Howard County Maryland Is Becoming a ‘Bee City’!

We at LGS are so excited that County Executive Calvin Ball announced that Howard County would join Bee City USA in early September. Our main missions for Lauren’s Garden Service and Native Plant Nursery are creating native plant habitats and connecting people to their outdoor spaces. When residents get interested in supporting their local pollinators they are motivated to research the best habitats for those pollinators which are habitats that are chemical free, invasive plant free and have at least around 60% native plants, which connects us to the Bee City movement. The County has committed to reduce their use of pesticides on County land and increase pollinator habitats. This is great news and also can be an inspiration to you in your own habitat.

What can be done?

Let’s clarify- when we say habitat we mean the landscaping in your yard. A healthy yard minimizes (or entirely eliminates) the use of harmful chemicals by not using pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or herbicides. How is this done? Use natural fertilizer and weed blocker (spring weed and feed) on your lawn. Use appropriate cultural methods for mowing and weed control like not mowing too low or too high, managing your larger weedy areas by weed whacking before seed heads spread and putting new grass seed down regularly to fill in bare spots that are susceptible to weeds. There are many ‘weeds’ that grow in grass naturally that are great for our pollinators. If you keep your lawn mowed to the right height it can still look great even if it has clover (which will fix nitrogen and fertilize your lawn naturally), plantain, violets and more.

Ask your landscaper not to apply a pre emergent in your beds in the spring unless is a corn gluten product which is a natural pre emergent and fertilizer. Apply fertilizer in its holistic form- compost, ground up leaves and grass clippings or an Espoma product like plant tone, holly tone, rose tone and more. In your garden beds you can weed by hand, removing weeds by the root. Apply mulch to help suppress the weeds. Hire the help of a gardener if you fall behind in weeding. Many of our clients get monthly weeding for $200 and it is a big help in keeping those weeds down. There are so many ways to manage a lawn and garden naturally, ask us for help if you need it. I’ll link to some other natural garden and lawn care blogs and info below if you are interested in reading more.

Choosing Plants

On to my favorite part- the plants! Pollinators need lots of…..pollen! There are so many great native plants in this area that support our local pollinators. There are also non native plants, that are not invasive, that support our pollinators as well. We’ve made a list of our favorite locally native plants. The Howard County Bee City Pollinator Committee will be working on a comprehensive list that covers the best pollinators for you to use in our area. There are SO many lists and it is important to make sure they are of good quality and accurate. I like to go off of my ‘native plant Bible’ list which comes from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This is a list of plants that are ACTUALLY native to the Maryland Piedmont region.

There is another publication that is even more detailed, which you can find here. The list in the latter book is great, super conclusive but also tends to be overwhelming to me. It lists so many plants and many are not available in local commerce (yet) or wouldn’t work in a landscape setting or take over. The US Fish and Wildlife publication is awesome and I love it! I just wanted to make a more concise list based on our 15 years of experience with designing, planting and maintaining native and chemical free gardens in Howard County.

You can access the list of our favorite native plants when you sign up for our native plant tool kit. We took the above to resources and removed plants that are hard to find in commerce, were more difficult to grow in a landscape setting OR we’re a little too ‘aggressive’ in their spreading habit. We can get you most of the plants on the list so always call us to ask if you want something that we don’t have in stock at the nursery.

How Can You Support Pollinators in Your Yard in 4 Easy Steps!

1. Implement natural maintenance practices for your lawn and garden as mentioned above and linked here:

Natural Lawn Care

 

Gardening Tips

2. Remove these invasive species if you have them: barberry, firebush, spirea, nandina, butterfly bush

Maryland Invasive Plants

Economy Stump will remove bushes and small trees and grind stumps. Snyder’s Quality Tree Care will remove trees. They’ll help you get those bad guys out in a jiff.

3. Plant natives using the lists above

4. Make a meadow

Select a small part of your yard and stop mowing! Remove any invasive plants that come up and plant native species directly into the uncut grass- you’ve made a mini meadow!

Why Install a Native Meadow?

Show us photos of your pollinator friendly yard elements on Facebook and add #HoCoBeeCity!

 

If you need help with consultation, design, estimating project cost or native plants for your pollinator friendly project please feel free to contact us at 410-461-2535 or email us at laurensgardens@gmail.com