March 11th, 2012

“Primrose” or Primula botanically speaking is by far my favorite winter/spring flower each like a flower bouquet amongst the dormant drab background of winter. Primula can be traced to the Latin word “Primus” meaning first (Prime) one of the first to open in spring. In-fact although we commercially plant the fabulous primrose from late Feb-March they have been found blooming late December into May here in the NW.

Primula are generally a perennial flower low growing and clumping. You can leave most varieties for years at a time enjoying a seasonal burst of color from an ever more crowded clump of individuals. We usually dig our primroses each fall (late Aug- late Oct.) breaking up the original plant into several new individual plants then replanting them for next season. Worry not as they will not spread and take over.

Planting your primula is easy and they grow well in most soils from semi wet to nearly dry, though they tend to produce more new plants when planted in an area where beauty bark or compost is present. If you are really adventurous and patient the crown of each plant can be cut into fourths across the top like a pie, dipped in fungicide and planted on to grow 4x the excitement.You don’t have to baby these plants as they’ve been frozen- run over- tilled up- leaves burned with summer heat, or weed-whacked down and still come back strong.

Cold Hardiness, Amazingly these spectacular splashes of color thrive in cool weather even when being pretty frozen for days at a time.

Prolong blossoming by fertilizing with a low nitrogen fertilizer and picking of dying blooms weekly. You can find fertilizers tailored to blooming at most plant stores or even rose fertilizers work great.

New on Sure Lawn

January 25th, 2012

First, we’re having a sale on gutter cleaning now through the month of February 2012. Gutter clean-out is $100 for most single story homes and $200 for most two story homes.

Next, we are proud to announce that we have launched our landscape construction division this month. We now construct new landscapes, retaining
walls, ponds, fences, irrigation, and ground level decks. So be sure to call Sure Lawn for those needs.

I’ll start posting a recommended flower around the middle of each month. This month’s recommended flower is the primrose. You can expect to get vibrant colors and long lasting blossoming from this great flower and as a bonus they return each year with another bouquet display.

That’s it for now – have a great day!

The blog is back!

August 27th, 2011

Due to several people commenting lately that they enjoyed reading our blog — “The Blog is Back Baby!”

I have missed writing the blog myself and there’s never a shortage of things to write about or discuss; it’s been more about the lack of time to put the words in print. I know some of you wordly wizards write a mile a minute, all ten trigger fingers blazing away, but this writer is stuck pre-tech or to be honest stone age, one finger entering one letter one at a time. Don’t get the idea that I’m turtle slow its more like just not rabbit fast.  In fact i once tried my hand at the mortgage business and my manager came around the corner one day and gasped in amazement that I had kept up pace with the in-house correspondence using my one quick digit and the other hand holding coffee.

Some time has past since my last blog and there just isn’t time to recover all the time lost, so we’ll focus and review the past week, then maybe we can keep it going into the future.

This past week we began new accounts on three golf courses, Snoqualmie Ridge, Mill Creek, and Harbour Pointe. Amazingly I met with the first potential client at Snoqualmie last Tuesday morning and was hired, then headed to Mukilteo and was also hired there at Harbour Pointe, and then while going towards Woodinville, I received a bid request in Mill Creek.  And there you go — three new golf course jobs in the same day and 100+miles of driving. Since last Tuesday, we’ve been spending a considerable amount of time in Snoqualmie cleaning-up our new client’s home near the 18th hole in preparation for the Boeing Classic golf tournament this weekend. Although I know golfers and worked for Allen Geiberger “Mr 59″ until he moved to California, I had no idea how big PGA related events were. Crews have been building huge tents around the green for weeks with fancy new Cadillacs strategically placed everywhere for best advertising. With all the people feverishly working you can really feel the excitement in the air.

Despite the economy we have been having one of our best years. Thank you to all of our clients who have enthusiastically referred us to your friends and co-workers.  We have also very much appreciated your emails and reference letters.

“Our clients know the difference between those who know and those who oughta know better”
These past few weeks I’ve met with many potential clients and keep repeatedly finding simple mistakes that make the difference and people in our line of work should know better. For instance and fairly common if you don’t know better, having thick bark piled around/against tree trunks and rose/shrub canes/stems is the reason many people have been concerned about dying trees and shrubs and the majority were preventable. Bark is great not just being attractive but also keeping down the weeds and preventing moisture loss.  It’s these attributes that also directly make it a killer when piled high against trunks/stems/ and canes. Where the roots meet the surface and your tree or shrub rises from the earth, there is a transition from a woody root desiring warmth and moisture to an above ground trunk, stem or cane that needs to breathe.  When beauty bark gets piled up in this situation it doesn’t allow the plants bark to breathe.  The heat — a result of decomposition — and moisture deteriorate the protective bark and destroy the Cambium layer responsible for healing the plant, which results in an untimely passing of your precious plant(s).

A client’s wife once told me that her husband “spends more money trying to save money then he would have ever spent doing it right the first time”. More often then not, I find this to be true of people hiring the cheapest, fastest talker, or only getting one bid. I know that sometimes we’re the least expensive and maybe that’s because you were getting overcharged.  I don’t consider myself a fast talker as much as one who simply enjoys good conversation usually involving plants.  We might be the one bid you take a chance on, but I would always like my potential clients to get multiple bids and really compare apples to apples, line by line to see we’re the best fit.

From BenK and Sure Lawn, Enjoy your week!

Apple-Rhubarb Dumplings

April 18th, 2010

Apple-Rhubarb Dumplings anyone?

These sweet treats are a favorite in our home every spring when the rhubarb is in heavy production mode. Some people cast aside the red/green pucker up sour stalks of rhubarb while others as myself love it fresh, frozen, or especially in apple-rhubarb dumplings. Surprisingly the sweetness of the apple and sourness of the rhubarb are toned down in this delicacy that is nothing like a standard dumpling or like the short cinnamon roll it resembles. Because both fruits are not harvested in the same season one will be frozen. We enjoy chopping some rhubarb and freezing it for an apple-fresh Fall treat while using frozen apple slices in the Spring for a rhubarb fresh spring treat. You can exchange the fruit used throughout the season and use peaches, blueberries, blackberries, etc.

These three quick easy recipes create one spectacular desert for any occasion:

(1) Sauce:

1 ½ cups sugar

1tablespoon flour

½-1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups water

1/3 cup butter

Stir and boil 1 minute. Add 1-teaspoon vanilla.

(2) Dough:

2 cups flour

2-3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients then cut in 2 ½ tablespoons cold butter. Then stir in ¾ cup milk. Roll dough into a 9”x12” rectangle.

(3) Filling:

2 ½ tablespoons soft butter (Spread butter over dough)

1 cup finely chopped apple

1 cup finely chopped rhubarb (Sprinkle apple and rhubarb over dough evenly scattered)

½ cup sugar

½-1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix sugar and cinnamon then sprinkle evenly over apple/rhubarb pieces. Roll up dough and filling then cut into 12 equal slices. Place slices in greased 9”x13” greased baking dish (glass recommended). Pour sauce over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Enjoy this treat and experiment using other fruits. :)

 Thank you for stopping by, from everyone at Sure Lawn. Have a great week!

All About Apples!

April 3rd, 2010

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Growing up many of heard the stories of Johnny Appleseed. The stories were usually about how old Johnny traveled the country planting apple trees. We’ve visited old homesteads whose owners sometimes joked their apple trees were planted by Johnny Appleseed. Although some believe he was a myth, Johnny’s real name was John Chapman. John was born September 26th 1774 in Leominster, Massachusetts. Johnny Appleseed planted apple trees  in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and died at the age of 70 at Fort Wayne, Indiana. When thinking apples we remember apple pie on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and various rhymes like ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ or ‘squish squash applesauce.’ Whether you like your apple fresh, juiced, sauced, candied, or baked, most of us love our apples.

Apple trees come in many varieties.  Some of the most common are Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Red or Golden delicious, Fuji, Jonagold, Crabapple and so on. It doesn’t matter if your favorite is a sweet old granny or sour old crab, every variety has its own purpose and fan club. Each variety has an ability or use best suited for it, some are best fresh, while others are best in sauce, baking, juice etc.  These differences are due in part to sugar content, density, and skin thickness.

Although the trees you see in old orchards are very large and pruning is a huge undertaking, apple trees of today have changed drastically.  You can buy apple trees espaliered (flat on two sides), Columnar (little to no branching on a vertical fruiting trunk), Dwarf (not likely to grow above 10’) Orchard pruned (generally a compact dwarf) or Multi-variety producers (having 2-6 other apple varieties grafted onto the same trunk). Of course you can still by the original type trees which can grow very large.

Planting location:

Plant in full sun and no closer than 10’ apart (with the exception of columnar). Apples do well in a variety of soil types although well draining is often best.


Remove suckers in fall and spring. Suckers, or water suckers as some call them, produce little or nothing at all. You may not be a car salesman but you’ll know a sucker when you see one. Suckers grow straight up and can grow several feet per year. These fast growing suckers steal away nutrients that would otherwise go into fruit production. Without removing these unwanted guests your apples will not grow to full size, and the decreased air circulation and light within the tree canopy is a breeding ground for moss, mildew, and fungus. When pruning apples all vertical cuts should be made at a 45-degree angle. This angle reduces the chance of water sitting, causing rot. We recommend removing crossing branches from the center of the tree as well as all new vertical growth (columnar the exception). Over time this method encourages the formation of a nice tree canopy and low growing fruit.


During the winter and spring, watering is not generally necessary. As fruit begins to develop and the weather warms, watering can become important. Without watering your apple is usually pretty hardy even during hot seasons; however without watering in hot seasons your apples may not grow to full size and can shrivel up and drop off in the driest cases. Watering the root areas from the trunk to just beyond the edges of your tree canopy is best.  We like to see a deep watering at least 2-3 days per week in hot seasons with daily water during very hot spells.


Use a well-balanced fruit fertilizer found at most nurseries and Home Depot/Lowes.


Treat for most diseases and pests early in the spring before blossoms open. Many orchards spray the trees with either copper or sulfur before blossoming. There are many forms of pest control on fruit trees from chemical to organic. Consult your local nursery for your best options.

Choices, choices. These are the varieties we sell and recommend the most: (most come standard, dwarf, espaliered, columnar, or with multi-variety)

Braeburn: Reddish-yellow skinned apple that’s mid sized and crisp, has a long storage life and bears late in the season.

Fuji: Another great late season apple Fuji is prized for it’s medium to large fruit which has a yellow/green skin with red stripes.

Gala: An earlier season apple Gala is a great all around apple. Fruit is mid sized red/yellow color and yellow flesh, Sweet, juicy, and crisp.

Golden Delicious: Great fresh or in baking, these golden beauties are mid-large fruit with yellow skin producing mid-late season.

Granny Smith: The reliable old granny makes great pies, sauce, and of course is great fresh off the tree. This apple is a large mid season type.

Gravenstein: This apple produces early in the season large yellow skinned fruit with red stripes. Best fresh or in applesauce.

Honey Crisp: This mid sized/mid season producer like its name is sweet and crisp. Honey Crisp is a great all around apple.

Jonagold: When located in Monroe we had rows of these trees on our farm. They’re a mid/late season heavy producer of very large yellow skinned fruit with reddish stripes. We used Jonagold for fresh eating, baking, and juice.

Red Delicious: This mid season producer of large red apples is often a favorite. Although not related to the Golden delicious you can bet that these apples are tasty treats.

Spartan: These apples are deep red mid sized/mid season producers. These apples are a crisp and sweet wonderful treat.

Don’t see your favorite? Just contact us and we can usually find it.

From all of us at Sure Lawn,

Thank you for your patronage.

Some favorite herbs

March 26th, 2010

This past week has been a very busy one for our company.  We began year-round service for several new clients whose landscapes all have great potential.  We also have been planting and placing our Herb planter displays.  These displays allow you to enjoy an edible display garden all year.  Although there are a few herbs that disappear during the winter, there are many that continue to produce.  Some of our favorite year-round (most years) herbs are:

Rosemary – great for its flavor and beautiful blue/purple flowers, this herb is a favorite for small hedges and planter centerpieces.  Cuttings can be dried and used in arrangements, and prostratus varieties of rosemary make a great overhanging plant.

Thyme – this great ground cover has been a desired seasoning for poultry and soup since the beginning of thyme.  All kidding aside, this herb is a very dependable and flavorful addition to your garden.  Some varieties, such as lemon thyme with its crisp lemony taste, have a very distinct flavor of their own.

Parsley – flat leafed Italian or moss curled French, parsley has been said to be good for your heart and found its way to your plate.  Parsley is a popular garnish as well as a great addition to your salad, and is excellent on fish, in chowder, or most any Italian food.

Oregano – usually found in Italian or Greek varieties, oregano is an essential part of Italian and Greek cooking.  Some of our favorite varieties for planter displays are the yellow and green variegated types, as they add extra color as well as texture to the mix.  Whether it’s pizza, Greek pasta, or spaghetti, you’ll find oregano in the best of dishes.

Celery – the fresh or dried leaves of celery are great in clam chowder.  Dried leaves tend to give the strongest, somewhat peppery flavor and can be stored for months.

Chives – if you like onions then you like chives.  I really enjoy walking past a clump of chives in the heat of  summer and picking a few stems to chew on.  The onion-like flavor is not too strong and has a pleasant aftertaste.  Chives are great in soup, salad, atop baked potatoes, and sprinkled on chicken about to be baked.

There are several more great herbs that do great in our climate, but these basics will do any herb garden proud.

From all of us at Sure Lawn,

Thank you for your patronage.

Time to plant roses!

March 20th, 2010

The time has come for planting roses!

Most nurseries have received the bulk of this year’s rose order, and some will be getting more as we get further into the season.  This last week, we visited one of our favorite nurseries, Flower World, and purchased some fine quality roses.  Besides having many quality plants, Flower World also carries one of the largest selections of “Weeks” brand roses.  From our experience, Weeks roses are of the finest quality and have performed very well.

After choosing your favorite color, preferred stem length and petal count, you’ll need to plant.  Plant your newfound rose factory in a sunny location with well draining soil.  We prefer to plant in a sandy loam type soil and add some compost or composted cow manure to the mix.

Some of our friendly old-timer rose enthusiasts swear by some strange methods to coax out the finest blossoms of the season.  Although we’ve not used all of these and don’t guarantee any results, you might do a little experimenting of your own.  These include:

  • 1 teaspoon dish soap to 1 quart water for spraying aphids;
  • leftover tea and used tea leaves turned into the soil to improve the soil;
  • used coffee grounds around the root area is supposed to improve beneficial soil microorganisms;
  • we have heard, but do not recommend, chicken manure because of the high nitrogen content and often, chicken manure is hot and can cause root damage near the surface.

Maintaining your rose

This takes a little regular attention to pests and some good maintenance practice in the way of pruning and watering.  When you see aphids crawling all over your future blossom, pick them off or spray them with a rose friendly but aphid not so friendly spray.  When you see little black spots on the leaves, remove those leaves and treat your rose with the proper spray to inhibit the spread of black spot.  A great way to prevent black spot is planting in a sunny location with good, but not strong, airflow.  Planting against a wall or solid fence/structure is not recommended in most cases.  When airflow is restricted and slows, the black spot spores tend to settle and can take a lot of work to get rid of.  Another good practice is to thin out the center inside your rose bush.  Allowing airflow through the center and additional light reduces several problems, including black spot.

Prune out dead canes in the spring and keep the ground beneath your garden flower shop free of debris.  When dead canes are left from year to year and debris accumulates, these are breeding grounds for disease and pests.

Fertilize your rose with a good rose fertilizer found at your local nursery or Home Depot/Lowes.  Do not simply throw lawn fertilizer on your roses.  This high nitrogen fertilizer will greatly increase the growth of the stems and reduce good rose production.  Roses need a low nitrogen fertilizer with iron and potash or phosphorus.  Good rose fertilizers will be marked as such.

Whether you are purchasing a rose named for your favorite president, movie star, or just for their beauty, every moment should be enjoyable.  With proper care, your future garden flower shop will produce to your pleasure and amaze your friends.

Great tips for March:

  • Schedule your spring window cleaning and gutter cleaning.
  • Fertilize most plants mid Feb.-March with a balanced fertilizer such as 16-16-16.
  • Apply Lime on turf areas to help balance soil pH.
  • Remove dead rose and raspberry canes, tie this year’s raspberry canes.
  • Divide dahlia and daylily tubers throughout march and prepare planting area.
  • Remove 1-2 old trunks from bush type lilacs.
  • Keep ahead of the weeds now so you don’t fight them all summer.

In addition to our landscape maintenance, flower displays, and window cleaning, we will be promoting our container herb, vegetable, and fruit farming. Over the past two years many of our clients and their friends have asked that we plant Herbs, Vegetables, and Fruits in small container gardens. Through much study, trial and error the result is a bountiful harvest of homegrown healthy foods. Over the coming months we plant to update our blog and our website with pictures of these modern day farmers and their crops.

From Every One at Sure Lawn,

Thank you for your Patronage!

Master Your Dahlias

March 15th, 2010

With such a wide variety of dahlias and incredible displays of blossoms it’s no wonder we love them. From all the colors of the rainbow and every combination in-between, anybody can find a dahlia that suits them.

Mastering your dahlias requires only your time, and a working knowledge of proper maintenance practice. Guiding you through the steps is my goal! Making them happen should be yours.

Congratulations! You have inherited a prized tuber (root) from a friend or purchased one from the store. A “Tuber” is a type of root similar and resembling a potato. Energy is stored in a tuberous root to help the plant survive its dormant period. Including favorites like dahlias and daylilies tubers are the source of many beautiful plants.


First I like to inspect my new tuber for rot and for eyes. Just because a tuber may not be really firm doesn’t mean it’s rotten. I only throw away a tuber that has wet spots and is mushy making it pretty clear it will not likely produce. Usually rot is caused by freezing or improper storage; we’ll cover both topics later. Given the tuber has passed the rot check I then look for eyes (buds).  These generally appear near where the tuber was separated from its cluster. Although we would prefer to only plant tubers with eyes apparent, I still plant those without just in case, but not as the centerpiece. Sometimes I don’t clearly see the eyes but they come up to see the sunshine never the less.

Best time to plant

The best time to begin planting is April-May although I have planted left over tubers as late as the 2nd week of June and they did fine. Better to plant in faith than to just throw them away because you missed the optimal planting time. It’s important to note this season is for western Washington and western Oregon, where threat of deep frost has past. In cooler or warmer climates your season will vary according to the last deep frost.

Where to plant

Plant dahlias where they’ll receive a reasonable amount of sun during the day. Planting a dahlia in shady area would not be recommended. The lack of direct sun will inhibit growth and encourage mildew; there are also fewer blooms.

Keep in mind the area should be well draining, as a wet area will just rot your tubers and all may be lost.  Wherever I plant a dahlia, adding some compost, manure, or peat moss or other organic material always seems to help. We planted in both clay and sandy type soils without success until we began adding organic materials to help loosen the soil and provide nutrients. In the clay type soil, the ground would pack down after the spring rains or with our watering. We found the tubers had a higher tendency to rot in the clay soil.

The sandy type soil also seemed to pack down and water would run off the top or drain right through depending on how compact it was. This would cause the tubers to dry rot or shrink to where they were not very productive.

Condition the soil

Dahlia farmers often recommend a soil loosened with organic material and containing a soil pH of about 6.5-7.5 a little on the acidic side is good. Unless you’re into testing the soil pH, experimenting is fine. Old-timer dahlia enthusiasts have recommended to me over the years mixing 1 part manure or compost and 1 part peat moss with the soil from the hole to be planted. Some have suggested also adding bone meal which you can find at your local garden store. You can add more or less compost, manure, peat moss, etc if you like. Soon you’ll discover what works best for your patch of planet Earth.


You have found a sunny well draining location and are ready to put your tuberous friend to work. Simply dig a hole that’s roughly 10”x 6” or 12”x 8” depending on the size of your tuber. Work your organic material into the mix and leave an inch or two in the bottom of the hole. Your tuber prefers no deeper than about 6” and no shallower than about 4”. Place your tuber into the hole with the eyes near the center of the hole leaving a little space between the other end and the side of the hole. Don’t cover the hole until you have placed the support stake. Once the stake is in place cover the tuber with your soil mixture so that it’s flush or even just slightly raised from the ground around the hole.

Support Stake

There’s a variety to choose from, steel post, wood, and bamboo.

When picking the right stakes, everybody has his or her own opinion. While steel lasts many years, wood and bamboo can be cut below the top of your dahlia as it reaches maturity. Whatever you choose, it should have enough strength to support the weight of the blossoms.  I like to see a wood or bamboo stake ¾”-1” in diameter. Place the support stake near the center of the hole pounding it down about 1’ and leaving enough above the surface 2’-4’ to support the stalk. You will use twine, gardening tape, or even twisty ties when the time comes for tying the stalk to the stake. Always be sure not make the tie tight against the stalk, this will choke your dahlia stalk of nutrients and can make a weak breaking area. Stake in place cover the tuber, do not water.

Prepare for invaders

With your future flower bouquet in the ground, add measures to protect it from pests. Slugs and snails have been waiting to attack the fresh new shoots working their way to the surface. Place your method of bait before it’s too late. My grandmother didn’t like regular slug bait. She would use a short plastic dish filled with beer placing it about 6” from the stake. She managed to drown a few pests and it worked for her, some beers better than others — who would have guessed! As for me I use Dead line in a bottle and simply squirt a line about 6”-8” from the stalk in a circle around the stalk. You can’t find it in the beer section of your grocery store, but you should be able locate some at a garden center.


Once shoots emerge from below (usually a few weeks depending on soil temperatures) you can begin watering. Start by just a short sprinkle at first, watering heavier as the stem(s) grow and the weather gets warmer. We don’t want our beloved tuber swimming in mud or drying out. Watering is another experiment and you’ll soon find what your dahlia likes. Deep watering 2-3 times per week is recommended during the growing season, more if there’s very hot temperatures.


When the dahlia discovers the sunshine and starts growing, we need to begin feeding. Fertilize the root area from the stem(s) to about 10”-12” out. You are going to treat your dahlia like a garden tomato. Nobody wants their tomatoes to be all growth and no production. Avoid balanced fertilizers such as 16-16-16 or 18-18-18 these will cause a lot of growth, feeding your dahlia a high nitrogen fertilizer makes a huge plant with little blossoming. Look for fertilizers that have nitrogen at about half of the potassium or phosphorous levels such as a 10-20-20 or 5-10-10. The first number should be nitrogen but always read the label to make sure.


As the shoot(s) rise from the ground make sure to keep the area hand weeded. We are trying to keep your future flower bouquet from being choked out. I say hand weeding because anytime I’ve spayed herbicides near dahlias they were stunted or died. Even though we can see the spray and it appears a safe distance away, there’s a bit that becomes a fine mist and can drift into our precious dahlia. Note: never use Caseron, Excel or any other pre-emergent to control weeds around your dahlia.

Invaders have arrived

Keep an eye out for pests throughout the growing season. You may need to reapply your form of slug and snail control from time to time. Finding a good insect spray early in the season is a good idea. Aphids, mites and other insects can attack with a fury, so having a spray at hand can save valuable time. Some people recommend using dish soap about 1 tsp with 1 qrt of water; you’ll have to see what works for you.


Making your dahlia bushy is an easy one.  Old-timer dahlia enthusiasts and farmers alike recommend pinching.  Simply pinch off the center shoot(s) 1 ½’-2 1/2’ above the ground or above the 3rd-4th leaf set. This helps to stunt the vertical growth of the dahlia and fill in below.

The Flower Shop

Well we’re off and running now, though it sounded like a lot of work it wasn’t that time consuming. Time to pull out your flower cutting tools (scissors or clippers) and reap the rewards.

Keep your dahlia’s flower shop blooming well by regularly thinning out the blossoms. Isn’t this great, a flower that performs better when you take cuttings to enjoy indoors?

I recommend taking cuttings that aren’t fully mature but getting close. Cut blossoms can be prolonged, by taking your cutting early in the day and scalding the cut area with hot water from the sink. This not only sets the blossom but also reduces bacterial growth that shortens cut flowers duration.

Fall has arrived

Fall is upon us, winter is near, dig your dahlias, and toss your fears.

When cold weather sets in you’ll know the right time to dig up the flower shop.

Generally wait until the leaves turn brown and the stalk appears to have died. If you begin to have a hard frost or freezing you should dig the tuber out before it can freeze. I do know several old-timer dahlia lovers who often leave tubers in the ground for 2-3 years before digging and dividing. For myself and some others we prefer to dig tubers every year in case of tuber killing freezes and to discover what lies beneath.

Let’s dig

I like to use a basic shovel digging about a foot from the stalk and all the way around. Then using the shovel to pry up on the dirt I pull out the dirt clod and hello a clump of dahlia tubers.


You planted one tuber and reveled in its glory all summer; now you have more.

Sometimes you’ll get just a few new tubers, sometimes a lot more. Having spent some time caring for your tuber during the summer it has produced buddies to pass along to your friends. First we must care for the clump, take the clump of tubers and wash thoroughly to remove the soil. Take care not to damage the skin by causing scars or scraping off the skin. Let the clump dry for 1-2 days, tubers can be divided from the clump now or you can wait until spring.

To the Garage

With clean, surface dry tubers in hand place them in a box containing slightly moist but not wet sawdust, shredded newspaper, peat moss or similar material.

I recommend using a cardboard box without a lid, boxes that are solid might make the tubers sweat and rot. Whatever you use cover the bottom with 1”-2” placing the tubers on top individually. Then cover the tubers with about 2” and repeat until full if needed. You will need a cool dry place to store them such as a garage, shed, etc. Choose an area that stays well above freezing but doesn’t get to warm or above 50 degrees. The dormant flower shop should be fine for the winter; however an occasional peek would be a good idea. On rare occasions, mice may try to make a meal of your summertime splendor.  You also want to make sure the tubers aren’t to warm or freezing.

That’s it! With some practice, experimenting, and good weather you’ll have a retreat in the form of a tuber turned flower display.

From Every One at Sure Lawn,

Thank you for your Patronage!

Potted Displays

March 11th, 2010

This week we have begun planting and placing our potted displays. These include flower, herb, fruit, and vegetable displays. A great potted display will have a tall centerpiece surrounded by gradually shorter layers of plantings at least half the height, with the final layer hanging over the edge. Here are tips for potted flower displays.

Soil is very important, choose a soil that’s well draining and fertile. we generally use a good 1 part sandy loam, 1 part compost and 1 part composted manure.

The centerpiece is not always centered in the planter. For example if along a patio edge or against a wall, you may plant the centerpiece toward the back and center. With the centerpiece in the back and center you’re able to plant more layers.

For potted flower displays we like to use one of the following centerpieces:

Tree Rose
Rose Bush
New Zealand Flax
Tree Daisy
Espalier Camellia
Espalier Cottoneaster

There are many more centerpieces worthy of mention, these are just some common yearly guests. The centerpiece is important because you generally should choose one that will endure the season or year. Many good centerpieces will last for years at a time with proper maintenance. Height is important, as you wouldn’t want a centerpiece that’s shorter than the plants surrounding it. Using a lasting centerpiece allows you to plant and replant around it without replacing what’s generally the most costly plant.

The second tier goes immediately in front of or around the centerpiece. Your second tier should usually be only half the height of the centerpiece. The second tier should compliment the center in both color and texture. For example you don’t want to plant soft green leaves next to soft green leaves or yellow flowers next to yellow flowers. If textures and colors match then what could be to great flowers become muted within each other.

For potted displays we like to use one of the following second tiers:

Lavender- for tall centerpieces like a tree rose etc.
Dusty miller

This second tier has a much larger range of great plants these are only some. Always keep in mind what and where you started so that textures and colors compliment each other. You must also be aware of the available space. For instance with a centerpiece in place and your plant palate chosen are you adding just a second tier or more. Sometimes we’ll have great space and can add several tiers. When this happens we often go all out planting several tiers or make a very thick second tier, which is just fine.

Final step, the overhang. The overhang provides additional texture and color and makes your display have greater depth. We use hanging plants will take little room at the top edge of the planter and grow down the side all summer. Your overhanging plant can be annual or perennial and may bloom more than once per year.

For potted flower displays we like to use the following overhanging plants:

Candy tuft
Variegated Ivy
Rosemary prostratus – a hanging variety
Vinca minor

There are several more great vines and hanging flowers that will compliment your display.

Well good luck with your adventure in the planter, May you have a beautiful year.

Great tips for March:

  • Schedule your spring window cleaning and gutter cleaning.
  • Fertilize most plants mid Feb.-March with a balanced fertilizer such as 16-16-16.
  • Apply Lime on turf areas to help balance soil pH.
  • Remove dead rose and raspberry canes, tie this years raspberry canes.
  • Divide dahlia and daylily tubers throughout march and prepare planting area.
  • Remove 1-2 old trunks from bush type lilacs.
  • Keep ahead of the weeds now so you don’t fight them all summer.

In addition to our landscape maintenance, flower displays, and window cleaning, we will be promoting our container herb, vegetable, and fruit farming. Over the past two years many of our clients and their friends have asked that we plant Herbs, Vegetables, and Fruits in small container gardens. Through much study, trial and error the result is a bountiful harvest of homegrown healthy foods. Over the coming months we plant to update our blog and our website with pictures of these modern day farmers and their crops.

From Every One at Sure Lawn,

Thank you for your Patronage!


March 4th, 2010

Welcome to our blog and thank you for stopping by. Sure Lawn has been serving in the NW since 1999. We‘re dedicated to proving only the highest level of service, experience, and quality.  We’ll update our blog every week with plant knowledge, maintenance tips, and company happenings.

March 2010 has arrived, the year seems to be flying by already doesn’t it? Like we have skipped winter and we’re enjoying spring early. My wife always says it will snow on the daffodils and she’s right every year. This year I might win one if the weather keeps cooperating with me. Our daffodils are blooming and they will be done soon here in Oregon.

With all of this great weather many plants have had an early start. This means we need to make certain that plants don’t absorb the nutrients available before we have replenished them. To prolong blooming periods and maintain or improve overall health, plants need nourishment whether chemical or organic in nature. This is even more important in planting beds where bark is present. Bark, although beautiful and a great weeds barrier, also steals from the soil. Because the bark is not decomposed like mulch it will steal nutrients as it decomposes that would otherwise be available to your plants. We prefer organic fertilizers whenever or wherever possible. You can find these at your local nursery or Home Depot/Lowes.

Things to keep in mind for the health of your plants. Always keep an eye on plant color, foliage, and luster. When you see a loss of the plants natural color there may be a serious problem. For most plants turning yellow-brown is not a good sign. Sometimes its lack of fertilizer, too much or too little water, an invading insect, disease or even bark.

Quick things to determine the problem.

  1. Have you fertilized recently? If so move on.
  2. Is there surface water showing (too wet, possible drainage issue)? If not dig down 2” if still dry then you may need to be watering.
  3. Check for holes in the leaves, fine webbing underneath the leaves, fine sawdust on the bark or at the base with woody plants/trees, small spiders or aphids visible. You may need to have a professional spray for pests or visit your local nursery to identify the pest and learn about treating for it. There are many different pesticide applications available at Home Depot/Lowes.
  4. Check for disease in the form of black spots, mildew, rot, fungi, and peeling bark. Treatments may be necessary consult your local nursery.
  5. Check to make sure bark has not been piled up against the trunk. This can result in Crown rot if above the plant’s crown, slowly killing the plant. We’ve also seen the bark of the plant decay and peel off due to being covered.

Great tips for March:

  • Schedule your spring window cleaning and gutter cleaning.
  • Fertilize most plants mid Feb.-March with a balanced fertilizer such as 16-16-16.
  • Apply Lime on turf areas to help balance soil pH.
  • Remove dead rose and raspberry canes, tie this years raspberry canes
  • Divide dahlia and daylily tubers throughout march and prepare planting area
  • Remove 1-2 old trunks from bush type lilacs
  • Keep ahead of the weeds now so you don’t fight them all summer.

In addition to our landscape maintenance, flower displays, and window cleaning, we will be promoting our container herb, vegetable, and fruit farming. Over the past two years many of our clients and their friends have asked that we plant Herbs, Vegetables, and Fruits in small container gardens. Through much study, trial and error the result is a bountiful harvest of homegrown healthy foods. Over the coming months we plant to update our blog and our website with pictures of these modern day farmers and their crops.

From Every One at Sure Lawn, thank you for your Patronage!

We serve the greater areas of:

Salem, OR
Dallas, OR
Monmouth, OR
Independence, OR
Keizer, OR
McMinnville, OR

Redmond, WA
Woodinville, WA
Kirkland, WA
Bothell, WA
Everett, WA
Edmonds, WA
Mukilteo, WA
Monroe, WA
Snohomish, WA

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