Home Help: Garden superstars for spring

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Garden Guide: Brighten up the backyard

From picture-perfect roses to containers that are works of art, spring 2009 promises wonderful color and exciting new products for garden lovers everywhere.

Here are some picks for spring that look great, are easy to grow, are good for the environment and perform well in the backyard garden.

Let the sun shine 

"Sunny Knock Out," the newest addition to the Knock Out Family of Roses lives up to the Knock Out reputation for blooming continuously with little to no effort, and is naturally resistant to rust, mildew, blackspot, Japanese beetles and rose midge, making it easy to avoid harsh chemicals.

It is bright yellow, the latest trendy color, and has a mild, sweet fragrance. From Canada to the Gulf states, you can expect the same profusion of sunny blooms on this compact shrub that grows up to 4.5 feet tall, making it perfect to mix in flower beds, for mass plantings or as a specimen plant.

Tropicals sizzle

Add lots of color right up until fall's first frost with the new Sun Parasol Crimson mandevilla. This easy tropical from Costa Farms has huge crimson red, bell-shaped velvety blooms that cover the 12- to 15-foot vines, making it perfect for hanging baskets, containers, climbing up a trellis or in a landscape.

Available in "Pretty" and "Giant" sizes, Sun Parasol Crimson comes in a 10-inch hanging basket or a 6-inch pot with or without a trellis. Either way, the saucer-sized blooms will add some tropical zest to your garden landscape, decks, patios and apartment balconies. Plant these beauties in six to eight hours of sun each day.

Grow ‘em right

Start your containers off right with peat-free, organic potting soil. The Organic Mechanics “Container Blend” is made of 100 percent organic materials from recycled agricultural waste products. With this rich potting mix, you’ll water less but your container plants will flower more and look greener. Plus the nutrient-rich product is reusable, a real cost benefit for gardeners.

-- ARA

Decorating Tip: Make little changes for spring

Springtime means flowers, rain showers and spring cleaning. Why not spruce up your décor, too?

- Change out artwork or family photos as the seasons change to keep things fresh.

- The same can be said for small decorative items like pillows and throws. Keeping a neutral color palette will allow you to add blasts of color depending on the season -- muted, citrusy colors are in for spring.

- Replace heavy drapes with light, linen or sheer fabrics to open up a room and allow natural light to come in. Slipcover the sofa or chairs with a floral print or pale, springy colors.

-- ARA

How to: Create more space without moving walls

Bulky space-consuming furniture is on its way out. Beautiful space-saving wood cabinetry is in, taking its rightful place throughout the home.

Cabinetry can fit just about anywhere, such as bathrooms, foyers and hallways, and kids' smaller bedrooms.

Consider replacing old dressers and other unwieldy bedroom furniture with cabinets that line walls or fit snugly into closets. And in smaller homes, closed-door cabinetry or open bookshelves placed strategically as room dividers between living and dining areas, and all along walls, can generate new space by increasing storage options.

Not only does cabinetry utilize space better than furniture throughout the home, it helps you get organized and stay that way.

-- ARA

Did You Know …

If you have wood furniture that has a clear coat of varnish on it, car wax can be used to give it a brilliant shine. Test first on a piece that is not very noticeable. -- www.creativehomemaking.com

Home Improvements: Vinyl a popular choice for decks

An estimated four million new decks are built annually in the U.S. This rising trend has led manufacturers to offer a wider variety of deck materials, styles and options.

While wood has traditionally won the popularity contest for decks due to its natural appearance, vinyl is becoming a choice material.

- Vinyl decks are virtually maintenance-free, requiring only a yearly power-wash to maintain, whereas wood fades and deteriorates with costly regular stain and sealant applications.

- Vinyl has a higher up-front cost than wood, it lasts longer and delivers a better return on investment.

- When shopping for the right deck supplier, look for a complete vinyl package that includes compatible vinyl rails, posts and trim to create an integrated look.

-- ARA

Backyard Buddies: Feed birds, not squirrels

Squirrels can be cute until they stake their claim to your bird feeder. They can eat large amounts of seed, destroy bird feeders, and chase birds away. When squirrels claim your feeder as their territory, it is hard to get rid of them.

One of the most effective tactics is taste aversion. Simply put, if the seed you serve tastes bad to squirrels, they'll seek sustenance elsewhere.

Cole's Hot Meats squirrel-proof wild bird feed and Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce appeals to birds but turns squirrels off with a chili-pepper oil. Birds lack the receptors that make chewing chili peppers such an eye-watering experience for mammals -- they can eat peppers all day long and never feel a thing.

-- ARA

GateHouse News Service