It may be cold and snowy out now, but spring will be here before you know it. Use these colder months to start planning your warm-weather activities, such as establishing a wildlife habitat in your yard. In Kansas City, more than 600 families have followed the guidance and criteria of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to create a natural habitat in their yard. Through an online process, homeowners can qualify for NWF certification and purchase a weatherproof sign to post in their yard.
For NWF certification, a yard needs to include these five vital resources:
Plant native species that adapt well to the surrounding environment, require little maintenance and provide seeds, berries, nuts, nectar, fruits, sap and pollen. Add feeders for birds, squirrels, hummingbirds and butterflies. NWF certifications requires three native plants or three supplemental feeders.
Animals and beneficial pollinating insects need water for drinking, bathing and reproduction. Water sources can be natural—like a stream, lake or wetland—or man-made—like a bird bath, ornamental pond or rain garden. NWF certification requires one water source.
Animals need shelter for protection. Trees or dense shrubs can serve as homes for insects or small animals. Ponds provide a dual resource: water and shelter. For a backyard habitat, you can build houses for the specific birds, bats and bees you want to attract. NWF certification requires two shelter areas.
Watch the circle of life while providing adequate and safe spaces for wildlife to mate, birth and raise their young. Native bushes, trees and bird houses qualify. NWF certification requires two nesting areas.
Conserve and protect the environment by reducing water use, eliminating exotic plants and avoiding chemical use. Plant native wildflowers and trees and mulch well. Use organic gardening practices. Add a rain barrel or rain garden. By decreasing the amount of grass lawn, you will reduce air pollution from gas-powered lawn tools, while contributing to the ecosystem’s natural balance. NWF certification requires attention in two of the following areas: soil and water conservation; controlling exotic species; using organic practices.
Visit www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife.aspx to learn more about the process or to certify your yard.