The next time you plan a landscaping project, consider using only native plants. A native plant is generally described as a plant that occurs naturally in a particular region, state, ecosystem or habitat without human actions.
Although our nurseries and garden centers are full of exotic plants which boast vivid flowers, beautiful foliage and interesting designs, it is important to remember that many of these plants are not native to the area in which you live.
Why does the native vs. exotic plants discussion matter?
Using exotic plants in your landscape can cause a variety of problems. First of which is that they are hard to grow. Why? Because they are likely not meant to live in your particular climate. And that results in more maintenance, more watering and more fertilizers and pesticides.
More maintenance means more of your time. It also means more money out of your pocket. The water needed to nourish these plants, along with the expense of chemical fertilizers and pest controls, can take a nice chunk out of your landscape budget.
And while we’re on the topic of synthetic fertilizers and pest control products, we need to consider the damage these products may have on our health, our soil, our water system and our environment.
Every time you spray a chemical onto one of your plants, it eventually makes its way into the soil and into the water system. The effect of these chemicals on our bodies and our environment have not been proven or disproven, so it is best to avoid them altogether, if possible. And depending upon your climate, that may mean eliminating exotic plants from your landscape.
Advantages of Native Plants
Now that we have discussed the disadvantages of exotic plants, let’s discuss the many benefits of native plants in our landscapes.
Native plants, particularly those in new developments where much of the natural foliage and vegetation have been wiped out, help to restore the delicate ecosystem, which then benefits both plants and animals.
Native plants, other than when first planted, are not water-dependant, which means that you need not watch in horror as your water bill skyrockets.
Native plants also provide a place for birds and wildlife to nest and take cover. Birds and other wildlife, such as squirrels, mice and chipmunks, recognize native plants and are more likely to make their home in them.
Because native plants are used to your particular area’s weather and soil conditions, they are less likely to need fertilizers and pest control products to thrive. That means fewer chemicals in your soil and water supply, and more money in your wallet.
Native plants also serve our ecosystem by providing seeds, nuts, fruits and insects for birds, butterflies and animals.
The best part of using native plants in your landscape may be the fact that they are generally less expensive than their exotic counterparts, and are often just as beautiful.
Talk with your local nursery or garden center for recommendations on hearty, native plants for your landscape.