Have you ever driven through a neighborhood and noticed a patch of lawn that looks different from the others? Maybe it appears overgrown, or perhaps it contains a wild natural beauty that reminds you of wildflower meadows. If you have, there is a chance this was a pollinator garden.
With the rise in environmental concerns, pollinator gardens have become quite popular in modern landscape designs. They are a means to use an otherwise unused green space to help the little critters who keep all of our plants growing.
But what is a pollinator garden? Can you have a pollinator garden in Minnesota? How do you design your pollinator garden layout? What pollinator garden plants do you need to start? Continue reading to find out how to achieve a pollinator garden in Minnesota.
What Are Pollinators?
A pollinator is any creature that helps move pollen from one flower to another. You may know pollen as the yellow dust that covers everything in the spring and upsets your allergies, but pollen is, in fact, an essential part of the lifecycle of any plant. Pollen is a flower’s way of packaging up its genetic material and transferring it to another flower. Together, they can make more flowers.
Pollinators facilitate this by spending time among flowers, usually drinking the sweet nectar deep within the flowers themselves. While they stop for a drink, pollinators pick up pollen on their body and carry it as they move from flower to flower.
Pollinators are a crucial part of a plant’s lifecycle. Industries such as farming, logging, and gardening all depend on pollinators. Without pollinators, there would be no plants. Common pollinators include:
- And more
What Is a Pollinator Garden?
A pollinator garden is a garden of plants specifically chosen to be good for local pollinators. In many cases, this means using a selection of local wildflowers that the local population of bees, insects, and birds enjoy.
There are a few different ways to plan a pollinator garden design. Sometimes, people plant wildflowers and other plants in their front yard instead of having a traditional grass lawn. If you are interested in this route, check with your neighborhood bylaws before finalizing your pollinator garden layout.
In other cases, homeowners may prefer a more curated pollinator garden layout. Pollinator-friendly plants may be planted in a garden bed together or strategically placed around your property to achieve a particular look. In some areas, you can even have your pollinator garden certified as a pollinator garden. Having it certified may help you to get around neighborhood regulations over wildflowers.
What Are the Benefits of a Pollinator Garden?
The main benefit of pollinator gardens is to help pollinators thrive in your area. Pollinators often have difficulty finding food in urban areas where all the green lands have been converted to monoculture lawns and carefully maintained garden patches. Pollinator gardens also make it easier for pollinators to move through an urban center. A pollinator garden acts as an island refuge for a weary honey bee or butterfly who needs a spot to rest and refuel before continuing on their way.
With more pollinators able to thrive in your area, you can expect that industries such as agriculture will be able to maintain a stable existence of healthy crop yields. Because pollinator gardens comprise local wild plants, they are low maintenance. Once you plant a pollinator garden, maintenance is minimal. You’ll see weeds growing in your pollinator garden, but they are part of the experience. The most maintenance required is giving your pollinator garden a bit of water during dry spells.
Besides the plants and pollinators, one extra benefit to pollinator gardens is the educational experience. If you are a fan of citizen science, having a pollinator garden is an excellent opportunity to observe pollinator species in the wild. There are organizations such as a Bumblebee Watch where you can log your sightings. If you have children, it is also an excellent opportunity for them to watch nature at work.
What Plants Are Good for a Pollinator Garden in Minnesota?
The Minnesota State Government offers plenty of research on converting part of your current lawn into a pollinator garden. They call the project Lawns to Legumes. They give ideas on creating one and ensuring that you have the right pollinator garden plants to keep your pollinators happy throughout the year.
The main recommendation in Minnesota is to select pollinator garden plants that bloom year-round instead of only one season. For example, spring flowers will often be gone by summer. In Minnesota, the best plants you can include in your pollinator garden design are:
- Virginia Bluebells
- Wild White Indigo
- Red Columbine
- Blue Giant Hyssop
- Bee Balms
Are Pollinator Gardens Dangerous?
Pollinator gardens are not dangerous at all. You may feel concerned about getting stung when thinking of all those bees and other pollinators, which is understandable. The truth is, bees are very gentle by nature, and if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone.
The only aggressive insect you should watch out for are wasps. If you start noticing wasps, there could be a nest in your pollinator garden, and it’s best to identify its location to safely remove it.
What Can I Expect When Starting a Pollinator Garden in Minnesota?
Starting a pollinator garden in Minnesota is incredibly simple, and requires only a matter of steps. Let’s take a look below:
- Convert part or all of your lawn into a pollinator garden by removing existing vegetation and sod, so the soil underneath can be exposed.
- Layered pieces of cardboard should be placed over the area, commonly called sheet mulching, to stop new vegetation from growing before you plant your seeds. Before seeding, the mulch layer must be removed.
- Remove any old grass, so you can start planning your pollinator garden layout. Potted plants will give your garden design a more instant effect, but can be more costly. Planting seeds may be cheaper, but often need a whole winter to come out of dormancy and begin growing.
- Once your garden is planted, minimal maintenance will be required. There is no need to add fertilizer or mulch as pollinator garden plants are used to outdoor conditions.
Start Planting Your Pollinator Garden in Minnesota!
A pollinator garden is a beautiful and environmentally conscious means of helping local pollinators thrive. If you are interested in starting a pollinator garden in Minnesota, the Lawns to Legumes program has a wealth of knowledge.
If you are ready to take the plunge or want to ask questions and discuss with an expert, look no further than Architecture Landscape Design. We will walk you through the steps of what it will take to bring your perfect pollinator garden design to life.
When you are ready and live in the greater Minneapolis area, contact our team at ALD to start crafting the pollinator garden of your dreams.