Exotic plats may look beautiful and eye-catching, but tending to a delicate garden can be a tedious task. When planning your home garden, opt instead for native plants, grasses and trees that are well adapted to your local climate. Because they grow well in your local conditions, native plants require less watering and maintenance than non-native species. Using native plants can help restore declining species and support native birds, insects and other animals that depend on native plants for their food and shelter. It will also reduce your gardening costs, from fertilizers to pesticides to water usage. Since lawn care is responsible for between 30% and 60% of all water usage in the U.S., this is some serious conservation.
Your yard doesn’t have to be a forest for native species, but including some in your garden can make gardening a little easier. Native grasses are a great choice for lawn lovers because they require little water and fertilizer and only need to be trimmed a few times each year. This will help save you time and money, and cut back on the 200 million gallons of gasoline consumed by lawn mowers each year. Some North American varieties to look for are blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides). You might also try native trees that are resistant to some common pests. Contact your local nursery for recommendations regarding local weather patterns, site conditions and soil type. Be sure to avoid invasive exotic species, which are aggressive nonnative plants that may quickly establish themselves in your yard and overtake your garden.
Take Action / Next Steps
To find out which plants are native to your area, visit the Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Did you know that using native plants can significantly reduce your home gardening expenses?
Because they require fewer fertilizers, pesticides and water, native plants cost less to maintain
than non-native species. According to a study by the Applied Ecological Services, over a 20-year period, maintaining a native
prairie or wetland costs $3,000 while non-native turf grasses cost $20,000 over the same period.