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The idea of establishing a native plant garden in your yard can be quite exciting, especially when you know the wonderful benefits of native species for pollinators. But if you are a beginner gardener, it's natural to feel overwhelmed initially. My Home Park is here to simplify the process and make native plant gardening easy, low-cost and an enjoyable hobby rather than a stressful chore. So, you can confidently plant your favorite native plants and watch them gracefully take up your garden space.
You can start a native plant garden in two ways – 1. Buy a MHP native plant package of your choice or 2. Buy native plants from local nurseries. Whether your option is 1 or 2, reading this guide will help you know all the basics about taking care of your beautiful native plants. If you understand and follow these practices correctly, there is no doubt you will have a healthy, self-sustainable native plant garden in less than a year.
The first aspect to consider before buying native plants is “Do they belong to your region?”. Native plants that are ‘local’ to your region adapt quickly to the weather and soil conditions without much difficulty. For instance, if you mistakenly bring a wetland plant like swamp milkweed and put it in an arid region, it may not respond well no matter how well you take care of it.
If you are planning to buy a MHP native plant collection, then good for you! We have done all the basic work of mapping plants with zip codes and yard characteristics. So, just enter your zip code along with basic information about your yard details to check if the plants are suitable for your region and garden conditions. That’s a lot of effort saved.
There are two main ways to start your garden from scratch – plugs and seeds.
Establishing a garden from seeds is a time-consuming process with no guarantee on the germination rates. Plug plants are always better because they come with a rootball encapsulated in nutritious soil and sturdy packaging. You can dig up a hole and transfer the plant to watch it jump-start life. Within a few months, you can expect most of the species to thrive independently and even start blooming too. Plugs are better than seeds for another reason: You can control the final look of your garden and arrange plants based on their height, color and bloom time. Seeds will develop into a random design.
At MHP, we always prefer sending plants in the form of plugs in carefully packaged container trays. Each species comes in a group of 4-8 plugs and a detailed plan on the planting design. This way, the chances of failure during the setup phase are almost zero.
Weather plays an important role in determining the success of your native plant garden. We advise against starting a garden in extreme weather conditions like mid-summer or winters, as harsh weathers can dry up the soil quickly and deprive your plants of water and nutrition. Early spring or fall is an ideal time to plan for a native plant garden when there is a perfect balance of sun and moisture to nourish your babies. Warm soil combined with cool air encourages the plants to invest their energy in root growth.
MHP believes in the ‘good weather’ mantra and always prefers shipping your plants during prime planting seasons, depending on your region. That way, you can kickstart your garden hassle-free!
Your yard contains different microclimatic zones unknown to you! Some are hot and warm spots that receive full sun for more than 6 hours. Others may be partially shady or full shady, depending on their placement and the structures around them. It would be a great idea to capture and mark these zones on a piece of paper, so you can transfer a sun-loving plant to full sun and a shade lover to a shady zone. Most plant or seed packages have clear labels indicating the ‘ideal’ spots in a garden which you can easily follow. My Home Park has designed specific native plant gardens for full sun, partial sun and full shade.
Many gardeners assume that a plant will stay the same height and size all its life. This is far from true! Native plants have a tendency to outgrow other species and can quickly turn into ‘view blockers’ in no time. A way to deal with this problem is by looking for pictures or videos of what a mature size plant of a particular species will look like before planting it in your garden. Planning other structures or plants around it becomes much simpler if you are prepared for its massive growth and height.
MHP gives you a massive advantage in this regard by designing native plants gardens by height at full maturity so you know exactly what you will end up after a year or two.