Insects are part of a healthy landscape. The right types of insects, like bees and some beetles and flies, ensure your garden is well-pollinated and fruitful. Others, like ladybugs and many parasitic wasps, keep garden pests from destroying your flowers and foliage. Then, there are those that live in the soil, like worms and pill bugs, that keep the soil well turned and rich for healthy plant growth. Fortunately, keeping a healthy ecosystem for insects in your garden only requires a bit of forethought. The following tips will help.
Tip #1: Choose pleasing plants
Certain plants are more likely to attract the desirable types of insects to your landscape design. Plants with fragrant flowers tend to do the most to draw pleasing insects, like bees and butterflies. Consider planting varieties like butterfly bush and spirea. It's also important to plan for all the active insect seasons, which are generally spring, summer and fall. This means providing plenty of spring blooms, like hyacinths and lilacs, as well as fall blooms, like chrysanthemums and cone flowers. This ensures your yard is the first and last place pollinators stop on their seasonal journeys.
Tip #2: Provide a home
Just like any animal, insects need a place to live. While some insects live on the plants that host the the pollen they feed upon or the pests that they hunt, many live in ground holes, inside dead wood, or in hollow stems. This includes many of the wild bees that native plants depend upon for survival. You can purchase insect homes to hang up around your yard. These attractive houses resemble birdhouses, but they contain a variety of natural materials with bored holes that provide the perfect stopping place for the beneficial insects that call your landscape their home.
Tip #3: Think twice about pesticides
If you want beneficial insects in your yard, then you must use pesticides carefully. Many insect pest issues can be avoided by planting native plants and caring for them properly so they remain healthy. This is because healthy plants are less likely to fall prey to pests. Keeping a clean yard free of plant debris and invasive weeds also helps keep the insect population down. If you do have an infestation, use pesticides carefully. Even "natural" pesticides can kill beneficial insects. Time applications for periods when beneficial insects are less likely to be active. For example, spraying for pests before dawn or after sunset can kill the pests eating your flowers and bedding down on the leaves, but it won't affect most pollinators, because they aren't active on the plants in the dark.
For more help in designing an insect-friendly yard, contact a local landscape company.