Pollinators are a very important part of our world. Without pollinators, many of our fruits and seeds would never be produced. Honeybees alone pollinate over $15 billion worth of crops each year. These industrious little workers help provide us with apples, blueberries, avocados, almonds, and many other food crops. However, honeybees aren’t our only pollinators. Birds, bats, butterflies, beetles, and moths are some of the other garden workers that pollinate over 80% of the world’s flowers.
Gardening for pollinators is more than just flower gardening, it’s creating a little ecosystem in your yard. The first thing you must do is be willing to open your mind and allow the critters to move in. Also accept the fact that you might have a little damage on your plants occasionally.
A difficult habit to change is to stop spraying pesticides. Many gardeners want to kill every bug they see in the garden, and many times that means you are killing off all the beneficial insects that are trying to help you control the bad bugs. It may take a season for the beneficial insects to populate your new pollinator garden, so be patient, because one squirt of that pesticide could set you back for another whole season.
If you must kill bugs, do it manually. That way you can identify what you’re killing. Pruning off the infested areas or washing the plant with a bucket of soapy water can help control an aphid outbreak in a more garden-friendly way than a sprayer of pesticide.
Pollinator gardening is about observing and allowing nature to help you create a balanced ecosystem. You don’t have to have an overgrown weed-like garden, but you do need to have a variety of flowering plants. A non-diverse yard of lawn, heavily pruned hedges, and border grass isn’t as inviting to pollinators as a garden full of various flowering shrubs, perennials, and grasses. Mixing up your planting palette will help attract all types of pollinators.
You can help combat over-manicured, chemical-dependent landscapes that are killing off our pollinator ecosystems faster than they can adapt. Pollinator gardens are important because they are a safe, spray-free habitat for the bugs, birds, and mammals to grow and thrive. Help our pollinators out by thinking of them next time you garden.