What differentiates a natural yard from other eco-yards is the focus on native plant use. Many citizens are not nearly as familiar with Edmonton’s local native plants as they are with greenhouse plants.
Benefits of incorporating native plants into your landscape include:
Reducing pesticide use in the urban landscape
Creating a landscape that is better adapted for local environmental conditions
Having less yard maintenance once established
Supporting local wildlife by providing food and shelter
The City of Edmonton does not recommend that the general public collect seeds from natural areas on their own regard for several reasons:
Wild areas containing prairie perennials, in particular, are no longer widespread and can be vulnerable to human impact
Without a lot of experience and knowledge, it can be difficult to accurately identify species, potentially leading to rare species being collected
Some places are protected areas or privately owned and you require permission to collect from there
It is best to purchase seeds, seedlings, or more mature plants from reputable suppliers who are experienced with wild harvesting.
Plants From the Wild
Aside from disrupting the ecosystem, many mature native plants do not survive transplanting. There are also some plant species that are endangered and it is illegal to remove them from the wild.
Avoid Pre-packaged Wildflower Mixes
Unless custom-created from locally and responsibly-sourced seeds for your needs, avoid purchasing wildflower seed mixes. These may include invasive species to our area and species that are not necessarily local.
Note: Scientific names are specific to one species only, whereas, the same common name is sometimes applied to multiple plants. This can lead to the accidental use of invasive plants.
The Alberta Native Plant Council further explains challenges of pre-packaged wildflower mixes.
Clean Your Edges - Creating clean edges to planting beds makes a yard look well-maintained. Add landscape edging or trench so that lawn does not creep into the bed. Be sure to include sides of planting beds running along shared property lines; you do not want your neighbours struggling to keep their landscapes separate from yours.
Watering - Keep the soil around the plantings moist by watering less often and more deeply to encourage the plants to develop a resillient root system (during establishment; supplemental watering shouldn’t be required after this).
Address Exposed Areas - Inevitably there will be bare space between your plants while they mature or even some empty space might be intended between different groupings to highlight them. Top dressing these spaces with mulch can dress up the area and help prevent weeds.
Staking - Some taller varieties of perennials may benefit from staking to keep an upright, tidy appearance.
Weed Your Pavers - Paths and patios are often constructed out of paving stones. Spaces in between are filled with jointing sand. This is what makes this hardscape permeable to water. This also is a space where weeds can grow.
Cut Weeds At Base - Pulling out a weed’s root system disturbs the soil in that area. Many weeds take advantage of disturbed soils so this area becomes more susceptible to new weed invasion. Disturbing soil can trigger dormant weed seeds in the soil to start growing. Also, pulling the entire weed out can damage the growing root system of your new plants if their roots are entwined with the weeds’.
Under the Alberta Weed Control Act, noxious weeds must be controlled, which means to stop them from spreading. Prohibited noxious weeds must be destroyed, meaning all growing parts of the plant must be killed.
If regulated weeds are found on your property, you will receive a Local Authority’s Notice asking you to control or remove the weeds on your property. If you do not comply with the directives in the notice, the City has the authority under the Alberta Weed Control Act to enter your property without notifying you and initiate remedial weed control and/or destroy measures. All costs incurred by the City are added to your property tax bill.