Grow Native!

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 15, 2010

issues, regardless of their level of landscaping expertise or the amount of land they have available. Landscaping with natives doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing commitment. We can show you how to add a few native species to an existing border or even create a few native plant containers. My brother, whose "yard" is a second-floor apartment deck, was surprised when in only a few weeks his "patio" containers of columbine, rose verbena and bottlebrush blazing star attracted hummingbirds, butterflies and even a resident toad. It's well documented that songbirds, hummingbirds, butterflies, small mammals and amphibians prefer native plants to exotic species.

Native plants also can make your gardening life easier. Native species have adapted to our temperatures, soil conditions and rainfall. When planted appropriately, they are able to survive the stresses of hot weather and droughts. You also will need fewer pesticides, because native plants have developed natural resistance to our local insects and diseases.

Increasing our use of native plants also results in reducing the threats we face from the introduction of aggressive and potentially destructive exotic plants. Millions of dollars are spent annually on herbicides to control the spread of undesirable exotic plants on public and private lands.

Finally, native plants are beautiful. You can plant them to enhance your landscape's design and create a look that is uniquely your own.

Most people can start using native plants for landscaping with little effort. We recommend that people first draw a map of their property and perform an inventory of existing vegetation. This will give you an idea of how to use different areas and know what plants must be eliminated and what plants should stay. If your yard is connected to existing natural communities, such as a forest, meadow or creek, you can make your yard a natural extension of these habitats.

Another consideration in the planning will be the types of wildlife you would like to attract or benefit. As a general rule, you'll be able to boost the diversity of wildlife visitors to your yard by increasing the diversity of native vegetation. Think like nature, and design like nature. Remember color, texture, ultimate size and seasonal interest.

Grow Native! offers two helpful brochures on native landscaping. They include sample landscape plans and suggested plant lists for any area--sunny or shady, dry or damp. You can pick up a free copy from your local Conservation Department office or write Grow Native! P.O.

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