New Year’s resolutions for your home and garden

A worker at an outdoor Christmas tree market prepares Christmas trees for sale in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
What to do with your old Christmas tree

Mike McGrath | November 14, 2014 11:25 pm

Put your old Xmas tree to good use!

Have a cut tree in the house? Keep that water reservoir filled until you’re ready to take the tree out. Then use a turkey baster to empty the reservoir when it’s time to toss the tree.

Next, bring a small tarp or old blanket into the room, turn the tree on its side and carry the tree outside on the protective cover, which will catch most of those nettlesome needles.

If you have pansies growing outside, prune the evergreen boughs and keep them handy to cover those pretty plants if heavy snow or ice are predicted.

Or you can place the pruned branches around the base of azaleas, rhododendrons or other acid-loving plants. It’s the perfect loose, light mulch for them.

Or stand the tree up in the backyard and cover it with suet feeders and/or big globs of peanut butter to create the most natural bird feeder imaginable!

The most important resolution a parent can make

It’s New Year’s resolution time, when we resolve to do some things better and smarter in the year to come – like using fewer and/or safer pesticides, especially if there are children in the home.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging pediatricians to be more aware that many symptoms that seem to be signs of illness can be indications of pesticide poisoning. That’s why the academy is urging its doctors to directly ask parents about pesticide use in the home.

They especially want parents and physicians to be more aware of the possible effects of multiple pesticide exposures on children. Such exposures can include having your house sprayed for insect pests and your lawn sprayed for weeds; maybe your children play with pets that have been treated for ticks and fleas, or maybe the scent of mothballs overwhelms your closets.

Parents, please resolve to cut your pesticide use this coming year so that your child can someday make their own resolutions.

There’s never a good reason to spray toxins indoors

New Year’s-resolution time is when I like to remind all of our listeners that chemical sprays are never the answer to a pest problem, especially indoors.

The fact that pesticide sprays and “bombs” are easily available on store shelves does not make them safe. And you owe your children more thoughtfulness than to take the first recommendation you hear from a salesperson, especially when that person is suggesting you take home one of the highest profit-margin items in the store.

Fleas, roaches and flies are much better controlled by traps than sprays (light traps for fleas, the famous


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