Man Around the House: TV show host Jason Cameron shares spring yard and house prep tips

2013-04-14T00:00:00Z 2013-04-17T18:13:19Z Man Around the House: TV show host Jason Cameron shares spring yard and house prep tipsBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Mary Joan Dickerson of Cedar Lake is a big fan of the cable networks HGTV and DIY, treating the shows and programming about do-it-yourself landscaping and household tips like an at-home classroom.

"While watching everything they are showing viewers, it reminds me I need to be doing these same things I'm learning," said Dickerson, who also admits her lists for spring season yard and cleaning have-tos are far longer than what most face.

Dickerson is the director of parks for Cedar Lake, so she and her staff are bagging more than just a couple rounds of remaining winter leaves and yard waste for grounds spring clean-up.

It's one of the reasons she's a fan of HGTV and DIY for helpful tips and short-cuts for seasonal chores and have-tos.

Jason Cameron, host of DIY Network's "Desperate Landscapes" airing 9 p.m. Wednesdays, is always happy to share his knowledge with viewers like Dickerson to help to make even the hardest jobs a little easier.

"So often, people will tackle a job around the house without being prepared with the proper knowledge and tools to get the job done right," Cameron said.

"Asking questions from someone who knows is as simple as talking to the staff at a neighborhood nursery or home improvement store."

A licensed contractor, Cameron believes while the Internet is an asset for research and finding answers, he finds there's also plenty of misinformation which can hamper homeowners.

"So much has changed from the way our parents and grandparents used to approach many of these same jobs around the house," he said.

"Today, new tools and technology make it quicker and more convenient to do many of the same tasks that contractors used to be hired to do."

One of the examples Cameron highlights is the removal of a concrete walkway that might connect a patio or garden area.

"If it's a small stretch and already in disrepair, sure, you can grab some buddies and pairs of safety glasses and just go at it with sledgehammers," he said.

"But if it's a fairly large area being removed, what so many people don't realize is you can rent your own machinery, including jackhammers at your local home improvement stores."

Cameron's other advice to viewers is carefully read the tags included with plants and trees before making a purchase.

"So many people don't take the time to find out the needed growing zone for flowers and plants," he said.

"And then when they discover no matter how much care and attention they are provided to their new landscapes, it doesn't seem to be thriving, they want to go back to the nursery for answers after it's too late."

For the age-old debate of unrolling sod versus seeding new grass for picture perfect lawns, Cameron said one of the biggest mistakes faced by green-seeking homeowners is not knowing their own soil blend.

"Taking a soil sample in for a quick test can same so much time and money, yet so many people never realize it's an important step before planting or starting a lawn," Cameron said.

But when faced with four-legged enemies like deer and rabbits, even new grass patches in the spring can quickly disappear as tasty snack for wildlife.

"Sometimes, it doesn't have to be the animals of the wild who the ones being combated," Cameron said.

"At my house, it's been our own dogs that have been the worst problem for tearing up the yard and lawn. It's the reason why, a couple years ago, I installed astro-turf. Now, I'm the only one in my neighborhood who vaccums my yard."

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