Helping in Your Backyard

Short purple and yellow flowers are see in the green grass of a backyard

NPS Photo

Even small changes in our own backyards can help pollinators survive and thrive. Like all of us, these hard working creatures need food, water, and shelter. Tips to consider:

  • Provide habitat for different pollinators by planting native flowers that bloom at different times. Nectar-rich flowers attract both insect pollinators and hummingbirds.
  • Offer pollinators a drink! Place a shallow dish of water on your deck or window sill to help thirsty pollinators stay hydrated. By placing several semi-submerged stones in the water dish, you can provide pollinators with places to land so they can drink without running the risk of drowning.
  • Leave the weeds! Many plants that are called weeds are actually very useful to pollinators.
  • Limit the use of pesticides. Before using a pesticide, ask yourself: Are flowers in bloom or are pollinators active during the pesticide application? Are there alternatives to using the pesticide? Am I applying the pesticide according to the instructions? Remember, pollinators can be harmed if they consume nectar or pollen that has come into contact with pesticides. You can also help reduce the risk of exposure by applying pesticides at night when bees and other pollinators are inactive.
  • Ensure that different types of pollinators visit your yard by planting flowers of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Planting flowers in clumps, rather than scattering single flowers throughout the yard, makes it easier for pollinators to locate their next meal.
  • Nesting and sheltering sites are needed! Remember that different types of pollinators require different things. Some bees and pollinating beetles may use downed tree limbs and logs;many butterflies lay eggs and rear their young on plants;a small patch of bare ground might serve ground-nesting bees. Potential nesting sites include trees (both living and dead), shrubs, brush piles, bare ground, and bee boxes.
A little girl holds the head of a sunflower

NPS Photo

Planting Guides
The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) has planting guides that are specific to your region. These free and easy-to-use guides make it easy to figure out what should be planted to promote healthy pollinator habitat. All you need is your five digit zip code!

Last updated: June 19, 2018


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