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By Times staff and wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000

Not just decorative

Since Victorian times, gazing balls have been popular garden accessories, providing a 360-degree view in their mirrored surfaces as well as a sense of calm and serenity. The newest spin is a combination gazing ball and sprinkler that creates a rainbow effect around the gazing ball as it spins to sprinkle your lawn with water from your garden hose. The ball and sprinkler head stand atop a 48-inch copper pole. The Rainmaker comes with a blue or green gazing ball and will be at Lowe's stores starting next month for $49.

Fashionably functional

Speaking of grills, as we are today: Interior designers were invited recently by the Washington Post to offer suggestions on how to make a deck or patio look good. Their ideas: market umbrellas, potted plants, wooden planters, table linens in Provencal prints or green and white picnic checks, painted floors, throw pillows in offbeat shades such as magenta or lime. And what about the grill? "It's part of life, just like TV," said designer Marilyn Poling of Bethesda, Md. "You can spend a fortune trying to hide it. My advice is, leave it out and live with it."

Recharge by day, light by night

Let the sun light up the night with solar-powered outdoor lighting. These fixtures, from Malibu, recharge during the day and automatically turn on at dusk. Choose from walkway lights, hanging lanterns and tabletop lights. Find them at home centers (Home Depot and Lowe's), Target, Kmart, hardware and electrical stores.

Bad news for bugs

How to keep insects at bay while you're barbecuing outside? A device called the Mosquito 'Cognito, developed by BioSensory Inc. with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, uses a chemical emitter that jams the mosquito's human-seeking radar, the Washington Post reports. It can be used alone or with a device called the Dragonfly, which lures mosquitoes by replicating gases found in human breath, and then quietly electrocutes them. Mosquito 'Cognito, available online at or at (860) 423-3009, costs $29.95. The Dragonfly, about the size of a computer monitor, is sold with two Mosquito 'Cognitos for $349 and uses a carbon-dioxide tank that must be refilled monthly. It will be ready for shipping later this summer.

- Compiled from staff and wire reports by Homes editor JUDY STARK

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