Money Saving Home Improvement Projects For the Winter

Money Saving Home Improvement Projects For the Winter

Freezing temperatures and dreary days make it difficult to get outdoors during the winter. But winter is also the perfect time to roll your sleeves up and tackle a few of those home improvement projects you have been putting off. There is a wide variety of DIY projects that would be perfect for doing during the winter, especially projects that may help you save money. Here are a few winter weather DIY projects to help you get started.

Insulate the Attic

One of the most common culprits of high energy bills is a poorly insulated attic. Installing insulation in the attic is a relatively easy home improvement project, and it will help reduce energy costs because insulation helps to generate the heat throughout your home, keeping the house warmer.  If you notice the rooms in your home getting chilly quickly, you should consider inspecting the attic insulation. Replace layers of insulation that are damaged or missing.

Seal the Drafts

One of the least expensive types of home improvement projects that will help lower your energy bills is sealing up the drafts. Leaking windows and drafty doors mean the warm air is leaking out and the cold air is coming in. This causes your furnace to work overtime to keep your home warm. Check for air drafts at all of the windows in your home, the doors and even the electrical outlets. Use a caulking gun to seal gaps around the windows and walls, replacing old and worn weather stripping and install electrical outlet insulators to help keep you warm and toasty during winter weather.

Control the Heat

A programmable thermostat allows you to control the temperature in your home even when you are at work or sleeping. There are several types of programmable thermostats to choose from, but they all work on the same concept in that you can program the thermostat to lower the heat while you are away or asleep and to increase the heat just before you wake up or arrive home. They are easy to install and will help you lower your energy bill.

This is only a sample of the home improvement projects you can do during the winter to help you save money all year round. Even something as small as changing out the light bulbs to replace them with LED bulbs, will help you save money. It may take a little while before you see a large return on your home improvement projects, but over time the savings will add up.

Winter weather can be unpredictable so don’t forget to have all of your winter equipment, such as generators and snow blowers inspected and repaired if necessary. Contact Ralph Helm Inc. Lawn Equipment Center to schedule an inspection or repairs of your winter equipment.

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How to Protect Your Landscape in Winter

You spend all spring and summer pampering your landscape and then winter comes along and wreaks havoc on all of your hard work. While you can’t stop the snow, ice and cold, there are a few steps you can take that will minimize the damage to your lawn, plants and trees and help them to look their best when spring arrives. Here are a few ways to protect your landscape during the winter weather.

Fertilize and Deep Root Fertilize

It is recommended that you fertilize the lawn two to three times during the fall. This will help to strengthen the roots for the spring and when the top growth stops, use a mineral fertilizer to help supply the lawn with the essential nutrients it will need during the winter. Deep root fertilization used for trees and shrubs will help supply nutrients during the winter as well help to reduce the soil compaction which allows oxygen to effectively reach the roots, which will help to improve the overall health of shrubs and trees.

Protect Trees and Shrubs

Winter weather often brings with it high winds, which can damage tree limbs and ice covered shrubs. Avoid shaking the snow off of tree limbs and branches. They are already fragile, and the shaking can cause stress which can damage the limbs, preventing growth in the spring. Consider having trees and shrubs pruned and cabled during the fall to help minimize the risk of damage from storms and to help preserve the structure of the trees. Using a tree bark protector around the trunk will help protect trees from rabbits, mice and other animals as well as protect the trunk against splitting from freeze-thaw cycles.

When the leaves have all fallen, don’t forget to clean them up. Fallen leaves can prevent sunlight and moisture from reaching the grass as well as lead to mold growth and rot. When it comes time to de-ice the walkways and driveways, be cautious of the de-icing products you use, especially when using a snow thrower that may toss the products on the grass, trees and shrubs. Choose products that contain safe ingredients to avoid damaging the landscaping as well as to prevent cracks from forming in concrete walkways and driveways.

Contact Ralph Helm Inc. Lawn Equipment Center to learn more information about how to protect your landscape during the winter and to schedule an inspection of your winter lawn equipment to ensure everything is in top condition.

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You Don’t Want to Miss Out on These Early Bird Service Specials!

With winter in full swing and warmer weather still on its way, your lawn is probably the last thing on your mind right now. We understand; after all, there’s only so much that will fit on your plate at one time. Still, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of the incredible service and sale specials we’re offering right now. Here’s why:

  • Nothing puts a damper on your outdoor plans like mechanical problems with your mower, weed trimmer, or other lawn equipment. Yet the spring is not the best season to bring these items to the shop for servicing. High demand means you may have to wait days or even weeks before your repair is complete. That’s precious time during which your grass will continue to grow, weeds will spread, and your neighbors will wonder what’s going on.
  • Come spring you’ll have plenty to occupy your spare time besides lawn equipment maintenance. You’ll be bursting with ideas for beautifying every square inch of your property. A little advance prep will clear otherwise annoying tasks from your schedule now. You’ll thank yourself for your foresight in a few months when everyone else in the neighborhood is hustling to make up for lost time, and you’re kicking back enjoying yourself.
  • Even the most carefully maintained equipment eventually needs replacing. Now is the time to find out if your mower, tiller, weed trimmer, or other items are beyond repair when you can benefit from our pre-spring sale prices.

Here’s a Sneak Peek at Some of Our Deals

Ralph Helm Early Bird Specials

  • Right now you can get FREE delivery on new riding equipment. Why fight with that old mower or tractor for another year when you can enjoy the performance and reliability only a new item can bring?
  • You can SAVE 10% on all the parts you need to get your tools in tip-top shape for 2017. Maybe you’re a DIYer who prefers to do oil changes, blade sharpening, engine overhauls and similar tasks on your own. If that’s the case, then right now we’ve got the supplies you need for lower costs than you’ll ever see again.
  • If you’re one of our loyal customers who lets our skilled techs prep your lawn equipment for the season, then now is the time to give us a call because we’re offering FREE pick-up and delivery on your items.
  • Maybe you’re in the market for other types of lawn equipment besides a riding mower. If so, then you can save serious money thanks to our limited-time FREE delivery to your address.


Spring will be here before you know it. So act fast to enjoy these incredible bargains. Afterall, these deals only last until February 28th! See you soon.


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Tips and Tricks for Proper Snow and Ice Removal

Tips and Tricks for Proper Snow and Ice Removal

Shovel, plow, snowblow, salt, repeat. It’s a process that’s all too familiar. Did you ever stop to wonder if you’re removing snow and ice as efficiently and effectively as possible? Removing ice and snow properly will make your job a little easier and help ensure that you protect your home and landscaping without damaging your equipment–or breaking your back!

1. Treat Snow Shoveling Like a Workout

You burn upwards of 300 calories per hour on average while shoveling snow, and we’re guessing you can feel it in your shoulders afterward. To help prevent injuries, warm up your muscles a little before you start–just as you would a cardio workout. Make sure you stay hydrated while you’re working, too–just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you don’t need plenty of water.

2. Shovel or Snowblow as Soon as Possible

We know it’s not always possible to clear your sidewalk and driveways the second the snow stops falling. But avoid procrastinating as much as possible, and you’ll save yourself the trouble of trying to remove snow that’s iced over or drifted into more unmanageable mountains of frosty flakes.

3. Choose Your De-Icing Solution Wisely

Though salt is the cheapest and most commonly used de-icer on the market, you might want to consider using sodium chloride, instead. It’s easier on your property, won’t harm your landscaping nearly as much, and it works more effectively and more quickly than salt in lower temperatures. Investing in a spreader, even if it’s just a handheld one, will make the job easier and help make your de-icer last as long as possible.

4. Buy Some Traction Grit

Traction grit doesn’t melt ice, but it provides shoes (or tires!) enough grip to help get out of slippery situations. Traction grit is particularly useful on stone or brick pavers or walkways. Stash a bag in your vehicle, as well; if you get stuck, it might provide that bit of extra grip your tires need to get out.

5. Invest in a Snowthrower

When you have significant amounts of snow to remove, a snowblower can be your best wintertime tool–and quality of life investment. To save your shoulders and back the pain of manual snow removal this year, stop by Ralph Helm to talk to an expert about the best snowblower for you and your property.

Stock up on all your snow and ice removal supplies in one stop at Ralph Helm–preferably before more winter weather hits! And feel free to stop by our blog for more winter landscaping tips that will help keep your outdoors looking great during even the coldest months of the year.

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Snow Removal Strategies that will Save You Time and Energy

Snow Removal Strategies that will Save You Time and Energy

Winter is just around the corner, and with winter comes snow. Each year, local emergency rooms see an increase in patients who are injured as a result of shoveling snow. Shoveling and plowing are necessary tasks, but they are also a serious physical activity that requires planning and caution. The following tips will help you safely and efficiently clear snow from your property.

Shovel Snow Like a Pro

If you’re just working with a shovel, you’ll need to take some precautions. Start by stretching your muscles before you go outside. This will help warm you up (which will help once you step outside into the frigid air), and more importantly, reduce your risk of injuries.

Since shoveling can take some time, make sure you’ve dressed appropriately for the weather. It’s always a good idea to wear layers. Put on a thermal shirt, a pullover and a jacket, then wrap everything up with a nice scarf, hat and gloves. You might want to invest in a nice pair of weatherproof pants, as well, so that you don’t have to worry about flying snow getting you wet.

Lastly, keep in mind that continuous shoveling can be extremely hazardous, especially for the elderly or those who aren’t in good physical health. Take a break every 30-minutes or so. This is the perfect time to step inside and warm up a bit and rehydrate.

Consider Investing in a Snow Blower

The easiest way to remove wet, heavy snow is with a snow blower. If you have a large driveway or expect frequent and/or large snowfalls, it might be time to trade that shovel in for a snow blower. However, it is important to ensure the snow blower is in good condition before the season starts. Make sure all shields are properly in place and remember to keep your feet and hands away from all moving parts. Always point the chute away from your house and vehicles to prevent damage in case the snow blower picks up a rock or other debris.

Other Helpful Tips

Slippery driveways and walkways can be extremely dangerous, so after plowing and shoveling, throw some rock salt down. This will help to melt the ice that may have been hiding under the snow. Also, to prevent damage to your equipment as well as reduce the risk of an injury, make sure to remove all items from the areas where you will be removing snow. This could be everything from kids toys to larger debris that might have landed in your yard.

Contact Ralph Helm Inc. Lawn Equipment Center for more information on our snow blowers or to schedule a service appointment to ensure your snow blower is in top condition.

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3 Easy Ways to Stay Safe this Winter

Winter can be a beautiful time of the year, but it can also be one of the most hazardous. Not only are the roads more dangerous, but the temperatures can dip well below freezing, and snow and ice can leave you trapped at home! The following safety tips will help you prepare for the most common winter hazards.

Safety Starts at Home

Did you know one of the most common causes of death and serious injuries during the winter is carbon monoxide poisoning? Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be deadly. It’s present in the fumes that your fireplace, gas range and furnace produce. If there’s a leak, the CO can build up in your home and poison anyone inside.

A CO detector is your best defense — it will alert your family if a CO leak is detected so that you can escape the home before an unsafe level is reached. If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector, now is the time to invest in one. Remember to replace the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors at the beginning of each spring and fall.

Other winter safety tips for inside the home include:

  • Never use your oven, especially a gas range, to heat your home.
  • Do not leave your vehicle running inside an attached garage.
  • Invest in a dry-chemical fire extinguisher.
  • Winterizing your home will help keep you warmer and reduce the risk of cold weather injuries, such as hypothermia, especially if the heat goes out in the middle of the night.
  • Ensure all heat sources are properly cleaned and maintained.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended.

Dress for the Weather

Whether you are walking, playing in the snow or shoveling snow and ice, it is essential that you dress appropriately for the weather. Make sure you:

  • Dress in layers.
  • Wear footwear that is warm, waterproof and skid resistant.
  • Walk on the sidewalk, never in the street. and use caution when walking on sidewalks and walkways that have not been shoveled.

Staying warm is extremely important when the temperatures take a big dive. Make sure you know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia, and seek medical attention immediately if you think you might be experiencing any symptoms.

Be Cautious While on the Road

Before the first snow falls, it is important to make sure your vehicle is ready for the winter weather. Take it to a reliable mechanic to ensure that all fluids are full, the battery is in top condition and the tires are suitable for snow and ice. Always take your time and drive slowly, and make sure you have an emergency kit in the vehicle in case you get stuck. Your kit should contain:

  • Small shovel
  • Kitty litter
  • Ice scraper
  • Warm blankets
  • Flares
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Cellphone charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Water
  • Nonperishable snacks
  • Duct tape
  • Tire gauge
  • Gloves
  • Multipurpose utility tool

Contact Ralph Helm Inc. Lawn Equipment Center to learn about the equipment we have available to make snow and ice removal easier and safer!

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Winter Landscaping Tips to Brighten Up Your Home

Winter Landscaping Tips to Brighten Up Your Home

Just because winter has arrived doesn’t mean you have to neglect your home’s curb appeal! Shoveling and plowing aren’t the only ways to care for your landscaping during the winter, though. There are a number of ways to brighten up your home’s landscaping and improve the exterior look of your home during the winter. With careful planning and the following tips, you’ll have a lawn that is just as bright and striking during the winter as it is during the spring and summer months.

Four-Season Perennials

Instead of storing your summertime plant containers, such as hanging baskets and window boxes, fill the containers with all-season perennials. Many perennials have evergreen foliage, such as ornamental grasses, which provide a bright touch to your winter landscaping. A few plants that are perfect for winter containers include, broadleaf evergreens, such as rhododendron and holly. Another option is to fill the containers with brightly colored items, such as evergreen boughs that are adorned with ribbons, ornaments or combined with pinecones and twigs.

Trees and Shrubs

There is a wide range of trees and shrubs that you can plant during the spring that will give your landscaping the pops of color it needs in the winter. Some options may include:

  • Birch trees
  • Christmas holly shrubs
  • Winterberry holly
  • Red twig dogwood
  • Plume grass

Many of these shrubs and trees are small, easy to plant and will provide color and interest to your lawn. Plus, they’ll provide brightly colored berries for the birds!


One of the easiest ways to give your home a brighter curb appeal during the winter is to include hardscapes in your landscaping plans. For example, install brightly colored lava rock around greenery and place an ornamental bench near a small pond. Hanging brightly colored bird feeders in several trees or on lampposts is an easy way to add splashes of color throughout the yard as well as ensure the birds who stick around during the winter are well fed.

Keeping the lawn, walkways and driveways clean and clear are essential for a well-manicured winter landscaping. Contact Ralph Helm Inc. Lawn Equipment Center to learn more information about the types of equipment we have available to help maintain your yard all year round.

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Have You Seen Toro’s New GrandStand® MULTI FORCE Stand-on Mower?

Even with the very best commercial mowing equipment, maintaining lawns for customers is still plenty of hard work. Equipment developers are constantly working to make their mowers as powerful and automated as possible so you can squeeze just one more trim job into each day. The 2016 GrandStand® MULTI FORCE stand-on mower from Toro combines all of the latest advancements in mowing technology for a piece of equipment that makes you money all year round.

The Power of a Faster GrandStand®

This model is far from Toro’s only standing deck mower, but none of the company’s other models move quite as quickly. With a top speed of 10 miles per hour, you can fly across large golf courses and other multi-acre properties. The Grand Stand platform is more than just your usual riding platform as well. The oversized design allows you to move around as necessary to reach the controls of the mower, then it folds up when you’re done to reduce the amount of space needed for storing this model. It also boosts you high enough to keep a clear view of what’s ahead for reduced damage to the mower and the property you’re trimming.

Made to Fit

Despite having a whopping 26.5 horsepower packed into its reliable Kohler engine, it also boasts a smaller footprint than most other commercial models. This means it’s easier than ever to fit it on a crowded work trailer as well. A simplified exterior reduces the numbers of hoses, electrical wiring, and other objects mounted on the outside of the mower. This means you’ll spend a lot less time trying to figure out why your mower won’t start when something gets disconnected in the loading and unloading process.

Works All Year Round

If you need even more of a reason to buy the GrandStand® MULTI FORCE, this beauty can work for you all year round. The change in the seasons is no match for the GrandStand® — attachments can quickly take this machine from lawn mower to leaf blower to snow plow. So don’t think you have to wait to buy one until spring rolls back around. The BOSS® snow plow attachment makes clearing snow from sidewalks and driveways a breeze. The Power Arm on the GrandStand® can lift more than 18 inches, so you won’t have to worry about pushing snow up and over the curb.

Interested in expanding your lawn care business with the help of the Toro GrandStand® MULTI FORCE? Get in touch with us here at Ralph Helm Inc. Lawn Equipment Center for all the details on ordering your very own.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Winter Lawn Care

From keeping your grass shorter before the snowy winter season to keeping people off the grass to protect the turf, lawn care in winter can be a challenge! We’ll break down tips from the pros that are sure to keep your lawn looking wonderful all winter long.

Things to Avoid

There are certain things that logically seem like a good idea but can really damage your grass during the winter. Steer clear of these no-no’s to ensure you’re not singing the blues come spring:

  • Using salt to melt snow from your lawn can cause long-term damage to roots.
  • Removing snow in general is a bad idea. It can insulate your lawn from the elements and keep it safe. Plus, when the snow melts your lawn gets a lovely deep watering!
  • That said, don’t use a snowthrower to scrape excessive loads of snow from your sidewalk or driveway onto your lawn and plants. This heavy heap can suffocate more delicate plants and inhibit growth in the future.

Easy Winter Lawn Care

Follow these simple steps, and your winter wonderland will look fresh as a daisy in spring! Things to do:

  • Marking the edges of your lawn can help you keep from running off the road or walking across the snow-covered lawn, both of which can damage delicate grasses and plants.
  • Keep your grass mown short right before the heavy snows. Long grass is prime nesting ground for pests such as rats and mice looking for winter napping grounds.
  • Water your grass regularly, even during the snowy season. This will help keep your lawn from drying out and dying even when it’s semi-dormant.

Don’t let winter weather wreak havoc on your beautiful lawn! Take steps to prevent winter damage. Need service on your lawn equipment or snow throwers? Ralph Helm, Inc. has you covered for all your landscaping and lawn service needs. Contact us today to learn more!

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Don’t Let Your Landscaping Languish This Winter

Don't Let Your Landscaping Languish This Winter

Maintaining a beautifully manicured and landscaped lawn shouldn’t end in the late fall. Winter can be a time of vibrant colors, fascinating plants and a different type of beauty. Keep your home interesting all year long with winter landscape tips that will keep your neighbors enthralled, and keep a smile on your face each time you see your home. The good news: evergreens are definitely not your only option for great winter landscaping!

Height Is Your Friend

It stands to reason that the first criteria for creating a memorable winter wonderland is that you must be able to see the plants above the snow! Taller options such as ornamental grasses, holly bushes and shrubs are a great bet, and they stay gorgeous all year ’round as well. Taller plants with bright colors are also more likely to attract interesting birds, making for a fun way to pass the time while you’re stuck inside during cold weather.

Breaking Out of the Ordinary

Bright red branches on a snowy landscape can be quite extraordinary, which is one of the reasons that we love the red twig or red osier dogwood trees. The colorful bark on these decorative trees boasts loads of stunning white blooms and fruit in May, but winter is when it really struts its stuff.

Perennial Punch

Hellebores and dianthus are only two of the many four-season perennials that offer a new look in the coldest seasons with evergreen foliage that looks fantastic under a light dusting of snow in the winter. Go with a variety of heights to create an interesting corner of your garden that will be sure to bring a smile to your face and hopefully some cute birds to watch!

Winter landscaping would not be complete without some maintenance, so be sure to stock up on all the parts that you’ll need such as batteries, chainsaw blades and more from Ralph Helm, Inc. Lawn Equipment Center. Learn more about dormant seeding for your lawn to get ready for the cold months ahead on our most recent blog post.

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