We encourage the use of native, zone-appropriate, and disease-resistant landscape plants because they are adapted to our climate and soil conditions. Native plants are particularly good choices because they so perfectly support the insects that are an essential element of the ecosystem. But don’t assume that just because a plant is native to our region that it will work in your landscape. If you choose a tree like Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides), then you’d better be living at higher altitude than sea level, because that plant requires at least 2000' to thrive. Similarly, if you have a teeny, tiny yard, you don't really want a Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum). It doesn't matter that both of these plants are native in our region, they simply aren't appropriate plant for every location in our region. 

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nbb native plants article

Ways to select appropriate plants:

Use the NBB Plant List

We have created a plant list that includes mostly native plants, but also zone-appropriate plants that are generally drought-tolerant, can control erosion, and provide good wildlife habitat. We have chosen not to include some native plants that can become a problem in smaller residential situations. Our list also separates trees according to appropriateness for smaller or larger landscape situations.

Employ the Right Plant / Right Place Principle

Employ the Right Plant / Right Place principle for choosing plants. This means taking into consideration the plant's needs, your tolerance for doing maintenance, and the space you have available for the plant to live in.

Do Good Landscape Design & Maintenance

We encourage you to make green landscaping choices concerning design, plant selection, and maintenance practices. Since residential properties are not all created equal, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for landscaping. But learning about, and then orchestrating a landscape (even a small part of one) that is more natural in both character and function can really help both wildlife and water quality in our region.

Though there are lots of resources, there are two very good books about designing and implementing natural landscapes.

  • Real Gardens Grow Natives by Eileen M. Stark.
    The author designs wildlife gardens in the Portland, Oregon metro area and the book is very region specific with plant lists, how-to information about installation, drawings, and lots of other information about wildlife and why native plants are important.
  • Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest by Russell Link.
    This has long been the go-to guide. It is the basis for workshops all over the Pacific Northwest.

Reduce Traditional Lawn

As for lawn, they require a lot of resources to look their best, and most wildlife and birds don’t look at lawn as lovingly as we humans do. But sometimes lawn is the only good option for the situation. Luckily, there are more eco-friendly turf grasses available that require much less water and fewer chemicals to look good and be healthy. To make yard that needs to have a larger lawn a bit more wildlife-friendly, carve out a small area for just small habitat area.

Remove Noxious Weeds & Invasive Plants

Recognize and remove invasive plants like: English Ivy, English Holly, Barberry, Herb Robert, Yellow Archangel, Yellow Flag Iris, Butterfly Bush, Spurge Laurel, Black Locust, Periwinkle, Thistle, Cherry Laurel, and Bindweed.

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