For a garden that supports birds, wildlife, and the food web, choose plants that are native to your area. Science has shown us that these can support more life than ornamental species from other regions.
What are native plants?
Native plants are those which naturally occur in a region. The opposite of a native plant is one from a different part of the world. Many people garden with species that are ornamental, rather than using natives.
Why are native plants important?
Many people wonder why native plants are better for the environment. All kinds of plants can produce oxygen. And many are attractive to pollinators. So what makes natives so important?
The answer has to do with ecology. Native birds, wildlife, butterflies, and bees rely on your garden. And preserving these native animals requires gardening with plants that match their needs. Gardening with ornamental plants from other parts of the world can provide some food for local wildlife. But natives can support the most forms of life.
What plants are native to my area?
To find out what plants are native to your area, you can check these resources. Search the National Wildlife Federation’s native plant finder using your Zip Code in the U.S. While you’re there, you can join the Certified Wildlife Habitat program and get a sign to put in your yard. In Canada, search CanPlant to find natives.
You can also check with your state or local university extension office to connect with other gardeners. Join local garden groups and explore opportunities for education related to sustainable gardening.
Where can I get native plants?
If you’re ready to add natives to your garden, shop at a nursery that specializes in native plants. You can also shop online nurseries that serve your area. Choose natives has a list of nurseries that do mail-order as well.
Your soil probably contains seeds from many native species. If you’re adventurous and can learn to identify seedlings, try letting a section of your lawn grow out. Chances are, many of the naturally occurring sprouts will be natives.
Another way to acquire natives is to grow them from seeds. You can collect seeds in the spring and fall from areas around your home. And your local library or university extension office may host a seed-exchange program.
Choosing the right plants for the right place
You’ll need to consider factors like light levels, wet and dry areas, and the pH of your soil when choosing what species of plants to buy. If you need help, unlawn experts can create a plan for you.
How to create a native plant garden
If you want photo opportunities and videos of nature in your own back yard, unlawn can help you turn your grass lawn into a habitat. Whether you want to support pollinators or grow a forest, we can help you plan your unlawn project from start to finish.
If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, read The Unlawning Guide to learn everything you need to know about native plant gardening.