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Spring Garden Practices

Mar 19, 2024 | Horticulture, Sustainability

Spring Garden Practices

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In the pursuit of ecologically friendly gardening practices, the concept of “cutting back” plant material post-growing period takes on a whole new significance. 

By allowing perennial stalks to remain in the landscape over winter and cutting them back in the spring, leaving 12 to 15 inches of last year’s growth, the stems can become tools for supporting biodiversity, particularly in supporting native bee populations.

Unlike the introduced honey bees who form hives, our native bees are solitary. They emerge in spring and begin to forage for food and seek out new nesting materials. Perennial plants, with their sturdy stems and hollow cavities, offer prime real estate for these essential pollinators. 

By waiting until mid to late March, gardeners won’t disturb any overwintering nesters that might be present and will provide new nesting sites for bees to continue their life cycles. This mindful approach to garden maintenance ensures that native bee populations have access to the resources they need to thrive, contributing to the overall health and resilience of the ecosystem. These tasks are becoming more important as more and more honey bee hives are installed in New York City – creating an increase in competition with native bees for pollen and nectar resources.

By embracing the practice of cutting back with purpose and leaving the spent stems of perennials in place, gardeners can significantly impact native bee conservation efforts. Through these simple yet intentional actions, we not only cultivate a more biodiverse garden, but also play a vital role in safeguarding the delicate balance of our ecosystems.

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