New online tool matches native plants to properties
By Chad Ingram
Published May 31, 2018
A new online tool from the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Association (CHA) allows residents to discover what types of native vegetation best suit their properties as they go about re-naturalizing their shorelines.
“Shoreline naturalization is a very,very high priority,” says Paul MacInnes, president of the CHA. “There’s an awful lot of people that need to get re-naturalizing.”
Since its formation, the CHA has been stressing the importance of re-naturalized shorelines for their myriad environmental benefits, including reduced erosion, improved water quality and natural habitat for local fauna.
MacInnes, who speaks at numerous lake association events each year, says the No. 1 question he receives from people is regarding what kinds of native plants would best suit their particular properties.
“And of course, I have no idea how to answer that question,” he says.
So MacInnes contacted a couple of national organizations, as well as some American ones, thinking that somewhere there must be a digital tool that would quickly allow users to research what types of plants would best suit the soil, light, moistures conditions, etc., on their properties.
“The bottom line was, there wasn’t a tool,” he says. “There was nothing. So, we decided we were going to create one.”
The CHA contacted Julia Sutton of Sutton Environmental Services, who MacInnes hails as an authority on native plants, to provide the recommendations and Donna Enright of Technicalities Plus to design the online tool.
“What I wanted was a shopping cart type of approach,” MacInnes says.
And that’s what he got.
The tool, called Shoreline Plant Search and available on the CHA website, lets users select the type of plant they are looking for – tree, shrub, wildflower, grass or fern – and then tick boxes under five criteria; soil types; sunlight; moisture; location; and other options.
“You can scroll down through the choices,” MacInnes says. “It gives you the picture and everything you need to know, the spacing, how wide it’s going to grow, how tall it’s going to grow, all of those things.”
If the user chooses shrub, and then sandy soil, part sun, normal moisture, water’s edge as a location and selects “flowers” under the “other options” tab, three options pop up; meadowsweet, nannyberry and red osier dogwood, all with photographs, planting and maintenance instructions and other notes.
The tool is free for the public to use. Go to the CHA’s website at www.cohpoa.org. Under the “shoreline” health tab in the menu bar, you’ll find Shoreline Plant Search.
The CHA website also has a list of local suppliers of native plants and MacInnes said the CHA is working on getting more local landscaping and greenhouse-type businesses to stock up on native vegetation.