Earth Day is April 22, 2010. With it being right around the corner, I know some of you are still looking for ways to make a difference! Well, how about making a difference in your own backyard? I just got my garden certified through the National Wildlife Federation's Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program. This is my pledge to maintain a healthy environment for wildlife in my little plot of land. After all, this land provides so much for me; it’s time for me to return the favor!
In order to become certified there are five elements for you to work on. Those are Food Sources, Water Sources, Places for Cover, Places to Raise Young, and Sustainable Gardening practices.
In the Food Source category you need at least 3 sources of food for wildlife. This can be covered by seeds from plants, twigs, foliage, berries, fruits, nuts, feeders (like for squirrels, hummingbirds or birds), etc. There is no shortage of food for wildlife on my property. With 24 fruit and nut tree’s we have a steady year round supply of food, and plenty to share with our furry and feathered friends!
The second category is Water Source. This one was a little more difficult for me as we try to minimize the water usage on our property- plus standing water in the spring and summer is a mosquito’s best friend! Thankfully we only needed one item to be certified and our bird bath covered that requirement! My next project will be to create a section in the garden that will provide water to our butterfly friends.
The third category is to create a cover for wildlife- whether it’s to hide from predators, or to hide out from the rain. This one was another easy one for us as we have lots of shrubs and evergreens on our property for wildlife to hide- not to mention our neighbor’s ivy that is spilling into our property is a huge haven for mice and rats! Hmmm…. I wonder if I could also count under the house since that’s where the skunks like to go?
The Fourth element is to provide areas for wildlife to raise their young. You need to have at least two to be certified. We have lots of mature trees on our property to provide locations for nests, and we also have a couple of birdhouses (although we have never had any birds in them). This year we have also started planting more milkweed plants in the garden to be a host plant for the Monarch butterflies.
The last area is sustainable gardening practices. You only need two to be certified, but you really should be doing MORE than two. This covers conserving water- by using drip systems, planting natives or other drought tolerant plants, using a rain barrel, using mulch, etc. It also means go organic- no pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Reduce your lawn area so that you’re not polluting the air so much. Plant native plants to help your local pollinators. Instead of spraying to kill the bad bugs, try to encourage beneficial insects and create a happy balance in your garden.
So, give yourself a goal for this month and pick at least one area to concentrate on. And while you’re at it, set a goal to complete each area by the next Earth Day! To see how other Garden Bloggers are making a difference this Earth Day, check out Jan's blog at Thanks for Today, and join in the fun!