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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
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8605895155

Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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Articles

O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.

 

Filtering by Category: DIY

It's Time for Spring Planting

Chelsea O'Donnell

With the weather finally getting warmer, now is a great time to start preparing the garden for planting. While most people think the cold ground is too brutal for little sprouts to handle, there are a handful of hearty veggies that can thrive in the early spring. Let’s get the growing season started with these tips.

First, you need to prepare your beds or planters so your seeds can thrive. Once the soil is dry, you can start to turn it, but only if it crumbles in your hand. If soil sticks together like glue, you should wait or you’ll risk destroying the structure. You can topdress beds with compost to give the soil a nutrient boost when the time is right.

Once the soil is ready, it’s time to get planting. If you’re Irish, you know the old tradition of planting peas on St. Patrick’s Day for good luck. I don’t mind waiting a few more weeks, but getting them into the ground in early April is a must. They don’t call them spring peas for nothing!

After your peas, you can start to pop in other cold-tolerant vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. You’ll need to ensure they are protected, but getting them into the ground early is a good idea as they’ll get a headstart before the onslaught of pesky bugs and rodents. Radishes, spinach, and lettuce varieties are good spring plants too as they can generally survive a late-season frost.

If you have an indoor gardening facility, now is also a great time to get tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers started. The seeds can’t take the outdoors yet, but getting them ready to bask under fluorescent lights will ensure that you have a healthy harvest come summer.

As for other gardening jobs, early April is a good time to begin pruning apple trees, shrubs, and rose bushes. Deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted and now is a good time to get the lawn aerated. If you’re desperate for some color in the yard, spring-blooming pansies are a good pick for planters or beds since they do well in the colder weather and come in nearly every color under the sun. Daffodils and crocus are also popular and will make a nice backdrop for a neighborhood Easter egg hunt.

Of course, you know your own yard best, and getting in the garden too early can set you up for a disappointing harvest come summer. When in doubt, consult with your local gardening expert and use this time to get your soil in tip-top shape to ensure your plantings can survive and thrive this season.

Bob O'Donnell is the owner of O'Donnell Bros, Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro”. All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O'Donnell Bros, Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Don't Get Too Salty When Preparing for Snow Removal

Chelsea O'Donnell

While we’ve been lucky so far, snow removal is an inevitable chore that we Connecticut homeowners have come to accept as part of our winter routine. And while we’ve only had an early few inches, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the main event come January.  

Shoveling and plowing are pretty straightforward activities, but one question that I get asked is how to choose the right melting product to make snow removal easier on the back and the wallet. Snow melting agents generally come in two forms - traditional rock salt, also known as sodium chloride, and calcium chloride. While they sound similar, the two are actually quite different and each has its advantages and drawbacks.

Sodium chloride, or rock salt, is a dry material that’s mined and applied to pavement using a walk behind residential spreader or commercial spreaders that are mounted on trucks. Sodium chloride is activated by moisture and will begin to melt the snow when it gets wet. The problem with sodium chloride is that because it’s activated by water, it doesn’t work well if the temperature is below 15 degrees.  However, if temperatures are above 15 degrees, sodium chloride can be a good, inexpensive choice that will take longer to melt but will keep your walkways dry. If you have vegetation or animals, take note that sodium chloride will be harmful to plants and can hurt animals if ingested.

When temperatures dip below 15 degrees, calcium chloride is going to be your best bet. This liquid agent is sprayed onto payment and works instantly to melt snow and ice. In fact, calcium chloride can melt snow up to eight times faster than traditional rock salt alone. Of course, there are a few downsides to consider. Calcium chloride gets hot fast, so while its effective short term, it might not be able to do the full job in a huge storm. It’s also more expensive than traditional rock salt and stays wet, which can lead to slippery surfaces. On the plus side, it’s non-corrosive and won’t harm vegetation, although you’ll still want to keep your pets away from it.

Bob O'Donnell is the owner of O'Donnell Bros, Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro”. All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O'Donnell Bros, Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Five Hosting Hacks for the Holidays

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you are responsible for hosting holiday festivities, chances are you’ll probably spend this weekend trying to figure out how to fit guests comfortably in your home. While entertaining can be fun, it’s also a time when metal chairs are dusted off, table leaves are unpacked, and spaces are reconfigured to accommodate a crowd. This is also the time when homeowners start thinking about future remodeling projects and how they can make updates to create more space for people to gather. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite holiday hosting hacks to make life a little easier this Christmas.

  1. Keep the chef sane. The kitchen is always a major attraction for people to congregate to see what’s cooking, help with clean-up, or just to linger for a chat. This type of gathering can be stressful for a holiday chef on the move, so it’s nice to have a plan to keep people out of the way. I like to create temporary seating in eyesight but away from the cooking area itself using a few chairs, benches, or even a spare sofa. This will accommodate guests who want to be part of the action while keeping them away from the food preparation.

  2. Make a holiday cocktail for all. Festive sangria, mulled wine, or spiced cider are all great options that will please a crowd without having to spend a fortune on too many different types of beverages. Plus, a punch or winter warmer encourages guests to serve themselves, allowing the hosts to be more focused on food, fun and other aspects of entertaining.

  3. Keep the fridge functional. Speaking of drinks, don’t let lots of small items such as bottles and cans, condiments you’re not using, and old leftovers take up valuable real estate. Set up a cooler on the back deck for beer, water, and soft drinks, and hide another one away to store the day-to-day items that you won't need for Christmas. With so many ingredients to keep cool, every square inch of space can be useful in some way.

  4. Give the oven an upgrade. Somehow there is never enough space for everything that needs to be cooked. While kitchen remodels are certainly off the table for this time of year, a simple three-tiered oven rack is a great way to increase your capacity instantly. It’s like having a double oven and is the perfect solution to get plenty of pies and sides in with that turkey or ham.

  5. Don’t forget to de-ice. You never know what kind of weather Christmas can bring so be sure to be prepared with plenty of salt or sand for the driveway, sidewalks, and walkways. It’s also a good idea to have de-icer on hand for your guest’s windshields in case it snows while the party is in full swing.

On a personal note, it’s been a wonderful year and I want to wish you all a safe, happy holiday season and a fantastic 2019. Merry Christmas!

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.