For us in CT, it’s the middle of winter. There isn’t a heck of a lot of snow on the ground, but it is cold… most days anyway. The pollinators we see in droves during warmer weather are out of sight and out of mind. But, they shouldn’t be!
This is the time to start planning your spring garden to entice and feed pollinators from the first early-Spring bloom, right up to the first snowfall at the end of 2021. Seems like a long way off, but it will be here before you know it.
Preparing a pollinator garden is one way to help compensate for habitat loss by providing pollinators with chemical-free gardens and native plants on which they thrive.
Here are 10 tips to get you started, along with a list of resources for further learning.
- Avoid chemicals. Let your yard grow naturally without the use of pesticides and herbicides. Look into solutions that will deter pests, but will not harm the plants and food you choose to grow. HOW TO GET RID OF PESTS NATURALLY
- Choose native plants. These are plants that grow naturally in your area. Avoid invasive species and exotic species, which can sometimes wipe out an entire pollinator garden or manicured yard in one season! Research the plants that attract each type of pollinator, such as planting milkweed to attract butterflies.
- Plant flowers and shrubs that bloom in each season. This will ensure that there is something colorful to attract the pollinators to your garden each month. Choose plants with bright colorful blooms.
- Let things go wild! Allow an area of your yard to go completely wild with wildflowers. You’ll be surprised what will pop up each season. (We know we were surprised with many new wildflowers this past year! We can’t wait to see what we get this year!)
- Encourage insects to join in the fun. Bees are the #1 pollinator species. Any guesses as to what holds the #2 spot? Butterflies maybe? Nope. Flies are the 2nd largest group of pollinators. And, along with honeybees there are many many other species of native bees that help pollinate our food sources, such as bumble bees, sweat bees, leaf cutter bees, and carpenter bees to name just a few. Try not to shoo the flies and other insects out of your garden.
- Birds are pollinators too! Set up a bird bath oasis to encourage birds to hang out in your garden. Leave the stalks of dying flowers later in the year, because they provide food sources for birds (coneflowers, sunflowers, etc.)
- Consider your water source. In more urban areas, rain gardens can do the trick. These are carefully placed gardens next to driveways or parking lots which will funnel the rain water right into the garden. Rain barrels are also a great way to collect rainwater and keep your garden healthy, naturally!
- Composting is easy and practical. Create a spot in a corner of your yard, and begin your compost pile with leftover fruit and vegetable scraps (no meat or bones), and even egg shells and coffee grounds. What you are left with is a nutrient-rich soil perfect for fertilizing your flower or vegetable garden. You can even compost directly into the area you will be planting. IN-GARDEN PLANTING VIDEO HERE
- Leave areas for pollinators to nest. If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen our #leavetheleaves hashtag. Leaving the fall leaf piles creates a wonderful protective home for wintering pollinators. The same goes for the other 3 seasons. Leaving an area of your yard wild, with twigs, grass clippings and leaves, will give the pollinators you’ve attracted some space to call home. There is even an interesting way to create a “Bee Hotel” by drilling holes into a dead tree.
- Do your homework. Research native plants and wildflowers for your specific area. See if there is a Pollinator Pathway network near you that you could partner with. View our list of resource links below. POLLINATOR PATHWAY WEBSITE
Don’t forget to have fun and share your successes with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to share your photos and stories with our audience!
SOME HELPFUL RESOURCES:
- EcoRegional Planting Guide (link to https://www.pollinator.org/guides)
- Native Plant Search Wizard (Find the plants you desire by characteristics of your choosing!). (Link to http://www.earthtonesnatives.com/search.php)
- Find Native Plants in your Zip Code (Link to https://www.audubon.org/native-plants)
- Pollinator Partnership Webinars (Link to https://www.pollinator.org/webinars)
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