Home Help: Know the dos and don’ts of fertilizer use

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Garden Guide: Tips for safe and effective use of pesticides, fertilizers

It's that time of the year when homeowners face the challenges of keeping problem insects and weeds away from home gardens and yards while staying within the family budget.

The pesticides and fertilizers available at local hardware and home improvement stores are designed specifically to help with these tasks, but choosing the right products and using them correctly is something everyone must consider.

Here are some basic guidelines to help homeowners choose the right products and use them correctly: 

Identify the problem: Different pesticides and fertilizers are formulated to work in various ways, so positively identifying the problem is vital. If this is unclear or unknown, ask a qualified expert or local extension agent.

Determine the best method of control: Research the best, most effective, most economic solution to the specific problem at hand. Sometimes pesticides or fertilizer products are the answer, other times a different solution might be appropriate.

Read and follow all label directions: If pesticides or fertilizers are needed, remember the label is the law. Read the label carefully for mixing and application instructions, as well as other precautionary information such as wearing proper clothing or product drying time after application.

Use only what is needed: Measure, mix and use the right amount of product needed for the task at hand. Don't over-apply, but don't under-apply either. Read the directions and follow them to the letter.  

Store products in a clean, dry area: Always store any unused pesticide or fertilizer products away from weather or direct sunlight. Make sure all products are stored out of reach of kids and pets.

If used properly, pesticides and fertilizers are a helpful tool. They control, kill or moderate unwanted and dangerous pest populations ranging from stinging insects to vegetable-destroying fungus to noxious weeds.

When used according to label directions and applied as directed, they have the potential to make a positive impact on gardens and green spaces.

-- ARA

Decorating Tip: Incorporate Feng Shui

Feng Shui (pronounced fung sch-way) connects what is seen (environment) with what is unseen (energy), often referred to as chi (pronounced chee).

Chi can be found in your color scheme and placement of objects, with each color symbolizing different characteristics.

Green symbolizes life, growth, vitality and energy. Yellow and earth tones represent health, while blue is symbolic of knowledge and red is used for power.

-- ARA

Home-Selling Tip: Set your price carefully

Setting the price of your home is a crucial step toward selling. Too high and buyers may not consider it, too low and you're selling yourself short.

Realtors often give a free home market analysis if you ask. This gives you an idea of how your home compares financially with similar, recently sold homes in your area. The analysis may also include how much you might expect to earn after closing.

-- www.statefarm.com

How To: Check your deck for safety

May is Deck Safety Month. Here are some tips from the North American Deck and Railing Association:

- Check different areas of the deck to make sure the wood is still sound. Pay special attention to areas that tend to remain damp.

- Examine fasteners like nails, screws or anchors for rusting or corrosion.

- Railings and banisters should be secure. Make sure there is no give. Rails should be no more than 4 inches apart to keep children and pets from squeezing through.

- If the deck has mildewed, make time to clean it and apply a new waterproofing coating.

- If there are trees overhanging the deck, make sure there is no danger of decaying limbs breaking free onto the deck.

Did You Know …

If your current refrigerator was made before 1993, it uses twice as much energy as a newer Energy Star qualified model. -- www.energystar.gov

Home Improvements: Clean your cooling coils

When was the last time you had your air conditioning system’s cooling coils cleaned? Doing so can help extend the life of your system and ensure it is functioning at peak efficiency.

Cooling coils, which resemble a car radiator, are typically located on top of or inside the air-handling unit in the mechanical room. Over time, household dust and air contaminants including fabric particles, skin cells, animal dander and other debris collect on the coils.

While your furnace filter will reduce debris -- assuming you keep the filters clean -- it's impossible to completely eliminate it, and what gets through will end up on the coils.

While coils may not need to be cleaned annually, they should be inspected every year. It's best to leave the inspection and any necessary cleaning to a trained professional.

-- ARA

Backyard Buddies: Find the best spot for a birdhouse

Try to place your birdhouse where it is shaded from the hot sun. A little morning sun will not hurt.

Most birds like a clear flight path into the nest box. To attract birds, you might try placing a small piece of dried moss inside.

Different habitats attract different birds. Observe the bird you want to attract in its natural habitat and try to recreate it. Provide bird feeders and water. Do not put the food too close to the birdhouse or birds may not use it for fear of predators.

-- www.all-birds.com

GateHouse News Service