More and more I’m seeing articles about the importance of pollinators in our gardens, for our crops and food supplies. A couple of weekends ago I was at the Guadalupe River State Park for their Pollinator Festival with the Mammam Family Public Library. We were talking to folks about native Mason Bees and how important they are to our environment as pollinators.
It’s not a difficult concept to realize that my garden is linked to my neighbors garden, and so on through your whole neighborhood. What I do in my garden, good or bad, is going to cause effects beyond my fence line!
Bad habits to break!
My list of bad habits is a short one. I recently read a book called Atomic Habits – it was talking about people and the fact that small changes can add up to big differences in ones life. The same can be applied to gardening; make small changes gradually by cutting out the bad and introducing good habits. The local wildlife will thank you!
I challenge you to think about what you’re doing in your garden. Can you make it a healthier environment? We all have different needs and wants but I bet that most of us love to see a garden full of birds, bees and butterflies. By moving away from the picture perfect garden you can create an oasis for local wildlife.
- INSECTICIDES & HERBICIDES: We all know that modern agriculture depends on the use of toxic chemicals. But it’s often the backyard user that “over uses” these chemicals with “a bit more won’t matter” attitude. What you’re really doing is destroying the natural balance in your garden and potentially creating a “toxic wasteland” for pollinators, birds etc
- “PICTURE PERFECT” LAWNS: Lawns like these need a lot of water and herbicides to maintain their perfection. You are creating a DESERT for wildlife.
- MODERN HYBRID PLANTS: Yes, the blooms on many modern hybrids look beautiful. However these double blooms make it very hard/impossible for pollinators to reach down to get nectar & pollen.
Good Habits to Make!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – “SMALL STEPS” is the easy way to go. Every season you’ll have plants that died and that creates gaps. Find a local garden center that sells native plants. Go to Native Plant Sales. Join the Native Plant Society of Texas. Remember that your ‘local pollinators’ really like your ‘local native plants’ – they’ve grown up together!
Think about how you can make compost in your garden. Even in a tiny garden you can make compost in a 3′ x3″ space. You can buy a compost bin, you can make a pen from wood or metal or wire – there are hundreds of solutions out there! Recycle your garden clippings and weeds, add veggie peels, egg shells, coffee grounds etc from your kitchen. As long and you don’t put dairy products or meat into your compost there will be no smell.
Think about the grassy areas of your garden – as I said above lawns are areas that usually need high levels of irrigation and chemicals to maintain their “beauty”. Personally I love seeing dandelions or daisies in my grass!
Disclaimer here: I’ve never been really good with lawns, I don’t have any problems with a brown, dormant lawn in the summer & I really don’t like ‘wasting’ water to keep it green! I was always in trouble with my old HOA because my front lawn was regularly “dead or dying”… I’m lucky now that I have large areas that I can leave semi-wild with native grasses & no one tells me off!!
Consider removing some of your lawn areas and converting them to flower beds or using hardscaping to make patio areas. You can also think about using native grass mixes that need much less water & no fertilizing. The Native American Seed Company sell low growing, native grass mixes that are great for environmentally friendlier lawns – Thunder Turf.
RE-THINK YOUR LAWN
Winter is a great time to start planning changes you’d like to make in your garden. Xeriscaping is a word you need to add to your vocabulary. It’s not difficult to incorporate Xeriscaping ideas into your garden and you can find a ton of ideas on the web. Let me know what you’re doing to make your yard a better place for our pollinators