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Week #8: Going Native

Monica Wylie Professional Headshot of Monica Wylie February 19, 2019

Did you know a typical neighborhood in Washington has more than 25 species of birds and mammals? (Courtesy of Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife wdfw.wa.gov/living/landscaping) As spring approaches, perhaps you are taking a look around your yard, your balcony or other outdoor space. And, if you’re like me, you might have your plan of attack ready or in the works, to whip your space into green space. How about we are more intentional about what we are planting moving forward? What if, even if you only have a single pot on your back porch, you plant something that butterflies love? Or hummingbirds? If you have an actual yard, no matter the size, to work with, consider planting for a Certified Wildlife Habitat. So it is a fact, each and every one of us can make a difference on multiple levels to benefit the greater good.

What does this actually involve?

For starters plant only native plants. Why is it so important to go native? Every habitat garden is a step toward replenishing resources for wildlife locally and along migratory corridors. And these are the plants that tend to thrive in our environment as far as wet winters, dry summers and typically have built up resistance to pests. So what is a native plant? A plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without human introduction (Courtesy, National Wildlife Federation).

Here is a list of just some of the benefits of using native plants:

  • Less maintenance
  • Less watering
  • No fertilizer or pesticides needed
  • Healthier soil
  • Reduced weed growth
  • Support wildlife
  • Decrease water runoff
  • Erosion control/soil stabilization
  • Restore natural areas; including forests, streams, and wetlands

A “backyard habitat” must include the following wildlife resources:

Food, water, shelter and space. This can look differently for different species. If you are the one-pot wonder, again, you are providing at least a food source, perhaps even shelter and more.

How do you get your plants? Fortunately, you have two wonderful local opportunities to obtain your flora for the Pacific Northwest fauna and support great work. Pierce Conservation District is holding their Annual Native Plant Event Saturday, March 2nd from 9am-1pm at the Pierce Conservation District office. Please check out their website for specifics on the event. If you miss this event, or just can’t get enough of going native, King Conservation District is holding their annual Native Bareroot Plant Sale on Saturday, March 16th from 10am-3pm at the Renton Community Center. Please visit their website for more details.

From evergreen and deciduous trees, to shrubs and groundcovers, you’ll have it covered. Perhaps you can make the time between now and then to get your plan together and your planting sites situated so you can bring your new foliage home and get it planted right away. I’d love to see pictures of your projects and hear about your experience!

More resources:

King Conservation District has some great tools to get you started, including planning your landscaping and rain barrel usage. Here's the link!

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife also has some planning tools you can access via their website.

Puget Sound Wildcare has resources as well, please visit their site.

The National Wildlife Federation also has invaluable resources on their site.

How can you do more for the pollinators, whose populations are steadily declining? Visit the site of Green Seattle for specifics.

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