When selecting plants in Western Washington for your landscape design and construction project, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. These include the soil type, sunlight availability, growth habits of the plant, and whether the plant is native or non-native to the region. Each of these factors can greatly impact the success and overall health of your garden or landscaping project. In this blog, we will explore these considerations in detail and provide insights on how to make informed decisions when selecting plants for Western Washington.

Soil Types

Western Washington has a diverse range of soil types, each with its own characteristics and suitability for different plants. It is important to consider the soil type when selecting plants for your garden or landscaping project.

Clay Soils

One common soil type in Western Washington is clay soil. Clay soil tends to be heavy and dense, which can make it difficult for water to drain properly. This can lead to waterlogged soil conditions, which may not be suitable for all plants. However, there are plants that can thrive in clay soil, such as clump-forming plants and groundcover plants. These plants have strong root systems that can penetrate the dense soil and help with water drainage.

Silt Soils

Silty soil is another soil type found in Western Washington. It is characterized by its smooth, fine texture, which is a result of the high proportion of silt particles. Silty soil is often fertile and retains moisture well, making it ideal for plant growth. It has good drainage properties and can hold nutrients effectively. However, silty soil can become compacted easily and may need to be amended with organic matter to improve its structure. Plants that are well-suited for silty soil include upright plants, climber plants, slow-growing plants, and fast-growing plants. These plants can take advantage of the soil’s moisture-retaining properties while also benefiting from its nutrient-rich composition.

Sandy Soils

Another soil type found in Western Washington is sandy soil. Sandy soil is loose and drains quickly, which can cause nutrients to leach out of the soil. This can make it challenging for plants to obtain the necessary nutrients for growth. However, there are plants that are well-suited for sandy soil, such as non-native plants and native plants that are adapted to coastal environments. These plants have adapted to the nutrient-poor conditions of sandy soil and can thrive in these conditions.

Loam Soil

In addition to clay and sandy soil, Western Washington also has loam soil, which is a combination of sand, silt, and clay. Loam soil is considered ideal for gardening because it has good drainage while retaining moisture and nutrients. This soil type is suitable for a wide range of plants, including upright plants, climber plants, slow-growing plants, and fast-growing plants.

Creating the optimal soil conditions

To create optimal soil conditions, it is important to identify your soil type. In Western Washington, the soil types are clay, sandy, and loam. Each type requires specific amendments. Clay soil needs improved drainage, sandy soil needs more nutrients and water-holding capacity, and loam soil may need improvements in structure and drainage. By understanding your soil type and making the necessary amendments, you can create the best growing environment for plants in Western Washington.

On the other hand, plants for sunny areas in Western Washington should be able to tolerate the higher temperatures and drier conditions that often accompany full sun exposure. Plants that are well-suited for sunny areas in Western Washington include drought-tolerant native plants, such as lavender and yarrow, as well as heat-loving non-native plants, such as succulents and ornamental grasses.

In conclusion, when selecting plants for Western Washington, it is important to consider the soil type. Different plants have different soil preferences, and understanding the characteristics of the soil in your area can help you choose plants that will thrive in your garden or landscaping project.


When selecting plants for a specific area, it is crucial to consider the amount of sunlight that the planting area receives. The amount of sunlight a plant receives directly affects its growth and overall health. Some plants thrive in full sun, while others prefer partial shade or full shade. By taking into account the sunlight requirements of the plants you choose, you can ensure that they will thrive in your garden or landscaping project.

Planting in a Sunny Area?

In Western Washington, where the climate can vary, it is important to select plants that can tolerate the specific sunlight conditions of the area. For sunny areas in Western Washington, plants should be able to withstand higher temperatures and drier conditions that often accompany full sun exposure. Drought-tolerant native plants like lavender and yarrow are plants well-suited for sunny areas in Western Washington. Additionally, heat-loving non-native plants like succulents and ornamental grasses can also thrive in these conditions.

Planting in a Shaded Area?

On the other hand, shaded areas in Western Washington may have less direct sunlight and lower light levels. Plants that are suitable for shaded areas should be able to tolerate lower light conditions and still grow well. Some plants that thrive in shaded areas include ferns, hostas, and certain types of groundcover plants.

Planting in a Partial Share Area?

A partial shade area can provide a unique planting environment in Western Washington. While it may not receive direct sunlight for the entire day, it still offers some light exposure. This can be beneficial for certain plants that prefer a balance between shade and sun. Partial shade areas can create a more diverse and interesting landscape, as different plant species can be grown in this type of environment. However, it is important to note that the specific amount of shade and sunlight may vary in different partial shade areas, so it is essential to choose plants that can tolerate partial share. Additionally, regular monitoring and adjusting of watering and care practices may be required to ensure the optimal growth of plants in a partial shade area.

Native or non-native plants

Choosing the right plants for your garden in Western Washington requires careful consideration. One aspect to consider is whether to opt for native or non-native plants. Let’s explore the benefits of each option:

Native Plants:

Native plants are species that naturally occur in a specific region. Here are a few benefits of choosing native plants for your garden in Western Washington:

  • Adaptability: Native plants have adapted to the local climate, soil conditions, and pests over time. They are well-suited to the unique environmental conditions of Western Washington, including the region’s frequent rainfall.
  • Ecological Value: Native plants provide important habitat and food sources for local wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and bees. By choosing native plants, you can support the biodiversity of the region and help maintain the natural balance of the ecosystem.
  • Low Maintenance: Native plants are often well-adapted to the local conditions, reducing the need for excessive watering, fertilizers, and pesticides. They can require less maintenance and be more resilient to pests and diseases.

Non-Native Plants:

Non-native plants, also known as exotic or introduced plants, are species that are not native to the region. While they may not have naturally occurred in Western Washington, there are still benefits to incorporating non-native plants in your garden:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Non-native plants can introduce a wider range of colors, shapes, and textures to your garden. They can add diversity and create unique visual interest.
  • Extended Blooming Periods: Some non-native plants can bloom for longer periods or at different times compared to native plants. This can provide continuous blooms throughout the growing season, adding beauty and color to your garden.
  • Adaptability to Specific Conditions: Non-native plants may be better suited to specific soil types, light conditions, or microclimates in Western Washington. They can offer a wider selection of plants that thrive in particular areas of your garden.

It is important to strike a balance between native and non-native plants in your garden. Native plants contribute to the local ecosystem, while non-native plants can enhance the aesthetic appeal and provide unique benefits. Consider your garden goals, the specific conditions of your site, and the environmental impact when selecting plants for your garden in Western Washington.

Plant Growth Habits

When selecting plants for your garden in Western Washington, it is important to consider the different types of growth habits they exhibit. Understanding the growth habits of plants can help you create a well-balanced and visually appealing plant palette. Here are some common growth habits and why they are important to consider:

  • Mat-forming: Mat-forming plants, also known as groundcover plants, have a low, spreading growth habit. They are ideal for filling in empty spaces and creating a dense carpet-like effect in your garden. These plants can help suppress weeds, reduce soil erosion, and provide a lush and green appearance to your landscape.
  • Upright growth: Plants with an upright growth habit have a vertical or erect posture. These plants can add height and structure to your garden. They are often used as focal points or to create a sense of verticality in the landscape. Upright plants can also provide privacy, act as windbreaks, and serve as backdrops for other plants.
  • Fast-growing: Fast-growing plants have the ability to quickly establish themselves and fill in spaces in your garden. They can provide instant gratification by rapidly adding volume and greenery. Fast-growing plants are especially useful if you want to create a dense and full garden quickly. However, they may require more maintenance, such as regular pruning and monitoring for invasive tendencies.
  • Slow-growing: Slow-growing plants have a more restrained growth rate and tend to maintain a compact size. These plants are ideal for smaller gardens or areas where you want to control their size. Slow-growing plants often have more intricate and detailed foliage, making them perfect for close-up observation. They generally require less maintenance and pruning compared to fast-growing plants.
  • Climbers: Climbing plants have a natural tendency to climb structures or other plants to reach sunlight. They can add vertical interest to your garden by covering walls, trellises, or fences. Climbing plants are also useful for creating privacy screens or shading areas of your garden. However, they may require additional support structures and regular pruning to maintain their shape and prevent them from becoming invasive.
  • Clump-forming: Clump-forming plants have a tight, dense growth habit and tend to grow in clumps or groups. They are often used to create borders, fill in gaps, or provide a focal point in the garden. Clump-forming plants can add structure and definition to your landscape. They are typically low-maintenance and can help prevent soil erosion.



When choosing plants for a garden in Western Washington, consider the soil type, sunlight conditions, growth habits, and use native plants. These factors will help ensure the success and sustainability of the garden in the region’s unique conditions.



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