Local Business Owners Talk Shop in Maple Grove | Donato’s Floral, LeVahn Bros. Plumbing, Juniper Clothing | Maple Grove Magazine

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing Donato's Floral and Juniper clothing Talking Shop

We all shop in Maple Grove, but what is it like on the other side of the counter? We talked with three Maple Grove business owners who, as it turns out, hold similar views on what it means to be entrepreneurial and to serve our community.

Local Business Owners Talk Shop in Maple Grove | Donato’s Floral | Maple Grove Magazine.

Even if the snow melts, dont rake! (at least not yet) from StarTribune.com


Metal bow rake

By deb brown • Special to the Star Tribune

Raking won’t make the snow melt. It won’t thaw the ground. Or give the temperatures a boost. What will it do? “More harm than good,” said Brian Horgan, a turf grass expert and associate professor at the University of Minnesota. While we may have come out of hibernation, our grass has not. “It’s still fragile,” said Horgan. “It can’t withstand wear and tear — and that means raking.” He expects the grass to be rake-ready by the first of May. “It kind of pops up,” he said. “You’ll be able to see it.” What can you do until then? “Go to a park,” he advised.

 I may be stating the obvious, but it’s too early to get your yard and garden ready for the growing season. Although the timing of spring chores can’t be dictated by the calendar, jumping the gun can be a waste of effort, and sometimes a waste of money. Here are some guidelines for what to do, and when:

Lawn care

Try to stay off the grass as much as possible while the soil is still moist and spongy underfoot. Because we had so much snow late this winter, we might have quite a bit of snow mold. If you see matted areas in the lawn, use a lightweight leaf rake to break them up. Usually, letting air and sunshine penetrate is all that’s necessary for grass to recover from snow mold.

If you fertilized the lawn last September, you probably won’t need to fertilize again this spring. However, if you do plan to fertilize the lawn, wait until it’s growing actively enough that you’ve had to mow it a couple times. Only then will grass plants be able to make best use of the nutrients.

If you’ve had a lot of trouble with crabgrass or other annual weeds in your lawn, you can use a product combining fertilizer with a pre-emergence herbicide in the affected areas. If you’d like to try a greener product, use one containing corn gluten meal. It prevents many annual seeds from sprouting and provides a natural source of nitrogen. It does take several years of applications to be most effective.

Pre-emergence herbicides should be applied and watered lightly into the lawn two weeks before crabgrass is expected to sprout. Typically, that means waiting until the last week of April or the first week of May. Because their effectiveness wanes over time, there is no reason to apply crabgrass preventers early. Don’t use these products if you plan to seed, unless you find one designed specifically for use with newly planted grass seed.

Gradually remove mulch

If you mulched your spring bulbs and other perennials, gradually remove the mulch as it thaws. You may choose to leave the mulch between plants, where it will keep the soil moist and help prevent annual weeds from sprouting.

Tender, hybrid tea roses are usually uncovered or lifted around mid-April most years. This year, however, you might want to wait. The canes of hyrbrid tea roses may be damaged or killed if nighttime temperatures drop into the teens.

Unwrap trees

If you used paper or plastic tree wrap to protect young trees from sunscald or animal damage, remove it immediately. The wrap holds moisture against the trunk, which can promote diseases.

If you’re concerned about rabbits and other critters gnawing on the thin bark, create a more permanent barrier. Make a cylinder of hardware cloth or chicken wire and place it around the base of your tree. Be sure to leave an inch or two of space between the cylinder and the trunk. Be sure to remove the cylinder if it begins to constrict the trunk’s growth.

Stay out of the garden

Wait until soil dries sufficiently before working in the garden. You can test for dryness by lifting some soil with a shovel, then making a small ball in your fist. If the soil is dry enough, the ball will be crumbly. If it stays together tightly, it is still too moist. Wait a few days and try again.

Prune with caution

Hold off pruning forsythia, lilacs and other shrubs that bloom in spring or early summer. If you prune now, you’ll sacrifice this year’s flowers.

A few shrubs bloom on new stems that are produced this spring, such as old-fashioned snowball hydrangeas and pink-flowering spireas, for instance. Those may be pruned in spring as they begin to grow, and they’ll still flower this summer.

Wait to prune evergreen shrubbery such as junipers, yews and arborvitae, until you see new growth. Then, you can cut them back as long as you don’t remove all the new growth. These plants will keep growing all summer; you can prune them again in early to mid-July if you want to limit their size. Wait, too, to shorten the new growth of spruce and pines.

Hire an arborist if your shade trees need pruning. It’s not a job homeowners should tackle. To avoid oak wilt disease, oaks can’t be pruned in April, May or June. And though it’s not harmful, some trees — notably maples — will drip lots of sap when they’re pruned in spring.

Keep strawberries covered

Strawberries can be killed when night temperatures fall to the mid-teens, so don’t be too eager to uncover them. When you do, keep the mulching material close by, so you can rake it over the plants if we get a cold spell.

Deb Brown is a garden writer and former extension horticulturist with the University of Minnesota

Even if the snow melts, dont rake! | StarTribune.com.

How to unclog a toilet

How to test for a leaky toilet

It’s a helpless feeling when it happens. You flush the toilet and instead of going down, the water starts rising. You watch as the water, toilet paper and anything else that happens to be in the toilet slowly inches its way to the rim of the bowl. Your heart races, you palms get sweaty, and a hopeless feeling of panic sets in as you brace for the flood. Clogged toilets are a nightmare to deal with but if you know what you’re doing you can help avert a disaster.

Determine if your toilet is really plugged:

There are occasions when you toilet seems like it’s plugged when in fact it really isn’t. In order for a toilet to flush properly it needs to have a certain amount of water rush into the bowl at a certain speed. If there isn’t enough water, or if it doesn’t enter the bowl fast enough, the toilet won’t have the suction it needs to create a proper flush.  Over time the ports that are at the top rim of the toilet bowl can become choked off by calcium and lime deposits from your water. When these ports get plugged the toilet does not get the rush of water that it needs.

lime scale calcium build up toilet bowl flush de-limer de-scaler mineral deposit calcified calcium calcified limed plugged clogged unplug unclog cleaner

Santeen Toilet Bowl Cleaner

To take care of the problem you need to get yourself a good de-limer. The best one the we have fond is a product called Santeen Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Our plumbers dry off the rim of the toilet and then duct tape over the ports. This keeps thesanteen from jut pouring through the ports and lets it really work its magic. Pour the de-limer into the overflow tube located in the toilet tank (it has the flapper attached to it). Let the Santeen eat away at the lime build up for about 15 minutes. Take the tape off of the ports. Be careful not to get the Santeen on your hands (gloves are recommended , it’s nasty stuff). Pour more Santeen into the overflow to flush anything more out of the toilet. You should see all kinds of nastiness come out. Try flushing the toilet again, you should see marked improvement.

If you’re worried about an overflow you should shut-off the supply of water to the toilet. The shut-off  is found on the left down behind the toilet. Turn it until it stops the flow of water.

power plunger toilet clog plug removal unplug unclog clean out plumbing plumber flush how to

The “Power Plunger” by Harvey

Next you need to get a plunger. Use a plunger that has a pull out that will make a good seal in the bottom of the bowl. A good one  that you can use is the Harvey power plunger. Plungers that do not have the pull out option will not make a great seal and therefore will not have the push that the power plunger has.  A plunger is used to force whatever is blocked in the toilet through.

If you cannot get the block taken care of by pushing it trough you may need to use something that pulls the blockage out. To do this you ill need a toilet auger (also called a toilet snake).  A toilet auger is used to grind through and/or grab a blockage. Be careful when inserting the toilet auger into the toilet bowl not to scratch t bowl with the spring on the auger. Marks left by the auger will be very difficult to remove. Slide the auger down into the bend at the bottom of the bowl. Extend the cable out into the toilet until you hit a blockage. Gently turn the handle and grind or grab the blockage and pull it back out. Be careful if you find resistance don’t force it. If the spring binds and then releases violently you could potentially crack he porcelain of the toilet from the inside. After removing the blockage turn the water back on and attempt to flush again.

Toilet auger snake plug clog unclog unplug clean out repair plumber plumbing

How to auger out a toilet

Along Came Polly toilet scene – YouTube.

If you have any questions, comments, or if you want to schedule a plumber contact us at 763-551-8990

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware is located at 12700 Bass Lake Rd Maple Grove, MN 55369

Find us on the web at www.levahnbos.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/levahnbrothers

Maple Grove plumbing company celebrates 90 years

Here’s a story about our stores 90th anniversary that was in February. We got our plumbing license from the city of Minneapolis on February 13th, 1923. We’ve done plumbing at: the University of Minnesota’s presidents house, TCF Bank Stadium, the artist that formerly called himself  the artist formerly known as Prince’s house, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and NFL hall of famer Allen Page’s house, Tennant Company, Northwestern College, and hundred’s of other residential and commercial plumbing sites. It’s been quite a ride.

They say that only 30% of family business’ survive into the second generation, 12% are able to make it to the third generation, and only 3% make it to the fourth generation. We are on generation #4 and we don’t plan on giving up anytime soon.

Business Matters: Maple Grove company celebrates 90 years.

LeVahn Brothers Hardware Celebrates 90 Years | community businesses | Maple Grove Magazine

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing's original plumbing license from 1923

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing’s original Plumbing license from 1923

The Maple Grove landmark turns 90 this month.


“Get in, get help, get it done,” is the door sign that greets you when you walk into LeVahn Brothers Hardware. But the friendliness doesn’t stop there: Once you step into the store, you’re greeted by a smile and a kind, “Hi, how can I help you?”

This family owned establishment was started by brothers Arthur, Ernie and Ed LeVahn in 1923. The business thrived there until 1994, when it moved from its original North Minneapolis location into Maple Grove. There store is owned by Loren LeVahn and managed by his son, Andrew LeVahn. The store is celebrating its 90th anniversary this month.

The Original LeVahn Brothers Plumbers

The original LeVahn Brothers Oscar, Ed, and my Great Grandfather Art

They rent and repair, size and cut, sharpen and test—but that isn’t all they do. Their extensive plumbing knowledge, combined with the vast amount of plumbing parts they stock, is but one reason that several stores, including Lowe’s, send their customers to them.

Another unique aspect of the business is their popular blog, which brings inquiries from all over the country. This-easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide is written from experience, and gives customers all kinds of informative tips and tricks. Andrew LeVahn says he tries to post about things that are relevant to the time of year, as well as issues he has heard customers discussing. The blog is filled with pictures, recommendations and product highlights.

What it comes down to, though, are the customers, the LeVahn’s say. “We have very, very regular customers,” says Andrew. When a customer walks in, they try to take them to the item they are looking for, instead of just directing them to an aisle. Andrew says they have customers who tell them, “‘I don’t know what I would if you guys ever went out of business.’” He says he usually replies in kind: “‘We don’t know what we would do if we went out of business.’”

Their attitude is to try to do as much as they can for the customer, he says. Their biggest strengths are their longevity, knowledge and professionalism, Andrew says. They try to be as honest and professional as possible—meaning they do jobs right the first time and don’t charge their customers just to charge them. If it’s not broken, they won’t fix it—and furthermore, if they can help you fix it yourself, they will try their best to do so.

1923 Plumbing registration card from the city of Minneapolis

1923 Plumbing registration card from the city of Minneapolis

“We do work from restaurants, industrial buildings, universities to fixing the faucet at the person’s house down the road,” says Andrew.  Some eclectic jobs have included some work at Prince’s house and servicing Eastcliff, the President of University of Minnesota’s home.

LeVahn Brothers Hardware Celebrates 90 Years | community businesses | Maple Grove Magazine.

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware is located a 12700 Bass Lake Rd in Maple Grove, MN 55369

Find us on the web at www.levahnbros.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/levahnbrothers

Business Matters: Maple Grove company celebrates 90 years

The Original LeVahn Brothers Plumbers

The original LeVahn Brothers Oscar, Ed, and my Great Grandfather Art

LeVahn Bros. Plumbing and Hardware is a fixture in Maple Grove today. But you have to go back to 1923, when Warren G. Harding was president, to discover the origins of this local company that’s celebrating 90 years in business in February.

At their retail shop in Maple Grove, LeVahn Bros. is the kind of place where you come to get answers. A fourth-generation family owned business, the hardware store has an old-school feel with aisles of tools and parts and employees that can answer questions about that doodad that you need to fix a leak or to install something.

“We try to stress the service and the expertise that we’ve got,” said store manager Andy LeVahn. “People keep coming back because they know they can come in and get something and get out quickly and get the right thing the first time.”

Andy LeVahn is the fourth generation of LeVahn’s to run the business, but it was his great–grandfather, Art, and his two brothers who started LeVahn Bros. Plumbing in North Minneapolis back in 1923.

At the Maple Grove store, old black and white photographs adorn a wall depicting the early days of the business. Back then plumbers used a horse and buggy and later a Model T Ford to answer service calls, and a receipt from 1923 shows outfitting an entire house in Minneapolis with plumbing cost $68.14.

A Plumbing bill from 1923 or $68.23

A LeVahn Brothers Plumbing bill from 1923

Today, the prices and the modes of transportation have changed, but LeVahn Bros is still a plumbing business. Andy’s father, Loren LeVahn, the current business owner, added a hardware store to the business in 1994. The retail business brought the company to Maple Grove, and the plumbing/hardware store pairing has helped sustain the business.

“When the hardware store gets slow, the business in the plumbing seems to be a little bit better, so they can help each other out that way,” said Andy LeVahn.

It’s customers like Dennis Peterson of Maple Grove that help explain the company’s true longevity though. Peterson is one of many loyal customers who frequent the shop on a regular basis.

“I’m sure I come in here at least once a month for something,” said Peterson. “Some things I really need some help on, I come here cause they can help you more than the big stores can.”

LeVahn Brothers Plumbings retail Hardware Hank Store

Our retail Hardware Hank store located In the Bass Lake Shopping Center

The roots of good customer service go back 90 years for LeVahn Bros., and the younger generation believes that’s just as relevant today as in 1923.

“My great-grandfather started it in Minneapolis. They always try to put the customer first, and that’s what we try to do also,” said Andy LeVahn.

Alexandra Renslo reporting

Here’s a link to the video  from Channel 12 TV: Business Matters: Maple Grove company celebrates 90 years.

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware is located at 12700  Bass Lake Rd in Maple Grove, MN 55369

Find us on the web at www.levahnbros.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/levahnbrothers 

Minnesota is a hotbed for radioactive gas radon | StarTribune.com

  • Minnesota is a hotbed for radioactive gas radon | StarTribune.com.
  • Here’s a news story from Star Tribune about how prevalent Radon Gas is in Minnesota. It’s incredibly easy to test your home yourself to find out if you have a problem with radon. I tested my home last year with a First Alert test kit that I got from our hardware store. The test kit includes instructions that were very easy to follow. I placed my tester out in a specific spot based off of the instructions and sealed it up 24 hours later. I received my test results after 2 1/2 weeks that indicated that I had low levels of Radon present.

    Gas Leak detector Radon Test kit First Alert Easy radon test Cheap economical hardware store mail in EPA listed Lab test included

    First Alert Radon Test Kit Available from LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware

My levels were low enough that I didn’t need to do anything. It gave me peace of mind to know that I wasn’t poisoning my kids, wife or myself with radon in my home. I highly recommend getting a test or having your home professionally tested if you have serious worries and want more immediate results.

If you are wondering if the neighborhood that you live in is a hot bed for radon the Star Tribune has a page that allows you to enter your zip code and it will let you know how many cases of radon have been reported in that area.  It will also tell you how that compares to the national average. According to the Star Tribune Minnesota has some of the highest radon concentrations in the country. I entered the Zip code of where the hardware store is located and it indicated that in Maple Grove 55369 just over 34% of the homes tested had unsafe levels of radon present. In Maple Grove 55311 27% of homes tested had unsafe levels. Plymouth Zip code 55442 also was above 27%.  Plymouth 55441 had over 41% of homes tested above unsafe levels of radon.  Here’s the link to that web page if you want to check out your neighborhood:




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