Going Native at Home
A member of the Wild Ones native plants organization, Bank lives on a National Wildlife Foundation-certified backyard wildlife habitat. She thinks everyone else should do the same.
"First, shrink your lawn," she says. "It does nothing for wildlife." She advocates planting native perennials instead: "They're drought tolerant, pest and disease resistant, and life supporting with their deep root systems." Native black-eyed Susans, other coneflowers, and prairie grasses are ideal, and widely available.
Don't cut your seeded perennials after they bloom, she advises, because joe-pye weed, liatris, sedum, and their ilk feed birds all winter. Even dead trees attract insects that birds love. She also tells people to stop spraying and fertilizing and instead rely on the "black gold" of compost to support the soil.
"Gardening is like painting," she says. "It's ninety percent preparation." Fall is a great time to get started, first by understanding the advantages of native or well-suited plants that thrive on their own.
"I'm pushing sixty," Bank says. "I'm not going to do all that watering and weeding anymore."