Sunday, July 14, 2024

Wild at Heart: local yard certifies as wildlife habitat

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Judith Smith, a resident of DeCordova Bend Estates, successfully created a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Garden for Wildlife program on June 1, 2024. Smith’s Habitat has also been co-certified with NWF’s state affiliate, the Texas Conservation Alliance.

According to the NWF, every Certified Wildlife Habitat Garden is now also part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to create a million gardens that provide habitat for declining pollinator insects such as butterflies and bees.

“Redesigning my yard to make it more inviting to wildlife not only gives me great wildlife-watching opportunities, but it also helps me to be greener — reducing the lawn to mow, cutting down on watering, and saving time, in the long run, to enjoy time outside,” Smith says. “Wild morning glories cover the rocks I have in areas where most homeowners plant grass.”

By retaining the tall cedars original to the property and adding ten crepe myrtles, which use little water to thrive, she has created a beautiful and sustainable space. Smith added a Texas star sage because it attracts birds and provides shade.

“Many of the plants in my garden beds were ‘planted’ by the birds,” Smith explains. “Sunflowers abound, and Mexican petunias attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Ground cover of Asian jasmine provides a home for numerous lizards. A bluebird’s nest attracts a family every spring. It is strategically mounted on a tree in my natural woods preserve.”

The National Wildlife Federation states that over the past 45 years, the Garden for Wildlife movement has recognized over 227,000 Certified Wildlife Habitat gardens across the United States to date, encompassing more than 2.5 million acres that support wildlife locally.

“Anyone anywhere can restore wildlife habitat right in their own yards and communities,” says NWF Naturalist David Mizejewski. “Whether you garden in a suburban yard, an urban area or a rural plot of land, you can make a difference for local wildlife. Creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat Garden is fun, easy and makes a real difference for the neighborhood wildlife.”

Smith’s grassroots effort reflects a growing trend among residents to make a difference by helping birds, butterflies, bees, and other wildlife while promoting sustainable gardening practices. For more information visit: The National Wildlife Federation.