How to Incorporate Native Plants Into Your Landscape
With so many options, deciding which native plants to use in your landscape can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together some tips on how to select the right plants and incorporate them into your yard.
Whether you already have a garden or are starting from scratch, these suggestions will help you get the most out of Ontario’s native plants.
1. Think of the Feeling You Want to Create
Every landscape is unique, and it’s best to consider how you want your garden to make you feel when you see it. Some spaces are calm and restorative, while others are bright and full of colour. The feeling you want to evoke in your design will affect what types of plants you choose.
2. Pick Three Colors
To avoid having an overwhelming amount of visual interest, we suggest picking three colours to centre your design around. Choosing three complimentary colours will create a more harmonious, relaxed atmosphere; contrasting colours have more visual impact, and they’re great for anyone that wants their space to be vibrant and energized.
3. Play with Texture
There are so many beautiful textures in Ontario’s native plants. Combine leafy green ferns with delicate blossoms, or berry-dotted shrubs with colorful flowers. Texture creates depth and interest in your design, and it’s easy to achieve a unique look just by selecting two or three different species for your yard.
If you’re looking for ways to use texture in landscaping, think about leaf size, flower shape, and form. Texture can make a big impact when you choose two plants from the same class and plant them together.
Think about a stout, dark green shrub next to one that’s light green and full of flowers. Even two plants with the same color scheme can create remarkable contrast if you pair them based on their texture.
4. Start Planning Your Transition Early
If you’re adding native plants to an existing garden, you’ll have to consider the amount of time it will take for them to adapt to your environment. Think about any exotic plants you’ll replace, and the growth habits of native species you’re buying.
Factors like the rate of growth and spread will affect where you can place native species in your landscape. Keep in mind that most plants grow 60% larger than they begin, and native plants are more likely to spread throughout your garden.
Some native plants are less likely to spread than others, which means you’ll have to choose your placement wisely to avoid overgrowth.
5. Consider Your Soil Type
If you are currently using treated soil, it may be more acidic than native plants are accustomed to. You may need to have your soil tested and do a bit of landscaping rehabilitation before your yard is prepared for the new native plants.
Keep in mind that even different native plants have their own soil needs. A professional landscaper is the best person to contact if you aren’t sure what your soil type is or how to prepare your garden for native plants.
6. Choose a Reputable Provider
You don’t want native plants that have been taken out of their natural habitats. Removing plants from the wild damages ecosystems. Visit your local nursery, or ask a professional landscaper what vendors they use and how they source their plants.
If you fall in live with a plant you can’t find, your nursery may be able to order it for you.
7. Create Space for Each Type of Plant
You can fill a garden bed with a variety of beautiful, native wildflowers. You can create a hedge fence using a durable native shrub. Bunching grasses can fill empty spaces, or be used as a backdrop for your garden. Many people are surprised at how colorful and dynamic native grasses are. They certainly aren’t just green, stagnant blades.
Placement will make a big influence on the final feel of your landscape as well. You can arrange your plants in very precise, neat blocks for a prestigious, manicured feel; or you can use less rigid lines to create a much more relaxed, natural landscape that lets plants take their course.
8. Visit Natural Parks for Inspiration
Let your landscaping design serve as a reason to take a relaxing trip to one of Ontario’s beautiful natural parks. Here, you can see plant life thriving in the wild, and get an idea of what pairings could look best for your yard.
You can snap pictures of the flowers and plants you like the most, then have a landscaper or gardener identify them for you. There are also mobile apps you can download that can identify plants with a single photo.