It’s official. We’ve been designated by the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. This means that our garden “provides natural sources of food, water, cover, and places to raise young, and is maintained in a sustainable way that incorporates native plants, conserves water and doesn’t rely on pesticides.” We posted our sign in our front yard. We are one of over 227,000 such gardens in the United States, and they are hoping to reach 300,000 this year.
In order to be certified, you fill out a form at https://www.nwf.org/CertifiedWildlifeHabitat and give a donation to the organization. It’s on the honor system–you tell them the sources of habitat in your yard, in several categories. For food in our yard we have native plants, berry bushes, and fruit trees, as well as our bird feeder, and the pond. One of my favorites is evening primrose that grows wild. We keep several, only cutting in places that don’t work to have a tall plant–last year there were goldfinches all over this plant, and hopefully more this year.
We provide water especially with the pond. The pond serves so many purposes–food, water, a place to raise young (the tadpoles!), cover for frogs. When I walk in the morning, I see birds bathing, bees taking a drink, frogs sunning and snatching flies. But any kind of water brings wildlife to a yard–small or large. We also have a bird bath near our patio, and see birds and squirrels getting drinks there.
Cover is used to protect from bad weather, hide from predators, or hunt prey. Around the edges of our yard there are trees and bushes, and piles of branches that provide cover for small critters, and places to raise young. Ever since the orchard trees and hazelnut bushes have grown up, birds are always perching there, sometimes on their way to the bird feeder, sometimes eating insects. I’ve posted about the robins raising young in a nest on our back porch. But we’ve also seen young squirrels in trees, and chipmunks coming from underground.
As for sustainable practices, we never use pesticides, and we compost our food waste and leaves. We conserve water with our rain barrels, and if the pond needs topping up, that comes from the rain barrels too. We try to incorporate native plants wherever we can–mostly by not pulling the weeds that emerge on their own: violets, pansies, daisies, wild strawberry, goldenrod among many others. I use an app to identify plants that come up. We do also have invasive plants that we are trying to get rid of.
The official designation and sign were a gift to ourselves, and to make our intentions more visible in the neighborhood. Most of the actual habitat is in the back and side yards. Have any of you participated in this program? Maybe you might like to check it out. There are little things that each of us can do to care for the earth community, and foster habitat for wildlife.