Many people don't realize the importance of planting native plants. Native plants promote biodiversity and stewardship of our natural heritage, provide shelter and food for wildlife and support pollinators, and attract a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by providing diverse habitats and food sources. In this blog we will explore why it is so important to plant only native plants in your garden or yard!
Native plants provide diverse habitats for wildlife. Native plants are well adapted to local soils, water availability, weather conditions and other environmental factors. This makes native plants more likely to thrive in your landscape without requiring much effort on the part of gardeners or land managers!
Planting native plants require less fertilizer and pesticides, saving you time and money, as well as helping the enviorment. When large amounts of fetilizer and pesticides are used on lawns, excess materials run off into lakes and rivers, causing increased algae growth and contamination, therefore depleting oxygen in our waters, harms aquatic life and interfering with recreational uses.
In the U.S., approximately 20 million acres of lawn are cultivated, covering more land than any single crop, and this is not beneficial to native wildlife. Likewise, gardens that mostly feature non-native species of plants offer little benefit to wildlife. Natural landscaping is an opportunity to reestablish diverse native plants, bringing birds and pollinators back.
Natural landscapes are easier to manage as a homeowner because they don't require mowing or much maintenance. Lawns, however, must be mowed regularly. About forty million lawnmowers consume 200 million gallons of gasoline per year, while overall, gas-powered garden tools emit 5% of the nation’s air pollution. This contributes to global warming, while native plants remove carbon from the air.
Native plants also help you to use less water. In urban areas, lawn irrigation uses as much as 30% of the water consumption on the East Coast and up to 60% on the West Coast. The deep root systems of many native plants increase the soil’s capacity to store water. Native plants can significantly reduce water runoff and, consequently, flooding.
Native plants provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife, while contributing to healthy soil and water in urban and rural areas.
The National Wildlife Federation has a native plant finder to help you find native plants for your area: https://www.nwf.org/nativeplantfinder