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Landscaping with native wildflowers

Published: Friday, March 2, 2012 4:32 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 2, 2012 4:34 p.m. CDT

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Native plants are becoming the designers’ choice for landscaping for not only their beauty but also for their ability to adapt and survive in a wide range of conditions. Native plantings attract many types of wildlife species, serving as hosts for habitat and food sources, while preserving the balance and biodiversity of our fragile ecosystems.

Natural landscaping with native wildflowers and grasses creates beautiful low-maintenance areas, reducing the need for mowing and fertilization. These natural landscapes lower our carbon footprint while providing beauty throughout the seasons.

Once established, native plant communities provide long-term sustainable solutions to habitat preservation or reclamation of damaged lands. The deep fibrous root systems protect our valuable top soils and provide natural erosion control. Used as an important storm water management tool, native plantings capture storm water runoff, mitigate flooding and protect our streams, river and lakes from harmful contaminants.

When planning your landscape, start with plants rather than seeds. Plants will yield instant results, as seeds can take up to three years to look nice. Decide on your purpose: A wildlife sanctuary for birds, or nectar for butterflies, a rain garden or to simply enjoy the ease and beautiful color. Then make your selections of plants based on your goal and your planting area’s soil and sunlight. Most wildflowers native to the prairies enjoy full sun, but many will do fine in partial shade, perhaps offering slower growth. Woodland flowers require at least partial shade during the heat of the day.

From backyard gardens to commercial developments, native plant communities have a place in all landscaping projects. Bureau County Soil and Water Conservation District is hosting a native plant sale this spring. Pre-ordering your plants will help ensure that you will get those varieties that meet your needs. If you need an order sheet, call or send us an email. Our phone number is 815-875-8732, ext. 3, or email us at BCSWCD@hotmail.com. Ordering deadline for plants is April 6, and pick-up and open shopping is on May 10 and 11 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Bureau County Soil and Water Conservation District, USDA Building 312 E. Backbone Road, Princeton.

Get growing native for 2012!

Emily McQueen is the administrative resource conservationist with the Bureau County Soil and Water Conservation District.

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