Plant This…Not That! Native Alternatives to Everyday Plants
Some of our common landscape plants are often times over-utilized in the landscape, and do not provide any benefits other than they are donned ‘low-maintenance.’ Choosing a native plant for your landscape will provide both beautiful and restorative effects and will help to build biodiversity in the watershed.
Native alternatives to the commonly used Honeysuckle
Photos: Honeysuckle www.kevinsonger.blogspot.com,
The lack of biodiversity in landscape plantings can result in sterile environments, or monocultures of simplified ecosystems. For example, in the U.S., approximately 20 million acres of lawn are cultivated, covering more land than any single crop (U.S. EPA). Grass lawns do not allow much stormwater to soak into the ground, causing excess stormwater and flooding in our community’s waterways.
Suburban lawns feature mostly grass, approximately 20 million acres of it in the U.S.
Photo: Al Cambrone
Plants like the evergreen vine, Winter Creeper (Euonymus fortunei), are also highly invasive species, meaning that they have the capability to out-compete native plant species and can be detrimental to plant and animal communities, literally taking over!
Replacing common plants with native plants can be something easy and positive you can do in our watershed! There are plenty of native plant selections for this area (over 2,000 species!) and many of them resemble (or look even better than!) common, over-used plants.
Fast Facts about Natives:
- They have extensive root systems that allow stormwater to soak into the ground, where we need it most!
- They require less water to survive once established, which saves money!
- Native plants require little or NO fertilizer or pesticides!
- They help reduce air pollution
- They help provide shelter and food for wildlife
- Provide biodiversity and stewardship of our natural heritage
(Source: U.S. EPA, Green Landscaping)
Here are excellent alternative landscape plants to be considered:
Photo credits below*
Inkberry Holly: www.boshanceensy.com
Virginia Sweetspire: www.flickr.com
Maiden Grass: www.gardenerdirect.com
Little Bluestem: www.sandybottom.com
Prairie Blazing Star: www.insectamonarca.wordpress.com