Now’s the Time to… Prepare Lawns and Gardens for Winter

fall-pruningThe end of October is a great time to prepare your lawns and gardens for the winter ahead.  This means pruning, protecting, cutting, mowing and more…

Prune:  The general rule of thumb is to prune shrubs shortly after they are done blooming.  However, I like to prune my evergreens lightly before the winter to prevent them from being so large.  This will help prevent the upcoming snow and ice from weighing down on their limbs and possibly breaking.  You probably have noticed tree cutting services in the area cleaning up trees that are growing close to power lines.  This is done for the same reason; to prevent tree limbs from sagging or breaking over top of power lines.  Common plants such as hosta, daylilies, and many ornamental grasses should also be cut back close to the ground so that new growth in the spring can flourish.  Please note: be careful not to prune any plant back that is creating buds this fall for flowers that will develop next year (i.e. hydrangeas).

Protect:  A few years back, we noticed wide spread damage to evergreens because of a long and cold winter.  Freezing temperatures and unforgiving winds caused evergreens to dry out so much so that the foliage died!  The roots may have survived, but the leaf structure was gone and took awhile to rebuild.  Some of these plants may still be recovering from the winter of 2014-15.  Prevent this damage from occurring by spraying your plants with a protectant, such as wilt-stop, or covering them with burlap to insulate them from the wind.

Mow lawns shorter in the fall.  This will make it easier to rake the lawn free of leaves and debris.  In conjunction with thoroughly raking leaves, mowing your lawn to a shorter height will prevent snow mold from forming in grass that never has a chance to dry out.   Do this in a progression by eventually tapering down to 2″ in height for the final cut of the year.


What’s New? A new, brighter battery operated window candle!

celestial-lights-window-candlesTired of the hassle that wobbly electric window candles pose during the holidays?  Annoyed by the number of extension cords needed to reach all of your windows to illuminated the same electric window candles?

Battery operated window candles have been taken to a new level, or shall we say brightness, thanks to the ultra bright option from Celestial Lights.  Now it is possible to get the brightness that we expect with electric window candles in a safe, no hassle, battery operated option!  These new window candles have a unique patented dual-intensity LED that shines brightly outside, yet softly inside.  The result is brightness that is equal to or brighter than old-fashion electric window candles.  It is a brightness that will be noticed from the street, guaranteed!

Here are some of the other features that make these new battery operated window candles from Celestial Lights unique:

  • Built-in timer runs for 6 hours every evening and repeats that cycle each day
  • Sturdy, real metal base available in 3 different finishes (brass, brushed nickel, antique bronze)
  • Adjustable candle height (either 11″ or 13″).  Never have a candle hidden by a window mullion or partition
  • Runs for 30 days on 4 AA batteries (not included)
  • Safe, cool-burning, LED lights are never a fire-hazard
  • No messing cords to run and hide from view

If you have been disappointed with weak battery operated window candles in the past, we invite you to try this candle… We think that you will be impressed!  Stop by and see them for yourself in our Christmas Department.

What’s Trending… Feed Birds, Not Squirrels with Cole’s Hot Meats Bird Seed

coles-hot-meatsSquirrels are foraging constantly right now… searching for seeds and nuts to hold them through the winter.  This makes the fall a great time to switch over to Cole’s bird seed varieties with added chili peppers to create a fiery taste that birds love and that squirrels hate!  Our most popular mix from Cole’s is their Hot Meats formula that is rich in sunflower kernels that are actually seasoned with the spice of liquid habanero chili peppers!

Birds love it, Squirrels hate it – When birds eat fiery hot peppers and seeds, the lack of taste receptors on their tongue and a digestive track that fails to break them down means that they are unaffected by their spice.  Mammals, such as squirrels, digest chili seeds differently and instead have a flaming hot distaste to Cole’s Hot Meats bird food.  Squirrels may try the seed, but they won’t be staying around all day and stock piling it for winter.

Does Cole’s Hot Meats cause harm to Squirrels – the burning sensation caused by Hot Meats is only a temporary sensory pain and it goes away just as it does for humans.  There is no physical damage to the eye, nose, or throat.

The result – Your bird feeder will finally attract what it is supposed to.  Gone are squirrels that hog the bird seed and spill it all over the ground, attracting unwanted animals, like deer, or rodents, like rats or groundhogs.  The high quality seed mixture has no waste and is all natural, two things that birds will absolutely love!

Already have your favorite bird seed, but want to cut down on the unwanted visitors?  You might want to consider Cole’s Flaming Squirrel seed sauce.  This liquid concentrate of cajun seasoning will make any bag of bird seed into a “hot product” that squirrels and other mammals will not enjoy.

Spend a Little – Save a Lot: Stop peeling, flaking paint

peel-stopJust recently, I was doing a paint project at home and encountered something that had never happened to me before.  My paint was peeling!  And all layers were peeling, so before I knew it, I was all the way back to the drywall in some areas!

I didn’t know what I was in for and I feared the worse.  Instead, I found out from our paint experts in our store that there is a product called Peel Stop that is designed to combat these areas.  It is a clear primer that binds cracking, caulking, and peeling paint with one simple coat.  If you need to hide the edges more, then it is recommended to apply a few more coats to feather out the edges some more.  Plus, Zinsser’s Peel Stop is a clear primer, so there is no need to apply another primer coat.

Peel Stop is the perfect solution to any paint that is cracking, peeling, sagging, or flaking.  It looks like glue and acts like glue as well, penetrating through paint and surfaces to create a strong surface to apply your finish coats of paint to!

Peel Stop is also made triple thick, so if you have a considerable edge to conceal, then you might prefer the one coat coverage of a thicker product like this one.

If you are in a “pickle” with your next project, like I was with this situation, our experts in the Paint department are always here for you to find the right solution!

Thanks for reading everyone,

Derek Satterfield

Now’s the Time to… Repair Lawns Affected by Grub Damage

grub-damage-in-lawnsThis has seemed like a particularly bad year for grubs in Western PA.  And we should not be too surprised because during the summer months, we had noticed an increasing number of requests for Japanese beetle traps (one of the adult life forms of the lawn-damaging white grub).  So, how can we diagnose and treat for lawn damaging grubs, you might ask?  We have some quick answers to these questions below.

How do I know if I have grubs?  There are a few obvious tell-tale signs that you have grubs in your lawn.  First, would be extensive browning during the early fall, late summer.  The second would be a lawn that is very easy to pull up.  If the dead spots in your lawn pull up in sheets, or if it can be rolled back with ease, you definitely have grubs!  Lastly, if you notice digging in your lawn from animals (largely at night), you are seeing the remnants of large animals or rodents that have been searching for grubs in your soil.  Amazingly, they are not wrong many times and they have a sense if they are inside your soil.  So when you notice extensive digging in your lawn, it is probably a result of grubs in your soil.

How best to treat for lawn-damaging grubs?  Grubs feed on the roots of healthy grass just beneath the soil surface.  They continuously move around your lawn, so brown spots of affected lawn will grow and become more numerous.  To treat for grubs at this time of the year, there is really only one quick-kill product, and that is 24-hour Bayer Advanced Grub Killer.  After being watered in to the soil, this chemical is ingested by the grub and they die quickly.  Because grubs are always moving around your lawn in search of new healthy roots to nibble on,  you can’t be 100% sure where they are active at any given time.  As a result, you want to apply this grub treatment on your entire lawn.  After waiting a couple of days, you should be ready to reseed all brown areas.  You will need to remove dead grass, loosen the soil beneath (refill with loose top soil if needed), and then choose a grass seed that will thrive in your lawn.

What type of seed should I use?  There are many times of seed available and most bagged products are very good.  We sell and recommend Jonathan Green and Scotts grass seeds for this time of the year and the mixes that you would choose now are the same as you would choose during the spring or summer.  Essentially, you want to choose a grass seed that is targeted for the amount of sun and the type of soil that is present in your lawn.  This means that in shaded areas, you want to use a mix with lots of fescues (fine and tall).  In more sunny areas, you will want to go with something with more ryegrass and tall fescues and some bluegrass as well.  If in doubt of the area’s conditions and you want a general all-around mix, then our Penn State mixture is a good one for you.

We hope that you don’t have grubs this year, but if you do, we suggest that you treat for them at the first sign of their damage as to limit the amount of work that you will have to do.

Thanks for reading everyone!


What’s Trending? WeatherTech – Custom Fit Floor Liners

weathertech-grayThe sloppy messes of winter will soon be here :(  And those messes will be tracked everywhere, especially our cars.  Whether your car is new or old, WeatherTech floor liners will keep your car’s interior clean, all year around.  The tough, durable liners are laser measured to fit your car perfectly.  The result is a stain resistant, easy-to-clean up floor surface that lasts for years.  And when I say years, I mean 10+ years!

Personally I have WeatherTech liners in old SUV that are going on 10 years and they still look as good as new.  When they get a little messy, I simply spray them off and use some degreaser on stubborn spots.  It’s so much easier than scrubbing carpet fibers that have been flattened and worn down from frequent foot traffic!  The great benefit from the liners is apparent during the winters!  Snow and ice melt and stay self-contained.  Ice melters and rock salt do not damage the liners, so no stains and no “crusty” residues are left behind.  Simply spray and wipe them clean as needed and you can expect years of dependable use!

For more information and samples of the WeatherTech materials, please stop by our in-store display.  We show an example of their floor liner which is the one discussed in this article, and by far the most popular car solution that they make.  We also have an example of their all-weather floor mats.  These floor mats provide a more soft and supple solution to keeping your car’s interior clean.

So if you are looking for a better way to keep your car clean this season, or just in need of new car mats, then consider the ultra functional WeatherTech floor liners.


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