1. Education
Debbie Hadley

Hold the Mulch, Help the Pollinators

By April 18, 2011

Follow me on:

Put down your mulch fork for a moment and read this. Your mulching habit might be a hindrance to some of a gardener's best friends - pollinators.

Yes, mulch makes the landscape neat and tidy. It inhibits weed growth, and retains moisture in the soil. Good mulch breaks down and enriches the soil over time. But look at your mulch from a bee's perspective for a moment.

Bumblebees are ground nesters, and may be deterred from nesting by too much mulch.
Bumblebees are ground nesters, and may be deterred from nesting by too much mulch.
Photo: Debbie Hadley, WILD Jersey

Some of our most important native pollinators burrow in the soil. Solitary squash bees, bumble bees, digger bees, and polyester bees all nest underground. A few inches of mulch may deter many pollen bees from making your garden home. It's hard enough for a bee to dig a hole in the soil without having to remove two inches of mulch first. Add a weed barrier under that mulch, and you might as well post a sign, "Pollinators Not Welcome."

Does that mean you can't mulch? No, of course not. But leave a few areas of exposed soil where weeds and water retention are less of a concern. Ground nesting pollinators will think you've rolled out the welcome mat, and reward your efforts with an abundance of flowers and vegetables.

For more tips on inviting native bees to your garden, read 12 Things You Can Do to Help Native Pollen Bees.

More Ways to Keep Up With About Insects
Have a bug question? Visit the Insects Forum
Sign up for my free newsletter
Follow me on Twitter: AboutInsects
Become a fan on Facebook

Comments

No comments yet. Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.