Landscape Architecture

Looking to Create a More Sustainable Outdoor Space with Native Hawaiian Plants?

hawaii native plants

Adding Back Native Plants to the Garden

We’ve been working toward creating a garden with more native plants that will take no mowing and less watering.  My first objective was actually to create a welcoming habitat for the ‘U’au Kani / Wedge tailed shearwater which make their nests in the Naupaka hedge (upper left in the above photo) at my parent’s home. The more I read about native birds, I realized our green lawn with the constant mowing, chemicals, sprinklers, and weed blowing are not Hawaii-friendly. Lawns are not only detrimental to the planet but repel the local critters and thwart the natural ecosystem. Big Ironwood trees that volunteer in the salty windy areas are invasive and deter the Hawaiian birds.  Hardly anything will grow under the ironwood needles. I was imagining the future of our islands with only Mynah birds, Ironwood trees, and Kikuyu grass… (Native plants being plants that arrived in Hawaii without human help).

maui native plant nursery

Native Plant Nursery on Maui

I started by contacting a native nursery for guidance — if you’re on Maui, I suggest the Maui Native Nursery in Kula – they can make suggestions for plants based on your geographical zone. Then we went holoholo to their nursery to pick up some plants (above photo).  Here is the website Maui Native Nursery.

maui ocean views

Landscaping with Native Hawaiian Grasses and Wild Plants

Then I planted some Hawaiian grasses and am currently trying to cut back the Kikuyu grass and Ironwoods… very challenging! (that’s an Ironwood, sprouting up on the right). Some Hawaiian grasses that are good for low land, sandy areas are Aki Aki and Kawelu — their roots anchor the soil and protect the shore from erosion.

When I visited the Bishop Museum gardens in Honolulu recently, I was inspired by the bushy grasses, wild plants, and rocky pathways — no topiaries or expansive greens there. So I’m trying to create a yard with paths, rock gardens, succulents and Hawaiian grasses that can be managed with clippers, some raking, and a little water.

maui native plants in west maui

The ‘Ohai pictured above, is an endangered Hawaiian plant, great for oceanfront area ground cover, likes the sun…

ti leaf plant on maui

The red or green Ti Plant is a hearty plant, grows in the salt and wind, easy to make cuttings — to the right is the Hawaiian grass Aki Aki — read about the Ti Leaf in my last blog here

I’ll post more photos when the grasses and ground cover grow! In the meantime, hope this inspires you to choose native plants and let those grasses grow without chemicals and let the birds and the bees go free…

aloe in front of maui coastline

Not sure if Aloe is a native Hawaiian plant, but it is very resilient and good to use for skincare.

A hui hou!

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November 7, 2021

Nice job! We should all be planting more native plants .


November 8, 2021

> Mahalo Georgie!

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