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Grow a living landscape

By February 9, 2021Beet February 2021

By Lynn Kunstman

Master Gardener 2012

Want more birds and butterflies in your life? Want to support pollinators and wildlife? Here’s some information for small and large property owners to help them make wise plant choices for their properties.

For those of us who do not own acreage, but want to increase our yard’s biodiversity and ecosystem services, please download “Enhancing Urban and Suburban Landscapes to Protect Pollinators.” This impressively thorough and well-researched booklet by nine OSU professors in the Horticulture Department provides practical information for gardeners to improve and maintain gardens that support pollinators and beneficial insects and birds. It will help you make decisions to turn your yard into more than the typically sterile landscapes of lawns and exotic plants, clipped into balls and boxes.

If, however, you are one of the lucky folks who own acreage, please consider planting a multi-species hedgerow. Hedgerows are diversified plantings of multi-layered vegetation. Wildly different from the clipped, exotic, and sterile hedges grown in most yards and gardens, hedgerows provide multiple ecological services. Among these biodiversity benefits are; food for wildlife, livestock and humans; habitat for pollinating and beneficial insects; shelter and nesting sites for birds and other wildlife; carbon sequestration; soil and water protection; noise, wind and chemical drift protection; and year-round beauty. What’s not to love here?

Oregon State University Extension Service has an excellent article in their catalog entitled, “A Guide to Hedgerows.” It is available, as are all publications, for free download.

While this article includes both native and non-native plants, I highly recommend you choose native plants to provide maximum biodiversity services. To do this, cross reference the plants listed in the article with the Oregon Flora. The Oregon Flora is a powerful new tool for gardeners and landscapers to utilize to incorporate more of our native vegetation into our landscapes. Be sure to check it out right away.

In future editions of the Garden Beet, I hope to feature the top native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that best support biodiversity in the Rogue Valley. In the meantime, I hope all Master Gardeners will fully utilize the great science based-resources available through Oregon Flora and your OSU state extension service catalog. Save the planet – Garden for Life!