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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 Tag: healthy

Get Rid of Unsightly Crabgrass and Breathe New Life Into Your Lawn

Chelsea O'Donnell

With so much rain early in the season followed by a long period of hot and humid weather, this summer is definitely a record-breaker for crabgrass. This thick, clumpy weed is not only ugly but it’s bad for your lawn’s health too. You might be thinking that since we’re halfway through summer, there’s not much you can do, but treating crabgrass now is actually a smart move that will give your lawn a lush look before the season ends. 

As I said, crabgrass is a weed and just like other weeds, it likes to take over. Once it gets its roots down, it spreads quickly, killing healthy grass in its path. Of course, crabgrass dies on its own when it starts to turn cold, but not treating it means it’s more likely to come back next year. So here’s what you can do today to get rid of it and keep it at bay for next year. 

The best course of action is a pre-emergent, but that’s only good in the spring before the crabgrass starts to grow, so if you missed it, it looks like you’ll be pulling by hand. That’s right, get out that kneepad because the best way to remove the weed is to pull it out, ensuring the roots come with it. It’s been dry for a long time here in Connecticut, but recent rain will loosen those roots up a bit. 

Once you have the crabgrass out, you can fill in the bare spots with healthy grass seed and plenty of water. It’s important to wait to reseed if you’ve recently sprayed your lawn with weed killer as the seeds won’t be able to grow. The water is also key here because the heat does make it tough for grass to grow. 

Now for your mowing. It’s best to keep the grass a bit longer and to let the clippings stay in place to give some nutrients and shade back into the lawn. Three inches is a good, healthy length for both old and new grass. 

If you’re looking for a chemical solution, you can use a post-emergent but this can be tricky as the wrong product will kill your grass. When in doubt, it’s best to leave this job to a professional landscaper who can advise you on the most appropriate course of action. You don’t want to accidentally burn your whole lawn while trying to save it!

Don’t forget, treating your lawn with a pre-emergent in the spring is the best way to avoid crabgrass in the first place. Crabgrass starts to germinate when the soil reaches 55 degrees, so it’s a good idea to get out there in April to ensure that your hard work is worth the effort.

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 http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.


Bob’s Top Tips for Building a Treehouse This Spring

Chelsea O'Donnell

Last week we talked about some tips for planning a treehouse build. This week, I wanted to go over some of the basics to consider when taking this project on. Every treehouse will be different in terms of their size, shape, and configuration, but there are a few common rules to be aware of regardless of the type of hideaway you are building.

Keep Design in Mind

While many people prefer a more rustic approach, there are also hundreds of amazing treehouse plans that you can access through the internet. Check out www.treehousesupplies.com which offers plans for every size and shape of house and www.theclassicarchives.com which also includes a shopping list for all the lumber and equipment you’ll need. A treehouse with some pizazz can actually increase your resale value if you decide to move house after the kids have grown and gone.

Level the Floor

Building a structure that’s off the ground is tough, but it’s important to get the platform completely level with the weight evenly distributed between the tree branches or the supports. You can do this by laying the beams across the branches or running the beams between multiple tree trunks and then shimming them until they are level. If you’re building around the base of one tree, you can level it using your supports. Treehouses can last a lifetime and you want to make sure you get the first step right or the rest of the build is going to be more difficult.

Build in Pieces

Rather than trying to construct your house up in the trees, consider building each section on the ground first and then hoisting it into position using a backhoe or a pulley system. Generally, the four walls and the roof can be built on the ground and then assembled when it's on the base. Measurement is key here because you want to be absolutely sure your treehouse fits when it is in place.

Keep the Tree Healthy

Building a treehouse can put a lot of strain on the tree itself and punctures will leave it more susceptible to disease. Use floating brackets to allow for flexible support so the tree can move and sway in the wind the way that it's supposed to. You can purchase specialty fasteners that are made specifically for treehouses that will do less damage and keep the house secure. Also, remember that trees grow and the size it is now will change in 10 or 20 years time. Don't build too tightly around it.

Remember the Extras

A treehouse is all about imagination, so don’t be afraid to get creative with some fun add-ons. A tire-swing, zip line, ladder, bridge, fold down seating, water cannon or a fireman’s pole are some of my favorites. Also, consider making a pulley system to help kids get toys, snacks, and games up to the treehouse so they can climb in and out as safely as possible.

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 http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Reduce Indoor Air Pollution and Breathe Easy With These Five Tips

Chelsea O'Donnell

When most people think about air pollution, they envision smog and exhaust that exits factories and cars, contaminating the air that we breathe outside. But did you know that the air inside your home can be shockingly more polluted than what you’re breathing outdoors? Believe it or not, lead, radon, formaldehyde, dust, cleaning chemicals, mold, mites, and pet dander are all hidden pollutants living inside your home, affecting your family’s health on a day-to-day basis. While we don’t want to think about it, it’s a common reality that I see in houses all over our area and it’s doing more damage than you probably realize.

Because people are spending more time indoors, we are seeing indoor air pollution take its toll more severely, especially in young children and elderly people who can develop asthma or breathing problems due to the hidden contaminants in their home. So what can you do to make sure your air quality is up to par? Here are five simple tips:

Get tested. Radon and lead tests can be done by a professional and are also available in at-home kits. If your home as built before the late 1970’s it’s a good idea to have it tested as lead-based paint was highly common and causes a range of health problems, especially in young children. As for radon, it just so happens to be the number two cause of lung cancer in the USA.

Watch the water. Mold loves moisture, so if your home regularly clocks humidity levels above 50%, you’ll want to start running a dehumidifier. The amount of mold and mildew build-up I see in people’s homes would shock you, yet they wonder why their kids have asthma and their elderly parents can’t breathe. Here’s an extra tip: a humidity reader costs less than $10 at the local hardware store.

Clean your vents. Proper ventilation is vital to ensuring your home can breathe properly. While most people don’t have enough attic ventilation as it is, they also forget to clean the vents that are accessible and easy to maintain. The dryer vent, air conditioning filter, and even your blow-dryer are likely chock full of dust and dander so be sure to keep them clean.

Go green. Household plants are a fantastic natural ally in keeping your air quality up to scratch. Palms, ferns, English Ivy, and Peace Lily are common indoor plants that also earn top marks for ridding the air of toxins. Just remember that you’ll need one plant for every 10 square yards of living space.

Make it a habit. Cleaning the house regularly will improve air quality simply because dust traps chemicals and allergens in it. Upgrade your vacuum cleaner for one with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and make sure to wash kids stuffed animals regularly with hot water as dust mites love living in fabric materials. When you start running low on a household cleaning product, swap it out for an all-natural alternative without the harsh chemicals. While you’re at it, say goodbye to those synthetic fragrances too - according to one study, a popular plug-in air freshener was found to contain 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including seven regulated as toxic under U.S. law. An essential oil diffuser will do the job without the poisonous toxins. Now breathe.

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 http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only. Contact us today!