When deciding on the best plants for your Pacific Northwest property, you’ll need to pick some goals first.
The word “best” requires context. Best at what?
- Do you want to block a nosy neighbor’s view of your property with trees and vines?
- Perhaps you’d like to enhance an already gorgeous landscape with colorful blooms.
- Maybe you’re looking to make the most out of a small space with minimalist landscaping.
While no tree, flower, or shrub can be labeled as universally perfect for all properties, some plants perform specific functions better than others.
Here is a rundown of which plants are best at filling the most pressing desires you might have for your property.
Best Trees for Landscaping in Western Washington
Create privacy, find shade, and enjoy nature’s beauty
1. If you want a privacy screen…
Try the Emerald green arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis). You’ll have seen this tree on properties all over Whatcom, Skagit, and Snohomish Counties, and for good reason: it grows well in the Pacific Northwest, and it provides a solid natural sound and visual barrier to the outside world.
2. If you want a view…
Try the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum). You can choose from varieties that grow short and wide and won’t block your view. Japanese maple are beautiful as an accent piece. Their size, color, and acclimation to Pacific Northwest weather make them a popular choice in our counties.
3. If you’re looking for shade…
Go for a Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum).
Characterized by their huge leaves (the largest of any North American maple), bigleaf maple trees grow well in moist, gravelly soil and do well with shade from buildings and other trees. This is one reason you’ll see them frequently around our local parks and trails.
Bigleaf maples are native to Washington State and grow 60 to 80 feet tall, making them great trees to sit under during our Pacific Northwest summers.
4. If you want a pretty tree…
Go for the Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii), a small native Western Washington tree that graces views with stunning white and yellow flowers in the spring.
Growing 30 to 50 feet tall, this tree makes a beautiful focal point on commercial and residential properties.
Top Flowers for Pacific Northwest Properties
Save the bees, support native plants, and create an edible garden
1. If you love year-round color…
Try a mixture of perennials. Enjoy the white foliage of the astilbes in spring. Then, watch the richly colorful hydrangeas show up in time for summer. During the winter, primroses provide a splash of mood-lifting color, too.
2. If you want flowers that are native to the Pacific Northwest…
During its summertime blooms, the stunning yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is reminiscent of cotton or snow. Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies agree that this Pacific Northwest plant is an attractive pick, and they’ll prove it by spending plenty of time in your yard.
To see additional native plant options, check out the Washington Native Plant Society ‘s database, sorted by county:
3. If you’re looking for flowers you can eat…
If you enjoy the look of daisies and drink tea, try planting chamomile in your yard. Add hot water to the dried leaves for a wonderful evening treat (but keep in mind that herbs can interact with medications, so check with your doctor first).
Other edible flowers that grow well in the Pacific Northwest include marigold, viola tricolor, and coneflower.
Speaking of coneflower…
4. If you want to help save the bees…
We said that bees are attracted to the Pacific Northwest native yarrow. Well, bees love coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) too.
Coneflowers provide honey bees with their favorite sweet delight – nectar. In exchange, bees help spread pollen for the flower. By planting coneflower and other plants that bees love, you’ll be doing nature a favor.
Best Bushes, Shrubs, and Hedges for Western Washington Landscapes
Solutions for privacy, fencing, and more
1. If you want a colorful hedge…
Try a large, bushy plant like the white spirea. This plant, from the rose family, features cascading flowers that bloom through spring and summer.
2. If you enjoy a minimalist landscape…
3. If you’re looking for a natural fence…
Evergreen boxwood (Buxus) is ideal for creating natural fencing between properties because it takes well to trimming (It can be manicured into nearly any shape imaginable).
With some maintenance, you can control the height of this plant, and therefore, how much of your yard your neighbors see.
And, speaking of privacy…
4. If you’re looking to increase privacy…
Fortune’s spindle (Euonymus fortunei) may be native to Asia, but it thrives in Pacific Northwest conditions. This evergreen shrub grows similarly to Ivy, making it a great solution for covering open fencing. It features small leaves and even smaller flowers.
How do you define best?
Now that we’ve provided a rundown of trees, flowers, and shrubs that grow well in the Pacific Northwest, we’d like to know your opinion!
Do you have a favorite plant? How does it enhance your yard? Let us know in the comments.