Compost for Oregon native plants

Asked June 29, 2019, 10:11 PM EDT

I have taken out my lawn and plan to plant all Oregon native plants. Should I use compost before I start planting? What compost should I use? I will have to buy some as I don't compost. I'm in Portland in unincorporated Washington County. My husband had used Weed N Feed on the lawn every spring. Is that still in the soil? Does it dissipate? i'm going to remove the flower boxes in the photo below and replace them with native plants.

Washington County Oregon

5 Responses

Do not amend the soil prior to planting, but do plan to mulch after planting, as with arborist wood chips. Weed and feed won’t likely damage woody plants you put in this fall. Are you wanting to seed directly? Native plants sometimes have more narrow cultural requirements than common garden plants. Soil type, drainage, sun and irrigation are issues to understand for the plants you choose. Contact your County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers to discuss this more. I’ll also provide links to articles about native plants and choosing mulches.

Thank you. I am not planning to seed directly. I'm going to buy plants from Bosky Dell Natives in West Linn. I'll probably wait until September to plant. I' look forward to reading the information you sent. I'll reach out to a volunteer master gardener in Washington County, where I live. There's usually a booth at the Beaverton Farmers Market, too, so I'll try to get over there on Saturday. I'm so glad I don't have to compost first. That's a huge relief! I look forward to getting arborist chips. I had read about those and really like the look of them. Hopefully, I can track some down when I get to that point.

I’m going to swamp you with additional resources. We just finished a unit on native plants in my study group, so I’m unusually well-versed on the topic. Native plants for Willamette Valley Yards is a favorite booklet, from Metro. This is a whole page of native plant publications from OSU. Stretch your budget by including free plants and the Soil and Water Conservation District sources listed. (Bare root sales usually held early in the year.) Garden Smart is another favorite resource. This native plant finder is pretty, useful, and includes more sources to check out. If this comes through without hot links, requiring you to cut & paste, I’m sorry. The software isn’t working well at times. This article gives instructions for planting, watering, and mulching.

Thank you so much. I look forward to going through these materials. I have the Metro Native plants booklet. I just met someone who has the Backyard Habitat Certification and went to see her yard yesterday. She had an extra copy of the booklet and gave it to me. Is there something special I need to do with bare root plants? I don't know what that means exactly. They're not in a pot in soil? Another question I had--is it not a good idea to transplant native plants? There is an untended strip of property adjacent to our lot that has some native plants on it. I've gone to the County land surveyor's office about this property and even after looking at the plot map and existing documents, it was not clear to him who owned that land. It's mostly blackberry bushes, laurel and holly at this point. Would the native plants I found there not do well if I dug those up and planted them in my yard?

Bare root plants are generally dug in winter and moved without soil. Planted well, they establish quickly. About transplanting, or plant “rescue”, I recommend you avoid it when you’re learning about the plants. This is not a scientific recommendation, more personal. You may bring a thug which overruns the plants you like more. You may dig something you think is a desirable plant but turns out to be an invasive type. And accidentally bringing in weeds via the soil, like seeds or parts of roots. In my case, horsetail came in on a bit of fill soil. Bindweed often hitches a ride this way. And pests, like Japanese beetles can be moved in soil. Enjoy your new project. We’ll close this question here, but keep the Master Gardener Volunteers in mind.