| Story by Meghan McMahon |
Those among us with green thumbs relish this time of year, when spring has sprung and our yards are beginning to become lush once again. But every gardener knows there’s always work to be done: plants to tend, weeds to pull, new beds to fill.
For many flowers and plants, May is planting season. Now is the time of year when we are plotting and planning what to add to our yards and gardens for planting in a few weeks, when the threat of frost has passed. Using native plants in home landscapes is a growing trend, and one that benefits the environment and ecosystem around us.
Native plants are the plants — grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees — that grow naturally in the region in which they evolved. The plants native to Will County and northern Illinois are adapted to our climate and soil, according to the U.S. Forest Service. They’re meant to grow here because they have historically.
In many areas of the country, native plants are struggling because of changes in how land is being used and the impact of climate change, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In turn, this causes problems for animals that depend on these plants for food and shelter.
There are many compelling reasons to include native plants in your home landscape, many of which are outlined below. If the reasons below persuade you to include native plants in your yard, consult with reputable nurseries and garden centers, the USDA advises. Remember that not all plants sold at local garden centers and home improvement stores are native; in fact, many are not.
You can research plants native to your specific area with the National Audubon Society’s comprehensive Native Plants Database. The database can be filtered based on the types of plants you want to include in your yard and even the types of birds you want to attract.