Sustaining and Restoring Native Plant Communities in Northeast Ohio
Did you know that what you plant in your yard can help your environment? Native plants and trees in your yard provide important habitat for wildlife including pollinators like birds, bees and butterflies. As city and communities continue to grow, it has become necessary to look at our own backyards as a place of greenspace to keep Ohio's natural environmental heritage in place. Native organisms including mammals, birds, amphibians, and insects can all be attracted with the use of native plants, thus creating an intricate web of life all in your backyard for you to enjoy.
What is a native plant you may ask? Simply put, a native plant is one that that occurs naturally in the place where it evolved. Ohio has a great number of native plants that originated in the surrounding area including white pine, common juniper, and scarlet elder.
Native plants in Ohio are known for their deep root systems underground. Their thick and hardy roots anchor the plant well into the soil and sturdy the plant during hard rainfalls or snow events. Their roots are also spread out to absorb nutrients and water from the soil.
For example, native spring wild flowers provide nectar to little flies that, in return, pollinate the flowers. These flies become food for early spring birds. Coincidently, native plants produce seeds and berries when the birds need them to feed. Bird droppings then disperse the seeds for a chance of new life to begin. Plants and animals that have evolved together depend upon each other for survival.
Using native plants in public and private landscapes and gardens can help reduce the threat of invasive non-native species to the region's biodiversity.
Native plants in the garden:
*Attract native wildlife
*Reduce soil erosion with their long roots
*Require less fertilizer and watering because they are adapted to our local climate
*Promote native regional biodiversity
*Thrive under natural conditions
*Connect people to nature
There are real and practical pay-offs to encouraging a more biologically diverse yard. Healthy, balanced ecosystems clean our water and our air. Pollinators are vital to food production.
There are also other profound reasons for using native plants in our yards. Aesthetically and spiritually native plants enhance our sense of place. Native plants are one of the most visible elements in the local landscape. They are part of what makes a region unique. Learning and growing native plants promotes a deeper understanding and respect for the land.
Native plants can be hard to come by with invasive non-native plants dominating sales in garden centers and nurseries. However, more nurseries are carrying native plants and there are local resources to help you find the plants that will work best in your yard and garden. Most Soil and Water Conservation Districts host tree sales in the Spring and additionally sell Rain Garden Plant kits with all native plants throughout the early summer. A rain garden is an attractive, landscaped areas planted with perennial native plants, designed to capture and filter storm water runoff from impervious surfaces around the home, such as rooftops and driveways.
Be a Conservation Crusader today and starting using native plants in your landscape! Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District for a list of native plants and places that carry them.