On Sunday, July 26th, ten homeowners graciously opened their gates to several hundred Clark County residents for the Natural Garden Tour. The Tour, now in its ninth year, offers Clark County residents a sneak peek of neighbors' gardens and showcases their use of natural gardening techniques.

Natural gardening is a spectrum of behaviors that seek to protect local waterways and wildlife while creating a beautiful and functional yard or garden. First and foremost, natural gardening is the omission of chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers that affect wildlife and stream quality. After that, the sky is the limit!

At the Natural Garden Tour, we saw gardeners using these techniques without compromising the beauty and functionality of their gardens. Actually, I think most garden visitors would agree that the natural gardens were more interesting and diverse than the traditional grass-and-ornamental backyard setup.

Bob removed all the grass from his backyard and filled it with native grasses, playful groundcovers, berries, and hardy, drought-resistant plants like lavender. Brenda uses the waste from her chickens to create compost, boosting her soil health without having to apply synthetic fertilizers.Sara Mae attracts pollinators and beneficial insects to control the harmful insects. Wanda uses native plants and xeriscaping to conserve water. Mary installed French drains to prevent water runoff and the loss of topsoil. Judy uses organic oils instead of chemical fungicides. Susan uses rain barrels to water her plants. Barbara's large yard includes logs that create a haven for wildlife. Monica added interest by removing her turf and created pathways to different features like a pond, raised beds and benches. Janice uses mulch to suppress weeds and has installed drip irrigation to her vegetable garden.

Visitors had the opportunity to meet their Green Neighbors and were inspired to incorporate some of these natural gardening techniques in their own gardens. Maybe we'll tour their gardens next year!

Thank you to the homeowners and our wonderful volunteers, the WSU Master Gardeners, without whom this event would not have been possible.