Most people are aware that bees have been in a crisis over the last few years, with populations dwindling at an alarming rate, but can we really make a difference in our own little gardens? The answer is yes; any effort is better than no effort at all! Discussing the options of a pollinator garden with your landscape designer will not only provide a beautiful space for you, but a place for native bees to eat, work, rest and raise their own little families. Without bees, our ecosystem will become out of sync and we will be forced to deal with the repercussions of not being proactive. Why should you care? Good question!
Bees and other pollinators provide very real and very important services within our environment. Bees, birds and bats pollinate a third of our crops alone! From your morning cup of caffeine to the butternut squash on your plate at dinnertime, is all tangible evidence that pollinators are crucial to our existence. Deforestation, subdivision development and pesticides are a few examples of why our pollinators are in trouble. However, your home garden, no matter the size, can make a difference.
Implementing colorful and fragrant native plants within your landscape will attract honeybees and other important pollinators to your property. Incorporating a mix of annuals and perennials with both spring and summer bloom guarantees a larger window for the pollinators to do their thing. It should go without saying that native plants will harbor native insects, but try not to be afraid of the buzz. Most of us have been stung before, but the truth is, most bees are hesitant to sting. When a bee is presented with a fight or flight response to a situation, a sting typically occurs when they are defending their hive or their queen is in danger. However, in your pollinator garden, you are simply providing a food source for solitary bees, so as long as you don’t set out to cause a ruckus in your garden, all should remain calm.
Incorporating a water feature in the landscape will not just enhance the natural beauty of your garden, it will provide the life supporting water source for your pollinator pals. Whether you opt for a trickling pond for the tranquil sound or a bird bath for garden activity, all pollinators will appreciate the mid-day drink and splash, further developing your thriving and happy refuge. Just keep in mind that if you elect to install a stagnate water basin like a bird bath, you should change or replenish the water every few days to eliminate the threat of a mosquito breeding ground.
We know that all walks of life require food, water and shelter, so providing a place for these pollinators to rest and recharge is crucial. The most popular sites for nesting and overwintering in your garden would be patches of dead wood, rock piles, the untouched pile of dead autumn leaves…etc. While some pollinators like bumblebees prefer to nest in the ground, other beneficial insects prefer to seek shelter in man-made bee houses or hardy shrubbery. Creating bee houses is actually quite simple! Take any block of untreated wood and drill ¼” holes approximately 3-5” deep, then mount this block on the wall of the shed or on posts within the garden, ideally out of the rain. If you don’t care to craft, simply planting shrubs and robust trees in your landscape will provide enough coverage from the elements for these important insects.
When tending to you garden, keep in mind that pesticides are not only detrimental to your family and pets, but for little worker bugs alike. Using holistic sprays and fertilizers will guarantee the safety of your home, and bring a plethora of pollinators to the garden. Where there are bees, there are sure to be butterflies and hummingbirds thrilled to share in the bounty of pollen and nectar.
Pollinator gardens are beneficial to both humans and the environment, and with a little planning, we can make our communities a better place. MasterPLAN Landscape Design can help guide you in your vision for an advantageous garden, while also suggesting and installing all necessary assets to help it thrive. When you are ready to be a part of the solution, reach out to MasterPLAN. Together, we can make a bee-utiful difference!
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