Posts tagged ‘yard’

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.

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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 levahnbros.com

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

Winter Bird Feeding Tips


Winter is a very important and rewarding time to feed your outdoor birds. We all know that many birds “fly south for the winter” but that’s definitely not the case for all birds. In fact there are many beautiful species that stick around here and tough out the cold with the rest of us. Besides, with the changing of the seasons winter birding allows for easier viewing due to the backdrop of snow and less foliage to block your view.

Place your bird feeders closer to the home or on the deck to allow for easier feeder refilling. You can purchase hangers that will attach directly to the deck railing without drilling any holes.

Double branch deck hanger

Single arm deck hanger

Here are the species that you should be targeting:

Chickadees

Chickadees are a beautiful bird that will feed in numbers when you have a consistent seed present. Chickadees eat millet, sun flower hearts, black oil sunflower seeds and dried fruit.

You also want to make sure that you have a suet cake available for the chickadee to munch on. Suet cakes are high in fat and protein and are a bird favorite in the lean winter months.

Cardinal in the snow

Cardinals

Cardinals are beautiful in the winter time against a white and evergreen backdrop. Cardinals eat; safflower, black oil sunflower, suet, striped sunflower, and dried fruit available for cardinals. You can also purchase blends that are designed specifically for cardinals. Make sure that the blend you purchase is for cardinals and doesn’t just have a picture of a cardinal on the package.

Blue Jay

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are a somewhat of a bully when it comes to the birding world but they are beautiful to look at. They have a varied diet that consists of peanuts, sunflower seeds, berries, corn, acorns, insects, suet, and the occasional small mouse, baby bird or egg.

Nuthatch

Nuthatches

Nuthatches are a small fast bird that are an intense bundle of energy and are very entertaining to watch. They love to eat peanuts, black oil sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds,  insects, peanut butter and suet.

Grosbeak

Grosbeaks

Often mistaken for a purple finch, the male grosbeaks we have in our neck of the woods are a rosy red color. They prefer eating black oil sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, safflower, and suet.

Purple Finch

Purple finches will stick around for at least part of a Minnesota winter. They like to eat black oil sunflower seeds, thistle seed (also know as nyjer seed), outdoor finch food, sunflower chips, and safflower seeds. They prefer coniferous trees to take refuge in.

Woodpeckers

The Downy woodpecker is the species most likely to visit a feeder. A smaller version of a classic woodpecker body plan. They prefer insects but will also eat seeds and fruit. They love suet, peanuts, black oil sunflower, and millet.

For all birds make sure that you have the feeders near shelter such as a small bush or tree so they don’t feel exposed. Try placing the feeder in a place that the birds can escape from the wind and the elements. Use a cluster of two to four feeders and vary the feeder types. Use platform, tray and hopper style feeders. Have some feeders closer to the ground and some higher up.

If you feed the squirrels, rabbits, pheasants and or other critters place that feeder toward the back of the yard and away from the bird feeding station. This helps keep the other critters away from eating from the bird feeders. It doesn’t assure that your bird feeders won’t be attacked by unwanted pests but it helps.

Do not place the feeders too close to windows to avoid having birds crash into the glass. You may also want to consider putting out a heated bird bath for drinking water purposes. For more information on birds and bird feeding check out this post on bird feeding tips.

As always you can find the products spoken about above at our Hardware Store located in Maple Grove, Mn.

to contact us call 763-553-1222

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

Visit us on the web at levahnbros.com

Check us out on Facebook and “like” us

What to do for your lawn equipment when fall arrives


When fall arrives and it’s time to start thinking about putting your summer lawn care equipment away don’t just put it on the shelf and forget about it for six months. There are a few inexpensive and easy steps you can take to help ensure that your equipment is ready when you are when spring rolls around.

Here is a list of items to consider before storing your gas-powered equipment for a long period of time.

1.Take care of the gas that is left in the gas tank. There are differing opinions on what to do for this but I’ve found that the easiest method is to add a good fuel stabilizer (like Seafoam) to the gas tank. Add the stabilizer to the tank and let the machine run for a minute or two to allow the stabilized gas to make its way around. You can also run the machine totally out of gas but this is wasteful, time-consuming, and from what I’ve experienced not as effective. Make sure you also add stabilizer to your gas can as well. It won’t do any good to stabilize the gas in the tank and then come spring time add gas from a can that hasn’t been stabilized. Stabilizer should be added even if you have non-oxygenated gas in the machine.

Note: Stabilizer only works to prevent gas from going bad it will not revive gas that has already gone bad.

2. Replace the air filter. Air filters need to be periodically replaced and fall is good time to do it. Make sure that you bring in the filter from your mower so that you can match up an exact replacement for it.

3. Replace the spark plug. Spark plugs also need to periodically replaced and  replacing it before storing it is a good idea. You should also remove and bring in the spark plug to the store so that you can match up an exact replacement.

4. For lawn mowers and chain saws and powered hedge trimmers you should have them sharpened. Sharpening a lawn mower blade is important for the health of the grass. Using a blade that is dull can actually damage the grass allowing diseases to attack your lawn.  For more info on blade sharpening check out https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/why-do-you-need-to-sharpen-a-lawn-mower-blade/

Using a dull chain on a chain saw is not only ineffective but it’s dangerous. A dull chain on a chainsaw may cause the operator to try awkward and dangerous methods of cutting when using the saw. Make sure that when you really need your saw it’s in optimal running condition.

5. Change the oil. Oil should be changed at least once a year in equipment. For chain saws make sure you have enough bar and chain oil in your saw as well as having some extra on hand.

For more information on how to take care of gas-powered equipment check out these blogs: https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/small-engine-troubleshooting/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/snow-blower-maintenance/

Contact LeVahn Bros. at 763-553-1222

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

Visit us online at levahnbros.com

How to get rid of Creeping Charlie


Creeping Charlie (A.K.A. Ground Ivy)

Creeping Charlie, also known as Ground Ivy, is an evergreen creeping weed that is found in the mint family. It is also a nuisance for homeowners that are looking to keep their Kentucky Blue grass lawns looking weed free. If left alone, Creeping Charlie can take over a lawn. If you are trying to identify Creeping Charlie it will have a square stem, paddle shaped leaves, and blue to purple colored flowers.

It was originally brought to North America for its medicinal qualities. It isn’t technically a weed but it is viewed and treated as a one. In some instances this ground covering ivy can look quite beautiful.

Creeping Charlie in bloom

If you have issues with creeping Charlie in your lawn and you want it killed off you can do it yourself. Lawn treatment companies (ie. tru-green) would like you to believe that Creeping Charlie is a menace that is going to destroy your lawn and that they have the only known cure. As a matter of fact I had 3 salesmen at my door arguing with me about how they were the only company that could treat my Creeping Charlie invasion that was occurring on my lawn.

What I told them and what I’ll tell you is that Ortho has a fantastic product that when used correctly can very effectively control Creeping Charlie for a fraction of what it costs to have a chemical treatment company treat your lawn. It comes in a green with purple labeled bottle. It also treats clover, chickweed, and oxalis as well as a number of other weeds. Ortho also has a product called Weed-B-Gon Max that works on Creeping Charlie and on broad leaves like dandelions.

Ortho Weed-B-Gon

It works best to use these products in either a hand-held pump sprayer or a Dial and spray sprayer that you hook up to your hose. Read and follow all directions on the package and give it some time to work. On Creeping Charlie it will take about a week for you to really see any real results. Make sure you don’t over apply the product because it can have an effect on the grass. The best times to apply a killer to Creeping Charlie are in the fall when it starts to go dormant (early October) and also in the spring during or after it flowers. Creeping Charlie is a perennial weed so you may have to do treatments yearly to keep it in check.

For more information call us at 763-553-1222

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

Visit us on the web at levahnbros.com

Sharpening a lawn mower blade


Dull mower blade

 Why do you need to sharpen your mower blade? A sharp mower blade keeps lawns healthy. If you cut your grass with a dull blade the grass is beaten down and the cut is rough. Grass that is shredded by a dull blade is more susceptible to disease, insects, heat stress, herbicides, chemical burn (from fertilizers), and it requires more water to maintain growth. The grass is weakened because it is trying to repair itself form the damage you caused with the dull mower blade. 

Make sure that your mower blade remains sharp all season long. This means that you may have to sharpen it more than just once in the spring time. Check your blade for dullness regularly. You can sharpen it yourself or if you prefer to you can have it professionally done for a reasonable price (We charge $7 off the mower $14 if it’s on the mower and we do it while you wait, it takes about 5 minutes). 

Corbin sharpening a blade

 Make sure if you are sharpening it yourself that you also balance the blade. Leaving a blade unbalanced can damage your mower. (We always balance our blades here at LeVahn Brothers). 

For more Info contact us at 763-553-1222 

Visit us in person at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, MN 55369 

See us on the web at http://www.levahnbros.com 

 

Fall lawn care tips


What is it about fall that makes me want to be outside? I can’t get enough of this time of year and yet this seems to be the shortest season we have around here. What makes fall great is that there’s no shortages of things to do. With that being said it is also one of the most important times of the year for your lawn.After a summer in which we got little to no rain around here we need to give our lawns a little TLC. Before the big freeze happens it’s a good idea to prepare your grass for the LONG harsh winter that lies ahead. There are a few things you can do to help your lawn combat the effects of old man winter.

Aeration:
Now is the time to aerate your lawn. Aeration works to help your lawn breath. The best form of aeration would be a core aerator. A core aerator pulls plugs of thatch out of your lawn and in the process pulls microorganisms up with it. These microorganisms help break down thatch that has built up on your lawn during the summer months of mowing your grass. Core aeration also allows you to treat your lawn at its roots. using a fertilizer after aeration is a great idea because the fertilizer can treat the grass right at the roots.
You can also use a power rake or lawn de-thatcher at this point. A de-thatcher is meant to rake out thatch that has built up on your lawn. It pulls up dead and decaying grass that can choke out a lawn if it gets too thick. How do you know if the thatch on your lawn is too thick? Take a
shovel and dig out a small sample of turf. If the thatch layer is more than 1/2″ thick you can consider de-thatching. You can find aerators and lawn de-thatchers for rent at LeVahn Brothers Hardware www.levahnbros.com/rental.html
Fall fertilizers:
A fall fertilizer or “winterizer” is meant to be put down late in the fall. The purpose of a fall fertilizer is that it will treat the lawn in the spring time when the lawn needs it the most. As the snow melts your lawn will need nutrients to re-establish it’s root base. A winterizer feed gives your lawn the food it needs. If you put a winterizer feed down too early the lawn soaks up the nutrients before the ground freezes and becomes dormant. If this happens your lawn will not have the nutrients in the springtime. Fall winterizer fertilizer treatment is the most important
feeding for you lawn.
Weed Killing:
If you still have some pesky weeds that you want to get rid of before the season is over you can still do so. Ortho makes a killer for just about anything you want to kill. What you need to keep in mind is what kind of shape your lawn is in. If your grass is dry and tired looking it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to treat it with a weed killer. This summer was real dry and it took its toll on lawns. If you really want to kill weeds I would suggest making sure the lawn is well watered for about a week before hitting it with a weed killer.
Gypsum:
This fantastic product can do wonders for the health of your lawn. It should be used in areas that have a hard ground pack. It’s purpose is to loosen and to balance out PH levels in the soil. Because it balances out Ph levels it is also good for putting on grass near the road and driveway that gets hit with street salts.
Grass seed:
If you are wondering whether you can still put down some grass seed before winter arrives the answer is yes. At this point in the year you aren’t going to get anything to spring up before the ground freezes. However, if you put down seed after the ground is frozen and before the snow flies the seed will wait to germinate until spring when the ground thaws. Like the winterizer fertilizer you have a window of opportunity that you need to hit. If you put it down to early and it starts to germinate you won’t have any luck getting anything to grow. This is because it won’t have enough time to establish a root base before the ground freezes and the cold will kill it off.
Check out these other blogs on lawn and yard care tips:
Find LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware at 12700 Bass Lake Road in Maple Grove
Call us at 763-553-1222
We’re on the web at http://www.levahnbros.com/
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