Design Features of Native Landscapes


Naturalistic prairie style meadow. Photo credit: Jamie and Marina Berger Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Native woodland garden in spring features different plant layers (Brooklyn Botanic Garden). Photo credit: dogtooth77 Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Native plants in an Arizona demonstration garden. Photo credit: Susan Buffler

The use of native plants in the landscape is becoming increasingly popular. Native plants are adapted to local conditions and, if planted properly, can thrive on sites non-natives may not tolerate. This can reduce the need for additional pesticides and fertilizers.

A common misconception is that native plantings end up looking like a weed patch, however, garden beds can be attractively arranged using basic design principles.

Native plants can be grouped into clumps or drifts to create a more natural effect. Observing and understanding how plants in native landscapes are organized is key to creating a successful native garden.

Characteristics of Native Plants

  • Reflects the local native landscape
  • Provides food and cover for birds, bees, butterflies and other local wildlife
  • Adapted to local climate and soils (exception is riparian and wetland landscapes with much higher water needs)
  • Naturalized style
  • Can be lower maintenance
  • Use less or no pesticides

Additional Resources:


Idaho: Landscaping with Native Plants
Nevada: Native Plant Characteristics…


Mississippi: Designing with Native Plants and Naturalistic Landscapes