The fall season is an ideal time to assess your lawn and garden areas and even consider a new vision for the space. Replacing traditional sod with a mix of native plants and groundcovers that boost wildlife populations is growing in popularity.
Plant Virginia Natives, a collaborative initiative created to increase the local availability and use of native plants statewide, offers tips for creating a landscape in which nature takes care of itself.
- First, control or remove invasive species that are known to be problematic to the environment, such as English ivy, Japanese honeysuckle, periwinkle, privet, nandina and barberry.
- Next, look at your landscape to see what changes you would like to make. Consider planting native species of trees, shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers suitable to your area’s growing conditions. Choose these in varying heights and layers to ensure adequate coverage and diversity throughout your space. An overhead canopy of trees, for instance, provides wildlife with a food source, nesting cover and shelter from the elements.
- Include plants for the pollinators, such as hummingbirds, bats, bees, beetles, butterflies, and flies that carry pollen from one plant to another.
- For those who live on the water, create a wide plant buffer at the edge to intercept sediments and filter out nutrients that run off the land.
- If you do wish to retain some lawn space, keep it to a minimum.
- Finally, leave the leaves! Setting aside areas in your landscape for leaf beds and using leaves as mulch provides an essential habitat for critters. In our area, this includes salamanders, box turtles, birds and other wildlife.
Plant Virginia Natives publishes native plant guides for all Virginia regions. Download the Native Plants for Southeast Virginia guide at this link. And for more information like this, visit askHRgreen.org.