Posts tagged ‘do it yourself’

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


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! |


Product Highlight: Heated Car Seat

Plumbing and Hardware Maple Grove, MN

The product highlight for December is the vehicle seat warmer from Hot Headz. They are an after market car seat warmer that you plug in to your power adapter or cigarette lighter. They have a high and low setting and fit in most cars, trucks and suv’s. I love this product. I have a Ford pick up truck that takes about 15-20 minutes to fully warm up whereas the seat warmer takes about 1-2 minutes to warm up. It’s a great product at a very affordable price. At only $19.99 it makes a great gift.

Hot Headz seat warmer

Find the Hot headz seat warmer at LeVahn Brothers Hardware Hank

We are located at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, MN 55369

reach us at 763-553-1222

Find us at the web at and at Facebook at

How to prepare you home for colder temperatures

Frost covered leaves

There is cold weather coming and there’s no way of stopping it. In fact we’ve already  hit lows in the 30’s and its only the middle of September. You can curse and grumble all you want but the reality is summer has come and gone. Now is the time to start getting your home ready to take on the cold Minnesota winter. Here are  a few easy tips to help combat the effects of winter on your home.

1) Drain your outside faucet

When the temps are consistently reaching the freezing mark at night you need to drain your outside faucet line. Doing this prevents your water line that supplies your outside faucet from freezing and bursting during the cold winter months. Most outside faucets should have a shut-off valve inside on the water supply line. It will look something like the valve pictured below. Start by getting a bucket to catch the water. Shut the valve off supplying the water to the outside faucet. Next go and open up the outside spigot to prevent an airlock in the line. Then go inside and unscrew the small brass drain cap located on the side of the valve being very careful not to lose the cap. When it’s done draining PUT THE CAP BACK ON. If you lose the cap you are going to be kicking yourself when spring arrives. You can purchase new caps for most valves but not every manufacturer makes the same. For more info check out these other blogs: How to prevent an outside faucet from freezing, What’s the deal with backflow preventors for outside faucets and What to do for frozen pipes

Brass ball valve with drain

2) Make sure all gaps and cracks are filled around your home

You should go around your home and do a visual check of your window and door casements, and your foundation to make sure there are no cracks for cold or uninvited guests to get in. Use an all-weather window and door caulking. I like to use a caulk that’s 100% silicone like GE Silicone II supreme. It stays flexible and is rain ready in about 1 hours time. You should also patch any cracks and holes in your foundation to prevent critters from entering your home as well as preventing heat loss. Unwanted guests of all kinds including insects and mice are going to be looking for somewhere warm to spend the winter. Don’t let it be your home. For more info on getting rid of unwanted guests check out these blogs: How to get rid of mice, how to get rid of ants in and around your home

Seal all cracks in windows doors and foundations

3) Replace weather seals around windows and doors

Check the seals around your windows and doors to make sure the weather-stripping is still in good shape. Caulking the casement helps but you also need to make sure the seals on the windows/doors are doing what they’re supposed to. It gets a little more difficult when replacing the seals on windows and doors because every manufacturer has their own specific seal that fits only their product. You can use a generic adhesive backed foam in place of what was there but if want the best seal you need to go back to the manufacturer. For more info on insulating your home check out this blog: How to save money by insulating your home

adhesive backed foam tape

4)Prevent frozen sump pump lines and damage from ice dams.

Take advantage of the still bearable weather to install heat tape to your sump pump line and to your roof and gutters. We all know about the remarkable amount of snow we received last year. People all over the U.S. were dealing with ice dams and the Twin cities area was no exception. Now is the time to install roof de-icing cables, before there’s snow and ice present. If you had problems with ice dams last year you should purchase and install cables on your roof or at least in the gutters to keep the water flowing off your roof instead of in your home. 

If you have a sump pump that is constantly running even through the cold winter months they’re aren’t a lot of options that meet code. One non-code option is to run the line into a floor drain or work sink. Remember this is not an option that is code. In order to solve the issue and still be up to code you need to find a way of keeping your line from freezing. Try using a water proof heat cable inside the sump line to keep the water flowing.

For more info on roof dams and frozen sump lines check out these blogs: Roof de-icing tablets, Roof de-icing cables, Get a roof rake to prevent an ice dam, how to prevent an ice dam on your roof, what to do for a frozen sump pump discharge line,

 For more information on what to do for your house before the

snow flies call us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove MN 55369

Visit us on the web at and on Facebook at

How to get rid of mosquitoes in your yard

Blood filled mosquito

Mosquitoes in Minnesota are notoriously bad. In fact it’s often joked that mosquitoes are the real official state bird. With that said this year has been one of the worst for mosquitoes that I can remember. It’s gotten so bad that it was keeping me inside. That’s right, even though we have only 6 months of weather without snow to enjoy the outdoors I would rather have sat inside then get eaten alive.

Here was my problem. My little girl was turning 3 and we planned a birthday party for her at the house. We invited 36 friends and family members 18 of them being children under the age of 12. We needed to be able to go outside for our own sanity. In preparation for the party my wife went outside to do some weeding. Even though it was about 85 degrees out she wore long sleeves and pants and covered herself in bug spray. It didn’t help. She could only handle it for 10 minutes and she was done. I watched as she constantly waved her hand in front of her face to shoo away the swarm of mosquitoes around her.

Mosquito Beater Hose End Sprayer

I had never tried it before but we sell a product that is called Mosquito Beater by Bonide. It comes in a few different forms including a granule shaker and a hose end sprayer. A few hours before the party we applied the spray version to the yard and garden around the house itself. Right as the party was starting we decided to apply the granules to the areas we didn’t spray down near the lake that we live on. In both instances the mosquitoes were relentlessly attacking us as we applied the Mosquito Beater. But I can honestly say that I didn’t see a single mosquito during the party. In fact, I had completely forgotten about it until my dad mentioned how well the Mosquito Beater was working.

Mosquito Beater Granule Shaker

I highly recommend using this product in your yard if you have a mosquito issue. It is a residual insecticide so it will continue to work for a number of weeks after you apply it. Using this product made it possible for me to go back outside and enjoy the few remaining weeks of decent weather that we have left.

If you would like more information contact us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at

For more tips about getting rid of mosquitoes and other pests check out these blogs: How to get rid of 1-5,000 mosquitoes a night using a bat house, how to get rid of wasps hornets and yellow jackets, How to get rid of Box elder Bugs

How to get rid of Yellow Jackets, Wasps, and Hornets


Honey Bee

The first thing you need to know when attempting to get rid of a bee, wasp, hornet or yellow jacket is to identify exactly what variety of insect you are looking at. The image above is that of a Honey Bee and when at all possible you should try to avoid getting rid of them. Honey Bee populations have plummeted in recent years having an adverse effect on our food crops. In fact, according to the National Geographic Honey Bee populations have declined by 50% in the last 50 years. Farmers depend on bee populations to populate their crops and if this trend continues it’s going to have severe effects on the food we consume. Please be careful and identify that the pest that you’re about to spray is in fact a pest and not a vital contributor to our environment. With that being said, there are a number of wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets out there that can be a big nuisance.

Paper wasp with its nest

One of the most common wasps that we see in this area is the paper wasp. The Paper Wasp builds its nest in trees, building overhangs, eaves, or other areas out of the elements such as sheds, or children’s playhouses. If at all possible leave a nest alone if it’s not bothering you. Paper wasps are not considered pests and are actually beneficial to the environment. They feed on caterpillars, beetle larva, flies and other nuisance insects. If a nest is too close for comfort a can or two (depending on the size of the nest) of wasp and hornet killer can be used to kill a colony of paper wasps. It is highly recommended that this be done at night preferably when it’s cool (50 degrees or less). Wasps have a hard time flying when the temperature is cooler. It is also recommended that you don’t make sudden movements as this will attract any wasps toward you as a target to defend against.

A 30+ year old Paper Wasp nest hanging in the store from owner Loren LeVahn’s back yard

Yellow Jacket

 Yellow jackets are  a wasp variety that is attracted by sweets, and meats. They will congregate around public areas such as parks, zoos, schools, beaches or anywhere else they can find sources of food. For this reason preventative measures should be taken to prevent yellow jackets from taking up residence near you. Here are some tips to help prevent yellow jackets from becoming a nuisance:

  • Keep garbage and recycling contained and covered at all times.  They would love to make a meal out of your old discarded food and drink refuse.
  • Get rid of your hummingbird feeder. I know this may be painful for some of you out there to do this but it may not be as painful as a yellow jacket sting.
  • Properly seal awnings, siding, and trim around your home. Yellow jackets would love to nest inside the walls of your home so seal-up all gaps that you can find to prevent this (and make your home a little more efficient in the process).

    Yellow Jacket Trap

  • In the springtime use a yellow jacket trap to hopefully snare a queen looking for a place to set-up shop. Queens will be making their rounds in the springtime looking for the perfect place to start their colonies. The traps can also be used in the summer months to help control populations of yellow jackets and wasps.

Once yellow jackets are established in your area they are  more difficult to get rid of due to the fact that you can’t normally see the actual nest. Do your best to locate the entry point of where they are coming from.  Yellow jackets will nest inside your siding/awnings of your home, in your foundation, in your retaining walls or any other number of locations. Be mindful that the actual nest may be up to a couple of feet or more away from the entry point. In other words spraying a poison into the hole may not be sufficient enough to take care of the problem. You may need to drill multiple holes into the structure and inject poison directly into a nest to be certain that you kill the whole colony. Be incredibly careful when attempting to do rid yourself of yellow jackets. They are more aggressive than other bee varieties and can really cause some harm when aggravated. They will defend their nests to the bitter painful end and will sting multiple times before they die. If  you have no choice make sure to follow these hints: Work late at night in cooler temps (50 degrees or less) and wear protective clothing. Move slowly to attract less attention (easier said than done). Have an arsenal of yellow jacket and wasp killer at your disposal and use all of it. You may want to do 2-3 treatments to ensure that you’ve got all of them. The winter temps will kill off the colony so if possible don’t be a hero and wait until nature takes care of them for you. Be careful to make sure that you killed off the ENTIRE colony before you plug up any holes (they have been known to chew their way out of a nest and that could potentially mean chewing into your house instead of out of it).

For yellow jackets that make their nest in the ground the rules change a little bit.  Instead, use an insect killer that is a dust like Bonide’s Ground Bee Killer. You could also use other insect killers that are in powder form such as sevin, eight, or Dursban. You can also use a few aerosol cans of Yellow jacket killer. Find some means of injecting the dust or spray into the ground where the nest is located.  On a cool night locate the nest and inject an ample amount of poison into the nest. Move slowly to avoid attracting attention to yourself as a threat. You may need to treat a nest a few times to ensure that the nest is fully dead.

Take the proper precautions when dealing with bees

Whenever dealing with bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets take the proper precautions. If you are allergic, have someone else take care of it for you. Don’t take a chance it’s not worth the risk.

For more information contact us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at

For more information on pest control check out these blogs: How to get rid of ants in your yard, How to get rid of mice, How to get rid of mosquitoes using a bat house, What to do for emerald ash borer


How to get rid of ants in your home and yard

Sweet Ant

Got an ant problem? If you do you’re not alone. It seems that this year we are having a bumper crop of ants and with the recent rain they’re all trying to come inside. Sweet ants seem to be the main culprit, although we’ve had a number of people who say that they’ve got the black or “common” ant showing up as well.

Common Black Ant

Ants enter your house for the same reasons we do: its dry and that’s were the food is. If allowed, ants have no trouble finding a way in to your house. They can crawl into cracks in the foundation and start colonizing your home in no time. Before you know it you’ve got a full-fledged infestation on your hands.

To help prevent ants from entering your home you have to start at the entry point which is your homes foundation. There are a few options you can choose to form a sort of temporary force field around you home. One of them is a product from Terro called Ant Killer Plus. It is a granular that you shake out around the perimeter of your home. This product also controls cockroaches. fleas, and a whole list of other insects. It claims to be long-lasting but it is vague in terms of what that actually means. You can also use this product as a spot treatment for ant hills in the yard.

Bug Max

Another option is to use a product called Bug Max by Enforcer. Bug Max is a liquid that you spray around the foundation of your home as well as on door frames and window frames. It is a residual which is just a fancy word for saying that you don’t necessarily need to spray the actual bug for it to be effective. Bug Max also works on a number of other insects including Box Elder bugs and Asian Lady Beetles.

If you can’t prevent them from coming inside or you already have a problem don’t worry there is a solution. If you want to rid yourself of your ant problem you need to kill them in their nest. The problem is, you probably have no idea where their nest is. You could try tracking one until he reveals his hideout to you but there is an easier way.

The ants that you see in your home are the ants in charge of gathering food for everyone else back at the nest. That being said, if you kill only the ants you see you won’t solve the problem because there’s more ants that will take their place. The solution is to use a poison that the ant will take back to the nest.

Terro liquid ant baits

There are number of options when it comes to ant poisons. Terro is one option. It comes in liquid form that is in a bottle or in a pre-baited container that you cut open. The only problem with the liquid Terro products is keeping cats, dogs, or little children from ingesting the poison. For this reason you should place the baited traps in places that you have seen ants but also where only the ants can get to it. Terro seems to work best for the small brown sweet eating ants.

Raid Ant Baits

Another option is  to use a product that is not a liquid and is more child/pet friendly like Raids Ant Baits. This product is enclosed so the poison is easily accessible to ants but not to pets or children. It is still highly effective and seems to work better for the common black household ant.

Both of the products mentioned above WILL TAKE TIME to completely kill the colony. This isn’t an instant gratification solution to the problem but it is the most effective. You will see ants by the dozens eating from the ant baits and you are going to wonder to yourself if it’s really doing what it’s supposed to do. Like I said earlier the ants you see are bringing back food to the others in the nest and eventually you will stop seeing anymore ants.

If you have any further ant related questions please post your question or call us at 763-553-1222

LeVahn Bros. Plumbing and Hardware Hank is located in the Bass Lake Shopping Center at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at

Check us out and “like” us on facebook as well

For more info on ants and other pest control check out this blog on summer lawn pest control

Spring Bird Feeding Tips

Bird feeder

Spring is a great time to establish or re-establish your bird feeding station. During the spring you have the return of birds that have been away for the winter. You’re feeder is also going to get a lot of migrating birds that are just passing through that you wouldn’t normally see in our area. If you haven’t been seeing many birds there are a few things to consider.

The first thing you need to do is to check your feeders. Are they clean? If you have old, wet, moldy seed your birds are not going to eat it. Clean out your bird feeder with a anti-bacterial soap or a mild bleach solution. Use a tube brush to clean out your tube feeder. Make sure they are thoroughly dry before you refill them. You also need to clean up any seed piles that are on the ground. These can become a real source of disease as well as being an eyesore under your feeder.

Tube bird feeder brush

The same needs to be done for bird houses and bird baths. Make sure they are clean and are in good working order. Make sure that bird houses  haven’t become mouse hotels over the winter. Repair any damage caused by winter and/or rodents. If the feeder, bird house or bird bath is too damaged you should replace it.

Offer a variety of seeds in different feeders. This will allow birds that can dominate a feed station, such as Grackles, a spot to eat as well as having an option for other birds. Try putting out nyjer thistle or safflower seed to attract cardinals, chickadees, finches and titmice.

Black Capped Chickadee

Offer a fruit option such as orange and apple slices, raisins, and grapes for migrating Orioles and other fruit-eating birds.

Put out nesting materials for birds. This can be as simple as pet hair, or yarn. You can also purchase all natural bird nesting material that can be hung near your feeding station.

All natural bird nesting material

Offer mealworms for insect-eating birds. Spring (especially in Minnesota) can be very unpredictable for insects and a sudden cold spell can keep insects from appearing. Offering mealworms is a good supplement for birds such as orioles, warblers, and tanagers that are looking for insects.

If you are looking for bird feeders, premium bird food, and bird feeding accessories stop in to LeVahn Bros Hardware Hank

We are located at 12700 Bass Lake Rd Maple Grove, Mn 55369

Call us at 763-553-1222

Visit us on the web at

Visit our Facebook page and “like” us

For more info on Bird feeders and Bird food check out these posts

Product Highlight: Wild Delight Bird Food

Winter Bird Feeding Tips

Bird Feeding Tips

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