Don’t feel like working in the yard on a hot summer afternoon? Take a break and let nature do the gardening for you! From petite (but powerful) hummingbirds to gorgeous butterflies, inviting winged friends to your garden will help your plants flourish and ward off bugs.
Banish mosquitoes with hummingbirds.
They may be tiny, but hummingbirds have a mighty appetite for mosquitoes. An easy way to attract the pretty fliers: Just fasten a strip of red or orange surveyor’s tape (available at hardware stores) to your feeder. The tape will act as a “beak beacon,” reflecting the ultraviolet light hummingbirds are drawn to. The best meal to put in your feeder? A four-to-one solution of water and granulated sugar. Just stir the sugar into hot filtered water and pour the solution into a plastic container, then refrigerate overnight. The sugar water can be stored in the fridge for about one week.
Protect roses with ladybugs.
More than just a friendly face, ladybugs are natural pest controllers, gobbling up rose-ruining aphids and whiteflies and performing a valuable gardening chore. Recruiting more of them to your patch of green is as easy as planting a few herbs such as dill, mint and parsley. Attracted to their aromas, ladybugs will enjoy the herbs — then feast on any bugs they find on your flowers and other ornamental plantings.
Guarantee blooms with butterflies.
Flitting from flower to flower, butterflies are arguably the prettiest pollinators. Wildflowers such as daisies, goldenrod and wild bergamot have a magnetic effect on these nectar-seekers. Consider ornamental grasses too, because butterflies like to hide in tall plants.
Boost your whole garden by giving bees a ‘pit stop.’
Nature’s top pollinators, bees are the key to a thriving garden. The best flowers for them are simple ones. Single-petal blooms like daisies and poppies make it easier for them to reach the plant’s center and collect nectar. Busy bees also need a break from the heat, so consider planting pretty ground-cover like thyme or strawberries, which provide the shade they need.
Get rid of slugs with pretty songbirds.
As if their lovely tunes weren’t enough reason to invite robins, cardinals and other songbirds, they also have a taste for slugs. “Fill a suet feeder with tiny twigs,” says Katie Femia of TheHomespunHydrangea.com. “This lets birds ‘shop’ for building materials, so that they create their nests close to your home,” and patrol for pests.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.