Natural Yard Care

Learn to grow a beautiful landscape while protecting health and the environment. Save time, money, and resources!

Learn the five steps to natural yard care in the Natural Yard Care guide in English or Spanish or by following these links:

  1. Build healthy soil – Use compost and mulch and fertilize responsibly.
  2. Plant right for siteFind plants that will thrive in various yard conditions.
  3. Practice smart watering – Water efficiently for plants and the environment.
  4. Think twice before using chemicals – Identify and control pests and weeds without chemicals
  5. Practice natural lawn care – Grow a healthy lawn with less water, chemicals and maintenance.

Have questions? Ask the experts at the Garden Hotline

Right Plant Right Time

Proper plant selection can create a lush, colorful garden without a lot of water. By choosing, grouping and installing plants in conditions favorable for their growth, the environment is protected, as well as resist damage from insects, disease and drought.

A drought-tolerant plantWhile getting to know the soils in the garden, map out the sunny and shady spots, the moist and dry spots, and the low lying and sloping spots. Use this information to help make wise plant choices. Proper plant selection will reduce irrigate or use chemicals.

For sunny, dry spots that do not have an easy supply of water, it is best to choose plants that do not use a lot of water in the summertime. Bulbs, native plants, and Mediterranean plants are all good choices. Bulbs do the major portion of their growing during the spring or fall, so they avoid the dry summers. Alternatively, native plants are adapted to growing in wet winters and dry summers.

There are many resources for selecting the right plants for garden conditions. Live near a stream or shoreline? Plant a salmon friendly garden.

Water-Saving Gardening

Group plants by their requirements for water, sun, and soil.

Choose plants adapted to your garden conditions.

Plant pest and disease resistant varieties to reduce the need for chemicals.

Go Native! Native plants thrive with little care, with the right conditions.

Minimize lawn areas. Most trees, shrubs, and groundcovers need less water and fertilizer.
The Farmer's Almanac has examples of four easy gardens designed for different site conditions: A Garden for Hot, Dry Conditions; An English-Style Cottage Garden for a Sunny Site; A Garden for a Sunny and Damp Spot; and A Garden for Light Shade.

To go native, check out Washington State University Gardening. This website will help identify and imitate nearby native plant associations, or to start from scratch to establish native plant associations appropriate for your site conditions.

In need of inspiration? There are a number of public gardens to visit. The Environmental Protection Agency has a very thorough list of gardens that demonstrate the Puget lowlands vegetation.

The Waterwise Garden at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, not only has great gardens to look at, but has a lot of educational material available at its visitor center.

Information and videos of past natural yard care workshops.

Container Gardening for Healthy Eating (class video)

Whether it's a small balcony or a large backyard, containers offer wonderful opportunities to grow vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers.

Colin McCrate is the author of Food Grown Right, In Your Backyard (Mountaineers Books, 2012) and owner of Seattle Urban Farm Company, which builds edible gardens at homes and restaurants, and teaches new gardeners the art of growing their own healthy food. Join Colin to learn about types of containers, soil, fertilization, pest management, and how to keep plants happy throughout the season.

Herbs, Herbs, and More Herbs (class video)

Easy to grow herbs in the ground and in containers for fresh herbs year round.

Join Master Gardener Joan Helbacka for a discussion on herbs that thrive in our area. She will provide tips and ideas on growing, propagating and using a variety of herbs for cooking and landscaping.

Jardinería en Otoño (video de clase)

¡Manténgase ocupado este otoño trabajando en el jardín! Las bajas temperaturas y los suelos húmedos fomentan el crecimiento de raíces fuertes, es por esto que el otoño es momento ideal para preparar jardines para el invierno y la primavera. Aprenda los fundamentos de la preparación del suelo, sembrado adecuado, y como crear hábitat para la fauna silvestre durante el invierno. Ponente Stuart Vázquez, director de la Revista EcoLógica. Aproveche esta oportunidad de escuchar a Stuart y que sus preguntas sean respondidas por personal de “Garden Hotline”.

Pest, Weed, and Disease Control (class video)

Controlling pests and weeds can be a gardener’s worst nightmare! Learn to prevent and manage pests, weeds, and disease without using chemicals that endanger children, pets, and beneficial insects.

Laura Matter has over 30 years of horticultural experience, and has heard nearly every gardening conundrum as she answers questions at the Garden Hotline, a program that offers free advice to gardeners and landscapers. Join Laura to learn the techniques of Integrated Pest Management, and how to navigate the “organic” products available on the market.

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