How to Create a Prairie Pollinator Garden

You can still create habitat with limited space! Pollinator gardens don’t need to be big, they just need to provide some basic resources - pollen, nectar, and shelter. Below is information on how to prepare a flower bed and care for your pollinator garden.

Site Preparation
  • Remove the grass turf, clear weeds, and loosen the soil for planting. Sod can be cut away so that the bare soil is exposed. 
  • Solarizing (covering the soil with plastic to bake away weeds) and tilling will help to start off with a clean area to plant. 
  • If you need to add fill, avoid manure, as this can contain weed seeds.
Selection, Planting, and Patience
  • Talk to a local grower about species selection. Sunlight and soil moisture requirements, as well as lifespan, and spreading vary by species.
  • Choose different floral colours, shapes, and sizes that can be used by a variety of pollinators.
  • Consider how long each plant will bloom so that pollen and nectar are available through the growing season.
  • Choose plants that are also larval hosts for native caterpillars.
  • When planting, a rough rule of thumb is one plant per square foot, though this may vary by growth habit.
  • Consider height - Place the tallest plants in the back or middle, and place shorter plants around the edges.
  • Perennials often put more energy into roots than flowering in the first season.
  • Plants will become drought tolerant and bloom in the second year.
  • For a list of pollinator-friendly plants to choose from that will suit your garden, click here.
Garden Care
  • Seedlings will be sensitive to drought and can be out-competed by weeds. Water and weed regularly in the first season.
  • A layer of thatch can help the soil stay moist and keep weeds at bay.
  • Leave stems and garden litter in place in fall. This is overwintering habitat for pollinators.
  • The garden can be cleared after the last frosts in spring. Cut the stalks at the base of the plant and compost.
  • Consider your neighbours - seeds that are transported by air can be collected for planting, or seed heads can be clipped off before opening.
  • Heavier seeds make great food for birds.

Looking for examples of prairie pollinator gardens?

To view examples of simple prairie pollinator gardens, go to the "Pollinator Garden Designs" section of the "Protecting Pollinators" tab located in the menu above. There are examples of partial shade, full sun and butterfly garden designs.