When planning your landscaping projects, the plants that you use can have as dramatic of an effect on the finished product as placement does. It is important to keep in mind that, unlike putting in a new bath or kitchen, or adding an extension to your home, your landscaping is not a one-time project. You cannot simply establish your landscape and then walk away from it.
Anything that you put in is going to require long term care and maintenance. Using native plants in your landscape can offer some distinct advantages, creating a visually appealing setting while reducing the amount of time and energy you have to commit over the long-haul.
Preventing an Invasion
One of the biggest problems with using exotic plants is that these species can be highly invasive, taking over an area and upsetting the natural ecosystem. Not only do these species of plants compete for space and resources with native plants, but they can have dramatic effects on the types of animal and insect life surrounding your home. Over time, exotic plants can extend beyond the boundaries of your property and become a public problem.
Using native plants in your landscape design can help to eliminate this risk. Native plants are less likely to overtake your landscape. Since they are a part of the pre-existing local flora, if they do propagate beyond your property lines, it is also less of an issue. By using native plants, you are also playing a role in conserving your local ecosystem, providing a safe haven for local fauna. This is a definite added bonus for homeowners who enjoy the visual appeal of having birds and other small animals around the property.
Native plants are acclimated to thrive in your local environment. This means that they will general do well under the natural conditions of sunlight and rainfall in your locality, without an excessive amount of maintenance on your part. Of course, this does not mean in all cases that you can simply dig a whole, pop in a native plant, then walk away. All flora requires some degree of maintenance. However, since natives are better suited to the amount of resources naturally available, the amount of time you have to spend watering, fertilizing and otherwise caring for them is significantly reduced.
Exotic species can require a much greater degree of care. They can require much more water, or in some cases much less water, necessitating taking excessive measures to moderate the drainage of your property. Even worse, they can become resource hogs, competing with and even killing other plants, decreasing the overall success of your landscape design.
Where to Find Natives
Your local plant nursery can be an excellent resource for researching plants native to your area. Most small nurseries are avid supporters of native landscaping and will be happy to help you with designing your project. You may be surprised by just how large of a selection there actually is for your area. You will likely discover that the many of the plants native to your region can easily match any exotic species for visual appeal and allow you to design a stunning and much more easily maintained landscape.