How to Choose the Right Native Plants for Your Landscape Design

Not everyone has a green thumb, but ask any Landscape design expert and he or she will tell you that there’s always hope! This hope comes in the form of native plants. Native plants are those that naturally thrive in your area, like in the wilderness, without any human intervention.

Because these plants have adapted to the local conditions, they make a beautiful, rugged, weather-resistant landscaping alternative.

Benefits of Native Plants in a Landscape Design

  • Simpler to maintain: Because the plants are in their natural environment, they’re simpler to care for. They require less of your time, and less pruning and fewer fertilizers than common garden plants.
  • Save water: Most native plants do not need more water than the normal rainfall provides, which helps conserve H2O and money.
  • Fewer chemicals:  Native plants naturally resist the pests in the area, so you don’t need to use pesticides in your garden.
  • Attract wildlife: Native plants attract the local wildlife to your garden, including butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects.

Tips & Considerations when Choosing Native Plants


  • The law: It may be illegal in your state to collect native plants from public lands, like state or national parks, without a permit. When this is the case, acquire the plants from local nurseries, a native-plant society sale, a city planner’s office or a botanical garden.
  • Planning: Instead of just planting native species that you like on a whim, plan a thoughtful landscape design. Landscaping experts suggest that you:
    • Group plants together based on their watering needs.
    • Use areas of your landscape that stay cool for plants that prefer moist soil.
    • Use warmer areas of your property for plants that prefer drier soils.
    • Space the plants according to their potential growth.
    • Plant trees on the south and west sides of your property to help keep your home cooler during the summer.
    • Choose plants that best suit your garden instead of modifying your garden to suit a plant.
  • Soil: You may learn that the native species in your area do well and live longer without any soil amendments. Consult with a landscape design expert to learn more about the mulching and feeding needs of the native plants in your garden.
  • Variety: Add plants to a landscape design that flower throughout the seasons. Some of the most enjoyable are those that are colorful, aromatic and/or attract wildlife.
  • Pruning: While native plants are simple to maintain, they may need occasional pruning to keep them tame, prevent crowding and discourage overgrowth.

When it comes to growing native plants, the key to success is selecting the right plant for the right place in your landscape. Talk to your local landscaping expert to learn more.

Guest author Steve Stewart is President of Landscape East & West, Portland, Oregon’s landscape design professionals. Landscape East & West is an award-winning full-service landscaping company specializing in low-maintenance landscape design, irrigation systems and drainage management and more.