Did you know you can turn your yard into a wildlife habitat and get certified for doing so? The National Wildlife Federation, will send you a plaque that you can proudly display in your neighborhood to help raise awareness of the importance of wildlife habitat. This certification program is good for anyone with a residential yard, business garden or even an apartment balcony.
So what’s the big deal you ask? Wildlife habitats are important because it creates an ecosystem with all the ingredients necessary for flora and wildlife to live and thrive. There are only five steps you need to become certified:
Provide food for wildlife
You’ll need three sources of food, like seeds, nuts, berries, pollen & fruit. Native plants are ideal as they mimic the natural habit of local fauna such as bees and butterflies. Feeders can also be used in times when food sources are not available.
Supply water for wildlife
You’ll need one source of water, but not necessarily a pond, it can be a rain garden, birdbaths, or butterfly puddling areas. Since water is becoming scarce in some habitats, having a readily available source allows birds, butterflies, lizards and insects a place to drink, bathe and reproduce. If you worry about mosquitoes set the pump timer to turn on at least once a day.
Create cover for wildlife
You’ll need two sources of shelter from harsh weather conditions and predators. This can be dense shrubs and thickets, evergreen trees, or small burrows. If natural options are not available you can construct birdhouses or roosting boxes.
Give wildlife a place to raise their young
You’ll need two places to raise young, which can overlap from previous requirements such as dense shrubs and thickets to native plants that provide shelter and double as a food source. Native bees lay their eggs in soil. A very small area that is just bare soil does the trick or you can also create bee nesting boxes which act like burrows for bees to lay they eggs.
Garden in an Environmentally Friendly Way
Use mulch to help keep water in the soil and thereby reduces water consumption. Reduce lawn areas that require frequent maintenance. Do more Xeriscaping, which is an approach to landscaping that minimizes outdoor water use while maintaining soil integrity through the use of native, drought-tolerant plants. Remove invasive plants and replace with native plant communities.
Follow these steps, fill out a form, take some pictures and then your ready to submit your garden to the National Wildlife Federation. You will get a certificate plaque that you can proudly hang on your garden and feel proud that you are doing your part for the environment.