Mid- to late summer is a beautiful time in the garden, especially for many of the native perennial flowers which will soon be in bloom for several weeks. So, it is also a good time to see and learn more about the beauty and function of native plants for your own yard and garden. It can also be the time to have your home certified in The Conservation Foundation’s Conservation@Home program.
Native plants provide functional value, as well as aesthetic beauty, to the landscape.
Native perennials offer a deep root system that improves water infiltration into the soil, reducing wasteful stormwater runoff and also reducing the amount of irrigation needed. The perennial plants with deep root systems also help aerate the soil, create pathways for beneficial insects and add organic matter. Many of the flowering plants are excellent sources of food and habitat for native pollinator insects.
When planted in a rain garden, the plants’ value can be enhanced. Rain gardens are designed to collect runoff from downspouts, sidewalks, driveways, etc. in a slightly depressed area, allowing more time for the water to soak into the soil. The deep rooted plants accentuate the rain garden’s function. When designed properly, the gardens do not allow for standing water over a long period of time.
Landowners that use such practices and/or other good environmental stewardship and conservation of resources, such as rain barrels, composting, managing invasive plants etc. are the heart of TCF’s Conservation@Home program.
Homeowners can receive a Conservation@Home yard sign identifying the property as conservation-minded landscape. Whether it’s creating a butterfly or rain garden with native plants, capturing stormwater in a rain barrel or removing invasive vegetation, every little action we accomplish on our own property works toward the greater goal of cleaning up our water, providing natural habitat and creating healthy landscapes for people and wildlife. Business owners can use similar practices also and qualify for the Conservation@Work program.
Also, this month is the “Beer, Bands and Barns” music and craft beer festival from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at our Dickson-Murst Farm. Featuring live musical acts, impromptu open mic performances, craft beers and food trucks set up amid our historical red farm buildings, there’s no better recipe for an awesome summer afternoon/evening. Grab a couple of lawn chairs, a blanket and your favorite folks for a laid back event at our historic farmstead. There’s plenty of room to relax, and one stage will be under cover in case of rain. Admission and parking are free.
For information about Conservation@Home or @Work, or other programs, call 630-553-0687 x204 or visit the website theconservationfoundation.org.
• John Church is the Kendall County program director at The Conservation Foundation.