“Plant it and they will come” is a statement you’ll often hear from people growing native plants. It emphasizes how easy it is to grow them, and how quickly wildlife will find them. It really is that simple.
In 2017, I turned a patch of our Ottawa, Ontario front lawn into a pollinator garden. Even in its first year, it attracted so many bees, butterflies, beneficial insects, and even hummingbirds.
Pollinator populations are declining due to habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change. Urban gardens can provide new, safe habitats for pollinators in need. You can do it too! I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned.
About my garden
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this pollinator garden was one of the best decisions I ever made, and that it has changed my life. Read more…
You can read about why and how I created my garden in a blog post I wrote for the Wild Pollinator Partnership. Perhaps you will be inspired to start your own pollinator garden.
Insects aren’t the only visitors to my garden – lots of people have stopped to talk to me while I’m outside. Early in 2018, I created an educational brochure (PDF) and placed it in my garden for when I’m not there. I cover the requirements of a successful pollinator garden and where to find native plants in the Ottawa area. I recently updated it to add pollinator-friendly garden maintenance tips. Over 150 brochure have been taken so far.
Some people who visit, despite being interested in starting their own pollinator garden, still seem apprehensive. Are you thinking: “I can’t have a pollinator garden because I don’t have a green thumb”, or “I don’t know where to start”?
With this web site, I want to bridge that gap between interest and action, to eliminate obstacles, and to give you the confidence to start your own garden. You can help pollinators, and enrich your life along the way.
- Meet the pollinators
- Why they need our gardens
- What they need in our gardens
- Native plants and why we should use them
- Growing native plants from seed
- Buying native plants
Okay, are you convinced that creating a pollinator garden is a great idea, and a lot of fun to boot? Now it’s time to create your own garden.
For this section, I’m using a sample garden plan to show you my process for creating the pollinator gardens in our front and back yards.
- Choosing a location for your garden
- Preparing your new garden bed
- Assessing light conditions
- … and soil conditions
- Picking a color scheme
- Considering bloom time and flower shape
- Creating a garden plan
Pollinator-friendly garden maintenance
During my pollinator garden research, I learned that a surprising number of conventional gardening practices are actually harmful to pollinators. After years of gardening, I’ve had to retrain myself. Many typical gardening tasks are all about tidiness, so I am now a more laid-back gardener.
- No ‘cides
- Avoid mulch and landscape fabric
- Do not disturb
- Editing and weeding
- Leave the leaves in fall
- Spring clean-up
- What will the neighbours think?
- My yard is too small
- My yard is too shady
- My yard is in a poor location
- I don’t have a green thumb
- I don’t have time
- I’m afraid I’ll get stung
- Ticks: preparing for the future
More than a pollinator garden
- bird garden
- outdoor classroom
Teaching pollinator gardening classes
I’ve also volunteered to teach several classes in 2019. I’ll keep you posted.