[Article by Jude Dieleman]
“Water is the mother of the vine, the nurse and fountain of fecundity, the adorner and refresher of the world.” – Charles Mackay.
Nothing can survive without water. Not you, not me, not plants, not pollinators, nothing. This is a very important thing to consider if you want to survive. This is also important when you set up your pollinator garden. Life needs water, and it is for that reason that life is attracted to it. That is why it is so beneficial to put water in your pollinator garden however small it may be. Putting water in your pollinator garden will provide habitat for more types of plants, will give water to thirsty pollinators, and will overall attract more wildlife to your garden.
There are many types of plants that not only love, but require a moist environment just to survive. A small bird bath in your garden will not necessarily provide habitat for many plants, other than algae, however a small pond will. Take lily pads for instance. Who does not love lily pads? Pollinators also love them, and you can keep them successfully in the smallest of ponds. This is just one example.
There are countless other plants that will thrive in a small pond. In fact, your pollinator garden could be just a pond! If you don't think that a pond is safe for kids, then a great alternative would be a bog garden. A bog garden is essentially a pond liner under ground with holes poked in it for drainage, and filled with soil. Because of the pond liner, the ground is significantly wetter than the surrounding soil. This provides habitat for many water loving plants, but eliminates any risk of accidents with small children, and making it impossible for mosquitoes to breed. The drawback is however, that pollinators will not be able to drink, and many plants, such as lily pads, will be off the list of plants that you could keep.
Adding water to your pollinator garden is important to pollinators because they use it to drink. Pollinators like all living creatures, need to drink water. If we don't give them water they will find water from places where we would rather them not go, or places that are harmful to them; Pools, rain barrels, polluted streams, so on and so forth. Keep in mind that a lot of southwestern Ontario was wet land before it was drained for farmlands. Now pollinators have less places to get water, so they will get it from wherever they can.
By putting out water for them you will be giving them a clean source of water that they can easily access. To make one, all you need is a waterproof container of sorts (pollinators don't really care how it looks, but you might!) A bird bath will do just fine, but don't be afraid to get creative. A bowl will even do. Place some sticks or rocks at the surface to give the pollinators something to land on. For water give them clean fresh water, without chlorine. That is really all there is to it, but you can get as big as a full sized pond or as simple as the one just described.
Finally, Water in your pollinator garden is important because it will attract many different types of animals that you would otherwise not see. A wildlife pond or even just a pollinator bath can make a huge difference in the wildlife in your yard and it might just be the thing to attract them. Frogs, toads, water stryders, damselflies, racoons, chipmunks and birds are just some of the few examples that I have seen in my two year old pond, though others may see water boat man, newts and salamanders. You might very well find some creatures that you had no idea even existed. Birds will come to bathe, as well as a few mammals.
Now, how should you set up a pond to make it attract wildlife and pollinators? Give them places to hide, lots of plants in and out of the water. Give them a place to get in and out, a place for the birds to bathe, and anything else you think would make them feel at home.
So I hope you are now convinced to go and add water in your garden. Whether it is a small as a dish, or a full out pond, it will always have aesthetic value, and will provide habitat to wildlife. You don't even have to bring them to it. They will figure it out on their own. So if you do follow my advice and give them some water, congratulations, you are making the world a better place.
"People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that.” -Dorthy Day
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