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Plant native plants to help nature

Is your yard feeding nature? By planting native plants, you can support the entire food web by providing food for insects. Insects feed other insects, birds, bats, small mammals, fish and other wildlife.

Making sure insects have the food they need is particularly important now that scientists are documenting global declines in insect populations. If insects decline, so does everything else.

Native plants have evolved along with the insects that eat them; they are able to detoxify and digest native plants. Most insects lack the enzymes necessary to eat non-native plants, like the ornamental trees and other plants so common in landscaping.

Adding even a few native plants to your backyard or balcony can help wildlife by feeding them and providing shelter. Get started with these basic resources or find more in-depth guides at the links below.

Person planting native plant.
Get started today by planting native plants. Consider adding one power plant to your yard, like an oak or American hazelnut, or a suite of flowers that bloom from spring to summer. © Urban Ecology Center

Planting basics

Buying native plants

Garden Tour Videos

Philadelphia vireo feeding on American elderberry.
Clusters of fruits on American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) attract many bird species in late summer, such as this Philadelphia vireo. Although spring often gets more attention, fall is a wonderful time to sow seeds and plant native trees and shrubs for birds and other wildlife. Native plants provide more insect prey and higher quality fruit and nectar sources, meaning you can help nature and attract more birds by planting native species.

Take a garden tour with DNR conservation biologist Amy Staffen as she showcases her native plants and provides a few tips and tricks for maximizing your yard for Wisconsin wildlife.

Dig deeper

Interested in more detailed guides offering more plant selections? Try these other resources and partners.

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