You might already know that gardening is an excellent hobby when it comes to helping the environment, but you might not know much else about it. Pollinators are important insects for our ecosystem and normal environmental processes; however, their populations are often in danger. Follow along to learn what a pollinator garden is and why you should have one on your property, whether you want to try something to occupy your time or boost the environment.
What Is a Pollinator Garden?
You might be wondering what a pollinator garden is, as it’s a relatively new term in the gardening world. A pollinator garden contains specific plants and shelters to attract and house pollinators, like bees, butterflies, birds, moths, and bats. Interestingly, the ideal pollinator garden features primarily native plants, trees, and flowers to draw local wildlife onto your property.
Why Are They Important?
Pollinators are animals and insects that move from plant to plant to pollinate them. As a result, these plants and trees can produce fruits, vegetables, and flowers, and continue reproducing. With that said, pollinators are responsible for keeping our ecosystem running and producing many of the crops we eat.
Unfortunately, pollinator populations are on the decline. The most common cause of these declines is the lack of habitats for these animals and insects due to pesticide use and extensive urbanization. That said, green areas are disappearing gradually, which means more and more pollinators have nowhere to go—this is where pollinator gardens come into play.
By planting one on your property, you can help local wildlife and boost the ecosystem. Even if you don’t think you can make a difference, encouraging friends and family to do the same can make a big splash in your community.
What Does It Take To Start One?
Now that you know what a pollinator garden is, you might ask what it takes to start one in your yard. However, you should know that you can do as much or as little work as you want after starting it; also, it can be as small or large as you want, as long as it’s in a sunny spot. Luckily, this type of garden is one of the cheapest to start, as it doesn’t have any specific requirements; in fact, you can add as many plants as you want, as long as they’re native and attractive to local pollinators.
Plants To Include
Because the most successful pollinator gardens include native wildflowers and grasses, you should consider planting some of the following in yours—be sure your choices will grow and thrive in your USDA hardiness zone before planting them in the ground.
- Witch hazel
- Bee balm
Caring for Your Pollinator Garden
Though you might not want to start a garden because you aren’t sure you’ll have the time to care for it, a pollinator garden can be much simpler. Once you plant and establish your garden, it probably won’t need much care aside from the occasional weeding. Because this garden should contain wildflowers and other plants and shrubs that adapt to different soil and growing conditions, they should grow and thrive as they do in the wild. You’ve probably seen meadows full of grasses and flowers, but nobody waters, fertilizes, or prunes these plants.
Tips for Sustaining a Pollinator Garden
You might not even have any experience with gardening, but that’s okay—this only requires a passion to help local pollinators in your community. You can support honeybees using these helpful tips to sustain your pollinator garden, whether you’re a beekeeper or just want to buy raw honey.
Avoid Double-Flowered Plants
Double-flowered plants are those that have an abundance of petals. As a result, pollinators struggle to reach the center of the flower, which is where the nectar and pollen are. Roses, carnations, and various other flowers are common examples of double-flowered plants. Although they’re beautiful, these aren’t the right choices for your pollinator garden.
Eliminate Pesticide Use
While pesticides do help reduce the number of pests in your garden, they can also harm or kill beneficial insects like bees and other pollinators. With that said, you should avoid using toxic chemicals in your garden; if you must use something, consider using a natural deterrent or the least harmful chemical option.
Embrace Natural Nesting Sites
Because supporting pollinators is the main goal of this garden, you should make a point to provide them with nesting sites. If you want them to stay on your property permanently, embracing natural nesting sites is the best solution. They’ll come to your garden and find a place to stay, whether it’s a bundle of dead branches, a fallen tree, or an intentional insect hotels.
Plant Flowering Shrubs
Although you can add small plants and flowers to your garden, you should consider supplementing this space with flowering shrubs. Because they have tons of blossoms, flowering shrubs will be incredibly helpful when it comes to attracting pollinators. This ability to attract pollinators is a major benefit of planting flowering shrubs, but you should also know they’re advantageous for you as sources of privacy or windbreaks if they’re close to your home.
Mix Early and Late Blooming Varieties
Though you might think all flowering plants and trees bloom in the spring or early summer, some varieties actually bloom later in the season. Some gardeners want one type or the other, but pollinator gardens need both. Your garden needs constant blooms to be a home and safe haven for these beneficial insects and animals. That said, those plants that bloom early will provide nectar and shelter during the early spring and summer. Conversely, late-flowering plants will provide the necessary shelter and sustenance during the late summer and early fall.
Now that you know what a pollinator garden is and why you should have one, you can start working on yours. Helping local pollinators in your community is an excellent way to boost the environment—though one person can make a difference, the impact will be greater if you convince others to support the pollinator populations alongside you.