Going Native: Using Native Plants in Your Landscape
Deciding on the design and structure of an outdoor landscape can be one of the most challenging, but also most important, decisions you can make for your residential or commercial property. Choosing the best elements to fill your landscape can have lasting social, ecological, and economic benefits that improve life for everyone around.
The problem is, how does one decide exactly which plants should fill the yards, flower beds, and surrounding landscape of a property? Are exotic plants the way to go, or could native plants provide the ideal look and function for your property?
Typically, the answer is to hire the professionals to help. That’s why companies like Twin Oaks Landscape are so important. Their knowledge and expertise enable property owners to find the perfect combination of plant life and greens to beautiful any space.
What exactly is a ‘native plant’?
Native plants are those plants that occur naturally in a region or area. What many do not realize is not every grass is common to every location. Not all plants, trees or flowers will thrive in every region. Some plants, no matter how beautiful or appealing they may be, may cause more harm than good once planted. Plants that are native to a region have adapted over time to the natural conditions of that location; these factors include sunlight, moisture/water, soil content, and air or wind conditions.
These adaptations make such plants ideally suited for specific environments. Many exotic plants -those not native to a region- may become invasive species which can be detrimental to the landscape. It’s for this reason that many landscape experts are encouraging the use of native plants to fill local yards.
Why are Native plants a perfect centerpiece for any landscape?
When deciding how to landscape a yard or property, there are many factors to consider. How will this make the yard look? Will the final landscape blend well with the other neighboring properties surrounding it? How much is it going to cost to plant or install? How much will it cost to maintain? Will we be able to care for these plants ourselves, or will they require the special care of a landscape expert or horticulturalist?
The decision to choose native plants versus exotic plants will greatly impact the answers to these questions and others. For those who are considering an all-native plant landscape and may still have questions, here are several reasons why native plants would be the ideal addition to any property.
Plants that have adapted over time to thrive in each unique environment won’t require excessive time and effort to keep them alive. These plants, once they’ve taken root, will grow naturally because the environment is well suited to provide exactly what they need.
Because plants in this category grow well under natural conditions, they often don’t require synthetic pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers to keep them alive. This means that other birds, animals and insects that depend on your plants for survival will not be harmed by dangerous chemicals. This eliminates harmful chemical runoff into the soil and water. Since they are low maintenance and typically don’t require fertilizers or chemicals to help them grow, they often don’t need many tools or machines to help with the process, either. That means fewer gasoline emissions being spread into the environment. This is a win-win for everybody.
Improve Water Conservation Efforts
Differing plant groups require various amounts of water throughout their lifecycles to continue to grow. Plants that are best suited for a particular environment will grow well under normal rainfall. However, exotic plants not native to a region may require additional water to thrive well. Sprinkler systems are often the solution. Higher amounts of water used for maintaining a landscape will mean higher water bills for you. Using native plants in your landscape will mean less water consumption for you and lower water costs for your wallet.
A Balanced Ecosystem
Many birds, insects, and animals only live in specific regions and are naturally attracted to specific plants within those regions. These living creatures all contribute in various ways to the overall balanced function of nature. Exotic plants that are brought into a non-native landscape may attract other animals or insects that could be harmful to the rest of the landscape. Many exotic plants are also known as invasive species. This means that, if they grow too well within their non-natural habitat, they could become overgrown and choke out naturally growing plants that should grow in that space.
These plants often provide bright, colorful options that showcase the beauty of the landscape without appearing out of place. As the seasons and weather change in a region, these native plants will often perfectly compliment these changes. Apple trees and lilacs, for example, don’t grow well in Florida. Similarly, there are many exotic plant types that could grow in states like Michigan but may look a bit out of place next to a hardy Blue Spruce or a spray of Forget-me-nots.
Promote Sustainable Landscapes
Native plants are adapted to best grow in certain environments. When their roots are established, they help to reduce ground erosion. In regions like the Great Lakes states, for example, native plants also play a key role in helping to protect fresh lake water. Such plants naturally remove nutrients from the ground that would otherwise travel to the lakes through run-off. If those nutrients were to reach the lakeshores, they could contribute to the growth of harmful algae that affect the quality of drinking water for millions of people and animals.
It’s Time To Go Native
Are you exploring landscaping options for your yard or property in southeast or south central Michigan and wonder if native plant varieties are a wise investment? The experts at Twin Oaks Landscape can help you discover the many benefits of a native plant landscape and can design a central focal point feature that will provide you with economical, aesthetic, and ecological benefits that will last for years to come. Contact us today at 734-231-6911 to discover the possibilities that await.