Deep Roots: 4 Benefits of Native Plant Root Systems

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Native plants are quickly becoming the choice of landscapers. Many people don't know that their root systems are beneficial for soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat. They have a lot going for them!

Native plants are 'native' to our area, go figure. They've adapted over time and become the best fit for their surrounding environment. These plants have developed deep roots which help them thrive in our soil, absorb nutrients, fight against erosion, and provide above-ground habitat for animals.

Deep Roots Benefit #1, Providing Organic Matter

Organic matter is essential in healthy soil. It provides a home for microbes, earthworms, and fungi that break down the thatch on top and dead roots from previous years. 

Organic soil holds four times more than non-organic soils--organic materials add tremendous amounts of life back into these depleted landscapes; transform them once again!

In fact, this fantastic substance increases fertility levels while decreasing compaction...making it easier on plants' root systems during droughts. And organic matter not only improves the soil quality and prevents erosion by helping hold the soil together. 

Deep Roots Benefit #2, Soil Nutrients

When organic matter breaks down, it infuses minerals throughout the soil profile. It can average:

  • Over 20lbs. of Nitrogen
  • 5-7lbs. of Phosphorus
  • Up to 3lbs. of Sulfur

The more plants you have and care for, the better they'll enrich those around them as well!

Deep Roots Benefit #3, Soil Health

The soil is a living organism. The organisms help recycle nutrients and make sure they're available for plants to absorb through their roots. Native plants like legumes actively add nitrogen from the air, putting it back into the soil for other plants to utilize, like native grasses.

The rich soils of the prairie were a result of vast quantities of organic matter that decomposed over centuries. In some places, like in Tallgrass Prairie with its deep topsoil layer from all those years' worths dead plant life and animal excrement mixed together as they decomposed into nutrients for future crops.

Deep Roots Benefit #4, Water Infiltration

Native plants are often the most beneficial in terms of soil quality. They break up soils with deep roots, leading to more pore space and percolation capabilities. Basically, they slow down water runoff. The broken soil compaction allows water to infiltrate into the soil instead of running off, which would cause erosion. The decaying roots from dead plants also leave pathways for water to get into the ground. 

Studies have shown that 1 acre of established native prairie plants can absorb several inches of rainfall PER HOUR without any runoff!

Native plant species are some of the most resilient in terms of water requirements. Rain gardens provide habitat for wildlife and native pollinators while also being disease resistant!

In conclusion, native plants are the perfect way to bring balance back into your garden. These native elements live harmoniously together, forming a matrix of roots that keep giving back to their environment.

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