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  • Preserve existing native trees, shrubs and groundcovers. You'll save money on plant purchases and you'll help protect your property from erosion.

  • Leaving some of your land natural means you'll have less to mow. Thickets make good habitats for songbirds, and many hardy native plants (such as salal) seldom need to be watered.

  •  

    Limit Your
    Lawn Size

    Lawns have shallow roots and offer limited erosion control. During periods of heavy rain, lawns often become saturated, surface water pools, and runoff occurs.

    Keep a native plant buffer.
     

  • Avoid installing a lawn up to the edge of slopes, bluffs, or beaches. Instead, plant or maintain a buffer of native plants. Plant buffers help anchor soil, filter runoff, and provide critical habitat for wildlife.

  • Don't overwater your lawn. Most lawns need about 1½ inches per week and can only absorb about 3/10 inch of water per hour ­ any more than that and you're wasting water and money and increasing the potential for shoreline damage.

  • Relax your standards. Keeping a "perfect" green lawn often involves applying harmful chemicals and excess water. Runoff containing moss killers, high nitrogen fertilizers, and pesticides can end up on the beach - in your oysters.

  • Landscaping Tips

    • Keep as many native plants in place as possible. Keep clearing to a minimum.
    • Avoid removing trees to provide a view; trees can be allies against erosion. Consider pruning alternatives.
    • Don't top your trees or prune shrubs severely. Plants left "natural" are healthier and more attractive.
    • Don't clear out rocks, logs, stumps, or leaf litter; These help build healthy, absorbent soil and wildlife habitat.
    • Leave dead trees or snags in place if they are not a hazard. Snags provide homes for bald eagles, osprey, woodpeckers, and other wildlife.
    • Avoid paving. Use wood chips, sand, or gravel for paths. Consider gravel or pavers for patios and driveways.
    • Get expert advice identifying and removing weeds. Weeds such as scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry can crowd out erosion-controlling native plants.
    • Don't plant aggressive invaders such as ivy or holly. Ivy can smother native forest vegetation and can topple trees.
     
     

    A Landscape Plan That Works

    • With careful planning, you can enjoy a view, beach access, and an attractive landscape while also preserving wildlife habitat and critical shade along the beach for fish.
    • Blending native plants with a modest lawn saves money, time, and the environment.
    • Maintaining the stability of your shoreline bluff as a priority of your landscaping plan will save tremendous expense later.

    Related Topics

    Native Plants, Ideal plants for waterfront property.
    Weeds, Non-native Invaders.
    Trees, Keeping trees and a view.
    Construction, Protecting your property.

    Related Links

    Managing Vegetation on Coastal Slopes, Department of Ecology. Vegetation management during site development to reduce the hazard of erosion and landslides.

    Controlling Erosion Using Vegetation, Department of Ecology. An online guide to controlling erosion on slopes and bluffs using vegetation.

    Natural Yard Care Guide, City of Seattle. Try natural yard care. You can reduce waste, conserve water, save time and money, and protect our environment and your family’s health – all while growing a beautiful yard. Learn the basics in the Natural Yard Care guide.

    Landscaping on your Septic System Drainfield, Thurston County Environmental Health. Is your septic system drainfield an eyesore? Here is a guide to the do's and don'ts of landscaping your drainfield.  

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    Comments? E-mail: Shellyne Grisham