Welcome to Our Blog!

Welcome to the blog of Northwest Botanicals, a residential landscape company providing sustainable landscape design, installation and maintenance in the greater Seattle area.

Here you’ll find all sorts of topics—ranging from expert gardening and pruning tips, bird- and dog-friendly yards, to examples of our landscape design and yard renovation projects. Feel free to subscribe to this blog and/or “like” our Facebook page (in the right sidebar of this page) so you don’t miss a single update. If you are looking for our main website, click here >

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Tiny town house garden transformed

Small town house garden in Ballard

Small gardens like this one in Seattle require extra attention to detail.

Design sketch

Our sketch shows what the new garden would be. 

Small Seattle garden

Before, the garden was so overgrown the patio was barely visible.

Small Seattle garden

After, the garden looks inviting even as fall moves into winter.

Small Seattle garden

The front steps were almost obscured by the large plants.

Small Seattle garden

After the cleanup the water feature is apparent but not very interesting.

Seattle small garden

Our design called for a dry stream bed leading to the water feature and plants that fit the size of the garden.

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Landscaping for curb appeal in West Seattle

Overgrown front garden

Our clients needed help getting their house ready to sell.


We pruned and cleaned up the front garden to make it appealing to potential buyers!


The front gravel walkway was weedy and overgrown.


Now it is a welcoming entry.

overgrown shrubs

The side yard was very overgrown.


Now it is bright and open.

Now it is bright and open.

The shrubs blocked the windows

Shrubs blocked the windows.

The shrubs have been tamed to let more light inside.

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Expert Tips for Seattle Gardeners

We were very pleased to be included in this edition of Seattle Met Magazine:

Seattle Met

Expert Tips for Seattle Gardeners

21 local plant and landscape experts share their green-thumb and design secrets.

Published May 1, 2014
By Angela Cabotaje

Remember the Birds…Birds at water

A birdbath or stone basin can be a much-needed focal point in a garden that attracts birds year-round. Be sure to site it near a path instead of in a flower bed for easy cleaning and refilling. —Pat Reh, garden designer and general manager, Northwest Botanicals, northwestbotanicals.com

Follow this link to see the all of the expert garden tips.

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West Seattle Garden Renovation


Our client wanted to turn his lack luster back yard into a place to relax and entertain.


This small West Seattle garden was dominated by a big leaf maple and moss and weeds.

West Seattle Garden renovation

With the addition of an outdoor rug and furniture, it will be a pleasant place to sit and entertain friends.


The back yard was just used for storage and to park the car.


Now it is a lush and colorful space.


The featureless back yard was uninviting.


Now the bark path beckons you into the tiny garden.

“Thank you again, Northwest Botanicals. I enjoyed working with you and am very pleased with the results.” – Craig

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Landscaping is for the birds in Seattle

I never set out to create a garden that would attract birds.  I created a garden for my enjoyment and it turns out that birds have been flocking to it for years.  Here is what I’ve learned about making a garden both people and bird friendly.

 Robin in callicarpa
Plant diversity – A variety of plants attract a variety of birds.  Many gardens are full and plentiful in the spring and summer but a garden with plants for all seasons is not only pleasing to people but a lifesaver for birds.  Plenty of berries and seeds to eat through the year keep birds happily near your garden or dropping by regularly.  Most winter blooming plants are very fragrant and entice people to stop by for a whiff. They also bring pollinating insects to the plants.  Insects provide much needed winter food for many birds and when the ground is frozen, these birds will appreciate the fall berries that still persist on many shrubs.  Winter bloomers also sustain hummingbirds that provide endless entertainment for people.
No chemicals – If you want to create a healthy ecosystem for yourself and family, leave the chemicals behind.  A well designed garden will have very little problem with pests because you will be working with Mother Nature instead of struggling against her.  Birds will be attracted to slugs and harmful insects and will keep the population in check without pesticides.  Plants get the nutrients they need from regular mulching with compost and limited organic fertilizers.  Chemical fertilizers produce rapid new growth which attracts an abundance of aphids.  Birds do a great job of keeping a normal population of aphids from getting out of hand.
 Birds in the snow
Shelter - A garden that is pleasing to the eye has many levels, from tall conifers to groundcovers.  In between are small trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials.  These levels welcome many kinds of birds and provide them with shelter from the cold, protection from predators and places to look for food.
 Birds at water
Water – Every garden, especially a diverse one, needs focal points to give the human eye something to focus on.  Water features such as bird baths or rocks with depressions deep enough to collect water make a garden more interesting and provide needed water for birds and insects.
Bird watching in a low maintenance garden
Low maintenance – Saving the best for last, a diverse, layered and organic garden requires less time and money to maintain.  Be sure to put a bench in your garden so you can spend your free time enjoying your feathered friends.
Pat Reh is the General Manager of Northwest Botanicals Inc.  Most of her colleagues enjoy attracting birds to their gardens with one dedicated birder reporting 51 species in his small Seattle garden.                   
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Seattle newspaper features Northwest Botanicals, Inc.

It was a great honor and pleasure to be interviewed by Seattle’s Soy Source newspaper. They wanted our advice about using native plants in the gardens that we design and maintain. While we use some Pacific Northwest native plants regularly, we ironically use many plants from Japan as they are often a better size for Seattle gardens than many large natives.

Soy Source article都会に適したオーガニックの庭
ネイティブプラントを使った庭作りのアドバイスを求めて、造園デザイン会社ノースウェスト・ボタニカルズ(Northwest Botanicals)のマネージャー、パット・レーさんを尋ねたのだが、開口一番「うちではネイティブプラントより、日本や中国の植物をよく使うんです」という衝撃の事実を聞かされた。キング郡はネイティブプラントでの庭作りを推奨しているのだが、実際の現場では通用しにくいという。「都会の庭には大きすぎたり、繁殖しすぎるうえ、ユニークな形や鮮やかな色のものが少ないので、それだけではつまらない庭になってしまいます。それに比べて、例えば日本のショウジョウモミジなどは、葉の色が季節ごとにピンク、緑、赤と変化して秋の紅葉も楽しめるし、しかもこの土地の気候に適しているんですよ」

Here is a link to the article in Japanese:

Here is a translation provided to us by Maho Kashiwazaki of Soy Source newspaper:

We visited Pat Reh who works at Northwest Botanicals as a general
manager in order to ask about native plant gardens. However, she told us
that they use more Japanese and Chinese plants than native plants, which
surprised us.
They prefer Japanese and Chinese plants because:
▪ Native plants are too big for small city gardens
▪ Native plants spread too much/easily
▪ Native plants are boring/not unique
▪ Japanese plants fit the NW environment
▪ Japanese plants such as Japanese Maple ‘Shojo’ has a beautiful array
of leaf colors according to the seasons

Organic Gardens
Northwest Botanicals is an organic company that focuses on not using
▪ Plant berries and other plants that bring birds and insects which eat
harmful insects
▪ Do not plant plants that attract snails and slugs

Tips for Garden Design
▪ Check the shade, wetness, types of soil
▪ Design a path to lead people to the garden
▪ Place beds along the path
*if the garden already has a tree, place those plants that grow well in
the shade of the tree like hydrangeas and ferns
▪ Plant evergreens that structure the gardens all year round
▪ Go see public gardens like “Kubota Garden” to get ideas for your garden

What to Do Now
Winter is the best season to add compost and plant because roots are growing
well even though there is no change  above ground.
How to compost
▪ Do not dig and mix compost with the soil because that breaks the
structure of the soil
▪ Put the compost on the ground surface so that the gravity, rain, and
insects bring them into the soil.

Northwest Botanicals, Inc.
☎ 206-932-1850

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Winter Woodland Wonderland

Embracing the forest in your back yard

Many gardens on Mercer Island, near Seattle, have large trees like Douglas Fir and it can be difficult incorporating them into a garden.
In this garden, the trees are now the featured focal point.

Winters around Seattle can be grey and depressing

Winters around Seattle can be grey and depressing

Paths and colorful plants invite you into the garden

Paths and colorful plants invite you into the garden

Our clients wanted to spend time on their deck in every season

Our clients wanted to spend time on their deck in every season

The garden is a delight even in the dark of winter

The garden is a delight even in the dark of winter

Before, weeds, cones and needles were the main feature in the garden

Weeds and fir cones and needles were the main feature

The bark path blends perfectly into the woodland setting and the hardy plants provide interest all year

The bark path blends perfectly into the woodland setting and the hardy plants provide interest all year

“We are really enjoying our new view out the windows and can hardly wait to see it grow.  More importantly, we will be able to enjoy and use the backyard.” -Nancy

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