We know that butterflies and bees help to pollinate plants, but how do we help those little winged pollinators? It can start right in our yards.

SUNY ESF has some of their own pollinator gardens. People can make good homes for these important creatures.

Molly Jacobson, a pollinator ecologist with SUNY ESF Restoration Science Center, said most typical lawns are trimmed short and don’t have a ton of diversity, but a place like a pollinator garden certainly does.

The gardens have native plants that typically grow in Central New York; some are goldenrods, asters, and milkweed. Other elements of a garden include logs, leaves and a lack of pesticides and fertilizer. Bees will use fallen leaves as a place to hibernate.

Planting a vegetable or herb garden can also be useful to pollinators.

“Our yards are connected to everyone else’s yard, which makes up the entire landscape,” Jacobson said. “And so what you do in your yard, it might seem to you like it’s just an isolated little area, but it’s not. It connects to everything else, and it has a huge impact for better or for worse on the entire surrounding area.”

Jacobson said the fall planting season is from late August to mid-October, so if you want to get planting, the time is now before the first frost. If you specifically want to attract monarch butterflies, milkweed is the only plant they can use.