Creating a Native LandscapeSelect plant species
Project objectives, budget, and site conditions present factors that
will influence the range of species that are best suited for a project.
In addition, project expectations, aesthetics, and availability are also
key factors for selecting plant species.
Short and long-term expectations
It usually takes two to three full growing seasons for a native seeding
to reach maturity, with some species not appearing until after five
years or more. Budget parameters and your choice of seed versus
plants have a significant impact on the rate of establishment and
appearance of the project.
Using native seed is more economical than live plants; however, it
will take longer to establish. If you need to see progress quickly,
include species in the seed mix that will germinate and bloom in the
first year. For even more immediate results, install plugs or larger
For long-term projects, it may be best to stagger installation over
several years, planting early successional species first to develop
a stable native matrix, and then adding species that are more
conservative in later years.
Expectations are often connected to the aesthetic elements of a
project. When thinking about the visual impact of species selection,
consider what the site requires with regard to:
Bloom time and color throughout the season
Plant form and growth habit
Height at maturation, relationship to other plants, and overall
Spread and coverage rate
Functional attributes such as pollinator and habitat enhancement
Not all species may be available at all times or in the quantities
needed. Before specifying a species for a project, determine if the
plant is readily available or if it needs to be custom grown. If species
with a specific local genotype are required, collecting and growing
these species will likely need to occur a year or more before the
planned installation date. Contact Cardno to discuss specific plant or
seed availability and contract collection and growing options.NativeBrowser™, Cardno’s online plant database tool, can help you with plant species specification.