In our pursuit of perfect lawns and gardens, many of us have created very manicured, high maintenance yards. Often these lawns require pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer and regular mowing, all of which have a negative impact on the environment. In fact 60% of lawn fertilizer washes away into local waterways, contributing to the overgrowth of algae - the main cause of oxygen deprived dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay.
The use of non-native ornamental plants actually reduces the amount of usable habitat for native wildlife. Many natural ecosystems have been degraded by non-native plants introduced from other parts of the world. Some of these introduced plants are invasive, meaning they do not have any natural controls and spread rapidly. Invasive plants can smother and compete with native vegetation. Ecosystems with invasive, exotic plants have less wildlife and plant diversity than unaffected systems.
Wildlife species evolve with plants; therefore, they use native plant communities as their habitat. Using native plants helps preserve the balance of natural ecosystems, providing habitat for local and migratory animals. Replacing traditional lawns and gardens with native landscaping also reduces the time and expense of mowing, watering, and chemical treatments, and results in improved water quality. Native plants are also adapted to the local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to withstand many types of insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will grow without much maintenance. Visit the links below to learn more about the wonderful world of native landscaping!
Creating an Environmentally Friendly Yard
Wildlife and Your Yard
Types of Habitat Projects
How to Create a Habitat Project
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