Bay Friendly Gardening

Make a Difference with Plants!

Did you know that you can improve the water quality of our creeks and the Chesapeake Bay just by planting the right types of plants.  And Montgomery County and DC will give you money for Bay Friendly landscaping?  Information about Rebate programs is  HERE.  Information about landscapers specializing in conservation landscaping is  HERE.   Visit our Resources page for more information.  The County also has a really nice guide to conservation landscaping which you can download HERE

Native Plants for Lower Montgomery County

The County has an excellent list of plants that it recommends for Bay Friendly landscaping or for rain gardens.  Click HERE for the printable list.  Bring it with you when you shop!  

NEW - download a beautiful guide to the top ten natives for shady and sunny locations  HERE

NEVER PLANT THESE PLANTS!  HERE is a list of non-native invasives like English Ivy, Bush Honeysuckle, porcelain berry vine and garlic mustard.  If you have these plants in your garden, you should eradicate them.  They have no food value for our native pollenators and birds and escape to the parks where they crowd out native plants.  

Native Plant Online Directory

The US Fish and Wildlife service has an online searchable directory of plants that are native to the Chesapeake Bay area.  From their website (

Here you can find native plants of the same type, shape, color, size, and other desirable plant characteristics for creating attractive and more natural landscapes in your yard.

You can also download the excellent The Native Plants Guide there.

Where to Get Native Plants:

Herring Run Nursey run by the Blue Water Baltimore  has a fabulous selection of native plants.  More information at their website

Izel Plants has all natives and free shipping.  They sell containers and landscapping plugs.  More information at their website -

Earth Sangha is a non profit native plant nursery in Fairfax County.  Plants are high quality and reasonably priced.  See website for plant list and directions.

Native Plant societies often have sales.  Check out the following websites for dates and locations:


Visit our Resources page for information about landscapers specializing in watershed stewardship.


Replace Your English Ivy with Native Ground Covers!

English Ivy creates a dense thicket of vegetation that crowds out the native plants that our animals need to survive.  If it is allowed to climb trees, it can damage the bark and the sheer weight of the ivy can break branches and topple trees in a storm.  If allowed to grow in your garden, it can easily escape to nearby forest wreaking havoc to the local ecology. 

Replace your ivy with some of the following native ground covers:

A combination of Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride' and Christmas fern (Polystichum aristichoides) are nice in shade, and will tolerate some dryness. 

Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pennsylvanica) or wild columbine are beautiful. 

Other covers include Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), wild ginger (Asarum canadense) and foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia).

Local nurseries such as American Plant or Meadows Farms may carry these plants.  You just have to be very specific with them about the Latin names, so you know exactly what you are getting. The native plant sales are also good places to look for ground covers. Visit the Maryland Native Plant Society for a list of sales. 

The National Park Service has an excellent list of natives that can be used as ground covers as well as a list of plants (like bush honey suckle) that should never be used in your gardens as they are so invasive and harmful to the environment.


Garden for Wildlife:  Become a Certified Wildlife Habitat

The National Wildlife Federation has tips on how to make your yard a place for native birds and wildlife to flourish. 

Whether you have an apartment balcony or a 20-acre farm, you can create a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat in commercial and residential areas. By providing food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young--and by incorporating sustainable gardening practices--you not only help wildlife, but you also qualify to become an official Certified Wildlife Habitat™."

Learn how you can become certified by clicking here.


THE EIGHT ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS of Conservation Landscaping

From the excellent Conservation Landscaping Website:

The following elements represent the practice of conservation landscaping. By implementing these practices, you can contribute to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and improve the region’s water and air quality. Incorporate as many of these elements as possible into your landscape, to benefit all life in our watershed.

A conservation landscape:

1. Is designed to benefit the environment and function efficiently and aesthetically for human use and well-being;

2. Uses locally native plants that are appropriate for site conditions;

3. Institutes a management plan for the removal of existing invasive plants and the prevention of future nonnative plant invasions;

4. Provides habitat for wildlife;

5. Promotes healthy air quality and minimizes air pollution;

6. Conserves and cleans water;

7. Promotes healthy soils;

8. Is managed to conserve energy, reduce waste, and eliminate or minimize the use of pesticides and fertilizers