Did you know that one in every three bites of food we take is thanks to pollinators? These tiny animals are essential for the production of our fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Unfortunately, pollinator populations have been declining rapidly in recent years due to increasing pressures on natural habitats and intensive mono-culture agriculture. This has prompted many gardeners and farmers to adopt practices that attract pollinators to their gardens and farms. To make your garden more friendly for pollinators, you need to create an environment that provides them with everything they need. Fortunately there are many things you can do to attract these beneficial insects and ensure they stay around all year round. Here are 7 tips on how you can attract pollinators to your garden.
Grow a variety of flowers
One of the best ways to attract pollinators to your garden is to grow a variety of colorful flowers. A range of different species will help to attract different types of pollinators. Once they’ve found your garden, pollinators will be more likely to return, which is great news for your harvest. With many flowers providing nectar, pollen, and even oils that are beneficial for pollinators, you can help to build an ecosystem that attracts and sustains these creatures. When choosing flowers for your garden, think about which types of pollinators you would like to attract. Bees, for example, are attracted to bright and fragrant flowers, whereas butterflies prefer softer, gentler blooms.a
Grow food for pollinators
If you want to attract pollinators to your garden, it makes sense to grow the things they like to eat. This is particularly important for bee species. Bees are an essential part of our ecosystem, and many bee species are in decline due to habitat loss and pesticide use. One of the best ways to attract bees to your garden is to grow flowers that they feed on. Not only will this provide food for pollinators, but having flowers in your garden will also make it look much more attractive to humans. Furthermore, many flowers that are good for bees are also great for attracting other pollinators, such as butterflies and birds. When choosing flowers for bees, try to choose varieties that are indigenous to your area. This will increase the likelihood of bees successfully breeding in your garden and also help to maintain the local ecosystem.
Don’t use pesticides
There have been many studies into the effects of pesticides on pollinators and the results aren’t pretty. Research has shown that pesticides have a significant impact on the reproductive capacity and lifespan of pollinators, as well as having a detrimental effect on their ability to find food. When applied to gardens, pesticides also have a significant effect on the number of pollinators that visit the flowers. This in turn reduces the amount of pollination that occurs, which makes insects less efficient at producing food for humans. You don’t need to forgo the benefits of pesticides completely, but it’s best to use them sparingly. Avoid spraying them during the flowering season, and always wear protective equipment when working with them.
Add grasses and ground cover
While many gardeners prefer to have a lawn-free garden, it is a great habitat for pollinators. Having ground cover, such as clover, or a lawn of long grass will help to create a diverse environment for a variety of pollinators. Foraging bees and butterflies often use long grass as a place to rest, while other species may use it to build their nests. If you have a lawn, you can encourage pollinators to visit by regularly mowing the grass and leaving sections uncut. You can also grow flowers in patches amongst the grass, to further encourage pollinators to visit your garden.
Provide bee shelters
If you want to attract bees to your garden, one of the best things you can do is provide them with shelter. Not only do bees need a place to live, but they also need a source of water and rich nutrients to thrive. Bees will often use natural sources to create their homes, but you can also provide them with bee boxes to help increase their numbers. You can make a bee box from an old wooden box or an empty wooden crate. To help the bees survive the winter, you can line the box with straw or wood shavings.
Don’t forget to rotate your crops
It’s essential to rotate your crops if you want to keep your garden healthy. Rotating your crops annually means that pests and diseases will have less chance to build up and affect your garden. If you’re rotating your crops, this also means that you don’t have to stick to growing the same plants year after year. Instead, you can experiment with different flowers and vegetables, and this will help you to attract a wide variety of pollinators to your garden.
While it’s important to protect and support pollinators, it’s also important to remember that they aren’t the only insects we encounter while gardening. In fact, most pests are good insects that have been called to your garden for various reasons. If you want to keep your garden healthy, it’s important to understand the different insects that visit it and what they need. This will help you to avoid unnecessary pesticide use, and it will help you to attract a wide variety of pollinators to your garden.