Designing Your Garden Around Native Plants

Designing your garden should be an art form; one that stirs your soul and feeds your imagination. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a garden that not only allows you to be creative in design, but to make use of natural surrounding as well. The idea of designing your garden around your natural habitat is nothing new or profound. It takes advantage of the local species and natural beauty of the landscape. Mother nature provides flora that is best suited for your climate and soil composition, ensuring healthy and strong plants and foliage.

The Four Pillars of Habitat

Always keep in mind the four pillars of habitat when designing any garden. The four pillars are food, water, shelter and cover.

These four pillars nourish the environment and give back to the earth.


The plant life in your garden can be a natural food for the inhabitants of the environment. Some good examples of environmental food sources are trees and berry bushes.

Another way of feeding the environment is to choose a particular wild animal that lives in your area and design your garden around the feeding needs of that animal. What plants will feed that creature. If you have wild turkeys in your area, you could plant acorns, beeches, crabapples and hawthorns. A favorite to most gardeners is the monarch butterfly. To attract these to your garden you could plant Asters, Bee Balm, Coreopsis, Coneflower, Lupine, Black-eyed Susan, and yarrow, and also butterfly weed.

You want to plant a range of both flowering and berrying plants in your garden to keep the food going all year. Summer plants are ones like elderberry and shrub dogwood. Fall is a great time for plants like winterberry and chokeberry for attracting birds.

Don’t forget to plant different grasses for another food source for different species. Grasses like Switchgrass, Bluestem and Indian Grass are great for borders.


Water is essential to provide in any garden where you desire to feed nature’s animals. A garden pond is useful and beautiful. A birdbath made from natural materials or designed for your natural habitat would be wonderful for the birds in your area. Butterflies will enjoy a plate of damp sand.

gardening with Native Plants


Wildlife needs to have shelter from the elements. Those who winter down with us during those long cold months especially need to have shelter for survival.

Trees can be excellent shelter as well as food. Pines and cedars are two prime examples of trees that are used for both food and shelter for birds and insects.

If you plant Hollies, Pussywillows, Serviceberry and Viburnum together you will make an excellent nesting sanctuary for birds.


This is an important provision to include in your natural garden design because it provides not only shelter from the elements, but protection from predators as well. Most wildlife is dependant on cover to survive on a day-to-day basis.

Cover can consist of thorny plants such as Hawthorns and Wild roses, which are also very good food sources as well. Rabbits and other small animals will benefit from a brush pile (logs at the bottom and twiggy stuff at the top). Another good cover is a pile of rocks. These will provide shelter, cover and homes for critters such as chipmunks.

When you design your natural garden with the four pillars in mind, you will not only have a environmentally friendly garden, you will have one of beauty too.

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