Veronika, part of the team of Pflanzentanzen.de, has compiled ten very simple tips for you, so that your garden can also offer a cozy home for insects.
About Pflanzentanzen: "Our great passion is gardening and nature. On our site, you'll find interesting facts about your favorite plants and how to care for them. We'll tell you how to turn your garden into a blooming paradise and provide lots of plant care tips to go along with it."
The links used on the page will take you to the site of Plant Dances.
The most important step towards an insect-friendly garden is to do without chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Insects already have a hard enough time due to conventional agriculture. Make your garden a recreation area for bees, bumblebees, butterflies and beetles. Pesticides kill insects and upset the natural balance. That's why chemical sprays are taboo in the garden.
Organic fertilizers, such as compost, plant dips and green manures, are more environmentally friendly, more compatible with plants and promote soil life. They increase the storage capacity of the garden soil and pose no health risk to humans or animals.
A lush, colorful garden is a feast for the eyes and provides food in abundance for pollinating insect species. Not only bees and bumblebees depend on flowering plants, but also flies, beetles, butterflies, moths and wasps visit flowers and thus contribute to pollination. Give these industrious helpers variety and diversity. Make sure there is always something blooming. Winter bloomers and early bloomers make it easier for animals to start the year. Even plants with inconspicuous flowers have a lot to offer insects. Ivy and nettles, for example, provide hungry six-legged creatures with nectar and pollen, respectively, well into the fall.
Flowering herbs exert a magical attraction on insects. While bees, wild bees and a wide variety of moths have a preference for lavender, sage, oregano, thyme and borage, umbellifers such as dill and fennel attract striped bugs.
Native wild shrub hedges are especially valuable for myriad species. They are a good alternative to garden fences and provide shelter and food for insects, birds and small mammals.
If you make sure that there are always a few plants in bloom from early spring until frost, you will give countless insects great pleasure. But the selection of the right flowering plants also plays an important role. Of course, the flowers should decorate the garden and please us humans, but at the same time they must satisfy the hunger of the animal inhabitants of the garden. Filled blossoms look splendid, but for insects these opulent beauties prove to be a deceptive package that offers no pollen and usually hardly any nectar. For one thing, the countless petals prevent insects from penetrating into the flower's interior. For another, the stamens have mostly lost their original function and the nectaries are often non-functional as well.
Of course, you do not have to give up the sight of double roses, peonies, dahlias, etc.. Use these pompous flowering plants specifically as eye-catchers and place as many unfilled flowering perennials and flowers alongside them as possible.
A simple way to invite endangered insects into the garden is to pile up dead wood. Dead parts of trees and shrubs attract countless species: They provide food for wood-eating beetles such as the rare rhinoceros beetle. Wild bees and solitary wasps nest here. Various fly and mosquito larvae, in turn, feed on fungi and bacteria in the bores. Tree sponges that form on deadwood also harbor specialized insect species. Thus, deadwood is anything but dead - it is full of life and attracts many other animals. Hedgehogs, slow worms, snakes, lizards, common toads, songbirds and shrews find shelter and food here.
You can leave individual logs or larger branches or build wood piles. In larger gardens, there may be room for deadwood hedges made from shrub and tree cuttings, known as Benjes hedges. They serve as privacy screens and, over time, allow a natural hedge of native wild shrubs to develop.
In the fall, resist the urge to collect and dispose of leaves. Better leave it in a corner of the garden as a pile of leaves. This will save you work and at the same time provide a cozy winter home for insects and many other animals.
When the cold season is over, the leaves finally end up on the compost, where they are broken down by industrious microorganisms and turned into valuable humus.
Dry stone walls are also a great retreat for insects. Because the stones retain heat from the sun, they attract heat-loving species. In addition, dry stone walls look very attractive and are a great way to shape slopes or even out height differences in the garden. With the help of stones or bricks, you can also create beautiful herb spirals. Add sand and compost between the stones. Drought-loving plants such as wall pepper, cypress spurge, blue viper's bugloss, rock stonewort or felty hornwort are perfect for planting on dry stone walls.
Pithy stems of blackberry, raspberry, dog rose, mullein, thistles, mugwort and summer lilac are better nesting aids than purchased insect hotels. Stick the stems in sand or gravel in a sunny, dry spot or attach them vertically to the fence with baling wire. Without exception, attach the stems vertically or they will not be accepted.
Here you can find more ideas for species-appropriate nesting aids in the hobby garden.
You don't have to let your garden go completely wild for the sake of insects. A natural corner already makes a big difference. Refrain from frequent lawn mowing in this area. Allow nettles and other wild herbs to sprout. In the wild area of your garden, autumn leaves may be left lying around. Pile brushwood, dead wood or rocks here. This is where the fruits remain on the trees and shrubs. You will see - soon this area will fill with life. Within a few weeks, a wide variety of insect species will settle in. Your wild corner will be crawling and buzzing, fluttering, chirping and buzzing!
Solar lamps are generally considered environmentally friendly and brighten up the garden on long summer evenings. For insects, however, the artificial garden lights cause deadly confusion. The constant lighting disrupts the animals' natural day-night rhythm, causing them to buzz around the lights for nights on end until they finally die of exhaustion. Of course, you don't have to sit on the patio in the dark. A good compromise is to use lanterns while you are in the garden in the evening. Turn off the lights when you go to bed. Then wildlife can also enjoy a well-deserved night's rest.
Some insect species are not particularly popular. Wasps, bugs and ants, for example, are not exactly among the most popular in the home garden. Nevertheless, they are important for the ecological balance. If you observe the animals in everyday life, you will develop a better understanding of the six-legged garden inhabitants and their way of life. An identification book helps you get to know the different species better. With children, identifying insects is especially fun.
In this way, you can awaken the interest of the next generation in the colorful world of insects.