Michigan; Designing With Native Plants - Springfield Township

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Michigan; Designing With Native Plants - Springfield Township
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  Going Native   Choosing the Gar-den Type   Instead of choosing a gardenfor your landscape, let yourlandscape tell you what kindof garden you should create.On Sheet #2 of this series,the common native plantcommunities of SpringfieldTownship are described.Review this information andfirst determine which plantcommunities existed on yourproperty before it was devel-oped. This will give youclues about the soil andmoisture conditions, andwill tell you the type of gar-dens that will do well inyour yard.Next, do an analysis of your yard. Get a copy of your property survey anddraw in all the existing fea-tures, such as utilities, pat-ios, downspouts, etc.Things like sun, shade andmoisture levels are also im-portant to note. Locating the Garden   Now you’ve got the neces-sary information to decidewhat types of gardens willdo well in different areas of your yard. If cattails arecontinually springing up in awet spot at the edge of yourproperty, you may want todesign a wetland gardenthere. The amount of sunwill tell you if you shoulduse marsh-type plants orwooded wetland plants. Byletting your landscape tellyou what will work best,you will avoid the constantstruggle of babying plantsthat are not suited to thegrowing conditions. Again,it is the “right plant, rightplace” philosophy. Modeling Your Gar-den after Nature   Once you’ve figured out the plant community(ies)that will grow well in youryard, you can design thegarden using the plant mem-bers of this community.This is an easy process sincethere are a limited numberof plants that grow in eachcommunity. (However, re-member that species are of-ten found in more than onecommunity.) Another ad-vantage of using the com-munity approach is theplants “go together.” Forinstance, yellow and purpleare opposites on the colorwheel, making them com-plementary colors. A prairiein the   fall is covered by yel-low goldenrod and purpleasters! This pattern is re-peated across many plantcommunities.  Designing With Native Plants Springfield Township, Michigan Sheet #3Homeowner’s Series Native PlantCommunity Map For some, one goal of us-ing native plants is to re-create beautiful naturalplaces in their yard. Tounderstand the characteror “design” of natural ar-eas, it’s fun to visit highquality woodlands or wet-lands to see how these “gardens” are put together.A map was created aspart of this series thatidentifies areas within theTownship you can visit tostudy the different plantcommunities. Each plantcommunity is described onInformation Sheet #2, andunder the “Habitat” cate-gory used on the NativePlant CD. Think of native plants as awhole new palate of plantsto work with in your garden.You may want to add anaster or goldenrod to yourperennial border, build a“wetland” pond, or trans-form your entire propertyinto a woodland. Many peo-ple who use natives in theirlandscapes want a morenaturalized, less formallook. Whatever the scale orstyle, natives can be a smallor large part of the wholescheme. This sheet de-scribes creating a specialplace for native plants inyour yard, and includes afew tips on how you canmake your entire landscapeinto a more naturalized gar-den . Continued on Page 2  There are certain designprinciples that are simple touse in your native gardenthat will make it look more“natural.” 1. Study   Nature If you want to recreate thefeeling of a particular plantcommunity, the first thingyou should do is look at anearby high-quality plantcommunity. By studying awetland or woodland, youwill notice how the plantsare arranged, how many ittakes to create a certainlook, and how they relate toeach other and the landforms. For example, awoodland looks like a wood-land because there are manytrees of different sizes andspecies, often closely clus-tered together. A woodlandalso has a shrub layer, and aground layer of small herba-ceous plants. The only wayto recreate this character isto spend time in a woodlandand take notes! Better yet,make small sketches of whatyou see. It doesn’t matterwhat the sketches look like,but the process of drawinghelps you observe how theplant community is put to-gether. 2. Use Curving   Lines Nature does not know astraight line. If you wantyour native garden to appearmore natural, use a curvingline to create the edge of your bed. Curving linesshould also be used in plac-ing the plants throughout thebed. 3. Cluster the SameSpecies It is very unusual in natureto see just one plant repre-senting a species in a plantcommunity. Generally, yousee great numbers or massesof the same species in anygiven area. To recreate thislook, plant several of thesame species together, sothat they create a mass, anda bigger impact, in the gar-den. Also, plant the massesso that they mesh together. What to Expect   Many native plants work on developing their rootsystems before you seegrowth in the top of theplant. This is particularlytrue if you use seed to es-tablish a prairie garden.During this time of estab-lishment, (which in somecases could be a fewyears), weeding, wateringand mulching as you woulda traditional garden may benecessary. So, be preparedto wait a few seasons be-fore you reap the benefitsof a native plant garden.To help you during thistime, just remember: “ The first year they sleep, thesecond year they creep, thethird year they leap!” Advertise YourStewardship. Beforeyou tear up your front yardto put in a prairie, tell yourneighbors. They need toknow the benefits of a natu-ralized landscape if they areto understand and accept it.Another good idea is public-ity through a sign in yourgarden. It could explain thatthis garden is a native eco-system providing food andnectar to birds and manybeneficial insects.If your tastes lean towardthe natural side, here aresome ideas from the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers    Handbook  to help yourneighbors understand, ap-preciate, and live with yourgarden style. Create Borders. Afence, mown path or otherborder next to yourneighbor’s property or be-side a public walk can createa feeling of order to yournaturalized landscape. Start Small. By creat-ing your garden in phases,you can educate yourneighbors about naturalizedlandscaping and nativeplants as you learn. Plantinga small area is also moreaffordable!   Add HumanTouches. As you wouldin any garden, put in birdfeeders, benches and othertouches that invite peopleinto the garden to enjoy theplants.    Designing With Native Plants (Cont.)  Being Neighborly  After... landscaping with a combi-nation of non-native hostas at thebase of the tree, and a backdrop of wildflowers and native shrubs. Before...Native plants can servethe same functions (screening, etc.)as ornamental plants. See howthis typical scene can be trans- formed by using a combination of native species and non-native,traditional garden plants below.  “Nature is theultimate model for usto follow. Everythingin Nature has it owncarefully selectedplace.” - Colston Burrell Page 2 Going Native Homeowner’s Series Continued from Page 1
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