What’s Trending? Ticks and Tick-Like Bugs in our Yards

tick closeupTicks are a growing concern and for good reason.  With the increasing population of deer in Pittsburgh as well as reports of Lyme disease diagnosis doubling over the past 10 years, ticks are everywhere.  But when do we have to be more concerned about them, how can be identify them, and how best to remove them are questions that any of us might have.  In this blog article, we try to address some of these topics.

When are ticks at their peak?  As with most bugs, ticks have a life cycle that is seasonal.  It is the small nymphs that are feeding heavily in the spring and summer (May through July) and that do the most damage in transmitting Lyme disease to their hosts.  Other stages of ticks are not as likely to transmit pathogens and in the winter time, they become very inactive, especially when the ground is frozen.

How do you identify a tick?  There are many bugs that will look like a tick and are concerning to may of us, especially at this time of the year.  Each of the major news stations have had alerts about the billbug, which will be very prevalent for the next couple of weeks still because it is their mating season.  However, ticks are different than most other bugs we will find in our yards and in our homes, because ticks have 4 pairs of legs.  Most insects will only have 3 pairs of legs and then a set of antennae on their heads.  Ticks will vary in size depending on the time of the year, but the baby nymph ticks that aggressively search for a host start out as the size of a pinhead.  They will slowly grown in size as they feed and move from one host to the next.  Ticks are not typically seen in swarms or groups.  They do not fly or jump, and only crawl.  Most often, they attach themselves to a host by waiting in an areas that are likely to be contacted by a passer-by and they transfer when you make contact with them.  Below we have supplied some pictures of ticks and insects that are often confused with ticks.

How do you remove a tick?  If a tick attached themselves to your skin, you will want to remove them with pointy tweezers.  These can often be found at a drug store if you do not have them already.  Grab the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull straight back.  If you are not able to get the head out of the skin, it will eventually fall out, so no need to worry there.  In order for a tick to start transferring the pathogens that cause Lyme disease the tick will generally have to be on your skin for over 24 hours, so timely removal will prevent disease transfer.

Here is a link to the local KDKA news report on billbugs in our yards.

Here is a great website reference dedicated to ticks:  Tick Encounter

 

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What’s Trending? A Deer Repellent that Backs Up All Other Deer Repellents

deer off stakes resizedIf you are tired of spraying liquid deer repellents each week only to see your plants devastated by foraging deer the next week because you forgot to spray… we suggest Deer Off.

If you have had some success with granular deer repellents, but always forget when to reapply or worry about running out of product at precisely the wrong time... then we suggest Deer Off.

What is Deer Off, you ask?  Deer Off is a long-lasting, weatherproof deer repellent that triggers the “flight” response in deer.  Deer that smell the active ingredient in Deer Off run for their lives because they fear that a predator is in the area.  Each package of Deer Off comes with 6 repellent stations that are filled with dried blood, an all natural deer repellent.  Simply stake or hang the stations 4-8 feet apart throughout your garden.  Place them in areas that will be out in the open and easy for the wind and air to travel through and disperse the scent across your garden.

Like all deer repellents, there are some limitations to the Deer Off.  Because this product relies partially on the wind flow and is only placed every 4-8 feet, there are areas of your garden that may not be protected as well as others.  That is why we love this product as a second line of defense!  Use it in conjunction with liquid deer repellents (LiquidFence or Deer B Gon, Bonide’s Repels All) or in conjunction with granular deer repellents (Deer Scram, LiquidFence granules, Shake A Way).  It will act as a nice safety in case you miss an application with the other product.  Plus one application of stakes last about 2 months.  For only about $22, you can’t go wrong with this safety blanket!

Spend a Little – Save a Lot: Stop the itch with Grandma’s poison ivy soap

grandma's poison ivy soapDo you know that even though poison ivy or oak is sprayed with a weed control and looks dead, it can still be poisonous?  This is because the poisonous oils are still present on the leaves!  Even with long pants and sleeves and work gloves, many of us still contract poison ivy during these summer months.  Two years ago, when I had poison ivy rash really bad from working in my yard, it was Grandma’s poison ivy & oak bar that came to my rescue!

Grandma’s poison ivy bar is unique because it contains jewelweed, which is an ancient Indian herb that has been used as an antidote for poison ivy, oak & sumac for centuries.  It works by soothing the skin and eliminating the urge to itch.  If used immediately after exposure to poisonous plants, it can actually have preventative benefits!  When used as a preventative, it is very important to wash with cold water so that your pores will close and reduce exposure to the oils when rinsed.  If you already have a poison ivy rash, this bar works to relieve the itch every time you lather.  If the itch is particularly bad, then after you wash, you will want to leave a little lather on your skin to dry.  It will continue to work as it sits and dries on your skin.  It is non-staining so you don’t have to worry about your clothing.

It is really important to stop the itch when you have a poisonous rash, and Grandma’s poison ivy & oak bar will help you with exactly that!  As Grandma says, it is a must for every medicine cabinet.

Grandma’s pure and natural soap company makes lots of unique products including their Don’t Bug Me Bar, which is a soap made from all natural ingredients including essential oils of eucalyptus, basil, and citronella to help keep the insects away.

What’s New: Orijen Tundra Dog Food

orijen_tundra_resizedOrijen’s Tundra dog food is the newest addition to the Orijen family of trusted, grain-free nourishment for your pet.  Tundra is made up of 80% meat/fish from goat, venison, mutton, bison, arctic char, rabbit, duck, trout, cod and pilchard.  This surf and turf recipe combines lots of different ingredients together to make sure that your pet is getting a balanced diet.  In fact, that is what each and every Orijen formula is all about! Complete and balanced nutrition the way that nature intended.

Tundra is also a wholeprey diet, which means that the meat, organs, and cartilage are all used in the food.  This helps meet all of your pets nutrition needs while eliminating the need for synthetic ingredients.  In other words, it is nourishment in ratios that mimic Mother Nature.

The other 20% of Orijen’s Tundra is made from locally grown fruits and vegetables.  These ingredients are always fresh and delivered daily to ensure the best flavor.  As with all Orijen dog food varieties there is 0% grain and potatoes, and no added water!

We are stocking Orijen Tundra in 3 sizes: 4.4 lb, 13.2 lb and 25 lb bags.  Trial sizes are also available for purchase so that you can be sure that your pet will like the new formula before buying a big bag.

For more information on Orijen brand dog foods, please visit our featured brand page.

What’s New? Yeti Coolers

yeti coolers endcapThe YETI is now at Rollier’s!  We are excited to offer the most durable, most insulated coolers on the market.  They are the preferred choice for avid fisherman, hunters, campers, tailgaters, and backyard barbecue kings.

Yeti coolers were developed by avid fisherman and outdoors men that are committed to quality.  They will not comprise, and one look at these coolers will make that evident.  There is up to 3″ of insulation around all sides of the cooler, including the lid that is sealed with a rubber gasket all the way around.  Cool air stays inside and hot air stays out!

They are built-to-last and come with a manufacturer’s 5 year warranty, but they really should last you much longer than that.  Yeti encourages you to stand on their coolers, toss them into your truck, and carry them all around the outdoors with you; they will stand up to the toughest elements.  In fact, Yeti coolers are grizzly bear-proof!

Currently, we are stocking some of their most popular products and colors, including the Roadie 20, Tundra 35, and Tundra 65 coolers.  As well as their 20 rambler (travel mug) and security lock/tie downs.  If you are interested in any of their other sizes or products, we can easily special order them!

For more information on Yeti coolers, please visit our dedicated Yeti brand page, or the Yeti website.

What’s Trending? Homemade Pizza on the Grill

pizza on BGEHomemade pizzas are trending when it comes to outdoor barbecues!  Regular crust, thin crust, deep dish… they are all popular with BBQ grills these days.  The great thing about pizzas is that they are easy to share and customize for the whole family.  At Rollier’s, we have all of the products that you need to get great-tasting pizza straight from your own backyard!  Here is a list of “ingredients” that you need to make the perfect pizza.

Any ‘ole BBQ:  You are not limited to a particular type of grill when it comes to pizza making.  You may use charcoal grills, like the traditional Weber kettle or the porcelain Big Green Eggs.  Natural gas and propane grills work just as well.  We even have a brand new pizza oven from Blackstone that is heated with propane and rotates your pizza while it cooks.  The biggest thing to consider here is the size of the grill.  The larger the pizza, the larger the grill you will need to use!  However, 15-18″ pizzas can easily fit in most any stand-alone gas or charcoal grill.

Baking sheets, pizza screens, or baking stones:  It is your choice for what type of pan you would like to use for baking, but there are some advantages to each one.  Baking/cookie sheets are simple and something that most everyone has already.  Even though these can work okay, they have a little trouble with distributing the heat evenly, since they are so thin.  Pizza screens are an inexpensive upgrade when making homemade pizzas.  The pizza screen encourages crispy crust and the holes in the pan allow for even cooking.  Most of these screens comes with a carry handle, so they are easy to remove from the grill when hot.  Baking stones are probably the most expensive option, but they provide indirect, even heating.  Because of their thickness, your grill becomes more of an oven.  Pizzas tend to take longer to cook with baking stones, but the crust comes off crisp and without unwanted moisture.

Accessories:  We suggest that you outfit your pizza making with all sorts of bells and whistles… well maybe not bells and whistles, but you might want to consider pizza peels, pizza cutters, rolling pins, special pizza flour, and more.  We have some of these products available in our store, but you will find other items available at dedicated kitchen stores.

And of course, your favorite recipe!  If you already have a favorite, then you should be all set.  If you are looking for a new favorite, you might want to try our family recipe … It was actually introduced to my brother way back in high school cooking class!  Click on the following link for a printable version of our recipe:    HOMEMADE PIZZA PIE – RECIPE

Bon Appetit!

Derek Satterfield

 

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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