Around your house

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


This week in your garden

Pinch azaleas and rhododendron blossoms as they fade. Double flowered azaleas need no pinching. Fertilize azaleas after bloom. Use a formulation which has an acid reaction. Apples, crabapples and hawthorns susceptible to rust disease should have protective fungicidal sprays applied beginning when these trees bloom. Plant hardy water lilies in tubs or garden pools. Keep bluegrass cut at 1.5 to 2.5 inch height. Mow tall fescue at 2 to 3.5 inch height. Place cutworm collars around young transplants. Collars are easily made from cardboard strips. --

Home tips

Nature and the great outdoors

Some think weekends are "for the birds," and they make extra effort to welcome them. Wild birds are extremely beneficial for both your yard and garden, as well as being simply enjoyable for their beauty. Besides adding active life and cheerful sounds, birds devour large quantities of insects and are one of the best natural means of keeping pests in check all summer long. Strategically adding feeders, bird seed, and nectar or sweet liquids for hummingbirds, will draw birds in and keep them in view for hours of Mother Nature's free entertainment. For best results, keep feeders in the open away from shrubbery and not too close to buildings. If you have a kitty roaming outdoors, add a bell to give the birds fair warning. -- AP

Home improvement

Solving hardwood cracking

Q. I installed some hardwood flooring in my house last summer. My house is one level but there's a walk-out basement, and the fireplace below runs ducts to two rooms up above. These ducts are under the hardwood flooring and have caused some cracking in the floor. What do I do?

A. Hardwood floors already have a very low amount of moisture, and further heat can damage them. You'll need to re-route the ducts using rigid double-wall pipes.

For further protection, you might want to insulate the floors, having the pipes routed below the insulation. Also, staple on a reflector material such as tinfoil. As for the wood that has already been cracked, you may want to try using a humidifier in the room. Hopefully the flooring will re-absorb some of the lost moisture. -- AP

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