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Birdfeeder Basics: Bring on BackyardBirds with the Right Feeders(BPT) - When you dine, do you prefer clean and attractive tableware? Doesambiance enhance your enjoyment of your food? Birds feel the same wayabout their dining habits - the type and cleanliness of your bird feeders
directly affects the number and species of birds that will visit your backyardthis season.To attract birds, you need to understand not only what they prefer to eat, buthow they like to eat it. For example, while many species prefer seed, somebirds like to eat their seed from elevated platforms, others prefer hangingfeeders and still others are content to forage on the ground. All birdsappreciate a clean feeder to prevent the spread of disease, and none of themlike those pesky, seed-stealing squirrels any more than you do.
The bird experts at Coles Wild Bird Products offer some guidance forchoosing the right feeder styles to attract the maximum number of featheredfriends to your yard:
1. Keep it clean - Everyone knows you should clean your feeders regularly toprevent disease, but many feeders are a pain to disassemble, clean andreassemble. Many people keep feeders less than pristine because of the hassleof cleaning. Look for feeders that make the process easy. All Coles tubefeeders have a Quick Clean feature that allows you to remove the bottom ofthe feeder with the push of a button for easy cleaning access- no need tocompletely disassemble the feeders to clean them.2. Tube feeders are terrific - For versatility and wide appeal, its hard to beat atube style feeder. These workhorses of the feeder world can handle seeds bothlarge and small - from sunflowers to petite mixes. Tube feeders make great all-purpose feeders or excellent starter feeders for people just beginningbackyard birding. Most songbirds will happily dine at a tube feeder.3. Some seeds are special - Niger is a favorite seed type for finches, siskinsand several other appealing species, but not all tube feeders can handle thisoily seed. If youll be serving niger, consider a specialty feeder like the NiftyNiger Feeder. The feeder dispenses the seed through special, tiny holes tolimit the amount of waste.4. Cater to the clingy - Some birds, such as chickadees, titmice, woodpeckersand bluebirds, like to cling to the feeder. For these birds, a mesh feeder can bejust what the diner ordered. Mesh feeders satisfy a birds desire to cling whilealso keeping larger birds from hogging the feeder. The Mighty Mesh Feeder isgreat for serving Nutberry Suet, Suet Kibbles, Suet Pearls, raw peanuts andany sunflower-based seed blend.5. The beauty of bowl feeders - Bowl feeders are another versatile style, andare great for serving not only seeds and seed blends, but also driedmealworms, fruit and suet in either kibble or pearl forms. The Bountiful BowlFeeder comes with an adjustable dome cover that you can raise or lower toprevent larger birds and squirrels from getting to the food - and it also helpsprotect feed from rain.
6. Hummingbird feeders are something to sing about - Hummingbirds areendlessly fascinating to watch, but you have to be quick to catch a look atthem. Your best opportunity is when theyre eating, and a hummingbirdfeeder can help extend your viewing time. The Hummer High Rise feeder giveshummers a penthouse-view with elevated perches and keeps ants out of thenectar with a special built-in ant moat.7. Those darn squirrels - As much as you enjoy watching their antics, youprobably dont want squirrels on your bird feeder. These persistent banditscan wipe out a seed supply in minutes and damage even the best-madebirdfeeders. One way to keep squirrels away from all your feeders is to installa Tough Bird Feeder Guard from Coles on your existing feeder poles. Thesimple device uses static pulse to train squirrels not to climb on feeder poles.Use your favorite feeders on your own shepherd staff or pipe-style poles andadd the Tough Bird Feeder Guard to keep squirrels away. Only the tubeportion of the guard is charged, so the pole and birdfeeder are safe to touchfor humans and birds alike.For more info on birdfeed blends and where to buy, visithttp://www.coleswildbird.com.
Make Warm Weather Chores a Breezewith These Tips(BPT) - Warm weather brings everyone outdoors - grilling on the deck,playing on the lawn and savoring beautiful gardens. To create these beautifuloutdoor spaces, the experts at Lowes offer four easy, affordable projects youcan do yourself. Follow these tips to make sure your outdoor spaces are in tip-top shape by summers end.Maintain a Lovely LawnMost lawns will grow well with about 1 inch of water a week. Water in theearly morning, so the sun will help dry the grass. Nighttime watering canresult in prolonged moisture on the blades and can open the door to disease.How do you know if youre watering enough? Try the "soup can test." Set anempty can next to your lawn sprinkler. When theres about a half-inch ofwater in the can, its time to turn off the sprinkler.
When youre mowing, never cut off more than one-third of the grass blade.Leaving the grass longer shades the roots and encourages a deeper rootsystem. To better protect your lawn on hills, mow up and down when using ariding mower and across when using a walk-behind mower. Lowes offers awide assortment of power equipment to help maintain your lawn with lesseffort.Keep Your Landscape Green and HealthyA healthy, actively growing lawn uses a great deal of energy. Natural soilsupplemented with fertilizer will help your lawn stay healthy all season.Fertilizers promote new leaf and plant growth, reduce and control weeds, andreplace nutrients lost to leaching. Look for a mixture of fast- and slow-releasefertilizers that will green up your lawn quickly and then feed it over time.Remember, more is not always better. Nitrogen is the most importantingredient in a fertilizer, but if you put too much on your lawn, youll burn it.Already dealing with weeds? Post-emergents are a great way to promote grassgrowth while killing actively growing weeds on contact. Post-emergents workbest when applied later in the growing season - after weeds are establishedbut before theyve gone to seed. Read the fertilizers label and strictly followthe application instructions for best results.Create Beautiful GardensMix annuals and perennials for a "pop" of color to create season-long beauty.As you decide which flowers to purchase, pay attention to the labels that statehow much sun or shade they like. The wrong amount of sun exposure canhinder growth and beauty. Find the perfect spot for your plants by markingwhere the sun tracks across your yard, then put plants that need the mostsunlight exactly where they need to be.
Additionally, some plants only grow well in certain regions of the country.Lowes Creative Ideas.com offers tips based on the area where you live.Lowes also offers a one-year plant guarantee.Turn Your Deck into an Outdoor RoomExtend warm-weather enjoyment by sprucing up your deck. Drizzle water onthe boards to see if its time to reseal. If the water beads up, the wood is stillprotected, but if its quickly absorbed, its time to seal it again. Your deckmight just need a good cleaning with a pressure washer. When pressurewashing, always work with the grain of the wood to avoid splinters and tokeep the deck smooth. Attach a rotating surface cleaner to your pressurewasher to clean your patio four times faster.Extend the look of the indoors into the outdoors by adding durable, aluminumoutdoor furniture that can be customized to fit your style preference withmix-and-match fabrics. Lowes allen + roth custom outdoor collection allowsyou to customize your patio set and have it shipped to the store in a week!Complement the overall look by adding an outdoor rug for both comfort andstyle. Dont forget to add lighting to create ambiance for entertaining wellafter dusk.These ideas will help you enjoy all that warm weather has to offer. For moreproject ideas, visit LowesCreativeIdeas.com or download the latest iPad appfor free in the iTunes Newsstand.
Upgrading Your Home’s Outdoor SpacesCan Lower Energy Bills(StatePoint) Making the most of your home’s outdoor spaces can do wondersfor a property’s overall value. What’s more, some updates can also potentiallylower your home’s energy bills while increasing its efficiency.“There are many adjustments and additions, at various price points thathomeowners can make to outdoor spaces that will make a big difference intheir bank account,” says James Walbridge, President of Tekton Architectureand member of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Custom ResidentialArchitects Network.
To help get homeowners thinking along these lines, Walbridge offers thefollowing advice:OrientationThe most efficient outdoor space allows sunlight to enter the home during thewinter months while reducing it in the summer. To achieve the optimal effect,determining the sun’s path in relation to your home is the most critical factorto consider.According to Walbridge, the southern-facing side of the home is normally themost beneficial place for outdoor space. However, working with an architectcan ensure you’re making the best choice for your particular property andhome orientation.ShadingProperly placed trees and plants are the easiest way to ensure shade duringthe summer months, which keeps the home cooler and air conditioner use to aminimum.When selecting shrubbery, look for drought-tolerant plants that don’t requiremuch water and maintenance, which will also reduce your water bill.Additionally, opting for trees that lose their leaves in the winter allows thelower winter sun to enter and warm your home while still acting as a windbarrier.Awnings and trellises are popular ways to decrease direct exposure to harshsunlight in the summer. Trellises are usually permanent additions; however
awnings can often be retracted in the winter. If your budget is a little larger,consider an extension of your roof, a porch or a permanent overhang.Extend Your Living SpacesFrench doors or folding window walls are aesthetically pleasing ways toextend the indoors, out. Both will allow air to move through the house,reducing the need for heating or cooling.In climates with all four seasons, a few extra steps are needed to ensureoutdoor spaces serve their purpose. Windows or glass sunrooms should beproperly sealed or protected with films to ensure there is no leakage of air.These spaces should also be closed off properly during the winter months.Whenever possible, install energy saving windows and doors. These productsmight have a larger cost upfront, but will reduce energy costs over time.Finally, take advantage of natural weather conditions when designing outdoorspace. “In a dry climate, fountains, ponds or pools can help cool things down.Meanwhile, features like a wraparound porch work well in a humid client,”Walbridge said.An architect can help homeowners maximize energy savings on existingoutdoor space or design a new area. To find an architect in your area, visit:http://ArchitectFinder.aia.org.Photo Source: (c) AlcelVision - Fotolia.com
Decked Out for SummerThree Easy Tips for Making Your Dream Deck a Reality(BPT) - Summer means deck time for many Americans. A deck is an ideal spotfor relaxation and entertaining. Imagine a cook-out with friends, snoozing inthe sun on a hot day, snuggling with your sweetheart watching shooting stars,or having a backyard camp-out with the kids.Are you dreaming of deck time this summer, but dreading the constructionand maintenance required? Although decks provide hours of fun andrelaxation, the thought of adding a new deck or refurbishing an existing onecan loom as a chore that cuts into summer fun.Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or plan to hire a contractor, rememberthese three tips to help make your new deck a breeze.
Use Free Online Design ToolsWith easy-to-use, Web-based deck design tools, you can avoid the hassle ofmessy pencil sketches and piles of crumpled balls of paper. The websites ofhome improvement stores like Lowes host their own deck designers, and anonline search for "deck design tools" will turn up many other free options.Such tools provide a simple way to explore different deck layouts and rapidlycalculate material quantities needed for construction. Some deckingmanufacturers offer free online viewers that let you mix colors for deckingand railing components to fit your own tastes. Many also have photo galleriesfor inspiration.Talk to Your Local Building Department Before BeginningOne of the biggest headaches a construction project can face is being shutdown by the building inspector for not following building codes. This canmean a costly and time-consuming break down and rebuild of your project.Besides keeping you out of trouble, sticking to code helps ensure a safe deck.Think you can sneak your project in without the inspector noticing?Neighbors often report building projects to authorities, and some buildingdepartments drive around looking for evidence of new construction. Simplytake your proposed plans in for review. The building official will tell you aboutany changes needed for code compliance. Better yet, talk to them before youbegin planning your project, as they can offer guidance on required railingheights, how to attach the deck to the house, and other design issues.Choose Your Decking MaterialAt one time decks were only made of wood; the only question was whichspecies to use. Todays homeowners have a much wider choice of materials,including engineered decking and railing systems. One material quickly
growing in popularity is wood-plastic composite decking, according to theFreedonia Group market research firm.Homeowners choose composite decking and railing for its long-termdurability and ease of use, as the material does not need to be painted, sealedor stained. Composite decking comes in a range of hues, and some brandshave realistic embossed grain patterns and color streaking emulating thebeauty of exotic hardwoods.For homeowners who want a smooth deck surface, hidden fastening systemsprovide a good alternative to surface screws. The fasteners use specializedclips that fit into grooves on the side of composite deck boards. "Hiddenfasteners are becoming very popular with deck builders. Not only do theycreate a more beautiful and pristine surface to the deck, but using pneumatictools can even make many of the systems faster to install than traditionalscrews," says Brent Gwatney, senior vice president of AdvancedEnvironmental Recycling Technologies, Inc.Many composite decking brands also offer matching railing components,including post sleeves, post caps and balusters. For example, ChoiceDekintroduced a new speed rail line at Lowes stores across the U.S. Similar to thetraditional carpenters 2-by-4 wood railing systems, the line offers buildersand homeowners a quick and simple install. The components are available inprepackaged kits making it easy to purchase the right amount of materials foreach railing section.Although a new deck requires planning and attention to detail, it can be afulfilling project to build yourself. Whether using wood or composite decking,many homeowners already have the necessary tools. These include hammer,power screwdriver, circular saw, level, tape measure, rasp and chalk line.Decks often can be completed in a weekend or two of work, so start makingplans now for how you will enjoy your new outdoor living space this summer.