Mountain Gardens, Native Plants

Mountain Garden Ideas

In today’s post, I provide helpful tips and resources for creating your own magical mountain garden. Our plan is to create perennial gardens to take advantage of the mountain views from our home site. We will be using ornamental and native plants suited for US Hardiness Zone 5b around our future home, as well as along our gravel driveway, property entrance and two existing meadows. We will be keeping many of the existing pines, which will provide shade along parts of the one-mile trail we plan to build. Twelve acres allows us plenty of space to create a trail along ridgelines through the trees and walks into wildflower meadows, as well as mountain views in several spots on our property.

Driveway

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 will help pay for community roads to be plowed and maintained throughout the year.

Natural Garden

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:

Views

Before buying our property, I searched for property for years on websites like Zillow and Realtor.com. By looking at properties online and visiting for the past 20 years, we were able to narrow our search area to the SE corner of the Flathead Valley. Our top priority was mountain views, so 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.

Photo by 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 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 rock. 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?

The 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. 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, 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.

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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