Gardening in Des Moines in September

by Liz Sanborn
King County Master Gardener

I was trying to decide what to write my gardening blog about this month and then I visited my mother-in-law’s garden in Normandy Park and had my answer.  When Charlotte’s house was designed and built about thirteen years ago there was no lawn in the design.  With the kids grown and no dogs at home a garden without a lawn was a great solution for her shady spot near Puget Sound.

The garden was first designed with a wide pathway that meanders from the street parking to her front door. This path was compacted gravel – a great material for our wet weather – allowing rain water to soak into the ground instead of running off.


The second thing we did was visit Marenako’s  Rock Center in Issaquah and pick out several large boulders to help shape the beds and give the garden a naturalistic look.  We had these rocks delivered and placed by Marenako’s. They are experts in rock placement and were very helpful in deciding where the rocks should be placed and how deep they should be “planted” to look natural. I will say this- it looked like a lot of rocks when the beds were empty but  when the plants began to grow and mature the  rocks faded  into the background – playing a key role in the garden, but no longer a  starring role.



The trees and shrubs  were planted next   and then the perennials to fill in the gaps and add color. The garden has changed a lot over the years – as some plants grew too large for their surroundings and others did not thrive, but the premise remained the same. A lot of interesting textures and colors with minimum maintenance.  Concentrating on shrubs and trees keeps the maintenance down. Perennials are used to give the garden some color but they are not the main focus.


This garden looks good every day of the year. This was one of our goals and thirteen years later it still holds true.


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