Written By: Sarah Girton
For the last few weeks we have been going in depth about the different criteria needed to get your yard certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat! If you missed the introductory post from August 17, it does have a few links to the NWF site with more information on the Certified Wildlife Habitat program.
In this post, we come to the fifth and final criteria which is using sustainable practices to maintain your wildlife-friendly yard. While this is a habit that can take some real effort, it is the one that will be most beneficial in the long run. The hardest part can be switching over, but once you’ve developed more earth-friendly methods of caring for your yard, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the switch sooner!
The NWF recommends implementing practices from at least 2 of their 3 categories, but preferably all 3: Soil and Water Conservation, Controlling Exotic Species, and Organic Practices.
So what are some good ways to cut down your water use? If you have xeriscaped your yard with native flora, woodchips, and/or rocks, you will find that maintenance is sooo much easier. You’ll be cutting your water usage by 50-75%, according to National Geographic. Another benefit is that weeds will be much less common, thus making pulling or weed-wacking an easier task.
The best way to prevent invasive plant and animal species ties into xeriscaping as well. In the process of transforming your property into a native oasis, invasive species will be discouraged from visiting. And while the convenience of chemical pest and weed sprays cannot be denied, the convenience is about the only benefit. There is massive risk of poisoning wildlife who forage on plants and on the ground. The chemicals can leak into groundwater, drain to streams, and kill beneficial food sources for dozens of creatures. If you keep your yard chemical-free, it’s safer for EVERYONE!
The National Wildlife Federation’s website, as was stated in the intro post, goes much more in depth for the criteria that we’ve covered over the past few weeks. But if you want to become a full-fledged wildlife habitat guru, you should check out the book they’ve published on this very subject called Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and other Backyard Wildlife. It delves deeper into all of the criteria, and is full of beautiful photography as well. You can find more information on this book at this link https://blog.nwf.org/2019/03/get-our-new-book-attracting-birds-butterflies-and-other-backyard-wildlife/