What’s a native plant garden?

As the long awaited spring approaches the Northeast homeowners all over are looking for ways to make their gardens sustainable and ecologically friendly. For those looking to save time, water, and money, the growing trend of “native plant” gardens is increasingly popular.


Native plants are those plants indigenous to your particular region. Unlike non-native species, native plants have an evolutionary advantage: They’re used to the soil, climate, rainfall averages, and availability of pollinating insects and seed dispersing animals. Typically, the require a lot less water and attention. As a result, they tend to survive well and require less maintenance (and seasonal replacement).


Native gardens also attract native wildlife and provide vital natural habitats for animals whose green space has been displaced by construction and development. To create a National Wildlife Federation certified wildlife habitat, you simply need to meet four criteria:


1. Provide food (native plants and feeders work)

2. Provide water (typically in a bird bath or other water feature)

3. Create cover (places where wildlife can seek refuge from predators or weather)

4. Give wildlife a place to raise young (at least two: nesting boxes, host plants, water features, etc.)


So how do you know which plants are native to your region? One resource is the American Beauties Native Plants website (http://www.abnativeplants.com/). Another useful resource is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's Native Plant Information Network (http://www.wildflower.org/explore/).


Most major garden centers will also be able to direct you to native plants as well as help you create a plan that fits your budget and goals. A beautiful garden can be a major component of your home’s curb appeal. Consider doing double duty for your home and the local wildlife by exploring a native plant garden.


Looking for local landscapers and garden centers? Talk to me! I’ll connect you with those I respect and recommend.