What is Native Landscaping?
Native plants are those that have evolved and adapted to the geography, hydrology, and climate of the region—occupy the 33,000-square foot landscape to create a self-sustaining ecosystem. The goal of native landscaping is to create a plant "community." In a natural system, each plant occupies a specific niche. The diversity of the native landscape preserves naturally occurring genetic material and provides better resistance to disease. Furthermore, plants native to a specific region tend to be more robust because they have adapted to the local soil, conditions, and weather patterns. Native plants have long roots which retain stormwater, reducing runoff. Planting natives increases biodiversity. Designing a drainage and irrigation system to minimize water usage is a key factor in the project's success. Incorporate rainwater and storm runoff into the landscape. Runoff from a nearby parking lot for example could be captured in tree wells, or a roof collection system may divert runoff to a stream bed below, which can be used to irrigate plants. Storm drains also provide supplemental irrigation, and in some spots, may provide the only irrigation to the landscape.
How Can Native Landscaping be Used?
Maintenance practices for manicured turf landscapes negatively effects the environment. Spending one hour mowing (gas) a lawn is equivalent to driving a car 20 miles. Based upon elimination of mowing, blowing and trimming for an acre of turf grass, there is a calculated emission reduction of about 100 lbs VOC/acre/year and 10 lbs NOx/acre/year. These emission estimates were based upon going from mowing, blowing and trimming 30 times per year to 0 times per year. Pesticides and fertilizers applied to lawns run off and pollute surface and ground water.
Native plants provide a beautiful, hardy, drought resistant, low maintenance landscape while benefiting the environment. Native plants, once established, save time and money by eliminating or significantly reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, water and lawn maintenance equipment.
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