• Gus Hetcher

The Importance of Native Habitat Plantings

Updated: Feb 10

As a property owner, you likely want your outdoor space looking kempt and healthy. Whether it be your quarter acre lot or a couple hundred-acre ranch, a property requires management. Everyone has a different management goal for their property, you may be interested in growing trophy bucks, crops, or simply a pretty yard. Each goal requires work, which may be in vain if done improperly. An integral aspect to all property management is the vegetation, but many people do not know the best plant species for their end goal. The best place to start is native.

From flower gardens to forests, native plants will bolster the productivity and health of your landscape. Having evolved to suit local conditions, they will outperform exotic alternatives and save you money. Plants native to your property’s ecotype will need little to no fertilization, extra water, or pesticides. This not only benefits your wallet, but also organisms sensitive to pollution. Fertilizers often leach off into adjacent waterways where they cause rank weed growth and algae blooms which could lead to fish kills and hefty treatment costs for pond owners. Planting native herbaceous and woody plants on your landscape eliminates the need for such chemicals. You can also reduce lawn space by installing a backyard prairie. Having stands of native vegetation will improve water infiltration and reduce flooding. These can be as small as just several square feet and will add color and wildlife to your yard.

Replacing native vegetation with exotic species eliminates the base of an ecosystem. Insects depend on native plants for food and cover; and provide many services themselves e.g., aesthetic value, pollination, and pest predation. They also feed much of our beloved wildlife species. Many native plants provide food and cover for wildlife too. A native shrub is more likely to attract nesting songbirds than an exotic shrub, and the same can be said for wintering birds. When managing game, reintroducing a diversity of native food plants will eliminate the need for animals to constantly congregate at crop fields or food plots, therefore reducing disease transmission and predation. Native plants will also improve crop production by boosting pollination and pest predation. The benefits of natives are seemingly endless.

You do not need to eliminate exotic plants from your property, but when you do supplement your plantings with natives you may be pleasantly surprised at how vibrant they look in comparison. If you are looking to do something as small as put some native flowers in your flowerbed, or bigger, like maximizing game production on your hunting property, Cason & Associates has a ready team of biologists to consult with to make your property a healthy ecosystem that works for you. We can meet with you to assess your property, find the best native plants for your goal, and even install and maintain them for you. With our help, your outdoor space could very well be a center for biodiversity.

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