Jersey-Friendly Yards and native plants are perfect together!

Native plants not only add beauty to New Jersey yards, they offer important environmental and economic benefits. Native plants help conserve and filter water, provide habitat for native wildlife, protect soil resources, and reduce the costs and environmental impacts associated with fertilizers and pesticides. They also give us a “sense of place.” From the unique plant communities of the Pinelands to coastal salt marshes to the hardwood forests in the Highlands, New Jersey’s native plants make us feel at home.

Use the searchable Jersey-Friendly Yards Plant Database to find native plants that will thrive in your yard’s growing conditions. Another great resource for getting started with native plant landscaping is our Going Native publication. Use Going Native: A Guide to Landscaping with Native Plants in the Barnegat Bay Watershed if you live in the state’s Coastal Region (southern New Jersey) and Going Native: A Guide to Landscaping with Native Plants in Northern New Jersey if you live in the Ridge and Valley, Highlands, or Piedmont regions. See a map of the state’s physiographic regions here.

What are native plants?

Native plants are species that grow in a region without human introduction. Only plants found in New Jersey before European settlement are considered to be native here. They have evolved over thousands of years to be well-adapted to a variety of conditions in New Jersey and to the other plants and animals around them. The Native Plant Society of New Jersey has identified over 2,000 native plant species in our state, and the Flora of New Jersey Project is gathering information and creating a database about New Jersey’s native plants.

Hummingbird feeding on beebalm.
photo of Hydrangea quercifolia
A monarch butterfly finds food in a backyard habitat.
photo of Cephalanthus occidentalis
RubyThroated Hummingbird(Crop) on Beebalm 2 Joe Schneid
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Why grow native plants in your Jersey-Friendly Yard?

  • Hardy, low-maintenance native plants save time and money. Native plants are well-adapted to our local climate and soil and have natural defenses to plant diseases, harmful insects, and other pests. When the right native is planted in the right place, it will thrive with minimal care. Once established, native plants flourish with normal rainfall and need little, if any, additional watering. Save money on fertilizers and pesticides too – native plants grow well with minimal fertilization and are less likely to develop pest problems requiring treatment.
  • Native plants attract and support wildlife. If you enjoy watching birds, butterflies, and other wildlife, native plants will bring them into your yard. Because native animals evolved together with native plants, they depend on them for essential food, shelter, and nesting sites. New Jersey, the most densely populated state, has lost a considerable amount of wildlife habitat. Native plants in your yard can create new habitat to help balance the loss. Plant a variety of native plants to provide year-round sources of nectar, seeds, and fruits and diverse types of cover for wildlife.
  • Native plants improve water quality. Native plant roots help prevent erosion by holding soil in place, increase infiltration of rainwater into the ground, and filter pollutants like lawn chemicals from the water. Since native plants lessen the need to apply fertilizers and pesticides, they keep our water cleaner and healthier by reducing the amount of pollution that rainwater runoff can carry into our waterways.
  • Native plants work in all garden designs. When considering native plants, think about more than just wildflower meadows. There are native plants perfect for foundation beds, shrub borders, specimen trees, ground covers, water gardens, woodland edges, and more. No matter what your garden style, informal or formal, you can find a variety of beautiful native plants to grow in your yard.

Additional Resources

Native Plant Society of New Jersey
Going Native:  A Guide to Landscaping with Native Plants in the Barnegat Bay Watershed
Going Native: A Guide to Landscaping with Native Plants in Northern New Jersey
Flora of New Jersey Project
The Biota of North America Program
Pinelands Preservation Alliance: Additional Native Plant Resources
Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
US Fish & Wildlife Service: Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping – Chesapeake Bay Watershed