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Clean Waters: Rethinking Plant Selection for the Home Landscape - University of Connecticut


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Clean Waters: Rethinking Plant Selection for the Home Landscape - University of Connecticut

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Clean Waters: Rethinking Plant Selection for the Home Landscape - University of Connecticut

  1. 1. Clean Waters Starting in Your Home and Yard Going Native – Rethinking Plant Selection for the Home Landscape When the first European colonists but many of the most popular American landscap- arrived in what is now the United States, they ing plants still have their roots in distant countries. brought from their homelands many plants andClean Waters is a landscaping designs with which they were familiar WHAT ARE NATIVE PLANTS, NON-NATIVEcollaboration of theConnecticut Sea and comfortable. Nearly three hundred and fifty PLANTS, AND WEEDS?Grant Extension years later, the American yard is still dominatedProgram and the by expansive lawns, symmetrically placed and Native plants (also called indigenous plants) areUniversity of shaped trees and shrubs, and flower beds of plants that have evolved over hundreds or thou-ConnecticutCooperative exotic plants typical of the English landscape sands of years in a particular region. They haveExtension tradition. adapted to the geography, hydrology and climateSystemÕs NEMO The native plants of North America have rarely of the region and to the other species of plants andProject, educating been popular in American gardens. Early garden- animals inhabiting the region. As a result, nativeindividuals about ers preferred the clipped yew hedges and tidy plants are part of a community that provides habi-the impacts ofeveryday activities flower beds of Europe to the wild and untamed tat (food andon water quality trees and flowers of nearby forests. However, shelter) for aand simple tech- native plants did have some supporters. Nearly a variety ofniques that help century and a half ago, while living on the shores nativeprotect waterresources from the of Walden Pond in eastern Massachusetts, Henry wildlifehome well to Long David Thoreau came to know the forest and speciesIsland Sound. meadows, trees and herbs in all their seasonal such as moods. His writings celebrated the beauty of songbirds native plants and the natural landscape. Jens and butter- Judy Ricketts-White Jensen, a landscape designer from the northern flies. Native Midwest, strove in his work to recreate the “tapes- plants, when try of living colors” beheld by early pioneers in the used in region. He loved the native dogwoods, crabap- home land- ples and hawthorns of the Midwest. His designs scaping, provide the ecological benefits of support-7 for public parks and private estates included ing local wildlife while requiring minimal mainte- many natural woodland landscapes utilizing native nance due to their adaptation to local climate and plants. soil conditions. Despite such support, when an era of world- Non-native plants (also called non-indigenous, wide plant exploration blossomed in the late invasive or exotic plants) are plants that have been 1800’s, exotic trees and shrubs from the far cor- introduced into an ecosystem in which they did not Fact Sheet ners of the earth became featured attractions in evolve. Some of these plants are introduced delib- June 2000 American gardens and parks. In recent years, erately, as with our many exotic landscaping plants. changes in taste and environmental awareness Others are introduced accidentally, through the have led to some sharing of garden space by spread of seed by wildlife or by their inadvertent native species and exotic favorites of years past, inclusion in seed mixes being sent from one area ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥
  2. 2. of the world to another. Some of these introduced, non-native plant species do not grow well in their HOW CAN USING NATIVE PLANTS new environment or do not reproduce easily so HELP THE ENVIRONMENT? they are easily controlled and pose no threat to the native ecosystem. Other introduced species find Landscaping with native plants has many positive their new home much to their liking and reproduce factors that relate to conservation landscaping and prolifically, even in natural, minimally managed land- to sustainable landscapes. scapes. These aggressive, or invasive plants often • Native plants save energy. Native plants have have no natural enemies or controls to limit their evolved and adapted to local conditions. They are spread. Invasive non-native plant species can be a vigorous and hardy, able to survive winter cold and serious threat to native plants and communities, summer heat. Once established, they require little or out-competing local species for available sunlight, no irrigation or fertilization. They are resistant to water and nutrients, and do not provide the wildlife local pests and diseases. Thus, native plants suit Judy Ricketts-White habitat benefits of the plants they replace. today’s interest in “low-maintenance” gardening and Weeds are plants that are growing in places landscaping. where they are not wanted. Both native and non- • Native plants stay put. Native species are mem- native plants can become weeds in a managed bers of a community that includes other plants, ani- mals and microorganisms. A natural balance keepsFact Sheet #7 landscape like a garden or agricultural field. Non- each species in check, allowing it to thrive in suit- native species tend to become invasive weeds in able conditions but preventing it from running amok. natural landscapes due to the lack of natural Native species rarely become invasive unless a controls. ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ 2
  3. 3. Landscaping with Native Shrubs Tim Fleury, Coordinator Forestry Stewardship Program SHRUBS FOR DRY, SUNNY AREAS SHRUBS FOR SHADED SITES Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) Hazelnut (Corylus americana, Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium C. cornuta) augustifolium) Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) Ground Juniper (Juniperus Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron communis) viscosum) Jersey Tea (Ceanothus Viburnums (V. acerfolium, americanus) V. cassinoides, V. alnifolium) Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrina) WILDLIFE FOOD — SUMMER Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) SHRUBS FOR MOIST SITES Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana) Dogwoods (Cornus spp.) Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) WILDLIFE FOOD — FALL Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus corymbosum) virginiana) Inkberry (Ilex glabra) Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) Pussy Willow (Salix discolor) Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) Shadbush Serviceberry Hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) (Amelanchier canadensis) Hickories (Carya spp.) Spirea (Spirea latifolia) Oaks (Quercus spp.) Swamp azalea (Rhododendron Walnuts (Juglans spp.) viscosum) Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra WILDLIFE COVER — WINTER alnifolia) Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis Viburnums (Viburnum spp.) thyoides) Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Black Spruce (Picea mariana) Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) virginiana) Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) Fact Sheet #7 White Pine (Pinus strobus)¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ 3
  4. 4. major disturbance disrupts the natural balance of reduces the number of plants to be purchased the community. and provides an instant “mature landscape”. Also • Native plants support the local ecosystem. identify invasive species for removal to prevent Native future problems. In an existing landscape, replace plants pro- plants that are lost to disease or storm damage vide food with native species. Lists of native and invasive and shelter plant species, and books and pamphlets describ- for birds, ing how to use them in home landscaping, are butterflies available from a number of sources, including the and other Connecticut Department of Environmental desirable Protection, the University of Connecticut, and wildlife. Connecticut College Arboretum. The brief list • Native included on page 3 is only to spark your imagina- plants are tion. interesting. As the natural landscape is developed, a gen- Judy Ricketts-White The diversi- eral decline in both plant and wildlife habitat diver- ty of native sity occurs, leading to an overall decline in many plants species and a population explosion of “pest” includes species best suited to backyard living (including interesting flowers and foliage. Native trees and squirrels, house sparrows, and white-tailed deer). shrubs provide a variety of heights, shapes, and To help offset this loss, consider planting native textures in the landscape. Many provide winter trees, shrubs and perennials around your home interest with their bark or seedpods. Native plants and yard.The Connecticut also have historical and cultural interest. Some ofSea Grant College these plants played a significant role in NativeProgram, based at Written by – American culture or in European exploration and Carl A. Salsedo,the University ofConnecticut, is settlement of the continent. Many species have Extension Educator – Horticulture,part of a national value as food or medicine. Others have been used University of Connecticutnetwork of univer- for rope and twine, fabrics and dyes, and othersity-based pro- Cooperative Extension System domestic purposes. Native plants provide the peo-grams sponsoringcoastal and ple of today with a tangible link to the past. Heather M. Crawford,marine-related Coastal Resources Educator,research, outreach HOW CAN I BEGIN LANDSCAPING CT Sea Grant Extension Programand education. WITH NATIVE PLANTS? If you are planning a landscape on an undevel- oped lot, first examine the existing plants to deter- mine which habitat type you will be working within. Identify native trees and shrubs and see how many For more information contact: Connecticut Sea Grant, could be incorporated into your new landscape. 1084 Shennecossett Rd., Groton, CT 06340 Protecting existing native plants in a new landscape Fact Sheet #7 ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ 4