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Washington State – a brief history

The area containing what is now known as the state of Washington was inhabited by as many as 125 recognizably different native American tribes speaking up to 50 distinct languages long before European settlement of the area. The main tribes found in Northwest coastal regions were Chinook, Lummi, Quinault, Makah, Quileute, and Snohomish. Tribes in the Plateau area included the Klickitat, Cayuse, Nez Percé, Okanogan, Palouse, Spokane, Wenatchee, and Yakama. Even in the present day, the state of Washington is home to over 20 Indian reservations.

Following several European landings, the first of which was in 1774 by a Spanish ship, the area was explored and influenced by Europeans from Spain, Britain, and the fledgling United States. Lewis and Clark were sent there by President Thomas Jefferson in 1805. While trading and exploring continued in the area, true settlements were only established by the 1830s. By that time, Spain had ceded any claims, and there were joint agreements in place between the Americans and the British.

Finally, in 1846, the U.S. and Britain resolved its border disputes and mutually agreed that Britain would retain lands to the north of the 49th parallel, and the U.S. claimed lands south of that line. This established the present-day border between Canada and the United States in that region.

The Oregon Territory was born in 1848, comprised of the area containing what we know as the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho plus pieces of Montana and Wyoming. When Oregon was named a state in 1859, a reapportioning of lands took place, with Washington territory starting to take shape. On November 11, 1889, Washington was admitted as the 42nd state of the Union.


The Cascades of Washington serves as the dividing line between two different climate zones. To the west, the summers are humid with temperatures seldom going above 79 degrees. In the winter, it is rare to see the thermometer go below 46. Western Washington experiences frequent fog and drizzle. East of the Cascades, it is much dryer and cooler. Average low temperatures in the eastern region can be in the low 20s.

Growers and mowers in eastern Washington.

When attempting to establish a lawn in eastern Washington, it is recommended by Washington State University Extension to use a mix containing primarily Kentucky bluegrass along with fine fescue. If the yard is partially shaded, up to 30% of the fine-leaved fescue is reasonable. The fescue contributes shade loving and low maintenance qualities while the Kentucky bluegrass stands up to the cold. The mix could also include perennial turf type ryegrass, perhaps 10-15%, to give the yard faster germination and ground cover.

Go west, green grass.

For those living in the western region, a mixture of turf type tall fescue and perennial ryegrasses are the recommended choice according to WSU Extension. Your mixture should add up to about 90% of those two kinds of grass in some combination. For areas with a lot of sun or heavy foot traffic, increase the perennial ryegrass percentage. Since tall fescues are better suited to shade, adjust that percentage according to your situation. An alternate choice would be a mix of fine fescues or chewings fescue. A caveat is that fine fescue would not be the best choice for heavy traffic areas.

Once you have that yard all lush and green and everything planted the way you want it, the last thing you want is to spend hours keeping it that way. Use Lawn Love’s lawn services and spend the time you save exploring the beauty of Washington State.


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