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Category Tips From the Pros

November Tips and Tasks for Your Garden

Thanks to the University of Maryland / Maryland Grows this informative article about your garden.

Tree island
  • Prune dormant shade trees that need to be pruned. Begin by removing all dead, diseased branches, and making any necessary cosmetic cuts. Do not cut branches flush with the trunk. Leave the branch collar (swollen area on the trunk of a tree or a larger branch) but do not leave a stub. 

improperly pruned tree
Incorrect pruning and over mulching

  • Topping (photo above) is the not the correct pruning technique to help control the size of a tree. Crown reduction, pruning entire branches at their point of origin, is recommended if a tree must be reduced in size. 

several rows of brown eggs on a tree trunk
Spotted lanternfly eggs. Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org

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An organized home office

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with a blog about an organized home office.

An organized home office is important to make sure you get your work done.

Working at home

Many Baltimoreans have been working at home for over six months now. How do you keep your home office organized? It’s not always easy, especially if other people might be using that same area of the house.

At least once a week (daily is even better) you need to declutter your workspace. A clear desk gives you less distractions to keep you from accomplishing your work goals.

Organize

Keep pens somewhere other than the top of your desk unless you have a jar or other container to hold them. A pen cup can also hold a pair of scissors, small ruler, markers or other items you want to keep handy...

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Fireplace Safety 101

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about fireplace safety.

Whether your home has had a fireplace for decades or you just purchased a home with a brand new fireplace tucked inside, knowing how to safely use it is essential. Fireplaces, when used and maintained properly, are very safe. However, when you don’t maintain them or pay close attention, they can lead to serious hazards and even house fires.

The Basics of Fireplace Safety

  1. Cleaning and Maintenance: Have your fireplace professionally cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. If you don’t have a chimney sweep come to complete a cleaning, there could be dangerous creosote build-up. In addition, animal nests and yard debris may be found on the inside of your chimney...
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10 decluttering tasks you can do quickly

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with a blog about quick organizing tasks.

Quick organizing tasks that will get your home decluttered in no time.

Spending hours or days organizing can give you big results. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the stamina or time to spend doing it. Here are some decluttering jobs you can do in 10-30 minutes.

Kitchen counters

Your counters should be clear of everything not used on a daily basis. For example, you can leave the toaster and coffee pot if you use them most days. But that bread making machine needs to be put away. 

If you have tools like a big spoon, spaghetti stirrer or spatula that you use often and you want to have them handy, put them in something like a large vase so they are not simply laying around on the counter...

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The Itchy Truth About Poison Ivy

Thanks to the University of Maryland / Maryland Grows this informative article about poison ivy.

It starts with a twitch and an itch. Then it grows into full-blown scratchiness and dreadful knowing. You have poison ivy. Again.

I tip my hat to those immune to the maddening rash that contact with this plant brings. You are indeed the Fortunate Ones. The rest of us will try to quiet our whimpering.  

ID Poison Ivy

It pays to know the enemy. Poison ivy is a perennial plant that can climb trees as a vine, form a shrub, or snake over the ground. It spreads by seeds and rhizomes, sneaky underground stems that help it form colonies. 

native plant whose berries feed over 50 species of birds, poison ivy has glossy leaves, attractive berries, and striking fall color...

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The Benefits of a Chimney Cap

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about chimney caps.

There are many benefits to having a chimney cap on your home's chimney.

If you’re a homeowner, there is a good chance that you have heard how valuable a chimney cap is. It is vital to the short-term and long-term integrity of your chimney. Even though your chimney might seem strong and able to endure years of harsh weather and wildlife activity, installing a chimney cap can fortify it even more.

Chimney Cap 101

Chimney caps are installed at the very top of your chimney above the crown. They help to stop rain, snow and animals from being able to enter the chimney. Without a chimney cap, your flue carries smoke out and also allows rain and animals in. When moisture enters your chimney, it can cause internal structural damage by degrading the bricks and mortar...

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organizing the kitchen

Organizing the kitchen while social distancing

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with a blog about organizing the kitchen.

Since we started quarantining and social distancing in March, Americans have been spending more money on food, cooking more homemade meals and spending a lot more time in the kitchen. So, organizing the kitchen is more important now.

The pantry

Go through your pantry and organize the food. Start by looking for expired items and toss them. If things are going to expire soon, you might want to plan some meals around these foods.

There are websites like Recipeland or Yummly where you can enter what you have on hand to get recipes that use those foods. That way you can use up the items expiring soon.

When you organize the pantry, put the most popular item...

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What’s humming in your garden?

Thanks to the University of Maryland / Maryland Grows this informative article about hummingbirds.

The summer is here, and one of the big pluses of it is that it brings a bunch of new visitors to our region. Some visitors are the whimsical and hungry hummingbirds! In today’s post we’ll talk about these lovely birds, why they eat so much, and what we can do to help them while they visit our region.

Hummingbirds, you say?

Hummingbirds are a group of birds that are specialized in feeding exclusively on nectar. They also supplement their diets with some insects they may find in the flowers they visit. Globally, hummingbirds are restricted to the Americas. They can only be found in the Western hemisphere (lucky us, Marylanders!)...

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4 Common Gutter Installation Issues That Arise During a Home Sale

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about gutter installation issues.

Gutter installation issues can be a problem during a home sale.

Gutters might not be the most glamorous part of the home that you are selling. However, they play a critical role in the structural stability of the home over time. Small issues during the installation process can snowball to basement leaks and foundation cracks.

During the home inspection before your client sells their home, you might encounter some problems. These issues require the assistance of a skilled gutter cleaning, installation and replacement company like Clean Sweep Maryland.

4 Gutter Installation Mistakes

  1. Improper Placement: The placement of downspouts at your home seller’s home is critical to how well the entire gutter system works...
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These Wasps Are Not Social Distancing!

Thanks to the University of Maryland / Maryland Grows this informative article about wasps.

These wasps are not socially distancing themselves
Yellowjackets. Photo: Arlette/Flickr

Wasps are considered bad

Wasps are some of the most highly disliked insects and are often all linked together with bees as being “bad.” When my co-workers and I led a group of elementary school children on a bee lesson, our very first question for the group was: how do you feel about bees? Give us a thumbs up, thumbs down, or tilt your thumb to the side if you aren’t sure.

Many times students gave us a thumbs down or to the side with a sad story about being stung or a family member being stung. After letting the children talk, we found that the majority of the time, people were being stung by wasps and not bees.

Social wasps are listed in th...

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