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Water is a valuable resource, and in many parts of the country, drought conditions make it even more precious. Here are some tips to help you conserve more water around your home, and cut your utility costs at the same time.

• Use water-restrictive shower nozzles and faucets wherever you can inside and outside the home. These can be very inexpensive and easy to install.

• Limit shower times, washer times and even dishwasher times. This can cut water usage a lot.

• Check and repair hoses, faucets and valves that leak. Give yourself the peace of mind that properly repaired water lines can give you.

• If you use an automatic irrigation system, give it a test and check it periodically to make sure you are not wasting water. Set small containers in the yard to see what your water coverage is, at current settings. Then adjust your timer down if you can. The experts tell us that watering longer and deeper, less often, is the smart way to water for a healthy landscape. Adjust heads so they are not watering sidewalks and driveways too. If you don’t have a rain sensor yet, install one so you won’t be watering while it’s raining! Drip irrigation is the best method of watering, so make the switch if it’s an option.

• And, speaking of your landscape: Choose plants that are adapted to your area, because they usually will do better in your climate and require less care, including water.

• Add a rain barrel to your landscape and use rainwater on your landscape. It’s free, and probably healthier, too.

• If you suspect a leak but don’t see one, you can confirm it by keeping a close eye on your water meter. Remove the cover and note the dial reading. Make sure everything that uses water in your home is shut off, and then check it again in about a half-hour to see if the reading has changed.

• Don’t forget to check bathrooms that are rarely used in case they might be leaking while you are not watching them.

Look for other ways you can conserve water around your home. It’s the right thing to do, and you’ll save money on utility bills each month, too.

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Q: My front walkway has rust stains on it. I was told by my son that it might be caused by my choice of fertilizer. It does have iron in it, but really, can it be the cause? – L.K.

A: Yes. Really. Fertilizer that contains iron can cause rust stains on many surfaces. You’ll need to use a chemical rust remover, being careful not to damage lawn or plants in the area. Once the rust is gone, you can use a water sealer on the concrete to prevent future stains.

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Baking soda isn’t just for baking. As a matter of fact, it can be used for all sorts of things in the shop and home. Baking soda doesn’t cost very much, and just about everybody has a box or two in the house, so why not use it to its full potential? We have put together a list of some of our favorite uses. If you would like a copy of our list, “Get Cooking With Baking Soda,” just send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Super Handyman in care of the newspaper, and we’ll get a copy out to you right away. Check www.thesuperhandyman.com for even more tips and information, and feel free to ask us questions if you need more advice.

Shoptalk

The PowerFlex System from Amdro makes controlling insects and weeds easy. You just fill the base with water and load the pre-filled canister into the sprayer and get to work. The sprayer works effortlessly to put the material right where you want it without dripping or spilling. There are four different formulas for pests and weeds indoors and out, and all you need to do to change to a different formula is pull one cartridge out and insert a new one. Check it out at your Home Depot and give it a shot! We did, and it was FUN!