Native plants are those that occur naturally in a particular region. As opposed to non-native or invasive plants that were brought to an area by humans, either accidentally or intentionally. Invasive plants out compete and eliminate their native counterparts. This is a problem because many animals rely on native plants to survive. The modern dream of having a manicured lawn made of turf grass has eliminated millions of acres of habitat. By planting native species in your lawn, you can create a home for a variety of animals including beneficial insects and birds. In addition, native plants are low maintenance and require less water and less fertilizer, which saves you time and money.
The Benefits of Adding Native Plants to Your Lawn
Create Habitat For Wildlife
Plants, unlike animals, are able to convert energy from the sun into food. This ability makes them the basis of an ecosystem upon which all life depends. All animals either eat plants or eat animals that eat plants. Many animals such as birds and amphibians rely on specific insects as a food source. These insects rely on specific native plant species to survive. When native plants are out competed and/or replaced by invasive plants, beneficial insects die off and subsequently bird and amphibian populations suffer. Adding native plants to your landscape can create much needed habitat for a diversity of wildlife.
Use Less Water and Fertilizer For A Healthier River
Native plants are well adapted to our soil and climate. This means they need less water and less fertilizer to thrive here. Fertilizing and watering your lawn and flower beds can take lots of time and money. Besides saving time and money, using less fertilizer can greatly benefit local streams. Excess fertilizer is washed off lawns and carried to local rivers where it contributes to algae growth and robs the water of oxygen, suffocating plant and animal life.
Getting Started with Your Native Plant Garden
There are several resources available to learn about the native plants of Ohio. Below are just a couple.
The Audubon Society offers a Native Plant Database, which generates native plants in a chosen region. Just click the link below and type in your zip code to find plants native to your area. If you provide your email address you will be sent a list of plants you selected. However, your email is not required to search the database.
Audubon Society: Native Plants Database
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources offers several lists of plants native to Ohio. Plants are categorized into different lists based on habitat. For example, there is a list of field and prairie plants. Click on the link below to check out all the lists and discover the diversity Ohio has to offer.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Go Native!