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Judy Browne

Taking care of your trees

3 Tree Fertilization Techniques
About the author – David Merriman owns ArborScape, a tree service in Denver, CO. He is an ISA Certified Arborist and writes about lawn care and tree care.

Landscape and urban trees typically grow in soils that do not contain sufficient elements due to disruption of the nutrient cycle by pavement, buildings and roads. Also, leaves, the driver of the nutrient cycle, are raked up before decomposing and micro-organism’s can’t break stuff down.

The key to tree fertilization is distributing the right amount of nutrients at the right time. Macro-nutrients are nutrients that trees need the most and is frequently deficient in a tree. Signs are reduced growth, smaller leaves and the yellowing of leaves. Secondary nutrients or nutrients needed in moderate amounts include phosphorus, potassium and sulfur. Micro-nutrients are nutrients that trees need in small amounts.

Many times it can be hard to tell what nutrient is deficient as the symptoms may overlap. However, it is worth finding as you may be wasting fertilizer on a tree that needs something different. If you see leaf discoloration or other unhealthy signs on the bark, test the tree to get an idea of what might be missing.

Tree fertilization application techniques vary based on the foliage, tree condition, the time of year and your preference for using “greener” techniques.

1. Surface Application

The fertilizer is broadcast over the ground surface using a spreader. The advantageis it’s ease, with very little special equipment required. The disadvantage is lots of residual chemicals on your lawn.

2. Sub-surface Application

Sub-surface fertilization techniques are necessary when a tree is surrounded by turf grass or to limit chemical exposure. Turf grass absorbs nutrients more readily than tree root systems so the fertilizer must be applied below turf level. Subsurface fertilization techniques are also necessary where runoff water is common. Two common techniques are drill hole and injection.

The drill hole method involves drilling holes around the tree in concentric circles. Holes should extend to the drip line.
This allows you to put fertilizer deep enough that turf grass won’t reach it but shallow enough so it doesn’t leach
(drain away) especially during the rainy months of spring.

Liquid injection uses fertilizer, dissolved or suspended in water. The solution is injected into the soil using a soil
injection system. Advantages are better distribution and the benefit of adding water directly into the root zone.
A disadvantage is liquid injection can create dark, vigorous patches of grass. I sometimes recommend a lawn aeration and fertilization in conjunction with a liquid injection fertilization to combat that.

3. Foliar Application and Tree Injection

This involves spraying everything with FDA approved chemicals. Which is OK, as long as we remember that DDT
was a federally approved chemical at one point! Foliar application is a short term fix to correct minor elemental deficiencies of micro nutrients. Typically spraying the leaves works best in spring, right before a period of active growth.

Implants and injections are for minor nutrient deficiencies. Tree implants and injections provide a systemic application and can be combined with insect control. The main advantage is that it completely eliminates any residue outside of the tree. However, because it involves creating holes in the tree it is limited to a once a year process and trees have to be large enough to handle it. I always look to see if a tree is water stressed before doing this.

Finally, trees may not require additional fertilization at all. Over fertilization can burn out leaves or cause
a tree to grow too quickly resulting in frequent pruning or removal. In Denver or other dry climates, homeowners may fertilizea tree that actually just needs a deep root watering.

Color By Design – Part 1

This article was written by Cynthia Peacock of Peacock Interior Design.

Welcome to the first of a series of short articles about color: Learning about color, choosing colors, living with color, and color around the world. Beginning with some basics:

The perception of color is a phenomenon of light – a form of energy with its own frequency and wave length. Shine a light through a prism and you’ll see it divide into the six color families – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. White light is the combination of all colors. We actually perceive color due to the pigments in a given object. A blue pillow appears blue to our eyes because the pigment in the pillow is absorbing all of the colors in the light except for the color blue, which is reflecting back to us.

Have you ever tried to match a color swatch to a fabric or carpet in a store, only to find what looks like a completely different color when you actually bring an item home? You’ve just experienced metamerism. Metamerism is the occurrence of colors seemingly changing when viewed in different light sources. Some colors are more prone to this phenomenon than others such as tan, taupe, grays, grayed-blues, mauve, lilac, and grayed yellow-greens such as celadon.

Direct sunlight. Considered the ideal light source, natural sunlight maintains a neutral balance between both the warm (yellow cast) and the cool (blue cast) ends of the spectrum. Northern light is the coolest, while light from a southern exposure is strongest.
Indirect sunlight. Natural sunlight is not consistent, it changes from sunrise, to high noon, to late afternoon and dusk (in fact, the hours between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm are considered to be the most stable / consistent hours of light). The intense golden rays and subsequent distinct shadows of a sunny, late afternoon have a profound effect on colors in a room.
Artificial light. A color rendition appears warm under incandescent and halogen lights, where reds and yellows are enhanced, and blues and greens are dulled. Under the cool cast of fluorescent lights, blues and greens are enhanced, while reds and yellows are muted.

Space also has an effect on how we perceive color. The larger the space, the more intense color will be perceived. A color that looks rich on a small fabric swatch can appear overwhelming when an entire sofa is covered in that same fabric. The same is true of a paint color chip when compared with the same color being applied to an entire wall. Small narrow rooms will intensify color; large open spaces can handle more saturated color.

The colors that surround a given color affect how we perceive that color. An off-white wall can appear pink when paired with a vibrant red carpet. Complementary colors (red & green for example) tend to enhance each other’s color quality. Two squares of the identical shade of gray will appear to differ from one another when one is placed against a white background and the other against a black background. Michel Eugene Chevreul (1786-1889), a French chemist, discovered that our perception of color was influenced by surrounding colors. Chevreul’s famous law: “Two adjacent colors, when seen by the eye, will appear as dissimilar as possible,” helps to explain why certain colors look more vibrant, or conversely, duller, when paired with other colors.

Cynthia Peacock is a professional Interior Designer (member of the American Society of Interior designers, ASID) and Principal of her own design firm, PEACOCK Interior Design, LLC. Cynthia has worked on a wide variety of outstanding projects (residences, offices, hotels, ships) in her 16 year career as an Interior Designer, and finds that color is the constant challenge, joy, and reward. If you are color-challenged, and need gentle guidance, Cynthia may be contacted

Woodworking 101

This past weekend my husband, Bill, and I took a beginners woodworking class at Rockler Woodworking in Denver. Our instructor was, Tracy Gray, and she was terrific. The class meets for 2 sessions of about 3-4 hours each time depending on the number of students and your individual pace
I also got to see a couple of my students, Robin & Julie and I enjoyed getting to be with them in a class rather than as a teacher.
We learned a lot of very useful things. The tools we used were the compound miter saw, table saw, jointer, router and sander. We also learned simple joining techniques and at the end we got to take home our new custom end tables. We both thoroughly enjoyed the class and I can recommend it highly. The basic woodworking is offered once a month and cost $155. You can find the next available class at Tracy’s website
If you’d like to ask me any questions, just give me a call!
Here are some pictures I took during the class.

Home improvement on a budget

Spruce up the bathroom in one weekend for under $ 250!

Home improvement projects don’t need to be expensive. Sometimes a little updating to a room can go a long way towards making our homes a little more comfortable and fresh looking. Maybe you would really like to gut your bathroom and start from scratch but you just can’t find the money in your budget. Here are a few simple ideas to make that bathroom look fresh and new for under $250 and a few hours of your time on a weekend.

1. Install a new toilet seat. You can get one at your local Ace Hardware for under $ 20

2. Replace that outdated sink fixture with something new and modern, prices range from
$30 – $300. This one is $60

3. Replace your cabinet hardware (drawer pulls & knobs), prices range from $0.97 to $15 each. This one costs $1.50 ($15 for 10)

4. Replace the towel bar and toilet paper dispenser. Prices can range from $15 to $100. You can find nice ones around $40

5. Freshen up the whole room with a new coat of paint. 1 gallons of decent pain will cost about $ 25, it’s worth spending a little more a good paint. You’ll get better coverage and it will last longer. 1 gallon of paint will cover about 350 sq ft.

To estimate the amount of paint you will need. Example is a 10 x 6 ft bathroom with 1 window, 1 door, a mirrow and tub surround.

* Multiply the length of wall x height of wall, wall height is 8 ft. (ex: 10 x 8 = 80 sq ft)
* Add all your walls together (ex: 80 + 80 + 48 + 48 + = 216 sq feet)
* Subtract unpainted areas. (estimate 15 sq ft for windows, 20 sq ft for doors, measure length and width of mirrors, tub surrounds, etc and subtract) (216 – 15 – 20 – 9 (mirror) – 48 (tub & surround) = 172
* Total square footage you will need to cover is 172 sq ft, less than 1 gallon of paint!

6. New towels, rugs, shower curtain and accessories at Target – $ 80

Total project cost using the items listed above = $240.00

If you’re looking to find some unique and/or bargain items you can check out the places listed below and do it for even less.

Habitat for Humanity Home Improvement Outlets (

Do It Ur Self Plumbing (

Bud’s Warehouse (

Buy Cheap, Change Often

Furnace Filters and Indoor Air Quality

A very important home maintenance task for homeowners with forced air heating systems is to change the furnace filter at regular intervals. The filter should be changed regularly during the heating season and for homes with whole house air-conditioning this should be done throughout the year.

The furnace filter is located between the air intake and the furnace motor. The original and most important purpose of the filter is to protect your furnace motor and internal components from airborne particles that could cause damage and reduce operating efficiency. Changing your furnace filter frequently will protect your furnace and improve its efficiency resulting in savings in both maintenance costs and energy use.

Today there are many different types of filters on the market along with marketing campaigns that try to convince you that you can use your furnace filter not only to protect your furnace but to improve the quality of your indoor air. Many of these claims can be very misleading.

My recommendation when it comes to furnace filters and maintenance is “buy cheap, change often”. According to a study done by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), using furnace filters as a way to improve your indoor air quality is not only expensive but makes only a moderate difference in the quality of your indoor air when compared to other changes you can make in your home. CMHC Study

Furnace filter recommendations

1. Don’t use your furnace filter as a way to clean your indoor air.

2. Buy an inexpensive filter and change it every month throughout the heating season or year round if you have whole house air conditioning.

3. If you choose to buy a more expensive filter check it each month to monitor it’s cleanliness to assure the airflow to the furnace is not being restricted potentially causing damage.

Recommendations to improve indoor air quality (from CMHC study)

1. Remove your shoes when entering your home

2. Keep major dust generators (smoking, pets, etc.) out of the house

3. Reduce dust collecting surfaces (open shelves, carpets, upholstered furniture, etc.)

4. Frequent vacuuming with an efficient vacuum cleaner

5. Reduce the entry of particle-laden outdoor air by closing windows

Be Green AND Warm This Winter

Going “green” doesn’t have to mean turning the thermostat down to 65 degrees and putting on 3 sweaters this winter. A new product on the market, Power*e Glass, may be the compromise you’ve been looking for.
Windows are usually the main source of heat loss in our homes. There are plenty of products on the market that can help minimize this heat loss but windows with Power*e Glass will not only stop heat loss through the windows it will provide a source of radiant heat for your room.
I first heard about this product from one of my students and we visited the facility at 585 Osage St here in Denver on July 31st. We spoke with Gino Figurelli, one of the inventors and also the Plant Manager. During our visit we got to experience first hand the warmth the glass provided in a large picture window in his office. My first thought was of my living room at home. With the large picture window and vaulted ceilings it is rarely a comfortable place to sit during the winter. Apparently that is a perfect place for a Power*e window.
Gino also shared with us the results from a recent study completed at the Kansas State University’s National Gas Machinery Laboratory. Some of the key findings include:

Ÿ When operated Power*e Glass stops 100% of the heat loss through the window
Ÿ As a radiant heat source it can reduce power consumption vs. conventional heat sources.
Ÿ Power*e Glass is 84-89% efficient

The cost of a window with Power*e glass is currently about 3 times as expensive as a standard double pane vinyl window but as demand increases this will surely come down. Although you may not want to invest the money to replace all of your windows with this new technology, it might be the perfect solution to that pesky room that never seems to stay warm.

What happens when it melts?

I was watching the morning news and there was a short segment with the above video about a guy who created a 35ft, 100ft long ice wall in his back yard. He shoots water at it 24/7 using a robot and program he wrote himself. It’s a very cool creation and it’s touted as “science as art”.

Here’s the thing, the way my mind works is all I could think of is “where does he think all that water is going to go when that thing melts?”. I envision a flooded basement/crawlspace, landscaping being washed away into the street and all kinds of other home maintenance problems.

In my classes and the talks I give to groups, one of my most often repeated reminders is “water is the greatest enemy of your home”.

I hope he has a plan for the run off come spring! In the meantime enjoy!

Do It Yourself Denver Meet Up

For anyone interested in meeting like minded ‘do it yourselfers‘ in the Denver area join our Do It Yourself Meet Up!

When: 2nd Tuesday of Each Month
Time: 6:00 pm – approximately 8:00 pm
Where: 47 W. Alameda Ave
Denver, CO 80223
(Workshop for Women location)

Format: Each month we have a speaker representing topics that are of interest to the members. There is plenty of time for socializing and discussing our current DIY projects and sharing information, contacts and advice. We’ve started to compile a “Recommended Contractors List”. This list contains contractors that have been used and recommended by our members.

Past speakers have included:
Cathy Schuberth – Green With Envy Interior Decoration (
Tom Quinlan – Quinlan Gas Fireplaces
Miriam Swihart – Home Rescue Handywoman Services
Brenden McEwen – Colorado Roofing and Exteriors ( )
Tracy Gray – Woodworks Studios (
Myself – Judy Browne – Workshop for Women (
The Green Home Team

I’m always looking for speakers willing to share information about how we can improve, maintain and repair our homes ourselves along with products, tools and materials that make those jobs easier. If you have someone you’d like to recommend as a possible speaker, please pass along the information.

Workshop for Women Home Improvement Classes

In 2003 I left a 20 year career as a Project Manager and Manufacturing Engineer to spend a year volunteering and building houses with Habitat for Humanity as an Americorps volunteer. My experience in construction with Habitat was the inspiration and motivation for me to start my own business, Workshop for Women.

At Workshop for Women we teach basic home improvement classes in a fun, inviting and comfortable environment. All classes are hands-on and there is plenty of time for practice and having questions answered. All tools, materials and equipment are provided for each student and each student is given reference material to take home with them.

I continue to modify the class offerings based on feedback from the students. The classes currently on our schedule are as follows:

  • The Morning After…Closing (Home Maintenance)
  • Finally Fixing That Hole (Drywall Repair)
  • My Screws are Loose (Hanging Things on Walls & Ceilings)
  • What the Guys Never Tell Us – Part 1 (Basic Power Tools)
  • What the Guys Never Tell Us – Part 2 (Basic Carpentry)
  • Trim Your Home (Interior Trim Clinic)
  • Do You Hear Water? (Plumbing 101)
  • Let There Be Light (Basic Electrical)
  • Old Faithful in Your Backyard? (Sprinkler System Repair & Maintenance)

Most classes are 2 to 3 hours in length with the Electrical class being 6 hours and scheduled in two 3 hours sessions, and all classes are offered during the daytime, evening and on Saturdays.

We’ve also grouped classes in series as a way to save money. The series titles are Basis Handywoman, Advanced Handywoman and Power Projects.

Details about the topics covered, cost and schedule can be found on the Workshop for Women website at

Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions you may have at 303-284-6354 or

The Beginning

I was motivated to start this blog after my short time as the Denver Home Improvement Examiner. At they recruit local ‘experts’ to write articles and submit posts on topics about which they are passionate. I signed on as the Denver Home Improvement Examiner about 6 months ago and have enjoyed writing articles, learning about new products and companies and having the opportunity to share information with others.

Unfortunately the commitment at is to post 3-4 articles a week and I have been unable to keep up with that commitment. I just sent in an email telling them I needed to move on. What has come out of that time though is the importance of having a venue to share my passion for home improvement and DIY topics.

I decided blogging was a way to continue that venture and this doesn’t feel like an obligation. It also allows me to share opinions, ask questions and encourage others to join me. I hope you find this blog informative and fun and feel compelled to share your ideas, comments and suggestions.