Publications Plus online catalog
This Land
57 Ways To Protect Your Home Environment (and Yourself)
50 ways 57 ways 60 ways

5. Select Native Trees and Shrubs That Will Thrive In Your Yard

Pictured is river birch on left, serviceberry on right, and maple hanging in fore-ground.

The key to finding woody plants that will thrive in your environment is to focus on native trees and shrubs.

Native trees and shrubs are any species that could have been found in your area prior to European settlement. They are well adapted to your region’s climate.

bur oak

Realize, however, that even native plants will undergo more stress in a residential landscape than in their natural habitat, such as a forest. The urban environment is warmer and drier than the open countryside, so drought tolerance is especially important. Trees with leathery leaves and vigorous roots are often drought-tolerant.
green ash

Some shrubs and trees, such as green ash, do well in poorly drained soils, whereas others require well-drained soil. Also, some trees and shrubs are sensitive to alkaline (high pH) soils. Therefore, consult your Natural Resource Conservation Service or University of Illinois Extension for soil information in your area. Then select trees and shrubs accordingly.
serviceberry

Stressful conditions can predispose a plant to pest infestations. Therefore, the tolerance of a species to drought, poor drainage, and alkaline soil can affect its susceptibility to pests.
Next

University of Illinois Logo