Native harden

Asked September 7, 2020, 2:55 PM EDT

Are there any volunteers who would be willing to come out to my home site and advise me of what natives to plant, sun and shade locations, and how to group them? I am located in Baldwin, MD. Thanks

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

Unfortunately we do not perform site visits, but if you do not wish to hire a landscaping company (there are those who specialize in using native plants), you can peruse the following publications to help you pick species you like aesthetically and which will suit your conditions. Light levels (in summer), soil moisture and drainage, deer browsing problems, and room to mature are all considerations that can be narrowed-down with the help of data in these lists and cross-referencing with deer-resistant plant lists as needed. (Note - such lists for deer don't always have many native plant inclusions because until very recently they were not as popular in gardens and there hasn't been enough data on deer preferences.)

For both aesthetic interest and wildlife value, mixing species is best - it will provide a range of bloom times, flower shapes and colors, a range of stress tolerances and adaptability to changes in weather and pressures from pests or disease. By using varied species, odds are at least several will prosper at any given time, even in unusual circumstances (excess rain, drought, cold snaps, and so forth).

As far as layout, this is much more dependent on your personal taste and gardening style. A more formal look will involve using patterns in planting (symmetry or other purposeful repetition) and possibly restricting plant choice to those with naturally-tidy, restrained growth habits. A more natural look can be achieved by mixing a greater number of species and those with more varied growth habits. If you want to avoid having the planting look too eclectic, you still can use repetition to convey a sense of purpose to the layout - using irregularly-shaped clumps of several plants for each species to create a "drift," for instance, or repeating the use of a certain species, flower shape, or flower color within the overall bed or garden will tie things together.

Here are useful native plant lists and a couple of regional deer-resistant lists. Many of the listed native species are common enough at garden centers and native plant nurseries that finding them should not be too challenging. (Some of the wildflowers scarcer in horticulture are not included.)
(written for Northern VA but still applicable here)

UMD deer-resistant list:

Rutgers deer-resistant list: