3 Ways to Create Your Pollinator Patch Stop mowing

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3 Ways to Create Your Pollinator Patch

  1. Stop mowing a portion of your yard. Any size will do, but a minimum area of about 16 sq ft is preferable, so there is enough plant density to signal the pollinators that “good chow is available here.”

In the unmowed area, dig 1’ ft diameter x 1’ deep holes for your plants. Remove the sod and compost it elsewhere (root side up!) and replace the original soil with less fertile soil from somewhere else in your yard or lot. The wildflowers will do fine in the poorer soil, and the existing grass will be slower to spread into it.

If your pollinator plants are small to start with, you’ll have to keep the grass cut back with hand clippers during the first summer, until the new plants can become established. In the second year and thereafter, they will compete well with—and ultimately outcompete—the lawn grass. OR . . .

  1. Remove existing sod with a mattock, hoe, or sod cutter and plant up with pollinator perennials. If you are using plant plugs, mulch between them and be sure they get enough water during the summer. Seeding is best done in the fall or very early spring.

When you remove sod, you will expose weed seeds, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the area for weeds that will grow large and tall and shade out your young pollinator perennials, for example, lamb’s quarter, dock, chickweed. Dandelions and purslane present no threat, and in fact, dandelions provide valuable nectar early in the spring—and both make great salad greens! OR . . .

  1. Smother existing vegetation with a single layer of cardboard or 6+ layers of newspaper. Top the entire area with about 2” of bark mulch.

Cut X slits in the cardboard, lift the cardboard, and spray Burnout* in about a 1 foot diameter area under the slit to prevent grass from coming up through the slits—because it will! Wait a day or two, then plant into the soil below.

By the next year, the newspaper and mulch will have broken down, and your pollinator bed will fill in gradually, overtaking the weakened or dead lawn grass. The cardboard will probably still be there, so you can choose to take it up—being careful about last year’s plants—or leave it for another season and final bio-breakdown. At any point, you can add more plants to speed the meadow-building process.
*Use an organic herbicide (Burnout is one) to kill existing vegetation. (Roundup is convenient and readily available, but the organic alternatives are safe for the environment, pets, pollinators—and the human users.)
A self-sustaining meadow will take about three years to develop, with a little intervention along the way—removing invasive non-native plants, favoring desired species over less desirable ones, planting to achieve a spring-to-fall bloom sequence that keeps pollinators and caterpillars fed and happy throughout the season.
Your pollinator plot will look different every year, but it will always offer you and your family moments of delight at the winged ones—bumblebees and other native pollinators, birds, butterflies and moths—who come to visit. You will know you’re helping to build biodiversity in your neighborhood and, in a larger sense, helping to insure their future and ours.

Treez Please Native Plant Inventory for 2014

Cultural Requirements

Plants’ sun requirements are marked as follows:

S—Sun, 6 hours of direct sunlight

PS—Part Sun, 3-6 hours of direct sunlight

SH—Shade, less than 3 hours of direct or filtered light

Dry Soils (well-drained sandy, gravel and rocky soils)

Butterfly Weed (Aesclepias tuberosa) S

Junegrass (Koelaria macrantha) S

Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) S, PS

Smooth Aster (Aster laevis) S, PS

Dry to Medium Soils (well-drained loam)

Lavender Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) S, PS

New Jersey Tea (Ceonothus americanus) S

Ox-eye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) S, PS

Ozark Coneflower (yellow) (Echinacea paradoxa) S, PS

Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) S, PS

Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccafolium) S, PS

Rough Blazingstar (Liatris aspera) S, PS

Royal Catchfly (Silene regia) S, PS

Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida) S, PS

Whorled Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum) SH (This is the only one we have for shade)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) S, PS

Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) S


Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) S

Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis) S

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) S

Medium to Moist Sites

Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum) S, PS

Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum) S, PS

New England Aster (Aster novae-anglicae) S, PS

Nodding Pink Onion (Allium cernum) S, PS

Most Flexible, Adaptable

Lavender Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) S, PS

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) S

Ox-eye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) S, PS

Smooth Aster (Aster laevis) S, PS

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) S, PS

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) S, PS

For questions about these plants or the procedures described on page 1, please email us at treezplease@gmail.com Please include a phone number when possible.

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