There are a few areas of low-hanging fruit for health systems looking to go green. LED lights and solar power can both be easy wins, for sure. But another quick win is frequently overlooked: pollinator gardens. This simple landscaping change can create some very tasty returns. So, for health systems going green, here’s why I always recommend including pollinator gardens.

1) It’s great PR.

Pollinator gardens are instantly visible, especially where they are replacing lawn. That makes for great photo shoots and an easy opportunity to invite the press to hear about your new green initiatives. You also get built-in photo opps at each new season, which gives you even more chances to discuss your initiatives and educate your community.

2) It’s easy to implement.

It’s not brain surgery to replace lawn with native plants. You figure out where you want your garden, make a pretty shape, and install it. I don’t even recommend ripping out the sod – just lay down cardboard and cover it with mulch, punching holes through it for your new plants. It’s not a very expensive endeavor – especially if you plant plugs.

3) It adds long-lasting beauty and mental health spaces.

Pollinator gardens are beautiful not just for their blooms, but for the wildlife they attract. The butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds will add to the beauty. Even in winter, pollinator gardens attract birds looking for berries and seeds to eat. Add a couple of benches and your garden turns into a lovely park. Think of it as a mental health retreat where patients, visitors, and staff can all come to replenish themselves.

4) It saves money on landscaping.

Suburban hospitals are frequently surrounded by grass. Specialty clinics are often in office buildings encircled with lawn. All that grass doesn’t stay neat and trim by itself – it costs a pretty penny to maintain. The fuel, the labor, the equipment – it all adds up. When you figure in the carbon emissions of those mowers, it’s clearly a bad choice for any organization looking to go green. With pollinator gardens, though, you replace that high-maintenance lawn with low-maintenance native perennials. A little effort upfront and you save a lot on landscaping for years to come.

5) It improves community health.

The main priority of any health system is patient and community health. So it makes no sense to invest in outmoded ideas of landscaping that involve spraying pesticides all over the grounds and releasing exhaust into the air. Neither of those is healthy, especially for community members already suffering from asthma and respiratory symptoms.

Health systems need to reconsider their landscaping.

Health systems going green should look at their landscaping. Simple changes there can make big impacts on community health and biodiversity. To do all that while saving money and gaining PR opportunities sounds like a win to me.

Photo by Doug Kelley on Unsplash.