Native Plants: help birds, control insects, and beautify your property!

Julie Slavet
Dec 1, 2016

By Sophie Buckingham, TTF Summer Intern, recent graduate of Abington High School, and Environmental Studies major at Tufts University

14763478763_8460a3c50e_zOver 95% of the land in the continental U.S. has been developed for human use. Yes, we have national parks, and we have little pockets of forest in our neighborhoods, but these islands of nature are rarely enough to support our beautiful wildlife.

When our natural surroundings are healthy, we are healthy, and our neighbors are healthy. A healthy garden includes a diverse collection of different species of native plants, all of which feed small insects that serve as food for birds. The more diverse your selection of native plants, the more species of birds will make a home in your neighborhood.

A traditional lawn does not function as a healthy habitat for wildlife. When your neighborhood hosts only a couple of types of grasses, the few types of pests that feed on those grasses will become abundant. Not every bird will eat those pesky insects, so your neighborhood will be home to masses of annoying bugs and a small selection of birds. However, if your garden and your local park offer a variety of shrubs and flowers, there will be a variety of insects whose population size can be managed through the combined efforts of many species of birds. So, replacing open fields with a variety of garden plants can improve your insect problems and bring you more birds to enjoy.

Besides the fact that lawns don’t support wildlife, they are 7295375362_b7a099fafe_z-1also difficult to maintain. The grass dries out in the heat, and when it’s cooler out, the grass grows so quickly that every time you turn around, it’s time to mow the lawn again. If you want to control the pests in your yard and also want to save yourself the time and work of mowing the lawn, consider planting a variety of native shrubs and flowers in the green spaces in your neighborhood and  local park. Your neighborhood will be more beautiful and also less overrun with insects.

Why does TTF love native plants? TTF uses and encourages the use of native plants because most have extensive root systems that hold, filter and slow runoff, the major source of water pollution. They also require less water!

TTF can provide you with information about native plants to use in your yard…you can also attend a TTF event to learn more about how you can get involved in your local park and create enjoyable outdoor spaces for yourself and your neighbors. While you’re at it, ask TTF for a seed packet to get an easy start on your healthy garden!


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