Is there a name for this landscaping style?
September 2, 2018 1:19 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are buying a house. Is there a term for the type of landscaping that is somewhat natural and encourages small animals, such as birds, bees, lizards and squirrels? Also, do you know of any good resources to learn more about it? I live in the desert Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
posted by maurreen to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Xeriscaping? Native plants mean native wildlife, right?
posted by 8603 at 1:21 PM on September 2, 2018

Xeriscapes can have desert plants from all over the world. Native landscaping means using plants from the local area, in your case the desert Southwest.
posted by rockindata at 1:29 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is also called "permaculture" sometimes, especially outside the southwest.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:30 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Permaculture tries to establish plant communities that imitate natural ecosystems but they are not usually composed of native plants. rockindata is correct and the closer to you that you source your plants the more useful they will be to the native wildlife. Some nurseries offer wild species but they are often "nativars" selected for appearance rather than wildlife utility. Sustainable landscaping is another term that may include natives but not exclusively and is more concerned with ease of care and reducing inputs. I would call the Native Plant Society of NM and if they don't provide information and plant sources they should know who does. And to answer your question, I don't know of a particular term for this type of gardening. Also, wild collecting is generally discouraged.
posted by Botanizer at 1:47 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wildlife gardening
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:48 PM on September 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

I call the good ones native landscapes . I don't know much of NM but in NZ we have many birds and lizards, no mammals. One big mistake many make is planting only for the birds; when birds (and lizards etc) depend on a wide variety of insects. So I start with the insects. Also do you have bats?

Also 2nding Botanizer above on nativars, most being pretty worthless; as male flowers are often showier, nativars are often male plants with no nectar or fruit and little insect pulling power. By definition nativars are clones and so lack the varied fruit and flowering times you get with native landscapes.

'Sustainable landscapes' is a meaningless term used a lot while the adherents splash herbicides about.
posted by unearthed at 2:28 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Permaculture or "Ecoscaping" gets used around Denver.
posted by nickggully at 2:28 PM on September 2, 2018

This Albuquerque-specific guide makes some questionable choices regarding readability, design, and layout, but it does have some good basic tips for planning a garden well-suited for the 505 -- and it also highlights plant choices that attract insects and hummingbirds. Not everything in the guide is native, but lots of things are, and everything's provenance is clearly noted.
posted by halation at 2:39 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's for the completely wrong specific area/climate, but I can recommend Noah's Garden, by Sarah Stein, on the general topic of wildlife-friendly gardening. I just pulled my copy off the shelf a couple of days ago for no good reason, and it's an entertaining book on the topic you're interested in.
posted by LizardBreath at 2:55 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Naturescaping? Backyard habitat?
posted by cnidaria at 3:29 PM on September 2, 2018

Try checking the NM extension service ( website.

A quick look finds:

Desert Blooms
A collection of NMSU's Extension and research resources to help you learn how to use your resources to create the ideal garden or landscape environment perfectly suited to your lifestyle.

Southwest Yard & Garden Columns
Weekly column, written by Marisa Thompson, Extension horticulture specialist, that addresses garden and landscape questions.

Best of luck with your project!

posted by sandpine at 6:20 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Here is a multi-page document all about native New Mexico plants. It's from the NMSU extension web site. The extension service office would be a good place to call -- they can put you in touch with someone who'll answer your specific questions.
posted by wryly at 6:27 PM on September 2, 2018

I would go to a native plant nursery- here's an example of one in Albuquerque, but it looks like there are others as well.
posted by pinochiette at 6:32 PM on September 2, 2018

Permaculture tries to establish plant communities that imitate natural ecosystems but they are not usually composed of native plants.

The main thrust of permaculture is the design of an ecosystem around your home that will work with you to improve your life instead of requiring endless onerous and unproductive maintenance from you. Its main building blocks are carefully chosen perennial plants and biodiversity. If "improving your life" looks more like maintaining a diverse population of small animals than owning a food jungle, that's fine; permaculture is a design approach and a way of thinking about the space you're in and how you interact with it that you can use to achieve pretty much any design goal.
posted by flabdablet at 7:43 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

"Wildlife gardening" -- Duh, I should have thought of that! Sometimes the obvious is overlooked.

Thanks! There are many good answers here.

Our offer on the house was accepted Saturday, and we close in early October!
posted by maurreen at 1:22 PM on September 3, 2018

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