Maybe you’ve lived here your whole life or recently relocated. Either way, there’s no disputing the fact that Utah’s overall landscape is breathtaking. But it doesn’t come without a lot of hard work from landscape architects, homeowners and property managers. Hot, dry summers and wet, freezing winters in the Intermountain West can present a challenge to keep plants alive and well.
However, it’s not impossible to create outdoor spaces in this climate. It helps to have a baseline understanding of native plants and how they can be used to create a healthy and vibrant environment that’s also pleasing to the eye. Here are ten reasons to employ this approach in your home or commercial landscape design.
1. You will save money on fertilizer and pesticides. Native plants usually do not require fertilizer. That’s because many varieties thrive in poor soil, and applying fertilizer could chemically burn them or affect their physical structure. Plus, these chemicals are associated with higher rates of cancer and other risks.
2. Native plants keep you cool. There’s an art and a science to landscape design with respect to mitigating high temperatures. Placing trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and ground cover in certain locations can cool the urban environment and even reduce energy bills by 40 percent. One study found that shading can reduce the surface temperature on walls and roofs by 45 degrees. This reduces the heat transmitted into buildings and other structures in the vicinity.
3. You will help reduce the risk of flooding. The deep root systems of many native plants bolster the soil’s ability to store water. Native plants can significantly reduce water runoff and, by extension, flooding.
4. You will help clean the air. All plants, by design, remove carbon dioxide from the air and store the carbon. And again, their deep root systems are a distinguishing factor. Their structures allow them to store more carbon than non-native species. Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global greenhouse warming, so installing native plants helps you become part of the solution.
5. You will help create a better environment for pollinators. Bees may be small, but they play a huge role in our ecosystem and food systems. Some experts say one of every three bites of food we eat depends on them. Wow! These bugs pollinate everything from apples to almonds. If bees and other pollinators are at risk, entire species suffer, and we humans bear the cost, too. That’s why native plants can be a positive force in helping these insects survive and thrive. The best choices are ones that benefit a diversity of pollinators, are regionally appropriate, and are highly adaptable to a range of growing conditions.
6. You will help create a better environment for birds and butterflies. By supporting caterpillars and the like, native plants provide a critical protein source for backyard birds and their offspring.
7. You will help protect and improve the soils. Once again, their deep roots are advantageous and can help in the soil quality department. Their roots structure helps stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.
8. You will save money by reducing the need to mow. Certain types of flora require less frequent mowing than traditional grasses. In fact, these grasses should not be mowed during hot, droughty summer conditions.
9. You will create a unique one-of-a-kind landscape. Not only are native plants functional, but they also create an aesthetic landscape. No cookie-cutter design here. Your yard will be the envy of the neighborhood, and it will serve a larger purpose. Win-win!
10. You will conserve water, which also saves you money. Native plants are hardy in that they don’t create as much water as alternatives. It’s best to plant them in an area irrigated separately from the lawn and use drip irrigation to minimize evaporation.
Once you incorporate native plants into your landscape, you can relish the fact that you’ve created an outdoor space that’s functional, beautiful, simple to maintain, water-wise, and a boon to the planet. What’s not to love about that?
Maybe you’re sold on the power of native plants but not sure where to begin. No worries — that’s where we come into the picture. Landscape architecture is a means to that end, it’s one of our specialties. Our team of experts has decades of experience in the public and private realms, providing clients with design and technical direction from concept to construction phase services. We work on a broad range of projects including civic, planned communities, university campuses, residential and commercial/retail developments. From small roof gardens to large-scale planning and design we work responsively with our clients, project team and contractors to develop relationships that create sustainable sensitive design solutions. So, if you can dream it, we can design it! Contact us at (801) 225-7700 to learn more about what we can do for you.