When can I move herbaceous plants?

native plant landscapingThis is how a yard would look with native plants and reduced lawn. (Photo illustration: Doug Tallamy)

Doug Tallamy, the passionate voice and inspirational conscience of the native plant movement, is on a mission. He’s asking America’s homeowners to buy into a new definition of curb appeal.

When Tallamy, a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, thinks about curb appeal, he envisions residential yards in which lawns are reduced by 50 percent, groups of diverse native trees, shrubs and flowers line each side of the lawn, and the small grassy areas guide the eyes of passersby through the landscape to a focal point on the house, such as a door.

He knows this definition won’t be an easy sell.

“Curb appeal is a concept introduced by real estate agents, ” Tallamy told the 30th annual Cullowhee Native Plant Conference in Cullowhee, N.C., in July. “In the real estate view, curb appeal seems to be a full view of the front of the house, which by default is an open lawn.

The problem with yards that are mostly grass is that they are “dead landscapes” that lack plants, specifically plants native to a homeowner’s region of the country, that support the web of plant, insect and animal life, Tallamy contends.front yard landscape with big lawn he landscapes were lawn, 79 percent of the landscape plants were introduced from Asia, Europe or elsewhere, and 9 percent were highly invasive. The study also found that the average yard contained only 10 percent of the tree biomass of a nearby woodlot.

Doug Tallamy wants homeowners to move away from this model and devote less space to lawns and more to native plants

Tallamy’s goal is to convince homeowners to get more native plants into the landscape. His challenge is to get them to understand that they can do this without making their yards look wild and messy.

He thinks it will be relatively easy to get homeowners to change the look of their backyards because this part of the landscape isn't visible from the street. He sees the front yard, however, as a different matter. Even the term “backyard habitat, ” he contends, suggests the front yard is off-limits to native plants. But his real challenge, he said, are urban legends that discourage the use of native plants in the front yard.

“Most of these urban legends are misconceptions, but some are legitimate concerns, ” he said. We use these urban legends to rationalize our feelings that native plants disrupt an innate human need for neatness and order, Tallamy explained. He believes there are eight of these legends, and he has a rebuttal for each.


River study; a practical field guide to the identification and use of herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees that enhance water quality, prevent erosion, and improve fish habitat. Illustrations by Anne Lacy Trevor.
Book (Essex County Adirondack Garden Club,)

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Shallow rooted annual and perennial herbaceous plants can be planted closer to the drain fields since they do not have invasive roots. Turfgrass can be grown over the drain field and is beneficial since it helps hold the soil in place.

Plant Therapy Essential Oils Eucalyptus Essential Oil. 30 ml (1 oz). 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade.
Health and Beauty (Plant Therapy Essential Oils)
  • Botanical Name: Eucalyptus globules
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Dent in association with the Royal Horticultural Society Perennial Garden Plants, Or, The Modern Florilegium: A Concise Account of Herbaceous Plants, Including Bulbs, for General Garden Use
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3dRose LLC Taiche Photography Calla Lilies - Overhead Shot Cream Calla Lily In Soft Focus, Elegant herbaceous flower plant - Iron on Heat Transfers - 10x10 Iron on Heat Transfer for White Material
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  • Heat transfer is transparent and should be applied only to white or light colored material
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3dRose LLC Taiche Photography Calla Lilies - Overhead Shot Cream Calla Lily In Soft Focus, Elegant herbaceous flower plant - Water Bottles
Sports (3dRose LLC)
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