You can transform almost every backyard space into a garden paradise, but not every garden is the same. Beware—pollinator gardens can be tricky to get right. Novices and garden pros alike can benefit from these important facts and tips for how to start a pollinator garden.
Why You Should Start A Pollinator Garden
Native plants are the greatest source of food for pollinators, and pollinators serve an essential role in the reproduction of plant life. Almost all flowering plants need pollinators to pollinate them, and most of them depend on these insects (such as bees and butterflies), birds, and bats to gather and spread their fertile seeds. Yet, all around the world, habitat loss and pesticides threaten the lives of these pollinators who play such a crucial part in the health of our ecosystems. Creating an environment where these sensitive creatures can flourish is essential for the planet’s prosperity.
Tips for Your Pollinator Garden
Every pollinator garden requires two essential components: a nesting place for the pollinators to rest and flowers from which the pollinators can collect nectar and pollen.
In many landscapes, flowers are overlooked and consistently pushed to the edge of public plots. Fill your garden with native plant varieties and colorful flowers. Native plants are the best choice for a pollinator garden because, in each region of the world, certain crops have evolved alongside specific pollinators. Thus, for each native plant species, there are often superior choices of pollinators and vice versa. Unfortunately, many places advertise plants as “pollinator friendly” when actually they do more harm than good. Some of these plant species will sabotage your garden in the following ways:
- Adults insects and larvae often have different diet needs. Without adequate diversification in plant species, young pollinators may not be able to survive and grow into the mature stages.
- Non-regional plants can give rise to invasive plant species, which damage ecosystems by overpopulation and draining resources from native plants.
There are 4 key aspects of a successful pollinator garden, including food (for adults and babies alike), water, a habitat, and proper protection. Areas of wetness in a garden provide insects with access to mineral deposits in the soil while sticks, decaying wood, leaves, and grasses provide nesting materials. You should also never use chemicals on your plants. Pesticides and fertilizers can contaminate groundwater—not to mention threaten the health of local animals and pollinators.
If this is your first time planting a garden, consult your local botanical society to help you with your designs. You can also follow this informational guide to choose plant species for your garden that are native to your local region. Here are some other things to consider that will make for an impeccably arranged garden space:
- Using seed paper is an environmentally friendly way to plant seeds, but remember to choose a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the season.
- Research the growing habits of your flowers—some of them spread throughout the growing season.
- One plant per square foot reduces density and ensure that plants won’t be fighting for sunlight and soil water.
Group similar plant varieties together to make the job of pollinators easier.