One-Stop Environmentalism: Plant a Native Tree

If you only have time to do one thing to support wildlife in your yard, let it be to plant a native tree. The benefits of trees in general are obvious: in addition to providing shade and year-round beauty, they cool the environment, soak up greenhouse gases, and provide fruits and shelter for birds and other wildlife. But trees that are native to our area … Continue reading One-Stop Environmentalism: Plant a Native Tree

Get paid to mow less!

How would you like to be paid to improve the landscaping on your own property? Grants from the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP) – available for both private and community properties in most jurisdictions – do just that. Although lawns may look natural, in fact they cause trouble for the environment. The streams of Northern Virginia, and ultimately our drinking water and the Chesapeake Bay, … Continue reading Get paid to mow less!

Accidental environmentalism: How yard-sign envy led to a butterfly and bee paradise

This is the story of a gardener who wanted to impress (and encourage) her neighbors by displaying an Audubon-at-Home yard sign that designates a property as an official wildlife sanctuary. How could she earn that coveted plaque? The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia’s program lets the animals decide if sustainable practices have been successful. Certification would require her to spot at least ten species of … Continue reading Accidental environmentalism: How yard-sign envy led to a butterfly and bee paradise

Shopping for plants? Try our free, searchable app for Northern Virginia!

Have you ever brought home a shrub from the garden center only to discover that you had accidentally purchased a shady swamp plant to put in your sunny dry area? You can avoid these sad mistakes in the future by quickly consulting the Plant NOVA Natives app. This app can be used on a computer but is also mobile-friendly for use on smart phones.  (You … Continue reading Shopping for plants? Try our free, searchable app for Northern Virginia!

Beat the Deer While Living on the Edge

However cute we may all find Bambi, he and his relatives are responsible for large-scale degradation of the environment in Northern Virginia. You might suppose that human habitations are crowding out the poor things, but actually the opposite is true. The deep woods that made up so much of our area used to support only a limited number of deer, which do best in edge … Continue reading Beat the Deer While Living on the Edge

Beautifying your garden with natives, made easy

We are all learning that native plants support the environment while providing low-maintenance beauty to our yards, but how can you figure out which plants are native and which will grow well on your property? Native plants in garden centers often are not labelled as such, and sometimes plants that are labelled as “native” are actually residents of the prairies or even the west coast, … Continue reading Beautifying your garden with natives, made easy

Plant your bird food today!

The season is underway, and now is a great time to start planning for your spring and summer garden! This spring support additional habitat by planting more native species in your home or balcony garden. Once established, native plants typically need less care because they evolved with local soil and climate conditions. Natives also support butterflies, birds and pollinators such as the Monarch – which … Continue reading Plant your bird food today!

Turn Your Yard into a Wildlife Sanctuary…Plant Native Species

by Jessica Bowser The seasons are changing, the temperature is rising and homeowners are cleaning up their yards and making plans for improvements in their landscapes and gardens.  The plethora of plant options at the garden centers can seem overwhelming and there are many factors to consider to ensure that the plants you choose will survive and thrive in your yard without intensive maintenance.  There … Continue reading Turn Your Yard into a Wildlife Sanctuary…Plant Native Species

Accidental environmentalism – the case of the unexpected butterflies

This is the story of a gardener who discovered that less was more. For years, she had been weeding out the Common Violet from her garden. Violets are unassuming plants that tend to pop up all over the place, including flower garden beds, which the gardener thought should be kept clear to allow other plants to grow. One year, a small construction project on the … Continue reading Accidental environmentalism – the case of the unexpected butterflies

Do native plants sound foreign?

Do you want to help the local wildlife but are afraid that would mean planting a scruffy garden full of strange-looking plants? Have no fear! You can create habitat using familiar plants in traditional landscaping settings. Shade trees Planting a shade tree provides an enormous amount of habitat. The white oak (Quercus alba) (above) is the hands-down winner in supplying food for the caterpillars that songbirds … Continue reading Do native plants sound foreign?