Tag Archives: Home Maintenance

Say Bye-Bye to Mosquitoes and Ticks!

We’re well into spring, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and it SHOULD be a wonderful time to get some fresh air! But two things can majorly get in the way of enjoying the great outdoors: TICKS and MOSQUITOES. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to enjoy my patio without having to worry incessantly about either of those pests!


With the large population of deer combined with the rivers and ponds in our area, it’s an unfortunate truth that we have to deal with ticks and mosquitoes. The threat of Lyme disease makes ticks particularly worrisome, and their tiny size means that many bites go unnoticed. As for mosquitoes: not only do their bites itch like crazy (and they just loooove biting some people more than others–you know who you are!), they also carry dangerous diseases and can cause secondary infections.

Last Bite MosquitoIn recent years I’d heard glowing reviews of businesses that will treat your yard periodically to ward off ticks and mosquitoes. One friend said it was “life changing,” now that her family was able to enjoy pest-free backyard living after suffering endless mosquito bites in years past. It almost sounded too good to be true. I caught up with the co-owner of Last Bite Mosquito Control to discuss these services and see what all the fuss is about. 

Last Bite is based out of Monmouth County but services all of Union County. They are members of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce and will soon be opening an office in town. Twin brothers and physical education teachers Jason and Jeremy Julio launched the company in 2013, after Jeremy’s son had contracted a staph infection from an infected mosquito bite (scary!). They thoroughly researched mosquito and tick prevention, got licensed, and their family company has grown exponentially ever since. 

When it comes to preventing mosquitoes in your own backyard, home remedies just don’t cut it. Jason said, “Mosquitoes can breed in something as small as a bottlecap.” So even if you get rid of a couple of mosquitoes here and there, it takes an expert to locate and treat the breeding areas of mosquitoes. 

The treatment process is described as follows on Last Bite’s website: 

Last Bite Mosquito Control has highly trained and licensed technicians that will survey your yard and identify any high risk areas that could be used as mosquito breeding grounds.  A fine mist of our Barrier Spray (derived from the chrysanthemum plant) will be applied to the perimeter of your home. cThe treatment will include trees, shrubs, evergreens, flowers, foliage plants and all landscaping within the treatment area. Larvicide will then be placed to all mosquito breeding grounds at no additional charge. Our Barrier Spray treatment kills mosquitoes and ticks on contact and continues to provide protection for up to 21 days. All products we use are EPA approved.

You and your pets can use your yard as soon as 30 minutes after it’s been treated by Last Bite! They offer a package where they will come spray every 21 days from spring through fall; a pay-as-you go plan; or or you can purchase a one-time spray, which could be a life-saver for a backyard party you might be hosting. Jason said, “We encourage our customers to have open communication with us to let us know if there’s ever a problem, and we will always come back to your property. Our treatments are 100 percent guaranteed.” 

I’m looking forward to getting my yard treated by Last Bite this month so I can put my feet up on the patio and relax without having to swat myself every five minutes! 

For more information about Last Bite call 866-742-4887 or visit http://www.lastbitemosquito.com

Stop by Last Bite’s booth at Westfield’s Spring Fling on May 7th and tell them Sharon says hello! 

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Preparing Your New Jersey Lawn for Spring

New Jersey Real EstateThe trees are bare and gray.  The lawn is brown and . . . . well, dead.  No flowers.  No foliage.  Just . . . . bleh.  It can be a little depressing, and certainly doesn’t make you feel like you’re  putting your home’s best foot forward.

Take  heart. Over the next several weeks, temperatures will gradually warm, and life WILL again appear outdoors.   It’s still very early to actually do anything in terms of lawn care, but planning ahead can certainly be done now.   Spring lawn care is important, as early season care has a big impact on lawns for the rest of the year.

One of the first and most obvious things that should be done to the lawn in early spring is removal of debris that has accumulated over the winter. Even if you painstakingly cleaned up all of those leaves and branches at the end of Fall, they have a tricky way of sending their friends to nest during the winter months.  Wait until the soil has dried out somewhat, however, as working on a soggy turf can be quite detrimental to your grass. Raking the turf will remove matted accumulations of dead grass, but will do little for thatch problems.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not helpful to apply large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer first thing in the spring. While fertilizing turfgrasses in spring IS beneficial, it needs to be done in moderation. Heavy applications of nitrogen fertilizer in the spring can actually burn the grass, and cause serious lawn problems. And don’t be that neighbor that has to be “first.” March is not the time for fertilizing.  Wait until the lawn has been mowed a few times before fertilizing, typically very late April or early May.  Choose a quality lawn fertilizer that contains controlled release, slow-release, or water insoluble nitrogen. All of these terms refer to nitrogen sources that will release small amounts of nitrogen to the turf over an extended period of time, which leads to more uniform and healthy lawn growth, and less “burning.”   These materials are especially important to use in spring.

Many homeowners question when to apply crabgrass herbicides to the lawn. Crabgrass generally begins germinating around the middle of May, so a target of early May, or even late April, is usually accurate. Pregrowth crabgrass herbicides need to be put down prior to crabgrass germination in order to work, so it’s better to apply slightly early rather than too late . . . .  but, again,  not in March. Many preemergence crabgrass herbicides come mixed WITH fertilizer, so you can actually do both steps in one.

Spring also is a popular time for seeding new lawns, although it is actually not the most favorable time. If it can be delayed, early fall is actually the optimum time because fall weather conditions are more favorable for the new turf, and weed growth pressure is much lower. That being said, Spring seeding can certainly work out very well, as long as hot weather doesn’t set in before the new lawn is well established. If starting a new lawn in spring, be sure to seed it by mid-April to avoid that problem.  And NOT immediately after using herbicides.

If you’re still feeling a little uncertain about when to seed, use weed killer, or fertilize, you can always ask your friendly neighborhood nursery worker or hardware store employee.  And today’s products usually have a pretty clear set of “when to do what” instructions right on the back of the packaging.  Looking ahead and doing a little planning now can make your job of bringing and keeping your lawn to life a whole lot easier.  Especially since we are all looking forward to bringing some color back to our outdoors . . . . even if we’re not necessarily looking forward to mowing the lawn again.

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Flickr Photo Credit By like totally

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Fireplace Care and Maintenance

Fireplace Care and Maintenance

Fireplace Care and Maintenance


            Few things in life are better than the simple pleasure of gathering the family around the fireplace on a cold winter day, and enjoying the warm glow and cozy feel it provides.  A fireplace can be a powerful addition to a home, but “with great power comes great responsibility.”  Neglected fireplaces can be very hazardous, ignite quickly,  and potentially destroy a home. Fireplaces, while wonderful, require some simple maintenance and upkeep to keep them working safely.

            Perhaps the most important, yet most often overlooked step, is to be sure to have a chimney cover.   This ensures the keeping out of debris, such as leaves and pieces of trees. It also keeps animals and birds out of your chimney.  Few of us wish to experience the smell of singed squirrel fur or baked pigeon feathers when lighting the fireplace for the first time of the season.  Seriously, things like this can ignite very easily and cause many problems, including a dangerous chimney fire.

            Believe it or not, another tip is to keep a consistent draft in your chimney and fireplace when lighting it. The easier the air and smoke flows, the better. The best way to do so is to keep a window slightly open in your house while using your fireplace. The air from the window will quickly be taken up the chimney and keep up a good flow of air to carry the smoke outside.  Something that can help out drastically is to have a screen in front of the fire instead of a solid glass window. A screen does just as good of a job at keeping the fire in place, but it will let more air through into the fireplace to let the smoke vent better.

            Probably the most obvious way to keep your fireplace and chimney in top shape is to hire a professional chimney sweeper. DO NOT TRY TO DO IT YOURSELF, no matter HOW many times you’ve seen Mary Poppins!  Leave this job to those who are trained to do it. (If your chimney sweep starts singing and dancing on the roof to “Step In Time,” double check his credentials!)  And, while those “chimney cleaning logs” are helpful, they do NOT take the place of a regular cleaning.  Typically, a chimney should be cleaned once a year if the fireplace is used regularly. Having the chimney cleaned will help the fireplace to work more effectively and will also prevent chimney fires, which are very dangerous and can spread throughout a home without warning.

            Burning the right type of wood in your fireplace is also very important. Dry wood burns best, and is also best for your fireplace and chimney. Wet wood is what causes a lot of buildup and creosote in the chimney, and also produces more smoke.  Take the time to get dry wood to burn.  And, if you prefer, the pre-packaged logs such as Duraflames give off every bit as much heat, are easy to light, and do not leave the same residue behind in your chimney, so they’re not a bad alternative. 

            A fireplace should be a source of joy and comfort, and not a source of stress.  A little bit of care and some simple steps can insure your family’s safety and enjoyment.  Take care of your fireplace, and keep those marshmallows on hand!  There’s a lot of winter yet to come, so remember to keep Fireplace Care and Maintenance on your “to do” list!

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