Spring is in the air! Grasses are growing and flowers are blooming, and whether you’re new to the gardening game or your thumb has long been green, you’re invited to be part of this bountiful season.

Get involved by installing plant species that are native to the ecoregion around your home, loosely called “native plants.”

Native plants are those species of vegetation that have evolved for hundreds or thousands of years under your local growing conditions, including soil type, precipitation frequency, nutrient availability, and native pest communities.

This long evolutionary history with your local climate means that native plants have adapted to flourish with the amount of light, water, and nutrients typically available in your area, and require little additional input from you.

Their predisposition to flourish in your region helps them provide ecosystem services, such as soil stabilization with their root systems, water filtration in marshy and damp environments, and air quality improvement by reducing windswept sediment.

In areas where water is scarce, native plants can help mitigate the impacts of drought by helping water infiltrate the soil, trap moisture in the ground, and reduce erosion.

These native species don’t just benefit the environment on the larger scale—individual gardeners can realize benefits from using native plants as well. Compared to non-native species, native plants are less susceptible to disease, and once established, need less watering and fertilizer than their counterparts, saving you time and money.

There is a wide variety of vegetation types that fall under the umbrella of native species—depending on your area, this can include an array of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses.

Lower-maintenance blooms and greenery aren't the only the only benefits native plants bring to the yard. This flora is vital for native animals, providing food, breeding ground, and shelter for wildlife in your area. Many species of animals, including some pollinators, are host-dependent, meaning that they require a specific species of plant to survive.

By picking host plants that are native to your area, you can help support important populations of birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, and enjoy watching these animals all season long. Learn about creating a native pollinator garden.

Ready to start planting? Check out the resources below to learn more about how to select native plants and get ideas for starting your own garden.

*EPA WaterSense What to Plant: A collection of resources to help select native plants for your region.
*BeeSmart Pollinator Gardener App: Get help selecting native plants that will appeal to specific pollinators.
*Rain Gardens: A guide from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service on the why and the how of installing a rain garden.
*Successful Container Gardens: No yard? No problem! You can grow beautiful, beneficial plants in containers on a porch or balcony.
*Composting at Home: A guide from EPA on how to create your own rich fertilizer from household scraps.

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Republished with permission from NEEF: https://www.neefusa.org/weather-and-climate/weather/spring-gardening

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