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House with native plants and animalsGoing Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants
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Step Four-Implement Landscape

Keep in mind that “Going Native” can be done in small steps; you don’t have to replant your entire yard all at once.  You can start by replacing one exotic tree with a native one or implementing just one area of your plan.  However you start, following the steps below will greatly influence the success of your efforts.

More information on Implementing a Planting Plan.

Site Preparation

  • Sample Soil -- Before planting, collect soil samples from different areas on your property and have them analyzed. Use the results of the soil test to amend your soil appropriately.
  • Remove Undesirable Plants – Without using herbicides, if possible.

Buy Native Plants – The number of reputable nurseries that specialize in native plants is increasing.  Refer to the websites below for a list of native plant providers.

Install Plants – Proper planting technique improves the likelihood of a plant’s success in the garden.

  • Make planting hole 2 to 3 times as wide as the root ball.
  • Make sure the root ball of shrub or tree is level with ground.
  • Make sure plant’s root collar is above soil.
  • Use original soil when backfilling the planting hole.
  • Water thoroughly at time of planting. 
  • Water frequently for first year.

Maintenance – An attractive and functional native plant landscape requires diligent oversight and maintenance, but do not over-manicure and degrade the quality of the landscape as wildlife habitat.

  • Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch over wildflower beds and base of woody plants.
  • Prune shrubs and trees during the winter.  Never prune during the nesting season, mid March to end of July.
  • Leave old flower heads on blooming plants so seeds are available to birds during fall and winter.
  • Maintain balance of your design by dividing successful plants and sharing them with other gardeners.
  • Avoid using pesticides that may harm the wildlife you hoped to attract.
  • Continue to take pictures of your yard and record wildlife observations after plant installation is finished.  Use the photos and records to evaluate improvements. 
  • Don’t be afraid to make changes in the landscape if the original design or plant selection is not effective.
  • Remain patient when establishing a new native plant landscape.  It generally takes 3 to 5 years before the results of landscaping are fully realized.

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