Did you know that this week is Pollinator Week? This is a week (although it’s a Pollinator Month as well!) where Pollinator Protections are passed, local municipalities put out Pollinator Proclamations, and Pollinator-Themed activities and events happen. This is a fantastic time to learn more about local pollinators and about their importance, BUT…. pollinators need to be cared for and protected year-round!
While there are many ways to help out pollinators, from planting natives, to creating a garden, to reducing pesticide use, a great one to focus on this year is to GO WILD!!! No, I don’t mean to go crazy (well, go crazy for pollinators!) but to keep the wild in your backyard and community. Have you ever driven along and seen so many manicured, immaculate lawns? While these might look well-maintained, these lawns are actually a bane to biodiversity and require so much work to keep up with! By keeping lawns wild, you can support pollinator biodiversity, put in less effort throughout the year in yard-work, and save some money too!
What does it take to “Wild” your lawn? Not much, really! In fact, once you stop mowing all the time and re-seeding for grass, you might notice nature taking over without too much interference on your part. Dandelions, Clover, Chickweed, and Violets will start moving in. Yes, you may originally think of them as weeds, but let’s define weed… A weed is a plant that is in the wrong place, yet these flowers are vital to a healthy ecosystem! The lawn is the PERFECT place for these flowers.
A lawn full of weeds is a lawn full of healthy soil! Weeds like these use their roots to pull up nutrients from deeper in the soil to the surface to be used by other plants. Give them some time, and weeds can severely reduce your need for synthetic fertilizers, if not get rid of the need completely! Once these weeds finish their lives, they die off. This sounds sad, but hey – free organic matter for the soil! Bugs and other small decomposers, along with the fungi that will move in to your newly biodiverse lawn, will help break the weeds down into usable nutrients for other plants to use.
A lawn full of weeds is a lawn full of delicious, colorful food! Did you know that you can eat many of these weeds? Dandelion greens are AMAZING sautéed with some zucchini, peppers, onion, mushroom, and herbs for any panini. Violets are such a sweet addition to any drink or dessert. Dandelion flower tops can be lightly fried to make savory fritters as a French Fry alternative. Clover florets can be enjoyed in lemonade and other drinks.
A lawn full of weeds is a lawn full of LIFE! On top of all the other benefits that these weeds have, these flowers also will increase the biodiversity and therefore overall health of your yard. Every animal, big or small, plays a role in the health of your ecosystem, so encouraging them to come and move in will be a boon to not just your yard, but community as a whole! These weeds provide nectar sources for pollinators like bumblebees, honeybees, moths, ants, beetles and more! Larger pollinators that might not visit the small weedy flowers still need them at some point in their lives! Many of these weeds are great host plants that the butterflies lay eggs around to be able to provide the hatched caterpillars with immediate chewable food sources. In fact, fritillary butterflies use violets as their host plants! Fritillaries then grow up to be a valuable pollinator in the garden.
So this year, a great action to take for pollinators you love is to focus on “Wild-ing” your yard. Leave the weeds and enjoy the biodiversity that they support!
Looking to support pollinators in other ways? Learn more about them on the blogs below and check out my art! A portion of all proceeds supports pollinator habitat preservation.