Weekly Home Help with storing garden tools for the winter, a new iPhone app from Wal-Mart, fall colors for window treatments and more.

If gardening is your passion, no doubt you want to keep those tools in tiptop condition for the spring. Proper care of gardening tools and equipment includes cleaning, repairing and maintaining.


Cleaning assures longer life of the tools by removing dirt, grime and plant material that may corrode the metal surfaces. It also protects against contamination of plants at their early growth stages from potentially harmful material that may adhere to the tools.


Here are tips from The Lehigh Group, manufacturer of Crawford-branded organization products, to ensure your tools remain like new for the coming spring:


· Use denatured alcohol to disinfect tools.


· Wipe a thin layer of oil onto metal surfaces to protect them from rust and dust.


· Sand wood handles if they develop rough spots or splinters.


· Coat all wood handles with linseed oil.


· Inspect all screws, nuts and bolts on all tools to be sure they are secure.


· Scrape away matted grass from the undercarriage of mowers and trimmers.


Decorating Tip: Updating fall window treatments


Window treatments in jewel tones, which range from deep reds to subtle blues, are sophisticated and create the atmosphere of luxury in any space. But one trend that's always in style is window treatments that allow a lot of natural light into the space. Many fabric houses are making fabulous sheers in all colors, not just white or cream. They're also using great linen blends with more contemporary patterns.


-- Chelsey Bowen/ Scripps Howard News Service


Home-Selling Tip: Store clutter, large furniture


When your house is on the market, make sure it is always looking its best in a neutral, de-personalized setting. Start with renting a storage unit or portable pod, and store half of your belongings and extraneous or overbearing pieces of furniture. Or ask to borrow space in a friend's garage. The goal is to clear the clutter and make the house look as large as possible.


-- FrontDoor.com


Going Green: Best Buy nixes recycle fee


Best Buy recently announced that it will eliminate its $10 fee for recycling electronic items with screens. According to Earth911.com, its recycling program accepts TVs, computers, computer monitors, DVD players, cell phones and other electronics. Best Buy says it has collected 83 million pounds of electronics in America in 2010.


New Product: Wal-Mart shopping list app


Wal-Mart recently introduced its own Apple iPhone app that features budgeting tools and easy coupon access. You can create shopping lists by scanning bar codes or speaking directly into the phone. The app also tells you the price and product information as well as ratings and in-store availability.


-- ConsumerReports.org


Did You Know …


Pending home sales in the Northeast declined 4.7 percent in September; the Midwest index dropped 6.2 percent; the South fell 5.5 percent; and the West declined 2.1 percent. -- Realtor.org


Garden Guide: Chopping, buying firewood


"Purchase firewood from local sources and store it outdoors, shielded from rain," said Nancy Pollard, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture educator. This also applies to firewood you chop outdoors. "A simple tarp or an open shed prevents wood from becoming damp and invaded by wood-decaying fungi. Bring firewood inside a few days before use to avoid bringing unwanted insects into the home.


"Keeping wood dry will minimize fungi and ants," she said.


GateHouse News Service