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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States


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


Filtering by Tag: raking

Autumn Colors Without the Leaf Clean Up

Chelsea O'Donnell

If I had to rank household tasks from easy to downright dreadful, raking leaves would be near the top of my pain in the "you know what" project list. But as much as I cower at the thought of autumn clean up, I must say that the beautiful display of colors from the trees makes this seasonal task just a little bit more pleasant. If only those changing leaves would stay on the trees just a little while longer!

This got me thinking, what if we could enjoy the beautiful colors of fall for more time during the year with less raking and maintenance? With that being said, I have put together a list of my favorite plants and shrubs that offer the look and feel of autumn from spring to the first snow.

Japanese Maple

This is one of my favorites for its vibrant red leaves that stay bright for three seasons of the year. The Japanese maple is a smaller tree, growing between two and 30 feet tall depending on the variety, but it requires a low level of maintenance (preferring full sun to partial shade) and adds a lot of color to any property.  


This tree blooms early in the spring with bright pink and purple flowers and then transforms through the summer with the appearance of green, tulip-shaped leaves. In the autumn, the leaves turn a nice golden color, making it a real horticultural chameleon with a lot of personality. The tree, which can grow to around 30 feet, even produces bold buds on its trunk and structural branches.

Witch Hazel

My daughter tells me that this shrub is dual functioning as the bark from its stems and roots are extracted and distilled into many popular natural facial toners. But besides its skincare benefits, witch hazel also offers dazzling yellow leaves and flowers that produce a pleasingly spicy scent from October through December. 

Burning Bush

With a name like that, you won’t be surprised to find this flowering plant sprouting with fire red leaves that will add a real pop of color to your shrubbery from spring to fall. A word to the wise on this one though – its aggressive growth tendencies actually put it on the list of prohibited plants in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, so you’ll want to keep it well contained. 


This one is my wife’s favorites. You might see kale on menus in restaurants all over town, but the vegetable also looks great in the garden and can be used to add loads of color to pots, on porches, and anywhere else around the yard. Kale is one of many cousins in the cabbage family and its green, white and purple leaves have serious staying power – even peeking through after the first winter frost.

This variety of plants, trees, and shrubs is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of keeping fall colors in your yard all year long. What are your favorite autumn-hued plant picks? I'd love to hear from you. Drop me an email or send me a message on Facebook at

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to 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 Advice is for guidance only.


Tackle Your Spring Projects This Weekend

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you’re like me, you’re probably enjoying the unseasonably warm winter that we’re having here in Connecticut. With temperatures predicted to hit the mid-40’s this weekend, I got to thinking about some of the “around the house” projects that you can get out of the way now, rather than waiting for spring.

Basement Remodeling

Does the anticipation of Super Bowl Sunday have you day dreaming about the perfect man cave?  Winter is an excellent time to tackle the task. Obviously being in the basement, you don’t have to worry about any outside or weather-related factors, and generally you might find that contractors lower their rates during their slowest time of the year. You might even be able to enlist the help of a few friends with the promise of refreshments and a seat in front of the new big screen!  


Give the rooms inside your home an instant facelift with a coat of fresh paint. This job is perfect for this kind of weather because you can open up the windows to let the paint dry quickly and evenly. A painting project should take no more than a weekend to complete and if you’re not up to the task yourself, take advantage of those low rates I mentioned and contact a professional. The winter slow season might just be the time to nab a deal.

Leaf Pick Up

Raking leaves is a rotten task but with a little mid-winter maintenance, your job will get much easier come spring. First, invest in an ergonomic rake so you don’t hurt your back and shoulders. Move the same way as the wind and rake using smaller, sweeping motions rather than trying to grab huge piles as you go. Cleanup along the way so you’re not chasing leaves you’ve already raked and don’t push your piles into the street so they blow into your neighbor’s yard.  Use them as compost for your spring planting instead. 

Wood Floor Treatment

If your floors are looking a bit dull, brighten them up by giving them a light sanding and a few coats of polyurethane. Wood can be tough to maintain because it’s used and abused so often, but if you have a maintenance schedule that you stick to every few years, you’ll not only keep them looking great, you’ll also lengthen their lifecycle. Keep those floors shining by putting felt pads on furniture legs and avoid any cleaners with ammonia, vinegar or harsh chemicals. 

Deck Staining

Staining the deck is one of my least favorite jobs around the house, so getting it over and done with is something I always look forward to. Firstly, make sure no rain is in the forecast, as you’ll want a few sunny days to ensure your stain dries properly. Sweep or blow any leaves and pesky maple helicopters from the surface, cracks and crevasses of the deck. Apply a cleaner to get rid of any mold and mildew and replace missing nails or screws to ensure your boards don’t creep up. Always apply stain on a dry surface in thin, even coats to get the best result.  

Do you have a weekend project that you’re tackling in the warm winter weather? I’d love to hear about it. Send me a message on Facebook at