For many of us, spring is a time to clean the insides of our homes and throw out and/or recycle all the things we no longer need. However, spring is also an ideal time to give the outsides of our homes a makeover by creating the perfect vegan backyards. Having a cruelty-free backyard creates a hospitable atmosphere for bees and other critters while providing hours of entertainment for your friends and family, and with summer only a few months away, now’s the time to get your outside as clean as your living room. Because of this, we’ve created four simple steps to ensure your backyard is a vegan hotspot this season.

1 Save the bees

The sight of buzzing bees flying amidst blooming flowers is one reason many people enjoy spring. However, one must not forget bees are becoming endangered nor must we forget that we need bees to pollinate our fruit and vegetables. So, yeah, bees are important. Lavender is excellent for attracting honeybees and bumblebees, while also appealing for 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). Finally, a bee bath is important for bees because water is a crucial element of life. To create a bee bath, fill a shallow container of water with pebbles or twigs for the bees to land on while drinking. By filling the water every day, bees will know they can return for a refreshing drink.

2 Go bird watching

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 birdbath or bird feeder. Birds need water to drink, to clean their feathers, and to 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 a garden

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 spring agenda should be hosting a vegan barbecue. A new grill is always a great way to welcome the seasonal change, 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 talking baseball. Just don’t forget the veggie dogs and burgers, and you’ll be fine.
Rebecca Sykes is a writer and a passionate vegan who is hoping to open her own animal sanctuary one day.