Eco-friendly homes involve more than recycling and energy conservation. You can save money and time with green landscaping using native plants. According to wildflower.org, native plants not only add beauty to the landscape, they also help save water, mowing and fertilizer costs and provide a habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife that further enhances your home’s landscape.
The recent trend of using native plants as foundation plantings is becoming more popular because of the beauty and a myriad of other benefits.
Benefits of a Green Landscape
Gardens are green but some are greener when they make good use of native plantings. Here are some of the key benefits to creating a green landscape with native plantings.
- Low maintenance – native plants are designed to survive easily in your area.
- Little or no irrigation – the plants that are natural in your locale have adapted to the available moisture in your soil along with your weather patterns.
- Little or no herbicides – are needed by native plants. They attract insects and microorganisms that keep the plant naturally healthy, so there is no need for environmentally harmful herbicides.
- Wildlife habitat creation – happens magically with native plants create an environment that attracts a diverse array of birds and butterflies.
- Beautiful gardens – are possible with native plants that offer brilliant flowers and fall foliage. You can have a delightful and colorful landscape using a majority of native plants.
- Long term savings – because you'll lose fewer plants, which reduces the need to replace the plants which didn't thrive in your yard.
- Reduce invasive species – because healthy native plants will prevent the invasion of non-native species that threaten the extinction of natural plants, grasses and bushes.
You don't have to rip up your yard all at once to start a native plant project – you can do a section at a time. You won't have trouble finding beautiful and hardy native plants as they're easier to find at your local nursery, now that homeowners are thinking about ways to live more environmentally conscious lives.
Green Landscaping Tips – How to Get Started
Here are tips to help you get started on your eco-friendly journey to a green landscape.
- There are more nurseries promoting and supplying natural plantings. You can find them with internet searches using terms such as “native planting”, “natural landscaping” or “green landscaping”. Remember to add your geographic location to your search as well, such as “native planting in New England”. Don't collect wild native plants for your home project as this will upset the natural ecological balance.
- Before you begin your native plant garden, check out the plants you already have. Learn which plants are native to your area and which are exotic? Which plants do you want to keep and which ones do you plan to replace? Have fun and take a local nature class to learn about the plants native to your area, then include the whole family in your search and gardening activities!
- For any good landscape or garden, planning is essential. Plants have specific needs like sun, shade, water and height, along with blooming times for flowering plants. Whether you prefer the manicured look or a more casual garden, you can use native plants to make it happen. You can also design landscaping that includes plants around the perimeter of your home, deck or patio that will grow to just the right height. One of my favorites is lilacs near the deck so I can enjoy the fragrance as we begin celebrating warm weather outdoors.
- Remember that first year plantings are never at their best, so be patient as you await second and third year bounty and beauty in your landscaping. Take photos your first and second year so that you can see where there are holes and additional plants are needed, and where current ones need containment.
- Unless you are a horticulturalist, it's a good idea to work with a landscaper who understands your local area. Native plants vary widely from one part of the country to another. The right landscaper will be able to test your soil, give you recommendations for natural plant choices, show you photos of lovely natural landscaping and know where to find the right plants for you.
Photo credit to St. Louis Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes.