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Dear Eartha, I’ve heard that it’s important to support pollinators, but what can I do to make my yard pollinator friendly? 

There has been a lot of buzz around pollinators recently. You might have heard that pollinator populations are facing some big challenges. Every year issues like pesticide use, urbanization, and climate change make it harder for pollinators to thrive. In fact, in Colorado, we have lost 50 percent of our pollinator populations in just the last 35 years. That’s a concerning number when you consider all that pollinators do for us. So, it’s more important than ever that we do what we can to support our pollinator friends.

Who are pollinators?

Before you make changes to your yard, it’s important to know who you are making the changes for. The term pollinator doesn’t just refer to any animal who might stop by your flower garden. Pollinators are a special category of animals who have evolved over time to create a symbiotic relationship with plants. This relationship means that the pollinators and the plants rely on each other to survive. The pollinators rely on the plants for food and the plants rely on the pollinators to help them reproduce.

When many people hear the word pollinator, they likely think of a bumble bee. But bees aren’t the only pollinators, in fact, many small animals and insects carry out the important job of pollination. Hummingbirds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, and even beetles are all considered pollinators too. So next time you see one of these animals in your yard, you might just be witnessing pollination occur!

Why are pollinators important

Pollinators give us more than just pretty flowers. Pollinators also play a crucial role in overall ecosystem health. More than 70 percent of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators to reproduce. Pollinators make it possible for us to grow food, produce goods, and live in a healthy environment. It’s said that pollinators are responsible for 1 in every 3 bites of food we eat! Peaches, strawberries, potatoes, and coffee are just a few of the food’s pollinators help us produce. Not to mention, they are responsible for half of the world’s oils, fibers, and raw materials as well. It’s no surprise that supporting pollinator health means supporting human health too.

How Can You Support Pollinators?

The great news is that it is easy to make your yard pollinator friendly. Just like all animals, pollinators need food, water and shelter to thrive. By choosing specific plants and gardening practices, your yard can be a pollinator paradise!

Offer A Variety of Plants

Pollinators need food all summer long, so choosing plants that flower at different times throughout the summer ensures that they will always have food. The wider variety of plants you have (different sizes, colors, and heights) the more pollinators you will be able to attract to your yard. To have more room for a variety of flowers, consider replacing unused grass areas in your yard with a pollinator friendly garden instead. You can find pollinator friendly landscape plans at

Limit Pesticides and Herbicides

One of the main reasons for declining pollinator populations is pesticides and herbicides. They can negatively impact pollinators’ memories, navigation and ability to reproduce making it hard for them to survive. It’s best to avoid pesticides and herbicides entirely if you want a healthy pollinator population. If you do need to use pesticides, be sure to read labels carefully to not cause more damage than necessary.

Cut Back on Yard Work

Maybe the easiest way to support our pollinator friends is to let your yard do its thing! Let your grass grow and let the leaves collect. Mowing infrequently allows flowering plants to bloom and gives pollinators another food source. In the fall, leave those fallen leaves on the ground. Pollinators use them as a place to nest and to spend the winter. Plus, it means that you don’t have to do extra work in your yard, so it’s a win-win!

Creating a pollinator friendly yard doesn’t have to take a lot of work. By thinking of our pollinator friends when we go to plant our gardens each summer or do yard work in the fall, we can ensure that our pollinator populations have healthy habitats to thrive in. So next time you go out into your yard, take note of the pollinators and think about what you can do to help our pollinator friends out!

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at