Got deer? Freeze them out this winter

(ARA) – Deer are beautiful, graceful animals, we cannot deny it.  But when it comes to where deer decide to dine, most of us just don’t want them outside our windows foraging through our foliage.  Their beauty and grace comes with the destruction – even devastation – of our well-cared-for and often expensive landscaped yards and gardens.  If you think your yard is out of the woods since summer’s over, think again.  Deer damage can actually get worse in fall and winter, We know deer can do extensive damage to landscapes in any season, but during winter, when their food sources are scare, they can be more aggressive and bold, wreaking havoc on trees and shrubs they never touched in warmer weather.  A single deer eats about 12 pounds of foliage a day, and in winter they’ll turn to any source of vegetation to satisfy their appetites. Bucks can travel 100 miles or more, but does don’t migrate.  They usually stay within the same three to four square miles for their entire lives.  That means once a doe finds an easy food source in your yard, she’ll be back again and again, season to season, and you can bet she’ll bring her friends and babies with her. During winter months, a deer’s diet changes.  Instead of the grass and leaves they favor during summer, deer turn to woody plants in winter.  That means your evergreens are at risk.  Although a deer’s mouth is usually about 28 inches above the ground, when one stands on its back legs, it can reach as high as 6 feet off the ground.  That reach allows them to create a broad swath of damage to even tall trees. Even before the weather turns really cold, deer can cause damage to trees. Fall is mating season.  Bucks become aggressive and the new antlers they’ve grown over the summer itch.  They scratch by rubbing their antlers on tree trunks – even those they don’t like to eat – and can cause serious damage to trees. The best approach to preventing deer damage is a proactive one  Don’t wait until you see deer or deer damage in your yard to deal with the problem.  So what do you do to keep the deer out?  There are loads of “home remedies, human hair, soap, pepper spray, even coyote urine.  These remedies might work sporadically, but they are not reliable deterrents for deer. Then there’s fencing.  Properly built and maintained fencing can be an effective method for preventing deer damage. But, deer can jump up to and clear an 8-foot fence on level ground, and they can easily push and remove plastic netting.  Installing a 6- to 8-foot fence can be an effective solution to some extent, but fencing is costly and can be quite unsightly. One of the most effective and easiest methods to deter deer is repellents.  Repellents rely on deer’s strong sense of smell.  Many are available in the marketplace but few have credible third-party testing for efficacy, and some rely on chemicals that are unfriendly to the environment, and can be injurious to certain trees, shrubs, and especially to new growth. Bobbex Deer Repellent is a topical, natural, proven effective foliar spray used to deter and prevent deer, moose and elk from browsing and causing other damage to ornamental plantings, shrubs and forest trees.  Bobbex’s blend of ingredients deters deer with taste and smell, and is actually beneficial to plan development.  The active ingredients are a series of proteins, making the product extremely safe for use on the most sensitive plantings.  Tested by the Connecticut Department of Forestry against 10 known top competitors (Liquid Fence, Deer Off and Plantskydd among them), Bobbex was found to be 93 percent effective, second only to a physical barrier for efficacy.  Good in any climate, the repellent will not wash off after heavy rain.  For more info on Bobbex visit Repellents should be used in fall and winter months even though plants are no longer at their peak.  If applications of repellents are interrupted, deer may lose their conditioning to avoid previously treated plants.  Regular spraying trains deer to seek nourishment elsewhere. This winter, protect your plants and shrubs proactively and the only guests in your yard will be the ones you invited.

Keeping hardwood floors looking beautiful is easier than you think

(ARA) – No matter what the setting, the good looks and durability of hardwood floors can be maintained with minimal effort.  It’s simply a matter of proper care and maintenance. The American Hardwood Information center, in conjunction with the National Wood Flooring Association suggest the following care and maintenance guidelines to keep hardwood floors looking beautiful today, and for years to come.  Here’s how to begin: General maintenance guidelines All hardwood floors should be cleaned regularly to remove dirt and grit from between the floor boards.  Avoid using a wet mop which can dull the finish.  Instead, sweep with either a dust mop or broom that features exploded tips, or vacuum the floors using a vacuum with special hardwood floor attachments or one with the beater bar turned off. Wipe up any spills immediately, using a soft, dry or slightly damp cloth, starting at the edges of the spill and working toward the center.  Allowing spills to remain on hardwood floors could damage the finish, as well as the wood. Avoid walking on hardwood floors with sports cleats or high heel shoes in disrepair.  These can scratch the finish, or even dent the floor.  Placing felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs will also minimize scratches. Further minimize scratches by placing scatter rugs at all entrances to help keep small stones and debris out.  But choose wisely.  Scatter rugs with rubber backs can discolor wood floors.  Special rug mats can be purchased from a wood flooring retailer to protect the floors from discoloration. You’re not “finished” just yet Knowing which type of finish applied to protect the hardwood floor is important.  Different flooring finishes require different kinds of care, so if or when in doubt, contact the flooring manufacturer or a wood flooring professional in your area. There are three major types of wood flooring finishes available – surface finishes, wax and acrylic impregnated – and the experts at the National Wood Flooring Association,, stress that using the right maintenance products will protect and prolong the life of the floor. Surface finishes, also referred to as urethanes or polyurethanes, are practical and very popular.  They remain on the surface of the wood and form a protective coating that is water-resistant, durable and requires minimal maintenance. For cleaning purposes, use products recommended by the flooring manufacturer.  If the floors were finished or refinished on site, contact the installer.  If neither is known, use a generic hardwood floor cleaner which can be purchased at a retail flooring store.  Never use wax-based or petroleum-based products on a surface finish floor, as they will damage the finish. Wax finishes soak into the wood, harden to form a protective penetrating seal, and when needed, are maintained with additional thin applications of wax.  Only solvent-based waxes, buffing pastes or cleaning liquids made specifically for wax-finished wood floors should be used. Use cleaning products, available at retail flooring stores, made specifically for wax finishes.  Follow the directions carefully to determine how long the cleaner should remain on the floor.  Once the floor is clean, apply a new coat of wax to restore luster. Acrylic impregnated finishes are injected into the wood to create a super-hard, extremely durable floor.  These finishes most often are used in high traffic areas of malls, restaurants and other commercial settings. Cleaning an acrylic impregnated floor depends on the finish.  If the floor has a urethane-based finish, follow the same procedures suggested for surface finished floors,  If the floor has a nonurethane-based finish, use a spray and buff system, as recommended by the manufacturer. Don’t hesitate to investigate It pays to be knowledgeable.  Proper care and maintenance will protect and prolong the performance of hardwood flooring for a lifetime, and even longer.  To learn more about how to sustain the natural beauty and durability of your hardwood flooring, visit the American Hardwood Information Center at     

Three things to consider before purchasing your first home

(ARA) – Buying your first home will likely be one of the most exciting and scary times of your life.  Beyond the basic consideration – location, number of bathrooms, ranch style vs. multi-level — there are a number of important financial factors to determine before deciding which house is right for you. 1.  Determine how a home purchase will affect your current lifestyle.  In addition to the overall expense of the home, it is important to consider how long you plan to stay in the home, as well as your overall debt, both on credit cards and other loans.  According to, affordability should be the No, 1 thing you look for in a home, but you also need to be stable enough to know you are going to want to live in the home you pick for at least 10 years.  If not, you could get stuck in a home you can’t afford in a city you’re ready to leave. Not surprisingly, location not only affects affordability, but also potential resale value.  Amy Hoak of MarketWatch states, “Homes located within walking distance of amenities such as schools, parks and shopping aren’t only more convenient for their owners, often they’re also worth more than homes in neighborhood where driving is the rule.”  Consider your lifestyle when you choose a location.  Spending more to live within strolling distance of your favorite shops and restaurants is only valuable if you’ll take advantage of that proximity. offers a handy tool to help predict your monthly mortgage payments in different communities. 2.  Consider your options for purchasing a home.  Building a new home gives you greater control over style and finishes, though your move-in date will depend on the construction schedule.  Newer existing homes will likely require fewer updates than an older home, but may be priced at a premium.  If you are shopping for a starter home, consider your plans for the future.  A smaller house may require less home maintenance and upkeep, but if you are looking for a larger long term investment and a place to grow and raise a family, opting for more space from the get-go may make the most sense. 3.  Whatever the condition or age of the home you purchase, there’s always the chance you’ll want to make some changes, such as renovating a bathroom or upgrading your kitchen, or remodeling parts of the home to accommodate an expanding family.  Try to anticipate and factor these costs into your total budget before purchasing a home.  When it’s time for these changes, will you be ready financially? According to Consumer Reports, kitchen and bathrooms are at the top of homeowner’s wish lists in terms of rooms that need work.  Luckily, updating the kitchen or bathroom to reflect your personal style doesn’t have to be an expensive task.  Replacing your plumbing fixtures and finishes can dramatically transform the space.  No matter if your design preference is modern or contemporary, Delta Faucet offers a wide range of styles and designs at various price points to meet your needs.  For instance, the Linden kitchen and bath collection, in the Venetian Bronze finish, offers a striking combination of transitional style and old-world charm.  Carry that look throughout the space with coordinating accessories and a fresh coat of paint for an affordable room makeover. Buying a home is one of life’s major milestones.  If you are just starting the house hunting process, consider starting your search online at sites such as Zillow, Houzz, and Pinterest to get a feel for the homes and decor styles that appeal to you most. In addition to finding styles you like, this research will also help you find potential options within your price range. Remember, before making any purchases, consider your total budget and make sure you’re prepared for not just the mortgage, but also any necessary improvements.