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A butterfly garden is an oasis for pollinators on your property. Building a butterfly garden can also develop your landscape. These pollinator havens have all the hallmarks of a great landscaping design: depth, dimension, and more than just flowers and shrubs.
Once you’ve decided on the varieties of flowers, shrubs, trees, rocks, and waterers you want to include in your butterfly garden, it’s time to design and build.
The Foundation of Building a Butterfly Garden
Understanding what your butterflies are going to be looking for is the foundation of building a butterfly garden that these beautiful pollinators will actually visit.
- Places to warm in the sun when it’s cold
- Nectar producing flowers for food
- Branches for resting
- Shelter from wind
- Water to drink
- Places to lay eggs
- Food for caterpillars to eat
Designing the Butterfly Garden
The best way to begin the process of building a butterfly garden is with a great garden or landscape design program. This will help you figure out where you want to put trees for protection from wind and where the best place is to have rocks for warming in the sun. Plus, a garden design program will help you figure out how you want to place your flowering plants and shrubs to get the best color and dimension.
Prepping to Build a Butterfly Garden
The next step in building your butterfly garden is to stake out the location and clean out any weeds. Many of the flowering plants that work in a butterfly garden are indigenous North American which means you may not need to do anything special to the soil in order for things to grow well, but you’ll still want to pull out any rocks or other debris that could make it difficult for your plants, trees, and shrubs to take hold.
Purchasing Your Flowers, Shrubs, and Trees
Some flowering plants, shrubs, and trees are better to buy already started. Bare root varieties may be easier to establish and may already be mature enough to bloom after they’ve been properly planted. Certain plant varieties, such as echinacea, require a year or two before they will bloom. When you buy established, flowering, plants from a nursery they should continue blooming after being planted. This way you can enjoy blooms and begin drawing in butterflies sooner rather than in a years’ time.
Placing Rocks and Baths
Placing your rocks and watering basins is the next and last step to building your butterfly garden. Remember that you want to have items at multiple heights – two watering stations, one waist-high, and one on the ground for example. Also, be sure that you include pebbles or sand in the watering dishes so that the butterflies have a safe place to stand. Your large, flat warming rocks should be in a place where they get morning sun. Ideally, they should be placed near nectar-producing blooms of a similar height so that the butterflies can eat as soon as they warm up. Feeders can also be placed around the garden to encourage other pollinators such as hummingbirds.
Remember – Your butterfly garden will draw many different pollinators including hummingbirds and bees. Avoid using any pesticides in this area or you will end up killing the same insects you’re trying to save and support.