Did you know that you can get your backyard certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)? The NWF’s Wildlife Habitat Certification aims to help humans and wildlife coexist better in developed spaces, including everything from apartment balconies to schoolyards to 20-acre farms. Certification offers ideas that homeowners can implement to provide shelter, food, and water for native birds, animals, and butterflies. Once you are certified, you will receive a special sign that you can put in your yard. The process of converting your yard can be fun for the whole family, as kids will love observing all the new birds and animals that your yard will attract.
Here’s how to do it:
- Provide food for Wildlife: Foliage, pollen, nectar, berries, nuts, and seeds are among the many kinds of food that wildlife eat. The easiest way to provide these is to plant native trees, shrubs, and other plants that flower and bear fruit. You can also add supplemental bird and squirrel feeders around your yard as well.
- Supply Water for Wildlife: Birds and other wildlife need water for many things, including bathing and drinking. You can supply water in your yard with natural water sources like ponds and streams, or through man-made water features like bird baths, rain gardens, or installed ponds.
- Create Cover for Wildlife: Wildlife needs places to hide. Help the wildlife in your yard find shelter from predators, weather, and people by including shrubs, thickets, ground cover, or even dead tree and brush piles in your landscaping. Reduce the amount of “open lawn” space – not only does it make it hard for animals to hide, lawn grass is very thirsty and requires a lot of water.
- Give Wildlife a place to raise their young: Many of the things you provide as cover can give wildlife a sheltered place to raise their babies. In addition, you can provide things like birdhouses for more shelter.
If you are having your house custom built, you can easily implement many of these features with your landscaper. Creating a wildlife-friendly yard doesn’t have to come at the expense of beauty – there are many native and wildlife-friendly landscaping options that create a lush, beautiful yard with lots of curb appeal.
Once you have taken these steps, your yard is ready to be certified as a wildlife habitat. Go to www.nwf.org/CertifiedWildlifeHabitat/ to complete the certification process and sign up to receive your official certification certificate and sign.