Dollars & Sense columnist John Ewoldt searches the Twin Cities and beyond for bargains and strategies to spare you time, money and hassles.
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Posts about Gardening and landscaping

Minneapolis gives residents a 4-week grace period on plastic lawn bags

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: April 4, 2012 - 12:14 PM

Are you a Minneapolis resident with an abundance of of black plastic lawn and leaf bags? You've just been given a reprieve. Starting next week, when Minneapolis starts picking up yard waste, residents can still use non-compostable plastic bags. The grace period for plastic ends the week of April 30 when residents are required to put all lawn and garden waste in compostable bags or reusable containers no larger than 33 gallons.


This is especially helpful to residents who were unsuccessful in finding the compostable bags in stock. While most retaielrs seem to have the paper bags in stock regularly, compostable plastic is in short supply. If you want to stock up now, Here's a list of stores that have and their inventories.


If you're having trouble finding them when you want them, consider buying a container instead. You don;t have to use a bag--just pour the clippings and trimmings in the container. Reusable containers must be less than 33 gallons in size with sturdy handles for crews to use. Stickers to identify your container as "yard waste' can be requested by calling 612-673-2917.




Black Friday sales at Home Depot and Lowe's

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: March 30, 2012 - 10:34 AM


For the third spring, Home Depot brings a "Black Friday" sale to welcome spring. This year Lowe's joins the celebration too. Menards isn't observing Black Friday until November, apparently, but no matter. It advertises selected items on sale each week anyway, unlike Home Depot and Lowe's.

The deals are hardly the loss leaders we've come to expect the day after Thanksgiving, but they aren't bad.  

The Depot's sale items include a 7-piece sling back patio set for $299, regularly $599, 50 percent off select Bonnie vegetable plants, a Brinkmann 4-burner grill for 4169, regularly $279, and Kingsford charcoal 2-pack for $5.88. Check the website too for online-only deals such as 40 percent off certain patio sets (free shipping too), and discounts on rain barrels and outdoor lighting. 


Lowe's is also offering deals online as well as in the store, including a Never Kink garden hose for $25, regularly $29, 4 for $10 Miracle Grow garden soil bags, free delivery on patio furniture and free grill assembly.  

Where to find compostable plastic lawn bags in stock now

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: March 29, 2012 - 11:46 AM


You’re not imagining it. The city of Minneapolis is requiring compostable bags one year earlier than expected. The city was bidding out multi-year yard waste contracts and decided to have compostable bag handling built into the contract now rather than have to adjust it next year, said city spokesman Casper Hill.

Starting the week of April 9 when Minneapolis starts picking up yard waste, residents are required to put all lawn and garden waste in compostable bags or a reusable containers of 33 gallon size or less.
But many metro residents, not just in Minneapolis, can’t find compostable plastic in stock. (Paper bags have been  easier to find.)

One place that has a large supply of compostable bags in stock is Plastic Bagmart (12201 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka, 952-933-2366). They sell 33, 39 or 45-gallon-sized compostable bags in rolls of 20 or 25. The 33 gallon size is $12.50 for 25, which is less expensive than Wal-Mart. The large 45-gallon size works well as a liner for  rigid containers. You can pick up the bags on site (go around to the back of the building) or spend an additional $6 for shipping on phone orders.

Home Depot: Stores should be restocked by the weekend, said a store representative.

Lowe’s: In stock at most stores.
Menards: In stock in some stores, but the focus is on the paper bags, said a spokesman.

Target: Supplies should be replenished by early April, said a spokesperson.

Wal-Mart: The discounter usually has had small quantities in stock but call first. Look for the bags on endcaps as well as the plastic bag aisle.

When buying bags, look for the word “compostable” on the box. Bags labeled “100 percent degradable” or “recycled plastic,” are not compostable and will not be accepted by haulers. If you have unused black plastic bags, they can still be used in the regular trash. 

Your best bet is to call before heading out to avoid disappointment.

Know of another retailer that has plenty? Share away.


Everything is 50% off at Linder's flowermarts starting today

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 15, 2011 - 3:49 PM

The growing season is a little later this year, so the half-off everything sale at Linder's flowermarts started a little later than expected. No matter. Today everything is 50 percent off, including all annuals, perennials and supplies.



The best deal at the sale is perennials because they have the deal guarantee in the Twin Cities--two years. Save your receipt, the pot and what's left of the plant. Competitors such as Bachman's have a one year guarantee while others are for only the current growing season.

To find a flowermart near you, check the 52 locations here. If you don't see what you want, ask when new truckloads of plants will arrive. Even though the marts' plants are half off, new stuff keeps arriving. Most of the marts will be closed in a couple of weeks.


What's on sale this weekend?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: May 20, 2011 - 9:12 AM


B.T. McElrath chocolate sale during Art-a-Whirl (2010 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-331-8800) B.T.McElrath was awarded "Top Ten Chocolatier in the North America" by Dessert Professionals magazine last December. Truffles, closeouts, orverruns and limited edition snacks will be discounted 20 to 70 percent. You never know what flavors you'll find at the sale. Some current flavors, which may or may not show up at the sale, include strawberry chocolate caramels, strawberry balsalmic chocolate bars, chai-spiced honey truffles and a passion fruit and tangerine bar. Sometimes I find a lovely surprise and other times, a flavor crash. Shop early for the best selection. It's a popular sale for foodies. Sale hours are 3 to 7 p.m. Friday and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. 

  If you're looking for a some ideas for Father's Day, Mall of America has some good deals. All Metro Park stores are going out of business, including MOA. Everything is 40 to 60 percent off or more. Hugo Boss has a private sale going on with everything except basic styles discounted 30 percent. The new Armani Exchange store just opened. The back of the store has a few clearance items. The tag sale is in progress at Nordstrom Rack. Look for red balloons near the tag sale merchandise. Unfortunately, the men's department doesn't have nearly as much tag sale merch as the women's.

Bibelot shops are discounting all clothing 20 percent except shoes and Rewear consignment through Sunday. 


Aldi is selling the tomato cages (42-inches tall) for $1.49 each. Tomato and pepper plants in 2-gallon pots are $8. Quantities are always limited for Aldi weekly deals. These specials started Wednesday, so call first. Oh wait, Aldi stores don't have published phone numbers. That's why their prices beat even Wal-Mart's.


 Kohl's is offering an extra 20 percent off everything at, including clearance. Use discount code ACTIVE20. Earlier this week I was told by a cashier that Kohl's will also honor the extra discount in the stores, but I have not verified that. You just have to tell them the code (ACTIVE20). The extra savings are through Sunday.


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