Design Features of Native Landscapes

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.

two different colored flowers in a field
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
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
Native plants in an Arizona demonstration garden. Photo credit: Susan Buffler

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…