Native Plant Design aka NatureScaping  

Here's a good description of native and non-native plants provided by the EPA. 

What is a Native Plant? Native plants (also called indigenous plants) are plants that have evolved over thousands of years in a particular region. They have adapted to the geography, hydrology, and climate of that region. Native plants occur in communities, that is, they have evolved together with other plants. As a result, a community of native plants provides habitat for a variety of native wildlife species such as songbirds and butterflies. 

What is a Non-Native Plant? Non-native plants (also called non-indigenous plants, invasive plants, exotic species, or weeds) are plants that have been introduced into an environment in which they did not evolve. Introduction of non-native plants into our landscape has been both accidental and deliberate. Purple loosestrife, for example, was introduced from Europe in the 1800's in ship ballast and as a medicinal herb and ornamental plant. It quickly spread and can now be found in 42 states.  

In general, aggressive, non-native plants have no enemies or controls to limit their spread. As they move in, complex native plant communities, with hundreds of different plant species supporting wildlife, will be converted to a monoculture. This means the community of plants and animals is simplified, with most plant species disappearing, leaving only the non-native plant population intact. 

Why use native plants?  

  • Native plants do not require fertilizers.  
  • Native plants require fewer pesticides than lawns.  
  • Native plants require less water than lawns.  
  • Native plants help reduce air pollution.  
  • Native plants provide shelter and food for wildlife.  
  • Native plants promote biodiversity and stewardship of our natural heritage.  
  • Native plants save money.  

So now, it should seem a no-brainer to have at least a part of your yard or garden full of native plants. The best way to have native plants is to not remove them in the first place! If possible, don't look at your native vegetation as an overgrowth of weeds and scrub. Natives can be pruned effectively to integrate with your introduced non-native species for a garden that is sensitive to the needs of people. 

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John Stuart Leslie John Stuart Leslie, MLA, Licensed Landscape Contractor holds a Masters in Landscape Architecture where he studied Xeriscape, Permaculture and Natural Ecosystem Design and Planning.