Pollinator Habitat

Pollinator Habitat

Part of Seattle Parks and Recreation's commitment to sustainable land management is to support the many pollinators that live in or near our 6,400-acre system of parks. Many native insects and birds, such as hummingbirds, butterflies and bees, depend upon certain flowers blossoming throughout the year, and also require other habitat elements for survival such as woody debris and water sources. These pollinators need this healthy habitat in connected corridors or expansive ecosystems during critical times of the year.

Seattle is a "Bee City USA," which means that we have made a commitment to support native bees in how we manage our land. SPR's Integrated Pest Management program ensures we do not use pesticides that can harm bees and other native species and also provide the habitat elements needed through the use of wood chip mulch, large woody debris and installation of native plants. Additional support comes in the form of our Native Plant Policy and the various Vegetation Management Plans that guide park care.

Pollinators are crucial to the health of our urban ecosystems and to a local food system. Native bees such as mason bees are highly productive, able to pollinate 95% of the flowers they visit compared to 5% for the non-native honeybees. These pollinators are helpful for native plants, as well as the abundant ornamental flowers in parks and yards, and the many vegetables and fruit trees in our orchards.

Meadows in Parks

a hillside of long green grass surrounding a concrete sculpture resembling a staircase, against a blue skySeattle Parks and Recreation has designated at least six areas as meadow habitat throughout the city. These open habitats are managed to reduce invasive woody plants and support species that rely on these ecosystems. Wildflowers, grasses, and small shrubs provide the food and shelter that animals such as songbirds, Garter snakes, butterflies, and bees need. Meadows are mowed every one to three years to control invasive plants such as Scotch Broom and Himalayan Blackberry, but otherwise left to grow naturally.  You can find these meadows in Genesee Park, Discovery Park, Bitter Lake Park, Hubbard Homestead Park, Mineral Springs Park, and Lake Washington Boulevard.

Pollinator Gardens

An educational sign on a post next to a garden, with a grassy field and a large building in the backgroundMany parks in Seattle have designated pollinator gardens to create habitat to support these insects. The gardens make for beautiful landscapes and learning opportunities. By integrating these intentional habitats, SPR is able to create a web of natural areas where pollinators can thrive throughout the city. Look for gardens at locations such as Jimi Hendrix Park and Bradner Gardens. New Pollinator Corridors are also in development, starting with parks along Seattle's rebuilt waterfront and beyond in partnership with the Port of Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, and Expedia Group.

Meadows on the Margins

a grassy field covered with yellow and white flowers. Sculptures of dome-shaped discs are placed throughout the field.Many areas in parks receive little active use and are mainly enjoyed for their aesthetic aspects. Following a shift in resources away from mowing during the COVID-19 pandemic, SPR realized many of these "passive turf" areas that grew to their natural height were a real boon for wildlife and enjoyed by many residents. In 2021, SPR is allowing some areas that would normally be mowed to grow longer and provide the same benefits of our larger meadows. Longer grass holds on to water longer (good for our summer drought), absorbs more carbon dioxide (helps with our climate goals), saves staff resources (good for the budget). Look for "This is Pollinator Habitat" signs or areas with longer grass to see where we are creating new meadow habitat.