5 Must-Have Items Every New Englander Needs in Winter

New Englanders love their four seasons, but winter is often the one that causes the most heartache for homeowners, especially when they’re left unprepared. Browse through Twin Pines’ list of must-have items for your winter tool kit, and stock up before the next storm hits!


1. Snow Blower/Shovel

Man Operating Snow Blower

Perhaps the most obvious item to have in your winter tool kit is one which can help you manage the snow on your property. Whether you prefer to shovel or snow blow, having a sturdy, up-to-date piece of equipment is vital when the powder begins to pile up.

A Twin Pines Tip: Get to know your machinery beforehand! Snow blowers especially need a lot of prep–including ensuring they are gassed up and ready to go for the first snowfall. But even familiarizing yourself with the weight, capacity, and functions of your shovel can help make the task of actually shoveling a lot more manageable.

2. Ice Melt & Scoop

Walmart
Photo Credit: www.walmart.com

Ice melt is another New England must-have during winter. When the temperature fluctuates between freezing and warm one week to the next, water that gathers on the ground can freeze, unfreeze, and refreeze in succession, creating slippery and dangerous walking and driving conditions. Sprinkle ice melt on stairs, walkways, driveways, and more to help break down the ice.

A Twin Pines Tip: Don’t forget to invest in a scoop to help distribute the ice melt. Anything from a metal shovel to a plastic cup will work, but you want to avoid letting the ice melt touch your skin, especially when dealing with a brand made with calcium or magnesium chloride.

3. Pantyhose

snow-removal-pantyhose-calcium-chloride
Photo Credit: champaignrose.com

This may seem like a strange item to have in your tool kit, but its not one you’re going to want to forget about. Experts use pantyhose filled with calcium chloride to help break down ice and snow on the roof, as the permeable nylon material allows the chemical to secrete through the fabric without touching the roof directly and causing any damage.  For more on the Pantyhose Method, check out this post from Twin Pines.

4. Roof Rake

Snow Roof Rake

Roof rakes are another incredibly beneficial item to have in your winter toolkit. Rather than using a damaging shovel to try to scrape excess snow, homeowners with pitched roofs should use these tools to clear 2-3 inches off. You can find roof rakes at your local hardware store.

5. Kitty Litter

bigstock-Cat-Litter-Box-50667332.jpg

The main use of kitty litter in your winter tool kit does not in fact have anything to do with your pets. Instead, this crumbly product can be used to create traction on snowy and icy surfaces in winter, creating safer walking and driving spaces for you and your family.

A Twin Pines Tip: Keep a bag of kitty litter in the trunk of your car during winter for extra precaution. It can be spread out beneath your tires if you ever get stuck in an icy or snowy spot and can’t seem to get the grip you need to drive away!


Follow Twin Pines on Facebook and check back here on our blog for more winter tips from Twin Pines!

Advertisements

Protecting Your Landscape From Snow

You put a lot of time and effort into making your landscape and home look great. Don’t let a snow storm ruin all your hard work! Follow Twin Pines’ expert tips for protecting your landscape from snow, and keep your yard looking great even after heavy snowfall!

protecting-plants-shrubs

Because plants and shrubs are often the focal points of your yard, its important to take the steps to cover and protect them when snow is in the forecast. There are a couple of noteworthy risks your plants face during this season.

Winter Burn

Winter burn is known as the damage to living plants that occurs during extreme winter snow, frost, and ice. Caused by a combination of winter sunlight and depleted moisture in the soil, this condition is a very poor one for plants to live in.

The best way for you to protect your plants, shrubs, and even more delicate trees from Winter Frost, is to wrap them up in burlap. This fabric protects while also allowing air to circulate to the plant without trapping heat. Whether you choose to engulf the shrub in a burlap bag, or literally wrap it in a sheet of burlap fabric, having this protective layer around the plant is the best way to keep it safe and thriving in winter weather.

Winterized Tree Wrapped In Burlap

How To Wrap Your Plants In Burlap:

  1. Insert 3-4 wooden stakes in the ground around the base of the plant. Note: Leave about and inch or two between the stake and the plant itself.
  2. Lay the layer of burlap over the stakes.
  3. Staple the material to the stakes. Note: Ensure that the burlap does not touch the plants, for if the fabric becomes wet and freezes, the plant can be damaged.

The most important detail to remember when following these steps, is to leave space between the stake and the plant itself. Burlap that touches the foliage can become wet and freeze, which will damage the plant underneath.

Snow Pile-Ups

Too much heavy snow piling up and resting on top of a living plant can crush it structurally, bending or even snapping branches and thin trunks. While snow mostly impacts the structure of plants and shrubs, some trees can be affected by this condition, as well, including many specimen and ornamental trees.

To prevent this issue, the best option is to create or purchase a wooden structure that can be placed above the plants for protection. Whether you go all-out with what is basically a miniature-hut over the plant, or go with a basic structure made of a few pieces of leaning wood held in place by a wooden pole, the extra effort will help protect your plants throughout the season.

Bring Potted Plants/Planters Indoors

Taking the time to transition your potted plants and planters from outside to inside before a storm will ensure they stay alive and healthy. While some species may be able to handle harsher weather if left to their own devises outdoors, leaving them vulnerable to winter conditions is never the best choice. Instead move these plants to a stable location inside with plenty of sunlight to ensure they remain alive and well until the snow eases and they can return to their original locations.

snow-plow-preparation

Plowing during a snowstorm is one of the most difficult tasks there is. Large flakes and powerful winds can cause very low visibility, and slick surfaces can create difficult driving conditions. Make the process a little easier on your snow plow driver by following through with these simple, pre-storm tasks!

Staking Your Driveway

The process of inserting stakes along the edges of your driveway may seem tedious, but it is actually vital preparation for your snow plow driver. These stakes provide your driver with an idea of where the edges of your driveway end and your grass or other turf begins. While you may think this would be easy to see, when there is already a couple of inches of snow on the ground, these markers are often the driver’s only guide.

Many snow removal companies will offer to stake your driveway for you pre-snow season, but if you find yourself mid-winter and still without stakes, it is important to take this responsibility into your own hands.

The experts at Twin Pines suggest you choose between wood or plastic stakes, for they not only seem to last longer in harsh conditions, but also do not damage trucks if they are accidentally run over mid-storm. In terms of distance between the edge of the driveway and the stakes you will place, consult your snow plow driver for their preference. Some may suggest you place the stakes one to two inches from the edge of the pavement, while others may prefer as far as a foot back in order to leave room for snow piles during plowing.

Removing Obstacles In Your Driveway

While it may seem like an obvious suggestion, many homeowners often don’t think about what may be sitting in their driveway that could become an obstacle for snow plow drivers during a storm.

Toys, shovels, or other random objects that may have made their way into your driveway during day-to-day life need to be removed before a big storm. Once the snow blankets the pavement, your snow plow driver may not be able to spot a stray basketball or ice pick beneath the powder. This could result in not only damage to your item, but damage to the plow itself it the item ends up going through the mechanism.

Another way to prep your driveway for your snow plow driver is to move all cars out of the way. This may seem like an House and Driveway Covered with Fresh Snowinconvenient task to think about when all you want to do is stay inside, but having a driveway clear of cars is the only way to allow plow drivers to do their job correctly.

A car sitting in the driveway, means that the plow driver needs to maneuver around it during a storm, which can be incredibly difficult especially in heavy snowfall, and can result in completely missed patches. Cars in the driveway can also often restrict where the driver pushes the excess snow.

To ensure the best results from your snow removal expert, be sure to move your car inside a garage, onto the street (if safe to do so) or, at the very least, right up against the edge of the house during a storm.

stock-up-on-materials

For those New Englanders who remember the Blizzard of 2015, (where a coveted bag of ice melt was being sold for as much as some electronic devices), it will come at no surprise that some of the best advice for impending snow is to stock up on the items you will need to during the storm.

A basic list of items that you will need for maintaining your yard/landscape during a storm include:

  • At least one snow shovel with a metal edge (to help break apart icy snow)
  • Bags of ice melt
  • A snow scraper to clean off your car
  • Sand for your driveway/walkway (Or kitty litter, for a more environmentally-friendly option)
  • Roof rake (used to prevent ice dams from snow piled up on your roof)

Stocking up on these items now, before the snow hits, will ensure that you are prepared and ready for whatever the snow brings.

snow-removal-plan-in-place

Whether you intend to handle your snow removal yourself (with a snow blower/plow) or hire a company to handle it for you, its important that you have that plan in place far before the storm hits.

If you will be dealing with snow removal on your own, ensure that your snow blower is prepped and ready to work (ie. that it is running correctly, that you have extra gas, etc.). For those who plan to hand over their snow removal practices to a professional company, be sure you reach out and get on their routes before the storm hits and their drivers become booked.


For more snow removal advice (or to inquire about snow removal services from Twin Pines), visit our Contact Us page on our website and submit a question/request!

 

Decorating Your Front Stoop For The Fall Season

Fall has finally arrived here in New England, and our landscapes are beginning to reflect the change in season. With leaves gradually yellowing and the air turning crisp, many homeowners are preparing their houses for the autumn ahead.

Front Fall Entryway

One way in which homeowners often try to keep their yard looking unique and fun throughout the year, is through the decorations on the front stoop. As the first glimpse for guests of a homeowner’s style, this area of the house is often given a lot of attention, especially around the holidays or during a shift in season like this one.

Now that fall is in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about how you will decorate your front stoop this year. Follow the expert tips from Twin Pines and help your yard pop even as the trees and plants go bare!

Continue reading

Twin Pines’ Top 5 Family-Fun Activities To Do In The Snow

While the snow in Massachusetts just keeps piling up, dealing with snow-related problems becomes more and more stressful. Often so stressful, in fact, that people forget to enjoy the winter weather outside. And while it’s easy to laugh at the idea of building a snowman in 7+ feet of piled up snow, why not let off some steam in what has basically become a nature-made playground? Twin Pines has compiled this list of fun, outdoor activities to enjoy this winter for you and your family alike! Don’t forget to take some time to play in all this snow before it finally starts to melt away.

Sledding

Young Happy Father And His Cute Laughing Son Sledding Together I

Sledding is quite the common snow day activity for families, and that’s during a typical wintertime. Think of all the creative ways to make sledding extra-exciting using all of this snow! Build a track for your sled to move through by digging out a low path in the snow while leaving walls high. You can also add in a ramp–so that you start gaining speed as you sled downhill–and create speed bumps or jumps along your track by packing snow together in these areas. These little additions to a typical downhill sledding routine, make the entire experience that much more unique and fun for kids and parents alike!

Outdoor Board Games

Help motivate your kids to spend some much needed time outdoors this winter, by bringing some of their favorite indoor games outside! Try sketching out a simple tick tack toe board with a stick, and use twigs or rocks as markers. Or bring out some color-tinted water and create a naturally cushioned Twister board out on the snow. Bringing fun ideas like these outdoors will both keep kids busy, entertained, and active, which can be hard to do during long winter months.

Young boy and girl hiding in a snow cave they made

Snow Creations

Although the act of building a single snowman may seem like the classic choice, why not take advantage of all that snow and build something really innovative! Try sculpting the snow into a towering dinosaur, a sunken ship, or even a cool fort for kids to play in! While it may be a more time-consuming choice, the cold temperatures will likely keep your creation together for a while, making it a lasting activity!

Create a Maze or Scavenger Hunt

A winter wonderland is a great backdrop for an adventure. One option for a fun snow-filled activity is to create footprint-paths for your kids to follow around the yard in search of a hidden treasure. Other options include partially burying colorful clues that will lead kids on a scavenger hunt to a final surprise, or using natural formations in your yard—like big boulders or decks—to lead a pretend trek through the snowy mountains! Using your imagination and fully committing to your fun activity is the best way to keep kids engaged, even when it’s chilly outside!

Mother and her little son painting a snowman

Snow Painting

Have you been waiting for some color to appear back in your yard again? Let your kids do the coloring for you! Fill up spray bottles with water tinted with food coloring, and use the entire surface of the snow as a canvas for colorful designs. Let your kids use the paint as if it’s sidewalk chalk and see what kind of masterpieces they may draw up!

We at Twin Pines know how much work dealing with all of this snow can be, but we also know how important it is to appreciate it! One of the wonders of living in an area like New Happy Family Mother And Baby Girl Daughter Run, Walk And PlayingEngland is that as seasons change, the weather drastically does, as well. Before we know it, all this snow will be replaced with green grass and heat that can feel suffocating. It will be then, in the middle of summer, that you may find yourself actually looking back upon this record-breaking winter with fondness. So make sure to have a little fun in the snow while you still can!

And while it may seem difficult to focus on fun when there’s so much work to be done, we have a solution for you! Contact Twin Pines today at (508) 358-4231 or at chris@twinpines.biz for a free, no obligation estimate on your snow removal work! Let us take care of the tough stuff for you so you can enjoy what’s left of this winter before it’s over. Remember, there are only 11 days left until Spring!