Build a Buzz: Attract Pollinators to Your Garden with These Easy Wildlife Haven Ideas

Create a wildlife haven in your garden by meeting four basic needs for wildlife: food, shelter, water and space. Food sources could include berries, seeds and nuts, while shelter would consist of shrubs or thickets, and water sources like birdbaths, shallow saucers, or natural mud puddles provide refuge.

Provide variety by mixing flower shapes, colours and seasons. Different pollinators like to visit certain flowers; for instance, hummingbirds prefer trumpet-shaped blooms that glow bright red or orange.

Plants for Pollinators & Birds

One effective way of encouraging wildlife in your garden is by planting pollinator-friendly flowers, trees and shrubs that offer pollinators food sources such as pollen or nectar sources and fruits or seeds that birds or other animals will eat.

As you consider plants for your landscape, always choose native species. These have adapted to the unique conditions in your region and will more effectively attract wildlife than exotics or hybrids. Natives are less likely to become invasive and compete for food and shelter with local species.

To attract pollinators, try planting bulbs like snowdrops and hellebores, perennials such as heuchera (coral bells), alyssum, bee balm and sedum, annuals like marigolds, sunflowers nasturtium, etc, as well as annuals such as marigolds, sunflowers nasturtium etc. Hummingbirds favour lightly-scented blooms with vivid hues, while open spaces and shrubs offer perching spots such as Acacia or Black-eyed Susan.

Shrubs such as wild cherry and dogwood make great choices for creating a bird sanctuary, as these species typically produce plentiful fruit and berries that sustain various bird populations.

Add features like rock gardens and ponds to your landscape to enrich further the wildlife habitat, such as decorative rock gardens or ponds. These will add visual interest and offer animals shelter, nesting sites, and water sources for insects and birds alike.

Leave some areas of your yard unmown and add dead wood in designated locations, as this will create habitat. Building structures like birdhouses, bat boxes, or insect hotels is also a great way to increase diversity within your wildlife garden.

Once your garden has a variety of plants that attract pollinators and wildlife, it’s essential to maintain its health. Utilize natural pest control methods like onions and chives, which repel aphids, while lavender deters flies and mosquitoes. Add food-producing species that attract pollinators, such as crabapple trees with fruitful branches that give off nectar and ornamental millet for insect deterrence.

Plants for Butterflies & Bees

Pollinators are essential to our natural and agricultural systems, providing nectar, seeds, and other food sources necessary for survival. Their declining populations could enormously affect food quality and environmental sustainability; creating a garden that supports pollinators could provide much-needed habitat while helping reverse an alarming trend of species loss.

Ensure you offer pollen and nectar for multiple species from spring through fall by providing annuals, perennials and shrubs in bloom throughout the growing season. Mixing annuals, perennials, and shrubs is ideal to ensure pollen and nectar levels are maintained for multiple creatures.

When shopping for plants, select ones grown organically or using minimal chemical fertilizers. This is important, as chemicals used on crops also kill pollinators that feed on them. Look for wildflowers, old-fashioned varieties of flowers and native plants with plenty of colour and nectar, such as wild strawberries, marigolds, cosmos or zinnias; all can quickly be grown from seeds or purchased at our garden centres.

Butterflies and hummingbirds love vibrant flowering plants that produce lots of nectar, drawing them in with single-ring flowers over double flowers that are easier to reach and pollinate. Look out for plants like honeysuckle, fuchsia, penstemon, foxglove, parsley dill or achillea with tubular or umbel-like blooms like honeysuckle that produce tubular or umbel flowers for pollinators delight! Additionally, scented blooms like honeysuckle fuchsia penstemon foxglove can attract visitors to these pollinators.

Bees are drawn to plants with bright yellow, orange, and blue colours and those that smell pleasant, such as coreopsis, sunflowers, and yarrows. Furthermore, flowers that produce copious amounts of pollen, such as coreopsis, sunflowers and yarrow, are sure to please bees, as well as long petals like those found in yarrow, lavender and nepeta, as well as shallow tubular petals such as Magnus purple coneflower and kobold gayfeather that produce pollen.

Leave some leaf litter and dead branches in your yard to shelter wildlife, such as hummingbirds, birds, insects, and bees. Consider building birdhouses and insect hotels to increase habitat. Remember, it is a source of clean water! Adding a birdbath, shallow saucer, or intentional mud puddle will bring visitors into your garden!

Plants for Insects

Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies provide a beautiful sight. Still, these pollinators play more than just an ornamental role – they play a critical part in plant reproduction and are part of our ecosystem.

Additional suitable plants can attract pollinators and other wildlife into your garden. Aim for diversity by planting different flower types, colours and blooming seasons; nectar-rich plants provide food sources throughout summertime for visiting insects.

Start small and manageable by adding wildflowers to your garden. These pretty blooms add colour, and their nectar feeds butterflies and bees! Consider planting some Leucanthemum vulgare daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare), Bird’s Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) or corn marigolds (Glebionis segetum). When possible, leave some natural vegetation untouched – leaving hedgerows or native weed patches will serve as wildlife corridors for mammals like hedgehogs or dunnocks while providing food sources for pollinator populations!

When planning your garden design, focus on structural diversity – using groundcovers, perennials, shrubs, and trees. Flowers should not be the sole focus; look out for flower-producing shrubs like winterberry (Ilex verticillata), viburnums (Viburnum spp) and chokecherry (Prunus americana); tall trees such as Betula lentigo and balsam fir (Abies balsamea); evergreens such as evergreen holly (Ilex opaca). Clustering them will conserve energy when foraging for nectar and pollen from blooming flowers!

Pollinators require food, shelter and water – three essential needs that water features such as birdbaths or ponds can provide. Creating a habitat and adding these features to your landscape design can attract birds, bees, and other pollinators who might visit.

Make sure your water features are well-kept and clear, especially during Alberta summers when wildlife may find it challenging to find freshwater sources. Natural elements such as logs or leaf litter should be included in nesting and foraging spots for small animals. A DIY bird bath, pond or bee hotel4 project could also benefit local fauna in your community.

Plants for Birds

No matter our goal of attracting hummingbirds and butterflies or other birds and wildlife, gardens must include a range of food sources for them. Choose seed-bearing flowers like sunflowers (though avoid Goldsturm hybrids, which rarely set seeds), black-eyed Susans and coneflowers, as these will bloom all summer. Also, look out for widespread natives that naturally exist across North America – daisies, in particular, produce many seeds that delight goldfinches!

Pollinators depend on freshwater sources for drinking and bathing, whether natural sources like streams or ponds or an artificial feature like a bird bath. When providing these water sources to birds and other wildlife, ensure they remain clean by not treating or polluting them.

Do not be afraid to allow some parts of your garden to become wilder. Leave some lawn areas unmowed so flowers like dandelion, clover and selfheal can flourish naturally. At the same time, forbs and other non-traditional species may appear that would otherwise be considered weeds in traditional gardens. Also, consider not treating your lawn with herbicides and chemical products.

Native plants are essential to all pollinator populations, as they’re specifically tailored to your region and offer natural pest control benefits. Aim for eight-10  plant species, as this will ensure a diversity of nectar and pollen sources to support local pollinator populations.

When selecting plants, consider which species is attracted to which ones. Butterfly pollinators, for instance, prefer brightly-coloured long-spurred flowers with tubular nectar openings where their long tongues can fit through. At the same time, bees tend to visit similar-looking blooms foraging for nectar, preferring narrow tube-shaped openings instead.

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