Friday, January 20, 2017

Why Are Native Plants Important?

Native plants are an integral part of a healthy landscape. There are a number of reasons why that is, including but not limited to that they are naturally low maintenance because they often require less water than traditional sod. They do not require large amounts of fertilizer or pesticides that plants from other places may need. If the plants are native to your area, they have even coevolved with the wildlife as well. That means that many native bird species also rely on native plants as a food source.

By Akos Kokai (Native plant demonstration garden) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Non-native plants, otherwise known as invasive species, can wreak havoc on a delicate ecosystem.

Below is a list of a few reasons why invasive plants are worse than native plants for your landscape.

Air, Noise, Water Pollution
In terms of water conservation and the precious value that water is in an ever growing world, using water wisely is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, watering lawns can contribute to waste of a natural resource, “30 percent of water consumed on the East Coast goes to watering lawns; 60 percent on the West Coast. (Redesigning the American Lawn)” (National Wildlife Federation). Invasive species also require an increased amount of pesticide use that can pollute waterways. 

Harm to Biodiversity
Native plants also provide critical habitat to a variety of pollinators. Certain insects have coevolved to only eat certain plants, and if invasive species have taken over then there is less and less food for those insects to eat. That in turn causes there to be less food for the birds that feast on insects. Check out an excerpt of a film about the important impacts that native plants can have on a landscape:

Consumption of Natural Resources
Invasive plants often outcompete native plants because they usually lack their natural enemies in a foreign environment. As a result, invasive plants can strangle a hillside or choke a waterway easily. Alternatively, native plants natural abundance is due in part to the fact that they are native to your climate, and thus have adaptations for the amount of water and the soil moisture in your particular area (Backyard Conservation...).  

 Impacts to Public Health and Safety
Invasive species do require an increased amount of maintenance. Increased chemical use can lead to harmful effects in wildlife and humans (Benefits of Naturescaping). Extra fertilizer may also be required to maintain a green lawn. If you use native plants, and decide to compost in a natural garden, your soil will not need as many chemicals to provide good nutrients to your plants!

Cost and Labor Intensive
The cost of upkeep for a traditional lawn is about $700 per acre per year, as opposed to the care of a wildflower meadow at $30 per acre per year (About Native Plants). The equipment used in the upkeep of a typical suburban lawn includes lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and the occasional chain saw. These pieces of equipment emit as much hydrocarbon in one hour as a typical auto driven 50 miles. (National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Lab, Ann Arbor.) Every year, a typical lawn requires 40 hours of maintenance, which is the equivalent of a one-week vacation (Benefits of Naturescaping). The noise pollution from a lawnmower alone can be enough to make anyone upset on an early Sunday morning.

Boring Landscapes
Avoid monoculture! Aesthetic concerns aside, native plants offer a wide variety of shapes, colors, and textures for your yard.

Why spend all of that time maintaining an unnatural landscape? Instead, give native plants a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Below is a preview of an excellent documentary film focused on the dangers of invasive species in Oregon. Washington state deals with a lot of the same resource problems as Oregon, and it is an informative piece on various issues in the Pacific Northwest. 

Convinced that native plants are the way to go? Don't know where to start? Come learn more at Cascadia's FREE Native Planting 101 Workshop!!!

RSVP today for our native plant workshop, Saturday, February 11th from 12:00-4:30 pm at the Wenatchee PUD auditorium!

Our plant sale ends by March 1st, so place your order today to ensure you get what you want. 

To order native plants, download a form HERE!


~ Ava

Works Cited

"About Native Plants." National Wildlife Federation. Accessed 1/13/17. 

“Benefits of Naturescaping.”

Green, Danielle. “Greenacres: Landscaping with Native Plants.” US EPA. Last updated on 2/21/2016.

Idaho Native Plant Society. Landscaping with Plants of the Intermountain Region.

“Let’s stop these silent invaders.” Accessed 1/13/17. 

“Why Native Plants Matter” Audubon society       matter. Bird Friendly Communities Blog. Accessed 1/13/17.

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