Most likely, you’ve never thought of your garden as a wildlife preserve that represents the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the United States. But according to Doug Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home”, that is exactly the role our suburban landscapes are now playing, and will play even more critically in the near future.
Native plants are those that occur naturally in an area. Native species have evolved over time with the biological and physical factors specific to their region such as soil, climate, and rainfall. Because native plants are adapted to local soils and climate conditions, they generally require less watering and fertilizing than non-natives do. Natives are often more resistant to insects and disease as well, and so are less likely to need pesticides. This is good news for both the environment and the gardener. Best of all, local and migratory wildlife is adapted to using native plant species for food, cover, and rearing young. Wildlife species evolve with plants; therefore, they use native plant communities as their habitat. Using native plants in the landscape helps preserve the balance and beauty of natural ecosystems.
As more land in the US is being used for commercial and residential growth, land is being cleared of native plants. Bringing native plants back into communities, whether it is in home gardens or community landscaping, will help in the preservation of natural plants to the area. City and home planners who decide to preserve the land’s native plants are taking active steps in keeping plants from the endangered species list.
If you’re lucky enough to get a place with native plants, preserve them. If not, here are some good reasons to turn your lawn into a native garden:
• For ease: Native plants properly sited and planted are hardy and adapted to normal weather extremes.
• For wildlife: Native plants provide food and shelter for 10 to 15 times as many species of native wildlife as non-native plants.
• For wild pollinators: Native plants support wild pollinators vital for fruit production and other foods we eat.
• For water savings: Native plants normally get the moisture they need from rain, while a 1000 square foot lawn requires 10,000 gallons of water per summer to keep it green.
• For air quality: Native plants don’t require motorized equipment, while lawn mowers, string trimmers and leaf blowers emit 10 to 34 times more hydrocarbon than a typical car!
• For beauty: In a world that is becoming increasingly homogenized, using native plants can help us blend our land and buildings into the surrounding environment, creating a landscape that is regional, unique and beautiful.
A backyard filled with native flowers, shrubs and trees provides habitat, color and beauty. Please take advantage of the many resources provided on this website to help you create a nature preserve in your own back yard!