There are a few minor differences between maintaining native plants and non-native plants.  In a non-native (traditional) garden, we are growing plants that naturally don’t grow together, aren’t part of natural processes or adapted over thousands of years to the local environment. Here are some nature inspired native plant maintenance tips: 

  • Native plants do not need fertilizers or amendments. Over time prairie plants add organic matter to the soil deep below by their decaying root systems, while new roots system grow. if you have clay soils, use native plants which will do well in clay. Tilling brings up more weed and disturbs underground wildlife habitat.
  • Do not over  mulch, especially around prairie plants.  Think about it – there where no trees in the prairie, plus if your native plants spread they’ll fill in all the blank spots where weeds would grow. If you have a woodland or savanna garden, Leave the Leaves! 
  • Celebrate holes in garden. This means you are feeding insects, most of which are beneficial, and other herbivores. You are also feeding other wildlife which depend on the wildlife feeding on your native plants.If you have a major pest problem, use Integrated Pest Management, in which you determine the cause and least harmful solution before using any pesticides. Most times pest invade plants which are stressed by something we have done incorrectly, like planting in incorrect conditions.
  • Established native plants rarely need watering with exceptions:  During a drought, water trees and shrubs which take longer to get established, and water newly installed native perennial plants.
  • Native plants are dynamic. They change from year to year and month to month depending on wildlife, natural processes, and environmental factors, so your garden will look slightly different all the time.  That’s part of the fun of gardening with native plants!
  • Some native plants spread more in one yard than they do in another. Their behavior depends on your specific site conditions (soil, sun, weather), wildlife in your yard and other plants growing nearby which provide competition.  Learn more in “A Living Mulch”
Field of Golden Alexanders in spring followed by other wildflowers later in the season.

Field of Golden Alexanders in spring followed by other wildflowers later in the season.

black swallowtail caterpillar

Golden Alexanders feed black swallowtail caterpillars! Click for larger image.

Later in summer, a field of Thimbleweeds fill the area, along with spiderwort.

Later in summer, a field of Thimbleweeds fills the same area.


I hope you find these tips helpful!!! Please email or call Good-Natured Landscapes if you need a beautiful, functional, earth-friendly garden where maintenance is full of neat discoveries and interesting learning experiences, and you can feel confident about maintenance with my Garden Coaching Service.

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