The Best Trees and Shrubs to Plant in Your Yard for Beautiful Fall Foliage - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

The Best Trees and Shrubs to Plant in Your Yard for Beautiful Fall Foliage

MARTHASTEWART.COM | GARDEN | The Best Trees and Shrubs to Plant in Your Yard for Beautiful Fall Foliage

Buy these plants and do your fall leaf gazing at home this year.

By Lauren Wellbank July 07,

If your fall fantasies involve sitting in your own yard, sipping a homemade pumpkin spice latte, and watching as the plants in your yard go from summer greens to autumnal shades of red and orange, then it’s time to start gardening. Here, we’re sharing a number of trees and shrubs that will give your yard a good dose of fall color come autumn.

Related: The Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the United States

Reds and Purples

Maples, particularly Japanese maples, are the first plants many gardeners think of when it comes to spectacular fall color. The hue depends on variety; Velvet Viking™, for example, goes from being purple in summer to vibrant red in autumn. Other maples may turn shades of yellow, orange, and purple. Blueberries are often overlooked for their ornamental appeal, but many turn stunning shades of red and purple come fall. This makes them great plants for double-duty use. Meanwhile viburnums offer amazing fall color in addition to berries that attract birds. Sparkler® is an easy-care version of the North American native that turns a rich purple-red at the season’s end. Oakleaf hydrangeas, like Snow Queen, are another amazing North American native shrub that works well in partially shaded spots and are known for delivering purple-bronze foliage in fall. It is one of the relatively few shade plants for reliable fall color.

Blues, Orange, Greens, and Yellows

Fothergilla, or witch hazel, is a native shrub with blue-green leaves in summer and pumpkin orange leaves in fall. If you’re looking for another bright-hued plant, linderas, or spicebush, grows mainly as a shrub or small tree. A common or native species, Lindera benzoin, has brilliant yellow to orange fall color.  The Asian spicebush, Lindera salicifolia, has bright orange fall color and the foliage stays on it longer throughout the winter. For year-long color, plant arborvitae—it offers a show in all seasons! Its new growth emerges a pleasing yellow shade before fading to green. Then, when temperatures drop in autumn, the foliage goes a glowing shade of golden orange that’s unlike anything else in the landscape.

When to Plant Them

Happily, you can plant your trees and shrubs almost anytime from spring to fall in most areas and still enjoy the changeover of color in the fall, according to Justin Hancock, Monrovia horticultural craftsman. “Spring planting gives you the advantage of bigger variety at the store; autumn lets you see the fall color for yourself before you bring your plant home.” Just beware, if your plants are stressed, struggling, or unhappy with where they’re growing, they are unlikely to produce as lively of a color palette come autumn.

Troubleshooting Issues

If your foliage isn’t turning the colors you had hoped, your soil may be to blame, says Adrienne R. Roethling, director of curation and mission delivery at Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden. She says that the ideal soil PH should be 6.2-6.5. If your PH is fine but you’re still having an issue, drought may be the problem. “If soils are dry, especially in summer and fall, some plants will just drop their leaves prematurely,” she explains.

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How using a surety guarantee can enhance your client’s liquidity - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

How using a surety guarantee can enhance your client’s liquidity

What is a surety guarantee?

The surety is the guarantee of the debts of one party by another. A surety is an organization or person that assumes the responsibility of paying the debt in case the debtor policy defaults or is unable to make the payments. The party that guarantees the debt is referred to as the surety, or as the guarantor.

How do you get a surety guarantee?

When companies need a guarantee, they often turn to their bank. And whilst this may seem to be the simplest approach, decision-makers should understand the other options available to them—mainly purchasing surety from an insurance company. One key reason? To free up liquidity.

When companies obtain a guarantee from an insurance company, they don’t use up any of the limits under their bank lines, giving them additional credit to use in other ways to support their business. Often, insurance companies have better credit ratings than banks, a key factor when getting clients to accept guarantees. Two examples of guarantees that can free up cash include pension bonds and payment services regulation bonds.

Pension guarantees ensure that a corporation’s pension scheme is being funded, whilst at the same time deferring the actual cash payments. When a business chooses an insurance company for this type of guarantee instead of a bank, it keeps its credit lines available with its bank and frees up the cash it may have had to put into the scheme, keeping cash in the business. Additionally, if the company becomes insolvent, the surety company will ensure appropriate payments into the scheme—maintaining the same protections for employees. Per recent legislation, directors could soon be liable if they take the appropriate steps to protect their employees’ pension plans.

As organizations look to address this legislation, firms and insurance brokers should be aware of how a surety company can help.

Payment services regulation guarantees, similar to money transmitter bonds in the U.S., are needed primarily by financial and technology companies that process people’s money (e.g., PayPal, Worldpay). This type of guarantee allows any guaranteed funds to be exempt from the requirement to be ring-fenced from the companies’ cash, increasing the companies’ working capital and supporting their business. Similar to a pension bond, it also protects customers should the companies become insolvent and puts them in the same position as they would otherwise have been in.

In addition to enhancing liquidity, another reason companies should consider a guarantee from an insurance company is the spread of risk. Historically banks and insurance companies haven’t always been on the same economic cycle. Should there be a recession or the banking market is having trouble, an insurance company may not necessarily be experiencing the same challenges at the same time as the bank. Having a mix of bank and surety providers allows your business to grow.

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UTV Safety Before you Ride - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

UTV safety before you ride

UTV safety: Off-road vehicles are a thrill, but they can be dangerous if you don’t know how to properly ride them. Did you know, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were almost 94,000 off-road vehicle injuries treated in the emergency room in 2017? That’s why it’s important to understand the dangers and take safety precautions before riding.

Off-road vehicles refer to many different machines, including ATVs, dirt bikes, 4-wheel drive trucks, SUVs, and UTVs. In this article, we’ll focus on UTV safety. They’re utility-terrain vehicles, utility task vehicles, or side-by-sides. They look like a cross between an ATV and a Jeep but trust me, they don’t drive like either one. Before you take one for a ride, remember these safety tips:

Don’t Drink and Drive

No matter what, never drink and drive. We’ve all heard this many times, but drinking severely impairs your reaction time and judgment. Drugs can also have this effect on your driving. Stay in control, and avoid putting yourself or anyone else in danger.

Understand the Vehicle

It may sound boring, but read the operator’s manual. It’s best to keep it in the vehicle at all times as a reference tool. Another way to familiarize yourself with the UTV is by reading the warning labels. They’re there to point out potential dangers and how to avoid them.

Do a Pre-Ride Check

Check the tires before you head out. No one wants a flat tire! Also, check your fuel level so you know when you will have to fill up again. Do a quick walk around the vehicle and look for anything that may be wrong. This step can prevent a breakdown – you’ll be thankful you did it.

Wear Safety Gear

Always wear over-the-ankle boots, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, a certified helmet, and goggles if your helmet doesn’t have any eye protection. Wearing a protective suit is also something you should consider; it’s optional, but an important precaution, especially if you’re riding alone.

Wear Seat Belts

Even if you aren’t driving far, everyone in the UTV needs to wear a seat belt. Many states require this. A lot of UTV accidents are rollovers, and in some incidents, people have been ejected from their seats.

Practice Driving for UTV Safety

Practice, practice, practice! The first time you drive a UTV you will probably want to go fast, but I highly recommend taking it slow. Practice going a safe speed, taking corners, and adjusting to the way it rides on trails. If the driver is a young teen, be sure they have supervision.

Remember Passenger UTV Safety

Never carry more passengers than the UTV is designed for, and make sure they keep their limbs inside the vehicle at all times. There should be handlebars for passengers to hold on to – if a passenger is unable to reach the handles, then they should not be riding. Once all of the passengers are in, make sure the doors are secured and locked shut.

Stay on the Trail

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What's lurking below your mobile home - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

What’s lurking below your mobile home?

What’s lurking below your mobile home?

Do you remember when you were young and had to check under your bed for monsters before you could go to sleep? I sure do! Because of my hyperactive imagination and the poor decision to watch one too many cheesy 80s horror movies, I was absolutely terrified of monsters when I was a kid. Every night I would thoroughly inspect all of the best hiding places in my room before I reluctantly switched off the light and frantically dashed for my bed, fully expecting to be ambushed by a mob of gremlins as soon as everything was dark. I certainly didn’t want any mischievous little critters to snack on one of my exposed limbs as I slept, so I wrapped myself in a cocoon of blankets as an extra precaution.

The slightest noise would make my heart race with fear and my mind travel to nightmarish situations. Peace of mind wouldn’t arrive until I had finally drifted off to sleep.

Now that I am an adult who is fairly confident that there are no monsters under my bed, I have a more important question to ask: What’s lurking below your mobile home? The answer probably isn’t monsters, but here are three things that you may find:


Mice, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, insects, and other critters may invade the space below your mobile home and cause messes, loud noises, bothersome odors, and other damages. Keeping your trash and recycle bins tightly closed and making a point to keep the underside of your home clean of trash and debris are good strategies for keeping otherwise curious animals away. It also helps to keep bird feeders a good distance from your home, as they attract pesky squirrels and raccoons. According to SFGate, sprinkling chili or habanero flakes in the dirt around your home is an effective way to repel many animals. But if you do end up finding an animal under your home, don’t try to remove it yourself. Instead, calling your local animal control service−they can help you find a safe solution.


If there is an abundance of clay in the soil around your mobile home or if your yard is not graded well, any water that collects under your home may not be able to drain properly. Rainfall and even plumbing leaks can lead to excess moisture, and if you don’t act quickly to fix this problem, your home could become musty and moldy. My Mobile Home Makeover suggests addressing the issue of pooling rainwater by stapling plastic sheeting to the bottom frames of skirting so that any water that collects will be absorbed beneath the plastic and will not damage the bottom of your home. You can also install gutters to prevent rainwater from pooling underneath or around your home.


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Shield Insurance Agency Meijer Gift Card Winner

Gift Card Winners Compliments of Shield Insurance Agency!

Friday, October 22, 2021

Every week, Shield Insurance Agency draws a winner of a local gift card from its clients and social media followers.

Be sure to LIKE our Facebook Page to get yourself entered to win and see who the winners are!

Shield Insurance Agency has given away thousands of dollars in local gift cards over the last 20 years serving Michigan.

Shield Insurance Agency Lowes Gift Card Winner!
Shield Insurance Agency Target Gift Card Winner!
Shield Insurance Agency Red Robin Gift Card Winner
Panera Bread Gift Card Winner at Shield Insurance Agency
Subway Gift Card Winner at Shield Insurance Agency
Shield Insurance gives away another local gift card!
Target Shield Insurance Gift Card Give A Way
Red Robin Gift Card Winner at Shield Insurance Agency

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Your Referrals to Shield Insurance Agency Help a Local Family in Need

Shield Referral Program Supports Local Family

Shield Referral Program Supports Local Sparta, Michigan Family

Your Referrals to Shield Insurance Agency Help a Local Family in Need

Your referral can make a difference for Roslyn and Maddox who both have a form of Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenital. Shield Insurance is helping this Sparta, MI family by donating $25 for each non-client who gets a quote from us.

No purchase necessary!

CLICK HERE to get a quote and we’ll donate $25 to them! (Be sure to mention Roslyn and Maddox in the comment section!) You can also call or text the office (616) 896-4600 and one of our agents will take a few minutes of your time to offer up a quote. Don’t forget to mention Ros and Maddox

“The highest compliment we can receive is the referral of your friends, family & business associates. Thank you for your trust!”

Meet Roslyn
Roslyn and Shield Insurance Agency Referral Program

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Campfires - Keep Safety Top of Mind- Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Campfires: Keep Safety Top of Mind

A nice evening by the glow and heat of a fire can be one of the most enjoyable parts of camping. Whether you’re gathering with friends, making s’mores, or just basking in the warmth, there are many reasons campfires are a long-standing tradition. That being said, creating a fire comes with a lot of responsibility. In the United States, people start nearly nine out of ten wildfires. 1 So the next time you get ready to light that match, keep these safety tips in mind.

Check fire regulations.

Make sure you know the rules of the campground or area where you’re planning the fire. There may be a temporary ban when the risk of wildfires is higher.

Pick a safe spot.

Use an existing fire circle or pit when available. If you’re in a remote area, dig a pit in an open space and circle it with rocks. Keep at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs, or any other items and debris. Also, stay away from overhanging branches, power lines, or other hazards that could catch on fire.

Building the campfires.

Start your fire with dry grass, leaves, or needles, and then add sticks less than one inch around. Once the fire gets going, add larger pieces of wood. Many people stack these teepee style or crisscross. Make sure you have a source of water and a shovel nearby in case you need to control the fire.

Always watch.

It can be easy to get distracted and walk away, but it’s important someone always has an eye on the fire. Even a small breeze can spread fire quickly. Take extra care if there are children or pets nearby. Teach kids about the danger of fire and demonstrate how to stop, drop and roll in the event their clothes catch on fire.

Extinguishing the campfires.

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Fit and Fat: Weight Loss May Not Actually Make You Healthier, Study Reveals - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Fit and Fat: Weight Loss May Not Actually Make You Healthier, Study Reveals

Want a long and healthy life? New research shows that focusing on this one behavior, may help a lot more than losing weight. By Catherine Pearson10/13/2021 08:58 am EDT | Updated October 14, 2021

Health experts have increasingly embraced the idea that people can absolutely be “fit and fat” — and that the body mass index is deeply flawed and does not provide a very good picture of a person’s health.

A recent scientific review strengthens these points. The research, published in the journal iScience, showed that overall wellness and longevity cannot be predicted by a number on a scale, and that exercise is more important than weight loss when it comes to heart health and living a long life.

“We would like people to know that fat can be fit, and that fit and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes,” study researcher Glenn Gaesser, of the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, said in a statement.

How focusing too much on weight loss misses the point

The team behind the new review aimed their research at a glaring problem: Obesity has grown significantly in the United States and the world over the past several decades, as have the number of people dying from conditions like heart disease that are often closely linked with diet and exercise.

At the same time, the prevalence of people trying to lose weight has also increased. Since the 1980s, at least 40% of women in this country and 25% of men have been dieting to shed pounds. Whatever we’re collectively doing right now isn’t working, and it’s not necessarily making people

“The intense focus on weight loss has not prevented excessive weight gain in recent decades,” the new review states. “Moreover, repeated weight loss efforts may contribute to weight gain, and is undoubtedly associated with the high prevalence of weight cycling, which is associated with significant health risks.”

The researchers analyzed hundreds of studies looking at how weight loss, exercise, and longevity fit together — focusing specifically on research that examined health outcomes in people who were considered overweight or obese. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a BMI of 25 to 30 as overweight; anything over 30 is obese or severely obese.)

Ultimately, the evidence shows being active trumps weight loss when it comes to improving heart health and reducing overall mortality risk, the researchers concluded.

In fact, people who are considered obese may have a lower risk of premature death than those who are normal weight but not in good shape, according to the study.

The power of physical activity

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Staffing Shortages May Affect Your Next Trip - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Staffing Shortages May Affect Your Next Trip

Pack your patience as the travel industry struggles with staffing shortages.

by Bill Fink, AARP, October 13, 2021

Staff Shortages due to the pandemic.

Due to the tourism slowdown at the height of the pandemic, many airlines, hotels, restaurants, and attractions cut back operations, laid-off employees, or closed altogether. Now, as travel has begun to rebound, many of those businesses find themselves short of staff and resources. Travelers are feeling the pinch — both in the pocketbook and in the planning process — with lower inventory for accommodations (sometimes due to a shortage of housekeeping staff), longer wait times for services, limited opening hours at restaurants, and higher prices in many popular destinations.

It’s even resulted in at least some flight cancellations: Southwest grounded one-third of its planes on Oct. 10, with 1,900 canceled throughout that weekend. Airline officials cited staffing challenges as one reason for the chaos.

We talked to experts about the situation and what travelers should consider when planning trips, especially to busy places that might be hardest hit by the worker shortage.  

Book early — and check opening times

Caroline Beteta, CEO of Visit California, says, “Businesses here and across the country, especially in the hospitality industry, are feeling the effects of a shortage of employees as demand for travel ramps up. As the industry gets back to work, it’s more important than ever for travelers to book far in advance.”

During a midday check-in at Napa’s Embassy Suites hotel in the heart of California’s wine country on a recent trip, the desk clerk suggests making dinner reservations “like, right this minute, if you’re thinking of going anywhere in town for dinner. Normally you wouldn’t have to, but everyone’s short-staffed, so it’s tough to get a seat.” Circe Sher, the owner of Hotel Healdsburg in neighboring Sonoma County, says, “Many wineries who made the switch from walk-in to reservations only stayed that way due to staffing shortages. I suggest checking the days and times restaurants are open. If you are returning to a place, the restaurant you remember being open seven days a week may only be open five to accommodate reduced staff.”

That’s true across the country, including on Cape Cod in Massachusetts: The Mews Restaurant in Provincetown is one of many in this tourist town closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, even at the height of the season this past summer. Others, such as Barnstable Tuscan Cuisine, have eliminated the lunch service. Steve Tait, co-owner of Aerie House, a seven-room B&B, said one issue has been that the resort area’s summer worker population is usually boosted by young people who come from Europe on J-1 student visas, mostly unavailable this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. For Aerie House, that’s meant eliminating daily housekeeping services. “It’s been pretty rough,” Tait says. 

Expect to pay more

Michael Jacobson, president of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association, told local CBS news, “We are still facing staffing challenges both in the frontline, hourly positions as well as management. It has resulted in some hotels reporting they have to limit room sales because they do not have enough staff to accommodate 100 percent occupancy.”

With hotels booked, many travelers are turning to Airbnb and other short-term rentals — but increased demand is driving higher prices there as well. Vered Schwarz, chief operating officer of property management platform Guesty, says, “This Christmas is to be the most expensive holiday this year in the U.S. Travelers are currently booking at prices 53 percent higher than 2020 and 80 percent higher than pre-COVID 2019. Reservation volume across the U.S. is up 469 percent compared to 2020, and even 157 percent higher than 2019.”

The opening of U.S. borders to foreign tourists, expected to begin in early November, is not going to make things better for American travelers. Joshua Bush, CEO of AvenueTwo Travel agency, says, “While the news of the U.S. easing entry restrictions is great for the economy and overall travel industry, it does have a downside. With hotels running at limited capacity, this may shut out Americans who have not planned ahead. For the upcoming holiday season, my worry is that some Americans wanting to go to warm U.S. destinations may be left out in the cold.” 

Be Flexible

California’s Beteta suggests looking at alternative destinations or timing: “Seasonal demand is an important factor for staffing shortages. Consider traveling during a destination’s shoulder or off-season when regions are less congested.” Booking a ski resort town in fall, for example, or a cool-weather coastal trip in winter will help with pricing and availability, she notes.

Be patient and kind

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ow to Clean an Oven - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

How to Clean an Oven

By: Jeremy Glass  |  Jan 4, 2021

It can be a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.

It’s finally time to clean your oven. Yay.

Look, we understand the inherent lack of fun in such a laborious activity, but to clean an oven means a cleaner household with fewer harmful fumes infiltrating your kitchen and food. With little more than baking soda and vinegar, you can give your oven the kind of makeover that’ll eviscerate grease, dirt, and burned-on odor. Here’s how it’s done.

How to Clean an Oven

  1. Don a pair of rubber gloves before starting.
  2. Choose the best cleaning agent. Whether you have baking soda and vinegar on hand or want to spring for the professional-grade stuff, the first step in oven maintenance is preparation.
  3. Remove any debris. We’re talking chunks of food, chipped-off pizza crust, lone pepperonis, and generally anything that can be removed by hand. Clear all that stuff out and toss it in the trash.
  4. Take out your oven racks. For those who didn’t know you could actually remove oven racks, surprise! For a deep, deep clean, you can take out your oven racks and stick them in a bathtub or large sink. Soak your racks in dishwasher detergent and boiling water. Let them sit for about two hours. Scrub with a stiff brush before returning to the oven. In lieu of a full bathtub cleanse, you can sprinkle baking soda on your oven racks and then spritz with white vinegar. Scrub with a good, stiff brush.
  5. Make a paste. Spread a thick paste of 2 cups baking soda and 3/4 cup water on the inside of your oven. Allow the paste to sit for six to eight hours before scrubbing it clean. If you’re using a commercial cleaner, spray it all over the oven from a distance of 9-12 inches (22-30 centimeters), close the oven door and leave it for two hours. Then wipe clean with paper towels or a wet cloth.
  6. Don’t forget the oven doors. Spray the outside of the oven doors with some white vinegar or commercial cleaner to make them shine. On the inside you can clean them with that baking soda and water paste. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before cleaning.

Or try a self-cleaning oven. Most ovens with a self-clean feature require only a couple of hours for a good-as-new look that’ll save your food from taking on any nasty odor. Plus, the clean-up will be minimal. Follow the directions in your oven’s manual for how to use your oven’s self-clean feature, should it have one.

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