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Good Steward Post

What Does Native Landscaping Look Like?

When converting lawn to a native garden, butterfly garden, or prairie corner the first thing that needs to be done is the existing grasses and weeds need to be killed or removed. Our preferred method of site preparation is by smothering the existing lawn. First, the lawn needs to be mowed to a short length. Then, we cover it with paper and mulch. Often, sites may require two layers of paper.

After a few weeks the site is ready for planting. As we discussed in our previous article, we prefer using plants that are grown from plugs. The plants we grow and sell are grown from seed, making them all genetically diverse. As your plants grow, the dead grass, paper, and mulch will be broken down by microfauna and microorganisms in the soil. This decomposition process boosts the population of fungi, bacteria, and microorganisms in the soil, improving the biodiversity of the soil which improves the health and longevity of the native plants.

Once established, native gardens, butterfly gardens, and prairie corners require little maintenance. During the growing season, some volunteer weeds, if any, may need to be killed. As the seasons progress, the density of the native plants will prevent exotic weeds from getting a foothold.

Similarly, little maintenance is required in the Spring and Fall. Unlike traditional gardening methods which expect gardeners to prune back plants and clean up leaves in the Fall, this is not required with native landscaping. In fact, these traditional methods can actually be detrimental to wildlife. We believe as stewards of our backyards as founded on Genesis 1:28, we should landscape to help support the local ecosystem and its wildlife. We call this process "Backyard Conservation".

Stems of perennials can allow shelter for boring insects which hibernate inside the stems during the harsh, freezing temperatures of winter. Moths and butterflies will overwinter in leaf litter. Using leaves, they will form cocoons for protection from the elements. Similarly, many moth and butterfly larvae will pupate in the Fall, overwinter in leaf litter, then emerge as butterflies in the Spring. If you have ever noticed birds sifting through leaves on warmer Fall and Winter days, they are often looking for insects to eat as food. We recommend homeowners to leave the leaves where they fall to help overwintering insects.

When temperatures rise in the Spring, the leaves and stems break down and feed the fungi, bacteria, microorganisms, and microfauna in the soil. This natural process means no fertilizers are necessary for the plants in native gardens, butterfly gardens, and prairie corners to thrive. The resiliency of native plants, combined with their low maintenance requirements means up to 90% of traditional landscape maintenance costs can be completely dissolved!

For homeowners looking for low cost, low maintenance options for their gardens, look no further than adding a native garden, butterfly garden, or prairie corner. Good Steward Ecoscapes offers installation and maintenance services, as well as consultations for Do-it-Yourselfers. Read Our Native Landscaping Services to learn more!

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