If you’re looking to change up your yard space and plant new trees or shrubs this fall, consider putting in some native species that both look great and benefit the wildlife in your yard!

There are over 20 species of native evergreen hollies to choose from, such as the American holly and yaupon holly. Hollies have vibrant green foliage year-round and bright red berries in the winter. They provide shelter and food for bird species that stay in your yard over winter. Like many plants, hollies have male and female plants, with the female plants normally having the bright red berries. One that is often overlooked is possumhaw, which provides stunning winter colors. These native hollies do not like to dry out and prefer moist areas. If you have an abundance of berries, they can be lost if the plant doesn’t get enough moisture. Fertilize your hollies in April and August. This winter and spring when you are at your garden center choosing new trees or shrubs, the possumhaw and yaupon hollies are two of the finest- so check them out!

Flowering dogwood trees are also a great choice around your yard because they do not get too big, they produce berries for wildlife, and they have pretty white blossoms in the spring. These trees feed dozens of fruit-loving birds, as well as a number of mammals. Its berries are high in calcium, and the calcium in its leaves nourish land snails that songbirds such as the wood thrush, a priority species, consume. Beware, the kousa dogwood is not a native species, but an import from Asia that is often found in big box store nurseries.

There are a wide variety of berries that wildlife love. Native blueberry bushes are, of course, a wonderful addition to any yard, providing a wonderful treat for both your family and for wildlife in the summer. Raspberries and blackberries are also a great choice because they provide small, thorny habitats that deter cats and other predators! Serviceberries, viburnums, and red cedars are a few more examples of native trees and shrubs that support local birds, butterflies, and other backyard critters. Another staff favorite is American beautyberry- the purple berries are stunning, and it is just getting started as summer turns to fall. It is an understory plant that can tolerate shade and partial sun and isn’t very picky about the soil type.

As with all plants, be sure to look up the scientific names before heading to the nursery. Many plants have similar varieties, but are often imported from Asia, which can have negative impacts on the native wildlife species that you are trying to promote. In general, choosing a plant native to your area is more beneficial to insects and wildlife. They have evolved alongside these native plants and are able to eat them, unlike many nonnatives. Also be sure to look at the Plant Hardiness Zone Map to make sure that the plant that you are purchasing can survive and thrive within your zone. This is extremely helpful when shopping for plants or seeds online. If you need assistance finding a native plant nursery in your area, please reach out and we can point you in the right direction!