Pollinator gardens aren’t just for beekeepers. These important natural features provide habitat to bee species whose very survival is threatened by urban development, pesticide use, and unsustainable farming practices. This means that when you put a pollinator garden in your yard, you’re doing more than making your home a more beautiful place to live. You’re also helping to save the environment, one blooming flower at a time.
If you’re considering building a pollinator garden but think you don’t have the time, think again. Pollinator gardens are one of the easiest gardens to maintain and you can construct one in just a weekend. Here’s how.
- Decide on a garden site. Your garden location should get full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, and be relatively flat. Some trees nearby is OK, but make sure you’re not planting directly over a root system. Choose a site close to a water source so you can manually water the garden when rainfall isn’t enough.
- Choose your plants. Once you know how much space you have to plant, it’s time to decide what you’ll fill it with. Do some research to identify plants that attract bees and other pollinators. Catmint and lavender are two low-maintenance plants that pull double-duty as bee attractants and a fragrant addition to the garden. Opt for native plants whenever possible. Not only are native plants easy to care for because they’re adapted to your climate, but they’re also best at attracting the specific pollinators that live in your area.
- Buy plants and seeds. Saturday morning is the perfect time to head to your local nursery or farmer’s market to buy seedlings and seeds for your new garden. As you’re shopping for plants, be sure to ask whether they’ve been treated with pesticides. Even pesticides approved for organic use can be harmful to bees, so it’s important to select spray-free nursery plants. When you bring your plants home, set them in a shaded area to harden off.
- Gather supplies. Make a list of everything you’ll need for planting to figure out what you have and what you’ll need to buy. The bare-bones supplies you’ll need include gardening gloves, a shovel, a garden rake, a trowel, and a hose. You should also have sunscreen, long clothing, and a hat to protect you from the elements. If your soil has never been gardened before, you may want to pick up compost, either bagged or in bulk, for amending the soil.
- Prep the soil. Next, it’s time to get your hands dirty in your new garden plot. There are a number of techniques for converting grass to garden, but the fastest is to cut and remove the sod then break up the soil with a rototiller. After tilling, mix in the compost to create a light, rich soil that’s ready for planting. Another popular option is raised bed gardening. When you build raised beds, you can add soil and compost directly over the grass rather than removing it. However, raised beds require more time, materials, and craftsmanship to create than an in-ground garden bed.
- Water and plant. Planting works best when the soil is moist, but not saturated. Give your new garden bed a thorough watering, then start transplanting seedlings and planting seeds according to the directions on each packet. Once everything is in the ground, give it another watering on a gentle hose setting.
After your garden is planted, continue watering daily until the seeds germinate and the transplants are rooted into the soil. Once the plants are established, water during dry periods, remove weeds as they appear, and do other garden maintenance to keep your plants thriving. After that, your biggest challenge will be patience as you wait for your new garden to bloom!