Patios, Retaining Walls, Fire Pits, Staircases, Outdoor Kitchens, Stonework are all functional and attractive, but nothing tops the beauty of nature in your own backyard. Hardscapes increase the value of your home but don’t do much for wildlife and the environment. Does your outdoor space have native plants, bird houses and a rain barrel? Then you may be a “Certified Wildlife Habitat” **and not even know it! With lawn companies sprawling our neighborhoods and polluting our stormwater systems, it is more important than ever to combat these practices with sustainable elements in our yards.
The National Wildlife Federation offers a homeowner-friendly wildlife habitat certification program and we think it’s pretty neat. When you certify your property you become a member of the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife community, receive a certificate, subscription to a newsletter, one year subscription to National Wildlife Magazine, and the opportunity to purchase a sign for your garden.
The following 5 elements are required for certification. It’s easy to qualify and you can make a big difference for wildlife.
- Food Source (3 sources needed): Seeds from a plant, Berries, Nectar, Foliage/Twigs, Nuts, Fruits, Sap, Pollen, Suet, Bird Feeder, Squirrel Feeder, Hummingbird Feeder, Butterfly Feeder
- Water (only one source needed): Birdbath, Raingarden, Stream, Lake, Pond, Butterfly Puddling Garden,
- Cover (only two sources needed): Wooded Area, Bramble patch, Groundcover grouping, Rock pile, Water Garden, Meadow, Log Pile, Evergreen grouping
- Places to Raise Young (only two sources needed): Mature Trees, Meadow, Nesting Box, Wetland, Dense shrub grouping, Host plants for caterpillars, Water garden or pond, Nesting Box
- Sustainable Practices (two of the three categories needed):
- Soil and Water Conservation: Capturing Stormwater from the roof (ex. rain barrel), Reducing/Preventing Erosion, Raingarden, Mulch use to prevent erosion, Drip/soaker house for irrigation, Limiting of water use
- Controlling Exotic/Invasive Species: Removal of invasive species and the animals that come with them, Reduce lawn areas, Plant native plants, Practive integrated Pest Management
- Organic Practices: No Chemical Pesticides used (aka your neighbor’s lawn service), No Chemical Fertilizers used (another name for lawn care treatment plans), Composting present
Conveniently, many problems that you may currently have in your yard can be solved with the elements listed above. We can help you control and beautify that hillside of lawn you dread mowing and watering every summer and reduce erosion with plantings. Is your yard “boring” with overgrown invasive species that attract pests and suck up water? We can remove these invasives and plant native trees that create cover, provide food for wildlife, and give you shade on a humid summer afternoon. We can install shrubs and perennials that have pollen, seeds and fruits to feed butterflies, songbirds and generate pollinators. Do you have a sunny area of your yard and feel like nothing can grow? A meadow houses an abundance of pollinators and color and requires no watering other than our natural rainfalls. Even if you’re not a pond person, a birdbath is easy and does numbers for attracting songbirds and water source for squirrels too. For details visit https://www.nwf.org/Home/Garden-for-Wildlife/Certify
Let your landscape become alive….create a certified wildlife habitat!
**Information taken from https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/Certify