Benefits Of Michigan Native Plants

Native Plants Live Up To The Hype!

Planting native has been a popular topic in recent years. But does it really live up to the hype? The answer is absolutely! From providing habitat and essential food for animals, to their show-stopping blooms, native plants bestow a host of benefits for your backyard and beyond.

(Featured Image: Monarch Caterpillar on Swamp Milkweed by Larkin Kinsella)

The Benefits Of Native Plants In Landscaping

It can be intimidating to start the process of adding native plants to your landscaping. Start your planning process by deciding which types of plants you want to add to your area. Size is often the first consideration, followed by desired look and bloom time.

Native Trees

Trees are typically defined as large, woody perennials with a defined stem (trunk) and a crown of foliage and/or blooms at the top. Most of Michigan’s native trees grow to be at least 8 feet tall, but can easily triple that. Trees have a long life span and will require a significant amount of space in your yard. 

A native tree can be the cornerstone to your landscaping. Native trees offer unique benefits such as:

  • Shade from the sun
  • Protection from some wind and rain
  • Habitat for large birds and small mammals
  • Canopy coverage for smaller plants

Native Flowers And Grasses

Michigan is also host to a variety of native flowers. These plants tend to be smaller in size than native shrubs and trees, but are still extremely beneficial for the surrounding ecosystem. A variety of beautiful native blooms offer sweet nectar to some of our most important pollinators. Insets will also frequently use flower foliage as a habitat for their larvae.

It is a common misconception that native flowers are not as pretty as ornamental options. In fact, there are many varieties of native blooms that are objectively beautiful when planted correctly. Some flowers, like Black Eyed Susans, look best when planted in tight clumps. While other flowers, like Bee Balm, grow more blooms when given a “Chelsea Chop” in early spring.

Native Michigan Coneflower

Native Shrubs

Shrubs are a common choice for landscaping because they are a long-lived perennial that does not take up as much space as a tree. Some shrubs will naturally stay small, growing about 2-3 feet tall and wide. Other shrubs can naturally grow much taller, but will easily tolerate pruning to keep them at a more manageable size. There are a huge variety of native shrubs in Northern Michigan, each with their own charm.

Shrubs can be used to mark the corners or edges of your landscaping. Sometimes, shrubs are used as the centerpiece as well. While each shrub will offer something different for your backyard, most shrubs will provide:

Native Grasses

Native grasses are often overlooked in landscaping, but these simple plants can add beautiful depth and texture to your yard. Some native grasses, like Big Bluestem, can grow as tall as 8’ and will serve as an anchor point in your landscaping. Other native grasses, like Bottlebrush grass, can add softness and diversity to a landscaped area. 

Native grasses are just as beneficial as they are beautiful. Their tightly knit stems provide a safe habitat for a variety of insects and small rodents. Insects will often lay larvae at the base of the grass, which provides shelter through the fall and winter. Grasses also have strong root systems which can help prevent erosion.

Little Bluestem Grass by White Sands National Park

Native Plants Live Up To The Hype!

Planting native has been a popular topic in recent years. But does it really live up to the hype? The answer is absolutely! From providing habitat and essential food for animals, to their show-stopping blooms, native plants bestow a host of benefits for your backyard and beyond.

(Featured Image: Monarch Caterpillar on Swamp Milkweed by Larkin Kinsella)

The Benefits Of Native Plants In Landscaping

It can be intimidating to start the process of adding native plants to your landscaping. Start your planning process by deciding which types of plants you want to add to your area. Size is often the first consideration, followed by desired look and bloom time.

Native Trees

Trees are typically defined as large, woody perennials with a defined stem (trunk) and a crown of foliage and/or blooms at the top. Most of Michigan’s native trees grow to be at least 8 feet tall, but can easily triple that. Trees have a long life span and will require a significant amount of space in your yard. 

A native tree can be the cornerstone to your landscaping. Native trees offer unique benefits such as:

  • Shade from the sun
  • Protection from some wind and rain
  • Habitat for large birds and small mammals
  • Canopy coverage for smaller plants

Native Flowers And Grasses

Michigan is also host to a variety of native flowers. These plants tend to be smaller in size than native shrubs and trees, but are still extremely beneficial for the surrounding ecosystem. A variety of beautiful native blooms offer sweet nectar to some of our most important pollinators. Insets will also frequently use flower foliage as a habitat for their larvae.

It is a common misconception that native flowers are not as pretty as ornamental options. In fact, there are many varieties of native blooms that are objectively beautiful when planted correctly. Some flowers, like Black Eyed Susans, look best when planted in tight clumps. While other flowers, like Bee Balm, grow more blooms when given a “Chelsea Chop” in early spring.

Native Michigan Coneflower

Native Shrubs

Shrubs are a common choice for landscaping because they are a long-lived perennial that does not take up as much space as a tree. Some shrubs will naturally stay small, growing about 2-3 feet tall and wide. Other shrubs can naturally grow much taller, but will easily tolerate pruning to keep them at a more manageable size. There are a huge variety of native shrubs in Northern Michigan, each with their own charm.

Shrubs can be used to mark the corners or edges of your landscaping. Sometimes, shrubs are used as the centerpiece as well. While each shrub will offer something different for your backyard, most shrubs will provide:

Native Grasses

Native grasses are often overlooked in landscaping, but these simple plants can add beautiful depth and texture to your yard. Some native grasses, like Big Bluestem, can grow as tall as 8’ and will serve as an anchor point in your landscaping. Other native grasses, like Bottlebrush grass, can add softness and diversity to a landscaped area. 

Native grasses are just as beneficial as they are beautiful. Their tightly knit stems provide a safe habitat for a variety of insects and small rodents. Insects will often lay larvae at the base of the grass, which provides shelter through the fall and winter. Grasses also have strong root systems which can help prevent erosion.

Little Bluestem Grass by White Sands National Park

Erosion Control And Lakeshore Protection

Northern Michigan continues to see rising water levels and the degradation of the sandy shoreline. There are pricey, man made solutions out there, but nature also has a solution of its own! Native grasses and other perennials can greatly improve the strength of your shoreline, and can help prevent erosion. 

Native grasses grow a very strong root structure that can reach several feet down into the ground. Oftentimes with native grasses, you can assume the roots will stretch as deep as the plant is tall. When these roots anchor themselves along sandy shorelines, they can help build an underground wall that prevents the sand from slipping into the water.

Easy To Grow And Care For

Native plants literally evolved to live in our region, grow in our soil, and thrive in our local climate. Native species can handle our harsh winters, love our sandy soil, and soak up our hot and humid summer days. Their water needs are almost entirely taken care of by the natural rainfall we receive. 

There is minimal upkeep when it comes to native plants. Once they are established in their first year and survive their first winter, you can count on a long-lived perennial that will return year after year. If you do love to tinker in the garden, there are still many pruning and thinning techniques that can be done to help prevent mildew, encourage more blooms, or just keep the plant looking trim and healthy.

Habitat And Food For Our Local Ecosystem

When you start converting ornamental flower beds back into a native landscape, you’ll start to notice extra visitors in your yard. These welcome critters might be insects, birds, or small animals. They are visiting for a feast of nutritious seeds, berries, flowers, and leaves that make up a significant part of their staple diet.

Many gardeners report an immediate increase in bird and insect activity within a month of their native gardens starting to bloom. This is a good indication that these species are greatly benefiting from the return of native plants to their ecosystem. This is a welcome change that benefits our region as a whole. 

Natural Beauty In Your Own Backyard

There is no doubt that native plants can be just as beautiful as ornamental plants in your backyard. With large, boastful blooms, or a blanket of small blooms, or gorgeous foliage that returns every year, there are endless opportunities for beauty with native plants. 

But why stop at blooms and foliage when you can have the whole beautiful package?! Pollinators like bees and butterflies are frequent visitors of native blooms, as are birds and other small mammals. Your landscaping will truly come alive when you go native, and it is absolutely worth it!

Virgin’s Bower by Doug McGrady

The Benefits Of Buying Native Plants In Michigan

Are you ready to start adding native species to your gardens? We can help! Our staff here at Bright Lane Gardens is dedicated to helping our local community find the native plants they need, and can help answer any questions along the way.

We source our native species from Michigan-based dealers who are committed to sustainability. You can feel confident that the plants you purchase from Bright Lane Gardens are native to our region and will benefit our ecosystem as a whole. If you have any questions about native gardening in Northern Michigan, reach out on our contact us page!

Blue Flag Iris by Rusty Clark

Erosion Control And Lakeshore Protection

Northern Michigan continues to see rising water levels and the degradation of the sandy shoreline. There are pricey, man made solutions out there, but nature also has a solution of its own! Native grasses and other perennials can greatly improve the strength of your shoreline, and can help prevent erosion. 

Native grasses grow a very strong root structure that can reach several feet down into the ground. Oftentimes with native grasses, you can assume the roots will stretch as deep as the plant is tall. When these roots anchor themselves along sandy shorelines, they can help build an underground wall that prevents the sand from slipping into the water.

Easy To Grow And Care For

Native plants literally evolved to live in our region, grow in our soil, and thrive in our local climate. Native species can handle our harsh winters, love our sandy soil, and soak up our hot and humid summer days. Their water needs are almost entirely taken care of by the natural rainfall we receive. 

There is minimal upkeep when it comes to native plants. Once they are established in their first year and survive their first winter, you can count on a long-lived perennial that will return year after year. If you do love to tinker in the garden, there are still many pruning and thinning techniques that can be done to help prevent mildew, encourage more blooms, or just keep the plant looking trim and healthy.

Habitat And Food For Our Local Ecosystem

When you start converting ornamental flower beds back into a native landscape, you’ll start to notice extra visitors in your yard. These welcome critters might be insects, birds, or small animals. They are visiting for a feast of nutritious seeds, berries, flowers, and leaves that make up a significant part of their staple diet.

Many gardeners report an immediate increase in bird and insect activity within a month of their native gardens starting to bloom. This is a good indication that these species are greatly benefiting from the return of native plants to their ecosystem. This is a welcome change that benefits our region as a whole. 

Natural Beauty In Your Own Backyard

There is no doubt that native plants can be just as beautiful as ornamental plants in your backyard. With large, boastful blooms, or a blanket of small blooms, or gorgeous foliage that returns every year, there are endless opportunities for beauty with native plants. 

But why stop at blooms and foliage when you can have the whole beautiful package?! Pollinators like bees and butterflies are frequent visitors of native blooms, as are birds and other small mammals. Your landscaping will truly come alive when you go native, and it is absolutely worth it!

Virgin’s Bower by Doug McGrady

The Benefits Of Buying Native Plants In Michigan

Are you ready to start adding native species to your gardens? We can help! Our staff here at Bright Lane Gardens is dedicated to helping our local community find the native plants they need, and can help answer any questions along the way.

We source our native species from Michigan-based dealers who are committed to sustainability. You can feel confident that the plants you purchase from Bright Lane Gardens are native to our region and will benefit our ecosystem as a whole. If you have any questions about native gardening in Northern Michigan, reach out on our contact us page!

Blue Flag Iris by Rusty Clark