If you are up with the latest gardening magazines and garden blogs you probably have been reading about one of the “hottest trends” in gardening – “fusion gardening”.
Even though they call it a new trend, the ideas behind it are anything but new ideas. Gardeners have been using some of these practices for generations. Unfortunately, over time, we have gotten away from working with Mother Nature instead of against her. Not that I feel that I need to be in with the latest trends, but Fusion gardening does make a whole lot of sense.
Fusion landscaping works in harmony with the natural conditions of your property. It blends or fuses together traditional garden design with sound ecological practices such as water-retaining features.
Right now, as you dream of warm days and evenings, and how you would like to use your outdoor space — and what it might look like — you’re likely considering where you will eat, relax, enjoy a recreation area and even where you will provide storage. Fusion garden designs incorporate all of that into the plan that also manages storm water, attracts pollinators and creates space for composting.
These are some of the practices that I would like us to take a look at today.
Using Native Plants
If you’re looking for a landscape filled with good looking, easy-to-maintain plants that are well adapted to our climate, then native plant material may be your best bet.
With a little planning and careful selection of plants, anyone can have a native plant landscape that works in harmony with the environment, provides a haven for native wildlife, and is attractive in the most urban of settings. Going Native can be done in small steps; you don’t have to replant your entire yard all at once. Instead, you can start small by replacing an exotic tree with a native one, by making a small area of your yard into a native plant garden, or by replacing a section of turf with a bed of native plants. Any piece of your property that you maintain in native vegetation or convert back to native plants can help offset the habitat losses from development and the spread of invasive plants
What is a Native Plant? Native plants (also called indigenous plants) are plants that have evolved over thousands of years in a particular region. They have adapted to the geography, hydrology, and climate of that region. Native plants occur in communities, that is, they have evolved together with other plants. As a result, a community of native plants provides habitat for a variety of native wildlife species such as songbirds and butterflies. A native plant is defined as any species that existed before European colonization.
Why Should You Use Native Plants? Native plants provide a beautiful, hardy, drought resistant, low maintenance landscape while benefiting the environment. Native plants, once established, save time and money by eliminating or significantly reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, water and lawn maintenance equipment.
Native plants do not require as much fertilizer. Vast amounts of fertilizers are applied to lawns. Excess phosphorus and nitrogen (the main components of fertilizers) run off into lakes and rivers causing excess algae growth. This depletes oxygen in our waters, harms aquatic life and interferes with recreational uses.
Native plants require fewer pesticides than lawns. Nationally, over 70 million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns each year. Pesticides run off lawns and can contaminate rivers and lakes. People and pets in contact with chemically treated lawns can be exposed to pesticides.
Native plants require less water. The deep root systems of many native plants increase the soil’s capacity to store water. Native plants can significantly reduce water runoff and, consequently, flooding.
Native plants help reduce air pollution. Natural landscapes do not require mowing. Lawns, however, must be mowed regularly. Gas powered garden tools emit 5% of the nation’s air pollution. Forty million lawnmowers consume 200 million gallons of gasoline per year. One gas-powered lawnmower emits 11 times the air pollution of a new car for each hour of operation. Excessive carbon from the burning of fossil fuels contributes to global warming. Native plants sequester, or remove, carbon from the air.
Native plants provide shelter and food for wildlife. Native plants attract a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by providing diverse habitats and food sources. Closely mowed lawns are of little use to most wildlife.
Native plants promote biodiversity and stewardship of our natural heritage. In the U.S., approximately 20 million acres of lawn are cultivated, covering more land than any single crop. Native plants are a part of our natural heritage. Natural landscaping is an opportunity to re-establish diverse native plants, thereby inviting the birds and butterflies back home.
Native plants save money. A study by Applied Ecological Services (Brodhead, WI) of larger properties estimates that over a 20 year period, the cumulative cost of maintaining a prairie or a wetland totals $3,000 per acre versus $20,000 per acre for non-native turf grasses.
Native plants lowers your maintenance. Native plants are survivors. They tend to be more cold hardy and more adaptable than most exotics.
Native plants help hold the soil in place helps prevent soil erosion. Because of their deep and rapid growing root systems, native plants work well to retain soil on slopes or difficult planting areas.
Native plants provide beauty. Many native plants produce showy flowers, abundant fruits and seeds, and brilliant fall foliage. By planting native plants, you will have a beautiful yard that is friendly to wildlife.
Native plants adapt better to poor soil conditions
For additional questions talk to our garden experts at Mori Gardens