Late summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy barbecues, pool days, and relaxed evenings in the sunshine, but with all the time we’re spending outside, it’s also an ideal time to give the outside of our homes a makeover. Having a cruelty-free backyard creates a hospitable atmosphere for bees and other critters while providing hours of entertainment for your friends and family. Because of this, we’ve created four simple steps to ensure your backyard is a vegan hotspot this season. But first, why are pollinators so important?
Why is it important to attract pollinators?
The sight of buzzing bees flying amidst blooming flowers is one reason many people enjoy summer. However, it’s important to remember that bees aren’t just there for our entertainment. As pollinators, bees play a vital role in the environment, and they need our help because they’re under threat. In fact, right now, eight types of bee are on the endangered species list.
And they’re not alone. Birds, butterflies, wasps, bats, and beetles are all examples of precious pollinators, and many of them are at risk. But this is a problem because around 75 percent of all food crops grown in the US rely on pollinator animals.
But there are ways we can do our part to help wild pollinators. By making our own outdoor spaces as pollinator-friendly as possible, we can help support ecosystems and the food supply, and keep our gardens healthy and vibrant, too.
1 Plant bee-friendly flowers
Lavender is excellent for attracting honeybees and bumblebees, and it’s also appealing to hummingbirds and butterflies. California lilac is another plant that draws honeybees and bumblebees. However, make sure to avoid using pesticides or herbicides on your plants because these chemicals are toxic for bees. Instead, weed by hand and use natural chemicals against pests (if needed).
2 Build a bird paradise
Birds are not only beautiful creatures—they’re also entertaining to watch, especially while enjoying your backyard. For those who have a small backyard and can’t plant enough flowers for bees, try buying (or building) a bird bath or bird feeder. Birds need water to drink, clean their feathers, and remove parasites, so buying a birdbath can be enjoyable for you and for your winged friends. When you buy a birdbath, look for one that isn’t too deep, as a good birdbath is one that is shallow for the birds. Also, do not look for a concrete bath because these are too hard to clean and can crack during the winter if they freeze.
The perfect place to put the birdbath is in the shade for the birds and somewhere close enough that you can see it through your window. Remember to clean your birdbath every few days, especially if green algae starts to appear. If this seems like too much work, buy a bird feeder, which is an excellent way to bring more birds into your backyard. If you love hummingbirds, buy a glass or plastic hummingbird tube feeder, but remember to clean the feeder every couple of days, especially during warm weather, when bacteria and mold proliferate.
3 Plant fruits and vegetables
Planting a garden with your favorite fruit and vegetables is a perfect way to save money (fewer trips to the grocery store) while benefiting the environment and your health. You also get to decide which seeds you’ll plant, which is important, especially if you don’t have a lot of room. Keep in mind that there are many bee-friendly fruit and vegetables such as blackberries, cucumbers, peppers, raspberries, squash, strawberries, watermelons, and wild garlic that’ll have your backyard buzzing. Plus, a garden allows you to get your hands dirty, and sometimes the best cure for what ails us is a little soil on our mitts.
4 Call your friends
With your vegan garden thriving, the next thing on your summer agenda should be hosting a vegan barbecue. A new grill is always a great way to celebrate the season but last year’s barbecue works just fine, too—as long as you’re cooking up those homegrown vegetables from your backyard. So invite your family over for some veggie skewers with tofu. Get out that grilling apron and listen to your local blues radio station while telling your friends all about how they can help pollinators from home, too. Just don’t forget the veggie dogs and burgers!
Rebecca Sykes is a writer and a passionate vegan who is hoping to open her own animal sanctuary one day.