Terms like “Prairie Restoration” or “Landscaping with Natives” may conjure images of open areas, vast spaces filled with flowing grasses, and expanses of flowers supporting numerous butterflies, birds and myriad other species…..Indeed, many restoration projects are large scale, up to hundreds of acres. Yet how many of us possess the acreage or means to undertake such an effort? Fortunately one needs only a small space to create an area that will both provide habitat and create interest and enjoyment during all seasons. Large scale restoration is great, but just selecting a few native species appropriate for an area, no matter how small, provides similar benefits on any scale.
It is amazing what only a few square feet will support and attract. From a bright, sunny space around a lamp post to that shady corner of the backyard that won’t grow lawn, small native plant gardens are increasingly popular and successful. A planting along a sidewalk containing a just a few Blazingstars and New England Asters will not only create a splash of color at the edge of the lawn, it will draw Butterflies in surprising numbers- and species that may not have been seen in the yard previously. A patch of Browneyed Susans that display cheerful blooms mid summer through autumn near a backyard bird feeder, if left uncut, will also provide cover and a food source for finches and juncos when winter snows arrive.
Start small and expand over time in a small urban or suburban backyard- or start big in a relatively small yard, as our Mary is in her Milwaukee yard.