Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Are there benefits to using native plants in landscape design?

While using native plants when designing your landscape can have positive effects on the environment, there are other benefits, as well. For one thing, native plants are by definition indigenous to certain areas. Native plants would require very little maintenance on your part since they're already tailor-made for the particular climate in which they grow naturally. There is also a financial benefit to using native plants. Exotic plants tend to require more in the way of fertilizer, water and pesticides than native plants do. Furthermore, exotic plants cost more to purchase than native plants.

Another advantage of using native plants is that they are a more eco-friendly way to landscape. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that about five percent of the air pollution produced in the United States is the result of garden and lawn equipment that use and burn gas. In contrast, maintaining a landscape that includes native plants doesn't require routine mowing. Also, since native plants need fewer fungicides, pesticides and herbicides, water quality winds up improving as a result. Native plants have also been shown to prevent soil erosion and to more effectively filter storm water [source: EPA].

The most important benefit that your landscape design can have on the environment is to foster healthy ecosystems and enhance biodiversity. Before you start choosing plants and planting them in your garden or yard, however, it's recommended that you first research your area's native plant life. The next step would be to monitor and record your landscape's sunlight, soil and water conditions. With this information in hand, you can then go down to the local nursery to purchase the appropriate native plants or seeds for your landscape.