Columbia River Basin

Printing note: This design was created to be 8.5″ x 14″ and the design pdf will print best on legal size paper.

Native Garden Designs Video Series:
Columbia River Basin Discussion with Designer Ann Autrey

Designer Statement


When I first start a design for a client, even before visiting the garden site, I print a Google Earth image of the site and staple it to an information sheet that I will use to collect important information from the homeowner. My goal is to consider the needs of the homeowner. At the site visit, I walk the area with the homeowner listening carefully to what their vision is, and I help them see the path forward to creating the garden. We discuss site preparation, removal of weeds, mulch options, possible pathways, drip irrigation and of course, the plants. Next, I assess the garden site for soil composition, sunlight/shade, availability of water, proximity to roads, driveways, sidewalks, septic systems, and other physical structures. I take photos and measurements to download later for reference when I am designing the garden on the computer.

After the site visit, I create a plant list of the plants that will be best suited for both the site and meet the goals of the homeowner. Many of my clients are interested in attracting birds to their yard, and so I prepare a plant list of the wildflowers, grasses and shrubs that will create a bird friendly environment. Some clients are more interested in water conservation, so their plant list is made up of our hyper-local or xeric plants that thrive on less the ten inches of precipitation per year. After my clients are satisfied with the plant list, I start to work on their garden design. At this point I construct their garden including pathways for accessibility to the garden as well as taking into account normal traffic patterns like the path to the mailbox. When I start to design the plantings, I think about the environment where each plant naturally lives. I group plants in a sustainable manner so that each plant is grouped with plants that thrive in the same environment. My design method is to recreate what I see when in our shrub-steppe, riparian, or foothill regions of Eastern Washington.

For direction on this garden design project, I relied on the compass direction for my initial plan. The front yard is facing south, so intense sun exposure throughout the summer day culminating in the hottest temperatures late in the afternoon. Plants facing west/southwest need to be able to withstand temperatures of over 100 degrees, now occurring more than ever before. Ten to twenty years ago, we may have had 10-15 days in triple digits in one summer, now our region is baking with 35 days over 100 degrees° F (2021) and this year we set a record of 10 days of triple digits in a row! This is our new normal due to climate change and the effects of hotter temperatures also include drought conditions. Our region has been rated in the “Extreme” and “Severe” ranges by drought monitors for the last three years. Fortunately, the native plants in our shrub-steppe can survive the heat and drought for the most part. However, with the routine occurrences of wildfires due to the dry conditions there are species that won’t survive, like Big Sagebrush, which doesn’t grow back after a fire. It is one of the reasons I am so passionate about planting native plants in our home gardens, so we can help preserve species that may not live through the annual fire season and help the native wildlife species that are dependent upon our native flora.

The front yard is planned for sun and heat and minimal water. The backyard, facing north is representative of a riparian region where there is more shade, more dense groupings and more water. The backyard will need to be irrigated and drip irrigation is recommended for maximum efficiency in terms of water placement to the roots of each plant or group of plants. Plants located near the house will benefit from gutters and downspouts that can channel rainwater from the roof. The deck area is great spot to watch all the action of the gardens below – pollinators, hummingbirds, butterflies and other wildlife will make this backyard a place to live and raise their young.

In terms of garden construction, I advise the homeowner not to amend their soil with compost, topsoil, or fertilizer. Our native plants prefer sandy, slightly basic soil, mixed with river rock. We have almost no clay in our soil and some soils in the region have some silt layers. The addition of nitrogen usually kills the xeric plants, so no fertilizer is recommended after planting. The riparian plants need a slightly acidic soil which can be achieved through addition of leaf mulch and or shredded bark.

If a homeowner is wanting to plant in phases after the garden hardscape is installed, I recommend planting the shrubs, trees, and large bunchgrasses first. A survival strategy of our native plants is the extensive root system that moves straight down through the soil in search of water. Big Sagebrush, when mature, has a 30-foot root system! Bunch grasses roots grow 10 feet into the soil and wildflowers are typically at 5-6 feet. Long roots means that these plants are sold at a young age, so their root systems develop after planting. Normally it takes three years to reach maturity for most of our native plants.

Here’s the first phase, the mulch, basalt features, and pathways.

The second phase is the planting of shrubs and trees

The third phase of the garden construction is the planting of the tall, larger wildflowers, shrubs, and grasses that are in front of the shrubs. Xeric plants in the front yard are also added.

The fourth phase fills in more of the backyard and some of the plants by the front door.

The final phase of the garden construction would be the last of the smaller wildflowers.

Front Yard



Antelope Bitterbrush by Walter Siegmund

Antelope Bitterbrush(Purshia tridentata)

Arrowleaf Balsamroot by Leslie Seaton

Arrowleaf Balsamroot(Balsamorhiza sagittata)

Bigleaf Lupine by W. Bulach

Bigleaf Lupine(Lupinus plyphyllus)

Blanket Flower by Syrio

Blanket Flower(Gaillardia aristata)

Blue Flax by Skoch3

Blue Flax(Linum lewisii)

Blue Mountain Clover by Thayne Tuason

Blue Mountain Clover(Dalea ornata)

Bluebunch Wheatgrass by unknown

Bluebunch Wheatgrass(Pseudoroegneria spicata)

Chokecherry by Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA

Chokecherry(Prunus virginiana)

Creeping Oregon Grape by Stephen Lea

Creeping Oregon Grape(Mahonia repens)

Cusick's Sunflower by Thayne Tuason

Cusick's Sunflower(Helianthus cusickii)

Desert Yellow Daisy by Walter Seigmund

Desert Yellow Daisy(Erigeron linearis)

Douglas Spirea by Robert Flogaus-Faust

Douglas Spirea(Spirea douglasi)

Elegant Penstemon by peganum

Elegant Penstemon(Penstemon verustus)

Fringed Sagebrush by Jason Hollinger

Fringed Sagebrush(Artemisia frigida)

Golden Clove Currant by Stan Shebs

Golden Clove Currant(Ribes aureum)

Gray Rabbitbrush by Matt Lavin

Gray Rabbitbrush(Chrysothamnus nauseosus)

Great Basin Wild Rye by Matt Lavin

Great Basin Wild Rye(Leymus cinereus)

Hoary Aster by Stan Shebs

Hoary Aster(Dieteria canescens)

Idaho Fescue by Matt Lavin

Idaho Fescue(Festuca idahoensis)

Indian Rice Grass by Thayne Tuason

Indian Rice Grass(Achnatherum hymenoides)

Kinnickinnick by Mount Ranier National Park

Kinnickinnick(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

Lewis' Mock Orange by Matt Lavin

Lewis' Mock Orange(Philadelphus lewisii)

Little Bluestem Grass by BBC Gardeners World, 2017

Little Bluestem Grass(Schizachyrium scoparium)

Low Green Rabbitbrush by Stan Shebs

Low Green Rabbitbrush(Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus)

Missouri Goldenrod by Ryan Hodnett

Missouri Goldenrod(Soldiago missouriensis)

Munro's Globemallow by Thayne Tuason

Munro's Globemallow(Spaeralcea munroana)

Needle and Thread Grass by Andrey Zharkikh

Needle and Thread Grass(Hesperostipa comata)

Nodding Onion by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Nodding Onion(Allium cernuum)

Oregon Grape by Armin Jagel

Oregon Grape(Mahonia aquifolium)

Oregon Stonecrop by Walter Siegmund

Oregon Stonecrop(Sedum oreganum)

Oregon Sunshine by Thayne Tuason

Oregon Sunshine(Dieteria canescens)

Pale Evening Primrose by Andrey Zharkikh

Pale Evening Primrose(Oenothera pallida)

Prairie Junegrass by Stefan.lefnaer

Prairie Junegrass(Koeleria macrantha)

Prairie Smoke by Revery

Prairie Smoke(Geum triflorum)

Prickly Pear by Jon Eilers

Prickly Pear(Opuntia columbiana)

Purple Sage by Stan Shebs

Purple Sage(Salvia dorrii)

Red Osier Dogwood by Cephas

Red Osier Dogwood(Cornus sericea)

Richardson's Penstemon by Krzysztof Ziarnek

Richardson's Penstemon(Penstemon richardsonii)

Rock Buckwheat by Sheri Hagwood

Rock Buckwheat(Eriogonum sphaerocephalum)

Roundleaf Alumroot by Kurt Stueber

Roundleaf Alumroot(Heuchera cylindrica)

Sand Dropseed by Jim Morefield

Sand Dropseed(Sporobolus cryptandrus)

Sand Penstemon by Sheri Hagwood

Sand Penstemon(Penstemon accuminatus)

Sandberg Bluegrass by Jim Morefield

Sandberg Bluegrass(Poa secunda)

Saskatoon Serviceberry by Krzysztof Ziarnek

Saskatoon Serviceberry(Amelanchier alnifolia)

Scarlet Gilia by John Game

Scarlet Gilia(Ipomopsis aggregata)

Shaggy Daisy by Derek Tilley

Shaggy Daisy(Erigeron pumilus)

Shinyleaf Spirea by Matt Lavin

Shinyleaf Spirea(Spiraea betulifolia)

Showy Daisy by Robert Flougus-Faust

Showy Daisy(Erigeron speciosus)

Showy Milkweed by Matt Lavin

Showy Milkweed(Asclepias speciosa)

Showy Penstemon by Jane Shelby Richardson

Showy Penstemon(Penstemon speciosus)

SILKY LUPINE by Matt Lavin

SILKY LUPINE(Lupinus sericeus)

Snow Buckwheat by Thayne Tuason

Snow Buckwheat(Eriogonum niveum)

Snowberry by Schwarzweisz

Snowberry(Symphoricarpos albus)

Streambank Mallow by Dave Powell

Streambank Mallow(Iliamna rivularis)

Strict Buckwheat by Thayne Tuason

Strict Buckwheat(Eriogonum strictus)

Sulfur Buckwheat by Walter Siegmund

Sulfur Buckwheat(Eriogonum umbellatum)

Threadleaf Daisy by NPS

Threadleaf Daisy(Erigeron filifolius)

Western Columbine by Walter Siegmund

Western Columbine(Aquilegia formosa)

Western Giant Hyssop by Ingram, D.C.

Western Giant Hyssop(Agastache occidentalis)

Wild Strawberry by Robert Flogaus-Faust

Wild Strawberry(Fragaria virginiana)

Winter Fat by Stan Shebs

Winter Fat(Krascheninnikovia lanata)

Wyeth Buckwheat by Stan Shebs

Wyeth Buckwheat(Eriogonum heracleoides)

Yarrow by Peter Gabler

Yarrow(Achilliea millifolium)


Ann Autrey owns and operates a native plant nursery, Tapteal Native Plants, in West Richland, WA. She lives on a small farm with her husband and together they care for 2 horses, 3 goats, 3 sheep, 12 chickens, 3 dogs, and 50,000 honeybees. Horseback riding in the shrub-steppe is one joy that combines her love of horses and native plants!

About Wild Ones

Wild Ones is a non-profit organization that promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities.

Some of the ways Wild Ones strives to accomplish our mission is by providing educational resources and online learning opportunities with respected experts like Wild Ones Honorary Directors Doug Tallamy, Neil Diboll, Heather Holm and Larry Weaner, publishing an award-winning journal and awarding Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Program grants to engage youth in caring for native gardens.

Wild Ones depends on membership fees, donations and gifts from individuals like you to carry out our mission of healing the Earth, one landscape at a time.