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Home Improvement

Jump-start Spring with Your Children by Growing Seeds F

or children anticipating the barefoot season, the spring may seem an end- less march of rainy days and almost

winter-like weeks. If your children are ready to jump-start spring inside, and are searching for some- thing that sparks their imaginations, starting beautiful flowers or delicious vegetables from seed is a great beginning. The Miracle- Gro Kids Gardening Kits are an easy edu- cational way for your children to tend and nurture plants, watch the seeds germinate, spread roots and grow toward the sun. This is the perfect opportunity for your

children to get their hands dirty. Simply mixing the Miracle-Gro Gro-Mix supplied, water and a seed, covering the pots with the greenhouse lid, and remembering to keep the plants watered will start your chil- dren down the gardening path. They will be counting down the days until they can transplant their sprouts into the backyard or a pot on the stoop, porch, balcony or patio. With spring just around the corner, try some other fun indoor activities with your family: * What is growing in my greenhouse? While seedlings are busy growing into big, strong plants, take your children on a tour of a local market, flower shop or library to research what they are growing at home. For example, if you plant peppers, head over to the fresh produce department and

purchase several different pepper varieties. Have your children taste, feel, and smell each kind to familiarize themselves with the vegetables and learn about the different varieties. * Have a fun art day. Work with your

children to diagram where they will trans- plant their flowers and vegetables into the backyard on paper with crayons, stickers and other art supplies. If they are a little bit older, ask them to measure the size of your flower bed or vegetable plot, and help them convert the size into a smaller design. Add the vegetables and flowers you would like to grow as well. Find books at the library that discuss the benefits and consequences of planting different types of plants next to one another. Having these diagrams will make it easy for your children to find the perfect place to put their sprouts once the time arrives for transplanting. * Experiment in the kitchen. Children

love to play and experiment with food, so invite them to investigate recipes that will incorporate some of the vegetables and flowers they may be growing. For example, pansies and nasturtiums are tasty and work well as edible decorations on desserts, sal- ads or in fruity drinks. If your children like lasagna, find a recipe that includes those peppers they are growing. You can help them develop a recipe memory book based on their greenhouse gardens, complete with

photos of them planting the seeds, journals of the care they gave the plants and the final recipes using the ingredients they grew with their own two hands. * Rainy day exploration. Go to Miracle- and explore the many projects and activities the gardening experts at Scotts have designed with your kids in mind. Try making one of the great kids’ recipes or print out some of the fun

learning activities for a fun way to explore gardening even in the rain. Getting your hands dirty with your chil- dren inside is the best way to start spring just a little bit early this year. Your family will love watching the development of the vegetables and flowers they started inside.

Revitalize Your Lawn after a Long Winter E

very spring, homeowners head outside to take stock of how the winter treated their lawn. Homeowners in areas that experience heavy snow or rainfall each

winter likely do not look forward to this inventory, fearful of what another harsh winter did to their property. Fallen tree branches, frozen ground and winter wind storms can do a number on even the most well-manicured lawns, turning a summertime labor of love into a nightmare. While homeowners might not be able to do anything

about the weather, there are ways to revitalize a lawn each spring. And you don’t have to be an accomplished land- scaper to handle the task. The following tips can help bring your luscious lawn back to life, helping make winter a distant memory. * Remove all debris from your yard. Debris includes any

Area News Group


Windham News

April 22, 2011 Page 16

trash in the yard, wood, large roots, fallen branches, and even stones. The presence of trash such as broken glass or even faded paper products such as cups or bags is not only unsafe for the environment, but it can prove harmful to anyone who might be out in the yard once your grass grows, especially if you have children. Oftentimes, winter winds can blow trash from nearby garbage cans across the yard, no mat- ter how neatly homeowners put out their trash. * Smooth the soil. Once all debris been removed, examine

the soil for any abnormalities that might need to be smoothed out. Use a spade or rake to smooth any areas that aren’t up

to par. Next you’ll want to loosen the soil as well, something that can be done with a garden rake. Any unsightly areas, such as humps or ditches, should either be smoothed out or filled in, depending on which is appropriate. This can be done with some soil and should not prove too costly. * Consider seeding the lawn if need be. For lawns that took

a particularly harsh beating over the winter, consider seeding the lawn to help revitalize it. When seeding a lawn, be sure you choose the right seeds. Different regions respond better to different types of grass. But don’t be intimidated if you don’t know the correct grass to choose. Simply ask a land- scaper or consult a lawn care specialist at a nearby home improvement center as to which type of grass is the best fit your region and your yard. When you’re read to seed, the seed can be scattered by

hand for smaller yards, or with a drop spreader for larger lawns. When spreading with a drop spreader, use the sug- gested amount of seed on the bag (even a little less seed should do the trick) and make sure you spread out the rows evenly in the same direction. Once you’ve sowed the first part of your lawn in one direction, you can crisscross back over that part at a 90-degree angle, making sure you keep equal distance and calibrate your spreader at the same speed. * Add mulch for aesthetic and practical appeal. Moist helps the soil, and can also add aesthetic appeal to a lawn.

Moist helps the soil by allowing it to retain moisture, making it more conducive to growing healthy grass. When laying mulch down, keep the mulch at roughly a quarter-inch to ensure your lawn will grow in nicely.

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Enhance Pride in Your House with These Curb Appeal Projects A

s warmer weather approaches, it’s a great time to take a look out your windows and see what the view of your home is offering your neighbors. Are there any areas of your land-


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scaping or home’s exterior that could use a bit of an upgrade to help boost your home’s curb appeal? Whether you intend to live in your home for several years, or

have plans to list your house on the real estate market soon, en- hancing your home’s curb appeal can boost your enjoyment of the property and attract potential buyers. Plenty of projects can improve the look of your home without requiring you to spend a fortune on remodeling, changing the siding or landscaping the entire front yard. Here are a few ideas you can try on your house: * Upgrade the mailbox. Mailboxes over time can start to look dingy and rusted from being out in the elements. Building a perma- nent brick or stone structure to hold a mailbox can add appeal to your yard, and also help protect the metal mailbox from additional rusting. * Add or update the lights by your front door or along the

driveway. A beautiful glow in the evenings welcomes visitors (and buyers) to your home, at the same time providing you with addi- tional security. Many wall, overhead, post and hanging lights styles

are designed to work outdoors to add panache to your home and landscaping.

* Brighten up your landscaping and decorate your house with

flowers and maybe even some new shrubbery. If you can, add win- dow boxes of vine plants mixed in with colorful blooms. Decorate along the driveway or around the mailbox with small green bushes. If you have a walkway through the front yard, consider lining it with a small and attractive fence. Or add a few pots of pretty flowers next to the garage doors to splash around a little color. * Replace your old, worn-out windows with new replacement

windows. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2010-2011 Cost vs. Value report, installing low-maintenance replacement windows is ranked as one of the best home improvement projects for your money. They can help reduce energy bills and add instant appeal to your home. Plus, windows that meet ENERGY STAR performance criteria qualify for the 2011 tax credit, adding to the overall value of replacement windows. Paul Delahunt, president of Renewal by Andersen, says of all the

improvement projects a homeowner can start, window replacement is one that actually takes very little effort on the homeowner’s part, but can make your house more beautiful and energy efficient - two benefits you can enjoy for many years to come.

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every step of the way,” says Dela- hunt. “By selecting a professional company that can handle their entire replacement project start-to- finish, homeowners can sit back, relax and let us do all the work.” Delahunt adds that new windows can also help with those dreaded spring cleaning projects. Since Renewal by Andersen windows are made with Fibrex framing material, for example, they do not require upkeep such as ongoing scraping and painting. He suggests visiting to see how new, beautiful windows can elevate the look of your home.

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of your house can do a lot for the pride you have in your home and for drawing prospective buyers if you decide to put your house on the market. Tackling some of these proj- ects can go a long way in making your curb appeal stronger.

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