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Gardening on JBLM and beyond

Resources and rules to brighten your green thumb

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Welcome to Zone 8b. Gardening in Western Washington may be a new experience for you with changes in temperature, soil types and other conditions, however, if you had a green thumb where you lived before, with a little know how and planning, your plants should fit right in. Of course, there are a few things to know to make your garden grow.

First, if planning to raise plants on base, you should consult the rules for gardening on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). For a quick video explanation, check out JBLM in 10's video here:  Basic landscaping is included for all housing residents on base. According to a JBLM housing newsletter dated July 2018, the rules are:

1. On your lawn service day, you will need to ensure that your lawn is free of toys and personal belongings so the mowers can cut your grass.

2. You can have one large non-movable item in your yard such as a swing set or trampoline. Please see your District Office for Outdoor Policies. The mowers will cut within two feet of the item. You will be responsible to cut the grass under and the two feet around the item.

3. You may choose to maintain your own lawn if desired. Contact your District Office for a sign to put in your window.

4. If the home you live in has a fence either provided or installed by you, you are responsible for the maintenance of your yard. All flowerbeds adjacent to your home are your responsibility to maintain weed-free. Failure to maintain may result in fines.

There are also community gardens on JBLM. For roughly $25 a year, gardeners can maintain a 4-foot by 10-foot plot on McChord Field or on Lewis North.  Community gardens are available to all with access to JBLM, and they are located by the horse stables with rakes, compost, and water hoses provided. To see a complete story on how to get started with a community plot, visit:

Off the base, most anything goes, unless you live in a planned community with home owner rules (check those rules before you start mapping out plans). A great place to orientate yourself before choosing plants is to visit the local WSU Extension at This is where the master gardeners hang out to answer questions and post tons of helpful tips for planting in Western Washington. Also make plans to attend the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in February for classes and to pick up plant starts, bulbs and more.  Info on the Seattle show is here:

Finally, explore local show gardens and tours for other ideas on what grows great here. To get started, visit:

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