What’s Trending? Deer Repellent Overview

deer in garden resizedThe hot topic this spring (and every spring) is deer repellents.  What really works?  What is best for my particular needs?  Should I use more than one product?  All of these questions go into determining which deer repellent will be best for you.  Here is an overview of deer repellents, how they work, and the advantages of using one over another…

Liquid Deer Repellents are great for almost every type of plant, tall or short, large or small, potted or planted directly in the ground. Liquid products repel by both taste and smell. The odor of these products “covers up” the natural plant scent that deer are used to and trust. Treated plants no longer smell like a typical food source. If deer are stubborn enough and still want to sample a treated plant they will be turned off by the bad taste and will move on to another area. Liquid products are made of a variety of ingredients, but the most common ingredients are egg solids, garlic, cinnamon, mint, and/or capsicum. Some of our favorite liquid-based products are Liquid Fence, Ortho Deer-B-Gon, Bobbex, Deer Stopper, Deer Off and Repels All.

Contrary to many beliefs, liquid deer repellents are rain resistant! As long as the liquid deer repellent has had a chance to dry completely before rainfall, it will not be rinsed off. The big thing to keep in mind here, is to follow the application instructions and to apply the liquid spray to new growth. Therefore, when plants are growing rapidly in the spring, you may need to spray new growth every few days to be sure that you are protected. Once growth slows in the late spring or summer, applications typically reduce to once a month with liquid spray-on products.

Granular (Dry) deer repellent are easy to apply and will last longer than liquid deer repellents. On average, granular deer repellents will last about 30 days and are applied as a perimeter around what you want to protect. The ingredients in granular deer repellents (with a few exceptions) are designed to activate the natural “flight response” in deer. They will smell the granular and fear for their lives because they sense that a predator is in the area! Active ingredients in granular-based products typically include dried blood, or coyote urine.  Some of our favorite dry deer repellents are Deer Scram, Animal Stopper, Deer Off (spikes), Deer Ban, Shake Away, and Repels All (granular).

Granular products are great for protecting large areas because you only have to use them as a perimeter. They are also perfect for protecting edibles and vegetable gardens, since they will not contact plants.  Some dry repellents even work for up to 90 days because they are in a weather proof container!

Some Final Points… We have heard that every product WORKS and that every product does NOT WORK.  The important thing to get from this is that everything does work!  These products have all been tested by the EPA and have been proven to work.  The big thing is to determine what will work best for your particular situation… What is most appealing for you application-wise?  Will you be able to keep up on the applications of the liquid products? Do you have potted plants that would be best to protect with a liquid?  Or do you have a vegetable garden that you would prefer not to spray with an unappealing spray?  These are all sorts of questions that you should consider before making your purchase.  You may even want to switch up the products that you are using; use a granular in the spring when plants are growing fast and then switch over to a liquid in the summer when plants slow up.  You may even want to consider using a combination of products so that if one wears out, you can rely on the other to back you up.  These are all good options and it is just the matter of finding what will work best for you!

Thanks for reading,

Derek Satterfield

 

What’s New? The MiniMax – The Smallest and Most Versatile Big Green Egg

minimax small imageThe all new MiniMax from Big Green Egg is making the “Ultimate Cooking Experience” more versatile than every before.  This is the first Egg to be designed for transportation.  It is sold with a durable, two handle carrier, making it great for camping, poolside, and tailgating at the next ballgame!

The MiniMax offers you the same size cooking surface as the small Egg (13″ in diameter), but with less unnecessary bulk and convenient carry handles.  It is still constructed from the same ultra high-quality ceramics as the other Egg sizes and comes with the same best-in-class limited lifetime warranty.

The MiniMax cooking surface is 133 sq in, which is large enough for 4 burgers, 1 chicken (vertically), 2 steaks, 1 rack of ribs, or up to a 12 lb turkey.  Even though the MiniMax is a shorter grill than other Big Green Eggs cookers, an ConvEGGtor (for creating indirect heat necessary for low and slow cooking) as well as a baking stone and drip pans are still available for this grill.

Stop in and see the MiniMax as well as all of it’s older relatives.  The Medium, Large, and X-Large Eggs are in-stock and on display all year round!

 

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Spend a Little – Save a Lot: Helpful Paint Tools to Make your Job Easier!

When you walk the aisles of our paint department, you will find many neat items, all designed to make your next paint job cleaner, easier, and more efficient than ever before.  We decided to combine many of them and bring them to you all at once.  Here are some of our favorites!

3M patch plus primer3M paint and primer – This product has been out on the market for a few years now.  It is great for quick patching of holes in the wall caused from picture frames or other items.  Because the primer is actually part of the spackling, you can paint in as little as 30 minutes.  The primer prevents topcoats of paint from being absorbed into the patch and looking duller than the rest of the wall.  Patches are now hidden to perfection with one less step!

frogtapeFrogtape – is the leader in PaintBlock technology.  They were the first company to market a treated tape that actually seals tape edges and creates sharp lines every time!  The multi-surface green FrogTape has now been superseded by FrogTape for delicate surfaces (newly painted walls) and for textured surfaces.

brush and roller cleanerBrush and Roller Cleaner – this little device speeds up paint brush and roller cleaning.  For rollers, the curved edge works great to drain the roller of excess paint so that it does not go to waste.  The brush cleaner side of this tool features thin metal tines that spread out the hairs of the paint brush so that paint can be rinsed away.  Cleaning your brush with this tool makes it seem like a new brush every time you paint.

handy paint pailHandy Paint Cup – is exactly what you would think.  This convenience cup with handle holds about 1 pint of paint and has a small magnet on the inside that will hold your paint brush vertical when not in use.  The bristles point down so you don’t have to worry about drips falling on the floor or carpeting.  Neat, simple solution to making the brush work easier on your next paint job.

fits all paint can spoutFits-All Paint Can Spout – Clips onto the rim of any paint can and makes for easy pouring of paint.  No more messy paint inside the rim!

Latex Paint Hardener – Turns leftover paint solid so that it can be put to the curb for trash pickup.  This product is easy to use and acts fast!  One 3.5 oz package will harden up to 2/3 gallon of leftover paint or stain (latex and acrylic only).

paint hardener - motsenbockerMotsenbocker’s Lift-Off Latex Paint Remover – works instantly to remove fresh and old paint from any hard surface, including brick, windows, countertops, floors, concrete, glass, and more.

Now’s the time to: Reseed bare spots and overseed your lawn

seeding 2015If your lawn is suffering from bare spots, it is important to reseed in the early spring.  By doing so, you will fill in these spots with desirable turf grass before the weeds stake claim!  Bare spots can be caused for many different reasons, including dog urine, insect damage, evasive weeds, drought, foot traffic, dog urine, and moss.  Regardless of how the bare spots occurred, the same general steps must be taken to ensure that the new grass germinates well and feels in the gaps (please reference our Blog article from September 2014, where we outline the steps for successful reseeding).

If your lawn is looking rather sparse all throughout, then you might be best served by overseeding your lawn.  This is done by spreading grass seed lightly throughout the entire lawn and letting it feel in the gaps.  Many of our turf grasses do not thicken very quickly, so a thin lawn can be fortified by overseeding.  More grass seeds, means more grass blades and a thicker lawn that is more weed and drought resistant!

If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions and you are looking to reseed this spring, you will NOT want to use a pre-emergent weed/crabgrass preventer (such as Scotts Halts, Scotts Step 1, or Jonathan Green’s crabgrass preventer).  These weed preventers are great products but they do not know which seeds are desirable and which ones are bad; preventing grass seed from germinating just as they do weed seeds for up to 4 months.  The key here is to get your reseeding done early!  This will allow you to get a jump start on your lawn and to fill in those bare spots before trees start to flower and temperatures start to get more severe.  To get your seed to grown quicker, you will want to consider using a starter fertilizer when seeding or overseeding.  Then based on your time, you can follow that up with another dose of feed once your seedlings have grown tall enough to be mowed several times (about 4-6 weeks after seeding).

There are so many topics when it comes to spring lawn care, so please stop by at your convenience and talk to one of our sales clerks.  We will be happy to tailor an approach to your lawn and its specific needs!

Thanks for reading,

Derek Satterfield

What’s New: The Flexzilla Garden Hose Puts an End to Kinks, Frustration

flexzilla_resizedIf you are tired of going through inexpensive garden hoses that leak or kink after a couple of seasons, then you should consider the Flexzilla garden hose.  This hose is new to our store for 2015, but it has been out on the market for an number of years and has been getting rave reviews!  It has much of the same look and appearance that you would expect with a garden hose, but a few features make this hose stand-out above the rest…

1) Hybrid polymer walls will not kink under pressure – The unique wall design is made from materials that have no memory.  Therefore, the hose will uncoil with you as you tug and pull it throughout your garden.  It will coil back up just as easy!  Besides the material, the Flexzilla has a kink-resistant fiber that runs through the length of the hose that prevents the it from kinking when under pressure.

2) Lightweight design – 100 feet only weighs about 15 pounds, which is about 25% lighter than rubber garden hoses.

3) Aircraft aluminum threaded ends – Aluminum reduces the overall weight of this garden hose while also providing incredible toughness.  The aluminum ends are stronger than typical brass fittings and help prevent them from being stripped, worn down, or damaged.

4) Swivelgrip connectors – New for 2015 is the Swivelgrip model, which is the one that we are stocking.  It offers all of the same features as the original Flexzilla garden hose, but it also incorporates ends that are easy to grip and easy to twist with your hands to attach and disconnect from the spigot, hose nozzles, or sprinklers.  This is a truly unique feature that we have not seen on any other garden hose before!  The demonstration video below shows the Swivelgrips in action!

5) Drinking water safe – the polymer walls and aluminum ends are all made to be drinking water safe, which makes this hose great for marine use, kids play pools, and much more!

 

What’s New: DeWit Garden Tools – A Better Hand Tool

We are excited to start offering some DeWit hand tools in our store.  The DeWit lineup of Dutch made hand tools are the finest money can buy.  Whether you are an avid gardener or just someone that likes quality tools, you will not be disappointed with the design and craftsmanship offered by DeWit.

The right tool can make all the difference:  DeWit tools are built for the long haul and are backed by a lifetime guarantee.  Their blades are made from high-quality Swedish boron steel (the same steel that is used on a popular brand of bulldozer blades) and forged for long-lasting strength and durability!  The handles are made from certified ash hardwood and ergonomically shaped for ease-of-use.

There are hundreds of tools in the DeWit portfolio, but we have started with 5 of their most popular hand tools:  Forged hand trowel, potting trowel, patio knife, cape cod weeder, and dutch hand hoe.  Not only are they built to last, but the DeWit designs and specialty tools make certain jobs a lot easier.  This is especially so with the DeWit patio knife.  I love this tool!  It makes cleaning out the weeds between concrete pavers a breeze; it’s thin, yet sturdy blade, knifes through the weeds and cut them deep down so that they will be less likely to come back!  Their cape cod weeder is also a unique one; it is flared at the end and scoops under mulch to cut weeds at their roots.  This unique design allows mulch to remain largely undisturbed which can not be said with all weeders.

There is just something different about DeWit tools and you can feel the quality from the first time you pick one up!  They are built from the “best materials so you can have a tool that gets the job done, gets it done right, and continues to work for you year after year.”

 

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Now’s the time to: Sharpen Garden Tools for the Spring

sharpening garden tools resizedSpring is suddenly upon us and the weather is cooperating (at least for now).  Our yards and flower beds may still be dormant, but the spring growing season is not far off!  Soon we will need to go grab those trusty ‘ole tools and get back to digging, pruning, and cutting all throughout our yards.  Now is a great time to think about which tools are in need of some ‘tlc’.  Bring your worn and dull garden tools to us for a hardware make-over (better known as a sharpened blade).

Did you know that we can sharpen many of your garden tools for less than $10 each.  Stop by our Plumbing Department and drop off any dull tools that you would like to be refreshed.  We will grind the blades down and put a nice new edge on their for you!  We just ask that you leave the tool for a few days and we will give you a call when completed.  We are able to sharpen most blades, including lawn mower blades, hand pruners, loppers, grass clippers, hedge shears, axes, hatchets, knives, and scissors.  Any edge that is wavy or irregular typically can not be sharpened, but those are few and far between.  Stop by or give us a call if you have any questions!

What’s Trending? Deep Clean Your Carpets Without Water

host_carpet_cleaner_resizedMany of our customers are looking for a better way to keep their homes clean.  We have products all over our housewares department that are giving us alternatives to the traditional Lysol and Clorox and harsh chemicals that we have grown accustomed to.  Our busy lifestyles and the sloppy weather, make our carpets prone to stains and spills.  When it comes to deep cleaning carpets, most of us are familiar with the wet carpet cleaners such as Rug Doctor and Bissel’s Clean Machine, but what if we told you there was an alternative to the waterlogged carpets created by shampoo or steam cleaning methods?  The Host carpet cleaning system is the easier, less messy, completely water-free way to deep clean your carpets!

How does it work?  The process is quite simple.  First you will want to vacuum the carpets and/or area rugs that are to be cleaned.  Then apply the flaky HOST carpet cleaner dust to the carpets.  Agitate the carpet fibers in several different directions with the special HOST carpet cleaner brush unit (pictured above).  The rotating bristles on this unit scrub your carpets clean of dirt, dust, spills, stains, etc.  Once the carpets are clean and the stains are removed, come back with a vacuum and pick up the HOST carpet cleaner dust that has been spread throughout the carpet.  If some flakes are left behind, don’t worry; they are all natural and safe for kids and pets.

Why use HOST dry carpet cleaner? Besides for its effectiveness at all types of stains, people love the HOST system because it does not leave behind a wet carpet.  As a result, carpets do not run the risk of mold or mildew damage, and rooms are ready for immediate use after cleaning.  Plus, the HOST system leaves behind no sticky or soapy residue that may re-attract dust or dirt to the carpet fibers.  It’s safe and gentle cleaning bristles are delicate enough for all types of carpets, including shag, orientals, and low pile carpeting.  Because of the unique bristle motion, carpets are massaged and carpet fibers that have been matted down for years because of heavy furniture will be lifted.  Once you finish with the wall-to-wall clean of a Host carpet cleaner, your carpets will look like new!

If you are interested in renting a Host carpet cleaner, we rent the machines daily, so just stop on by when you are ready.  The Host cleaner flakes and spot cleaners are available in store as well.  May your carpets always be clean and dry!

Thanks for reading,

Derek Satterfield

 

Now’s the time to: Summer-ize Snowblowers

toro snowblowerNow that winter appears to be in our rear-view mirror, our garages will be under quite a bit of turn-around.  Out come the garden tools and the lawn mower, and into storage go the ice melter, shovels, and the snow blower.  In doing so, it is important to “summer-ize” your snow blower before pushing it to the corner of your garage in storage.  A few simple steps will ensure that your snow blower starts up on the first pull next winter!

1)  Drain gasoline inside the engine:  This is the most important step with snowblowers, especially so with the newer 4-cycle snow blowers, which do not use an oil/gas mix.  The easiest way to drain the engine (fuel tank and carburetor) of gasoline is to “run it dry”.  To do so, you will turn the snow blower on and let it run out of fuel.  This will dry up the the engine so that the old gas doesn’t deplete and absorb water (both of which make your engine hard, if not impossible, to start next year).  The other option is to drain the engine of fuel through the carburetor.  There will generally be instructions on how to perform this step in the owners manual.  4-cycle (no mix) gasoline that is used in your snow blowers can be poured in your car for use.  2-cycle (oil/gas mix) and 4-cycle gasoline can both be used in spring power equipment with like gas mixtures!

2)  Use up old gasoline:  This point is an extension of the first step.  Not only do you need to use up the gasoline inside the snow blower, you will also want to use up the gasoline in your gas can.  If 2-cycle, it is often best to run it through the snow blower.  If 4-cycle gasoline, then it is often best to pour it in your car.  The general rule of thumb is to never use gasoline that is more than one month old in your small engines.

3)  Replace spark plugs and check for worn parts:  The spark plug is generally easy to replace and can be done with a deep socket wrench.  If you do not own one, you can purchase an inexpensive one for a few dollars in our automotive department.  It is recommended to replace spark plugs once a year.  Also, you will want to check the scraper and paddles, which become worn and may start to limit the effectiveness of your snowblower’s ability to lift and toss the snow.

If your snowblower is a Toro or Lawnboy brand, our service department will be happy to perform all of these steps for you!  Consider bringing your snowblower to us in the spring, so that it can be summer-ized and prepared for next winter season by one of our experienced mechanics!

Now’s the time to: Start Seeds Indoors For Your Garden

seed startingWinter is almost over and most of us can’t wait to get outside in our gardens.  The start of an abundant vegetable garden actually starts now!  Get a head-start on your garden by starting certain vegetable plants indoors, including tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, eggplant, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, cauliflower, and others.  By starting certain seeds indoors, you eliminate the risk of frost and ensure yourself a hardier plant that will produce more through the growing season!

The general rule of thumb is to start plants indoors 4-8 weeks prior to the last spring frost, which for the Pittsburgh area is around May 1st.  Individual crops will vary, but tomatoes and peppers are some of the most commonly planted vegetables and ones and should be started indoors about 8 weeks prior to the last frost!  Below, we have made some suggestions for improving your results with indoor seed starting.

Containers:  Almost any container that is 2-3 inches deep will work as a planter, provided that there are some holes at the bottom.  You can use plastic seed-starting trays that are divided up in small cells, or any other container with a similar shape.  Egg cartons are a great option if you are looking to reuse something around the house!  Some people even choose to place seeds in a tray and then once they sprout to transplant them quickly to a larger container, so that they can be started in a smaller space at first.  Regardless of the container, you will want to place them on a tray that will allow you to water them from the bottom up.  If seedlings have outgrown the container they are in, be sure to move them to a larger pot or planter so that their grown is not stunted.  Biodegradable peat pots are a popular item because they can be planted directly in the soil once ready to be transplanted outside.

Soil:  A fine, light and fluffy (or spongy) growing medium is most desirable.  If the soil is too heavy or thick, roots will not be able to push their way through (do not use a garden soil or top soil). Many companies package a seed-starting soil mix that is highly moisture retentive and includes some fertilizer to help them grow quicker.  Expandable peat pellets or coconut coir are also available at most garden centers and work very well too.  You can even make your own mix with equal parts vermiculite, perlite, and milled sphagnum peat moss.  If making your own mix, you will want to start feeding your seedlings a few weeks after they germinate with a liquid fertilizer, preferably an organic choice!

Sunlight:  Sunlight is crucial for seedlings to grow rapidly, since it promotes the photosynthesis process.  This can be obtained by natural sunlight through windows or preferably from light bulbs positioned directly above the growing medium.  Ideally, you will want to position the high intensity light about 3 inches from the seeds or seedlings and raise the light as they grow.  There are grow lights sold typically sold in 2 or 4 ft lengths, or you can make your own out of chain and shop lights of some sort.  Light is most critical once the seedlings have emerged.

Temperature:  The ideal soil temperature for seeds to germinate is about 78 degrees, although it can vary depending on the plant.  Because this is warmer than most of our homes at this time of the year, we recommend placing your seed trays on top of your refrigerator or a couple inches above a radiator.  Sunlight is not a necessity to promote germination, so you want to look for a warm pocket in your home and place your seeds there.  Once sprouts have reached about 1/2 inch, you will want to move your seeds to a cooler environment (between 60-70 degrees) where they will receive the most sunlight possible.

Water:  When seeds are germinating, you will want to create a humid environment by placing a clear plastic lid (often sold with seed-starting trays) or loose fitting plastic wrap or grocery bags over your growing medium.  Once seeds have emerged, remove the lid and water seedlings from the bottom only.  This technique will resist disease and not disturb seedlings when they are small and fragile.

Check Them Daily:  We recommend that you place your seed trays in an area that you will be able to conveniently check them each day.  You will want to make sure that lids don’t need removed, water replenished, or lights adjusted among other things.  If plants are put on a windowsill, you will want to rotate them every couple of days to make sure that they do not get pulled in one direct too much.  These are all things to pay attention to and are important for the most success this year!

Preparing Them For The Outdoors:  You will want to be sure that you “harden” your plants to the outdoors.  Instead of planting them quickly outside, you will want to acclimate your seedlings to the outdoors, by moving them outside during the daytime for a couple of hours each day over the course of 2 weeks.

If you are not sure which seeds need to be started indoors and what can be sowed directly in the garden, be sure to reference the backs of each seed package.  All of this helpful information is directly on the label so that you can time out everything on the calendar.  Also, seeds packets include many, many seeds.  Not all seeds will germinate and not all will be of the same strength, so you may want to “weed out” those that are not as strong and pay more attention to the stronger plants/seedlings because it is often not practical to have 10-20 plants of each variety in your garden.  Thanks for reading, and Happy Gardening!