We all know that I absolutely adore gardening. My roommate actually laughed at me the other day, because, and I quote, “You were literally adding compost into dirt and GLOWING from happiness.” And that is true- having my hands in the soil and watching things grow calms me down and makes me so happy! Gardening on its own is a wonderful way to reduce your trash, reduce your carbon footprint, and bring a bit of extra health into your life with fresh fruits and veggies, but it is also so important for the environment, and especially pollinators!
According to the USDA, “Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce. More than 3500 species of native bees help increase crop yields.” That is SO much food that requires animal pollination, and with the drastically declining numbers of pollinators because of things like habitat loss, Bee Colony Collapse Disorder, and climate change we need to make sure we support the pollinators local to our neighborhoods to keep their populations healthy!
Five Easy Ways to Support Pollinators
When it comes to supporting pollinators, we have to remember that while most people think of just bees there are SO many different types of pollinators! Along with those ubiquitous bees, think of butterflies and moths, beetles and certain species of flies, as well as some birds and bats! There is a wide variety of pollinators so researching which species are present near you and working to support as many as possible will be wonderful!
As I mentioned above, with over 3500 species of bees alone, one of the most important things you can do to support pollinators is to plant native species! Because there are SO many different species, they have evolved to thrive on local flora, so providing those in your landscaping and gardens are wonderful. I know sometimes that the research that goes into figuring out what flowers beautifully, what is going to work in your soil, your light, and your weather can feel like a gargantuan task, but heading to your local garden center, like my favorite, O’Toole’s Garden Centers, can make your research WAY easier! One of the best things about wandering through the aisles of O’Toole’s is that I know that whatever catches my eye is going to work for the Colorado weather! I recently fell in love with their flowering crabapple trees and I know that when I plant one in my landscaping not only will they support wildlife with blooms then fruit, but because they are a hardy tree I’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come!
Planting native doesn’t just have to be flower-forward either! While I love planting native flowers (both landscaping and wild!) and shrubs like the tri-color Flutterby Butterfly Bush I just picked up at O’Toole’s (I was so excited that I shared it on Instagram!) I also make sure that I support pollinators by providing shelter, breeding areas, and food sources. The bats and birds that fly around my backyard take shelter in my local evergreen greens and shrubs, and I make sure to provide ‘nursing areas’ for baby pollinators that are safe from my chickens (they LOVE a good caterpillar!), as well as things like milkweed for migrating monarch butterflies!
Provide Nesting Infrastructure
While plants are wonderful, sometimes what some pollinators love (like solo bees!) can happen to be an eyesore. Lots of insects like to take shelter in piles of decaying brush because there are many nooks and crannies available to them. Instead of leaving a pile of refuse in your yard, try a ‘bee hotel!’ These are easily available online, but also making them as a project can be really fun! And while we’re talking nesting, similar to an insect hotel, try installing a bat box or bird house!
While I know how much of a pain it is to deal with garden pests, opting for natural solutions instead of pesticides can save lots of pollinators’ lives! Insecticides will kill both pests and beneficial insects, and herbicides can also kill local, pollinator-friendly plants! O’Toole’s actually has an entire section on their website for natural insect control, featuring products like Neem Oil (which I use both inside and outside!), GrubGone Granules, and even lady bugs which are WONDERFUL for aphids! There are so many options that will help you keep pests under control while making sure to keep your pollinators healthy as they help your yard flourish!
Provide Water Sources
Water is incredibly important for every living thing, but we don’t tend to think of providing sources of water for the smallest living beings! For example, water helps bees digest their food, regulate humidity in their hives, and cool their homes on hot summer days! However, if you’ve ever owned a pool you can see the carnage that can happen when bees, moths, and butterflies attempt to drink from them. Because they are a wide-open water source it is easy for insects to drown! So my solution is adding in bird baths with pebbles that allow insects to land without having to navigate precarious situations. I picked up a BEAUTIFUL emerald green bird bath from O’Toole’s this week, and popped it directly in my garden. Now, I know this could have gone anywhere in my yard, but having three large dogs, I wanted to make sure it was protected! I filled half of the bath with stones that stick out over the surface of the water, and left the other half free for birds!
Now, when I saw ‘mow less’ we have two options. The first is exceptionally simple- leaving ‘weeds’ like dandelions in your yard provides important food sources for lots of pollinator species! I like to embrace imperfection when it comes to lawn care, so leaving some flowering weeds in your yard can be great! The second option is trying a clover lawn! Low growing clover, like white dutch clover, stays low to the ground, is beautifully green and lush, and also flowers! I picked up clover seeds at O’Toole’s and I have been LOVING watching the little clover seedlings pop up in my yard!
Spring heading into summer is my favorite time of year, and this year is especially exciting with my ability to *finally* create the landscaping that I’ve been dreaming of since buying my home. I really enjoy being able to make my planting plan with local wildlife, pollinators, and plants in mind- not only am I making my space and my life a bit more beautiful I get to support the things that keep me fed and provide such an important service for this planet! And don’t forget to follow along as I continue to team up with O’Toole’s this gardening season- make sure to check them out on Instagram and their website!
This post was sponsored by O’Toole’s Garden Centers. All opinions are my own.