Urban Habitat

How to create a bee- and weed-friendly urban garden in your own backyard.

native plants, habitat, off the clock, landscape, backyard


Misa Chen


Marguerite Anglin


Brittany Coyle

Even city dwellers want a piece of nature. My husband and I are no exception. After reviewing the constraints and potentials of our 10'x10' backyard, we recently decided to create a Piet Oudolf-inspired urban garden. Most plants we selected are native perennials and grasses, with accents of several lavender species. Keep in mind if your priority is creating a healthy garden environment, it makes ecological sense to consider if your plants are attractive to bees rather than focusing exclusively on whether your plant palate is 100% native. Plus, who doesn’t like lavender?

To give the garden a natural look and encourage ground nesting bees, we didn’t use any mulch. We also left what people usually consider “weeds”, such as dandelions and white clover, long enough to attract helpful bees. These are good weeds which provide bees with excellent sources of pollen and nectar! We only hand-weed and water as needed, and use no chemical fertilizers. With these few simple tricks applied, our little urban habitat definitely brought us great success in bringing nature home. So far we have spotted honey bees and bumblebees, not to mention grasshoppers, butterflies, birds and squirrels! They seem as excited as we are to enjoy a viable green space in the city, even if it is only 10'x10'.

Are you looking to have a low maintenance, high performance urban garden? Try these tips at home.