Getting started with pollinators can be as easy as planting season flowers to attract bees and butterflies. From there, you can plant perineal shrubs that bloom in different season as well as creating habitats like domestic bee and bat houses.
This step can take a while, so get started early! You will need the approval of:
· A map or school campus blueprint (baseline mapping activity) - note buildings, utilities, power lines and water sources)
· Existing vegetation and structures (note trees and garden areas already exist)
Your design will be based on the data collected in your site inventory. Make sure your plan includes accessibility to people with disabilities
Follow the five steps below to include the key components of pollinator habitat:
Step1: Provide food sources
Nectar and Pollen Sources: Pollinators need a diversity of nectar and pollen sources to sustain them. How do you provide food for pollinators? Choose plants that provide pollen and nectar sources from early spring to late fall and with various flower shapes. Avoid hybrids and cultivars; usually native plants are the best providers of nectar and larval food. Planting in clumps rather than single plants is more attractive to pollinators. For information on specific plants, take the City of Austin Pollinator Challenge and get a FREE Butterfly Crossing sign.
Host plants: Butterflies need larval host plants like milkweed! Be sure to choose native milkweeds where appropriate and follow guidelines on tropical milkweed (cut back tropical milkweed in November so butterflies don't overwinter). [link to other host plants guide?]
Step 2: Provide water sources
Like all living things, pollinators need a source of water. You can provide this in your landscape via a birdbath, stream, butterfly puddling area, or small garden pond.
Step 3: Provide cover
Pollinators need places to nest and to overwinter. You can provide these in your landscape by adding in spaces of bare ground, man-made boxes, rock pile/wall, brush pile/logs/dead trees, shrub thicket - evergreen or deciduous. Also, one of the easiest methods to provide cover - leave garden cleanup until spring!
Step 4: Practice sustainable gardening methods
Safeguard pollinator habitat by using integrated pest management practices and reducing invasive plants.
Your list should take into account items like:
Try to engage the community and parents, take lots of pictures and get photo releases signed for all kids; have snacks and water available for volunteer work days too. Here is a sample planting day checklist.
Following are important considerations for your plan: