These handmade creations are more than eye-catching pieces of garden art. Known as bug hotels, they offer shelter and even food for beetles, solitary bees, and spiders. Sound creepy? Think again. All these creatures are essential to the ecosystem, says Lisa Lee Benjamin, founder of Urban Hedgerow, a collective of artists in California and the United Kingdom who create these dwellings. For example, “beetles act like small garbagemen, cleaning up dead plant material and enriching the soil,” Lisa explains.
So be a good host by setting up insect abodes in your garden. You can order those shown here from Urban Hedgerow (from $175; urbanhedgerow.com) or use them as inspiration to make your own. The ideal spot for one is in a south-facing location that gets warmed by the sun. And—in case you’re wondering—solitary bees don’t usually sting unless provoked, but you still might consider placing the hotel in a less-used part of your garden, where it won’t be disturbed.