Natural Landscaping

What is natural landscaping?


Natural landscaping is the design, construction and maintenance of landscapes that provide natural functions. Natural landscaping stresses the preservation and use of native plants. Native plants are hardy and attractive. They can stabilize soil, reduce flooding, absorb pollutants, and sustain wildlife – the natural functions that are not provided by traditional home landscapes. Turf grass, and other traditional landscape plants, can be costly to maintain, depend on chemicals, do not support diverse wildlife, and can be lacking in visual interest.

What are the benefits of landscaping with native plants?


Purple coneflower

If you haven’t worked with native plants before, you may wonder how they differ from traditional landscape plants, such as daylilies or hostas. The primary difference is that native plants occurred here naturally without the interference of humans. Therefore, native wildlife rely on native plants for food and shelter. Cultivated landscape plants provide very little, if any, benefit to our native wildlife. In some cases, cultivated plants can actually cause harm by not providing the nutrients necessary for proper growth and color patterns (eg. bird feathers). Using native plants in your landscape will yield many other benefits, including:

  • They are well-adapted to local conditions, therefore require little maintenance once established
  • They eliminate or significantly reduce the need for fertilizers, pesticides, water, and lawn maintenance equipment
  • They often attract beneficial insects that prey upon pests, decreasing the need for pesticides
  • Most native species are perennial or self-seeding biennial plants
  • Native plants attract native songbirds and butterflies

Michigan Native Plant List

Where can I go for more information?

Michigan Conservation Districts can provide assistance with planning your backyard habitat or native planting.

Wild Ones mission is to “promote environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities.” Wild Ones has a diverse membership interested in landscaping using native species in developing plant communities. The Wild Ones website has a Native Landscaping section with many useful links. There are 12 Wild Ones chapters in Michigan.

Michigan Native Plant Producers Association members are nurseries that sell native plants and seed in Michigan.

Wildflower Association of Michigan promotes, coordinates and participates in education, enjoyment, science and stewardship of wildflowers and their habitat. Links to dozens of sites.

Michigan Green Industry Association is a professional association for the landscape industry in southeast Michigan. Directory of members and services is available.

USEPA WaterSense: What to Plant