Would you like your garden to attract birds, butterflies, beneficial pollinators, and other wildlife? Do you live on a property in Oregon that is less than an acre in Multnomah, Clackamas, or Washington County, or within Clark County in Washington state? Did you know there is a program that supports urban gardeners like you and me in creating a natural backyard habitat? It’s called The Backyard Habitat Certification program.

What is it and why join?

This awesome program supports homeowners in their efforts to revitalize the urban landscape and create healthier cities for ourselves and our wildlife friends. It provides information, resources, financial incentives, encouragement, and recognition for those who wish to enhance the natural features in their yards to create a thriving local oasis.

Why join? Aside from creating healthy and livable cities, sustainable and native landscapes are more likely to be lower-maintenance spaces which means lower input and water bills for you. A beautiful backyard habitat can make you feel closer to nature, thereby reducing city-living stress and provide your family with years of enjoyment. It’s a great way to teach our kids about environmental stewardship, too.

How can I join?

Participating in the program is easy. Just fill out an enrollment form online at www.backyardhabitats.org.  You will get added to the waitlist and a technician will contact you to schedule a site assessment. There is a nominal $35 participation fee which is easily offset by all the resources and discounts you will get as part of the program. In the meantime, while waiting, you can already start planning, planting or adding elements to your backyard that would get you certified quicker. However, your yard does not have to be planted to join the program. Everyone is welcome, from “blank canvases” to “jungles”.

What can you expect?

After the site visit, the technician will submit a comprehensive report outlining the current conditions with regards to the presence of five elements: native plants, invasive weeds, native vegetation levels, stormwater management practices, and pesticide use. Suggestions are also offered on how to achieve your desired certification level of silver, gold, or platinum-based on those same five elements. Furthermore, there will be numerous tips and resources on how to garden responsibly and sustainably.

Depending on how much time and energy is put into the project, some reach certification in a few weeks and others may take years. Some also get certified on the spot at the initial assessment (provided they have fulfilled all requirements for a particular level of certification). If you need help designing your garden or with the heavy lifting, the Blessing Landscapes team is an approved professional with the program. Our expert designers have undergone training to understand all the requirements and can help you achieve your backyard habitat and outdoor living goals.

When you are ready to certify, a trained volunteer will schedule another visit and assess your efforts. Once certified, you’ll get a beautiful sign you can proudly display. You’ll get gift cards and discounts to local plant nurseries and other partnered businesses. Memberships to program sponsors Portland Audubon Society and Columbia Land Trust are part of the incentives, too. Moreover, you can rest easy knowing you are playing your part in protecting our wildlife in this urban landscape.

Need help?

Creating a natural habitat does not mean your yard will look wild, messy or unkempt. Our designers at Blessing Landscapes can help you design a beautiful garden that fits your outdoor living lifestyle while creating a space where people and wildlife thrive together. Give us a call at (503) 284-3557 and let’s get the ball rolling to certification! Together, we can do our part to transform our city, one yard at a time. 

To learn more about the Backyard Habitat Certification Program and check if you live within the current program area, visit the official website at https://backyardhabitats.org.