by Pia Yarnell
If you’re just starting out in your pollinator garden journey, check out some of our resources on pollinator habitats and growing wildflowers. If you already have an efficacious garden full of native flowering plants, what’s next? Here are a few steps you can take to turn your favorite outdoor space into a true pollinator paradise.
Dead trees left upright to decompose naturally, also called snags, provide many insects and animals a place to live and shelter from high winds and bad weather. As long as they don’t pose a safety concern, leaving portions of dying trees or dead limbs can provide essential nesting sites for pollinators. Even simply leaving perennials and grasses until late spring instead of removing them in the fall can provide overwintering shelter for pollinators. Here are a couple fun and interesting DIY alternatives:
- In some areas of North America, there are species of bats that play a vital role in pollination. Check this out for information on building and installing bat houses.
- Many species of bees live in the ground, in tunnels, trees and logs, or hollow stems of some plants and grasses. Consider building and installing a nesting block or box.
Provide a Source of Water:
Butterflies and some moths use wet sand and mud puddles to drink water and extract salts and minerals. Fun fact: this is called puddling. To install a puddling spot in your garden, fill a shallow container with sand or dirt and keep it moist.
Bees use water for many purposes including hydration, honey dilution, and (believe it or not) even hive cooling and humidity control. A water source such as a shallow bird bath or pebble-filled bowl of fresh, clean water is a great addition to a pollinator garden.
Hang a Hummingbird Feeder:
Photo courtesy of Robert Kester
- Use a 1:4 solution of refined white cane sugar and spring or tap water.
- Never feed hummingbirds honey, artificial sweeteners, unrefined sugars, or red dyes.
- When the weather is hot, empty and clean your feeder at least twice a week. Sugar water grows pathogens. If you see mold or the mixture becomes cloudy, you need to clean more often.
- Select a feeder with no hidden areas. All internal surfaces must be able to be reached and cleaned with a bottle brush. Clean thoroughly with a white vinegar solution and rinse well with hot water.
Limit the Use of Pesticides:
- Consider alternate pest control options, such as manual removal.
- Select plant species that naturally repel pests, or those that may attract the pest’s predators. This is one aspect of a common practice called companion planting.
- Do your research on pesticide selection and application strategies prior to use.
- Beyond Bees and Butterflies
- Help Restore Pollinator Habitats
- Flowers for Bees: Growing Wildflowers to Attract Pollinators
- How to Start a Butterfly Garden in Your Backyard