How many streets in your community are lined with trees that are surrounded by mulch or grass, or even concrete? Aside from the fact that street landscaping rarely uses native plants, this style of landscaping creates big problems for pollinators. Read on to find out why you need to ask your town landscaper to put native plants under native trees.

Pollinator Lifecycles

Native trees provide the perfect baby food for huge numbers of butterflies and moths. All sorts of caterpillars munch away on the leaves of trees native to their region. Then, when they hit a certain stage in their development, they descend to the ground in search of leaf litter or soil where they can shelter and overwinter. This is the concept of Soft Landings, an educational campaign developed by Heather Holm, a groundbreaking conservationist and award-winning author.

But what do these caterpillars find in virtually all of our communities? They find hard lawn that offers no protection. Or they find a slab of concrete that offers even less. Even where communities are planting native trees, the pollinator lifecycle gets destroyed by not having native plants – the soft landing – at their base.

This is a landscaping situation that can easily be remedied by planting native species beneath the canopy of native trees. If your community is seeking to become more pollinator-friendly, here are five reasons why this is a good way to start:

1) Aesthetics

Beautiful plantings make for beautiful streets. Add in the butterflies you’ll have flitting about from your “soft landings” and you’ll get even more aesthetic value. By creating more beautiful streets, you make life more pleasant for your residents.

2) Use of existing land.

Why not make the most of what you already have? By planting under existing trees, you get an extra benefit from land you are already maintaining.

3) Better drainage.

Concrete and brick are not known for their drainage capabilities. For that matter, neither is lawn. By replacing these materials with native plants, more water can be absorbed into the ground.

4) Reduced mowing.

Communities that surround trees with strips of lawn have committed to a lot of mowing. By replacing that turf grass with native plants, communities can save on fuel and labor.

5) Fewer concrete or brick repairs.

As trees grow, so do their roots. When surrounded by concrete or brick, that can lead to cracks and buckling. By replacing those materials with native plants, expensive and time-consuming repairs can be avoided.

Put Native Plants Under Native Trees

Turf, concrete, and brick are not the materials caterpillars expect when they get ready to pupate. By planting native species under the canopies of native trees, we allow them to complete their lifecycle – while also supporting other pollinator species. Talk with your town landscaper about creating a plan to put “soft landings” on your streets.

Photo by Peter Robbins on Unsplash