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

Native alternatives to the commonly used Honeysuckle

Photos: Honeysuckle www.kevinsonger.blogspot.com,

Winterberry www.claytonvnps.org,

Spicebush www.imakemybeer.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.

Subdivision Lawns

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:

Best Native Alternative Plants

Photo credits below*

 

See these an more native alternative plants on our Pinterest board: Plant This… Not That!  Find out more about native plants at IRWP.com.

 

Additional Resources:

Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

 

Related Posts:

Watershed Landscape: Nature’s Leftovers

Watershed Landscape: Top 10 Native Plants to Plant This Fall

Watershed Landscape: Rain Gardens… A Blooming Good Idea!

 


 

*Picture Sources:

Inkberry Holly: www.boshanceensy.com

Boxwood: www.efboxwood.com

Nandina: www.gardensenses.blogspot.com

Virginia Sweetspire: www.flickr.com

Wintercreeper: www.panoramio.com

Crossvine: www.richardlyonsnursery.com

Maiden Grass: www.gardenerdirect.com

Little Bluestem: www.sandybottom.com

Loosestrife: www.commons.wikimedia.org

Prairie Blazing Star: www.insectamonarca.wordpress.com