bee friendly lawn
bee friendly lawn
(Image credit: fralo)

So, you’ve created pollinator friendly flower beds in your yard and are feeling pretty good about what you’ve done to help our environment. Then in midsummer or early fall, you spot a few brown, dead patches in your pristine lawn, most likely caused by grubs. You rush out and buy chemical grub control and douse your lawn, thinking only of killing those darn grubs, not the potential damage it could also cause our pollinators. With the fate of many pollinators hanging in the balance these days, it may be time to reconsider the pure grass, well-trimmed lawn and start creating pollinator friendly lawns instead. This article will help with how to create a bee-friendly yard.

Creating Pollinator Friendly Lawn Grass

Before the invention of the lawn mower in the 1830's, only rich aristocrats had large, perfectly manicured grassy lawn areas for entertaining outdoors. It was a sign of stature to be able to have an open lawn that didn't need to be used for crop production. These lawns were usually kept trimmed by goats or hand cut by scythe. Middle and lower-class families coveted these lawns of the wealthy. Perhaps this longing for a perfectly trimmed, lush, green lawn is embedded in our DNA even now, as we compete with our neighbors to have the best lawn on the block. However, the insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers we dump on our lawns can be extremely harmful to pollinators. Systemic lawn insecticides cause nearby flowers and their pollen to contain these chemicals, which weaken bees’ immunity or kills them. Creating pollinator friendly lawns means allowing your lawn grasses to grow 3 inches (8 cm.) long or taller, forming flower heads and seeds to attract pollinators. This longer grass also helps the lawn retain moisture. A bee-friendly lawn will also need to contain some weeds and non-grassy plants to attract pollinators. Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers should not be used on pollinator friendly lawns. These new lawn practices may not exactly make you the most popular person in the neighborhood, but you’ll be helping out important pollinating insects.

Grass Pollinators

Most lawn grasses are actually pollinated by the wind; however, a pollinator friendly lawn grass should contain other low-growing plants besides grasses. Some good lawn plants for pollinators include:

Fescues and Kentucky bluegrass will also attract pollinators when left to grow 3 inches (8 cm.) or taller. Placing bee hotels around your lawn will also attract native pollinators. It may take a little time to get a bee-friendly lawn established but will be well worth it in the long run. It may take even longer to get used to not using pesticides, herbicides, or cutting the lawn every week. In the end though, regardless of what the neighbors whisper about you, you can pat yourself on the back for doing your part to help our environment.

Darcy Larum