Use native plants in your yard, if you do not have a green thumb. Native plants tend to be older species that have been growing beside other native plants, fungi and wildlife for hundreds of years. They are more likely to survive in your yard than "exotic" or non-native plants introduced from another country, region or continent, according to Washington State University Extension. Use plants similar to nearby naturally occurring species, if you are uncertain about which plants are native to your area.
Native plants are adapted to the local climate, including wet or dry and sun or shaded sites and acidic or alkaline soils. Native plants solve most any landscape problem, according to Ohio State University Extension. For instance, Allegheny pachysandra and creeping juniper develop deep root systems that stabilize the soil and prevent hillside erosion. Shrubs, such as gambel oak and chokecherry spread readily by underground stems after a wildfire. Some plants even provide year-round interest, such as the winter-persistent red hips and pink flowers of meadow and pasture rose. Once established, native plants seldom need water, mulch, and protection from frost or routine mowing.
Native plants are less likely to be invasive, or take over the yard. Most native perennials spread by vegetative means. They create natural clusters that slowly increase a floral area over time. Non-native plants tend to spread by seed and have the potential to become weedy because they lack the disease, predators and environmental stress to keep them in their native range. With nothing to keep them in check, non-native plants escape cultivation and damage the environment, according to University of Florida Extension. Purple loosestrife was widely planted as a landscape plant, but it has escaped cultivation and has become a noxious weed in many states.
Some formerly common native plants have disappeared due to farming, wildfires and the introduction of non-native species. Native plants depend on other native organisms to thrive, and vice versa. When one native plant disappears, other native plant populations degrade at the peril of habitats. The use of native plants preserves degraded species and restores habitats. Habitat restoration increases biodiversity, or the number of species that grow together in harmony. Thus, native plants can attract native animals that provide mutual benefit, such as pollinating insects and seed-dispersing birds, and repel organisms that cause harm, such as disease and pests.