Many Benefits of Native Plants

As part of our educational programs, we point out the value of using native plants and rain gardens in improving water quality. This is an important best management practice that can have a big impact on reducing the harmful effects of stormwater runoff. The native plants’ deeper root structures increase the water absorption and water holding capacity of the soil. The native plants have an added benefit of providing habitat to numerous pollinators.

A recent article—along with the extremely dry summer weather—made me pause and reflect on an opposite perspective regarding the value of native plants. The article stressed how cities can work with nature when droughts take their toll. The authors point out that cities often respond to droughts by covering up spaces like parks, public areas, and others that require watering with artificial surfaces. There are many reasons why this is a bad idea. In areas where native plants are used, this doesn’t have to be an either/or option. Native plants are adapted to our unpredictable Ozarks climate. Once established, they require very little maintenance. Despite the limited rainfall over the last few months, our native plants are thriving and continuing to provide food and shelter to native wildlife here at WCO.

There are many other reasons to maintain greenspaces throughout urban areas. Please read the entire article, “How cities can work with nature when droughts take their toll,” from The Conservation.

Jeff Birchler, Watershed Center Coordinator