Benefits of growing native plants

Native plants are best adapted to the local climate and once established, seldom need watering, mulching, protection from frost or continuous mowing.

Local seed sources store a wealth of genetic and biological diversity. Give preference to plant materials produced from seed collected closest to your location. State Parks in the DNR's Southern Region uses a 30 mile radius from the project site as a guideline. Refrain from buying plants dug from the wild; digging disrupts plant communities.

Unlike aggressive introduced plants such as purple loosestrife and European buckthorn, natives will not threaten to take over natural communities.

Native landscaping generally costs less over time. Given 100 sq. ft., compare the cost of 100 annuals X 10 years or more to the initial cost of 100 native plants, or seed. For non-native perennials, compare initial plant price and mulch, if used. On large areas, compare long term maintenance costs.

Native plants are used by beautiful and diverse native butterflies and insects. In contrast, many common horticultural plants require insect pest control to survive.

Native plants and plant communities provide habitats and refuges for wildlife, especially birds.

Native grasses protect soil between wildflowers while root systems spread and grow deep for excellent erosion control. This combination reduces water runoff compared to monoculture ground covers such as bluegrass or purple crown vetch.

Native legumes (peas and beans) fertilize naturally by enriching the soil with nitrogen.