Guemes Island, Doe`s Place, Skagit, WA
Featured Site Created By Sally Peyou
Our homes are truly what we make them. They are a reflection of our hard work, ethics, and values. Sally Peyou’s property in Skagit, Washington, demonstrates her willingness to work hard in the face of a seemingly impossible task: eliminating a large non-native lawn and transforming her entire yard back into native gardens. It has been a little more than two years since she purchased this property, but she has worked tirelessly to clean-up the poorly maintained gardens that were overrun with non-natives. Since beginning this work native wildlife has returned to her property.
What work has been done to improve this site for birds and other wildlife? How long did it take?
We purchased the property about two and a half years ago. The area we now call the Meadow, was a mess! It had been used by the previous owners for horse boarding and dog breeding purposes. There were huge piles of building debris and old wire fencing scattered around. Once we removed all the debris the area was quickly reclaimed by native berries and Cow Parsnip (Heracleum). The woods on the southern section of the property had been kept in a natural state and all we needed to do was keep the invasive plants, like Evergreen Blackberries and English Ivy, in check. The original owners had made beautiful gardens with rhododendrons, lilacs, camellias, apples, plums, and hazelnut trees. We chose to remove invasive plants like Butterfly Bush and have been able to restore the best parts of the previously well-cared for gardens.
What are some successes that you've seen since the improvements were made? (alternatively, "What are you most proud of, or excited to share about this site?")
We are so pleased to see the resilience of the Pacific Northwest landscape as illustrated by the return of native plants to the scarred pasture area. Our yard is a haven for bumblebees and other pollinators. The forest and berry hedges provide food and shelter for wildlife. Once they are fully established the berry hedges will be low maintenance. We are in the process of removing the non-native grass lawn by heavily mulching over it, and replacing it with native perennials. We hope to be a lawn-mower free property by next summer!
Are there any tough decisions that had to be made regarding its management? How were they handled?
The hardest decision we had to make was to have a large Douglas Fir tree removed as the roots were lifting the foundation of the cabin. We had the tree milled here on the property. We made garden benches and tables for our yard and donated the rest to a local island artist who used the wood for furniture and boat building.