Protect Your Home From Termites

Homeowners can take steps to tackle termites right now. A good first step is a professional termite inspection.

(NAPSI)-Termites could be eating you out of house and home and you might not even know it.

Termites are a problem in 49 out of 50 states. They cause homeowners an estimated $5 billion in damage and treatment costs each year, according to the National Pest Management Association.

That’s the equivalent of thousands of dollars of damage each year per house. While most evident during the swarm season, termites work 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

“Most people do nothing to treat for termites, which can put their homes at risk,” said Lance Walheim, Bayer Advanced™ Garden Expert and author of more than 30 gardening books.

The good news: There is no reason why homeowners themselves can’t kill termites. The destructive pests live in about 100 percent humidity, so a wet spring coupled with a damp, low-lying side of the house could spell trouble.

Spring is a great time to treat for termites as swarm season moves south to north through the country.

Contact your local county extension service to find out when the swarm season occurs in your area.

There are some measures you can take to prevent or tackle termites around your home right now. These help make your home less conducive to termites:

  • Fix plumbing and roof leaks.
  • Divert water at least 18 inches away from your house with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Also, check your irrigation system so it doesn’t spray the sides of your home.
  • Move firewood at least 10 feet away from the foundation of your home.
  • Don’t let mulch or soil touch siding on your home. Better yet, keep it about a foot away.
  • Prevent wood from touching the ground outside, except if the wood is pressure-treated.
  • Seal foundation cracks to help prevent moisture from entering your home.
  • Hire a professional to conduct a thorough annual termite inspection.
  • Sprinkle new Bayer Advanced™ Termite Killer granules around your home’s perimeter and water in the granules. The special formula penetrates the soil to get to the termites with much less labor than other do-it-yourself products. Termites will be killed with one application.
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You can learn more by visiting www.bayeradvanced.com or by calling 1-877-BAYERAG.

The Laundry Low-Down: A Closer Look At Common Laundry Myths

(NAPSI)-Just about everyone does it–yet few enjoy it. About once a week, you gather your family’s hampers and begin the never-ending chore of laundry. In fact, the average household washes more than 6,000 articles of clothing each year, as reported by the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA). As often as people do laundry, there are still some common laundry myths that you need to know the truth behind.

Myth 1: The bigger the bottle, the better.

Many laundry detergent brands are introducing concentrated formulas–detergents that get the job done using a fraction of the detergent that regular-sized products require. These small, yet powerful formulas perform just as well as their larger counterparts but are more environmentally friendly. Packaged in smaller bottles, they use less plastic and require less water in the manufacturing process. Plus, the smaller bottle is easier to carry, use and store.

Myth 2: Natural and “green” cleaning products aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Natural laundry products tend to get a bad reputation for being pricey, less effective and lacking in fragrance. Breaking this misconception, Purex® Natural Elements (www.purexnatural.com), a new detergent made with 100-percent naturally derived cleaning ingredients, is priced the same as other Purex detergents and has the same tough-on-stains cleaning power. It also uses natural fragrance extracts for a pleasantly fresh laundry experience.

Myth 3: The more detergent you use, the cleaner the clothes will be.

It’s important to use the suggested amounts–whether powder or liquid–as using too much or too little is not optimal. To tell if you’re using too much laundry detergent, check the lint trap in the dryer–if there is a lot of lint with each load, chances are you are using more soap than necessary.

Myth 4: Cool water is better for cleaning clothing.

Although cool-water washing does save energy, detergents are typically more effective in warm-to-hot water. However, lightly soiled clothes can be washed in cool or warm water. Just remember to use the recommended amount of detergent.

Myth 5: All detergents are created equal.

The age-old question has always been: Powder or liquid? Although the SDA reports the only difference is texture, liquid detergent is convenient for pretreating stains prior to washing and is especially effective on food, grease and oil stains.

With the 6,000 articles of clothing you may wash this year, laundry is more important than you may think, and it’s good to have a better understanding of how to make the most out of your cleaning experience.

A New Floor In The Old Room

Your hardwood floor is a soft touch for proper care.

cleaning-floors(NAPSI)-You’ll shine and so will your hardwood floor when you use the right care to keep it looking like new. Here are some sensible do’s and don’ts to follow:

First, do remember that if you’ve been cleaning your wood floors with vinegar and water, oil soap, furniture polish or window cleaner, you may be ruining your costly investment. While these cleaners may work well on some surfaces, hardwood floors are not one of them.

Excessive wet mopping with water and vinegar can cause wood to expand, possibly permanently damaging the floor in addition to dulling the finish. Other cleaners that have silicone, wax or oil soaps can leave a residue on the finish that will adversely affect the adhesion of a new coat of finish, requiring a complete sanding and finishing of your floors to remove it.

Cleaners that do not leave any residue allow you to periodically “pad and recoat” your floors, which involves having your hardwood floor-finishing professional deep clean and abrade your floor, then add a new coat of finish, which dramatically conserves time and money and keeps your floors looking like new.

One residue-free, proven hardwood floor cleaner formulated specifically for polyurethane-finished hardwood floors is BonaKemi’s Swedish Formula® Hardwood Floor Cleaner. This environmentally friendly, non-toxic, pH-neutral cleaner effectively cleans dirt, grease and sticky spills without leaving any dulling residue.

Preventative care of your floors is also extremely important for keeping hardwood floors looking like new. Simple activities such as vacuuming or sweeping floors regularly, promptly removing spills, placing mats at exterior doors in order to trap sand and grit, and using protective pads or caps on “feet” of furniture can all help in keeping your hardwood floors fresh. Also, avoid walking on your floors with high-heeled shoes and keep the nails of pets trimmed.

Yet, maintenance is just one piece of the puzzle in caring for your hardwood floors. When your floors are worn or damaged beyond what periodic recoating can restore, you will need a professional to refinish your floors.

Hardwood floor refinishing has traditionally been a dusty and inconvenient process. However, newer products and services, such as BonaKemi’s Environmental Choice System™, include sanding systems that eliminate dust, and Swedish waterborne finishes without the toxic fumes. The BonaKemi system is certified by the GreenGuard Environmental Institute for indoor air quality.

To learn more about caring for your floor, visit www.bonakemi.com.

Remedies For A Stressed-Out Lawn

Reaching The Grass Roots-A little lawn care and some good friends can make the grass greener on your side of the fence.

by John Buechner

(NAPSI)-Good weather is meant for picnics, barbecues and spending time with family and friends outdoors. Life is carefree and it’s time to relax. There’s only one problem: the effect that seasonal stress has on the green lawn that will serve as the backdrop of memories for years to come.

Most homeowners cringe at the thought of having a dried-out, dull lawn due to the stress that summer heat puts on grass roots. How are they going to deal with the reality of it come the fall season? There’s only one solution: proactive preparation.

This is a stressful time for lawns. Hot days in the early summer set the stage for a relentlessly hot, dry August and stressed-out turf. The high summer temperatures and lack of moisture cause most lawns to go dormant for several weeks, just in time for fall, leaving lawns desiccated and homeowners with a bad return on their investment.

Lawn Doctor, whose specialists help homeowners’ lawns recover from stressful summer conditions with periodic inspections and treatments, recommends:

Mowing

• When mowing, raise the mowing height to no lower than 3 inches. This height helps drive the roots deeper into the soil so they’re able to pick up moisture. And longer grass blades will shade the soil, reducing soil temperatures and heat stress.

Water And Aerate

• Consistently water the lawn with approximately 1 inch of water each week.

• Remember to aerate the lawn in the fall so grass roots have a better chance of getting oxygen for good growth.

Homeowners should be able to continue enjoying a lush, green lawn all season long. The best way to beat the heat is to maintain your lawn with proper mowing and watering, protecting your investment so your lawn looks beautiful and remains healthy throughout the season.

Changing your lawn care practices now is essential for beautifying your lawn and home. Continue to enjoy your time on your yard- without having to worry about summer stress.

For more helpful tips, log on to lawndoctor.com or call 1.800.4.LAWNDR (1.800.452.9637).

Mr. Buechner is the director of technical services for Lawn Doctor, Inc., one of the nation’s leading lawn- care service providers.

New Lawn Fertilizers Helping Families, Pet Owners ‘Green Responsibly’

Organic and organic-based fertilizers are becoming increasingly popular ways to “Green Responsibly.”

(NAPSI)-There should be nothing scary about watching your child or pet rolling around on the back lawn. Unfortunately, many conventional, chemical-based lawn fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides contain toxins that could put you, your children and the family pet at risk.

Concerns about potential health effects of chemical fertilizers and other lawn and garden products have spurred the development of innovative natural, organic and organic-based alternatives that enable concerned homeowners to “Green Responsibly.” These products are now appearing at leading national retailers such as Wal-Mart and Meijer as well as local lawn and garden stores.

“Homeowners used to be skeptical about organic and organic-based fertilizers because they didn’t believe they could produce the same lush, green lawn they enjoyed with chemical products,” said Jeff Jerousek, director of sales for Garden Way LLC. “Today, when used as directed, many of these new products actually offer better overall performance than chemicals and last longer.”

One of these products, Nature’s Touch Natural Organic-Based Lawn & Garden Fertilizer, is formulated to “green” the average lawn in just seven to 10 days and continue nurturing the treated area over a longer period. Nature’s Touch also is available with a “power package” of 300 enzymes that work in harmony with the environment to produce a deeper grass root structure and thicker lawn, according to the manufacturer. More important, the fertilizer contains no hazardous insecticides or herbicides.

The benefits of natural, organic and organic-based fertilizers are also important to operators of outdoor youth sports programs, public parks and pet recreation areas, hundreds of whom are being offered promotional Nature’s Touch fertilizer kits for the 2007 season.

“Many pet recreation areas don’t have much grass because the operators are concerned, rightly so, about using chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” Jerousek said. “The development of fertilizers and other products to alleviate those concerns will help create a better, cleaner, more enjoyable experience for the pets and their owners.”

More Consumers Going ‘Green’ With These Fall Lawn Care Tips

Going “green”-through the use of organic and/or organic-based fertilizers and weed, grass and insect killers-is a leading trend in the lawn and garden marketplace.

(NAPSI)-Autumn is a busy time for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those fast at work putting the final touches on their lawns and gardens. Thanks to an array of environmentally sensitive new products, homeowners can still go “green” while preparing their turf and planting areas for the cold months ahead and to jump-start next season.

Going “green”-through the use of organic and/or organic-based fertilizers and weed, grass and insect killers-is a leading trend in the lawn and garden marketplace, as consumers look for alternatives to standard synthetic fertilizers and pest control products to help protect themselves, their children, pets and the environment.

“We are seeing a growing market of consumers who are looking for ways to ‘Green Responsibly’ through the latest organic- and organic-based technologies,” said Jeff Jerousek, director of sales for Garden Way LLC. “Our society is becoming more cognizant of the potential effects of some chemical-based products, so they are far more interested in trying more responsible alternatives that can still deliver the results the consumer is looking for.”

One of these new alternatives, Nature’s Touch Natural Organic-Based Lawn & Garden Fertilizer, is formulated to “green” the average lawn in just seven to 10 days and continue nurturing the treated area for up to 12 weeks. The product also is available with a “power package” of 300 enzymes that work in harmony with the environment to produce a deeper, thicker turf root structure.

Jerousek offers these fall maintenance tips for a stronger, healthier lawn:

1. “Fall is the best time to strengthen an ailing lawn, thanks to cooler nights and increased rain, both of which promote turf recovery and rooting,” he said. He recommends fertilizing with the Nature’s Touch 15-1-3 formulation for thicker, greener turf.

2. “Drop your mowing cut height to 2 inches for the last mowing of the season. This helps thicken the root structure and can protect the lawn from winter-related stress.”

3. “Fall aerification helps feed oxygen to the lawn’s root structure, which sets the stage for enhanced color and density. Bagging also helps to prevent excess thatch buildup and allows turf to thicken and choke out weeds.”

For more information on how to “Green Responsibly” while producing lush, green lawn and garden areas, visit www.naturestouch.com.

Make Your Lawn Livable

(NAPSI)-The backyard can provide great additional living space for your family so long as you make it a comfortable, inviting place to be. Here are a few easy tips to help you spruce up your backyard this season:

• Ready your yard. Before you do any major backyard redecorating, you have to start with a clean canvas, and that means weeding. Herbicides are one option, but if you’re looking for a chemical-free way to weed the garden, roll up your sleeves and dig up the unwanted plants at the root-it’s effective and a great form of exercise.

• Give your white picket fence a makeover. If your picket fence needs a little TLC, don’t just paint it white again. Instead, cover it with vines to give your yard a rustic feel. Or involve the kids in your outdoor makeover by assigning them each a fence post to decorate any way they want-handprints, painted flowers, etc.

• Plant in pairs. Companion planting is the act of growing two different plants next to each other in order to promote growth, repel pests or attract helpful insects. In other words, it’s a great way to get your garden to do the work for you. For example, plant tomatoes next to roses or onions next to marigolds to help keep unwanted pests at bay.

• Store your stuff. It doesn’t matter how gorgeous your yard looks if you can’t see it through your clutter. Store gardening tools, lawn mowers and other backyard necessities in an outdoor storage shed from Lifetime Products. The all-weather shed will help protect your belongings from the hot sun and rain and the shed’s stylish wood-grain finish will keep the yard looking top-notch.

• Have a seat. Now that you’ve taken the time to spruce up your yard, make sure you have a place to sit and enjoy it. Create a seating area with all-weather chairs and tables so you can entertain, play or just relax in your spruced-up space.

For more information on keeping your yard clean and organized, visit www.lifetime.com.

Helping Your Garden Survive A Dry Spell

To cut down on water loss through evaporation, watering in the early morning or evening is best.

(NAPSI)-A prolonged period of hot, dry weather can be stressful for both gardeners and plants. That’s because heat, humidity, and low rain levels can ultimately lead to the devastation of lawns, shrubs and gardens.

While a drought can be a burden for any gardener, experts at Vigoro suggest several tips to maintain and keep your garden beautiful during a summer drought.

• Mulch properly-Use two to three inches of mulch around trees and shrubs and one to two inches around vegetable and flower plants to keep the soil temperature cooler and to keep moisture in the ground.

• Water early or late-To cut down on water loss through evaporation, watering in the early morning or evening is best.

• Use soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system-By using soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems, water can be directed to the root zone rather than the leaves, which causes less chance of evaporation.

• Use rainwater to water your plants-Save rainwater by putting a rain collector under downspouts from the roof. Use a watering can to directly apply the rainwater to plants.

• Plant drought-tolerant species-Choose annuals or perennials that can survive in high heat, high humidity and low water conditions.

Recently, Vigoro, a supplier of lawn and garden products, introduced a line of over 200 annuals and perennials, including several drought-tolerant species. The drought-tolerant annuals include Cleome, Coleus, Marigolds, Petunias, Begonias, Phlox, Salvia and Zinnia, while perennials such as Tickseed, Sage, Hollyhock and Iceland Poppy can also be a wise choice for gardens experiencing drought conditions.

For more gardening tips and a listing of Vigoro’s annuals and perennials, visit the Web site at www.vigoro.com.

Creating An Outdoor Sanctuary

(NAPSI)-Be it a small urban terrace or a palatial deck, it’s fun to turn an outside space into your own private sanctuary.

To help, lifestyle expert, HGTV personality and best-selling author Susie Coelho, who has a home collection on QVC, offers some tips:

  • Re-create the comfort of an indoor retreat by using outdoor rugs, decorative outdoor pillows and colorful umbrellas. Stretch your dollar further by getting reversible pillows that have a print on one side and a solid on the other.
  • Surround yourself with votives, sconces and candles. Hanging lanterns adds a colorful and festive touch.
  • Adding the sound of running water with a water feature can turn any outdoor space into a peaceful sanctuary. Wall art pieces can add a great European feel to even the smallest of spaces.
  • Create a fun and entertaining area with all the amenities. Fire pits are the chic version of sitting around the campfire. Add a bar, outdoor grill, plenty of seating and mood lighting with lanterns and votives to liven up the party.
  • If you have the space, create an outdoor room with a portable pavilion. Fill it with all the comforts of home, like you would a living or dining room area. Add candles, magazines, throw pillows and lanterns. Drape an inexpensive gauze fabric over an umbrella or arch for a romantic feel.

For information on her Susie Coelho At Home collection, visit www.QVC.com or call (800) 345.1515.

Making Do-It-Yourself Projects Easier

All-in-one products can make household projects easier to handle.

by John Buechner

(NAPSI)-It seems there’s no place like home for making improvements. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, Americans spent more than $168 billion on home improvements and repairs in 2006.

Whether you’re repairing a rusty fence, keeping furniture in shape or doing simple chores, there are ways to make household projects easier.

Tools Of The Trade

Be sure you’ve got the right tools on hand, in working order and ready to go. It also helps to keep an all-in-one product around, since you never know what one project will lead to.

For instance, something called Jig-A-Loo is known as a “lubripellent”-an invisible, all-around lubricant and water repellent with hundreds of practical uses. It’s meant to stop squeaks, unstick just about anything, protect against the elements and more. The pleasant-smelling potion (think cream soda) can be used with surfaces ranging from wood and metal to leather and fabric. The product’s unique name was derived from “Tsi-gi-dou,” a French-Canadian phrase for “I’ve got it!,” which the inventor exclaimed when he found the winning formula. It quickly morphed into the more phonetic “Jig-A-Loo,” and the product has been a mainstay in Canadian homes and garages ever since.

In fact, its fans have been using it for 50 years. They recently submitted their favorite uses for the spray. Here’s a look at some ideas:

Inside

• Keep your door hinges, bed, shower curtain and clothesline squeak-free.

• Loosen rusty nuts and screws.

• Shine leaves of artificial houseplants.

Outside

• Prevent grass from sticking to lawn mower blades and motor.

• Keep garden plant boxes bright and rust-free.

• Keep flowerpots from sticking together when stacked in storage.

• Lubricate hurricane shutters, swing sets and hinges on pruning shears.

• Help remove rusty nails from lawn furniture.

• Keep wicker chairs from squeaking.

Fashion

• Provide all-weather protection to shoes and leather.

• Unkink gold chains.

• Loosen screws in watchbands to enable link removal.

For Fun

• Lubricate ski and snowboard bindings.

• Quiet squeaky piano pedals.

• Spray on tents to repel water.

• Protect hatches and hatch locks on boats against salt water while lubricating.

• Prevent fishing flies from rusting.

You can find the product at Wal-Mart, Home Depot and other stores. Visit www.jigaloo.com for more information.