A bee hanging off of a flower

Plant a bee-friendly lawn this spring

biology, earth scienceMichelle Natarajan, St. Croix Watershed Research Station Laboratory Manager / Pat Hamilton, Director, Climate Change, Energy & the EnvironmentApr 22, 2020

Spring is beginning and we are all looking forward to spending more time outdoors, although we will need to continue practicing safe social distancing. One way to do something good for your local ecosystem while practicing social distancing is planting a pollinator-friendly lawn.

We’ve all heard that bees and other pollinators are in trouble. One of the reasons is that grass lawns take up around 163,812 square kilometers (or a little more than 400 million acres) in the United States, which roughly equals the entire state of Wisconsin! These millions of acres are largely devoid of the flowering plants that bees need for food.

The University of Minnesota’s Bee Lab has developed a helpful list of which plants bees like best as well as a practical guide for planning your bee-friendly lawn. Both resources are great for those who are new to pollinators and gardening. Bonus points for those who are interested in learning more about Minnesota’s close to 400 species of native bees, which need our help the most due to habitat loss.

Spring is an excellent time of year to sow seeds into a new or existing lawn. Call your favorite garden store and ask for a pollinator-friendly seed mix, and try to pick it up curbside, if possible. Make sure to check if you or your neighborhood are eligible for a grant through Minnesota’s Lawns to Legumes program. Then comes the fun part—spreading the seeds! Come summer, you’ll see a much more diverse mix of plants in your yard that also help support local ecosystems, require less water, and often don’t need to be mowed.

Share your backyard pollinators with us on social media using #ShareYourDiscovery. We can’t wait to see which bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, flies, and other animals visit your flowers.

“I enjoyed turning my yard into a bee-friendly lawn. Here’s what it looked like after planting a pollinator-friendly seed mix.”
- Michelle Natarajan