Why winter is right time to plan outdoor updates

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) - Does the bitter cold weather have you dreaming of warm days spending time with friends and family in your backyard? The cold may keep us indoors, but professionals in the landscape and remodeling industry are still thinking about the outdoors and use the winter months to plan spring projects, and so should you.

Winter months provide the perfect opportunity to prepare your outdoor space for the warmer months. Planning and prepping now will ensure that you get full use of your outdoor space for the entire season once warm weather arrives. Get a head start by planning some of these spring projects now:


Before you know it, you’ll be peeling off your wool socks and walking around your yard feeling the soft grass between your toes. To ensure a lush lawn, spend time this winter researching grass seed options so you can repair any sparse areas in your yard. Planting grass seed early gives the seed plenty of time to germinate which will give you a healthy, green lawn in the spring. In addition to research, you can also chat with someone at your local nursery for help choosing the appropriate type of grass to plant in the early months of spring.


Some bulbs grow best when planted in the early spring when the ground is still cool. Do some research to figure out the best bulbs for your region so you can determine the ideal planting time. There’s nothing better than having a yard full of colorful flowers providing great curb appeal early in the season.


13813_B10_rgbSitting on your deck enjoying warm, sunny days or cooler evenings is something everyone looks forward to. Adding a new deck to your home or replacing an existing one adds value to your real estate investment. Homeowners have been consistently choosing composite decking over wooden decks over the past several years because composite decking is high performance and low maintenance, unlike wood decking which can splinter and crack, and often requires staining and sealing. Composite decking is long-lasting, durable, made of recycled materials, and resists mildew, warping and insects. According to Remodeling magazine 2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report, adding a composite deck to your home has a 70 percent return on investment.

You can find free online tools to help you plan your new decking project during winter months. Visit to learn which decking materials are best for you by taking a quick quiz. Create free deck designs with the Online Deck Designer. Mix and match decking and railing colors with the Color Visualizer and be inspired by other deck designs in the Photo Gallery. Before you know it, you’ll have the perfect plan for your dream deck so when warm weather hits, you’re ready.

Trees and shrubs

As you’re deciding on the deck, consider a plan to plant trees and/or shrubbery to provide a more natural outdoor atmosphere. The right type of landscaping will not only be visually appealing, but will also provide privacy and shade. Planting your selections early can have many benefits including time for each tree or shrub to establish a strong root system so that it flourishes for many years to come.

Stop dreaming of warm weather and put that energy into planning your outdoor space. From decking to landscape updates, your efforts during the winter months will bloom into big results once the spring thaw hits.

Cooler fall temperatures illuminate water/mold issues in kitchen, bathroom and furnace room

  • Written by Craig Hawkins of EnviroShield
October is traditionally the busiest month of the year for Craig Hawkins and his team of water and mold remediation specialists.  Craig says the cooler temperatures return our focus to inside and the most common living areas.  It’s also often the first time that the summer dormant furnace rumbles back to life.  We asked Craig to help us keep an eye out for the most common areas to have suffered water and mold issues:

Question:  You mentioned October is your busiest month. What is the most common issue customers’ face?

Craig: Kitchen issues.  You now notice water leaks and moldy smells with the doors and windows closed.  A typical problem is a leaky waterline attached to a dishwasher, refrigerator or sink.

Another major area of course is the bathroom.  Waterline leaks behind the toilet and underneath the sink.

Question:  Mention the word furnace and some of us grimace while picturing the beast in the dungeon.  Do I really need to go near it?

Craig:  Actually, you do.  The potential gremlin is the chance of a water leak in the crawl space.

Unbeknownst to most of us, a majority of the furnace ventilation systems go through that space. We often have no idea there is a problem until now when the beast roars to life.  Check for any funny smells that could be caused by water and mold in the crawl space.

Question: If I do discover a problem, how do I choose a water/mold damage company?

Craig: The first step is to call your insurance company and also a water damage company.

I would use this checklist:

1.    Guarantee — Most water damage companies will not offer any guarantee to remove mold damage.

2.    Experience  — Most water damage companies do not have the certification, training and experience to remove mold damage.

3.    Containment — A 1-inch by 1-inch area of mold creates millions of spores that are released into the air during the cleaning process, which can be very dangerous to the health of everyone in the home.

Only water damage companies that utilize what’s called a Negative Air System to contain the contaminated air are able to prevent health issues.

Homemade Hope: Festive wreaths to brighten the season.

  • Written by Molbak's
zbr_mlbks_sept2011-232Did you know? Long before the arrival of Christianity, families would hang wagon wheels from the ceiling decorated with evergreens and candles. The wheel’s circular shape, fragrant greenery, and brilliant light served as a reminder of the eternal cycle of the seasons, the persistence of life in the midst of winter.

Through the years, the wheel has spun its way through history—evolving into the lovely wreaths that grace our doorways, walls, and tabletops today. A wreath’s ability to evoke feelings of cheer and hope is still as strong as ever, and designing one of your own is easy and fun to do.

“There are so many exciting ways to decorate with wreaths,” Molbak’s Designer, Leesa Deter explains. “This autumn, the trend is to combine botanicals with a little sparkle to add depth and texture to your design.” She suggests pairing everlasting natural elements—twigs, branches, pinecones—and rustic-looking burlap ribbon with bold bright elements in copper, gold and burgundy hues.

Once Thanksgiving has passed, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You can keep your wreath’s everlasting greenery in place, and simply update the ribbons and accents to fit your holiday style and color scheme.

Think about incorporating sparkly ornaments, glitter dusted pinecones, and ribbons in bright greens, teals, and silvers. “For added twinkle, I weave a string of battery-operated LED lights into the mix,” Deter adds. “Hide the battery pack on the backside of your wreath, and you can place it where ever you like.”

While the front door is a welcoming place for a wreath, Deter encourages you to think beyond your entryway and use wreaths to dress up your tabletop.

“When laid flat, wreaths make a beautiful, low-profile centerpiece for your dining room table.” Place one larger wreath in the center of the table or, if space permits, line up three smaller wreaths along the length of the table. If you like, place a cluster of candles or a festive floral arrangement in the center of the wreath. The options are endless and the effect is gorgeous.

If you’ve never made your own wreath before, don’t be intimidated. Deter and her fellow design professionals are on call to inspire and educate. “I love what I do.” Deter shares. “I get to be creative every day — designing custom arrangements, putting new ideas and inspiration on display, and helping customers pull together all the elements they need to bring their own ideas to life.”

It’s a whole lot of fun, so give it a try. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate your own creativity, and brighten your home with a beautiful symbol of optimism and hope.

Ready to create? Join us for our wreath-making workshop December 3 from 10-11:30 a.m. To register or for more information, visit

Harvest 2011

  • Written by Brad Sherman, Winemaker/Owner, Michael Florentino Cellars.

This is the time of the year that winemakers love and dread at the same time. The excitement of the harvest is here. The cool summer was offset by the hottest September in Washington history. This has us on par with last year’s late harvest, but with some lower acids.    Many whites are pressed an in the stainless steel tanks fermenting, while others are still hanging a little longer and all are hoping the light rains will not have any ill effect. The earlier ripening grapes like Merlot are being harvested from the hotter regions and we slowing starting to harvest other varietals. It will be a very short harvest this year and the wineries will soon be full of grapes fermenting from wall to wall. If your local winemaker looks a little warn down, remember there is a lot on his mind. They are monitoring the weather, the fruit, the wine that is fermenting and the space they hope they have for the fruit they have on order.  Even with all that is on their mind, they always appreciate those customers that are interested in the process they love.

This is the perfect time to visit the Woodinville Warehouse District and experience the harvest first hand. You can still try your favorite wines, or venture out and try something new.  Many wineries will have some fresh grapes and may even allow you to try some of the fresh pressed fruit. You may even get the pleasure of trying some of the fruit that is partially fermented. The combination of alcoholic infused fruit juice that is carbonated by the fermenting yeast if a very unusually treat.   It is the season we all look forward to — harvest 2011.

Why do horses need vitamin mineral supplements?

  • Written by Del Johnson, M.S., P.A.S. Certified Equine Nutritionist, CEO - Equine Nutrition Inc.

Horses evolved grazing over large areas eating a wide variety of plants from the mountains to the valleys. During the last 50 years their environment has changed. The typical horse is confined, eating 2 or 3 species of plants.These plants have been produced by intensive farming methods. This creates a situation prone to nutritional deficiencies. Here is why:

1. Horses eat only a few species of plants. This lack of variety increases the likelihood of deficiency. Different feeds contain varying levels of nutrients. For example, humans have hundreds of food sources from all over the world (including meats which are full of necessary vitamins and minerals.) Horses are strict vegetarians eating only a few types of plants from a limited geographical area. This lack of variety increases the probability that horses will be deficient.

2.  Plant products that are farmed using high production methods are increasingly deficient.

3.  For example, in many areas, five cuttings of alfalfa are produced off the same ground year after year. This decreases the trace minerals available to the plants. Crops are fertilized with sulfur containing fertilizers which greatly decreases the availability of trace minerals like selenium.

4.  Storage decreases the vitamins in feeds. Typically hay is cut in the summer and stored until the winter, often nearly a year, sometimes longer. Hay loses 50 percent of its vitamin A content after six months of storage.