Help Pollinators By Being A Lazy Gardener

Helping pollinators in your backyard doesn’t have to be hard! By simply being a “lazy gardener” and skipping these harmful gardening practices, your garden will be on it’s way to becoming a pollinator paradise.


A Robber Fly taking care of business (free pest control)

A Robber Fly taking care of business (free pest control)

Step 1: There is no place for pesticides, insecticides or other harmful chemicals in a pollinator garden. Such chemicals will harm wildlife by killing them directly, killing their food sources or preventing reproduction. Instead, try planting a diversity of native plants in your garden. Doing so will attract natural predators who will control insect pests for you. Natural predators such as Lady-beetles, Syrphid flies and solitary wasps are very effective at controlling pest. All we have to do is provide habitat and food sources for them and sit back as they do all the work!


It is also important to tolerate some plant damage in your garden. Insects need to eat to but they don’t eat very much. Native insects rarely defoliate entire plants. Instead of reaching for garden pesticides, let your plants support the insects that will provide food for wildlife higher up on the food chain, such as songbirds.


Standing plants provide important shelter for over-wintering pollinators

Standing plants provide important shelter for over-wintering pollinators

Step 2: Forego the fall clean up and learn to tolerate some messiness in your garden. Tolerating some “messiness” in your garden has to be one of the easiest ways to help pollinators. All you have to do is not clean-up! Many wildlife species will actually over-winter under leaf litter, rolled up in leaves, under logs or in hollow stems. Black swallowtails, for example, will over-winter as a chrysalis attached to bark, stems or even under leaf-litter. The same holds true for many other butterflies, bees and other insects which are beneficial to the garden.  

 When we clean up a garden in the fall, especially when we remove leaves, we are potentially reducing the amount of butterflies and other species we will have next season. This is an example of how being lazy in the garden can actually be beneficial!


Step 3: Retire the lawn mower. Mowing your lawn less frequently, or not at all, is a practical and time saving way to help pollinators. 

Many lawns (unless you use pesticides!) are full of pollinator plants just waiting to grow. While not native, many “weeds” such as clover and dandelions provide bee forage where there would be none otherwise. Many native meadow plants such as Goldenrod(which actually doesn’t cause allergies), Asters and Milkweed(Monarch food) are just waiting to grow in your lawn. All you have to do is give them a chance.

 Benign neglect of your lawn can also provide habitat for ground nesting bees who otherwise would have been scared off due to the noisy, toxic, ground compacting lawn mower. Who knew that helping pollinators could be as easy as skipping some chores?


As you can see, helping pollinators doesn’t have to be hard. Simply skip some of the more common, and harmful, garden chores and watch the butterflies and bees flock to your garden!

Shaun Booth