6021 Development Drive, Suite 2, Charleston, IL 61920 info@colescountyswcd.org 217-345-3901 ext. 3

Creating a backyard habitat with native plants offers a lot of benefits

The Coles County SWCD is offering a selection of native plants suited to a variety of habitat types—everything from sunny, dry prairies to wet, shaded pond edges and everything in between! Pre-orders are due by May 5, 2023. Native plants are essential to a biodiverse backyard habitat and can provide a variety of other benefits to our local environment as well.

Many native plants, particularly those that are found in prairies, have very deep root systems—some more than 18 feet! These long roots help rainwater infiltrate deeply into the soil and reduce the amount of water that runs off into storm sewers and surface waters like rivers, lakes, and streams. These roots also excel at holding onto soil, preventing erosion. When properly selected for a site, native plants require much less supplemental watering, fertilizer, and pesticides than non-native garden plants, further reducing pollutants that could otherwise enter local water systems.

Native plants create habitat for wildlife that is both beneficial to the environment and adds life to your outdoor space. We tend to think of the benefits to obvious pollinators like native bees and butterflies, but these plants also create food and shelter for small animals like birds, toads, small lizards, and more, including microscopic organisms in the soil. Some of these soil microbes help clean up heavy metals, some are specialized for storing carbon, and some help convert nutrients in the soil into forms that plants can use. Healthy soil is full of life, and our local soils were ‘built’ under prairies and woodlands with the native plants, animals, and microbes to match!

Plants thrive in their original environment, and native plants can be just as attractive as traditional landscaping. Native species are likely to establish more quickly, be hardier, and be healthier to boot. When planned properly, native plant gardens provide a wealth of colors, textures, varying heights, and bloom times, resulting in a stunning display over multiple seasons. Check out the bloom colors and seasons for each species in the plant catalog on our website at http://www.colescountyswcd.org/sales-and-rentals/prairie-plant-sale/

Need help choosing species or designing your new backyard habitat? Give us a call at (217) 345-3901 ext. 3! Looking for a species we’re not offering this year? A few other local organizations are also having native plant sales this year; check with Douglas Hart Nature Center or Grand Prairie Friends to see if they have the species you’re looking for!