Why you should avoid using non native species in landscapes
What is the biggest mistake you can make when planning and implementing your landscape? Poor color or placement? No. The biggest mistake in landscaping is to plant invasive, non native species in your landscape. Why?
Your landscape plants can become dangerous to your local environment.
Many of the seemingly innocuous foreign landscape plants used during the last century have now made their way into the wild, and in many cases, they dominate the larger landscape, gradually eliminating the native plants as they eat more and more space.
The invasion has been slow, and hardly noticeable to most people, and each new generation comes to think of the invaders as a part of the landscape, assuming that it has always existed in it’s present form.
The plant once used to decorate aquariums and backyard show ponds, Hydrilla, has become the dominate feature in ponds and lakes throughout much of the Southern United States, and has clogged waterways, and destroyed fishing in many areas.
One common shrub, Asian Privet, has consumed the forest floor in much of the Southeastern United States, taking out natives, both plant and animal as it continues.
There are hundreds of other examples like the Japanese Silk Tree, Kudzu, Johnson grass, and Bahia grass to name a few. These plants were once seen as being beneficial for one purpose or another, but have now become a multimillion dollar problem, and the obvious monetary cost is only the tip of the iceberg. Loss of native species and biodiversity eventually have consequences we may not yet understand. It is difficult to determine what the cost will be to local environments, and consequently, the pocketbook as the invasion continues.
Why you should be concerned about non native species.
Why should all of this be a concern for you? Your choice of landscape plants for your home may determine the extent to which this trend continues. When planning a landscape, make sure that the plants you choose are native to your area. This will not only slow the spread of the exotic invasion, but will also provide immediate and tangible economic benefit to you. Native plants are comfortable in your area, they are used to your climate and conditions, and will require less special care. They have existed where they are because they like the conditions, and are largely immune to local pests and diseases, meaning that there will be fewer pest and disease problems to eat up your hard earned dollars.
You will also be helping to preserve native wildlife, especially birds, and since birds consume insects in large quantities, you will be reducing pests even more. When the birds native to an area lose the plants that they prefer as food, and they are replaced by plants with less nutritive seed, the natives will move away in search of more “native like” surroundings. Keeping your landscape native will help to preserve natural balance.