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Top Ten Reasons To Use Native Plants In Your Landscape and More…

September 7th, 2009 · 13 Comments

Using Native Plants in your landscape is a win-win for you and the environment.  Here are the top ten reasons to use native plants in your landscape:

  1. Once Established, Native Plants Require Little Care and Maintenance
  2. Native Plants Save Money on Landscaping Cost
  3. Native Plants Are Pest and Disease Resistant
  4. Once Established, Native Plants Require No Watering
  5. Once Established, Native Plants Require No Fertilization (Or Pesticides)
  6. Native Plants Survive Harsh Winters and Hot Dry Summers
  7. Native Plants Provide Wildlife with Food and Protection
  8. Native Plants Help Reduce Erosion To a Minimum (Good For Shorelines)
  9. Native Plants Are Non-Invasive
  10. Native Plants Look Like They Belong in the Landscape (Gets Us In Touch With Our Surroundings)

About Native Plants:

Native plants can be an overworked gardeners best friend.  They will thrive without much care, surviving the cold winters and hot summers, and are disease and pest resistant! These species have worked for thousands of years to get used to the growing conditions of the surrounding area and are now ready for you to utilize their years of evolution.

You may even be so bold to replace your lawn with all native plants. No Mowing!

Natural landscapes contribute positively to the overall quality of the environment by improving air, water, and soil quality while providing much-needed wildlife habitat (attract butterfly’s and birds).  These plants provide the best overall food sources for wildlife, while requiring less fertilizer, less water, and less effort in controlling pests. Over time this translates to less cost to maintain a garden.

How To Use Native Plants In Your Home Garden:

Use them as you would any other exotic plant.  It is suggested they be planted in groupings paired with other native plants.  For example, Thomas F. Paterson suggests Big leaf and variegated forms of Hosta with Cinnamon Fern (The bold dark green foliage and the light green delicate fronds) or Epidmedium and Pink shell azaleas (The contrast of the light green groundcover and delicate flowers of an upright accent).

Common Themes Include:

Layering: Large trees placed in the back of the landscape. As you work toward the front of the landscape, low-growing species are included. This creates a feeling of a larger space and allows for the best viewing and enjoyment of the variety of species. EInclude evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs and groundcovers or perennials.

Clustering of Like Species: To create a more natural aesthetic, several plants of similar species are planted together in “drifts” or clusters.

Creating Diversity:
Include at least ten different species to create a more interesting landscape and attract a diversity of wildlife. The plants provide food and shelter to a wide variety of wildlife species, Evergreen and deciduous species alike.

Constructed Environments: Lawns, patios or paths to show examples of how plants can be landscaped around constructed features.

Where to Get Them:

You can start your own seed, get them from a nursery, or find them in the wild. As a practical matter, you may find that there are not enough local seed sources to fill the demand from gardeners looking for native seeds. As a rule of thumb, buy plants or seeds from garden centers or nurseries with seed sources that originated as close as possible to the area where you want to plant them. Check with your local nurseries and if they don’t have native plants, request they order some.

We will be starting a list of nurseries that carry native plants.  If you know of or are a nursery that carries native plants, send and email to david[at]ligrows.com with the nursery contact information.  Make the subject of the email “native plant nursery entry”.

Native Plant Restoration Projects/Organizations on Long Island:

Restoring an ecosystem helps the land to regain the balance of native plants that were originally found on the site prior to European settlement. By removing exotic plants that have moved in and sometimes taken over an area, we allow for the conditions that let the variety of native plants, and the birds and animals which depend on them, flourish in balance. Once restored and properly maintained, the diverse web of plants and animals will remain stable for generations to come. – Quote Taken From the FAQ section – EPA Site – Native Plants.

There are many hardworking people dedicated to restoring ecosystems, slowing erosion and cleaning our water right here in Long Island:

Long Island Native Grass Initiative (LINGI)

Long Island’s flora must endure weather extremes that cause erratic cycles of frost and thaw. The winds can be severe and salty, and much of the soil on the island is dry and sandy. Conditions on Long Island are unique, and restoration of its natural areas must accommodate its harsh environment.

The most cost and time-effective renewal projects incorporate the use of seeds and plants that have, over thousands of years, become genetically programmed to withstand these difficult environmental factors.

Native America

Long Island based organization dedicated to the reintroduction of native plant and animal species

The Long Island Sound Study

The Long Island Sound Study is a partnership of federal, state, and local government agencies, private organizations, and educational institutions working together to restore and protect Long Island Sound.

Suffolk County Government – Suffolk County Water and Land Invasive Species Advisory Board

Suffolk County continues to be a leader in invasive species control policies and funding — the need to keep waters open for fishing, boating and swimming, our lands walkable, and our natural areas rich in biodiversity is critical for our county’s future.

Long Island Invasive Species Management Area (LIISMA)

The Long Island Invasive Species Management Area (LIISMA) is a voluntary association of public and private land managers working together to prevent the spread of invasive species.

The Nature Conservancy – Long Island

From the Central Pine Barrens to the waters of the Great South Bay, with your help we can keep Long Island protected for nature and for people. Become a volunteer with The Nature Conservancy ( a wonderful organization ) here.

Internet Resources for New York/Long Island Native Plant Information:

Greenbelt Native Plant Center : New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Our mission is to provide native plants and seeds from local plant populations in support of the restoration and management of many of the City’s most valuable natural areas.

Fort Pond Native Plants

Fort Pond Native Plants in Montauk, Long Island, New York, began as a vision of James Grimes many years ago. He saw the need for a place where one could find native and less common, worthy plant material, a place where you could learn and come to appreciate unique approaches to gardening and landscaping.

Peconic Estuary Program

There are an ambitious 340 management tasks included in the CCMP; priority topics include Brown Tide, nutrients, habitat and living resources, pathogens, toxic pollutants, and critical lands protection.

NY Times – In the Region/Long Island; Native Plants Are Increasing in Popularity

THE use of native plants in landscapes and gardens has increased markedly on Long Island in recent years, commercial growers say, and the change is likely to continue as regulations increasingly require the use of native perennials and as more species are marketed….

Healthy Nassau – Suozzi and Denenberg take to Canoes to Eradicate Invasive Aquatic Plants

As part of his ongoing Healthy Nassau initiative, Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi and Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) were joined by The Nature Conservancy and a group of volunteers to remove invasive plants from Mill Pond Park in Wantagh.

Drosera – Native Plant Enthusiast – New York City Area

DROSERA brings fresh ideas to the understanding of nature through culture, with a focus on urban ecological issues, especially native flora. We strive to provide a home to something endangered – our sense of place and our understanding of the natural world by connecting New Yorkers to their innate love of nature.

Ferns and Native Plants in the Natural Landscape for Long Island

If gardening is reputed to be the No. 1 leisure activity in America today, we better be ready for those people who definitely want this “natural look,” woodland gardens, gardens that attract birds and wildlife, low-maintenance perennials, plantings that “care for themselves.”

Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center (University of Texas at Austin) – New York Wildflower List

First as the National Wildflower Research Center and later as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, this special place exists to introduce people to the beauty and diversity of wildflowers and other native plants.

Native Plant Sale To Benefit LI Native Grass Initiative

The use of native plants in landscaping and restoration activities on Long Island is being increasingly encouraged by local government, environmental organizations and scientists, as the impact of invasive species and development on biodiversity are understood.

List of Native Plant Species in Long Island:

Native plants range from trees to grasses, shrubs to wildflowers, ferns to hostas.  There are just too many to list.  But we have scoured out a few lists from our friends at the Cornell Cooperative Extension to get you started.

Compliments of Nassau County Cornell Cooperative Extension, here is a small list of suggested native plants for the Nassau County Long Island home gardener:

Compliments of Suffolk County Cornell Cooperative Extension, here are some suggested native plants for the Suffolk County Long Island home gardener (by Tom F. Paterson):

Some of these planting combinations I particularly would recommend are:

The following is a list of some of my favorite ferns and perennials, ones which have continued to be successful, both in production and use in the landscape.

Also I suggest these native trees and shrubs:

Other Useful Internet Resources:

Green Landscaping: Greenacres Native Plants EPA FAQ Page

US National Park Service – An introduction to using native plants in restoration projects

Why Landscape With Wild Plants

Native Plants, Natural Landscapes

A Garden of Possibilites – What Exactly Are Native Plants?

Native Plants Book List

Lady Bird Johnson – Wildflower Center – Native Plant Database

Native Plant Finder – Find recommended native garden plants for your state

New England Wildflower Society

Connecticut Native Plants for the Garden

Invasive Species: Information, Images, Videos, Distribution Maps

New York Invasive Species Research Institute (NYISRI)

We will be starting a list of nurseries that carry native plants.  If you know of or are a nursery that carries native plants, send and email to david[at]ligrows.com with the nursery contact information.  Make the subject of the email “native plant nursery entry”.

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Tags: Flowers · Go Green · Long Island · Medicinal · Organic Gardening Techniques · Seeds · Shrubs · Trees · Vegetables

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tobi Jo // Jan 30, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this great article and list! I’ve spent a lot of time studying it – look forward to planting a native wildflower garden.

  • 2 David // Feb 9, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I am glad you can use it as a resource. Good Luck and come back to let us know how you are using native plants.

  • 3 jeff // Mar 29, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Where can I browse, shop, and purchase large quantities of native flowering and grass species in Suffolk County?

  • 4 Tom // Nov 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm


    I’ve been assigned the task of selecting small to medium sized trees for a new parking lot and entranceway. I originally selected Callery pear (Cleveland select), crape myrtle and redbud. I’m now having second thoughts concerning the pear as I’ve read they’ve become very invasive. I’m thinking a native species would be more appropriate. Any suggestions?


  • 5 Tom // Nov 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Sorry, I forgot to add that the parking lot project is on Long Island in a residential setting.

  • 6 David // Nov 5, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I really love flowering dogwoods…They are easy to maintain and provide amazing beauty in the spring as well as in the fall when the leaves change. Fort Pond Native Plants located in Montauk has a list of native trees in their catalog. If you take a hint from the pine barrens, you can do all evergreen shrubs like Yew or Cyprus. Test the soil in that area and see if its acidic. If it is, plant evergreens that grow tall along the entrance way, then maybe flowering dogwoods in the lot…Good Luck!

  • 7 Ana // Oct 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Native plants are cheap and save wildlife. This is handy and useful article.

  • 8 Larissa // Feb 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Hi, I am doing a bit of research for a native plant campaign that the Long Island Sound Study is hoping to initiate and I stumbled upon your Website. I noticed LISS’s link above is crossed out instead of underlined and also that our link is broken. Could you re-link to http://longislandsoundstudy.net/get-involved/what-you-can-do/around-your-backyard/sound-gardening/ ? If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at: Larissa Graham, Outreach Coordinator, ljg85@cornell.edu or 631-632-9216. THANKS! :)

  • 9 Daniel // Apr 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Does anyone have any suggestions for nurseries on long island that actually stock natives? Someone who really knows about natives and won’t just try to sell you an ornamental that they think is native? We work with a camp in Wheatley Heights, and would like to create a relationship with a nearby native nursery. (We’d be willing to go out as far as Little Neck, if need be)

  • 10 David // Aug 15, 2012 at 1:49 am

    ok Larissa, you’re all set! thanks for the updated link.

  • 11 Matt // Jan 16, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Check out the above link for a local source of natives. This nursery works with the greenbelt native plant center to grow plants from local seed.

  • 12 Diane Kelly // Apr 10, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I love this list!
    I am with the Arizona Native Plant Society and I would like permission to use this with changes for our area. May we?

  • 13 Walden // Apr 28, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Have not been there yet but there is a nursery in Eastport that specializes in natives. A great place to see many natives includes the Iselin preserve in Brookville near oyster bay.

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