Landscaping with native plants

Cultivating native plants

Growing roots takes time and energy. Imagine the nutrients those strong roots gather to send to showier plant parts. The show is worth waiting for. Every native landscape is a work in progress. If a species fails to grow well in your planting, a flourishing species may expand in to the open space. Marvel at the workings of the community you help create.

1. Get to know your site. Several factors determine which species and preparation suit your site:


2. Budget. A native planting is a long-term landscape investment; it can be built in phases. How much can you spend now?


3. Create a wish list of species for your site. Visit natural areas to see how local natives grow; consult planting and identification guides. To help you choose species, some producers provide a cultural guide, or species list which includes each plant's site requirements, bloom color and bloom time.

4. Shop for native plant materials. Look for sources selling seed and plants produced from seed of local origin. Some considerations:


5. Prepare and plant the site.


6. Manage. "Low maintenance" does not mean "no maintenance." Mainly the first few growing seasons require maintenance. How will weeds be controlled? A few inches of wet chopped leaf mulch choke weeds and support seedlings on small areas. In prairie/savanna plantings plan to mow before weeds reach 6-12 inches or hand weed small sites. Long term either burn after the third year, then every 3-6 years as needed or mow on same schedule, removing clippings.

Practice patience and more patience. Every native landscape is a work in progress. The show is worth waiting for.