Spring is here and many of us are looking forward to revamping our yards during the nice weather coming our way. Our native wildlife and plants are also awaiting the changing of the seasons. Longer days and warmer temperatures bring lots of energy into our environment, creating lush, nutrient-filled ecosystems all throughout the Pacific Northwest. Many species, including Rufous hummingbirds, western tanagers, and yellow warblers migrate back to western Washington this time of year because of the plentiful resources our native plant species provide. 

You can take part in providing important resources to local wildlife just from adding native plants to your yard. There are several environmental benefits to gardening with native plants. Firstly, gardening with native plant species is a wonderful way to provide a natural food source and shelter to local pollinators and wildlife. Adding native plants to your yard aids in the preservation of biodiversity of birds, pollinators, and other species that rely on native plants for survival. Although exotic/landscaping plants have helped to create beautiful yards and landscapes, they take a negative toll on the health and wellbeing of native plant and animal species. Non-native plants do not provide suitable food sources to local wildlife, and they can easily outcompete native plant species for resources causing native plant populations to suffer. 

Another benefit to gardening with native species is that native plants require minimal (if any at all) upkeep, fertilizers, or watering! Native plants have adapted to the local climate and environmental conditions, and do not require additional resources to survive. Your yard will require less maintenance and resources, and still provide more resources to local pollinators and wildlife than it did before.
Native plant species can also help prevent erosion and flooding, especially here in rainy western Washington. Well established, deep-rooted native plants help prevent erosion from holding the soil in place with their roots. And they can help reduce flooding by slowing water runoff during our heavy rain periods all throughout Pacific northwest watershed. 

There are other things you can do to make your yard a little more wildlife and pollinator friendly. The best, and easiest way to make your yard wildlife friendly is simply by keeping it untidy. Leaf litter and other debris creates habitat for insects which then provides a food source to our native birds and other wildlife. Next time you do some yard work, keep some of your yard waste in a pile for insects and other smaller native species to utilize. The bugs will benefit the birds, the birds will benefit native plants and larger animals, and this cycle continues throughout the entire food web.  

Native plants are a wonderful way to beautifully landscape your yard while giving back to our environment at the same time. If you are interested in incorporating native plant species into your gardening this spring, checkout your local nursery to see what natives they have available. Organizations that have native plant sales happening now or coming soon include Master Gardener Foundation of King County and the Washington Native Plant Society.   

Benefits of Native Gardening
Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Garden
WNPS: Birds, Bees, and Wildlife