Choosing Native Shrubs For Your Prairie Landscape

Posted on: 25 October 2016

Living in the Midwest brings hot summers and chilly winters, but it is one of the most fertile areas of the country. This makes landscaping a particular challenge, because, while most things grow well, choosing components for a sustainable prairie landscape can be tricky. Here are some prairie shrubs that tend to do well in natural prairie landscapes. 


Dogwoods have brightly colored bark that looks pretty against the winter snow, even after the shrub has lost its leaves. Dogwoods are famously hardy, and they are fast growing, which makes them ideal for quickly changing climates that are common in the midwest. They are extremely tolerant to flooding, and they naturally thicken as the shrub grows and reproduces, so they can be a nice option for privacy. Dogwoods do not flower, which makes them a good choice for an attractive shrub that requires little maintenance.

Chokecherry shrubs

Chokecherry bushes produce delicate white flowers in the summer and produces berries in the late summer and fall. It contributes the the Midwest ecosystem by providing needed food for migrating birds as they make their way south for the winter months. These shrubs are also great for supporting prairie butterfly and moth populations. Chokecherries are a larger shrub -- they can grow to the size of small tree -- making them a suitable choice for front or backyards. To top it off, the berries are edible and can be used to make jam or fruit preserves. The chokecherry shrub grows best in wet soil, so it is practical for more humid areas in states like Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, where rainfall is plentiful and soil is dense.


Unlike the chokecherry, bearberries bushes are more suited for drier soils, helping them to adapt to the hot, dry prairie areas in Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. They provide low ground cover with red berries and bright green, almost waxy leaves, which helps them to conserve water during intense summer heat and sun exposure. This plant is also supportive of migrating butterfly populations, and it is low maintenance. It will gradually spread itself over several meters of ground and continues to look pretty in winter with its red berries and green bark color. 

American Hazelnut

This plant is native to the eastern Midwest, particularly common in Iowa, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri. It is the ideal shrub for creating hedges in your prairie garden. It also produces edible nuts and tolerates pruning quite well, so it can be sized according the needs of your landscape design. One of the nice things about hazelnut plants is that they are self-pollinating, so you don't need to plant more than one in order to harvest the fruit. The leaves of the hazelnut turn a rich copper color in the fall, providing interest to your landscape nearly year-round. 


This is a popular shrub for winter landscapes, as the bark naturally peels to show layers of colors. The shrub flowers in the springtime, producing globes of small pink flowers that add elegance to the rugged landscape of the natural Midwest. The leaves are bright green and full, making for a nice summer plant, but change to a lovely yellow in the fall. It's a great option for hedges, and the root systems of ninebark shrubs help to control erosion, which can be very helpful for hilly areas in Iowa and Missouri. 

Creating a landscape that adapts to the changing environments of the prairie Midwest can be very challenging but rewarding if you know what plants to use. Contact a local nursery in your area, such as Moon Valley Nurseries, for more information on the right shrubs for your landscape. 


A Perfect Father’s Day Gift

Growing up, I was daddy’s little girl. I absolutely adored my father. Thankfully, I still enjoy spending quality time with this special man. Because Father’s Day always comes up fast, I’ve tried to come up with the perfect gift to give my dad. I've decided to hire a landscaper for my father. My dad’s farmhouse is situated on 70 acres of land. While his front yard is filled with shrubs and flowers, his back yard is relatively void of any vegetation and could use an update. A landscaper would make my father’s back yard as beautiful as his front yard. On this blog, I hope you will discover the benefits of hiring a landscaper for your dad for Father’s Day this year. Enjoy!


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