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Make your yard and garden 'Jersey-Friendly'
4/8/2016 Volume XLIX, No. 13

Spring is here, and garden centers are filled with a mind-boggling array of flowers, shrubs and trees. You are already envisioning how great your yard and garden will look.

But before you choose your plants, do your homework to make sure they’re “Jersey- Friendly.”

You may not realize this, but many garden center plants have been introduced from other continents and can be extremely harmful to our state’s native plants.

These “alien invasives” not only thrive in the Garden State, but can spread aggressively. Eventually, they crowd out native plants needed by wildlife and pollinators, resulting in a poorer environment with less animal and plant diversity.

So what to plant in your yard and garden … and what to avoid?

According to the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team, many of the worst offenders have been landscaping staples for years: Chinese and Japanese wisteria, Japanese clematis, English ivy, Japanese honeysuckle, Porcelainberry, Norway maple, Callery/Bradford pear, Winged burning bush, Wintercreeper, Japanese barberry, Butterfly bush, Linden viburnum, Japanese meadowsweet and Chinese silvergrass. It’s best to avoid all use of them.

What to plant instead for a beautiful yard AND a healthy environment? A new program called Jersey-Friendly Yards makes it easy to decide. Its website – - has many helpful features, including an extensive plant database and an online tool to help you design a landscape plan.

The plant database lists hundreds of trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to New Jersey, as well as plants that are not native but aren’t harmful because they don’t aggressively spread.

Here are some examples of beneficial plants: Flowering dogwood, White fringetree, Persimmon, American holly, Spicebush, Serviceberry, Eastern columbine, Butterfly weed, Purple coneflower, Beebalm, Cardinal flower, Black-eyed Susan, Virginia bluebells and wild geranium.

The website’s “Interactive Yard” tool provides step-by-step instructions for making your property the healthiest possible environment. For instance, it provides advice on removing impervious surfaces, getting rid of invasive plants, adding beds around the house, harvesting rainwater, attracting pollinators and starting a vegetable garden.

The Jersey-Friendly Yards program was developed by the Barnegat Bay Partnership, with a grant from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

The Barnegat Bay Partnership, composed of more than 30 organizations and agencies, has been working for years to improve water quality in Barnegat Bay. The bay, like many rivers in New Jersey, is threatened by runoff water filled with fertilizers, sediment and trash.

A critical part of the Barnegat Bay Partnership’s efforts involves reducing “people pollution” carried from yards into waterways through stormwater runoff. Jersey-Friendly Yards is the latest of many initiatives designed to educate the public.

“In my mind, the future of conservation is going to be in our yards,” said Karen Walzer of the Barnegat Bay Partnership. “If we start with our own yards, it will go a long way for conservation in New Jersey.”

This spring, make sure your yard and garden are Jersey-Friendly! Visit the website at and take advantage of all the great advice assembled there.

And for more information on preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at or contact me at



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