Some of our favorite plants to use in landscape designs also happen to be Pacific Northwest natives. These plants are not only well adapted to our region, but they lend the look and feel of our natural surroundings to a designed space.
Natives are a terrific choice for meeting a client request that we hear quite often: a desire for a low maintenance landscape. Because these varieties are native to the region, they are well adapted to the annual cycle of wet and dry seasons. They not only thrive in the heavy precipitation of our cool winters, they do well in the dry spells of our lengthening summers. This means that once the plants establish themselves, a homeowner can practically let them be.
Another place where natives come to the rescue is when we design a regulated revegetation plan. An example is a plan to mitigate an increase in impervious surfaces on a site. Plantings are required in these cases to help with managing storm water. Certain types of Environmentally Critical Areas and their buffer areas, such as wildlife habitat, also require planting plans if a project will disturb the existing plant life. In many of these cases, the plans must use native species.
The choice for native trees in Seattle is quite large. Deciduous species include vine maples, but because of their characteristics, including brittle wood, whey are not allowed as street trees by SDOT. A stroll through any established neighborhood in the city will reveal mature native cedars, Douglas fir, and spruce, too.
Oregon Grape is a terrific native, providing year-round interest with its flowers, noticeable blue berries, and colorful leaves. Another native shrub we like is the Evergreen Huckleberry. Their tiny flowers come and go quickly, but as the name suggests their small leaves remain throughout the year. And you really can eat the berries!
We also use quite a few ferns in our designs, especially the iconic Western Sword Fern and the more delicate deer fern. Ferns lend a planting scheme the feel of the Pacific Northwest like nothing else.
One of our favorite native ground covers is Kinnikinnick. This standby plant is very dependable. Like any new planting, it requires steady water in order to establish itself, but once it does it will remain green and characteristically shiny throughout the dry season. Every year, these plants consistently spread to cover more ground, without overgrowing other plants as some exotic ground cover species often do. (We’re looking at you, English Ivy.)
This really is just scratching at the surface of landscaping plants native to the Pacific Northwest. The variety available provide endless design possibilities. Take a look through the online resources below.