Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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Native plants

  • Interactive House

    Welcome to our Green House! There are a lot of small actions you can take around your home that will make a big difference. Clicking on the plus icons will reveal simple suggestions for a greener lifestyle. Make sure to navigate to all the rooms of the house!

    Solar Panel

    Despite the Northwest’s gray and drizzly weather, homeowners still may find rewards from investing in a solar energy collection system. The best return comes from solar-heated water for indoor use or an outdoor swimming pool.

    Water heating accounts for about 15 to 25 percent of home energy costs—about $450 per year for a family of four. Using solar can help reduce those costs, say experts at Clark Public Utilities. When choosing a system, make sure the design is “climate specific,” said Bob West, an energy counselor at the utility.

    For more information, contact Clark Public Utilities Energy Conservation Counselors at 360-992-3355.

    Heat Pump

    Consider a heat pump, which can save up to 50% on home heating bills. With a process similar to refrigeration, the heat pump picks up heat from the air and either puts it inside the home or outside, depending on the season.

    Consider also a ductless heat pump, which is available to homeowners who heat their home with cable ceiling heat, baseboard or wall heaters. Check out Clark PUD’s website for more information. Clark Public Utilities also offers a great Heating Comparison Calculator.

    Car

    Washing your car or changing its oil in your driveway will leave harmful chemicals in the path of the storm drains. These chemicals don’t just “go away”—they instead wash into your storm drains, entering the local waterways and harming the flora and fauna. Choose eco-friendly soaps and oil cleaners to get the job done, or go to a professional carwash or auto shop where they have all the means to dispose of your auto’s essentials.

    Permeable Driveway and Sidewalk

    Let water seep in instead of running awry! Your hard surfaces outside can be replaced with permeable materials, allowing rain water to seep in to your soil. It’s a great way to control your runoff’s pollutants and contribute to your local ecosystem.

    Garbage and Recycling Bins

    Don’t let it go to waste. In Clark County, the amount of waste landfilled per person per day in 2008 was 3.29 pounds. We sent a total of 254,468 tons of recyclable garbage to the landfill that year, avoiding many of the benefits of recycling and waste reduction.

    Recycling is important because, when compared with the production of new materials, it saves a lot of energy and resources. Clark County did recycle 96,646 tons in 2008, but it can do much more than recycle. Remember the Four R’s of the Waste Heirarchy: refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle. Start by refusing any unnecessary products in your life, then work your way down. Only use the trash when absolutely necessary.

    Landscaping with Native Plants

    Consider using more native plants in your landscape. They are adapted to our NW climate, are more disease-resistant, often provide food for wildlife, attract native insects and require less water.

    Rain Garden

    As rain pours off our lawns and onto impervious surfaces, it carries pollutants such as fertilizer, oil, pesticides, and pet waste to our local waterways. Runoff directed toward rain gardens helps to keep these pollutants from leaving our yards. Not to mention, the rain gardens also boast beautiful and beneficial plants to our properties.

    Rain Barrel

    All that water that comes off your roof—it could be yours! Make a rain barrel not only to reduce storm water runoff, but also to collect clean water for gardening or landscaping. Making one is very easy. You can make one on your own or attend one of the many rain barrel workshops around Clark County to get a feel for others’ barrels.

    • Solar Panel

      Despite the Northwest’s gray and drizzly weather, homeowners still may find rewards from investing in a solar energy collection system. The best return comes from solar-heated water for indoor use or an outdoor swimming pool.

      Water heating accounts for about 15 to 25 percent of home energy costs—about $450 per year for a family of four. Using solar can help reduce those costs, say experts at Clark Public Utilities. When choosing a system, make sure the design is “climate specific,” said Bob West, an energy counselor at the utility.

      For more information, contact Clark Public Utilities Energy Conservation Counselors at 360-992-3355.

    • Heat Pump

      Consider a heat pump, which can save up to 50% on home heating bills. With a process similar to refrigeration, the heat pump picks up heat from the air and either puts it inside the home or outside, depending on the season.

      Consider also a ductless heat pump, which is available to homeowners who heat their home with cable ceiling heat, baseboard or wall heaters. Check out Clark PUD’s website for more information. Clark Public Utilities also offers a great Heating Comparison Calculator.

    • Car

      Washing your car or changing its oil in your driveway will leave harmful chemicals in the path of the storm drains. These chemicals don’t just “go away”—they instead wash into your storm drains, entering the local waterways and harming the flora and fauna. Choose eco-friendly soaps and oil cleaners to get the job done, or go to a professional carwash or auto shop where they have all the means to dispose of your auto’s essentials.

    • Permeable Driveway and Sidewalk

      Let water seep in instead of running awry! Your hard surfaces outside can be replaced with permeable materials, allowing rain water to seep in to your soil. It’s a great way to control your runoff’s pollutants and contribute to your local ecosystem.

    • Garbage and Recycling Bins

      Don’t let it go to waste. In Clark County, the amount of waste landfilled per person per day in 2008 was 3.29 pounds. We sent a total of 254,468 tons of recyclable garbage to the landfill that year, avoiding many of the benefits of recycling and waste reduction.

      Recycling is important because, when compared with the production of new materials, it saves a lot of energy and resources. Clark County did recycle 96,646 tons in 2008, but it can do much more than recycle. Remember the Four R’s of the Waste Heirarchy: refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle. Start by refusing any unnecessary products in your life, then work your way down. Only use the trash when absolutely necessary.

    • Landscaping with Native Plants

      Consider using more native plants in your landscape. They are adapted to our NW climate, are more disease-resistant, often provide food for wildlife, attract native insects and require less water.

    • Rain Garden

      As rain pours off our lawns and onto impervious surfaces, it carries pollutants such as fertilizer, oil, pesticides, and pet waste to our local waterways. Runoff directed toward rain gardens helps to keep these pollutants from leaving our yards. Not to mention, the rain gardens also boast beautiful and beneficial plants to our properties.

    • Rain Barrel

      All that water that comes off your roof—it could be yours! Make a rain barrel not only to reduce storm water runoff, but also to collect clean water for gardening or landscaping. Making one is very easy. You can make one on your own or attend one of the many rain barrel workshops around Clark County to get a feel for others’ barrels.

    • Backyard

       

      Bat House

      Bats eat thousands of insects every night—including pesky mosquitoes. Encourage these natural insect controllers to work around your house by placing a bat box in your yard.

      Birdfeeder

      Wildlife in your own backyard? Get out of town! The city isn’t that far away from nature. Birds, mammals, bugs, and all sorts of critters all come to our backyards every day. Have you ever thought of starting a backyard beehive? What about growing bird and bug friendly plants? Make your home one for the critters, too.

      Bee Hive/Pollinators

      We all need pollinators to survive. One out of every three bites of food that you eat is compliments of a pollinator. Look into having Mason Bees in your yard. Plant a pollinator garden. If you are really ambitious, get a hive of honey bees. Nothing tastes better than honey from your own yard.

      Clothesline

      Here’s an energy efficient idea that goes back generations. Hang those clothes to dry and skip the clothes dryer completely.

      Lawnmower

      It’s a lawn and winding road when it comes to mowing. All the gas mowers in the United States may contritube up to five percent of the nation’s air pollution, while spilling countless gallons of gasoline. Consider, if you’re willing, an energy-efficient or electric lawn mower, or even a push mower.

      As for that darned lawn: there are some easy ways to mow it green.

      • Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass leaf’s surface when you mow — the longer grass promotes deeper roots and inhibits weeds, as there is more leaf surface to take in sunlight and shade the soil.
      • Leave your grass clippings on your lawn to “grasscycle,” which is a free, natural supply of fertilizer.
      • Also make sure that your mower’s blades are sharp and balanced. Good blades will reduce mower vibrations, lengthen mower life, and reduce fueld consumption by as much as 20 percent. The grass benefits, too, when it is cleanly cut. The torn leaf ends leftover from dull blades are easy gateways for disease.

      Check out our Grasscycling Workshop for more information!

      Compost

      Composting is a great way to fight our ever-growing landfills, while remaking our organic waste into nutrient-rich lawn and garden food. It starts with an equal mix of green materials (like grass or other plants) and brown materials (like autumn leaves or wood chips). Make sure your materials aren’t too big—use bite-sized pieces, which are more easily compostable. When your materials are all gathered, your pile (for optimal conditions) should add up to about one cubic yard, or 3 by 3 by 3 feet. Your pile should be moist, but not dripping wet throughout the compost journey—think of a wrung-out sponge as you go along. Turn your pile every three days and watch the rot! Eventually, with a careful eye, you’ll have a wonderful, earthy-smelling, nutrient loaded compost!

      Dog Poop

      Number one: it’s stinky. Number two: you don’t want to step in it. Number three: rain water carries the poop into the local waterways, infecting them with dangerous pathogens and filling them with unnecessary nutrients. Around 20% of all fecal coliform bacteria in waterways comes directly from dog poop. So what can you do? Scoop the poop, bag it, and put it in the garbage! Here are some more tips for dealing with dog waste.

      Weeds

      Did a lone weed sprout up in your yard? Don’t hassle with getting out the spray—get a little exercise by bending over and pulling that weed right out. It’s very satisfying.

      Pets

      Take good care of your pets. Don’t use chemicals on the yard that they can get into and become sick.

      Garden

      A garden can provide so much to your home! By planting edibles, you have (mostly) instant food at your door. By planting native plants, you have beautiful and natural additions to your yard. You can attract bugs and bees, birds and mammals, all by having a garden! Nature doesn’t have to be so far away anymore.

      Sprinkler

      One of the biggest problems with many lawns is overwatering. By watering too heavily or too frequently, you leach nutrients from the soil and train the roots to keep near the surface, making the lawn less able to sustain itself through drought.

      Water 1 to 1½ inches every week (you can check this by placing tuna cans under the sprinklers arc). Be sure to water out of the sun—during morning or evening—to avoid water evaporation. If you see water runoff, stop! You’re wasting water! Think about a core aeration and topdressing to cure your runoff woes; and in the meantime, water slowly and carefully, stopping when the runoff begins, and then starting once all the water has infiltrated.

      Fertilizer and Pesticide

      Weed and feed-type products apply unnecessary amounts of fertilizer and pesticide to your entire lawn. In reality, only parts of your lawn may need fertilizer and there is no need to broadcast chemicals over your entire lawn to kill a handful of weeds. Consider spot-applying your pesticides or, better yet, hand pull weeds when the number is reasonable. Be sure to read the label and follow all instructions carefully.

      Choose organic fertilizers and be careful to not apply before heavy irrigation or a rainstorm, as the fertilizer will wash away into the storm drains, which then enter our local waterways. And why pay good money for fertilizer that is washing down the street?

      The bottom line is that weeds and unsatisfactory grass are better handled through renovation than fertilizers and pesticides. Once a year, do a core aeration on your lawn—this will improve water infiltration, drainage, and the oxygen content of the soil. Afterward, topdress with a layer of compost. Finally, overseed with grass seed and watch your lawn go!

      Your lawn is an ecosystem, too. By working with nature instead of against it, you can have a healthy, beautiful lawn from the soil up.

      • Bat House

        Bats eat thousands of insects every night—including pesky mosquitoes. Encourage these natural insect controllers to work around your house by placing a bat box in your yard.

      • Birdfeeder

        Wildlife in your own backyard? Get out of town! The city isn’t that far away from nature. Birds, mammals, bugs, and all sorts of critters all come to our backyards every day. Have you ever thought of starting a backyard beehive? What about growing bird and bug friendly plants? Make your home one for the critters, too.

      • Bee Hive/Pollinators

        We all need pollinators to survive. One out of every three bites of food that you eat is compliments of a pollinator. Look into having Mason Bees in your yard. Plant a pollinator garden. If you are really ambitious, get a hive of honey bees. Nothing tastes better than honey from your own yard.

      • Clothesline

        Here’s an energy efficient idea that goes back generations. Hang those clothes to dry and skip the clothes dryer completely.

      • Lawnmower

        It’s a lawn and winding road when it comes to mowing. All the gas mowers in the United States may contritube up to five percent of the nation’s air pollution, while spilling countless gallons of gasoline. Consider, if you’re willing, an energy-efficient or electric lawn mower, or even a push mower.

        As for that darned lawn: there are some easy ways to mow it green.

        • Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass leaf’s surface when you mow — the longer grass promotes deeper roots and inhibits weeds, as there is more leaf surface to take in sunlight and shade the soil.
        • Leave your grass clippings on your lawn to “grasscycle,” which is a free, natural supply of fertilizer.
        • Also make sure that your mower’s blades are sharp and balanced. Good blades will reduce mower vibrations, lengthen mower life, and reduce fueld consumption by as much as 20 percent. The grass benefits, too, when it is cleanly cut. The torn leaf ends leftover from dull blades are easy gateways for disease.

        Check out our Grasscycling Workshop for more information!

      • Compost

        Composting is a great way to fight our ever-growing landfills, while remaking our organic waste into nutrient-rich lawn and garden food. It starts with an equal mix of green materials (like grass or other plants) and brown materials (like autumn leaves or wood chips). Make sure your materials aren’t too big—use bite-sized pieces, which are more easily compostable. When your materials are all gathered, your pile (for optimal conditions) should add up to about one cubic yard, or 3 by 3 by 3 feet. Your pile should be moist, but not dripping wet throughout the compost journey—think of a wrung-out sponge as you go along. Turn your pile every three days and watch the rot! Eventually, with a careful eye, you’ll have a wonderful, earthy-smelling, nutrient loaded compost!

      • Dog Poop

        Number one: it’s stinky. Number two: you don’t want to step in it. Number three: rain water carries the poop into the local waterways, infecting them with dangerous pathogens and filling them with unnecessary nutrients. Around 20% of all fecal coliform bacteria in waterways comes directly from dog poop. So what can you do? Scoop the poop, bag it, and put it in the garbage! Here are some more tips for dealing with dog waste.

      • Weeds

        Did a lone weed sprout up in your yard? Don’t hassle with getting out the spray—get a little exercise by bending over and pulling that weed right out. It’s very satisfying.

      • Pets

        Take good care of your pets. Don’t use chemicals on the yard that they can get into and become sick.

      • Garden

        A garden can provide so much to your home! By planting edibles, you have (mostly) instant food at your door. By planting native plants, you have beautiful and natural additions to your yard. You can attract bugs and bees, birds and mammals, all by having a garden! Nature doesn’t have to be so far away anymore.

      • Sprinkler

        One of the biggest problems with many lawns is overwatering. By watering too heavily or too frequently, you leach nutrients from the soil and train the roots to keep near the surface, making the lawn less able to sustain itself through drought.

        Water 1 to 1½ inches every week (you can check this by placing tuna cans under the sprinklers arc). Be sure to water out of the sun—during morning or evening—to avoid water evaporation. If you see water runoff, stop! You’re wasting water! Think about a core aeration and topdressing to cure your runoff woes; and in the meantime, water slowly and carefully, stopping when the runoff begins, and then starting once all the water has infiltrated.

      • Fertilizer and Pesticide

        Weed and feed-type products apply unnecessary amounts of fertilizer and pesticide to your entire lawn. In reality, only parts of your lawn may need fertilizer and there is no need to broadcast chemicals over your entire lawn to kill a handful of weeds. Consider spot-applying your pesticides or, better yet, hand pull weeds when the number is reasonable. Be sure to read the label and follow all instructions carefully.

        Choose organic fertilizers and be careful to not apply before heavy irrigation or a rainstorm, as the fertilizer will wash away into the storm drains, which then enter our local waterways. And why pay good money for fertilizer that is washing down the street?

        The bottom line is that weeds and unsatisfactory grass are better handled through renovation than fertilizers and pesticides. Once a year, do a core aeration on your lawn—this will improve water infiltration, drainage, and the oxygen content of the soil. Afterward, topdress with a layer of compost. Finally, overseed with grass seed and watch your lawn go!

        Your lawn is an ecosystem, too. By working with nature instead of against it, you can have a healthy, beautiful lawn from the soil up.

      • You can help

        We all play a role in keeping those waters clean in our everyday actions at home, work, school and play. Simple stewardship actions can help keep pollution from reaching our waterways. In Clark County, our stormwater drains go directly to stormwater facilities or the creeks themselves. It is important to realize what could get into a storm drain, besides rain water. Learn more to make sure your everyday actions are protecting our watershed. 

        Read more

        clean water help article

        Pick up pet waste

        Pet waste left on the ground can be washed into storm drains that lead directly to our streams and wetlands. This waste carries harmful bacteria, which can affect the health of aquatic wildlife, ourselves and our children.

        More resources

        Fix auto leaks

        If you see discoloration (like a rainbow) in the water running down the street during a rainstorm, there is pollution up stream. Check your vehicle for leaks and get it fixed. When your car leaks fluids, it is often a sign of a larger problem that can lead to major engine damage and possibly an expensive repair bill.

        Oil and other vehicle fluids from cars are toxic. Fix your leak so that vehicle fluids don’t end up in puddles where kids and pets like to play!

        Vehicles drip millions of quarts of motor oil into the Columbia River basin every year. Oil and other petroleum products can harm wildlife and habitat. When it rains, stormwater runoff carries pollution to creeks, streams and rivers.

        Only rain down the drain

        In your neighborhood, streets drain downhill to a storm drain. These drains are connected to pipes that carry the water to a local creek, stream or river. It is important to remember that we need to keep all contaminants and pollution OUT of the storm drains.

        Make sure you properly dispose of waste materials like paint or motor oil. Many of these items can be recycled or reused. Also keep soaps, herbicides and pesticides out of water by following directions on the product labels and not using on hard surfaces that can wash to the drain.

        Help educate your neighbors by volunteering to mark a message on your neighborhood’s drain “Protect Water – Only Rain in Drain.” Clark County loans out stencil kits for free! These are a great community service, school or scout project.

        Water wise farms

        If you are a small acreage or farm property owner, there are number of steps you can take to protect the health of your property and your watershed. Our partner at WSU Extension hosts workshops on topics to benefit your property, such as understand your soils, managing stormwater runoff and tips for healthy animals.

        Your landscape is part of the solution

        Everyone loves a lush lawn, beautiful plants and a healthy hard for you to call home. There are lots of great ideas to help you protect stormwater runoff from pollution while creating your dream landscape. Learn about Grasscycling, use of native plants, healthy plant care, gardening tips, and water conservation techniques.

      • Demonstration gardens

         

        The Natural Gardens at Pacific Community Park provide an opportunity to view natural gardening techniques in action, see native plants in the landscape and take inspiration home to your own garden.

        Pacific Community Park is located at 1515 NE 164th Street in Vancouver, WA. The demonstration gardens are meant to show homeowners different ways to practice earth-friendly techniques at home.  Natural gardening reduces the use of synthetic chemicals in order to increase beneficial organism activity, enhances habitat and wildlife areas, and contributes to the overall health of the community. There are eight beautiful backyard examples that fit any yard size or preference.

        Pacific Community ParkEdibles and Herbs:   Naturally growing your own food puts you in control of what you put in your body and can also save money on grocery bills. Growing edibles, including varieties you might not find at the grocery store, promotes a healthier lifestyle by allowing you to eliminate harmful pesticides and enjoy fresh produce in season. Growing your own is not only more sustainable, but it can also be fun and rewarding! Brochure for Edibles and Herbs Garden can be found at the bottom of the page.

        Wildlife Gardening:   Wildlife gardening refers to creating an environment that is inviting to various forms of local wildlife. These landscapes usually provide food, shelter and water for wildlife, and offer a mixture of meadow, woods and wet areas. By creating a garden that attracts stunning wildlife, you will be helping to restore habitat and biodiversity in commercial and residential areas. Wildlife gardens act both as a benefit to the wider environment and as a source of natural biological pest control in your garden. Brochure for Wildlife Garden can be found at the bottom of the page.

        Pacific Community ParkBeneficial Insects and Compost:   Attracting beneficial insects to your yard will help naturally combat pests and encourage the pollination of plants. The addition of certain plants to your garden will help to attract a healthy population of these insects and reduce the need for chemical pesticides. Compost can reduce the need for chemicals as well, as it is a great way to organically fertilize your plants and ward off weeds. Composting also decreases the amount of solid waste we produce, promotes healthy plant growth, and restores nutrients in the soil. Brochure for Compost and Insects Garden can be found at the bottom of the page.

        Native Plants:   Native plants are adapted to our environment, so once established they are pest and disease-resistant and require little extra water and maintenance. Gardening with native plants helps to lower water bills and time commitments, as well as provide erosion and flooding control. Since they’ve spent thousands of years getting used to regional conditions, they will thrive without much care and contribute positively to the environment. Brochure for Native Plants Garden can be found at the bottom of the page.

        Pacific Community ParkDog Friendly:   Creating a dog-friendly garden means using plants that are safe for your pet to ingest and building a landscape that accommodates its needs. Keep in mind that dogs require some shelter and space to run. Filling your yard with hearty plants that are also non-toxic to dogs is lower maintenance for you, and safer for your pet. Brochure for Dog-Friendly Garden can be found at the bottom of the page.

        Lawn Alternatives:   Alternatives to a traditional lawn can create a more varied and productive landscape that does not require the same level of maintenance as grass turf. Decking, ornamental grasses, and various rocks are low maintenance choices that are practical and still aesthetically appealing. Consider your growing conditions and whether the area will need to tolerate foot traffic when selecting appropriate varieties. Brochure for Lawn Alternatives Garden can be found at the bottom of the page.

        Xeriscaping:   Xeriscaping refers to gardening and landscaping which does not need additional watering. This self-sustaining yard option stays attractive year around and does not require supplemental irrigation. Xeriscaped yards can save money, and there is a variety of interesting plants that can be incorporated such as succulents, native wildflowers, ornamental grasses and rock garden plants. Brochure for Xeriscaping Garden can be found at the bottom of the page.

        Pacific Community ParkRain Garden and Vegetated Bioswale:   In nature, soil and plants store, filter and release rain water into local waterways. You can model this natural process and reduce the amount of pollutants coming from your property by creating a rain garden. Reducing pollution, attracting wildlife, easing flooding, and helping to restore the aquifer are just some of the benefits from this eye-catching garden. Consider how water drains on your property when selecting the best location for a rain garden, and use a variety of plants that have appropriate water needs. Brochure for Rain Garden can be found at the bottom of the page.

        Clark County Public Health oversees this site and relies upon volunteers to assist with maintenance and improvements. If you'd like to help out, please email info@clarkgreenneighbors.org for more information.

        For even more ideas, visit the City of Vancouver's Backyard Wildlife Garden located at the Water Resources Education Center. You can discover many new ideas and see a lot of wildlife!

        You might also enjoy visiting the Wildlife Botanical Gardens in Brush Prairie. Naturescaping of Southwest Washington is a non-profit, all volunteer group dedicated to educating and encouraging homeowners to create wildlife sanctuaries in their own backyards.

      • Information Archive

        Our categorized information has been collected from a variety of sources across the web. The archive includes links to other useful sites, as well as many pdf documents you can download. We provided the source information if it was available.

        Want a more personal resource?

        The WSU Clark County Master Gardeners provide advice about residential gardening and landscaping. If there is a bit of information you can’t find in the resources below, the Master Gardener might be able to help. They staff a local answer clinic and offer classes and workshops to the community.

        Note: You may notice that this archive quite often lists information from Goodnight Design. Beth Goodnight was the Naturally Beautiful Backyards consultant during 2015–2016 when this archive was produced. She is a landscape designer and gardening coach with her own business, Goodnight Design. We have borrowed, with permission, from her information archive. Feel free to explore her archive here: Successful Landscaping Knowledge Base.

      • Naturally Beautiful Backyards

        Naturally Beautiful Backyards (NBB) is a program that can help you be as green in your yard as you are in your house. There are things you do in your indoor life to be green, likewise, there are things you can do in your yard to be green as well. And not just in your backyard!

        The NBB program encourages:

        Make It Naturally Beautiful

        Learning about how to work with nature will make you a better and more confident gardener. Encouraging birds, bees, and wildlife into your yard by using native plants, tolerating insects and a little damage, building great soil, recycling and composting waste materials, and using fewer chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides) will enable your yard to contribute positively to a healthier environment.

        Browse our pages and learn how to make your yard naturally beautiful.

         

        Related articles: Natural Garden Tours | Composting

      • Appropriate plants

        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. 

        Read more

        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.

        Learn more

        Explore the entire Information Archive

      • Natural Garden Tour

        The Natural Garden Tour is a self-guided tour on a Sunday in July, offering a peek into 15 spectacular gardens that are maintained through natural gardening techniques. Meet the host gardeners and gather ideas to make your yard a beautiful and healthy garden. The 2017 Natural Garden Tour will take place on Sunday, July 23 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Pick up or download a booklet to decide which gardens you would like to visit!

        Why Garden Naturally?
        Common chemicals kill many insects beneficial to the health of your garden and they compromise the garden’s ability to fight pests. By learning natural gardening techniques, you can minimize the use of chemicals to control diseases and pests. By removing chemicals from our management practices, we help to keep a healthy environment for pets and children, while also protecting local rivers and streams.

        Click here to look at the New 2017 Natural Garden Tour Booklet!

        Related articles: Naturally Beautiful Backyards | Grasscycling

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