What you can do right now

3. Plant natives to invite pollinators & birds

Photo by Shutterstock

Native plants’ extensive root systems clean toxins from the soil and store nitrogen and carbon.  They are essential to keeping our water clean and filtered. See graphic below comparing root depth between turf lawns on the left and native plants.

Graphic by Stephan Van Dam

NATIVE PLANTS & TREES ARE THE FOOD WEB FOR INSECTS & BIRDS
“This is the one everybody skips,” claims Doug Tallamy, the famous entomologist  “that chickadee that wants to breed in your yard requires 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars just to get their babies to the point where they leave the nest. They continue to feed them caterpillars for another 21 days. You’re talking about tens of thousands of caterpillars to make one clutch of a tiny bird and think of all the birds out there.  Those insects come from native plants, not from the non-native plants that our insects are unable to eat because they don’t have the adaptations to eat them…

courtesy of pollinator friendly yards

“98% of birds raise their young on insects, not berries.  And those insects come from native trees and plants. You can have all the crepe myrtle, all the buckthorn, all the multiflora rose and all the burning bush and porcelain berry that have escaped and displaced our native plants in our natural areas.  And you won’t make a single monarch.”  Doug Tallamy

The Monarch butterfly needs one plant to survive—milkweed. Only milkweed. That’s it!

Monarch on Milkweed. Photo by Leonard Green

MONEY BACK FOR PLANTING NATIVES!
The Peconic Estuary Partnership is offering a $500 rebate against your purchase of native plants if you live in the watershed of the Peconic Estuary.

SEED STARTER KITS FOR NATIVE WILD FLOWER GARDENS: From the Xerces Society

HOW TO BEGIN YOUR NATIVE GARDEN
In order to replace your lawn with natives you must first suppress the weeds by either digging up the turf or smothering the lawn with cardboard topped with mulch and composted earth. Teacher Karen DeFronzo of East Hampton HS calls it the “lasagna” method. By spring you can plant directly on top.

HERE’S HOW TO GET THE LASAGNA METHOD RIGHT VIDEO

Photo of Bergamot by Leonard Green

RESOURCES FOR RE-THINKING YOUR YARD:

1. ECI, Ecological Culture Initiative, Hampton Bays, NY
Plant list for pollinator garden; instructional videos; community based

2. Westchester NY Land Trust en Español
Lots of tips and information on this site plus this links to a compact Spanish language reference guide so you can communicate it to your Latin(x) landscapers.

3. Cornell Cooperative Extension Suffolk 
Contact person: Roxanne Zimmer.
Educational programs and guidance: Native plants/deer proofing/webinars/fact sheets.

4. Pollinator.org
Regional planting advice; this is the Eastern Broad-leaf Forest Oceanic Region.

5. NY Audubon Society
 Inspiration for citizen science projects; videos & guides.

6. Pollinator Pathway
Container gardening; small spaces ; design templates for varied regions/conditions.

7. You – yes, you! – can help the planet. Start in your back yard.

8. How to Provide food for Pollinators