The 6 Reasons Why We Use Natives
In all of our designs we prioritize using native plants. We aim to use 100% native plants on each project but frequently this is not achievable, either because the demand for natives far outstrips the supply and sourcing is difficult, or because there are occasions where only a non-native will work given the site conditions.
As per acclaimed entomologist Professor Doug Tallamy's research, at least 70% native is enough to continue species conservation and we typically far exceed that number on each design/install.
We will never install a plant listed on the invasive plant species list. If you already have invasive plants, we will encourage you to replace them however we will never try to shame a client for having an invasive plant in their yard.
Here are the 6 reasons why we use native plants:
The late great Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape architect of New York's Central Park and inventor of the American parkway, used to travel to Britain in the 1800's, early in his career in journalism where he became inspired. At that time he was overcome with the tranquility he experienced in gardens that were planted with native British plants. There was an aesthetic sensibility that these plants were both suited to their surroundings and suited to each other. The color palette was so gentle that the experience was less about individual plants and more about the color symphony they created together. Later in the century he continued to return to Britain for inspiration but was disheartened to find that the boom of industrialisation had also brought to Britain new plants from all over the world. In his memoirs, he talks of the disappointment of seeing these plants take over what was a scene of serenity, that had now become a loud and abrasive clash of color and texture. We feel that the rejuvenation one experiences in gardens using natives is paramount to the design itself, just as Law Olmsted felt. Our lives are so intense, so stressful, we look to create designs that move people, not just with awe but that create a feeling of rejuvenation, and of respite. Yes we can design gardens with particular plants or birds in mind, but really first and foremost our design ethos is about the overall human experience from a natural aesthetic.
2. Natives Save You Time
When you consider what plant, where, sooner or later you have to consider the soil. For most of the piedmont region the soil is typically ultisol, also known as red clay. Most people tend to have a negative view of ultisol but actually it is highly nutrient dense and it's PH suits many of our native plants. This means that in the long run, you will spend less time solving nutrient deficiency issues which cause poor growth and invite pests and diseases and more time enjoying your garden. It also holds moisture well, so you can spend less time watering.
3. Natives Save You Money
Because of the native site suitability previously explained in #2, you won't need to spend your hard earned cash on fertilizers and pesticides, and irrigation bills. Many natives don't require special soil or soil amendments so that also saves people a lot of money.
4. Natives are Eco-Friendly
Natives typically require less fertilization, and have less issues with pests and diseases. Because of this there are less pollutive fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides running off and entering our fragile ecosystem. Natives need less water and therefore our precious water resources don't get wasted. Most native plants are bought, sold or swapped locally so there's less of a carbon footprint attached to plant distribution. As many natives don't require special soil or soil amendments, this reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and distribution.
5. Natives Attract Wildlife
A lot of native plants have wildlife that have depended on them and their connection to one another is evolutionary. Many native plants have specific relationships with specific fauna. They are both used for food (nectar and pollen) and also larval host plants where many native species lay their eggs. The native vine Passiflora incarnata for instance is a host plant for several native butterflies who will lay their eggs and then begin complete metamorphosis on the plant, and eat the plant leaves during the caterpillar phase. These native caterpillars are also very nutrient dense and a favorite native bird food for developing chicks.
6. Natives Help Prevent the Species Apocalypse
Species conservation is a hot topic as over the last 50 years we have lost 1/3 of the native bird species and similar quantities of plant and insect species.
Conservation efforts attribute this to:
i) climate change altering the seasonal temperatures which can change bloom times and place dependent species without of food/hosts because their evolutionary timing is off and animals and insects then starve.
ii) lawn addiction & gas leaf blower use
iii) pesticide use
iiii) habitat loss from development
iiiii) invasive plants outcompeting native plants
Without our intervention we can expect to lose tens of thousands of more species to extinction.