Are you ready to start growing native plants? We recommend starting small and going from there! Here are our top 7 tips for incorporating natives into your yard:
1. Know what plants you currently have
Before you add a single plant to your yard, it is helpful to know what you already have. If you live in the suburbs, you likely have a grassy lawn with a few trees and landscaped areas. Take the time to get to know the plants in your yard!
How do you know what plants you have? There’s an app for that! Check out how you can use the iNaturalist app to identify plants in your yard:
Once you’ve identified the plant, read up on the plant to determine whether it is native to your area. If it is a non-native, find out whether it is considered invasive. For more information on these non-native and invasive plants, check out our Native Plant 101: Beginner’s Guide.
2. Identify opportunities to replace plants
Start by removing any known invasive plants in your yard. I discovered I had two invasive plants in my yard – nandina shurbs and a ligustrum (also called Chinese privet) tree. I had a landscaper pull out those plants and used the freed up space to plant native plants.
You can also identify any dead plants or bare spots in your landscaping that are good candidates for a fresh plant. I recommend working within the existing landscaped areas (or container pots) you have. Later you can move onto replacing turf grass with more native plants!
3. Assess the sun conditions
The right sun conditions go a long way in successfully growing native plants. Spend a day tracking the amount of sun you receive in the areas you plan to put natives. Use you can use this sun tracker printable to help you if you like!
A full sun area is considered to have over 6 hours of direct sun a day, part sun is 4-6 hours of direct sun, and shade is considered less than 4 hours of direct sun a day. This will help you narrow down the list of plant candidates for your planting area.
4. Start a native plant wish list
Now for the fun part! It’s time to explore native plants in your area. Native plant books are one of the best ways to learn about plants near you. Refer to our native plant book list to find one for your state and/or region.
Also be sure to check out my list of native plant resources by state. I recommend prioritizing native plants that serve as host plants to butterflies and moths. Second priority plants would be those that provide nectar sources or other wildlife benefits.
5. Time your planting with the best season
Depending on where you live, it is often best to plant in the spring or fall. Here in Texas, the fall is the best time to plant perennials and scatter seeds for a wildflower garden. Plan accordingly for your area to maximize your chances for success. Nursery selection can also vary by season.
6. Head to your local native plant nursery
Often times we are limited to what our local nurseries carry. Avoid big-box store nurseries like Lowes and Home Depot, which tend to carry primarily non-native plants. Instead seek out local nurseries that specialize in natives. Start by Googling “native plant nurseries near me”. Once at the nursery, ask for their recommendations based on sun conditions and mature plant sizes.
7. Join the Native Backyards Challenge!
Need a little extra motivation to get started gardening with native plants? Then the Native Backyard Challenge is perfect for you! Sign up and I will send you an email each week with a mini challenge to help you get to know your yard and find opportunities to make it more environmentally friendly.
The goal of the challenge is a simple one: at the end of four weeks, I want you to incorporate two new native plants into your yard! Weekly email challenges include:
- 1st week: Identify the plants in your yard
- 2nd week: Find two spots to swap in new plants
- 3rd week: Identify native plants in your area that are great for the environment
- 4th week: Get planting and pat yourself on the back!
I hope you’ll join me in the Native Backyards Challenge as we work together to help the environment from our own yards! Even if you’re not ready to dive in, sign up for the emails so you are prepared for when the time is right. Sign up here:
Don’t Miss: Jumpstart Your Native Garden Workshop
Ready to make your native plant garden a reality? I’m here to help! I created the Jumpstart Your Native Plant Garden workshop to get you started TODAY.
This workshop gives you the simple steps to making your native plant garden a REALITY:
- 45 minute recorded workshop led by Haeley Giambalvo of Native Backyards
- Tangible tips for you to get a head start on your garden NOW
- Customized list of the BEST native plants to kickstart your garden
- NATIVE GARDEN ROADMAP with one-on-one feedback from Haeley