How to Plant a Pollinator Garden

Bird and bee populations are shrinking. You can help bring them back by planting a habitat in your own yard.

An Arlington Forest garden features native plants that serve more than 50 species of local wildlife. Photo by David Howell

We do need to adjust our mindset about how yards should look. Many of us were brought up on “extreme symmetry and Italian-style gardens,” notes Joanne Hutton, an Arlington master naturalist and Audubon at Home ambassador. She also co-chairs the steering committee for Plant NoVa Natives, a joint marketing campaign to promote native plantings. “I try to tell people not to be quite so tidy in their gardening. We need a new aesthetic that calls for a looser, less controlled look.”

The new aesthetic means viewing our yards and public spaces as not just eye candy, but places to foster wildlife. “We can be growing caterpillars and birds and butterflies and bees instead of growing grass,” says Alison Pearce, the Woodend Restoration Leader at the Audubon Naturalist Society headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

In other words, we can see ourselves—and our yards—as vital parts of the ecosystem.

“The revolution in the Audubon at Home program is that it invites you to enjoy your garden differently,” Hutton says, by becoming a wildlife steward. “It invites you to see how your space is being used.” A participating yard can become a certified wildlife sanctuary when you observe 10 species from a list of sanctuary species thriving there.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

Categories: Home & Design
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