Try Eco-Friendly Native Plants for the Landscape

Many homeowners are looking for ways to make eco-friendly choices in their landscapes. One of the easiest ways is by using regionally native plants. It benefits the homeowner as well as the environment. The conversion to eco-friendly native plants doesn’t have to be done all at once. Just rethinking plant choices the next time a home landscape job occurs is a great place to start. It doesn’t matter if the landscape covers acres, a tiny urban lot or somewhere in between. Every homeowner can include eco-friendly native plants.

An eco-friendly native plant is simply a plant that is indigenous to a particular region. A plant that’s native to an area has been in that region for possibly thousands of years and has adapted to the soil and climate in ways non-native (or non-indigenous) plants usually can’t do. Eco-friendly native plants naturally occur as groups of different plant varieties that have evolved together in a region. These large varieties of native plants to a particular region have also been supporting the native wildlife and birds that are adapted to the same region. Allowing native plants and trees to become extinct can upset the entire balance of the environment in that region.

For the homeowner, eco-friendly native plants have many advantages. Native plants are just so much easier for the homeowner to maintain. An eco-friendly native tree, flower or grass for the region is naturally going to be hardier than a non-indigenous type. They’ve developed the ability to fight pests and diseases that cause a non-native plant to struggle to survive.

Of course, eco-friendly native plants can be just as beautiful as exotic plants. Since they are naturally adapted to their environment, native plants won’t easily succumb to pests and diseases. This alone will have a huge impact on the environment in an eco-friendly way. All of the chemicals used in a typical home landscape to control insects and diseases will be eliminated with the use of native plants. Chemical fertilizers won’t be needed and native plants are accustomed to the climate and rainfall for the region. All of these things add up to a cleaner environment and much less maintenance and water requirements for the homeowner.

An even worse case scenario for the non-native plant is adapting too well to its new location. This type of non-native is known as an aggressive or invasive plant. Plants can almost be compared to animals in their natural habitat. There is a balance that occurs with predator and prey. A really aggressive non-native plant doesn’t have any way to be kept in check with the ecosystem. It spreads out of control and destroys native plants in its path. A good example of this is kudzu. If you’re familiar with this invasive non-native, no further explanation is needed. An eco-friendly native plant can’t compete with an extremely invasive non-native plant that has no natural enemy to keep it in control.

It just requires a little research on the homeowners part to begin incorporating eco-friendly native plants in the landscape. The first step is to find what plants are native for your region. A great way to begin is finding local eco-friendly native plant nurseries by region. A good website to check is NativePlant.org – this site has lists of nurseries by states that sell native plants. It’s not such a large list that it’s overwhelming and the nurseries have links to visit their website.

Once a list of native plant nurseries is located, then there are few things to keep in mind when shopping. A reputable native plant nursery will welcome questions about how and where the native plants originated. Native plants are often endangered species and shouldn’t be dug from the wild. That defeats the purpose of protecting the last remaining native plants. They should instead be nursery propagated from seeds or cuttings. Also, native plants will usually do better if the nursery grows them in the region where they’re native. To find out more about growing eco-friendly native plants, you can visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website or try the nonprofit agency Wild Ones for a wealth of information and resources on native plants.

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