Header LogoUrban Biodiversity in Your Yard

Urban Biodiversity in Your Yard

Adding Michigan native plant species to your garden

Here is a database of native plants that are commercially-available in Michigan. It lists aesthetic features and ecological traits
for each plant species and is intended to help you make plant choices that give equal weight to the beauty and ecological value
of your planting design.

Visual and Ecological Traits of Native Plants for Michigan Gardens*

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Residential Gardens for Biodiversity and Resilience

The growth of cities and climate change has an impact on the resilience of nature in the city.  Private and public gardens offer a place to support urban nature in the face of these challenges.  Gardens offer the chance for personal expression and a place where wellbeing of people and nature can be better supported.  A planting design strategy based on ecological principles and aesthetic considerations was developed to help people develop gardens that support wellbeing in the face of change.  The planting strategy focuses on bringing resilience to plantings for urban environments where change is a feature.

The planting design strategy offers an adaptation to the changes from global warming (like extremes in weather and seasonality) and loss of greenspace from urban growth.  Instead of matching specific plant species to specific predictions of climate change or habitat loss, the method focuses on 1)  the use of plants that are 1) highly adaptable themselves and better able to handle change (called ‘plasticity’), 2) the choice of plant combinations that collectively cover an array of unpredictable outcomes (called ‘functional redundancy’ and ‘resource diversity’), and 3) the combination of plants that bring complexity to outdoor space (called ‘structural diversity’, creating more opportunities to support biodiversity.  Examples of how to apply the adaptation strategy are provided in the paper linked below.  The planting design strategy is not specific to place or scale.  It does not require extensive training or bring added expense.

For more see:

Hunter, M.C. 2011. Using ecological theory to guide urban planting design: An adaption strategy for climate change.  Landscape Journal 30(2): 173-193

Read this paper to find out how to garden with native plant species for year round beauty that also supports the urban ecosystem.  Here is an example:  


Planting elevation

Planting plan


This simple design uses 5 plant species to support beauty, birds and butterflies. The plan view identifies species; the number of plants needed for each species grouping is given next to its abbreviated name. The planted area is about approximately 10 by 100 feet.


School of Natural Resources and Environment | University of Michigan