Whether you’re looking to fill an open spot in your yard, would like to feature a unique plant or shrub, or have an entire lot to fill, there are a dizzying array of options from which to choose. Not all pretty plants are created equal. There are two important guidelines to follow that will give you the best results over the long haul: Use native plants and avoid invasive species.
While it may be tempting to order some spectacular specimens from a catalog or website, a local nursery or landscaping company is the best place to start. Why? A local company will know what works in your area. They will feature plants, trees, and shrubs that will thrive in your climate. A bougainvillea is stunning in southern gardens, but will shrivel up and die at the first mention of a freeze in Minnesota.
However, if you want the most bang for your buck, look for native plants. Native plants are overlooked due to wild growth in gardens and meadows.
Native plants are workhorses.
They are hardy, sturdy, self-propagating, and will thrive in your lawn because that’s their home base. They are not only acclimated to the climate not just in your growing zone, but also to the individual weather quirks of your region on the country. Two areas of the country, say Seattle and Dallas, will have very different growing conditions in the spring even though the temperatures may be similar. Rainfall, sun intensity, and overnight temps all play a factor in a plant’s ability to flourish.
You also want a plant that will either have a long life span or will create offspring on its own. Nothing is worse than having a thriving shrub that dies off in a couple of years leaving a lonely dead space. Native species know how to extend their own life and how to make sure they produce lots of offspring.
The other guideline to consider is to watch out for invasive species.
Gardening is a balance between finding plants and shrubs that are happy, living long productive lifespans and producing offspring, but they do not become invasive. An aggressive grower can quite literally take over your entire yard.
It can be tempting to plant a fast growing plant if you want to fill a space quickly, but be on guard. It will indeed fill your space, but it won’t stop there and may take over and strangle its neighbors too. Many groundcovers can become invasive because that’s what they’re designed to do – cover ground. But there are other garden favorites that can get out of hand as well if not kept in line. Bee balm, some buttercups, mint, and nettle varieties are some examples. A good way to use plants that send out aggressive roots, but keep them under control, is to plant them in pots or containers and then place those in your garden.
Whatever your landscaping needs, be sure to stop by your local nursery and talk with their staff about native species that will thrive in your area. Native plants work had to make it in the wild and therefore are proven winners. Why not put them to work in your own yard?