In today’s post, I provide helpful resources for creating your own magical mountain garden and share our perennial garden plan which includes stunning mountain views. We’ll keep most of the pines, but gently thin out some trees removing damaged and crowded ones. The additional landscaping will include ornamental and native plants (US Hardiness Zone 4b) that complement our setting, home and views. More plants, including wildflowers will be added in two small meadows, along the gravel driveway and at our property entrance. The 12+ acre property has larch, fir and pines which provide cover and shade for a deer path that traverses our land. We’ll use part of this path to create a 1-mile loop trail that follow ridgelines, spills out into sunny wildflower meadows, and spots to enjoy the mountain views.
Our 1/4-mile gravel driveway begins at the end of a community road, where you drive through pine trees a bit before opening up to a pretty meadow. Turn right and head up a few feet to our future Mountain Modern home. The driveway is functional now, but it will need more gravel before, during and after our home is built. Adding culverts or gullies to the road and raised build site will move water without causing erosion. We’ll maintain it ourselves, including removing snow, so we’re considering getting a 4-Wheeler. This versatile vehicle has many attachments, including a plow to move dirt, gravel or snow and a wagon to carry wood, plants, and rocks. Our HOA fees pay for community roads to be plowed and maintained throughout the year.
Many species of wildlife, including bears, cougars, and deer call this place home, so providing food and shelter for birds and other small creatures is important to us. Installing an electric fence around our veggie garden and other fencing around the perennial garden will discourage the wildlife.
We love Piet Oudolf & Henk Gerritsen’s book, Planting the Natural Garden, which recommends that you leave seed heads in the fall for the animals. 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. We are lucky to have tons of Douglas-fir, Ponderosa, and Western Larch trees, which provide plenty of privacy. The Larch trees turn a beautiful golden color in the fall before shedding all their needles for winter.
You can find helpful gardening tips in this post:
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:
- Center for Native Plants, Whitefish @ http://www.centerfornativeplants.com
- Four Seasons Nursery, Kalispell @ http://www.fourseasonsnurserymt.com
- Plant Land, Kalispell @ http://www.plant-land.com
- Wild Geese Gardens, Kalispell @ http://www.wildgeesegardens.com
When we started our property search, views were at the top of my list. Our dreams came true with Swan Range views from our build site and several other spots located within our Majestic Meadows. To expose the view from our build site we removed a few pines. We enjoy our privacy and a natural park setting, so we’ll keep most of the trees.
Like many properties, we’ll have micro-climates created by slopes, ridgelines, trees, fences, hardscapes and buildings. These areas can create cold or warm pockets that you’ll want to observe and consider before adding new hardscapes or landscaping.
Pro Tip: To find your perfect home create and save searches on websites such as Zillow and Realtor.com use some or all of the following search criteria:
- Home Type: Land, Single Family, Townhome, Condo, etc.
- Number of Beds & Baths
- Mountain Views: Check photos for ground-level mountain views and not just aerial views
- Price Range
- Geographic Search Area
- HOA Preference and Max Fee
Saving searches and getting updates on these sites will provide new listing notifications and pricing trends in your favorite spots.
Like so many properties in the west, our home will be built in a Wildfire Zone, which means we need to create a defensible space from wildfires around our home. We will remove trees close to our home, install sprinklers around home, bury propane tanks, as well as the following strategies:
I know many people prefer a flat lot, but a slopped garden offers so many more options to get creative. For example, our home will sit on a raised site overlooking meadows and gardens that flow into nearby trees. We will stabilize the natural slopes by adding a few large boulders, mixed in with smaller ones. Mixing the boulders with flowers and interesting foliage will draw your eye to the views.
To create a natural boulder setting we will hand pick our boulders, then bury the widest part of each rock, as the picture below illustrates. Be sure to vary your size and choose a few flat angled rocks to point towards the view or special plant. If you’re not sure how to create safe slopes, you’ll want to hire a landscape professional. We will rent equipment to help us contour our land, move dirt, plants and heavy boulders.
Adding native low ground covers that send roots deep into the soil will stabilize our slope. A native wildflower and grass garden will look great most of the year. Plus leaving the seed pods will provide food and interest in winter. A garden should beckon you outside and providing a covered porch will offer 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?
Our garden path will allow us to enjoy various vantage points, spots to rest, and surprises along the way. A sloped lot has many opportunities to surprise visitors and naturally creates more interest. The trail will travel through a shady, cool pine forest, wildflower meadows, 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.
We’re excited to share this journey and 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. You’ll find lots more by simply exploring some of my other posts and be sure to subscribe below to never miss a post.
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