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.

Clark County makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on this web site. However, due to the possibility of transmission errors, HTML browser capabilities, changes made since the last update to the site, etc., neither Clark County, nor any agency, officer, or employee of Clark County warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.

In offering information on the Web, Clark County seeks to balance our requirement for public access with the privacy needs of individual citizens. Information that appears on the Clark County Web site is part of the public record. By law, it is available for public access, whether by telephone request, visiting county offices, or through other means.

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Bugs

  • Inviting Habitat

    We want wildlife in our backyards because, as was said in Episode 9 of Yard Talk, “A beautiful backyard without wildlife is like a stage without actors”.

    By creating good habitat, we become good stewards of the land and we help care for the ecosystem of which we are part. With a little observation, research, patience and tolerance we can woo wildlife into our residential landscapes.

    Read more

    nbb attracting beneficials article

    This is what wildlife needs:

    Food

    We mostly think of birds when we consider feeding wildlife. Bird feeders are a great way to supply mostly seeds for birds; be sure to keep feeders clean. But many birds eat insects, and many more birds feed their young almost exclusively insects. See a list of insects birds eat at How to Attract Bug-eating Birds. Other critters also eat insects, including other insects. The best way to attract insects to your yard is to have native plants. Interestingly, very many insects larval stage can only consume one or a handful of very specific plants. And quite often, those plants must be natives. Adding even a few native plants to your landscape can help wildlife, specifically birds and insects, feel at home.

    Water

    Of course, birds, pollinators and other critters are used to natural water sources. But because most of us in residential situations don’t have natural water on-site, we need to go to plan B. Ponds are great, but expensive and can require a lot of maintenance. Moving water is very attractive to many birds so waterfall features are desirable. But again, they can be expensive to install and maintain. Birdbaths and smaller recirculating water features can be just the ticket. But whatever you choose, your water feature should have at least one side or area that is a very gently sloping so that very small birds and insects have a way to get out if they get in over their head. Be sure to keep any water features clean.

    Shelter

    Critters need safety from predators, a place to perch, and a place to raise young. Most people think of birdhouses as shelter. But wildlife is more than just birds, and birds, insects and other types of wildlife will happily take up residence in brush piles, tree snags, and even rock piles.

    Space

    All living things need space to thrive. Humans encroach more and more into areas that were the sole domain of wildlife. We can compensate just a little bit by reducing the size of our lawns and utilizing some native plants in our residential landscapes.

  • Information Archive

    Welcome to the NBB Information Archive!

    Our categorized information below has been collected from a variety of sources across the web. 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.

    Alternatives to Chemicals

    One of the NBB program’s focuses is to educate Clark County residents about how they can reduce the use of chemicals in their landscapes and help keep pollutants out of our watershed. This section speaks generally about alternatives to using chemicals.

    Related resources: Weeds / Invasive Plants

    Alternatives to Pesticides

    Alternatives to Pesticidespdf — NBB program.

    Provides the basics for home gardening without pesticides.

    Bugs & Pests: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

    Bugs & Pests: The Good, The Bad & The Uglypdf— Clark County, WA.

    Identifies common insects you may find in your garden and helpful hints for encouraging good bugs and discouraging the bad ones without the use of harmful chemicals.

    Grow Smart. Grow Safe.

    Grow Smart. Grow Safe. — Metro, Portland, OR; Thurston County, WA; King County, WA Local Hazardous Waste Management Program.

    This is an iPhone APP as well website with lists of least to most toxic chemicals, and natural alternative ways to manage insects, weeds, slugs, diseases, and much more.

    In the Home & Garage: Safer Alternatives

    In the Home & Garage: Safer Alternatives pdf— Clark County, WA.

    This is not about garden waste, but a good companion to recycling and disposing of house and garage waste as sustainably as you do yard waste.

    Natural Pest, Weed & Disease Control

    Natural Pest, Weed & Disease Control pdf— Snohomish County, WSU Extension.

    Making the case why managing garden problems naturally is a good thing. Lots of tips and resources.

    WSU Clark County Master Gardeners

    Create Good Habitat

    Good habitat satisfies wildlife’s needs for food, water, shelter, and space.

    Related Resources: Landscape Design & Maintenance | Landscape Features | Wildlife Management

    Visit a Demonstration Garden — Get Inspired!

    Backyard Wildlife Garden — City of Vancouver, WA.

    Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA.


    The Natural Gardens at Pacific Community Park — City of Vancouver, WA.

    1515 NE 164th Av, Vancouver, WA.


    Wildlife Botanical Garden — NatureScaping of Southwest Washington.

    In Brush Prairie, WA.

    Habitat Certification Programs

    Though it’s not necessary to get a landscape certified, it can be fun and a source of pride. Here are 3 good programs that provides guidance, and the reward of a printed certificate and/or yard sign at the end.

    Backyard Habitat Certification Program — Audubon Society of Portland & Columbia Land Trust.

    This is a certification program, but ONLY for Portland and some of it’s surrounding towns. However, all of the website’s information is available for anyone to use.


    Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary — Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

    Very basic certification, but a very good start.


    Create a Sustainable Garden That Helps Wildlife — National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife.

    This site explains everything that is necessary to create wildlife habitat. Once you have done that, you can get your property certified with a certificate and can buy a sign if you like.

    Attracting Wildlife

    Attract Beneficial Insects pdf — WSU Extension.

    How to get them to stay in your garden, and why you should want them to stay.


    Attract Beneficial Insects: Plant List — Goodnight Design.

    Plant list and additional resources links.


    Attract Bug-eating Birds — Gardener’s Supply Company.

    Article and list of bug-eating birds.


    Attract Reptiles & Amphibians to Your Yard pdf — Oregon State University Extension.

    They consume lots of insects.


    Bugs & Pests: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly pdf — Clark County, WA.

    Identifies common insects you may fine in your garden and helpful hints for encouraging good bugs and discouraging the bad ones without the use of harmful chemicals.


    NatureScaping of Southwest WA — NatureScaping of Southwest Washington.

    They have demonstration gardens at Wildlife Botanical Gardens, sponsor classes, and have a website with lots of information.


    Pollinators — See pollinators section under Insects.


    Ponds & Birdbaths — Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

    About providing water for wildlife.

    Snags: Create a Habitat Snag — Wranglestar.

    We always warn against girdling trees because it kills them, but if you are deliberately killing the tree to create habitat (or for other reasons), this video will show you how to do it.


    Snags: More About Snags — Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.


    Wildlife On White Oaks Woodlands pdf — World Forestry Center, Portland, OR.

    Great article with list of the MANY creatures who depend upon Garry Oak ecosystems for their survival.

    Insects

    Insects are a critical part of an ecosystem. We need them in our landscapes as much as in our wild areas. Balance between the insects that are doing good and those that are doing bad can generally be accomplished by simply planting some native plants. But it also takes tolerance of a bit of damage. Insects have to eat, too. Once the balance takes place, there will be a lot less damage.

    Related Resources: Wildlife Management

    Alternatives to Pesticides

    Alternatives to Pesticidespdf — NBB program.

    Provides the basics for home gardening without pesticides.

    Attract Beneficial Insects

    Attract Beneficial Insects pdf— WSU Extension.

    How to get them to stay in your garden, and why you should want them to stay.

    Attract Beneficial Insects: Plant List

    Attract Beneficial Insects: Plant List — Goodnight Design.

    Plant list and additional resources links.

    Attract Reptiles & Amphibians to Your Yard

    Attract Reptiles & Amphibians to Your Yard pdf — Oregon State University Extension.

    They consume lots of insects.

    Bats

    Bats — They are not insects, but they do eat insects. See Bats in Wildlife Management.

    Bugs & Pests: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

    Bugs & Pests: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly pdf — Clark County, WA.

    Identifies common insects you may fine in your garden and helpful hints for encouraging good bugs and discouraging the bad ones without the use of harmful chemicals.

    Pollinators

    Butterfly Larvae Plants — Savvy Gardening.

    Be aware more butterflies listed are East Coast US or Canada species, but the article well explains why we need plants for the young as well as the beautiful adult butterflies (and moths).


    Butterfly Larva Host Plants — PNW pdfTheButterflySite.com.

    This list is edited from a larger list to include only butterflies of the Pacific Northwest.


    Pollination & Protecting Bees & Other Pollinators pdf — WSU Extension.


    Xerxes Society

    Everything you need to know about pollinators and other invertebrates.

    WSU Clark County Master Gardeners

    Landscape Design & Maintenance

    In Clark County, properties come in a wide range of sizes and locations. Some county residents have urban or suburban lots that are constrained by neighborhood associations. But many others may have property where it is possible to orchestrate some sort of wildlife habitat. One way or the other, we encourage you to make green landscaping choices about plants and maintenance practices.

    Related Resources: Food Gardens in Landscape Features | Lawn | Grasscycling | Soil / Compost / Mulch

    Design

    We have not found the perfect resource with step-by-step instructions on exactly how to wrap your head around the design, plant selection and installation of a natural landscape. There are so many nuances. We suggest hiring a professional designer, particularly one who specializes in creating natural habitats and sustainability. But if you are inclined toward DIY, or simply want to be smarter before hiring a professional, the Real Gardens Grow Natives and Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest books are written by regional experts. They are about as close as we can come to addressing all issues concerned with planning and installing a natural landscape.

    Real Gardens Grow Natives

    Real Gardens Grow Natives — by Eileen M. Stark.

    The author designs wildlife gardens in the Portland, OR 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

    Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest — Russell Link.

    This has long been the go-to guide. It is the basis for workshops all over the PNW.

    Choosing the Right Plants

    Choosing the Right Plants pdf — Saving Water Partnership.

    Plant lists and much more information about getting started with a design that will work for your site.

    Landscape Design for Wildlife

    Landscape Design for Wildlife — Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

    Right Plant / Right Place

    This is a guiding principle for all gardening everywhere. Read more about right plant / right place in Plant Selection.

    Right Plant / Right Place — Saving Water Partnership. This is the index page to this site’s section on this topic which lists general guidelines.


    Right Plant / Right Place: Choosing Plants pdf — Saving Water Partnership. More specific information than previous link.

    Maintenance

    These resources are not intended to teach all about garden or landscape maintenance. But these links to resources can answer some of the most common questions.

    Natural Yard Care

    Natural Yard Care pdf — Washington State Department of Ecology.

    This is generally a good overall guide about caring for your landscape. But we take issue with a few things like:

    • Using compost as mulch. — It is now pretty well established (at least for our area) that fresh, un-composted, woody matter makes the best mulch and that it should cover compost.
    • Mowing lawn 1–2” high. — We are recommending lawn height of at least 3”.
    • Mowing lawn 1–2” high. — We are recommending lawn height of at least 3”.

    Month-By-Month Gardening in Washington & Oregon

    Month-By-Month Gardening in Washington & Oregon — by Mary Robson & Christina Pfeiffer.

    This has long been a go-to guide for our region’s gardeners. It is not necessarily devoted to natural landscapes, but it is still well worth using.

    WSU Clark County Master Gardeners

    Pruning & Growing

    We get a lot of requests for how to prune everything under the sun. The first resource below is a great overall pruning guide for woody plants (trees & shrubs). The resources below that are specific as shown by their title. 

    • Cass Turnbull’s Guide to Pruning

    • Pruning Ornamental Woody Plants

    • Evergreen Shrubs

    • Blueberry

      • Blueberry pdf — Goodnight Design.
        Handout from the class they teach.
      • Blueberry pdf — Oregon State University Extension.
        Everything you need to know about growing blueberries.
    • Fig

      • Fig — Fruit Trees & More.
        Prune early crop figs for cool season climates (like PNW).
    • Grapes

      • Grapes pdf — WSU Extension.
        Basic Guidelines for pruning grapes in home gardens.
    • Hazelnuts

      • Hazelnuts pdf — Oregon State University Extension.
    • Kiwi

      • Kiwi — Michael McConkey.
        Prune like a shrub for maximum production. Who knew?
      • Kiwi — Oklahoma Gardening.
        Build a trellis to hold a huge kiwi plant.
    • Raspberry

      • Raspberry — Michigan State University Extension.
        Summer pruning.
      • Raspberry — Gurneys Seeds.
        Winter Pruning.
      • Raspberry pdf — Oregon State University Extension.
        Everything you need to know about growing raspberries.
    • Red-twig Dogwood

      • Red-twig Dogwood — Goodnight Design.
        Using shrub dogwoods in landscape settings.
    • Renovation Pruning

      • Renovation Pruning — Royal Horticulture Society.
        Different ways to renovate old or poorly pruned shrubs.
    • Root Pruning

      • Root Pruning — Fine Gardening Magazine.
        Necessary maintenance for potted woody plants.
    • Suckers & Water Sprouts

    Landscape Features

    People generally want a range of features in their yard. Perhaps a patio, shed, bird bath and feeder, food garden, and ornamental or native plant area. Along with food gardens, this section provides information on some other lesser utilized features your lot may already have, or you may want to add to be more wildlife friendly.

    Related resources: Lawn | Grasscycling

    Food Gardens

    Vegetable gardening is not really covered by the NBB program, but a lot of homeowners want to grow food, so here are some basics to get you started.

    • Home Vegetable Gardening in WA pdf — WSU Extension.

      The basics to get you started.

    • Crop Rotation in home Vegetable Gardens — WSU Extension, Snohomish County.

      This is not Clark County, but it is WA on our side of the Cascades, but crop rotation is important and the same no matter where the garden is located.

    • Fall & Winter Vegetables for Western WA — WSU Extension, Snohomish County.

      Good list of plants and when to plant them.

    • Organic Pest Control in the Vegetable Garden pdf — WSU Extension, King County Master Gardener Program.

    • Pest Control in Home Vegetable Gardens pdf — WSU Extension.

      Please note that the NBB program encourages non-chemical solutions to pests if at all possible. However, if you are going to use chemical pesticides, this is the WSU approved list of list of pests and the chemicals that control them.

    • GrowVeg

      This is a really nice website and app that can help you plan and manage your vegetable garden. They also have a YouTube channel with oodles of how-to videos. This is not to say there aren’t other sites/apps that can help you, it’s just that we’ve tried this one and liked it.

    • Cover Crops & Fertilization

      Cover crops are an important part of vegetable gardening, and they are also helpful while transitioning a lawn into ornamental garden. The topic is touched upon in several of the links in the above section. But here are some more specific resources.

    Meadows / Prairies

    Meadows are wonderful habitat features. They not only support pollinators (and insects in general), but birds and small mammals. They are also great at preventing erosion because meadow plants generally have deep and/or extensive root systems, and they can be low-maintenance once established. But depending on situation, they can become weedy. Good plant selection is imperative. Remember, balance is key.

    • Conservation Resources for Prairie & Oak Woodland Landowners pdf — Nature Conservancy

      Inspiration for why meadows and prairies are a good thing; has some resources links.

    • Establishing Pollinator Meadow from Seed pdf — Xerces Society.

      Good general guide, but we would warn that this guide advocates a higher proportion of flowers to grasses, and though that may be very good for pollinators, it generally looks dead, unattractive, and can get weedy over the long winter season here in the PNW. If you are orchestrating a tiny ‘pollinator meadow’ as a small feature of your ornamental landscape, more flowers is fine. Just understand that the entire meadow will go dormant (and may be less appealing visually) during winter. If you are converting a very large portion of your landscape to meadow, consider planting at least ½ of the total area in warm-season clumping grasses (and be sure at least some of those are evergreen).

    • Meadows / Prairies — Goodnight Design.

      The basics of why meadows are good, and links to many resources and books to help get you inspired and started.

    • South Sound Prairies

      South Sound Prairies — South Puget Sound area.
      Probably the closest local information available.

      Practical guides:

    • Prairie Restorations, Inc

      This is a business in Minnesota that specializes in consulting and supplying plants and installation expertise about meadows and prairies. It is not local, but if you are looking for a specific seed or plant that you simply cannot find here, this may be a good resource.

    • Prairie Parcel Restoration — Fermilab, IL.

      Not local to PNW or Clark County, but good general how-to information.

    • Garry Oak Ecosystems

      The Garry Oak, also known as Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana) is our region’s only native oak. This tree’s native habitat is grass savanna (meadow). The trees are majestic and long lived, and their savanna ecosystem is not only beautiful, but supports a truly mind-boggling amount of birds, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and insects. If you have or want Garry Oaks and/or the meadows they would be at home in, check out these resources.

      • Garry Oak Ecosystem

      • Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT)

        Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT) is out of British Columbia, but the Garry Oak ecosystem that is native there is the same as is native here. Of particular interest for home gardeners from their site:

        • For Gardeners & Restoration Practitioners
        • Garry Oak Gardener’s Handbook pdf
        • Native Plant Flowering Times pdf
          Data is for Victoria, BC (Zone 9a), but just narrow the graph data a bit and you should be pretty safe for planning bloom times for your meadow in our Zone 8 region.
        • Invasive Species
          Resources about management and eradication of a host of invasive species that affect not only the Victoria, BC area, but here in Clark County, too. Scroll down the Field Manual where you can download it in full, or just the pages about the plant you are interested in managing/eradicating. (Note: There may be some plants that are invasive in Victoria, BC which are not invasive here, so don’t go killing stuff that doesn’t need to be killed. Consult WA Invasive Species List pdf.)
      • Wildlife on White Oaks Woodlands

        Wildlife On White Oaks Woodlands pdf — World Forestry Center, Portland, OR.

        Great, great paper with information about all of the MANY creatures who depend upon Garry Oak ecosystems for their survival.

    Septic Systems

    Guidelines for Planting on or near Septic Fields pdf — From a variety of resources including University of Minnesota Extension; WSU Extension, Clallum County; Michigan Wildflower Farm


    Plants for Drainfieldspdf — WSU Extension, Clallum County.


    Landscaping Your Drainfield pdf — WSU Extension, Clallum County.


    Planting on Your Septic Drainfield pdf — Virginia Cooperative Extension.

    Streams / Riparian Areas

    Protecting Your Stream pdf — Watershed Stewards, Clark County, WA and WSU Clark County Extension.


    Streamside Gardening — Oregon State University Extension, Yamhill County.
    Lots of links to great regional information.


    Plants for Streamside Gardens pdf — Oregon State University Extension, Yamhill.

    Wildfire Defense

    Some of what is necessary to prevent wildfire is mutually exclusive for wildlife habitat, particularly up close to your house.

    • Well-watered Lawn

      Many resources recommend well-watered lawn grass in the Zone 1 area around your structures. Since the NBB program is encouraging water conservation, and lawn size reduction. For this situation we recommend lawn made of one of the eco-lawns such as Fleur de Lawn, RTF(Rhizomatous Tall Fescue) or even better, all clover.

      • Lawn Alternatives — Goodnight Design.
        Descriptions and links to 2 types of eco lawn.
      • Mini- and micro-clover — Goodnight Design.
        At the end there is an update to this article because new usage information became available.
      • There are situations where having lawn is still the best choice of landscape. If you live in a high-risk wildfire area, chances are good there is a lot of wildlife habitat nearby, so having an eco-lawn wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
    • Less Local (but good) Wildfire Resources

    Lawn

    We recommend reducing the size of a traditional lawn mostly because it consumes a lot of resources. Lawn can provide some good functions, erosion control is one, but not if it is cut short. A plant’s roots provide erosion control, and grass’ root depth is directly proportional to the blade height. This is one reason we encourage lawn height of 3”.

    Alternatives to Conventional Lawns (Eco-Lawns)

    Lawns are good for families with kids and dogs. And lawn grass makes a nice visual break in the form of broad walkways through an ornamental garden. If you are in a situation where you need or want to have turf lawn we have 2 eco-lawn recommendations (both prefer to be cut a bit higher):

    Fleur de Lawn — Protime Lawn Seed.

    This is a lawn composed of turf grass, clover and a few short flowers. It looks like a very short meadow. The main objection we have heard about it is it attracts bees, and those with kids and pets may object to the sting potential.


    Rhizomatous Tall Fescue (RTF®) — Kuenzi Turf Nursery. (It is also available at popular big box garden centers.)

    This is a great turf grass bred with the help of Oregon State University utilizing one of our native clumping grasses. It has been made to be running and suitable for turf use. Even better, it requires about 50% less water input than most normal lawn varieties, and has very low fertility needs. Since it is bred from one of our native plants, it is well adapted to our wet winters and hot, dry summers.

    Lawn Care

    Whether alternative or conventional, lawn needs care like the other elements of your landscape.

    Beautiful Lawn Made for Shade — Goodnight Design.

    There are ways of having turf grass lawn in shadier situations.


    Grasscycling — Clark County Green Neighbors.

    Grasscycling is simply recycling your lawn grass clippings. You can use a mulching mower and let the clippings lay on the lawn. They don’t actually lay on top of the grass, but the special mower and blade chop up the grass blades very finely and they are pushed down right next to the soil where they can compost in place. This is a very good thing because as the grass decomposes, its nitrogen is released, thus fertilizing your lawn each time you mow it. The other way to grasscycle is to bag the clippings and incorporate it into your compost pile. You can also use the clippings as mulch in other areas of your landscape.


    How to Have a Dynamite Lawn pdf — WSU Extension King County.

    Article by Ciscoe Morris, renowned Master Gardener with his own TV gardening show, about traditional lawn.


    Lawn — Goodnight Design.

    First in a series of blog posts about ‘eco-izing’ your lawn, and about why Dutch white clover is a good thing.


    More About Lawn — Goodnight Design.

    More about lawn, shade and clover as well as learning how different plants need different conditions to thrive.


    Managing Turfgrasses During Drought pdf — University of California.


    Moss in Lawns pdf — by Sherry Lajeunesse, Extension Urban Pest Management Specialist.

    What causes it. What to do about it.


    Moss as Lawn — Goodnight Design.

    The good, the bad, and the beautiful.


    Practical Lawn Care for Western Oregon pdf — Oregon State University Extension.

    This would also apply to Western Washington.


    Practical Lawn Establishment & Renovation pdf — Oregon State University Extension.

    Inevitably, you will one day need to replace or renovate your lawn. Here’s how.


    Using Gravel to Improve Your Lawn — Joy Creek Nursery, Scappoose, OR. Gravel.

    Yes, this is real. Joy Creek uses this technique about every 3 years on the lawn area of their demonstration garden. It seems weird, but it really works, particularly on compacted soil.

    Plant Selection

    Plant Lists

    Please exercise caution when using plant lists, particularly native plant lists. There are many plant lists, both on the web and listed here in our information archive, that are some combination of being older and/or too complete. By older we mean a list that may contain plants that, at the time the list was published, seemed like a good idea, but over time some of the plants were found to be invasive or have other objectionable characteristics for residential situations. By too complete we mean a list that includes plants that, though they are native, may not be a good choice for a residential landscape (or even a commercial landscape for that matter) for whatever reason.

    Some of our native plants need very specific habitats to thrive. And some of our native plants are too robust for very small urban and suburban lots.

    Please observe the right plant / right place method of choosing plants. First select plants you like. Then do some research to be sure the plants you like will perform well on your lot and not become a danger or a pest to you or others. Then edit your initial list accordingly.

    The NBB program has created a plant list that includes mostly native plants, but also zone-appropriate plants that are generally wildlife appropriate. It has deleted some native plants that can become a problem in smaller residential situations. It also separates trees according to appropriateness for smaller or larger landscape situations.

    NBB Habitat-friendly Plants for Residential Landscapes pdf — NBB program.


    Other Plant Lists — Goodnight Design.

    The Successful Landscaping knowledge base has a wealth of information, including plant lists. You’ll see the NBB plant list there as well as many general and specific lists.

    Related Resources: Landscape Design & Maintenance


    Advantages of Native Plants in the Landscape pdf — Watershed Stewards, Clark County, WA and WSU Clark County Extension.

    Native plants list in addition to lots of other good information and links.


    Attract Beneficial Insects: Plant List — Goodnight Design.

    Plant list and additional resources links.


    Butterfly Larva Host Plants — PNW pdf — TheButterflySite.com

    This list is edited from a larger list to list only butterflies of the Pacific Northwest.


    Clark County Native Plants pdf — Washington Native Plant Society.


    Erosion Control pdf — Goodnight Design.

    Use this list cross-referenced with the NBB Habitat-friendly Plants for Residential Landscapes pdf.


    Gardening with Native Plants Poster pdf

    Handy pictorial guide for choosing native plants.


    Pollinator Plants for Maritime Northwest pdf — Xerces Society.


    Rain Garden Plants — See Rain Gardens under Water Use & Management.


    Street Trees — City of Vancouver, WA.

    Approved trees for parking strips.


    The Plant List pdf — Saving Water Partnership.

    This is a good overall list.


    Water-efficient Plants for the Willamette Valley pdf — Oregon.gov.


    Wildlife On White Oaks Woodlands pdf — World Forestry Center, Portland, OR.

    Great article with list of the many creatures who depend upon Garry Oak ecosystems for their survival.

    Safe & Friendly Plants for Dogs

    Lots of folks have dogs, but many fewer folks know what plants are toxic to dogs and how to design a landscape to keep their dog happy and safe.

    Designing for Dogs


    Safe Plants — ASPCA.

    Database where you can select between dog, cat, or horse.


    Toxic Plants — ASPCA. Database where you can select between dog, cat, or horse.

    Right Plant / Right Place

    This is a guiding principle for all gardening everywhere. Plants have certain requirements to thrive. In observing the right plant / right place principle, we commit to planting a plant in a location that provides the correct sun exposure, moisture, soil type and fertility, and amount of space both in height and width. Furthermore, we commit to choosing plants that suit our desire care for them. Probably the main issue here is pruning. If we don’t want to prune every year, then we need to be sure a plant’s size at maturity is only as large as the space available. Read more about right plant / right place below.

    Right Plant / Right Place — Saving Water Partnership. This is the index page to this site’s section on this topic which lists general guidelines.


    Right Plant / Right Place: Choosing Plants pdf — Saving Water Partnership. More specific information than previous link.

    Where to Buy Native Plants

    We advocate utilizing native plants. They are good for wooing wildlife into your landscape. But unfortunately, they are a bit difficult to acquire. Here are some entities that either sell or have information about (or both) our region’s native plants.

    Bosky Dell Natives — West Linn, OR


    Collector’s Nursery — Battle Ground, WA


    Hardy Plant Society of Oregon — Portland OR.

    This is more an information resource, but the group does sponsor a few plant sales and also have booths at some of the more popular garden shows each year.


    Native Plant Society of Oregon — Portland, OR Chapter.

    Also see their page of native plant nurseries, plant sales, and guides.


    Portland Nursery — Portland, OR


    Sound Native Plants — Olympia, WA.


    Watershed Garden Works — Longview, WA

    Science

    Gardening and landscaping, no matter what the goal, utilizes science. The more familiar you are with some basic science, particularly biology, the more effective you will be as a gardener.

    One of the very wonderful things about science is that it is fluid. It changes and evolves as scientists, their tools, and their resources improve. It is no different with horticulture and soil. We learn new things all the time. There is a truly exciting amount of new knowledge about soil in the past 10–15 years because scientists were curious, and new instruments became available to see what had not been seen previously. Scientists continually test the status quo, and that is good for everyone.

    It has been said that if you have a gardening book about any of the scientific (objective) aspects of gardening (as opposed to design which subjective), you should occasionally look at the publishing date. If it is more than 10 years old, then do some research to see if there is a more current book on the topic. If you can find peer-reviewed information out of a university or their extension service, so much the better.

    Science is good, and it can be fun. Smart gardeners utilize good science.

    Related Resources: Wildlife Management

    Bird Citizen Science

    Bird Citizen Science — The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

    Birds: The Great Backyard Bird Count

    Birds: The Great Backyard Bird Count — Audubon, The Cornell Lab, Bird Studies Canada.

    How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do

    How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do — by Linda Chalker-Scott. A great science book for gardeners.

    Science Literacy for the Citizen Scientist

    Science Literacy for the Citizen Scientist pdf — WSU Extension.

    The basics of understanding the scientific method so that a person can distinguish between pseudoscience and real science. The scientific method is a huge help in troubleshooting what is going wrong (or right) in your garden.

    The Garden Professors

    The Garden Professors

    A Facebook page run by a collection of professors from a range of plant science disciplines from a range of universities. It is a Facebook group where you can get science-based answers to gardening questions.

    Wildlife Citizen Science

    Wildlife Citizen Science

    National Wildlife Federation. Information and resources specifically about ecosystems and wildlife habitat. Scroll down the page for lots of ways to get involved in observing, counting, and protecting the habitat in your back yard or neighborhood.

    Xerces Citizen Science

    Xerces Citizen Science — Xerces Society.

    Soil / Compost / Mulch

    Soil

    We don’t call that brown stuff on the ground dirt. In recent years we have come to understand how that soil is very much alive.

    Soil is the single most important thing to get right in your garden or landscape.

    It is very difficult to meaningfully change the composition of residential house lot soil. Instead, we recommend incorporating a significant amount of compost and/or appropriate soil conditioner into the soil, then topping it with a thick layer of woody mulch. Improving the soil (and maintaining its health) is different for lawn than for ornamental garden beds. Learn more about the various aspects of soil below.

    Below are some invaluable resources to help in your quest to make and maintain good soil.

    • Home Gardeners Guide to Soils & Fertilizers pdf — WSU Extension.

      This is what is taught to the Master Gardeners. Pretty much everything you need to know about soil, nitrogen cycle, fertilizers.

    • Nitrogen in Garden Soils pdf — NBB program.

      Handy information about what type of nitrogen plants need and when they need it.

    • Nutrient Cycling (or nitrogen cycle)

      This is a term used to describe the process of how organic matter is cycled and recycled through an ecosystem. One of the ways nutrients is recycled is by breaking down fall leaves. We feel using one’s fall leaves is the most low-cost and low-maintenance way of supplying mulch and nutrients to your ornamental landscape.

      • Nutrient Cycling Talk — Voice recording. How fall leaves can improve ornamental landscape beds. View flyer at link below when listening to voice recording.
      • Using Leaves as Mulch pdf — How fall leaves can improve ornamental landscape beds. Flyer companion to voice recording.
    • Soil Food Web

      Feed the soil and it will feed your plants. Learn how the soil food web works and how you can help it thrive.

    • Soil Testing

    • Soil Types

    Compost

    In ornamental gardens in our region, compost should always be covered by mulch. Compost is a medium that has nutrients released for absorption by plant roots. If it is left uncovered, it will grow weeds! One of the functions of mulch is to help prevent weeds. Compost should not be used for weed prevention. If you have an established ornamental garden, you may not ever need to apply compost if you maintain proper mulch coverage. If you are creating a new garden or rehabilitating a worn out one, you can either incorporate compost into the soil’s upper layer, or you can simply put a layer of compost on top of the soil; then apply a layer of woody mulch.

    These resources will help you understand what compost is, how it works, and basics principles you need to know about composting to help you get started.

    • Buying Compost pdf

      Dos and don’ts about buying compost.

    • Composting at Home

    • Composting Horse Manure pdf — If you have horses, read this.

    • Crimson Clover Cover Crop

      • Crimson Clover Cover Crop pdf — This very common agriculture cover crop is very useful in the ornamental garden and readying any poor site for any type of gardening endeavor. Article contains how-to and resource links.
      • Feed the soil and it will feed your plants. Learn how the soil food web works and how you can help it thrive.

      • Crimson Clover - Improving Cover Crops pdf — Oregon State University & Oregon Clover Commission.
    • Let It Rot! — by Stu Campbell.

      This book is also available at the library!

    • Making & Using Compost

      This is University of Missouri Extension (not local, and we like local resources best) but composting is the same no matter where it is done. Trust us on this. This is one of the best online guides we have found. 

    • The Rodale Book of Composting

      Rodale is a trusted name in organic gardening. You can also find this book at the library!

    Erosion Prevention

    Erosion can be a problem in any landscape even if there isn’t much slope. There are various types of erosion, but in the video below, they are talking about how the flow of water over or through the soil can cause erosion.

    But as good as mulch is at preventing erosion, it isn’t as good as a dense planting of live plants. See video below for just how much cleaner the planted soil water overflow is than without plants or mulch.

    Mulch

    In ornamental gardens in our region, mulch should always cover both bare soil and compost. Mulch helps the soil in ornamental gardens by: moderating temperature, retaining moisture, providing nutrients as it slowly composts in place, and preventing weeds.

    Mulch can be a variety of materials, but we recommend high-carbon, un-composted, woody material. In our area, tree bark is most commonly used. But the NBB program advocates using fall leaves as mulch. And why not? They fall from trees into the garden requiring minimal-to-no cost or work in accomplishing the task of mulching. Leaves (and other woody debris) are pretty much what a natural forest uses for mulch, and that system has worked well for millennia. Why not borrow from what works?

    We also like use of arborist chips as mulch.

    • How Plants & Mulch Prevent Erosion — Video by Fun Science Demos.

    • Proper Mulching pdf — International Society of Arborculture (ISA).

    • Mulch, Mulch, Mulch — Goodnight Design.

      The logic of using fall leaves as mulch in the ornamental garden.

    • Nutrient Cycling (or nitrogen cycle)

      This is a term used to describe the process of how organic matter is cycled and recycled through an ecosystem. One of the ways nutrients is recycled is by breaking down fall leaves. We feel using one’s fall leaves is the most low-cost and low-maintenance way of supplying mulch and nutrients to your ornamental landscape.

      • Nutrient Cycling Talk — Voice recording. How fall leaves can improve ornamental landscape beds. View flyer at link below when listening to voice recording.
      • Using Leaves as Mulch pdf — How fall leaves can improve ornamental landscape beds. Flyer companion to voice recording.
    • Wood Chips as Mulch

      Check out chipdrop.in. Arborists use this website to check to see if anyone near their project is registered to accept a free delivery of chips. It is a great deal, but you should be aware that they cannot give you an exact time/date when they will make their delivery, you do not get a choice what type of tree wood you will get, and you do not know the quantity you will get.

      Read Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott’s paper on wood chips below to learn why we like them so much.

      • Wood Chip Mulch pdf — WSU Extension, Puyallup.

        This is one of Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott’s excellent fact sheets.

    Waste Disposal & Recycling

    We encourage appropriate disposal or recycling of all types of waste. Organic waste can be recycled through composting. Solid or hazardous waste should be handled differently. See our suggestions below.

    Organic Waste

    Non-organic Waste

    Curbside Service — Clark Green Neighbors.

    How to get the various pick-up services in our county.


    Household Hazardous Waste — Clark County, WA.

    Lots of links to more information.


    Household Hazardous Waste — Clark Green Neighbors.


    Medication Disposal">Medication Disposal — Clark Green Neighbors.


    Recycling Done Right — Clark Green Neighbors.


    Solid Waste — Clark County, WA.

    Lots of links to answer most any question you have about disposing of solid waste in our count.

    Water Use & Management

    • Conservation

      Compare Watering Systems

      Compare Watering Systems — Saving Water Partnership.

      Pros and cons for the various types of irrigation systems.

      Irrigation Tips

      Irrigation Tips pdf — Oregon State University Extension.

      Irrigation theory & techniques.

      Ponds & Birdbaths

      Ponds & Birdbaths — Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

      Providing water for wildlife.

      Rainwater Collection

      Collection usually refers to a device that captures rainwater run-off from roofs, then stores it. Most people collect water throughout our rainy winter with the expectation of using it to water their gardens during the drier months. But there is a fatal flaw with that plan.

      Most barrels, though they seem large, don’t really hold much water. Most barrels for residential use are 50–100 gallon capacity. Simple math show that a 1,600 sq. ft. house receiving 30" of rain (we get more than that in Clark County, WA) on its roof would produce 27,840 gallons of water. How many barrels are you prepared to install into your yard?

      And how much water do you need to irrigate your property? Delivering 1" of water to a 5,000 sq. ft. lawn, requires 3,115 gallons every time you water. See the math. Let’s say you will water twice a week for perhaps 5 months of the growing season. That comes to 124,600 gallons of water to irrigate your lawn; almost 4.5 times the amount of rain you get off your roof during the entire year. So even if you could save all the water from off your roof, it still wouldn’t do the job of irrigating an average traditional lawn. Well, you’d have a zillion barrels, so you’d not have room for all of that grass!

      Even wanting a rain barrel for the purpose of drinking water can be problematic. Be absolutely sure the barrel and any piping/tubing connected is safe for potable water. Observe water safety standards. And consider that the (some say outdated and incorrect) 8 ounces of water 8 times a day requirement for humans equals 182 gallons of water for each human in the residence per year. You’d need perhaps 2 rain barrels for each person, and that doesn’t include bathing, dishes, laundry, cleaning.

      We present the these staggering numbers to help you better understand the impact of using rain barrels. Because water conservation is important, and storage of stormwater isn’t always a good solution, we advocate habitat-friendly landscapes with drought-tolerant plants, minimal traditional turf lawns, or use of lawn alternatives. We see changing the way we garden as a better solution than trying to store water in rain barrels. See Other Sections of this archive for information about lawns and their alternatives.

      If you don’t actually need to store stormwater run-off, consider managing it with rain gardens and swales. Rain barrels can be helpful in stormwater management. See the next topic, Stormwater Management further down the page.

      Still want to collect and store rain water? Consider a much larger vessel.

      • Cisterns — OPB Earth Fix.
        Need more capacity? Go beyond the barrel.
      • Cisterns pdf — King County, WA Department of Natural Resources & Parks.
        Some basic facts about cisterns.
      • How to Build a Rain Barrel — Watershed Stewards, Clark County, WA and WSU Clark County Extension.
      • Rain Barrels pdf — Watershed Stewards, Clark County, WA and WSU Clark County Extension.
        Older resource. Overall good information.

      Start New Plants Off Right

      Start New Plants Off Right pdf — Saving Water Partnership.

      Smart watering will make a big difference in the long-term health of new plant. Learn how to get your landscape plants a good start

      Water Conservation

      Water Conservation — Clark Green Neighbors.

      More about water conservation, but not necessarily in the garden.

      Water-efficient Plants for the Willamette Valley

      WaterSense

      WaterSense — US Environmental Protection Agency.

    • Stormwater Management

      Erosion Prevention

      Erosion can be a problem in any landscape even if there isn’t much slope. There are various types of erosion, but in the video below, they are talking about how the flow of water over or through the soil can cause erosion.

      But as good as mulch is at preventing erosion, it isn’t as good as a dense planting of live plants. See video below for just how much cleaner the planted soil water overflow is than without plants or mulch.

      Rain Gardens

      Rain gardens are large depressions in the ground that fill with rain water run-off from impervious or compacted surfaces. They are constructed to catch a large amount of water that is then absorbed into the soil. This slows the flow of stormwater, and keeps it from entering the storm sewer system which help prevent erosion keeping streams, rivers, lakes and bays clean.

      Rain gardens are almost always vegetated. This is for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Rain garden plants are those adapted to well-tolerate periods of extreme wet as well as extreme dry. As it turns out, such plants are those that grow in riparian areas. We can use any riparian plants that will survive in our local area. But at NBB, we encourage use of native riparian plants which enhance the function of the rain garden and also satisfy the needs of birds, insects and other wildlife.

      A swale is a type of rain garden that is more long and narrow, like a stream.

      Many of the resources listed below include plant lists specific to rain gardens.

      Rain Garden Design & Installation Resources

      How to Manage Stormwater: Rain Gardens

      How to Manage Stormwater: Rain Gardens pdf— City of Portland, OR.

      Oregon Rain Garden Guide

      Oregon Rain Garden Guide pdf — Oregon State University, Oregon Sea Grant Extension.

      Rain Gardens

      Rain Gardens pdf — Watershed Stewards, Clark County, WA and WSU Clark County Extension.

      Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington

      Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington pdf — Washington State Department of Ecology, WSU Extension, Kitsap County, WA.

      Swales

      A swale is a rain garden that is long like a stream. Most rain gardens are round, kidney- or tear-drop-shaped. They serve the same purpose, and utilize the same basic construction techniques and plants. They are quite frequently used to manage rainwater run-off from streets and sidewalks, but they can be a beneficial — and even attractive — addition to a landscape to carry roof water run-off away from the house. A swale can:

      • Run through a larger garden area
      • Be the edge of a garden area where it meets hardscape or lawn
      • Be the open input device carrying water from downspout to rain garden that is placed farther from a structure

      See some photos of swales:

    Weeds / Invasive Plants

    Related resources: Alternatives to Chemicals

    If you own property in Clark County, WA, and want weeds or something you think may be a weed identified and recommendations given for abatement and/or management, help is a phone call or click away.

    There are many problem plants in our county. There are lots of resources to help.

    Clark County Vegetation Management

    This page links to brochures about various noxious weeds as well as scheduling a visit for help with ID, abatement and/or management.

    Or contact:
    Carmen Reynolds
    360-397-6140
    carmen.reynolds@clark.wa.gov

    Master Gardener Answer Clinic

    Master Gardener Answer Clinic

    If they don’t know, they usually can point you in the right direction. This is their web page with information about hours, bringing in specimens, etc.

    Noxious Weed List

    Noxious Weed List — Washington State list.


    Noxious Weed List pdf — Clark County, WA list.

    Weed ID Guide

    Weed ID Guide pdf — City of Portland, OR Environmental Services.

    Identify & Manage Invasive or Noxious Plants

    We encourage you to learn to recognize and then remove invasive plants like: English Ivy, English Holly, Barberry, Herb Robert, Yellow Archangel, Yellow Flag Iris, Butterfly Bush, Spurge Laurel, Black Locust, Periwinkle, Cherry Laurel, Bindweed. These are but a few! Here is a handbook showing you what to look for and what plants are good alternatives.

    Wildlife Management

    Creating habitat is important for animals as well as plants for the overall ecosystem. Many smaller creatures such as: birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, squirrels, and insects are fun to watch up close and personal in our yards.

    But sometimes critters can cause damage to an ornamental residential landscape, particularly a small one. Sure, we’re trying to create good habitat, but we’re not advocating inviting damaging elements to your yard. There is more to habitat than critters that wreak havoc.

    Related resources: Create Good Habitat | Insects | Plant Selection | Science | Pollinators

    Bats

    Bats are great at controlling insect populations. They can also be good pollinators and dispersers of seeds. But they are choosy about where they live and what they will live in. Check out some resources below before trying to create habitat for bats. And take note, if you don’t have enough insects for them to eat, they will move on or starve. This is the best reason we can think of to create good habitat for ALL critters. It’s an ecosystem. All parts work together. If you want bats, by definition, you want insects. Birds need insects as food, too.

    Bat Conservation International

    All about bats.


    Bat Management — Bat Conservation & Management.

    General management info.


    Choose the Right Site — Bat Conservation & Management.

    Siting is critical. So is what color you paint the bat box.


    Bat FAQs — Bat Conservation & Management.

    Lots of fun facts.


    Build a Bat House — National Wildlife Federation.

    Step-by-step instructions.


    Strategies for Successful Bat Houses — Wildlife Damage Control.

    More good info about supporting bats.

    Birds

    Since we talk about creating habitat mostly for birds and pollinators elsewhere on this website, what you will find here is some solutions for when birds become a problem.

    Bully Birds at Feeders — Birds and Blooms.


    Bully Birds, Management — National Wildlife Fund.


    Crows at Feeders — Wild Birds Unlimited, E Lansing, MI.


    Crows at Feeders — Humane Society.


    Canada Geese, Management — Wildlife Animal Control.


    Canada Geese, Management — Humane Society.


    Injured Birds — Vancouver Audubon Society.


    Unwanted Birds — WildBirds.com.

    Coyotes

    Coyotes can be found in Clark County. Though they rarely attack or approach humans, it’s smart to be cautious.

    Coexisting with Coyotes pdf — Clark County, WA.


    Preventing Coyote Conflicts pdf — The Humane Society.


    What to Do About Coyotes — The Humane Society.

    Deer

    Deer can be really fun to watch, but they can cause a lot of damage to both ornamental and veggie gardens.

    Basic deer-management strategy is to observe the most prominent 'thoroughfare' the deer take through your property. On the house side of that thoroughfare, plant a 10’ wide swath of plants deer generally dislike. On the opposite side, plant a 10’ wide swath of things the deer really love to eat. The theory is that as a deer moves along their thoroughfare, they will browse on what they like, and sort of ‘bounce off’ what they find distasteful. The goal is to keep them moving through, and not stopping to wonder if there might be some other yummy treat closer to the house.

    This will only work after you are sure the deer can’t find anything they like on the house side of their thoroughfare. Establishing plants for a deer throughfare is easier with new construction, but it can be discouraging to remove well established vegetation. There are alternatives.

    You could also install an 8’ tall fence, but below are some other suggestions.

    Living with Wildlife-Deer — WA Department of Fish & Wildlife.

    Pretty much everything you wanted to know about deer. Includes a list of plants deer like!


    Managing Deer on Small Woodlands pdf — USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


    Reduce Deer Damage in Your Yard pdf — Oregon State University Extension.


    Deer Repellant, Recipe — Camas/Washougal Garden Club.

    A simple recipe using eggs and water that seems to keep deer from eating your plants.


    Deer-resistant Plants pdf — WSU Spokane County Extension.

    Deer-resistant Plants pdf — Oregon State Univ Extension.


    Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance pdf — Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

    Searchable online database available through Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

    Moles

    Living with Wildlife — MOLES — Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.


    Moles — Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

    Rabbits

    Rabbit Resistant Plants — Plant Delights Nursery.


    Plants Rabbits Love — IMustGarden.com.

    From shrubs to veggies.

    Voles

    Voles — Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

    Unfortunately, this page recommends removing ground cover. That is contrary to the NBB mission of creating habitat and protecting the watershed. Voles prefer loose soil, longer grass and more clutter. Sadly, we prefer longer grass, more clutter because it usually creates good habitat. We prefer untilled farming methods. But if you are gardening on land that was tilled (to death) over past decades, and you are trying to create earth-friendly habitat, you will likely attract voles. So while you're creating habitat, think of snakes, hawks, and owls. This article doesn't offer a lot of hope for control other than poison. As for keeping your veggie gardens vole-free, it seems that voles are poor climbers, so you use raised beds with hardware cloth on the bottom that drains well, but keeps the critters out.


    Cover Crops Influence Meadow Vole Presence — HortTechnology.

    One way to manage voles is to plant more of what they don't like near areas where you don't want the voles to exist. This study suggests that legume cover crops may attract voles more than non-legume plants. Sweet Woodruff was particularly effective at detracting voles as was wood chips.


    Controlling Voles — Permies.com.

    Creating owl habitat to control voles. Also snake habitat, and chickens, too. More info and tips to try out! And maybe just a good site for tips about whipping your property into shape!

    Websites & Other Information

    Facebook Groups

    Did you know you can do more on Facebook than see what’s eating for breakfast, coo over baby pictures, and watch cat videos? There are groups that specialize in a range of topics, one of which is horticulture. In these groups, after you join, you can post a photo of a plant you want identified, discuss if a plant is edible or poisonous, and meet and share information with other area gardeners. Join the fun and learn from these great groups!

    Plant Identification

    Great, great resource!! Provide photo, location, residential or in-the-wild, and hardiness zone if you know it. (We are mostly zone 8 in Vancouver, WA area.)


    Entomology


    Invasive Plant Education


    Mushroom Identification Forum


    Passion for Plant Propagation


    Plant Identification & Discussion


    Plant Removal


    The Garden Professors


    Vancouver Area Gardeners


    What’s Wrong with My Plant?

    Other General Information

    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.

     

  • Alternatives to chemicals

    One of the Naturally Beautiful Backyard (NBB) program’s main goals is to educate Clark County residents about how they can reduce the use of chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers) in their landscapes and keep pollutants out of our watershed. You’d be surprised how easy it is for chemicals and other pollutants to find their way from our yards into nearby surface water, and even into the water we drink.

    Reducing the use of chemicals can help increase beneficial soil microbe activity and enhance wildlife habitat, both of which contribute to a healthy watershed.

    A healthy watershed benefits our community and the entire region. So limiting chemical use helps ensure a healthy environment for wildlife and people, too.

     

    Read more

    nbb pesticide alternatives article

    Ways to reduce use of chemicals in your landscape:

    Select Disease-resistant Plants

    Diseases are the most difficult problem to remedy without chemicals. So choosing plants that are immune to typical landscape diseases can really help. Choosing native plants can help, too. But be advised that even native plants can be susceptible to typical landscape diseases.

    There is a saying in landscaping: Right plant / Right place. It means selecting plants that fit into the space that is available, and that need the amount sun, water, soil composition, etc. that is available in that particular space. It also means evaluating a plant’s growth characteristics in accordance to your tolerance to do work and use chemicals. If you are dedicated to not using chemicals as a measure of protecting both wildlife and the watershed, then you should select plants that support that desire.

    Employ Beneficial Insects

    Over 90% of the insects in our region are beneficial. They do more good than harm, and eat or otherwise destroy many of the trouble-makers.

    A lot of insecticides kill more than just the few bugs that are actually pests. Systemic insecticides will kill even good insects that munch on the plant. Many contact insecticides will kill whatever insect they touch.

    “But they are eating my plants,” you lament! Yes, they are, but consider this: If you arrange to have an army of beneficial insects live among your plants, they would be more than happy to eliminate most all of the bad insects. All they need are some ‘host’ plants to call home.

    Hand-pick Pests

    Yeah, slugs are a true menace. We don’t know of any insects that eat them. Got chickens?

    Hand-picking and destroying the few pests that aren’t managed by beneficial insects is the way to go. Yes, we realize this is work. But your watershed thanks you!

    You can also hand-pick diseased leaves, fruit, etc from plants as an alternative to chemical use.

    Be Observant

    Become familiar with your landscape and how things should appear when it is healthy. Doing so can help you see when things are not quite right. And you'll have a jump-start on solving problems before they get out of hand.

    Remove Noxious Weeds

    While we promote the use of chemicals only as a last resort, we realize it is not always possible to avoid the use of chemical products entirely. You may have a large area of your yard being overtaken by invasive or aggressive plants or insects that should be eliminated before they get out of control.

    In such cases (like English ivy, thistle, blackberry, tansy ragwort, etc.), it is important to correctly identify the problem and choose an appropriate chemical product to treat it. Be sure to carefully follow the mixing and application instructions in order to protect yourself, your family, and the environment.

  • Natural Garden Tour

    The 2017 Natural Garden Tour will take place on Sunday, July 23 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The garden tour offers a peek into 10 delightful gardens that are maintained through natural gardening techniques. Meet the host gardeners and gather ideas to make your yard a beautiful and healthy environment for pets and children while protecting local rivers and streams.

    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.

    The 2017 Garden Tour Booklet is coming soon and will be available for download. This download can be used as your free pass to the tour if you'd prefer not to pick up a hard copy at one of the locations in the right column.

    Download the 2016 Garden Tour Booklet for info on all the participating gardens and locations from last year.  

    Related articles: Naturally Beautiful Backyards | Grasscycling

    natural garden tour article