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A native pallet
The benefits of incorporating local plant species throughout your lawn and garden

By MARTIN HINTZ

April 2016

Jed Terc at Stano Landscaping knows more than a thing or two about planting native garden species rather than planting exotics. After all, he is the companyís landscape design/sales project manager.

"I believe people are starting to be more aware about the environmental impact they are making in the world," Terc emphasizes. "Using native plants can reduce the amount of water, fertilizers and pesticides, while increasing the habitat available for native wildlife."

He always uses native plants as part of his planting pallet, emphasizing to the homeowner why these varieties are a good fit for the project.

The actual upfront cost of planting native species is the same as non-natives, Terc stresses. "Any cost savings would be realized through reduced watering and fertilization. And because the native plants are hardy in our environment, they may need less frequent replacement than those that are not as well-adapted," he continues.

Besides, native plants can be easier to tend, Terc points out, adding that native plants evolved to live in Wisconsinís climate of hot summers and cold winters. "Some natives are much more drought-tolerant than non-natives. Many of our native prairie species have deep root systems that are able to access moisture deep underground even if the surface is dry," he explains.

For homeowners without a green thumb, a landscape designer can help select which plants are appropriate for a given site. A professional such as Terc understands a plantís preference for different light and moisture levels that need to be taken into account.

"Just because a plant is native does not mean that it is the right selection everywhere," he warns. "A designer can also assist to make sure the plants are appropriate aesthetically. Bloom time, texture and color are all things that a landscape designer should look at to select the right plants."

For native species best-suited for the area, he suggests flowering perennials, including purple coneflower, blazing star and bee balm. For shrubs, Terc likes arrowwood viburnum, red osier dogwood and bush honeysuckle. A homeowner canít go wrong with such grasses as prairie dropseed, little bluestem and switchgrass.

Terc says the most important thing when selecting plants is to make sure you are selecting a good fit for the conditions of the intended site. M

 




This story ran in the April 2016 issue of: