Click to view this email in a browser
The Diamond Certified® Consumer Report Twitter link Facebook link
 VOL. 7, ISSUE 11 - NOVEMBER 2014

In This Issue

Fall is the Best Time to Start Your Landscaping Project

Diamond Certified Preferred
Consumer Card

Ask Chris

Consumer Feedback:
A C A Remodeling Design

New Diamond Certified

Savvy Tips of the Month

How it Is: I Got Scammed by a Locksmith

Dealing with Bill Collectors

How to Choose the Right Furnace Filter

Diamond Certified Quick Links






Read this newsletter and prior issues at Diamond Certified Newsletter Twitter

Fall is the Best Time to Start
Your Landscaping Project

Planting in the fall and early winter will help your plants establish their roots early so they’re prepared for spring growth.

Last January, my husband and I worked with a landscape architect to come up with a plan for our backyard. The idea was to install plants, bushes and trees in the spring. However, the plan was put on the back burner when we discovered we first had to remove an old bay tree and two dead willow trees. That blew the budget. I was sure the rest of the project would be on hold until Spring 2015, but then I spoke to Scott Reilly, owner of Reilly Designs, a Diamond Certified company.

Mr. Reilly assured me it was best to do the installation as soon as possible. “The reason you want to plant in the fall/early winter is to get early root establishment for the plants, so come springtime, the root system will be ready for a growth spurt,” he explained. According to Mr. Reilly, if you plant in early spring and there’s a sudden heat wave during the first two weeks of March, the weather can stall growth and even kill some of the plants. The advantage to planting in the fall and winter is temperatures are still cool—you still have some moderate heat, but in general, the weather is ideal for establishing the roots of the plants.

It’s also a good idea to look closely at your garden in November and December because its structure will show well without the distraction of foliage. “You can look at the sequence of plants and notice how your eye moves through the garden without being distracted by all the pretty things that are attached to the plants during the growing season,” says Mr. Reilly. Fall is also a good time to prune plants (sometimes heavily, depending on the species).

I asked Mr. Reilly which types of plants, shrubs or trees I should add to my “winter” garden, and he said I should turn a blind eye to the pretty flowers in the nurseries. “You should look at what the shrubs and trees are really made of—their true character, in other words. Perhaps they have an unusual bark color or branching structure. A Japanese maple, for example, has a very interesting structure when it’s bare, and dogwoods have red and yellow twigs you can admire once the foliage is gone.”

We also discussed the impact of the drought on our landscaping. Mr. Reilly says a wise investment is updating your irrigation system so it uses water more efficiently. “If you really want to save water, think about the whole system, not just a portion of it. If your garden has eight stations and you only correct two, then the other six stations are probably in need of correction as well.” If you decide to let your lawn go brown, don’t forget that the root system will stay alive—after a few inches of rain, it’ll be green again.

Chris Bjorklund signature
Chris BjorklundChris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer

Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer Card

Diamond Certified® Preferred Customer Card

Have you signed up to become a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer? Membership is always free and comes with numerous benefits, including a special member hotline, members-only access to additional tools on, a double Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee and more. Join now to get a free copy of the 2014 Diamond Certified Directory! Visit to get started.


When it comes to cleaning a stove top, non-abrasive cleaners and non-scratch scouring pads are the way to go.

Dear Chris:

I really enjoy the helpful hints in your newspaper column. I thought you might have some suggestions for a cleaning problem we have. How do you get the dark, burned-on black carbon off the glass top on a stove? I’ve made some improvement with SOS pad scrubbing (which is not recommended by the manufacturer) and Soft Scrub.

Thanks for writing. For help with your question, I turned to cleaning expert Josh Young, owner of Elite Pro Home Cleaning, a Diamond Certified company. “Soft Scrub is abrasive, so you need to be really careful when using it,” he says. “It scratches stainless steel very easily, so I’d be cautious using it on glass. Instead, try using baking soda and vinegar in equal parts. Put the vinegar on the stain first and then sprinkle baking soda on top. As it fizzes, start scrubbing it with a non-scratch scouring pad. You can also apply a baking soda paste (3 parts baking soda to 1 part water) and let it soak for about an hour before using the non-scratch scouring pad.”


Kudos from Diamond Certified Consumers

Dear Diamond Certified:

We would like to highly recommend A C A Remodeling Design. They just completed a master bathroom remodel at our home and we were highly pleased with their professional work ethic and respect for our property. Carlos, the owner, is a courteous, friendly professional who gave us support and design ideas. He accompanied us on a shopping trip to help us choose and purchase some materials for the job. We had a number of estimates and felt that A C A’s estimate was very fair. The workers were friendly and easy to work with, and they finished the project in a timely manner. A few problems did occur, but Carlos was quick to resolve those issues to our satisfaction. We are very happy with our new master bathroom and will look to A C A for any future remodeling projects.

M. & I., Benicia, California

Diamond Certified ® Only companies rated Highest in Quality earn Diamond Certified

Companies Recently Earning Diamond Certified

ASAP Automotive, Inc.

Fremont - (510) 794-8210

General Drainworks, Inc.

Antioch - (925) 522-0741
Valley Home Theater & Automation, Inc.
Dublin - (800) 977-8741

Mike & Sandy Rostad of Coldwell Banker

San Carlos - (650) 596-5416

Griffin’s Auto Repair

Mountain View - (650) 961-8657

Ramirez Tow

Suisun City - (707) 422-0974

American Ratings Corporation - Diamond Certified • 504 Redwood Blvd. • Suite 210 Novato, California 94947 • (877) 312-1307
©2014 American Ratings Corporation