Nativescapes – The Ultimate Green Landscape


A type of sustainable landscape design that uses mostly native plants is often called “Nativescaping”.  Sometimes it is a type of theme garden labelled as a “Native Plant Garden”.  It is  actually a more descriptive name in lieu of the term Xeriscape, which to many people, means nothing.

What is a Native Plant? A native species (also referred to as indigenous) is a plant that has evolved over many thousands of years in a particular bio-region. Throughout their evolution within a particular area, there have been challenges placed upon the survival of the plant, mainly influences of soil, hydrology, temperature extremes and degree of sunlight.  Such plants make up a part of their bio region in which they share the climatic factors with other plant species to form a plant community. A community of native plant species differentiate the habitats that animals and other creatures inhabit.

What is a Non-Native Plant? Non-native plants (also called non-indigenous plants) are plants that have been brought into an area in which they did not evolve. Introduction of non-native plants into our landscape has been both accidental and intentional. For example, Purple loosestrife, was introduced from Europe 200 hundred years ago as a medicinal herb and ornamental plant. It quickly spread and can now be found in 42 states.

Just like an exotic animal being brought into a non-native habitat, a plant can become overly aggressive and out compete other native species because it often has no competition or predators to control it. Such plant species in our natural ecosystems can be a real problem. But in our own gardens and landscapes, we tend to have virtually all non-natives comprising our plant palettes. That’s the fun of gardening – that you are not limited to native species.

However, because they are not native, such plants require much more intense care, water and energy. A green approach to landscape makes use of native because of the lower water requirements, energy expenditure and the like.

Here are some reasons why native plants can be a benefit:

  • do not need fertilizers.
  • require fewer pesticides.
  • require less water.
  • help reduce air pollution.
  • provide habitat and food for wildlife.
  • respect the natural biodiversity or our lands.
  • saves on the cost of purchasing plants.

So now, it should seem a no-brainer to have at least a part of your yard or garden full of native plants that contribute to an overall sustainable landscape.

The best way to have indigenous plants is to not remove them in the first place! If possible, don’t look at your native vegetation as an overgrowth of weeds and scrub. Natives can be pruned effectively to integrate with your introduced non-native species for a garden that is sensitive to the needs of people.