Fall Checklist

Tried and True Interior Decorating Tips

Tried and True Interior Decorating TipsAre you envious of the interior designers on television and how easily they take a room from dull to dazzling? Never fear, by following a few tried and true design rules, you too can make your home décor stand out. Now roll up your sleeves, we have work to do.

5 Ways to Decorate Like a Pro

  1. Choose a color palette – Decide on the colors you want to feature throughout your house. Next, review each room to see how to best utilize your chosen color scheme in that space and formulate a plan.
  2. Create a focal point – When you walk into a room what catches your eye? It could be anything – a fireplace, artwork or an area rug. Use this item as your centerpiece and create your design around it.
  3. Assess your room’s lighting – Install different fixtures around a room like recessed ceiling lights, spotlights and under cabinet puck lights, which add warmth and showcase your décor.
  4. Add interest to a room – Not everything needs to be matchy matchy. Use a variety of different textures and shades from your color scheme to paint the walls and furnish the room. Look for interesting ways to arrange your furniture.
  5. Use paint to stage a room – Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color to help display artwork or photographs on an accent wall. Painting the inside of a bookcase will help it stand out and not blend in. Paint the ceiling, crown molding, even floors a variation of wall color or a complimentary color.

Reinvigorate Your Kitchen with a New Backsplash

If you want to reinvigorate your kitchen without totally remodeling, consider installing a new backsplash. Use inexpensive tin ceiling tiles, wooden bead board, wallpaper, stainless steel, chalkboard or magnetic paint to give the busiest room in the house a new look.

Ready to get those tools out?

Here are some easy decorating ideas for you to try:

  • Install a new bathroom faucet
  • Change the hardware on kitchen cabinets
  • Add a chair rail or wainscoting to a room
  • Hang a chandelier in your laundry room
  • Install crown molding
  • Use wallpaper on an accent wall
  • Turn a closet into a home office or craft space

Before Buying, Repurpose Old Stuff

Unless you just prefer to start from scratch with new furnishings, find creative ways to repurpose items you already have. An old armoire can double as a china cabinet once you remove the doors and add glass shelves. A dresser can be turned into a bathroom vanity by mounting a sink on top. Build a new headboard using old doors, shutters or wooden fencing to create a one-of-a-kind bed.

Stay Focused and Express Your Style

Interior decorating is about expressing your style. As a DIYer, you have the added advantage of cutting out the middle man (the contractor) and doing the work yourself, thus saving money. Come up with a plan of attack and work on one room at a time. Write down your design goals to help you stay focused. Forget those TV experts, you have the best designer working on your house already – you.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to nail guns and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home decorating project. Still wondering if painting will make a difference? Our blog, Give New Life to Your Walls with a Quick and Easy Paint Job, will convince you to get the roller and brushes out. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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

Outdoor Winter Preparations – Don’t Let Old Man Winter Catch You Napping

Outdoor Winter Preparations – Don’t Let Old Man Winter Catch You NappingIt seems like Fall is getting shorter and shorter every year, so take advantage of the weather while you can and get a few items checked off your Winter prep list. Making sure your home and yard are properly prepared for cold temperatures will give you peace of mind later.

Goodbye Garden

It’s sad when we say goodbye to our gardens but prudent preparations now will make things a lot easier come Spring. Winter can wreak havoc on your outdoor space so store items now that can be affected by freezing temperatures. Here are a few things to add to your to-do list:

  • Trim trees and shrubs
  • Aerate your grass
  • Till garden beds
  • Compost leaves
  • Clean soil out of flower pots and store them
  • Dig up bulbs, place in dry place
  • Divide your perennials
  • Winterize garden power tools
  • Store clean rakes, hoes, trimmers

Think Compost Bin This Year

Make this year the one where you start a compost bin. They are easy to build and you will reap lots of rewards from the black gold it generates. If you want to learn more about composting, check out our blog, 10 Good Sense Tips for Building a Compost Bin, and find out how it can help your garden and the environment.

Prepare Outside Your Home for Dropping Temperatures

Cold weather likes to remind us of the little things we forget to address before the needle drops – like water spigots and hot tubs. List all the small stuff outside that needs to be readied before Old Man Winter arrives – and get ‘re done. We’ve listed a few items to get you started.

  • Pressure wash and store lawn furniture
  • Cover outside water faucets
  • Inspect and clean your gutters
  • Winterize outdoor sprinkler systems, pools and hot tubs
  • Cover or remove window A/C units
  • Put up storm doors and windows
  • Have HVAC system serviced
  • Drain and store garden hoses
  • Inspect driveway for crack and seal
  • Remove wind chimes, yard art and flags that can be damaged in storms
  • Winterize hot tub

Start Winterizing Your Garden and Home Now

Avoid the problems cold temperatures bring by preparing for harsh Winter weather now. A list of DIY projects to do this Fall is an easy way to make sure things get accomplished. By winterizing your garden and the outside of your home, you are protecting them and saving yourself from costly repairs. It’s a win-win for a DIYer like you.

Expert Advice

From rakes and ladders to pressure washers and tillers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you get ready for the cold weather. Not sure what else you need to do to close out your garden?

Our blog, Fall Checklist Pt. 1: Garden Clean Up – Winterization, has tips on making sure your perennials survive until Spring. As always, if you have any questions about 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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Go Green – Plant a Living Privacy Fence

how and why to plant a privacy hedgeWe’ve all experienced it. The horrible view from our kitchen window staring straight at a neighbor’s hot tub. While they may be nice people, do you really want to intrude on their private time? Go green! Plant your privacy fence rather than building one. We’ve got a few suggestions to help you make it happen.

Hedges Add Interest and Privacy

If you want more privacy or to add interest to your landscape, a privacy hedge is the ticket. A living fence does much more than just shelter you from prying eyes.

A Privacy Hedge:

  • blocks noise coming from the street and neighborhood.
  • acts as a natural windbreak.
  • can be a snow fence, reducing snow build up around your house.
  • turns your garden into a secluded retreat.

Location Dictates Plants to Use

Starting a privacy hedge will take patience. While there are fast growing varieties of trees, shrubs and vines, none will reach the height or thickness you desire quickly. The location of your fence dictates the size and type of trees and shrubs to use.

Avoid Excessive Maintenance

An important consideration is how much time you want to devote to maintaining your hedge. In formal gardens boxwoods and other shrubs need to be regularly groomed to maintain their precise shapes. If this is not for you then select plants that give you the natural shapes you desire.

How to Plant a Privacy Hedge

  • Select the type of tree or shrub that works best for the location – Do you want it to provide a screen all year long (go with an evergreen)? Or do you want it to flower and give you privacy during certain times of the year?
  • Decide on the height – Set up a ladder to help visualize the approximate height of the plants needed. If you want a 6-foot tall fence, then planting a tree that grows 10-15 feet is only going mean more maintenance.
  • Determine the width – If you have limited space, select trees and shrubs that can be planted closer together. Some species need more room for roots to spread in order to thrive.
  • Density – If you want a thick hedge, plant several staggered rows, which will allow them to fill in.
  • Map it out – Don’t eyeball your planting. Mark off a row with paint or wooden stakes and string to keep your hedge straight.
  • Train your plants – Trim the tops and sides a few times a year after they establish. Keep the shape wider at the bottom than the top to allow sunlight to reach lower leaves.

Fast Growing Plants Can Often Be Invasive

There are many popular plants to use in making a privacy hedge. Most will take one or two seasons to fully establish. Be careful when selecting fast growing plants like bamboo and Japanese Barberry. Some varieties are considered invasive and may not be approved for use in your community.

Best Trees and Shrubs for Hedges 

  • Arborvitae
  • Boxwood
  • Flowering Quince
  • Sawara False Cypress
  • Japanese Euonymus
  • Holly
  • Juniper
  • Privet
  • Oleander
  • Variegated False Holly
  • Korean Lilac
  • Hybrid Yew
  • Canadian Hemlock
  • Rose of Sharon

Vines Good Option for Privacy Screens

Use wire fences or screens that serve as supports for vines like Ivy, Clematis or Hops. Privacy hedges can also be used to hide compost bins or those large green power boxes.

Skip the Bland Privacy Fence and Go Green!

A living privacy hedge is a great way to add color and texture to your garden while providing the privacy you crave. Before you get out the post hole digger and invest in a bland white fence, think about the eco-friendlier option. Soon the sight of your Speedo clad neighbor stepping into his hot tub will be a distant memory.

Expert Advice

From wheelbarrows and shovels to trimmers and tillers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home project. Looking for other Fall gardening projects? Our blog, Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard, has some great suggestions for ways to spruce things up around your home. As always, if you have any questions about 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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Protect Your Trees: Learn How & When to Prune

How and When to Prune Your TreesTrees add beauty, interest and much needed shade to your yard. Replacing trees is a big investment, which is why properly pruning and maintaining them is essential. Not sure what kind of trees you have?

Who You Gonna Call? An Arborist, Of Course

An arborist is professionally trained in identifying the species and determining the health of individual trees, in the name of safety -for the trees and for your family. They can diagnose diseases, insect problems and soil health. Consult an arborist to find out what trees are best for your landscape and where to plant them. Many are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.

5 Reasons to Prune a Tree

  1. To remove dead or diseased branches
  2. To thin the crown, permit new growth and promote better air circulation
  3. To reduce tree height
  4. To remove obstructing lower branches
  5. To shape a tree for aesthetic purposes

There’s a Right Time to Prune Your Trees

Prune your trees during their dormant season (late fall, early winter) to minimize sap loss and stress to the tree. This will reduce the risk of fungus infection and insect infestation.

Helpful Tips on Pruning

  • Know what kind of trees you have – some flowering trees like to issue buds on old growth in the winter and then bloom in early spring. If you prune one of these trees in the winter, you may not have any blossoms come spring.
  • Avoid pruning a newly planted tree – give it time to establish.
  • Prune when the leaves have fallen – it makes it easier to see what needs to be cut.
  • Never cut more than 25% off of your tree at one time.
  • Don’t trim branches near electrical lines – call a professional or the power company.
  • Never cut the top off a tree – this can cause the tree to die. Thin branches out instead. If it is too tall, consider removing the tree completely.

Tree Surgery is … Surgery

Always use clean, sharp tools for pruning; you wouldn’t want anyone cutting on you with a dull blade, right? When removing diseased branches, wipe your cutters with disinfecting wipes between each cut. This will keep disease from spreading as you cut other branches. You can also use a solution of 1-part bleach to 9-parts water and dip the cutters in as you work.

Handy Tools for Pruning

  • Anvil hand pruners – for small branches up to a ½-inch in diameter.
  • Long-handled loppers – for medium sized branches up to 2.5 inches in diameter.
  • Pruning saw – for larger branches, use a pole extender to reach the higher branches.

Where to Cut and Why

If you would like a detailed how-to on pruning techniques, read our blog, Getting Ready for Fall Part 1: Tree Trimming a Seasonal Sport or visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s webpage for more information.

Let a Professional Handle the Tough Stuff

There are times when every DIY’er needs to step back and let a professional take over. If the limbs you want to cut down require the use of a chain saw and a ladder, then maybe this is one of those times. There’s no shame in playing it safe! 

Take Care of Your Trees

Trees are the crowning glory of any yard, so take care of them. At the end of a long day of pruning, sit down in the shade of your trees, relax and remember the words of John Muir (father of our National Parks): Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.

Congratulations! Another job well done. Now, go hug a tree!

Expert Advice

From tree pruners and chain saws to wood chippers and wheelbarrows our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY gardening project. As always, if you have any questions about 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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Light It Up – Add a DIY Bonfire to Your Backyard

fireThere is nothing better than a roaring fire on a cool spring evening. By adding a fire pit or heater you will extend the time you use your outdoor space for entertaining. Stop waiting for warmer weather! Building a fire pit is a simple, inexpensive project and one hot idea to add value to your home.

Let There Be Fire!

First, ask yourself a few questions about how you plan to use your fire pit or heater?

  • Do I want a heat source or ambience? – To heat a deck, a propane heater works well. If you want to roast marshmallows, nothing beats an open flame.
  • Do I want to burn wood or gas? – Consider the cost of logs and propane tanks when trying to decide. Electric heaters are also an option.
  • How much maintenance do I want? You will have to clean out ash and debris from a wood burning fire pit. Gas heaters will just need tanks replaced.

Watch Out for Flying Embersbonfire snacks

Got your heart set on an open flame fire pit? Constructing one is an easy weekend project. You can make yours as simple or elaborate as you wish.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Check local ordinances – Do they allow open fire pits in your area?
  • Locate your pit away from trees and buildings – Flying embers can ignite roofs and mulch.
  • Use fireproof materials – If you decide to use mortar make sure it is for use on fireplaces.
  • Scout out the desired location – Is it level and dry? Determine if wind direction will blow smoke back toward house. Too much wind will make it hard to keep your fire going.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy – A bucket of water will work too.
  • Keep the area around pit clear – If building the pit on bare ground, lay gravel around it and make sure there is no vegetation or roots to burn.

Easy to Build, Easy to Enjoy

Above ground fire pits are easy to build. First determine the materials you want to use (concrete pavers, fire bricks, stones). You can dry fit the blocks or use mortar. Consider buying a removable metal fire pit bowl for easy clean-ups of ash. Also a wire cover will help catch flying embers.

Steps for Building a Fire Pit:

  • Use the diameter of the wire cover to determine the outline of your pit.
  • Lay the first layer of blocks around the outside edge of the cover.
  • Remove the cover and continue building layers up to desired height – Stagger blocks.
  • Use a level as you go.
  • Install a fire pit bowl – It can lift out and make clean-ups easier.
  • Install grate – To allow air to get to the logs.
  • Place your logs inside, light, and enjoy

Fire Bowls – Keep it Moving

Want something a little less permanent? Portable fire bowls are an inexpensive way to dress up your patio and can be moved into storage over the winter months. Be sure to cover them when not in use to help prevent rust.

Relax with a Blazing Fire

Watching a blazing fire under the stars is a great way to relax. Don’t let the crisp evenings of spring and fall keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. Move the party outside with a new fire pit, fire bowl or heater. Now it’s time to add another log to the fire and get ready for the S’mores. As the caveman once said – “Fire good!”.

Expert Advice

From shovels and wheelbarrows to tampers and concrete mixers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Want more information on how to build your own fire pit? Check out our previous blog “How to Make a Concrete Fire Pit or Fire Bowl in 5 Easy Steps” for more helpful tips. 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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, How-To's, Renovate, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Improve Your Home’s Heating This Winter with Storm Doors & Ceiling Fans

Installing Winter Storm Doors & WindowsThis winter, with the high cost of heating on everyone’s mind, improve your home’s heating efficiency by finding ways to stop heat loss and to better distribute the warm air coming out of your furnace and fireplace. Some of these solutions are right in front of you.

Shut the Front Door

Even though today’s fiberglass and steel front doors are more energy efficient, switching a screen door to a storm door could help cut down on energy bills, just not the way they used to. However, storm doors can help:

  • Protect the Front Door – Entryway doors can be costly and storm doors keep rain and snow off of them, extending their life.
  • Add Security – A locked storm door can add protection when you open your front door to a stranger.
  • Protect Visitors – There’s nothing worse than opening the front door and getting a face full of rain or snow. It’s nice to have a buffer before venturing out.

Avoid Trapped Heat

Some front door manufacturers will recommend not using a storm door, especially if it will be receiving several hours of daily direct sunlight. Heat can build up between the two doors. Install a storm door with vents to allow the heat to escape. Add UV protective tinting to all glass storm doors.

Swap Panels for Different Seasons

During the spring and summer, storm door screens keep pests out and cool breezes coming in. In the fall and winter, swap out the screen for the glass panel. Just remove the plastic clips on the top, bottom and sides of the screen and gently pop it out. The glass insert slides in and you finish by replacing the clips around all sides. Clean the screen and store it to await the swap out in the spring.

Ceiling Fans Help Keep Rooms Warmer

Most ceiling fans have a switch on the motor assembly that you flip to change the turning direction. In the summer, blades that turn counter-clockwise produce a cool breeze that blows directly down. In the winter, blades that turn clockwise draw air up and out, helping to recirculate the warmer air sitting at the ceiling.

  • Spread Warm Air Around – Hot air rises and often leaves pockets of cold air throughout rooms. Ceiling fans redistribute the warm air from a central source, such as a fireplace or wood stove, to reach other areas of the house.
  • It’s Hot Upstairs and Cold Downstairs – If you own a two story home with a central open staircase, you know how warm it can get upstairs while the rooms downstairs remain cold. Install a ceiling fan at the top of the stairs. It can help redirect some of the heat rising upstairs back to the ground floors.

Try Insulated Drapes

Check for air drafts around windows and doors. Caulk around windows to help seal them. Weather stripping can help eliminate leaks as well. For drafty patio and French doors – and also for windows – try installing insulated drapes that you close at night to keep the heat from escaping.

Stay Warm and Toasty This Winter

The goal is to stay warm and toasty this winter. Look for anything around your home that can eat into your energy efficiency. Every little bit helps. These simple DIY repairs will help you focus on more important things like how many marshmallows are going to go into your hot chocolate.

Expert Advice

From ladders to insulation blowers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right tools and equipment for your home improvements. For more helpful tips on how to keep the cold out, check our blog, Cold Weather Basics: Winterizing Window, Doors and Vents. 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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Need Hot Water & Heat? Best Practices for Maintaining Your Systems

winterize hot water heater and furnaceIt is easy to forget about your hot water heater and heating system until they stop working. With a little preventative maintenance you can avoid impromptu cold showers and costly repair bills. Make sure to add draining your hot water heater and servicing your HVAC system to you winter preparations.

Flush your hot water heater once a year

Draining your hot water heater once a year will help keep that blessed hot water flowing. Sediment from minerals in the water, or sand and grit coming in through the municipal water lines, can settle at the bottom of the tank and hinder its efficiency. It will cause cracking and popping noises during the heating process. Flushing the tank will help extend its life.

How to drain your hot water heater:

  • Read the manufacturer recommended instructions on the side of the tank for your specific model
  • Turn water supply off
  • Turn off power – if you have a gas water heater, put it on the “pilot” setting, and if you have an electric tank make sure to turn it off at the circuit breaker
  • Let water cool overnight or use extreme caution when removing scalding water
  • Attach hose to drain valve at base of unit, extend hose outside house or into a bucket (use a good quality hose since hot water can cause worn hoses to leak)
  • Open a hot water tap in the house (preferably one on the floor above)
  • Open drain valve and drain some water into a bucket to determine the amount of sediment to be flushed out
  • Turn water supply on briefly to stir up remaining sediment, repeat until water draining out hose is clear
  • Close drain valve, refill tank, and turn on power/ gas to hot water heater (be sure to close the hot water tap you left open)
  • Check the valve opening at bottom of tank to make sure it is closed and there are no leaks

Extend the life of your furnace

The HVAC system in a home accounts for over 50% of total energy costs. Having your unit serviced before winter sets in will help to extend the furnace life, reduce energy bills and improve indoor air quality. The cost of a professionally done system tune-up will run between $70 -$100. Included in this service should be:

  • A check of all electrical connections
  • An examination the unit for fire hazards
  • A test for carbon monoxide leakage
  • An inspection and calibration of the thermostat
  • Lubrication of any moving parts
  • Inspection of the condensation drain to make sure it isn’t blocked

Beware of carbon monoxide leaks

Carbon monoxide leaks from a faulty furnace is dangerous. An estimated 500 people die and 15,000 are taken to the emergency room each year from exposure to this invisible gas. Symptoms are headaches, dizziness and nausea. Installing carbon monoxide and fire detectors in your home could help keep you and your family safe.

Change air filter every month

You can keep your HVAC running efficiently by changing the air filters once a month. It will keep the unit from overheating. Dirty filters worsen air quality and exacerbate allergies and asthma symptoms. Pet dander can also accumulate in dirty filters and spread allergens throughout your home.

Programmable thermostats really save

One way you can help extend the life of your unit (and lower heating bills) is to install a programmable thermostat. It can help save you up to 10% on your energy bills. By setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and higher in the summer, you can see a noticeable difference in your bills. Check with your power company to see if there are any rebates available for upgrading your thermostat.

A little preventative maintenance goes a long way

Waking up to a cold house or stepping into a cold shower is no one’s idea of a great way to start to the day. Draining your hot water heater, getting your HVAC serviced, and changing that dirty air filter can help you avoid unwanted repair bills. The goal is to stay warm this winter and with a little preventative maintenance you can do just that. For more helpful DIY tips check out our blog on preparing your home for winter.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY winterizing projects. From wet/dry vacuums and garden hoses to heaters, 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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Winterize Your Pool and Sprinkler System in 10 Steps

winterize your pool and sprinkler systemWith the weather getting cooler, the first fall frost won’t be far behind. Your lawn is slowing its growth and your pool is likely doing nothing but collecting leaves. Winterizing your pool and sprinkler system should be at the top of your to-do list.

1. Drain Irrigation Lines

Shutting off the water to your sprinkler system is the first step. Your main shut-off valve should be located in your basement or crawlspace. There are three different methods for draining the lines:

  • Manual drain
  • Auto drain
  • Blowout

2. Blowing Out is Best

To insure that you have removed all the water from your pipes, blowing out the lines is the most effective. Determine what type of lines you have – black polyethylene pipes or white PVC piping. The type line you have will determine how much pressure you can use to remove the water.

3. Too Much Pressure = Damage

Polyethylene pipes can withstand up to 50 PSI (pounds per square inch) while PVC can take up to 80 PSI. You will need to check your air compressor’s rating before you start. Too much pressure in your lines and you can seriously damage your pipes and valves.

4. Watch for Flying Debris

Connect the air compressor to the mainline just after the backflow device. Always keep at least one control valve open to avoid damaging the system. Start with the furthest sprinkler location and blow-out each line. Be careful of flying debris coming out of your lines. Wear safety goggles and keep clear of the valve during a blowout.

5. Insulate Exposed Equipment

Besides blowing out the lines, make sure you protect any equipment that may be exposed to the elements. The backflow prevention device is usually located outside near the foundation. The “bonnet” and “poppet assembly” inside this device can freeze and burst, causing costly damage. Wrap it with insulation and cover with a plastic bag. Duct tape the bag shut to keep out moisture.

6. Remember the Controller

Don’t forget to address your automated controller. Put it into “rain” mode, which will allow the timer to continue to run (saving your programmed settings) but shut off all the valves. If your controller connects to a pump, you may want to disconnect the power to it. You will lose your settings but the pump motor will not burn out from continuous use.

7. Preparing Your Pool for Winter

Winterizing your pool is a definite must-do. Clean all the debris from around and out of the pool. It’s important to leave water in your pool. Without the weight of the water, frozen ground can expand and cause a pool to rise up, cracking it. Lower the water level just below the mouth of your skimmer.

8. Cover Pool for Safety

Make sure the water chemistry is balanced to protect against staining and etching. Add a winterizing chemical kit to the water to keep it clear of algae. Cover the pool to keep out debris, inspecting the cover for any tears. To keep water off of the cover (and children safe), you may want to invest in an automated pump. Store all of your pool equipment (ladders and slides) to protect them from harmful weather damage.

9. Winterization Plugs Keep Water Out

As with your irrigation system, you need to drain all plumbing lines associated with your pool. After blowing the water out of the pipes, seal the line on the pool end to keep water from getting back into it. Many pools come with plugs specifically for winterization.

10. Winterize Filter, Too

Don’t forget about your filter. There is a plug at the bottom that will allow water to drain out. Open the air relief valve if you have one. Put the multiport valve in the “closed” position and remove the pressure gauge. Cover any exposed equipment with insulation and a plastic bag to keep moisture out.

Winterizing your pool and irrigation system keeps you from experiencing the headaches of ruptured water pipes and costly repairs. While ice sculptures created by a burst pipe might appear beautiful, your wallet will not think it is so spectacular. Save your money for more important things like suntan lotion and a new pair of shades.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY winterizing projects. From leaf blowers and wet/dry vacuums to air compressors, 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: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fall Yard Clean-Up: Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grasses Fall Clean-UpOrnamental grasses add texture, form and movement to any garden design. Easy to grow, these versatile plants can be found everywhere from flower beds to borders. With just a little maintenance you can keep them adding interest to you garden for years to come.

3 Types of Ornamental Grasses

  1. Cool Season Grasses – Varieties like Fescue, Purple Moor and Blue Oak like the cooler temps of spring and fall. They go dormant during the summer heat. Plant them in the early spring.
  2. Warm Season Grasses – These plants prosper in summer and early fall. Hardy Pampas and Fountain Grasses can grow all the way until the first snow. Plant these in the late spring or early summer.
  3. Evergreen Grasses – These “grasses” actually have many grass-like traits. Sedges and Rushes are in this class. Because these varieties are never dormant, your best bet is to plant them in the spring to allow for stronger root development.

Which Grass Do You Have?

Ornamental grasses are either clumping or running (rhizome forming). Clumping grasses keep to themselves in nice mounds but do need to be divided to stay healthy. Running or rhizome grasses send out growth below the soil surface. They, too benefit from dividing. Some varieties can be very aggressive and will take over a flower bed if left unchecked.

Ornamental Grasses Add Interest to Winter Gardens

Depending on how neat you like your winter garden, ornamental grasses can offer interest to your yard, so consider leaving the foliage. Birds are attracted to the seeds, and frost can turn stalks into icy sculptures. The dead foliage helps to insulate the crown of the plant. Cut the plant back to about 4-6” in the early spring to encourage and speed up new growth. Avoid drastically cutting back the plants to avoid wounding them.

Watch Out for Sharp-Edged Leaves

Still wanting to trim your grasses back in the fall and winter? Be warned – maintaining ornamental grasses can be both easy and treacherous. Many species have very sharp foliage, so we recommend wearing a pair of sturdy leather gloves when attempting to cut them back. If the grass mound is large and established, then bundle the stalks together before cutting them. You will need a hedge trimmer or even a chain saw depending on the size of the plant. Deposit the handy dandy bundle of debris in your compost pile.

Divide and Conquer Your Ornamental Grass

When your grass has outgrown its current home, then it is time to divide your plant. Prepare yourself, this can be a workout depending on the size of your plant. The best time to do this is when you’ve just cut the stalks back. It will allow access to the crown. Here are some tips for successfully dividing your grass:

  • Lift and separate – For large clumps take a small ax or a sharp shovel and partition the crown of the plant into sections. You may need a crow bar to pry apart the pieces you have cut. Leave roots on each of the pieces, but plant them before roots dry out.
  • Shape it up – If you just want to rein in a mound from getting too large, trim around the outside of the plant. You can insert a sharp spade or shovel along the edges and separate sections of the grass away from the parent plant. Be sure to cover up the exposed edges with fresh dirt and mulch.
  • When the center dies – Older plants tend to die off in the center. One method is to break up the entire mound and re-plant some of the divided sections back in the original spot. Another is to “core out” the center of the plant and allow the surrounding healthy growth to fill in the bald spot.

A Little TLC Goes a Long Way

Ornamental grasses can break up the monotony in any garden. Just remember when tackling your fall yard cleanup, a little TLC can go a long way in helping your plants stay healthy and ready to put on a show next spring. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your lawn and garden projects. From hedgers and chain saws to shovels and wheelbarrows, 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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[Part 3] Planning for a Green Spring: Feed Your Lawn

Feed Your Lawn in FallDo you know the condition of your grass? Looking out over the yard at all your hard work, it is easy to miss what’s right under your nose (or should we say feet). The long hot summer was likely brutal on your lawn. A good feeding of fertilizer will give you a head start on greener, healthier grass come spring.

Examine Grass & Soil

Before you apply fertilizer to your lawn, it is always good to take a closer look at your grass and soil. (By closer we really mean dig out a small section of your grass and look at the root system.) How deep are the roots? Is there a layer of dead organic matter (thatch) thicker than a half inch below the surface? Is the soil hard and compacted? All of these conditions can be solved by following a simple fall lawn checklist to improve your grass.

  • Keep Mowing – Your grass is still growing and storing nutrients, so don’t put the lawn mower away yet. Adjust the height on the mower to cut the grass shorter. This allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass. Be careful not to trim off more than a third of the blade, which could expose the roots to disease and pests.
  • Keep Watering – Grass is gathering nutrients and moisture to channel into root growth. Cutting back on watering now will cause the roots to remain shallow. A good deep watering of an inch every few days will work.
  • Aerate – Aerating machines extract plugs of soil from you lawn, allowing water and organic material to get to where it is needed. It will improve compacted soil and bring beneficial microbes to the surface. They love to munch on thatch! Our article on aerating has more helpful tips to get you started.
  • Dethatching – If aerating doesn’t completely eliminate the thatch, then rent a dethatching machine, which will pull it up from the soil. Rake up the thatch debris and deposit it into your compost pile. For more information, check out our article on dethatching.
  • Fertilize – After aerating, spread a layer of compost and fertilizer over your lawn. In the past, many advised applying a fertilizer high in phosphorous. Today that practice is discouraged and fertilizer companies are working to eliminate chemical phosphates due to the harmful effects on our environment. Opt for organic phosphorous sources like fish or cattle bone meal, animal manure or bat guano to help give your grass strong roots.

Test the Soil

Many lawn problems begin with the condition of the soil. Have your soil (the soil sample you dug up from your grass) professionally tested for PH levels. A healthy lawn will have a PH level between 6.0-7.0. Weeds thrive in acidic soil. A thin layer of lime applied to your lawn should take care of them.

Good Top Soil – Good Gardening

Go back to where you dug up your soil sample. Can you see how deep the good top soil is?

A 4-inch layer of top soil will give you a good lawn, while an 8-inch layer of top soil will provide you with a great lawn. Good gardening begins with good top soil. Compost and other organic matter worked into your grass with a rake will improve the dirt beneath.

Organic vs Synthetic Fertilizers

Know the difference between organic and synthetic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are less concentrated, but remain in the soil longer. They release nutrients over time. Synthetic fertilizers are more concentrated and get into the plant faster. They are water-soluble and have a tendency to leach out of the soil quickly. While synthetics get the job done fast, they can burn the plant and get into the groundwater.

Fertilizer Boost for Health

Help your grass store up the moisture and nutrients it needs to make it through winter. Giving it a boost with fertilizer now will help establish a strong root system and crowd out those pesky weeds. Investing a little time now will pay off big come spring next year. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your lawn and landscape projects. From aerators and dethatchers to rakes, 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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[Part 2] Planning for a Green Spring: Leaf Management

Planning for a Green Spring - Leaf ManagementAutumn brings to mind crisp clear evenings, warm apple cider, beautifully colored trees … and raking all those leaves, the quintessential fall to-do. We’ve got some creative solutions for your leaf management that will help green up your landscape for the spring.

“Leaf” Them Alone?

Closing your eyes and wishing the wind will blow them away will not work. If left on your grass, leaves will literally smother your turf. Diseases will take root. Realize that dead leaves are actually manna from heaven for your lawn. Eighty to ninety percent of a plant’s nutrients are stored in the leaves. When they decay, the nutrients return to the soil. Ah, that got you thinking! 

Landfill Lament

Every year, more and more, yard waste ends up in American landfills, and that includes leaf matter. The fortunate fact is, this can be alleviated with leaf management. Its goal is to repurpose leaves in a way that benefit your lawn, flower beds or vegetable garden. Learn The Secret to Easily Attaining a Healthy, Leafless Lawn in our recent article.

Ways to Manage Leaves

  • Blow them – If you are totally allergic to raking leaves, then try blowing them into your flower beds and around trees. You can also blow them onto a tarp to make them easier to bag or even better – add to your compost pile.
  • Vacuum them – Consider renting a vacuum machine with a shredding feature. You can use a bag attachment and easily distribute the shredded leaves around your yard. Vacuum machines are fairly quiet, too.
  • Mow them – Instead of bagging leaves and putting them to the curb, mow over them with a mulching mower. The mulched leaves can be left on your lawn to absorb back into the soil. You should see roughly 50% of the grass through the mulched pieces of leaves.
  • Mulch them – Add a bag attachment to your mulching mower and presto, you have mulch that you can spread throughout your landscape. Apply a 3-6” layer around trees and shrubs and a 2-3” layer in annual and perennial beds.
  • Compost them – You can also add your leaves to your compost bin. Mulched leaves will decompose faster than whole leaves.
  • Till them – Blow all your leaves into your vegetable garden area and then till the leaves into your soil. For heavy clay soils, till a 6-8” layer of leaves into the dirt to improve aeration and drainage.
  • Eat them – Not you, but a rent-a-goat. Yes, there is such a thing. A goat herder will bring their herd to your yard and turn those little eating machines loose. Soon, no leaves. You won’t wake the neighbors up with these guys. Win-win.

Time That Saves Money

Why go and buy bags of compost when you have plenty falling from your trees every fall day? It only takes a little creative leaf management to recycle them into usable nutrients for your lawn and gardens. Think of how green and healthy your lawn and plants will be thanks to all your fall leaves. Now go ask your neighbor for his bagged leaves. We have mulch to make!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your fall clean-up and winter preparation projects. From blowers and leaf vacuums to mulching mowers and tillers, 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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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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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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End of Fall Clean-Up: Protect Trees & Shrubs for Winter Conditions

Protect Trees & Shrubs for Winter

Time for the last of the fall clean-up. You’ve probably wrapped trunks of your deciduous trees with paper wrap to prevent sun-scald injury, a condition that develops when the warm winter sun is absorbed by the plant’s bark. And you’re probably still watering trees and shrubs, so they start the winter season off with enough moisture. Keep trees and shrubs stress-free by continuing to water every three to four weeks throughout the winter while temperatures are above freezing and the soil is not frozen. However, shrubs that are protected by a wall or house eaves are susceptible to drought damage regardless of weather conditions. Water them deeply every six to eight weeks only when the air temperature is above freezing and early in the day.

The first day of winter is still a few weeks away, but the weather has already produced winter storms full of blustery winds and freezing precipitation that could damage trees and shrubs in your yard. At this time of year, ice and snow that clings to any leaves still hanging can add enough weight to snap branches and punishing winds can bring the entire tree crashing to the ground.

Frigid Arctic air is already moving down from Canada into the U.S. and weather predictors are forecasting polar-vortex conditions for most of the country at least once during the winter of 2014. Even though brief cold snaps are unlikely to kill a tree, longer stretches of bone-tingling cold can do great damage, especially to young trees. Protect the root systems using burlap, straw or mulch as a blanket against temperature extremes and to retain moisture.

If a tree has indeed suffered damage during a storm, make sure to attend to it immediately. Use a chain saw to cut off damaged branches, or cut the tree down entirely. Cut the trunk into smaller pieces, then use a log splitter to ready the wood for the wood pile – and for cozy fires after the wood dries out. Or rent a wood chipper to make your own mulch and spread it under older trees for winter protection.

When temperatures drop below 20 degrees:

  • Shake heavy snow off shrubs and trees to keep branches from breaking or bending.
  • Leave snow at the base of plants for insulation.
  • Disconnect, drain and store garden hoses to prevent them from bursting.
  • Cover tender plants, anchor with weight and leave in place until warm weather returns.
  • Take potted plants inside – leave in the garage or in the house. If your have a greenhouse, keep the inside temperature above 35 degrees for plants to have a better chance at survival.
  • Try not to walk on lawn that’s not insulated by fallen snow, which can damage frozen grass.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with cleaning up and winterizing your yard. From chain saws to log splitters, wood chippers and everything in-between, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How & When to Properly Use a Lawn Vacuum

How-To Use A Lawn VacuumSavvy do-it-yourselfers are quickly catching on to the power of lawn vacuums for yard cleanup. Readily rentable and easy-to-use, lawn vacs are similar to vacuums for indoor use. They feature larger collection bags and more rugged construction that can handle mounds of leaves and sometimes even small yard debris. Typically they are designed to run quieter than leaf blowers, too.

How a Lawn Vacuum Works

Constructed like indoor vacuums, lawn vacs use high speed fans to create suction when air rushes up into an intake hose, taking leaves with it, depositing them in a waste compartment or collection bag designed to handle a large volume of waste that detaches for disposal.

How to Use a Lawn Vacuum

Common types of lawn vacs include push-mower varieties, handheld versions, backpacks, large riders, trailer attachments and small tractors. Decide what type of lawn vac you need based on the type of job:

  • Cleaning leaves between flower beds or hard-to-reach areas requires the flexibility of a backpack or handheld model – or first use a leaf blower to move debris out into an open area
  • Cleaning leaves from an entire open backyard requires something with wheels

Just like an indoor vacuum, all you need to do is push or ride it around the yard just like you would do when vacuuming a carpet. The suction does most of the work, until it’s time to empty the collection bag.

  • Wear appropriate industrial ear plugs to protect against any noise pollution
  • Make sure the vacuum path is clear of big debris, such as branches and rocks
  • Position the intake hose as close to the ground as possible for the greatest suction
  • Maneuver the machine around the yard slowly with straight or circular passes
  • Raise the intake hose when moving over bumpy terrain so it doesn’t bump against the ground
  • Emptying most collection bags is a two-person job, because they are likely too heavy for one person to lift and dump out; bags come with a door to scoop out debris manually
  • Avoid using a lawn vac in the rain or to pick up soaked leaves, which is more difficult
  • Use the appropriate nozzle or attachment, which are usually included with the machine to help to move into any tight spaces

Keep a Rake Handy

Even though lawn vacs make quick work of collecting and disposing of leaves, they do not help with lawn aeration. This is one of the reasons why you should keep a rake close-by. A rake can break up lawn thatch, which builds up and makes it difficult for your lawn to breathe and stay healthy. Rakes can also help remove leaves and debris from tight places, moving into open areas and ready for the lawn vac to suck up!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your lawn and garden projects. We offer a variety of lawn vacs made by Billy Goat, such as the new MV650H 27″ Lawn Vacuum, which is designed for a thorough clean-up; the Self-Propelled Vacuum, powered by a 6.5-HP Honda engine with a three-speed transmission; and a Leaf Vacuum Trailer, which moves more debris than most other truck loaders. From wheelbarrows to rakes and everything in-between, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

*photos courtesy of Billy Goat Industries, Inc.

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Fall Checklist Part 3: How to Layer Mulch for the Winter

Part 3. Mulching Your Fall Garden

For part three of our Fall Checklist for Winter 2014, we’re talking mulch: whatever material you cover your flower beds with, we cover mulch basics to help you select which one will work best in your landscape.

What does mulch do?

Mulching keeps weeds at bay, preserves moisture in the soils and adds a finishing touch to any garden bed or landscape.

What types of mulch are available?

  1. Rock mulch. The most permanent. Rocks won’t fade, wash out, blow away or decompose. It’s an ideal mulch for low maintenance landscapes.
  2. Wood bark mulch. The most common. Bark is inexpensive, looks very natural and is easy to apply, especially if you are planting annuals or bulbs on a regular basis. However, they do decompose over time, and need to be replaced with a new layer
  3. Pine straw mulch. Great for hydrangea, azalea and rhododendron beds. Pine straw slowly acidifies soil once it’s laid in place.
  4. Cocoa hull mulch. One of the more exotic, cocoa hulls are a byproduct of the chocolate industry, smell great and are good for the soil. One warning, dogs often eat cocoa hulls, which can make them sick.
  5. HydroStraw hydro seeding mulch. A new alternative to wood, paper and cellulose mulches. HydroStraw is made in the USA and specially formulated with renewable natural fibers, tackifier and other additives that provide more coverage, more quickly. In addition, you’ll use less water.

How do you apply mulch?

Start by spreading mulch by hand in between plants, using a rake in more open areas, then layer mulch at least two to three inches deep. For every 100 square feet of area, that equates to about 10 to 12 bags of wood mulch.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with wintering your gardens. From wheelbarrows to shovels and everything in-between, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Fall Checklist Part 2: Caring for Trees and Shrubs

Part 2. Fall Gardening To-Dos

Part two of our Fall Checklist for Winter 2014 focuses on maintenance tips for your trees and shrubs, suggestions for newly planted varieties and what to plant right now, before the snow flies.

Step 1. Water newly planted conifers and other evergreens regularly, especially if there’s little precipitation and even after it starts to snow. Young trees and shrubs need moisture to help establish their root systems.

Step 2. Clean up rotten, fallen crops and leaves from fruit trees, then prune them in late winter. You can spray them with dormant oil, which is effective in controlling and killing off certain insects and mites that could damage trees.

Step 3. Cut back rose canes to within a foot of the ground and cover them with soil.

Step 4. Rake and compost leaves, which could be an ongoing process until all the leaves fall from your trees!

Step 5. Now is the time to plant new plants such as oak, holly, beautyberry and bare-root roses.

Step 6. Mulch, mulch, mulch!

Special Step for 2014. Consider wrapping tender, thin-barked young trees, which are susceptible to winter sunscald and frost crack. Young maples, apple, crabapple, lindens and cherry trees are especially susceptible. Any tree can be wrapped with tree guards to protect from rodent damage and tender foundation shrubs can be wrapped in burlap or heavy Kraft paper found at your local garden center.

Start at the bottom of a plant near the ground, wrapping upward in a spiral, overlapping each layer so that water falls off the wrap. Wrap a tree trunk up to the lowest branches and secure with masking tape. Also, wrap the canes of tender roses in burlap, lay the wrapped canes on the ground and cover them with soil or mulch.

Before growth begins in late winter or early spring, remove the wrap to prevent moisture build-up, which can lead to disease.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with wintering your gardens. From wheelbarrows to shovels and everything in-between, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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3 More Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Getting your home ready for winter’s weather is a priority for most homeowners, especially in the fall, before the cold stuff starts to fly. We’ve put together three more ways to protect your home and property – then you can cross “winterizing” off your to-do list. Don’t delay!

3 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

1. Tune-Up Your Home Heating System

In addition to preparing your home to keep heat in for the winter (consider linking to part 1 of this blog series), keeping your furnace and other heating equipment clean and in good running condition, helps ensure proper heat output, reducing energy use and heating costs.

  • Check if your utility company offers free or discounted annual checkups of your home’s heating system by qualified technicians, and call early to avoid the rush. Another resource to try is furnace manufacturers or dealers that offer free or discounted inspections.
  • If your furnace needs a new part, by all means get it replaced now – it will not only save your money, but perhaps a little heartache, if the furnace decides to poop out during a winter storm. Plus it’s a lot more cost efficient to replace a part rather than replace the entire furnace.
  • Consider upgrading to a new energy efficient furnace to not only save money, but also increase the value of your home. Typically you’ll save 50% or more and you could qualify for federal tax credit.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters now before the heating season begins and once a month during the heating season. A regular filter maintenance schedule can help increase the need for more energy due to dirty filters, which restrict the airflow.
  • Switching to a permanent or HEPA filter can reduce waste and keep the spread of illness-causing bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen in check.

While you’re at it … if you have ceiling fans installed in the house, get out the ladder and switch the direction of the blades to winter mode, or a clockwise direction, which moves warm air near the ceiling down through the living space.

2. Maintain Your Water Heater

As with any other main system in your house, doing a check-up on your water heater before the winter season can save you time, money and frustration.

  • Turn down the water heater from the factory – set 140 degrees F to 120 degrees or lower, reducing energy costs and preventing any potential scalding or water burns.
  • Flush the tank by turning off power from the fuse box and turning the thermostat to “pilot.” Turn off the cold water supply and attach a hose to the valve drain at the bottom of the heater, running the hose to a bucket or trough. Open the drain value and allow water to flow for five to seven minutes. Let the water stand in the bucket and check for mineral deposits. Continue draining until the water is clear, adding cold water to the heater, if needed. Unhook the hose, close the drain valve, turn on the water supply and let the tank re-fill. Remember to bleed air by opening up the hot water faucet in the house. Once the water is hot, it’s safe to turn the power back on from the fuse box.
  • Replacing a tanked water heater with a tankless water heater can save you this step, save money, and can also qualify you for a tax credit.

3. Get the Fireplace Ready

Whether you have a fuel-burning stove or an insert, make sure your fireplace is in running condition.

  • Examine the doors and gaskets of the wood stove or fireplace insert for a tight seal.
  • Have the chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep.
  • Buy wood or fuel in bulk, a supply for at least half of the winter season, if not more.
  • Check grates for damage and replace if needed.
  • Check the pilot and natural gas supply on inserts.

While you’re at it … get out those sweaters and dress warmer for the colder weather. “Personal heaters” such as fleece vests and jackets, long-sleeved shirts and cozy wool or cotton sweaters can add up to four degrees of warmth directly where it’s needed. Who knew?

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next winterizing project. From heaters to hoses and everything in-between, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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3 Easy, Economical Ways to Winterize Your Home

Winterize Your Home in 3 Simple Steps - Part 1

It’s coming … winter weather is on its way, and according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Indianapolis area is preparing for a colder than normal season, with above normal snowfall … at least through February!

We’ve put together three easy tasks you can accomplish now to protect your home and property from winter’s approaching chill — and even save you time and money next spring, too.

1. Keep Garden Hoses & Air Conditioning Lines from Freezing

Water left in hoses or pipes can freeze in the cold, which can damage or even burst the equipment, especially if they’re going to be left outdoors.

  • Start by turning off water spigots and water shutoff valves to garden hoses and air conditioning units.
  • Remove any hose attachments like sprinklers or spray nozzles, and disconnect hoses from water spigots or air conditioning units.
  • Un-kink hoses and drain water, allowing some time for the water to drip out completely
  • Looping a hose in a circle prevents it from kinking during storage; it also helps to push any remaining water out.
  • Prevent hoses from cracking, freezing or kinking by storing them indoors, or outdoors in the warmest location (next to the house, for instance), in a large bucket or on a hose hanger.

While you’re at it … now’s a great time to remove air conditioning units from windows, vacuum the inside and put them away in storage, or cover an outdoor air conditioning unit with a tarp or air conditioner cover.

2. Winterize Outdoor Furniture

Most patio furniture and accents are made to remain outdoors during the winter, yet it’s still a good idea to prepare it for the harsh weather ahead. Plan to cover all of it with a tarp until spring.

  • Give powder-coated aluminum furniture extra protection from rust by giving it a wash, touching up any scratches with car paint and applying an automotive wax.
  • Remove any rust from wrought iron furniture and give it a coat of exterior spray paint designed for use specifically for wrought iron.
  • Power wash plastic furniture and dry completely. Consider giving it a coat of spray paint designed for plastic, too – and make plans to store it inside, to prevent it from becoming brittle.
  • Brush off or vacuum cushions and umbrellas and wash off mildew and mold with soap that’s meant to be used for outdoor fabrics. Plan to store foam-stuffed cushions and the fabric part of umbrellas indoors.
  • Teak furniture wears well in the elements, which gives it a weathered patina that many homeowners prize. However, you can maintain its original color by giving it a coat of specialty oil at least once a year. Revive other painted or stained wood furniture with a recommended acrylic paint.
  • Store natural rattan pieces indoors and keep dry. Synthetic wicker furniture is built to remain outdoors.
  • Store tables with tile or mosaic tops indoors.

 3. Install Storm Windows and Doors

When the wind starts to blow, the extra protection from storm windows and doors can increase the energy efficiency of your home by 45%!

  • If your storm windows and doors were prepared properly for storage in the spring, pull them out and install. Look for any damage that may have occurred in storage before hanging them.
  • If your windows are older, consider upgrading to new energy efficient windows, which could qualify you for a tax credit.
  • If you don’t have storm windows, hire a professional to install Low-E film directly to the glass of your windows and door windows.
  • Consider buying a do-it-yourself window insulation kit at your local home center. Plastic applied to windows (or doors) can add extra from drafts and the still air space helps your house hold its heat.

While you’re at it … get crafty with avoiding air drafts that can waste loads of energy with draft snakes. Make this remedy that dates back to the Great Depression yourself, using some scrap material sewed together and filled with sand or kitty litter. Or roll up a bath towel and place it in front of that space between the door and floor, or on top of a windowsill.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next winterizing project. From heaters and air conditioning equipment to pressure washers and everything in-between, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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[Part 2] Early Fall To-Do: Plant Mums For a Fresh Fall Flowerbed

Plant Mums For A Fresh Fall FlowerbedThis time of year, avid gardeners are looking for a reason to get outdoors and freshen up their flower beds. And they’re likely doing it using chrysanthemums — or mums for short — late-season bloomers that produce lots of long-lasting flowers in a variety of colors and shapes. Perfect for mass plantings or filling a container, gardeners can play with color schemes of mums that complement existing plantings such as ornamental grasses, beautyberry (Callicarpa), smoke tree (Cotinus), variegated sedum and conifers, while creating instant curb appeal. But first, you need to clean out your flower beds.

6 Steps for Easy Autumn Clean-up

You’ll need a rake, garden spade, cultivator, hand trowel, bulb planter, organic compost, peat moss or manure, mulch, wildflower seeds (optional), spring-flowering bulbs (optional) and of course, chrysanthemum plants.

Step 1. Remove summer mulch and compost; deadhead flowering plants and pull up any weeds; rake up leaves and debris.

Step 2. Dig up any annuals by the roots, shaking the conditioned soil back into the bed, and compost only the healthy plants.

Step 3. Groom your perennials by splitting or discarding clumped areas, separating tubers, rhizomes and bulbs and add compost.

Step 4. In addition to planting mums for immediate bloom, plant biennial seeds like hollyhock, foxglove, Canterbury bells and violets and bulbs like hyacinths, daffodils, tulips and lilies. Remember to mark the planting area.

Step 5. Trim back foliage on perennials that like to be pruned in the fall. If you find snails and slugs, keep the cuttings out of the compost heap.

Step 6. Add manure, compost or peat moss before planting. Afterwards, mulch the garden with two to three inches of fresh mulch.

Choosing Mums For Outdoor Planting

Both cutting mums and hardy mums are hybrids of the golden-yellow mum originating from China. Both can be planted in a flower bed, for different reasons. Cutting mums are traditionally used by florists because of their large flowers that come in the most variety of shapes and types, including:

  • Decorative: long, tightly overlapping petals that curve up and in toward the flower center or out and down
  • Pompon: smallish, globe-shape petal-packed flowers
  • Single or Daisy: single row of long petals around a center disk
  • Anemone: one or more rows of single flat petals topped with tiny florets of a darker color
  • Semi double: two or three rows of long petals around the center disk
  • Single Quill: single daisy type with tubular petals

Cutting mums struggle to tolerate the cold and are used as short-term bedding plants to create interest. Hardy mums are, well hardy — they produce the underground stolens that help the plant survive in cold temperatures.

Still, you want to plant mums in a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day, in well-draining soil. Water thoroughly, never letting them wilt. Hardy mums will bloom well into the fall, until the first hard front. Prepare them for winter by mulching up to four inches around the entire plant with straw or shredded hardwood, spreading between branches.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next planting project. From rakes to wheelbarrows, seed and mulch and everything in-between, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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3 Early Fall Gardening Clean-Up To-Do’s

Early Fall Gardening Checklist

September is the perfect time to start thinking winterization in terms of your garden. As it’s the very beginning of fall, the place to begin is preservation of your perennials and cleaning up dead plants that won’t make it to springtime. We’ve been so blessed with warm weather the past few days, continuing on to the end of the month, so use it to your advantage. Put on your gardening gloves and get to work!

Step 1. Flowerbed Clean-Up

Think fall clean-up for your flowerbeds. For instance, day lilies look beautiful while they bloom, but by the end of the season they look pretty rough. So clean up the weeds around your flowers and remove annual flowers that have died and won’t grow back next year.

Step 2. Pull Out Your Veggies

Next, step over to your vegetable garden and survey the situation. An easy rule of thumb: let the garden grow on until the vegetables and tomatoes stop growing. At that point it’s time to pull everything out and till for next year. A small tiller will do the trick!

Step 3. Take Care of Your Ornamental Grasses

Although some people leave ornamental grasses out for winter interest, honestly leaving them just makes a mess. And ultimately, keeping the grasses makes it harder to clean up in the spring. That said, it’s best to rope them off and cut each patch of grass at the base.

We’d love to help you with your entire fall gardening and lawn care checklist, so let us know what you need! We rent everything from aerators to chippers to stump cutters. Take a look at the next batch of early fall to-do’s here and get to it. Happy gardening!

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5 More Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard

5 Landscaping Ideas for Your Fall Garden

Since fall landscaping is done after the growing season has essentially ended, gardeners don’t have to worry so much about weeding, since weed seed is dormant, unlike in spring when it’s just bursting to grow. And in the spring, you’ll see a whole new garden that blooms early! This article is our third on tips to freshen up your landscape for fall, adding color, texture and panache!

1. Contrast Light and Dark

They say that opposites attract, especially when they’re dark and light. Play up the drama of silvery ornamental grass plumes with deep-color foliage, such as that of Diablo ninebark, purple-leaf filbert, ‘Velvet Cloak’ smoke bush or ‘Black Lace’ elderberry.

2. Decorate with Accents

Give your landscape personality with found objects and artwork installations such as ironwork or statues or ornaments. Just like indoors, adding artistic accents to your landscape will reflect your personality.

3. Think Small

Not every planting in a fall landscape has to be big and bold. Planting shrubs with subtle details like richly colored berries or fruits, such as the beautyberry, which produces small clusters of amethyst-purple fruits in fall, give your garden exquisite beauty up close.

4. Punch it Up with Container Plantings

Perk up dull spots in your garden with containers filled with grasses, mums, asters or flowering kale that put on a beautiful show for weeks.

5. Relax and Enjoy

Take advantage of wonderful fall weather with seating area that lets you sit back and enjoy your landscape. Include a fire pit or fire bowl for warmth, or place the seating on the east side of a favorite tree to enjoy the remains of the day.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. From lawn mowers to leaf blowers and everything in-between, 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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10 Must-Have Fall Lawn & Garden Tools

Fall is the perfect time to catch up on all your lawn maintenance to-dos, especially due to the cooler temps. Whatever that may entail, below are 10 lawn tools that encompass a wide range of outdoor tasks. We carry all 10 items in stock for rent and some for purchase as well, so please check out our online store for more details or stop in today! Happy lawn maintenance and gardening!

10 Must Have Lawn Tools

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6 More Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard

6 Landscaping Ideas for a Fabulous Fall YardGive your garden a “boost” by planting in the fall. This is the second of three articles on tips to freshen up your landscape for fall, adding color, texture and panache!

1. Plant Wildflower Seed

Do you know that planting in the fall results in earlier wildflower blooms? Just like fall-seeded lawns, fall-planted wildflower seed has a chance to establish in the ground during the winter, ready to burst into bloom about two weeks earlier than spring-planted seed.

2. Grow Multi-Season Plants

Pagoda dogwood, ninebark, viburnum, fothergilla, reblooming hydrangeas and other plants that show flowers in the spring, berries in the summer, color in the fall and have unique bare branches in the winter keep your landscape ever-changes with each season.

3. Appeal to the Senses

Using a water feature in your garden can appeal to your sense of sound by filtering out street noise, enhancing your sense of sight by reflecting brilliantly colored trees for double the impact, or engaging your sense of touch with cooling trickles or smooth icicles.

4. Choose the Unusual

Include at least one unusual plant in your garden landscape, one with edible fruits or unusual-shaped leaves, wild-looking blooms or imaginative shape. It will keep guests guessing — or amused.

5. Keep it Natural

Create planting beds with plants that grow at different heights in a number of complementary colors, for a design that feels natural.

6. Consider Context & Texture

Bring attention to a unique tree by planting it among several of a different sort, allowing it to shine and adding texture to the landscape. For added interest in the fall and winter, include ornamental grasses, planted near other plants with a delicate look, such as silvery sea holly flowers and golden bluestar foliage.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. From lawn mowers to leaf blowers and everything in-between, 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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4 Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard

4 Landscaping Ideas for Fall

Many people think spring is the best season for planting, but gardeners have figured out that fall is actually the best season for planting and landscaping. Because of the cooler temperatures and increased rainfall, fall is great for planting perennials – plants that come back year after year. There are far more “good days” in the fall when the soil is still warm, which allows a plant’s roots to establish better and grow until the ground freezes, or continue to grow throughout a milder winter climate. In the spring when the ground is cooler or in the summer, when it’s hot and dry, a plant’s roots can get stressed and unhealthy, and grow less robustly.

Fall is also a great season to give your garden a “boost,” planting turf grasses, spring-blooming bulbs, “cool crop” vegetables and certain annuals – plants that last only one season – to enjoy well into the cooler season. This is the first of three articles on tips to freshen up your landscape for fall, adding color, texture and panache!

1. Create the Unexpected

Add a series of intimate spaces to your landscape, which helps give the sense that the garden goes on and on. Start by planting evergreens in a variety of coordinating colors near the edges of your property, giving you privacy throughout the year. The evergreens also act as a dramatic backdrop for other trees, shrubs and flowers to show off their brilliant fall color. Then use large shrubs and small trees as living walls, forming outdoor “rooms” and adding interest to your yard. Since no one spot has an entire view of your garden, there’s something unexpected around every corner.

2. Pattern with Shapes

Build a theme in your landscape by repeating a plant shape. Plants develop different shapes as they grow. Some have an upright look, others are mounded, and still others weep gracefully. Couple an upright columnar white pine with a tall blue spruce, which give rise to a narrow, intimate path. Boxwood pruned into round balls all in a row gives the allusion of a string of pearls. Weeping willows planted together with a ‘Viridis’ Japanese maple and forsythia resemble a girl’s long hair fluttering in the breeze. Combining plants with different growing habits makes your landscape more intriguing.

3. Add Carpets of Color

Ground-hugging ground-cover plants reduce weeds and protect the soil while creating a vast expanse of color, especially in the fall, when plants can turn from greens to vivid purple-reds. The fall show helps make your garden more interesting.

4. Include Structure

In addition to plants, give your garden visual interest by incorporating a structure such as a pergola, an arbor, a fence or retaining wall — even an assortment of pots and planters grouped for visual impact will do the trick. Stone is maintenance-free and suited to a variety of landscaping styles. However, choose a material that complements your garden, giving to a natural look, and be sure it fits your budget.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. From lawn mowers to leaf blowers and everything in-between, 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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3 Last-Minute Improvements to Keep Your Home Happy for the Holidays

With winter fast approaching, and December 21 the shortest day of the year, giving your home a little TLC can do wonders for your property value. There are three exterior improvements you can make to ensure happy holiday living: installing outdoor lights, spraying for pests and storing outdoor hoses. Each of these is easily accomplished and will help you mark another item off your fall checklist!

 

1.Install Timers on Outdoor Lights

An outdoor light timer is a convenient and efficient way to turn them on and off, especially when you’re not home. At the end of the day, the timer programs lights to turn on, and you won’t have to fumble for your house keys in the dark when you do get home. Later in the evening, the timer will automatically turn off the lights, saving you money on utility bills.

Nowadays you can find timer devices for your outdoor lighting that screw right into the light socket. These timers have simple settings for programming the light switch. After you’ve set the timer, install it before screwing in the light bulb, keep the light switch on and you’re good to go.

If you’re jones-ing for a more involved project, get out the screwdriver, voltage tester, wire stripper and electrical tape, and replace the ordinary light switch with a timer switch.

The Steps:

  • Turn off the main power supply to the outdoor lights
  • Unscrew and remove the existing switch from the wall box
  • Using a voltage tester, check the switch terminals for power
  • Remove the wires from the switch, cut them with a wire stripper and make a fresh area of exposed wire
  • To connect the timer switch, attach the black wire to the black wire on the wall box
  • Attach the white wire to the white wire on the wall box (the green wire on the switch is for grounding)
  • Tape where the two wires meet with electrical tape and insert the timer switch into the wall box, making sure the wires clear the edges
  • Secure the faceplate, then turn the main power supply on and check the switch

2. Spray for Pests

When outdoor temperatures plummet, ants, spiders, crickets and other outdoor insects take shelter inside. Homeowners can use indoor pesticides such as baits, dusts or sprays to keep pests at bay. But if you have youngsters living at home, the first defense is for a child’s safety, avoiding the use of pesticides inside the house whenever possible.

A good alternative for indoor pesticides is to use a perimeter treatment on the outside foundation of your house. Perimeter treatments form a barrier on exterior surfaces, which stop pests from entering in the first place. For a perimeter treatment to be effective, get it in place before insects start entering the house or garage. You may prefer to hire a local exterminator to get this job done. However, it’s also on the to-do list of most do-it-yourselfers.

The Steps:

  • Choose the kind of insecticide to spray: liquid or granule (note: if you are treating a hard, vertical surface, liquid sprays are best)
    • Liquid sprays can either be ready-to-use or may come in a container for use in a pump sprayer
      • Pump spraying is our preferred method – just fill it with your liquid insecticide
      • Ready-to-use liquid sprays attach to the water hose and mix in with the water as they’re sprayed
    • Granule insecticides are applied using a spreader (note: unless rain is forecast water the treated areas well after application)
  • Spray the entire foundation area around the house, behind steps, around decks or concrete slabs, in cracks and crevices, near window frames and in areas where utility wires enter the house
  • Include a 10- to 12-inch band of soil around the foundation
  • Apply insecticide anywhere insects are prone to gather: sheds, woodpiles and carports

3.Winterize & Store Garden Hoses

After you finish using hoses for the season, drain them of water. Turn off the water at the spout, then either use the spray nozzle or hold the hose vertical until every drop trickles out. It’s also a good idea to disconnect hoses from waterspouts, and then protect them with inexpensive foam spout insulators. Storage for garden hoses comes in three basic types: racks, reels and pots.

  • Racks: the space-saving, and often decorative, rack hangs on the wall and keeps hoses off the ground. Hoses are coiled around it by hand, but can be taken off and brought inside for the winter.
  • Reels: with reel-type storage, turning a crank handle easily coils the hose up, and it keeps the gardener less dirty. These practical units also have wheels to move around the yard with ease, or into the garage for the winter.
  • Pots: garden hose pots need to come with drainage holes and are a good option if they’re kept near a watering area. Pots can also be transported to a storage area for the winter.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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How to Efficiently and Easily Insulate Your Attic

A somewhat overlooked energy and heat cost-cutter is “adding insulation to your attic.” Central Indiana is known for harsh winters, and this year is no exception. By spending a little time and money re-insulating your attic this fall you will not only save on heating costs, but you’ll ensure a comfortable and happy home for the rest of the year.

Attic Insulation Installation

A few things to consider…

First and foremost, determine if you even need to re-insulate your attic. There are several key indicators:

  • Heating bills are significantly higher in the winter months than normal
  • Snow melts on-contact with your roof
  • Your A/C ran more than normal this past summer
  • Your rooms are drafty and uncomfortable
  • There are noticeable temperature changes in different parts of your house

You may also be able to tell by actually going up into the attic and inspecting the current insulation, doing a DIY attic audit if you will. An obvious tell-tale is how much insulation is in place, the condition (wet, soggy, molded), etc. Once you know for a fact that installing new insulation is a must, then you can move to the next step.

One of the first things you need to know prior to doing any insulating is what R-value your batts should have. For a colder, temperate climate like Indiana, R-49 is an accurate estimate. Make sure you ask your local hardware store or insulation supplier which value is best suited though, because a higher insulation level will prevent hot air from escaping via the attic during the next few winter months. And if you’re feeling ambitious, for more information on how to calculate your own insulation needs, visit this blog post.

After determining your R-value, you’ll need to gather equipment – the fun part! We recommend using both an insulation vacuum and an insulation blower. You can use both of these in lieu of simply laying down rolls of insulation, or you can use them all in conjunction. It really depends on your preference. Keep in mind however, that using an insulation vacuum and blower will cut your time in half, as opposed to putting it all in by hand. Other tools necessary:

Bundle up and get to work

Once you have all the insulation you need – per your supplier’s instructions or DIY determination, and the insulation vacuum and blower, you can begin insulating. First things first, remove your old insulation with an insulation vacuum. This machine makes quick work of wet or dry insulation and drywall chip removal. All you do is plug it in and start sucking up everything. Some of the bigger pieces of insulation you can grab and throw out by hand, or you can use the vac for everything, especially for smaller pieces in nooks and crannies.

A word of advice though, use bags to tarp off the vacuum port. Otherwise, it could catch fire from all the debris churned up at such a high volume. A little maintenance goes a long way!

After getting out all the old insulation, it’s time to install the new insulation. You can either lay down rolls between the ceiling joists and blow insulation over the top, or you can use an insulation blower to install it all. The beauty of using a blower is that it is durable and powerful enough to insulate the main sections of your attic, in addition to the smaller, hard-to-reach spots. It can also blow both types of insulation – cellulose or fiberglass. Strive for uniform, complete coverage. The better you insulation the entirety of the attic, the warmer and more efficiently your household will modulate temperature. After you finish installing the insulation, you may also want to go back over loose bits with the vacuum, so keep it handy.

And voila, another item you can mark off your checklist! If you would like more information on how to add insulation to your attic in a safe and energy-efficient way, refer to this Energy Star guide.  And as always, we are here to help! So please contact us with questions or use the comment section below.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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Seal and Stain Your Deck in 3 Easy Steps

This time of year is crunch time for those last-minute weekend DIY projects, before all the holiday craziness ensues. With that said, one of the last items on your fall checklist is “staining the deck,” an important task before the first big winter freeze. Staining and sealing your deck will guarantee that come spring its color and durability are maintained. Although you could wait until the cold weather ends to do this, by then your deck may show significant signs of wear and tear. Follow the steps below and you’ll be all set for patio cookouts when summer rolls around!

Prep Your Deck

Before you can start to clean or apply anything to the deck surface, you must first clear it of any furniture and remove caked-on dirt and grime. So simply said, remove your patio set, benches, plant pots, etc. so that you are only left with the deck itself. Once everything is out of the way, use a pressure washer to rinse the surface. The beauty of using a pressure washer is that it has enough power to remove otherwise tough-to-remove residue. You really want to clean the deck thoroughly before applying any stain or sealer, or else it may diminish the finish. You may also consider covering any close-by plants with plastic tarp so that they aren’t harmed by chemicals.

Apply the Stain Stain Your Deck

Once you’re all set to begin applying the stain, the real fun begins. A hand-held paint sprayer is a really good tool for this part of the process because it ensures consistent, uniform coverage and it is much quicker than using a paint brush or roller, heaven forbid! For more on paint sprayers, visit this blog post. Fill the sprayer with the stain and spray it evenly from one end of the deck to the other in a steady, vertical pattern. Be sure not to leave any gaps between sections by overlapping each row. And don’t worry, this method makes complete coverage an attainable goal. Keep in mind however, that more is not better in this instance – you want to avoid puddles and over-application.

The Finishing Touch

After applying stain to your entire deck surface, you may want to use sealer for maximum protection. If you are going to do this, wait two days for the stain to completely dry. Then apply sealer with a paint brush or paint roller, sorry the paint sprayer won’t work as well with sealer. And once your deck is dry, voila, you now have a beautiful, protected deck. Check your deck periodically (every spring and fall) by splashing water on the surface to see if it is repelled. If so, then you are safe to wait a while longer before reapplying stain and sealer, but if it absorbs, then you’ll know it’s time to get out your pressure washer and paint sprayer once again!

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant New Trees

Plant New TreesOne of the more gratifying items to check off your fall checklist is “planting new trees.” The natural beauty of trees growing on your property can be enjoyed by your family, friends and neighbors for years to come. The successful plan for having a yard full of lush, long-lasting trees requires just three essential elements, which give young trees a healthy start. Choose the right place for the type of tree you have and plant it with care.

Special Tools Help with Planting

And since it’s not every season you’re likely to plant a tree, the special tools you need to accomplish proper planting are probably not in your tool shed, but are available for rent. Since trees can be heavy and cumbersome to move, it’s a good idea to rent a tree spade or tree dolly to carry the tree to the planting area without damaging the roots or the tree itself. A post hole digger is made to break through the ground easily, making short work of digging a hole big enough for your new tree.

Landscaping with Trees

Consider the size of your lot when planning a landscape that features trees. They need to be planted at least 10 to 15 feet from the foundation of the house and at least five feet from decks, patios, driveways or sidewalks. Also, make sure to keep tree tops away from utility wires overhead, as well as underground.

  1. Trees need a good deal of sun to grow up strong, so choose a place where your new tree will receive ample sun exposure.
  2. Do you want a little privacy? Planting trees in rows can create a natural wall or fence against nosy neighbors or noisy streets.
  3. Does the wind whip around your home? Trees can also act as wind breaks when planted strategically.

Types of Trees

While you’re scoping out your land, think about tree sizes and shapes, which adds interest to the landscape. When visiting the nursery, learn all you can about specific trees by studying the information on the tags, or ask a nursery employee. In general:

  1. Evergreen trees are good to use for privacy walls and wind breaks because they keep their foliage throughout the year. Evergreens like to be planted on the north side of your home.
  2. Deciduous trees provide shade in the summer and let sun shine into windows in the winter, because they lose their leaves. They like to live on the south, east and west sides of your home. Deciduous trees also add fall color to the landscape.
  3. Trees that grow up to 25 feet tall can be planted under overhead utility lines.
  4. Trees that grow 25 to 45 feet tall are great for shading an entire single-story house or the sides and windows of a two-story home, and slender medium-sized trees can thrive when planted near fences.
  5. Trees that grow higher than 45 feet can shade large, hot areas, like driveways and patios, or large lawns.
  6. Flowering trees add color, attracting birds and other wildlife.
  7. Fruit trees can not only provide shade, but food and fragrance.
  8. Drought tolerant and low-water use trees can protect dry areas of your yard.

Privacy Trees

Planting Techniques for Healthy Trees

  1. Dig a hole twice as wide and slightly shorter than the tree’s roots, also known as the root ball, the area that begins where all the roots start from the trunk.
  2. Loosen the soil in the hole to make it easier for the roots to establish themselves.
  3. If the tree is in a container, remove it gently but firmly, then quickly separate the roots, uncurling, straightening or cutting a little, until they fall outward from the trunk. Take care to shade the roots from the sun while arranging the roots.
  4. Lift the tree by the root ball and place it in the hole, making sure it’s standing upright. You may need to tilt the root ball until the tree is straight. Now’s the time to move the tree around in the hole to make your favorite side of the tree viewable from a window, or have the branches placed where they will grow out unencumbered.  In sunny areas, place the tree so that the best-shaded side of the trunk faces southwest.
  5. Backfill firmly around the tree and cover only the roots with soil. Leave the trunk above the soil surface. Amend the soil with organic compost, if desirable. Pack down the soil to stabilize the tree.
  6. Water, water, water the tree, with at least 15 gallons of water, and then monitor its water requirements at least once a week for the first month.
  7. Stake the tree loosely for protection or support, if needed, taking care not to use wire, which can cut the trunk. Soft, pliable tree ties are best. Place stakes outside of the root ball and use them until the tree can stand tall on its own, in six to 12 months.
  8. Mulch the entire planting area with a three to four-inch layer, especially to prevent a hard crust from forming on the surface of the soil.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

INFOGRAPHIC: How Well Do You Know Your Lawn?

Proper lawn care and maintenance is a primary concern for many homeowners, so if you are among these, this infographic should shed light into the fundamentals of lawn care. Explore what type of grass you have, common issues, common weeds and what your yearly lawn care schedule should consist of based on the season. There are several suggestions for the final days of fall and the upcoming winter months, so get out your fall checklist and start marking off tasks this weekend!

How well do you know your lawn?

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, Infographics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Airless Sprayer: A Hidden Gem for All Your Painting Applications

Airless Paint Spraying ApplicationThere are probably several rooms, pieces of furniture or outdoor fixtures at your house that could use a fresh coat of paint. Or, perhaps if you’re a contractor you may have several jobs that require you and your crew to do painting applications. Now, although using a roller or brush to paint may seem most cost effective, there is actually another alternative that is much easier and provides the desired results you’re looking for in regards to cost, quality, time and flexibility. And what is this other appealing option? The airless paint sprayer – a device that comes with a variety of features to provide you with a crisp, clean, painted finish.

What Does Airless Mean Exactly?

Airless spraying breaks paint into small droplets without needing compressed air. So in essence, airless paint sprayers are self-contained, eliminating the need of an air compressor. Using an airless paint sprayer to do all your around-the-house or worksite painting is incredibly simple and uncomplicated in this regard. All you do is plug in your machine and press the trigger – it really is that easy. Another characteristic of airless paint spraying is that is provides uniform coverage. Even despite the roughness or unevenness of a surface, airless spraying gives a consistent, quality finish.

Airless Advantages

However, not only is airless paint spraying easy, but it is economical, quick, quality and versatile. These four advantages account for professional contractors’ preference toward airless sprayers.

  1. Economical: airless paint spraying is more accurate than using a paint brush or roller, which means the job is done right the first time, thus saving you time and money
  2. Speed: airless spraying is up to 4 times faster than rolling or brushing, so you can complete jobs in less time, allowing for more to get done and less labor needed
  3. Quality: as previously mentioned, airless sprayers produce a consistent, even coat of paint on all surface types, which leaves a high quality finish
  4. Versatility: airless sprayers can be used for a wide array of coating materials, for both interior and exterior jobs, and they are easily transported

Impressive Results

In conjunction with the above advantages, airless paint spraying elicits desirable results. As per the promise that airless is preferred over brushing or rolling, here are the reasons why:

  • You can finish jobs more quickly – which is a benefit for weather restraints, and on a job site you can stay from start to finish i.e. saving set-up labor
  • It allows you to complete more jobs with less labor – saving you the headache of involving more people
  • Airless paint spraying provides a consistent mil build – thus coatings perform better
  • Lastly, an airless paint sprayer applies a smooth, quality finish – a final result you can be proud of for years to come

Getting to Know the Key Components of an Airless Sprayer

Graco Airless Paint Sprayers

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the details of each type of sprayer – they really are simple and easy-to-use. There are actually three primary types: mounted with wheels, mounted without wheels and handheld. In addition, you can get the mounted paint sprayers as either electric– or gas-powered. Typically homeowners prefer to rent the handheld sprayers because they are less fuss and just powerful enough for standard projects once or twice a year. The mounted sprayers however, are more typical for contractors who will use them on a very frequent basis, hence why they are more powerful and offer greater capabilities and functionality. In addition to the sprayers themselves, they attach to special tips – these help determine the material flow rate.

Airless paint sprayers are the new-fangled paint catalysts for both homeowners and contractors alike. They offer a wide variety of features and benefits, and are not as expensive as one might think. If you would like more information about renting or buying one, please contact us. To learn more about how to use a paint sprayer i.e. more specifics on painting applications, read this post about painting to perfection.

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, Fall Checklist, Featured Products | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Go Green: Create a Compost Collection Pile this Fall

Want to check even more items off your fall checklist? Find out how to start a compost pile in today’s post, then get to it!

Start your compost pileWhat is compost, exactly?

Compost is part noun, part verb and all energy! Eco-friendly advocates say it’s the unwanted food and yard waste filling up to 30 percent of our garbage bins these days, helping to bloat landfills and releasing greenhouse gases into the air. But compost is also about creating the perfect environment for organic waste to decompose into a rich, natural additive that nourishes the soil, helping to grow plants that are disease and pest-free. Compost also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and lowers our carbon footprint.

Browns, greens, water and layers. The recipe for compost has three basic ingredients that combine into one simple technique. An equal amount of dead leaves, branches and twigs,otherwise known as browns, are layered on top of grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and coffee grounds ( greens) to make a pile. Water is added to the alternate layers of browns and greens to assist the carbon and nitrogen they contain in breaking it all down to its essential organic goodness, speeding up the process of making compost.

When starting a compost pile, layer the material in uniform layers between 6-8 inches thick. For the first layer, use your newly gathered browns and greens, choosing the bulkier organics. For the second layer, consider using animal manures, fertilizers or starters to activate the heating process. The third layer is comprised of a good top soil or active compost, between 1-2 inches thick.

Once your pile starts decomposing to create humus, that rich garden elixir, there’s no need to continue the layering process. Materials can be added by burying them in the center and incorporating them when you turn the pile.

What NOT to compost. It’s a lot easier to identify the appropriate browns and greens in your garbage and yard waste bins than knowing what might not qualify for composting.

Good Browns and GreensGood browns and greens come from grass clippings, hay, straw and twigs, but not black walnut tree leaves or twigs. Why? Because when they decompose they can be harmful to other plants.

Fruits and veggies are good, but throw away meat or fish bones and scraps, because they smell and attract pests. Eggshells are a “yes,” but dairy products like eggs, butter, milk, sour cream and yogurt are a “no” because they too create odor. Leave stinky fats, grease, lard or oils for the dumpster.

Include yard trimmings, wood chips and cotton or wool rags that are not treated with chemical pesticides, as well as fireplace ashes, but not coal or charcoal ash, which can contain substances harmful to plants. Houseplants are good, diseased or insect-ridden plants of any kind are not, for obvious reasons. Surprisingly, compostable material includes dryer and vacuum cleaner lint, hair, fur and manure. However, forget any pet waste or soiled cat litter, which might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens and viruses that are harmful to humans. Other usual suspects include newspaper, cardboard products, nut shells, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters.

If you’re wondering what not to compost, check with your local composting or recycling center to see what organics are accepted at your curbside or drop-off waster removal programs.

Starting the pile. After you start collecting materials for your compost pile, decide where you’re going to build it. If you have a large enough yard, find a dry, shady spot and start the pile right on the ground. Homeowners who have limited space or want to keep things tidy may want to find a container for composting, placed in an equally convenient spot outside. In either case, choose a place that’s level with good drainage, where a water source is easily accessible.

Size and temperature matter. You want a compost pile large enough to maintain the heat needed to break down material efficiently, but small enough for the water to do its job, and for you to turn the pile easily. Some experts recommend a space no larger than 5 feet x 5 feet x 5 feet. To keep the neighbors happy, camouflaging your compost pile may be necessary; aim for plantings or trellises that help it to blend in with the environment.

In about two weeks, the compost pile will produce enough heat for rapid decomposition, between 110° to 160°F. However, it could take two months, or longer. If you notice the pile settling, then it’s probably working properly. As you add new material, turn the pile each time. Some compost containers are made to roll over end to end for just this purpose. If the temperature dips below 110°F, keep your pile as active as possible with a turn and a drink, adding enough water that the material feels damp to the touch.

Finally, after all that hard work, avoid letting your compost languish in a pile! Spread it on the lawn to make it more lush. Incorporate it into your garden patch to grow bigger, healthier vegetables. Feed your flower beds, your house and container plants too, and keep them pest-free.

Recommended Tools:

  • Compost bin or container (if desired)
  • Wheelbarrow and shovel
  • Pitch fork or landscape rake, for turning the pile
  • Garden hose or watering can
  • Pruners, machete or shredder, to cut up large pieces of organic waste
  • Compost thermometer, to monitor temperature. A practical solution to this is a metal pole inserted into the center of the pile. The metal can indicate heat level by touch.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Winterize and Maintain Your Outdoor Power Equipment in 6 Simple Steps

It is probably a no-brainer that with the chilly weather setting in maintaining your outdoor power equipment is crucial, but here is your checklist all the same! Not only does winter mean you have a few months off from using outdoor equipment, but winterizing, repairing and storing your equipment ensures efficient use come spring when you can dig it all out again. There are some simple measures you can take to accomplish the task, so read up and then get to work marking “winterizing outdoor equipment” off your to-do list this weekend.

Winterize Your Outdoor EquipmentTools Needed:

  • Fuel stabilizer – to winterize the engine
  • Engine oil – to refill oil tank if low
  • Sponge or other scrubber – to clean the equipment
  • Air pump – to air up tires
  • Wrench – to tighten bolts

1. One of the most important things you can do for any outdoor equipment is winterizing it. Fuel stabilizer is your best friend in this step. Pour it into your fuel tank, top it off and then run the engine until the fuel runs out.

2. While you’re checking liquids, also make sure you have enough oil in each machine. Add more if the dipstick is below the suggested line.

3. Then, clean any air filters and other caked-on dirt or grime. It will be harder to clean your equipment if the dirt freezes on, not to mention dirt can really muck up performance once you use the equipment again.

4. Other check-ups: make sure all your bolts are tightened, tires are inflated, cords are in tact (not frayed) and spark plugs are disconnected.

5. Another key element of outdoor equipment maintenance is sharpening blades and chains. This is not as easily done at home, so stop by our store and we will do it for you!

6. Lastly, hang or store all your equipment inside. Inevitably, anything left outside may be damaged by snow, wind, hail, etc. Trimmers for instance are best suited hanging on a wall hook, while lawn mowers just need to be parked inside your garage or shed.

Maintaining your outdoor equipment for the winter months is really not a difficult task to accomplish, and when done properly it is well worth the time spent. So get out your lawn mower, weed eater, tiller, trimmer, hedge shears, chainsaw, etc. and get to work – you’ll be done in no time! If during the process you have any questions, please feel free to contact us – we are more than happy to help. And if you’re feeling ambitious after finishing these six steps, and would like other project ideas, find our checklist here.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Fall Checklist, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Master of the Grill: Clean and Repair Your Grill in 10 Easy Steps

In your world, you are “Master of the Grill.” All your friends say so. Your chef skills cannot be denied; you’re known for serving up tasty meals grilled to perfection. From gas to charcoal to electric, you choose each grill option as if it is the ultimate in rendering meats and vegetables roasted. Heck, you even know when the smoker is best.

And when the grilling season is over, you know just what to do – put on your gloves and get to work checking “clean and repair the grill” off your fall checklist. Here’s how you do it.

1. Gather the things you’ll need for an expert cleaning: Cleaning a grill

  • Cardboard or tarp
  • Grill brush, venturi tube brush or small brush
  • Cooking oil
  • Scraper, screwdriver, needle-nose pliers
  • Replacement parts, finishing nails
  • Sandpaper
  • High temperature paint, wood stain and finish
  • Paper towels or rags, steel wool pad, sponge

Note: Using a degreaser to clean grates and other parts of the grill is fast and easy. In one step, degreasers can strip grease, oil and resin deposits from surfaces, de-clogging and deodorizing in the process. Many degreasers are bio-degradable, too. Other cleaning options: using an oven or grill cleaner, or good old dish soap and hot water.

2. Make sure the work surface is protected by placing cardboard or a tarp down underneath and on the area surrounding the grill.

3. Prepare for cleaning by dumping charcoal and ash from charcoal grills, disconnecting the gas supply from gas grills and unplugging electric grills. Dials on all grills should be in the OFF position.

4. Use a grill brush. Clear debris from cooking grates and remove them, taking care to include the metal plates underneath, then you clean with a degreaser, or other cleaner, scrubbing them with a heavy sponge or steel wool, if necessary, or soak them. Once clean, you pat down with paper towels and let them air dry.

5. Remove and inspect the lava rocks for wear. Replace any that are over a year old or too greasy with new lava rocks or ceramic briquettes. You clean those in good condition with warm sudsy water, rinse and let them air dry.

6. Scrape the grill interior with a wire brush or paint scraper, including the sides, cook box and hood. After you brush or vacuum out any debris, wipe everything down with a paper towel or rag (gas grill interiors can be cleaned using an oven cleaner, taking care to remove all traces of the cleaner thoroughly).

7. Remove grill burners for cleaning – a tricky job with some grills. If you need help with this task, consider hiring a gas grill repair professional. Spiders like to nest in the venturi tubes, the part of the burner assembly that regulates the mixture of air and gas that is combusted by the burners. So, use a small brush to remove webs and debris from the inside of the tubes (there’s also a special venturi tube brush for this).

8. Don’t forget to clean the drip pan, which can be filled with liquid or grease, so be careful when removing it. The drip pan should be scrubbed with the grill brush or steel wool, then rinsed and set out to air dry.

9. Once you put back all the parts, fire up the grill on the highest heat setting for about 10-15 minutes to allow residual cleaning materials to burn off. After 15 minutes, turn off the grill, let it cool down, then preserve the cooking surface by wiping it with cooking oil on a paper towel.

10. Polish the outside of your grill by using a sponge and gentle cleaner. Then rinse and dry, sand any oxidation off the grill body with 220-grit sandpaper, and finally, touch up the heat-sensitive paint. Also, if the wood counter surfaces need restoration, sand them down with 100-grit sandpaper, then stain and seal with Danish oil or linseed oil.

A grill master already knows it’s a good idea to clean and check for wear and tear of your grill twice a year. The job usually takes about an hour to complete, time well spent when your reputation for mastering the best tasting food is at stake!

About the Author

is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

Categories: Fall Checklist, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Repair and Prepare Your Shingles and Windows for Winter in 6 Easy Steps

When you’re faced with repairing or improving your roof or windows, what comes to mind?

“Big job” “Expensive” “I’m afraid of heights!” “Leave it to the professionals”
“Special orders” “Messy” “Dangerous” “Tedious” “I don’t have the tools”

Well there is no need to worry. Yes, many roof and window jobs require an expert, but industrious do-it-yourselfers can solve a few of the larger problems all on their own. From cleaning and repairing roof shingles to improving the look and functionality of windows, we’re here to help you say, “I’m ready for the challenge.” In continuing to check items off your fall checklist, conquer these two tasks with ease by following the outlined steps below.

Repairing Your Roof

Repairing a roof1. Get up on the roof: If you’re going to tackle a roof job, it’s important to follow a few safety rules to avoid free falling.

  • Choose a good-weather day. Wet and icy conditions make it difficult to see dark patches on shingles, increasing the chances of slipping.
  • Prevent any additional damage to the roof by stepping on it lightly, and as little as possible.
  • Use a high-quality extension ladder to climb up, secured to the house in at least two places.
  • When up there, protect yourself from falls with a safety harness or belt secured to something stable, like the base of a chimney.

For extensive roof repairs and maintenance, consider renting a ladder that includes a platform hoist lift. These nifty helpers are not only made for safety, but for efficiency. Not to mention, they feature a platform strong enough to lift materials and tools up to the skies with ease.

Ladder lifts operate by hand or mechanically, using electricity or gas. And even though gas-powered versions could be noisy, the power source needed for an electric hoist lift may be difficult to access or non-existent near the work area. Either way, a highly efficient hoist is more cost-effective than a crane, forklift or boom truck. If your roof is in good condition and you’re secure in your ability to work well in high places, then by all means, take the challenge.

2. Clean your roof well: Is moss growing on your roof? Have trees deposited too much sap and debris up there? You can hire a professional cleaning service, or you can rent a pressure washer and get ‘er done in short order.

3. Inspect for extensive damage: Do you see shingle damage from a storm or general wear and tear? Have you found evidence of a leak? Roof life lasts about 20 years, so if your roof is aging, it may be time for a replacement –a steep expense, but how much do you value a warm, dry, comfortable home?

To keep your existing roof sound through the teenage years, fix minor leaks and shingle damage yourself. Roofing experts are generally in awe of how a shingle system works. A typical three-tab shingle is made from asphalt and felt, or fiberglass, and covered by mineral granules. However, they are also made from wood or tile. When nailed to the roof deck, one shingle is placed on top of a shingle below, protecting the nails. The mastic tabs on top of each shingle help seal them together, improving wind resistance. When installed properly, water travels smoothly across the roof and down to the gutters.

4. Compile the necessary tools: Depending on the type of repair, you’ll need new shingles, shingle nails, roofing cement, aluminum flashing, a hammer and protection for your hands and face. A pry bar or shingle remover that’s lightweight, versatile and designed to reduce worker fatigue can also be your best helper.

5. Get to work: A shingle remover helps to loosen and pry away the damaged, worn material from the roof deck, without causing more damage. Using roofing cement together with flashing fixes leaks, without the need for a new shingle. Eventually, this fix will need to be replaced, and that’s where the new shingles and nails come in. Be sure to remove both the offending material and the nails (which may need to be cut with a hacksaw or utility knife). Fit and hammer a new shingle in place, and you’re golden.

Preparing Your Windows

Applying Window FilmTired of peeping toms peering in your windows? Is the fabric on your furniture fading? Want to seal up those drafty spots? Installing window film on your windows may be the quick and stylish answer. Window film continues to let light shine in while adding privacy to your home, and keeps uncomfortable temps out, whether hot or cold. A tinted film can protect furniture, rugs and artwork from sun damage, while a decorative window film adds freshness and style, just like new curtains can.

Window film products usually come with an installation kit and instructions, but in general, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the windows are clean and dry.
  2. Cut the pieces of film to measure about 1/2″ larger than each window pane.
  3. Spray each pane with clear water, which makes it easier to position the film pieces on the window.
  4. Remove film backing and place it to the window.
  5. Burnish the film in place with a squeegee, pushing air bubbles to the edge and out.
  6. Trim the film edges with a sharp utility knife.

About the Author

is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

Categories: Fall Checklist, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

[INFOGRAPHIC] Mark These 13 Projects Off Your Fall Checklist

How fitting that this infographic outlines 13 projects for you to complete, what with Halloween right around the corner and all! The first item, aerating and fertilizing, is a really key task. You want a gorgeous green lawn come spring right? Well it doesn’t take much, but with it getting colder each day we advise you do this soon – learn how to here. And cleaning your gutters is fairly simple, yet really beneficial. Our latest post outlines how to effectively complete this to-do item. And all the remaining projects will be covered in upcoming posts, so be on the look out!

Fall Project Checklist

Now, although most of these tasks are outdoor-related, there are smaller indoor to-dos that will be covered in a future post as well. This may seem like a lot, but these weekend projects can be knocked out really easily and are worth the effort because it will leave you with less spring cleaning. Not to mention, a lot of these will ensure a warm and cozy winter.

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, Infographics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

See How Easily You Can Rid Your Gutters of Dirt and Grime

Your gutters don’t clean themselves. Every time it rains or the wind starts to blow, nature deposits water, soil, leaves and who knows what else into the humble gutter system.

Gutters help prevent water and debris from damaging your house by moving them away from doors and windows, siding, the foundation and garden beds. Not to mention, they keep water and debris from getting inside your house, or eroding the groundRid Your Gutters of Dirt and Grime around it.

And the task of keeping your gutters unclogged and unfettered is entirely yours. Thankfully though, maintaining them is a relatively uncomplicated job, one that’s best done as a preventative measure. Before the weather gets worse, I would consider accomplishing this task as soon as possible, especially if you have a faulty gutter system. Doing so will ensure you have an effective gutter system for years to come.

First, climb a ladder. Your first line of defense is to climb up on your roof and take a look at the condition of your gutters, and even before that, you’ve got to get yourself a good ladder.

A ladder is a tool, and it’s important to use the right tool for the job. Select an extension step ladder that will reach the work area with a little room to spare, and be sure it is sturdy enough to hold you, your tools and other work materials without coming apart or falling to the ground.

When choosing a ladder, also take into account what the ladder is made from. For instance, metal ladders conduct electricity and can create a danger of electrocution. If the area around your work project has a lot of wires or live circuits close by, choose a ladder made from fiberglass or aluminum.

If labeled multipurpose, you can use this ladder as a step, extension, stairway or plank support ladder. Ladders can be heavy-duty or extra-heavy duty. They can also include slip-resistant rungs, pail shelves, rag racks, drill holsters and tool trays. Ladders with a platform hoist are usually used by professionals for big roof jobs.

The right ladder for the job. Other safety suggestions for working with or on a ladder:

  • Generally designed for use by one person (unless otherwise specified in duty rating)
  • Use a ladder if you are in good physical condition
  • Where possible, have a second person hold ladder in place while in use
  • Keep ladder free from dirt and slippery materials (keep your shoes clean too)
  • Always open ladder fully and lock spreaders before climbing
  • Place on firm level surface with a secure footing
  • Windy conditions require extra caution
  • Never leave a ladder set up and unattended, especially around children
  • When climbing up or down, face ladder, maintain a firm grip with both hands and keep body centered between side rails
  • Move ladder to accommodate reach
  • Avoid “walking” ladder when standing on it
  • Do not stand higher than 3 ft. from the top of the ladder
  • Do not stand, climb or sit on ladder top, pail shelf, braces or back section
  • Set ladder at proper angle by placing your toes against the bottom –
  • Stand erect – extend your arms straight out
  • When palms of your hands contact the top of the rung, which is about shoulder level, ladder is at approximately the proper angle
  • Do not place in front of door opening toward ladder

Once you’ve climbed up on a ladder and inspected your gutters, you may need a garden hose and bucket, chisel and sealant, a rivet gun and paint, rubber gloves or a pressure washer to clean and repair gutters.

Get the goop out. Clean away any leaves or debris left in the gutter and the downspouts, making sure to clear clogs that hinder proper drainage, which causes sagging gutters.

Check: Spikes, leaks, rivets. Next, check all the spikes that hold the gutter to the house, making sure they fasten securely. If not, they need to be replaced with new ones. If the gutters themselves contain holes or the seam caulking is cracked, use a chisel to scrape old caulking out. Dry the area thoroughly, then repair with a new bead of silicon sealant, roofing cement or metal-repair patch – whichever matches the gutter material. Make sure the rivets on the downspout are tight and intact, otherwise be sure and replace them.

Ooo, power tools! You can clean gutters with the old-school method of a garden hose and bucket. However, if you’ve secured your gutters with new screws or spikes – and love power tools – consider using a pressure washer. If you choose this route, follow manufacturer’s instructions specifically, setting the washer to the lowest pressure and using the appropriate water or cleaner. Take care when aiming the water stream at the gutters, so you don’t blow the roof shingles off!

Got rust? If the gutters are rusting, sand them down and paint with a good primer and a rust-inhibiting paint. Or buy a new gutter system altogether.

Not just for decoration. Installing a splash block on the ground below a downspout keeps water from digging a trench next to the house and away from the home’s foundation.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Fall Checklist, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mark an Item Off Your Fall Checklist – Aerating and Fertilizing

Fall is the perfect time to aerate and fertilize your lawn in preparation for the cold winter months. And with the weather turning cold already, it is a good idea to do this sooner rather than later. The benefit of aerating in conjunction with fertilizing is that it helps the lawn breathe better, in essence by loosening thatch and reducing compaction that occurs when the ground gets hard and frozen. Not to mention, aerating and fertilizing assist in growth by increasing the amount of air and water in your lawn.

Lawn AerationAerating Your Lawn

Aeration machines make the actual process of aerating much simpler than it sounds. There are a few important steps to consider however, just to be sure you’re effectively combing the lawn. The following process is proven effective by The CISCO Company, an industry seed expert.

  1. Make sure the soil profile has had adequate moisture so a plug can be pulled
  2. Set the depth of the aerator at about 2″
  3. Begin at the longest side of the lawn and make runs back and forth, overlapping
  4. When the entire lawn is finished, begin a second pass at a 30 to 40 degree angle

[Note: Several trips may be beneficial]

Endure WinterizerApplying Fertilizer

Fertilizer is crucial for fall because it feeds your lawn with the proper mix of nutrients and allows it to recover from the sweltering summer months. Since it is already late in October, the suggested fertilizer is one that stimulates root development and ensures a quick green-up in the spring. Apply winter fertilizer (Winterizer) after the top growth is finished, but the ground is not frozen. This will ensure growth of the root mass. Some of the benefits of using a winter root builder:

  • Earth-friendly organics for natural slow release and iron
  • Iron for dark green grass
  • Nitrogen feeds and grows roots

Aerating and fertilizing really is not a complicated task on your fall checklist. However, it is one that will make a huge impact on your lawn, and one that is incredibly beneficial when done correctly. For more information about lawn aeration, find more posts here. Or, if you would like more information about the fertilizing process, please contact one of our experts.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Featured Products, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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