New law says native plants…and only native plants by Jersey roadways
Those plants and flowers you see on the parkway median or on the side of a highway road in New Jersey has a more important purpose than just looking nice. A new law signed by Governor Chris Christie May 1 requires the use of native plants to be planted by the New Jersey Department of Transportation when they finish shore road projects.
Shore Senator Jim Holzapfel (10th-District) says its to prevent harmful pollutants such as nitrogen found in lawn fertilizers from entering our waterways.
"We fought for and are still fighting for different things dealing with the contents of fertilizer...'How much nitrogen? How much this? How much that that goes into these things."
Native plants don't need fertilizer, he adds, which will help protect waterways in New Jersey such as Barnegat Bay.
"It's basically a closed body of water with an inlet on one end and the other," said Holzapfel. "There's no flushing or anything to clean it out."
Whenever State DOT officials plant vegetation to make our roadways look nice, they must use plants native to New Jersey from now on.
Holzapfel says if we're going to keep planting, why not use healthy plants from Jersey.
"There's a lot of areas where the state is going to be planting and bringing in vegetation of different types," said Holzapfel.
He adds native plants contain salt water vegetation which is healthier for our environment because they don't require fertilizer.
"If you use the local plants that do well and are hearty because of the fact that they are indigenous, that's going to prevent this stuff from going into the Barnegat Bay," said Holzapfel.
Protecting our waterways and environment appears to be a Bi-Partisan concern, he says, and that led to this bill being signed.
"This is not something that we've had a lot of objection to," said Holzapfel. "In fact most people have been very supportive."
He says plants containing fertilizer often contain higher levels of nitrogen which can harm the water as a result of lawn runoff, which is why native plants are now a requirement instead of outside plants.
"You've to get stuff that works in the zone that we're in, and that's what this bill is going to do," said Holzapfel.
There are ways you can help protect our waterways and even receive a nice reward he says.
"I have legislation out there, that's stalled, but you'd get a tax credit if you take the grass out and put in stone," said Holzapfel.
Here is a list of New Jersey Native Plants you can buy and plant in your yard:
Native Barnegat Bay Shrubs & Trees:
- American Holly
- Beach Plum
- Eastern Red Cedar
- Highbush Blueberry
- Inkberry Holly
- Mountain Laurel
- Northern Bayberry
- Sweetbay Magnolia
Native Barnegat Bay Flowers:
- Black-Eyed Susans
- Butterfly Weed
- False Sunflower
- Joe-Pye Weed
- New England Aster
- Purple Cone Flower
- Seaside Goldenrod
Native Barnegat Bay Grasses:
- American Beachgrass
- Coastal Panicgrass
- Little Bluestem
Here are just a couple of the places you can search for environmentally friendly plants:
Cicconi Farms, 1005 Farmingdale Road, Jackson, NJ 08527 (732-363-1420)
Hammett's Landscaping and Garden Center, 425 U.S. Highway 9, Forked River, NJ 08731 (609-971-0453)
RareFind Nursery, 957 Patterson Road, Jackson, NJ 08527 (732-833-0613)