Our Expert's Blog

Looking for yard and garden tips, landscape designs, home improvement how-to's, and other information on maintaining your home inside and out? Check out the ProGrass Home and Landscape Experts' Blogs. Our team of ProGrass home and landscape experts offer accurate, timely information and give you an opportunity to join in the discussion!

Steve Varga

Steve is the Chief Horticulturist for the landscape improvement division of ProGrass. He has been helping gardeners with all aspects of landscape care and development since 1984.


 

Latest Posts

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Posted: May 12, 2015

Custom-built cabinets from our own company cabinet shop, are made locally from solid woods like cherry, oak, alder, and maple. Our cabinets will have finished wood interiors as well, rather than the more commonly used white melamine particle board.

The advantage of having our own cabinet shop is that we can custom create any style with any wood or finish you desire. This allows us to customize every aspect of your...

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Posted: May 12, 2015

My wife and I have lived in our home for 20 years and have raised 2 boys. While we always were careful to prevent damage to my kitchen, life just happens. I have calculated that over a 20 year span, we have cooked 6000 dinners, 7000 breakfasts and ran the dishwasher over 9000 times. All this in addition to being the central point for a family of 4 for 20 years of living. This winter, my wife and I gave ourselves the gift of a new kitchen. We love our home and have no immediate plans to move but also want to keep the house up to date.

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Posted: May 11, 2015

 Inside the Kitchen Remodel

ProGrass has been a local service choice for close to 40 years. Our skills in helping home and property owners improve their outdoor surroundings is well known. Now we can help you indoors as well. We take a simple approach to home remodeling. We listen to your needs, work with your budget,...

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Posted: Apr 15, 2015

When plants have had a hard life, it may be time for a spa treatment. You know the feeling: dry skin, thinning foliage, lack of energy. Don’t let this get you down; there is an answer. It’s called rejuvenation pruning. This type of very selective pruning will look harsh and a bit startling when done, but the results will be great.

Photo of Shrubs

 The problem starts with the fact that most shrub type plants will naturally become tree like. In addition, those plants...

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Posted: Apr 15, 2015
Photo of Sarcococca ruscifolia

Sarcococca is a great plant for shady cool areas. Many landscapes have dark areas that just never look lush. Most plants need plenty of sun to grow and bloom, not so for this plant. Even in areas that never get direct sun, Sarcococca will thrive and bloom. It is also resistant to most diseases that effect many plants in shady areas. 

This is a spreading plant that will, after a few years, fill in open areas. It will grow up to 12-18 inches tall...

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Posted: Mar 9, 2015

Photo of Dry Rot

We were recently at a customer's home for an unrelated repair and found extensive dry rot.  A piece of inexpensive flashing caused the extensive dry rot you see here.  If you suspect you have dry rot, or just want to make sure your home is safeguarded against it, learn more from the information below and give us a call.  We would be happy to schedule a home inspection.

'Dry rot' is the decay of wood caused by the fungus Serpula lacrymans.  Ironically, the...

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Posted: Mar 9, 2015

Keep an eye out for Crane Fly damage.  Over the next few months, this insect will be causing lots of problems.  This lawn pest has two distinct looks.  During the summer it can be identified as a giant mosquito, while during the winter/spring it is a plump, gray, leathery worm (larva) which is also the stage at which they cause the most damage. While identifying the actual larva isn’t particularly important, your main duty is to identify the damage.  During the evening, Crane fly larva will come up and feed on the blades before eating the grass all the way to the crown.  The lawn does...

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Posted: Mar 9, 2015

A deck or patio will usually be at the heart of your activities and inactivity. Relaxing with friends and family, having a cocktail after a long day, some much needed ME time, firing up the BBQ for a nice dinner or taking a peaceful summertime nap in your hammock are all easier to accomplish and more enjoyable with a patio or deck.

Photo of Deck

If you are considering enlarging, replacing or creating a patio or deck, here are some things to consider.

  • Is the area level or...

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Posted: Jan 9, 2015

Plant Focus plant choice from ProGrass chief horticulturist, Steve Varga. Plants available at GardenWorld Nursery in Hubbard, Oregon. Visit www.gardenworldonline.com.

Hellebore plants are perennial and produce long-lasting bloom in November that remain for up to three months. The blooms come in many colors and rise up above the plant so they are very visible at a time when nothing else is blooming. Their leathery, evergreen foliage can grow up to 18 inches tall and spreads up to 24 inches. They grow slowly and look very natural in...

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Posted: Jan 8, 2015

Lighting has come a long way from the old incandescent bulb. LED (light emitting diode) is becoming the mainstream lighting system for the future. While they have been around for decades, they have just recently become affordable. The development of the LED is now allowing homes and businesses to keep the lights on much longer for a fraction of the cost in electricity.

Keep in mind that LED is a bulb, not a fixture. Some manufacturers make them “all in one” and some allow you to change the bulb. Almost all fixtures now have an LED equivalent replacement bulb...

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Posted: Jan 8, 2015

Want to save 5% - 15% on your heating bill this winter? Install a digital, programmable thermostat. By setting it 10° - 15° cooler while you’re sleeping, you can realize savings of up
to 1% per degree! Just make sure your setback period is for 8 hours or longer.

To see those savings continue during the summer months, simply reverse and keep your house 10° - 15° warmer while asleep or out of the home.
The programmable thermostat will bring your home back to your ideal temperature before you awaken or return home, eliminating any discomfort.
...


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Posted: Jan 8, 2015

Dark clouds, short days and leafless trees for 6 months. Winter landscapes in the Northwest can be nothing but brown stems. Landscape plantings in our area have changed over the last 30 years from conifer (evergreen) to deciduous. This change in plant choice has been a style rather than a need. Because of this, the green and more colorful winter landscapes have turned to brown. Not only that, but the increase in deciduous trees and shrubs has added a lot of mess to winter...

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Posted: Jan 5, 2015

Many trees and shrubs have lichen on their branches, which causes concern in the winter when they tend to be more visible. Lichen is often gray, red or yellow, stiff and papery. It tends to grow on older limbs on the inside of plants where it is more shaded. Lichen is made up of algae and fungi living together as one organism and often grows on rocks. While you may not appreciate its looks, it will not cause any problems for the plant host.

...

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Posted: Jan 2, 2015

Want to add instant curb appeal to your home’s exterior? Update your front door. With so many new styles and colors available on the market today, the possibilities are endless. Here are some relatively easy and inexpensive ways to give new life to your old door:

  • Replace your old hardware. Is your hardware rusty, outdated or doesn’t match the style of home you have? New hardware such as door handles, kick...

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Posted: Dec 8, 2014

 

Cyclamen is a great fall color plant that likes to grow in well drained, sheltered areas. They will slowly spread by seed and do best on slopes or banks that get plenty of light, but should be protected from direct sunlight in summer. Cyclamen bloom in the fall. A large number of blooms will come up from bare soil and cover the bed in color but have no foliage. After a month of bloom, foliage will emerge and form a lush ground cover...

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Posted: Dec 8, 2014
 

As days shorten and nights become cooler, this is the time to ready your home for harsh weather. With a little preparation now, you can relax in your cozy home during the winter months. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your home is safe and secure from the elements.

Here are a few tips to get your home ready:

• Check For Peeling Paint

It’s important to check your home’s exterior for peeling or blistering paint. Both are signals that...

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Posted: Dec 8, 2014

The holiday season is upon us and everyone at ProGrass Home and Landscape Improvements would like to thank you for your business this year. Now that the season for cool wet weather, short days and interior greenery is upon us, many people ask me how to take care of holiday plants and trees. It is actually simple. Here are a few tips to keeping your tree green and the poinsettias colorful.

• All trees need water. When Christmas trees are cut off from the root, they still need to absorb water....

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Posted: Nov 4, 2014

Red thread is like it sounds, a lawn fungi that produces long filaments of red. These hyphae are the damaging part of the disease, that within the few dark morning hours, cause damage to grass blades. Often after morning dew dries up, the red is gone and just a 4 inch brown spot is left. This fungus is common in the fall and spring and often infects rye grass. It can’t be controlled with fungicides and will pass in time. While the damage looks bad, it is only short term and with proper fertilization, the grass will grow back. 

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Posted: Nov 4, 2014

It happens even to the best landscapes. Over the years, barkdust, roots and soil erosion will slowly cover sprinkler heads. Then all of a sudden some plants die from lack of water. This will happen and it can be difficult to find these heads once they are covered. If you have any dry areas or heads that look low like the head in the top photo, be sure to contact our sprinkler department to have them replaced and raised to look like the one in the bottom photo. Fall is a great time to identify these problems before winter erosion covers them completely, making them very difficult to find...

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Posted: Nov 1, 2014

Foundation vents provide airflow to prevent winter moisture from causing rot and mildew under your home. Because they are set very low, these vents often trap soil, mulch, leaves and water. Getting water and debris in these vents, will cause rot and water flow into your crawlspace. ProGrass offers concrete vent protector installation for foundation vents. We will dig out the soil, place drain rock and install a concrete protector that will keep out wind, water and barkdust.

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Posted: Oct 31, 2014

Debbie Brooks has always had a passion for gardening and design. She melded the two interests in 1986 when she began her career as a Landscape Designer and has since gone on to create outdoor living spaces in Seattle, Southern California, and the Portland area. Her focus in design is spacial planning; she is able to take the elements her clients want and position those elements into the landscape so they work in a functional manner.

Her designs consist of patios, covered...

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Posted: Oct 15, 2014

Sempervivum tectorum (Hens and chicks). Read more about why this is our plant choice this month. 

Posted: Oct 15, 2014

I've been preventing weeds for years, but this stuff grows like crazy! 

Posted: Oct 8, 2014

Are you considering a move?  Below are some tips from Becki Unger and Gina Hosford of Team Unger Real Estate. 

What is a good way to determine my home's value?

There are several ways to determine a home's value. You can pay for an appraisal of the home for about $500.00, or you can ask a real estate broker to provide you a CMA (Certified Market Analysis) based on sold, pending,...



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Posted: Sep 11, 2014

A popular refrain among homeowners is, “I love my home, but there's just not enough space. Let's move!” I myself am guilty of it. With a little creativity and planning, it is possible to create more storage and stay in the home you love. Check out a few ways to maximize your space:

Murphy Beds:

The Murphy bed, also known as a wall bed, fold down bed, or pull down bed, is a bed that's hinged at one end so it can be folded up and stored vertically against a wall or in a closet. Personally, I think this is a great...

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