Looking for inspiration for the yard? Consider creating a native plant garden

Not only can growth native plants in your garden benefit the natural environment, but it can also help local wildlife. “A plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region, ecosystem or habitat without human introduction,” says Mary Phillips, director of Wildlife garden by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). “Native plants have formed relationships with native wildlife for thousands of years, so they provide the best food, shelter and sustainable habitat. “

behaving wood in a wild flower garden

Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images

Native plants help the local ecosystem most when planted in locations that match their growing needs, which Phillips says will help lighten your gardening load as well. “Native plants thrive in soils, moisture and weather in your region, which means less additional watering (which can be a waste) and fewer pest problems that require toxic chemicals. Whether you’re new to gardening with a small balcony or a gardener with a few acres, Phillips says anyone can grow native plants in their backyard. for determining which varieties are original in your area, growing tips and more, Phillips shares his tips for starting a native plant garden ahead of time.

Related: This Santa Fe, New Mexico Garden Is Full Of Colorful Native Plants That Can Withstand The Heat

Determine which plants are native to your area.

If you’re not sure which plants are native to your geographic area, Phillips says the NWF native plant researcher online is a great place to start. “You can enter your zip code to find the plants that host the the greatest number of butterflies and moths to feed birds and other wildlife where you live, ”she explains.

To take the guesswork out of selecting certain native plants, the NWF also offers an assortment of native plant kits designed for various regions that you can have delivered right to your door. “The garden for the collections of native plants of the fauna are backed by science to include Keystone plants that help the greatest number of butterflies, bees and birds in a specific region, ”she explains. “Right now, they’re available in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and parts of the Midwest. , but the more support the program receives, the more plants we can provide to the regions. “

Find the right location.

Once you have an idea of ​​the native plants you would like to grow, Phillips says it’s crucial to select a location in your garden where they will thrive. “Look at your landscape for places where your home garden can receive the appropriate amount of sun and shade,” she explains. “For example, in the northeast, sun-loving natives such as Foxglove Foxglove, Orange Butterfly Grass, and Blue Smooth Aster need at least six hours of sunlight. look at native shade-loving varieties such as wild geranium, broadleaf aster, and greater blue lobelia. “

Prepare the ground.

Before you actually plant your native varieties, Phillips says you’ll need to prepare the soil for planting. “Remove the weeds from the bed first before you plant (and follow them through the season), as they can damage the health of any garden and take over in just one season,” he explains. she. Once the weeds are removed, Phillips recommends adding food compost to the area to create nutrient-rich soil without the need for potentially toxic fertilizers. “The best amendment for a native habitat garden is compost,” she explains. “Compost preserves kitchen waste and naturally enriches the soil.”

Plant a diverse selection.

To ensure your native garden provides an abundance of nectar and pollen year-round, Phillips recommends planting a variety of plants that bloom successively, including early spring, spring, summer and fall. “It’s more interesting for you and for the pollinators,” she explains. “Different species of insects depend on plants for food during the four seasons and a diverse garden will provide that.”

Place your native plants close together to avoid weeds.

When planted densely in your garden, Phillips says native plants can naturally crowd out weeds once they mature, so you won’t need to rely on chemical killers that could. potentially harming local wildlife. “Native plants don’t need chemicals to thrive, just natural compost, and until they fill, a layer of untreated mulch, ”she explains. “After the weather, your animal garden should no longer need mulch, it should be covered with a combination of tall, medium, short, and ground cover plants. to shade the soil and reduce weeds. “

Leon E. Hill

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