Written by Casey Willson, Waterkeepers Chesapeake Intern
May was Native Plants month at the Clear Choices Clean Water Campaign and what better way to celebrate than pledging to plant native plants in your garden!
By pledging to plant natives like Stiff Goldenrod, Milkweed, or Purple Cone Flower you are helping to support pollinator populations and enhance groundwater retention. Native plants are those species which have adapted over thousands of years to thrive in their climate. They have developed the characteristics necessary to not only be successful themselves but to support the success of the plants and animals around them. Thanks to all the time they spent learning how to be successful in our local climate, native plants are better able to establish robust root systems. This means that they are able to absorb more stormwater, limiting the amount of runoff that winds up in our rivers and streams and filtering the ground water of excess nutrients. This also means that because they know how to naturally survive in the Bay region they have to be watered far less. It’s a win-win for you and your plants!
Native plants should be used strategically in order to get the greatest benefits from them. Consider planting your very own rain garden of native shrubs and perennials wherever rain water collects in your yard. This will help the ground to soak up the rain water before it flows into the streets and picks up harmful contaminants and excess nutrients. You could also choose to put your natives on a shoreline in order to catch some of the runoff before it gets to the water and to soak up any excess nutrients. Planting on the shoreline will help to prevent soil erosion as the strong root systems will hold the soil in place for longer while also providing important habitat for native wildlife like frogs, turtles, songbirds, and butterflies.
Do your part to support your local rivers and streams and take our pledge to plant native species in your garden!
Learn more about the campaign at http://mychesapeake.clearchoicescleanwater.org.