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Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists

Green Roof or Rooftop Garden

A green roof or rooftop garden is a popular trend among urban dwellers on the roofs of residential, commercial and school buildings where street-level green space is lacking. Plant material may be displayed in containers or in several inches of soil on top of a waterproof barrier. Flat roofs were the first to be "greened," but currently even sloping roofs have been mastered.

Hummingbird Garden

A hummingbird garden is a massed planting of hummingbird-favorite plants in a sunny location that provides nectar throughout the growing season, as well as plants that attract insects necessary for protein in the hummingbird’s diet.

Butterfly Garden

A butterfly garden is a massed planting of butterfly-favorite plants in a sunny location that provides food and shelter for all stages of butterfly life. Prairies are the original butterfly gardens.

Prairie Garden

​A prairie garden, usually part of a home/school landscape, is of variable size and utilizes native forbs and grasses often organized according to height, color, bloom time, etc.


A woodland is a landscape dominated by trees, mainly oaks, maples and basswood, with smaller understory trees and shrubs and an abundance of spring and some fall wildflowers.

Open Woodland/Savanna/Edge

​Open Woodland (Savanna): An open woodland is a treed area where the canopy allows some sunlight to reach the ground throughout the growing season, providing habitat for partial shade plants.

Edge: Edge is the transition area between woodland and grassland where more sunlight is available, thus providing habitat for plants that will do well in more than four hours of sunlight daily, but not full sun.

Rain Garden and Detention Basin

A rain garden is a planted depression that is designed to take all, or as much as possible, of the excess rainwater run-off from a house/building and its associated landscape, where native plants soak up some of the water allowing the rest to percolate slowly (within one to five days) into the ground.

Detention basins are low-lying areas designed to hold run-off from rainfall or snowmelt for generally 24-48 hours. They are not the same as the retention ponds that typically surround parking lots or can be found in suburban subdivisions, where runoff is held for much longer periods of time, sometimes indefinitely.

Bioswale and Ravine

​Bioswales are similar to rain gardens, but while rain gardens are level, bioswales slope. They tend to resemble drainage ditches and are often constructed near large pavement areas or roadsides where greater volumes of water may flow after a rain. The roots of plants within bioswales help in erosion control and water absorption. Because of the slope, water is generally not held as long as in a rain garden. Often a rain garden may be constructed at the end of a bioswale. Bioswales may have steep sides, requiring additional commercial products to aid in soil retention. They may be dry for long periods of time, once rainfall or snow melt have dissipated.

A ravine is a V-shaped channel cut into a hill by rain and melting snow run-off. Over time the V-shape gradually turns to a U-shape. A ravine is an ecotone (transition between ecosystems) of land meeting water with dryer, shady upland and moist, sun-dappled lowland.

Container and Planter

​A container or planter garden is composed of a pot or similar holder of plant material that is often decorative and the focal point of a garden or other location, adding interest, color and variety.

Pond and Wetland

​Pond: A small (generally less than 20 acres or smaller) permanent body of water where light penetrates to the silty or muddy bottom and is shallow enough for rooted water plants. The water temperature is typically uniform throughout and the water usually lacks wave action on the shoreline.

Wetland: A wetland is a low-lying land area whose soil is saturated with moisture either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands include swamps, marshes, bogs and fens.

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