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While you may not want pests hanging around your gardens, there are lots of beneficial animals and insects you should welcome. Pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds can help your garden thrive, while other bird species can help control your pest situation by snacking on the insects in your yard. Plus, who doesn’t want beautiful songbirds and colourful butterflies hanging around your garden?
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Marigolds are one of the best plants if you want to attract pollinators to your garden. They grow in any soil type and will brighten up your garden with bright yellow-orange blooms. Some varieties have more open centres so that insects can access the pollen more easily. Marigolds are also great for attracting birds, who will eat the dried seeds.
Lavender is a great addition to any garden thanks to its striking purple hue and beautiful scent. It’s also incredibly easy to grow: most varieties of lavender thrive in sunshine and drier soil, so it doesn’t require much in the way of maintenance. It attracts pollinators like butterflies and bees and repels other unhelpful insects like mosquitoes and moths.
Another easy-to-grow choice for many gardens is sunflowers. Plant sunflower seeds in full sun near your windows to reap the benefit of these tall beauties. Many songbirds including goldfinches love sunflower seeds and will gladly come visit your garden, while the ‘Lemon Queen’ variety is especially popular with bees.
Foxgloves are a biennial plant, meaning they won’t bloom until the second year. However, if you have the patience, they are worth it! The tall, purple plant has a long flowering time and is particularly popular with hummingbirds and bumblebees.
Another garden favourite, daises are perennials that will sprout each year. These delicate flowers will attract songbirds like finches, sparrows and cardinals, and some varieties also help ward off harmful bugs. Daisies grow best in full sun, so plant them away from any shade.
If you have a wall or a fence you’d like to cover in vines and flowers, consider adding a honeysuckle plant! The fragrant, sweet-smelling plant produces trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of white, yellow, orange, red or pink, and can even provide berries. Honeysuckle is known to attract birds and bees to its sweet nectar and berries. It is a low maintenance plant that can grow in full sun or partial shade and may require pruning in the winter.
If you plan on growing elderberry to make jam, you may be fighting off birds for those delicious berries! Elderberries grow best in partial shade and prefer to be cool and moist to hot and dry. It’s best to plant them in spring after the frost has passed, and they will begin to bloom around June. Birds like brown thrashers and red-eyed vireos love elderberry plants and will flock to your garden to enjoy them.
If you have natural oak trees in your yard, you might already know that they are a popular hangout for birds! Oak trees host more species of caterpillar than any other tree, so birds can rely on it as a source of food. Blue jays and woodpeckers also rely on oak trees, since their acorns are a vital part of the bird’s diet.
If you haven’t heard of coneflowers, you might know them by their medicinal name: echinacea. These plants are not only good for herbal medicines but are also a great way to attract all kinds of pollinators. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies are all attracted to its blooms, while finches will come for their seeds. Coneflowers are a perennial that does best in full sun, and are available in red, orange, white, yellow and pink, although purple is the most popular option.
If you want Monarch butterflies visiting your garden, you’re going to need to plant milkweed. These plants are the primary food source for Monarch caterpillars, but they can also attract songbirds like goldfinches. Different varieties of milkweed require different growing conditions, but the popular Butterfly Milkweed grows best in light soil with good drainage.
One of the most obvious ways to attract birds to your garden is by adding a birdhouse. Not only does it provide a quick meal of birdseed, but it has a necessary shelter to hide from predators or get out of the elements. You can do the same for the pollinators that visit your yard. Ground-nesting bees can benefit from a part of your hedge or lawn that is more overgrown than the rest.
An inviting element of water is another way to keep all the birds, bees and butterflies happy. Birdbaths, intentional puddles, and fountains are all necessary for drinking and bathing. Butterflies like sunning in a dry, warm place after cleaning up, so including stones or pebbles in a sunny area is a good way to keep them happy.
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