A lot of the time, human intervention is less effective than letting nature take its own course. So, this year, why not honor Mother Nature by giving her free rein over your garden.
Instead of wishing for perfectly manicured lawns and pristine landscaping, imagine instead a fairytale-like oasis overgrown with beautiful flowers that support the birds, bees, and butterflies with their wild seeds and pollen—all with little watering, fussing, or fertilizing from you.
This enchanting scene can become a dreamy biodiverse reality if you commit to planting native (or, depending on where you are, climate-appropriate) plants.
Choosing your plants
The best way to attract pollinators is to select plants that will support them. Usually, this means rejecting exotic plant species from Asia, Africa, South America, and even from distant regions of the US, as these won’t be recognized as food sources by the native pollinators that have grown and evolved alongside native plants.
According to Doug Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware and author of Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, non-native plant species only disrupt the flood chain which can ultimately lead to the collapse of the ecosystem.
“Plant choice matters,” he declares. “The plants we choose to landscape our properties (with) should be determined by how much life can live there.”
Plus, native plants are generally acclimated to your region, so they won’t require as much maintenance. Of course, now that the climate is changing it’s worth keeping an eye out for them, especially if the climate has drastically changed in your area. However, if you pay attention to the plants growing on the sides of the roads without help from anyone, these kinds of native flora are likely to thrive in your garden or yard.
If you’re ready to let go of control and let nature do its thing, check out these resources to get you started:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center: Choose your state, growing conditions, and desired plant attributes, and view database results of appropriate native plants. Browse recommended plant species by state.
The Biota of North America Program: Once you select your state, the site will generate a list of native plants, which can be narrowed down to the county level.
The Xerces Society: View state fact sheets of native plants that will attract pollinators and are suited for small-scale plantings such as in-home gardens.
Audubon Native Plants Database: Enter your zip code to view a list of the best native plants to attract specific birds in your area.