In their field of work, landscaping experts in Creve Coeur, Missouri must consider many things. Besides combining different landscape design elements, they must also make sure that its living components (i.e., the plants) thrive and mature into their desired state.
Although some plants can grow anywhere, there are those which are native or endemic to a specific area. Even lawn grasses have different varieties that do well in certain places better than others. These are the most preferred in the field of landscaping.
This article will teach you all about native plants – what they are, and why and how they are used in landscaping.
What are native plants?
Before diving into the hows and whys of choosing plants for a landscape, your landscape contractor must first think about the “what.” To be more specific, they must choose what plants to include in the landscape.
As mentioned earlier, native plants are preferred by most landscape professionals. To understand why this is the case, one must first look into what they are.
Native plants are those that grow and thrive in a specific area. They’re not the same thing as wild plants, though the terms are often used interchangeably.
While wild plants grow without human help in planting and cultivation, some of these species were initially introduced by people, whether deliberately or not. These “wild” plants are not considered native.
A plant can be considered genuinely native to an area if observed growing wild within the vicinity from the very beginning. This includes plants that evolved through the years and those carried by land animals, birds, water, and wind.
In short, if there’s human intervention – whether on purpose or not – then the plant species is not considered native, regardless of how long it has been thriving and how far it has spread in a particular area.
Why go native?
Native plants are commonly used in landscaping or other projects that involve growing plants because of these three key benefits:
They thrive well in the climate.
No amount of lawn treatment in Chesterfield, Missouri can make cold-season grass last forever in a place situated in the warm-season zone. This much is true for any other type of plant.
Sure, you can grow some unusual varieties under controlled conditions in a nursery. But when it comes to landscaping, the plants that thrive well in the climate where they are planted (without any human intervention or adjustment) have higher chances of survival.
Since native plants are adapted to the local climate, they are more likely to survive the weather patterns and conditions in the area – be it drought or the icy cold temperatures of winter. They also handle diseases and pests better than non-natives. Some may have even evolved one way or another to protect themselves from being eaten by animals and insects.
They need less water.
Based on a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 30 percent of Americans’ water consumption is spent outdoors. The agency also noted that places with dryer climates in the Southwest use up most of the estimated nine billion gallons of water consumed in the country every day.
With native plants, you get to save on water bills since they can survive even without regular watering. Besides that, you also get to contribute to the protection of the water supply in your area.
They survive with little effort on your part.
When a plant is native to your area, it will require little effort on your part to survive. This means that, when placed in a landscape, native plants can thrive even without a lot of attention from you.
They won’t require fertilization or treatment for pests. In most cases, they won’t even need frequent watering, except when they are still young.
You can also easily predict their maximum size once they reach maturity and plan for the spacing and layout of your garden without the need to trim them down to size.
In short, native plants are low maintenance plants.
Landscaping with Native Plants: 3 Factors to Consider
Sticking to plants native in your area narrows down your options considerably, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have only a handful of options. The truth is that you’ll still need to reduce the options further to what’s most suited for specific landscape design.
To ensure that native plants survive and provide the benefits listed above, you must first make sure they fit the site you will put them in.
Take a closer look at the area and determine whether the spot where you intend to plant specific species is sunny or shaded most of the day. You also need to know the type of soil available and wind exposure in the area.
Is there a microclimate? Is it flat or sloped? Take note of these, too.
All these are factors that will help you choose the best plants for your landscape. As such, you must devote enough time and research to get familiar with each native plant’s qualities and environmental needs.
Flowers provide color throughout the growing season, not to mention they attract bees, butterflies, and other natural pollinators that help other plants reproduce. If you want to have flowers throughout the year, you must plan your landscape with bloom succession in mind.
When picking native flowering plants, consider listing down those that bloom every season. Learn about their life cycles and how long their blooms last. This will ensure that you’ll have a beautiful landscape all-year-round.
Aesthetics-wise, plant colors don’t just refer to flowers. In most cases, it can also include the stems and leaves.
While you can choose plants with colors you like, you must make sure they complement each other. Consider using a color wheel for this.
For example, if you like the purples of spiderwort, try adding coreopsis for complementary yellows. These two colors look well together because they are located on opposite sides of a color wheel. Even better, add white penstemon to create harmony in the landscape.
Plant natives in your landscape
Choosing native plants for a landscape offers the most value for any lawn or garden project. Besides saving on maintenance costs, doing so will also help you contribute to the conservation of your area’s natural ecosystem.