Wait just a minute! Before you break out your lawn mower and start your tedious yard work, take a look around you. If your yard is anything like mine you will see birds, bees, wasps, butterflies, and flies. All these are great pollinators and benefit from those pesky weeds, plants, and grasses growing abundantly in your yard. So, what is a pollinator and how does nature benefit from pollination? A pollinator is a vector (carrier) that moves pollen from the male anthers of a flower to the female stigma of a flower to accomplish fertilization. The process of pollination from these vectors is a great assist to plants and helps them reproduce offspring, which in turns supplies more food to future pollinators.
You’re probably wondering how you can maintain your yard while providing food for these animals. The most common solution is making your yard more nature friendly. By planting native plants you can minimize your mowing area and add a nice addition to a garden you never knew you had the knack for! Ideally, you would want to plant non-invasive plants so you don’t have to spend every spare moment maintaining unwanted growth. A few native non-invasive plants are American beautyberry, coral honeysuckle, lantana, coral bean, native turk’s cap, and passion vine. Passion vine is host for one of my favorite insects, butterflies. This vine attracts these different types of butterflies; Gulf Fritillary, Zebra longwing, Crimson-patch longwing, Red-banded hairstreak, and Julia butterfly. Another common name for passion vine is Maypop and it produces fruit that are called maypops, which are eaten by birds. These plants are wonderful grass companions and a favorite by hummingbirds, bees, wasps, and butterflies. However, you don’t have to plant native plants to attract pollinators but these plants are usually easier to find, cost efficient, and tend to grow looking naturally beautiful with little maintenance on your part. If you do happen to have trouble finding any of the plants mentioned above, stop by GCBO and check out our native nursery.
What can you do specifically for birds? Try planting berry plants, leave dead branches or twigs in a nonhazardous area, or create a brush pile. And birds love fruit! Suspended fruit will attract birds to your yard and provide a tasty treat. These tips can help feed young birds and supply shelter through the spring and summer months.
This may sound like a simple solution but if you lack the time, energy or money to plant your very own secret garden I have a few tips for you. When mowing, consider mowing higher and less often which will allow some growth for birds and insects to benefit. It is also healthier for your grass as the soil moisture is retained by shading the ground.
It might take some time to find the right combination but the end result will be a pleasant lawn that requires less care and is more desirable to wildlife. So, the next time someone asks you to mow the yard I think it’s ok to procrastinate. Tell them you are helping out Mother Nature.
Written by Jessica McGee, Office Manager at GCBO.