No more grass! But not just dirt...

Asked February 20, 2020, 5:50 PM EST

...what can I plant instead? We've just finished installing a new septic pump tank and drain field, which will soon be backfilled....leaving us with a dirt yard. We also have 6 beautiful Dougs standing tall in that yard. They match the 6 in the front yard and altogether, our twelve giants provide a very pleasant space under their canopy. But of course, the shade, water consumption, and needle blanket make it hard for anything to grow underneath them. While we have no interest in trying to grow any sort of lawn/grass, we would like to encourage some sort of ground cover, so it's not just dust in the summers and dirt/mud all winter. We'd like something hardy, walkable, requiring little water, and even less maintenance...and native, above most other concerns. What can we plant under our friends, that provides a lush aesthetic, won't harm/hinder the Douglas Firs, and expects little-to-no attention to thrive?

Snohomish County Washington

1 Response

Thank you for your question. Now you understand Mother Nature’s dilemma! Especially in the forest. It is your chance to work with, as opposed to, against the factors in the PNW. I think the following publication has a wide variety of PNW native plants, many of which will meet your needs: https://www.oregonmetro.gov/native-plants-willamette-valley-yards-booklet (Not limited to Oregon, by the way.) Your county Extension office may have other sales, courses and information: https://extension.wsu.edu/snohomish/ Good luck!