Spend a Little – Save a Lot: Watering Made Easy

plant nanny resizedWe wanted to take this chance to showcase an item that is not widely known, but has a large appeal.  Houseplants and certain potted plants outside dry up quickly without frequent watering.  When we leave for vacation, these plants are often stressed more because we are not able to water them.  We might put them outside and hope for frequent rainfalls to keep them moist.  But that might be wishing for a lot, especially during the drier summer months!  The Plant Nanny products make water easier and are a great solution for vacation watering.

How the Plant Nanny works.  Plant Nanny is made in 3 different styles, but the concept is the same regardless.  The uniquely shaped ceramic terra cotta spike is inserted into the potting soil and seeps water through its shell when needed.  Instead of glass globes that leak out water at a specific rate, the Plant Nanny system seeps water only when it is needed.  There are 3 styles to choose from: ones that connect to plastic water bottles, ones that use old wine bottles, and one that is in all inclusive system that includes a decorative glass reservoir.

Where are customers finding them most useful?  The Plant Nanny system can be used everyday and works great this way, because it promotes deep root watering.  It will also not saturate the soil medium and create extreme wet or dry conditions.  Instead, just keep water in the Plant Nanny reservoir and that is it!  They work particularly well for hard-to-reach plants or ones that tend to dry out very quickly outside.  Having the Plant Nanny installed in these situations, provides a safety net so that these potted plants don’t dry out so much to cause harm.  Inside, the Plant Nanny works great for vacation watering.  If you will be away for several weeks, let the Plant Nanny water for you!  Just install one or two Nannies in the pot and you should be good to go.

Stop in and see our full selection of Plant Nanny products in our Lawn and Garden Department.

What’s Trending? Understanding Deer Behavior in Our Gardens

deer behaviorThis is the time of the year that many of us are motivated to plant new flowers with hopes of enjoying them all summer long.  Using a deer repellent and hoping for the best is not the only way that we can protect our gardens from hungry deer.  By understanding some simple facts about deer behavior, what types of plants are deer resistant, and how products work to deter them you can increase your chances of success.  Over the Earth Day weekend, Mt. Lebanon welcomed a “deer doctor” named Sandy Baker to the community to talk about her experience with deer and how best to deter them by understanding their behavior.  In this Blog article, we have highlighted some of the points that we thought were most valuable…

The 1st Step is Understanding Deer Behavior:  Deer are afraid of anything new.  They travel in groups and fawns are taught where to eat by elders.  They browse primarily at dusk and dawn and are selective feeders.  Deer are animals of prey, so they have acute senses of sight, smell and hearing to help them survive.  In fact, their field of vision has a range of 270 degrees!  Deer are adaptable and territorial.  They have successfully adjusted to living in a shrinking habitat that is being acclimated by humans.  Deer live within a certain range, so they will not roam forever… they know there limits and their familiar territory.  The best things to take from this understanding of deer behavior is that they like familiarity.  This is the reason that many experts will suggest altering your deer repellents or deterrents on a frequent basis.  Use a certain repellent for one month and then a different one the next month.  Maybe even mix in a physical barrier such as a fence or a motion-activated sprinkler or ultrasound device the next month.  There are lots of options out there!

Choosing Deer Resistant Plants:  If you are looking to redo your landscaped areas or are planning to go to the nursery for some new plants to replace those that have died, it is a good idea to choose plants that are more deer resistant.  This is especially the case if you know that you have a lawn and garden that are frequently visited by deer.  There are many more deer-resistant plants than you might first think.  Here are some of the more popular ones for our area:  English Ivy, daffodils, hyacinth, holly, spruce, boxwood, ferns, many ornamental grasses, lavender, peonies, iris, marigolds and more.  A large list of  DEER RESISTANT PLANTS  has been provided by the Penn State Extension for your reference.  Please note that you may still want to protect these plants with a repellent of some sort, because deer can be forced to eat these less desirable plants when times are tough or when the plant is convenient.

Feeding the Birds without Feeding the Deer:  Bird feeders can be a reliable food source for deer.  It is important that if you have a bird feeder in the backyard that it be kept out of reach from deer.  Similarly, it is important that the areas around the bird feeder be kept clean.  If deer are accustomed to coming to your garden because of an ill-positioned bird feeder, then they are more like to stop by and sample some of your plants.  To help with this situation, it is often recommended to use a bird feeder that can be suctioned to the window, or one that can hang out of the reach of deer.  We sell a variety of hooks for the deck, windows, or walls that can help you accomplish this.

Again, there was much more talked about, but we felt that these were some of the most popular topics regarding deer behavior.  Thanks for reading everyone!

Derek Satterfield

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What’s Trending? How to repair dog spots in the lawn

dog spot small imageWe have been getting many questions from dog owners about the spots that are formed from dog urine and poop.  Questions such as… why is my lawn dying in areas? or how best do I treat or prevent these spots?  In this blog article, we attempt to answer these questions and provide some good suggestions to prevent them from happening in the future.

Why is my lawn getting spotted from my dog’s urine and poop?  Unlike common thought, it is the high concentration of nitrogen and associated salts in both dog urine and feces that causes our lawns to “burn” in areas and turn brown.  This is the same thing that happens when we over-apply fertilizer in an area of the lawn and it “burns” as a result.  Because female dogs squat to pee, it is more common for spotting to occur because the urine is more concentrated in a targeted area, but there is nothing chemically different with female dogs.

How do I best treat or prevent spots in my lawn?  There are some products on the market that will revive your lawn and recover brown spots.  We have sold these for a number of years now (See Spot Run and Revive are the two dog spot treatments that we have this year) and they are effective for most customers.  The concept here is that the urine is broken down by the microorganisms that are in the product and the nitrogen and salts are rinsed through the soil as a result.  Many of the same benefits can be achieved by simply watering the areas that your dog likes to pee.  Frequent watering or rainfall will dilute the urine and rinse the salt and nitrogen through the soil before they cause damage to the turf grass.  Some homeowners choose to have a watering can near by and will rinse the areas immediately after their dogs does his/her business.  Products such as gypsum (that loosen and breakdown deposits in the soil) and limestone (that help neutralize soil) have been long recommended for helping the lawns of pet owners, but these products have never been scientifically proven to remedy dog spots in particular.

If my grass is brown, is it completely dead?  Not necessarily.  Dog spots first turn brown when plant tissue is burnt, but if left untreated the deposits of nitrogen and associated salts will completely kill the grass.  We would recommend that you first try some of the remedies above, but if you do not see visual improvements within a couple of weeks, then you will have to reseed those areas.  To do so, you will need to remove the dead grass as well as about 0.5 – 1 inch of the existing soil and then fill those spots in with high quality top soil and grass seed.

What if my grass appears to be healthier and growing faster in areas that my dog pees?  It is very common to see areas of rapid growth where your dog pees, because the nitrogen acts as a fertilizer for your lawn.  The problem is that too much nitrogen will start to have adverse effects!  What you will often find is that brown “dead” spots are surrounded by areas of rapid growth.  The center suffered from too high a nitrogen level, but the periphery is doing just fine because the nitrogen and salts are in good balance still.

A couple of final notes… it is best to make sure that your dog is always hydrated.  Make sure to keep water easily accessible during the day.  Also, you might want to consider training your dog to use a specific area of the lawn that will not be so much of an eye sore if damage were to occur.  To do so, you may want to take your dog out on a leash when peeing and/or set up a fenced in area that is an obvious visual to your dog.

Thanks for reading,

Derek Satterfield

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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!