Mountain Gardens, Native Plants

Mountain Garden Ideas

We have beautiful views from the build site of our 12+ acre property, which is located in the foothills of the Swan Range. We are lucky to have lots of pine trees, included Douglas-fir, Ponderosa, and Western Larch, which turns a beautiful golden color in the fall before shedding its needles.

Although we have a great build site, there will be plenty to do in the garden once the house is built. In today’s post, I will share helpful tips and resources to help you create your own magical mountain garden.


Our property is located at the end of a community road and the gravel driveway continues for another quarter mile before coming around the corner to a view of our future home. It is beautiful right now, but we will need a lot more gravel, as well as add fruit trees, veggies, native grasses, and flowers to the area near the driveway and around the home. We feel extremely lucky to share this space with wildlife, including bears, cougars, deer and other critters, so we’ll need to install electric fencing to discourage the wildlife from eating it all.

Natural Garden

We love Piet Oudolf & Henk Gerritsen’s book, Planting the Natural Garden, which encourages you to let your garden go to seed in the fall. Using perennial and native plants, including grasses, flowers, and trees will help build a resilient and healthy garden. In addition, you will want to take into account each plant’s color, texture, structure, wildlife food sources, and seasonal interest to ensure a successful garden.

Check local listing in your area for native and perennial garden centers to help you select the best plants for your site. There are many garden centers close to our property, including these local nurseries that will help us design our Zone 4 garden:


Before buying our property, I searched websites like Zillow and for many, many years. By visiting Montana over a period of 20 years and looking at properties online, we were able to narrow our search area. In addition, one of our top priorities was having mountain views. Once we were ready to buy, I contacted a local realtor and booked our flight.

Since buying, we have removed a few trees to open up the mountain views from our build site. To ensure a natural setting and keep your privacy, you will want to keep as many trees as possible. We’ll enjoy a view of this meadow from our home.

Majestic Meadows

Like so many properties in the west, our home will be built in a Wildfire Zone, which means we must include a defensible space surrounding our home. A defensible space includes removing trees close to your home and adding sprinklers. The graphic below illustrates the best practices for properly prepare a wildfire defensible space around your home.

Garden Slopes

I know many people prefer a flat lot, which has its advantages, but a slopped garden offers so many more options to get creative. For example, our home will sit above the rest of our property and will be nestled among the trees and garden. We will help stabilize the slope on our build site by creating a natural looking boulder out-cropping planted with beautiful plants to draw your eye out to the mountain views.

To create the out-cropping we will hand pick our boulders, then bury the widest part of each. Choosing a few flat angled rocks that slope towards the view will help your eye travel in the direction intended. You’ll want to rent equipment or hire a landscape professional to move heavy boulders.

Native Plants

Add native low growing ground covers that send roots deep into the soil to stabilize a slope. A native wildflower and grass garden will look great most of the year, plus if not cut back it could provide seeds in the winter. A garden should beckon you outside and providing a covered porch offers shelter year-round. Visit your local native nursery or check out this site to learn more Native Ideals Seed Farm | Native Wildflower Seeds | Why Native Flowers?

Anyone feel like a walk through the woods?

We plan to create path through our 12 acres to enjoy various vantage points, spots to rest, and surprises along the way. A flat, level lot offers fewer opportunities for surprising visitors. Whereas a sloped, winding path naturally creates more interest. We expect the finished trail to be about a one-mile loop around our property. The trail will travel through a shady, cool pine forest, include spots to relax, and a bit of garden whimsy.

A comfy bench sitting in the sun or shade pulls you forward into another part of the garden.

A sturdy stone wetland path allows for a closer look without damaging a fragile ecosystem. Your path could be wooden boards that zigzag across instead of stones.

A path that includes a bit of garden whimsy offers unexpected surprises, which could include outdoor sculptures and art made from wood, metal, and/or stone.

I hope you found some inspiration for your own garden. I would love to see and hear about your garden, so feel free to share it in the comments. I hope you will explore my site and subscribe so that you will never miss a post, which includes garden, travel, and interior design tips.

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