Traditional landscaping is notoriously centered on what looks good. Often times, what looks good isn't exactly "good" for the ground... or the local climate. Sure, green grass is pretty and those plants that need a lot of water look nice, but they may not belong in your yard.
Thankfully, more landscapers and everyday gardeners who enjoy tending an attractive yard are relearning landscaping. This process means keeping the native plants that already thrive in your region and yard (often referred to as the "W word" -- weeds), and learning about new native plants you can plant that will inevitably thrive.
Native plants are great for many reasons, but we love 'em because: 1. they are low maintenance (because they are local to the climate), and 2. they don't suck up a ton of excess water. But, unfortunately, as PlantNative.org points out, most people are conditioned to pull out native plants when they start landscaping because many of us consider native plants to be weeds. The plants people tend to choose to plant in their yards are common in most commercial nurseries. And these plants, while not evil, are definitely not sold based on their ecological properties -- they are sold for their looks. After all, that's what traditional landscaping is known for!
However, naturescaping, also known as natural landscaping, is based on what grows well locally. "They do not need the life support of watering (except during establishment) or regular synthetic chemicals -- they do not require fertilizer beyond that provided naturally and they are not prone to the diseases of many industrial plants," reports PlantNative.
Growing native plants also can help restore natural land. One area where restoration is quite important is in states with native prairie land. Native grasses and flowering plants are imperative for these types of natural transformations. (Read more about one organic farming couples transition to growing native plants at Mother Earth News.)
If you're looking to add some native plants to your yard, you can get seeds from any of the nurseries listed here. And while you can start planting whenever you'd like (the plants will just require more attention and water), the best time to start your "native yard" is from late fall to early spring, when everything is dormant.
Have you made the switch to natural landscaping? What has it done for your yard and water bill?
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Native plants photo from Shutterstock