Get Started!

Our Top Tips for Getting Started

  • Join us! Join our Wild Ones chapter to connect with oodles of local experts, as well as newcomers with the same questions you have. The nominal dues will benefit you with access to our chapter’s 2 plant/seed swaps per year (bringing plants is not a prerequisite for getting plants), monthly educational events, member garden tours, and other opportunities to connect with like-minded gardeners.
  • It’s OK to start small!  Once someone gets the ‘bug’, it’s hard not to see all that needs to be done. But it’s best to prioritize and enjoy the journey.
  • Identify the trees, shrubs and plants you already have, and research which ones are native or not.  Aim to remove any non-native plants considered invasive, e.g. English ivy, vinca, nandina, bush honeysuckle, pachysandra.  This will take time so don’t try to do it all at once!
  • Look at the bones of your property. Note where and when you have areas of sun and shade, wet and dry.  If you have a problem with stormwater runoff,  think about installing a rain garden or using rain barrels. You can use rain barrels to direct water to thirsty areas.
  • Select plants for the existing conditions.  Putting the right plant in the right place will help it thrive and mean less work for the gardener!
  • Use local ecotype plants wherever possible.  The nurseries listed under Native Plant Nurseries sell local ecotypes only.  Avoid cultivars if possible. A cultivar will have an extra descriptive name bracketed in quotes after the plant name, e.g., Monarda fistulosa ‘Claire Grace. A trademark symbol also indicates a cultivar.
  • Unless you have large areas to cover, be careful about planting aggressive natives, especially those that spread by rhizomes.  They will take over!  (We have all made this mistake!)
  • Take advantage of invitations to tour Wild Ones members’ gardens during the Summer months.  This is a great opportunity to see what is working in other people’s gardens and to hear about their challenges. Due to space limitations, most of the tours are members-only events.
  • Visit public gardens which focus on native plants.  
  • Learn about the native plants growing in the wild in our area. Join walks led by a naturalist (see Nature Forward website) or on your own using a plant ID mobile app such as Seek and PlantNet.
  • Let your neighbors know about your changing landscape.  Small signs are available from national organizations stating that your yard has satisfied criteria for their certifications as a wildlife habitat (e.g. National Wildlife Federation, Xerces Society, Baywise Program of the University of Maryland Extension).  

Take some time to explore additional resources here:

…and check out the Events page for chapter and community events including educational programs, garden tours, plant sales and more!