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ARA Content - Free Online Content http://www.aracontent.com Category: Lawn/Gardenen-us 5 How to use your all-terrain vehicle all year long 8036510404 (ARA) - Now is the perfect time to do much-needed maintenance on your ATV/UTV. Many ATV/UTV owners are preparing to store their ride away for the winter, but with a little planning, any enthusiast can utilize their all-terrain vehicle throughout the year without having to pay a shop's expensive fees.
By following a simple maintenance checklist you can be ready to ride by the time the cold winter winds start to blow.
Change your oil and filters: Some professionals recommend changing out your ATV's oil for a winter formula for better operation in colder climates. By using the right kind of oil, you'll ensure proper engine start and less wear and tear on your machine.
Stay energized: Checking your battery to make sure it's in tip-top condition will ensure you have the starting power you need on those cold blustery days. If your battery has seen better days, it's best to replace it now instead of trying to jump-start your ride in the bitter cold. Some professionals also recommend installing a carburetor heater in certain ATV models.
Keep the fuel flowing: If any moisture is allowed to condense in the fuel tank you could have problems with your fuel lines freezing up. It's best to keep your tank as full as possible and to use fuel additives when necessary to keep the fuel flowing.
Make tracks: During winter months, many riders replace their stock tires with larger diameter tires for more ground clearance and increased traction. Another option is adding a track conversion system to your all-terrain vehicle, which enables your ATV to ride on top of the snow, much like a snowmobile. Before using a track system or tire chains, make sure they are legal in your area and the right fit for your machine.
Accessorize: By adding a few accessories you can turn a winter ride into a toasty excursion. Everything from cabs, windshields, heated grips and hand warmers are available to make a winter ride more enjoyable. Also, be sure to keep your hands and face protected from frostbite by investing in the proper winter apparel necessary to keep you covered and warm on a winter ride.
Now get out there and ride: While some ATV riders go off-roading, others stay close to home and use their ATV as a valuable tool during the winter months. Jack McGregor, an ATV rider from Jamestown, N.D. enjoys using his SnowSport All Terrain Plow to clear his driveway.
The SnowSport All Terrain Plow is manufactured by Agri-Cover, Inc., a North Dakota truck accessory company. This utility plow is made specifically for all-terrain vehicles and can be used 365 days a year for not only snow removal, but also landscaping projects.
"Plowing out the driveway is one of those tasks that has to get done, so why not have fun doing it? My SnowSport All Terrain Plow has literally turned my ATV into my most valuable winter tool. It's so easy and fun, my wife and I often fight over who's going to use it," says McGregor.
The SnowSport All Terrain Plow is perfect for plowing in tight spaces that traditional full-size plows can't reach and is terrain-friendly, so you don't have to worry about it tearing up your grass or landscaping pavers. With no wiring or hydraulics to get in the way, all you have to do is attach the plow and drive. The best feature of the plow is that it doesn't get in the way of using your ATV this winter. The complete system can be easily installed and removed in a matter of seconds. You can plow your driveway or path, remove the system, and go on a winter ride without any hassle.
The SnowSport All Terrain Plow is available for ATVs, UTVs, and Zero-Turn Mowers and comes in six different blade lengths. It has a three-point angled blade, which allows users to maneuver hard-to-reach areas in the yard and driveway. The blade connects to your all-terrain vehicle by a 1 1/2 inch interceptor that slides into a front mount, so there's no tricky wiring or complicated install. The manufacturer offers a three-year warranty on the complete plow system, plus free shipping. For more information, call (888) 405-4159 or visit www.snowsportatv.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent - You should follow us on Twitter http://www.aracontent.com/images/9262_B17_rgb3.jpg Winter blues in your backyard? Attracting songbirds livens lackluster landscapes 8041850204 (ARA) - The backyard can seem barren and bleak when the leaves fall off the trees and the last blooming plant retires until spring. But there's an easy way to brighten your backyard and fill it with color and song this winter - charm songbirds looking for an easy, reliable food source.
Birds are the most accessible and abundant of wild creatures that live among us, and every home - apartment to estate - can offer them a safe way station to refuel. To attract the greatest number of birds, choose feeders and foods that suit a variety of wild bird species.
Don't wait until the snow flies to get feeders in place. Fall is a good time to choose a location visible from your favorite window, to secure feeders with sturdy brackets, poles or hangers and to arrange convenient storage for your seed and supplies.
New birdwatchers may be bewildered by the huge assortment of feeders available today. A good place to start shopping is a Web site like www.SongbirdEssentials.com, which can direct you to a nearby retailer or online source.
Feeders come in many sizes and styles, and fall into a few broad categories. The three feeders every backyard bird lover should have include a tube feeder to hold sunflower or nut meats, a hopper feeder for mixed seed and a suet holder to attract woodpeckers and other tree trunk "clingers."
Tube feeders can be made of clear plastic or wire mesh. They're sized to hold peanut kernels, sunflower or nyger seed for finches. Experts recommend filling tubes with just one type of seed so birds don't rummage through the contents in search of their favorite treats. Songbird Essential's Seed Hoop is a unique and useful accessory to keep feeding areas tidy. The mesh tray attaches below feeders and catches 90 percent of spilled seed, keeping it off the ground and away from rodents. The hoop also serves as a platform feeder for cardinals, buntings and juncos.
Spiral Feeders offer three worthwhile innovations: a continuous spiral perch that allows more birds to feed at once, a locking lid to foil squirrels and a twist-off bottom for easy cleaning. A squirrel-proof wire mesh model is ideal for shelled sunflower or peanut hearts. Another Songbird Essentials feeder innovation is their "Clingers Only" feeder to primarily serve smaller avian guests like chickadees, small woodpeckers, titmice, nuthatches, goldfinches and others.
Suet is a high-energy fuel that helps birds survive cold winters. Tail Prop Suet Feeders attract the larger red-bellied and red-headed woodpeckers with support for their stiff tails, as well as the smaller and more common downy woodpeckers and nuthatches. Pre-formed suet cakes sized to fit feeders can include seeds, fruit or nuts for extra energy and appeal.
Position feeders near the protective cover of trees and shrubs to offer feathered friends shelter from predators. A small metal trash can with a tight lid is handy for storing seed nearby and a scoop makes refills quick and easy.
Once feeders are up, the wait for the first bird can make even patient people antsy. Experts suggest sprinkling some seed in a shiny pie plate set under feeders. When curious birds come to investigate, they'll find your feeders, too.
For more information on feeders and other bird necessities visit www.songbirdessentials.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent - You should follow us on Twitter http://www.aracontent.com/images/9154_B34_rgb3.jpg Winter's hottest new 'in' activity: birdfeeding 8041850304 (ARA) - Bird feeding is in. More than 65 million Americans are doing it, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Bird feeding draws plenty of devotees and it's easy to see why. Attracting birds to your backyard is a relatively low-cost way to relax, enjoy nature and beautify your winter surroundings. And it can be done by people of virtually all ages and levels of physical ability.
The majority of North American birds suffer from loss of habitat. Investment in avian habitat will return valuable dividends for birds and tons of backyard enjoyment for us. Now, as a new season is just beginning, it's a perfect time to get started.
To attract the widest variety of birds, landscape your property with plants that offer birds cover and natural foods and always provide a source of water.
Need for feeders
When the ground is covered with snow and ice, it's hard to resist just tossing seed out the door. But it's healthier for the birds to get their "hand-outs" at a feeding station, off the ground. Food that sits on the ground for even a short time is exposed to potential contamination by dampness, mold, bacteria, animal droppings, lawn fertilizers and pesticides.
Sometimes it can seem like forever before birds notice a new feeder. Be patient and they will eventually come. And remember, if you fill your feeder only after it's been empty for awhile, the birds will look for food elsewhere. They'll return as long as you continue to fill it.
There are a multitude of feeders out there to choose from. Check out Web sites like www.BirdWatcherSupply.com for some good choices.
Winter feed and seed: food for fat
Winter weather is hard on birds. Their calorie requirements increase, food becomes hard to find, snow covers up seeds, and ice storms seal away the tree buds and wild fruits. Tiny birds must eat a third to three quarters of their weight each day. When the temperature dips below zero, easy meals at a feeder can mean the difference between life and death.
It's important to stock your feeder with high-quality foods that will provide birds with the most fat, nutrients and energy. Look for a feed like Cole's that is nutritious, preserves freshness, and gives you the most feed for your dollar. Cole's Oil Sunflower is over 99 percent pure and is cleaned more than four times to ensure there are more seeds and fewer sticks in each bag. The feed is also nitrogen-purge packaged, just like potato chips, to ensure freshness and insect-free feed.
Birds love suet. It's the solid fat rendered from beef, venison, or vegetables that provides concentrated energy to help birds make it through freezing winter days and nights.
Cole's Wild Bird Products offers a good selection of suet cakes formulated to attract the largest variety and number of wild birds as well as specific bird species. They also have a new Hot Meats suet cake. This product is infused with habanero chili pepper - a patented technology researched and approved by scientists from Cornell to keep squirrels away. Birds love it and squirrels hate it, finally solving the age-old problem of squirrels at your feeder.
To cater to seed-loving birds, try Cole's Nutberry Suet Blend. It's a unique seed blend mix of premium human-grade cherries, apples and blueberry-flavored cranberries, preferred nuts, nutritious insect suet kibbles, and whole kernel sunflower meats. It appeals to both fruit and insect-loving songbirds.
Birds, like humans, do have food preferences. Feed them what they like and they'll keep coming back for more.
For more information on Cole's Feed visit www.coleswildbird.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent - You should follow us on Twitter http://www.aracontent.com/images/9216_B36_rgb3.jpg Don't trash that banana peel - composting is an easy, eco-friendly alternative 8037861212 (ARA) - Recycling is certainly not a new concept. In fact, gardeners have been using one form of recycling - composting - for about as long as people have tilled the soil. Composting is a cost-effective, eco-friendly way to give your garden a boost.
Start your compost pile now, before winter settles in, and come spring you'll have a jump on nutrient-rich compost to help your garden produce its best harvest. Composting happens by itself through natural decay and the breakdown of organic matter. Depending on your local climate, the composting process may not be fully completed with useable humus or compost until temperatures warm up.
"Composting is easy and can be done for as little as $10 - or even free if you build your own bin," says Bruce Augustin, senior director in research and development with Scotts. "It's a great way to provide essential nutrients to your soil, while recycling kitchen and yard waste, which helps keep refuse out of landfills."
It's easy to get started composting: find a bin, gather materials, build your pile and compost. Augustin offers the following easy-to-follow steps for getting started:
Begin with a bin
Containing your compost pile in a bin saves space, hastens decomposition and helps keep the pile neat. You can find many pre-made compost bins at home centers and garden stores. Or, you can build your own from plans found on the Internet with materials around your home.
There are two main sources of materials for your compost pile - your yard and your kitchen. From the yard, you can gather leaves, grass and plant clippings, and shrub or tree trimmings. From the kitchen, add fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds (including the filters), tea bags and eggshells. It's okay to toss in shredded newspaper (not colored or shiny newsprint since these don't decompose readily), but avoid meat scraps, bones, dairy products, grease or pet or human waste since these can all harbor harmful bacteria.
Build your pile
You should build your pile in layers, starting with a 4- to 6-inch layer of coarse material such as twigs or shrub clippings. Then, add on 3 to 4 inches of grass clippings. Next, add another 4- to 6-inch layer of leaves or garden debris and soak with water; moisture will help the microbes decompose the material faster. You can modify this order as needed, depending on the types of materials you have. After a few layers, be sure to add a 1-inch layer of garden soil, such as Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Flowers and Vegetables.
"A high-nitrogen fertilizer like Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food, spread over each layer of your compost pile, will help the composting process by creating a favorable nitrogen to carbon ratio," says Augustin. Remember to turn or aerate the pile periodically to help move material from the outside closer to the center of the pile, where it will heat up and decompose faster. During the winter - depending on the region where you live - the center of the pile is where decomposition will take place, and adding water to keep the pile moist will aid the process.
Your compost will be ready to use once it has turned dark and crumbly, and gives off an earthy odor. Add the compost to your garden soil to help nourish your plants.
"Composting is not only beneficial for your garden, but it's also an easy, satisfying way to do something good for the environment," Augustin says.
For more tips on composting and other aspects of gardening and lawn care, visit www.Scotts.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent - You should follow us on Twitter http://www.aracontent.com/images/9329_B22_rgb3.jpg New garden superstars blend charm and practicality 8037811010 (ARA) - From hardy hybrids to stylish, smart gardens, spring 2010 promises exciting new plants and products for garden lovers everywhere.
"People want easy plants and products that are attractive and good for the environment and perform well in their gardens," says Susan McCoy, garden writer and trend spotter. "And that's what the new plants and products this spring will deliver."
McCoy reveals a few of her favorite garden superstars for spring that will chase away those winter blahs as you get ready to get your hands back in the earth and garden.
Next big thing for small gardens
McCoy loves the newest Drift Roses from The Conard-Pyle Co., introducer of the famous Knock Out family of roses. A cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniatures, both Sweet Drift and Apricot Drift Roses offer delicate, double flowers and continuous blooming throughout the season. With exceptional disease resistance and winter hardiness, these low-maintenance beauties are the perfect choice for small gardens or along paths and walkways.
Get a jump on spring
Looking to get a jump on spring planting? McCoy suggests FreezePruf - a revolutionary new spray from the Liquid Fence Company (www.liquidfence.com) - that may be the "holy grail" for gardeners. Developed by botanists, FreezePruf protects your lush flower baskets, veggies, herbs and favorite plants from late spring frost/freeze and ice crystal damage. This non-toxic spray can increase a plant's cold tolerance from 2.2 to 9.4 degrees (depending on the plant variety and the length of the frost/freeze event) and give gardeners about two additional weeks of growing and harvesting in spring and fall. It's almost like moving your garden 200 miles further south.
Pink is the new blue. The first-ever pink blueberry (www.briggsnursery.com) - Vaccinium 'Pink Lemonade' from Briggs Nursery - is one of the most exciting new plants McCoy has seen in years and is a must-have for your garden. 'Pink Lemonade' provides delicious, sweet fruit rich in anti-oxidants, plus four seasons of color: pinkish-white flowers in spring, bright pink fruit in summer, great fall color and dusky auburn stems in winter. Growing about 5 feet around, this showy ornamental looks great as a hedge border or stand-alone shrub with the added benefit of luscious fruit in your cereal or pies - or by the handful. For more information or where to purchase visit www.briggsnursery.com.
Go native, go local
Native plants are clearly the next big thing in gardening, and it's easy to go native with American Beauties native plants (www.ABNativePlants.com). These native shrubs, trees, vines, grasses and perennials are hand-picked for their beauty and low-maintenance, making it simple to attract bees, birds and butterflies to a backyard habitat. The wildlife will appreciate the food and shelter, and when you purchase them, a contribution is made to the National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat program (www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife).
Catch daylily fever
Daylily fever is contagious and you're likely to catch the bug as you fall in love with the new fire-engine-red daylily from Centerton Nursery. McCoy digs this new, hardy, early and repeat bloomer - Jersey Earlybird 'Cardinal'- bred by world-renown daylily hybridizer, Dr. Darrel Apps. This easy-care daylily offers early-blooming great color and reblooms multiple times throughout the season. It's pest- and drought-resistant and is perfect in beds, borders and containers. Check it out at www.centertonnursery.com and earlybirddaylily.com.
Smart and simple
Want to bring the outdoors in and grow fresh herbs (www.fertileearth.com) and vegetables in the kitchen or on the balcony? McCoy loves Simple Gardens, the innovative new plant system from Fertile Earth that comes with soil, seeds and a how-to guide packed in stylish square containers. Perfect for indoor gardens or to start seeds. They come in a variety of hip colors and make wonderful gifts. Now it's a snap to grow kitchen gardens in any bright spot -- just add water.
Grow 'em right
The new Organic Mechanics Planting Mix (www.organicmechanicsoil.com) is like having all the goodness of compost in a bag. At planting time, just mix in the nutrient-rich planting mix to revitalize your garden soil. It helps retain moisture and accelerates root-zone establishment for healthier trees, shrubs, fruits, veggies and flowers. Get it this spring in Mid-Atlantic garden centers and Whole Foods stores.
Outdoor designer decor
McCoy loves the latest "designer" doormats from Imports Unlimited (www.wholesaledoormats.com). Made from 100 percent natural coco and mainly recycled rubber, these environmentally friendly eco-mats come in array of popular designs and colors. With over 180 unique patterns to choose from, adding your own personal style, whether it's formal, classical or whimsical, to your outdoor space is now easy and affordable.
All that jazz
For every rose lover, McCoy has discovered a new spray and way to keep roses healthy and strong. Jaz Rose Spray (www.jazsprays.com) naturally reduces damage from disease and common environmental stresses. This new plant-strengthening spray with jasmonate -- which occurs naturally in plants - provides increased resistance to disease, drought, and temperature extremes. Recently endorsed by the American Rose Society (ARS), Jaz Rose Spray boosts your plant's natural resistance to environmental stress and encourages vigorous roots, growth and blooms. For more information visit www.gardenmediagroup.com
Courtesy of ARAcontent - You should follow us on Twitter http://www.aracontent.com/images/9771_B170_rgb3.jpg Leaf mulching and fertilizer: A back-saving, soil-enriching way to deal with fallen leaves 8037861012 (ARA) - As Mother Nature adorns the trees in your yard with riotous reds, vibrant yellows and exotic oranges, you can easily get swept up in the romance of the season - until those leaves turn brown, drop from the branches and litter your lawn. Then you start to think of the hours of backbreaking raking work ahead of you.
This autumn, why not try working with Mother Nature by mulching those leaves instead of raking, bagging and condemning them to a landfill?
Leaf mulching is a time-saving, environmentally friendly way to deal with fallen leaves. Plus, if you live in a community that has cut back on collection services due to the economy, mulching can solve your dilemma of what to do with the leaves littering your lawn.
"It doesn't make sense to rake leaves and bag them, just to have them end up decomposing in a landfill," says Dr. Phil Dwyer, senior scientist at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. "Leaf mulching recycles a natural resource and enriches the soil of your lawn for free."
In fact, turf benefits by receiving more nutrients when you mulch fall leaves back into the lawn instead of raking them, according to a study by Michigan State University turfgrass researcher Thom Nikolai and ScottsMiracle-Gro scientists. Recycling fallen leaves saves time and money, adds nutrients to the soil, speeds spring greening and reduces weeds.
Here's how to recycle this fall's crop of fallen leaves:
* Remove the grass catcher from your lawn mower. Mow over the leaves on your lawn. Repeat until they are reduced to dime-sized pieces.
* Mow until you see about half an inch of grass through the mulched leaf layer.
Any kind of rotary-action mower will do the job, and all kinds of leaves can be mulched. Throughout the season, you can chop up to 18 inches total of leaf clutter with several passes of the mower. Having a somewhat thick layer of mulched leaves is okay as long as you can still see the green grass blades poking through. As leaf bits settle into the ground, microbes and worms get to work recycling them.
Once you've enriched your soil with leaf mulching, don't forget that fall is the best time to feed and seed your lawn. A few simple steps can help ensure that your lawn will be strong next season and beyond:
* After mulching, feed your lawn with Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard fall lawn fertilizer to help build strong, deep roots for a better foundation and a more robust lawn next year. The nitrogen in the fertilizer will also help the mulched leaves decompose faster. Be sure to sweep excess fertilizer off hard surfaces like driveways and sidewalks.
* After feeding, spread seed where needed. To reseed your bare spots, dig up bare areas, mix in compost, sow your seeds and cover with more compost. If the weather is dry, keep the seeded soil moist until new grass begins to grow. Seeding autumn bare spots will thicken the lawn and make it more resistant to future bare spots.
To learn more about leaf mulching and autumn lawn care, visit www.scotts.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent - You should follow us on Twitter http://www.aracontent.com/images/9108_B19_rgb3.jpg Expert tips for creating a beautiful landscape 8037810910 (ARA) - It may be cold outside, but homeowners are already dreaming of creating beautiful garden settings around their homes come spring. Landscaping success doesn't have to be hit or miss, and if it has been for you, it may be time to call in a professional landscape designer.
Why? Because in the long run, hiring a landscape designer can cost less than doing it yourself. You'll get a "doable" design created right the first time, saving you the cost of repeated tries at getting it right or planting the wrong plants in the wrong spots. A professional landscape designer envisions creative solutions to the most difficult outdoor challenges - problems they've more than likely solved before.
Plus, a high-quality landscape increases home sale prices up to 10.8 percent, compared to a home with a simply average landscape, according to the Journal of Environmental Horticulture.
Here are some tips from professional landscape designers to create your dream garden.
First, consider your space and any "issues" that it has. Hiding an unsightly air conditioning unit, adding privacy and changing boring views to beautiful ones are issues that landscape designers face with many clients.
"As a certified landscape designer through the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, I see the big picture," says Boston-based landscape designer Maria von Brincken, APLD. "A designer sees the problems that you see, and often the ones you don't, and can offer solutions to create beautiful, functional and earthy-friendly landscapes to add to your lives."
Next, do your homework. Tear out favorite pictures from gardening magazines, and start making a file on what you would like for your dream garden. While not everything might be possible for your garden, it will give your landscape designer a visual starting point. Don't forget about hardscape such as patios, decks and fencing; designers can help with these also.
Take your time. Brincken warns of the temptation to impulsively buy plants at a garden center and attempt a garden make-over. This can be a costly gamble for those without experience. Many homeowners find that it takes the help of a designer to create a well-planned landscape project that includes both plants and hardscape.
While there is a cost to hiring a landscape designer, it is ultimately more economical to work with an expert to create a plan specific to your yard. The project is completed in a timely manner and within budget when you take your time and create a landscape plan. Expect to spend about 10 percent of the total cost of the project on the design.
Consider what you want to achieve with your landscape. "People are busy, and they want to have an outdoor space that makes them feel comfortable, not frustrated and worn out from gardening chores," says Judy Nauseef, APLD, of Iowa City, Iowa, and president of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (www.apld.org).
"They also want to maximize their investment in their home," she adds. 'Having a well-designed landscape gives the homeowner more living space and also helps with resale value."
Research and reach out to a few landscape designers. Be sure to interview several designers to find one who meets your needs and personality. Review the portfolio or Web site of each designer, and visit some of their work if possible. Finally, if you have a budget in mind, share this with the designer up front.
Get ready to get dirty. "You can hire a landscape designer for a range of services. You might choose to hire a designer for a two hour consultation for ideas and suggestions that you might implement yourself," says Patricia St. John, APLD, of Berkeley, Calif., and APLD incoming president. "You could also hire a designer to give you a complete design for your garden. When it comes to implementing the design you have choices -- involve the designer while you hire a recommended landscape contractor or even do some of the work yourself."
Also, you do not have to complete the whole plan at once. A landscape can be installed over a period of time as well. Homeowners can decide what areas are most important and start there.
Take the first step to a dream garden. With the help of a professional landscape designer, you can create a plan that will work for your landscape and you. Finding a designer is easy: visit www.apld.org.
Courtesy of ARAcontent - You should follow us on Twitter http://www.aracontent.com/images/9659_B167_rgb3.jpg Bring garden cheer into your home with color 8045480101 (ARA) - Even in the throes of winter, when most gardens are hibernating under a cold-weather blanket, it's easy to bring the warm, vibrant feelings of spring into the home with colors, textures and patterns.
From the saturated colors of fresh fruits and flowers to the neutral hues of pavers and fountains, the promise of new spring gardens can provide an endless source of decorating inspiration.
In fact, styling a home is much like planting a garden: Begin with a base color, then add pops of lively hues to complement the space. Reminiscent of violets in the garden, try purple vases on the fireplace mantel. Finally, add accents such as a green rug, as if there were freshly cut blades of grass underfoot.
The color experts at Sherwin-Williams have selected several botanical shades in the Refreshed palette of its Today's Colors collection. These bright hues look especially fresh when paired with light, natural wood tones.
"Our Refreshed palette is a playful exploration of a kaleidoscope of colors," says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. "It encourages the use of exuberant combinations like bright tangerine orange with sunny yellow - exactly what you would find in a springtime garden bouquet."
Using fabrics with botanical motifs is another way to reflect the cheery mood of spring renewal. Furniture upholstery, pillows and curtains can interweave organic elements into the home.
Experimenting with muted, natural colors is another twist on garden-style decorating. For example, the Treasured palette from the Today's Colors collection includes neutrals reminiscent of vintage, glazed pottery. Accent a room with an understated coral, yellow or green to give a home the feeling it has been well-loved for generations.
Relaxed neutrals are often at the center of nature's palettes, according to Jordan. Mixing in weathered browns or desert tans can add comfort and provide a serene backdrop for favorite flea market finds or energized colors, she says.
"To really bring a room to life, bring things that are living and growing into it; whether it be a beautiful orchid plant, magnolia leaves or a giant bowl of Granny Smith apples," says noted designer Larry Laslo, president of LL Designs.
Wonder whether a splash of spicy tomato red can add character to a living room or if weathered-stone grays can refine the walls of a master suite? Test colors without ever picking up a paint brush. The new Upload Your Own Photo feature at sherwin-williams.com allows do-it-yourselfers to experiment with the paint retailer's entire color spectrum, including interior and exterior facades.
To breathe easy while painting indoors in the midst of winter, try a low-odor, low-VOC paint. The paint's durability and ease of cleaning will keep a room looking as beautiful as the day it was painted.
To view the complete Sherwin-Williams Today's Colors collection, or to experiment with the new Upload Your Own photo feature on the Color Visualizer, visit sherwin-williams.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent - You should follow us on Twitter http://www.aracontent.com/images/9781_B265_rgb3.jpg Deter 'deer drama' this winter 8041850404 (ARA) - Deer do some of their worst damage to your garden, landscape, trees and shrubs in winter, when other food sources are hard to come by.
"In the early 1900s, there were probably only about half a million deer spread out all over the country," says James Messina of Messina Wildlife. "Today, there are more than 15 million. Deer, it turns out, adapt quite well to life in suburbia. Keeping them away from residential and commercial landscaping can help everyone - deer and homeowners - to co-exist more happily together."
With no place to go and not much left to eat in the dead of winter, deer can wreak havoc in your backyard and destroy new buds and leaves before they ever have a chance to grow. As seasons change, the preferred food sources of deer change as well.
Deer develop new browsing trails as food sources change with the seasons, and repeatedly follow them through the season until new food sources begin to appear. That's when the deer drama begins ….
Whitetail deer can consume, on average, 12 pounds of foliage a day. And in the winter, when natural food sources are scarce, they'll give homeowners more trouble than any other time of year. The more snow we get, the worse the problem becomes. A winter of consistent snow coverage is great for bulbs and perennials, but evergreens face the toughest challenge from hungry deer looking to survive.
Deer are creatures of habit, and contrary to popular belief, the majority of them do not migrate. Bucks are known to travel more than 100 miles, but does will stay within the same three to four square miles for their entire lives. This means the deer you see this year are probably the exact same deer you saw last year. It also means that once they've found a food source, potentially yours, they'll be back time and time again.
Fend off deer by applying repellents before you see the damage, encouraging the deer to move along and not include your landscape in their browse buffet.
Repellents rely on deer's strong sense of smell and range from commercial products to homemade concoctions of human hair, blood meal or chunks of deodorant soap. But traditional animal repellents have become less effective than they were decades ago, Messina notes.
"That's because many of those repellents rely on a bad smell - like the stench of a rotting carcass - to fool animals into thinking a predator's kill is in the area and the predator may be returning for it," he says. "But the number of predators out there has actually declined, and deer know it. They're much less afraid of predators, so relying on 'scare tactics' has a greater tendency to fail over time."
Some deer have also built up a resistance to chemical deterrents. Plus, increasingly eco-conscious homeowners prefer not to put potentially harmful chemicals into the environment.
More homeowners are turning to organic alternatives, like Deer Stopper, a repellent formulated from plant extracts. This organic option works because it confronts deer by using their natural repulsion to certain plant smells and tastes rather than relying on fear of predator tactics.
"We know that deer will eat more than 500 different types of plants," Messina says. "Normally, they're quite discriminating. But in fall and winter, they become less picky and much more of a threat to suburban landscapes. Still, like many wild animals, deer rely on taste and smell to judge if a food may be harmful to them. If your backyard foliage tastes or smells unpleasant to them, one bite and they'll move on."
Deer Stopper by Messina Wildlife Management is the only organic repellent in the country certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). An effective taste deterrent, Deer Stopper is 100 percent organic and completely safe for use on all types of plants and shrubs. OMRI lists it as approved for use by organic growers. The smell- and taste-based technology also eliminates the need to use foul, odor-based repellent products, which can be quite unpleasant for homeowners' use.
Deer Stopper actually smells good to humans. Lightly misting vegetation once a month, even during the cold and snowy winter, will keep deer away all season long.
This winter protect your plants and shrubs and create your own boundaries for foraging bucks and deer. Now you're in control of the drama.
For more information on Deer Stopper, retail store locations and other wildlife management repellents visit www.messinawildlife.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent - You should follow us on Twitter http://www.aracontent.com/images/9232_B37_rgb3.jpg Bring early spring to your home with indoor gardening 8038270404 (ARA) - Do images of flowering trellises laden with yellow, pink, green and purple blooms dance through your dreams? You may be ready for some warm spring-like temperatures, but the weather outside is still a little frightful. Ignore the weather and bring spring inside with some indoor gardening.
Not only does bringing spring inside help brighten your home, but houseplants can also improve the quality of the air you're breathing. A NASA study found that houseplants remove up to 87 percent of toxic indoor air inside a sealed chamber within 24 hours.
By planting now, while winter is still in the air, you will have vegetables, herbs and flowers primed for transplanting when warmer weather finally arrives. And since they're inside, you can watch the plants as they shoot their little green stems out of the fresh dirt, monitoring them as they grow.
* Use loose potting soil to promote root growth. Outside, worms and insects tunnel through the dirt, naturally breaking it up to help plants spread their roots. To mimic their effect indoors, use potting soil mixed with peat moss, vermiculite and perlite to create a light texture that won't compact after a couple of waterings.
* Make sure the natural light is adequate. Some plants like direct sunlight and must be located near a south-facing window, while others prefer a few hours of indirect light. But to really keep your herbs and flowers looking strong all season long, consider using artificial light like the Grow Light Pro White from Wards.com, which can also help you get your spring garden started early with seedlings. The Grow Light has four lights that can be turned on as a unit or individually, and it has an adjustable bottom shelf so you can alter the light level as your plants grow.
When plants don't get the light they need, they start to appear thin and frail. As your plants begin to grow, make sure to rotate the pots so the stems grow straight, rather than bending unnaturally toward the source of light.
* Keep the humidity level above 50 percent with a humidifier. Not only will your plants appreciate the extra moisture, but so will you. When the humidity drops below 50 percent, most plants suffer from water loss through their leaves, and it's difficult to regain that water balance, even with frequent watering.
* Really bring spring inside your home with beautiful pots and decorating accents. Visit Wards.com to find beautiful and creative birdhouses that not only are functional, but stylish enough to hang inside. Consider hanging a wire birdhouse in the shape of an acorn in the kitchen window, or using a set of two birdhouses as a unique decoration for your entryway.
* Mix art and fun together with some ivy. Ivy topiaries are very easy to grow, and there are many creative planters and forms you can use to support the ivy as it winds its way toward the sun. Are you a music fan? A guitar and music stand with little pots incorporated into the design can help brighten up your living room. Or maybe you prefer a vintage look created by placing a Madeline Dress Form over your vines, allowing them to grow and construct the skirt. Both styles are available at Wards.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent - You should follow us on Twitter http://www.aracontent.com/images/9136_B4_rgb3.jpg Gardening is making a popular comeback 8037810810 (ARA) - Change has come to America. The pop culture phrase "show me the money," boiling throughout business and industry, has cooled down and is forcing people to take a hard look at what is really important in life.
"Just look around you," says Susan McCoy, trend spotter and outdoor living expert. "Our relationship with money has changed. Hard work, common sense and a return to small-town values are causing a shift in priorities from boardrooms to backyards."
According to GMG's 2010 Garden Trends Report, "The rewards of growing your own - from basil to berries to flowers - are boundless," says McCoy.
Here is a glimpse of what McCoy and her team of trend spotters see for 2010.
* Edible gardens are in. Lawns are out.
Growing your own groceries is hotter than ever and is transforming homes and communities. A recent survey by the National Gardening Association shows a 19 percent burst of new hobby country farms and urban edible gardens over last year.
"It's time to reclaim our land for our greater good," says Margie Grace, the 2009 International Landscape Designer of the Year, awarded by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. "Take that food-producing garden from the back 40 and put it wherever we want. Reunite the ornamental with the edible - roses beside tomatoes, beds edged with herbs, and veggies used as annuals."
Grace is one of many wanting to "de-lawn" America. Front lawns are being transformed into vegetable and rain gardens. "Hell strips" - the patch of high-maintenance lawn or dirt between the sidewalk and street - are being planted with sustainable flowers, grasses and shrubs that need little to no care.
Gardeners with limited space are finding ways to have fresh herbs and vegetables in their kitchens. Innovative plant systems like Fertile Earth's new Simple Gardens come with soil, seeds and a how-to guide packed in stylish square containers that make it a snap to grow kitchen gardens in any bright spot. Just add water.
* Slow gardening is in. Instant gratification is out.
With the rising demand for locally-grown food, organic and energy-efficient products, people are gardening for the greater good. According to Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability, (LOHAS) seed sales are up 30 to 50 percent and canning saw a whopping 45 percent increase. Along with vegetables, people are planting and picking fruits and berries - especially blueberries and raspberries - for their nutritional value and ornamental good looks.
Many new products on the market are designed to help sustain the environment. Space-age technology saves gardeners time and water. AquaLok, a sustainable hydration system from Costa Farms, is a self-watering system for plants made from recycled soda bottles. It allows plants to thrive without drainage, and reduces watering needs by more than half.
For the do-it-yourself gardeners, add just a little GeoHumus, a new soil additive made from volcanic rock combined with state-of-the-art super absorbents, to all your containers and new plantings. It stores water and releases it to the plants on demand.
* Eco-boosting is in. Chemical-dependent gardens are out.
Demand is up for earth-friendly, sustainable and organic garden products, like the first OMRI-listed compost-based premium blend potting soil from Organic Mechanics Soil Company. The caviar of potting mixes, the all-purpose premier blend is easy to use for all your planting needs.
For all-natural garden products and animal and insect repellents that are environmentally safe for people, pets and plants, turn to innovative companies like The Liquid Fence Company. The company just released FreezePruf, a revolutionary spray that helps plants withstand fall frosts and spring frosts, extending the growing season by a couple of weeks in fall and spring.
* Multi-tasking is in. Single-purpose gardening is out.
Roofs are no longer just for parties. Green roofs are springing to life in cities and small towns, transforming barren space into lush gardens that help cool buildings, absorb rainwater, filter air pollutants, and create wildlife habitats.
Folks are bringing the outdoors in with houseplants. Mini orchids from Costa Farms are affordable, easy to care for, and come in a wide array of colors that are perfect for decorating rooms and gift-giving. Indoor plants are living art accents that provide oxygen, and remove carbon dioxide and harmful volatile organic compounds, 24/7. Check out these natural air-cleaning machines at www.o2foryou.org.
* Perennials and shrubs are in. Divas are out.
Sustainable landscapes, water conservation, perennials and small edible shrubs are hot as gardening with natives attracts needed pollinators and birds, critical for the balance of nature. Consumers are looking for plants that are easy care, have great color, and are pest- and drought-resistant, like the new hardy early and repeat blooming daylily - Jersey Earlybird 'Cardinal'.
Demand is up for sustainable hybrids like rhododendrons and grasses that provide great impact with little fuss. Look for a new hardy hybrid rhododendron and the first-ever tri-colored Hosta from Briggs Nursery. Rhododendron 'Trocadero' is a compact grower with bright red trusses and Hosta 'Trifecta' is a drought-tolerant stunner that helps shape landscapes with striking good looks and easy care.
Proceeds from The American Beauties Native Plant collection help support the National Wildlife Foundation's Backyard Habitat program. Families are connecting with each other - and the earth - as purposeful gardening for wildlife catches on. For a complete GMG 2010 Garden Trends report, visit www.gardenmediagroup.com.
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