The climate of the Inland Northwest is distinct from the rest of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State. The Greater Spokane area is relatively cool and dry, especially compared to the rainy areas on the other side of the mountains to the west and the colder climate to the east. When landscaping around a new home, it’s important to understand what will work best in this microclimate.
Landscaping around a new home serves several purposes. There is the obvious aesthetic effect of having beautiful plants that are creatively arranged, but there is also a functional purpose. Landscaping helps prevent soil erosion and water runoff around your property. Regardless of why they are there, all plants need good soil to survive, so start with a strong foundation of soil mixed with compost to enrich it. Don’t assume that the fill dirt and topsoil left by the construction crew will have enough nutrients to sustain your new landscape.
When choosing the plants and trees for your new landscape, there is more to consider than just the way they look. Not all plants are appropriate for all growing regions, so do some research as you create your landscape plan. The Downtown Spokane Partnership has created a publication called Landscape Plants for the Inland Northwest to help you select plants that are native to the area and suitable for growing in this climate.
Because trees take the longest to grow, it’s a good idea to plant them first. You can add more plants and flowers throughout the years as your budget allows, but starting with trees will give you anchor points to work from.
Both evergreen and deciduous trees can be grown in this region. Some of the popular native species are:
- Subalpine fir – Can be planted alone or in a group
- Engelmann spruce – Good for ornamental planting due to its pyramid shape
- Lodgepole pine – Very adaptable, grows quickly, and good for privacy screening
- Western larch – Grows quickly and pairs well with evergreens
- Paper birch – A classic Northwest tree that grows best in areas with good natural drainage
These are just a few examples of the dozens of tree species you can employ in a landscape for a new home. When deciding which ones make the most sense for your property, consider how they will be used: for shade, ornamentation, privacy, or even climbing.
You should also think hard about tree placement and how it will look in the future. A small sapling will eventually become a large tree that drops leaves and branches, provides shade, and presents potential risk if it’s too close to the house.
Plants and Flowers
Having a diverse display of plantings that thrive at different times of the year will keep your landscape looking lush and vibrant. The types of flowers and plants you can grow in the Inland Northwest are countless, including:
- Rock garden plants
Some considerations when selecting plants and flowers are whether the terrain is flat or sloped, the amount of shade or sun the area receives, and how much moisture is naturally in the soil. Choosing plantings that require little maintenance will allow you to enjoy the landscape without having to spend too much time on it. Of course, if your passion is gardening, plant whatever brings you joy!
Sod and Grass
If you like the look of a green lawn, sod is a great idea for starting a new landscape. You don’t have to wait for grass seeds to take root and grow, the lawn immediately looks even, and the recent construction site is quickly transformed into an inviting new home.
Ornamental grasses can also be incorporated to add texture, movement, and framing for the lawn. These hardy plants can often survive winter if a strong root network has been established, and they require little maintenance. Incorporating both cool-season and warm-season ornamental grasses will ensure that you can enjoy these plantings through spring, summer, and fall.
Planning and installing the landscape is one of the most exciting steps of building a new home. Planting the first tree is a momentous occasion as you can envision watching it grow for years to come. Of course, there are a lot of steps before this happy moment, and having a partner to walk you through the process makes it more manageable. If you are thinking of building a new home in the Inland Northwest, get in touch with Adair Homes to learn more.