Give grass a fress start this spring

  • Written by ARA

14720132_webGrass is an extraordinary plant, the unsung hero of backyards everywhere. With proper care and feeding, grass can help clean the air, cool the ground, reduce erosion and provide one of the softest outdoor play surfaces. With all of these amazing benefits, it pays to start the spring season off right by giving grass a boost.

The drought and heat of last summer, combined with uncharacteristic winter temperatures in many regions, may have taken a toll on the lawn, but getting it back on the road to recovery is easy. Moderate temperatures and increased precipitation in spring are perfect for repairing, seeding and feeding grass. Well-nourished grass withstands harsh conditions better and provides a lush, durable place to play while squeezing out unwanted weeds by blocking access to sunlight. Follow these tips to take your grass from tired to terrific.


Fill in bare or thin spots with grass seed to encourage a thick lawn, helping prevent weeds from invading your lawn by blocking access to sunlight. Use a high-quality seed appropriate for your region, like Scotts EZ Seed to fill in thin spots and thicken the lawn. To repair larger areas, use Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed with WaterSmart coating.


Grass needs nutrients to grow strong, deep roots that can endure harsh conditions and grow in thick to help block access to sunlight for weeds. If the lawn does not need reseeding, use a high-quality lawn food like Scotts Turf Builder. This lawn food can be used in any season on any grass type, and delivers balanced nutrients for strong, thick grass. Use a starter fertilizer when planting new grass to promote root growth and seedling development.

When seeding or feeding, use Scotts DLX EdgeGuard Broadcast Spreader for larger areas to direct lawn food only where desired — on the lawn and off hard surfaces — and out of storm sewers. This spreader combines the accuracy of a drop spreader with the speed of a rotary spreader.


Set your mower at the highest setting and leave grass clippings on the lawn. Mow frequently to avoid removing more than one third of the grass height, and do so when grass is dry to avoid damp clumps that could smother grass. Leaving clippings on the lawn recycles nutrients stored in the clippings keeping the soil cooler, encouraging deeper root growth and enriching the soil with organic material.

Keep these simple mowing tips in mind every time you head out to trim the grass: Mow your grass at the highest setting, keep grass clippings on the lawn and water only when needed.


Grass that is fed and kept at a taller height develops deep roots which are better able to conserve water and withstand periods of heat and drought. Rely on rainfall as the primary source of water. During periods of drought, the lawn can go without water for an extended time. Even though the lawn may look brown and wilted, it will recuperate after the rain returns. If you do choose to irrigate the lawn, water less frequently for a longer period of time rather than short frequent waterings.

These tips for a great lawn will provide a foundation for a fun-filled summer in your own backyard. For more information on seeding and feeding this spring, visit

So Happy Together - Fun with themed seed packs

  • Written by Submitted by Molbak’s

There are a zillion seeds out there just waiting to be planted, to grow, to delight. If you want a simple way to create a well-thought-out mini-garden filled with character and variety, reach for the ease and convenience of themed seed packets.

Inside a themed seed packet you’ll find an assortment of carefully selected seeds that are proven to coexist happily, side by side. Whether you want to grow a mini-garden overflowing with gorgeous flowers or a container filled with delicious, fresh herbs and veggies, there are plenty of themed seed packets to get you started quickly.

Here are just a few of our favorite themes and inspired ideas for how to have fun with these delightful mixes:

The annual and perennial flowers in the Water-Wise Mix have been selected for their drought tolerance and adaptability.
Nurture & Conserve

Earth Day is April 22! Celebrate with seed collections that do their part to conserve precious resources and help nurture nature along. Botanical Interests® offers a Save the Bees mix filled with fragrant herbs and beautiful flowers that attract and provide food for honeybees. They also carry a Water-Wise Mix filled with highly adaptable, drought-tolerant plant varieties.

Gift idea: For an eco-conscious friend, arrange these earth-friendly goodies in a colorful biodegradable bamboo pot: garden gloves made from recycled water bottles, a rain gauge, a reusable water bottle and a packet of Water-Wise Seed Mix.

Flutter & Float

For the child at heart, there are plenty of playful mixes that will lure delightful creatures into your garden. Choose from themed seed packets that grow into irresistible gardens for hummingbirds, songbirds or butterflies. Botanical Interests also carries a Fairy Meadow mix that’s so enchanting, it just might open your eyes to the magic of fairies.

Gift idea: Does your mother love watching hummingbirds flit about? If so, nest a pretty hummingbird feeder, some lovely aviary-themed notecards and a packet of Hummingbird Haven Seed inside a rustic gift basket. It’s a Mother’s Day gift that will make her heart soar.

A ready-made hummingbird magnet - get started with the Hummingbird Haven themed seed packet.
Harvest & Enjoy

Few things are more satisfying than bringing homegrown herbs, vegetables and flower bouquets straight from your garden into your kitchen. Try a trio of fragrant basils; a hearty mix of corn, beans and squash; or a gourmet mix of baby greens for fresh summer salads. And for that empty corner of your veggie garden? Scatter a packet of Grandmother’s Cut Flower Garden Seed from Renee’s Garden and enjoy a charming mix of old-fashioned flowers, perfect for tabletop bouquets.

Gift idea: Celebrate sisterhood by giving a friend a brightly colored colander filled with recipe cards, a cookbook of Northwest favorites, and a pack of Native American Three Sisters Garden seeds from Renee’s Garden. According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans and squash are three inseparable sisters who grow and thrive together. What could be more appropriate for a dear friend?

Why Grow Sweet Peas?

  • Written by Renee Shepherd, owner of Renee’s Garden On behalf of Molbak’s Garden +Home
With their graceful beauty, ruffled blossoms, soft texture and glowing colors, sweet peas are one of the most irresistible annuals. Their blooms offer an exquisite perfume of orange blossoms and honey, surely one of the most seductive of all flower fragrances.

Properly planted and tended, sweet peas are carefree and easy to grow in the Pacific Northwest.

Because so many varieties have been developed, sweet peas come in a symphony of soft colors and bi-colors.

A vase of their long-stemmed winged blossoms will truly scent an entire room.

Growing sweet peas is easy and rewarding if you follow the basics.

• Plant when danger of frost is over and soil can be worked, usually late March through April.

• Sow seeds in a sunny spot with good air circulation and well-drained, fertile soil.

• Set up a well-anchored trellis for climbing varieties before planting seeds.

• If all your seeds don’t germinate within 3 weeks, don’t hesitate to plant more as they will catch up quickly.

• Be sure to control slugs and snails.

Growing tip: Make a small nick in each seed with a nail clipper, just enough to break the tough seed coat, to improve germination.

Planting a row of 15 or 20 feet will reward you with wonderful centerpiece bouquets whose lovely flowers and deliciously evocative fragrance will bring pleasure to everyone.

10 great sweet pea varieties for the Pacific Northwest:

Fragrant Tall Vining Varieties:
April in Paris
Blue Celeste
Queen of the Night
Royal Wedding
Saltwater Taffy
Chiffon Elegance

Shorter Fragrant Varieties:
Jack and Jill (dwarf)
Heirloom Cupid (for containers)


  • Written by Howard Grim

Grimm015If you have your dream home in your mind’s-eye, maybe a remodeled version of your present home, odds are it includes a beautiful staircase. When you move beyond the dreaming stage, getting what you want within your budget is the big challenge. As with most things, better quality and elaborate design cost more. Concerning style, think about how the design fits the rest of the house, especially the area surrounding the stair. If you want to update a stair, keep the new design in line with the character of the existing trim and finishes.

A handrail should be sturdy. When we climb and descend a stair, it should feel comfortable and safe. If you’re buying an existing home, check the soundness of any joints in the handrail, the handrail connections to posts, and if balusters are tight in their mountings. Posts should not wiggle. Finish should be in good shape – it is expensive to refinish. Squeaks can be annoying, but don’t usually mean the stair is faulty overall, and can usually be remedied by an experienced stair carpenter. A good home inspector should be also able to inform you about quality, condition, code compliance and safety.

I love the look of beautiful wood stairs. Wood stair treads are easier to clean than carpeted ones. But they are also more expensive and can be slippery to stocking feet. A hybrid alternative that saves money over full wood treads and provides the safety of a carpeted stair, is the use of partial treads and risers with a carpet runner between them. To make eventual refinishing practical, use solid hardwood partial treads rather than veneered ones. Set the treads flush with the rough plywood treads between them and have the carpet installed as if the partial treads actually extend under the carpet.

What factors increase cost? 1) Better quality and exotic materials 2) Complex designs with larger numbers of individual parts to install, including intricate assemblies of high quality – such as elaborate box newel posts with lots of “detail.” 3) Most curved pieces, especially custom made ones. 4) Unique designs that require design time and communications between designers, suppliers, fabricators, finishers and installers.

How to get a nice stair for less? Carefully select styles of off-the-shelf components that go together well and install them in an elegant but comparatively simple design. An expert in stairs can be very helpful here, and can bid the job as well. Get more than one bid. Your fair scrutiny of the bidding and building process should keep price realistic, but quality always has its costs. Labor is quite competitive now, but the cost of materials and of being in business have certainly not decreased, so, as always, expect to get what you pay for.

Howard Grim has been building stairs out of his Hollywood Hill/Woodinville location for 23 years.

Planning for a Successful Kitchen or Bathroom Remodel

  • Written by Nip Tuck Remodeling

Let’s face it, entering into a remodeling project such as a kitchen or bathroom renovation is not something the average homeowner does every day. It is likely once every 10-20 years. It’s not uncommon for clients to feel overwhelmed about project scope, to be worried about the budget, and confused about all the decisions to be made.

Kitchen and bathroom remodels are the most common as well as the highest cost per square foot to renovate because of their size and the type of products incorporated into them. A well-executed remodel will incorporate at least five of the following planning techniques to assure your investment is safe and sound.

Answer the Why question … There are many reasons to renovate and it is important to understand why you are embarking on this project in the first place. Are the materials out of date and worn out? Are some components broken or inoperable? Does the space need to be bigger or have better storage?

Great Design… Now that you understand why you are remodeling, incorporate solutions to this question into the design.  Great design comes into play with the layout of the space, the colors and textures and contrary to popular belief will likely save you time and money in the end.  It is imperative that design happen at the onset of the planning stage as the drawings and specifications will lead you to a well-defined scope of work and accurate budgeting.

The Budget … A successful project will almost always be partially directed by the ability to stay within a specified budget once construction begins.  One of the best ways to ensure this is to choose every product prior to swinging a hammer or deconstruction of the space.  It is important to understand there still might be some variables and surprises, but product issues should not be one of them.

Choosing The Right Contractor…Apples are not oranges and all things are not equal. Do your homework by interviewing contractors, research their experience and credentials and understand that price alone is not going to help you choose the right fit for your family. A professional will have resources and systems in place to ensure that your project is well executed and can rely on bringing your project in “on time and on budget.”

The Schedule … Planning, planning, and planning! The schedule is your roadmap to success.  A typical remodeling project might have ten or more players and it is very important to know who, what, where and when at all times.  This is where the rubber hits the road. All the design and product specifications will not be installed smoothly without a thorough knowledge of how to choreograph the players and monitor their progress.  Even when Murphy’s Law takes over and the schedule is blown, a well-planned road map will be the guide to get you back on track.

Today, every dollar counts and it is important to understand how to make decisions and research those topics out of your comfort level. If you would like a 12-page planning document that will help you plan for your kitchen or bathroom remodel, just e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with kitchen or bath planner in the subject line.

Nip Tuck Remodeling