The New York Times had an article on a woman named Susan Gottlieb in Beverly Hills, CA who created a one-acre “Haven for Wildlife” in the big city. She planted a native garden, focusing on attracting wildlife such as bats, rabbits, birds, bees, insects and even the occasional bobcat. She reduced her water usage and has learned a great deal about natural gardening in the process.
It is an interesting article, especially the part about how she created an outdoor cat run over the roof of her house so that her pet cats do not become a bobcat’s snack when they explore the garden. She obviously has money (one-acre in Beverly Hills, two part-time gardeners, etc.) but I like that she is using her space to educate others about native gardens. She has a lot of tour groups go through to learn about the transformation.
The article talks a lot about how Gottlieb’s garden is a certified wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. But I think they make it sound more difficult than it really is to get certified. My own garden was certified years ago and it is only a matter of meeting certain criteria and filling out a questionnaire on line.
For over 35 years, the National Wildlife Federation wildlife Habitat program has certified backyards, apartment balconies, schoolyards, businesses and farms. No garden is too big or small to become wildlife-friendly!
To be certified, a garden must provide three food sources, water, shelter/places to raise young, and have at least two forms of sustainable gardening (such as conserving water and using organic methods).
See? Not so difficult if you are an organic gardener anyway.
To certify your own garden, you apply on line with a questionnaire. If accepted, you pay $15 and get a personalized certificate and membership to the organization. Once you are certified, an outdoor wall plaque can also be ordered for a fee and all the proceeds help promote the program and increase awareness about nature. If you don’t pass the first time, you can make improvements to your garden and redo the questionnaire until you meet all the criteria.
Visit the National Wildlife Federation – Garden for Wildlife page for more information and get yourself certified!