Buying or building a new NC mountain home is a large investment and one that needs to be protected and preserved. Additionally, preserving the natural beauty of a mountain setting is equally important.
Climate, amount of rainfall, nativity and zone should all be considered when planning the landscape for a new piece of mountain real estate. The mountains of Western North Carolina fall into zones 5-6, depending on elevation.
Native Plants in the Mountains in and around Asheville, NC
By utilizing natural plants, you will be celebrating the history of the area by putting good land management practices into place and will also ensure that the landscaping fits into the region's natural plan. Some benefits of using native North Carolina plants include: a.: food and shelter for native animals; b.: better survival rate; and c.: water conservation -- native plants can withstand drought conditions.
Selecting plants for your NC Mountain home is more involved than many other zones because of elevation and the amount of sunlight a mountain area may provide.
For instance, if planting in Asheville, you may be dealing with a true zone 6, but if you move to a higher mountain elevation, the zone is more likely to be a zone 5.
Native plants in western North Carolina include: ground cover, grasses, perennials, shrubs and trees of all types. Chestnut Oak, White Pine, Eastern Redbud, Dogwood, Sourwood, Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron, Doghobble, Alumroot, Bluestem and Fescue are among the many choices available.
Rain gardens include perennials, which are not only native to the mountains of Western North Carolina, but also to many portions of the country. Plants in these gardens include, in part, Joe-Pye Weed, Coneflower, Aster, Southern Blue Flag Iris, and Black-Eyed Susan.
Ruth Uffelman, a certified North Carolina plant professional at Reems Creek Nursery in Weaverville, NC says, "that while people often ask for a plant that is 'drought tolerant,'" she explains that no plant is drought tolerant until a year or two after it has been properly cared for and is stabilized to its new location."
She says that most buyers are inspired by what is in bloom for that season. For the spring and summer, annuals will provide plenty of wonderful color to accent any NC mountain home. She recommends a blend of local, native plants and non-aversive varieties from similar zones for best results.
NC Mountain Real Estate: Combine Conservation and Beauty
What truly embodies the Asheville, NC region is its natural beauty. So, when landscaping a new North Carolina mountain home, conserving the natural beauty of the area is essential.
Whisper Mountain in Madison County, NC, is a prime example of a mountain community that works to match their home building design closely with landscaping and responsible land-management practices.
Whisper Mountain's Entrance and their Sky Valley Lodge's landscaping display their commitment to preserve and recreate the natural beauty which is NC mountain real estate's greatest asset.
Jim Wolfe, Owner, Coniston Farms Nursery and Landscaping Construction in Arden, NC is in the process of putting the finishing touches on the development's key amenities.
"We pick cultivars -- plants that have been selected and given a unique name because they have desirable characteristics that will work in this setting," he says.
Varieties currently being used at Whisper Mountain include: Blue Spruce, White Spruce, Norway Spruce, American Hollies and River Birch, Native Maples, Cultivars Rhodendrons, and the ever popular azaleas.
Wolfe adds, "We are also using Dwarf and semi-Dwarf plants. Dwarf will grow 5-10 feet in 10 years and semi dwarfs will flourish 15-20 feet in 10 years. The advantage to this is that the trees will be less affected by drought and high winds.
Whisper Mountain's landscape architects, LaQuatra Bonci and Associates are working with Wolfe to integrate sound ecological and stewardship design principles. -
Rodney Porter is the managing landscape architect at La Quatra Bonci. "We approached this project from the standpoint of working with what was already on the land at Whisper Mountain," Porter said. "There are many temperature variations in this environment, so as an alternative to using the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, we simply determined which plants already existed in this specific region and incorporated those."
Wolfe recommends checking the NCDA website for Nursery and Landscape licensing information at http://www.ncagr.com.