Wilma Stordahl

Garden Landscaping Expert and Freelance Writer

When Wilma Stordahl was growing up in eastern Montana, nobody suspected her desire to play with her brother’s LEGOs, dump trucks and road graters would foreshadow her later interest in landscape architecture and construction. When she wasn’t moving soil with her brother’s toys, she was helping her grandmother in her garden. Fast forward to today, and Wilma brings 30+ years of experience to the topics of organic gardening, garden design, gardens for healing and the elderly, commercial landscaping, municipal landscape codes, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, and public open spaces and parks. She holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Washington and a Master of Business Administration from Seattle University. After earning her bachelor’s, she went to work for the City of Seattle in CityDesign and on their monorail planning team. Later experience, working for multidisciplinary design firms, has given her valuable experience in collaboration with real estate developers; civil, structural, and geotechnical engineers; architects; interior designers and other allied professionals. Wilma is also The Tough Love Gardener and has written articles for Realty101.com and PayScale.com. She is the owner and principal of TerraWerks, LLC and a co-founder of 6and44. She lives in Seattle with her three sons and enjoys relaxing in her backyard with her dog, Thor, and her three chickens.

Organic lawn care can be easy and affordable

One of my favorite things to do in the heat of summer is stand barefoot on a nice cool lawn. The grass feels cool and moist, and I like to squish my toes around in the blades of grass. It’s just one of those sensory experiences I truly enjoy. But what if that same lawn has been dowsed in chemicals in order to achieve its lushness? Well, that sort of changes the experience, doesn’t it? If you’d rather minimize the use of herbicides and pesticides, here are a few lawn care tips you can use . . .

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There are many benefits to planting bare-root trees and shrubs in a garden

Most gardeners are familiar with seeing plants in pots at a garden store. It is the most common way for plants to be packaged for consumers. However, there are benefits to planting bare-root trees and shrubs, and important steps to take in order to successfully transplant them. . . .

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Flowering quince is a winter-blooming shrub that works well for indoor arrangements

The days are shorter, the leaves have fallen, and the lawn is dormant. Except for squirrels hurriedly burying their treasures in your garden, it appears things have gone dark and dormant for the winter. With the exception of covering hose bibs and shoveling snow off of the sidewalk, most homeowners give little thought to their garden in the winter. However, a few winter-blooming shrubs can change everything, add color to an otherwise bleak landscape, and provide . . .


Tips for Growing Dahlias

by on October 31, 2013

To grow dahlias successfully, gardeners should plant the flowers in appropriate soil conditions

In late summer and early autumn, dahlias are a great source of color and beauty in the garden. Mixed into a planting bed with ornamental grasses, woody shrubs, and other perennials, the showy flowers add drama and much needed color when many other plants are starting to wane. In an earlier article, we looked at the many Dahlia forms and colors available. Here you’ll find tips on how to add them to your garden. . . .

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Ball form dahlias are spherical in shape

One of my favorite exhibits when I visit the county fair in late summer is the dahlia exhibit. The flowers range in size from over 10 inches in diameter (known as giant) to under 2 inches (called mignon). I enjoy seeing the hundreds of different varieties, colors, and shapes; noting the ones I like the best; and buying a few dahlias to grow in my garden. . . .

Read more about Dahlia Forms and Colors


If you have the right conditions in your garden, you may have moss growing in your lawn

Perhaps you’ve spent every weekend in your garden mowing, edging and weeding. Throughout the dry, hot months of summer, your lawn has looked great. Then fall comes, and with the change in weather, suddenly you’re seeing moss in your lawn. This is irritating, especially after toiling away to keep your lawn looking great all summer. What can you do? . . .

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Sowing a Winter Garden

by on October 3, 2013

Gardening can continue through the winter if you choose the right plants and protect them from frost

As children go back to school and the sun sinks lower in the sky, most vegetable gardeners start cleaning up the garden and putting their tools away. But not so fast! There is much to do in the fall and winter garden. Just because daylight hours are shorter is no reason to put down that garden trowel. Don’t scrub the soil from under your nails yet. There’s more work to be done. . . .

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Using deer resistant plants in your landscape will help keep your garden from being eaten by deer

Have you ever planted a garden and later found it devoured? If the damage is small, it could be any number of garden pests, such as slugs, caterpillars, or rabbits. If the damage is more extensive, however, you may have deer browsing through your garden for dinner. If you don’t want your landscape to become a smorgasbord where deer can dine at will, consider serving up some deer resistant plants. . . .

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For a successful garden, choose plants that thrive in sun or shade, depending on the conditions of your landscape

All plants need sunlight. Photosynthesis is critical to a plant’s growth. However, plants vary in their need for light. Some grow best in full sun. Others do best when they get sun for part of the day and shade for the remainder. Still other plants grow best in permanent shadow. If your garden has too much shade, plant shrubs and ground covers that are suited to little or no direct sunlight. There are many shade plants to choose from – even if your garden gets very little sun. . . .

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Ornamental grasses offer interesting texture and foliage to landscape design

When selecting garden plants, novice gardeners often choose shrubs, perennials, and annuals with big, showy flowers like roses, hydrangeas, irises, geraniums and petunias. Ornamental grasses, however, make up for what they lack in bright, colorful blooms with texture and interesting foliage color. They’re a great addition to any garden design. . . .

Read more about Using Ornamental Grasses