dried eggplant, pepper and bell pepper. dried to cook in winter

Here’s a great idea to consider for what to do with all the fresh edible bounty you’ll harvest from your Pacific Northwest garden when you’re making your general gardening plans, especially during spring. Sometimes, even after consuming them, selling at a farmers market, and giving some away to friends and family, you still have more than enough left.

Well, you don’t have to force yourself to eat more fresh fruits and salads, or try to invent new ways to include vegetables in your sandwiches. There are numerous ways to preserve them for later use, including freezing, canning, drying, and pickling them. In this article, we will be sharing the steps for preserving your garden’s bounty through drying.

How to Preserve Your Fruits and Vegetables through Drying

A lot of fruits and vegetables can be dried for long term storage and later consumption. Dried fruits and vegetables are just as tasty and nutritious as fresh ones, so you don’t have to worry about a loss of taste or nutrients. They also have the advantage of being lightweight, and they take very little space compared to canned and frozen food.

Dried produce also lasts very long, so you can be sure to have them long after they are out of season. After drying, your fruits and vegetables can be stored in plastic bags or jars, and then kept in a cool, dry space for weeks.

There are different methods of drying, including using a dehydrator, oven drying, sun drying, or room drying. The method you use depends on you and the type of garden produce.

4 Steps for Drying Your Fruits and Vegetables

Outlined below are the four general steps to effectively preserve your garden’s bounty through drying, so you can enjoy them later.

Step #1: Preparation

You have to prepare the fruit or vegetable by thoroughly cleaning to remove debris or dirt, as well as moisture. After washing, simply drain and blot dry with a lint-free towel. After excess moisture is removed, cut away unwanted parts such as pods in beans, rinds in winter squash, and stems in vegetables. Finally, cut vegetables like tomatoes or peppers into slices.

Step #2: Blanching

Just like if you were freezing the produce, you need to blanch your vegetables, by briefly immersing them in boiling water. This blanching step destroys enzymes that would otherwise survive the dehydration process and cause the food to decline in quality over time. However, your fruits should not be blanched because that will change their taste. After blanching your vegetables, cool with ice water, drain, then allow to dry.

Step #3: Drying

This is the most important procedure. We recommend drying with your oven. However, ensure that you set the oven to the lowest temperature setting (usually 170 degrees Fahrenheit). Place the fruits or vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet, then insert in the oven and keep the door slightly open. Drying with your oven can be done within 2-24 hours depending on the produce.

Step #4: Storage

After you are done drying, the next step is to pack the fruits or vegetables away and put them in airtight containers. You can also use zip-top plastic bags or glass mason jars if you like. You must ensure that you use containers that are about the same size as the produce. to keep their flavors for as long as possible.

With these steps, you can dry and preserve your fruits and vegetables, so your bounty does not go to waste. Remember to always monitor your produce during the drying process, as they could become too dry if you let them stay in the oven for too long.

If you need help preparing your garden to yield a bountiful harvest, you can contact us at Levy’s Lawn and Landscaping today!

Garden maintenance in spring doing the mulching of the flowerbeds to keep down weeds and retain moisture in the soil

It is every homeowner’s wish to have a beautiful and well-designed yard in their homes. While it takes a lot of time and effort to achieve such a yard, it is also considerably expensive. For people who do not have the fortune to spend on landscaping to beautify their homes, this can pose a problem.

Top 5 Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas

Although landscaping can be expensive, the good news is that if you have the time and energy to pour into maintenance, you just may be able to pull off the perfect garden without spending so much. There are many low maintenance landscaping ideas out there that you can try, that will not only give your home the perfect appeal but also require little from you. The following are five low maintenance landscaping ideas you can try.

1.     Plant Perennials

Although annuals make for great landscaping, their cost of maintenance is a little on the high side. A great alternative is to use perennials instead. By making use of perennials, you are invariably cutting out the costs of annual cultivation, pesticides & herbicides and a host of others supplements they do not require. Some low maintenance perennials you can use for your landscaping include Coneflower, Perennial Geranium, and Catmint.

2.    Make Use of Mulch

Filling your flower bed with mulch is another way to reduce the cost of your landscaping. This is because mulch does not come with the regular maintenance associated with soil, like weeding, for instance. You can even decide to use rubber mulch to further reduce the cost of maintenance, as the former does not require yearly replacement. Using rubber mulch is also a great way to use recyclable products.

3.    Grow Evergreens

Evergreens, unlike most landscaping staples, look great all year round, meaning that they will not require as much maintenance as the seasons change. They are known to maintain their leaves regardless of the time of the year while other plants lose their foliage. However, evergreens cost more than regular plants, but because they do not require as much attention, they make for great low maintenance landscaping.

4.    Consider an Artificial Lawn

Lawn mowing, fertilizing and regular watering are a must if you have a lawn. These are factors which can significantly raise the cost of maintaining natural lawns. Artificial lawns, on the other hand, do not require any of these costly measures, and they are known for providing almost the same aesthetics. In fact, a lot of people are unable to tell the difference between a natural and an artificial lawn.

5.    Place Plants in Pots

Using potted plants in your landscape is also a great way to keep the cost of maintenance at bay. Potted plants are versatile, do not require so much care and can be moved from one place to another easily. Also, potted plants make it easy for you to add a variety of colors to your garden, by simply changing/designing the flower pots to suit the season.

These are some of the low maintenance landscaping ideas you can use for your home. With a little creativity on your part, you can create an awe-inducing landscape, your neighbors will be envious of! If you need help with any of these ideas and more you can Contact Levys Lawn & Landscape today!

Wooden cart on green grass with blooming flowers in different colors

As the season changes from the hot and long days of summer to the cooler and shorter days of fall, you may find yourself wondering what to do with your planter garden. Planters are one of the best ways to garden small spaces like a deck or patio. However, they can also be used in large gardens, where they make for great features.

Top 3 Fall Planter Ideas for Your Garden

Planter gardens are usually put together during spring because that is the season where they bloom beautifully, grow lush, and even overflow their planters. Also, during this time is when planters can be styled using various plants and flowers. The following are some planter ideas that make for a beautiful garden that will bloom all through fall, and possibly, into winter.

1.      Green Hues

This fall planter idea incorporates soft textures and bright tones, which light up whatever colored planter you have. It consists of four different flowers which bring unique qualities to any garden. The first flower is the Restio multiflorus, which is a wispy grass-like plant that grows about 3-4ft tall and produces brown seed heads during winter.

Then, the second flower is the Liberta peregrinans, known for having warm tones of narrow leaves, reaching about 2ft tall. The Coleonema pulchellum and Euphorbia amydaloides robbiae are the other flowers that complete this fall planter idea. The former is a foot tall plant that has rounded green leaves, while the latter consists of green and gold foliage that glows in the autumn light.

2.     Lime with a Twist of Chocolate

In this planter, you combine the willowy burgundy Agonis, with the lime-colored Grevillea and Heuchera. For that perfect fall garden look, they should be planted in egg-shaped pots and placed behind a wooden background to create a rustic vignette. The Agonis flower produces burgundy foliage, while the Heuchera introduces ruffled plum-toned leaves which grow in a mound of about a feet and a half tall. Lastly, the Grevillea which is a slow spreader matures into a shade of lime over time, although it initially starts out as coppery saw-toothed leaves.

3.     Tinge of Bronze

Foliages of bronze and chartreuse mingle in this single fall garden planter idea. You can use the Pieris Forest Flame, which is a red flower that fades to pink and later dark green upon maturity. The other flower can be the Dryopteris erythrosora, which blends a variety of colors such as copper, gold, and pink. At their peak, these flowers can tower to a height of about 16 inches, depending on the size of the planter used. Another flower to include in this beautiful fall planter is the Little John Azalea, which is largely made up of bronze leaves that can reach a height of 6ft and above.

Towards the end of summer and the beginning of fall, flowers start to wither and look a bit tired, leaving homeowners at a loss for what to do with them. However, with these great fall planter ideas, which you can incorporate into your garden, deck, or patio, your landscape is guaranteed to look beautiful all through the fall season. For more fall planter ideas or to help you set it up, you can Contact Us at Levy’s Lawn & Landscape today!

Neighborhood beautification, hiding underground powerline and telecommunication boxes with giant ornamental grasses in the neighborhood

Many of the landscaping ideas you see around town typically involve trees, flowers, and shrubs of all shapes, colors, and sizes. However, while these are a great addition to gardens, there are other plants that you can use for landscaping. For instance, grasses can add a unique element to gardens, which trees and shrubs cannot provide. If this is something you will like to try, here are some great ways you can landscape with grasses.

1.     Soft Landscape

Planting grasses along the edges of hard waterways, pathways, and decks can make them appear softer. However, to achieve this look, you have to choose a grass that can adequately hold its form. This landscaping idea is great for larger areas, and they provide a mounding effect that arc over the edge of hard landscaping.

2.    Colorful Chaos

Another way to landscape with grasses is by planting different groups of colorful grasses together. Not many plants can top the beautiful display that comes with colorful grasses like the Japanese blood grass, purple fountain grass, and Indigenous Melinis nerviglumis. For best results, grasses should be positioned in a way that allows the sunshine through the leaves.

3.    Emboldened Sculptures

Grasses can also be used in other ways apart from the regular landscaping ideas you are used to. They can be used to accentuate garden sculptures in very interesting ways. One of such ways is to pair long grasses with bold garden sculptures like the stalking eagle. Fine-leafed grasses like the Aristida junciformis can be used to soften and frame garden sculptures.

There are many ways to landscape with grasses, and these are only a few of them. Try them out today or experiment using resources at your disposal, and you will be pleasantly surprised at the results! You can Contact Levys Lawn & Landscape today to get any of these ideas and more professionally done for you.

Luxury backyard fire pit

In the past, most backyards were decorated using different deck designs. These days, however, we have moved on from wooden decks to interesting ideas such as flower beds, outdoor kitchens, ponds, and fire pits. Fire pits are becoming a popular landscaping choice due to the soothing ambiance they offer, as well as the warmth a fire pit provides during the cold months. If you would like to build a fire pit in your backyard in the Pacific Northwest, here is a step-by-step guide that can help.

  • Step #1

The first step to building a fire pit in your backyards is to pick a spot in it and dig a hole. Depending on how wide you want the pit to be, the hole can be anywhere between 1.5 – 3” deep and 5 – 10” wide. When digging, ensure that the bottom is as flat as possible.

  • Step #2

Next, line the freshly dug hole using firebricks. The firebricks should be enough to make a complete circle of your desired fire pit. The circle formed should be lined by standing the firebricks on end and placing them next to each other.

  • Step #3

Using concrete, clay, cob or fire-resistant materials, solidify the ring. You can do this by using any of these materials to join the bricks together, into a solid ring. Whatever material you use for this should be allowed to dry before proceeding.

  • Step #4

Fill up space outside the circle with debris, so that the ground is leveled with the edge of the brick. Next, fill the center of the pit with river rocks, and your fire pit is ready for use. If you like, you can add a decorative edge to it for more beautification.

If you’ve thought about having a fire pit in your backyard but never seen it through, now you can! With these few easy tips, you can beautify your backyard with a fire pit, and enjoy some warmth sitting out. If you need help building your fire pit or landscaping your backyard, you can Contact Us at Levy’s Lawns & Landscape today!

You could plant the best flowers and shrubs in your garden, but if your soil quality is low, these plants will hardly thrive. Therefore, you need to amend your soil before you grow your plants. Soil amendment is vital as it balances the soil pH, improves soil nutrient and structure, as well as encourages beneficial microbes. All of these are important factors for the growth of your plants.

Although the benefits of soil amendment can never be overemphasized, it’s often quite expensive. Thankfully, some household materials can be beneficial in soil amendments. While these materials may not fix your soil quality completely, they’ll amend your poor soil to a large extent.

Outlined below are five common household materials which are ideal for soil amendments.

  1. Coffee Grounds: Composted coffee grounds are a good source of nitrogen for your soil. If you don’t make your own coffee, you may want to consider getting coffee grounds from your local cafe to add to your compost pile.
  2. Eggshells: You may hardly go a week without breaking one or more eggs in your kitchen. Gather the shells, crush them and add them to your garden to improve your soil calcium content.
  3. Epsom Salt: This offers the right amount of sulfate and magnesium to your soil. Gardeners who like to amend their soil organically often go for Epsom salt.
  4. Bananas: Just like you like bananas, your garden soil craves the peels. When you toss banana peels into your garden, they help your shrubs and flowers grow healthier and fight against aphids and some other pests.
  5. White Vinegar: When mixed into water, white vinegar serves great acidic purposes. It works best when your soil pH is too high or basic. A tablespoon of vinegar mixed in a gallon of water works well.

You don’t have to break the bank to improve your soil quality. Try these common household items to achieve a better soil structure, texture, and nutrient that is perfect for your plants. If you need more help with garden problems, you can reach out to us at Levy’s Lawns and Landscaping today!

If you have only a small plot available for gardening in your pacific northwest home, you can still garden all year round. Succession planting is a style of planting that enables you to make use of the small plot judiciously. It entails growing various plants in the same space sequentially, in the same planting season. It could also involve the planting of the same type of crops in different portions of your garden at different intervals.

Unlike crop rotation, succession planting allows for continuous harvest. It also allows the planting of the same crops in the same land portions for at least three years. However, when practicing succession planting, you should avoid planting crops of the same botanical family in same land portions, successively.

A good approach to succession planting in the Pacific Northwest is to know which crop to plant, when to plant, and how to space them. Basically, when it comes to succession planting, it’s better to think of crops and their windows, and not just an individual crop. An example of how you can practice succession cropping in the Pacific Northwest is explained below.

Cool weather crops such as early beets, beet greens, early cabbage, etc. can be planted early on in the planting season. Then, warm-weather crops such as beans, eggplant, pepper, or tomatoes can be planted after the cool weather crops.

Afterward, cool-weather crops that mature during autumn, such as chard, Chinese cabbage, kale, lettuce, and mustards can be planted after the warm weather crops have been harvested. In order to gain more time, later crops can be planted among the first crops to be harvested at a later time. This process is known as interplanting or intercropping.

Step-By-Step Process For Succession Planting In The Pacific Northwest

  • Compile a list of all the crops you want to grow.
  • Have the basic knowledge of days in the growing season. This will help you make better planting decisions.
  • Know the number of days it will take you to harvest the crops you plan to grow.
  • Decide on whether you will extend the growing season during spring and autumn.
  • Sketch the growing space for the beginning, middle, and end of the growing season.
  • Be flexible, and make provision for unforeseen events during the growing season.

With succession planting, growing different plants in the same space simultaneously, no matter how little, can be very successful. If you have a small plot for gardening in the Pacific Northwest, you can contact us at Levy’s Lawns and Landscaping to help you get the best of your small garden, with succession planting.

perennial garden pacific northwest levy's lawns and landscape

The weather is a natural phenomenon you can’t control, which can affect your Pacific Northwest garden. However, with a couple of perennial flowers, you can make your garden stand out and withstand weather effects. There is a vast array of blooming perennials that you can grow in your garden. But then, you wouldn’t want to pick up any plant to grow in your garden – be choosy!

Basically, your choice of perennials should be one that is quite drought tolerant as the summer months are characterized by little or no rain. And, the plants should be fungi-resistant and able to grow under regular winter rain falls. Outlined below are some of the best perennials that are ideal for your Pacific North-West garden.

  1. Shasta Daisy – This blooming flower with crisp white petals and a yellow center is ideal for creating charm in your garden.
  2. Dahlia – This flower comes in various colors and texture. But all are quite beautiful, and you’ll have much more difficulty choosing one than growing it.
  3. Solomon’s Seal – This charming plant flaunts bell-shape flowers, and easily forms colonies. It will recreate your landscape beautifully.
  4. Sword Fern – This plant, with its rich, evergreen color and sword-shaped fronds is ideal for a low-maintenance garden.
  5. Wild Ginger – This plant, which is native to the Pacific Northwest, has a ginger smelling root and shiny flowers that will add color to your garden.

Several other perennials abound, which can give your garden in the Pacific Northwest the best look. You can contact us at Levy’s Lawns and Landscaping for more suggestions, or if you need help planting a beautiful Pacific Northwest garden landscape.

planting edible gardens in the pacific northwest

According to some of the top landscaping companies in the country today, you should spend a maximum of 10% of your home’s value on landscaping. This means that whether you decide to install a fountain or put up a pergola, your landscaping option should remain within the 10% limit. However, not many people can simply set aside 10% of their home’s value for landscaping. Well, the good news is that almost anyone at all can have a beautiful and visually appealing garden without exactly spending a fortune.

Top 4 Budget Landscaping Ideas for Your Home

If you are looking to improve the landscape of your home, outlined below are four great landscaping ideas that are not only inexpensive but aesthetically pleasing as well.

1.     Edible Garden

One of the easiest and inexpensive ways to add life to your home’s outdoor is by turning it into an edible landscape. Beside being inexpensive, an edible garden can prove to be beneficial for your entire household. All that is required is that you plant seeds, which do not cost much at all. However, you can also choose to plant seedlings if you do not want the stress of tending to planted seeds. An edible garden will help beautify your home while saving you a lot of money at the market from harvested produce.

2.     Trees

Trees are another option you can use for your home when on a budget. In fact, it is one of the least expensive landscaping projects anyone can use. When you have a tree planted in your home, you save money from the cost of electricity in the long run, as you can easily sit under it on an 80˚ day, rather than turn on the air conditioner. To get started, you will need a couple of digging tools, some mulch or its alternatives and the tree itself. The Sun Valley and Pink Oak Tree are examples of trees you can use to landscape.

3.     Vertical Gardening

If you do not have a lot of money to landscape your home, another idea you can use is vertical gardening. Vertical gardening is any landscaping practice which utilizes vertical spaces to grow plants, and it can help you save a lot of money, as well as space. Although vertical gardening is mostly used indoors in lobbies and offices, more people are beginning to use it for their home’s exterior due to the amazing transformation it provides.

4.    Grass

Lastly, you can decide to landscape your home with grass. Using grass to landscape is a great idea because it is natural, very easy to grow, has a welcoming color and most likely already existing in your landscape. However, to get the most out of grass, it will have to be incorporated heavily into your garden or front yard and also be groomed regularly to prevent overgrowing. You can even choose to take it a notch by adding stepping stones to create an interesting pattern on the grass. 

Without spending a lot of money, you too can have the landscape of your choice. All you have to do is pick any one of these great budget ideas and watch your home come to life. They are guaranteed to add some jazzy style to your home within your budget. If you need help landscaping your lawn or yard on a budget, you can contact us at Levy’s Lawns & Landscaping today!

Mount Shuksan Red Farm Builiding Yellow Daffodils Flowers Snow Mountain Skagit Valley Washington State Pacific Northwest

Often, the style or design used in a garden is generally dependent on the surroundings. For instance, the condition in the Pacific Northwest is temperate with a varied landscape, which makes it one of the best places in the Pacific to grow and tend to a garden. Here, there is an endless possibility of beautiful gardens you can grow, ranging from drought-resistant dry gardens to Japanese gardens.

3 Easy Garden Designs for your Pacific Northwest Garden

In truth, some of these garden types are difficult to plant, because they require a lot of effort on your part to thrive. However, there are many types of gardens you can plant in the Pacific Northwest region, which are relatively easy to design and do not require much fuss. Take a look at these three easy garden designs you can plant within the Pacific Northwest region.

1.     Gracious, Eye-Catching Corner

This garden design idea, which sits at the corner where your sidewalk meets, is an easy-to-do one. Usually, this garden design is anchored by the Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry and surrounded by the other plants, forming a triangular shape. You can use beautiful flowers with bright colors, such as Victoria Wild Lilac, Grey’s Senecio, Vancouver Gold, Tuscan Blue Rosemary, Hall’s Japanese Honeysuckle, and more. The Gracious, Eye-catching Corner garden design is of low maintenance and will be appreciated by neighbors and passersby.

2.     Beautified Blank Wall

This garden design is a great addition to the exterior walls of your home, as well as for areas with minimal space. Flowers which thrive during fall, as well as shrubs that look and remain fresh all year round, are perfect for this garden type. The Clematis Hybrid, Sunshine Grey’s Senecio, Newport Dwarf, Tuscan Blue rosemary and Flower Carpet White rose are some of the many plants you can use for this particular garden design. To design your garden with this Beautified Blank Wall designs, simply plant all of these flowers on the floor facing the wall, and vertically grow the Clematis Hybrid in two columns, with some space in between. Other plants for this garden design include Provence lavender, Hidcote English lavender, Moonbeam coreopsis, Trellis and Johnson’s Blue geranium.

3.     Postal Garden

You can landscape the area around your mailbox by growing a garden which is visible to neighbors, visitors, and passersby. Although the plants to be used in this garden should be heat tolerant and very tough, you can help them retain more moisture by adding mulch to the soil. Some of the flowers you can use to grow the Postal Garden, include; Golden Sword Yucca, Powis Castle Artemisia, Cherry Chief Autumn Sage, Goldsturm Coneflower, Appleblossom yarrow, Autumn Joy sedum, Stone edging, and Moss Phlox. Although not all of these plants thrive all year round, during summer, you can expect to see an astonishing display of flowers in pink, gold, red and blue. These are some of the easiest garden designs you can grow in the Pacific Northwest region. They are eye-catching and do not require any prior knowledge/expertise to grow them. Levy’s Lawns & Landscaping is an expert at creating breathtaking garden landscape designs. So, if you need help, you can contact us to guide you further on how to create a simple garden design, or to get it done for you.