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  • Writer's pictureLandscape Innovation

Native Landscaping: 4 Reasons To Switch To Local Plants

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

A topic that has grown in popularity amongst the Landscaping Business community, Native Landscaping is promoting greener options for homeowners and bridging the industrial gap to become a household term.

But what is Native Landscaping? And why is it important?

Aromatic Aster - Aster oblongifolius

The concept of Native Landscaping is pretty simple; it’s the process of planting with native species - plants that grow naturally in your region. Both home and business owners are turning to this way of planting for its many favorable aspects. These benefits, not only ecologically contribute to the local, natural habitat, but affect both wildlife and people. As the caretaker of your property and a member of your community, introducing some native species into your gardens can only have a positive outcome.

Let’s talk about why native planting is so great!

Native plants require less maintenance. It’s true! Native plants are naturally suited to grow in your region. They are already adapted to factors such as the soil and climate. This means less pruning, mowing, and over-all upkeep. Because of this, the costs to maintain natural landscapes are dramatically less. Native plants are both a time and money saver.

Native plants help with air pollution.  A study done by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) pertaining to the United States, found that 5% of air pollution comes from gas-burning lawn and garden equipment, i.e. lawn mowers, weed eaters, etc. One gas powered lawn mower creates 11 times the air pollution of a new car. Requiring less routine mowing and landscape upkeep, there is no question that Native Landscaping is good for the environment.

Native plants enable you to use fewer pesticides and fertilizers. Lawns are the biggest culprits of fertilizer and pesticide use, synthetic lawn “treatments” that are suspected to carry carcinogens (cancer causing agents). Over 70 million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns each year. Every pet and homeowner who steps foot on a treated lawn is exposed to these chemicals, a little disheartening to think about. Once these products are applied to lawns and gardens, the water run-off carries these harsh chemicals into lakes and rivers, contaminating the water and harming natural wildlife. The solution? Native planting! As we mentioned above, native plants require much less maintenance. Using native plants to reduce lawn size and/or substituting native grasses, is an easy way of reducing the need for these synthetic chemicals.

Native plants nurture native wildlife.

Above all else, Native Landscaping promotes biodiversity and cultivates healthy ecosystems. Native plants provide both food and shelter for local flora and fauna. In recent years, communities have been seeing steady drops in native species populations - most notably, songbirds. With a reported 5-10% decline per year, depending on the species, and no end in sit, this steady decline is the direct repercussion of natural habitat loss. Your landscaping choices have a meaningful impact on the biodiversity of your community. You can directly benefit your local wildlife by implementing native plants in your naturescaping designs.

Now that you know some of the many benefits to Native Landscaping, how do you get started?

First, pinpoint your regional planting zone. The USDA divides the U.S. into 12 different Plant Hardiness Zones, based on an average of the lowest winter temperatures each year. Using the image of Tennessee’s planting zones below, you can see that Chattanooga is in planting zone 7b, with some parts in 7a. Knowing what plants grow well in your zone will point you in the direction of species native to Tennessee and provide you the foundational building blocks to grow your native naturescape.

Utilize your local resources. There are many great and local ways to begin your journey of Native Landscaping. You can hire a landscaping company, such as us, that specializes in native planting, to design and install a native naturescape. You can visit local plant retailers, such as The Barn Nursery here in Chattanooga, to learn about their native plant options. If you’re interested in learning even more about the many benefits of Native Landscaping, you can explore the Tennessee Native Plant Society or Chattanooga Area Pollinator Partnership for lists of native plant species, or Chattanooga’s Reflection Riding: Arboretum & Nature Center for community involvement and classes. And finally, for those who need a little more convincing on the aesthetics of native species, set foot on some of the National Park Service’s best wildflower hikes in Tennessee.

So let’s recap!

Among the numerous benefits, Native Landscaping requires less over-all maintenance, helps to combat air pollution, reduces the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers, and promotes biodiversity in neighboring wildlife. As fellow stewards of the community, we take pride in cultivating an environment that embraces our heritage of native species and promotes greener landscaping options.. Join us in preserving our heritage!

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