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Creating a Native Landscape

Select plant species

Project objectives, budget, and site conditions present factors that

will influence the range of species 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 2 to 3 full growing seasons for a native seeding to

reach maturity, with some species not appearing until after 5 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

established plants.

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.

Aesthetic elements

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

sight lines


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.

8 weeks

1 year

3 years