Letter: Native plants a great alternative to lawns by Gerald Rau
In an effort to go green and treat the environment more wisely, I have decided to turn my lawn into a native plant wild prairie habitat. With the help of a national group called the Wild Ones, dedicated to natural landscaping, I have begun planting native perennial plants and seeds. I began with native lupine perennials and native prairie plant seeds.
Wisconsin species and native wild lupine are essential for them and since my soil is dry, these plants are ideal since they require little water; in addition, the unbarred shape of the lupine leaves shade the soil and protect it. Milkweed is also a native wildflower and is necessary for monarch butterfly survival. Other perennials are black-eyed Susan, coreopsis and rattlesnake master, which the Native Americans used for snake bite.
These plants are a little hard to start, especially from seed, but once they manage a foothold, they do well and continue to spread. These plants form a permanent canopy which does not have to be cut, thus preventing pollution from mowers, which contribute 10 percent to greenhouse gases. In the years ahead, gas mowers will be phased out. These plants lay down a mat of deep roots, thus protecting soil, and using little water conserves our water resources. This is a new concept and some people don’t understand it at first, as my neighbor who doesn’t and complains about it, but it is the way of the future. The flowers aid our pollinators, I should add, who are in trouble and they account for one-third of our food supply; the nectar from the flowering plants helps them all summer. I have the Wild Ones sign on my lawn, but they can also be reached on the web and their local office is in Appleton. I have purchased most of my plants and seeds locally, so this is not hard for anyone to do. I would like to see more people in Rhinelander doing the same thing; it’s a rewarding project.
I get a great amount of help through a national organization dedicated to native plant landscaping and saving native plants. Its magazine is called Wild Ones and its state office is located in Appleton. I also have a metal sign supplied by them to explain what I’m doing with my yard. Their phone number is toll-free, (877) 394-9453. Once you have contacted them, or any of our local greenhouses, I have found, you will get all the help you deed to do the same thing with your yard, turning it into a native plant area.
Gerald Rau, Rhinelander