Helpful Tip: Roll Paper Leaf Bags to Help Them Stand

If you use paper lawn bags to clean-up around your yard, it is easy to get frustrated when the bags fall over or collapse when trying to fill them.  Next time you are working in your yard with paper leaf bags, try rolling back the top edge all the way around.  You will immediately find that the bag stands up better and is easier to fill, as a result.  We hope that you enjoy this quick tip!

What’s New? Chalk-tique from Howard’s, makes any paint look vintage

chalk-tique detailCreating vintage “chalk” furniture is quite the trend now-a-days, and for good reason really!  Chalk paint can create a whole new look to furniture in a few easy steps.  The finished product is soft in color and has an instant warm, farmhouse look.  Below, you can see how some simple mason jars can become beautiful vintage vases with Chalk-tique!

How does Chalk-tique work?  This powdery additive, creates a creamy texture with any latex paint.  One 4 oz container of Chalk-tique can make up to 2 quarts of chalk paint.  Because of the thickness of this product, most applications only need one coat of paint, which means that you can enjoy your new creation even sooner!  Want to add a rustic, vintage look?  Once the paint has dried, come back over the edges and some of the details with some sandpaper and put the finishing touches on your preferred look.

chalk-tique footer

 

Helpful Tip: Sharpen mower blades when grass begins to shred

sharpening mower bladesIt often goes unnoticed, but it is important to look at how well your lawn mower blade is cutting each time you mow.  Once grass blades begin to look “shredded” on the tips, it is time to get your blade resharpened!  Take a look at the picture to the right for an example of shredded grass tips.

In general, I find it necessary to sharpen the blade on my mower every 1 to 2 years.  My lawn is about 5,000 sq feet and it is the only lawn that the mower is used for.  If you are cutting multiple lawns or larger lawns, then you might have to sharpen your mower blade more frequently.  If you tend to hit lots of roots or rocks, then the blades may need sharpened more frequently, as well.

It is important to keep mower blades sharp, since a clean cut does less damage to your lawn, prevents the loss of nutrients and reduces the damage caused by the sun.  If you aren’t sure if your mower blade is dull… just look at the freshly cut grass blades the next time you mow.  When they start to shred… it is time to sharpen!

 

Helpful Tip: Disconnect the spark plug before cleaning under mowers

Cutting wet grass in the spring is almost impossible to avoid.  In doing so, I find that my lawn mower will often need wiped clean of grass that has accumulated under the mower deck, several times during use.  When doing so, it is very important to disconnect the spark plug from the “boot” that pushes onto the plug tip.  This boot is easy to remove and easy to access from the side of the engine.  Just simply pull on the boot to disconnect it from the spark plug!  The picture below show what a typical boot looks like when disconnected.

Get in the habit of disconnecting the spark plug so that you can safely clean under the lawn mower, with no worry of the blade spinning and creating a dangerous situation.  This is an important step any time you are trying to scrap clean the mower deck whether the engine is hot or not.

Thanks for reading everyone.  Happy safe mowing!

Derek Satterfield

disconnect spark plug

Spend a Little, Save a Lot: Heavy duty trash can with attached lid

Stop losing trash can lids and stop trash cans from rolling down the street with the heavy duty trash cans from Toter.  They have an attached flip-over lid, so the pieces will always stay together.  They are made from a heavy duty, recycled material and the square shape prevents them from rolling down the street in the wind.

They might cost a little bit more than cheaper garage cans, but you are left with a heavy duty bin that will hold up for years to come!  These rigid cans are available in our Hardware department year-round and work great for storing bagged trash, for events and parties, as well as a bin that you can roll around the yard for easy clean-up of yard waste.  They made in green (for regular trash), and blue (for recycling) as well.  We have 3 sizes available (32, 48, and 64 gallon).

 

toter trash can

 

What’s Trending? Slugs are Nibbling Away on Hosta Plants

hostas with slug damageIt’s spring time and that means slugs for so many of us.  For a slow moving bug, it is amazing that these critters can even find desirable plants in our garden, but they love hosta and find ways to get near these plants, especially in the spring!  If you are seeing holes in your low-growing plants, such as the holes on hosta leaves like those in the picture to the right, then you likely have snails or slugs in your garden.  Kill these bugs early enough and you plants will survive and still look healthy for the season.

How do you kill these bugs, when you rarely see them?  Slugs come up out of the nearby soil in the night time and feed on low-growing leaves.  As a result, we rarely see them, but their damage is obvious.  Controlling them is quite easy, and you do so with a granular snail and slug bait.  These products are applied around the targeted plants as a barrier treatment.  The slugs are lured to this bait before they climb up plant leaves.  Once they ingest the bait, they die shortly after.  Sometimes you will see then died on nearby surfaces, other times they die back inside the soil and you will not see them.  I have had great success with the Ortho Bug Geta product, which is chemical-based bait.  We also have a new liquid gel product called Deadline; It is used in the same manner and has been proven to be highly effective as well.

Is there an safer variety when being used kids and pets?  Yes, there is!  Zinc phospate is the main ingredient in safer products and it is still highly effective.  We carry several types of safer snail and slug baits including one from Bonide and another from Garden Safe by Schultz.

What’s New? PittMoss – 100% recycled and plants love it!

pittmossNew to our Lawn and Garden department this year is PittMoss.  As the name suggests, this product is actually made right here, in Pittsburgh!  The company is based in Ambridge and they are making a recycled fiber mix that is perfect as potting soil and perfect as a soil conditioner.

One touch of this product and you know that it is different.  It actually has a texture that is very much like paper.  It is lightweight and has no soil, or peat components.  That means that you don’t have to worry about fungus gnats either!  What a great benefit, because these little flying gnats are such a big nuisance for so many of us at this time of the year.

Because this product is 100% peat free, using PittMoss means that you are conserving the destruction of peat bogs which only make up 3% of our planet but pull out more carbon from our atmosphere than any other environment.  In fact, PittMoss is made from recycled newspaper.  It’s paper that would normally have gone to landfills, but it is now being repurposed and used to benefit our gardens.  This product may not sound very moisture retentive compared to other potting soils, however, it can holds up to 50% more moisture than typical peat moss mixes.

PittMoss began in 1994 in the humble kitchen of founder Mont Handley’s, became a popular solution amongst commercial growers and nurseries, then made headlines on the Shark Tank in 2015, and now is being packaged for resale in select retail stores, like ourselves.  We are excited to be offering this product to you for the first time this year.  For more information on PittMoss, we encourage you to view the short video below…

 

Helpful Tip: Tip spray paint cans over to clear the nozzle and prevent clogs

spray paint tipHave you ever used a spray paint once and found that the next time you used it, the paint would spit or splatter out of the nozzle.  This can be frustrating and can cause a poor paint job the second time around.  Also, your hands usually get covered in paint because the clog is causing some paint to roll down the can and onto you.  This mess that can be easily prevented.

When you are finished (for the time being) with the can of spray paint, be sure to flip it over and spray for a couple of seconds into a paper towel.  Then wipe the spray tip clean and spray for another couple of seconds into the same paper towel.  By doing so, you have removed any of the solids that could cause the spray tip to clog has it dries in between uses.  Now, it is safe to store and you can feel confident that it will spray perfectly during the next use!

Now’s the time to: Transplant overgrown plants in your garden

transplanting shrubsIf your garden is anything like mine, each year I’m in need of moving plants around to different spots so that they can continue to thrive.  Sometimes, this is because they have outgrown one spot and need more room.  Sometimes, this is because a plant has died and I need something to feel the gap.  Other times, the initial planting location may not have provided the plant with either sunlight, and it needs to be moved to an area where it gets more sun to promote blooms.  There are many reasons to transplant trees, shrubs, or accent plants around your garden… here are some simply steps to make sure that you have success in doing so:

  1. Water the plant well the day before you dig it up.  This will hydrate the plant roots and leaves, so that it will not dry out so quickly when being uprooted!
  2. Plan out the move and begin digging a hole where you want the new home to be.  This will reduce the time that the plant is out of the soil so that the roots can remain lively.
  3. Make a good clean cut on the root ball and try to take out the majority of the main root structure.  I tend to start digging around the drip line (the place that the exposed leaves reach out from the center) and then adjust accordingly.  If the plant is rather large, I will almost always reduce that digging zone because it will likely be too heavy to lift, especially with all of the soil that remains attached to the roots.  If the plants are smaller and more delicate, I will try to take more soil as to not harm them more than necessary.
  4. Once the plant is dug up, you will want to carry or wheelbarrow it over to the new location.
  5. Judging from the size of the root ball, continue to dig out the new hole to fit the transplant.  You can dig a little bit further down, but definitely be sure to dig out and around the sides some more.  The general rule of thumb is to remove about 2x the dirt that the root ball consumes.
  6. Apply an all natural granular plant food and water lightly after application.
  7. Place the transplant in the hole and be sure that the root ball is not settled in too deep.  If the hole is too deep, the plant may suffer from root rot or poor drainage.
  8. Fill in around the root ball with an amended soil.  You can use some of the original soil, but depending on the quality, you will want to supplement with a garden soil or planting mix that will help amend the poor soil and make it more moisture retentive for the new plant!
  9. Apply one more light coating of all natural plant food to the top of the soil and water the soil (and plant leaves) after transplanting.  This will help the soil settle into place and replenish the plants loss of water.

Couple more things to keep in mind… Try to avoid transplanting in the summer, since intense heat and drought like conditions can ruin all of your hardwork.  Also, you will need to water the transplants each day that rain is not expected.  The larger the plant, the deeper the watering that is needed.  Be sure to water based on the plant needs.  If you see wilting, then you obviously need to water.  However, if the plant is one that prefers drier conditions (or tolerates them), then you will want to be careful.  Overwatering can saturate the roots and cause rot.

Follow these steps and avoid the hottest weeks of the year, and I’m sure that you will see success when transplanting your overgrown trees, shrubs, and accent plants.

Thanks for reading,

Derek Satterfield

Helpful Tip: Diagnose leaking toilets with a dye test

leaking toiletDoes your toilet hiss or breath when not in use?  Has your water bill gone up for no apparent reason?  If so, you might have a leaking toilet because of a faulty flapper!

If you suspect your toilet is leaking water, we recommend that you drop some food coloring in your toilet tank.  If you notice this color leaching into your toilet bowl after a few hours…then you have a faulty flapper!  Stop by our Plumbing department for assistance in choosing the correct one.  It helps if you know the brand of the toilet, or can bring in the old one to match up with a new one.  As you can expect, there have been many different flappers made over the years.