How to Maintain

All plantings will need to be maintained to thrive, particularly during the establishment phase. The level of maintenance required should help dictate the size and type of plantings you consider. Garden-sized plantings can be maintained with normal hand-weeding and watering, but larger plantings require different strategies. If you seeded a large area of native plants, you can manage competition from weeds by mowing above the height of the native seedlings several times in the first growing season. Prairie-type plantings will require burning or mowing every two to three years after they’re established to reduce woody plant invasion.

Pest damage

While many native species are quite pest and disease resistant, nearly all species will sustain some level of pest attack and some are highly attractive to some pests. For example, common evening primrose, Oenothera biennis, seems to attract large numbers of Japanese beetles. Such highly attractive plants can divert damage to other species or be used as trap plants to draw pests to specific areas where they can be controlled. Remember that minor leaf feeding by insects is actually supporting biodiversity within the system. Some native plant species are readily fed on by mammals, including deer. A few, such as oaks, may need to be caged to protect them from deer browse until they are old and large enough to survive it. A number of natives are also less palatable than non-native species to mammal pests, increasing their chance of surviving this pressure. Your local native plant producer will also be a resource about whether certain species are likely to be severely affected by insect pests, diseases, or mammals. 

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