Consider native when landscaping

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2018

With summer in full swing, homeowners may be considering a backyard makeover.

Jennifer Buchanan, Educational Program Coordinator at the Crosby Arboretum, recommends incorporating native plants into a landscape because they require very little maintenance and live for years, saving the homeowner money in the long run, she said.

Buchanan also suggested using plants and trees to create buffers between neighboring gardens instead of using structures such as fences.

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A good backyard option includes deciduous trees such as maples and sun oaks, Buchanan said. Deciduous trees provide shade during the summer and shed their leaves in the winter to allow warming sunlight into a home to reduce heating costs. When planning where to plant these trees, consider the south and west side of the house, she said.

While thinking about adding small gardens, proper planning can also reduce the time spent mowing lawns.

“To minimize the amount of lawn you have to mow, you have to create islands of native plants within your yard and add mulch,” Buchanan said.

Planting fruit trees is another smart investment, she said.

Fruit trees not only beautify a landscape, they provide food as well when they mature.

Building a small pond or other water feature can also enhance the beauty of a landscape, Buchanan said. However, landowners should be sure that the ponds or other water features have running water to prevent mosquitos from breeding, she said.

Pearl River County Extension Agent Dr. Eddie Smith also recommends incorporating native plants into a landscape because they are adapted to the areas levels of water and nutrients. The plants are also resistant to insects and diseases common to the area, he said.

Smith suggests gardeners use pine straw mulch over wood mulches. Pine straw lasts longer and provides better weed control, he said.