In a yard left natural, birds and wildlife tend to visit often.

Spring comes early to the Lowcountry and it is time to think about getting our yards and gardens ready, reviving our old plants and shrubs that might have been hit by frost, and adding new plants and shrubs. 

If you are like me, you want to do as little as possible in your yard. I like to enjoy the outdoors and watch the birds – from the majestic Great Blue Heron and other herons, egrets and songbirds to the tiny hummingbirds at our feeder. There are also the playful squirrels that seem to always be frolicking in the trees and shrubs. 

However, to enjoy these creatures who visit our yards and gardens does take some planning and a little effort on our part. 

Living here in the Lowcountry since 2009, I have learned a great deal from trial and error. Like many residents in this area, we had a lawn irrigation system that was always needing repair. We could never get the timing right as to when it should turn on or off and aimed at only the areas we wanted to be watered. 

In addition, water was getting more expensive and water shortages becoming more common in Beaufort County. Fortunately, we realized that if we went with only native plants that are adapted to our climate, we would not need our irrigation system nearly as much.  

Native plants do quite well with our local amount of rainfall most of the time. And native plants attract more birds. Of course, in summer hot spells, we do need to do some selective watering. However, with many non-native plants, more extensive watering or more care is required. 

Not only are some plants non-native, but they are also invasive.  They adapt all too well to our climate, are very prolific, and crowd out native plants. 

The list of invasive plants is long, but one common element is that they contain rhizomes, or creeping rootstalks. Rhizomes grow horizontally, which is why they spread so fast and far. 

Bamboo is an excellent example of good intentions gone wrong.  Initially, it makes clear and attractive borders. But the plants can spread rapidly and mature bamboo is very difficult to contain or remove.  

Many invasive plants begin as ornamental plants that look good but have unintended consequences. 

The South Carolina Native Plant Society (SCNPS) encourages control and, where possible, eradication of invasive vegetation. However, once they are in your yard, eradication and control can be easier said than done.

For a more complete list of plants to avoid, visit

John Riolo lives in Moss Creek and is past president of the Nature Club of Moss Creek.