, the bales will be very heavy and hard to move. When the bales are in place you are ready to start the conditioning process. This is done to start the inside of the straw bales composting, so they’ll support plant growth.

On day one, spread fertilizer over the top of the bale.  Use a ½ cup of a complete garden fertilizer or three cups of an organic fertilizer like Milorganite (milorganite.com). Then completely moisten the bale. The organic fertilizers feed the microorganisms that help decompose the straw into a nutrient rich planting medium.

Thoroughly soak the bale everyday. On days three and five you will add more fertilizer at the same rate used on day one.

Days seven through nine use half the rate used on day one. This would be ¼ cup of a complete garden fertilizer or 1 ½ cups of an organic fertilizer. Thoroughly water the bale each time.

On day ten you will add one cup of 10-10-10 or three cups of an organic fertilizer rich in phosphorous and potassium.  This completes the conditioning process.

Bales treated with a complete fertilizer should be ready to plant. You may need to wait a few more days when using an organic fertilizer. The inside of the bale should be the temperature of warm bath water or cooler for planting. If it is hotter than this, wait for the bale to cool a bit before you plant.

Use a trowel to pry open a hole in the bale. Place the plant in the hole and cover the roots with potting mix or compost.

Create a planting bed for seeds by covering the bale with a one- to two-inch thick layer of planting mix. Follow the planting directions on the back of the seed packet.

Regular watering is critical for success with this method. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation make this an easier task. You can also use gallon milk jugs with holes in the bottom or inverted two-liter soda bottles placed near the base of each plant to provide water where it is needed.

Give your straw bale garden a nutrient boost about once a month or as needed throughout the growing season.

Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to growing a productive straw bale garden to enjoy throughout the 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. 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 spokesperson for Milorganite. Myers’ website is www.melindamyers.com.

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Five tips to remove the pain from painting

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Family Features

If painting is on your list of home upgrades to tackle this year, you may find yourself procrastinating to avoid a painful process. However, with the right tools and a little preparation, you can achieve the new look you want and a finished product that makes you proud.

Before you get started, take inventory of your painting supplies and ensure you have plenty of brushes (including extras, if you’ll have help), paint trays, masking tape, clean-up rags and drop cloths to protect your floor or furniture. Make a list of any items you need to purchase, and before you head to the store, measure your space one last time to ensure you know how much paint you need to buy.

Follow these additional tips for a painting project that delivers a big home improvement gain without the pain:

  1. Lights on, lights off. Think about lighting when choosing your paint. It is easy to pick a color solely based on a photo or swatch, but it is important to think about your specific room and how the lighting may affect the color’s appearance. What is the natural light like? Will you still like the color once the sun goes down?
  2. Timing is everything. Prime painting season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. One important reason is that when the weather is nice, you can open up the windows and get some circulation running through the room for faster drying times and better air quality.
  3. Prepare for everything. Before you begin painting, protect surfaces and ensure sharp lines by masking off your painting area. Pull off a better paint job with new ScotchBlue Platinum Painter’s Tape, which tears by hand at a straight, 90-degree angle for fast cornering. The tape is made from advanced poly material that helps prevent paint seepage and removes in one piece without tearing or slivering.
  4. Make it fun. Get the whole family involved in the project. Having kids take part will help give them a sense of ownership and responsibility for the family home, and make the end result more personal.
  5. Revel in the results. Putting in the legwork in advance will pay off when you get the freshly painted look you want, and you’ll want to celebrate the accomplishment. Make sure to take before and after photos to show off your hard work.

Find more tips to pull off a better paint job at scotchblue.com.

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Spring cleanups start soon

 

By Judy Reed

As the weather warms up and residents begin to spring clean, some municipalities are offering drop off sites to help get rid of the clutter. Check out the list below to see when it’s offered in your area.

Algoma Township: Spring cleanup days are Thursday, May 5, through Saturday, May 7. Dumpsters will be available at the township hall at 10531 Algoma Ave. Hours will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30  p.m. No liquids, no hazardous waste (no paint, oil, fuel, gasoline etc.) No brush or yard waste, no cement.

All tires must be cut in half for free disposal. Whole tires will be charged $10 each. Propane and fuel oil tanks must be cut in half. Fencing must be folded or rolled up. Barrels must have one end open or be full of holes. Mattress and box springs $15 per item.

Will also collect E-Waste at the same location. PCs, Laptops, Servers, Printers, Copiers, Scanners, LCD Screens, Plasma, LED & Flat Screens, Network/Telecom Equipment, other misc. electronics (wires, keyboards, mice, AV). Items not accepted include Items with refrigerant or batteries. CR-TVs and Monitors will NOT be collected. However, Kent County does collect these items for a fee.  Visit www.accesskent.com/Departments/DPW/north_kent.htm for more information.

Call the township for more info 866-1583.

City of Cedar Springs: The annual brush pickup already took place on Monday, April 4. There is no longer a spring trash cleanup date. Check with your waste hauler for pickup.

Courtland Township: Spring cleanup dates are May 20 and 21.

Dumpsters will be available for Spring cleanup on May 20 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and May 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Courtland Twp. Hall, 7450 14-Mile Rd,  Rockford.

Items accepted include: batteries, mattresses, tires if cut up into 3 or more pieces, paint (only if solidified). Appliances must have freon removed.

Contact the Township hall for additional information. Public must be able to unload; questionable large items are subject to rejection. Call the Township hall at 866-0622.

Nelson Township/Sand Lake: Spring cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, May 21, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 5th and Cherry Streets, near the water tower in Sand Lake. Identification required. Please present a tax bill or voter’s registration card and driver’s license. We accept appliances, sheet metal, auto parts and engines (liquid drained), aluminum and copper wire, fencing (flattened and folded), mattresses, furniture, carpeting, clothing, glass, etc. No garbage please. No hazardous or toxic waste. No yard clippings or brush. No shovel offs of shingles and drywall. Also will collect e-waste items such as computers, phones, tools, small appliances, and most anything with a cord or that runs on batteries. Comprenew no longer takes TVs or Computer monitors free of charge. Prices range from $7 or $8 for a 14 or 15 inch, up to $50 for a 42 inch, including projection. Checks only, made out to Comprenew. For more information on what is permitted, or for pricing on e-waste, contact the township at 636-5332 or check their winter/spring 2015  newsletter at www.nelsontownship.org.

One trailer/truck load per residence, no shovel-offs. Loose items must be boxed/bagged.

Sand Lake: See Nelson Township (above) for regular spring cleanup.

Solon Township: Spring cleanup dates have been set for two consecutive Saturdays, May 7 and May 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 15185 Algoma. One 5×8 trailer with 48-inch sides or one pickup box per household. All items should be boxed or bagged, 45 pounds maximum. Tires must be cut in four pieces, car or light truck only, limit four. Appliances such as washers, dryers, etc. will be accepted, but not appliances that used Freon or other toxic chemicals. Call township for more info at 696-1718.

Spencer Township: Spring cleanup is Saturday, June 25, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dumpsters will be available at the township fire department, at the corner of Meddler and 18 Mile Road. Residents will be required to show proof residency. Tax bill, voter registration, or Spencer Township address on driver’s license. No shovel offs or loose trash accepted. Bag it, barrel it, or don’t bring it! All tires must be cut in half, propane and fuel oil tanks must be cut in half. Fencing must be folded or rolled up. Barrels must have one end open or be full of holes. Will accept freezers, air conditioners, washers dish washers, refrigerators, humidifiers, dryers, batteries at no charge. Mattresses and box springs accepted at $15 each.

No liquids, no hazardous waste (no paint, oil, fuel, gasoline etc.) No brush or yard waste, no cement, no shingles.

Recyclables must be taken to a recycle station at either Kent County Landfill on 10 Mile Rd, Rockford, or Pierson Landfill.

Call township for info at 984-0035.

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Extend the garden season with spring planted bulbs

Calla lilies, like ‘Night Cap’ with its black flowers and the white blooms of ‘Crystal Clear,’ are spring planted bulbs that thrive in full sun or part shade and can be cut to create an elegant display indoors. Photo credit: Longfield Gardens

Calla lilies, like ‘Night Cap’ with its black flowers and the white blooms of ‘Crystal Clear,’ are spring planted bulbs that thrive in full sun or part shade and can be cut to create an elegant display indoors. Photo credit: Longfield Gardens

By Melinda Myers

Keeping your garden looking its best throughout the growing season and into fall is possible with the help of low maintenance spring planted bulbs.  Plant them in spring among other annuals or perennials and watch as these bulbs brighten the garden, adding new life to your late season gardens.

Whether your gardens and containers are in full sun or shade you’ll enjoy the attractive foliage and pop of color that dahlias, cannas, calla lilies, caladiums and elephant ears will add to the landscape.

These easy care plants reward you with loads of beauty. Just plant, water and enjoy. Quality online retailers like Longfield Gardens (longfield-gardens.com) offer the greatest variety of color, shapes and sizes as well as planting and care instructions.

Grow dahlias in sunny areas with at least six hours of sunlight for the best floral display. Simply plant the tuberous roots four to six inches deep with the stem facing up after the danger of frost has passed.

Use dahlias in a cutting garden or as an attractive screen along fences and property lines. Use the shorter more compact border dahlias, like “Gallery Pablo” in containers on your patio, balcony or deck where you and the hummingbirds will enjoy their blooms.

Wait until the danger of frost has passed to plant cannas in a full sun to partially shaded locations. Plant the canna rhizomes horizontally two to three inches deep with the growing point facing up. Take advantage of their bold foliage and use cannas as a backdrop in the flower border or screen in the landscape. Use as a vertical accent in a large container or select dwarf varieties for smaller pots. 

Calla lilies are another spring planted bulb that thrives in full sun or part shade. The speckled foliage adds color to the garden all season long. Include these one- to two- feet-tall plants in the front or middle of the flower garden or as a vertical accent or filler in a pot. And don’t forget to cut a few flowers to enjoy indoors.  The black flowers of “Night Cap” teamed with the white blooms of “Crystal Clear” create an elegant display.

Like the other bulbs, wait for the danger of frost to pass before planting them outdoors. Plant the knobby rhizomes two to four inches deep with the growing point facing up.

Add some color and plenty of wow factor to shaded areas with the foliage of caladiums and elephant ears. These tropical beauties thrive when soil and air temperatures are warm. Wait for the danger of frost to pass and the soil to warm, 65 to 70 degrees, before planting them in the garden.

Use caladiums to brighten containers, dress up window boxes or edge a shady pathway. The colorful leaves stand out amongst the greens of shade gardens. Team variegated varieties with complimentary colored begonias, coleus or impatiens.

Include elephant ears in the garden or containers. Their large heart shaped leaves give a tropical feel to the patio, deck or pool area. Consider planting one, two or more to create an impressive welcome for guests or a bold statement in the landscape. They pair nicely with caladiums, coleus and other shade loving plants.

Make this the best season yet with the help of spring flowering bulbs. You’ll enjoy the variety and late season color these easy care plants provide.
Melinda Myers has over 30 years of gardening experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. 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 program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Longfield Gardens for her expertise to write this article.  

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Simple steps to seed starting success

Gardening expert Melinda Myers

Gardening expert Melinda Myers

By Melinda Myers

Get a jump on the growing season by starting your favorite or hard to find plants indoors from seeds. Starting hard to find plants, like many of the heirloom or newly introduced varieties, from seed may be the only way you will be able to add these to your garden. Plus, you’ll be extending the growing season and bringing the fun of gardening indoors.

All you need is a little space, a few supplies and, of course, seeds to get started. Check the back of your seed packets for planting directions. Most recommend when and how to start seeds indoors, as well as any other special care the seedlings will need.

Purchase, recycle or make your own containers from newspaper. Sanitize used pots by dipping them in a one part bleach and nine parts water solution and then rinsing them with clean water.

Fill the containers with a sterile well-drained potting mix or seed starting mix. Once the containers are filled, plant the seeds according to the seed packet directions.

Increase success and encourage even growth by growing seedlings under artificial lights.

Increase success and encourage even growth by growing seedlings under artificial lights.

For most seeds, plant them twice their diameter deep and gently water. Continue to water often enough to keep the soil slightly moist. Extend the time between watering and increase your seed starting success by covering the container with plastic. Or purchase a seed starting kit, like the self-watering Growease seed starter kits.

Move your containers to a sunny window as soon as the seedlings emerge from the soil. Turn plants often to encourage even growth. Or increase your success by growing seedlings under artificial lights. You can make your own light system or purchase tabletop, shelf units or easy to assemble light systems, like Stack-N-Grow (gardeners.com). Keep the lights four to six inches above the top of the seedlings for best results. As the seedlings grow, be sure to maintain this distance by simply raising the lights or lowering the containers.

Move overcrowded seedlings to larger containers once they have two sets of true leaves. The first leaves that appear are rather indistinct and are called seed leaves. The next set of leaves look more like the mature plant’s leaves and are called true leaves. Once the next set of true leaves forms, it is time to transplant overcrowded seedlings.

Use a fork or spoon to carefully lift out the seedling. Clusters of seedlings can be dug and carefully teased apart before planting in individual pots. Be careful not to pinch and damage the young tender stems.

Place seedlings in their own clean container filled with moist sterile potting mix. Plant the young plants at the same depth they were growing in the original container.

Thin seedlings started in individual containers as needed. If you planted several seeds in each small container remove all but the healthiest one. Prune the weaker seedlings to ground level, so the remaining seedling can develop into a strong transplant for the garden.

Continue to grow your plants in a sunny window or under artificial lights and water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist.

Soon it will be time to move your homegrown transplants into the garden.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

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Top 10 most often forgotten spring cleaning steps

SPR-Top-10-most-forgotten-spring-cleaning-steps

(BPT) – Spring is a great time to clear out the old, bring in the new and welcome a fresh start. From coast to coast, consumers are eager to usher in new home decor and air out spring attire; however, the areas of one’s home that are the hardest hit during the winter months – floors and carpets – are often overlooked.

If you’re thinking of skipping your carpet cleaning for a vacuum session, think again. According to the homecare experts at BISSELL, vacuums, even the best ones, simply can’t reach the deeply imbedded dirt within your carpet’s fibers. The carpet cleaning process is engineered to reach the dirt and allergens vacuums leave behind. Incidentally, although carpet cleaning does so much more than vacuuming, the actual process itself is about as easy as vacuuming.

“Deep cleaning is a must for washing the winter out during spring cleaning. After cleaning their carpets, people are often amazed by what they’ve pulled out of their carpets and how different their carpets look – it can be a very eye-opening, yet satisfying experience,” says Eric Hansen, chief chemist at BISSELL.

Get out the serious cleaning supplies, stretch your scrubbing muscles and tackle those hard-to-reach places you ignore most of the year so you can be the envy of all your houseguests. Be sure to review the top 10 spring cleaning steps that often fall to the wayside:

1. Safety first: Don’t forget to change batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; and inspect all light fixtures for damaged wires or faulty connections. Remove and wash light fixtures if necessary.

2. Wash the washing machine: Run an empty load, one cycle filled with 4 cups of bleach, the other with 4 cups of distilled white vinegar.

3. Dust refrigerator coils: Want to lower your energy bill and extend the life of your fridge? Always unplug your refrigerator before dusting the refrigerator’s coils.

4. Clean out your cabinets: Wipe down the inside and outside of medicine and linen cabinets. Throw away expired products, including medicine, makeup and hair products. Update your first aid kit.

5. Deep clean carpets and rugs: Vacuum, spot treat and deep clean your carpets and rugs. Liquid solutions such as the BISSELL Professional Deep Cleaning with Febreze Formula contains Scotchgard protection that can be used with any BISSELL deep cleaner. It works by placing a barrier on the surface of carpet fibers to not only deep clean and freshen, but also protect against future stains.

6. Sanitize children’s and pets’ toys: Toys can carry harmful bacteria on their surfaces. After cleaning toys with warm water and a mild detergent, sanitize plastic toys by soaking them in a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Donate or discard toys where needed.

7. Breathe easy: Clean your air vents and change your furnace filters if necessary.

8. Let in more light: Cleaning blinds can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Mix equal parts of warm water and distilled white vinegar in a bowl. Slip a sock on your hand and dip the sock into the water and vinegar mixture. Wipe down each individual slat and rinse sock after every few slats.

9. Dust from high to low: Dust the ceiling, corners of walls, ceiling fan and light fixtures. Use a lint roller to easily clean dust off your lampshade.

10. Wash your windows: After the direct sunlight has subsided, remove your window’s screens and dust with a soft-bristle brush. Spray on your favorite window cleaning solution and wipe down with a lint-free cloth.

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Call 811 before digging

SPR-Before-digging-call-811

Installing a mailbox or fence, building a deck and landscaping are examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after making a call to 811. Nearly half of American homeowners will not call 811 before digging, according to a recent national survey by Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the association dedicated to protecting underground utilities and the people who dig near them

Here’s how it works:

1. One free phone call to 811 makes it easy for your local one-call center to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Call a few days prior to digging to ensure enough time for the approximate location of utility lines to be marked with flags or paint.

2. When you call 811, a representative from your local one-call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.

3. Your local one-call center will notify affected utility companies, which will then send professional locators to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.

4. Once all lines have been accurately marked, then roll up those sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas.

For information about 811 or the one-call utility notification center in your area, visit www.call811.com.

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Spring cleanups start soon

 

By Judy Reed

As the weather warms up and residents begin to spring clean, some municipalities are offering drop off sites to help get rid of the clutter. Check out the list below to see when it’s offered in your area.

Algoma Township: Spring cleanup days are Wednesday, April 22, through Saturday, April 25. Dumpsters will be available at the township hall at 10531 Algoma Ave. Hours will be Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m to 3 p.m. No shovel offs or loose trash allowed. No liquids, no hazardous waste (no paint, oil, fuel, gasoline etc.) No brush or yard waste, no cement.

All tires must be cut in half, propane and fuel oil tanks must be cut in half. Fencing must be folded or rolled up. Barrels must have one end open or be full of holes. Will also collect E-Waste at the same location (cell phones, computers, TVs, stereos, speakers, etc.). Call the township for more info 866-1583. Or download their cleanup notice at http://www.algomatwp.org/CLEAN_UP_NOTICE_w_monitors.pdf.

City of Cedar Springs: The annual brush pickup will be Monday, April 27. Please have brush out by 6:00 a.m. and neatly stacked as close to the curb as possible. No brush larger than six inches, tree removals or stumps will be picked up. They will make one pass through town.

There is no longer a spring trash cleanup date. Check with your waste hauler for pickup.

Also note that the city will be flushing City hydrants on Friday, April 24. To avoid staining laundry, allow water to run until clear before washing white or light colored clothing.

Courtland Township: Spring cleanup dates are May 14, 15, from 10-6 both days and May 16, from 9-2 at The Courtland Twp. Hall, 7450 14-Mile Rd,  Rockford. Public must be able to unload; questionable large items are subject to rejection. Call the Township hall at 866-0622.

Nelson Township/Sand Lake: Spring cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, May 16, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 5th and Cherry Streets, near the water tower in Sand Lake. Identification required. Please present a tax bill or voter’s registration card and driver’s license. We accept appliances, sheet metal, auto parts and engines (liquid drained), aluminum and copper wire, fencing (flattened and folded), mattresses, furniture, carpeting, clothing, glass, etc. No garbage please. No hazardous or toxic waste. No yard clippings or brush. No shovel offs of shingles and drywall. For more information on what is permitted, contact the township at 636-5332 or check their winter/spring 2015  newsletter at www.nelsontownship.org.

One trailer/truck load per residence, no shovel-offs. Loose items must be boxed/bagged. Will also collect E-Waste at the same location. Please call the township for more info at 636-5332.

Sand Lake: See Nelson Township (above) for regular spring cleanup.

Solon Township: Spring cleanup dates have been set for two consecutive Saturdays, May 2 and May 9, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 15185 Algoma. One 5×8 trailer with 48-inch sides or one pickup box per household. All items should be boxed or bagged, 45 pounds maximum. Tires must be cut in four pieces, car or light truck only, limit four. Appliances such as washers, dryers, etc. will be accepted, but not appliances that used Freon  or other toxic chemicals. Call township for more info at 696-1718.

Spencer Township: Spring cleanup is Saturday, June 20, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dumpsters will be available at the township fire department, at the corner of Meddler and 18 Mile Road. Residents will be required to show proof residency. Tax bill, voter registration, or Spencer Township address on driver’s license. No shovel offs or loose trash accepted. Bag it, barrel it, or don’t bring it! All tires must be cut in half, propane and fuel oil tanks must be cut in half. Fencing must be folded or rolled up. Barrels must have one end open or be full of holes. Will accept freezers, air conditioners, washers dish washers, refrigerators, humidifiers, dryers, batteries at no charge. Mattresses and box springs accepted at $15 each.

No liquids, no hazardous waste (no paint, oil, fuel, gasoline etc.) No brush or yard waste, no cement, no shingles.

Recyclables must be taken to a recycle station at either Kent County Landfill on 10 Mile Rd, Rockford, or Pierson Landfill.

Call township for info at 984-0035.

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Pool Maintenance 101

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Simple tips to keep your pool clean

(Family Features) For many homeowners, there is nothing better than inviting friends over to cool off from the sun’s warm rays in the comfort of their own backyard pool.

But as every pool owner knows, keeping their pool clean and maintained for everyone to enjoy can take a bit of work. Here are some ways to keep your investment in its best shape all season long.

Keep up with shrubs

If your backyard pool sits near trees and bushes, be sure to keep them trimmed throughout the season. This will help avoid additional debris from flying into your pool, which can create extra cleaning work for you. If possible, consider replacing these plants with those that create less of a mess.

Clean the surface often

Get rid of unattractive stains at the waterline with a quality surface cleaner. For best results, use the cleaner with a pool brush and rub from the top of the waterline to a few inches below the mark.

Check levels regularly

Be sure to monitor your pool’s chlorine and pH levels at least twice a week. The best time to do this is in the evening and several hours after the last swimmer has left the pool. If a rain or wind storm has occurred, wait about eight hours before testing.

Reduce maintenance duties

Besides providing increased comfort to swimmers, more homeowners are choosing saltwater chlorinated pools for ease of use and reduced maintenance. If you’re looking to spend less time keeping your pool maintained, consider installing a saltwater chlorination system, which eliminates the need for buying, storing and handling chemical chlorine. Saltwater chlorinated pool owners also enjoy the benefits of less irritated skin and eyes, as well as a significant cost savings verses their chemical chlorine counterparts. To learn more about saltwater chlorinated pools, visit www.swimincomfort.com.

Run filtration system daily

Water in constant movement is less likely to collect debris, such as dust, body oils and bacteria. Be sure to run your filtration system as much as possible throughout the summer to keep water as clean and clear as possible.

Keep equipment tidy

Pool skimmers are used to pick up yard debris, insects and other undesirable items that can fall into the water. While skimming the pool is typically needed before every swim, you should also clean the skimmers on a weekly basis, or as needed.

A clean, maintained pool will help you get most from those carefree days of summer.

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Seasonal home maintenance tips that save time and money

SPR-Seasonal-maintenance-web(StatePoint) If you’re not careful, basic and seasonal home maintenance can cost you a pretty penny and a lot of time. Take steps to simplify these tasks.

Clean and Organize

Even if you use a professional cleaning service, you’ll still need some in-between maintenance:

• Divide clutter into three groups: junk, charity and undecided. Toss the first, give away the second and store the third until you decide whether it’s worth keeping.

• To reduce dirt, use only one entry door into your home and use doormats inside and outside.

• Clean the house and each room from the top down. Dust first, vacuum last. Scrub, wipe and polish in straight lines instead of circles. Squeegee windows and mirrors with an initial horizontal stroke across the top, then vertical strokes, wiping the blade after each stroke.

• Store basic cleaning supplies in an apron or bucket and carry them with you from task to task.

• Change furnace filter and replace vacuum bags monthly.

Don’t miss vents when you dust.

For more cleaning tips or to book a professional cleaning service to give your home top-to-bottom treatment, visit www.MerryMaids.com.

Cooling Costs

Want to reduce cooling costs? Follow these tips:

• Have air conditioning systems professionally inspected and cleaned before the season.

• Keep the area around the exterior condensing unit clear of obstructions to ensure adequate airflow.

• Clean or replace the air conditioner filter monthly to save up to 10 percent on your bill.

• Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for unit maintenance.

• If your air conditioning system breaks down, a home warranty can help protect you from unexpected repair costs. It covers the repair or replacement of many of the most common home system component breakdowns regardless of age, and can be purchased any time, not just when a home is bought or sold. Last summer, American Home Shield responded to nearly 700,000 requests for air conditioning repairs during record-breaking heat waves. To learn more about home warranties, visit www.YouTube.com/TheAHSTeam.

Fight Pests

Termites cause more than $5 billion in annual damage across the country.  Unfortunately, termite destruction can go unnoticed for years and is rarely covered by homeowners insurance.

“If you detect a termite swarm, it could mean your house has already suffered damage,” says Paul Curtis, Terminix entomologist.

While eliminating termites requires the help of a trained professional, there are ways to make your home less inviting to these wood-destroying pests:

• Fix roof and plumbing leaks.

• Clean gutters to avoid water accumulation near the foundation.

• Don’t pile mulch, firewood or soil against your house, which can hide termite activity and allow easy access into the home.

• Prompt treatment and annual inspections can save thousands of dollars in damage repair.

For more information on this year’s termite swarm season or to schedule an inspection, visit www.Terminix.com.

For more information on companies that can save you time and money on home maintenance, visit www.ServiceMaster.com.

By working smarter, not harder, you can save money and free your weekends to better enjoy your home.

 

 

 

 

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