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Why Use Native Plants in Your Rain Garden: Six Years in Sixty Seconds

After my last post I received more than a few emails encouraging me to be a stronger advocate for the use of native plants in rain gardens.

Well, alright then.

This week I have condensed the past six years of my life spent devoted to the use of natives in rain gardens into a sixty second read.

And there is a quiz at the end.



Deep Roots

Native plants have developed deep roots in order to find water throughout the hot and dry times on the prairie. In a rain garden these root systems act as channels that pull water down deep into the soil draining more water faster.

Native Root Systems

Adapted

Native plants have evolved with our seasons, temperature extremes, annual rainfall, sunlight intensity, humidity, diseases, pests, and soils. This allows them to endure the even greater extremes that are present in a rain garden.

Native Resiliency

Low Inputs

Native plants do not require fertilizer; they do not need pesticides; and if they are sited correctly they do not need watering after becoming established.

Louisiana Dead Zone

Chicago Ground Water Levels

Increased biodiversity

Cultivars are clones. They are genetically-exact reproductions of the same plant that had a specific desired characteristic and are, therefore, highly susceptible to widespread disease and pests, which then require chemicals to treat. Every single individual native plant is genetically unique which creates a natural resiliency of the species and by extension, our ecosystem.

Prairie vs. Turf

Wildlife Value

Native plants have evolved with the local wildlife. Our beneficial insects can eat and pollinate them; our birds can get nutrition from, and safely nest in, them.

Cultivars and Coleslaw

Native Seed Supply

Our very, very, few restored native wetlands live in a state of constant invasion by the more prolific and fertilizer/road salt-tolerant Cattails, Reed Canary Grass, and Purple Loosestrife species. Every native plant that exists in our landscapes adds seeds that help to tip the scale back from our mono-culture disturbed wetlands.

Disturbed Wetland

Sense of Place

Every region has a specific selection of plants native to the local environment. Using natives creates a unique identity that is worth traveling to see; this is not present with our homogeneity of turf.

Where in the World - Turf Edition
Match the number to the state in the comment section below. Your choices are: Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, or Illinois.
The answers will be given in my next post.


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