Conservation Landscaping

Landscaping for a healthy planet.


Red Maple, Acer rubrum, a native tree, Public library grounds, Hancock, MD

As our population increases and the amount of land used for agriculture, housing and other human purposes increases with it, the amount of space left for natural plant and animal communities is diminished and fragmented.

We help natural communities by making our yards into complex plant communities that will provide habitat and food for many animals. By planting a variety of native grasses, perennials, shrubs, and trees that are well suited to our specific soil types, climate, and sun exposure, and by minimizing the amount of yard devoted to lawn, we are landscaping for a healthier planet.

Because native plants need little additional water and fertilizer once they are established, conservation landscaping reduces the amounts of energy, pesticides, fertilizer, and water used in our yards.

Because trees and shrubs have large penetrating roots, they stabilize the soil, aid the movement of water into the soil, and reduce water runoff. This reduces the amount of soil, pollutants and excess nutrients flowing into our streams, rivers, lakes, and bay.

Because animal and plant communities have developed together, using native plants in our landscaping helps our animal neighbors find the plants they need for cover, food, and reproduction.

Because of the inter-dependence of animal and plant communities, animals will pollinate flowers and distribute seed of these native plants to new locations, further promoting healthy natural communities.

Conservation landscaping promotes and conserves native plants that may be threatened by habitat loss and the competition of non-native species.

English ivy engulfing trees along the towpath at the C&O Canal National Park


Intentionally and unintentionally we have introduced many non-native plants. Many of these - our agricultural crops - are beneficial. Many do no harm. But some are very bad actors and aggressively invade our natural plant communities. Here they out-compete our native plants or kill them directly by growing around, up, and over them. These invasive non-native plants reduce the health and productivity of our natural plant and animal communities.

Many invasive non-natives are promoted in catalogs and sold in nurseries. They are very pretty and not subject to disease or predation. While this is a good quality in our yards, it becomes a big problem when they invade natural communities. So, when you choose which flowers, shrubs, and trees to plant in your yard, take a moment to make sure that they are not one of these undesirable species.

Links for conservation landscaping:

Landscaping for a Healthy Planet.

Maryland's Wild Acres Program.

Download or view a list of Maryland Native Plant species.

Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping.

Plant invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas.

Photographic List of Invasive Plant Species. (plant species page).

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