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Category Tips From the Pros

Building healthy soil is the key to healthy plants

Thanks to the University of Maryland / Maryland Grows this informative article about building healthy soil.

Image: University of Maryland / Maryland Grows

Healthy soil grows healthy plants.  If you want a vigorous, productive garden, protect and improve your soil.

Soil is made up of minerals, air, water, and organic matter.  This skin of the Earth anchors and grows our food, filters our water, and recycles vital nutrients like carbon.

How do you build healthier soil?  You feed it.

Compost, chipped leaves, untreated grass clippings, and other organic amendments can be turned in or used as mulch.  Cover crops can be planted in the fall and turned into the soil in spring.

This organic matter lightens heavy clay soils.  It improves soil structure...

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Get your medicine organized

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with her blog about how to get your medicine organized.

Get your medicine organized for better health

With everything happening in the world with the pandemic, it’s very important to get your medicine organized to stay as healthy as possible. Let’s take a look at how this can happen without putting too much effort into it.

Expired medications?

Prescription and over-the-counter medications have expiration dates. Start organizing your medications by going through everything and eliminating the medicine that is expired or that you no longer take.

Drug disposal 

You should not throw prescriptions into the trash or flush them because the medication will eventually end up in the water table...

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Why you should consider pet medical insurance


Thanks to Tom Benisch of State Farm for this episode of Tips from the Pros about medical insurance for your pet.

pet medical insurance

Your pets are an important part of the family. They’re with you from those big life moments to everyday adventures. And nothing matters more than protecting those you love. Whether you are a new or seasoned pet owner, pet medical insurance can help you prepare for the unknown. Read on to learn more about the benefits of considering pet health insurance for your best friend.

How pet health insurance can help your pet for the long-term

Pets get sick too

No matter the season, pets get sick. And sometimes more care is needed than expected...

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Top 10 ways to kill a houseplant

Thanks to the University of Maryland / Maryland Grows this informative article about how to kill a houseplant.

Top 10 ways to kill a houseplant like this phalaenopsis orchid.
Image: Maryland Grows Blog

It’s easy to kill a houseplant.

No matter how green his or her thumb, every gardener has a sad tale about the orchid that expired, the pothos that went to pot, or the weeping fig that dropped every blessed leaf.

You can gnash your teeth, rend your garments and fume. Or you can get busy and figure out what went wrong.

Houseplants fail for a handful of reasons.  Here are my top ten:


The number one killer of houseplants is overwatering. Roots need both water and air to thrive.  Waterlogged soil chokes roots.

Most plants like to dry out between each watering.  Stick your finger in the soil...

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4 Common Causes of Chimney Odors

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

Chimney odors can be a problem this time of year

When it comes to chimneys, seemingly small issues may be symptomatic of something serious brewing. These issues can have major repercussions down the road. As such, if any unusual scents are coming from your client’s fireplace, you should help them get to the root of the issue before listing it on the market. Here are the most common origins of those pesky odors.

Creosote Buildup

Creosote is the black or grey substance that adheres to our chimney walls each time we use our fireplaces. After prolonged fireplace usage, creosote buildups will start to occur, leading to highly unpleasant burning scents (and an unsafe fireplace)...

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Forgotten spots that need organizing

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with a blog about forgotten spots that need organizing.

Get rid of those forgotten sports around your home that need organizing

Everyone has a few spots where clutter just seems to accumulate no matter what you do. These locations become a part of your home that we stop noticing after a while. We never get around to organizing these things because they have become part of the landscape. Here are some ideas to tackle those forgotten spots that need organizing.


Most people take good care of their gold jewelry, but also have an assortment of costume jewelry pieces that maybe don’t get the care they need. Necklaces get tangled, earrings are missing backs and some pieces may be in need of repair.

First, go through everything and figure out what you can let go...

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Cleaning Dyer Vents Before Selling a Home

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about cleaning dryer vents.

Cleaning dryer vents is important before selling a home

We all clean out our lint traps after using our dryers. Unfortunately, that simply does not do enough over the long haul to keep us and our loved ones safe from potential threats. Even if we clear our lint trap after each use, lint eventually starts to build up within our dryer vents. When these buildups are ignored, major complications can arise as a result.

The Risk of Clogged Dryer Vents

Every year, around 2900 dryer fires are reported in the United States. The leading cause of these fires? You guessed it — failure to keep the vents clean and free of lint buildups...

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What to do with books

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with a blog about what to do with all of your books.

books are great if you are using them, but can be a source of clutter

Books can be an organizing nightmare. Some people have many bookshelves full of them. They are are big dust collectors that many times remain unread and unappreciated.

Categorize and purge

Do you still have old encyclopedia sets? Other reference books? Do you have novels sitting on your shelves that you either read or didn’t read?

Put your books into the following categories: Keep, donate, recycle.

Carefully consider what you want to keep. Do you have some favorites you read over and over? You probably want to keep those. For example, I have a friend who has two copies of his entire Tolkien collection...

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Fireplace Season is Here!

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about fireplace season and care.

Fireplace season is here

Our Best Advice for the Fireplace Season

With the weather getting colder and winter right on the horizon, it’s safe to say that fireplace season is here. We know you want to enjoy your first fire. However, there are some steps you should take to make sure your chimney is 100% safe and ready for use.

Have a Professional Sweep Your Chimney

Having your chimney thoroughly cleaned by a professional is the best way to guarantee the safety of you and your home. Maintenance is key when it comes to future costly inconveniences or even more serious threats like house fires. That’s why The National Fire Protection Association recommends at least one chimney cleaning per year...

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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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