Pollinator Friendly Gardening for Busy People

We all want to have a beautiful garden that attracts local pollinators and wildlife. Unfortunately, many of us do not know where to begin when it comes to gardening! It can be difficult to know what, where, and how to plant different items and the reasoning behind all of this. On top of that, many individuals do not have a lot of time to devote to weeding and watering a garden in the spring and summer during the growing season. Hopefully this can be a resource for you to help transform your garden or lawn into a beautiful low maintenance but high reward pollinator space this year and many more to come.

What is a low maintenance garden?

  • Drought tolerant
  • Pest resistant
  • Can be planted in various areas of light (High sun-shade)
  • Tolerates various heat conditions in summer
  • Tolerates humidity
  • Not picky about soil
  • No staking or pruning necessary
  • Match soil’s natural fertility
  • Remains attractive throughout multiple seasons

What is a high reward garden?

  • Attracts pollinators of many varieties (Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, etc)
  • Attracts wildlife (Birds, insects, mammals, etc)
  • Multiple blooms
  • Makes your garden look good

Why Choose Native Plants?

A field of white, yellow, and purple wildflowers with green grass.

  • Reduces water usage
    • Lower water bills in the summer from not having to water your lawn
  • Increases curb appeal
  • Attracts pollinators
  • Grow your own fruits, seeds, nuts, vegetables, etc
  • Prevent erosion with deep root growth
  • Lots of plants around buildings reduces AC costs
  • Planting trees and shrubs on the N and W sides of buildings can reduce heating costs in winter
  • Less noise pollution
  • Less expensive
    • No fertilizer, less water, no pesticides, no professional landscapers (if used)



What Garden is Best for Me?

  • You will want to plant a variety of species in your lawn/garden to give it an eye catching and vibrant look
  • You might want to talk to a landscaper about if you are concerned about the flow or or particular look of your property
  • Some things to keep in mind: 
    • If you want the most bang for your buck get plants that are not picky about soil moisture, pH, amount of organic matter, or sunlight 
    • These are important factors and some plants are very sensitive to the amounts present but others care less
    • Get plants with a lot of variety in their look
      • A mixture of grasses, flowers, and shrubs will be the most eye catching and provide the best habitat for pollinators and wildlife coming to visit
    • Pick plants that you like
      • Your neighbors will have their opinions but you should always do what is best for you (and pollinators!)
    • Consider adding a water feature
      • Water features are great for adding humidity in your garden without needed to go out and water your plants every day in the summer
      • Change out standing water (ex. birdbaths) regularly to avoid mosquitos
      • Bees need water just as much as the other animals in your garden so having water features is a good thing to attract them too
    • Have fun and don’t stress about making it look perfect
        • Unlike a manicured lawn (or all lawn), a pollinator friendly garden doesn’t need to look like it’s had a perfect haircut every 3 weeks
        • One of the major benefits of this way of planting is that is overall less work → less mowing, less water, no reseeding, no pesticides/fertilizers
        • Better for your lifestyle

Avoiding Controversy

  • Due to some HOA, “weed growth laws”, unkempt lawn rules, etc. just planting wildflower and letting your grass grow may incur fines or strikes from an HOA or a town
  • Here are some ways to avoid that:
    • Borders borders borders 
      • Putting a border around your new plants makes it look intentional
      • It can be made of lawn, perennial plants, wood chips, mulch, rocks, etc
    • Neighbors can be picky with their likes and dislikes, so don’t try to force anyone into liking your space
      • Instead of trying to please everyone in the neighborhood, accept differences in opinions and educate others about the importance of gardening for pollinators and wildlife
    • Before beginning your new garden consider letting the neighbors know what you are doing and why
      • Let people know the benefits of ecological landscaping/planting pollinator friendly plants
      • Consider getting a survey done to make sure of your property line that way no one can offended by crossing boundary lines
    • Start small
      • Nature often works slowly so you can too
    • Add human touches
      • Adding stone paths, bird feeders, or sculptures can make people feel more comfortable and welcome in a new setting
        • Historically most people may not have seen an ecologically diverse lawn so it may be confusin

Some Suggestions for Your Garden

ovate leaved violet

Ovate Leaved Violet (Perennial)

Pennsylvania Sedge

Pennsylvania Sedge (Grass)

large seed hawthorn

large seed hawthorn (tree)

white wood aster

White Wood Aster (Perennial)

silky dogwood

Silky Dogwood (Shrub)

american witch hazel

American Witch Hazel (Tree)


Goldenrod (Perennial)

creeping juniper

Creeping juniper (Shrub)

striped maple

Striped Maple (tree)

big bluestem grass

Big Bluestem Grass (Grass)

red chokeberry

Red Chokeberry (Shrub)


Bayberry (Shrub)

The most important thing to keep in mind is having a mixture of textures and varieties of plants. Having lots of different vegetation will attract many kinds of pollinators which will not only benefit your garden but also the world around you.