Native Landscape

Landscaping with native plants has many benefits

Story by Meredith S. Jensen

Choosing what plants to use in your garden or landscaping is one of the greatest joys in life for a gardener. Whether its picking out spring’s seeds in the bleak midwinter to walking into your local greenhouse as the weather begins to break, the promise of flowers and lush greenery can make one feel giddy like a child. Fan that enthusiasm with a little local love and landscape your yard with native plants.

To get local, shop local. Garden centers, nurseries and farmers markets throughout the region carry indigenous plants. With locations in Marietta and Athens, Greenleaf Landscapes offers a wide array of plants native to the Mid Ohio Valley. Garrett Lang, a landscape designer for Greenleaf, said growing a perennial native garden can be helpful in many ways.

[Gardening with native plants] has many different benefits,” he said. “For one, you’re not introducing a new species to the area. Different plants can bring diseases or insects that could harm native species.”

Lang said native perennials are a good economical choice as well; you don’t have to buy them every year like you do annuals.

I like using annuals as color for entryways and decorative pots, but if you’re putting in a native garden, unless you have money to throw away, perennials are so much better,” he said. “They come back every year, you can split them, transplant them, give them away to friends, etc. Lots of annuals aren’t native because they grow in a warmer climate. Down south that plant might be a perennial, but farther north it may not survive the cold.”

Indigenous florae help out native bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and other organisms that depend on certain host plants. As birds, insects, and other animals evolved, plants did, too. Many of them adapted specifically to attract certain pollinator species during certain seasons and vice versa. Remove native flowers from the equation, and you risk removing your pollinators as well.

Tons of perennials attract pollinators,” Lang said. “Bee balm, for example, attracts hummingbirds and bees in the late summer. Butterflies like the blackeyed susan, which is a native wildflower, but we plant it in landscapes. It’s really easy to grow.”

The plants and wildflowers in our region thrive in our forests, meadows, fields, and highway medians. They’ve adapted to endure throughout all seasons and provide the best habitat for local wildlife. If they can thrive under 10,000 years of challenges, they can thrive under your green thumb. Your local pollinators will thank you.