Choose the right plant for the right spot. Your site may have sunny dry areas, shady moist places, or a combination of both. Watch how water flows and how the sun moves across the sky, during all seasons. Choose plants that will grow only to the height you require, and make sure there is room to grow. Taller plants and soil mounds can enhance your site by creating a diversity of living conditions or microclimates.
Whether you’re screening scenes, holding slopes, shading promenades, frocking rocks, or coordinating borders, there is a hardy and charming native plant for the job. Most plants like a sunny moist site, but a shady dry site may require heavy mulching or irrigation to grow plants. Think in vertical layers to maximize your naturescape’s appeal for people and wildlife. Place ground covers beside lawn and hard surfaces, followed behind by herbs, ferns and bushes. Create shrub thickets with small trees for vertical layers of shelter.
Shady Moist Site
If a space receives little or no direct sun, choose plants that prefer those conditions. A shiny groundcover of False Lily of the Valley looks great under bold Sword Ferns and lacy Bleeding Heart. Columbine and Camas add some heat to cool greens. Avoid planting under roof lines as they are too dry.
Sunny Dry Site
If a spot is hot and dry with plenty of direct sun, choose only dry soil plants. In this example, clumping Fescue grass is combined with Oregon Grape and Nodding Onion to create a soft and colorful ground cover under Shore Pine. Coastal Strawberry and Kinnikinnick will thrive in harsh conditions if you mulch in spring.
Watch Out For Invasive Species
Some introduced plants escape from gardens, grow into natural areas, and overwhelm native ecosystems. Avoid dumping garden waste in the woods. “Wildflower mix” contains many invasive weed species. Steer clear of known weedy species like English Holly and replace invaders (below) with similar native alternatives.