5 Key Steps to Creating a Modern Pollinator Garden

Design a pollinator-friendly garden with these tips from Houzz.

By Aislin Suparak Gibson, Houzz

Planting a garden is one of the best ways you can support our crucial pollinators. However, if you prefer the clean lines of a modern landscape to an unruly array of wildflowers, how can you create a bee-friendly garden that fits your minimalist aesthetic? Here are tips for growing a modern pollinator garden that will turn your green space into a life-giving habitat, benefiting both you and our important pollinators.

Plant large groupings. Masses of flowers help feed bees and create a calming space for people. Mass three to five species to optimize pollen stability. Bees and butterflies prefer plant groupings that are at least 3 feet by 3 feet. Larger flower groupings attract more bees.

pollinator garden
Botanica Design, original photo on Houzz

Large swaths of plants are also a key feature of modern garden design. In this contemporary garden in Vancouver, Canada, Botanica Design interspersed giant allium with lavender and rosemary to create a textured line of nectar-rich plants. The flowers also attract beneficial pollinators to boost summer crops.

pollinator garden
Modern Hive, original photo on Houzz

Plant flowers that benefit bees and people. Bees love nectar-producing flowers, such as scabiosa, lavender, echinacea, yarrow and jasmine. These flowers also have simple silhouettes that complement the clean lines of modern green spaces. In addition to providing nectar and pollen for pollinators, these particular flowers are a boon to people as well.

Scabiosa stellata seedpods, shown here, have a geometric shape popular in modern flower arrangements. Their compound flower shape means more flowers and nectar for visiting bees.

Lavender can be dried and used for sachets. In our garden, we put dried lavender in our chickens’ nesting box and coop.

pollinator garden
Sarah Naybour Design, original photo on Houzz

Jasmine is a fragrant plant that bees love. It also serves as a great wall cover or privacy fence. This wall-climbing jasmine highlights the clean lines of the outdoor room and creates a floral-scented seating area.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) was dubbed “soldier’s woundwort” centuries ago because it was used to treat battlefield injuries. While you won’t be doing battle against much besides weeds in your yard, it’s also great for treating cuts and bug bites.

pollinator garden
Sarah Naybour Design, original photo on Houzz

Choose diverse plants for pollinator food and a pleasing design. Bees and other pollinators need protein-rich pollen and sugar-rich nectar to survive. Differently shaped flowers feed different types of insects, so growing a variety is important.

This flower garden by Sarah Naybour Design is a beautiful example of a diverse, modern garden mix that maintains a simple color palette. Each round, white allium bloom seen here is actually made up of many smaller flowers. Sunflowers and asters are built the same way. This type of flower maximizes the nectar payload for visiting bees. 

Naybour also uses chartreuse Queen Anne’s lace. Its flat, or umbel, bloom clusters enable pollinators to land and feed from the many tiny individual flowers. Queen Anne’s lace and dill work well in a modern pollinator garden.

pollinator garden
Designing Eden LLC, original photo on Houzz

Plant for year-round food for bees and year-round beauty for your home. Bee gardens should provide food all year, not just at the height of spring and summer. Although honeybees can store large amounts of honey and pollen as food to sustain them through the winter, other bees and pollinators, like ladybugs and butterflies, can’t.

Notice the simple palette of flowers in this meadow, which gives the garden a cohesive, clean design. These giant drifts of flowers with clear swaths are a beautiful backdrop to the clean lines of the contemporary home in the background. Early in the year, these lupines and daisies are a rich food source for pollinators and beneficial bugs.

After the lupines and daisies expire, black-eyed Susans continue offering a feast for local pollinators.

pollinator garden
Huettl Landscape Architecture, original photo on Houzz

Create a water feature where pollinators can drink and guests can relax. Water features are beautiful focal points for contemporary gardens. Water is both soothing and inviting.

Water is also important for bees, since they need both food and water to survive. Bees do not store water, but collect it as needed to cool down the hive, create humidity for the colony, dissolve sugar crystals in honey for food, feed babies and help digest food.

The best type of water feature for a modern pollinator garden has fresh water, places for bees to get near but not drown in water (like grass or rocks), and shallow and wide water sources. This sleek and minimalist fountain by Huettl Landscape Architecture not only creates a soothing garden space for visitors, but it also has a place for bees to safely drink water that splashes on the pebbles below.

You can build a beautiful habitat that welcomes your family and friends while helping support our endangered bee population. By doing so, you’ll be aiding our environment and elevating the beauty of your modern outdoor space.

Related: Learn How to Garden For the Bees

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