The Importance of Planting Native
Create Prime Habitat
Cover: for shelter, raising young, hiding from predators, and keeping out of bad weather
Plant trees of varied heights and species that will attract a mix of birds.
Offer nest boxes and bat boxes.
Keep brush and rocks for animals, such as rabbits and turtles, to hide and protect themselves with.
Water: bird baths and small constructed ponds can make a huge difference in attracting wildlife
Food: grow a large variety of plant species with small fruits, nuts, and berries
Creating an inviting and healthy habitat right in your own backyard can positively impact a species' ability to thrive and survive. Due to habitat loss and overdevelopment in many areas of Long Island, any suitable habitat that is created or preserved can go along way toward helping wildlife.
A native plant species is one that occurs naturally in a region or area. Native wildlife species are often dependent on native plant species for survival. The benefits of planting native are many: they are generally low maintenance (because they are adapted to our soil and climate); they require little to no fertilizers and pesticides; they provide food for insects and animal species.
Conversely, ornamental plant species often require profuse amounts of fertilizers and chemicals. They can become invasive and degrade natural habitat and often do not act as a sufficient food or nutrient source for our native wildlife.
The Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINAPI) is dedicated to preserving Long Island's native plants. LINAPI is a great resource to learn more about which plants are native to our region and where you can purchase them.
Bees are necessary for the pollination of plants and they benefit from it, too, because they need the nectar. Bees are attracted to most flowering plants, particularly those that are blue and yellow. Try planting a few of the following flowers to attract bees and foster pollination - just make sure they are native to your area first: Bee balm, Black-eyed Susan, Cardinal flower, Clover and other legumes, Cosmos, Crape myrtle, Goldenrod, Lupine, Mallow, Milkweed, Mint, Sunflower
Reduce Chemical Use
Keeping lawns and gardens with high concentrations of chemicals isn't good for you or the environment! Follow these tips to keep the chemicals in your backyard to a minimum and allow wildlife to safely inhabit your neighborhood:
Mow your grass to a height of about 3½ inches. Longer grass length allows the roots to grow deeper so they can reach more water. This keeps grass healthier and you'll have a lesser need for fertilizers.
If you use a lawn service, see if you can find one that uses minimal chemicals in its care taking.
Limit the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. If needed, try organic and "slow-release" fertilizers.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)