How / what to plant for local climate, wildlife and less maintenance
Native plants have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years. They are vigorous and hardy, so can survive winter cold and summer heat. Once established, they require no irrigation or fertilization. They are resistant to most pests and diseases. Thus, native plants suit today's interest in "low-maintenance" gardening and landscaping.
Each native plant species is a member of a community that includes other plants, animals and microorganisms. The natural balance keeps each species in check, allowing it to thrive in conditions where it is suited, but preventing it from running amok. Thus, native species rarely become invasive, as plants introduced from other areas can be.
Furthermore, native plants provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies and other desirable wildlife. Many help to enrich the soil. Their root systems help rainfall percolate into the soil, reducing erosion and runoff, which improves water quality.
Here are some local resources on native plants:
Batavia Plain Dirt Gardeners provide educational seminars and manages the Wildflower Sanctuary along the Riverwalk in Batavia. An environmental focus of the group is working with native plants and encouraging gardeners to use them creatively in their landscape. Their annual plant sale includes a variety of native plants. The club meets the 3rd Tuesday of each month from September through June at 7pm at the Batavia Public Library. Invited speakers offer informational seminars about all types of gardening at meetings. Guests are always welcome.
Kane County Wild Plants and Natural Areas by Dick Young – a great local guide on exactly what the title states. Dick Young Forest Preserve is named for the author, which might indicate to you Mr. Young's expertise and dedication to the natural wonders of our area. The book and others are available for check out at the library and available for purchase from the Kane-Dupage Soil & Water Conservation District.
Conservation Foundation -The Conservation at Home program encourages and recognizes property owners that protect and/or create yards that are environmentally friendly and conserve water. This includes planting native vegetation, trees and shrubs, creating butterfly and rain gardens, and removing exotic species of plants – right in your own backyard flowerbeds. Also check out their YouTube page for educational videos.
Midwest Groundcovers in St.Charles - which specializes in native and ornamental perennials and grasses. Natural Garden Natives You can search for local garden centers that carry their native plants.
Natural Communities Native Plants is a local company that also sells native plants
Check out books and videos with Doug Tallamy. Here is a recent YouTube Recording of one of his events.