Gardeners and homeowners making plans for their landscapes might want to remember that long before colonial settlers arrived in the Chesapeake watershed, native plants were thriving — content with whatever water fell from the sky, or with the nutrients already present in the soil. Because they grew without fertilizers, pesticides or sprinkler systems, they did not contribute to the excessive, nutrient runoff now threatening the Bay. They offered food and shelter for songbirds, butterflies and other wildlife.

BayScaping, a holistic approach to gardening in which environmentally sound landscapes feature mostly native plants best suited for local soil, sunlight and water conditions, offers a return to this more natural Bay landscape.

Not only is this approach easier on the Bay, it is also easier on the homeowner’s wallet and schedule, as BayScaped properties require less chemicals and maintenance.

BayScapes gardens are “green” in more ways than one: They are healthier for the environment, as well as healthier in general. Over the years, native plants have learned to survive local stressful conditions. These are the plants that are able to withstand climatic changes, both between seasons and periods of drought or storms. Not only that, but often, they have adapted to, are able to fend off, local pests. Plus, the fewer and lesser amounts of toxic chemicals that are applied to our land, the healthier it is for all concerned — wildlife and humans.

Once one’s BayScaped garden or property begins to take root, the newfound extra time will come in handy for watching wildlife

For more detailed information on BayScapes, including lists of resources, products and suggested reading materials, contact: The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay at: 1-800-662-CRIS or the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at: 410-573-4593.