Does your home's exterior look a little tired? Does it need a major face-lift or just new paint?
June is National Home Ownership Month, when home- improvement companies traditionally roll out innovations.
Ply Gem, makers of energy- efficient windows, vinyl siding and other home products, has a new online tool to make it easier to see what your home would look like with different paint combinations, siding, new windows, new roof or other upgrades without costly missteps.
Called the "Designed Exterior Studio by Ply Gem," this "visualizer" allows you to "try on" paint colors, surface textures and other exterior updates. Start with 23 basic home styles, then mix and match.
Once you come up with a combination you like, you can save your final choices in a format that can be shared with home-improvement professionals or as a template for your own do-it-yourself use.
The best part? It's free. There's also a mobile version of the visualizer and a remodeling field guide.
The company's helpful website also offers basics of home- design styles (is your house more Craftsman or prairie?) and tips for choosing exterior colors.
Check it out at www.plygem.com.
Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden with tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons enjoying the heat. Irrigate deeply, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.
Generally, tomatoes need deep watering about three times a week. That adds up to 1 to 1 1/2 inches per week. Don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot. If the plants look droopy, give them a drink. But a little afternoon wilt (particularly in heirloom varieties) is normal this time of year.
Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more. Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather; keep an eye on that zucchini.
It's not too late to get a few more vegetables in the ground. Plant seeds for corn, lima beans, okra, parsnips, pumpkin, summer and winter squash and watermelon.
Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.
Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.
Trim off spent flowers from rosebushes to keep them blooming through summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as mulches, keeping roots moist and smothering weeds.
Pinch back mums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September. Debbie Arrington