Stormwater: Use Native Plants

Attractive and Low Maintenance, Native Plants Are a Good Match for Any Garden

Reducing water runoff from yards is key to protecting water quality. The water that runs off lawns and gardens may contain fertilizer, soil and debris. When polluted water runoff enters storm drains and streams, it is discharged into the reservoir unfiltered. Keeping our waterways cleaner and healthier protects drinking water resources. Native plants have deep, "thirsty" roots that help retain water on your site and filter out pollutants. Use native plants to create attractive, low-maintenance garden borders and lawns.

What exactly is a native plant and why are native plants important? Plants that are "native" have evolved in a particular region over thousands of years. They have adapted to the soil conditions, moisture conditions and weather conditions of the region. Native plants have evolved together with other plants and animals. As a result, a community of native plants provides food and habitat for a variety of native wildlife species such as songbirds, butterflies and small wildlife. As the seasons change, you will enjoy watching a host of wildlife in your garden. If your home or garden has a pond or stream, it is especially important to prevent water runoff from your yard. Create a native plant buffer along the water’s edge try to keep the buffer at least 20 feet wide with narrow access paths winding down to the water.

Never apply fertilizers, pesticides or fungicides to the buffer area. The Town’s wetlands ordinance regulates a 100-foot buffer from any watercourse or wetland area, and a 150-foot buffer within the Environmental Overlay Districts. (Please refer to the Town’s wetlands ordinance for a list of activities that may be subject to regulation.) Cultivating native plants helps protect the splendid biodiversity of our area, which is important to the ecosystem.

Why should we landscape with native plants? Native plants are easier to grow because they are suited to our weather and soil. The resilience of native plants is due in large part to their massive root systems. Because the roots reach deep into the soil the plants can access water even during dry times.

What is wrong with landscaping using non-native plants? Non-native plants, also called exotic species, are those that have been transplanted from places where they did not evolve. If a non- native plant grows aggressively, it is considered ‘invasive’ and can have \ devastating effects on other plant populations.