Located at the convergence of several rivers, Treasure Valley has always been rich with plant life. Living in a semi-arid climate and mild winters, the native plants of southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon primarily include sagebrush, desert grasses, and other plants and flowers that thrive in relatively dry conditions.
Given the climate, when landscaping around a new home in this area, include plants that do not require considerable irrigation. Any plant that you want to include in your landscape must also be able to withstand the extremes of both cool nights and hot days. When selecting the plants and trees for your new landscape, think about the purpose each will serve. Are they purely ornamental, or are they meant to provide shade, block the wind, or reduce soil erosion?
Although growing many types of plants is possible, choosing native ones will increase the likelihood that they will thrive with less maintenance. The Idaho Native Plant Society provides a list of plants native to Treasure Valley that work well in this area. The list also indicates which plants grow best when planted together.
Trees can take a long time to mature, especially in a semi-arid climate, so it’s always smart to plant them as soon as you can when landscaping a new home. Tall shrubs are also great additions for privacy or to provide a windscreen on your property.
There are just a handful of tree species native to the Treasure Valley, including:
- Water birch: Good for homes with solar panels because they allow ample light to penetrate.
- Ponderosa pine: These drought-tolerant evergreens are great for blocking wind.
- Black cottonwood: Iconic Boise-area trees with fluffy seed pods.
- Douglas fir: This evergreen blocks wind and provides habitat for wildlife.
- Peachleaf willow: More tolerant of drier soils than other willow species
For more detailed information about trees to consider for your landscape, read the city of Boise’s Tree Selection Guide.
Plants and Flowers
In southwestern Idaho, the most common types of plants for a home landscape are shrubs and forbs. A forb is a flowering plant that typically has broad leaves and non-woody stems.
There are several types of shrubs native to Treasure Valley, including:
- Various types of sagebrush
- Black hawthorn
- Golden currant
- Creeping Oregon grape
Some of the popular types of forbs native to the area include:
- Blue-eyed Mary
- Wyeth’s buckwheat
- Western goldenrod
Various plants prefer different types of conditions, so consider factors such as how much sun or shade they will receive, how often they will be watered, and what soil types they will tolerate. A landscape with various colors, textures, and heights will add character and charm to your new home, so think about how plants will look together as you choose.
Sod and Grass
Despite the semi-arid climate, maintaining a green lawn in Treasure Valley is possible. Laying sod is a convenient way to get an instantly lush yard without waiting for seeds to germinate and grow. Both Kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye can handle the unique climate conditions and tolerate high traffic. Various species of fescues are more drought-tolerant, so if you prefer less maintenance or want to limit water use, these are good options.
Ornamental grasses such as sedges, bottlebrush squirreltail, and prairie junegrass grow in bunches that can be incorporated into borders for pathways or used for framing your lawn. Using native grasses for these areas will ensure that they are hardy enough to withstand the extreme temperature changes that happen on a daily basis in this area.
When building a new home, it’s important to think about the big picture, including the surrounding landscape. Envision what you want to see in the years to come and plan around that. Many plants take years to fully mature, so think about how they will impact your home when they are fully grown. This is especially important for larger plants such as trees and tall shrubs.
If you are thinking of building a new home in the Treasure Valley, get in touch with Adair Homes to learn more about how we will guide you through every step, from design through celebrating your first night at home.