Last year I cleared a patch of lawn in my backyard to put in a pollinator's garden. It did quite well. The flowers shot up. It was beautiful and attracted a lot of pollinators. It worked so well that I put in a second garden, this time in a more shaded location with a flower mix that I bought online. The problem I'm having is that in the second year, my original garden is now full of weeds and grass. Do I need to completely kill my garden and reseed each year to keep this from happening? Also, if it would be more effective, should I just plant perennials?
Hennepin County Minnesota
Seed mixtures to attract pollinators typically consist of annual and perennial wildflowers. The annuals usually grow quickly and provide a burst of color the first season. The perennials may not bloom until the second or even the third year after planting. Some of the annuals may self seed and bloom again in the second and subsequent years but in less abundance because the perennials and invasive weeds may shade and displace them. When weeds dominate, starting over is the only option.
For a more permanent, sustainable plant community that attracts pollinators, follow the steps used to restore native prairie. These management techniques can be used for large multi-acre projects as well as those scaled for the average yard or garden. It takes two or three years for restored prairie patches to mature and some work to maintain them but the work and cost is usually less than that needed to maintain a lawn or flower bed of equal size.