Big bluestem waiting for the mail
There are a couple of reasons why you might be thinking of going native.
1. You are intrigued by the idea of returning a patch (small or large) of your yard to a collection of plants that existed in your neighborhood two or three hundred years ago.
2. You like the look of flowery, grass-filled meadows.
3. You just want plants that are going to flourish in this climate with minimal fuss. After all, plants that have been growing here on their own since sometime after the last ice age should certainly be able to survive in your backyard during our next droughty summer.
Prairie deck planter: little bluestem, butterfly weed, prairie dropseed, prairie coreopsis, Pixie Meadowbrite coneflower, prairie petunia (and a few non-native annuals)
4. The green bandwagon is coming through, and you want on! Everyone is promoting green spaces, green roofs, and prairie plantings! This is the future!
Whatever your reason, you would probably get a kick out of a prairie garden.
The backbone plants of the tallgrass prairie – big bluestem and Indian grass – can grow over six feet tall, which is too big unless you have the space for a significantly large garden. The smaller tallgrass prairie plants and plants from the higher and drier prairie environments are perfect for a small suburban or urban garden. With the right selection of a dozen or so varieties, selected for the scale of your garden and site conditions, you can squint just enough to imagine that your big black Lab poking around in the prairie dropseed and side-oats grama for his tennis ball is really a one-ton American bison looking for a place to wallow.