It’s great when towns put in a pollinator garden – but towns can do so much more. All too often, even the most pro-pollinator towns get stuck thinking like homeowners. They feel they’ve already put in some native plants so they are all set. In truth, though, they haven’t even scratched the surface. So, if your town is already switching to native plants, here’s what to do next.

Review your existing policies.

It happens over and over that homeowners who love pollinators get called up by their towns on code violations. It can be a big deterrence to people creating native plant gardens.

What towns can do is review their existing policies and see what might be out-of-date. Definitions are one of the most important items to review, particularly definitions of “weed” and “nuisance.” Definitions that lump native plants in with weeds need to be updated. Similarly, nuisance policies that work against the looser structure of pollinator gardens – or their pollinator nesting features – should be changed.

Educate your community.

Even the most beautiful pollinator garden cannot speak for itself. That’s why towns need to educate their communities – to help people understand what they are seeing.

Towns have a variety of options for community education. They can install signs that teach about native plants and pollinators. They can post information on their website about why they built the pollinator garden. And they can use public forums to keep their community informed about why they are becoming pollinator-friendly and what they can expect.

Build tools.

To be a truly pollinator-friendly community, you need to help your community take steps towards creating their own pollinator gardens.

By providing simple tools for everyone in your community, you make this change a lot easier. These can be lists of plants native to your area. You can also recommend native plant substitutions for traditional plantings. You can even provide information on identifying and removing invasive species. Once created, these tools can be shared on the town website, social media, and at community events.

Create new policies.

In addition to reviewing and updating existing policies, towns can make a huge impact by creating new policies that support pollinators.

Towns can restrict pesticide use on town land. They can require native plants on sidewalk strips and medians. They can require native plantings around solar and wind farms and cell towers. And they can require native species be planted when those farms and towers are decommissioned.

Go beyond a single pollinator garden.

Installing a pollinator garden is a wonderful first step but, for a town, it is definitely just the beginning. So, if your town is already switching to native plants, take the next steps to create a truly pollinator-friendly community.

Photo by Angelo Casto on Unsplash