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Why they're important:
Native plants are those that occur naturally in a region.
Native plants are vitally important to preserving biodiversityThe number of plant and animal species living in an area., because they have specialized relationships with native wildlife. Not only are native plants preferred by resident wildlife, they also are adapted to local soil and climate conditions. This means they require less water and chemicals – reducing the need for pesticides and fertilizers that can pollute local waterways.
What are the benefits of native plants?
Native plants create beautiful, low-maintenance landscapes, and provide several other perks:
- Food and shelter for wildlife
Native plants attract a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by providing diverse habitat types and food sources throughout the growing season.
- Savings of time and money
Traditional lawns require a significant amount of water and upkeep to thrive. By contrast, native plants are adapted to the local environment and require less water and maintenance, saving you time and money.
- Reduced need for pesticides and fertilizers
Conventional landscaping requires considerable amounts of pesticides and fertilizers. Overuse and inappropriate use of these substances can kill pollinators, beneficial insects, and other wildlife. Pesticides also have the potential to cause serious human health problems when not handled properly.
- Erosion control
Healthy native plant communities include trees, shrubs, and grasses of different sizes and varying root depths. This complex system of roots holds stream banks together and prevents soil from eroding over time.
- Improved water quality
Native trees growing over water provide shade that keeps streams cool, which helps fish and other wildlife species flourish.
How to use native plants:
Incorporate native plants into your landscape with naturescaping and meadowscaping.
These are great strategies for boosting diversity in your yard or community space:
Naturescaping is a landscaping practice that uses simple techniques to mimic nature and welcome wildlife to your home.
Meadowscaping is a relatively new practice that is gaining popularity among urban gardeners.
Resources for using native Pacific Northwest plants in your landscape:
Native Plants for the Willamette Valley offers detailed information about native plants in the Portland area, including sun and moisture requirements, wildlife benefits, and planting range.
East Multnomah SWCD’s Native Plant Database describes native plant characteristics to help you decide which native plants are best-suited for your landscape.
Backyard Habitat Certification Program's Native Plant Nursery Finder helps locate nurseries that sell native plants near you.