Neighborhood Native Landscaping Program

The Neighborhood Native Landscaping Program (NNLP) invites Birch Bay and Lake Whatcom watershed homeowners (outside city limits) to convert existing lawns and landscaping into native plant gardens. An important part of NNLP is getting a group of close neighbors (generally within walking distance) to participate, resulting in a cluster of native landscaping projects that are installed during a neighborhood planting party. Participating homeowners will be provided with planting plans, permitting, materials (plants and mulch), and installation assistance, free of charge. During a fall planting party, they will work with their neighbors and staff to get their projects in the ground. The end result is a group of beautiful, low-maintenance yards that protect water quality and improve habitat.


Capacity is limited to around 10-15 participants per year in each watershed, depending on available funding. At this time, all NNLP participants have been selected for 2023. By filling out the interest form below, your name will be placed on a waiting list, and you will be contacted in early 2024 for further consideration. Due to our new “cluster” model, the more of your neighbors who sign up, the more likely your neighborhood will be selected to participate.

Birch Bay Watershed Interest Form  |  Lake Whatcom Watershed Interest Form

A contractor blowing mulch into a garden
Two homeowners standing in their native plant garden with a We Love Our Native Plant Garden sign


Late Winter - Early Spring

  • Step 1: Contact Us- Fill out the interest form and share it with your neighbors! Project areas are selected when there is interest from multiple neighbors close together.


  • Step 2: Site Visit- If your neighborhood is selected, our staff will schedule a site visit to your property to discuss the program and options for your project.
  • Step 3: Planning, Paperwork & Permitting - Our staff will work with you to select landscaping locations and discuss site-appropriate native plant species. After the site map is finalized and maintenance agreements are signed, our staff will obtain the necessary permitting.


  • Step 4: Develop the Planting Plan- Homeowners will work with staff to select plant species based on site-specific conditions and recommendations.
  • Step 5: Project Prep- Homeowner will prep the site for mulch installation and provide any aesthetic improvements, such as edging or decorative hardscaping. Our staff will hire crews to install cardboard and blow in mulch. 


  • Step 6: Planting Party- Homeowners and neighbors collaborate with our staff on a neighborhood planting party.
  • Step 7: Enjoy your new, beautiful, low-maintenance native plant garden!

Benefits of Planting Native Trees and Shrubs

  • Colorful attractive landscaping  year round
  • No more lawn to mow – save time and money!
  • Attract native pollinators and wildlife
  • Help filter runoff from your roof or lawn
  • Low to no maintenance after the first three years
  • No more irrigation needed for a green garden
  • No more fertilizers or pesticides
  • Provide healthy habitat and reduce your carbon footprint

Homeowner Incentive Program (HIP)

Historically, the Homeowner Incentive Program (HIP) was utilized by Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham to encourage Lake Whatcom watershed landowners to implement projects that improve water quality. Improvements included native plantings, rain gardens, and drainage upgrades. While the City of Bellingham still utilizes HIP, Whatcom County has transitioned to the NNLP for residents outside of city limits.

red flowering current in bloom with pink flowers


The NNLP is a partnership between Whatcom County, Whatcom Conservation District, and Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management (BBWARM) District.

Neighbors planting native plants at a work party