Sometimes the best thing you can do to help pollinators is … nothing. It’s all too often that those of us living in the city find ourselves entrapped in ways of the past that just don’t seem to make sense with the way that we live today. In fact, these counterproductive measures end up costing us time, money and pollution for not much gain.
As we make our way through spring, for example, let’s looks at the way many people keep their lawns. Now close your eyes and think of your version of an ideal lawn. If you are thinking of a lush, exotic sea of brilliant green grass without any weeds or imperfections, you’re like most people. But why do we think of lawns in this way? The green, short-cut, flawless lawn is a desert for pollinators and bugs of almost every kind, and it’s counterproductive to use our land-space for virtually nothing other than just looking nice.
This is especially true because we need pollinators for a large percentage of our food, including most fruits, vegetables and nuts. Loss of habitat is a large contributing factor to pollinators declining at unprecedented rates. Have you noticed the rise in the price of produce lately? We’re already experiencing the effects of pollinator population loss; which will only get worse unless we look at changing some of our current practices.
Long ago, we were sold on how a lawn was supposed to look by large lawn care companies and chemical manufacturers through advertising that made people feel inferior if their lawn didn’t look like the Garden of Versailles. And now, as a result, many people take great pride in their green lawns. But what people fail to realize is that spending money on each lawn treatment not only pollutes their own property, but when it rains, the chemicals run off into our rivers, streams and can even be a problem in our drinking water.
In reality, ‘weeds’ like dandelions only show their yellow blooms for a few weeks throughout the year and are some of the first blooming flowers of the season, giving pollinators their first access to fresh food since last fall and the long harsh winter. So, as you might recognize, removing these early blooming flowers from your yard is quite literally condemning these hungry pollinators to death.
While growing a garden is a great start, the size of most gardens is typically a lot smaller than an entire lawn. Think about the difference in space and number of plants that pollinators could utilize. If we look collectively at the size of lawns in the community, that’s a very large number of unused acres, and pounds and pounds of chemical treatments. Wouldn’t it be simpler to just do nothing? It’s easier to not pull ‘weeds’, it’s cheaper to not buy chemicals, it’s much more environmentally friendly to not pollute our lands and water, and best yet, by doing nothing it helps our pollinators, agriculture and ecosystem.
Since we don’t necessarily live directly in nature, we tend to have an emphasis on micromanaging our property to the point of wanting to kill every little thing that crawls, flies or wiggles and doesn’t look like a green carpet. This is because we sometimes overlook the small things in nature that allows us to live the way we do, mostly because we don’t personally see it every day. A large part of our mission at Southwest Honey Co. is to create awareness of why we need pollinators and how people can help them. If you’re interested, please visit southwesthoney.com for more ways you can support our efforts and additional ideas for simple ways you can help pollinators at home.