Tips for easy-care gardening that will benefit pollinators
Whether it’s adding in a few new plants, converting some high maintenance lawn to low care alternatives, or beginning a new habitat-friendly garden makeover, using sustainable principles to guide you will ultimately give you a healthy garden that will require less care as it becomes more resilient.
What is sustainable gardening?
At High Country Gardens sustainable gardening is the cornerstone of our business. We look at whole gardens, from soil to critters, and grow plants (many drought resistant or natives), that contribute beauty, ease of care and ideally a little something extra for our pollinators. By gardening with sustainability in mind you automatically create a landscape that is rich in diversity, easy-care, and that benefits a larger world.
When gardening sustainably, it’s helpful to think of your garden as a circle or a sphere, a network of small parts that are connected to and dependent upon all of the other parts. When we get the parts in place by taking the whole into account we are gardening sustainably, mimicking an ecosystem found in nature. Healthy ecosystems are robust and resilient, giving us more time to enjoy our landscapes with friends and family.
Here’s our top three spring pointers for sustainable gardening
The foundation in any garden or earthscape is the soil. The soil beneath our feet is a living world of small and microbial organisms that work together to create the healthy ecosystem we call soil. We can increase the health of our soil (and our plants) not by digging, turning or tilling the soil but by adding layers of plant nutrients to the surface. They gradually breakdown into the best of all fertilizers, creating a thriving living community beneath our feet. Using organic mulch reduces weeds, reduces watering needs and recycles your green waste into soil. Use organic supplements such as Yum Yum Mix and Plant Success mycorrhizal root inoculant to give new plantings a boost and to replace nutrients used the previous season. By using organic supplements our soil and plants thrive and we can enjoy a safe and healthy landscape for pets and family.
The saying, “The right plant in the right place” is a golden rule when creating a sustainable landscape. Pay close attention to each plant’s requirements, ask questions, and especially consider water, sun, and soil needs, grouping like plants together. Use bloom-time information to create a full season of color and nectar for pollinators. Native plants offer multiple bonuses for a sustainable and resilient garden. They have evolved to thrive on our continent and our insects, and birds and and other wildlife depend upon their presence for sustenance. They are low care, already matched to our soil conditions and offer a beautiful, more natural look to a garden or yard.
Lastly, sustainable gardening involves thinking about our neighbors--down the street, in the field next door or in the river that flows to the ocean. What we put in our gardens may spread in a big rain, wind storm, or be carried by birds and bees. Contouring our land to contain overflow can add visual interest as well as prevent runoff. Rain gardens are great ways to create a landscape that can handle extreme rainfall. Beautiful, whether dry or full of water, they have been found to help purify water and to hold rainwater within your property, further reducing expensive water bills.
By using organic products, and plants that don’t need a lot of supplementation, when waters overflow we can rest easy knowing that our runoff won’t harm others.
Text by Katrina Godshalk, a garden writer with over eight years of experience writing for the High Country Gardens catalog. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in sustainability. She makes her home in Washington State, and has gardened extensively in the Southwest.
Blanca Peak™ White Penstemon (Penstemon strictus) is an award-winning white-flowered selection of our native Rocky Mountain Penstemon. Large, tubular flowers are a favorite nectar source for bumblebees. Plant this easy-to-grow beardtongue for a sturdy, long-lived late-spring bloomer in your xeriscape. This beauty thrives in most well-drained soil with full sun exposure. A 2021 Plant Select® Winner. A High Country Gardens Introduction.
A soft orange-flowered selection of pineleaf beardtongue, SteppeSuns® Sunset Glow Penstemon (Penstemon pinifolius) is a native cultivar that starts flowering in late spring and attracts numerous pollinators and hummingbirds. Reminiscent of Colorado summer sunsets, its long-lasting blooms add a warm glow to dry area gardens. Finely textured evergreen foliage forms a compact mound for year-round interest.
An easy-to-grow groundcover, 'Purple Beauty' Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) carpets the mid-to-late spring garden with starry lavender-purple flowers. Whether you are looking for a water-thrifty addition to flow through a rock garden, or a beautiful way to highlight a spring-blooming bulb collection, 'Purple Beauty' will add pollinator-friendly, drought-tolerant spring beauty to your garden.
Arrowleaf Buckwheat (Eriogonum compositum) is a lovely Sulphur Buckwheat with large, showy clusters of creamy white or light yellow flowers and low-growing rosette of large heart-shaped leaves. Beautiful late spring blooms add playful texture to the garden. Native to the dry areas of the Pacific Northwest, this buckwheat is an essential habitat plant for butterflies, beneficial insects, and wildlife.