Simple Action: Share your yard with wildlife

Today’s Simple Action is to share your yard with wildlife.

Spring has arrived, and for many, yard maintainance and gardening has been added to the weekly to-do lists. There are very simple things you can do in your yard that will make a world of difference for our environment and wildlife.

 Americans directly apply 70 million pounds of pesticides to home lawns and gardens each year and, in so doing, kill birds and other wildlife and pollute our precious water resources. Instead of using pesticides, control insects using natural controls.

Also, plant native trees and shrubs because they use less fertilizer. Landscaping with natives, commonly referred to as “bayscaping,” also provides better food and shelter for wildlife, and requires less maintenance. These plants are adapted to local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to many insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will grow with minimal use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. 

The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park located outside of the Aquarium provides a beautiful example of bayscaping. The 90,000-square-foot urban park explores Maryland’s diverse ecosystems—from the ocean, coastal plains and Chesapeake Bay through the Piedmont region and west to the Allegheny Mountains, and features many common native trees and plants.

The coastal zone includes salt marsh grasses, loblolly pines and shrubs like salt bush and winterberry. In the park’s Piedmont region, magnolia and swamp tupelo trees share space with swamp rose, Allegheny blackberry, highbush blueberry, cinnamon ferns, wild ginger, red chokeberry and bog plants including pickleweed and arrow arum. Eastern redbud and red cedar trees, witch hazel, wild hydrangea, sassafras, grasses and groundcovers take people to the mountainous portions of Maryland, leading them to the 35-foot waterfall representing the Allegheny Cascades.

Native plants are easy to find! For a complete list of plants and nurseries, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

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