The Pacific Northwest has many spectacular native, hybrid native, and other plants adapted to local climate and soil conditions. Once established, native and adapted plants are very low maintenance, require little to no pesticides or fertilizers, and survive well on minimal water. Read below to learn more about how to choose the right plants for your yard’s micro climates and soil conditions.
Match Plants with Appropriate Growing Conditions
The Willamette Valley, including the Portland metro area, is rated a Sunset Hardiness Zone 6. Plants rated for Sunset Hardiness Zone 6 are hardy enough to survive winter temperatures as low as 1 to −10 degrees Fahrenheit. Plants rated a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8 or lower can also be planted in our area. A USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8 rating means that plants are hardy enough to survive low temperatures, ranging from 29 to 13 degrees. In colder weather, these plants will need to be covered with mulch to protect the roots.
Group Plants With Similar Water Needs
Different plants need different amounts of water, sun, and shade to survive. Some microclimates of your yard are probably hotter and drier, or wetter and cooler, than others.
Create Watering Zones
In addition to your yard’s microclimates, look at creating watering zones within your landscape. Inside each zone, all of the plants should have the same general watering needs, allowing you to give each plant the water it requires — not too much or too little. Watering zones help you avoid wasting water while helping to reduce the time and effort needed to maintain your garden. If you hand-water, you may want to consider locating your most thirsty plants nearer to your hose bib so that you won't have to pull the hose too far to water them.
Water to Your Plant’s Needs
On average, we recommend watering your lawn about an inch a week – a bit more during long, hot, dry spells and a bit less during the cooler spring and fall. Trees, shrubs and perennials typically don’t need water as frequently, however they may require more volume at each cycle, so it is best to check with your local garden center or landscape professional on your plant’s specific watering needs.
Waterwise Plant Resources
- Water Efficient Plants for the Willamette Valley (PDF): Looking for that perfect water-efficient plant? Be sure to check out our beautiful plant guide.
- Plantlust.com: Use this site to learn more about whether the plants you would like to include in your garden are waterwise and then see which garden centers have the plants you want in stock.
- Low-Water, High-Appeal Shrubs: Learn about native and climate-adapted shrubs that save water and add beauty to modern garden landscapes.