Native Plants

Would native plants benefit your community?

What is it?

Native plants have many more environmental benefits than regular lawn grass. Native plants have deep roots that help rainwater soak into the ground, remove pollution, and prevent erosion. Native plants also provide habitat for native wildlife. Native plant projects typically do not require a professional engineer to create the design – unlike rain gardens, buffer strips, and vegetated swales.

Plants should be selected based on the specific site conditions. Depending on the project budget, time of year, and plants selected, students could start plants from seeds, use plants purchased from a nursery, or a combination of the two.

How much would it cost?

The cost will depend on the size of the area and the types of plants selected. Typically, you will want to use one plant per square foot of garden area. Plants range in cost from $4 - $10 depending on their size and where you buy them.

What long-term maintenance is required?

The garden should be weeded and watered about once a week for the first 3-5 years. Additional plants might be necessary to replace plants that do not survive. You can reduce how often you weed and water as the plants grow and become more established in their new home. You might need to occasionally thin out plants or “edit” the garden if some plants are crowding out others.

Who are some potential partners?

  • Local plant nursery or other plant provider

  • Property owner

How could I determine if the project is successful?

  • Count the number of plantings

  • Calculate the area planted

  • Count the number of native insects, birds, and other wildlife using the area as habitat

  • Calculate the volume of rainwater being soaked up by the garden

Where can I find more information?

The plant species that are native to your environment will depend on your specific location. State departments of natural resources are a good place to start, as well as extension services at state universities. More and more plant nurseries specialize in native species. For example, check if there is a chapter of Wild Ones near you.