This spring has brought many unique challenges, but it has also allowed us to slow down. Allen County Partnership for Water Quality is interested in helping water do the same by creating water-friendly landscaping. This concept sounds like it could be challenging, but it can be as simple as picking native plants for your gardens. Many people are aware of the biodiversity benefits that native plants offer, but did you know that native plants can do more than habitat and food for pollinators and local birds? They also allow incredible benefits to our local waterways and can help improve water quality!
How can native plants improve water quality? One could answer this question in a lot of different ways, but let’s focus on how native plants use less water and fewer pesticides and fertilizers to thrive in our yards.
The average lawn requires thousands of gallons of water throughout the growing season to maintain a uniformed green most residents strive to have due to the shallow root system of these grasses. However, native plants are equipped with a deep root system, giving them access to hard-to-reach water sources. Meaning that native plants need less attention than their nonnative counterparts, and they will increase your soil’s capacity to hold water. Ultimately, native plants benefit our landscapes by requiring less maintenance once established, and they help the ground absorb more water to decrease flooding during large rain events.
Other gardening practices include applying pesticides and fertilizers; however, with native plants, this routine might not be necessary. Native plants have adapted to this area, allowing them to develop defenses against pests and creative ways to get their nutrients. Allowing for a decrease in pesticides and fertilizers, less unwanted chemicals find their way into local rivers, streams, and lakes.
Being a water quality steward can be as simple as placing native plants into one’s landscape over showy nonnative plants. There are numerous benefits to choosing natives for one’s landscape ranging from food for local wildlife to improving the water quality of local waterways. Instead of picking the next series to binge-watch or what puzzle to complete, get outside, and plan out where your native plants are going to go!