If people are unable to see the forest for the trees, imagine how easy it is to overlook the many benefits of the lowly fern in landscaping design. Ferns are such a common and essential part of the fabric of both field and forest; it's easy to see why this plant is dismissed. But various fern species provide environmental cover, act as food for both wild animals and humans, and even filter toxins from polluted soils, making them a critical "medic" in land restoration. And today, the "lowly" fern is occupying an increasingly important space in landscape planning on private land. Read on to see why.
The Benefits Of Landscaping With Ferns
1) There's A Fern For All Occasions
A few decades ago, there were less than ten species of ferns appropriate for backyard landscaping. Today, there are more than 150. And while even modified ferns remain nonflowering plants, their colors and shape more than make up for lack of blossoms.
2) Ferns Command Respect
They do have animal predators and disease problems, but many fewer than other plant species.
3) Ferns Are Hardy And Don't Need Much Attention
A lack of or overabundance of moisture is possibly the single most significant deterrent to the thriving of a fern plant or colony. Working with professional landscapers is the best way to ensure the pairing of true ferns with the right property.
4) Ferns Can Restore "Injured" Properties
Multiple studies have shown how ferns can filter toxins like heavy metals from the land. Certain species of greenery, such as marsh ferns, provide excellent ground cover for very wet areas and can reduce damage from erosion.
Hardy as they are, fern species have particular requirements. This is why it's best to have property types assessed and recommendations made professionally before proceeding. With that in mind, here are a few of the more popular ferns for specific property types:
For Very Wet Areas: Native species like cinnamon ferns and sensitive ferns do well in wet areas, including thriving in bogs and at the edge of ponds.
For Dry Areas: Not all ferns need lots of water to thrive. There are fern species that can survive in desert conditions, though these plants are smaller and less showy. The more massive wood ferns and lady ferns do very well in drier yards, however.
For Areas With Moderate Light And Moisture:
Hart's tongue (needs extra lime), oak, and autumn ferns all do well in moderate light. They also require less moisture than some other species, provided that this moisture is received consistently.