Working together to keep today's treasures for tomorrow slide image Protecting the natural heritage of this diverse estuary slide image Promoting water quality and land preservation slide image Supporting a rich ecosystem for our local economy and quality of life slide image Managing our natural resources through consensus building slide image

News and Resources

Replace Lawns with Native Vegetation - July 3, 2016

      Throughout the summer, countless hours are spent mowing the lawn and landscaping yards, but what if there was a way to reduce that number of hours? Native plants are a great addition to any yard, as they require less fertilizer, less water, less maintenance, and, ultimately, less of your money and time.

                Replacing areas of your lawn with native plants is one of the easiest ways to begin your landscape transformation. Native trees, shrubs, perennial and annual plants all provide ecological services that turf grass does not.

                Native plants have evolved to suit the area and have adapted to local conditions. Being adapted to conditions such as soil and climate means that native plants typically require less fertilizer and less water than non-natives. In addition to needing less water and fertilizer, natives also require less pesticides as they are more resistant to local insects and diseases.

                Americans apply more than 100 million tons of fertilizer and 80 million pounds of pesticides to their lawns and gardens each year. Lawn grass is the largest single crop grown in Maryland with over 1.3 million acres planted statewide.  Lawn grasses typically have short root systems and grow so densely that rain tends to flow over rather infiltrate into the ground. Native grasses develop extensive root systems and so require much less water.  Chemicals used to sustain lawns wash off after rain events, entering the waterways. Excess fertilizer in the water can create algal blooms, which can lead to oxygen depletion in the water. Without oxygen in the water, few organisms can survive. The use of native grasses and plants in our yards can help greatly reduce the amount of chemicals on our lawns and entering our waterways.

                Non-native plants can sometimes lack the necessary resources for local wildlife. Native plants, in general, provide food, cover, and for some, locations to rear young. Many local flowers and fruiting plants produce nectar and food that local wildlife depends on. Non-native flowers often lack the pollen that butterflies, bees, and other local pollinators need for survival. Berry-producing vegetation provides food for songbirds and mammals including squirrels, deer, foxes, and chipmunks. When choosing flowering and fruiting plants, try to plant species that bloom at different times throughout the year. This ensures that there is a steady supply of food for wildlife.

                Planting native trees can also be beneficial to both wildlife and water quality. Trees provide habitat for many different types of animals, such as owls, songbirds, squirrels, and raccoons. These animals seek shelter in the branches and hollows within trees. In addition to animals, a variety of insects live within trees, providing food for birds and small mammals. Insects aren’t the only food source trees provide, many trees produce fruit or nuts for wildlife to eat.

                Tree roots are much deeper than grass roots, so they are more efficient at capturing rainwater and holding soil. By slowing rainwater runoff, trees help prevent erosion and reduce the amount of pollution entering waterways. These deep roots also reach far into the soil to tap and recycle groundwater. Trees reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by storing carbon dioxide in its vegetation and in the surrounding soil.     

                If you are interested in assisting native plants, join the Maryland Coastal Bays Program for their 10 Days for the Bays initiative, Saturday, July 9th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers will help install tree tubing and fencing around native Atlantic white cedars and bald cypresses at a restoration project in Berlin, Maryland. To RSVP or for more information, contact Watershed Program Coordinator, Amanda Poskaitis, at 410-213-2297ext. 103 oramandap@mdcoastalbays.org.  

                By making a few simple changes, you can improve the beauty and ecological function of your lawn for many years to come.

Phillips is the Program Manager for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

 



Archived News

More Archived News
View Current News

U.S EPA News Region 3

Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Program