3 Easy Grow Shrubs for Spring

Is your inner gardener waking up from hibernation? Spring is just weeks away, and there’s no need to hold back your green thumb anymore. Plant these easy grow shrubs for a sensational, stress-free landscape. It’s time to make spring bloom!

Lacecap Hydrangea

If you want to flex your gardening muscles, hydrangeas are our top pick. They’re delicate, voluminous, and thrive in well-drained soil. What’s the fun part? They change colors based on the pH of your soil. Play around with the acidity of your soil to change hydrangeas from pink to blue (or a purply mix of the two). The more aluminum in the soil, the bluer they’ll be! A few pro tips:

  • It’s easier to change hydrangeas from pink to blue than vice versa, so keep that in mind when you purchase your plants
  • White hydrangeas won’t change color no matter how much you amend the soil

yellow daylilyStella D’Oro Daylily

These smiling, sunny flowers make us happy just thinking about them. Add a dose of warmth to the spring landscape by planting them in early to mid spring. Make sure they get full sun to light shade. These lovely lilies love smiling at the sky!

Knockout Rose

Easy to grow, hard to kill, and with a flair for the dramatic, knockout roses are one of the most popular plants for springtime. Just don’t decide “low maintenance” means “no maintenance.” They still need water, fertilizer, and enough sunlight to thrive.

Did your favorite low maintenance spring shrubs make the cut? If not, visit Ace of Gray and share your favorite plants for the spring landscape.

Plan Your Spring Garden Redesign

As winter ends and nature awakens, you might consider improving the look of your yard. One of the main challenges of spring landscaping is having the right vision of what your garden design could look like after the changes are made. Ace of Gray can provide expert advice about outlay, color, type of flowers and shrubs, maintenance, feeding, tools, or anything else that can help create a quality landscape.

Garden Design Tips

bird bath and flowersDo you have a feature in your yard that stands out? A fountain, outdoor fireplace, dining area, or anything else that draws the first glance? Shrubs can be strategically planted around your outdoor entertaining area in patterns that are pleasing to the eye, creating a personal space for your family and guests.

If you wanted to add some color to your landscape, annual flowers are available in every hue imaginable. While perennials are better value for money, adding various annuals each year allows you to find your preferred color through experiment and testing. The most popular annuals are petunias, zinnias, impatiens, and marigold. Some more exotic choices include cleome, lisianthus, Joseph’s coat, or gazania.

Plant arbors, birdbaths or other ornamentals now. When the flowers grow around them, your hardscaping elements will look twice as nice.

5 Spring Landscaping Tips

  1. Always prune hedges and clean up winter debris like dry branches, leaves, and dead plants.
  2. Apply pre-emergents to prevent weeds from developing.
  3. Check the condition of irrigation equipment and tune your lawnmower regularly.
  4. Keep the lawn watered to ensure the healthy growth of new grass.
  5. Mow any cool season grasses like fescue.

The new plants are at gentle stage of beginning of their growth. Applying these tips now can contribute to your garden displaying its full potential throughout the year.

Is Your Garden Ready for Spring?

If you want your garden to look beautiful this spring, the time to start prepping is now. Check out these spring lawn care tips to get your garden ready for a gorgeous spring.

Give Your Tools a Bath

After being used to dig in the dirt, it is no surprise that garden tools get messy fast. Prepare them for another season of hard work in the garden by giving them a good scrub. All you need is some soap and water. To keep your gardening tools in top shape, do this at the beginning and end of gardening season, plus any other times that they get especially dirty. While you’re cleaning your tools, rubs some mineral spirits on any wooden handles. This will help keep the wood from splintering as you do your spring gardening. Early spring is also an excellent time to tune-up your lawn mower or get a professional service.

Tidy Up the Garden

Your carefully maintained garden can become a bit of a mess during the fall and winter. Clear away any branches, leaves, and debris that may have accumulated over the last few months. It is important to do this task early, before the weather really starts warming up. You don’t want to risk damaging or disturbing any bulbs and plants as they start to sprout. You should also apply pre-emergent herbicides well before weeds start sprouting.

Prep the Soil

organic garden sprinklerThe soil will play a critical role in supporting your garden throughout the spring and summer. Give it the care it needs before you begin planting. Start by using your pitchfork and rake to turn the soil over. Remove any weeds you find. A few weeks before you begin planting, add compost or manure. This gives it time to integrate the nutrients into the soil and prevents the fertilizers from burning your plants’ roots.

How to Get Involved in National Bird Feeding Month

Attracting winter birds to your yard is a great way to help protect wildlife. It also adds color to a dreary, lifeless landscape. February is the most difficult month for wild birds to find the food and shelter they need. There’s no better time to dust off those bird feeders!

National Bird Feeding Month

February was declared National Bird Feeding Month to help wildlife survive the harshest part of the winter. How can you get involved with backyard birding?

  • bird feederBuild a buffet. Just like people, the way to a bird’s heart is through its stomach. Attract colorful birds to your backyard by putting out winter bird feed like sunflower seeds, cracked corn, fruit, mealworms, and suet. Ace of Gray sells bird feeders, but if you want to get creative, these DIY bird feeders will look as good as they’ll taste.
  • Provide shelter. Animals need protection from the elements, especially in winter. Buy a bird feeder from Ace of Gray or plan a fun weekend project and teach your kids to build their own.
  • Let them splash around. Who wants to take a bath in the bitter cold? Birds! Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you should drain your birdbath. Not only will birds still splash around, birdbaths are a vital source of water for many winter birds. Keep the water from freezing by putting a handful of pingpong balls in the water. If it’s in the shade, move it to direct sunlight to keep it warm during the day.

National Bird Feeding Month is a great way to teach kids about winter birds, help with wildlife conservation, and add vitality to a dull winter landscape. Visit Ace of Gray for backyard birding supplies.

The Sweetest Valentine’s Day Gifts

Not sure what to get that special someone this year? Valentine’s Day can put a lot of pressure on relationships, no matter how long you’ve been together. But you have an ace in the hole! Ace of Gray has every Valentine’s Day gift you could ask for.

The Valentine’s Classics

woman and heartsDoes your S.O. love the classic romance of Valentine’s Day? So do we! Every year we get creative with well-loved gifts like chocolate, teddy bears, gift baskets, and fresh bouquets from our in-house florist. You can even personalize presents with monograms. And we deliver! Surprise your spouse with their favorite flowers at work or send your daughter a box of candy at school to show her you’ll always be her #1 supporter (and supplier of chocolate).

Tough Lovers

Does your loved one prefer muddy boots to chocolate kisses? We can help! Our gift center isn’t all hearts and roses. We also carry practical gifts that will show the adventurer in your life how much you care. Buy his and hers hiking boots and plan a night of camping just for two, or get your husband that Stihl leaf blower he’s had his eye on. It’s a gift for him and a gift for you. After all, acts of service is one of the 5 Love Languages!

Crafts and Kisses

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones made with care. Do you have a dozen DIY gifts pinned online? Get crafting! Ace of Gray has craft supplies and building materials to make your DIY Valentine’s Day gifts a breeze.

Whether you’re a romantic planner or a last-minute shopper, Ace of Gray has what you need to make this Valentine’s Day a success.

5 Ways to Make Your Home Brighter This Year

A brand new year is just over the horizon, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’ve made our pacts to drink more water, eat fewer cookies, and spend more time with the people we love. But something is missing . . .

5 Home Improvement Resolutions for 2017

  1. woman painting the houseDon’t call the pros (unless it’s a specialized project). We wouldn’t recommend redoing your home electrical system unless you have some serious training, but things like fixing the garbage disposal, repairing drywall, and fixing a leaky faucet are much simpler than they appear. Save money and fix it yourself!
  2. Cut the energy bill. Double check that your HVAC system isn’t leaking air (and wasting your money). Seal any holes or cracks you find, and consider insulating your heating and cooling system. Dial back the thermostat when you’re not at home to save even more.
  3. Go big when you go home. Even if you live in a tiny house or apartment, you can make a small home feel spacious with a few simple interior design tricks.
  4. Don’t delay. We’ve all been there. “I’ll do it tomorrow” turns into “I’ll do it next week,” and soon your critter problem is out of control. Don’t delay on important home improvement projects this year. You’d be surprised at how much money and stress you save.
  5. Grab a coat and go outside. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you’re stuck inside. Use this opportunity to build a backyard fire pit or finish those deck renovations you started last summer.

Visit Ace of Gray for home improvement tips and tools.

5 Gifts for the Handyman in Your Life

Are you still searching for the perfect Christmas gift for the handyman (or woman) in your life? Look no further than these 5 handyman gifts for all budgets.

5 Gifts for Home Improvement Lovers

  1. 5 gifts for handymanSpot light kit. The days are getting shorter, but to-do lists are getting longer. Brighten up those late-night projects with a spot light kit from Ace of Gray.
  2. Ratcheting screwdriver set. For the handyman who needs a little bit of everything, this screwdriver set comes with 18 removable screwdriver heads and a maneuverable ratchet handle. Best of all? The whole thing fits on your belt!
  3. Swiss army knife. Speaking of “a little bit of everything,” no handyman would be caught without a Swiss Army knife. When your favorite handyman just can’t resist tinkering with a project, a Swiss Army knife will save the day until he can get to his tool kit. Get one in classic red or cobalt blue, or upgrade to a Swiss Army Camper Knife, which comes with a corkscrew and other handy features.
  4. Power tools. Is your daughter a fledgling Etsy craft queen? Does your son have a new project every week? Is your spouse’s reliable belt sander getting a little old? We have a full range of power tools at Ace Hardware in Gray. From compact drills to grinders to multi-tool kits, we have everything your DIYer needs to get their next project off the ground.
  5. Power equipment. Go all out this year with a Toro Timemaster push mower or a Stihl hedge trimmer. One gorgeous lawn (and happy husband) coming right up!

There are only a few days left to finish your Christmas shopping. Visit Ace of Gray for gifts for the DIYer in your life.

DIY Skills Everyone Should Have

If you buy your own groceries, clean your own house, and occasionally eat cereal in your underwear while paying the electric bill, then congratulations: you’re officially an adult. That means you go to work, spend weekends landscaping or decluttering the house, and you have at least partial control of the remote. It also means you should have mastered these home improvement skills years ago. (Don’t worry. We promise not to tell if you’re still learning).

5 Home Improvement Skills Everyone Should Have

  1. How to hang a picture. Arbitrarily tacking nails into the wall (or worse, nailing tacks into the wall) may be how you did it in college, but that won’t fly once you reach adulthood. To properly hang a picture, first measure 57”to 63” up your wall. Why? That’s the height that museums and art curators recommend for best displaying your artwork. Make a mark with a pencil where you want to nail. Make sure you use a picture hanger that can bear the weight of both the picture and the frame. Nail, hang, and voila!
  2. How to install a hanging shelf. First step? Locate the studs in your drywall. If you haven’t mastered the “knock and listen” method, pick up a stud finder at Ace of Gray. While you’re here, make sure you also grab the right size anchors, or your drywall will crumble and the contents of your shelf will end up broken on the floor. Carefully follow the instructions included with your shelf.
  3. staining cabinetsHow to stain wood. A nice finish is the cherry on top of any DIY sundae. But if you don’t know what you’re doing with the wood stain, things can get a little messy. Using a paintbrush, apply a thin layer of wood stain, painting with the grain. Wait the amount of time recommended on the can, then wipe it away with an old rag (again, moving with the grain). If you want a darker stain, you can leave the stain on longer or reapply after 4 hours.
  4. How to reseal a window. If your caulk is moldy or crumbling, it needs to go. Scrape away old caulk with a screwdriver. Clean the surface and make sure it’s dry before whipping out the caulk gun and applying a new seal.
  5. How to replace a shower head. Simply buy a new one, unscrew the old one, and replace the teflon tape from the shower pipe. Screw on your new shower head and you’re ready to go.

Need supplies, ideas, or advice on a project that didn’t make our list? Ace of Gray is here to help. Visit our home improvement store for tips and tricks for your next project.

Staining Cabinets

Overlooked Areas for Home Improvement

When it comes to home renovations, our minds default to the big stuff: gleaming kitchens, elegant bedrooms, and sprawling outdoor entertaining spaces. And while we’ll never tell you not to buy that Big Green Egg for the back porch (seriously, have you ever tasted a slow-cooked steak?), there are a few areas of the home in need of a little TLC. Next time you have some funds in your home improvement budget, consider these often overlooked spaces.

Areas for Your Next Home Improvement Project

  1. The entryway. It’s the first thing your guests see when they enter the home, but for many homeowners, it’s ordinary to the point of invisibility. If you’re not already used to the bare walls and cluttered shoes by the door, you probably come in through the garage door. Update the entryway for a quick, inexpensive home improvement project that will make a big difference.
  2. pressure washing the drivewayThe driveway. Homeowners worry endlessly about curb appeal, putting in new flowering shrubs and ripping them up mercilessly if they don’t perform. But if the driveway is cracked or caked in grime, no amount of gardening will make it look good. Start out by assessing the integrity of your driveway. Fix any cracks in the concrete. Then pressure wash the concrete to restore it to its crisp, clean color. Once that’s done, you can line it with flowers, shrubs, and garden ornaments to your heart’s content.
  3. The laundry room. If you’re like most people, you like to pretend the laundry room doesn’t exist unless you have a load in the wash. Laundry rooms are often dreary, cluttered affairs, making the task of weekly laundry seem like an insurmountable task. But with a little organization, a fresh coat of paint, and even a wall hanging or two, your laundry room can become as soft and welcoming as towels fresh out of the dryer.

Ace of Gray has the tips and tools for all your summer home improvement needs. For help with your next home improvement project, visit our store or shop supplies online.

Pressure Washing

Father’s Day DIY: How to Build a Cooler Cart

What do you get for the man who already has a Yeti cooler, Big Green Egg, and Cub Cadet mower? Sounds like your father could use a DIY gift this year. No, we don’t mean a handmade card with $50 bucks in it. Change the way your dad does cookouts, lake days, and outdoor living with a DIY cooler stand for Father’s Day.

How to Build a Cooler Cart

  1. backyard cookoutMeasure the cooler. Trust us, you don’t want to finish this project, only to find you miscalculated and made the opening an inch too small. Take careful measurements before beginning any building project. Beware of sloped edges throwing off your measurements.
  2. Pick your design. A basic cooler stand has a drain, bottom shelf, lid, and optional wheels. If you know what you’re doing, you can also customize the design based on your dad’s preferences.
  3. Visit Ace of Gray for lumber and supplies. You can’t make a good Father’s Day present without quality building materials. Stock up on lumber and other tools you’ll need to build a Yeti cooler cart.
  4. Build and finish your cooler stand. Once you’ve gathered your materials, cut everything to size, and fitted the cart together, you can finish the stand with paint or waterproof stain. After you’ve added the drain and additional hardware, add a few custom details such as decor for the front panel or a bottle opener installed on the side.
  5. Fill ‘er up and fire up the grill. You’re ready to celebrate Father’s Day!

Found an item missing from your dad’s grilling arsenal? Save Father’s Day with a trip to Ace of Gray. We’re fully stocked on grills and grilling accessories, outdoor living accessories, camping gear, and other gifts for dad this Father’s Day.

Outdoor Living