Gunning Daily News
May 17, 2012 5:00 pm
Enough of the country was impacted by tree and shrub compromising weather last winter that I thought it would be smart to pitch some tips to folks making long-term planting plans to restore trees and other shrubbery around their property that might eventually grow tall enough to interfere with power and cable lines.
One regional utility company we found is working to remind homeowners to "plan before they plant." For Connecticut Light & Power, whose customers suffered through back-to-back, week-long power outages last fall, trees are the number one cause of those outages.
That means planting—or replanting—the right tree in the right place can help reduce the risk of a future tree-related outage—even years and years down the road. The utility's Vegetation Management specialists are on a campaign to make sure customers are thinking about how newly planted trees may someday affect the reliability of their electric service.
When planting trees near roadside power lines, CL&P recommends low-growing trees such as crabapple and dogwood.
Medium-sized trees, which grow to heights of 25 to 45 feet, can be planted between 15 and 30 feet from the power lines. Examples include arborvitae and flowering cherry trees.
Large-growing trees, reaching heights of more than 45 feet should be planted at least 30 feet from the power lines. Oak, maple and pine trees are some examples.
If you live in warmer climates and you're looking to install or replace damaged flora with fast growing trees, we didn't forget you. In fact, you may want to refer to the City of Santa Maria, CA, which publishes a nice guide for homeowners replacing or planting trees that includes these recommendations:
Albizia julibrissin also called a Silktree or Mimosa has rapid growth up to 30 feet with equal width. This evergreen has fragrant flowers that appear in the summer, and are favorites of bees and hummingbirds.
Liriodendron tulipifera or Tulip, is another fast-growing, deciduous tree that can quickly grow to 60 to 100 feet with a spread of 30 to 50 feet. Leaves turn bright yellow before shedding in the fall, and greenish yellow flowers shaped like tulips bloom in the late spring.
May 17, 2012 5:00 pm
Watering the grass is a critical part of maintaining a healthy lawn. Watering too little can cause the grass to turn brown and thin out, creating room for weeds. Watering too much can lead to turf disease and shallow root systems, which means your grass is weaker and less able to stand up to drought, lawn-feeding pests and other problems.
Here are some tips to help you water your lawn the right way.
How to Tell When Your Lawn Needs Water
Turfgrass plants are 70 to 75 percent water, so giving them enough water is vital. Symptoms of inadequate water are easily seen:
• Grass slowly loses its bright green color and starts to fade to yellow.
• You may notice wilting, which causes grass blades to roll or fold.
• If you walk across your lawn and your footprints remain in the grass, or lawn mower tracks remain visible, your lawn needs water.
• If grass loses its green color altogether and turns yellow and then tan, that signals drought dormancy. That means grass has stopped growing. Once your lawn has turned brown and lost all color during drought dormancy, it could take several weeks of steady watering to spur regrowth.
The most accurate way to determine whether your lawn needs water is to use a knife to cut a wedge of soil (through the turf) about four inches deep and feel the soil. Ideally, it should be moist, not powder dry nor soggy and wet.
"Signs of typical wear and tear on yards this time of year are amplified when lawns are stressed," says Ben Hamza, Ph.D., director of technical operations at TruGreen. "Brown spots on lawns may not always be from lack of water or nutrients, but instead from lawn-feeding insects that can mimic drought damage on select grass types. Homeowners need to have a clear understanding of the source of the yard problem to effectively resolve."
How to Water Your Lawn
• Established lawns should be watered deeply, but infrequently. Deep watering once a week encourages deeper root growth, while frequent, shallow watering produces a limited root system.
• When watering, make sure you moisten the top three to four inches of soil, which covers the root zone.
• Although watering frequency depends on the type of grass, your soil, and the weather, most grasses require about one inch of water each week for healthy growth. Let Mother Nature do as much of the watering for you as possible.
• The best time to water is in the morning and in non-windy conditions. This conserves water and allows grass to dry before evening. Grass that remains wet for long periods of time is more susceptible to disease development. Watering in the afternoon is the worst for water conservation. Up to half the water can evaporate in the air or on the ground during the hot part of the day.
• If you're using a movable sprinkler, let it run in one spot just until the water begins to run off the surface, then move to a different area of the lawn.
• Monitor your underground irrigation or sprinkler system to be sure that you moisten the lawn's entire root zone without over-watering any sections.
• To help ensure uniformity, place a one-inch deep, empty food can in the middle of lawn area to measure depth of water collected after each watering cycle.
• Make sure you are familiar with and follow any local watering restrictions.
May 17, 2012 5:00 pm
According to the 23rd annual Weber GrillWatch™ Survey, 71 percent of American grill owners fire up their backyard grill on Memorial Day, a 10 percent jump from last year.
"We continue to see a rise in the number of people grilling for nearly all major holidays, including Memorial Day, the Fourth of July (90 percent), Father's Day (53 percent) and even birthdays (76 percent)," says Brooke Jones, Director of Marketing for Weber-Stephen Products LLC, the world's leading manufacturer of outdoor gas and charcoal grills and grilling accessories.
Weber commissioned Toluna to field the 23rd annual Weber GrillWatch Survey. A total of 1,000 grill owners throughout the United States completed the online survey. All respondents were 21 years of age or older and currently own a charcoal, gas or electric outdoor grill or smoker. The sample was divided between 50 percent males and 50 percent females and was balanced demographically to represent households across the U.S.
Other Top Trends from the Survey include:
A Surge in Electric Grilling Popularity
• Sixty-two percent of American grill owners who have never grilled on an outdoor electric grill are interested in trying, a six percent increase over the past three years. In addition, the survey showed:
• Grill owners who have used an outdoor electric grill (24 percent) list the top three reasons they enjoy electric grilling as: easy to use (61 percent), does not require fuel (52 percent), and heats up quickly (51 percent).
Southerners and the Art of Smoking
• By region, grill owners in the South rule when it comes to smoking foods, with 41 percent reporting they know how to use an outdoor smoker. Northeasterners are the least likely to know how to use an outdoor smoker at 29 percent. The West and Midwest are tied at 36 percent. Additional smoke cooking statistics include:
• Forty-four percent of grillers who do not know how to use a smoker are interested in learning how to use a smoker.
• Smoker owners are the most prolific grillers, spending an average of 7.5 hours per week grilling during their grilling season.
• Currently, 71 percent of all Americans (21 and older) own an outdoor grill and or smoker.
• Almost three-quarters of American grill owners (74 percent) are using their grill at least once a week during their grilling season, an increase from 69 percent last year.
• The three foods grilled most often are hamburgers (73 percent), chicken (41 percent) and steak (40 percent).
• Grillers consider dessert the most challenging food to grill (35 percent), followed by fish (30 percent) and pizza (28 percent).
May 17, 2012 5:00 pm
Since January 2011, nearly 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, joining the fastest growing age group in the nation. According to a recent American Automobile Association (AAA) survey of that booming population, nearly half of seniors worry about losing their freedom and mobility when the time comes for them to transition from driver to passenger.
From understanding how vision changes can affect one's ability to drive at night, to researching the effects certain medications can have on one's driving ability, it's important to get the facts about driving for seniors. Use these tips from AAA to help ensure you and your family members are driving safely:
Evaluate your driving
While most seniors are experienced drivers, it's important to take time to consider one's driving "health" and habits. For instance, how frequently do you wear a seatbelt? Do you use your signal and check for nearby traffic before changing lanes? Does traffic cause you to feel anxious? When was the last time you had an eye exam? You can take a Driver 65 Plus self-assessment at www.SeniorDriving.AAA.com to get a clear picture of just how good your driving skills really are, and you'll also get suggestions for improving your driving.
Be aware of how aging affects driving habits
From hearing and vision loss, to mental fitness and reaction time, seniors may not notice the gradual differences that can impact their driving ability. For instance, by age 60, your eyes need three times the amount of light to see properly as they do for people 20 years old, which means it's more difficult to see at night. Likewise, one-third of Americans suffer from hearing loss by age 65. This can pose a problem, as senior drivers may be unable to hear high-pitched noises such as emergency response vehicles while on the road.
Reaction times can be slower for seniors as well. But preventative measures can go a long way.
-- When following other vehicles, seniors should increase the distance between their car and the car in front of them, to allow more time to react to sudden braking.
-- Eliminating distractions in the vehicle and avoiding heavy traffic can also help seniors identify emergency sirens, and avoiding driving at night is another safer option for seniors.
Find the right fit
With the wide array of vehicles offering all sorts of convenience features, seniors may not realize that their car may not be optimally adjusted to fit them. For example, sitting too close to the steering wheel can interfere with steering and cause fatigue, as well as injury, should the airbag deploy during a collision.
-- Make sure you have at least 10 to 12 inches between your chest and the steering wheel.
-- When seated properly, you should be able to see the ground in front of your car within 12 to 15 feet and 1 1/2 car widths left and right.
-- Visit www.car-fit.org to assess the safety of your vehicle, find the proper seat and mirror adjustments and more.
Take a refresher course
No matter how many years a driver has been on the road, a refresher course can help reinforce the basics such as identifying road signs, as well as provide information on updated driving rules and new vehicle technologies.
Talk with your doctor and pharmacist
Ensure that the medications you take -- both prescription and over-the-counter -- will not impair your ability to drive safely. In addition, make sure all your medications go through one pharmacy, so the pharmacists on staff can better assess any potential drug interactions.
Top 5 driving tips for seniors
1. Prepare for a drive by adjusting your mirrors and seat to ensure you can see properly. Always wear a seatbelt.
2. Eliminate distractions, such as the car radio, which can interfere with your ability to hear emergency response vehicle sirens and other important sounds.
3. Avoid driving in bad weather, heavy traffic or at night.
4. Making left-hand turns can be difficult for people with limited vision. Avoid left-hand turns at intersections with signals by making three right hand turns around the block when possible.
5. Manage slower reaction times by increasing the amount of space between your vehicle and the car in front of you, allowing for more time to react to sudden braking.
Tips for family members
If you're concerned about the safety of a senior family member, look to resources such as their doctor or your local DMV, that can help identify their capacity to drive, and find transportation resources to help them manage daily needs:
-- If your family member has received two traffic citations, warnings or been involved in two collisions or "near misses" within a two year period, it may be time to look for other forms of transportation.
-- Make sure your family member speaks with their doctor and pharmacist about prescription and over-the-counter medications that may impair their ability to drive safely.
-- Talk with family members, friends and neighbors about organizing a car pool to help seniors who need rides find transportation. Look to local public and supplemental transportation options as well.
May 17, 2012 5:00 pm
A: Your personal needs, preferences and finances are all factors. If you’ve lived in your home awhile and prefer to stay in your school district or neighborhood, improving your existing space may work best for you. If a second bathroom is what you desire, it may also be cheaper to convert existing space than to relocate to another home. According to the American Homeowner Foundation, you can expect to spend 8-10 percent of your current home’s value when you move. Ask yourself if that money could be better spent on a remodeling project instead. Chances are you’d increase your home’s value, derive more pleasure from your home than you did previously, and save yourself the time, expense and headache of a move.
May 16, 2012 5:46 pm
No room is too small for a fabulous kitchen! All it needs is some cleverly thought through tricks to ensure every corner of the room is used, whilst still looking great.
Take a look at these top tips on how to make a big kitchen impression in your small space.
• If your space is small, make use of light. With the combination of clever lighting, glass and mirrors, you can make the room seem much more spacious by choosing a pantone which works with the space.
• Try to avoid clashing colors and bold patterns, as these generally work best in larger rooms. You don't want the room to have too many different colors or points of focus. Instead choose something practical and let the accessories do the talking.
• Storage should be top of the list when it comes to making a small kitchen space work. Consider talking to a designer about the best ways to increase your storage capacity.
• If you have always longed for an island in your kitchen but don't have the space, write it down on your kitchen wish list and speak to your designer. You may be able to have a breakfast bar, or even a pull out table solution which means you can have a separate eating or working area, even in a small kitchen.
May 16, 2012 5:46 pm
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), statistics show that approximately 10 people die each day from unintentional drowning, and there are thousands of injuries from water-related incidents each year. Common factors that increase accident and injury risk while partaking in water activities include lack of supervision, alcohol use, failure to use a life jacket and/or other personal floatation devices (PFD).
“Just using a pfd or life jacket isn’t enough, you should also be aware of potential hazards and know how to address them in order to enjoy leisure time around water”, said Chief Donald Colarusso, a firefighter for over 24 years and one of the nation’s leading suppliers of Fire and Water Rescue Equipment through the website, http://www.allhandsfire.com/cmc-rescue .
To enjoy water activities and reduce the risk of danger there are safety guidelines that can be followed:
• Children should always be supervised by an adult while in or around water. This includes swimming pools, the ocean, lakes and rivers, even the bathtub. A child can drown in less than 1” of water.
• Regardless of age or ability, swimmers should always use the “buddy system” and take care never to swim alone. Supervised areas with lifeguards on duty can reduce risk and make water fun safer.
• It is important not to push oneself by attempting activities beyond one’s skill level while swimming, surfing, skim boarding, etc.
• Extreme caution should be used when diving. Water may be shallow and there could be rocks, dead submerged trees, or other obstructions that could injure divers.
• Barriers and safety zones are enacted for a reason and must be respected.
• When swimming off a boat, being aware of water depth and safety considerations of the water should be taken seriously. Also a dependable way to get back onto the boat, such as a mounted ladder should be in place.
• A Life Jacket / PFD should always be used when kayaking, on a jet ski or other similar settings. Referring to US Coast Guard and local rules and guidelines is of utmost importance.
• Always being aware of water conditions and weather is vital.
• While in the ocean, staying clear of jetty rocks and being aware of riptide currents should be a priority.
• Those venturing outdoors on a hot, sunny day should be aware of the potential for sunburn and heatstroke. Applying an appropriate degree of sun block and staying hydrated even while in the shade is helpful.
Although many of these safety tips may seem to be common sense, reviewing these tips each summer with loved ones can significantly reduce the chances of serious accident or injury in and around water related activities.
May 16, 2012 5:46 pm
(ARA) - When the time comes to purchase a car, your teenagers might be dreaming of hot wheels. They may be thinking sporty, while you're looking for reliability and affordability.
In fact, 81 percent of parents put reliability first when choosing a vehicle for a teen, followed by a high safety rating and affordable auto insurance, according to a recent survey commissioned by USAA.
Mother of two and automotive expert Lauren Fix understands those results. "I can replace cars, but I can't replace a kid," says Fix.
Use these tips to help you and your teen settle on a car that fits your budget and offers you peace of mind.
New or used?
The price may be right for used cars, but they may lack technological safeguards. Newer cars tend to have the high-tech safety systems that reassure parents. Electronic Stability Control (ESC), which helps drivers maintain control of a vehicle, is standard in all 2012 cars. Front air bags are mandated, and though not required by the government, side air bags are standard in many new cars. Some models have back-up collision intervention that can apply the brakes before the driver does.
There's no retrofitting for most safety features, notes Fix. "You can always tint windows and add seat covers," she says. "You can't add ESC or air bags." Rearview cameras can be installed after the fact, but Fix warns the monitor is typically smaller than manufacturer-installed versions.
The bigger picture
Looking beyond technology, enlist your young drivers to help with a little more research before you make a purchase.
Whether new or used, make sure the price is right. Use online resources to compare the sticker price, which the dealer wants you to pay; the invoice price, which is what the dealer paid; and the true market price. USAA Car Buying Service offers research tools and a network of dealers to help you find the right car at the right price for you.
USAA's top 10 cars for teens on its Best Value vehicles list highlights cars for teens based on factors like reliability, safety and affordability.
• Check crash-test ratings. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety releases its Top Safety Picks each year.
• Get the CARFAX Vehicle History Report, if you're buying a used car. This report, found through a car's VIN or license tag number, can alert you if a car's been totaled in a previous accident or damaged in a flood.
"Do not buy a flood-damaged car under any circumstances," warns Fix, noting that catastrophic water damage voids any warranties and recall notices.
• Ask a trusted mechanic to inspect a used car. While CARFAX serves as a valuable tool, Fix warns that not every car makes it into the database. "If a person had a flood-damaged car, they could air it out and you'd never know," she warns. Have an Automotive Service Association-certified mechanic check the car inside, outside and underneath.
• Investigate insurance costs. While affordable insurance ranked third as a key factor in the USAA survey, some aspects are out of your control. Boys typically cost more than girls to insure, and teens more than adults. But good grades and driving records can bring down overall costs for your family, as can some of the safety features available in today's vehicles.
Once you and your teens have decided on a car, explain the final requirements before your young drivers take the wheel. For instance, insist they learn basic car maintenance, such as how to check the oil and tire pressure, change a tire or at least use tire-inflating products.
Also discuss how teens can help pay for insurance and gas, and together establish the rules they'll follow on the road.
You want your children to drive a car that's not in and out of the repair shop and that's safer on the road. But you also want them to take responsibility for the vehicle. "You want to make sure your teen has a vested interest in the car," Fix says.
May 16, 2012 5:46 pm
FHA. Acronym for Federal Housing Authority, an agency created within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that insures mortgages on residential property, with downpayment requirements usually lower than prevailing ones.
May 16, 2012 5:46 pm
A: Start by finding out its worth. Contact a real estate agent for a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on the recent selling price of similar neighborhood properties. Or get a certified appraiser to provide an appraisal.
Next, get busy working on the home’s appearance. You want to make sure it is in the best condition possible for showing to prospective buyers so that you can get top dollar. This means fixing or sprucing up any trouble spots that could deter a buyer, such as squeaky doors, a leaky roof, dirty carpet and walls, and broken windows.
The “curb appeal” of your home is extremely important. In fact, it is the first impression that buyers form of your property as they drive or walk up. So make sure the lawn is pristine – the grass cut, debris removed, garden beds free of weeds, and hedges trimmed.
The trick is not to overspend on pre-sale repairs and fix-ups, especially if there are few homes on the market but many buyers competing for them. On the other hand, making such repairs may be the only way to sell your home in a down market.