By contributing writer Marci
Is there a more beautiful summer sight than a butterfly? Butterflies capture the attention of everyone from adults to children to the family pets. Their colors and grace charm and delight.
Growing up, we always had tons of butterflies in our yard while our neighbors had a just a few. The difference? Butterfly gardens. Although my parents’ flowerbeds weren’t initially planted to attract butterflies, that was a wonderful side benefit of the lovely blooms.
Want to attract butterflies to your yard? Create your own butterfly garden. It can be a great family project. It just takes a little dirt and a little planning. Here’s how.
Planning your butterfly garden
1. Determine what butterflies are found in your area.
This site has a map where you can click your state and be taken to a list of native butterflies. From that list, you can click on the butterflies and learn what plants they like to eat and lay eggs on.
2. Research what plants that you want to grow.
In your garden, you’ll want to plant flowers that the adult butterflies like to drink nectar from and plants that their caterpillars like to eat. Since butterflies and plants were made for each other, planting species native to your area is always a good idea.
You can research plants online or at your local garden center or nursery. Find out where these plants like to grow, their size, spacing requirements, and water needs, and if they are annuals or perennials.
3. Design your garden.
Now that you know what types of flowers and plants you need, start designing. Find a spot in your yard that meets the requirements of your chosen plants.
Before you plant, design your garden on paper. You can use grid paper to teach kids scale. Place taller plants in the back and smaller plants in front. Ask your kids why this is a good idea.
You might want to group according to color or for color contrast depending on your taste. Let the kids decide. If you are having trouble choosing plants and designing your garden, look for plans like this one for inspiration.
Planting your butterfly garden
1. Prepare your soil.
Since you have designed your garden with your space, plants, and butterflies in mind, all you need to do now is prepare the soil and plant. Remove the grass, plants, and debris from your garden area. Till the soil well so that it is easy to work and easy to plant your flowers in. Add in prepared garden soil if your garden does not contain good topsoil.
2. Plant your garden.
Place each plant in the soil according to your plan and the recommended planting instructions. When all plants are in the ground, water them thoroughly.
3. Add butterfly houses.
Placing a butterfly house in your garden, which offers shelter at night and protection from birds, will keep the butterflies you attract close by.
Enjoying your butterfly garden
1. Get outside.
Butterflies are not terribly skittish. They will visit your garden even when you are in the yard or sometimes while you are tending your plants.
2. Identify butterflies.
Keep an eye out for new butterflies and caterpillars. Field guides are great to have on hand to identify new species. You might want to keep a butterfly journal to record what butterflies and caterpillars you see, when you see them, and on what plants.
Creating a butterfly garden can be a great addition to your science curriculum. Your kids will learn about butterflies and plants and be able to enjoy both of them all summer long.
You might also like…
- Butterfly Life Cycle
- Make a Butterfly Hooded Towel
- Raising Caterpillars and Butterflies
- More posts from Marci