There are many different pollinators throughout the world which plants rely on to reproduce. Without pollinators, we don’t have an environment – even local extinctions can drastically affect our local ecosystems.
Bees are the most well-known pollinators but they’re sadly in decline. Pollinators like bees and butterflies need our help to protect them.
Ways to protect pollinators
Protecting pollinators can be as easy as two steps: learn about what you can do to help and then do it.
There are many resources and organizations out there that can help you decide what you’re able to do.
If you don’t have a garden, you can still help out by utilizing a community garden or donating to local organizations. You might even find volunteering a great way to contribute.
If you do have a garden, you have a lot of options. Most “how to help pollinators” focus on bees and butterflies, and you can find the most common and helpful tips below.
But transforming your garden might be complicated. Maybe you share it with other members of your household and they don’t want an overgrown garden. However, you always have options!
Things you can do to help bees:
- Make a bee hotel for solitary bees
- Learn about bees and how to welcome them to your garden
- Plant native flowers for bees
- Let your garden grow instead of mowing all the grass
- Use only natural pesticides and herbicides
- Leave plant detritus to provide habitats during winter
- Provide water (with birdbaths, or fountains)
What you can do to help butterflies:
- Plant native flowers for butterflies in sunny spots
- Provide water (with birdbaths or fountains)
- Avoid using synthetic pesticides and herbicides
- Use window boxes on windows that get the most sunlight
- Leave fallen fruit on the ground
- Stop weeding
- Create shelter through shrubs, trees, and hedgerow
- Leave plant detritus during winter
- Record visitors
- Leave some logs to be a bug hotel for caterpillars and more
Important organizations to get the best information from:
- The National Wildlife Federation (US)
- Pollinator Partnership Ecoregional Planting Guides (US)
- Wildlife Trusts (UK)
- Butterfly Conservation (UK)
- Wildlife Preservation Native Pollinator Initiative (Canada)
- Pollinator Partnership (Canada)
- Australian Pollinator Week Resources (Australia)
- Wild Pollinator Count (Australia)
How to make your garden friendly to pollinators
Making your garden friendly to pollinators doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it mostly involves stopping doing things you already do.
Don’t worry about weeding or mowing – weeds can be very pollinator-friendly, and trimming your lawn will stop wildflowers from growing. Lawns aren’t environmentally-friendly, so let them grow.
When choosing flowers and shrubs to plant, make sure you’re selecting native plants, especially ones that provide nectar. This will encourage pollinators to visit your garden, where they’ll get energy and food from the nectar and spread pollen.
It’s best to grow a variety of plants that bloom at different times of the year, as this will help pollinators survive throughout the seasons.
If you don’t have much space in your garden, or other members of your household are resistant to transforming the whole garden into an urban jungle, make a wild corner instead. You can leave the corner to grow on its own with no maintenance which will help provide a habitat for insects, including caterpillars!
How to maintain a pollinator garden
Maintaining a pollinator garden requires less work than a landscaped garden. Native plants take less maintenance and require less water.
Plant your flowers close together, as much as is recommended by professionals, to create dense plantings to lock in moisture, reduce weeds, and make it easier for pollinators to forage.
Make sure that your garden has a source of water – whether it’s muddy puddles, a pond, a fountain, or even a decorative birdbath. The water can help plants around it and visiting pollinators.
Watering your garden might still be necessary. Rain gauges can help you work out how much watering is needed per week.
If you need to weed, only weed by hand, and leave plant detritus during winter.
Donate or pass off any chemical fertilizers, weed killers, or pesticides – you won’t be needing them. Look for eco-friendly alternatives or natural remedies instead.
How to attract pollinators to your garden
Pollinators are attracted to different flowers, so make sure to have a good variety. A variety of colors can also help with this, because some pollinators might be more attracted to blue or purple flowers than red or orange.
Always make sure to check your plants are native to your region. You can reach out to local conservationists and organizations for advice if you need it, and they’ll have more specific information to help you.
Pollinator houses can help encourage bees and butterflies to visit you more too. Bee hotels are great for solitary bees to rest in, and bug hotels made with logs can help beetles, caterpillars, and more by providing them shelter.
Flowers to plant in a community garden to attract pollinators
If you’re part of or thinking about starting a community garden, make sure to check what native plants in your region are best for pollinators. E
ven if you have a vegetable garden a small patch of wildflowers could make a big difference to your local environment. It can even help your vegetables grow!
There are a number of websites that allow you to search your ZIP code or region to find what plants are best to plant.
Local conservation organizations will have even better resources for you and may be able to sell you the right plants at the same time.
How to maintain your community garden for pollinators
Maintaining a community garden for pollinators is very similar to the advice above for individual gardens.
Having a compost heap and providing natural or eco-friendly pesticides and herbicides, as well as tools, is essential to ensure that nobody else is tempted to use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
Compost heaps can take food waste from everyone in your area, though make sure to include instructions to be followed!
You should also make sure to educate the other members of your community garden on how to maintain the plants and encourage pollinators to visit.
How to help pollinators in your neighborhood
To help pollinators in your neighborhood, first check for any local organizations or events that you can get involved with. You could donate to them, become a member, or volunteer your time.
Even sharing social media posts can help raise awareness and get more people involved!
Educating others is another essential part of helping pollinators. You could help efforts already underway in your area or start it up yourself.
Posters, events run through social media, community events, and taking initiative on transforming neighborhood gardens into pollinator-friendly gardens will all make an impact.
It’s much easier to help pollinators by working with others instead of alone!