How to create a pollinator friendly yard!

Tips to create a pollinator friendly yard and how to maintain a pollinator friendly yard year round!

Create a Pollinator Friendly Yard!

Turn off lights.

Lights on at night can disrupt birds and insects during migration and confuse them at night because they rely on complete darkness to know what time it is.

If you are uncomfortable with a dark yard, switch to motion lights that turn off after a few minutes, or a shaded light to direct the light down and not into the sky.

Check out Doug Tallamy and Homegrown National Park to learn more!

Ditch Chemicals.

Any chemical applied to your lawn is going to seep into the ground, where some important pollinators like ground bees and firefly’s/lighting bugs nest.

Killing insects also destroys the food source for birds.

Bonus, you will save a ton of money once you stop buying pesticides and other lawn treatments!

Add food sources.

Plant food sources for pollinators, like sunflowers and other plants that have seeds birds will eat.

Add plants just for caterpillars and insects to eat. If you want butterfly’s, first you must create a food source for caterpillars! See my article Beautiful Plants That Attract Pollinators for ideas on what to plant!

If critters are eating your plants, that’s a good sign!

Add habitat.

Create habitat for pollinators and birds by making stick piles, and brush piles. You can also leave dead trees and plants in your yard, pollinators will live inside them.

The pollinators must have a place to lay eggs, hatch, go through caterpillar stage, and enjoy life as a butterfly to lay eggs again and repeat the cycle.

We must give them places to live in all four seasons.

In the fall be sure to leave the leaves and if you have to rake, keep your leaf piles on the edges of your lawn instead of putting them on the curb so the pollinators can overwinter in them.

Add water source.

Pollinators and birds get thirsty just like us! Create a place for them to get a nice drink!

Be sure your drinking fountain has a shallow area or something floating on top that bees can land on to get a drink, otherwise they could drown in the water.

Change the water daily and keep it clean so fungus or harmful bacteria cannot grow.

Decrease mowing.

Create some bee lawns and other pollinator areas that you never mow if possible.

Mow only when you have to so natural habitat and food for pollinators can grow.

Let the dandelions, wild violet, clover and more take over your grass. Grass is not able to feed or sustain our pollinators at all, so let your lawn turn into a buffet for bees instead!

Try to participate in NO MOW MAY and SLOW MOW SUMMER if you can. Avoiding mowing in the month of May preserves the first food for bees when nothing else is blooming yet. Slow mow summer encourages you to only mow every other week or only when grass reaches a certain height.

Stop using the leaf blower!

Leave the leaves in the fall if you can. If not, rake them into piles in the corner of your yards to preserve eggs laid on the leaves. They will survive over the winter and hatch in the spring!

Leave clippings and other lawn “clutter” on the lawn in the spring and summer too, these little sticks and other things are what birds use to nest and create places for insects to live.

It’s the end of April as I write this in Zone 6b and I still have not cleaned up my yard. Dandelions, Grape Hyacinths, and Wild Violets are popping up everywhere, through my leaves and debris from last year.

Wait until it is 50 degrees or warmer to clean up yard.

It’s hard to resist cleaning up, but if you can wait until it is regularly 50 degrees F or warmer as the low each night you will preserve important nesting areas for pollinators to stay warm while it’s still cold out.

For me in Zone 6b it likely won’t be until the second week of May that I move any leaf piles from last fall and cut dead plants out from my garden beds.

Switch to electric or manual lawn equipment.

Emissions from gas equipment can ruin pollinators ability to smell flowers and find food! The loud sounds can also harm their hearing. Disabling them from being able to fly and find food correctly.

Switch to quiet electric yard equipment if you can, or manual equipment without engines at all.

Eliminate weeds the natural way.

It’s tempting to use weed killer or herbicide, even just one time won’t hurt right? It will! Just one application can last in the soil for years!

If you have noxious weeds or other big weed issues, use natural methods instead.

Chop the weed at the soil level, and cover the area with cardboard or a tarp so NO SUNLIGHT can get through. Leave this for a few months and it will smother the weed to death.

For quick removal, boil some water and pour it on the whole plant. At first it will seem like nothing is happening, but when you check a few hours the later the plant should be brown, and dead!

The easiest way is to catch weeds when they are very small and pull them immediately so they don’t have a chance to go to seed!

Don’t use poison as pest control.

Avoid using poison for mice, rats, or other pests you are trying to eliminate. Birds of prey eat these mice and other small critters for food, and if they are poisoned first, it will kill the bird. Try to trap and eliminate any habitat for mice, rats etc. first before you resort to using poison.

Enjoy your nature sanctuary!

Take some time to enjoy all the new life in your yard! What new pollinators are you noticing? Whats blooming right now? What does it smell like? What do you hear? Do you notice more pollinators than last year?

Don’t forget to take pictures and notes to track your progress over the years as your pollinator paradise grows!!

Thanks for reading! Please let me know any questions or comments below or on the contact page.

Coming soon! A tour of a pollinator friendly yard, yard equipment, and organic fertilizer and pest control options!!

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