Now’s the time to… Protect Evergreens from a Damaging Winter

protecting evergreens - bonideLast winter was so cold and windy that many of our plants suffered damage.  Evergreens were the most effected by the cold temperatures, but perennial shrubs and flowers had their fair share of damage as well.  Hydrangea buds were killed, rose stems dried out, and bulbs were frozen dead.  In this article, we will focus on evergreens, but you may want to consider protecting all of your plants, especially those that are younger or more exposed to the cold and wind than others.

Even though evergreens keep their colors during the winter, their root system is frozen over and pretty much out of commission.  As a result, the roots are not able to replenish the plant leaves with water when they dry out, turn brown, and die.  By taking these preventative measures against this moisture loss, you will be sure that your evergreens will survive the winter with little or no damage!

Wrapping or covering plants in burlap -  The objective here is two fold.  First, by loosely wrapping evergreen trees or shrubs with burlap, you still allow sunlight and moisture in, but you break the wind and keep the plant warmer.  The burlap acts like a windbreak for the plant!  The second benefit is that heavy snow and ice will not sit on the branches causing them to sag and possibly snap.  This will guarantee they hold their shape through the winter.  The best time to wrap evergreens is around the time the ground is beginning to freeze; November or early December typically works well for Western PA.

Creating wind barriers -  Much like wrapping plants in burlap, creating a wind barrier or wall can be a simple and effective solution to moisture loss during the winter.  We typically suggest using burlap, but landscape fabric (weed barrier) can be used as well.  To create this barrier, you will want to place stakes at the corners of the area you want to protect and then mount the burlap or landscape fabric to those stakes.  You don’t have to pinch the fabric right up against the plants, but it should probably be no further than about 2-3 feet from the evergreens.  If the walls are quite long, you will want to place extra stakes in the middle to offer support.  This option is also great to prevent the “splash” of road salt from contacting your flower beds and evergreens, so you might want to consider installing this temporarily barrier up close to the street or along hedges.  Installing these types of barrier walls is best performed in November or early December.

Anti-desiccant plant sprays -  Anti-desiccant (or anti-transpirant) sprays provide a protective coating to evergreen leaves to prevent the loss of moisture.  They are clear transparent and are safe to use on most any evergreen.  We stock Bonide’s Wilt Stop which is recommended to be applied on a warm day in late fall (temperatures in the 50s) so that the leaves are protected before the chance of a long extended freeze.  One application is typically enough for our climate, but a second application may be made during the winter if the temperatures are warm enough for applying.  This protective coating slowly breaks down over the winter and is nonexistent come spring.  It also works well on houseplants that dry out quickly because of being close to an air vent or because of our naturally dry air during the winter!  Perfect for rhododendron, holly, pine, boxwood, spruce, etc.  If spraying on arborvitae, cypress, juniper or cedar, it is best to test a small area and wait for the plant to sufficiently harden off before application.  Wilt Stop will even protect foliage from road salt used to melt snow and ice, so spray those evergreens close to the road as well!  For more information on anti-desiccant sprays, please reference this informative article.

Consider following some of these steps this fall to put an end to winter burn and prevent the unsightly dieback that we experienced on so many evergreens last winter.  If you have any questions about what is best for your plants, we are always here for you… stop by or give us a call today!

Thanks for reading,

Derek Satterfield

protecting evergreens - examples


What’s Trending? Put an End to Clogged Gutters – Simple DIY Solutions

As leaves fall and collect on our roofs and in our gutters, most of us are not looking forward having to clean them out again before winter.  Clog gutters can be the origin of many problems, including water damage to basements, snow and ice damage that drip inside interior walls, mosquito breeding, wasp nests, dangerous dripping icicles, and much more.  If you are sick and tired of cleaning out your gutters once or twice a year or have dabbled with cheaper “screen-like” solutions without any good results, you will want to consider two patented, do-it yourself solutions that we have been receiving great feedback on for over 5 years!  GutterBrush and GutterStuff are simple, affordable, and easy-to-install solutions for preventing clogged gutters.

GutterBrush Gutter Guards -  This product looks like a giant bottle brush.  It is comprised of a galvanized metal, heavy gauge wire that has tough plastic bristles extended in all directions.  These bristle keep debris out of gutters.  The small debris that it catches naturally decomposes in the bristles and falls through to be washed away.  Larger debris will stay at the top of the bristles and typically blows of the roof when dry.  Easy to clean when certain segments become over-filled with debris:  To clean, you will want to wait for a dry day, lift the GutterBrush from the gutter and shake the contents loose, then reinstall.

Why GutterBrush:  Incredibly easy to install (no tools required), each piece bends to conform to curves in the gutter, easy to maintenance, works great for most all debris expect for lots and lots of small debris such as pine needles, does not need removed before winter (will not become dislodged in gutter), 20 year performance guarantee, 1-year 100% satisfaction guarantee.


GutterStuff Foam Inserts -  This product looks like a sponge, but does not act like one.  GutterStuff has a patented truncated bottom and fits into your standard k-style gutters with ease.  A flat foam top is created, which allows water to pass through, but holds debris up and out of the gutter so that it can be washed and blown off the roof.  The foam is treated with a UV inhibitor and a germicide, so it will not breakdown in the sunlight.  Because it fills the gutter completely and allows water to flow freely, mosquitoes will not be able to breed in the gutters.  There is no need to remove the product before winter, since the snow and ice has no adverse effects on the foam.

Why GutterStuff:  Easy-to-install, each 4′ pieces can be cut to length (no waste), prevents mosquito breeding, works great for small and large debris alike, does not need removed before winter (will not become dislodged in gutter), comes standard with a 5 year warranty against breaking down (15 year for the GutterStuff PRO).


Both of these products were recently featured in a USA Today “Ask Lou” segment, seen here.  If you have long been considering a better way to keep your gutters clean and free from clogs, we suggest that you stop by and pick up more information on both of these solutions… they are customer tested, highly recommended, and easy-to-install!

Now’s The Time To… Seal Concrete Surfaces for Winter

drylok_concrete_protectors_resizedThe Farmer’s Almanac has predicted below normal temperatures for Western PA once again this winter.  With fall fast approaching, we are running out of good days to prepare the outside of our homes for the cold winter ahead.  As moisture increases in the fall, and with snow and ice just around the corner, we recommend sealing your porous concrete, brick, and stone surfaces.  By sealing these surfaces, they will resist stains, cracking, and efflorescence since they will not absorb water.  This will also help to limit the effects that snow and ice melters have on them.  Here are some common questions we receive about these products…

Why should a stone/concrete protector be used?  Products such as UGL Drylok’s concrete protector or Drylok natural look sealer will extend the life and beauty of your stone, brick, or concrete by providing an invisible protection against road salt, harsh weather, acids, gasoline, oil, etc.  They also help to prevent pitting, surface cracking, and efflorescence (unsightly white powder deposits).

My concrete driveway has been sealed before, does it need to be sealed again?  Concrete sealers such as Drylok’s products typically will last about 2-3 years, but it is recommended to perform a water test each year to determine the need for a sealer.  Simply sprinkle a few drops of water on the masonry surface.  If the water lays on the surface it is still protected.  If the water is readily absorbed by the masonry, it is time to apply another coat of concrete protector.

How is it applied?  Application is quite simple.  The biggest trouble at this time of the year is finding the right day to do the work.  You will want to choose a day when air and surface temperatures are above 50 degrees F and when relative humidity is below 60 degrees.  Drylok’s concrete protector may be applied with a brush, roller, sprayer or squeegee.  It goes on milky white and dries clear.  Do not apply if rain is expected within 24 hours.

Will a concrete protector prevent damage caused by road salt?  No concrete protector is rated for complete protection against road salts and ice melters, however they will help prevent some damage caused by the frequent freeze/thaw of snow and ice on the surface.  Think of concrete protectors as an invisible coating.  This coating will breakdown over time with the use of salt and ice melters, but its presence will prevent water from penetrating the concrete.  Over time, this water would freeze/thaw and cause create those unsightly pits, chips, and cracks in your concrete.  In short, concrete protectors such as Drylok’s products will help, but they will not provide total protection.

If you have any more questions about these concrete protectors, please visit our paint department in-store.  Thanks so much for reading!

Derek Satterfield

Now’s the time to….Plant Grass Seed

Did you know that fall is considered the best time to seed your lawn?  By the time fall comes rolling around, we are pretty tired of cutting our lawns and are often looking at spending the last few nice days enjoying the weather, rather than working in our yards.  However, a little work now, can help ensure you have a thicker more beautiful lawn next spring.

Fall provides frequent rainfall, warm soil temperatures, and cooler air temperatures.  All of this promotes a warm, yet moist environment for grass seed to germinate and take hold.  By the time next summer rolls around, our new seedlings will be will established and able to withstand any weed preventers, weed killers, and drought-like conditions we are likely to experience.

Scotts recommends that seeding be started by Sept 15th this fall.  Even though, this is not a hard deadline, the sooner you start, the better chances you have at the lawn coming in and becoming well established before the winter.  Don’t worry though, those seeds that don’t germinate this fall will sprout next spring.  Not all grass seeds are self-repairing, so it is important to seed bare spots and to overseed thin lawn to ultimately crowd out weeds and promote a thicker lawn.

Here’s a 5 step process to ensure you optimize the potential for optimal grass germination.

  1. Rake up the dead grass: Use a hand cultivator or small trowel to pull up the dead grass.  NOTE: Sometimes grass will just go dormant over the summer and then spring back once it gets enough water.  If your brown patch has some green grass and it is still rooted in the ground, let these spots go a couple of weeks and see if they spring back with a little cooler weather and some rain.  If the spots pull up with no, or little resistance they are most likely not coming back.  These areas need to be re-seeded.
  2. Rough up the soil/add top soil: A good fertile base is critical to getting your grass to germinate. Rough up your soil with a hand cultivator.  For a more ideal planting medium add approximately 1/4″ – 1/2″ of top soil (Garden Magic or Scott’s Seeding Soil) to the ground.
  3. Select the proper seed:  I could expand on this section a lot more, but we’ll keep it simple to keep the entry short.  Basically, you want to select a seed mixture that is conducive to the amount of light the bare spots get in your lawn (shade, sun/shade, sunny, etc.).  For more information on selecting the right seed, see one of our specialists in our Lawn & Garden department to ensure you get the right bag for your needs.
  4. Sprinkle Seed: Seed should be spread down at a rate close to the density you would sprinkle a cookie with sprinkles.
  5. Lightly dust/cover with Sphagnum Peat Moss:  A light dusting of peat moss will help add some additional moisture retention to the soil.  It is critical that grass seed gets ample moisture before and especially after the seed germinates.  The sphagnum Peat Moss will give it that little extra boost, especially if you don’t add fresh topsoil before laying your seed down.  Don’t put down too much peat moss (over 1/4″) as that will reduce the chance it will receive ample sunlight necessary to germinate.

Replanting grass seed in the fall will not only help to keep your lawn looking good and dark green, but it will prevent weeds from taking over these dead spots next spring.  For a thicker, healthier lawn, don’t procrastinate and start this fall!

Thanks for reading.

Derek Satterfield

Spend A Little – Save A Lot: Push-Fit plumbing fittings make DIY repairs simple

push_fit_fittings_resizedPlumbing repairs have often been overwhelming to homeowners and the fear of creating a bigger problem if done incorrectly is always a worry.  Now, with the invention of push-fit plumbing connections, fixing that leaking pipe or putting in a new faucet is both simple and affordable!

I am a novice when it comes to plumbing repairs, so when my pipe burst this past winter due to the extreme cold temperatures, I was figuring that I would have to call in a plumber and face an expense of at least $150.  After I was introduced to push-fit pipe fittings, I soon realized that I could perform this repair myself and save a lot of money.  The whole job was simple and cost only about $30 to complete.

How are they installed?  Mueller’s ProLine push-fit fittings work as you might expect; they snap onto a smooth edge of cut copper to create a permanent and instant connection.  Just push until they snap in place and you are all set!

Can they be removed?  Yes, push-fit fitting can be removed with ease.  There is a handy little c-shaped tool that is slid around the pipe and pushed down onto the fitting to release its grip.  The two pieces are separated with no residue or damage done to the pipe, allowing both parts to be re-used right away.

How long do they last?  Push-fit fittings are considered permanent and will last a lifetime.  In fact, they are the only method that is approved by the plumbing code for connections behind walls with no access.

What fittings are available as push-fit?  Most every fitting is available as a push-fit, including ball valves, couplings, tee joints, elbows, threaded adapters, and caps.

Thanks for reading everyone, and happy home repairs to you!

Derek Satterfield

What’s Trending? MACE for back to school

mace_pink_pepperIf you’re sending a son or daughter off to college for the first time it can be a little nerve racking.  You’re trying to get everything ready from clothes, to dorm stuff, to the finances, etc.  However, if it’s a daughter you’re sending off, there is the added concern of safety.  I don’t want to scare you, but the reality is you can never be too safe, especially if your daughter is going to a city school.  We find that our Mace sales actually spike around this time due to parents purchasing a pepper/mace spray for their daughter to take with her when she goes off to college.  In fact, if it is a city school it can’t hurt to have guys carry a mace spray as well.

First, I should clarify that the term mace is used in the industry by a lot of companies, but none of the products actually have mace in them.  Mace was actually taken off the market about 15-20 years ago due to police finding that it was ineffective against humans under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

So what is inside mace products nowadays?

Products on the marketplace today have either pepper spray, tear gas, or a combination of both.  Pepper spray will incapacitate individuals for 15 minutes to 1 hour, including individuals under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  Pepper spray causes coughing, choking, nausea, dilation of the capillaries causing temporary blindness, swelling of the mucus membranes causing trouble breathing and burning of the eyes!

On the other hand, tear gas is effective immediately causing the eyes to close up and start to “tear”, as the name suggests, along with coughing.

So which product should I buy?

Most of the products we sell have both tear gas and pepper spray to combine the benefits of both.  If you’re looking for a good model for your son or daughter to take to school then the small pocket size triple action pepper sprays are a good option, since they will easily fit into a pocket.  If you’re concerned about them jogging outdoors, then we do sell a pepper spray that has an armband.

Do Pepper Spray and Tear Gas products have a shelf life?

Yes, all pepper spray and tear gas products do have a shelf life.  Generally speaking it is two years from the date on the product’s canister.

Give yourself and your son or daughter the added safety of a mace spray to take to school.  Along these lines, make sure they utilize other best safety practices when walking anywhere late at night, by either walking with others, only walking in well lit areas, or opting for transportation services. Many, if not all schools, have shuttles for students that need transportation at night back to their apartment or dorm.

What’s Trending? Fungus Gnats are a “Little” BIG Nuisance Indoors

fungus_gnat_products_resizedAs our houseplants are thriving, so too are fungus gnats!  More often than not, these are the little black gnats that are flying around in your home, hanging out next to your windows, doors, computers, kitchen, or anywhere houseplants are kept.  Even though these gnats can be a big nuisance and are often hard to capture in mid air, there are several treatments that work really well for them!

Diagnosis:  Fungus gnats are small, wispy, black flies that are found indoors any time of the year.  Adults measure about 1/8″ long and have delicate legs and antennae.  Despite being a nuisance, they are harmless in the adult stage.  Adults breed and lay their larvae in the moist soil of houseplants, so if you have indoor plants you will be more susceptible to them.  Fungus gnats typically fly in short erratic patterns, almost like they are bouncing around in the air.  At this time of the year, fungus gnats are often confused with fruit flies, who have a thicker body and are attracted to fermenting fruit or moist decaying organic matter.  For more information on fruit flies, please view our Blog article from last year.

Treatment:  Fungus gnats have a life cycle that lasts about 3-4 weeks.  Flying adults live for about 10 days, but a female can lay up to 200 eggs in that short time.  For this reason, it is critical to take some steps to eliminate them before becoming a larger problem.  The best areas to treat are your houseplants or nearby windows.  If you don’t have any houseplants, then maybe plants close to your doors outside are the culprit.  Because fungus gnat larvae like to live in the top 2 inches of soil, it is best to limit watering to only what is necessary and allowing your pots to dry out in between waterings.  This can kill larvae and make it less appealing for adults to breed.  Modified watering habits are sometimes all that is necessary for effective control, but we typically recommend either stick traps or an insect killer be used in conjunction.  Safer Brand’s sticky traps are a great solution for capturing adults.  They simply push into the soil of your potted plants and lure gnats because of their yellow color.  By capturing the adults you are effectively ending the life-cycle of the gnats.  You might also want to consider an insect killer or two.  Pyrethroid-based sprays work great again adults, but if you want to kill the larvae in soils then you are best off with a granule-based product with imidacloprid, such as Bonide’s systemic Houseplant insect granules.  Repeated applications of either of these insect killers will help out greatly.  If you were to choose only one insect killer, you would be best served using the imidacloprid and focusing on the control of the larvae since it is harder to predict the whereabouts of adult gnats.

Prevention:  Consider treating the soil of outdoor plants (or re-potting them entirely) anytime you are bring them indoors.  Actually, re-potting plants in general is a good idea, because older potting mixes are more attractive to fungus gnats.  Also, only water houseplants as much as necessary and try to eliminate periods of prolonged moist soil.  As we mentioned above, it is best to allow houseplant soil to dry out partially in between watering.



What’s New? Deck & Dock Elastomeric Coating

deck_and_dock_small_image_resizedDecks can be hard to maintain and after a couple years of neglect, they can often get dried out and rough from intense sun and precipitation.  If your deck looks like mine (shown to the right) and makes you cringe to rub your hand or feet across it because of the high risk of splinters, then we have a solution for you!  There is now a deck coating that is designed to fill in all of the gaps and cracks in damaged, dried out wood so that you don’t have to replace it.  SuperDeck’s new Deck & Dock Elastomeric Coating can revive your deck and allow you to enjoy this space once again!

Deck & Dock provides a lot of benefits:

  • Flexible elastomeric formula holds up tremendously well to temperature changes and heavy walking traffic.
  • Fills unstable cracks up to 1/4″, resurfacing the deck and making it have a much smoother appearance and prevent it from breaking down further.
  • Deep, long lasting color provides maximum hide of the damaged surface and UV protection.
  • For a non-skid texture, add anti-skid granules that we sell in store.
  • Excellent adhesion on both wood and concrete!

Easy to Apply:  Clean the deck first.  Allow the deck to dry fully.  Apply to cleaned wood with a roller.  1-2 coats are generally needed (depends on the surface).  Allow to dry 1 hour before touch, 2-4 before re-coating, and 24-48 hours for foot traffic.

SuperDeck makes a full line-up of products for cleaning and re-staining your wood deck, so there is something for everyone when it comes to SuperDeck.  We are always here for you, so please stop by our paint department for advise and recommendations specifically tailored to your situation.

Thanks for reading!

Derek Satterfield




Spend A Little – Save A Lot: 3M Headlight Restoration Kit

Cloudy_HeadlampsAccording to the motor vehicle lighting council, cloudy headlamps, taillights and other plastic features of a vehicle have caused an estimated 2.8 million auto accidents, 23,000 fatal crashes and 2,300 pedestrian deaths each year!

Most vehicles on the road today have headlight covers made from plastic, which make them very susceptible to yellowing and cloudiness from the sun’s UV rays.  Over time the sun’s rays can reduce the light output of your vehicle’s headlamps by up to 90%!

Back in the day if you wanted to clean your headlamps you would have spent at least $100, if not more, to have them professionally restored by an automotive detailer or pay $600-1,000 to have them replaced!

Now several companies are making do-it yourself kits that enable you too clean up your headlights for as little as $16.97 and an hour of your time.

If you plan on taking a family vacation, or already struggle with seeing the road in the dark take a look at your headlamps and see if they are dull or foggy.

3M has three different headlight kits to restore your headlamps.

  • Headlight Restoration Kit (No tools required!) – Good for headlamps with minor cloudiness.  Recommended that you purchase automotive masking tape.
  • Headlight Restoration System (Requires standard household drill 1200-1600 rpm) – Ideal for heavy cloudy/foggy headlamps. Must also purchase automotive masking tape.
  • Lens Renewal System (Requires standard household drill 1200-1600 rpm) – Ideal for heavy cloudy/foggy headlamps.  Includes automotive masking tape.

NOTE: All kits will require you to supply a spray bottle with water and a detail cloth.


What’s New? Organic Insect Control for Lawns and Gardens

Summer is here and bugs are in full force in our yards and gardens.  Before this year, there were some organic grub controls, but no organic product to quickly and effectively control lawn-damaging insects that crawl near the soil surface.  Now there is a solution and it comes in the form of an easy-to-spread granular based from plant oils!  Jonathan Green’s new Organic Insect Control for lawns quickly kills and prevents cinch bugs, sod webworm, ticks, fleas, ants, and over 100 other pests without posing has a harm to kids or pets.

How it works:  This patented blend of organic oils kills bugs fast by blocking the neural pathways, termed Octopamine receptors, that are only found in insects.  That is the beauty of this product!  Because these receptors are unique to insects, our pets, kids, and critters around the yard will not be effected in any way by the natural plant oils in Jonathan Green’s Organic Insect Control.

Kills and PREVENTS:  Not only does Jonathan Green’s patented formula kill bugs quick, it also acts as a strong repellent against new insects that may look to encroach on your lawn!

For a short informational video on this revolutionary new product, please see below…