Do not disturb

Avoid disturbing the soil in your pollinator garden. Obviously, when you first create your garden, you’ll need to pull weeds, remove sod (unless you opt to smother it), and dig holes for plants.

Once your garden is planted and ground-nesting bees have moved in, you risk destroying a nest each time you dig. I have done this and it made me sad to watch a returning mining or green sweat bee searching in vain for her nest entrance, which I wrecked. I frequently see bees entering nest holes right next to plants. I had thought that they would only excavate nests in open areas devoid of vegetation, but I guess not.

I once dug up and fatally injured a queen bumblebee, which made me very upset. I haven’t cried over an insect since Charlotte’s Web. The queen bumblebee had been overwintering underneath a shrub. I was digging out the shrub to replace it with a native species. I never imagined that a bumblebee would be underneath.

Plan more, rearrange less

I like to move plants around to create different combinations, or to improve the garden’s design. Now, I am trying to plan garden beds more in advance so I won’t need to rearrange plants as much. If I do need to move plants, I should only have to move them once.

When I buy new plants, I look for smaller seedlings instead of large plants that require digging a larger hole. This has the added bonus of being cheaper too.

I also let plants self-seed to create groupings of the same flower. Plants that grow from seed don’t require any digging at all. Self-seeding has created some lovely combinations that I hadn’t imagined.