Riverwoods Preservation Council

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In Our Own Backyard - Chapter 4 Extract

RaccoonMany Riverwoods residents enjoy a native landscape right in their own backyards. Others appreciate our unique natural environment when they visit friends or walk along our beautiful private roads. Taking care of our native plants means we will all continue to enjoy the natural areas of our Village. The native species are crucial to a healthy ecosystem, which rewards us with wild flowers in the woodlands, birds in our trees, butterflies in the garden, and a host of other pleasures derived from living compatibly with our natural world.

Native plants are those that originated and evolved in our area, in Birdssome cases before humans, and certainly before Europeans arrived. As a result, they are hardy in our temperature and moisture extremes and, once established (which may take up to 3 years), require minimal care. When adding plants to your property and modifying gardens, consider including native plant varieties. In doing so, you may be re-establishing and re-introducing native plants that are threatened or endangered in Illinois. These native varieties can provide great interest, whether central to your landscape design, growing among showier cultivars, used as transitions between formal areas and natural areas, or filling in natural areas that have been damaged and require restoration. Simply put, native plants:

  • Provide homes and food for native animals, birds and butterflies
  • Are adapted to grow in this environment - they are suited to our climate, soil and moisture
  • Require less maintenance than most non-native varieties, needing little or no irrigation or fertilization once they are established
  • Are resistant to many garden pests and diseases
  • Enrich the soil (whereas non-natives may adversely affect the soil)
  • Reduce runoff and erosion
  • Do not harm the ecosystem
  • Belong in a natural environment
  • Are beautiful

PoppyMost people will never have the pleasure of enjoying a unique neighborhood like ours. But, our natural areas are endangered and require help from us to survive. We can do so in many simple ways. For example, keep formal landscaping close to your house and include native plants. Sedges, flowers and prairie grasses flourish in open, sunny areas and ground covers and wood chips are perfect for very shady conditions where lawns do poorly. In heavily wooded areas, replace invasives with native varieties. Like most cultivars, native plants require a few years to get established. Be patient, and remember what gardeners say: 1st year they sleep, 2nd year they creep, 3rd year they leap. ...

[In Our Own Backyard includes sections, including illustrations, on identifying the various mammals, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians that inhabit Riverwoods.]

© Riverwoods Preservation Council- - Page last updated: December 2009