If you’re trying to make your landscape more sustainable, one important thing to do is to reduce the size of your lawn and add more native plants, trees and shrubs. Native plants are beautiful and low-maintenance, plus they provide proper nourishment and habitat for beneficial insects, birds, bees, butterflies and wildlife. Read on for garden plans that will transform your yard into a lovely oasis using native plants. First learn the many reasons why lawns are bad for the environment and what you can do to help:
- The typical lawn is composed of non-native grasses which makes them require VAST amounts of water. Water is quickly becoming a scarce resource and shouldn’t be wasted on maintaining green lawns. Learn about suitable, drought-tolerant grasses for your region in my earlier post.
- Lawns contribute to flooding. When natural areas are disturbed and developed for new housing, the land is so compacted that it alters the natural infiltration of rain water. After development, stormwater rolls off lawns, instead of being absorbed into the ground, and carries with it all sorts of pollutants. Then it ends up contaminating our creeks, rivers and water supplies, causing damage to these riparian corridors and sometimes overflowing them. The deep roots of native plants and grasses help water infiltrate the ground, recharge aquifers and improve water quality. They also stabilize soil and reduce erosion.
- Lawns need fertilizer and other chemicals that are harmful to living things, including us humans! Native plants and grasses, on the other hand, are naturally adapted to your region and don’t require harmful additives. A great resource for finding native plants suitable for your area is eNature or PlantNative.org.
- Gas-powered mowers, trimmers and leaf blowers require the burning of non-renewable, expensive fossil fuels and contribute to air pollution and noise pollution. “Reel” mowers can help solve this problem.