Call 811 before every digging project, large or small
(BPT) - With the snow melted and the ground thawed, many eager homeowners and landscape professionals are ready to start projects that require digging this spring. During this transition into âdigging season,â Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the association dedicated to protecting underground utilities and the people who dig near them, reminds homeowners and professional diggers that calling 811 is the ďŹrst step toward protecting you and your community from the risk of unintentionally damaging an underground line. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a free call to 811. Installing a mailbox or fence, building a deck or landscaping are all examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after making a call to 811. Calling this number connects you to your local one-call utility notiďŹcation center. According to data collected by CGA, more than half of American homeowners will not make a free call to 811 before digging. Out of those surveyed, 67 percent know that the paint and ďŹags on the ground are used to mark buried utilities, indicating that awareness of underground infrastructure is high among homeowners, but the importance of calling 811 is low. Hereâs how it works: * One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for your local one-call center to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Call a few days prior to digging to ensure enough time for the approximate location of utility lines to be marked with ďŹags or paint. * When you call 811, a representative from your local one-call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project. * Your local one-call center will notify affected utility companies, which will then send professional locators to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines. * Only once all lines have been accurately marked, roll up those sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas. There are nearly 20 million miles of underground utility lines in the United States that your family depends on for everyday needs including electric, gas, water and sewer, cable TV, high-speed Internet and landline telephone. Unintentionally striking one of these lines can result in inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, harm to yourself or your neighbors and repair costs. Every six minutes, homeowners and professionals unintentionally damage an
underground utility line because they did not call 811 before digging. According to the most recent data from CGA, damage occurs less than 1 percent of the time when the digger has called 811 before a project. To ďŹnd out more information about 811 or the one-call utility notiďŹcation center in your area, visit www.call811.com.
Expires April 30, 2014.
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(BPT) - Does the change of seasons have you itching to refresh a tired, lackluster room? Or maybe youâre looking for some small ways to make a big impact on your homeâs style? Whatever the case, here are some of this seasonâs most buzzed-about trends and how you can incorporate them into your next project. * Wood is the new neutral. This seasonâs strong trend toward wood textures pairs the warmth, richness and texture of real wood with limitless design ďŹexibility. Think wood-textured textiles, tree-printed wallpapers and embossed soaps that look like wood. Installing engineered wood ceilings and wainscoting can bring the unique look of reclaimed wood into any environment â an easy do-ityourself project with striking results. Â * Ode to the elements. Mother Nature is inspiring design in a big way this year and homeowners are ďŹnding unique ways to incorporate rocks, minerals and other natural elements into their homeâs design. Try replacing a common-place item like an alarm clock with one encased within a multi-colored agate. Bring this look to the kitchen with a stainless steel backsplash, or swap out run-of-the-mill hardware with mineralinspired drawer pulls and knobs.Â * Shore thing. Homeowners, inspired by the calm, care-free attitude of coastal living are all about bringing the beach inside this season. Beachinspired design elements are popping up throughout the home. Weathered and white-washed wood ceilings are a subtle but stunning on-trend addition â especially when ďŹnished with interior accents like decorative shells, drift wood furniture and marine-themed
prints. * Contrast in texture. Step aside Pantone, texture is springâs hottest new color. Homeowners are putting down their paintbrushes and adding interest with texture through high-gloss ďŹnishes, metallics, sequins and mirrors. A textured tile wall brings visual and tactile interest, especially when paired with contrasting high-gloss lacquer or low-gloss matte accessories. * Visual punch. Reawaken the senses this spring by incorporating a striking visual element to the home. Multi-dimensional surface treatments in pearl, metallic and gold/silver combinations add panache as a coating used for hardwood, or can be applied to wallpaper, furniture or decorative accessories. And donât forget to look up â coffered ceilings bring a striking je ne sais quoi to any room. Â * Manipulated metals. The versatility of manipulated metal makes it a great addition to any style home â from hand-crafted artisan to contemporary high gloss. Copper, pewter and nickel are getting in on the action and can be styled in a variety of ways, including hammered metal sink basins, tin-look ceiling tiles, antiqued copper light ďŹxtures and brushed stainless steel cabinet hardware. If youâd beneďŹt from a little windfall to help ďŹnance your fabulous spring home improvement projects (and who wouldnât?), consider checking with your favorite vendors, many of which are running seasonal promotions. Armstrong Residential Ceilings, for example, is running a Style Is Looking Up Giveaway in February and March and will offer the chance to win free product and gift cards to spend on home improvements at http://www.armstrong.com/ residential-ceilings.
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Sowing the seeds of spring: How to start your garden indoors
(BPT) - While cooler temperatures slowly fade, gardeners across the country eagerly await the arrival of spring â and the chance to get outdoors and grow something. If gardening is your passion, you donât have to wait until the weather is perfect to get started. In fact, working ahead by growing your own seedlings is a great way to ensure your garden is successful throughout the warmer months. âPlanting seedlings indoors before transplanting them into the ground is a great use of time and money,â says Darin Brockelbank, owner of Metro-Greenscape, landscape design and outdoor specialists, and members of the Porch. com home improvement network. More than 1.5 million professionals participate in the network, offering services for more than 90 million projects. âGrowing seedlings is something homeowners can easily do on their own and save their money to hire professionals for larger projects.â Starting your own seedlings offers many advantages, including the ability to get a jump-start on spring planting. Growing your own plants from seed is less expensive than buying small plants and provides access to a much wider variety of plants. The pros at Porch. com offer these tips for starting seedlings to get your garden growing: * Selecting seeds Some seeds can be planted and started indoors, while others need to go directly in the ground outdoors. As youâre choosing seeds for your garden, read the packets thoroughly to ensure the seeds youâre buying are appropriate for indoor planting. Be aware that many vegetable seeds need to be planted directly in the ground. Most packages will also include information on what time of year to plant, so follow the guidelines for best results. In general, start seeds about six weeks before the last frost date. Check the Farmerâs Almanac Frost Date Calculator to ďŹnd out when that is in your area. * Choosing containers Seed starter kits are available for easy planting, but any container will do as long as it is about 2 to 3 inches deep and has drainage holes. Egg cartons and paper cups are inexpensive and easy options; be sure to poke drainage holes in the bottoms. Fill your containers with a good soil mix â never use regular soil from your yard. Seeds need just the right texture and mixture of nutrients to succeed. Covering your containers with plastic wrap or plastic lids will help keep soil and seeds moist. * Setting the environment In order to germinate, most seeds need a steady temperature of about 78 F. You can create localized warmth for seeds through use of electric heaters or heat mats placed under containers. You can also try placing containers atop warm appliances, such as a refrigerator, as long as they will also receive ample light in the location. Once seedlings push through the soil, you can move them to a windowsill where theyâll get more natural light. * Caring for seedlings Itâs important to provide seedlings with constant moisture, but donât let the soil get soggy. If you used plastic wrap or covers, remove them from containers once seeds have sprouted. When leaves appear, begin fertilizing with a liquid fertilizer. Pay close attention to the dosage amounts recommended on the fertilizer packaging; seedlings are fragile. Check on seedlings daily until youâre ready to plant them outdoors. âIf your plants begin to bud before you transplant them to the outdoors, wait to move them until they are fully bloomed,âÂ Brockelbank says. âIf you transplant them while they are buds and cool weather hits, they could get frost bite and die. When itâs time to transplant the seeds, make sure the soil is no cooler than 60 degrees.â Of course, not everyone with the urge to grow a garden has the time to invest or the green thumb to achieve it. If you ďŹnd yourself lacking the resources to plant and care for seedlings, Porch.com has plenty of professionals who can help you get â and keep â your garden growing. âThe hardest part of planting seeds indoors is caring for them before they are transplanted,âÂ Brockelbank says. âOnce they are transplanted, the plants should be very low maintenance.â
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