Home Help: What do you do with your HDTV?

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Home Improvements

On Feb. 17, 2009, television is going digital, a move that will make millions of analog sets obsolete. You don’t have to get a digital TV (you can purchase a DTV converter box or subscribe to cable or satellite), but if you do, what do you do with it?

With today’s TVs, you have more options than simply setting it on top of a stand or cabinet. You can also hang it from the wall like a picture frame, or even mount it overhead in the corner of a room. “The possibilities are really endless thanks to innovations in the technology available to support these TVs,” said Jim Wohlford, vice president and general manager of Sanus Systems, a manufacturer of audio video furnishings, mounts and accessories. (ARA)

Did You Know …

You can clean your drains with baking soda and vinegar, an environmentally friendly and pipe-friendly option – and it’s fun to watch the soda fizz up! The general rule is to use about 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar.

Checkout Lane: Ensure Plants Match Your Property

With the spring gardening season just around the corner, it may be time to start looking for a tree to fill that empty space in the yard. But before visiting the local nursery, shoppers should note the conditions in which they will be planting.

Chris Kennedy, owner of Kennedy's Country Gardens in Scituate, Mass., said tree shoppers should get a feel for the soil (sandy or clay-based), sunlight and moisture conditions of their gardens.

These conditions will allow the local nursery specialist to recommend suitable options.

Kennedy said, traditionally, customers look for either a shade tree or an ornamental flowering tree, depending on the space they need to fill. But he said a more utilitarian trend is taking root.

“This is an old practice, but it's become a little more in vogue with the green movement,” Kennedy said. “You plant a tree near a house so that when the tree loses its leaves in the winter, it allows more sunlight, and in the summer it shades the house.”

That said, Kennedy said flowering trees are still by far the most popular  - particularly Kousa dogwoods and magnolias.

“Anything that blooms, people want big showy flowers on their trees,” said Amanda Eaton, a landscape designer.

Kousa dogwoods, in particular, have become popular because of their resistance to pests and disease - an important factor. Kennedy said he tries to steer people away from pest-prone trees - such as cherry, which, he said, attract caterpillars - and toward more easily maintained ones.

“With people not having a whole lot of extra time, we try to recommend those that are more easy to grow,'' he said.

In particular, he recommends Carolina silverbells and Japanese snowbells for their disease-resistant nature.

Eaton said it's her job to make sure people don't make a mistake when buying trees.

“The objective is not to change their mind, but to persuade them to go with something right for the area,'' Eaton said. “It might be cute and little now, but in five or 10 years it may double in size.”

A 6- to 8-foot tree generally costs $175 to $300, Kennedy said, while some run higher than $500. (The Patriot Ledger)

How to Keep Ants Out of Your Home

With backyard barbeques, pool parties and afternoon picnics come uninvited houseguests – ants. One by one, trails of tiny black specks make their way into homes across the country, but knowing how they come in and how to keep them out can stop a pesky, pest-filled season.

Many factors prevent ants from making a home their own or keep them from returning. Ants are looking for food, water and shelter. By eliminating their access to these, ants will be forced to seek homes elsewhere. Homeowners can:

- Remove mulch and debris from lawns and around foundations, as ants often use landscaping elements for shelter and food sources or as aids to enter homes.

- Bushes, shrubs and tree limbs should be trimmed so they do not contact the roof or walls of a home, eliminating a point of entry into the home.

- Elevate pet food and water bowls outside and be sure to repair leaking faucets to avoid creating a potential water source for ants.

“A common mistake many people make when attempting to control ants is simply spraying the ones they see,” said Deanna Branscome, technical representative at Syngenta, a manufacturer of professional pest control products. “Typically, thousands more, the ‘colony,’ are hidden somewhere in a nest, including the egg-laying queens. Reaching the queen is the key to long-term ant control.” (ARA)

Backyard Buddies

Love them or loathe them, most birders agree they don’t want squirrels in the feeder, where they can damage the feeder itself and devour seed meant for the birds.

One alternative is to stock your feeder with a seed that the birds will love but squirrels will hate. Squirrels will eat just about anything you put out for birds … anything except spicy seeds. Cole’s Hot Meats infuses sunflower meats with a Habanero chili pepper and safflower oil that birds find delicious but squirrels simply hate. The blend is a safe, effective and a humane way to feed the birds and not the squirrels. (ARA)

GateHouse News Service