Here a Pollinator Garden - There a Pollinator Garden –
Everywhere a Pollinator Garden - Part 2
Brenda Scheer, Master Gardener
Master Gardener Brenda Scheer understands how important pollinator gardens are for the environment and wanted to start this type of garden. But how to start? This article is the second in a series of three in which Brenda describes her experience starting a pollinator garden in her backyard. Follow Brenda’s motivation, planning, lessons and tips to build your own environmentally friendly garden. In this installment, Brenda talks about how plan for and choose plants for her native garden.
(This is the second in a series of three articles by Master Gardener Brenda Scheer describing her experience starting a pollinator garden in her backyard. Follow Brenda’s motivation, planning, lessons and tips to build your own environmentally friendly garden.)
This month, I’ll take you through the process of selecting the garden location, preparation, plant selection and the planting plan for my 2022 pollinator garden.
Garden Location and Site Preparation
I decided to apply for the Lawns to Legumes program with Scott County. By doing so, Scott County provided some guidance in addition to the possibility of receiving some grant money. A Resource Conservation Technician visited my property to help evaluate the garden location. When I showed her my first choice, her immediate concern was the existing dense grass coverage. It would be a lot of work to clear, especially if I wanted to plant yet that year. We then looked at an alternate location. The second site had some volunteer trees and shrubs that I would need to remove, medium weed coverage to be cleared, was closer to a water source and had some natural ‘messy’ areas of leaves/twigs that pollinators could use for nesting. Option two was definitely a smarter choice. Over the next month, I removed about 10 volunteer trees and shrubs, the largest under six feet high and four feet around, and cleared the weeds. Existing woodchips were left in place.
It’s so fun buying plants! I started by ordering/using online catalogs from Minnesota Native Landscapes (MNL Corp) and Prairie Moon Nursery as both companies sell Minnesota native plants. Google was also helpful when looking for images of plants that were not pictured in the catalogs.
My pollinator garden is 175 square feet with the following conditions:
· Part shade/part sun - about ½ of the garden getting 5 hours of morning sun
· Full sun plants - 1/3 of the garden getting 8+ hours of sun
· Mostly shade plants - 1/5 of the garden getting only 4 hours of morning sun
· Regardless of the sun level, the soil is medium for holding water
With the variability in garden conditions, I had options! Smaller plants and patience were going to fit my budget far better than larger plants and immediate gratification. The recommended spacing in the Lawns to Legumes program was one plant every 12 – 16” when using 2” plugs. That’s 130 - 175 plugs! I admit, I was overwhelmed with all the options available. I remembered that Scott County Soil and Water Conservation District was selling native plant kits designed by growing conditions. I took the easy way out and ordered Woodland Edge, Pollinator Sun, Pollinator Partial Sun and Sunny Garden Kits to fill my garden.
Creating a Planting Plan
Using the list of plants in each of the garden kits ordered I started gathering data on each plant. Data used for each plant to help create the planting plan were:
· Plant name
· Quantity of plants by plant name
· Bloom color
· Bloom time
· Mature height
· Mature width
· Light Conditions
After assigning a number to each plant name, I drew the garden boundaries on graph paper, marked where the light conditions change and started placing plant codes on the garden plan.
Now I wait impatiently for my plants to arrive. Come on back in May and follow my story.
Photo credits: Brenda Scheer (1, 2, 3)