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Good Steward Post

Native Garden Design: Landscaping for Birds, Butterflies, and More

If you're like most people I speak to about native plants, you share their concern that having natives in the garden would look too weedy. I won't deny some native plots do look weedy. This tends to be the case when homeowners buy a seed mix then let it grow over a few years with little to no maintenance or management. Often due to the species selection, these seed mixes are best utilized in open fields or in a back corner, not front gardens. What I mean is, many native plants easily grow over 4 feet tall (some well over 8 feet). It is only natural for someone used to a well-manicured lawn to think of this look as "weedy".

During a short time, these native gardens may become inundated with exotic plants that have volunteered or are already present in the soil’s seed bank. Sadly, many homeowners will purchase a seed mix, then quickly realize they have a hard time identifying the plants growing in their yard. After many stressful internet searches they may soon discover they have plants they didn't purchase and would never want. Frustrated, they then have to go pull true weeds from their gardens.

Having a professionally designed and installed native garden from Good Steward Ecoscapes minimizes these headaches. We use an artistic approach to maintain a more formal, orderly look. For homeowners wanting a shorter look, there are dozens of native plants no taller than 12 inches. For homeowners wanting a colorful garden bed, there are dozens and dozens more that grow no taller than waist high.

Our preference is to start plants in our native gardens, butterfly gardens, and prairie corners from plugs. These are plants that are grown in pre-formed cells. This enables us to utilize plants that have been pre-established. These plants are more resilient than plants grown from seed in the garden - they are easier to establish in the garden, and much easier to keep alive when the rabbits decide to nibble on them. Since they are started from plugs there is little guesswork as to which plants should and should not be there, making maintenance much easier! If any true weeds start growing, they can be easily removed before established.

Ideal native gardens have multiple species, we like to use a minimum of three to five species in our designs. For butterfly gardens, we use flowers that will be in bloom from early Spring to late Fall. This ensures butterflies will have a reliable food source throughout the growing season. With hundreds of species available, native plants offer unique variability between gardens. Whether your garden is full shade, or full sun, wet soil, or dry soil, there are an abundance of options. If you're looking for a low-maintenance, winter tolerant, and drought resistant approach to gardening that supports wildlife, native plants are the optimum choice.

Using native plants in the garden is one of the most fun and engaging ways to get outside and in the garden. A well-designed garden will bring you outside looking for different critters and looking for birds as they search for bugs and seeds to eat. Contact us to find out more information about native garden design and our sustainable approach to landscaping.

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