Developers urged to use native plants

Use of 'cheap' foreign shrubs and trees is counterproductive, expert says

Plants native to B.C. are used in this Cressey project: trees are Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’ with Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnickinick) grasses used between the stone steps | Submitted

Residential developers should turn away from cheap, mass-produced invasive greenery for landscaping in favour of plants native to British Columbia, according to a manager who handles landscaping for Cressey Development Group.

“Everyone is using the same planting material because it is cheap, grows quickly and is easy to get,” said Nathan Gurvich, an avid gardener and the development coordinator at Cressey.

Gurvich argues that native plants offer lower maintenance, are hardier, less dependent on irrigation and are more likely to attract wildlife, such as bees and birds, than non-native species. His recommendation include the use of Vine Maples, Shore Pine and Saskatoon Berry trees, and native shrubs such as Huckleberry and Red Currant to add local colour to a project.

But, he said, it can be difficult to economically source the quantity of native plants needed for larger landscaping projects.

Gurvich has started working with some wholesale growers, and discussed growing contracts where Cressey can select more unusual and ornamentally interesting plants to be included in future developments. He noted it is important to start these conversations start early so specific plants will be available for a new project that may be one to two years in the planning.