100 Day Challenge #59: Turn your grass monoculture into a native oasis
The native plants in our yard add so much to our quality of life. The house was originally bought by our parents/grandparents in 1975, and for decades the landscaping consisted of a monoculture of boxwoods, liriope (Monkey Grass), St. Augustine grass, and thankfully some large, beautiful trees. We had birds that would fly through, but that was about it for any wildlife in the yard for decades.
Over the past four years we've been slowly but surely transforming our garden into a native oasis for birds and insects in our area, and we're still amazed by all the wildlife changes! We now see bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, hummingbirds, dragonflies, birds, frogs, rabbits, and once we even had a family of ducks make themselves at home here. By far, one of the most exciting times of the year in our garden is in October during the monarch migration.
We clearly are benefitting from the native plants in our yard, but more importantly the insects have returned. Humans have converted so much of our natural habitats into cities and wildlife deserts.
NASA conducted a study that estimated there are approximately 63,000 square miles of lawn in the United States. That's equivalent to the size of Texas.
Not only does this increase the need for water and fertilizers to keep all that grass green, but it does nothing for the much needed biodiversity which sustains wildlife. It's now our responsibility to reintroduce natives into our landscapes so we can coexist with nature and continue the natural food web.
Our favorite speaker and author on this topic is Dr. Douglas W. Tallamy. He has written two fascinating books about the importance of native plants: Bringing Nature Home: How you can sustain wildlife with native plants and Nature’s Best Hope: A new approach to conservation that starts in your yard.
If you would like to learn more about the native plants in your area, here are a few tips:
Check out NWF's Native Plant Finder tool
See what plants can help support your native bird population using the Audubon's Native Plants Database
Look for your local Native Plant Society and start asking people which nurseries in your area carry a large selection of native plants. If you live in the Dallas area, our favorite nursery is North Haven Gardens (pictured below).
Even if you're not looking to completely re-landscape your yard, find ways to sprinkle in some native plants, and you'll be amazed by all the fascinating wildlife that moves in. Feel proud about turning your yard from a grass monoculture to a native oasis that supports a vibrant ecosystem!