NAA: Landscape Your Yard With Native Plants

Disclaimer:
1) Generally I am not directly quoting anybody, unless you see quotation marks. All factual errors are mine!
2) Re: above-Corrections are appreciated!

Nikki Cerra gave us as much of an overview in landscape design with native plants as time and some gorgeous slides allowed. Topic number one was….

Why landscape with native plants?
A native species is defined by both a geographic and a time reference. In NYS, it generally refers to pre-European settlement.
*Native plants support the ecological food web-plants,insects and animals have co-evolved. For example,plants provide food for wildlife at the time they need it.
*They are suited to the habitate, requiring less care and pesticide use.
*Esthetically, they provide a connection to one’s sense of place.
*Because they are more likely to thrive in their own habitat, they can save you money.

Site Analysis & Inventory
What type of soil do you have? If you can roll a damp ribbon with it two inches long, you have loamy soil (composed of sand,silt and clay in relatively even concentration). Another test is to put some soil from your site in a mason jar and mix with water and a teaspoon of dish soap. Let it settle for 2 hours.The sand will be on the bottom, silt in the middle and clay on the top.

First, clear out the invasive species-let’s hope this is not a tall order! Then create a Base Map of your site (including a list of your existing plants. To get scale, try using Google maps and a scale of 1:4 or 1:8. Note the following:
The SitePrevailing winds, the topography of the land,existing structures nearby
The Hydrology-Both natural and man made
Design constraints-Wires, access for people
The Light-How much light, and at what time of year.
Existing Plants
Your Local Native Species & Habitats-If you have or can create a habitat for 3-4 regional species, other species will be drawn to it and be included.

Human and Bird Essentials
Human needs I didn’t note down. I felt I had a pretty good idea both by instinct and training. Bird essential are pretty obvious,too-shelter, water, nesting sites and food.  Most birds are insectivores, and even the ones that aren’t feed insects to thier young. In the winter, berries can be found on dogwood, Malus corinaria (sweet crab),Quercus alba (white oak).
Birds prefer their water on the ground and, in the summer, in shade. A bird bath should have a rough surface for better footing and be 1/2″ at the edge to 2″ at the deepest. They also like moving water. For low-tech system, suspend a bucket with a pinhole in the bottom over the bath and let it drip.
Shrubs and trees should be a mix of evergreen & deciduous in various heights, as different bird species live at differing heights. For nests, birds prefer thorny plants like crataegus (hawthorn), Rosa carolina or meadow rose. The more variation the more different niches available for different birds. You can create a bird friendly hedgerow by simple running a wire between two posts for birds to perch on. Their droppings wil plant the seed of their prefered berries for you!

Basic Design Concepts
Basic design elements include Lines, both vertical and horizontal (trees are an example of vertical lines). In addition, trees have Forms, such as circular or conicals, as do perennials. This combination of Line and Form creates Mass. Texture can be fine, medium or coarse-mostly medium. Fine texture with coarse behind it makes small areas seem bigger. Coarse in front with fine behind makes big areas cozier.

Color Wheel

Color Wheel

Color options can be monochromatic, analogous (adjacent on the color wheel), or complementary (opposite on the wheel). Styles range from naturalistic to formal. You can reveal or conceal the view. Use native plants combined with landscape design principles for gardens that are not just beautiful, but beneficial to other living creatures.

Resources:
Plant Native

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