Know your yard
Determine where it is shady or sunny at different seasons. Digging in a few separate places can help assess where the soil is bone dry, soggy all year round, clay, or sandy. Look around to evaluate where you want your play areas, privacy, views, color, or vegetables. How much lawn do you want, or need to maintain. Which type of plants would be suitable for your yard?
Pick the right plant for the right place
*Peruse your neighbors’ nurseries, demonstration gardens, and yards to see which plants can thrive in similar sites.
*Consider the size of a particular shrub or tree once it matures (especially below power lines or next to houses).
*Choose plants that thrive in the Northwest, and are content with the water, sun, and soil type in your yard.
Choose plants that use less water and are pest resistant
Call the Garden Hotline or enquire at local nurseries for plant varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases. Go for plants that are “drought tolerant” or “low water use”. Most generally take two to five years to establish, after which they can continue thriving on the limited summer rainfall, saving you money and time on watering.
Group plants according to their needs
Sort out plants that require frequent irrigation, certain soil conditions, shade, or full sun together in the same location. This will prevent water wastage when trying to reach a particular thirsty plant!
Vegetables and lawns
These require sufficient irrigation; level, well drained soil; and several hours of full sun. Restrict lawn areas to where they are needed. Other plants can thrive in slopes, soggy sites, or shade, and require less attention.
Rules of thumb
Avoid using pesticides – these can poison fish, beneficial insects, and birds when they are washed by rain. Leave wild “buffer” parts of native plants along shorelines, streams, and ravines.