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designing a pollinator-friendly garden tythorne garden design.jpeg

Garden design solutions: designing a pollinator-friendly garden

Pollinators are essential to life as we know it. They help to ensure healthy habitats and wildlife, and they are vitally important for food production in the UK and across the world. But our pollinators are under threat, and a UK government report says this risks “biodiversity, long-term food security and ultimately human health”. There are various factors for declining numbers of pollinators, but chief among them are habitat loss, climate change, and the inappropriate or excessive use of agrochemicals.


Few of us have a direct influence over the use of agrochemicals, and whilst awareness of climate change is probably as high as it has ever been, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge. Every single one of us, however, can play help when it comes to habitat loss. Even the smallest garden, raised bed or window box can make a difference, and collectively we can take massive strides.


Here’s our quick guide to designing a pollinator-friendly garden:



1. Gardening with pollinators in mind

Creating more space for plants is a very simple thing we can all do to make a positive difference, even if this means reducing our amount of lawn or paving. Yes, we need somewhere to sit and relax, but well-designed planting is usually considerably easier to maintain than lots of lawn.


Next, we can minimise (or ideally stop) the use of pesticides or weedkillers, because these can cause severe damage to pollinators. Surely it us far better to accept a few ‘weeds’ and ‘pests’ in our gardens, if it means we will encourage more helpful pollinators and other beneficial insects?


2. More is more: the importance of having lots of different plants

If we want to attract a variety of different pollinators, then we need to have a diverse range of plants. This includes plants which flower at different times of the year. For example, hellebores, daffodils and mahonia are good for winter and early spring, whilst echinacea, sedum and oregano are better for late summer and autumn.


We also need to have plants with different types of flowers, because some pollinating insects find it difficult to access nectar from certain flower shapes. Blooms with an open shape tend to be more accessible, so we could include lots of geranium, lavender or honeysuckle.


3. Tidiness isn't necessarily a virtue, so let's be less tidy

Ever thought about what happens to pollinators during the winter? We can help them survive the colder months by being less tidy in our gardens and leaving more winter habitats for them. Seed heads, decaying stems and fallen leaves provide useful hiding places for a range of different pollinators, whilst some species of bees hibernate in fallen leaves and loose soil. So, let’s put away our secateurs, and wait until the temperatures warm up before having a ‘spring clean’.



Pollinators are crucial to our survival and we can all help them by making relatively small adaptations in our gardens. Just imagine if every house in the UK had a garden, raised bed or window box that provided food and habitat for pollinators.

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