Without a doubt, our most environmentally vital service is our native plantings. While turf grass can be an aesthetically pleasing and functional feature in a landscape, as well as carbon sequestering (and yes – can be grown and maintained without synthetic fertilizers and herbicides), ultimately the widespread trend of lawns, which at this point take up over 40 million acres of our country, gives nothing back to the earth ecologically speaking.
Home and property owners each have the power within their own domain to bolster their local ecology with native plants. Landscapes filled with low maintenance natives save you time, water, and money, and provide a food source for cornerstone insect species as well as native birds and small mammals. There are an array of native shrubs, flowering perennials, and trees that when properly placed can ensure an aesthetically pleasing, colorful garden late into the harvest season.
What we fill our yards with does have an impact – alien invasives often spread into our nature preserves and outcompete natives, creating a detrimental dilemma for pollinators and other species that are evolutionarily specialized to coexist with native plants. When our yards are filled with ecological dead-ends, we are ignoring the incredible potential we have to be a net positive to our local ecology.
Visit the native plants section of our educational blog for more information on specific natives for your property!
Asclepias tuberosa (common name: Butterfly Milkweed) is a beautiful flowering perennial and also the only food source for the beloved Monarch butterfly – it is a staple of our native gardens.
The seeds produced by some of our favorite native flowers are a food source for native birds and support them in the overwintering process.
Native oaks are a food source for over 500 cornerstone insect species. By having even one small native oak in your landscape, your yard will be an ecological hotspot hundreds of times over to a neighbor’s property that is filled with large non-native trees.