Why You Should Be Planting Pennsylvania Native Plants in Your Yard
Native plants are plants that grow in a particular region naturally and were not brought in by colonization. Ferns, grasses, wildflowers, woody trees and shrubs are all examples of native plant categories. Pennsylvania has over 2,000 different native plants across several categories. Non-native plants are plants that were brought in and eventually became established enough to grow wildly. There are over 1,000 types of non-native plants in Pennsylvania and more are being discovered every year. That's nearly 40 percent of Pennsylvania's total amount of wild plants. If you're thinking about overhauling your landscaping or starting a new landscaping project, consider using Pennsylvania native trees, flowers, and shrubs.
Take a look at the following reasons why going native in your landscaping has many benefits.
Use Less Fertilizer
The overuse of fertilizer creates a lot of problems, including excess amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus that results in runoff into rivers and lakes. This causes large amounts of algae growth that uses oxygen and causes the death of other aquatic life. Native flora species require less fertilizer as they are well-adapted to local soils, weather, and other conditions.
Use Less Pesticide
Similar to the fertilizer issue, native shrubs, grasses, and other plants don't need as much pesticide as they are equipped to deal with common pests in the region. Pesticide use causes many problems just like fertilizer. The runoff from lawns and gardens gets into rivers and lakes and harms aquatic life. It also exposes people and pets to potentially toxic substances.
Use Less Water
Modern lawns with carefully curated blends of grass require a large amount of water to grow properly. On the East Coast, lawn irrigation uses up to 30 percent of all water consumption. Native grasses have a better capacity to store water in the soil through their root systems. By using native grasses in your lawn, you can avoid watering too much, which in turn reduces runoff and flooding. Native shrubs and other plants usually also need less water than non-native species.
Keep the Air Cleaner
Using native grasses reduces your lawn maintenance tasks. The average carefully curated lawn full of non-native grasses requires regular mowing. That adds up eventually across the country with lawnmowers using about 200 million gallons of gas every year. Garden power tools that use gas cause roughly five percent of the air pollution in the country. In fact, one gas lawnmower makes 11 times more pollution than a new car. Native species that grow more naturally in Pennsylvania remove carbon from the air, and they don't need as much care and maintenance from you.
Support Wildlife and Pollinators
Native plants provide diverse places for native wildlife and pollinators to shelter and find food. Manicured lawns with non-native grasses have very little benefit to native wildlife in most cases. Native species of plants provide food for birds through seeds and insects. Bees, beetles, butterflies, and hummingbirds are also attracted to native flowers and shrubs for pollinating.
As previously mentioned, native wildlife benefits very little from carefully curated lawns. Gardens with non-native species of plants also don't help native wildlife for the most part. Birds and butterflies are more attracted to native landscaping and make their homes in this type of environment. Cultivating native landscaping promotes stewardship of heritage plants and animals.
Once established, native species of plants require a lot less maintenance. They're unlikely to require much soil amendments and generally use less fertilizer, water, and other maintenance. They are hardy and well-suited to growing in the natural habitat that they're used to.
How To Landscape With Native Vegetation
Start by minimizing any destruction of natural habitat in your landscaping. If there's native vegetation, try not to disturb it. Find native flora that will complement what you already have. Plants that fit the conditions of your soil and shade/sun ratio are the best choice. Look at field guides to find out what types of flowers, shrubs and the like flourish in your area. Go to your local nursery and find plants propagated there to get started quickly. Don't take plants out of the wild and attempt to transplant them. Plants used in this way usually don't survive.
What Are Some Plants Native to Pennsylvania?
Examples of native shrubs in Pennsylvania include winterberry, red chokeberry, blueberries, New Jersey tea, and red-osier dogwood. Some examples of native trees include red maple, eastern white pine, white oak, black gum, and sassafras. For grasses, you can choose from big bluestem grass, butterfly-weed, blazing-star, switchgrass, and many more. For flowers, consider plants like white wood aster, Virginia bluebells, wood geranium, wild columbine, black cohosh, and Solomon's plume.
Homes for Sale with Fenced-In Yards To Garden
Homeway Real Estate supports the conservation of native flora and fauna to sustain Pennsylvania's wild beauty. If you’re looking for homes for sale that have fenced-in backyards to make a beautiful garden, take a look at this list of homes.