Posts tagged ‘Maple Grove Minnesota’

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! |


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

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Minnesota is a hotbed for radioactive gas radon |

  • Minnesota is a hotbed for radioactive gas radon |
  • 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:


Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening

Here’s a link to a great website with all sorts of good information on lawn and garden care. This particular post is talking about thatch in your lawn what it is and what you can do about it. Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening.

For more info on what you can do here are a few blogs that we wrote on lawn care:

Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening.

Adventures In Gardening Vol. #4: Our First Harvest

Josey was very excited about her first harvest

Up until this point the garden has fun but has been mostly work. There has been the excitement of seeing the plants sprout and then grow but my daughter likes to cut to the chase, she wants results. About 2 weeks ago we finally got those results from our peas and beans. Now, it wasn’t a “bumper crop” but it was something tangible that she could see, touch and eat. That’s right, my daughter the picky eater ate her vegetables without sitting at the table for an hour and actually LIKED them. She even asked for more! My son was also impressed. I would have had more pea pods but he kept picking and eating them right out of the garden.  Vegetables do taste better right out of the garden, but there is also something to be said for putting in the effort to get something that makes it taste that much better.

I was thinking…  she also doesn’t like to eat meat. Maybe next year we’ll get a cow in the spring. She could help feed it and take care of it. We’ll fatten it up all summer and then together we could slaughter it  in the fall. That’ll get her to eat hamburger.

Mosquito Repellents and Killers

Are we going to have a bumper crop of mosquitoes this summer?

I hate mosquitoes. I hate everything about them. The biting, the itching, the buzzing sound by your ear as you lay in your tent trying to sleep. Unfortunately, it looks like this year we may have a bumper crop of them. I’m not sure when you were outside last but I did some upkeep in my garden one evening last week and it was all I could do to keep from being carried away by the damned things. With all the rain we’ve had this year I knew it wouldn’t be long before they really showed up.

Whether it’s the West Nile Virus or if you just want to prevent being bitten here’s some tips on what you can do to defend yourself:


Q: What type of repellent stays effective the longest?

A: The champion is DEET in a controlled-release formula (which typically involves a 20% to 34% concentration of the ingredient) or in high concentrations (30% to 100%). Controlled-release formulas have a slight edge in duration of effectiveness.

DEET (Diethyl Toluamide) is a chemical. To some people, the thought of applying it to their skin makes them uneasy. Yet DEET has been in use since 1957 and has been repeatedly tested for toxicity. The human body does absorb DEET, but is believed to eliminate it through urine within 24 hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of DEET and considers it safe when applied according to label instructions.

DEET is the only active repellent ingredient available in high concentrations (30% to 100%) in the U.S. Why? Only DEET’s higher concentrations have been screened extensively for toxicity, a lengthy and expensive process. Such data is required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates repellent ingredients in the U.S.

In 2008 an alternative to DEET, a 20% formula of the chemical picaridin(p-CARE-uh-din), became available in the U.S. Previously it had been available only in a 7% solution. Picaridin’s advantages over DEET: It does not damage gear (in particular, DEET negatively impacts plastics), usually works better against flies and, in the opinions of many people, smells better. DEET in controlled-release formulas and higher concentrations still outlasts it.

In lower concentrations, active ingredients (DEET included) provide shorter-term effectiveness. The duration of effectiveness will vary by active ingredient.

For example, in an often-cited study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, DEET at 6.7% was effective for 112 minutes before the first bite was registered. Citronella, the first widely used “natural” active ingredient (and one that is fading in popularity today), at 10% yielded a bite after 19.7 minutes. A 2004 study produced similar results.

What does that mean for you? Base your choice on the amount of time you plan to spend outside. If you are planning an all-day outing, it makes sense to choose long-duration repellent that contains a higher concentration of an active ingredient—you may have no need to reapply the repellent. If you are planning to be outside for a shorter time, you could choose a low-concentration repellent—usually effective for 1 to 4 hours.

Note: DEET concentrations above 50% do not provide more protection than lesser concentrations, but they are believed to increase the length of the protection.

(taken from

Spray repellents: There are plenty of choices of products out there that contain Deet. Choose one that suits your needs. I’m not a big fan of the way that Deep Woods Off smells but for circumstances that I want higher protection this is what I would choose. 3M also has a good product called Ultrathon that is very effective. There is also repellents that work better for when you are going to sweat. Off Active is one such product that I’ve used and it seemed to work fairly well.

Using a product high in Permethrin can also be effective in repelling mosquitoes. Repel  has a product that is called Repel Mosquito Stop Clothing and Gear. It is to be used only on clothing and gear and is not supposed to used on your skin. I’m not sure the health risks of this product but based on the warning labels on the back of the package warning against any possibility of skin contact I’d say that if your against using chemicals this is not the product for you.

A new addition to the game is the use of personal repellent devices. These are manufactured by a number of different brands and they generally use some form of clip on device that uses a fan to emit a repellent. Off has a clip on that offers up to 12 hours of protection. I’ve heard good things about these but they are a little to pricey for my peanut butter and jelly budget. The clip on runs around $10 and refills are around $7 plus batteries.

If you just want to take care of a backyard there are a number of choices to kill off and or repel theses nasty bugs.

Bonide has a few of options that do a tremendous job of repelling mosquitoes. Two of my favorite products to use are Bonide’s Mosquito Beater Granules and Mosquito Beater RTS liquid. They both do a fantastic job of keeping your backyard mosquito free. The granules are a 100% natural blend of geranium oil, cedar oil, lemon grass oil, garlic and citronella oil. The liquid formula is Permethrin based and seems to be more effective. It also is effective in controlling fleas, ticks, spiders, crickets and even ants.

Another way to control mosquitoes is to help prevent them from maturing. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water and the larva need to develop in the water before becoming flying spawns of Satan. You can help prevent this from happening in your yard by not allowing them to have water to lay eggs in. Any puddle can become a breeding ground so after a rain empty out containers that hold water (like playground equipment for instance). If you have a pond you can add all natural EPA approved mosquito dunks that will kill off larva for up to 30 days. Mosquitoes will not lay their eggs in moving water so you could also add a pump/fountain to a pond. Add a Water Wiggler to your bird bath that will not only prevent mosquitoes but it will attract more birds.

A Water Wiggler in your bird bath prevents mosquitoes from breeding and attracts more birds!

If you really want to be serious you could also use a Mosquito magnet. Mosquito magnets emit low amounts of carbon dioxide (provided by an attached propane tank) that attracts mosquitoes to the magnet. They enter the Mosquito Magnet and are trapped inside by a filter system. You periodically need to empty the filter of mosquitoes and also refill the propane tank. There is a bit of upkeep with these machines and opinions are mixed in terms of how effective they are. I owned one at one point but was tired of the maintenance. I stick to the spray and granular products from Bonide and I’m happy with their results.

Another more natural option for mosquito control is to attract bats with a bat house or two. Bats can eat thousands of mosquitoes a night.  Adding a bat house can really help your yard be more bug free. Check out this blog for more details How to Get rid of 1-5000 mosquitoes every night. Try a Bat House.

For more information call us at 763-553-1222

Come in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, MN 55369

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