Do you love the sound of birds singing outside of your windows? Perhaps you also read my blog about the importance of honeybees and other pollinators. If so, you might also want them to be abundant in your garden and in your community. The key to having thriving birds, honeybees, and many other wonderful animals in your environment is having native plants in your garden. Native plants are an important food source, especially for insect larva, and young birds, for example, are typically fed insects. So, native plants are kind of a starting point for a wildlife circle of life.
Native plants are those that have historically existed in your bioregion. These plants will have evolved along with wildlife in your region, so insect larvae can really only be supported by these leaves. These are also plants that will thrive in your climate and soil conditions.
There are several ways that you can increase native trees and flowers in your yard to support wildlife. An obvious way is to choose native plants when you are adding to your garden. Make sure that plants have historically grown in your area and that these plants will do well in your garden. Think about how much sunlight plants need and the conditions of your soil when you choose these hardy natives. If you need more help discovering natives, the Native Plant Finder from the National Wildlife Federation will guide you in selecting plants for your zip code.
You will also need to watch out for invasive plants. Invasive plants are not native and in fact, may be harmful to biodiversity because they might outgrow native plants and/or compete for things that native plants need, including nutrients, the sun, and space to grow. You can learn more about efforts to decrease invasive plants through work being done at the National Wildlife Federation here: www.nwf.org/What-We-Do/Protect-Wildlife/Invasive-Species.aspx
Avoiding and removing invasive plants and adding native plants to your garden will promote biodiversity and attract beautiful wildlife to your area. You will be doing the right thing for your environment, you will be adding beauty to your property, and you will find that native plants even need less care since they are a perfect fit for your climate. Urban expansion and use of chemicals in yards are threatening natural habitats; you can do your part to combat these issues by increasing native plants in your yard. Then you can rest assured that you’ve done the right thing for your garden, wildlife, and for the environment.