Spend a Little – Save a Lot: Protect trees from deer damage

deer-damage-to-treesEarly fall is consistently the time of the year that we receive the most requests for remedies to deer damage on tree trunks.  Damage is caused as male deer rub their antlers on tree bark, typically to remove the “velvet” fuzz that is no longer needed on the mature antlers.  As a result, deer often rub their antlers aggressively on young trees.  Bark is often severely damaged and splintered.  Also, low reaching tree branches can often be cracked or mangled as well.  If damage is severe enough, trees (young ones especially) will die from this sort of damage.

Before damage is made, we encourage you to protect your trees, especially the younger ones and especially so if your yard is frequented by deer.  So what can you do to protect your trees from damage?

  1. We sell lots of plastic “shields” that wrap around tree trunks to impede aggressive deer.  They are available in two styles, the first is a panel that wraps around and locks into itself.  The other is a spring shaped wrap that coils around a tree trunk and grabs to it tight. (shown here to the right).
  2. Similar to the concept of plastic shields would be the use of chicken wire.  Simply grab a roll of chicken wire and wrap the mesh around the trees of concern.  The chicken wire will be unappealing to deer and prevent them from targeting the protected trees.
  3. You could consider building a 7 foot tall fence around the trees or around your lawn in its entirety, but this is often a menacing task, so it is not a very popular one.
  4. Or you could use concentrated deer repellents.  Something like our Shake Away hanging deer repellent bags are a good product for this purpose since they are long lasting and hang off the exact trees that you are looking to protect.  Our granular Deer Scram would be a good one as well, since you could sprinkle this product heavily around the base of the tree.  The all natural Deer Scram will not harm other plants, but the scent will scare deer area from the area.

If your tree does experience damage, the best thing that you can do is to clean up the edges that have been splintered and shattered, and protect the tree in one of these methods to prevent further damage.  The tree will naturally heal itself over time.

Thanks so much for reading.  If there is a topic that you would like us to provide more information on, please feel free to write to us through our contact us form on our website!


Derek Satterfield

Spend a Little – Save a Lot: The quick and easy way to get rid of old paint

If you are anything like me, your basement has slowly filled up with gallons and gallons of old paint.  One project after another goes by, wall colors have been changed, and the partial cans of paint sit downstairs for years taking up space.  Several rooms in my house have changed colors more than once, so the result is an even bigger collection of old paint.

Get back valuable shelf and storage space in your basement by getting rid of those old cans of paint this fall.  Our Homax latex paint hardener is the perfect product to help you do so.  It takes as little as 30 minutes to dry solid.  And just like that, the paint will be ready for curbside pickup!  Take a look at this quick video below that shows how easy the Homax paint hardener is to use.


Now’s the time to… Clean & Stain Decks

clean-and-stain-deckTypically, we see more interest in the spring with homeowners wanting to clean and seal their wooden decks.  Because of the delayed spring and frequents rains that we received, many of us were not able to find a good time to re-stain our decks.  As a result of some beautiful weather the past couple of weeks and what looks to be more nice dry weather, we are recommending to stain this fall before temperatures get too cold.

How often should I stain my deck?  This depends on which product you choose, but typically stains need to be reapplied every 3 years.  They slowly breakdown from foot traffic and UV light, so by staining your deck, you are not only providing beauty, you are making sure that the surface remains protected from the harsh sunlight, water, and chemicals that they are exposed to throughout the year.

What are the best stains to use?  The best stain for your deck will depend on a couple factors: 1) the condition of your deck and damage that might need to be hidden, and 2) your preference for color and look of the wood.  Decks that are severely damaged and that which have been neglected for quite a few years often need a more opaque stain that will cover up lots of the imperfections and help to prevent against splintering wood and rough textures.  Decks that are new or well-kept often only need a transparent stain that will let the natural beauty and grain of the wood to really shine.  Most of us tend to fall somewhere in between these two extremes, and for that reason our semi-transparent stains are the most popular.  They provide subtle color and medium protection for the wood, all while still letting the natural wood grain sparkle.

Wondering what stain to use?  Consider our newest addition to the store, Sikkens ProLuxe stains.  ProLuxe premium stains are known for their rich and vibrant finish.  They also provide unmatched looks, durability, and performance on all types of exterior wood.  Plus for a limited time only, save $8 per gallon on Sikkens ProLuxe products with a mail-in rebate!  For more information on the Sikkens products that we carry, we invite you to stop by our store to view some samples of the finishes!  We also have more information online at our Sikkens brand page.



Now is the time to: Repair Lawns by Planting Grass Seed

dead-grass-patchThis year has been tough on our lawns.  This spring growing season started late and then came frequent rains and humidity of the summer.  Just for good measure, we have had some hot and dry weather for the last month or so.  The result of this far from ideal weather, is dead patches and areas of pour grass quality and many weeds.  This fall is a great time of the year to remedy some of these conditions through reseeding and fertilizing your lawn.  In this article, we will focus on reseeding.

Did you know… the fall is actually the best time of the year to seed?  By seeding now, you will see quick results because the soil is warm and the days/nights are cooler.  Unlike the spring, you do not have to wait for the soil to warm up from a cold winter.  Also the days and nights are cooler, so the soil will not dry out as quick and grass seed will stay moist for longer.  This goes a long way to seeing great grass seed results.  With quick germination, you reduce the chance of weeds from growing in these bare spots before the grass seed has a chance to thicken in.

What is the best type of grass seed to use for my lawn?  This answer depends on what type of conditions your lawn experiences.  The more shade that you receive, the more fine fescues that you will want to have in a mix.  The more sun you receive, the more ryegrass and tall fescues that you will want to have in the mix.  There are many great choices but the fact is that most are very similar.  They are all typically made from the same turf types, but the proportions of the mixture will vary depending on how much sun the area will get.  Of course, our sales clerks are here to help you with this choice.  What we often find is that one part of the lawn will need a mix that is more sun/drought tolerate and certain parts would do better with a more shade tolerate mixture, so you might need to consider a few different bags.

Here are the steps for reseeding your lawn…

  1. Prepare the soil.  Remove dead turf and kill or pull weeds in the areas of concern.  It is important to have “seed to soil contact” so all of the dead grass will need to be removed to ensure a nice bed of soil for seed germination.  Make sure that the top 1/2″ to 1″ of soil is loose and loamy so that the tender roots of young plants can find water and nutrients.
  2. Apply grass seed, mulch and fertilizer.  Use top quality grass seed mixes, like those from Scotts and Jonathan Green.  Sprinkle the grass seed moderately, sort of like “sprinkles on a cookie!”  Mulch and fertilizer are optional, but recommended for the best results.  We suggest that you try spagnum peat moss as the mulch.  This product is the main ingredient in potting soils, so it is lightweight, inexpensive, and very moisture retentive!  Fertilizer should be the last application.  You will want to use a starter fertilizer or a fall fertilizer as long as it does not have any weed control in it.
  3. Water regularly.  This step is not easy and where most people lose the battle with new grass seed.  It is important to water for quick germination and continued growth until the seedlings have a chance to deepen their roots.  You will want to water about 20 minutes a day.  We suggest that you do this in the morning, so that the water will help the grass get through the heat of the day.

And that’s it!  After about 2-3 weeks, you should be looking at a pretty nice lawn that will slowly thicken in over another week or two.  Now is a great time to seed, but you can really perform this work all the way through October as well.  After that, your results will sort of depend on the weather, so if it is getting too cold in November, you might want to hold off until spring.

Thanks for reading,

Derek Satterfield

grass seed resized

What’s Trending… Eliminate Musty Smells in Basements

dampridMany of us have been living with musty, moldy smells in the basement, garages, or other lower level rooms.  Not only are these odors unpleasant, they are a sign of excess moisture and humidity in those rooms.  The result of this moisture can cause clothing, carpets, or fabrics to grow mold or have musty smells when stored in these areas.  Personally, I know that I have a musty basement and wet gym clothing or hockey equipment will fail to dry out and the result is musty, smelly clothing that is hard to clean.  This is not a pleasant situation.

Spring, summer, and fall are the worst times of the year for these musty smells because the Pittsburgh air is more humid and rainfalls are frequent.  Once winter rolls in, these musty odors can often be eliminated, but why live with them any time of the year with there is a simple remedy?  This remedy is DampRid moisture absorbers!  They are available for rooms as small as a closet and as large as a huge basement and they are super simple to use.  Simply pour the granules into the top of the canister and place in the problem area.  Moisture is slowly attracted to the canisters and is collected at the bottom.  Replace them every 1-2 months and you are good to go!

If you have a worse situation, and one that DampRid moisture absorbers can not take care of, then you will want to purchase a dehumidifier.  These devices will continuous collect excess water from the air and reduce the humidity in the room.  They turn off automatically when full, but if you are able to drain them to a floor drain, then you can let them run continuously during the problem months of the year.

Thanks for reading everyone.

Derek Satterfield

Now’s the time to… Clean and Seal Concrete Surfaces

concreteI hate to say it, but winter is not too far from us.  It won’t be long before colder temperatures set in on us and we begin to reach for the ice melters and rock salt.  Now is a prefect time to begin thinking about whether or not you would like to seal your concrete and natural stone surfaces before the winter.  If you plan on doing this work, August and September are great times to start the process and to clean those surfaces so that they can be sealed in time before winter.

Step 1 – Clean: Before sealing an exterior surface, you want to make sure that it is clean and dry and these hotter months of the summer are a prefect time to do so.  We have many different options in our store when it comes to cleaning the surfaces, including pressure washers and spray or scrub cleaners.  The most popular one in our store is the Olympic Deck Cleaner, which can also be used on concrete and other natural stone surfaces outside to quickly take them from dark and dirty to clean and brilliant!  (Just take a look at the before and after photos to the right from my own walkway).

Step 2 – Seal: Once the surfaces are clean and thoroughly dry, then you are ready to seal!  Sealing these porous surfaces before the winter will help prevent damage due to salt and ice melter usage.  Sealant will also inhibit stains from gasoline, oil, yard debris, and more.   This really is a necessary step in making sure that your concrete (or other stone surface) stays in good condition, year-after-year.  For more detailed information on concrete and stone sealers, please reference our blog article from September 2014, or stop by our Paint department where we are always willing and able to help you with all of your questions!

Thanks for reading everyone.  We hope that you are having a great end to your summer!

Derek Satterfield


What’s Trending? Fun and Stylish Insulated Lunch Bags

freezable lunch bagsSchool is upon us and it got us thinking lunch boxes… how boring, right?  Well, we like to think that the freezable lunch bags from the PackIt company add a little excitement to the ordinarily boring lunch box!

What makes a PackIt lunch bag unique?  All of their products are freezable.  Simply put them in the freezer the day before use and the next day you have an insulated lunch bag that will keep your lunch cool until ready to eat.  It is great for juice, dairy products, meats, and cheeses that could spoil in a warm lunch bag.

What makes them so exciting?  These lunch bags are available in different sizes and different styles.  There are fun patterns, solid colors, and stylish designs to choose from.  There are various sizes as well, including mini, regular, an over-the-shoulder bags.  We are constantly bringing in new styles and colors, so we recommend stopping in to our Housewares Department to see our newest assortment!


Spend a Little – Save a Lot: Kill and PREVENT Weeds

kill and prevent weedsSo many of us battle with weeds that magically grown up between pavers, bricks, stones, sidewalks, and driveways.  What seems like a small crevice can grow unsightly weeds at all times during the growing season.  Typical weed killers will do a great job at killing what is visible, but they don’t do anything for preventing them from regrowing in a couple of weeks.  Now there is a better way to kill and prevent weeds from these areas and it is by using products such as Round-up Extended Control or Ortho GroundClear.

These products will quickly kill all sorts of weeds and grass that are growing in these unsightly areas.  But when applied to the vulnerable cracks and crevices or vacant soil areas, these products will also prevent new weeds from germinating.  The result is beautiful looking walkways, gravel areas, and sidewalks with only one application of weed control.

Personally I have found these product to be highly effective.  I had my doubts at first because I questioned how much preventative is really soaking into the soil and remaining effective, but the difference is very apparent!  With a gravel driveway, when Ortho GroundClear was applied to the entire area, I was able to kill existing weeds and prevent new weeds for up to 12 months!  Since it is later in the growing season, we often recommend the Round-Up Extended Control, which will kill and prevent for up to 4 months (just enough time to get us through to the winter months).  The key with all of these preventative products is that they must be applied to the areas that you want to prevent weeds, even if no weeds are visible in that area presently.

Save time and money when controlling weeds in sidewalks, driveways, stone paths, between pavers, and more with the use of a kill and PREVENT weed control.  Please visit our Lawn and Garden department for more information on these products.  Our sales clerks are always here to help you with any questions you may have!

What’s New: Flame Boss Temperature Control for Your Smoker/Grill

flame bossThe Flame Boss is like having “cruise control” for your smoker grill.  A task that would originally require quite a bit of refinement and frequent stops at the grill to ensure the correct smoking temperature has now become easier than ever!

How does it work?  The Flame Boss controls the grill temperature with the use of an electric fan.  This fan is accelerated when more heat is needed, and the fan lows down when the grill is at the target temperature.  Essentially, the Flame Boss is constantly measuring the grill temperature to make sure that temperatures are maintained through the cooking process.  Even better yet, the built-in WIFI technology of the Flame Boss 200 allows you to communicate with your grill from your very own smart phone, tablet, or computer.  Simply logon to their online portal for complete control!

The Flame Boss is easy to use and easy to install.  Simply attach the fan to the intake on your charcoal smoker and plug the wires into the control monitor (that sits beside your grill).  The monitor can also read the meat temperature of whatever it is that you are cooking, so you will always know how close you are to completion.  Set your target meat temperature and the Flame Boss will slower its temperature and just keep meats warm when complete.  Works with most Komodo style grills including the Big Green Egg.  The video below is a nice introduction to the product.

Stop by our grill department if you would like more information.

Thanks for reading everyone!


What’s Trending? Japanese beetles are out in full force

japanese beetle - rescue trapJuly in our lawns and gardens means bugs, bugs and more bugs.  Many of these bugs are none damaging and can actually benefit our gardens.  However, that is not the case with many beetles, including the Japanese beetle.  In store, we have noticed for the past two weeks that questions and concerns regarding beetles have really peaked.

What type of damage do they cause?  The Japanese beetle has a very “damaging” life cycle that repeats year after year.  They like to damage our gardens (especially vegetables and fruit-bearing trees) in the summer time as adult beetles.  As young larvae, the Japanese beetle is a white grub and they damage our lawns in the fall, and sometimes a little in the spring.  This is truly a pest that you do not want to have in your yard, since it can mean headaches throughout the growing season!

How can you eliminate them?  To trap the garden-damaging beetles, the beetles traps (bags) are the popular solution.  These traps have been around for years, but are growing increasingly hard to find.  We still have them from a couple of different companies.  If the beetles are concentrated on a particular plant or tree, you might want to consider the contact kill beetle killers that we have.  These are typically a liquid spray and they are safe for non-edible plants.  We have them from a few different companies as well.

We hope that you are not battling with Japanese beetles this summer, but if you are, it is best to treat for them now.  The more you trap now, the less chance you have for the larvae to be found in your lawn and for the young larvae to start causing damage in the fall.

Thanks for reading,

Derek Satterfield

japanese beetle damage