It is difficult to find yards in Bend, Oregon with native plants in the landscape. Too many designs use lawns for the majority of the landscape. We cleared land of native plants to use for urbanization and the housing, We installed lots of green grass and obsessed with maintaining the perfect lawn. We used lots of water and fertilizer. According to Dr. Doug Tallamy, Professor and Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, “So far we have planted over 62,500 square miles, some 40 million acres, in lawn.
Each weekend we mow an area 8 times the size of New Jersey to 1” high.” With all of this lawn in the landscape, we have lost biodiversity in the landscape. We need biodiversity for oxygen and clean water and to buffer extreme weather events like droughts and floods. Using native plants in the landscape will help to restore biodiversity.
Lawns serve a purpose in the landscape when we have children and pets or want to provide a wildfire buffer. However, to support and help restore our local natural ecosystems, pollinators and other wildlife, we need to replace any unnecessary lawn with native plants. We should avoid plants that originated outside the United States. Research has shown that alien ornamentals support 29 times less biodiversity than do native ornamentals. Even modest increases in the native plant cover on suburban properties significantly increases the number and species of pollinators, breeding birds, and other wildlife.
This landscape minimizes the amount of lawn for the dogs and incorporates native plants in various layers.
By designing yards with layered landscapes of native plants, we support biodiversity in our yards. In Central Oregon, there is a variety of plants that will add biodiversity and value to your home. The outside edges of the yard should be planted with native trees such as Vine Maples (Acer circinatum), Pacific Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), Common Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) or Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa) or ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa).
Native shrubs in the landscape provide foliage for cover and shelter. Shrubs can also provide seeds, berries and fruits to support wildlife. Native shrubs can range in size from Creeping Mahonia (Mahonia repens, Woods Rose (Rosa woodsii), Golden Currant (Ribes aureum), to Red Elderberry, (Sambucus racemose).
Along with native trees and shrubs, your design should include areas of annuals, biennials or perennials. A variety of brightly colored native flowers will attract pollinators to the garden. Butterflies and hummingbirds will visit and feed from the plants. Suggestions for this layer in your garden include Firecraker (Penstemon eatonii), Oregon Sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum), or Orange Globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana).
Hansen 2015 Flowers
Wildflowers and other native plants add biodiversity to the landscape.
For a more complete listing of Oregon native plants visit http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/native-or.html or to learn more about bringing nature home visit Dr. Tallamy’s website at http://www.bringingnaturehome.net/gardening-for-life.html.
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