Download a Free Native-Plant Garden Plan for Your Specific Region

Created by landscape designers, the plans come with native plant lists for 19 different US eco-regions.

A collage showing illustrations of garden plans

Courtesy of Wild Ones

For much of history, gardening has served as a way to tame nature. Whether by coaxing specific edible items from the earth or simply for the splendor of an ornamental landscape, gardening has long been about shaping the wild world.

This hasn't always been a bad thing, necessarily. But given the current state of land use, it's time for a shift away from a manicured garden with non-local species in support of more natural areas, and especially, for embracing native plants.

"From 2001 to 2017, the United States lost a football field’s worth of natural area every 30 seconds and if these trends continue, an analysis conducted by Conservation Science Partners published in 2019 determined that a South Dakota-sized expanse of natural places will disappear between now and 2050," according to the non-profit Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes. Wild Ones is an organization that promotes "environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration, and establishment of native plant communities."

Native plant communities are essential for supporting pollinators, who are having a rough time with the tragic trifecta of habitat destruction, pesticide use, and climate change. Native plants also provide food and habitat for wildlife, reduce erosion and improve soil, mitigate flooding, sequester carbon, filter water, and more.

Among the many wonderful resources that Wild Ones offers, an especially helpful one is their free, downloadable native garden designs. (This detailed map of eco-regions is great to have on hand as well.) Each of the 19 designs has been created by a different professional landscape designer and is earmarked for a specific eco-region in the United States:

“We can no longer leave conservation to the conservationists," says Doug Tallamy, Wild Ones’ Lifetime Honorary Director. Native plant gardens in the private and public spaces of our own communities are our best hope for saving our environment, he says, adding “we must now act collectively to put our ecosystems back together again.”

A detailed garden plan with illustrations and listing of native plants
Native garden design for the St. Louis eco-region, designed by Susie Van de Riet.

Courtesy of Wild Ones

Wild Ones Executive Director Jen Ainsworth concurs. “It’s crucial that we re-examine our approach to stewarding the spaces we own (our yards), as well as the public spaces in our communities. We need to adopt landscaping methods that are sustainable and promote the health and wellbeing of all forms of life. We hope our native garden plans inspire, encourage, and motivate individuals throughout the United States to make this important shift in their approach to landscaping. Nature is depending on the participation of all of us.”

We love the garden plans and all the goodness that Wild Ones does in promoting more sustainable ways to use our gardens. Note that you can also join a Wild Ones chapter to find like-minded gardeners in your area. Seed swap, anyone?