Pollinators (honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds) perform one of nature's most valuable actions, yet populations have suffered dramatic decreases in recent years. That's why the Sustainability Commission developed a new 1,400 square foot Pollinator Lawn Demonstration Plot at the Featherstone Park in 2021. Pollinator lawns are a mix of short grasses and short flowering plants that require little upkeep and provide a natural habitat and nutrients to pollinators.
What is a pollinator lawn?
Pollinator lawns serve as habitat for pollinators. These lawns usually consist of grasses and short flowering plants, specifically perennials that are native to the area. Many pollinator lawns utilize plants that are hearty enough to be mowed to 3 to 6 inches, which allows for maximum blooming and follows Red Wing city code. The flowering plants utilized in these lawns often offer a lovely scent that will attract pollinators. Most importantly, a pollinator lawn is an enhancement to the classic turf lawn you already know that helps to protect the environment by attracting pollinators.
Why are pollinator lawns good for the environment and humans?
The pollinators who find refuge in pollinator lawns are certainly pollinating plants within the lawn, but their work goes beyond your outdoor space. Pollinators work hard to pollinate everything from the food we eat to the trees that give us shade all summer long; thereby helping to mitigate the effects of our changing climate.
What is a pollinator and how are pollinators assisted by the lawn?
Pollinators are animals and insects (not just bees and butterflies) that help spread pollen from one plant to another – a process called pollination. Pollination is an important part of plant reproduction and promotes the next generation of plants, seeds, and fruits. Pollinators and plants need each other - pollinators will get nutrients from plants and pollinators spread pollen for plants.
For this reason, pollinator lawns provide the tastiest plants for pollinators. You. Think of pollinator lawns as the best chocolate chip cookies you've ever eaten. In addition to being a tasty treat, pollinator lawns provide shelter for pollinators.
What's in the pollinator lawn and why?
The Featherstone Park pollinator lawn was inspired by work and knowledge from BlueThumb. All plants listed in the seed mixture are ideal for pollinator attraction.
- White clover (Trifolium repens): Drought tolerant and nitrogen fixing; acts as a fertilizer by retaining nutrients in the soil.
- Creeping thyme (Thymus serphyllum): Has an earthy aroma; can be planted to mimic stepping stones.
- Self heal (Prunella vulgaris ssp. Lanceolata): Self heal has traditionally been used as a herbal remedy;nectar rich, which makes it a great treat for pollinators, specifically bees.
- Ground plum (Astragalus crassicarpus): Grown in sandy soil and native to Minnesota.
- Fine fescues (Festuca sp.): Thin blades that give flowers a better chance to establish; longer-rooted and slower-growing than Kentucky bluegrass and need less maintenance.
Resources for Planting for Pollinators
- MN Board of Water and Soil Resources: Planting for Pollinators (PDF)
- Pollinator Toolbox
- Residential Pollinator Habitat: Lawns to Legumes Grant Opportunity
- The Lawns to Legumes program offers a combination or workshops, coaching, planting guidelines and cost-sharing funding for installing pollinator-friendly native plantings in residential lawns. Grants are available for individual and demonstration neighborhoods.
Pollinator Parks In and Around Red Wing
- Anderson Center at Tower View (Highway 61 west side of town)
- Pottery Pond Park Water Garden and Monarch Waystation (Levee Road west of Bay Point Park)
- Featherstone Park Pollinator Lawn Demonstration Plot (off Featherstone Road)
- Pollinator Park (corner of Main Street and Broad Street)
- Walk By Pollinator Garden (off West Fifth Street)
- Walk By Pollinator Garden (off Stanley Street)
- Sammy's Pollinator Garden at the Environmental Learning Center (442 Guernsey Lane)
- He Mni Can-Barn Bluff (off East Fifth Street)
- Discovery Gardens at Colvill Park (515 Nymphara Lane)
- Rattlesnake Bluff Trail (Wacouta)