April5Spring is finally here – birds are chirping, tulips and daffodils are starting to come up, and you may be thinking to yourself, “What should I plant in the garden this year?” Here are a few tips on what to plant that will make your garden beautiful and beneficial to local waterways!

Native plants create attractive, low-maintenance borders for your garden or lawn. They have deep thirsty roots that help retain water in your yard and absorb fertilizer before it can run off. Deep-rooted native plants also help stabilize soils and prevent erosion, make them a great choice for steep slopes, berms, or stream banks. Some examples of native plants are Juneberry, Silky Dogwood, Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly Milkweed, and Coneflower (see picture). Before planting, learn what native plants are best suited for your garden. In northwest Ohio, we have a variety of soil types like the sandy soils of Oak Openings in western Lucas County and the heavier, clay-based soils of eastern Lucas and Wood Counties. Contact Toledo Botanical Garden or your county Soil & Water Conservation District with questions about what might be best for your garden.

If your home is on a lake, river, or stream, it is especially important to prevent excessive or unnatural water runoff and soil erosion. Maintain a native plant buffer along the water’s edge. Keep the buffer at least 15ft wide, with narrow access paths winding to the water. Never apply fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides near or on this area as these chemicals may leach into the nearby waterway.  

Native plants create an inviting habitat for butterflies, birds, and other small wildlife. As the seasons change, you will enjoy watching a variety of different wildlife in your garden. For information on what native plants you should invest in, contact the Toledo Botanical Garden, your local OSU extension office, or Soil and Water Conservation District.  Also, mark your calendars – Oak Openings Blue Week Native Plant Sale is on May 20th and 21st from 10:00am to 4:00pm at Kitty Todd Preserve in Swanton.