The Benefits of Native Plants
Let’s talk native plants. Trees in particular. And like a good neighbor, trees benefit from having suitable plants growing near them in lieu of invasive weeds and plants that Steal Nutrients and Space. Because native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions, they require far less water, saving time, money, and perhaps the most valuable natural resource, water. In addition to providing vital habitat for birds, many other species of wildlife benefits as well. Restoring native plant habitat is vital to preserving biodiversity. By creating a native plant garden, each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals. Also, as Lady Bird Johnson said, native plants “give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.”
Sometimes we devote too much space to lawn and grass areas, the blunder herein being we don’t use enough small trees and shrubs. Once established, devoting square footage to small trees and shrubs is no more time consuming for the homeowner than the amount of time spent watering, mowing, and fertilizing turf grass, and can be even less.
“Small trees” means trees that mature at 25’ or less, things like redbuds, and all the ornamental — crabapples, pears, cherry trees. Also magnolias (in the north), mountain ash, fringetree, and tree-like shrubs such as elderberry. And of course it includes the wonderful world of the dwarf conifers, the smaller pines, firs, hemlocks and spruces that are so essential for winter interest.
Within these specifications above fall many NATIVE TREES OF NEW JERSEY that you can utilize within your landscaping and garden beds.
These small trees, along with shrubs, are the plants that exist in that 25′, 20′, 18’, 14’, 10’, 8’, 6’ range, that are essential in bringing the height and roofline of the house down to perennial flower and turf grass height, with some sense of grace. The goal of a foundation planting is to nestle the house in nature. You nestle a house in nature through ample use of small trees and shrubs.
You may want to use use a heavy evergreen tree on one end of the residence and one to three ornamental trees on the other end. (Cryptomeria and some Holly hybrids are a couple of the more narrow evergreens.)
You can also consider using one ornamental tree and three tall shrubs, such as Lilacs. There are various trees to use in foundation plantings. Anywhere from one to three landscape trees or shrubs at house corners are typical.
- Place the trees far enough away from the house so that they have room to grow.
- Try to balance the “weights” of the trees and/or shrubs.
- Alter the forms. If you have one tree that has a graceful form on one end, choose another type for the other side of the house…perhaps a more upright, fan-like shape.
- Tree shapes can be conical (similar to a Christmas tree shape), fan-like, columnar, multi-stemmed, oval, etc. Consider the shape when selecting trees.
If you are thinking about redoing your landscaping, consider utilizing native plantings. To help you with your plant selections, refer to our Native Trees of New Jersey page where you can find 48 different varieties of tree species compatible to and native to our climatic growing area.