With spring finally here, many of us are eager to begin sprucing up and planting in our yards. For the most robust and environmentally friendly yard you can have, it's important to remember to plant native. There are a variety native flowers, grasses, and shrubs that homeowners can plant to ensure the health of their yards and the wildlife that visits it.
One of the most important visitors to a yard's springtime bloom are our local pollinators. Butterflies, moths, bees, hummingbirds, and bats may be visiting your yard during this time of year to feast on the new bounty that spring offers. By planting native in our yards, we prevent these animals from being exposed to toxic pesticides, while planting plants that are already adjusted for our soils and environmental conditions. A wide variety of native plants will attract an array of pollinators, turning your yard into a must-see stop on these animals' journeys.
Research has shown that specific colors of flowers tend to attract certain types of pollinators. For a yard buzzing with bees, purple flowers are the ones to plant. For butterflies and moths, pink flowers win them over, while our beetles and ants tend to favor white and yellow. Therefore, a mix of butterfly weed, coneflower, milkweed, penstemon, and sweetspire could be planted to please all these pollinators needs. The more colors you plant, the more of a chance you'll have to attract different pollinators to your yard.
In addition to our wildflowers, our yards may need some additional grasses or shrubs. Native grasses and shrubs, just like our wildflowers, are adapted for the soils in our community and are resistant to conditions such as drought and excessive heat. Switchgrass, fescue, and little bluestem can help bring a wild meadow feel to your yard, while also helping with stormwater runoff and erosion. Native shrubs, such as elderberry and chokeberry, provide valuable food for our flying feather friends, while also providing additional color and shape to a yard's landscape.
When preparing to plant your yard this spring, remember to plant native. It's important for the health of our community, wildlife, pollinators, and watershed. For more information on native yard planting you can visit the Rye Nature Center or check out the wonderful resources that the Rye Sustainability Committee has compiled here!
-AJ Johnson, Director of Strategic Initiatives