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SPECIAL ISSUE: SPRING GARDENS | THE SCOUT IN THE GARDEN

Pooper-scoopers, for hire

March 01, 2007|Lisa Boone, David A. Keeps and Craig Nakano

AT YOUR SERVICE

Roger Salter has heard all the bad jokes. When he tells people that his new venture centers on removing dog excrement from customers' yards, disbelieving listeners just can't help themselves. "How's business?" they ask. "I hear it's really picking up!" Ba-dump-dump. Adds Salter: "Usually, though, the first thing that comes out of their mouths is a laugh." Humor aside, Salter and partner Randy Parsons say their service, Los Angeles County's first Pet Butler franchise, addresses a serious environmental problem: dog waste that sometimes lands in rain runoff and causes bacteria counts to rise at local beaches. For a fee that starts at $11 a week, Pet Butler staff members will come to homes in certain Westside and San Fernando communities to scoop up Fido's business and cart it away to an off-site trash bin. Customers are often dual-career parents who want a clean play space for their kids but simply can't keep up with prolific pets. The chain's 60 franchises nationwide, including two in Orange County, pick up 10 tons of waste every week, Salter says. "That's 35 million piles of poop" since 1998, he adds, just in case you were wondering. He says his staff will remain true to the company name, providing white-glove service: "We sterilize equipment and shoes before entering your yard," says Salter, left. "We can wash down decks. We even can train the dog to go potty in certain areas." For more information and the fee schedule, which varies depending on the number of dogs and frequency of service, go to www.petbutler.com.

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HARDWARE

Doorbells just got their wings

For nature lovers, something new for your nest: this bird doorbell, introduced last month from Seattle hardware designer Flopping Fish. What we love is the restrained design that's cute but not cutesy -- a simple rendering with an aged copper finish and a button that lights up. The bird is 5 1/2 inches tall and sells for $45. It's part of a new collection that includes maple leaf and fleur-de-lis doorbells, all starting at $40. For more pictures and a peek at the company's house numbers, plaques and switch plates, go to www.floppingfish.com.

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FOR THE KIDS

For future green thumbs

Can't get your children interested in gardening? Don't claim retailers haven't been trying to help. The wave of kids' garden tools and accessories washing into stores this season includes an expanded line from Target based on author David Kirk's "Miss Spider" books. At Target in Eagle Rock, we found an entire aisle devoted to whimsical paraphernalia such as the shovel ($7.99), trowel ($2.99) and watering can ($9.99), shown here, as well as bug catchers. Do kids really need cartoon-colored galoshes to garden? Who cares, as long as the little ones are pulling weeds with a smile. To see the line, try your local Target store; as of the Home section's deadline, the merchandise was not yet posted on www.target.com.

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EVENING GLOW

There's a pattern here

Sure, you can light the patio table with a hurricane, but the inventiveness of these Moroccan-inspired lanterns really shines through. Designed by Los Angeles-based NotNeutral, the black-oxide-finish cylinders are pinhole-punched with whimsical designs that echo the company's Flora and Fauna series of tea light holders, trivets, napkin rings and garden stakes. Inside, a removable stair-stepped candle stand ensures an even flow of illumination. Pictured here are the small (14 inches tall, $50) and medium (20 inches tall, $90) models with a stand pulled out; a large size (26 inches tall, $180) also is available. The lanterns are among the spring and summer lines that NotNeutral is starting to roll out. Its L.A. store at 6824 Melrose Ave. expects to stock the lanterns by mid-March; call (800) 270-6511 to confirm availability or to find a retailer closer to you. Orders also can be placed online at www.notneutral.com.

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TABLETOP

Colorful lights that mix it up

It's a modern touch to the patio or deck: the Havaleena, a cordless and colorful LED wand from Tayo Design Studio in Los Angeles. Twist the aluminum tube and the translucent acrylic top lights up. Pop open the end cap and slide in a vellum filter, and the illumination shifts to orange, green or purple. Because the LED doesn't generate much heat, Tayo partner Monica Berndt says, practically any type of paper can be used to create a different look -- much like changing shades on a lamp. Three AA batteries provide at least 20 hours of operation. The suggested retail price for a single Havaleena is $59 (four vellums included); check online for specials on a three-light "bouquet." (323) 336-7333, www.tayodesign.com/havaleena.

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SHADE MAKER

Backyard getaway

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