Native plants replace spurge-filled Salt Lake City landscape
A Habitat Heroes Before/After Transformation
The truth is, we didn't set out to create a wildscape. We live on the foothills of Salt Lake City, at the base of city-purchased green space. We were happy to let the mountain landscape for us. Zero water, zero cost, zero work. Little did we know the mountain was in the thrall of a villain that was carpeting our backyard—myrtle spurge! We pulled a full carload of this noxious weed off our rocky slope. Then we had to stabilize this ridiculously steep, swath of dirt. Plants from the dry mountain west were our only good choices. It turns out the critters like them, too.
It’s four years later and we've pulled a lot more spurge and put about 200 plants on our back slope. New sage and rabbitbrush emerged after the spurge was cleared. We are coaxing along other shrubs and trees, including Golden Currant, Rhus trilobata, Apache Plume, Serviceberry, Fernbush and Scrub Oak, among others. Bunch grasses lend texture and cover while the shrubs grow.
We didn't expect such a huge burst of wildlife. We've spotted up to 14 different bird species in our yard in one day. Hummingbirds, not seen here before, now fight over the flowers. Butterflies, bees and other bugs set whole patches in shimmering motion. A trio of baby owls learned to fly on our yard. We enjoy the bunnies, squirrels and deer. Our daughter is growing up with a community in her backyard.
-- Erin A. and Craig B., homeowners
Upper Slope: Amelenchier utahensis, Arenaria macradenia, Asclepias tuberosa, Artemisia tridentata, Artemisia ludoviciana (High Country carries other varieties of Artemisia), Chamaebatiaria millefolium, Chrysothamnus nauseosus, Clematis lingusticifolia, Eriogonum umbellatum, Gaura lindheimeri, Muhlenbergia 'Pink Flamingo,' Monardella odoratissima (High Country carries Monardella macrantha), Opuntia, Penstemon digitalis, Penstemon pinifolius, Penstemon rostriflorus, Physocarpus malvaceus, Rhus trilobata, Yucca elata (High Country carries other varieties of Yucca), Ribes sanguineum, Ribes aureum, Rosa woodsii, Salvia pachyphylla, Schizachyrium scoparium.
Bottom Terrace: Agastache rupestris, Fraxinus cuspidata, Kniphofia, Phlox subulata, Salvia pitcherii (similar to Salvia azurea), Schizachyrium scoparium, Sphaeralcea grossulariifolia (similar to Sphaeralcea munroana), Symphoricarpos orbiculatos, Zauschneria garretti.
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