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Want to be Green? Start with the Natives

 

 

 by Carmen Schwartz

When talking about ‘green’ – people speak about all different subjects; the companies that offer new ways to recycle, how to have a ‘green’ kitchen, stay at a ‘green’ hotel, etc. But when it comes to really being green there is one green item that, if taken care of properly, can literally provide far more to the  environment than Man ever could.

 

Plantlife, seedlings, turf grasses – all the native species that grow in a region where they first evolved are green. They are the Native Plantsbackbone of our environment. They represent the world as it once was; these real natives are the green that have shown strength and fortitude, attempting to grow when everything from industrialization to suburbia came to pass.

 

When walking into a forest, or simply walking down the road and looking up at the large trees towering above, everyone should remember that the ‘green’ they see all around them actually has been there over many geologic eras that we never saw. They will also be the ones to see the future long after we depart.

 

Native vegetation and plantlife is always based on regional factors; from the climate to soil strength to the timing of rainfall, drought and more. This is the vegetation that makes up the environments housing our wildlife, and the native plants provide everyone a sense of wonder and beauty. Native plants to a region are unique, just like every individual on the planet. They have the ability to adapt to their surroundings and are the most ecologically valuable commodity this land has to offer.

There are many out there who are working hard to restore various habitats that have fallen apart. One of their first steps is to reintroduce native plants that have not held up over time. This is a very important task seeing as that the specific habitats, if rejuvenated, will bring back the wildlife that has simply gone away over time in search of better areas to feed and live.

 

Many steps go into replanting and restoring native vegetation, and the soil is the most important factor when it comes to making sure the site will not only grow but survive long into the future. From pH balances to NPK factors to making sure the moisture levels are appropriate for the plantings are number one on the list if attempting to restore a habitat or property.

 

When it comes to the planting, smoothing out soil is not the best way of starting. In fact, leaving a rough site will make the environment far more natural when the vegetation begins to once again take root and grow. A rough site also creates those little bumps and impressions in the soil that capture moisture and can protect the seeds and plants when they are young and just starting to grow.

 

Another thing to think of is how many sections are actually in the habitat. Such as, there could be woodland areas, wetlands, a stream, pond, lake, a meadow – a huge variety of different soils could be a part of the restoration project; so choosing the right seeds or combinations to thrive in all areas is a must.  Thinking about the wildlife that will roam and graze these areas is also important, seeing as that they will only stay in a place that offers forage and bedding.

 

Weeds (invasive plants) are a part of nature. However, when planting new seeds it’s best to find a way to cut down the invasive species so that the natives can grow back. Weeds can take the water in the soil that the natives need in order to grow. In addition, fertilizers, chemicals – everything in that category can kill plants or even prevent the seeds from germinating. Basically dying on the vine, so to speak, is not what you want your seeds and plant growth to do when restoring the habitat to its full potential. Make sure that pesticides, herbicides and more are not used.

 

Soil has nutrients and minerals embedded within it that shows how well it can do to help the native species thrive once again, so soil testing becomes an instant must. All over the globe you will find information about everyone from land managers to conservation professionals to landscape designers doing their best and working together to make habitats thrive once again. So…help them!

 

The work is hard and the determination must be there in order for the projects to succeed. Everyone should know that planting native species contributes a great deal to the overall health of this world; so make sure that when ‘green’ is the topic being spoken about, that the natives come first.

 

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