Create a garden home for birds, bees, and butterflies to support a sustainable environment
Gardens are not only pretty to look at, they can also help sustain our ecosystem by serving as a home for pollinators.
What are pollinators? They are birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small animals that pollinate and help plants reproduce. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, almost 80% of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world require pollination by animals.
Other environmental benefits of pollination include:
- Clean air: pollinators help produce flowering plants and trees that in turn produce breathable oxygen by reducing carbon dioxide in the air.
- Purifying water: flowering plants help to purify water and prevent erosion. Without plants, the water cycle would deteriorate, and without pollinators, plants would not grow and reproduce.
To celebrate Pollinator Week (June 21-27), we recommend creating a natural garden that attracts pollinators. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Build a habitat. To provide for a pollinator’s well-being, think of your garden as a habitat! Incorporate flowering plants into your landscape and vegetable garden for year-round bloom. You can also provide a habitat for different phases of a pollinator’s life. For example, many native bees are solitary nesters in twigs and holes in wood or they nest underground in burrows, so leave some bare ground for nesting. And bushy plants that the larvae of butterflies and moths can feed on will allow the adults to lay eggs in your garden. Tolerating a little mess in your garden will greatly benefit not only your plants, but the pollinators that keep them growing.
Use native plants. Native plants are recognizable to native insects and attract more pollinators. Plants from the daisy, mint, and carrot families are great foods, herbs, and flowers that we can enjoy and are attractors for bees, ladybeetles, and other pollinators. Also, choose a variety of plants that will provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season.
Reduce or eliminate pesticide. Pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and herbicides not only have a detrimental effect on soil, they can also be harmful to pollinators. Choose natural methods for pest, disease, and weed control. Mulching gardens with organic matter such as leaves, grass clippings, and wood chips in the spring and fall can also suppress weed growth. Want to say “goodbye” to your old pesticides and herbicides? Take them to a haz waste collection site for safe disposal.
For more information on creating a natural garden for pollinators, visit the Garden Hotline website or call 206-633-0224 for expert help with gardening questions. The Garden Hotline is free to home gardeners and landscape professionals throughout Seattle and King County, and offers individualized solutions to garden programs that are practical, safe, effective, and natural.