Our Expert's Blog

Looking for yard and garden tips, landscape designs and other ways to enjoy your yard more? Check out the ProGrass Expert’s Blog. Chief horticulturist Steve Varga and a team of ProGrass landscaping experts offer accurate, timely information and give you an opportunity to join in the discussion!

Latest Posts

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Posted: Apr 7, 2014

Every spring the same thing happens.  We wake up from a long winter's nap and then just walk away.  Rule number one is “don’t forget to make your bed”.  It is a common horticultural fact that when you mix rain and sun with soil, you will get weeds and moss.  It happens every time. 

Making your bed should be done every year around this time.  If you do it properly, it will look great and you will impress your friends....

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Posted: Mar 19, 2014

I have to say this has been the worst winter for grass. I have been out looking at lawns all day and even the healthy ones look poor. The combination of this winter’s cold dry weather, then snow and ice have turned most lawns into what looks like an old head of lettuce that was left in the fridge too long.

Grasses that started out as brown, dead patches are now a slimy mess. While some of this will decompose, it should at least be raked a bit and seeded. In some severe cases,...

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Posted: Feb 14, 2014

Yes, I did find myself in line yesterday buying a dozen Valentine’s Day roses for my lovely wife.  And yes they were red, the traditional color.  Red is my favorite color of rose because it is one of the few reds that I can actually see, as I am a bit colorblind.  The intense red color of a rose is always a crowd pleaser. 

Many of my customers ask about growing roses in their back yard.  Often because they enjoy the look of a vase of long stems on days like today.  My common...

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Posted: May 16, 2013

With this weather who knows what to do with watering? Just a week ago it was 88 degrees and dry, now it is cool and raining. Yesterday I was telling people to just turn on the sprinklers and let them run but now I am not too sure. No one has the easy answer. This time of year I tend to keep my system off and run it only when I feel it is needed. I keep my water use pretty lean. Here are a few simple guidelines that I use this time of year.

  • If it rains enough to allow water to run...

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Posted: Apr 1, 2013

Yesterday the battle against the lawn dandelion and other weeds began again for this year. Every year around this time, the first yellow flowers open. They are quickly followed by the puffy seed head and then by other weeds like clover. Fighting weeds never stops. It must be part of the long list of things to do like dusting and changing motor oil. Its not fun but it must be done. I know many people will toss in the towel and just let things go. This is not a good idea. As weeds get larger and reproduce,...

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Posted: Feb 4, 2013

Yes, it's that time again. The season moss begins to grow and spread in western Oregon and Washington. Oh wait, that's pretty much every season !!!  Well actually between February and May moss growth is at its peak and can spread up to an inch a week.  Moss tends to grow on everything from lawns to glass.  I have seen old cars with moss growing on the windshield.  Any plant that can do that is pretty tough. 

Because moss is a green plant it does need some light.  Cool wet conditions along with a little...

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Posted: Jan 3, 2013

Ground cover plants like Sedum, Vinca, Ivy, St. Johnswort etc. all need some care.  Often ground covers are ignored and allowed to grow wild.  This will always result in puffy, brown ugly stem growth.  If you have beds with ground cover plant that are over 3 years old here is what you should do in January or February.

  • Shear them down by 50% or more to remove the old puffy growth.
  • Trim the edges to contain the area.
  • Rake the area hard to loosten and remove old leaves and...

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Posted: Aug 3, 2012

Well, we should be getting some hot weather any minute.  I can feel it.  So far this year we have had it pretty easy.  Watering demands have been pretty mild but watch out.  Heat is on it's way.  If you have been watering well, things should be fine.  If you have been watering on the light side, your landscape will be crispy next week.  One thing to keep in mind is that it only takes 3/4 of an inch of water to give your landscape a good soaking and prevent drought damage.  But, it will take 3-4 to bring it back if...

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Posted: Mar 6, 2012

I love spring snow. I was surprised this morning when I got up and saw the beds and rooftops all covered in white.  The snow of spring is never a problem for plants.  The cool temperature is buffered by the high humidity and soil moisture.  It never damages plants.

To me it is a reminder that it is still winter and also how lucky we are here in western part of the northwest.  While much of the northern states are still frozen we have budding trees, flowering bulbs, and growing lawns.  What a mix.  How...

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Posted: Feb 17, 2012

Wow, what a busy day at the Portland Yard, Garden and Patio show.  The crowds looked happy on Friday while looking at all the great gardening ideas.  Be sure not to miss the "Gardens of the World" display gardens.  They will give you lots of ideas.

Also, be sure to stop by and visit the ProGrass patio and visit with Garth and Naomi.  They both have lots of great ideas for all types of landscapes.  We also have show specials that wil save you some money.

Oh, by the way. On Saturday we will have...

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Posted: Feb 6, 2012

Does your deciduous Clematis look like this?  If it does, cut it down to 6-10 inches now.  In February, these vines will begin to produce new buds all along the stem.  The brown dry leaves will remain and look bad all year.  Not only that, the plant will become a huge overgrown mess. Remember that what ever growth they produced last year will be produced again this year.

It is important to cut these vines back now to prevent the waste of energy after the plant has gone to all the effort of producing...

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Posted: Jan 30, 2012

Here it is.  The first sprout of my Siberian Iris.  Soon the blooms will be adding some color to my yard and warmer, dryer days can't be far behind.  I don't know about you, but when I see fresh green growth in my landscape it rekindles my gardening interest, even if the weather is still poor. Siberian Iris is one of the first bulbs to sprout, even before Crocus!  When I see them I know all other bulbs are close behind.

My main recommendation right now is to be sure all your raking and debris removal is...

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Posted: Dec 9, 2011

Why is winter a good time to prune plants?  Well the main reason is that it is the best time to see branch patterns.  Most pruning can be done at any time.  However, many prefer winter because it is easier to see crossing and oddly shaped limbs.  Pruning is the single most important aspect of plant care and landscape improvement.  Bad pruning can destroy a tree or shrub but horticulturally correct pruning will bring out the best.

One simple way to identify an untrained pruner is by looking at their...

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Posted: Nov 29, 2011

I would say Winter is here.  So far we have had several light freezes and more are on the way.  If you have not had your landscape sprinkler system winterized yet be sure to do so.  And just as a tip, winterization is not just turning off the controller or opening a valve drain.  Proper winterization includes the use of an air compressor to blow the water out.  This is the only way to properly dry out the whole system.

At ProGrass we shut the line off at the back flow valve and blow out each zone. The...

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Posted: Oct 21, 2011

Liver and worts are not most peoples favorite landscape features.  However, over the last few years the low growing and mat forming Liverwort weed has taken over.  This weed has moved into landscape from the forest over the last 3-5 years and appears to be very happy.  It is more of a moss type plant.  One of those primitive beginning of time organisms.  While this would be a good biology topic it is a problem in the landscape.

The main reason you may see this weed is that your planting beds do not have fresh mulch.  Old decomposed barkdust is a great place for Liverwort to grow....

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Posted: Sep 8, 2011

I hate this bug.  It is killing one of my favorite tree types.  Birches are beautiful trees and are an important part of many landscapes.  This insect bores into Birches in the spring and can live within the tree for up to two years before emerging.  During that time it feeds on the vascular tissue below the bark.  This damage reduces the flow of water up and the flow of sugars down into the roots.  If left alone this pest can kill a tree within two years.

What to do? There are several items that must be...

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Posted: Aug 18, 2011

One of the latest trends in landscaping is up on the roof.  Eco roofs are often simple and shallow plantings of ground cover plants.  The main point is urban cooling and reduction of stormwater runoff.  Eco roof plantings have made the news a lot in the past few years but the old standard rooftop garden is my favorite.

I was just downtown and had a look at a property that our ProGrass urban landscape division maintains.  Terrace Tower is one of my favorite spots.  Being four stories up you get away from...

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Posted: Aug 12, 2011

This time of year Skunks get hungry and your lawn is a good place to hunt.  Many of you have Skunks in your neighborhood and don't even know it.  Skunks wander around during the late evening and are very quiet.  They dig for earthworms and other insects.  In a single night they may dig 10-15 holes like this.  It can be quite a mess.  Often they will be in backyards because in front yards they are bothered by cars and street lighting.

If you find small 2-3 inch signs of digging you have a Skunk.  Often this...

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Posted: Aug 5, 2011
I have to say I don't mind having Spring for Summer.  I prefer 80 degrees to 100 degrees.  I think plants do also.  During most summers plants will stop growing during hot weather.  High temperatures bring on dormancy.  However, not this year.  Plants are continuing to grow.  What does this mean?  Well it means that you must keep up on watering.  Lots of people are not watering enough because it is cool.  Don't do that.  Water just like you would if it were hot.  Ninety percent of the water used in landscapes is from lawns, shrubs and trees absorbing it, NOT from evaporation.  Be sure to...

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Posted: Jul 22, 2011

It seems that everyone wants to be green but it's always good to add some of the other colors as well!  While it has been a slow start with the cool spring, many Annuals are now blooming and growing well.  Summer is a time that has little color due to the fact that most of our blooming trees and shrubs are at their peak in the Spring.  This is unfourtunate because we are often indoors during that time trying to stay dry.  Now that it is more likely that you will be outdoors all of the trees and shrubs are done for the...

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Posted: Jul 8, 2011

All moles should be checked.  If you have a mole on your body you should have it checked by a Doctor.  If you have a mole in your landscape you should have it checked by ProGrass.

Moles are rodents.  They are very damaging to lawns and plants.  Not only do they make a mess with soil piles they also create hollow areas that cave in and can alter drainage patterns.  As soils dry out for the summer, activity will center on your lawn and beds where you water.  That is the time to eliminate them.

This year ProGrass has begun offering a mole control service.   If you have a...

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Posted: Jun 17, 2011

WOW. I woke up today to the sun in my eye.  I can't believe it.  I am sure more liquid is on its way but I will take what I can.  Now that plants are growing and the temperatures are almost warm, here are a few things to look for.

  • Faster grass growth. With more sun, longer days and plenty of soil moisture grass must be cut weekly from now on.  If you miss a week raise you mower one setting rather than chop off 4 inches and stress your lawn.
  • Be prepaired for a change...

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Posted: May 27, 2011

One may wonder how a plant would know it is Spring when it is so cold and dark. I know I am affected by cloudy weather; it makes me sleepy. I don't know if plants are sleepy, but they do know what time of year it is. Even though our temperatures are more like March temperatures, plants still develop new growth and blooms. You would think they would just stay dormant.

How do they know it is time to grow and bloom? It is mainly day length. How can they tell it is Spring and not Fall when the days may be the same...

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Posted: May 20, 2011

What to do this weekend.  I think this is a great weekend to plant bedding plants.  Annual flowers are the best way to quickly add lots of color to specific beds or containers.  There are lots of plant types to choose from.  The fun in picking annuals is in trying a few new things each year.  Some will work some won't.  To have a sucessful planting here are a few tips.

  • Know how large the plants will get and give them room to grow.
  • Use fresh potting soil each year.  I dump last years pots into...

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Posted: May 13, 2011

Does your lawn look like Swiss cheese?  No?  Go take a look after you mow.  You will most likely see open patches.  This is a great place for a wild grass seed or broadleaf weed to sprout.  Any patch larger than 2 inches should be seeded.  Spring is a great time because natural rain and cool temperatures will speed germination.

The two main ways to spread seed are:

  • Have your lawn overseeded at the time of aeration.  This is a great time to introduce seed evenly over the entire lawn.
  • ...

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