Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Texas Conservation Alliance is teaming with National Wildlife Federation to certify YOUR “garden for wildlife” habitat. Keep reading for details on how to get started.
By creating a natural garden, you are providing essential elements of a wildlife habitat: food, water, cover, and a place for wildlife to raise their young. Your garden can be setup in your front or back yard, at your school, an outdoor office space, or at your place of worship. Vertical gardens can maximize outdoor space on balconies or patios, and rooftop lawns in urban areas create natural habitats throughout the community. Local spaces, neighborhoods, and HOAs can certify their outdoor areas, too. Not only will you have a colorful wildlife-friendly garden, it will qualify as a Certified Wildlife Habitat!
How do I get started?
The key to "gardening for wildlife" is to plant with a purpose! Texas native plants are low-maintenance and thrive with little or no effort, while providing beneficial natural food sources for a variety of species in your ecosystem. You can find out more about native plants in your area at the Native Plant Society of Texas website, or use the native plant finder on NWF's website.
Requirements for Certification
Food: Consider planting shrubs, bushes, and trees that produce food sources like berries, nuts, seeds, and sap. By attracting insects to your garden, birds and ground critters are provided a consistent natural food source. Bird feeders can be used, but studies show wildlife prefer foraging on natural sources of food. Feeders are good as a supplemental food option, but you'll see more furry visitors when native berries, nuts, and sap are around.
Water: All animals need water to survive, and some need it for bathing or breeding as well. Frogs may need a small pond, but even small water features help wildlife.
Cover: Wildlife need places to take shelter from bad weather and places to hide from predators or hunt for prey. Shrubs, wildflower gardens, rock walls all help to protect wildlife.
Places to Raise Young: Wildlife need resources to reproduce, and to protect and nourish their young. Nesting boxes for birds, milkweed for caterpillars, or ponds for frogs all create essential places to safely feed and nurture the next generation of their species.
Sustainable Practices: Maintain your yard or garden in natural ways and limit the use of herbicides and insecticides.
Community Wildlife Gardens
Schools, businesses, places of worship, HOAs, and municipalities are encouraged to certify their outdoor spaces. Yards, parks, work landscapes, and roadside greenspaces are often larger than a personal wildlife habitat, thus attracting more wildlife species within the food web. Additional goals are required to meet community wildlife standards. NWF has more information how to certify a community wildlife habitat garden here.
Turn your yard, balcony container garden, schoolyard, work landscape, or roadside greenspace into a Certified Wildlife Habitat®. It is fun, easy, and makes a big difference for neighborhood wildlife!
When you are ready to certify:
Every habitat garden is a step toward replenishing resources for wildlife in Texas. Follow the link below to complete the certification process. There is a $20 application fee which supports NWF programs to prevent the decline of habitat for bees, butterflies, birds, amphibians and other wildlife. It also supports work for local wildlife right here in Texas. And, Texas Conservation Alliance receives a percentage of the signs sold!
Once certified, you can share your accomplishment and commitment to helping wildlife with your whole neighborhood by purchasing and posting an exclusive Certified Wildlife Habitat® sign. The processing fee and sign purchase directly support NWF's programs to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat.
Visit http://www.nwf.org/statesgarden to complete the certification process.
Then share your wildlife garden with Texas Conservation Alliance, via email, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!