I’ve been doing a lot of research about native planting lately, and some of the facts that I’ve been learning are downright crazy. For example, if everyone converted half their lawn to native plants, we would create 20 MILLION acres of habitable space for native pollinators and animals. Over 70% of the forests on our eastern seaboard are gone as of 2006, and less than 5% of “wild” land is left in the United States (David Tallamy 2006). I am certainly no expert on this subject, but I’m on a personal journey to plant more native plants in my garden.
The best resource I’ve read so far about this is David Tallamy’s “Nature’s Best Hope.” It talks a lot about how we can repair some of the natural world in our own gardens by planting native plants. Apparently, plants that are non-native offer almost no benefits to native animals and pollinators. Their fruits are mostly filled with sugar instead of healthy fats, the leaves are not eaten by caterpillars, and birds don’t like to use them for nesting. I legitimately did not realize how much of a problem this was.
Certain plants are so invasive when they seed that they are wiping out natural varieties. Like certain non-native honey suckles, wisteria, and butterfly bushes. Now whenever I go to the garden center, I try to only buy native plants.
We are currently in the process of transforming our own garden and lawn into a primarily native planting zone. And as it turns out, doing our part on our own properties actually makers a difference
Most of the land we encounter is privately owned. That means it’s really up to the owners to decide what to do with their gardens. There are apparently over 40 million acres of lawn in the lower 48 states, taking up about 2% of the entire available land (David Tallamy 2012). And when you think about how much of our environment is for agriculture, housing developments, and paved cities, the results become staggering.
Long story short, it’s so important that we start being mindful of the plants that we grow in our own yards. Ever since I started planting more native pollinator plants, I’ve seen so many bees, bugs, birds, and butterflies. My yard is simply buzzing and it’s glorious.
I’m on a mission now to get rid of more turf grass, add more native pollinator plants, and stop using pesticides and fertilizers on my lawn. I will post updates on how it goes!