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You can save water, reduce the need for chemicals, and grow a beautiful easy-care yard by following these steps.
Where is it sunny or shady at different seasons? Dig in a few places to see where your soil is sand or clay, soggy year ‘round or bone dry. Look around – are there plants with problems? Where do you want play areas, vegetables, color, views, or privacy? How much lawn do you need, or want to maintain? What kind of plantings would fit your yard?
Many pest and disease resistant varieties are available now – ask at nurseries or call the Garden Hotline. Choose plants that are “low water use” or “drought tolerant.” After they’re established (2-5 years), many will thrive just on our limited summer rainfall most years, saving you time and money on watering.
Put plants that need full sun, or shade, or certain soil conditions, or frequent irrigation together with those with similar needs. That way you don’t have to water the whole yard to reach one thirsty plant!
They need several hours of full sun, level well-drained soil, and irrigation. Limit lawn areas to where you need them. Other plants are better for shade, soggy sites, or slopes, and require less maintenance. (See the lists below or call the Garden Hotline for ideas.)
You can invite birds, butterflies, and other wildlife into your yard, protect shorelines and salmon, and make a more attractive landscape. Plant trees and use native plants, especially ones with fruit and flowers. Plant in layers (ground cover, shrubs, and trees). Avoid using pesticides – they can poison birds, beneficial insects, and salmon when rain washes them through storm drains into streams. Leave wild “buffer” areas of native plants along ravines, streams and shorelines.
Choosing the Right Plants (pdf) Learn how to plan your whole yard, and how to select plants that fit each site and need.
How to Water New Plants - Even “drought tolerant” plants need water at the start!
Tree Planting - The first step to a strong, healthy tree is proper planting. Read about the easy steps to make sure your tree gets the right start in life.
Two classics are The Sunset Western Garden Book (Sunset Publishing); and Right Plant, Right Place, by Nicola Ferguson (Summit Books, 1994). Visit your local public library or book-store, or call the Garden Hotline for more gardening resources.
Want a print copy of one of the guides? Contact the experts at the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224 (language interpretation available) or at Garden Hotline.
Noxious Weeds - (King County) Check this list and avoid these exotic, invasive plants.