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!

Hardscapes

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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Want Your Lawn to Survive the Winter? Here’s What You Need to Know

Winter isn’t typically the time many people think about lawn care, but just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your lawn should be ignored. Winter is just as important when it comes to laying the groundwork for a healthy lawn in the spring. Before you put away the lawn mower and prepare for a few months of no weeding or grass mowing, here are a few things you can do to ensure you’ll have a lush, green lawn come spring.

Pre-Winter Mowing

It is important to mow your lawn short for the winter, especially in areas of the country, such as Illinois where there is a risk of heavy snow. About one month before winter arrives, gradually lower the cutting height each time you mow, until the blades are as low as they can go. Snow can cause high grass to lay over on itself, causing reduced air circulation that can lead to snow mold and/or permanent damage to the grass. After your last mow of the season, prepare the mower for spring by draining the gas tank, change the oil and clean the underside of the mower.

Final Fertilization

Late fall is the perfect time to aerate and give your lawn a final fertilization. Clear the lawn of any debris, such as toys and gardening equipment before you aerate and fertilize. Aerating your lawn before the first freeze will help to reduce the thatch next spring and a good round of fertilization will allow your lawn to store much needed nutrients in the root system, both of which will prepare your lawn for beautiful spring growth.

Dormant Perennials

If you have dormant perennial plants, cut back brown tops. Do not cut the tops if they are still green, wait until they turn yellow or brown. Trees and shrubs typically do not need any special care before winter; as long as proper pruning and trimming was completed in the early fall.

Remove lawn furniture and store in a dry location, such as the garage. Make sure to gather winter lawn equipment from the back of the garage before placing spring and summer equipment in. If necessary, take snow throwers and other winter equipment in for professional servicing before the first snow falls.

Contact Ralph Helm Inc. to schedule routine servicing and maintenance on your summer and/or winter lawn equipment.

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Preparing Outdoor Power Equipment for Winter

Preparing Outdoor Power Equipment for Winter

Fall is nearly finished, which means winter will be here soon. It’s time to put away the lawn mower and weed eater and move the snow blower and generator toward the front of the garage. After the last mow of the season, it is important to properly prepare your outdoor lawn equipment for winter. The following tips will help ensure your summer and fall power equipment is ready to be stored and the winter equipment is ready for use.

Maintenance, Servicing and Storing Summer Equipment

Before summer power equipment is stored for the season, it should be cleaned and serviced. Whether you do the maintenance and servicing yourself or you take it to a repair shop, it is important to:

  • Drain and change the engine oil
  • Clean the undercarriage on the mower and sharpen the blades
  • Clean the air filter

Spring and summer equipment should be stored in a clean, dry area, such as the garage or a shed, and the gas should be drained before storing.

Preparing Winter Power Equipment

Before using any of the winter equipment, it is best to review the owner’s manual just to re-familiarize yourself with required maintenance and how to safely handle the equipment. Carefully inspect your snow blower and generator to ensure there are no damages, such as loose or damaged wiring that occurred during storage. Preparations for use should include:

  • Recharging the battery to make sure it has a full charge in case of an unexpected winter storm
  • Fill gas cans with the type of fuel recommended for your equipment (this information can usually be found in the owner’s manual)
  • Check the oil level, then change and/or refill if necessary
  • Check spark plugs to ensure they are clean and securely in place

This is also the time to prepare your small, non-powered tools and equipment. Inspect your snow shovels to make sure there is no damage to the blade and that the handle is securely in place. Make sure you have plenty of salt on hand and that it is placed in a convenient location, such as toward the front of the garage or shed.

Contact Ralph Helm Inc. Lawn Equipment Center to learn more information about safely preparing outdoor equipment for winter or to schedule an appointment for maintenance and servicing on all of your lawn equipment.

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