Since attending the Garden Blogger’s Fling earlier this year, I’ve been a bit more inspired to visit gardens whenever I can. I’ve noticed that many of the gardens – both public and private – have areas that are designated as certified habitats. I’ve seen butterfly and pollinator habitats, and a few specifically characterized as Monarch Butterfly habitats. Other gardens had spaces more broadly classified as wildlife habitats. After carefully exploring the plants and design features in each of these garden habitats, I realized they were very similar to my own. I grow many of the same plant varieties and offer sources of food, water and shelter to make my garden attractive to wildlife. That’s when it occurred to me that I could certify my garden!
I made a mental note to look into the certification process. It seemed like a cool idea to connect my backyard garden to the wider collective of nationally registered habitat gardens, to connect with other specialty gardeners AND to get a colorful certification sign for my yard (hey…just being totally honest here).
When I first started my research on the certification process I wasn’t sure which type of certification to pursue. Many of the habitat specialties overlap, so the cost of certification ended up being the deciding factor for me. I chose the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program. The certification process was very simple and it only cost $20. This cost includes a personalized Certified Wildlife Habitat® certificate and a subscription to National Wildlife Magazine. Not a bad deal, right? The yard sign that I wanted cost a few extra dollars – thirty extra dollars to be exact. So all in all, my investment was $50. The certificate displaying my garden’s certification number arrived within roughly two weeks. The signage hasn’t arrived yet, but it should be here soon.
To become certified, a habitat needs to provide sources from each of the following five essential elements – food, water, cover, shelter, and sustainability. In addition to providing the elements listed, it’s also critical to avoid pesticides. Each element requires a specific number of sources as you can see below.
Food – three (3) sources
Water – one (1) source
Cover – two (2) sources
Shelter – two (2) sources (places to raise young)
Sustainability – two (2) of the following sources
-Soil and Water Conservation
-Controlling Intrusive Exotic Species
Here’s a link to the checklist (NWF Garden for Wildlife Certification Checklist). If you find that your garden is devoid in a few attributes, use the checklist as a guide to focus on areas of improvement.
It’s a good feeling to know that my garden is providing a haven for the beneficial wildlife in my local area. On a daily basis, I see birds, butterflies, bees, caterpillars and other wildlife in and about my garden. It’s rewarding to know that my garden can provide a healthy and save place for beneficial wildlife to live.
Working towards a garden habitat certification is a fun goal and a great excuse to slow down, connect with nature and get more enjoyment from gardening. I’m happy I did it and can’t wait to receive my sign. 🙂
Peace and zen,