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House with native plants and animalsGoing Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants
Home > Create Your Own Native Landscape > Step Three-Design Landscape > Develop a Planting Plan

Develop a Planting Plan

Your Planting Plan is where you put all the information you have gathered into a plan that you can begin to implement on your landscape.
More information on Developing a Planting Plan.

Locate Plants to Keep
Refer back to your map of existing vegetation.  Plan to retain native plants that have proven attractive according to observations and records.  Locate these plants on a fresh copy of your base map.

Outline Planting Areas
Review the bubble diagrams you drew to designate spaces for human and wildlife requirements in the landscape.  On your map, lightly draw an outline of all planting areas that were identified by these requirements.  Be willing to compromise some human needs to meet wildlife needs, and vice versa.

Select Plants


Select appropriate native plants considering ultimate size and aesthetics of the plant and conditions of the site. As you continue from the canopy to the lower vertical layers in the habitat, you may wish to design each layer on a separate clear overlay.  Although you want the entire design to be integrated, this technique will make the planting plan easier to read.

Use the Going Native Database of Native Plants with wildlife value to help you find the plants that will best meet your needs.

Locate Canopy Plants
Identify the locations for the tallest plants and focal points in the garden first. Think about the effects of evergreen or deciduous trees in each location. Canopy Planting Plan.

Locate Shrub Plants
Proceed to the next vertical layers, the mid-story and shrub layers.  Remember to account for the effects of canopy plants you might have added. Shrub Planting Plan.

Locate Ground Plants
The groundcover layer offers the most variety in terms of plant selection and availability at local nurseries. When you combine plants, remember to apply good design principles:

  • Use appropriate scale and proportion.
  • Consider the shape and forms of the plants.
  • Choose complementary or contrasting textures and colors, depending on your desired effect.
  • Repeat plants, or at least aesthetic characteristics like texture and color, to create unity in the garden.

Ground Planting Plan.

Things to Avoid – Often, as homeowners and gardeners attempt to take actions that benefit wildlife, they instead create conditions that are detrimental to the animals or to themselves.  There are several mistakes frequently made during landscape design, leading to problems once the native plants are in place.

  • Ignoring Wildlife Needs
  • Not Addressing Limiting Factor
  • Not Having Blooms Year-Round
  • Planting Too Close to Windows
  • Having Outdoor Cats
  • Violating City or Neighborhood Ordinances

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