At the Clearwater Commons, Low-Impact Development community, we are planting native plants in our wetland mitigation and landscaped planting beds because they tend to be hardy in cold weather, tougher and more resistant in drought conditions, and they provide a stable, suitable diet and habitat for our native birds and mammals.
Native plants are relatively easy to acquire from reputable nurseries in our region or propagated on site. They can be planted in native soils and while many homeowners are encouraged to amend their gardens with compost, native plants do very well in undisturbed native soil without special amendments or accommodations. Native plants, once given an opportunity, will overtake invasive plant species. Invasive plants create unhealthy monocultures, limiting available food and habitat for animals in the area and creating dull, uninteresting landscapes.
Ribes sanguineum, Red Flowering Currant
When planted in the fall, natives take advantage of cool, wet, fall and winter seasons to expand their root structures, digging deep into the soil to establish what will become essential root stock to weather our typical summer drought season. As with any newly planted garden, supplemental water is necessary through the first year, especially for trees and shrubs, but native plants actually thrive without special coddling or attention, and usually without supplemental water after their first year in the ground.
Native plants such as Mahonia provide nectar for wintering hummingbirds even in the coldest of winters. Rushes and sedges along a stream bank or seasonal pond provide essential habitat for amphibians and insects, which also provides a food source for salmon. Diversity in a native plant garden also creates a diversity of food and habitat for many of our bird, mammal and raptor species, thus supporting a diverse and healthy eco-system from the ground up.