Green Your Yard with Native Plants

      Now's the time to plan for and plant natives in your yard. Native plants attract beautiful song birds, reduce maintenance needs, and can thrive without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Metro natural gardening expert Carl Grimm showed us how to help make our yards healthy and safe with native plants.

      Plant natives for feathered friends, and family
      Native plants are great because they attract the native song birds, pollinators and diverse beneficial insects that help your garden grow without toxic chemicals. Native plants make it easy to declare your yard a pesticide-free zone so your children, pets, rivers and streams are kept safe from chemical exposures.

      Always start with a good plan
      The first step is to make a map and take some pictures so you can plan out your ideal yard. If you live in the Portland metropolitan region, start your base map by going clicking here and typing in your address and clicking the aerial photo option. Then use that to help you make a scale drawing of your yard, including existing trees, shrubs, fences, and other features. Measure the actual distances to make sure you get them right. Make several copies so you can sketch different ideas for what you have and what you want. When planning the plantings, it's best to start with the larger trees, then go to shrubs and then fill in with the smaller plants.

      Remember "right plant, right place"
      To find the right plants for your yard, be sure to match the sun, soil and water needs of the plants to what you actually have in your yard. If they're adapted to the conditions you have and planted with enough space to grow, you'll have a low-maintenance yard that can thrive without chemicals. Visit gardens to see what looks good this season. Salal, sword fern, evergreen huckleberry, red twig dogwood, coniferous trees like Douglas fir (if you have room for 'em), and various native roses are great choices for many yards.

      Find native plants at local sales and nurseries
      Our many partners in the region offer great plant sales with amazing prices. Check out East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District for a sale happening right now (they also give free Naturescaping workshops region-wide). Metro, Oregon State University Extension Service and more than three dozen local nurseries also offer a $5 off coupon for native plants.

      For a free native plant booklet full of planting ideas, and for $5 -off coupons to local nurseries, give us a call at Metro at 234-3000, or head to

      For a searchable clean water services native plant database, click here.

      For a list of EcoBiz-certified landscapers, click here.

      For Oregon Tilth Organic Land Care accredited landscapers, click here.