Secrets from the pros for a lush, eco-friendly lawn and landscape

  • Written by ARA

DOGWant a thick, green eco-friendly lawn and eye-catching landscape filled with beautiful trees, shrubs and flowerbeds?

It’s really a lot easier than you think. Just follow these helpful lawn and garden tips from turf experts and you can grow a healthier green lawn full of abundant plants that are the envy of the neighborhood.

1. Take a test. According to Dr. Tom Samples, Ph.D., turfgrass extension specialist at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, "a pH of 6.5 is considered ideal for turf grass."

Since the pH level of your soil can determine the types of trees, shrubs and plants that will do well in your yard, he recommends that you buy a soil tester from your local retail store or garden center and find out the pH level of your soil and then adjust accordingly.

2. Take a walk and pull. Spotty patches and weeds are, literally, easy to spot. To avoid using harmful chemicals, pull existing weeds. Before you start, soak the soil in the area of the garden you’ll be weeding to ensure that all the roots come out to reduce re-growth. And use a claw tool cultivator to make it easy to get at stubborn runners.

3. Lose the spots. If your lawn is blotchy with ugly yellow burn spots where your dog does his business or from winter de-icers, don’t tear up the grass and reseed. Instead, the pros use organic SpotGone! from NatraTurf to turn burned-looking patches and high traffic areas into lush green grass again.

The organic, easy-to-sprinkle pellets are chemical free and OMRI-listed by Organic Materials Review Institute and complement any lawn care system, have no foreign grass seed and are safe to use around kids and pets. Just shake on affected spots any time of the year and your lawn will grow back uniformly.

4. Go au natural and reduce water use. A natural soil amendment like gypsum saves water and helps reduce your need for chemical fertilizers. Gypsum-treated soils retain moisture over a longer period of time and decrease evaporation on top of the soil. This reduces water run-off, letting you water your grass and plants less frequently. Plus it’s an excellent source of calcium - a necessary plant nutrient - and removes harmful salts from your soil.

"Calcium bonds to the cell walls and improves cell strength," says Samples. "Gypsum supplies additional calcium and sulfur to lawns and plants without changing the pH level and is essential for plant growth."

Look for a high quality pelletized gypsum product like OMRI-listed HydroSave Residential from NatraTurf. It reduces "soil crusting" and loosens soil, making it more porous and a better home for earthworms, nature’s aerators.

The pay-off is your grass and plants will develop stronger, more vigorous roots for a thicker, greener lawn, more robust flowers and even tastier vegetables.

5. Just a little off the top. Remember to use an energy efficient mower when you cut your grass and keep your grass at two to three inches high. Keep your mower blades sharpened for less damage to your grass.

With these quick tips your lawn and landscape will look like you left it in the hands of pros. But only you’ll be the wiser. For more information visit

Summer Entertaining

  • Written by Molbak’s guest writer, author Alexandra Hedin

Picture1A memorable event is more about engaging conversation and a relaxed time than almost anything else – especially in the summer. Both are easily achieved if the hostess is confident and the atmosphere is relaxed.

Here are my tips for making your next outdoor event fabulous (it could even be tonight!)

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Get your best veggie harvest ever

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Interested in getting your best harvest ever this year and spending less time achieving it?

Then join expert veggie gardener and blogger, Willi Galloway as she shares practical strategies for getting the most from your vegetable garden. Galloway, a member of KUOW’s Greendays gardening panel and creator of the blog, will speak at a free seminar at Molbak’s on Saturday, June 25, 10 – 11a.m.

Her talk will include advice on preventing and combating pest and disease problems; proper fertilizing; and keeping your garden producing well into fall. A Q&A session will follow, so be sure to bring your most pressing vegetable-growing questions.

This is a great opportunity for novice and expert veggie gardeners alike.

Fresh ways to use harvested herbs

Herbs are incredibly generous plants.

They reward you with an abundant harvest of beauty, fragrance, and flavor—and practically take care of themselves.

Join author and herb expert Mary Preus (The Herb Lover’s Handbook) at Molbak’s on Saturday, June 25, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. for a free seminar.

Learn fresh ways to use low-maintenance herbs in teas, crafts and cooking.

Whether you’re the neighborhood expert or new to herb gardening, you’ll walk away with a new appreciation for these bounteous plants and an abundance of tips, ideas and recipes.

For more information, call (425) 483-5000, 1-866-466-5225, or visit the events page at Molbak’s is located at 13625 NE 175th St., Woodinville.

How to renew a room on a budget

  • Written by ARA

ara(ARA) - No matter the size or style of your home, the decor you choose determines its atmosphere and reflects your own personality. Updating or changing your decor can give you a sense of pride and satisfaction when completed. But redesigning your living space can also be slightly overwhelming. You may think you don’t have the time or funds to redecorate, but there are several ways to rejuvenate your interior without spending a great deal of time or money.


Creating or changing the feel of a room begins with the canvas of your home — the walls. For a dramatic change with minimal cost, give your walls a bright splash of color that complements the furniture and fabric in the room. Dutch Boy can help you find the perfect hue with its Color Simplicity tool, which allows you to apply different color combinations to various room images including kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms. Change the trim and accessory colors to get an even better idea of what your room will look like with a fresh coat of paint. Browse the expansive color library by family or collection, or choose from the 2011 Color Trends palette to experiment and find your perfect shade of paint. You can save your favorite projects and order paint samples in seconds, or continue to try out new combinations.


If you’re like many, you have boxes upon boxes of photographs. But why keep them hidden? Look for fun or fancy frames to showcase those cherished memories and people, and place them on end tables or hang on your newly painted walls. If you have a large area of bare space, consider having an especially meaningful picture enlarged, matted and framed as a focal point of the room. With endless styles and sizes available, spread a variety of pictures throughout the room to create a personal and inviting atmosphere.

Throw in some style

Once you’ve decided on a color scheme for your room, spice things up with throw pillows in contrasting or complementary shades. Throw pillows are an easy and inexpensive way to add some personality to your space, so look for fabrics and styles that most appeal to your inner designer. You can mix and match solid and patterned fabrics in a variety of materials, and you might even buy different pillows for each season. A few bold pillows can go a long way in renewing a room for minimal cost.


That old armchair with the worn-out seat. The sofa with the huge dark stain. Dad’s hideous but oh-so cozy recliner. Comfort may have nothing to do with style, but you don’t need to live with an eyesore for the sake of your seat. Reupholstering a chair or sofa is a much more cost-effective solution than purchasing new furniture, but it can take time and may not be feasible depending on the seat design. If you aren’t confident in your upholstering skills, a slipcover is an instant solution that requires almost no time. Slipcovers for furniture of all sizes and shapes are available in a wide variety of colors, designs and fabrics.

Even if you’re tight on time and cash, a few updates can make a dramatic difference in your home’s overall appearance. Don’t be afraid to tap into your inner design and make an individual statement that reflects your own unique taste and personality.

Buddy up for a bountiful harvest: Intercropping in your veggie garden

  • Written by Molbak's
Want to get more homegrown goodness out of your veggie garden? Try intercropping. Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops together. Done right, this botanical "buddy system" helps plants thrive, allows you to plant more, reduces the need for pesticides and limits the spread of diseases.

Intercropping takes a little planning and experimentation, but it’s all part of the fun. Here are a few tips to help you devise your garden layout so you can maximize cooperation between plants, decrease competition, and make the best use of every inch of garden space.

Maximize space: To avoid overcrowding and competition for nutrients, you’ll want to pair vegetables with differing root sizes that feed at different root depths. For example, pair beets and turnips that take up a lot of space with carrots and radishes that require much less.

Consider space requirements above ground, too. Large-leafed cabbage takes up a lot more room than broccoli, which has smaller leaves and grows higher. These are a good intercropping pair. Grow anything that can climb, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and peas, on stakes or trellises to save space and provide wind and sun shelter to shade-loving ground crops such as lettuce, cilantro and parsley.

Lighten up: Delicate or light-sensitive plants like beans, beets, chard, leeks, peas, radishes, and turnips love the protection of being overshadowed by large-leafed sun lovers like rhubarb and zucchini. Alternate rows of narrow-leafed plants like leeks, shallots, garlic and onions between leafy vegetables so that there’s plenty of sun for all. You can also use taller plants that don’t have large leaves, such as corn, to provide filtered sun for melons, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers.

Lend support: Some plants work well together because they offer structural support for one another. For example, a dense tangle of melon, squash, pumpkin or cucumber vines growing at the base of a corn stalk will help the corn stand up to heavy rain or winds. After harvest, the corn stalks provide a natural trellis for these climbing vines. (Vegetable vines do corn stalks an additional service by deterring pesky raccoons—creatures who don’t like traveling through the thick vines.)

Manage insects: Intercropping gives your garden more biodiversity that can help reduce harmful insects and welcome beneficial ones. Plant garlic between your tomato plants to protect them from red spider mites. Plant tomatoes near roses to protect against black spot and near asparagus to protect against the asparagus beetle. (Don’t plant tomatoes near corn because the tomato worm and corn earworm are identical.) Finally, consider planting a sacrificial nasturtium in the opposite corner of your garden to lure black aphids away from your veggies.

These are just a few of the ways intercropping works to make your garden more productive. Incorporate intercropping into your veggie planting strategy, and take advantage of an efficient, natural way to ensure that something new and delicious is popping up in your garden, all season long.

For more tips, sign up for Molbak’s Veggie Growing series—created for Northwest gardeners in partnership with Seattle Tilth. You’ll receive two emails a month during the growing season filled with timely tips for a bountiful harvest. For a free signup, visit