Monthly Archives: September 2015

Outdoor Entertaining Storage Made Easy in 8 Steps

prepare your patio for winterCooler temperatures signal that winter is on the way, reminding us to safely store all the accoutrements that make our decks, patios, porches and outdoor entertainment areas so enjoyable. The work you do now will make re-creating your outdoor living space a breeze come next season.

1. Wipe it all down

Get your lawn furniture ready to store by wiping it down to remove dirt, dust and debris. If you see that it has mildew on it, then wash it with soap, water and a soft bristled brush. Allow the furniture to dry completely before moving it to storage.

2. Clean and freshen up furniture

If you have metal tables and chairs, look for signs of rust while cleaning. You can remove rust with a wire brush before applying touch up paint. Once dry, add a coat of auto car wax for extra protection. This will make cleaning the furniture for a return engagement on the deck a snap.

3. Plastic needs protection, too

Plastic is susceptible to temperature changes. After sitting all summer in the blazing sun, letting plastic furniture languish in harsh winter weather may cause it to become brittle. Keep your plastic furniture looking nice by storing it indoors. If you don’t have the space, secure a plastic cover or tarp over the furniture outside.

4. Clean cushions

Vacuum or brush off your cushions to eliminate storing them with any unwanted pests. Acrylic fabric is made to deter mildew but if it remains dirty it can harbor mold. If you notice black stains, wipe the cushion down with mild soap and water and allow it to dry before placing them in a plastic bag. Store them in a dry area.

5. Remember the grill

If you don’t use your grill during the winter months (some brave souls do!), then you need to prepare it for storage.

  • Fire it up – Burn off any residue on the grates.
  • Scrape it off – Use a wire brush to remove stubborn bits of burnt food.
  • Remove grease tray – If you don’t do this after each use then give it a good scrubbing now to avoid mold forming while in storage.
  • Remove propane tank – Never store a tank indoors. Keep it outside and covered.
  • Cover it securely – If you aren’t going to store it, then cover the grill. Investing in a sturdy cover with ties will extend the life of your grill.

6. Protect garden accessories

Garden ornaments and accessories are easy to overlook, but some of these fragile items may not survive a harsh winter storm. Wind chimes, decorative bird houses and glass globes should all be cleaned and stored indoors. Water features should be drained so they will not freeze. If you can move them, storing them will help keep the seals and gaskets safe from deteriorating.

7. Roll up the garden hose

When you don’t need your garden hose anymore, untangle it, roll it up and store it. No sense buying a new one every year! And while you’re at it, tend to your potted plants. If you don’t have room for them to stay alive indoors, then contribute them to your compost pile. Turn all of your empty pots and containers upside down so they do not collect water.

8. Come spring – instant party!

For some, closing up outdoor entertaining for the winter is a somber chore. However, you can feel accomplished – you just saved yourself a lot of work in the spring by taking care of it now. Once it is warm again, just dust everything off and you are ready to go. Instant party! You’ll be the host with the most. Meanwhile, all the good times are now moving inside where it’s warm. You might want to enjoy those this winter.

Expert Advice

From pressure washers to ladders, our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden clean-up. For more helpful tips on how to get ready for the cold weather, check our blog, 3 Easy, Economical Ways to Winterize Your Home. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

[DIY How-To] Repurpose Your Dead Trees Into Mulch & Firewood

how to repurpose dead and fallen tree limbs

Are your trees healthy? Even though fall is typically not the season to prune your trees, which encourages growth or flowering next spring (this is usually done after the coldest winter weather has passed), it is a perfect time to assess the health of the trees on your property. Removing dead limbs won’t encourage growth, and will help eliminate potential problems brought on by inclement weather. It will also provide you with ample mulch and firewood for the long cold months ahead.

Remove Tree Limbs

  • to get rid of diseased parts and save the tree
  • to avoid personal injury or property damage
  • to cut back overgrowth

Start at the Top

Look for tree hazards by scanning the tree from top to bottom. Use binoculars if needed and check how vigorously the tree is growing. Compare its growth to others around it. Vigor is reflected in the amount of leaf cover, leaf size, color and condition. If the tree seems to be thinning or experiencing stunted growth, then it may not be flourishing as robustly as it should.

How Does the Trunk Look?

Continue your examination down the trunk of the tree. Look for forked trunks, which indicate potential weaknesses. Signs of decay may also be evident. These present themselves as cavities, cankers or conks (fruiting bodies of fungi) on the trunk itself.

Getting to the Bottom

Finally, check root zone of the tree. Look for mushrooms and other fungi that might be growing around the base of the tree. This is a sign the tree roots may be decaying. Construction and trenching are often causes of root damage, so protect your trees when work is done near them.

Make Your Cut Count

Pruning dead limbs is necessary to keep you and your property safe and it needs to be done properly. Make clean cuts with sharpened tools. Look for the “collar” or swollen tree flesh that develops where the dead limb joins the healthy section of tree. This is the tree’s natural defense system. Make your cut using a pruner or a chain saw just outside the collar, leaving as little stub as possible. Do not remove the collar because it is needed to fight any remaining disease.

Making Mulch and Firewood

Once you have examined your trees and removed the dead limbs, recycle the debris into mulch or firewood. Using a wood chipper, you can make easy work of breaking it all down. The size of the tree limbs determines the size of the chipper you will need. You can mix grass clippings in with your grind or even run the mixture through the chipper twice to get a finer mix. For larger tree limbs or stumps use a log splitter to cut the debris down to a usable size for the fireplace.

“Snag” a Place for Wildlife to Live

Food for thought – if a dead or dying tree does not pose a hazard to people or property – why not leave it as part of your landscape? “Snags” or wildlife trees are excellent habitats for a variety of species of animals. Birds and small mammals use snags for nests or storage areas. Woodpeckers feed off the insects in them and hawks use them as perches for hunting. Snags can also be created from living trees. An arborist would be able to help you select a good candidate for a snag in your yard. Snags provide hours of wildlife watching.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with all of your landscape projects. Check out some of our blog posts on how to remove a dead tree for more information on tree cutting, as well as a list of tools you might want to use in getting rid of tree limbs and trunks. If you have any other questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Clean Up Your Garden for Colder Months

clean up your garden in preparation for the colder months

While it may still feel like summer, fall is quickly approaching. Organizing your autumn garden to-do list now will help you plan for all the things you want to accomplish before Old Man Winter shows his frosty face. Focus on clean-up and cover-up when coming up with your projects.

Here are some suggestions for things to do:

  • Remove spent blooms and foliage – This will help prevent diseases and pests from overwintering in your garden. If you detect that a problem has already developed be sure to remove the affected debris from the area.
  • Dig up bulbs and tender plants – If they cannot survive the cold temperatures, dig them up and move them indoors. Let your bulbs dry out on newspaper for a couple of days before putting them in paper bags to store in a cool, dry area.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch – Your summer mulch has started to decompose. Add a fresh layer of mulch to your beds now to keep weeds at bay. Replenish with another layer before harsh weather sets in to give you a thick protective covering for plants and soil.
  • Rake up fallen leaves – Mulch the leaves with your lawn mower and spread them onto your beds or add the leaves to your compost pile.
  • Continue watering trees and shrubs – Keep giving them deep soakings until right before the first frost. They need to build up moisture for the long winter months.
  • Cut back perennials – Remove the dead portion of the plants to eliminate pests and mulch. Divide plants that have outgrown their spot in the garden.
  • Till up beds – If your plants are all done for the season, remove the plant debris and till up your beds. When your vegetable garden has finished producing, till the plants into the soil.
  • Add compost to beds – While tilling up your flower beds and garden, work some compost into the soil to help next spring.
  • Maintain compost pile – Make sure your bins are ready to withstand the winter weather and that your pile has been amended so it will continue to decompose. Cover the compost pile to keep it from getting too much rain and developing mold.
  • Cover future flower beds – If you have an area you want to plant in the spring, till it up now, add organic materials and cover it with either a thick layer of mulch or plastic to discourage emergent growth.
  • Hold off on trimming trees – Wait until your trees are dormant before you cut them back to avoid having any new growth appear before the first frost.

Clean Garden Tools

While you are in the cleaning mood, don’t forget to clean your gardening tools before you store them for the winter. After washing them with soap and water, you may want to wipe them lightly with vegetable oil or WD40 to help keep them from corroding. Nothing beats a shiny new spade to work with in the spring!

Be Ready for Old Man Winter

You’ll always be able to find a DIY project to do, which is why organizing your fall garden projects makes sense. It will help cut down on the workload in the spring. Be ready for Old Man Winter this year. Your garden will thank you for it.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your fall clean-up and maintenance projects. From rakes and shovels to wheel barrows and mulch, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week. Check out our blog, Fall Checklist Part1- Garden Clean-up and Winterization for more helpful tips on getting ready for that lovely season we call winter.

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Top 10 Most Popular Runyon Equipment Rentals for Fall

Top 10 Fall Rentals from RunyonThe first day of fall is about a week away (September 23 this year), and it may seem like finishing all the things on your DIY-do list seems impossible. We’ve put together a list of our most popular equipment rentals for fall – “fan favorites” that’ll help you complete those projects in no time (in no particular order).

  1. Aerator/ Plugger – Fall is prime time for treating your lawn to a little TLC. By aerating, you help keep the soil from compacting and strangling the grass roots. Our blog on fall lawn care will show you why an aerator is a lawn’s best friend.
  2. Slice Seeder – If your lawn has thinned over the summer, then a slice seeder will help you bring it back to its “greener” self. As its name suggests, a slice seeder slices through the turf, creating furrows for seeds. The dirt that it kicks up buries the seeds, eliminating a need for straw or top soil. Learn more about this effective machine in our article, Improve Your Existing Turf with Slice Seeding.
  3. Tiller – Now that you are wrapping up your summer garden and flower beds, don’t forget to give back to your soil. Tilling helps to oxygenate the soil and mix in organic materials. Our post, Time to Till it Up, can help you decide if a tiller is in your future.
  4. Chainsaw – A chainsaw can make easy work of trimming trees or removing any that have died. We run through some handy tips on cutting down trees and using a chainsaw in this blog.
  5. Chipper – When removing a tree, what to do with the debris is always a consideration. We suggest using a chipper. You will eliminate the yard waste and get back mulch in return. We review different types of chippers in this article. Check it out.
  6. Log Splitter – While a chainsaw is handy for taking down a tree, a splitter will cut up the larger sections of a downed tree into usable pieces for your fireplace. Our blog post on repurposing yard debris for your fireplace may light a fire under you to rent one of these.
  7. Stump Cutter – Cutting a tree down and grinding up the debris is usually step one of the process. There is always a stump left to deal with. A stump cutter will break up the tree base and roots so that they are easier to remove. That’s why this piece of equipment is listed as one of the Essential Yard Tools for Your Fall Maintenance.
  8. Auger – Fall is an ideal season to plant trees and shrubs. In our post, Garden To-Dos Pt 3 – Planting Trees and Shrubs, we discuss how augers make digging holes for planting trees and other plants so much easier.
  9. Bobcat/ Dingo – Ever had to transport endless loads of dirt, gravel or mulch from your driveway to the back of your house with a wheelbarrow? You swore never again. What you need is a bobcat. From hauling to excavating, this is the “Swiss Army knife” of maintenance tools due to all the attachments available. We outlined how to use a Bobcat in our blog, How to Safely Operate and Maneuver a Bobcat.
  10. Boom Lift – For jobs that are too high or too dangerous for traditional ladders, the boom lift should be your choice. It will safely deliver you and your materials to the height you need. See how one of these can help on your projects in the article, Versatile Uses of Boom Lifts.

By selecting the right tools and equipment to do the job, your to-do lists don’t have to be so overwhelming – they can actually help you tackle your projects in record time. You may be able to add even more items to your list! On further reflection, taking one’s time while doing home improvements can also be seen as a virtuous endeavor. Food for thought, folks, food for thought.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with all of your DIY home improvement projects. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Insulate Your Garage for Winter

insulate your garage for winterWhen planning projects to do around your house to get ready for the long winter to come, remember to include your garage. This often overlooked area is one of the main sources of heat loss in your home. Garages often share a wall with a kitchen or den. Keeping the garage warm will help keep your house toasty and more energy efficient.

The Higher the R-Value the Better

R-Value refers to an insulation material’s ability to resist heat flow. When insulating, the higher the R-Value, the better. Normally for walls, look for an R-Value of R11-R15 and for an attic space, look for R38- R49. Foam board only has an R-Value of R3-R6, but is a good option for insulating garage doors.

Look for Storage Opportunities

Assess your garage, and while you’re at it, why not organize and purge items that have accumulated over the summer. Look for any missed opportunities for storage in the rafters or along the walls. Work these features into your plan of attack for winterizing the garage. Cabinets along walls can do double duty, keeping the cold away from indoor rooms, as well as store items.

Eliminate Cold Air From Entering Your House

Insulating your garage will help protect your car, eliminate cold air from entering your house, and provide you with additional workspace during the winter. Here are some ideas on where to start in your garage:

  • Fix and insulate your garage door. Add foam board to the inside of your garage door. If you have an older door, consider investing in a modern insulated door.
  • Replace weather stripping around your garage door and any outside doors.
  • Insulate the garage walls. Garages are shells and have little if any insulation in the walls.
  • Seal switches and outlets on outside walls. Cold air can seep in through these openings.
  • Cover exposed pipes. It is easy to overlook these pipes, but treat them as if they are outdoors and wrap them.
  • Caulk around any windows, doors and the garage door.

Use Weather Seal

The garage door is a big culprit for letting cold air in even when it is in place. Consider installing a weather seal where the door meets the ground. This will not only keep the frigid air out, but it will help keep rain and insects out, too.

Durable, Protective Epoxy Floors

Waterproofing the floor of a garage will not only seal it to keep the dampness out, but it will also go a long way towards improving the appearance of your garage. Epoxy combines a resin and a hardener to form a rigid plastic material. These floors are easy to install. They are durable, repel stains and can stand up to heavy traffic. Epoxy is an affordable and stylish way to protect your concrete floors.

No More Working in a Cold Garage

Adding a heater may seem like a luxury, but it can help keep the fluids in your car’s engine from “gelling up”. A gas system will cost more to install but is cheaper to run. An electric unit will be cheaper to install but you will have higher operating costs. You’ll also be able to use your garage more in the winter using a heater, so you can work in a comfortable setting.

Keep Your Heating Costs Down

Insulating your garage now will help keep your heating costs down this winter. It will protect your car and other items in the garage from extreme temperature changes. Just think how nice it will be to get into your car without having to walk out into a cold garage. Bring on old man winter!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your home improvement projects. From an insulation blower and epoxy mixer to a circular saw and drill, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week. Learn more insulation tips by reading our blogs, Increase the Energy Efficiency of Your Home by Insulating the Garage and Find Air Leaks in Your House and Plug ‘Em Up Fast.

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Get a Head Start on Spring Gardening with Fertilizer

fertilize your garden this fallThe kids are headed back to school, the summer flowers are fading and – here’s the big news  it’s no longer taboo to fertilize your plants in the fall. Now that we know more about the year-round development cycle of plants, giving them a boost in the fall with fertilizer may be just what they need to survive the harsh winter.

Fertilize to protect plants from the elements

Once it was thought that fertilizing in late summer and fall would cause a plant to develop new growth that would be damaged in the first cold snap. Scientists now believe that in the fall plants store food and nutrients in their root systems to help them survive until spring. Fall fertilizing can help strengthen a plant.

A soil test shows what’s missing

Not all plants will need an extra boost of nutrients in the fall. Do a soil test to see what nutrients and minerals may be missing from the area you would like to treat. Many testing facilities will analyze the soil and give you their recommendations for the type of fertilizer to use.

More is not always better

A common mistake with fertilizing is to assume that every plant will benefit from a dose. If the soil is healthy, then the plant may not need extra nutrients. Soil testing also helps to determine if an area has been over-planted. Remember – more is not better. Just replenish what is missing from your soil. Too much fertilizer can kill your plants or grass.

It’s all in the numbers

All fertilizers have a three-numbered code or NPK code on the bag. This corresponds to the amount of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) in the fertilizer.

  • Nitrogen promotes foliage growth
  • Phosphorous stimulates root growth
  • Potassium is important for proper cell function and overall plant health

The right mix will work wonders

In September apply a 20-8-8 mix fertilizer to your grass to help it recover from the summer heat and drought. Apply a 13-25-12 mix at the end of October to encourage root growth. For perennials, a high phosphate/low nitrogen mix will strengthen the plants and produce more blooms in the spring. Adding a phosphate mix when you plant bulbs this fall will help roots establish.

There’s a lot going on

Scientists have discovered that a garden is a year round living organism. Even though plants are dying above ground in the fall, there is a lot of activity going on beneath the soil surface. Roots continue to grow, storing nutrients from the soil. These nutrients help a plant fight off disease and strengthen the roots. When the temperatures drop to around 40 degrees, plants also release amino acids and sugars that help them withstand freezing.

2 Types of Fertilizers

Organic Fertilizers:

  • Made from natural plant and animal sources, such as manure, wood, fish and bone meal and seaweed
  • Not water soluble
  • Usually in granular form and take time to release nutrients into soil
  • Remain in the soil for an extended period
  • Stimulate beneficial microbes, which help break down the organic material and release soluble nutrients
  • Help improve the quality and structure of the soil
  • Best if applied in the fall so nutrients are released to soil over the winter months, making them available for plants in spring

Synthetic Fertilizers:

  • Manufactured chemical compounds
  • Water soluble
  • Make nutrients immediately available to plants
  • Can “burn” foliage and damage plants if too much is applied
  • Leach out of the soil quickly
  • Can contaminate ground water, streams and ponds due to runoff
  • Do not improve soil quality
  • Best when applied in the spring when ground is cold and microbes are inactive

Keep your plants happy – fertilize!

Good soil preparation, mulching and adding fertilizer where needed will keep your plants happy, healthy and thriving. Your garden feeds your body and your soul. Return the favor. Your plants will love you for it. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your lawn and garden projects. From a rake and a shovel to a wheel barrow and mulch, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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