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All living things need water, and bees and butterflies are no exception.

“Whether it runs, wrigglers, slithers, flies, buzzes, chirrups, or grows from the ground ... man needs nature.”

— www.buzzaboutbees.net

June is here and the real gardening begins. So what are you doing differently this year?

If you are thinking you want to make some changes, let us suggest really getting involved in establishing a wildlife garden. We have often discussed ways to invite bees, butterflies and other pollinators into your garden, but mostly our suggestion are about what to plant.

A bold change would be to take out some of your lawn and replace it with meadow-mix seeds. Lawns take so much water, give back little and are not friendly to wildlife. Once you’ve planted a meadow mix of seeds, you do not mow until the end of the season. That helps re-seed it for the next year. This planting should consist of a lot of native seeds.

You should also be installing pollinator boxes to provide a spot for them to lay their eggs.

Don’t forget about what else pollinators will need, like water. All living things need water, and bees and butterflies are no exception. If you do not have a water source such as a creek or an established water feature, then you could use a shallow dish such as a cake pan and keep it filled with water. Be sure to put three or four rocks and a bit of gravel in the pan, so that they can drink but not drown.

If you already have a small pond in your garden, you know how much wildlife they attract, from dragonflies flitting above the surface, to frogs croaking for your evening enjoyment. Even the smallest of water features will bring in wildlife. And what a show for the kids.

If this topic has your interest, we encourage you to go to the National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat site to learn more. You can also order a sign to let your neighbors know this is your new passion. Washington state has a site as well, managed by the Fish and Wildlife Department, to create a backyard wildlife sanctuary. They also offer a sign for those who want to certify their yards as a wildlife sanctuary. There’s so much good information.

The signs let everyone know you are concerned about the loss of habitat that is occurring, and you are doing your part to welcome wildlife into your yard.

These sites don’t stop with information on pollinators. Birds bring us so much pleasure with their songs but they are also helpful because they eat insects in our garden. Some birds especially like aphids.

You can find information from the sites about nesting boxes, and what size hole they should have to keep larger birds from being able to eat smaller birds’ eggs, or worse yet, their young. They also need water, and bushy trees to hide in or take cover from bad weather. There will be lists of suggestions for these type of trees, but also lists of possible landscape plants to install for food. These might include: Serviceberry, Elderberry, and Red Twig Dogwood. All are attractive in your yard and will bring in the birds.

We hope you will explore this topic — there is so much more than we can put in this column. And remember — if you build it, they will come!

WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is an organization of trained volunteers dedicated to horticulture and community service. The Master Gardener Walk-In Diagnostic Clinic operates from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Direct questions about gardening, landscaping or this program to the Master Gardener Clinic at 509-574-1604, or leave samples for identification at the WSU Extension office. Leave a message with your name, phone number, email address and the nature of your problem or question. You can also email your questions to gardener@co.yakima.wa.us and include pictures if you have them. A member of the Master Gardener Clinic team will check voicemails and emails, and reply as soon as possible. The WSU Extension office is at 2403 S. 18th St., Suite 100, in Union Gap. Call 509-574-1600. New volunteers are welcome.