What is a pollinator pathway?

Pollinators need way-stations to roam and migrate. A pollinator pathway is an orchestrated series of gardens that nourish pollinators on their travels from one large tract to the next, expanding their range.

The Hastings Pollinator Pathway is a conceptual route that includes the Old Croton Aqueduct, South County Trailway, Mt Hope Blvd and Farragut Avenue and Parkway. These corridors connect the green spaces of Hillside Woods, the Lenoir Preserve and Saw Mill River watershed. Every house in-between will help pollinators – they of course don't necessarily travel in straight lines!

What is a pollinator garden?

Any pesticide-free garden that provides food and habitat with at least some pollinator-friendly native plants is a pollinator garden.

Why native plants? 

When you plant native, you provide for the full lifecycle of pollinating insects – and you get a yardscape alive with life. While many non-native flowering plants offer food, as in pollen, they don't offer habitat, which means an environment that meets all the conditions an organism needs to survive. 

For example, adult monarch butterflies will flock to asiatic butterfly bush for sustenance, but their developing caterpillars can only munch on milkweed. If there's no milkweed, there is no next generation. Many insects require a particular plant to survive, what is referred to as "host-specific." 

Some insects also need specific plants for overwintering. Some crawl into the hollow stems of native plants; others curl up in their leaves. Each has its own habit. 

Therefore, the best thing to do is to provide a range of wild plants for a diversity of insects. This way, we can all enjoy a more resilient ecosystem. Why do we need to do this? Because we have taken up their habitat with our homes, lawns, and infrastructure—and without a robust and biodiverse insect population, the greater web of life is in peril.

To learn more: 

How do I get started?

Where can I find and buy native plants?

We have lots of resources for you on our Sourcing page

I'm excited to get started or improve my garden, but I'm overwhelmed.

Regardless of the size or state of your garden, going completely native and pesticide-free all at once can be overwhelming. Start with small steps: 

Still feeling overwhelmed? Reach out to us - we love to help! 

Where can I find an organic landscaping service?

I have some non-native plants. Do I need to remove them all? 

The short answer is mostly a "No." The long answer is: it depends on the plant and its growth habit. See below for aggressive non-natives that we recommend removing.

Manage and maintain any non-invasive, non-native plants. When well-behaved, non-native plants do not cause a problem.  

IMPORTANT NOTE: We recommend the REMOVAL of the following due to their aggressive and problematic growth habits:  

Is it ok to use organic pesticides?

I have allergies. Will a pollinator garden make them worse?

We have some good news for you! Plants that rely on pollinating insects tend to have pollen that stays put. Wind-pollinated plants are usually the culprit of pollen-related allergies. Read more about how selecting native, pollinator-friendly plants can reduce the amount of allergens in your garden.

What about lawns?

Lawns are pollinator deserts, though they're useful for recreation. There are several options for providing pollinator habitat and keeping some lawn. 

How can I get rid of pests?

One of the benefits of a native garden is native plants tend to work well to balance the types of insects in your garden. Once you have a healthy range of native plants, you will find you have fewer pest issues.

Remember, pesticides kill beneficial insects - such as butterflies, bees, green lacewing, and ladybugs - as well as unwanted ones. Attracting beneficial insects that prey on pests is an effective way to control pest populations without pesticides. Plant some favorite native plants or use other non-toxic remedies to keep your garden balanced and pollinator-friendly.

What should I do with leaves in the fall?

Our top recommendation is NOTHING! Leaving the leaves in place has a number of benefits:

Some gardeners like to shred leaves before using as mulch to keep leaves in place and help them break down into nutrients faster. While this is an option, consider that shredding (and sometimes composting) can destroy fragile insect life, like chrysalises, eggs and live insects.

Will "leaving the leaves" destroy my grass? 

A heavy cover of leaves can cause problems, but leaving some leaves can actually provide protection and nutrients for your grassy areas. As noted above under "What should I do with leaves in the fall," some gardeners like to shred leaves before leaving them in place. While this can destroy insect life in leaf litter, it is an alternative to removing leaves entirely. On lawns, many people use a mulching mower and simply mow over fallen leaves. This adds shredded leaf matter into the soil, which adds carbon and organic matter, keeping a lawn healthier. It also allows water to drain more quickly, breaking up those wet, dense mats of leaves that can damage grass. 

For information on the hazards of leaf blower use, see this page from Hastings Conservation Commission.