ice melt

Ice Melt and Your Yard

“Will ice melt hurt my yard?”

We get this question frequently around this time of year, and we want to weigh-in here on the blog.

First, let’s explain: Ice melts, rock salts and road salts are all basically the same thing – they melt ice and snow by lowering the freezing temperature of water. The difference between these products is that they are made of different things.

The most commonly used product is rock salt (sodium chloride), but there is also urea (pure nitrogen fertilizer), calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and potassium chloride – and these all range in operating temperatures from 25 degrees down to -20 degrees.

Let’s use rock salt as an example to see the impact on your yard. Rock salt’s direct effect on the environment is altering the soil pH level, which makes it more difficult for plants to obtain the nutrients needed to survive and be healthy. In extreme cases it can kill a tree, but most commonly it kills grass, and the only way to get the grass back is a soil amendment by adjusting the pH level fallowed by overseeding.

Not only can these products hurt your yard, they aren’t good for concrete.

Think of your concrete as a hard sponge. This hard sponge absorbs water, and when it freezes it expands creating micro cracks, or fractures, in the concrete. By introducing an ice melt product or salt, melting the ice, you speed up the process by thawing and freezing repeatedly. Each time this happens these cracks get bigger and eventually the top layer of concrete starts popping off.

Some products can even create chemical reactions, including magnesium chloride or potassium chloride.

The main issue with any of these products is that you’re prematurely aging the surface of the concrete. Expensive concrete jobs, like stamping, will want to steer clear of all of this.

Across the board we’re not a fan of these methods. They aren’t good for the environment and should stay away from soil and out of waterways as much as possible. The only way that can happen is by lowering the use of them.

Our alternative method to salting or ice melting is shoveling snow before it freezes and using sand for traction, or finer, crushed rock for extreme cases like steep driveways. This is safest for the environment and surrounding wildlife.

Now that we’ve established our stance on the topic, there are areas where salts or ice melts are needed, including high traffic public areas like post offices, banks, and hospitals.

If you decide you need to use any of these, Hart Property Maintenance recommends:

  • Use the product sparingly.
  • After the storm passes make sure to clean up any granules leftover; sweep or blow into a pile and get it in a garbage can.
  • Don’t let the product seep into the ground or water system.
  • Read the instructions – application rates vary depending on the product you choose
  • If you’re going to take a pet outside where they are using a product like this, or if you use one of these, clean the animal’s paws when you come back and never let them drink from puddles around these products.

And now it’s your turn – what do you think of ice melts or rock salts? Have you noticed them impacting your yard? Share your experience in the comments below!

Cleaning Roof and Gutters

Cleaning Your Roof and Gutters

Gutters have one job: to guide rainwater off your roof, straight down the drain and away from your house. Despite their importance, it can be easy to forget about them until something goes wrong.

If your gutters become clogged or broken, the results can be serious: not only could you end up with structural damage that costs a fortune to repair, the resulting dampness can cause health issues for you and your family.

While we are always happy to help clean roofs and gutters, we wanted to share our top three tips in case you want to give it ago on your own.

Word to the wise: Be safe! Go with your gut. If you’re not comfortable on a ladder or roof, stop and call a professional.

Be prepared: Have the right tools

Here’s a short list of the tools you’ll need:

  • Gloves
  • Safe ladder
  • Trash can
  • Water hose
  • Ladder
  • Five-gallon bucket
  • Blower

Once you have your tools, get started on the roof first and then clean then the gutters. While cleaning the gutter, start at the downspout and work away – rinsing as you go.

Stay Safe on the Ladder

Safety is the number one priority when you’re up on a roof. These few key things will help keep you safe while you’re off the ground:

  • Make sure your ladder has 3 rungs above the edge of the roof edge when using it to get on and off the roof.
  • Use a ladder stabilizer to protect the gutters and keep the ladder from teetering
  • Be aware of where the power lines are – and stay clear

Avoid the “NO’s” of roof cleaning

These three things are cardinal sins of roof cleaning – never do them:

  • No power washing
  • No brushing or scrubbing
  • No scraping

When it comes to asphalt/composition roofing, be careful to clean it correctly. Never power wash, scrub, brush or scrape. The use of these methods will loosen and remove the sandy layer of granules and will result in voiding your roofing warranty.

Be sure to contact a professional and always check with your roofing manufacturers for approved cleaning meatheads and chemicals.

Do you have any other roof and gutter tips to share with local property owners? Let us know in the comments below!

roof and gutter maintenance

6 Tips for Roof and Gutter Maintenance

When was the last time you looked at your roof and gutters?

If it’s been awhile, don’t let it sit another minute! Unfortunately, homeowner’s insurance most likely will not cover damage from a leaky roof if homeowners aren’t keeping it maintained. In fact, insurers will generally require homeowners to show proof that they stayed up on maintenance.

And this problem isn’t getting better. In the past two years we’ve seen an uptick in home inspections from insurance companies, and they threaten to cancel coverage if the homeowner is neglecting to keep their roof and gutters in check with an emphasis of moss control

But don’t fear! We at Hart Property Maintenance want to make sure your roof and gutters are in good condition, and that your home is covered in a worst-case scenario. Below are the top 6 tips to maintain your roof:

1. Look Up
At least twice a year, in Fall and Spring, look at your roof and gutters from the ground for any of the following warning signs:

  • Lifting or missing shingles
  • Damaged drip edge
  • Buckling, loose or missing flashing
  • Missing or exposed fasteners
  • Sagging or broken leaking gutters
  • Piles of granules
  • Heavy debris accumulation

2. Trim Your Trees
Any good-sized storm could send branches crashing onto your roof, so you shouldn’t overlook any leaning branches that could scratch or gouge your roof materials. Look around the landscaping in your yard for any potentially dangerous branches and keep them trimmed away. Remember keep your yard out of your homes bubble.

3. Clean Your Gutter
gutter cleaningWe recommend you hire an expert to clean your gutters a few times per year (we’re happy to help!). Leaves and other elements can clog your gutters and cause water to backup into the attic, living areas or behind the fascia boards. This is especially important before an intense storm, where water can back up quickly. Also, be on the lookout for sagging gutters or damaged drain components and repair or replace as needed.

4. Look for Moss and Algae
Help avoid moss and algae growing by keeping your attic properly ventilated, removing any debris, and trimming those overhanging branches from nearby trees (see tip #2!) When you see it treat it.

5. Re-Caulk, When Necessary
This is especially important to keep in check. Caulking is used in many places on your roof and gutters and has a life expectancy usually less than the other roofing materials it is applied to. Roof warranties can be voided by not staying up in this. If you don’t know what you’re doing, we recommend hiring an expert to help you with the caulking process (another time we’re happy to stop by).

6. Check Your Insulation
Without proper ventilation, heat and moisture can cause sheathing and rafting to rot, roof materials to buckle and insulation to lose effectiveness. This will cause your overall roofing system to be ineffective. Proper insulation and ventilation in your attic will help keep your roof in good condition and reduce any moisture.

Bonus Tip: Be Safe!

roof cleaningDIY roof repairers beware! For those bold enough to attempt roof maintenance yourself, please bare in mind that it’s dangerous up there. It’s advisable to stay on a firmly braced ladder equipped with t a ladder stabilizer attached when possible. If you do decide to walk on the roof, it’s best to wear rubber-soled shoes to prevent slipping. Fall protection gear is heavily advised for that oh slip moment. Safety gear can be acquired at most large home improvement centers.

All these steps should keep your roof and gutters maintained and lasting for years to come. Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

crane fly larvae

Crane Fly Larvae: Everything You Need to Know

Crane fly larvae are little pests that can wreak serious havoc on your lawn or turf. Sometimes called “leatherjackets” for their tough outer skin, they are worm-like and green, white or brown in color. Crane fly larvae may be hard to find, because they hide underground during the day and surface on warm nights.

Issues you may experience from these pests include yellowing of the grass, to thinning or bare patches throughout the yard. Plus, predators such as skunks, birds and raccoons may try to dig up the ground to feed on the developing larvae.

Adult crane flies don’t bite or sting and live extremely short lives, so you should focus on eliminating the insects at the larval stage. In extreme cases of crane fly infestation, contacting a professional pest control specialist may be necessary. And we’d be happy to help!

Do You Have Crane Fly Larvae?

If your lawn looks “eaten” in parts, you may be at risk. With this kind of infestation, you are likely to find uneven sections of grass that have been completely devoured, leaving only brown soil. Affected grasses may appear yellowed and unhealthy since they’re only receiving limited, or no, nutrients.

Once a crane fly larvae infestation gets extensive enough, holes may appear in your lawn overnight. These excavations are caused by skunks and other grub-loving predators as they search for crane fly larvae and other grubs.

How to Exterminate

Triazicide oregonTo kill crane fly larvae, use a grub killer like Triazicide that contains azadirachtin to stop the infestation at the source—the soil, where they live and feed. When exposed to azadirachtin, a compound found in the seeds of neem, crane fly larvae are subjected to a natural growth inhibitor that halts their development. Even better, the azadirachtin breaks down within 7 to 10 days.

Azadirachtin or neem oil can be purchased at our local Wilco and applied directly to your lawn at the first sign of grub damage. Use according to the directions on the product label.

If you are concerned about a plant or unsure of how it will react to insecticide solutions, test an inconspicuous area of the plant and wait 24 hours before applying full coverage. Much like watering, avoid using any liquid insecticides in the heat of the day or in extreme temperatures.

Preventing Future Infestations

lawn pest controlKeep your lawn healthy! A healthy lawn can survive damage from lawn pests, as well as diseases and weeds. Following a lawn care schedule will help keep your lawn robust and lush, even if you have some crane fly larvae settle in your yard. Subscribe to our blog to get more tips on keeping your lawn healthy—and “Like” us on Facebook for monthly tips and tricks.

Have you had crane fly larvae in your yard? Share your tips with us in the comments below!

bark dust application

How to Apply Bark Dust

Spring has sprung! Want to give your yard an instant facelift? Or are you looking for a way to suppress weeds in your already picture-perfect yard? Bark dust is the answer. Proper application of bark dust will not only give your property a crisp, clean, manicured look, but it will also drastically reduce the amount of time spent weeding, watering and fighting pests.
Here’s a simple checklist to help you prepare your yard and apply bark dust properly:

Tools you need:

  • Gloves
  • Leaf rake for fine tuning
  • Hard rake for spreading
  • Wide faced flat shovel
  • Wheelbarrow

Key to Success: Prep the Site

prepare landscapingSite prep is key to proper bark dust application. The first step is to fix irrigation problems, if you have any. Then trim trees, bushes and shrubs, remove any leftover debris from the area (trimmings, leaves, or roots), pull all weeds, and apply pre-emergent, like Double O SPC, to help prevent future weeds. Prepping the area is the most crucial step to ensure your bark dust looks great and lasts as long as possible.

Create an edge for the bark. Use your shovel to carefully dig around the area to create a smooth continuous line. You can also create an edge by lining up stones to divide the dust from your lawn. Lawn edges should be fresh and clean before applying bark.

Buying Bark Dust
Don’t buy cheap bark—you don’t want the finished product to look like dirt! Purchase and use good-quality product from a company you trust. For those living in Oregon’s Santiam Canyon, we recommend Siegmund Landscape Supply for any landscaping supply needs; they are the only company we use. Siegmund delivers locally.

When it comes to what type of bark dust to use, it’s up to your personal preference. Hemlock is browner, more expensive (due to supply), and most known for being sliver-free; you’ll notice a difference when working with it. Fir is more red and used commonly because of its color; however the red is only temporary and after several months will look like hemlock. Fir also has a signature bark dust smell for the first few weeks after application.

Purchase enough mulch to cover the area with 1 to 2 inches for reapplication, or 3 to 4 inches for new application (no existing bark). To determine how much bark dust you need to purchase for your space, you can use an online calculator like the one found here.

Tips and Tricks for Application
Hart Property MaintenanceWhen the bark dust is delivered, or when you bring it home, have it dumped on a solid surface or tarp. This will make clean-up much easier when the project is finished.

Move the bark dust to the desired area with wheelbarrow loads. Then use your hard rake to spread these smaller piles of bark over the area in an even layer. As you need more, pour more in the area with your shovel. When the area has the desired amount of bark dust, use the leaf rake for any final fine tuning.

And voila! Your yard has an instant facelift and is better protected from the elements. Do you have any other tips or tricks you swear by when applying bark dust? We’d love to hear what works for you—let us know in the comments below.