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HOM BRIEFS Let there be new light

Things always look good in stores. You now can have the same great look at home, due to neodymium -- a new kind of full-spectrum light bulb. The bulbs, once used only by retailers, now can be in your home.

Neodymium is a rare-earth element imbedded in glass to filter out overly yellow and brownish portions of the spectrum. These portions cause other colors to appear duller than they are. This is why stores use neodymium lighting. Much like natural sunlight, this lighting adds vibrancy, contrast and flair to almost anything -- from furniture and rugs to clothing and artwork.

These bulbs are now sold for home use. They bring dull rooms to life by producing crisp and clean natural illumination. They're available in most types and styles, from compact fluorescent to incandescent.

On the shelf

"Cutting Out Clutter," based on HGTV's popular home decorating show of the same name, "Mission: Organization" (Meredith Books; $19.95) is the guide to eliminating clutter in the home. The book highlights three steps for clean living: 1) sorting through your belongings and getting rid of those you don't need; 2) storing those belongings; and 3) staying organized. The book shows you how to eliminate clutter room by room, addressing areas such as bathroom linen closets, kitchen countertops and toys in the kids' playrooms. Also featured are 12 before-and-after makeovers from the show and tips from the professional organizers who took part in the projects.

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Lawn, garden tips for the environment

Now that warmer weather is here, are you itching to till the garden and fiddle about in the yard? If so, here are a few tips to help give your lawn and garden an environmentally-friendly boost.

Select grass seed suited to the growing conditions in your yard by considering the amount of sunlight, rain, and wear-and-tear it gets. Better yet, consider planting native grasses in part of your yard. Native grasses typically require little or no maintenance. Your County Extension Service can advise you on which warm- or cool-season grasses grow best.

Sharpen your lawnmower blades and set them up a notch or two so the cut grass is between 2 to 3 inches long. The longer grass supports a strong, healthy lawn with a bonus: weeds will have a harder time growing in the longer grass, too. When you leave grass clippings on the ground after you mow, the soil below benefits from the additional nutrients and moisture.

If your lawn does need fertilizer, always read and follow directions. Remember, you won't get twice the results by using twice as much. Be sure to sweep up and reuse fertilizer that falls on streets, sidewalks and driveways, and if heavy rains are expected, leave it in the bag. The use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus is now prohibited throughout Minnesota. Phosphorus-free fertilizers can help maintain a healthy lawn without contributing excess phosphorus to stormwater runoff.

Put your plant clippings and raked-out thatch to work in a compost heap or use them as mulch. Compost piles are easy to manage once you learn the basics.

Whenever possible, use quality hand tools to meet your lawn and garden needs. Consider replacing your gasoline-powered mower with a lightweight, quiet, easy-to-use push model. Yard tools with engines fueled by gasoline produce air pollution and noise.

If you need to use gasoline-powered tools, use one of the newer-model gas cans that prevent overfilling and spills. Even small gasoline spills evaporate and pollute the air.

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Often, nature provides its own pest control in the form of birds, bats or insects that feed on other insects we consider nuisances. If you must use a pesticide, be sure to find the right product that solves the problem.

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