Native planting primer

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Concepts to know[edit]

Erosion and Stormwater MGMT & the Chesapeake Bay[edit]

  • Lack of vegetation is bad for water quality and high density of impervious surfaces acts like a water slide which makes things even worse. Nitrogen and Sediment is now the largest source of runoff into the bay, not farms like they used to say. These elements together cause algal blooms which kill fish in the peak of summer with reduced oxygen availability. Plants are great for about 50 reasons, but one of which is erosion mgmt.
  • Overall, more plants are better then none in preventing erosion. There is a Plant more Plants campaign that was established locally through Virginia's Department of Conservation and Recreation. The resources on their site will be able to answer most planting questions.
  • Oh and yes, fall is the best time to plant most plants.

Native & Invasive Species[edit]

  • Not all plants are created equal. Some are terrible! Like the tree of heaven, Ailanthus altissima. More info on invasive plants, who are the worst in our state and their effects can be found here.
  • Seed bombing sounds like lots of fun, but just because a plant is listed as a wildflower, doesn't mean it is native to our state. The species in any mix need to be checked before broad scale planting. If you know the plant name (Latin preferred), you can google it along with the phrase "USDA plants" in the search and get this website which will tell you if a plant is native to your state or introduced. Then you would check the Digital Flora of Virginia and confirm it is native to your locality.
  • Native Plants are where we need to go in the future.
  • Really, what you need to know is that this sweet tool exists. It is through DCR and it let's you pick native plants by your region, size, site specifics and benefits. You can even search by what pollinator you want to attract. Also we live in the Piedmont region. There is a new book out with photos and specifics on the best natives to plant in the Piedmont.
  • The only problem with natives is that not every nursery has them yet. It is not status quo yet. The Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council works to promote the marketability of native plants in our state. The more education and hype we can get, the better off we will be.



  • Money can come from local garden centers, but the sale of Virginia native plants are only now coming mainstream. Talking to a group like Beautiful RVA (a group Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden made) probably would be an organization to go through.
  • Really what we need more of is grant money, and that means getting someone who has time to write grants. A massive tree planting in Scotts Addition in 2015 & 2016 received funding this way. As of Spring 2017, 119 new trees have been planted in Scott's Addition through state grant money.
  • There are lots of Chesapeake Bay grants and also a new cost share program for retrofits called VCAP that pays for part of the costs of more permanent structures if they will help reduce runoff into the bay.
  • Richmond Tree Stewards honestly would be a great group to implement it. If it is a native plant that is planted, volunteers from the Virginia Native Plant Society usually are willing to help with planting. Master gardeners are only educators and cannot get volunteer hours for physical labor. Master naturalists can.


  • We would need to see if the city would allow it—for there is a strict weed ordinance. A weed by definition is a plant out of place.
  • Possible recommendations include native grasses like swtichgrass, panicum virgatum and goldenrod species that are native to our state.
  • Establishment (making sure seeds germinate after seeding) and maintenance (watering) is also a thing to consider.
  • Agriculturally speaking, cover crops are sweet. Some might not be native but they can restore soil quality and tolerate that short term use suggested.