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Experts Say Native Plants Are Important For Yards And Gardens

Volunteer Bonnie Nicholson pots native plants in preparation for the Glen Helen and Tecumseh Land Trust's Annual Native Plant Sale.
Chris Welter
Volunteer Bonnie Nicholson pots native plants in preparation for the Glen Helen and Tecumseh Land Trust's Annual Native Plant Sale.

It’s spring in the Miami Valley and that means lots of people will be spending more time in their gardens. According to experts, it’s important to put in plants that are native to the place where you live. Native plants gardens not only look good, they’re also good for the environment.

The Village of Yellow Springs recently became a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Community, due in part to the large number of native plants and trees in the community.

Bethany Gray is a naturalist and the president of the board of Glen Helen Nature Preserve. She said that some common plants that people have in their yards, like honeysuckle and daylilies, are actually invasive. Invasive plants like these can spread and then outcompete native plants, including the spring wildflowers that are blooming right now in Glen Helen.

Earlier this week, Gray and volunteers from the Tecumseh Land Trust and the Glen labeled and potted a number of different native plants to get ready for the annual sale the nonprofits hold together each spring. She said that even converting a part of your yard to native plants can make a big difference.

“You don't necessarily have to take all of it out," Gray said. "But if you can take parts of it [your yard] and transform it into native plants, it really helps with supporting the pollinators and helping with soil erosion.”

Compared to traditional turf grass, native plants have deep roots, which means they can soak up water and prevent flooding. Also, they’re more nutritious for animals and pollinators to eat. Krista Magaw, the Executive Director of the Tecumseh Land Trust said that the plant sale is a great opportunity to educate people about native plants and what they currently have in their yard.

"I know one lady had a lot of burning bush and it was like, well, no, that's actually very invasive," Magaw said. "Everybody learns from doing it."

Magaw said that customers can buy and even swap native plants this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Glen Helen at 405 Corry Street in Yellow Springs. Also, Gray and other gardening experts will be on hand to help people decide what native plants will work best for their yard.

There are a few other native plant events this week in Yellow Springs as a part of Earth Week celebrations. On Friday and Saturday night, there will be screenings of local filmmaker Catherine Zimmerman's documentary "Hometown Habitat" at Agraria. There will also be a gathering on Sunday at the Miami Township Fire Department celebrating the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Community certification.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Chris Welter is the Environment Reporter at WYSO. He got his start in radio in 2017, when he completed a training at WYSO's Eichelberger Center for Community Voices. Prior to joining the team at WYSO, he did boots-on-the-ground conservation work and policy research on land-use issues in southwest Ohio as a Miller Fellow with the Tecumseh Land Trust.