Northern Virginia natives can make your yard beautiful! Now, as your garden lies dormant, is a good time to make plans. Take stock of what you have –what do you like and what would you want to change. Note light, moisture, and soil conditions around your yard, identify any problem areas, and consider your goals and how you want to use your space. Sketch out a plan—nothing fancy is needed—that highlights existing features, general growing conditions in the different sections, and key changes you would like to make.
NOVA natives can make your plan a reality. Planted in the right spot they provide color and interest year round, are ideally suited for regional conditions requiring minimal maintenance, and benefit native wildlife.
Trees and shrubs are the skeleton to your landscape and provide cooling shade and wildlife habitat. If you have room, consider investing in majestic native canopy trees such as Oaks, Sweet Gum, Elm or White Fringetree or adding evergreens such a Eastern Red Cedar, American Holly, or Pitch or Loblolly Pines. A mix of understory trees such as the Flowering Dogwood, Eastern Redbuds, or Serviceberryand shrubs including the Wild or Pinxter Azalea, Viburnum, Virginia Sweetspire, Witch Hazel, and Winterberry Hollyoffer year-round interest and can fit into almost any yard.
Combining and massing native perennials in repeating patterns in mostly sunny locations can provide a showy display from early spring to late fall. Joe-Pye Weed, New York Ironweed, and Goldenrod offer colorful backdrops to False Blue Indigo, Black-eyed Susans, Oxeye Sunflowers, Gayfeathers, Eastern Red Columbine, New England Asters, or Butterflyweed. Native Phloxes, Violets, and Wild Pinks can be used along borders and as ground cover.
Cinnamon and Ostrich ferns, Solomon’s Seal, and Goatsbeard work well in the back of a shade garden. Mayapple mixed with either Wild Ginger or White Wood Aster produce a showy, dense groundcover. Other good choices for a shady garden include Dwarf Crested Iris, White Turtlehead, and American Alumroot. Adding native ephemerals such as Virginia Bluebells, Spring Beauty, Bloodroot, Trillium and Woodland Phlox provides early spring color before making way for other plants.
US Fish and Wildlife Service, Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservations Landscape
Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, Tried and True Plants. www.mgnv.org
Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, Tips for Sustainable Landscaping