Strategies for Inviting Pollinators Back Into Your Landscape

Pollinators are an important part of life. Whether we notice them or not they are always hard at work fertilizing plants, and helping produce food.

Reader Contribution by Douglas Dedrick and Healing Law
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For years we have been hearing about the diminishing pollinator habitats across the United States. So I am left wondering… What strategies can we use to invite pollinators into our back into our modern landscapes?

As a landscaper, I often incorporate pollinator-friendly plants in my landscape designs. And today, I would like to talk about some of the strategies you can use to help our plant-loving friends re-establish their much-needed habitats. These strategies can be used by nearly anyone, anywhere. Even in suburban places where space may be limited. Each of these strategies may be small, but collectively they can really make a difference!

Let’s take a look.

Strategy #1: Using Hanging Window Planters

This is a great strategy that nearly anyone with an open window in their home can use. No matter how small your lawn is, window planters are a super easy method for providing a quick snack for your local pollinators. Sure window planters are limited in space, but every bit helps!

Get this, if you are limited on window space, a window planter can make a great gift for your neighbors. Best of all, you can go one step further by adding pollinator-friendly plants to the hanger for them!

Strategy #2: Use Pots and Planters

This one is fairly obvious, but It is definitely worth mentioning. Simple pots and planters are a great way to quickly add pollinator-friendly plants to your landscape. Most importantly, they take up little space, and can be used in even the smallest yards.  It is also an affordable option that anyone can utilize to feed their local pollinators.

Strategy #3: Use a Hanging or Wall Garden

Hanging walls are a fascinating thing. Also known as vertical gardens, this unique method of planting really helps you get the most out of a limited growing space. If you have a sun-facing wall, and can hang one of these gardens in your yard, you can really go all out with pollinator friendly plants! This is one really unique strategy for inviting pollinators and helping them get through their long journeys.

Strategy #4: Host a Beehive

This may surprise you, bee hives don’t have to be large and complicated. In fact, they can be quite small, about the size of a birdhouse. Even better, mason bee houses are available cheaply online as well for around $20. You will also have to purchase the bees too, but they are also available online. You could also try Adopt-a-hive!

Strategy #5: Turn Part of Your Lawn into a Pollinator-Friendly Space

Simply put, this is my favorite strategy. Not only is it effective, it will fit literally anyone’s budget! In fact, if you implement this strategy well enough, it may even save you money. Simply designate a part of your lawn and let the plants grow wild. Instead of growing a traditional lawn with only grass, let the local flowers come in. This is one strategy that is an incredibly convenient method to create a large pollinator-friendly space. Best of all, replacing a part of your lawn with low-maintenance perennials makes your property easier to maintain. What is not to love?!

No matter where you are, you can simply let a small part of your lawn grow wild. Go ahead, let some of those “weeds” and local flowers come in. If you want to plant some flowering seeds go ahead!

Whether you live on a 1/4 acre property where you can utilize this technique around your favorite tree, or in a 1 acre lot where you can let a large part of your lawn run wild. Literally anyone with any land can implement this one.

Strategy #6: Find a Community Space

Look, maybe you don’t have any space to add a pollinator garden in your lawn. But nothing is stopping you from getting creative and finding other places to plant food for pollinators.

It’s true, almost every neighborhood has a community garden. You could speak with them about planting seeds or bulbs in any unused space, or rent a plot to create your own pollinator garden.

Additionally, you can also spread wildflower seed along roadways, at your local park, or anywhere you find untamed land! Wildflower seed is cheap, and easy to plant. During the rainy parts of the year, you can just throw some on the ground, you will be surprised just how many sprout up. If you aren’t sure what to plants to try, borage is a great pollinator-friendly flower that you can use almost anywhere!

Strategy #7: Spread the Word

I know it’s a lot to keep up with, but the more we spread the word about these important issues and remind others about them, the quicker we can take a turn in the right direction. In my experience, it’s best not to focus on the issue, but propose realistic solutions that anyone can follow.

Often the best solution is the one you can implement yourself. Wildflower seeds and bulbs are affordable, and make great gifts! Buying some for your neighbor, friends or family as a gift may just be the best way to get the message spread, and feed many pollinators along the way!

What Inspired This Article?

For the last few years I was in upstate New York and pollinators were prolific there, but after moving to NE North Carolina I was confronted with a different scene. After this move, I was reminded of the importance of pollinators once again, and the diminishing space the have to live.

You see, where I lived in New York there was no shortage of native and even invasive flowers for pollinators to feed on. Living on a bit of land and utilizing strategy #5 I simply let much of the lawn grow wild. Though I did throw some seeds in the mix, most of it was already there ready to come out.

Soon the yard became full of Queen Anne’s lace, chicory, red and white clover, black-eyed Susans, Shasta daisies, sun artichokes, fleabane and more. Needless to say I had some happy bees and butterflies.

But, when I moved to NC, the shortage of pollinators and food for them became abundantly clear. For me, the clearest example was seen in my vegetable garden. My cucumber plants were healthy and growing up the wall of my house. They were so tall that they were growing onto my roof. But, they hardly created any cucumbers, and there were no pollinators in site!

This was a very new experience for me, and it reminded me of the importance of saving the pollinators and continuing to establish pockets of pollinator-friendly plants throughout suburban and even rural communities.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Using these strategies collectively we can begin to re-establish the much needed habitats our pollinators are looking for. I surely did not get a chance to mention all of the ways you can help establish pollinator friendly gardens. If you are interested in learning more, landscape design blogs can be a great place to find inspiration. Saving the pollinators will be a long process, but together we can get it done!

Douglas Dedrick is a landscaper, documentarian and environmental law writer. When he’s not looking for things to investigate, he is usually writing articles about lawn care. 

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