The recent news that the migrating monarch butterfly is now classified as an endangered species has spurred new interest in cultivating plants and spaces that can host and feed our pollinators. Even small spaces can make a big difference, so consider creating a small pocket pollinator garden or prairie space. To start, you’ll want to mow your grass as short as possible. You can find great native seed mixes at Prairie Moon; just make sure that you select the right seed for our region (zone 5b) and how much light your space gets. Seed mixes generally have good instructions; you’ll notice that many of them encourage you to mix them with sand and broadcast by hand. This helps to ensure an even distribution of your seed. Because seed is basically designed by nature to be light and mobile, it’s helpful to add a light layer of mulch to retain moisture and hold it in place. Fall is an excellent time to do this work, since many native seeds need to cold stratify (basically, go through freeze/thaw cycles) to germinate in spring. If you’d prefer to do it in spring instead, you still can! Storing your seeds in the refrigerator or freezer over winter will mimic natural cold stratification. Just follow your seed packet instructions. 

In spring, your new garden will likely need some watering and weeding, but as it grows, you’ll notice that it may require a bit less upkeep than your regular garden does. Because native plants are already adapted to our spaces, they generally need less watering, pest control, and pruning once they’re established. Win win!