Natural landscaping attracts a variety of wildlife – birds, butterflies and more – to urban and corporate settings. An added bonus to using native plants is that once they are an established part of your landscaping, they will need little or no maintenance, including watering and fertilizing, which is not only a benefit to the environment, but to the pocketbook as well.

Native wildflowers and grasses are hardy and proven to do well in the environment while helping to improve water and air quality. Natural landscaping brings a taste of wilderness to urban, suburban and corporate settings by attracting a variety of birds, butterflies and other animals. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Once established, native plants do not need fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or watering, thus benefiting the environment and reducing maintenance costs. Gardeners and admirers enjoy the variety of colors, shapes and seasonal beauty of these plants.”

Environmentally friendly gardening practices can include:

Conservation of Soil and Water

  • Mulch to keep soil moist while minimizing water and helping to prevent erosion
  • Collect rainwater in a designated rain barrel for watering purposes
  • Use a drip or soaker hose for water-conserving irrigation

Control Exotic Species

  • Minimize use of exotic plants, opting instead for native species
  • Research native plants that excel in the Northeast and Philadelphia Area, which include a variety of trees, shrubs, perennials and native plants for wildlife
  • Check the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s list of Gold Medal plants – selected for their visual appeal and hardiness performance, as well as resistance to disease and ease of growing and maintaining

Implement Organic Practices

  • Compost for optimum garden plant health and to reduce the amount of organic waste that would otherwise end up in local landfills
  • Shy away from chemical fertilizers in favor of organic
  • Learn about composting and organic gardening through workshops offered by various organizations located in the Philly area, including The Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania, with workshops available online
  • Opt for integrated pest management practices rather than applying chemicals to your gardens and lawns

Seek Professional Advice

For help with your green landscaping and gardening efforts, turn to a certified and experienced professional in the field of sustainable landscaping. The Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association is an excellent resource for information about what it takes to be certified in this rapidly expanding area. In addition to finding professionals certified as Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturists, PLNA also has a Sustainable Landscapes Certification that certifies a professional’s knowledge of plant use for providing ecosystem services, and professionals holding this certification are considered experts in the field of sustainable landscaping.

In the Philadelphia area, Holly Days Nursery, an award-winning landscaping business and nursery located in Ambler, boasts a team of certified horticulturists, accredited landscape designers and certified landscape technicians.

ThinkGreen, located just outside of Philly in Glenside, Pennsylvania, is an award-winning landscape architecture, construction and ecological design firm that focuses on the maintenance of existing natural systems while providing innovative and ecologically sensitive solutions for ecological restoration services, watershed management, biodiversity conservation and designing/implementing green roof systems.

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Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on