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Gardening with Native Plants

Native plants are surging in popularity for landscape and garden design, and there is a good reason the trend is continuing.

Homeowners that opt to use native species of flowers, shrubs and trees for gardening find they are ecologically beneficial and less troublesome to maintain.

Let's take a look at how going "native" can increase the beauty and health of your garden and local wildlife.

What is a Native Plant?

Plants that evolve and grow naturally in any given region are known as a native species. These plants are the basis of survival for other life, such as insects, birds, animals, and even people.

Local wildlife has a co-dependant relationship with such plants. Many use the plants as a food source or for shelter. The plants rely on the wildlife to spread their seed or pollen so they can procreate.

Plants native to an area have adaptations that tolerate the soil conditions, pests and diseases, and climate changes within that region.

Plants native to dry regions tend to develop long tap roots to reach for moisture deep within the ground or have succulent-type leaves that retain water for use during dry spells.

These adaptations make gardening with native plants of plants much more successful since they need much less care to stay healthy.

Advantages of Planting Native

Native animals and plants have a symbiotic relationship, offering many benefits to both parties.

Planting non-native flowers and plants in a garden may encourage the pests that don't bother native species to devour the newly-introduced plants. The time and expense of constant tending to or replacing poorly performing non-native plants can add up.

Local wildlife attracted to native pollen or nectar may find no reward when sampling plants from the local garden center that originate in far-off countries.

When the wildlife moves on from your garden in search of better plants for food or shelter, expect to see a drop in flower pollination and seed spreading found in a naturally-biodiverse native garden experience.

Here are other common ways using native plantings help your garden:

  • Natives require little or no fertilizer to thrive
  • Natives build robust root systems that help prevent soil erosion
  • Natives need less water to survive which reduces watering needs and costs
  • Most natives "prune" themselves naturally or grow more compactly
  • Native flowers display strong, abundant blooms
  • Natives form a natural resilience to disease and pests, which means less environmental impact from fungicides and pesticides that leach into the soil or waterways

Homeowners who choose to cover large areas of their property with native plants can reap the benefit of not having to mow grass, which reduces pollution from running gas mowers and cuts down on regular yard-maintenance chores.

The air quality also improves when you use natives for cover over large areas. Instead of using that section of property for outbuildings or cement patios, the plants can bring vital oxygen to space while reducing carbon dioxide, for a real "breath of fresh air!"