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Questions and Answers

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Why native plants?

By definition and for argument sake, let’s define Native Plants as uncultivated flora indigenous to geographic regions, which have adapted over time to various environmental and social influences such as soil types and hydrology, micro-climates and human influence. Because native species evolve for survival, they tend to be more naturally adapted to local growing conditions and often require less inputs for successful establishment and can reduce maintenance. Native plants play a very important role in our ecosystems. As ecologists, wildlife biologists and entomologist have shown, native plant species are more favorable for supporting pollinators and local wildlife, including insects such as bees, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.

Native plants will need a little care in their infancy in order to develop a healthy root system so provide them with supplemental water the first couple of years, but after that most natives planted in a favorable site require little additional attention.

  • Native plants are adapted to our climate of wet winters and dry summers.
  • Require less water than most non-natives once they are established.
  • Resist native pests and diseases better.
  • Improve water quality by needing less fertilizer and no pesticides.
  • Save resources and encourage a sense of Stewardship.

The key to landscaping with any plant, including natives, is threefold: plant the Right Plant in the Right Site and Conditions for its Mature Size.

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a landscaped area that collects, absorbs, and filters storm water runoff from roof tops, driveways, patios, and other hard surfaces that don’t allow water to soak in. Rain gardens are sized to accommodate temporary ponding after it rains and are not meant to be permanent ponds. Simply put, rain gardens are shallow depressions that:

  • Can be shaped and sized to fit your yard.

  • Are constructed with soil mixes that allow water to soak in rapidly, treat runoff, and support plant growth.

  • Can be landscaped with a variety of plants to fit the surroundings.

As the region grows, native forests and soils are replaced with roads, rooftops, and other hard surfaces. When it rains or snows, more water flows from these hard surfaces than undisturbed areas, carrying oil, fertilizers, pesticides, sediments, and other pollutants downstream. In fact, much of the pollution in streams, wetlands, and Puget Sound now comes from storm water flowing off developed areas. The added water and associated pollutants from developed lands are damaging water resources and harming aquatic life in western Washington.

What are noxious weeds?

In the State of Washington, noxious weeds are non-native plants that have been introduced to Washington from other parts of the world. Because of their aggressive growth and lack of natural enemies in the state, these species can be highly destructive, competitive or difficult to control. These exotic species can reduce crop yields, destroy native plant and animal habitat, damage recreational opportunities, clog waterways, lower land values, create erosion problems and fire hazards, and poison humans and livestock.

In Washington State, noxious weed is a legally defined term. The Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board determines which plants are placed on the Washington State Noxious Weed List (WAC 16-750). These plants are non-native, aggressive and invasive, but with the potential to be eradicated or controlled in the state. For example, dandelion is a non-native, invasive plant. However, it is so widespread, it will never be eradicated or adequately controlled within the state. Therefore, it is not on the noxious weed list.