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Archives for September 19, 2014

Moneta couple recognized by buffer landscape committee

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Eloise and Larry Vass recently received recognition from the SMLA Buffer Landscape Committee for work at their Moneta home.

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The Vasses have preserved a number of tall trees to provide shade and established plantings along the steps to their dock.

Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2014 10:01 am

Moneta couple recognized by buffer landscape committee

Eloise and Larry Vass of Moneta were the recipients of a certificate of recognition from the Smith Mountain Lake Association’s Buffer Landscape Committee this month.

The couple, who have been gardening on their property for 18 years, have preserved many tall hardwood trees between their house and shoreline, while eliminating turf grass and creating a beautiful shaded walk down the steps to their dock. Their plantings include mature rhododendron, azalea, hydrangea, dogwood, redbud, iris, lily of the valley and native grasses, along with many bulbs and perennials.

The trees are spaced openly enough to provide a natural-looking, framed view of the lake. Set among the landscaping are benches and chairs providing a resting place to enjoy the sight.

The Buffer Landscape Certificate recognizes Smith Mountain Lake property owners who are actively preserving the lake by installing a buffer garden, sometimes known as a “riparian buffer,” at the shoreline. The committee takes nominations from the public, as well as self-nominations.

Nominations for thonominate a friend or neighbor to be recognized for the work they have done on their property to protect the lake, or you can self-nominate. There is a Recognition Program entry form on our website. To learn more about buffer landscaping and its’ benefits, or find out how to schedule a home visit for advice and ideas, visit the SMLA website ( and go to the “Buffer Landscaping” link on the left.

Also, mark your calendars. The Buffer Landscape Committee and SMLA will be hosting an event, Your Waterwise Landscape, on Sunday, April 12, 2015 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the W.E. Skelton 4H Center, 775 Hermitage Road, Wirtz, VA. It will be a day of displays and seminars about what you can do personally to protect the beautiful lake and surrounding streams and creeks we live near.

Submitted by Meg Brager


Thursday, September 18, 2014 10:01 am.

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Madison Chamber of Commerce’s new program focuses on local contractors

Pictured, (clockwise right to left) are John Sanfelice, Fulton Bank; Kate Salko, Tomkat Fine Woodworking; Robbin Salmeri, Cleaners Advantage; John Morris, Stewart-Morris Awards, Gifts Flags/President of the Chamber; Kevin McCormack, McCormack Contracting; Kevin Lein, Kevin Lein Carpentry; Mark Fabyanski, New View Home Exteriors; Jim Wright, Pilot Construction; Paul Giglio, PipeWorks Services; Georgette Limbach, Limbach Landscaping; Steven Jensen, Jensen Contruction; Andrea Walker, Smartly Organized’ John Barba, House Doctors or Morris. (courtesy photo)  

The Madison Chamber of Commerce introduces a new program to its organization for local contractors. The new Contractors Forum is a community of professional contractors networking and discussing business and trade knowledge in the industry.

“The Madison Chamber of Commerce has been a great partner for us as we have grown our business. We are confident that this forum will provide even more value through added services uniquely developed and designed for professional contractors in the Madison area.” said John Barba, owner of House Doctors of Morris, 66 Main St.

“The chamber continues to add programs to its organization and strives to give value to its members.” said Karen Meyer, the chamber’s executive director. “We feel strongly that our contractors have a place to network.”

The chamber recently added to its website a contractor tab in the directory, giving a place for those to go to find the best local contractors around. The website also offers a place to advertise giving any chamber business valuable exposure.

“With today’s technology it is tough to actually know who’s local. Many businesses just use local addresses to bring them up in local searches, when in fact, they could be located anywhere using subcontractors and or day help. Having our link on the chamber site will give the consumer definite knowledge that they are dealing with a local contractor,” said Kelly Corbett, owner of Corbett Lock.

“The Contractor’s Forum is an ideal way for us to communicate with fellow contractors to share new ideas and possibly assist with information in our trade that could be useful and possibly benefit existing and future clients,” said Corbett.

“We have some of the best local contractors in the area; most have lived in Madison or the surrounding area for their entire lives,” said Meyer. “They have strong reputations, a wealth of experience and provide excellent customer service.”

The chamber will be presenting a new contractor each month through a news release and photo.

The participants at the Sept. 18 meeting were: John Sanfelice of Fulton Bank, 18 Elmer St.; Kate Salko of Tomkat Fine Woodworking, 973-443-0544; Robbin Salmeri of Cleaners Advantage, 888-471-7676; John Morris, President of the Chamber and owner of Stewart-Morris Awards, Gifts Flags, 71 Kings Rd.; Kevin McCormack of McCormack Contracting, 39 Main St.; Kevin Lein of Kevin Lein Carpentry, 917-723-4559; Mark Fabyanski of New View Home Exteriors, 201-858-1511; Jim Wright of Pilot Construction, 973-769-5959; Paul Giglio of PipeWorks Services, 973-635-3111; Georgette Limbach of Limbach Landscaping, 973-377-4715; Steven Jensen of Jensen Construction, 973-377-4600; Andrea Walker of Smartly Organized, 917-846-9953 and John Barba of House Doctors of Morris, 66 Main St.

The contractor forum meets on the third Thursday of every month at 7 a.m., at the Nautilus Diner, 95 Main St. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 16.

For more information, contact The Madison Chamber of Commerce by email at or call 973-377-7830.

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Is that Home Repair Worth It?

When it comes to upgrading your home, not all projects are created equal.

“People will do massive remodeling projects, whether it’s a kitchen or bathroom, and they turn around and try to flip their house thinking they’ll automatically get their money back and that’s not going to happen,” says Elizabeth Dodson, a home improvements expert and co-founder of  HomeZada “There are things you can do to give you the bulk of your money back, but nothing gets you a 100%.”

Before starting a project, it’s important to know the market and calculate the potential return on the investment for any projects that are not purely for enjoyment. Installing a new HVAC system or upgrading to granite counter tops in the kitchen may seem like good ideas to increase the value of a house, but the return on investment only comes if other homes in the area have those offerings.

“Renovations that make the home’s value above the median list price for the area can make it more difficult for homeowners to get their return on investment when deciding to sell,” says Leah Ingram, HomeAdvisor’s personal finance expert. “That said, if you’re the only house on the block without granite countertops, you cannot expect to command a higher selling price.” She adds buyers will expect the HVAC and plumbing to be in good working condition, but upgrading the pipes or installing a new system won’t bring additional value.

If granite in the kitchen isn’t the norm in your neighborhood, there are other upgrades that can increase a home’s asking price, says Jake Cain, a real estate agent in Cincinnati. For instance, he says swapping out a dated laminate countertop with a modern one or upgrading the kitchen cabinet hardware can provide a fresh look. “If you are in the $100,000 home category, you can still have a nice kitchen that stands out without spending big money,” he says. 

Regardless of the neighborhood, remodeling projects that provide the most return on your investment are often the least expensive ones, like improving curb appeal. According to Dodson, updating your landscaping in the front can give you a return of 84% to 96% on your investment while a new front door can get you 96%. “Updating your front door is really affordable between $400 and $1,000 versus putting in a new kitchen,” says Dodson.

Cain adds that giving a home “a thorough” cleaning and de-cluttering, which he approximates to cost a few hundred dollars, has an estimated 402% return on the investment.  In fact, according to a 2012 study, the top five home improvements that get you more than your investment include: decluttering, lightening and brightening, repairing electrical and plumbing, landscaping and staging. Other inexpensive upgrades that bring a decent return on your investment include, changing bathroom faucets, painting rooms and swapping out old knobs on doors and cabinets with modern ones.  A more costly project, but one that Dodson says will get you a good return is to add more space to your home, particularly if you are in a neighborhood where four bedrooms is the norm and you only have three.

Homeowners have to “know their location” when doing projects with the intent to sell in a few months or year, says Dodson. “Home prices are based on the location. You have to know what’s happening in your neighborhood and how your house compares with other houses in the market.”



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New patio and landscaping transform urban backyard

When Erika Benson and Mike Peterson bought their 1920s Tudor home, the backyard was mostly an English-style garden filled with roses, dahlias and other flowers that required time-consuming care.

“They were beautiful — but not for our lifestyle,” says Benson.

The couple wanted an all-season landscape instead, with low-maintenance grasses, perennials, shrubs and evergreens. “We liked the soothing and calming feel of evergreens,” says Benson, “and they have winter interest.”

The couple also wanted to create a more attractive and welcoming backyard with seating and a grilling area. When they bought this Minneapolis home, the only space for sitting was a concrete slab right next to the house, one that absorbed heat and radiated a lot of it in summer.

Before a transformation, the backyard and rear facade of this 1920s Tudor-style home was bleak and austere.

A few months after moving in, the couple dug out the gardens and removed some messy crab-apple trees to create a blank slate. Then they called in landscape designer Daryl Melquist of the Minneapolis firm Landscaping by Bachman’s.

Benson and Peterson had been considering a deck off the back door. But they realized a raised platform would give them less privacy.

Instead, Melquist designed a curvy 15- by 20-foot paver patio with two defined areas — one for a dining table and chairs, the other for a sitting area or “coffee corner,” splitting the functions with a walkway to the detached garage.

They mixed hand-cut cobblestone-style concrete pavers of different sizes and colors and used dark brown pavers to create a decorative border that accentuates the shape of the patio. “It creates a little more expense, because of the cutting time, but the look is well worth it,” says landscape designer Daryl Melquist.

Benson and Peterson are happy with the prettier alternative to a deck. “The soft colors of the pavers are soothing and melt into the scenery,” says Benson.

For the plantings, Melquist picked a variety of evergreens, such as weeping white spruce and upright Colorado spruce, which add color to the winter landscape, as well as providing privacy. “I chose dwarf evergreens that won’t overwhelm the space and will stay in scale with the small city yard,” he says.

Other plants range from ninebark shrubs with burgundy foliage along a fence to ornamental grasses such as Japanese forest grass to perennial Shasta daisies, sedum and coneflowers.

“The weeping spruces are gorgeous,” says Benson, “and the ‘Limelight’ tree hydrangea blocks the view of the garbage cans.”

A professional landscaper helped owners of a 1920s Tudor-style home transform their backyard from blah to beautiful with the addition of a paver patio,

Melquist points out homeowners often neglect the steps into the home. Atop the old concrete steps, he placed a layer of thin bluestone and integrated that with stones that match the patio pavers. “It makes the concrete … feel more like part of the outdoor room,” he says. Finally, he removed one of the iron railings to open up the staircase leading to the back door.

Benson is impressed with the way Melquist was able to fit the landscaping and patio into a “postage stamp-size yard and not make it feel cramped,” she says.

The transformation ended up costing $12,000, including the landscaping, patio and covering up the concrete. Melquist says homeowners who want to save money by doing some of the work themselves can hire a landscape designer to come up with a plan, then buy and plant the trees, shrubs and flowers themselves. Or they can dig out the old plants, have the landscape installed professionally, and then spread mulch after it’s done.

The best part of the project, says Benson, is that though Peterson wasn’t keen on building a big patio, he now spends more time on it than she does. “We have a 1920s home with no air-conditioning,” she adds, “so we eat as many meals outside as we can in the summer,” she says. “When it’s cold, we even sit out there in our coats with our morning coffee.”

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Gardening in Ascension Parish – Just Keeps Growing!

Posted Sep. 18, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

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Keep pests out of your landscaping and garden

 While fall weather may become chillier than spring and summer, there are still pests aside from the insects that will cause havoc in your gardens and landscaping. Pests can include many different critters, including rabbits, raccoons and even deer.

 When nature’s animals are doing damage to your plants, there are things you can do to protect them.

 First, identify the culprit of the destruction. Depending on what critter is damaging the garden, there are different methods for eliminating the issue. If it is a smaller mammal that is nesting in the area, remove the appeal to nest there by getting rid of brush piles or tall grass.

 It also helps to minimize additional food sources that may be attracting them. Clean up excess birdseed to discourage squirrels or cover your compost pile, which attracts raccoons.

 Even city living isn’t enough to keep the wildlife away. Carol McAlister at Yard ‘N Garden in Fenton said that deer are often found foraging in city lawns. “Wild animals have adapted to our way of living,” she said.


 While some dogs like to dig, and may get into gardens, they are also a great deterrent to other animals. McAlister said she has customers that are happy with the protection their yards and gardens get from having a dog living nearby. “Dogs are a big help, whether they are large or small,” she said.


 Fencing is one of the best ways to exclude critters from a garden, but they don’t offer much aesthetic appeal, especially if the garden being affected is a flowerbed. A temporary fencing can be used during times of the season when pests are most harmful to the garden or landscaping, and can be easily removed.


 There are many scent repellents available that help scare smaller animals away, such as fox and coyote urine. Though these are effective, they have to be reapplied often in order to remain effective. suggested, “Products made with hot peppers can deter nibbling rabbits.” McAlister said that there are also some old remedies that were effective that can still be used today, like mothballs, blood meal and bone meal. She also said that human urine and human hair were once thought to keep wild animals out of the yard.

Live traps 

 Live traps can be used to catch destructive wildlife and move them to another location away from your home. However, it’s important to look into the rules in your area on trapping before you start. It could be effective to contact a pest removal service.

 While some people do enjoy the wildlife in their yards, others might find them to be destructive. Eradication may not always be the best option, but for some it may be the only option if a lot of damage is being done to their property. Don’t use poisons though, as protected wildlife, like hawks and eagles, will eat the poisoned animal and end up sick too. Poisons also pose potential danger to family pets.

Common gardening and landscaping pests















Dogs Cats




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This week’s gardening tips: spider lilies, summer weeds, petunias and … – The Times-Picayune

Known as spider lilies, hurricane lilies or naked ladies, Lycoris radiata blooms this month. When the flowers stalks of this traditional Southern bulb have faded, trim the stems to the ground. Watch for the narrow, dark green, silver striped foliage to appear, and be sure not to cut it back during its growing season this winter and spring.

Many summer weeds are setting seeds now. Do not let this happen! Pull these weeds and dispose of them to reduce weed problems next year. In particular, stay on top of gripe weed or chamberbitters. This weed looks like a little mimosa tree and sets copious amounts of seeds. Pull them up promptly wherever you see them in beds and make sure the mulch is about two inches thick to prevent them from growing back.

Plant petunias into the garden now for blooms this fall and next spring. Petunias, snapdragons, nicotiana, calendula and dianthus are among the more heat tolerant cool season bedding plants, and can be planted earlier than more heat sensitive plants such as pansies.

Look for ornamental peppers in area nurseries now. They come in an amazing array of foliage and fruit colors and provide long lasting color in autumn displays in pots on porches and patios. Plants display multi-colored fruit of cream, yellow, orange, lavender, purple and red depending on the variety. They combine beautifully with chrysanthemums and ornamental pumpkins and gourds. Also try marigolds planted in pots or beds now for a long, autumn bloom season in yellow, gold, orange and mahogany.

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Gardening column: Here are tips for urban farmers This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel.

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Fall lawn and garden tips

GREEN BAY – From planting and planning to clearing and picking: Just because the weather is cooling down, that doesn’t mean there’s less work to do in your yard.

In fact, in some cases it’s the perfect time to be doing even more.

“It’s more of a transition time where we’re not waiting waiting for the first frost, but we can anticipate what’s going to happen and definitely get the plants together so you know what you’re gonna be up to the next couple of weeks,” horticulturist Sarah Pingel said.

For your lawn, this is actually a critical time to fertilize.

The cooler weather has grass growing again, and soaking up any nutrients you’ll give it.

If you still want some flowering plants, mum’s the word.

Green and gold ones fit the Packers colors nicely, and pansies are another colorful, hardy option for this time of year.

Thinking longer term, bulbs for next spring should be planted soon.

“You can do it now through October. If you do it sooner, you’ll have a good selection. If you wait too long, you get what you get. But you should probably get some soon,” says Brian Schroeder, manager at Schroeder’s Flowers in Green Bay.

This time of the year is about also reaping what you’ve sown. For example, tomatoes won’t ripen any further on the vine; it’s too cool outside. They should be picked and kept inside to ripen fully.

And remember last winter’s harsh cold, which did damage to many conifers in the area?

You can take steps now to prevent that too.

Vijai Pandian is a horticulturist with the Brown County office of the Wisconsin Agriculture Extension, and he says, “to prevent these incidents from happening again, water your evergreens til the end of November or until the ground freezes. So once a week, water your evergreens.”

Pandian also recommends having your soil analyzed this time of year to better plan your lawn and garden care.

And between all the planning and planting that you could be doing, one thing you can also do is just enjoy the colors that you’ve got.

The cooler weather can actually help to bring them out an make them a little older one last time before the winter takes them all away.

For contact information and for more on soil testing, click here.

For learning materials and more information on a variety of agricultural topics, click here.

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Fall garden festival features tips, plants, music, more

The Denton County Master Gardener Association will host the annual Fall Garden Festival from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4, in the Family Life Center at Trietsch Memorial United Methodist Church, 6101 Morris Road, in Flower Mound.

With a “Texas Gardening – You can do it!” theme, the free festival features seminars on successful gardening in Texas, master gardener information booths and items available for purchase. Visitors can chat with master gardeners about growing fall vegetables and creating a raised bed garden, water conservation techniques, worm composting, creating hypertufa containers, setting up drip irrigation systems and more

For more than a decade, the Denton County Master Gardener Association has offered residents an annual festival to share information on successful gardening and conservation practices for North Texas.

Although the festival has been hosted in several locations in Denton County, the 2014 festival will be the first one located indoors. The venue change was chosen to protect attendees from the unpredictable Texas weather in early October, according to an association spokesperson.

State Rep. Myra Crownover, District 64, will be given a special award by Dr. Douglas Steele, director of the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service at 10 a.m. The Extension in the City award being presented to Crownover recognizes her leadership and support for the extension service in its mission to provide gardening, nutrition and conservation education to the rapidly growing urban population, according to a news release.

In classrooms near the main event area, hour-long seminars are set for such topics as perennial gardening, fall gardening, and converting sprinklers to drip irrigation.

Marilyn Simmons will speak at 11 a.m. on perennial gardening in the Texas heat. Simmons and her daughter teach gardening classes and grow vegetables for sale at their location in Waxahachie. They are active participants in the local food movement and host a weekly radio show, FarmGirls, which offers advice on applying organic growing methods to vegetables gardening.

Local environmental education specialist, Dottie Woodson, a water resource program specialist at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas, will speak at noon. She will offer information and suggestions on creating a successful fall vegetable garden.

Patrick Dickinson, a program coordinator for the Texas AM AgriLife Research and Extension Center, will speak at 1 p.m. on converting sprinklers to drip irrigation. He has a bachelor’s of science in horticulture and is an ISA Certified Arborist with extensive experience in the Texas horticulture industry.

Local vendors who will offer products and information to attendees include: CrossRoad Farm, Designed by Us, DL Building Solutions, Expressive Creations, Garden Stones by Angee and Teresa, Irma Murray Art, MeMom’s Basket Jackets, Purple Ranch Lavender Farm, Round Rock Honey Co. Dallas, Salted Sanctuary, Tea Hurrah, Tina Alvarez Associates, TLC Landscapes, and Whole food works. Painted Flower Farm will be selling perennial plants just outside the event location.

Officials with the Denton Dyno Dirt program and Flower Mound will host information booths along with Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service and the Trinity Forks Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. An antique tractor display will be outside near the Painted Flower Farm plant sale.

The festival also will feature live entertainment from the Flower Mound Community Orchestra, Voices of Flower Mound, Studio B Performing Arts Center, Texas Harmony Chorus (Sweet Adelines) and Dallas Tap Dazzlers. Vendors will offer hand-crafted items and information about maintaining a sustainable environment.

The Denton County Master Gardener Association website has the most current information on education booths and vendors at


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