How to Create a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

How to Create a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

Pollination occurs when insects, birds, animals or even the wind carry pollen from the male side of the flower to the female side of the flower, thereby producing a plant. The process of pollination is important for plants and supports all human and animal life. In fact, living pollinators are responsible for 75% of our food.
Unfortunately, habitat destruction harms and destroys pollinators. But we can help by planting pollinators garden. This guide will explain how to start and maintain a pollinator garden to add value and beauty to your garden.

Be Cautious About Pesticides and Herbicides 

You'll want to be careful when you're in the midst of plant selection, as many plants are pretreated with neonicotinoids, a pesticide that can kill not only pests, but butterflies, bees, and other helpful insects, These can even be applied to seeds, so you'll want to double check your seeds before you plant to ensure your garden is safe for pollinators. If the plants you're interested in aren't marked, ask before you buy.

When you're treating a pest issue, be conservative. Use treatments with a narrow scope—ideally affecting only the pest species. And avoid using herbicides that kill weeds, as they often kill plants that are valuable to pollinators.

Rethink Your Lawn

That expanse of emerald green lawn doesn't do much for your pollinator pals. Lawns offer virtually no habitat value, and their maintenance contributes to air and water pollution. It's okay to hang on to a little lawn where there's a functional need for it, but replacing your lawn with a native-rich planting design will offer far more value to your local ecosystem. Consider creative alternatives to your lawn to bring a richer variety of plant life for pollinators.

Try to go longer between mowings to allow growth that can help support wildlife—especially in early spring—and don't be so quick to remove weeds. Dandelions can be an important early-season nectar source for bees, as they often begin blooming before other flowers are available.


Focus on Native Plants

Using native plants for your landscape provides the exact types of plants and flowers that local wildlife eats and nests in—so you'll give them everything they need to thrive. The majority of birds and insects require native species to get the resources they need to survive. Sagebrush, goldenrod, and sunflowers as key habitat plants, but you can use the National Wildlife Foundation's Native Plant Finder to find plants that belong in your zip code, or the Xerces Society's detailed regional guides to find pollinator-friendly plants, including information on bloom time, flower color, and water needs.

Don't worry about ripping out non-native plants you already have—they can still be helpful. You don’t have to use native plants exclusively, but the more you use, the more you’ll support your ecosystem. If you're choosing non-native plants, look for ones from a similar climate, so they'll thrive well without needing extraordinary help like lots of water.

Choose a Variety of Plants

You'll need more than flowers to help pollinators thrive. "t's important to provide food and shelter for their youngsters as well. Plants with leaves and soft plant tissues can be food and shelter for caterpillars, and some bees will spend the winter in twigs.

Ground cover plants, especially if planted beneath trees, provide a perfect home for caterpillars. And the trees themselves are essential. Trees offer tons of benefits to local ecosystems, particularly keystone species like oaks, willows, and species from the Prunus genus like native plums and cherries. They provide food, nesting sites, and resting spots for migrating species.

Also, try to choose plants that bloom at different times of the year, not only to keep your landscape looking gorgeous, but provide food for pollinators all season long.

Research What Your Target Audience Wants

If you're hoping to provide a bee-friendly feast or see more butterflies in your garden, you can choose plants that can specifically target your preferred visitors. Plants like Russian sage and lavender appeal to generalist pollinators, but the majority of birds and insects require native species to get the resources they need to survive.

Look for large, flat-topped flowers or flower clusters that'll provide an ideal landing zone for pollinators, and consider colors and flowers that are particularly attractive to them.

For Butterflies

Colors: Red, yellow, orange, pink, and purple

Flowers and plants: Zinnia, arrow, lantana, bee balm, dill, fennel, and milkweed

For bees

 Colors: purple, yellow and orange
Flowers and Plants: Lavender, Echinacea, Asters, Borage, Foxglove, Black-eyed Susan, and Lupine.

For hummingbirds

Colors: Red, orange, pink and yellow
Flowers and plants; Commonly called petunias, columbine, lantana, fuchsia, salvia, petunia.


Add the water part

 Providing a water feature for wildlife will make your yard a haven for pollinators. Water is more important for their survival than food. Although a birdbath is good, a better option is a shallow, underground water that is low and circulates the water, to prevent stagnation (and create a habitat for the young bird). Farms and small ponds are inexpensive and easy to build, and can be very beneficial for wildlife.

Leave the dead leaves

Be very careful in removing any dead leaves or fallen branches from your garden in autumn or spring, as many pollinators find refuge there, including bee. When cutting back perennials, try to leave at least 12 inches of the plant to allow pollinators to rest.
If you're determined to have a fully landscaped garden, find a place to hide small clumps of plants and leaves to act as shelter for pollinators.

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