In 2007, to address the declining pollinator populations the U.S. Senate approved one week in June as National Pollinator Week. This years National Pollinator Week designation is June 18-24 2018. In 2011 Penn State Master Gardeners took action to protect pollinators and started certifying gardens “Pollinator Friendly”. Currently there are 750 certified gardens in 56 counties in PA. The top three counties are Lancaster with 87, York with 76 and Berks with 63. Delaware county has sixteen certified gardens and is tied with Lebanon county for thirteenth place.
So what's involved in getting your garden certified pollinator friendly? To begin, download the application at https://ento.psu.edu/publications/pollin-app. Complete the contact information and the location of the garden that you are certifying. The application is then broken down into four parts.
STEP ONE:PROVIDE FOOD
Certification is based on the use of native plants do to their close relationship with pollinators. Plants selected need to provide pollen and nectar from early spring, through summer and into fall and offer different flower shapes and sizes. A combination of four trees and/or shrubs are needed (unless you are unable to meet this criteria) plus two different species of perennials from each season (planted in groups of three) for a total of eighteen plants. Two of the trees, shrubs or perennials must be a host plant for caterpillars (ex. Milkweed for the Monarch). The list of seventeen trees, twenty three shrubs and forty two perennials are suggestions, however, other natives will be considered.
STEP TWO: PROVIDE WATER SOURCES
Just like most living things pollinators need water. If you are not lucky enough to have a creek, stream or pond on your property, then a simple bird bath or mud puddling area will suffice. However, for certification this is a must.
STEP THREE: PROVIDE SHELTER
70% of our native bees nest underground. Others are solitary nesters using hollow stems, holes in wood, or crevices in stones. Many bees and insects overwinter as eggs, larva, chrysalis or adults under leaves, rocks or loose bark, at the base of grasses and inside stems. Providing bare areas in your lawn, rock piles or dead wood and man-made bee boxes will help to provide nesting sites and shelter. By keeping your garden clean up until late April will ensure that you will not disturb overwintering insects.
STEP FOUR: SAFEGAURDING POLLINATOR HABITAT
The certification is based on native plants do to their close association with pollinators. Native plants are four times more attractive to pollinators then non-native plants. Non-natives threaten the local ecosystem, disrupting biodiversity and pushing out natives. Avoid purchasing non-natives and work on removing them (especially invasive) from your garden and replacing with suitable natives. Reduce the use of pesticides or use sparingly according to the guidelines given.
Complete the application by answering the questions on the area, size and description of the garden site. For the purpose of verification you will need to include either a sketch or pictures showing the location of the required plants. Finally, sign the application and submit it (mail or e-mail) along with a $10 non-refundable processing fee.
Once your application is received it will be reviewed by the pollinator committee and if it meets all the criteria then your garden will be certified and registered. You will also receive a certificate recognizing that your garden is certified “Pollinator Friendly”. To “show off” to your neighbors or perhaps explain why your garden looks the way it does you can purchase a garden sign for $30.00.